Journal entry by Brook Herzog

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend. Easter is a powerful reminder that hope must never be lost, for as dark as the road may seem, there always lies light at the end of it. This message resonates in a very meaningful way for our family this year, with that light shining a little bit brighter each day as Michael heals. 

Michael was able to call Josh last night to help us with a firsthand update for you all. This week brings some big changes: Michael will be getting released from Regions and is able to continue his care at home! We are excited to have him nearby and it's a huge relief to reach this step in his recovery, but it's important that we all recognize that he still has a significant amount of healing to do. Michael shared that he has lost 30lbs and most of his strength, and he doesn't have full function of his hands right now. He recently got his phone back but has difficulty using it, so please don't take it personally when he doesn't respond. He still hasn't regained his voice from being intubated, but he made sure to note that right now he "sounds like Clint Eastwood." :)

Michael is looking forward to catching up with everyone in the future but graciously asks that visitors hold off until he gets settled in and adjusts to his new normal. His days will continue to be filled with physical and occupational therapies, as well as daily dressing changes that alone consume most of the morning. He is working really hard and improving each day but it will take time to get where he wants to be. Mike and Jodie have been very busy learning the new skills they'll need as they take over as Michael's main caregivers between appointments at Regions. 

As they prepare to leave, Michael, Mike and Jodie would like to give a huge thank you to the staff at Regions for the incredible care they have provided day in and day out. They say they feel like part of a new family with Michael's nurses, doctors, and the other families they've gotten to know in the waiting room. It is a bittersweet feeling to be stepping away from their guidance and friendship. They also want to thank everyone for your heartfelt messages, cards, food, generous gifts and kind words. They haven't been able to respond but we all continue to read your messages and sincerely appreciate all the thoughtful gestures toward our family. The biggest thanks of all is for your prayers. It is so moving to read your comments and hear of so many friends, acquaintances and even total strangers who have been praying for Michael. The prayer chains you've added him to would surely span the globe! We talk every day about how our faith has grown throughout this experience, and we have you all to thank for being a part of that. It has been the biggest blessing to witness God in action through your healing prayers. We will continue to update on Michael's progress as he makes the big transition to home care. Thank you and God bless you all!
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Journal entry by Sheri Zastrow

Good Evening! This is a social media post from Donnie Vincent. He is a man to hunting like Tom Brady is to football. Let’s just say, Jodie and Mike haven’t seen a smile on Michael like this since he was hospitalized! I believe this message and the pictures say it all....

On the morning of March 17th, 2019, a young man named Michael Herzog of Detroit Lakes, MN was involved in a horrific gas explosion in his fish house, leaving over 80% of his body covered in 2nd and 3rd degree burns. I hadn’t heard of the accident until Connor Butenhoff, an ER nurse at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, messaged me on FB asking if I might be able to find some time to come visit, once Michael was feeling ready. Of course I was more than willing but truth be told I didn’t know what to expect. It can be difficult waltzing into someone’s life when his or her chips are down, especially being a stranger. With nervous hands I put my truck in park and headed towards the entrance to the hospital.  
Connor, the middleman in this story, met me in the lobby and brought me up to the burn unit to meet Michael and Michael’s parents, Mike and Jodie. I planned on making the visit short (I didn’t want to overwhelm anyone) but after we all shook hands and settled in, the sun seemed to simply cruise around the room as the hours passed. We told stories about life, some about hunting, and others about perspectives and bad days. If you weren’t paying attention you might not even notice that something terrible had recently happened.
I could tell by the menagerie of photos that decorated the cupboard doors that up to this point in his journey Michael had already brightened many lives and accomplished much as a hunter. With this accident he’s had to endure unbelievable pain, but along with that I could see he’s managed to garner a wonderful presence and also seems to have gained a newfound mindfulness. Through his smiles and positive attitude, he made it very clear to me that moving forward, he’ll use this experience as motivation to celebrate life each day with even more vigor than he would’ve otherwise.
Yesterday was a day I will never forget. It was a day that a young man named Michael made a lasting impression on me, one that left my mind reeling about my own life. The drive home was quiet. The sun, which we had watched all afternoon, was now far behind me. All I could think about now was what tomorrow has in store… and every tomorrow after that. @ Regions Hospital

Thank you, Donnie Vincent!! Also, a BIG Thank You to Connor Butenhoff for arranging this special gathering!!

