Tag Archives: encouragement

Just To Write – Sharing What Is On My Mind

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I am going to do something different this evening.  I am just going to write.  I don’t have anything specific on my mind, or that I need to get out, so to speak.  So, I am just going to write.  Unedited.  What you see is direct from my brain.  Buckle up  and enjoy the ride!

One of the biggest things on my mind right now is life.  Life, in general. I have a lot of time to sometimes just sit back and ponder the meaning of life.  I sometimes wonder if this is all there is to life, and it bothers me.  Then, I might feel a little bit guilty. Why?  Look around.  I have a husband and three amazing children – not to mention a multitude of extended family – and a network of amazing friends.  It takes thoughts like that to remind me that I am surrounded by so much love.  Life indeed does suck sometimes.  There is always more to life – but even if there isn’t – what I have right now is pretty special, and worth truly living for.

Living.  There have been days recently where I’ve just wanted to pull my hair out.  Truth be told, that might be a little difficult right now, seeing as how I recently shaved it in honor and support of my daughter who is six years old – and bald, fighting cancer.  But, back to my recent crazy days.  There have been moments where I have been feeling quite overwhelmed.  By everything.  Coping with life.  Coping with her having this returned cancer. Dealing with feeling inadequate to handle everything.

It’s then that I realize that I DON’T have to handle everything by myself.  I don’t.  You don’t.  NO ONE SHOULD.  You see, there are multiple factors I have on my side, making life more than worth living.

First, I have a God who is larger than life.  For some reason, He loves me.  He always has, and He always will.  The neat thing about that is that I haven’t done anything particularly worthy of Him.  Just because I am His child – that’s why He loves me.  It’s an awe-inspiring thought.  To know that I can not do everything right, make mistakes and just not live life “perfectly” so to speak, and KNOW that He is always going to be waiting with open arms…that is powerful to me.  To just know that no matter how broken I may feel, He is always ready and willing to pick up the pieces and create a masterpiece.  He is someone who understand every single part of my life.  The good and the bad.  The ups and the downs.  He gets it. And, He loves me.

Secondly, I have family.  I’ll talk about friends in a minute, but first I’m going to share how blessed I am.  I got to thinking what life would be like if I weren’t here.  No, this was not me contemplating suicide, it was me taking myself out of the equation, and wondering how things would be different if I just ceased to exist.  Let’s talk about that precious child fighting cancer.  I’m her Mama.  There isn’t anyone else in this world who can play the role I do.  I am with her every step of the way.  Her Daddy is too, but I’m primary when it comes to taking her to appointments, blood draws, etc.  I don’t resent it.  It makes me happy that she needs me.  Then, there are my boys.  They are tremendous.  I love that we have an open line of communication.  There is not any topic that is barred from conversation, and they know it.  I would like them to be able to talk to me about anything.  I want to be a part of their lives, not a distant dictator as a parent.  I love my children more than I can put into words.  Then there is my husband.  We have been married longer than we have a teenage boy alive.  Things haven’t always been perfect in our marriage. There have been times I have questioned so much.  However, though not perfect, always worth fighting for. God has given me a love for this man unlike anything I can put into words. Even through tough times, I have never forgotten the initial reasons that brought us together, and the love that connected us in marriage.

After family, there are friends. You know, some friends are as close to me as family.  Friends make me smile.  I’d like to take a moment to talk about people both online, that I’ve never met – and that I may not ever meet in person, and people I know in real life.

