Ten Months Later

  
Tori was admitted to the hospital almost exactly ten months ago for a feeding tube pre-diagnosis. 

That hospital experience was incredibly stressful because we felt like we were in the middle of life or death, waiting for a definitive diagnosis and corresponding treatment – or lack thereof in our case. The time passed so slowly and we never knew how long we would be there.

This stay is much different, a relief in many ways. 

Caring for Tori at home is challenging and exhausting, sleep deprivation aside. Being in the PIMCU means there are plenty of people to care for her, including a respiratory therapist every two hours. We know that she is in the best possible hands.

And yet, despite the relief, we are yet again reminded of her fragility. Of her terminal diagnosis. 

The first night here they asked us about life-saving measures and we had to make decisions about whether to resuscitate or choose DNR given her prognosis should that situation arise. 

Parents should never have to make these decisions for their children.

  
I want to cuddle with her like we do every day at home, but she is so attached to monitors that I went nearly two days without holding her. That was remedied today ❤️

I am sleeping about eight feet away from her, which I haven’t done since diagnosis for a variety of reasons. It feels so far.

And yet, we are still filled with hope and gratitude each step of the way. 

We are so blessed to have an amazing children’s hospital right in our backyard. She truly is in great hands. We have been able to educate so many people about Krabbe during this stay, and that alone is priceless.

We have been so touched by the nurses who have cared for Tori, as well as other staff members (the man who brings the meals has become one of my favorites because of his kind heart and gentle spirit and for how he takes care of me).

And, we are so thankful to still have Tori in our lives. We know time is short, and because of this we treasure each and every moment with her.

Ten months isn’t a long time, but so much has changed and we are thankful for our new perspectives.

Maintaining Your Marriage in the Midst of Suffering

Marriage experts will tell you that it is vitally important to maintain your marriage during the child-raising years because one day it will be just the two of you again. One day you will need to know how to live with each other and love each other without your children around.

Brennan and I have been learning day by day how to maintain our marriage in light of the fact that it might be the two of us once again sooner than we ever imagined.

We’re only ten months into this journey of having a terminally-ill baby, but we have learned so much already about how to focus on our marriage and each other in spite of the constant care Tori requires.

Are we perfect? Nope. We fail daily. But, it is through those failures that we have learned many lessons, and we have grown stronger and closer together.

We share these lessons in hopes that it will encourage someone else who is walking a similar path. Many of these we learned by observing other couples and we are so thankful for their wisdom.

These are all things that you should do as a couple under normal circumstances, but when you are subjected to a tragedy or other stressful season, it is even MORE important to be purposeful about these things.

So, how are we caring for our marriage?

1 – We established from the beginning that this would NOT break our marriage.

The evening of January 30, 2015, as we sat in the ER awaiting results from Tori’s CT scan, I looked at Brennan and whispered, “We won’t let this break us.” He readily agreed. We made a decision before she was even diagnosed to not let the enemy use this to break us apart. It was like a vow renewal in a few simple words.

We make the daily choice to walk through this together, because we promised to do so from the beginning. For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health. We believe these vows don’t only apply to the two of us: they apply to our children as well.

We had our first child together and now we are losing her together. Together.

You don’t make marriage vows because it’s a romantic thing to do; you make them because life is hard, times can get tough, and the promise you made is a constant reminder that you are in this together. You promised.

2 – We communicate openly, honestly, and freely throughout this journey.

This has affected Brennan and I differently, so it has been very important to be real at all times. If we are having an emotional moment, we talk about it. If we are struggling with some aspect of our situation, we talk about it.

There’s no reason to hide our emotions in light of all that we’re dealing with, yet we know that is a temptation for many couples. It’s easier to just put our feelings aside and ignore them.

Every day we are faced with the reality that our daughter is dying, and it isn’t something we ignore. We acknowledge the situation and work through the process of grief together as much as we can.

3 – We try to apologize quickly when our emotions speak for us.

When you are losing a child, the grief begins at the moment of diagnosis. At least it did for us.

We have found that there are often underlying emotions that shape our tone of voice and our words without us realizing it at first.

