Building Boys

In the midst of our mayhem my ‘lost’ boys started their first day of school. They entered their beginning 5th grade and 8th grade week as brave young budding men without a mother or sister to come home to.  I often wonder the repercussions this instable life will have on stable-craving boys?

Will they have abandonment issues? Will they resent this unconventional childhood? What is God’s plan for two young boys growing-up in this unpredictable web of medical madness?

My boys came to visit us in the hospital. They ended up spending their Saturday night helping a nurse play for hours with a two-year old boy. This precious child is admitted down the hall from us without family and is struggling with a serious form of cancer. Nicholas and Alexander cheered his every step as if it was an incredible milestone and made him belly-roll laugh despite his medical mask muffling the sounds.

And as I watched this unexpectedly miraculous interaction, I stopped worrying so much about God’s plan for my boys. The Lord was raising gentlemen after His own heart far better than I could do full-time on my own. And that brings me great solace and great joy all at once.

Thank you Lord.

Image may contain: 2 people, including Gail Vermillion, people smiling, people standing

“Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity,” 1 Timothy 4:12.

Love to each and every one of you,

Christyn

 

Why, God?

I cannot deny that today has been hard on Rebecca. She has had far worse days of pain, but not in a while.

Rebecca had a 13-hour infusion today due to the lost blood during her procedure yesterday. We now know the AVMs found in her intestines were contributing to her continual blood loss. They were treated by cauterization and will be re-treated during her next procedure.

It also appears as though Rebecca has a blockage/stricture further down in her intestines. The doctors went as far as possible with the scope but will need a longer device to reach the ‘no-man’s land’ of lower intestines. So, we will patiently wait to address this issue when the appropriate device can be acquired and after Rebecca’s 6 to 12-week recovery.

Many have asked what is wrapped around Rebecca’s back in her pictures posted. On July 4th, Rebecca proceeded to fracture her back sitting on a tube in the water at my parent’s lake home. This prompted a bone scan which showed Rebecca’s bone mass is indeed, quite sub-par. Years of malnutrition and required medications such as steroids have wreaked havoc on my growing girl’s body. We are now challenged with what to do about this new complication?

To make Rebecca’s spinal situation worse, we received a surprise this past spring discovering Rebecca suffers from a serious case of scoliosis. Scoliosis that worsened due to her growth spurt of 7 ½ inches in less than 4 months post-transplant. And by a ‘surprise’, the word denial might be a bit more accurate.

The conversation with Rebecca’s pulmonologist after an X-ray to check her lungs went a little like this:

Pulmonologist – “Rebecca’s scoliosis has significantly worsened per her X-ray.”

Me – “What scoliosis?”

Pulmonologist – “Your child Rebecca’s scoliosis. We have compared her X-rays from previous hospital visits and her curve is significantly worse with a rotation forming in her spine.”

Me – “You must have the wrong child. Rebecca does not have scoliosis.”

Pulmonologist – “There is only one Rebecca Taylor in this hospital that has her pancreas removed. In fact, there is only one Rebecca Taylor in the WORLD who has her pancreas removed. I am pretty sure I have the right child.”

Me – “Maybe they placed the wrong name on this film and then the machine proceeded in erasing multiple organs on this other child’s film. You know computers can do strange things these days…”

Pulmonologist – Silence. (I am fairly certain she was using this silence as a chance to decide which psychiatrist to send to the room and evaluate me.)

Although I knew when looking at my daughter’s back she definitely had a curve, it took an additional full scan and an orthopedic spine surgeon to convince me that Rebecca did indeed have another major anatomical problem to add to her already massive list.

Bless.

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Rebecca’s scoliosis curve is over 40% and is now causing reduced air flow in her lungs. At this point, there is little to be done except stabilize her with a back brace that will not fix her curve but prayerfully keep it from getting worse. Major spine surgery in Rebecca’s fragile body is not an option right now.

In the madness of the past 8 and a half years, it dawned on me we never thought to check the ‘basics’ in Rebecca’s anatomy like eyes, ears and spine. We know every detail possible about how my child’s heart, lungs and kidneys operate, but have no idea if she can see the giant alphabet wall-chart or hear the soft ‘ping’ from padded earphones. And of course, we completely bypassed the touch-your-toes spine check in school.

