Sunday, August 30, 2009


The title implies a journey, a process, a progression. I am in process. I don't have the suffering thing figured out. I am certainly not a grief expert. But it was good for me to recently search the Scriptures to see what God had to say on the matter of suffering and how to face trials. Losing Jackie is by far the biggest trial that Carrie and I have faced in our lives to this point. We cried buckets of tears the first week after Jackie's diagnosis. We were in shock, we were sad, angry, depressed, confused, and just plain worn out but were trying our best to trust God and found great comfort in knowing that He was ultimately in control.

I delivered a message called, "TRIALS. TEARS. TRUST." today (August 30, 2009) at Vantage Point Church in Eastvale (Corona), CA. As I wrote this sermon and delivered it today, I was acutely aware that I was not the only one going through a trial, and realize that fact as I pen this blog entry. My heart breaks when I think about the heartache and pain many people that I know are going through right now! I had a number of people share with me about their losses after each service today at VPC. I have a passion to assist families and individuals who experience deep pain through loss. Some of you are going through some tough trials right now and I pray that you may in time progress in your spiritual journey from trials to tears to trust.


Proverbs 3:5-6

Below is a link to Vantage Point Church if you are interested in hearing my sermon. (Check "Resources" and go to the "Sermons" (Trials. Tears. Trust.) for August 30, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

"I Always Want To Stay A Kid"

This is the Life! (Pre-Diagnosis)

Jackie, age 5, was kicking back in a La-Z-Boy chair with her grilled cheese sandwich sipping her Sunny Delight while watching SpongeBob Square Pants on TV and announced to the world, “This is the life!”

She then said, “I don’t ever want to grow up! I always want to stay a kid! I don’t ever want to become a mommy (she saw how much work Carrie did as a mother of three small children) because a mommy’s work is too hard.”

When most kids are 5 they want to be 10. When they are 15 they want to be 20. Jackie was just the opposite. She never wanted to grow up. She always wanted to remain a child in the safe confines of her loving family, childhood friends, pets, church family and life of fun.

A Revelation (Post-Diagnosis)

After the diagnosis by Dr. Pang, Carrie, Jackie and I left Kaiser and drove to a local mall in Sacramento to grab a bite to eat. As we were sitting at an A&W restaurant my emotions became too much for me to handle so I excused myself and walked to our minivan in the parking lot. I got in the minivan, closed the windows and started to drive. I began to weep, yell, and scream. I was yelling at God for allowing this to happen. “Why?” It just didn’t make sense. “Why don’t you take me instead of her?” I remember pounding on the steering wheel in anger so hard that I almost broke my hand and the steering wheel. I must have driven in circles around that parking lot for about 20 minutes trying to wrap my mind around the fact that my baby had an inoperable brain tumor and was most likely going to die soon.

After gaining my composure I went back into the restaurant and Jackie was smiling. Carrie said, “Jackie has something she wants to tell you.” I asked, “What is it Jackie?” She said, “Daddy, I’ve figured out a way that I can stay a kid?” I said, “Oh, you have, have you? How’s that?” Jackie said, “I’m going to die young.” I looked at Carrie in anger and asked, “What did you tell her?” (Thinking Carrie must have told her about her brain tumor while I was driving around in the minivan) Carrie said, “I didn’t tell her anything. She came up with this all on her own.”

I believe God was already revealing to Jackie and to us what was going to happen in the future. Jackie somehow had an awareness that she wasn't going to grow up and she was O.K. with that.



Saturday, August 22, 2009

"... Give Thanks In All Circumstances"

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:8)

Written 10 days after Jackie's diagnosis:

I THANK GOD FOR ... the one year of healing I had from my dad's death prior to this crisis, the hope for quality of life for Jackie, our relationship with Christ, the closeness with Carrie and the kids, the fact that Jackie is not in any pain, family and friends and their tremendous outpouring of love (I never really knew how many friends I really had), the Bayside Auburn (at the time Sonrise) church staff, for Dan and Steve for riding with me on the flight home to Auburn from Saddleback, my small group, Mike Bivins and Dave Harrison picking me up from the Sacramento airport, the people praying around the world, the 5 wonderful years we have had with Jackie, every day God gives (each day is a gift from God), God showering me with what really matters in life.

Random thoughts at the time:

As a result I'm not so anal retentive anymore. I'm more spontaneous. The house doesn't have to be clean to have people over. Last Saturday I went to the Red Wagon restaurant with our family and friends and had a great time. I bought Jackie a hamster and we keep it in her room! Carrie was snoring the other night and I didn't even wake her up to say, "Stop it."