Therefore, we do our best to analyze our feelings to find the root cause, because, more often than not, it is our grief that caused the outburst of emotion, not what the other person said or did.

4 – We forgive each other freely and offer abundant grace.

Grace is probably the most important element of any relationship, but especially for situations like ours.

Offer it freely. Remember that you are both dealing with the most traumatic situation you have ever dealt with and it is new territory.

5 – We are creative with our time to ensure that we still “date” even when we can’t leave the house.

We don’t get date nights. Until we have nursing help, there is simply no one comfortable with watching Tori because of the need to suction her frequently.

Right now we rarely even get to sleep in the same bed because if we did we would both be exhausted all the time. Tori simply doesn’t sleep well. Because she has to be close to us (suctioning), she sleeps on one half of the bed and one of us sleeps on the other half. The other person sleeps upstairs so that they can get some rest. This is our reality right now and we make the most of it.

So, in order to still “date” each other, we found a show we watch weekly together and laugh together as we enjoy it. We take advantage of Tori’s typical evening nap and we eat dinner together and spend quality time together.

It isn’t about quantity in this season – it’s about the quality.

6 – We allow the primary caretaker to have some alone time whenever possible – and we take care of the caregiver.

I care for Tori about eighteen hours every day by myself, and I definitely need opportunities to get out of the house. Running errands – which I previously didn’t care to do – has become such a joy for me because I am able to do things by myself, things that otherwise get neglected.

I drive when we go anywhere as a family and Brennan sits in the back to care for Tori. I drive for UBER some nights, which also brings in some extra money. All of these things allow me some time away from being a caretaker while still doing things that are productive and beneficial for our family.

As an introvert, this alone time recharges me and allows me to be the best possible caretaker and mother for Tori that I can be.

Brennan also does his best to do things to take care of me, as we realized that I wasn’t feeling cared for – by no fault of his own! Because my entire life is spent caring for Tori and for him, it has been important to have him do little unexpected things to care for me as well – things like making chiropractor appointments for me. These little things help ensure that I am taken care of in the midst of our crazy life.


As we continue along on this undesired path, we will continue to learn more about ourselves, our marriage, and how to make it even stronger. We will share those lessons along the way because we want to help others as much as we can through their own tough situations.

Every day we choose joy and love instead of sadness and irritation. We choose to be a team instead of individuals. We honor the vows we made before God, family, and friends. And we find reasons to be thankful even when it would be easier to complain.

Our marriage is not only going to survive this tragedy, but it is going to thrive because of our purposeful care of our relationship in the middle of all of this. And yours can, too.

(This post was also featured on The Mighty!)

RYFO: Serving the Voices

  
We were introduced to RYFO about four years ago and it quickly became one of our favorite ministries ever. 

It all started with this video coming across my Facebook news feed – a collection of interviews of RYFO host homes and testimonies of their experiences. I showed it to Brennan and we knew we had to be part of this!

(See more videos here: https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCh4CyYbZK-iy1FuuBbxdmIw )

RYFO seeks to serve and care for musicians as they travel the country. Musicians pour their hearts out on stage to their fans and we seek to fill them back up.

When bands are just starting out they don’t make much money – sometimes enough to pay for gas to get to the next venue and maybe some food.

Many times they are forced to sleep in their vans – in summer and winter’s extreme temperatures – because hotel rooms are out of reach.

Fast food and snacks are the norm for months on the road. Good nutrition is difficult to maintain.

It’s not the most glamorous life when you are just starting out, but they do it because they have huge dreams and they are taking their passion on the road, sharing their music and their hearts with their fans night after night.

Because of this, a clean bed and home-cooked meals are heavenly to these bands! 

RYFO saw a need a created an ever-growing network of host homes across the country, and we are one of them! 

Brennan and I share the mindset that everything we have is the Lord’s – including our home – and we love opening our home to traveling bands. We have hosted close to 20 bands over the past few years and absolutely love the experience!

What does a typical stay look like?

We set up our basement – we can sleep 11-12 comfortably – with air mattresses and couches. There is a full bathroom and a laundry room down there, as well as all our entertainment options (TV, Wii, etc.). We leave the wifi password in plain view 😄 

We provide snacks and water bottles for them as they are often hungry when they arrive (which is often late).

