Forever…

When I married my husband I committed to forever.  It was a good call.

When we decided to have a child, we understood she would be our baby forever.  No regrets.

forever

But some time in the fall of 2011 a doctor diagnosed both of us with a rare genetic disorder.  This forever, well, this one we did NOT sign up for.

At first there was no time to process the concept of forever as it connected to Cowden’s Syndrome.  There was too much to do.

Neither of us had an “easy” medical history, so putting a name on it had its pros and cons.  But, we were handed lists of appointments to make and things that suddenly needed immediate attention.  We were quickly schooled on tumor growth and cancer risks.  We were told to remain vigilant, and that we would be “fine”.

Stay Alert

There was no time to process as 2012 had a traumatic thyroid biopsy in January and an embolization for her Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) in her knee in February.  Then, there was my double mastectomy and my “surprise” cancer diagnosis in March, followed too closely by my hysterectomy in May.  And soon after that hysterectomy, Meghan had breast, pelvic and kidney and bladder sonograms.  There was also another MRI of the knee, and two thyroid ultrasounds that brought in 2013 with a surgical thyroid biopsy.

2012 was salvaged largely by a third grade teacher who I swear was an angel placed in our path.  Because there was real life too.  There was work, and school, and activities, and appointments that were quickly starting to overwhelm.

There was probably close to 2 years after the initial diagnosis before I even looked up.  And, when I did I had a whole host of emotions.

Forever had taken quite a toll on my girl.  Tough as nails.  Driven.  Strong.  Focused.  Always.  But, apprehensive, concerned and full of worry she was way too young to have to shoulder.

Forever.  I did my best to keep as much “normal” as I could.  Early therapists cautioned not to let the disease “define” us.  I kept the schedule delicately balanced between the necessary medical screenings and the “fun” activities.  She needed to be “like everyone else”.  So there was swim, later theater, some voice lessons, all interspersed with surgeries too many to recount again.  Some traumatizing, some annoying, some isolating, and some worrisome.  All time-consuming.  Some required physical rehabilitation, and others emotional.

busy-calendar-2

Forever.  The highway became our bonding place.  She could read and do some homework in the car.  We scheduled appointments on holidays as often as we could.  We scheduled appointments after school.  It made for some long days- often traveling 2 hours each way, and waiting forever in the offices- but we did it to preserve school attendance, and to keep her at as many activities as we could.

Forever.  She grew up.  Not just physically, but mentally.  She has broad shoulders, literally from hours of butterfly, and metaphorically from carrying way more than she should at her age.  The knowledge that this is her forever is difficult for all of us.  We make the best of it.  We talk about how grateful we are to know what to look for.  But, that gratitude, while sincere, can never replace the innocence of youth.  Innocence lost.  Forever.

Forever.  The wait time at most appointments is close to forever.  No one typically knows what to say to us.  They look at what they need to.  They offer some empathy, sometimes.  Then, sometimes out loud, and sometimes in their heads, they show gratitude that they are not fully responsible for us.  We wait hours and hours so often.  We have learned patience.  We have learned to quietly accept that if they “google” us before, it means they actually care.  We are rare.  We are 1 in 200,000.  This diagnosis is forever.

late doctor

This summer we have already gone to our 16th appointment between us.  There are 4 more just next week.

Yet, this summer she performed with a wonderful, talented, warm and welcoming group of young people at Staten Island Children’s Theater Inc. in a production of “Legally Blonde Jr.”  They like her.  Some of them know what she does with the rest of her life, and others don’t, and it’s all okay there.  They give me hope that some people, teenage people and adults as well,  are just good people.

She has been at swim practice most mornings between 6:15 and 8:15.  She has spent this week in small group lessons for swim from 8:30-3.

She has accomplished a good deal of her summer work for school.  She had peppered in the appointments in the crevices hidden in the schedule.

Forever.  The reality is not lost.  But, I am so proud.  So proud of how hard she works to stay in this world, while living in the world of chronic pain and rare disease.  It is hard work.  She does it pretty gracefully most days.

Forever.  Perhaps I could use a lesson or two from her.