I know what matters! What used to bug me doesn't bug me anymore. I'm thankful that Jackie received Christ on New Year's Eve. I'm thankful Jackie is asking questions about heaven - What will it be like? Will I get to see Jesus right away? Will I get to see grandpa? Can I take my hamster with me? I thank God that I've thought more about heaven in the past 10 days than at any other time in my life.

Written a couple months after Jackie's death:

I THANK GOD FOR ... the nearly 1000 people that attended Jackie's funeral service and for the many people who have come to Christ as a result of Jackie's life and death (both children and adults). I'm thankful that Dave Dravecky, James Dobson, Rick Warren and David Jeremiah all contacted me to encourage and support me. I'm thankful that Carrie and I are still together. We will celebrate our 23rd wedding anniversary on October 11, 2009! Our other two kids (Josh and Jess) are doing well. Josh is in college and works and Jessica just started her senior year in high school and then wants to go to UCLA. I thank God that we stayed at Bayside Auburn (Sonrise) Church for 6 more years after Jackie passed for a total of 10 years. I'm thankful that we were able to start a third church (Conejo Church) that is doing well. I'm thankful that I now get to work with many families at Forest Lawn by doing personalized funeral services. I thank God I now get to train future lead pastors (church planters) who start churches on the West Coast through the EFCA West. I also get to coach people in leadership skills and I am hoping to help people in the future through grief coaching.

I'm thankful that Jackie never lost any cognitive ability, experienced little to no pain, and that she didn't die in a hospital hooked up to tubes but she passed away peacefully in my arms. I'm thankful that I have a daughter in heaven who I am going to see again someday!


A Leap of Faith!

When Jackie was younger (say age 3) she liked to get up on our kitchen counter and leap, and I mean leap, into my arms! The first time she did it I stood only about two feet away from her. She jumped and I easily caught her. She then got back on the counter and waved her hand signaling me to move back. I moved back a foot and she waved her hand again so I moved back another foot. This time she jumped about 4 feet and I caught her. We did this on a regular basis and as she got older, bigger and stronger I would move even further back. It was a sight to see her just leap with reckless abandon fully trusting that I would catch her!

A few weeks after her diagnosis Jackie lost her speech and she was losing her ability to walk. One time I carried her into the kitchen to get something to eat and she motioned for me to put her on the kitchen counter. I placed her on the counter and she stood straight up, knees shaking the whole time. She then looked me straight in the eye as if she was going to jump! So I positioned myself about a foot away so that if she just fell I would be right there to catch her.

I was not expecting what she did next. She signaled for me to move back! So I took one little step back. She signaled again for me to step back. I had a tear well up in my eye at this point. I stepped one more step back and she just went for it with all the strength her little body could muster. She jumped (really just fell forward) into my arms and I caught her and we both laughed.

That moment was one of the most amazing moments in my life. I have never witnessed such courage ever before or since!

Whenever I think I can't do something I think of Jackie and I jump!
... into my Father's arms,
... knowing that He will catch me.


Quote on courage:

With courage you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate, and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity. KESHAVAN NAIR

Jackie's Favorite Song

Jackie's favorite song was "You are my Sunshine." I used to sing the chorus to her on a regular basis. She couldn't get enough of it - she even thought that I wrote it! When I told her I didn't write it she didn't believe me. Below are part of the lyrics to the song along with a couple neat links to a couple different video versions of the song.

by Jimmie Davis & Charles Mitchell

You are my sunshine,
My only sunshine.
You make me happy
When skies are grey.
You'll never know, dear,
How much I love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away

The other nite, dear,
As I lay sleeping
I dreamed I held you in my arms.
When I awoke, dear,
I was mistaken
And I hung my head and cried.

You are my sunshine,
My only sunshine.
You make me happy
When skies are grey.
You'll never know, dear,
How much I love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away.

Link to creative version:

Link to instrumental (piano) version:

Coach John Wooden's Greatest Trial

When I was in junior high school I attended a UCLA vs. USC basketball game at Pauley Pavilion in Westwood with my church youth group. The atmosphere was electric!!! I'd found my calling! From that day forward I wanted to be a basketball player. I ended up playing in high school and college and still play to this day.