This is the point where I board the bitterness train…. bitterness that rides in my soul until it runs through my mind and crashes from my mouth in a hot mix of anger and sorrow:

“How is this fair?”

“How is it my daughter has one more massive issue that has nothing to do with the umpteen diseases she already suffers from?”

“What if I caught this sooner?”

“How much more can this child possibly take?”

And then I ask the question at the heart of it all:

“Why, God?”

Like Job-I demand, plead, and bargain for an answer I never receive.

And then I am the one silent. In the presence of the I AM.

Do I have to know the ‘why’ to trust in this Lord?

If the definition of faith is a “firm belief in something for which there is no proof”, then I have no right to demand proof while claiming faith.

My faith must come without the prerequisite of my understanding.

My faith must come without the knowledge of my ‘why’…

And so I ask the ‘whys’.

And then I give up the ‘whys’.

And trust.

Because this God who “gave dominion over the earth” and “endowed the heart with wisdom” and created the exquisite soul of Rebecca Taylor, is a God who deserves my unexpectedly miraculous faith. Despite the unanswered ‘whys’.

Thank you Lord.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal, 2 Corinthians” 4:16-18.

Love to each and every one of you,

Christyn

 

Summer of Fun and Medical Update

This post was published on CaringBridge and Facebook the morning of August 28, 2018.

In typical Taylor family style, we lived our ‘summer of fun’ to its full potential despite the peppering of Rebecca’s hospital visits and her back fracture (more on that later).

Here are a few of the many highlights:

– Rebecca turned 16 and received her driver’s license! Yes, you read that correctly. But that was not the unexpected miracle – the unexpected miracle was me finishing Rebeccca’s request for a British, rose-flavored birthday cake and lavender-rose flavored ice cream.

This required special ingredients from overseas, along with procuring all the math skills I could muster from college calculus II to convert baking measurements. It only took a mere 8 ½ hours to make this oh-so-special birthday cake that no one wanted to eat except Rebecca. People in the United States are not exactly scrambling for rose-flavored foods. As my Uncle John put it, “The icing tastes like Pond’s face cream”. I did not ask how my uncle knew this unique tidbit, but I have the sneaking suspicion he is probably right. Next birthday we are baking American style.

– Our family of 5 got the wonderful opportunity to travel to Costa Rica together for a vacation in the center of a National Park complete with monkeys and sloths.

The boys chose this location based solely on the sloths – seriously. They are sloth-obsessed (strange because they move at the exact opposite pace of a sloth).

Our only stipulation on a trip location was the distance to a major hospital. One in which Rebecca never needed – thank you Lord!

– My siblings and I surprising my father with a 70th birthday party at his lake cabin.

That in itself, was an unexpected miracle as we had to convince my dad to leave the cabin for a day in order to play laser-tag with his grandsons while we set up for the party. My father is not exactly a laser-tag type of guy. Even so, he remained blissfully ignorant to our secret ploy…

– The ever-successful PancreasFest conference and the fruit it is bearing.

– And, of course, the last-minute ‘real’ beach vacation the kids and I experienced with Gail.

It is hard to believe we had time for anything medical in between all that fun? But alas, while some weeks were filled with delight, some were filled with 30-plus hours of outpatient doctor’s appointments, labs, tests, MRI’s, bone scans, and multi-team conferences. And other weeks were filled with inpatient hospital stays complete with more transfusions to stabilize blood levels and IV antibiotics necessary to fight the continual MRSA infections Rebecca battled until end of June.

Please hug the parent of a chronically ill child next time you see them.

And today we face another hurdle as Rebecca undergoes a procedure to remove staples puncturing her intestines. Some of Rebecca’s staples (intended to bind her inner-wounds during transplant) have now migrated into her intestines causing pain every time she eats. This was a problem we discovered last Fall but were unable to locate a surgeon willing to operate on Rebecca’s unique post-transplant anatomy. Rebecca had numerous tear-filled appointments listening to doctors say, “I am sorry, but this case is too complicated for me to feel comfortable with.”

And I understood.

This case is too complicated for any human. But it is not too complicated for God, the God who created my child’s inmost being.

And that very same God found us a vessel who came from Dallas to take on Rebecca’s case. This doctor has experience removing staples endoscopically on post-transplant adults and he will do the same procedure with Rebecca this afternoon in San Antonio at University Hospital. While we realize this option A is only a ‘tip of the iceberg’ fix to Rebecca’s pain factor, any ounce of relief will be heartily welcomed.