Don’t EVER think that “just” online friendships are worthless.  They mean so much.  No matter what, online relationships are very real.  I’ll talk about them first. Through online platforms, Twitter, Facebook and my daughters prayer and support page (also on Facebook) I’ve been able to connect with people all over the world. Literally.  All over the world.  That’s neat.  Just connecting with other people is important.  Creating friendships “across the airways” has been incredible.  There are people on my daughter’s page, for instance, that I value their friendship so much.  They have shown so much love and caring.  They take the time to let her know, and to let me and our entire family know that we are loved, and that they care how she is – and how we’re all doing.  It puts a smile on her face, and on mine to see people comment and just surround her with support and love.  There is no question in her little head that she is loved.  I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Real life friends.  I also know I couldn’t do life without them.  One very specific place I’m surrounded by friendship is at and through my church.  From the moment I walked in the doors the very first time these three years ago almost, I felt truly at home.  I walked in the front doors with lots on my mind, and weighing on me personally.  Like I have said previously, I am diagnosed bipolar.  I say that to just say this.  I was not at a great place, mostly mentally, when I first started going to my church.  However, I was welcomed with open arms, with no judgement, and regardless of what my story was.  That, my friends, was life changing.  Because of the welcoming atmosphere, I was able to connect – both with the people, and with God. Even at the beginning of this fight with childhood cancer and my daughter, I knew they were with me.  They freely admitted that no one at  the church had gone through this, but that they were going to walk with us through the process. They have done just that.  In short, they have been friends.  True friends. Through all that makes up life.

Speaking of connecting with friends,  I’ve mentioned how I’ve recently felt quite overwhelmed.  It’s almost as if all the emotions that come along with being bipolar and having a kid fight cancer – as if all the emotions of these two things have combined forces from years previous and come back to sneak up on me…saying, “here I am…deal with me now!”  It is during these times that I have learned the value of reaching out.  I haven’t always been one to reach out.  I’ve been one to hide, keep to myself, and not let anyone else in.  Why?  I don’t want people to know the “real” me for fear of what they’ll think when and if they find out what makes me tick.  I’m learning that if someone thinks negatively about me after knowing who I am, then fine – I didn’t really need them anyway.  That may seem harsh, but it’s true.  If someone can’t accept you for who you are, you can’t go and try and change yourself to fit the mold.  Doing that will just chip away at you, taking more and more of you with it each time.  Be you.  Be transparent and be authentic.  Doing so isn’t always easy.  It’s vulnerable.  But, it’s worth it.  Creating relationships based on reality is worth it every time.  Like I said, during the times where I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, I’ve learned the value in friendship.  In calling someone and just saying “I’m not okay” or “I’m hurting. Would you please pray with and/or for me?”  That’s hard to do.  But, it’s necessary.  At least, it is for me.  If you’re honest, you’d agree – you need to always have someone by your side that you can call on to just say that things aren’t going okay right now.

As such, it has become imperative for me to remember that it’s okay to not always be okay. I am a Christian.  Which is awesome.  However, accepting Christ into my life to lead the way doesn’t mean that suddenly life will be a bed of roses, with no troubles or struggles.  No, just the opposite.  It means you are human, but even so, God will give you strength to walk through whatever life throws your way.  I know this to be absolute fact.  It’s just that sometimes I don’t always keep my eyes on Him and Him alone.  Through the struggles, I see myself, and my own inadequacy. Of course I’m inadequate.  I wasn’t created to do life alone.  I wasn’t created to do life without Him.  I truly believe that God created us to be community people – to not walk through life alone.

I guess I needed to write all this for myself as much as for any of you who have taken the time to read.  I want you to know this.  You are not alone in this world.  You don’t have to be alone in anything you walk through.  Know that.  I want you to remember all these things I’ve needed to remind myself of.  No matter what your situation is, you are important, and your life has value.  Even when you can’t see it, look around you.  See the people you interact with, and that count on you.  You may not be able to see it, but your impact is great.  More people than you realize love and support you.  You may just need to allow them to do so.  I know people have constantly wanted to help me, and to just be a friend. It wasn’t until I was able to reach out and just be real – authentic – transparent, that I could see true and deep friendships.  I encourage you to do the same.  You are worth it.  Your story is important, and it is still being written.

If you have made it this far, know I’d love to hear from you and know what your story is all about.  If you are feeling alone, or just need a friend, feel free to reply in the comments or to connect through the “contact me” page.  Even if you are having a great day and just want to remind the world to smile, feel free to connect.  I also want to say that I value your thoughts and prayers.  Clearly this isn’t the easiest time in my life.  And that’s okay.  I’m not doing it alone thankfully.  Thank you to everyone who will take the time to pray.  It means so much.  Let me know how I can pray with and for you as well!