Regarding Michael McDonough... He is needing all of our prayers more than ever! His Caringbridge shares the immediate concerns! Our Praying BIG request continues!!!

Thank You everyone!
Sheri Zastrow
(Sister to Jodie)

Journal entry by Brook Herzog

From unlikely meetings in the hospital to the most perfectly-timed messages, there have been many "coincidences" that have helped lift our spirits this past month since Michael's accident. A notable example: One of the ER nurses at Regions, Connor Butenhoff, happens to be a fellow Cobber and avid outdoorsman who played football with Josh at Concordia. With so many shared interests it has been a blessing to have Connor visit regularly, and he has also served as Michael's connection to the outdoors.

Connor helped make Michael's day a dream-come-true yesterday when he brought in a very special visitor-- one of Michael's idols: Donnie Vincent. Donnie is a professional hunter, conservationist, biologist and filmmaker. He's a big deal in the hunting world and someone who Michael really admires. Jodie said that when they first told Michael about the visit last week, it was the first time he had really smiled since the accident. Donnie had planned to visit Michael for 30 minutes, but he ended up staying and talking with him for 3 hours! He shared all kinds of awesome hunting stories and was a major inspiration for Michael. It was a day that he will never forget and we are so thankful to Connor for lining that up!

It was a very busy night at the hospital and Michael's surgery was canceled today. We continue to pray that Michael's hands can heal without needing pins. We also ask that everyone please continue to pray for Michael McDonough...He coded again last night and had to be intubated again. We pray that his blood pressure comes up, that the antibiotics fight his infection, and that his kidney function improves while also being able to treat his burns...He and his kind family need and appreciate all the prayers we can muster at this crucial time! Thank you, everyone! "Pray Big...Expect Miracles!"

Journal entry by Brook Herzog

Jodie & Mike have a quick prayer request for anyone reading this tonight: With Michael's hands being the biggest concern right now, we are praying that Michael's knuckles can heal over, and that they don't require pins so he can avoid another surgery. Thank you so much!

Journal entry by Brook Herzog

Hello everyone and Happy Sunday! First I'd like to say a big thank you to Sheri for all the awesome posts and good news last week! What a pivotal week in Michael's recovery... One can't help but be uplifted by her posts on his progress!

We were able to go to the cities to visit Michael this weekend, and this time truly felt like a whole different experience. Instead of walking into the 5th floor Burn Unit with a lump in our throats and holding back tears, we were just plain excited to see him. We washed up and put on gloves, then found out that gloves and gowns are no longer necessary to visit him. The risk of infection is still there but it was nice to find out that those strict precautions are no longer required at this point. Michael's voice is still quiet and hoarse from the tubes he had in previously, but it was so great to hear him talking and even joking around. Another big bright spot was when we were told that he could go to the waiting room to see his niece and nephews! Declan, Emme and Ivan weren't quite sure what to think of their first time seeing Uncle Michael since the accident with his new haircut or the big mechanical chair he was sitting in, but each time will get better and it was a huge blessing to have everyone together!

Michael's days continue to get busier and busier with all the PT and OT they have him doing. They are starting to incorporate more "everyday" tasks for him to work on so that he can retrain his muscles with different motions. We were able to sit in on a PT session, and it was SO inspiring to see Michael push himself through his pain and frustration to do his very best at each exercise. Currently he is working on some movements that any of us might take for granted, such as reaching up to touch one shoulder, but he is doing everything that is asked of him and we have full confidence that it's only a matter of time before he gets back to the strength and agility of the Michael we all know. Michael continues to face every obstacle and overcome each challenge with an unbelievable amount of heart and determination, just as he always has. 