How much time they come up to visit with us is always up to the band – we know they are exhausted and need privacy and rest. But the entire house and yard are open to them, and we love when we get to host.

We may not appreciate their genre of music, but we love them and serve them regardless of our musical differences 😉 We joke with our metal bands about that all the time – they are reaching people we couldn’t easily reach!

The bands will tell you that these host homes are a blessing to them, but we can attest that these musicians bless us far more! We have met some amazing people through this ministry!

You don’t have to have a huge, perfect home. All you need is an open heart willing to open your doors to these wonderful men and women as they travel the country in pursuit of their dreams.

If you are interested in learning more, check out http://www.ryfo.org/help and pray about being a host home! 

We need many more in several areas of the country, so if this sounds like you, please apply today!

Financial Transparency and Blessings

We have been wanting to share how we have been using the Team Tori funds for quite a while as a way of being transparent, as well as to show our stewardship with the amazing financial blessings that have been sent our way by very generous people.

Since the amount is publicly known, we wanted to use this as a way to say thank you once again. We don’t feel that we “owe” an explanation, but we want to give one as a way to show you how much your generosity has blessed us and has enabled us to take even better care of Tori than we could have on our own.

When our friend Jessica surprised us with the GoFundMe page we were still in the hospital with Tori, pre-Krabbe diagnosis. She set it up to cover both medical and living expenses that we might incur because of Tori’s situation. We had no idea what we were facing or how much it was all going to cost. To say that we were blown away by the support that came in is an understatement!

We would have been more than happy with the original goal she set of $5,000, which would have covered our deductible and out-of-pocket requirements for our insurance; but you kept giving and giving, and eventually over $19,000 was raised. That doesn’t include the cash, checks, and gift cards that were sent directly to us, either!

You may have been wondering how have we spent the money, so we want to share with you that we have done so very carefully. This probably doesn’t include everything because my memory has been affected by a lack of sleep, but it gives you an idea! We promise that none of it has been used frivolously or carelessly, and all has been for Tori’s benefit.

Because of your generosity, we…

  • Filled up our HSA (health savings account) as much as was allowed legally in order to pay medical bills;
  • Purchased a deep freezer to hold Tori’s breastmilk;
  • Purchased essential oils to aid in keeping Tori (and us) healthy, as well as to help with pain relief for her;
  • Purchased an inexpensive laptop ($300) for hospital stays and traveling so that we could update the blog and communicate properly (we discovered how difficult it was to only use our phones while we were in the hospital for five days with her in February);
  • Purchased supplies and ordered photos to create her Project Life albums so that her story is fully recorded in words and photos;
  • Reduced Brennan’s work week from five days a week to four days so that he can be home with Tori three full days a week…
  • Started making memories with Tori off of her “Bucket List“;
  • Paid for our stays at the Ronald McDonald House and other expenses to get us to and from Pittsburgh for her appointments;
  • Took Tori to California to see Lesa’s side of the family, who aren’t able to travel to see her in Pennsylvania;
  • Helped another Krabbe family pay for a piece of equipment they desperately needed and insurance was fighting with them over;
  • Traveled to the Hunter’s Hope Symposium where we received much needed encouragement and knowledge;
  • And more than I can even remember, I’m sure…

All of that listed above amounts to less than $10,000.

On top of this, you all voted diligently and we won $1,000 in free gas from Exxon! This is going to last us for a very long time and we were able to take gasoline out of our budget! Huge blessing!

As you can see, YOU have been God’s hands and feet to us, and through you He has taken care of some significant needs during this time. This has eased some of burden we carry in this journey with Tori and has allowed us to have much-needed time together as a family. Priceless.


We have been so fortunate to have amazing primary insurance that has covered EVERYTHING for us. We do not take this for granted or even expect it to continue, given the issues that so many families have shared with us.

We had kept most of the money in savings in order to pay for things we assumed that insurance wouldn’t cover, but, thus far, Brennan’s insurance has covered all of her equipment, even the $5,300 adaptive stroller!

But, once we got the stroller we realized that we had a significant problem: it wasn’t going to fit in either of our cars.