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With Childlike Faith – Fighting Childhood Cancer

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My daughter has such heart. She has a joy and just the positive spirit that she takes with her everywhere! This little girl has a smile that will light up any room. Her no-nonsense and innocent look at life is heartwarming beyond words. Children, especially those fighting big battles, just have a different perspective than anyone else alive does.

With all this said, I’d like to fill you in on some of the details of our recent history.

As you may have heard by now, our little Janet’s cancer is back, and things don’t look good in a lot of areas. First, I am going to share all that with you – then I am going to tell you were we stand on everything about to be mentioned.

We all knew that it was a possibility that her cancer could one day come back. No one, and I mean no one thought it would so soon. Dealing with a recurrent / metastatic cancer is not good. Learning that she will endure cranio spinal radiation for over a month (every weekday) is also not fun. The follow on treatment will be an outpatient chemo therapy regimen.

Let me explain her treatment plan. For four and a half weeks, Janet will undergo radiation therapy. This time, there will be mostly proton beam radiation, with “normal” radiation a few times. There are said to be normally more side effects with this because a different type of radiation, as well as a larger part of her being treated. The goal of hre radiation is to shrink and make disappear the tumors… also to preferably kill their opportunity to every even possibly return.

After radiation, the protocol is that she will go through an outpatient chemo therapy regimen. This will include daily (Monday through Friday) outpatient chemo. One week. Then, she’ll have approximately 2-3 weeks off, and then do the same thing again. Aside from that, every two weeks, she’ll have a one hour outpatient chemo administered – separate from the others. As I have learned, this chemo therapy regimen is more aimed as being palliative support, or a quality of life kind of thing – as versus curative.

If you’re like 99.99% of everyone else reading this, you may be wondering about alternative protocols or treatment options. You may have suggestions on where else we can seek treatment on behalf of our little Janet. I want you to know, we have gotten multiple second opinions – from the nations leading hospitals and have involved the nation (I’d say even the world’s) top medical minds in this situation, and in her care – simply because her tumor / cancer IS one of a kind. Nothing like it exists in the world. I spoke with another hospital again today, and heard the exact same news as all others have said – St. Louis Children’s Hospital has her with a protocol they’re comfortable with, would recommend themselves, and has state of the art equipment. There are other alternative therapies that we are also looking into, just to ensure we do all that we can to help our little princess do her best.

The entire point I am making is that we have faith and confidence in Janet’s medical team here at Children’s. Never did we doubt them. We sought second opinions just to ensure everyone was on the same page. We do NOT like the page everyone is on, but there is a certain amount of peace knowing that the medical minds agree – as to both what we’re looking at, as well as treatment options, etc.

Now, with all that said, I want you to know that we have not given up – and we will not EVER give up. In fact, we KNOW without even the shadow of a doubt that our God is greater than ANY cancer, any tumor, or any issue Janet faces. Regardless of what the situation looks like, we KNOW that God IS in control. His hands are clearly seen in just about every aspect of this journey. That’s not to say that Him being in control makes it any easier to deal with — but it does make it easier to walk through. We don’t LIKE the situation Janet is in right now, but we do trust God 100% with her situation, and her very life. All of our lives. Her life, and her battle with cancer is part of a bigger story – one bigger than her, than us, or than anyone can imagine. I have that faith. What exactly that means, I do not know. However, I do know that I am grateful to have the strength that comes from the living God we trust. I do not know what tomorrow will bring, but I refuse to allow the fear (like I’ve said before) to rob and steal the joy from today.

For those of you inclined to pray, know that your thoughts and prayers are valued.

Faith In The Struggle

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Your faith will be illuminated, especially in the midst of a struggle. No matter what the situation – good or bad, whatever faith you propose to have — it is that faith that people will see. How you respond in the struggle will be a true test of what level of faith and trust you have in the Maker of all of creation.

My life recently has been turned upside down. I am struggling in a way that I don’t even always understand. As I find myself walking down this new path that I certainly didn’t ask for, I do find my faith being strengthened. I don’t understand what all is happening, but I love a God larger than life. Regardless of the struggle, He is faithful. He is good, and that is never changing.

