By CYNTHIA KMETT
The Community Prayer Breakfast held last Friday morning at the San Marino Club was an opportunity for people of many faiths to gather for inspiration and reflection. Offered by the Troy Community Coalition, the annual breakfast reflects the organization’s recognition of the importance of spirituality in building and maintaining a healthy community. It features a diverse cross-section of cultures and religions practiced in Troy.
The speaker at this year’s breakfast was Gina Kell Spehn. She delightfully recalled the red carpet experience that followed when Hallmark made her and husband Michael’s book, “The Color of Rain,” into a movie.
Why write a book? The couple primarily wanted their blended family of five children to know their story. She noted they actually talked about it at the Rochester Hills Beer Co., and prayed about it to God, figuring if they got no answer they could always call Mitch Albom for advice.
Praying to God was something Gina learned a lot about from her late husband Matt’s journals. He had died of cancer at 35 and they had enjoyed 13 years of marriage.
She said Matt was “a man of great character and great faith.” He believed you had to trust God and wait to hear what God had to say and go where He was directing.
Matt would pass away on Christmas Day in 2005, and you might think that’s terrible, but she and sons Drew and Sam think of it as a day to celebrate and remember Matt’s life.
Gina would meet Cathy Spehn, a childhood friend of Matt’s who had returned to Michigan after a 10-year absence, in the lobby of the children’s school. A few weeks later, Cathy developed a headache and died in 17 days. Because Cathy was a friend of Matt’s, Gina felt she wanted to go to her funeral. It was there she met Michael Spehn for the first time.
Perhaps God did have a plan. Gina and Michael would marry in 2007. The kids are older now. One just graduated from Grand Valley State, one goes to Michigan State and another to Grand Valley. Two are juniors in high school. All is not perfect in their lives, however. Sam, now 17, has a brain tumor, which he is fighting. Sam only wants to know if he can still play basketball. He can.
One of the ways Gina and Michael want to remember their spouses is through the New Day Foundation. This non-profit supports families fighting cancer. It pays their bills. Until this year, the money went directly to their creditors, This year, however, they have worked out a way to anticipate what bills a family facing cancer can expect.
Gina notes there have been many battles with this tragic, evil disease on both sides of her family. The only way to handle those situations is to ask God for help, listen and then go do it.
But she’s thankful for those who step up to help, especially those who “just show up at the moment you need them, without asking. They’re listening to you and act on your needs by the mere mention of them.”