Her stroller, which provides comfort and support so that she can travel more comfortably, would not be able to leave the house/neighborhood.

We realized that a different vehicle would be required, so we started looking, knowing that we didn’t have the money saved up to pay for it (we follow Dave Ramsey and don’t believe in financing anything 🙂 ), nor could we afford a car payment right now.

So, after seeking counsel from trusted friends and family, and after prayer, we decided that this was the best possible use of the Team Tori funds that we had left. After all, what good is all of this equipment if we can’t take Tori out of the house?

We knew our budget of $14,500 was low for a minivan, but we started looking anyway. There were three used minivans on the market at local dealerships, all with low mileage and unbelievably low prices. We consulted with a friend who is a car expert and he advised us to pursue one of the three – the same one we loved!

So, we went to the dealership, test drove the one van (2011 Dodge Grand Caravan Crew) we loved the most (and Tori slept through the entire test drive because she was so comfortable in it!); they wanted more than we had for it, but Brennan did an amazing job of negotiating and talked them down to exactly what we had left in the Team Tori fund!

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We paid for the van in cash and walked away SO excited, knowing that Tori would now be SO much more comfortable in “her” van, and knowing that we didn’t have to be afraid to take her out of the house as much anymore.

Tori always used to cry in the car…she rarely cries in the van now. It is obvious that the smoother ride has made a difference for her.

We absolutely believe that the purchase of the van was a God-ordained thing! From the timing to the amazing van we found for just the amount of money that we had, to the fact that it can not only store all of Tori’s equipment with room to spare AND she is comfortable, it has been one of the greatest blessings of our lives.

The fund has been building back up thanks to so many donations toward her “Bucket List” – and that is exactly what those funds will be used for. Experiences, memories, joy. Designated funds are used as they are designated.

We are very diligent with these generous gifts that you have given to us and we do not take your generosity for granted. Every gift that we have received has left us in awe and wonder of God’s love – and your love – for Tori and for us, that even in the middle of the worst storm of our lives, He is there, calming the waves and making a way for us to focus on the important things, like loving Tori with our whole hearts.

So, THANK YOU. Thank you for supporting us, for organizing fundraisers, for designing t-shirts and bracelets and Jamberry wraps; for bringing us meals, for pumping breastmilk so that Tori has nourishment; for sending Tori cards and gifts (and giraffes), and for allowing the three of us to have so much cherished time together; thank you for spreading awareness about Krabbe and leukodystrophies, for contacting your legislators about Newborn Screening legislation.

Most importantly, thank you for continuing to pray for Tori and for us. We know that God hears our prayers, and even if He chooses to answer them in a way that we don’t like, we will still praise Him and serve Him, because we know that He is good, loving, and kind.

Thank you doesn’t seem like enough. This long post doesn’t seem like enough. Know that we are so blessed by each and every one of you who follow Tori’s story. Your encouragement and prayers get us through each day ❤

The Consequences of Resentment 

Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning. (‭2 John‬ ‭1‬:‭6‬ NLT)

We are told as Christians to do two things: love God and love others. By focusing on those two things we will end up obeying the law of God and the law of man without even realizing it most of the time.

There are many things that can hinder us from fulfilling this command, many things that can negatively affect our perspective and perception of others without us realizing it.


In photography, the lens is how you see the world. The quality and integrity of the lens is crucial. Everything depends on the lens, even the quality of the final image.

If your lens is cracked, smudged, or otherwise compromised, your image will be unclear or even indistinguishable from the view/reality you saw with your eyes; your perspective will not translate into a beautiful finished image like you had planned. It will be distorted. You will be disappointed, possibly angry, and unfulfilled. There was nothing wrong with the subject you were attempting to photograph, but the lens made it appear to be flawed.


Similarly, forming a first impression of someone happens automatically. You meet someone, and based on the first few minutes of your interaction you form an opinion. Those first few moments do not provide insight into a person’s context, character, or true self. You merely catch a glimpse instead of knowing and understanding them fully.

Once an impression is formed, overcoming that perspective can be difficult no matter what experience may prove to be the truth.