Does that mean I like where I am, or what’s going on? Not at all. Am I grateful that God is able to use even this for a greater purpose? Yes, that I can answer yes to.

What is my struggle, you may be wondering? Let me share…

We found out two weeks ago today that my four year old daughter had a brain tumor. Talk about unexpected. There was the thought that she had a viral illness, and nothing more. Certainly not this. She underwent surgery to remove it a week and a half ago. The surgery was successful, and it appears that they got it all. That is the really good news. The fact that it’s aggressive and rapidly spreading – not so much. So, even though they got it all, it’s quite likely that she’ll have to go through chemo and/or radiation as well.

I wrote the following few thoughts four days after she was admitted at the hospital:

It’s really a hard thing sometimes – maintaining faith in the middle of some unimaginable emotions and situations. I have faith in a God larger than life. He created my little girl, and He knows her – from the inside out. He knows exactly what she needs, and how to take care of her. No matter what she (or any of us) goes through, He gets it. His love for her is strong, and never failing.

I know I sound like I’m preaching – and I guess to a point, I am. My thought pattern is this – regardless of what’s going on in that little body of hers, God is still in control. I don’t have to understand or even like what’s going on, but He is definitely in control. He is holding her safely in the palm of His hand.

My faith is strong, and I pray will remain unshaken. I hope that I can continue to see this through the lens of faith, and perspective of His amazing love.

Faith in the struggle. Struggle allows you too realize that things don’t always go as planned. In the midst of a struggle, though, it is okay for things to not always be okay. The key when things aren’t going as planned is to just know with certainty that God’s got this… Yes, even this.

As you can imagine, things are very tough right now. It’s odd, because it’s almost as if my heart is simultaneously broken and filled with hope, all in one. What I can say is this though. God is still good, and that fact remains. Please know how much we value your friendship, support, encouragement and especially – your prayers. Grateful beyond words.

365 Moments Of Gratitude – Thankful For Social Media

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Social Media is a powerful tool, and can be leveraged to build up, or to tear down. I am grateful right now for social media because God is able, through it to foster friendships and cultivates relationships in places otherwise unlikely.

I just sit here right now, grateful. I am able to chat with a friend in a different continent, clear across the ocean – all courtesy of social media. Many relationships can be torn apart, or strengthened by resources online. I choose social media to be a platform to spread love, to reach out, and to connect with people globally.

When I see someone hurting – whether I know them or not – I do not hesitate to reach out and let them know they matter, and that they are loved. Likewise, I have had much encouragement, support friendship and prayers courtesy of the internet.

Social media isn’t evil. It’s all in how you use it. Use it as a tool to strengthen others, to share love, hope and grace. Treat others how you’d like to be treated. It really is that simple.

So yes, I am grateful today for social media – and the relationships, friendships, support, encouragement and prayers that happen as a result.

365 Moments Of Gratitude: I’m Thankful For YOU!!!

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Internet blog reader concept

That’s right! YOU! I’m thankful for YOU! If you’re reading this post right now, then know you have my gratitude. I’m grateful for the love, support and encouragement from my readers.

If you are new to my blog, pull up a seat and stay a while. Better fasten the seat belt though, cause it might just be quite the ride!

Really though, I want you to know I sincerely am grateful you take moments of your day to share with me. As always, thank you for connecting – either via comments below, or sending a message via my “contact me” page.

It’s an honor do do life with you. If there is anything you’d like to talk about – or anything that you’d like me to stand with you in prayer on – don’t hesitate to ask!

Have a great day guys, and know – you are loved!

Marriage is Worth Fighting For – Part 3: Prayer For The Standing Wife

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Sometimes, the most heartbreaking thing in a relationship (especially a marriage) is when one partner has put their trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior while the other spouse has not made the same choice. Today, I will focus on when a woman enjoys salvation, but her husband does not. (Men, not to worry – you will not be left out — tomorrow will be about men standing in faith for their family while their wife does not share the same faith.) When a woman focuses her eyes on Jesus to lead and guide her and her entire family, it becomes extremely difficult if she and her husband are not in agreement. Often, it will be determined that they cannot agree on many things – how to raise children, what television or movies to watch, what internet sites are okay or not, if pornography (in any form) is okay, etc. If a woman believes in the Word of God, and follows after His heart, she will likely see things very differently from the views of her husband. This can be detrimental.