Somewhere in the midst of this medical whirlwind we live.  Somewhere in the midst of working full-time, and managing surgeries and appointments, and life as it happens to all of us, I have lost track of myself.

lost

Forever.  I have one speed.  I operate in constant motion, or I am asleep.  There is rarely any middle.  The yellow legal pad is to the right of my computer, capturing every thought.  The iPhone calendar alerts me to the plans of the day.  My house, although not as clean as I’d like it, is in constantly good order.  It is a control issue.  I will own it.  There is so much flashing by in the blink of an eye, I can be sure to get the dog fur off the floor once a day, and know that it actually got done.

Forever.  I’ve lost touch with most of my friends.  Life is busy, theirs and ours.  There are only so many times you can tell the same story to people.  Our story could be recorded.  It just repeats itself.  Doctor, testing, surgery, follow-up, rehabilitation, next body part, routine appointment, maintenance, worry about a potential problem, 6 months to watch it…  I used to have other things to talk about.  Now I would be one of those people I used to laugh at on night-time TV.  I am so out of touch with the world.  My experiences are significant, but without variety.  They are heavy and too much for most people to hear.  There are no answers.

Take-time-to-enjoy-where-we-are

Forever.  The summer will pass.  We will force in a vacation and we will hold those days to be without doctors, and without summer assignments.  Then, we will do our best to put our feet in sand once.  Just to listen to the water.  We will try to get a few people to swim in our pool, so the activities of opening and closing it are not totally futile.

Forever.  Life is busy.  Too busy.  And that’s not just a Cowden’s Syndrome thing.  I heard of three deaths this week.  All three tragic.  One at age 19, one at 31, and another a bit older.  Tragedy.  They had plans.  They did not think their forever was going to end this week.

Forever.  My conscious mind doesn’t need but a split second to list dozens of real and significant blessings.  There are countless things in my life that bring me to my knees in gratitude.  But, the inner conflict is strong.  With the knowledge of the wonder and beauty in my life, I should be able to take this diagnosis, this “Forever” that is Cowden’s Syndrome, and put it in its place.

Forever.  The struggle is real.

Forever.  Stopping to find the moment, and to embrace the joy right now is not as easy as it sounds.  I can talk the talk better than anyone.  The raw truth is that I can not always walk the walk.

Our Cowden’s sisters and brothers span the globe.  Estimates are about 1,800 of us are in the United States.  I do not know the world numbers.  I know some of the people though.  One in Australia just underwent 2 MORE brain surgeries a few weeks ago.  Another, a teen who is with her Mom in Cleveland right now is waiting for news that is surely churning mom’s heart.

Forever.  It’s such an arbitrary concept sometimes.  I became a wife with the intent of forever in my heart.  I became a mother with that same intention.  But Cowden’s Syndrome threw forever at us.  It’s got the same dictionary definition, but not the same feel.

Someone asked me recently why I can’t just take time off, or block my appointments so we have “breaks”.  The truth is, I try.  Doctors want what they want in terms of follow-up, and being vigilant means I need to comply.  Most visits run us a minimum of 4 hours round trip.  Many can not be “stacked”.  I have a full-time job.  I have a high school honor student.  We need to be at work and school.  I suspect those who ask are just trying to help.  But, it makes me feel like maybe if I just tried harder…

waiting doctor

Forever.

It took me 7 weeks to write this post.  My attention span is not what it used to be.  I have a whole lot of reasons to keep making this work.  Forever.  I am blessed.  I am grateful.  I am tired.  I am human.

This blog was started in hopes that people stumbling upon it would read the story of a real family, fighting the same thing they are.  With that comes real, raw, and honest emotion.

Forever is beautiful when you connect it to things you signed up for.

Forever is not so easy when it connects to a rare disease that wants to grow things throughout your body.

Forever.  It is promised to none of us, that forever will last longer than today.  It is our decision what we do with the gift of the time we have.

I am a work in progress.  I am a wife.  I am a mother.  I am a survivor.  I am worth the hard work.

Today I will start by opening all the blinds.  Time to look at the sunshine.  Time to look at the blue sky and the flowers.  Time to breathe. In and out.

One step at a time.

We  will remain

#beatingcowdens

Forever.

 

 

 

 

Keeping It Together

When it’s all about to fall apart, what is a mother to do to hold it all together?

Anything she possibly can!

Months ago I wrote a blog about how Cowden’s Syndrome changed… my phone.  And its true.  I could not manage the appointments and chronic craziness without Siri, my BFF.

And, when the navigation in my car quits, which it often does, Siri is the one to get me home.