On Monday Mike and Jodie have another conference with all of Michael's care team where they will hopefully discuss timelines and learn more about the next phase of his recovery. I don't want to overuse the word "Miracle", but so much of what has been happening can only be described that way. Thank you all for caring so much about Michael and our whole family, and for your continued encouragement and prayers! You are such a light in our lives!

Journal entry by Sheri Zastrow

April 11, 2019

Good Afternoon,

This morning I received a communication letter from our church, in Rochester.  It reads, “What if instead of talking about a story, we got to experience it? What if the realities of love, abundance, death and new life were not abstract terms but present reality? What if the central story of our faith came alive in a new way?”  Well let’s just say we are experiencing this reality and we cannot contain our excitement!!

It is an honor for me to write Miracles have happened for Michael!! The Region’s Hospital Healthcare team shared that, “there must be a Beam of light coming down in this room (Michael’s Hospital room) because his healing has defied all reason.”  His surgeon said she is shocked! A nurse who was in one of his early dressing changes stated she would have NEVER believed that he wouldn’t have needed skin grafts, nor have his skin heal to the point where he won’t have the visual effects of the burns.  We have experienced a Miracle!

 Michael’s skin continues to heal each day, producing “new seeds”!  Michael has been working very hard on his Occupational and Physical Therapy.  He has pushed himself to walk multiple times around the Burn Unit, even without a walker! His new travels have taken him to the Rehabilitation Center to increase and perfect his skills. He has been able to stand at the sink and brush his teeth. He made a comment about, “Death by Sonicare” since that toothbrush is a little too heavy to hold in his hand J. He said something that he has wanted to do since he was admitted to the hospital was to be able to reach up and scratch his head. Well, he can do that now too! Jodie has been instructed to go out and purchase some clothes and shoes so he can practice dressing himself. Since the weather was poor today, Jodie could not get out, so they found him a shirt to put on and he did it!! He has been able to start feeding himself and actually displays a desire to eat some “Elk Hot Dish” that was delivered to him from a former Cobber football player, Connor Butenhoff.   Jodie and Mike stated, “The pain Michael has had to push through to accomplish these tasks is mind-blowing!”  Miracles!!

Last but not least, is the most incredible Miracle of all…The Healthcare Team are Awestruck in Michael’s recovery process! They are saying this experience defies all explanation! One member of the team said that they will be talking about Michael for a LONG time! He is “Wowing” everyone!

With that all being said, they think he will be able to go home around Easter!!  

This is truly an Easter Miracle!!!

The Power of Prayer is Reality!!!

 Jodie and Mike want to note that their days have been filled with much to learn about Michael’s care. They want you to know they often will see a text, email or a call but are unable to answer them. They are asking that you have patience and understanding if they do not text or call back. They continue to be just so appreciative of your support, love and prayers.

 Many of you continue to pray for Michael M. which his family is so grateful for. Michael M. continues to have challenges with his surgeries, dressing changes etc. as he works through the disease he is dealing with. They are asking that you continue to pray for healing for him. “Pray BIG…Expect Miracles!!!”

As we move from the Lenten Season to Easter/Holy Week, we continue to be Amazed through Michael’s Journey!! Again, your support and prayers have been instrumental in these Miracles!!

Easter Blessings to you all!

Sheri Zastrow

(Sister to Jodie)

Journal entry by Sheri Zastrow

Good Afternoon,

This message is going to be short and very Sweeet today!! Miracles are in abundance for Michael because of the Power of Prayer!!

Below is the text message from Mike and Jodie this afternoon:

" We just met with Michael's Care Team. They looked at all of his skin today. They are thinking that he might not have to have any skin grafts...It is  Miracle!!!! If things keep going well, he won't have to have any more surgeries either!!! Things that they thought might not heal, have shown signs of healing since the last surgery. Mike asked how he will look...The Doctor said that after things are all healed, in a year or two, you won't know it (the accident) happened. God is Good! He does have a few spots that there is a bit of infection brewing but, they are treating it."