Option B addresses the full abdominal cavity pain factor. But surgeons would have to cut back into Rebecca’s stomach in order to remove her growing scar tissue along with her 40-plus embedded staples. A surgery that is fraught with risk in Rebecca’s particular state, not to mention a 6-month to one-year recovery.

For now, we choose option A.

Please pray for our option A. Thank you your steadfastness. Thank you for your love.

We love you right back,

Christyn signature

The Unexpected Miracle of a ‘Gail’

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The kids and I flew out for a last-minute trip to the East Coast to visit their Godmother, Gail.

In my wise-old age of 42, I have discovered I might be a tad, or a lot, like my grandfather when it comes to trips. On one of our vacations to Europe, my Grandaddy famously or infamously (depending on which family member you ask) made us go to 12 cathedrals, 7 museums, and 6 historical markers combined with a multi-hour organ concert.

ALL. IN. ONE. DAY.

I kid you not. I have many witnesses still alive to verify my story.

This sightseeing was accomplished while singing the visiting country’s national anthem in their native tongue, no-less. The learning of the anthem was merely a fraction of our pre-trip requirement studies, along with a detailed book report (more like research paper, but book reports sounded more kid-friendly) on the multiple countries we were about to visit.

Grandaddy’s trips were the only type of vacation I ever knew. And I loved them despite my friend’s constant refusal in calling our family vacations ‘vacations’ and secretly changing the name behind my back to ‘tortuous historical excursions’.

Gail happened to be one of those friends.

So Gail decided it was her duty to expose me and my siblings to ‘real’ vacations. Certifiable, lay on the beach, eat waffles and icecream for supper, never dare wear shoes requiring toes to be covered – vacations. And so she did. But when her godchildren came along, she started to panic looking at our European vacation pictures we took while visiting my sister. It was imperative Gail’s godchildren know what a ‘real’ vacation was, and she intended to remedy this critical problem. And so, Gail rented a beach house in Sea Isle on the East Coast for us to spend 4 days of doing absolutely nothing historical or educational.

While Gail was panicked my children would not experience a ‘real’ vacation, I was panicked my children would miss on the amazing learning experience that awaited them in this new part of the country. So, in the few short hours of the two days we flew in and out of Philadelphia, our itinerary looked a little like this:

  1. A visit to the Liberty Bell Museum and Liberty Bell (the boys tried super hard to touch the bell after hearing Gail touched it as a child – thanks Gail, for almost getting us arrested).
  2. A visit to the Benjamin Franklin Museum.
  3. A visit to the Franklin national grounds complete with historical printing press, post office and architectural elements of Franklin’s original home.
  4. A visit to The Philadelphia Museum of Art (suggested time to allow – 2 full days. We rocked it in 1 hour, thank-you-very-much).
  5. A visit to Independence Hall with tour (We attempted this the first day, but could not get tour tickets. Our second attempt was successful only after driving through 5:00 pm traffic barely making it before closing time.)
  6. A visit to the Rocky Steps and statue.

*Side note: epic (okay maybe not epic) fail as a parent = my children never hearing of Rocky? They wondered why all these strangers kept running up the steps and knocking them down. When I tried to explain what Rocky was, they looked at me like I was hopelessly old-fashioned and assured me a movie about a boxer could not possibly be that good. I wanted to remind them that their favorite TV show was ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ which actually is old-fashioned, but decided against it in fear I might shame them into choosing a more modern favorite show like ‘The Walking Dead’. Needless to say, I made the boys run the steps while I videoed the interaction for their dad who very much knew about Rocky Balboa.

Did I mention all the above was accomplished in less than 5 hours – including meals??

I might have a serious problem.

But the four days we were at the beach with Gail were filled with zero learning mode and full relaxation mode. A victory for my ‘real’ vacation deprived children.

I have said this before and I will say this again, everyone needs to have a Gail in their lives:

A person who spends an entire summer painting and gel-staining ceilings on her back from rickety scaffolds in order to ready our home for our arrival after a long hospital stay…

A person who drops everything to fly from Chicago to Texas in order to be by your hospital bedside and cover you with comfort as you unexpectedly lose your baby daughter…

A person who takes a semester off teaching her university students in order to move into the Ronald McDonald House for months during a Minnesota winter for your daughter’s transplant…

And a person who makes life full of joy with ‘real’ vacations despite my attempts at thwarting them with historical learning experiences.

