In honor of Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, I am honored to share the stories of these two warriors from my own community.
Paula and Mindy, your spirit of hope has inspired many. I count myself blessed to know you both. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.
When Paula Conery went to the optometrist seeking relief for a case of optic neuritis in 1999, she had no idea she was on the path to uncovering a life-changing medical diagnosis. Paula was sent to a neurologist who ordered a spinal tap and an MRI that revealed multiple lesions indicative of multiple sclerosis.
“The neurologist came in and told me I had MS. For most people, it takes three documented attacks for a diagnosis. I was diagnosed just like that. I thought, ‘I don’t have MS! I play basketball. I run. I don’t have MS.’”
Throughout her childhood, Leticia Riley had fleeting thoughts about becoming an obstetrician, a veterinarian, a biology teacher, or a writer – all careers that would allow her to help other human beings. Eventually, she decided to become a registered nurse.
Though Leticia’s career hopes changed over the years, one desire remained the same: to become a mother. Continue reading →
We’ve heard from one woman who battled cancer and one who said a premature goodbye to her father. A young man whose life course changed within a second, and another who watched his child struggle for years. A mother whose child received a terrifying diagnosis, andanother who had to bury two of her precious babies.
Life unleashes some brutally painful attacks doesn’t it? Most of the time, we never see them coming. There’s no way to prepare. We are subject to our circumstances.
Sometimes, though, the attacks are sneakier. They come from within. The wars we wage are against our own selves. We’re on both sides of the battlefield — and only one side can be victorious.
For my friend Austin Lucas, the attack was a slow advancement –a letting down of his guard. A befriending of the enemy. Before he knew it, he found himself in a full-on raging battle.
It wasn’t until Austin surrendered that he regained his position of strength and fortitude — that he was able to strike back against the forces that had divided himself against himself.
Austin’s story is a compelling reminder that we never have to fight our battles on our own.
We’re never forsaken. We’re never alone. And we’re never too far gone.
When my siblings and I were kids, our family took a lot of road trips. My dad would choose the vacation destination months, if not years, ahead of time. He’d make calls and send for brochures, spend hours sitting at the table with the map spread open before him. He kept long, detailed notes, written in all caps on a legal pad, of the mileages between cities, points of interest at National Parks, his estimated fuel and lodging costs for the trip. Continue reading →
As Father’s Day approaches, we’re reminded of all the things a dad should be…
The protector, the provider, the fixer, the giver-of-knowledge.
Lance Ellis willingly embraced all of these roles. He couldn’t wait to teach his kids, help them solve problems, and bring them along on adventures.
He had plans. Plans to be a teacher. Plans to marry his sweetheart, Jill Johnson — to make a home and have two children, maybe even a dog.
But life had different plans for Lance, and he wasn’t able to do those things exactly the way he wanted to. Only when he surrendered his own plans — when he became willing to be shaped by his circumstances, did he arrive at the realization that plans and efforts are not guarantees, and the only thing a father can really provide for his children is unconditional love.
In her freshman year of high school, Brandi Matonich was a happy, busy, normal teenager. She held a part-time job at a local coffee shop, and played the clarinet in the high school band and Jazz Band. She looked forward to school each day. Continue reading →
When Jaclynn Kreider was a young girl, her father, Jack Kriegl, was her hero. They enjoyed many of the same things – playing sports, Green Bay Packers football, skiing, hunting, trapping, and spending time outdoors.