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Finding Purpose in Hard Places

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By Abi Dougherty
At the end of January, my family and I were able to take a vacation to Florida. We go not just for the vacation, but for a special time as a family to honor the birth day of our daughter Joeli Grace, who we lost after five months of pregnancy. Because of the pain that is so often felt over that week, we have found this time away creating happy family memories has become very sacred for us.
It was the day before her birth, January 29th 2008, that we found out her heart had stopped beating. That day is always very difficult, I think especially for me. But this year God blessed us with the most incredible reminders of his presence and I think, Joeli’s presence with us too. At the very end of that day we went to the aquarium in Clearwater, Florida to see Winter and Hope from A Dolphin’s Tale. My kids were SO excited.
We arrived at the aquarium, parked in the garage, and got in line for our tickets when suddenly people behind us in line said, “Hey, here’s a free child’s tick…

When Life is Too Much

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By Laurie Ressler

Congestive Heart Failure. That’s an old-person disease, right? I might have expected to hear this diagnosis while accompanying my grandmother to a doctor’s appointment. I never expected these words to describe my baby boy.
After a three-month well-check, we learned that our oldest son, Elliott, had been born with a rare, congenital heart defect called Double Outlet Right Ventricle (DORV). His aorta and pulmonary artery were both coming out the same side of his heart, and there was a large hole between his ventricles. To explain it simply, Elliott’s red (oxygen rich) blood and blue (oxygen poor) blood were mixing together, his lungs were working too hard, and his little heart could not pump enough oxygen to his body. 
Elliott’s heart was failing and surgery was imminent. We didn’t know it at the time, but Elliott would need not one, but four open-heart surgeries before his 5th birthday.  
You never really think you will be “that family.” When you see friends going through…

Bulletproof

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By Jamie Horning

A year and half into our marriage, still very much in the honeymoon phase, we were tested on “in sickness and health” to the most extreme. February 28th 2016, I was shot in the neck by a stray bullet while sitting at the kitchen island of my mother’s home. 
Immediate chaos filled the room. I laid there in a puddle of my own blood surrounded by many people I love dearly, relying on them to save my life. I laid perfectly still, paralyzed with fear and mumbled to my mother “take me to the hospital.” No one understood what had happened, but somehow with such clarity I was able to tell them “I got shot.” My mother instantly held pressure to my neck wound, while my husband called 911. My two young sisters screamed in absolute terror until another friend in the room ushered them away. Blood began to drip off the counter onto my leg, and time felt as though it froze.
I remember my exact first thought was I’m going to leave my husband a widow at such a young age and with no child…

"The Clouds We So Much Dread" Book Giveaway

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By Sharon Stoltzfus

One October day I would receive the news that literally dropped me to my knees.  Will I ever forget the nearly unintelligible wail of anguish, “She’s dead!” The horror of the reality that my beautiful 18 year old daughter was unable to continue to battle the demons of despair.  Her depression ending in the tragic taking of her own life. She’d never truly healed from losing  her daddy at the tender age of six.
The repercussions of that trauma in my other children’s lives has been harsh and relentless. The ongoing aftermath leading to a fall from faith and unhealthy addictions in some.  Losing a loved one to suicide brings an additional dimension to the heartache of bereavement.
My relationship with my Lord and Savior however, has become more vital than ever. My  dependence upon His daily grace dire. I find myself desperate for His sustenance and that not  an unwelcome place to be. My communion with Him a sweet respite in this world of sorrow. And  it is my heart’s desire that w…

Bringing Brian Back- Part 3 of 3

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By Amanda Miller


God and I were still working through a lot of things together in my soul, while God and Brian worked through a lot of things in his body. The doctors were able to localize and contain the sepsis, and the coma gave Brian’s lungs the rest they needed and the energy to try and work again. I had to explain several times to Brian what had happened, but slowly there started to be more clarity behind his silent eyes. Then they started to reduce the ventilator settings, testing to see if the lungs could handle it, and they could.
Suddenly, Brian was going to live. His forward progress was almost overwhelming, especially after weeks of only creeping changes and then that steady string of horrible news.
It was Friday when we could say the ARDS and sepsis had resolved enough and the intestinal issues were stabilized enough that Brian wasn’t going to die. Saturday, they pulled out the ventilator and he was breathing on his own, able to carefully talk again; his throat was raw and hi…