I mention these things because I have been pondering what the Bible has to say about bitterness, anger, resentment, and how those things affect our perception of people and circumstances.

When we hold grudges and harbor bitterness, anything the “guilty” person says or does will be viewed through a cracked lens. The perspective will be skewed, and the relationship may be further damaged because we aren’t seeing things clearly.

Perhaps this is why Jesus told us to resolve our issues with people directly and promptly (Matthew 18); to get rid of all anger and bitterness (Ephesians 4:31) ; to get rid of the plank in our eyes before judging the splinter in the eyes of another (Matthew 7:3-5); with these things in our heart, our lens is cracked and we cannot perceive the actions and words of people correctly and therefore cannot love them as we are commanded.

When we are bitter, angry, or resentful we cannot love God and others the way He desires and commands us to do. We cannot fulfill our mission.

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. (John 13:35)

Resentment prevents you from seeing situations clearly and in proper context. Resentment is a dangerous thing.

Many times in my life I have seen the aftermath of built-up resentment that is never resolved biblically. It has split churches, destroyed friendships, and created friction in families.

Someone can do something or say something to you with great intentions, but because you are harboring unspoken resentment and bitterness you will read between the lines in order to justify your feelings. We’ve all done it!

Rather than going to the person as soon as the alleged offense occurs to find out their true intent and to clear up misunderstandings, you choose to remain silent and allow bitterness to eat away at your heart, all while pretending that everything is fine on the outside.

Pride is a dangerous companion to resentment.

This is a human flaw that we all deal with at some point in our lives, and that’s exactly why Jesus spoke about this issue in Matthew 18:

“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.

But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses.

If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.”

(Matthew‬ ‭18‬:‭15-17)

There are so many verses that tell us to not be bitter or resentful, but to love; here are a few:

Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭4‬:‭3‬ NLT)

And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight. (‭2 Peter‬ ‭3‬:‭14‬ NLT)

This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. (‭1 John‬ ‭3‬:‭11‬ NLT)

But we don’t need to write to you about the importance of loving each other, for God himself has taught you to love one another. (‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭4‬:‭9‬ NLT)

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

Don’t let bitterness, resentment, anger, or irritation destroy you. Don’t let them destroy relationships or communities. The enemy LOVES when Christians do this! Don’t let him have the satisfaction.

Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭29‬:‭11‬ NLT)

And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. (‭1 John‬ ‭3‬:‭23‬ NLT)

I strive to take the following steps whenever I am in situations where I am hurt, and I do my best to not assume anything about the person. These have helped me tremendously and I hope they are useful to you as well:

  1. Consider the context: What is the person going through? If you don’t know, then offer grace and understanding instead of becoming angry immediately. Ask questions instead of assuming.
  2. Remember that no one is perfect, including yourself. Offer grace.
  3. Think about the true cause of the offense: why is it bothering you? Was your pride hurt?
  4. Always assume the best about the people you love and not the worst.
  5. Communicate! In person is the BEST way to do this, but if the other party won’t consent to doing so, make your written communication clear and your emotions known, remembering that words are powerful. Text leaves so much to the imagination and it can often make issues far worse than they were at the beginning. Talk about things immediately, don’t blindside someone years later.
  6. If the person matters to you, make the effort to humbly make things right. Put aside your pride.
  7. Don’t allow misunderstandings and misperceptions destroy relationships. Life is too short and too precious to allow bitterness and resentment to steal our joy.

We are here on earth to love one another, to encourage, to build-up, to lead others to Christ. Resentment prevents us from fully loving God and others, and it lets the enemy win.

Choose love, choose joy, choose humility. It’s worth it.

Homesick

When my grandfather passed away last month after a long battle with Alzheimer’s, I started thinking about Heaven much more than usual.
We all rejoiced knowing that he was able to be himself again, to visit with so many loved ones, and – even more importantly – because he is with Jesus! 
His death brought such peace to my heart because of all he had endured over the past ten years, and it makes me so happy to know that he is whole again.

It isn’t that I’ve never spent time thinking about Heaven – I just never really wanted to go there, yet. I am young, life has been good to me, and there are so many more experiences to be had, so it was always something far in the future (I hoped) I could look forward to and find comfort and joy.