So how did Cowden’s Syndrome change my entire way of eating?

After our diagnoses in the fall of 2011, my dear husband ate his way through his stress.  I can’t blame him.  Imminent cancer risks for your young daughter.  Thyroid nodules galore.  Biopsies every 6 months.  Vascular problems.  Pain.  A wife facing a mastectomy, and subsequently a cancer diagnosis, and a hysterectomy.  Tumors on her spleen… and the list goes on.

By November of 2011 he was here.

Felix and Meg November 2011

I had known him since 1997 and had seen his weight fluctuate from attempt after attempt to get the stress eating in check.  Being a big attractive guy, he was able to disguise his weight very well for most of the “ups.”  But I knew this level of yo-yo dieting was not good for him.  I also knew we needed him, strong and by our sides.

My husband is soft-spoken, and talks to very few people by his own choosing.  I had to get his permission before I hit “publish” on this one.  But if you listen carefully when he does talk, he always has valuable advice and a story to tell.

Some time over the winter of 2011, into early 2012… maybe it was right after my double mastectomy in March of 2012, he had a revelation.  While sitting uncomfortably on the couch one night, he tried to move a pillow out of his way.  Only to realize it was his waist.

A month after that during a physical he left the doctor’s office with prescriptions for his high triglycerides, his high blood pressure and his high cholesterol.  Darned if I was going to put MORE junk in his body we went to a trusted cardiologist.  He told Felix there was nothing wrong with him that losing 50 pounds wouldn’t fix.  He gave him a script for a prescription strength fish oil.  We tossed the other scripts in the trash.

That was the moment of truth, and we went on a hunt together for what would help.

Fortune, and opportunity, and the grace of God had placed a new friend in our lives that year.  She was a blessing to Meghan, but subsequently to all of us.  She had begun her Isagenix journey that  year and was seeing incredible success.

For years I knew that diet and nutrition were the key to so many things.   Meghan never even spoke until we removed gluten, dairy and soy from her diet at the age of 2.  We saw her developmental delays resolve as her stomach quieted.   We moved mountains to feed this kid right, and provide her with nutritional supplementation of only the highest quality.  As I listened to my new friend describe Isagenix, I heard words I already knew to be true.  This company had everything I knew about nutrition – ready to help my husband.

So we started him on the “30 Day Cleansing and Fat Burning System.”  Within days he reported feeling better.  He was expressing clarity of mind.  He had energy.  He had less of a desire to eat junk.  His palate was changing and he was fighting me for the rest of the vegetables at dinner.

I was amazed, grateful, and impressed.  But not surprised.  It all made sense.  Put maple syrup in your car’s engine and you ruin it.  Run it of pure gasoline, change the oil regularly, and you are golden.  Why would we treat our bodies any less efficiently?

Felix and Meghan January 2013
Felix and Meghan January 2013

Over the next 11 months I dutifully adjusted his “autoship” so that the products would arrive at our home ever 29 days.  He modified the portions of the program that work for him, and he woke up in August on his 40th birthday 50 pounds lighter than he had been over 18 months before.

For the first time, in the 17 years I have known him, the weight is GONE.  RELEASED – not lost.  It will NOT be found again.

He tells me this is not a “diet” but a lifestyle change.  He will not start his morning without his shake and his ionix vitamin.  He will not go more than 3 weeks without a “nutritional cleanse” that is the lifeblood of why this works.  (Nutritional Cleansing releases toxins from the body.  Without that release of toxins your body begins to hold onto the weight again.)

http://www.isagenix.com/us/en/areyoutoxic.dhtml

After all of this regulating the autoship, and paying monthly for high quality nutrition, some time in May I looked up and realized I was missing a HUGE piece of this.

First of all, I ordered myself some meal bars, a few shakes, and some E+shots.  My body, stressed to the max, even though it was thin – needed nutrition badly.  I was able to eliminate my diet soda habit – something I had tried to do for years with no success.  I can not stomach dyes and junk foods I used to live on.  My body just WANTS the real stuff.

Then they came out with a shake that would meet Meghan’s needs.

isagenix berry

And then we were three consuming Isagenix, and feeling better each day.  What an amazing thing to listen to your ten-year old TELL you when she NEEDS a shake.  I am convinced the only reason she can swim the way she does is because she refuels with Isagenix.

So, what does a family benefiting from a product do?