Fast forward about 20 years .... I planted a church in the Antelope Valley and Bill Sharman's (former Laker coach) daughter and grandkids attended my church. Bill called me one day and said he was speaking at an event in my area with John Wooden and asked if I'd like to attend and meet Coach Wooden? You bet! Bill personally introduced me to John Wooden, my hero. I brought my Bible for Coach to sign and asked, "Coach Wooden, would you please sign my Bible?" He looked straight into my eyes and said, "Oh no, Dave, I don't sign Bibles. I don't feel worthy." I was in shock. I didn't know what to say or how to respond. I just looked down for a second and then looked up at Coach. Then he said, "But in your case Dave I'm going to sign your Bible." He signed it, "Thank you, Dave, for your interest. John Wooden. 1 Cor. 13" Wow!

Five years later I was asked to preach the weekend services at Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch, CA. In my message I shared about the importance of taking responsibility for our actions and not blaming others. I used a Wooden illustration .... When UCLA's 88 game win streak ended, the media was blaming various players for the loss. Wooden stepped up and said, "It's my fault. If you want to blame anybody - blame me!" So I walk out of the third service into the lobby and I'm greeting people and up walks Coach Wooden who says, "Nice sermon Dave." Unbelievable!

That night I attended a UCLA vs Illinois game at Pauley with the executive pastor (Tim) from SOTHC. Our seats were right behind the UCLA bench. Just prior to tip-off, Coach Wooden and his daughter made their way to their seats which were one row behind ours. I glanced over my shoulder and Coach is about 10 feet away. He waves to me, smiles and says, "Hi Dave!" I thought I had died and gone to heaven!

Two years ago I attended a fundraising dinner for the Simi High School basketball program and Coach Wooden was the speaker. At the end of his speech there was a Q&A time and I asked, "What is the hardest trial you have ever gone through?" He teared up and without hesitation said, "Losing my Nellie." Nellie Riley Wooden was John's high school sweetheart and they were married for 53 years. At the beginning of every basketball game he would look up into the stands and acknowledge his love for her. Coach Wooden still grieves for his Nellie. He will always grieve for his Nellie and I will always grieve for my Jackie.


p.s. Coach Wooden, in my humble opinion, is one of the greatest people in the 20th & 21st centuries. He is a man of values, who loves his Lord deeply and models true servant leadership.


John Wooden reciting a poem called, "Don't Look Back"

Monday, August 17, 2009

NEW Website for Celebrant Dave

Check out my new website at the link below:

Enjoy, Dave

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Dr. Pang predicted that Jackie would suffer as the brain stem tumor became more aggressive. He said that she would probably experience headaches, vomiting, and possibly lose her sight, speech, and hearing.

The good news is by God's grace Jackie experienced little to no suffering. Prior to having a brain stem tumor Jackie ran everywhere she went. She continued to do so for about a week after her diagnosis and then went from running to walking to crawling. This progression went quickly so that by the fourth week after her diagnosis we were carrying her around to where she wanted to go. Over a few weeks she did lose her speech but could grunt and would point to where she wanted us to take her. However, she still could laugh and did so quite often. :-)

A brain tumor can be like roots on a tree that can grow in a million and one different directions in the brain affecting various motor functions and body parts as it spreads.

The amazing thing was that she never lost any cognitive ability. I was playing an ELMO video game with her two days before she died. Fortunately Jackie never experienced any headaches or vomiting. She never lost her sight although her eyes did become crossed. But she said they didn't hurt and that she could see just fine. She never lost her hearing. Hospice helped us the last couple weeks of her life and she was on morphine for the last two days. She passed away very peacefully on a Saturday morning in my arms.



A good friend asked what Jackie's symptoms were. Basically, you couldn't tell anything was wrong from just looking at her. It started with a little drool coming from the side of her mouth. Her gate was also a bit off. One time when we were at a Ross Store shopping for a dress she fell into a rack of clothes. She took it in stride and got back up laughing not realizing why she had done that. At that point we felt something was wrong so we took her to Kaiser. They did a full check up including a blood sample. Everything came back negative. They said there was nothing wrong with her other than she probably had a cold or head virus. Regarding the drool, they said that kids her age can regress in their behavior and that it was probably nothing to worry about.

Two weeks went by and nothing changed so we took her back and this time they did a spinal tap and a CAT scan. Again the tests were negative. Two weeks later she had and MRI. I was there with her the morning of the MRI and then flew from Sacramento to Burbank to speak at Saddleback Church. When my plane landed my mom called and said, "You better sit down." I said, "Mom, just tell me - what's up?" She said, "The MRI found a tumor at the base of Jackie's brain." I said, "I'll take the next plane home." I had a couple friends from church pick me up from the airport and drive me home. Carrie and I met with Dr. Pang the next day.

