Thursday, December 18, 2014

This Little Light

On the corner of a busy street sits a big house full of people seeking a lot more than just shelter. In the middle of that house there is a beautiful light. And although most never notice it in the midst of the grand fixtures of the beautiful atrium, it's there, hidden behind the glass of a high window.

I can't help but feel nervous every time my eyes wonder in that direction, praying that it's illumination is muted with darkness. Ironic, since typically it is our desire for lamps to provide light, however not this one, for the silence of it's darkness means hope. I often avoid looking for fear of what I might see and then one day it happened... 

The light in all it's splendor was aglow peering from behind the glass of the highest window. My heart sank and began to ache for the recipient of it's illumination, for because a light left this world this light now shines.

This beautiful fixture stays lit for 24 hours whenever a child of this "home" returns to their eternal home. 

You can't live here without knowing and falling in love with other families. We become each others biggest fans and cheerleaders, supporting each other in ways others can't. So when that light shines for one, it breaks the hearts of all.

The truth is I can't help but feel connected to this light in a very special way, for if it had been standing here many years ago.... then it would have been lit for my sweet little sister. It was just before this house of hope was built that she went to her eternal home, in the very same hospital that I now seek help for my little ones.  

I have often visualized this little light 
specially lit in her honor, in celebration of the beautiful light that she was to  those that loved her, just as it has been for so many other children of this home. 

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Fight or Flight

Imagine a room full of smiling strangers all making over you and playing games and then suddenly holding you down against your will. Now, imagine that you're only two years old and through your tear soaked eyes you see the one person in the world that you love the most and cry out to them for help... only to have them aid in your immobilization. Out of desperation to break free from the pain that they are inflicting, your fight or flight kicks in but since these strangers have eliminated your ability for flight.... you fight with all of you have.

How do you convince a two year old to lie still while a well meaning medical team painfully inserts a tube past his stomach into his intestines? How do you convince him that he needs this to stay alive and that your not trying to hurt him but desperately trying to help him?

The answer is you don't, honestly, I don't even know if I fully understand it. How did we get to the point where it is necessary to inflict pain in order to help him? These things that Cohen must endure are for his well being and that is an emotionally difficult place to be as a parent. 

This month has been exhausting to say the least. My little ones have had more than their fair share of pricks, pokes, and personal invasions but they have come through them all with sweet smiles and brave hearts... I am so proud to be their mama! 

People ask me all of the time, "How are you so strong?" but the truth is I get my strength from these little ones. I am only as strong as they need me to be at that moment. Don't get me wrong I'm not exempt from stress and fatigue, I just don't have time to give into them.

During an interview today, for an upcoming Ronald McDonald House newsletter, I was asked to recount our experience here. It was the first time that I had stopped to really take in what we had been going through. Together we have endured four surgeries, inpatient stays with three different children, an MRI under anesthesia, testing that lasted over three hours, accidental tube coming out, one trip to the ER and countless appointments.

When your in the midst of a battle you don't stop to reflect on what is happening around you, you just fight through each trial with every bit of your strength. 

My greatest lesson from all of this is that we must seize every opportunity to replace our brokenness with joy every day.

My perspective of life has dramatically changed over the course of the last two years, giving me a new appreciation
for each day spent with those I love. I have been humbled countless times by the generosity of others and have seen just how much good really exists in the world.

Although, this year the Christmas season has looked a little different for us... I know we will appreciate it more than ever! 

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

B is for Bennett

Please, let me introduce you to an incredible little girl... I promise she will change the way you look at life. 

I used to think that B was for boy or ball, but I have learned that it is most certainly for Bennett. This spunky blue eyed little soul is full of lessons to teach the world. And although she has experienced more trials in the past five months than most will in a lifetime... she still manages to smile.

Bennett is BOLD, beautiful, strong willed, and determined. She has the sweetest spirit that will cause you to fall in love with her the moment you meet her. She has an amazing presence that can't help but steal the attention of everyone near her. She knows exactly what she likes and how to stand up for it. She is quite possibly the smartest 2 3 year old ever and articulate beyond her years. She is brave, not because she wants to be but because she has to be and her bravery is tested daily.

Bennett was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor this past July. Her days are now filled with invasions on her body and strangers calling the shots trying to take away the one thing that Bennett holds most dear... her independence. 

Today this beautiful little girl will be spending her birthday in the midst of strange faces and hospital walls. Instead of enjoying party games and playing with friends she will be receiving chemotherapy, mountains that no child should ever be forced to face, especially on their birthday!

I am amazed by the incredible strength that comes from such a petite little package and I am grateful from the lessons that I have learned from this special little girl. Bennett has taught me...
to appreciate the small things in life, just  as she does for the tiny treasures she collects, to keep smiling even when I feel like I can't, to remain bold even when my spirit is weak, to stand up for what I believe is right, and to always give the gift of love.
To know this wonderful little gal is to love her and the same is true for her beautiful family. The only thing equally amazing to Bennett is her extraordinary mother. Katie Anne is fighting the biggest battle of her life while caring for a newborn and doing both with such grace and dignity, relying on faith and leaning on God. She has been an incredible source of inspiration and strength for me and so many others, I am so grateful to have been given the chance to know her.

Thank you Bennett and Katie Anne for teaching us what true beauty really looks like. 

                                              Happy Birthday Sweet Bennett, We love you!!

Please stand with us in prayer for complete healing for our beautiful Bennett! Read more about this inspiring little girl at

Two ways to Support Bennett and her Family:

Send Christmas Cards to Bennett and her family...
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Cincinnati
Lester Family Room 40
350 Erkenbrecher Ave.
Cincinnati, OH 45229

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