They talk.  Finally.  After all that I finally got around to telling people of our success.  Of the quality of these products.  Of the positive life changes.

And people wanted to know more.  So I learned more.  And I helped them.  And they are getting healthy too.  What a rewarding feeling.

I have had to contend with the negative folks along the way.  The ones who whisper, “That’s a multilevel marketing company..”  as if that made it evil?

Yes. Isagenix is a multilevel marketing company.  There is no mystery,  And no one tried to hide it.  There is no one breathing down your neck to sell or share the products, and you are free to purchase and use for as long as you like.  We did it for 11 months.  But if you share (which is what I learned to do as a small child in school – simply share) and you help others, you get rewarded for that.

Then I signed someone up.  And they were happy.  And I felt good.  And then another, and another.

And before I knew it there was this Visa card on my desk with money on it.  Money I had earned from telling our story.  Money I can use to do whatever I’d like.

It got easier and easier.

You see people say to me, as I had said to my friend, “I am not a sales person.”  Me either.  I am sure I couldn’t sell knives, or vacuums, or other random products.  What I CAN do is tell the truth.  I do it well.  My candid honesty ties into my “take me or leave me” philosophy.  I have no time for nonsense or drama in my life.

But now I tell people, quite honestly, that I don’t pay for my Isagenix.  We eat MORE products than ever, and we eat them for FREE.  Now in my 8 years of buying nutritious food, THIS is a new concept.

And I like it.

Isagenix has changed all of our lives in different ways.  And we have all benefited.  Felix needs to be strong for Meghan and I.  And my Cowden’s Syndrome buddy and I, with our tendency towards cancer, tumor growth and a whole host of other problems, need to give our bodies pure nutrition so we have the strength to stay healthy.

We are now, and forever an Isagenix family.

It’s one of the strategies we use to keep it all together.

We can help you too!

www.meghanleigh8903.isagenix.com
http://www.meghanleigh8903.isagenix.com

Moving Forward

May 16th for years has had a special place in my heart.

In 1985 my cousin Meghan was born.  I was in the 6th grade and giddy to get to know her.  I never could have known at the time that her life would be tragically cut short after a more than 4 year battle with leukemia.

"Angel Meghan" - 1987
“Angel Meghan” – 1987

Her feisty nature,  her smile, her spirit, and her strength have always been an inspiration to me, and it was an honor years later, to be able to name my daughter after the spirited young girl who became an angel at 6 and a half, on my 18th birthday.

My daughter carries so many of the characteristics that endeared my cousin to me.  She is the same kind of spirit, who lights up a room, and makes everyone smile by being around them.  She endures medical procedures sparsely batting an eye, and accepts the reality of her life with grace.

My Meghan - Spring 2004

Last year on May 16th I was at NYU hospital, just 10 weeks after my bilateral mastectomy, undergoing a complete hysterectomy.  I knew that day I had the prayers of my family, and the strength of my angel by my side.

I have a “thing” for dates.  I remember numbers.  Maybe this is how my love of math shows through.  I like answers, and things that are absolute, or make some sense.  Maybe my recognition of dates, and anniversaries is a way of marking time – or maybe its a way of celebrating.  These anniversaries that I remember – some sad, others bittersweet, have shaped me as a person.  They are all pieces of that every evolving puzzle.

I thought about the surgery this morning.  I thought about it being a full year since all my “girl parts” were officially gone.  I thought of the perils of the hysterectomy recovery and how in so many ways this was a tougher surgery for me.  Then I thought about my relief, and how much less of a cancer risk I am than I was a year ago.  And I got dressed with a smile.

happy hysterecomy

I thought about Angelina Jolie.  I thought about how happy I am for her – that she was able to make an empowered decision to get out in front of her breast cancer risk.  I thought about how happy I am that she has brought genetic testing into light.

But a few things have really bothered me.

PTEN mutations (Cowden’s Syndrome and the sister disorders) carry with them the same imminent breast cancer risk.  I myself had been tested for BRCA1  years before I ever knew of PTEN. I was negative.  The genetic counselor who tested me did not even have PTEN on her radar screen.  I know its rare – I do.  But I have to believe this is the opportune time to at least educate the medical professionals, if not the public, on the reality that there are other genetic mutations that carry imminent cancer risks.  I am sure there are more that I haven’t learned about yet.  Let’s use this opportunity to raise awareness not only of the “popular” genetic mutations, but of the others as well.  Had my daughter never been diagnosed, by the well educated geneticist – it is likely I would not be here to write this today.