"Hi, this is Dave Dravecky"

The telephone rang. “Hello, is this Dave Page?” I wondered who was asking. I said, “Yes it is.” He said, “This is Dave Dravecky. A mutual friend shared with me that your daughter has a brain tumor …. I just wanted to call to encourage you.” Dave went on to share about how he felt when it was discovered he had cancer. We talked for a few minutes and I’ll never forget one thing he said: "Dave, most Christians in America pray that God would take the trial, disease, or pain away, whereas Christians in China pray that God would give them strong backs to sustain them during the trial."

I began to pray for a strong back.

Jackie passed away in my arms a week later.

Thanks Dave Dravecky,

There is hope,


P.S. If you’ve never heard Dave Dravecky’s story it’s worth hearing. He is a former pro baseball pitcher who lost his pitching arm to cancer, yet he is full of hope and offers help to others who are going through adversity. Below are links to his personal website and ministry website:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

There's No Place Like Heaven!

Jackie's favorite movie by far was the Wizard of Oz. She watched it over and over again weeks before her passing. We would often watch it together. One time I shared with her that my favorite part of the movie was when it switched from b&w to color. After that, every time she watched it and it came to that point in the movie, she would come find me and say, "Daddy, it's your favorite part!" I found out later that the original movie wasn't in black and white but was done with sephia (brownish hues) tones. Whenever Dorothy was in Kansas it was in sephia and whenever she was in Oz it was in color .... I know, TMI.

Anyway, here is a wonderful comment from a dear friend (Lynda Mlynar) regarding Jackie and the Wizard of Oz and coming home. Used with permission.

"Hi Dave. I just read your last 2 blogs .... I was just thinking about Jackie last week. I took Lyndsay (Lynda's daughter) to see Wicked for her birthday last week. As we watched Glinda singing, I thought of Jackie and how much she loved watching Wizard of Oz over and over those last few months. For a while I was sad thinking about how much she would have loved to see such a show and would have found so much joy and amazement in seeing and hearing all of these other details and songs about a story she loved. That made me think about the place God has prepared for us. While we have an idea of what it will be like when we get where Jackie is, it is only a glimpse of the joy and amazement of heaven. What an amazing God .... I can only imagine you entering heaven and having Jackie once again come running, saying "Daddy's home!" . While I'm sure that day is a long time from now, the thought of it touches my heart. Give Carrie my love." LYNDA

I can only imagine,


BTW, Jackie loved the song "Over the Rainbow" from the Wizard of Oz.

Below are 2 links to my favorite versions of the song:

Eva Cassidy's version:


JACQUELINE BROOKE PAGE - Obit in Auburn Journal

Jacqueline Brooke Page passed away from an inoperable brain tumor on Saturday, March 4, 2000 at her home surrounded by her family. She was born in Woodland Hills on December 20, 1994, and moved to Auburn four years ago. Jacqueline was a beautiful little girl who enjoyed life and was active in the Children’s Ministries at Sonrise Church, Cornerstone Preschool, AWANA and dance lessons. She was the loving daughter to Rev. David and Carrie Page, adored sister to Joshua and Jessica, precious grandchild to Frank and Janice Finch and Joanne Page; she also leaves behind numerous caring aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. Jacqueline will be dearly missed by all. There will be a funeral service on Saturday, March 11, 2000 at 11:00 a.m. at Parkside Church of the Nazarene in Auburn. Private interment will be held on Monday at New Auburn Cemetery. Memorial donations can be made to Sonrise Church Children’s Ministries and can be left with the staff at Lassila Funeral Chapel.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

We Want a Second Opinion!