When you have that ‘Gail’ person in your life, you relish what an unexpected miracle they truly are.

I thank the Lord for our Gail.

“Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family,” Proverbs 18:24.

 

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Rocky Who??

PancreasFest

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PancreasFest took place July 25-27, 2018 in Pittsburgh. The following excerpts were posted on Facebook in July. 

July 24

Rebecca and I are heading to the world’s largest pancreas conference tomorrow morning called PancreasFest. Yes, you read that correctly, Pancreas-FEST. People think adding ‘Fest’ to the end of any word somehow makes the event ‘fun’. Because everyone knows sitting around discussing therapeutic techniques and research on the body’s most pain-ridden organ is FESTive…

Bless.

My husband is having loads of enjoyment making fun of my ‘NerdFest’. He even made it a new Taylor requirement when anyone says the word PancreasFest, everyone in our family must throw their hands in the air, pump them up and down, and say, “Whoop Whoop”! You think I am kidding but, seriously, it is not in my power to make up such madness. Anyone who knows me is well aware I don’t throw my hands up to say “Whoop Whoop” for anything. Therefore, I have been forced instead to refer to PancreasFest in my family circle as “that conference that is coming up about the pancreas”. It is much more cumbersome to say but, alas, saves my dignity.

In Brian’s defense though, the conference planners did not do themselves any favors when they posted on the front page of their website a picture of a man with his head resting on his propped-up hand and eyes firmly closed. This picture just happened to be under the title – “Outstanding talks”. As Brian stated after recovering from a fit of laughter, “Honey, if this is the best picture they could come up with during a lecture, you might be in trouble.”

It is obvious the skill-set of this conference is healing the pancreas, not marketing. I could make a sloth race look more ‘FESTive’.

Back to my original point, I am now an official published medical pancreas researcher. Please add that to the list of terms I never thought I would say in my life. My research project is on the lack of care for pediatric pancreatitis patients and the need for a nationalized central directory of certified pancreatic hospitals and doctors (try saying that 3 times fast). The project was accepted and will be published and presented at PancreasFest (in my mind I was saying “Whoop Whoop” – this is a serious problem). Through this process, we have had the backing of a team at University hospital and their remarkable analyst who was key to assisting me through this project. Even Rebecca pitched in on the research and now may be the only 16-year-old to have their name as part-author in a medical pancreas study.

My request from you is prayers for guidance over the next few days. This conference is comprised with the greatest pancreas minds in the world. I am hoping to meet doctors and researchers that will become instrumental contacts in helping make Rebecca’s Wish a success. We pray they will join our cause, crusading with us for these often-overlooked children.

Our goal is to ease the pain of suffering children. Our goal is to ease the needless lost time finding treatment to this disease. Our goal is to ease the financial burden for families afflicted. Our goal is to ease the ever-present emotional turmoil. Our goal is to heal. That is the unexpected miracle we pray for.

Oh Lord let it be so…

July 26

PancreasFest is living up to its full FESTive potential. Rebecca was exhausted after traveling so she abandoned me after a couple of minutes to face the opening reception alone. Too bad I hate talking (that was a joke). I ended up being the last person to leave for the evening after speaking with many innovative doctors with a goal to help pediatric pancreatitis. Today will be a full day with poster/paper presentations.

I wanted to share Rebecca’s remarkable ‘creed’ for why she wanted to start Rebecca’s Wish:

Rebecca at Gala

I know what it’s like to be in pain and without hope, and I’m not the only one. If I could take that feeling away from every person in the world, I would. While I don’t have that power, I can help change one life at a time through Rebecca’s Wish. With love and support, suffering children can finally be given a chance at a normal life, one without the hopelessness that pediatric pancreatitis entails. For the first time, some of these children will have someone to relate to, and confidence for the future. Something like that is worth pursuing, and together we can end pancreatitis.

Rebecca Taylor

 

July 31

Our presentation – and yes, Rebecca made me do that ridiculous sign with our hands.

So PancreasFest was a huge success. I truly believe just by Rebecca and I being there we raised the FESTivities up a notch…or two… I mean, at least we tried our very hardest to stay awake while the camera man took pictures during the conference for fear it would be OUR face asleep on the front of next year’s website.