I am also bothered by the haters.  You know the haters.  The “Monday morning quarterbacks.”

They have crept out in quantity and I have a few words for them too.

BUTT OUT!

butt out

If you don’t like the idea of a prophylactic mastectomy – then don’t have one.  Plain and simple.

If you don’t like the idea of a complete hysterectomy at 38 because the alternative was 4x a year – yes you read that right- 4x a year SURGICAL uterine biopsies, then don’t have one.

When you live with the Sword of Damocles hanging above your head every day, when you have to go about your business, and work, and raise a child, and pay bills, and shop and function with the feeling of impending doom that is sometimes hard to shake – when you have a diagnosis of a genetic mutation that is not going away no matter what you do.  Then, maybe then you and I can talk.

damocles

Until then,  wish Angelina a good long healthy life.  Look up “genetic mutations that cause cancer” or “The Global Genes Project” or “The National Association for Rare Disorders.”  Get a feel for what we go through every single day of our lives.

You probably wouldn’t know us if you passed us on the street.  We are some of the strongest and bravest and smartest people you will ever lay eyes on.  We stop and smell the roses.  We hug.  We smile.  We laugh.  We get how fleeting life is.

May 16th will always be a significant day for me.

But, moving forward -so will every day.  The first year is over.  Now on with the rest of our lives!

************************************************************

In case you are interested…

http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/a+sword+of+Damocles+hangs+over+head (Sword of Damocles)

http://globalgenes.org/ (Global Genes Project)

http://www.rarediseases.org/ (National Association of Rare Disorders)

https://www.facebook.com/ptenworld?fref=ts (Facebook Page for PTEN world)

This one’s for you Mom – HAPPY SWEET 16!

celebrateThis one’s for you Mom.

My Mom doesn’t have Cowden’s Syndrome.  The tests confirmed that.

What she does have is strength, stamina, and courage unrivaled by most.  She is a tough cookie.  An inspiration with her determination.  Not once throughout her life have I ever known her to give up.

Mom is a survivor.

Long before she was a breast cancer survivor, she was a survivor of life.

She survived a divorce, two jobs, and raising 2 kids alone – with the help of my grandparents.

She survived sleepless nights, and worry.

She battled for her kids- fought doctors, insurance companies and the like. And, she even battled  with us on occasion… If you can imagine that!

Long before she was a breast cancer survivor, she was my Mom.  And she taught some valuable lessons I still use today.

(My sister posted the other day that “Some days I open my mouth and my mother comes out!”)

These are her words coming out of me these days….

I-plan-God-laughs

god-is-good-logo

But God is good - all the time!
But God is good – all the time!

thankfulAnd….

I really think I am OK with this concept, but we all need a reminder sometimes!
I really think I am OK with this concept, but we all need a reminder sometimes!

When my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer I was 23.  I was scared.  She might have been scared, but she attacked it with her “matter of fact” attitude that I think is what has gotten her so far.

She went for her first mastectomy on February 24th of 1997.  She was just 48.  The second mastectomy followed in April when cancer was found in the other breast.  6 months of chemo followed.  5 years of Tamoxifen followed that.

And she just kept right on going.  Even though some days she felt like this…

several days at once

Truth be told, maybe we all did.  But I did what I could to help out with her, around the house, and with my little sister.  I was really just amazed by her drive.  But I think I still am.

Last year when I was scheduled for my mastectomy, the surgeon asked me who had been with my mother during hers.  I told her my dad and I had.  She said, “Well call mom and tell her its time to return the favor.”

I called her on the ride home and although I can’t imagine it was an easy call to take.  She never flinched.  She took the week off that I had the surgery (a HUGE compliment from someone who sparsely misses a day of work.)  My recovery went so smoothly.  And I had some of the best conversations of my life with Mom that week.

When my pathology returned DCIS, she was the first one I called.  Neither of us were surprised.  And, yet her reassuring words, that she knew I had “done the right thing,” gave me such peace.

Before Mom was diagnosed she dreaded turning 50.  After all she had been through she embraced 50 with grace and charm, and a few years ago gave 60 a great big hug.

Mom's 64th birthday - and 4 generations of tough ladies!
Mom’s 64th birthday – and 4 generations of tough ladies!