But, with Tori being terminally ill, my perspective on all of this has shifted.

The world is growing worse by the day. Evil abounds. Sin is rampant. I hate watching or reading the news because it only brings stress and frustration into my heart. The Bible’s words are yet again being proven true by the day – things keep getting worse. And we know that they won’t get any better until Jesus returns.

God has promised us that if we follow Jesus we will spend eternity in Heaven. Eternity. Not 100 years as we might live on this earth, but forever.

Given all of these things, why wouldn’t I long for Heaven?

An older song by MercyMe has been in my mind frequently over the past month and its message is so timely:

You’re in a better place, I’ve heard a thousand times,

And at least a thousand times I’ve rejoiced for you.

But the reason why I’m broken, the reason why I cry 

Is how long must I wait to be with you?

I close my eyes and I see your face 

If home’s where my heart is then I’m out of place 

Lord, won’t you give me strength to make it through somehow 

I’ve never been more homesick than now 

Help me Lord cause I don’t understand your ways 

The reason why I wonder if I’ll ever know 

But, even if you showed me, the hurt would be the same 

Cause I’m still here so far away from home.

In Christ, there are no goodbyes, 

And in Christ, there is no end.

So I’ll hold onto Jesus with all that I have to see you again…

If God chooses to take Tori to Heaven before us, as hard as that will be, there is joy even in that. 

How? She will be free from pain, from Krabbe, from this evil world. She will be safe and she will be with Jesus. And, compared to eternity, it won’t be that long until we meet her again! 

This doesn’t mean I am excited to lose her here on earth, not at all. Rather, I find such a comfort in knowing that she will be in the best possible place and that we will be there “soon” with her.

What a hope we have in Jesus, because of the sacrifice He made.

I am already homesick for Heaven and I know that if God takes our Tori home, my homesickness will only increase. 

But, I also know that our separation will be temporary, a vapor in light of eternity. And that brings joy to my heart.

“I’ve never been more homesick than now.”

(If you have questions about what it means to follow Jesus and have a relationship with Him, ask someone now and don’t delay! No one is promised tomorrow; please don’t procrastinate on making the most important decision of your life.)

Hunter’s Hope Symposium: Day Three

Today’s format was similar to yesterday: breakfast, seminars updating us on current research and legislation, and plenty of social time. 

One of the amazing things that was shared was this: some of the leukodystrophy researchers who work for Hunter’s Hope were here for our welcome dinner on Wednesday; as they saw all of us with our babies and heard some of our stories, it apparently impacted them greatly. As with any career, you can become jaded and it can feel like just a job. Being with all of us increased their urgency to continue searching for a cure, better treatment, etc. because they realize that time doesn’t just cost money, it costs lives. I am so thankful for the brilliant minds who are working so diligently to stop these diseases from taking more lives.

Tori was having a rough time this morning and we think it was a tummy  ache (note the outfit changes in the photos 😉). Thankfully, after a good nap, she was much happier. 

  
    
    
    
After lunch the men and women split up for a couple of hours of sharing and processing. It was a powerful and emotional time as we each shared our stories and struggles of everyday life with a terminally ill child.

The extra special thing about today was that we were all able to participate in the Every Step Walk (you all helped us raise over $1,100 for Hunter’s Hope!) this evening.

    
    
Before the walk, balloons were released in honor of all of our babies and the ones who have gone before. They played the Carrie Understand one “I’ll See You Again” and it was such a powerful time as we watched the balloons float away until we could no longer see them.

  

  
We then all did a short walk and all got to be celebrated as we crossed the finish line. 

    
  

After dinner we had some fun activities and more cuddle time with our babies.   
  

  
    
    
 

Tomorrow is a free day for the families until dinner, so we will be taking it easy most of the day. Brennan is going to play golf with some of the other men in the morning, and I am having a massage in the afternoon 😄 

We have been so blessed and encouraged by being here, and though we never wanted to be part of a community like this (who does?), we are so thankful for each and every person here and for the encouragement they provide to everyone else. 

None of us can do this on our own, so having support like this is invaluable, and it is vital.