Dr. Edwards and Dr. Pang

No disrespect to Dr. Pang but we wanted a second opinion. Who knows maybe he was wrong in his diagnosis? At the time, Dr. Michael Edwards was ranked as the top #1 or #2 neurosurgeon in the world. He had offices in San Francisco and Sacramento but had over a year waiting list for appointments. We inquired anyway and low and behold he had a cancelation that same afternoon. We rushed down to his office with Jackie and Emily (her hamster) in tow and picked up her X-rays from Kaiser. Dr. Edwards was down to earth. He treated us with kindness and talked to us like we were peers. He is a brilliant man who did his residency at the same hospital (Charity Hospital in New Orleans) as my dad. He looked at the X-rays with us and explained the extent of the tumor and what to expect. He said that the medical community had made huge strides in treating brain tumors but not brain stem tumors. He encouraged us to seek radiation treatment for Jackie but was also straightforward regarding her chances. He said that the radiation may shrink her tumor temporarily, but 99 times out of a 100 the tumor grows back with a vengeance and ends up taking the person's life. :-(

Bottom line, Dr. Edwards confirmed Dr. Pang's diagnosis and although nobody has a crystal ball and can tell you exactly how long a person has to live, Dr. Edwards thought Dr. Pang's suggestion of 2-3 months to live was in the ballpark, maybe longer if we got lucky.

Jackie died 6 weeks later.

Dr. Pang's diagnosis and prognosis were right on.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Diagnosis, prognosis, slam dunked!

We entered Dr. Pang’s office at the Sacramento Kaiser on a Tuesday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. fully intending to strategize with the neurosurgeon on how to remove the tumor that was in Jackie’s head. Dr. Pang physically examined Jackie by looking into her eyes, ears and throat. He listened to her heartbeat and tapped her knees to check reflexes. If you looked at Jackie she appeared completely normal. A nurse then came and took Jackie into the waiting room and played with her while we talked with the doctor. Dr. Pang began by showing us Jackie’s MRI x-ray. With our own eyes we witnessed what looked like a golf ball in our daughter’s brain. Dr. Pang pointed out the exact location of the tumor. The tumor was located at the base of her brain and lodged in her brainstem. It was an aggressive fast growing tumor that he said probably wasn’t even in her head three months ago. He explained that it was a brain stem glioma tumor. A glioma is a type of cancer that starts in the brain or spine. It is called a glioma because it arises from glial cells. Brain stem tumors are rare and account for only 10 percent of pediatric brain tumors. Brain stem tumors are usually found in children under 10 and adults over 40. The peak incidence is between ages 5 and 10.

We weren’t prepared for what was coming next. After viewing the X-ray we asked Dr. Pang if he could remove the tumor. He said he couldn’t even biopsy it much less remove it because it of it’s location in the brainstem. He went on to say that at five years old Jackie was too young for chemotherapy but that they might try radiation to shrink the tumor. I asked, “What does this mean?” He said, “Your daughter is going to die in the next two to three months.” I then asked, “Will she suffer?” He didn’t say a word. He just looked at us and nodded his head up and down signifying that yes indeed she would experience suffering in the process. Words cannot express the emotions that Carrie and I felt at that moment. Tears ran down our cheeks as we looked at each other in shock. We felt like we had been slam dunked!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Who Am I?

I am a maturing Christian who has good days and bad days. A son who has a meaningful relationship with his mom, and who loved his departed dad. A good brother to my two siblings, and an uncle who adores his niece and nephew. A part of a Men’s Bible Study, a close friend to a few men. A lover of people but an introvert at heart who must balance relationships with solitude. A basketball player, runner, hiker, swimmer, reader, traveler, and lifelong learner. I am a motorcycle riding, beach going, Mexican food loving, kind of guy. An entrepreneur who has way more good ideas than he could ever implement and one who has failed many times. I am a husband who loves his wife but has seen his share of ups and downs in marriage, a proud father who would give his life for his two kids on earth.
I AM ALSO THE FATHER OF A PRECIOUS DAUGHTER IN HEAVEN. I am the Alpha male to my affectionate Siberian Husky named Ari. I am a leader, pastor, church planter, celebrant, coach, speaker and writer. I am a visionary who despises details and I’m rhythmically challenged. I’m not a handyman; I don’t fix things around the house. I like cars but don’t work on them, I don’t like gardening and I hate rats!

That's me .... Dave

Saturday, August 8, 2009

What Do You Call Someone Who Loses a Child?

There is no other loss like the loss of a child. When someone loses a spouse they are called a "widow" or "widower." When a child loses his/her parents he/she is called an "orphan." But there is no word in the English language to describe a parent who loses a child. Why is this? I think it is this way for two reasons: 1) The grief associated with losing a child is so horrendous that there isn't even a word that could do justice in describing the pain associated with the experience! 2) It is commonly assumed that parents will outlive their children.

So to answer the question, "What do you call someone who loses a child?" You call them "devastated!" Devastated but not without hope .... Thank God for His grace! When I am weak He is strong!

At a loss for words,