This is a picture from her 64th birthday a few weeks ago.

My mom may not be like everyone else’s.  She can be a tough lady.  She hasn’t had an easy life.  But she has a heart of gold.  And I love her for who she is.

As I grow I realize everyone does the best they can with what they have where they are.

I am thankful – so thankful – for these last 16 years with my Mom.  I am grateful she got to know my daughter.  I look forward to having her around for a long time.

A mother bonds with all her children, and she is close with my sisters – differently than how we are close.  That’s what makes each relationship special.

We share some things that can’t be put into words…

Just past the finish line.  Aren't we "Pretty in Pink?"   :-)
Just past the finish line. Aren’t we “Pretty in Pink?” 🙂

She will always be my friend.  I hope she knows just how much she is loved.

Happy Start to your 16th year - CANCER FREE!
Happy Start to your 16th year – CANCER FREE!

What’s in a name?

It has definitely been a week, (ok – month…year) for reflection.

I started this blog in May of this year, after some encouragement from another Cowden’s sufferer.  Once I realize how to do it, I was prompted to name the blog.  I didn’t really give it much thought.  I went with the first thing that popped into my head.  And so, “beatingcowdens” was born.

The name seemed appropriate at the time, and I guess it still is.  But because situations, and people are ever changing, I don’t think the name means the same thing to me as it did 7 months ago.  Back then I had already had my double mastectomy, and I think I still was under the notion that if we got out in front of enough things we truly could “beat” Cowden’s Syndrome, the same way you “beat” a football team.

Well, I have come to realize to “beat” it would be to “defeat” it, and since I lack the power to change my genetic makeup, that simply can’t be.  So now, I view it as a process.  I spend each day, “beating” Cowden’s.  Every time I get up.  Every time I go to the doctor.  Every time I fight to get better, and recover.  Every time I explain to my daughter that it is all about HOPE and determination.  This is all part of the process we call “beating” Cowden’s.

Hope

So really, what is in a name?

I guess it’s all about perspective – but then again, isn’t everything?

I had plenty of time to think about the whole “name” question today, as Felix, and Meghan and I took a trip to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  We accompanied the Moravian Churches on a bus trip to tour Bethlehem, and to take in the Christmas Vespers at Central Moravian Church.

bethlehem 5After a few hours in the bus, we got to tour the town.  We walked up and down Main Street, enjoying the little shops, and a nice dinner.  It was a welcome switch from the normal craziness of doctors, and illnesses, and therapy.  It was better than filling out paperwork related to the car accident.  It was, even through the chilly mist, a nice family day.

bethlehem 1

Although I must admit, as we gathered into the church for the service I still felt a bit odd.  For so many years, and until so recently, I sharply defined myself as a Lutheran.  Now, I was looking up at a Moravian star, marveling at the wonders God can work, and the sometimes unusual ways our prayers can be answered.

moravian star

Personal issues with the Pastor at my home church left me unsettled and in many ways devastated earlier this year.  So, I turned to God and asked for guidance as I looked for a new place to bring my family to worship.  It was a long process, with lots of prayers, but some time in late August, I drove up Victory Blvd.  I made a left and parked.  I went into Castleton Hill Moravian Church on what I thought was a whim.  I later thanked God for sending me the message I had been asking for.  I brought my family the following week, and we have been attending faithfully as a family ever since.

So as I sat tonight in the Moravian Christmas Vespers service, I asked myself, “What’s in a name?”

I know a good deal of Lutheran theology, and I am learning the history of the Moravian church.  There are countless similarities, and a few differences – all of which I like.  Knowing that no place or person is perfect, and everyone has their shortcomings, I like the welcome feeling I get at each worship service.

bethlehem 3

So as we settled into the top row of the balcony of Central Moravian Church, I stopped and prayed.  I asked God for peace from the constant turmoil that seems to surround our lives.  And, as I sat there with my husband and my daughter a deep peace settled on my soul.  Here in this almost 300 year old building, I found peace and comfort in the fact that my family was now enjoying church with me.

bethlehem 4

What’s in a name?  Lutheran, Moravian…. I don’t think God cares.  He looks for a heart that is right and focused.

I couldn’t get through a day, especially not sharing this diagnosis with my daughter, without the firm belief that we are being watched over.

god-is-good-logo