If you are, or anyone you know is in this situation, please do not give up hope. As hard as it may seem at times, I would encourage you to love your husband. No matter what the situation, show him love. Does he always deserve it? No, absolutely not. Do we deserve to have our sins erased as far as the east is from the west? No, absolutely not. The issue here is – a marriage is a union of two people, and should be grounded in and based on love. If he is not doing his part in this equation, it can be difficult – but does not make it any less necessary for you to do the right thing. Believe me – I know it isn’t always going to be easy, but it IS always going to be worth it.

A good friend of mine shared a website with me recently. It’s about faith and marriage restoration. As I was browsing the many amazing resources available, I came across the following prayer. It is a prayer for the wife who is standing in the gap for her husbands salvation. Women, if this is you – or if you can relate in any way, take the words of this prayer and make it your own. Take the words, pray over them…then do it again every time it is on your heart.

Men, tomorrow you will find a prayer for the standing husband.

If this is you, I encourage you to reach out. Talk to someone. Talk to your pastor. Talk to a counselor. Talk to a trusted friend. Essentially, talk to someone – and know, you are not alone. You can feel free to post in comments below or contact me via my “contact me” link. I’ll look forward to hearing from you.

Prayer for the Standing Wife

Dear Lord, You know my heart is broken, that I have a troubled spirit, and a longing for Your comfort and the answers I seek during this time of despair. So I thank You for Your Word assuring me that from the very beginning You created my marriage as a one flesh covenant relationship, saying that what You joined together, no man or woman should separate, and that You hate divorce. And thank You for Your promise to heal my broken heart, and bind up my wounds, that You will comfort me as I mourn, and that You will bestow on me a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Thank You, Lord, that instead of shame or disgrace, I will rejoice in my inheritance, that I will inherit a double portion in my life, and that everlasting joy will be mine, as You restore my marriage, which Satan came to destroy. I thank You that in accordance with Your Word, I can approach Your throne of grace with confidence, and receive mercy and grace to help me in my time of need.

Thank You for Your promise that all things are possible with You Lord Jesus, and that You, and You alone, will give me peace that transcends all understanding. Thank You for the assurance that no wisdom, no insight and no plan can succeed against You. And thank You for having ________’s heart in Your hand, and for directing his heart like a watercourse wherever You please. Thank You for assuring me that he can not plan or understand his own way, because You are the one who determines and directs his steps.
Please teach me how to express my faith in love, because Your Word tells us that unfailing love is what every man desires. And I ask You, Lord, to work in me to will and act according to Your good purpose, to make me the wife You want me to be. I believe You and I am Your disciple. I want to understand and live according to Your teachings, because then I will know the truth and the truth will set me free. Thank You for Your Word, because it is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. You are my refuge and my shield, so I put my hope in Your Word.

Since faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen, please show me how to live by faith and not shrink back so You will be pleased with me, because I know it’s impossible to please You without faith. And thank You for Your promise that whatever I ask for in prayer, and believe, I will receive. Please teach me to walk by faith and not by sight, because Jesus said that according to my faith it would be done to me. So, Lord, I ask You to please give me the faith and patience necessary to inherit what You have promised.

Father, always remind me that I’m not to live by the standards of this world. And even though I live in the world, I can’t wage war as the world does. The weapons You give me to fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. They are mighty weapons that demolish the arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of You, my God, and the covenant of my marriage, so please help me take captive every thought and make it obedient to You, Christ Jesus. I will not be afraid, for You are with me. I will not be dismayed, for You are my God. Thank You for strengthening me. Thank You for helping me. Thank You for upholding me and the covenant of my marriage with Your righteous right hand. Thank You for making anyone who is incensed against me and the sanctity of my marriage as nothing; that they will be ashamed and disgraced. Thank You that anyone who contends with me or wars with me and comes to destroy or put asunder my marriage, is as nothing, as a nonexistent thing, for You, the Lord my God, hold my right hand, telling me to “Fear not, I will help you.”