After the family received that text, here are some of the responses...

"Prayers have been answered!"
"Wonderful news!!! God is Great!!!"
"That is incredible!"
"Best news ever!! Thank you, Lord!!!"
"If that doesn't make you a believer, I don't know what will! That's amazing!"
"Unbelievable!!! God is so Great!! A perfect example of how powerful prayers are!"
"Just goes to show you, with an army behind him, miracles do happen. Keep the faith! We are all praying so hard! So proud of Michael and his hard work!"
“Wow this is amazing! Power of prayer for sure! God reminding us He is in control.”

Michael took another lap around the Burn unit today and continues his hard work at Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy!!
Incredible effort!!

"Pray BIG...Expect Miracles"- Dr. Thomas Blee

Sheri Zastrow
(Sister of Jodie)

Journal entry by Sheri Zastrow

April 7, 2019: Sunday evening update:

 Good Evening,

As we close on this emotional weekend, we have much to be Thankful for! As the family has reflected on the gains Michael has made, we could not be more grateful for the Power of Prayer!! Each of your comments, hearts, prayers and concern brings tears to all of us!!

So we cannot begin to “Thank You” all enough!! You are all “Angels” in our eyes!!

 Joy: Yes… we are moving from uncertainties to more positive thoughts and Joy!! Michael has had a full day with his Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy! What does this mean? Well, he completed another walking lap around the Burn Unit with his incredible determination! His pain is challenging through this Physical Therapy but he is one mentally, tough guy! The newest miracle today is he was able to brush his own teeth! This is another incredible feat for Michael for as many of you know, the Herzog Family strives to have the brightest and whitest teeth around! J Occupational Health set him up with a toothbrush device where he could bring his arm up to his face brush those pearly whites! What a Terrific Accomplishment!

 Hope: Tomorrow holds an opportunity for the Healthcare Team to reassess Michael’s skin. The Prayer Request is that his healing continues to be progressing in a positive direction.  Michael has much to be hopeful for, as he has worked so hard to get better these past few days. We know he has the drive to continue to hope for continued healing and mobility. Much of his talk is of how he hopes to be ready for hunting this fall. J


 Faith:  This is the topic I have seen come alive through Mike and Jodie! The Healthcare  Team and families they have met, have been tremendous in the support of Mike and Jodie and now they are giving back twofold. When able, Jodie scoots away to meet and pray with families that are dealing with many of the emotions that she and Mike have had. She asked me to have you pray for Michael McDonough has he has had challenges today and is in need of your prayers. Mike shares his ability to bring in the best cookies and cakes for everyone around. He also makes a good Patient Care Attendant (PCA) assisting Michael in his eating, folding gowns and even would like to sweep the floor if they asked him. J Together, their generosity and ministries having given them a new purpose in their own healing process. One but cannot help to smile as we watch them in action.



Blessings to you all as we continue Michael’s Journey!

 Sheri Zastrow


(Sister to Jodie)



Journal entry by jodie herzog

"Pray BIG…Expect Miracles!!” Dr. Thomas Blee



Yes…Miracles are Happening and we have proof your AmaZING Prayers are working.  Writing in the Caring Bridge tonight is “Aunt Sheryl” or “Aunt Mabel”, as Michael refers to me (Sheri Zastrow, sister of Jodie).  I have the honor of writing this message as the family has decided to give Brook a much-deserved night off. We all applaud Brook for her eloquent messages which have brought many of us to tears and to our knees in prayer! Thank you very much, Brook!


Jodie and Mike’s morning started off with this text message from Christine… “This morning Luke and I could hear Emme (age 2) singing in her bed. So we listened really closely and could hear her singing the song, ‘Jesus Loves Me’. But instead of singing, ‘Jesus Loves Me’, she was singing, ‘Jesus Loves Michael’. This made me tear up!” So sweet coming from the mouths of Babes!

Yes, Jesus does Love Michael!!