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This child was on cloud 9.

 

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Rebecca was very proud to be the author of a research paper.

Everyone who met Rebecca loved her but who could possibly not love Rebecca?? (Said by highly biased mother). Our presentation was also quite popular with lines of professionals waiting to discuss our research. Although slightly controversial considering a couple of institutions defensively felt their care and education for pediatric pancreatitis was perfectly sufficient, over 90% of doctors and medical institutions recognized the severe gap in care for the younger population of this dreaded disease. And those 90 per-centers were anxious to make changes and work closely with our charity to help improve the quality of life for these children.

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After days of discussing lack of pain management for pediatric pancreatitis patients – especially during the current opioid epidemic, lack of diagnosis, lack of research, lack of proper inpatient and outpatient care, as well as lack of post-transplant care, I made an announcement to my UT team that “I am all talked out”.

Seriously, I uttered those EXACT words.

Words that were undoubtedly the unexpected miracle to the ears surrounding me. Especially after the UT research director stated, “I never thought I would live to see the day when you were out of words,” and Rebecca whole-heartedly agreed.

Upon hearing I made this statement, Brian said, “Send Christyn home! Send Christyn home!”. I would like to think this is because my husband missed me terribly, but I have a sneaking suspicion it is merely due to his curiosity in wanting to know what it would be like having a silent wife for the first time in our 19 year and 11 ½ month marriage.

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The conference dinner on a boat – Pittsburgh was beautiful this time of the year!

Prayerfully, God will put my better-than-average propensity for speech to good use because we came out of this conference with numerous projects to start-up, with numerous doctors across the country willing to join our cause, with numerous research institutions wanting to pair with our charity, and with numerous offers from international pancreas societies for me to become a board member. Rebecca’s Wish is well on its way to changing lives.

Thank you Lord.

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We squeezed in exactly 50 minutes at the Carnegie Museum of Art!

Love to each and every one of you,

Christyn signature

PancreasFest Part 1

PancreasFest took place July 25-27 in Pittsburgh.

July 26

PancreasFest is living up to its full FESTive potential. Rebecca was exhausted after traveling so she abandoned me after a couple of minutes to face the opening reception alone. Too bad I hate talking (that was a joke). I ended up being the last person to leave for the evening after speaking with many innovative doctors with a goal to help pediatric pancreatitis. Today will be a full day with poster/paper presentations.

I wanted to share Rebecca’s remarkable ‘creed’ for why she wanted to start Rebecca’s Wish:

Rebecca at Gala

I know what it’s like to be in pain and without hope, and I’m not the only one. If I could take that feeling away from every person in the world, I would. While I don’t have that power, I can help change one life at a time through Rebecca’s Wish. With love and support, suffering children can finally be given a chance at a normal life, one without the hopelessness that pediatric pancreatitis entails. For the first time, some of these children will have someone to relate to, and confidence for the future. Something like that is worth pursuing, and together we can end pancreatitis.

Rebecca Taylor

Christyn signature

20 Years

My husband and I are complete opposites. A lot of people will claim that title but, in our case, it is completely true. From personality traits to politics, and everything in between – we see the world in vastly different shades of color. When I see magenta, Brian sees canary yellow. My husband’s chocolate brown is my fire orange.

Shortly following our marriage, after numerous not-so-subtle suggestions from well-intended family and friends, Brian and I decided to ‘shore-up’ our union by going to a marriage counselor. Make that ‘multiple’ marriage counselors. The first few counselors had us take a compatibility test. When the results were read, one counselor proceeded in informing us that in all his decades of counseling, he had never seen a married couple with such polar-opposite scoring. Another informed us that, had we taken this test before we were married, his recommendation would have been to reconsider making a matrimonial bond.

Brilliant advice…most especially AFTER we said, “I do”.

Bless.

Maybe seeing a marriage counselor was not exactly the wise move we had hoped for??

Because our counselors had no helpful suggestions on how to proceed with this sure-to-be doomed union and I was tired of their slow shaking of the head while asking, “How, exactly, did you two end up together?”, Brian and I set upon our own course – for better or for worse.

Today we celebrate 20 years of marriage.

Christyn and Brian 20 yrs

I offer no wise words of advice on how we got here. There were too many moments I dare not profess, in which I never thought we would make it another day together…much less another year…and far less 20 years.