Teach me to ALWAYS rest in the confidence I have in You, because Your Word tells me that it will be richly rewarded. Help me persevere so that when I have done Your will, God, I will receive what You have promised. And help me keep Your commandments and do the things that are pleasing in Your sight, so I’ll receive whatever I ask from You, including the restoration of my marriage.

I boldly ask for faith enabling me to speak to mountains and make them move, and the confidence and assurance that nothing is impossible for me. Thank You, Lord, that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and That with You, nothing is impossible, including living my life full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, even during this time of trouble, which Your Word promises me You will turn into a gateway of hope. And thank You that Your Spirit intercedes for me, Your saint, in accordance with Your will, and that You are working all things together for my good, because I love You, and am called according to Your purpose. I thank You and praise You, Lord, that Your thoughts and plans for me and my family are thoughts and plans for our welfare and peace and not for evil, that give me hope in our final outcome. And I thank You, Lord, that I can be still and know that You are God and that You will be exalted in all the earth, and in heaven, and in the restoration of my marriage.

And thank You for the comfort of knowing that even though my husband may have other plans in his heart, from You comes the reply of the tongue, and that the Words that come out of Your mouth do not return to You empty; that they will accomplish what You desire and the purpose for which You sent them! And thank You for the assurance that You honor and uphold the covenant of our marriage that was made when You witnessed our marriage vows, and that YOU will defend it against the treachery of unfaithfulness, divorce and remarriage.

For all this I ask and give thanks in the most precious and powerful name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Amen

Marriage Is Worth Fighting For, Part 2

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Marriage is not guaranteed to be easy. I am a living breathing testimony of this. What marriage is, however, is a union (built on love) of a man and a woman who [should] enter with the acknowledgement that they are binding two lives together as one, for better or worse, until death do they part. The truth of the matter is that we, as human beings, have a habit of allowing life to take over, and not always prioritizing the things in life that matter the most. We allow ourselves to become busy, distracted, and at times overwhelmed. In any relationship, but especially a marriage, this can be detrimental.

Another challenge in a marriage (and the primary topic of today’s post) is when a couple does not share the same faith. Maybe I should have said the same level of faith. I’m not talking when one spouse is Baptist, and the other Methodist. I’m more talking about when one spouse has faith, and puts their trust in God – and relies on His guidance for their life and their family — all the while the other spouse has not come to know the same faith in God. As you may imagine, this can put stress or strain on a relationship. When one half of the equation does not equal the other half, confusion will occur. Things may be very clear to the believing spouse, and the non-believing spouse may just not get it. (Whatever the “it” is in the equation.) In such cases, frustration ensues.

If a person is not grounded in faith, it may be difficult for them to maintain the same morals and values their believing spouse has. What may be especially difficult in the relationship if both go into the marriage as being non-actively believing and then one spouse comes to know Jesus. The one non-believing spouse may now feel alienated, wondering why things have to change. They may liken a new faith in Christ to a negative connotation because it is something they do not understand.

As is with anything unsure or not understood, they may even resort to abusive behavior – physical or mental. This is not okay, and should not be tolerated. If you are ever, or know anyone in this situation, please seek help. At a bare minimum, seek marriage counseling, and if warranted, seek emergency services. Your physical health and your life are more important. Even in the midst of these extreme situations, God is capable of bringing healing and restoration. God’s healing hand reaches out, and can touch even the hardest of hearts.

The entire thought process I’m trying to explain in further detail is that it’s imperative that two people in any relationship, especially a marriage be on the same page. Two lives form as one. If on different wavelengths, things will not work well. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus, and Jesus at the center of your relationship.

If you are in a marriage where your spouse does not share the same (or any) faith as you, not all hope is lost. Again, for the sake of this blog post, I will continue with part 3 soon.

Know this, friends – if you are reading this and can identify with any part of it, you have my prayers and encouragement. Do not hesitate to contact me by leaving a comment or my “contact me” page. I will be happy to listen, talk and pray with you. This is not something you need or have to walk through alone. Be blessed, and know that hope is real…and it is for you!