Another miracle in this story today is Kristina and Jaime Otte from Dilworth, MN. Kristina was the lady who was the first “Angel” on Michael’s accident scene. She happened to be going to church with her family when she saw Michael waving his arms for help. Kristina and Jaime drove to St. Paul today hoping to meet Mike and Jodie. What a powerful moment it was when Kristina and Jaime walked into the waiting room where Mike and Jodie were sitting. Tears and Hugs were abundant!  Kristina was able to share the story with Mike and Jodie. Of course, many questions were asked to Kristina and she was strong in her recollection of the situation. Kristina was so concerned and frustrated that she could not have helped Michael more. She recalled that she had a blanket in her truck and attempted to give it to Michael, assuring him help was on the way. Michael looked at the blanket and said he probably should not take it because he did not want to get it dirty. Jodie then said, “Michael wants to talk to you!” Kristina and Jaime went into Michael’s hospital room and Michael perked up and began to thank her for doing everything she did. There was wonderful, moving conversation between them. Again, Kristina said she wished she could have helped him more and then took out a beautiful quilt that her church members had made.  Michael thanked her again and then said that when he is out of the hospital, he would like to go and attend her church with her. We ask that you pray for Kristina Otte as she continues to work through the process of her healing and processing that day. 

Yes, Jesus does Love Kristina!!


As for Michael’s progress, another Miracle has occurred…as we were sitting in the waiting room a Nurse called for Jodie to quickly come to the unit. Jodie saw Michael up and walking! He had a determined look on his face as he pushed himself to complete a walk around the whole Burn Unit! What an AmaZING feat for Michael!! Pain continues to be a concern but we are very optimistic this is a positive step forward.


On behalf of Mike and Jodie, we are all so Thankful for your Love, Prayers and Support through this journey!! 


PRAY BIG…Miracles Are Happening!!!


Sheri Zastrow



Journal entry by Brook Herzog

How about we all start our weekend off with some good news? Michael just got out of surgery, and his doctor said that she doesn't see any spots at this time that require immediate grafts...It is a miracle! There are still several spots of more concern, but she feels it is worth waiting to see if they will heal on their own. Michael will still be in pain for several more weeks, but she believes he is healing nicely. That is all we can really ask for and our prayers are being answered! 

In the past 19 days, Mike and Jodie have been at the hospital every day to be with Michael as much as possible. Countless hours have been spent in the waiting room, where they have met so many different people from all walks of life, all sharing the same desperate hopes and prayers for healing. There is one particular patient, a 14 year-old boy from Iowa, who has demonstrated such strength and faithfulness that we feel moved to ask this amazing community of readers for another prayer. The boy's name is Michael McDonough, and he has Stevens-Johnson Syndrome/TEN and will be going in for surgery tomorrow. He was flown in from Mayo the other day, and while he thought he was alone in his room, he was overheard saying thank you to each person who had prayed with him, and began reciting the Lord's Prayer to himself...His mom gave permission to share this information and said they are in need of lots and lots of prayers. Every healing thought and word said on his behalf is so appreciated! 

Thank you all again for coming through with these prayers! It is an incredible feeling to know you're all there supporting us. Take care and have a great weekend! 

Journal entry by Brook Herzog

On Sunday morning of March 17th, Michael was involved in a gas explosion alone in his fish house. He was brought by ambulance to the new Sanford in Fargo, and was soon airlifted to Regions Hospital in St. Paul. Michael is considered in critical condition, with 2nd and 3rd degree burns covering 90% of his body. He has been sedated and the condition of his burns will be re-evaluated after 72 hours. His parents and siblings are with him at the hospital, and they will continue to update as they know more. We are so thankful that Michael is alive... It is truly a miracle. We ask that you please join us in praying for Michael's continued strength, healing, that his burns are no greater than 2nd degree, and that he resists infection as he recovers. Thank you all so much for your caring messages and continued prayers. We appreciate them more than we can say.
Michael’s Story

Site created on March 18, 2019

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