All I can truthfully claim is, I have never stopped loving the man who told me he was in love with me before our very first date. The man who fathers and adores our three children. The man who fiercely protects and supports our family with every breath in his lungs. And the man who has stood by my side through better and most especially, through worse.

Thank you Lord for the unexpected miracle of 20 years.

Christyn signature

Rebecca’s Wish


We would like to formally announce what we desire to be new life for pediatric pancreas sufferers.

After years of praying and planning, planning, planning, and then praying some more, “Rebecca’s Wish: Hope for Pediatric Pancreatitis” is finally coming to fruition.

Our Unexpected Miracle.

Make a Wish is hosting a gala in honor of Rebecca’s Wish. A wish to provide help and care doused with love for children with pancreas disease. Inpatient/outpatient care, supportive services, and research development are all tenets of this charity.

Anyone and everyone following this journey is invited to attend the fundraiser. All proceeds will go toward this 501c3 charity, Rebecca’s Wish.

February 23, 2018 at 7:00 pm in San Antonio, Texas.

To clarify, this money does not go to Rebecca in any form or fashion. It will be used to help ease other children and their families with pancreas disease.

The website to buy tickets or donate is:
http://www.atxgive.org/Rebecca

or click on the logo…

We are looking for silent/live auction items as well.

We are so excited to have you join us in this life-changing mission.

Love to each and every one of you this holiday season,

 

Our Christmas Tree, a Memory Tree

 

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Our Christmas tree is a memory tree.

Every ornament holds the significance of an historical event in our family’s history: my grandfather’s snowy Christmas vacation, an angel given as a wedding gift, ashes from one of the last Aggie Bonfires, a set of shoes for Rebecca’s first Christmas, an alphabet cube for Nicholas, a miniature portrait for Alexander, a painted ball depicting our trip to the Grand Canyon, a mitten from a hospital Christmas, a Delft icicle from our summer trip to Holland, etc., etc., etc.

I need to rephrase my first sentence; our Christmas tree was a memory tree.

Because our eleven-foot Christmas tree crashed to our unforgiving tile floor the weekend after Thanksgiving. And with that fall, 20 years’ worth of ornaments came to a shattered end.

20 years’ worth of a broken, irreparable mess. And not a single travel ornament survived.

Not. A. Single. One.

But isn’t that like life sometimes? One crashing life-event and all the memories you held precious and dear, now shattered and fragmented, never to be pieced together. Too splintered to mend. Bitter-sweet.

Divorce from a ‘forever’ marriage.

Aging parent’s dementia.

A terminal diagnosis.

A miscarriage following a pregnancy filled with memories.

The death of a child.

Tragedy from accidents.

Tragedy from purposeful, destructive acts….

Sometimes in life there is no repairing. Merely accepting the unwanted loss before you.

Our three children decided not to place the few straggly ‘survivor’ ornaments across our gigantic tree. Our loss would be far too magnified by the empty space our memory ornaments once consumed.

Lights and ribbons would have to suffice. We were finished with our memory tree.

Maybe forever.

But something unexpected happened this week. Our dear friends, the MacKinnon family, heard of our first-world misadventure and were saddened over our loss, albeit a superficial loss. They took immediate action and surprised the Taylor family with a box.

A box filled with 12 new ornaments. Thoughtful, beautiful, multi-colored glass ornaments that had meaning attached to our family – a doctor bag for Rebecca, an Aggie ornament for our alma matter, Big Ben for our London trip, a chocolate lab for our dog Chopin.…

These ornaments were to be the bedrock on which to build another memory tree. Reminiscent of the 12 stones of Judah, glittering on our tree as the gemstones did upon the breastplate of Aaron.

A few days later we received a box of ornaments from Godmother Gail. The day after, another set of ornaments from my cousin Amy and my Aunt Becky – every piece chosen with significance to our family’s journey. And each of these gifted ornaments represent a new beginning to a broken past.

There will come a moment in this life, where we all need a fresh start to move beyond our shattered history. Although our original ornaments can never be replaced, these new ornaments with new memories attached will be treasured. Because broken or not, life moves on. And I thank the MacKinnon family for that timely unexpected Christmas miracle.

“God, pick up the pieces. Put me back together again. You are my praise!” – Jeremiah 17:14

Thank you Lord.

Love to each and every one of you,
Christyn