About jwgrindrod

Husband to Keren, Dad to Jameson, Warrior Princess Kiara, and Kylie.

“Life is tough….Tough is good”

Greetings 2018…at one time this blog was something I really wanted to pour time and energy into….I’d like to get back to that this year.

For those who have followed the #grindrod5 and our little #warriorprincesskiara’s journey over the past three years and counting, you know we have faced our share of adversity.  After some deep thought and reflection about 2017 as the year closed, I realized how my thinking has been detrimental in my approach to lead myself and our family.  After some time in prayer, reading, listening to podcasts and some quiet time in reflection- there is a key thought that stands out and I wanted to share in hopes that there is value for others.

I have been waiting, and even expecting for life to get easier….and with this constant expectation I have made it much harder.  As adversity seemed to overtake our family in what seemed like waves, I quickly adopted the thinking “this isn’t fair”, and “it shouldn’t be happening to me”.  What I didn’t realize is how I began to double every trouble…Expecting easier has immediately made every problem become two, the actual problem or adversity and this belief that difficulty was not meant for me.  I would quickly lament how unfair my situation was, how much harder than it was supposed to be…I quickly sank into discouragement, resentment, and even depression.  This led me to do everything to avoid the challenge of change….

In 2018 I am committed to see how difficulty makes me stronger and wiser- I will be grateful and hopeful…I will be inspired to face the challenges that are sure to come.  Jacob walked with a limp after wrestling with God…I want to be around people who limp, who have been through things and share the wisdom they gained.  I will be built for battle, and remember that all fighters are formed from taking some punches.

No longer will I pursue the easy life, rather I dream of and will chase after the good life.

“Life is tough…Tough is good”

Blessings Friends.


Thank you to some great friends who shared wisdom that truly helped- Brook, the book “Automatic Influence” by Erik Van Alstine was exactly what I needed to read, this book is where I got much of what I have shared here.  John- The Jocko Podcast suggestion many moons ago….finally took you up on it and it has made a significant difference.  Never underestimate the power of encouraging and challenging your friends…it can make all the difference.




image.jpegI am overjoyed and honored that you have landed here, to read this.  My wife, Keren is a superhero….real life super hero.  What she has done, physically; emotionally; mentally; and spiritually the past two years is the kind of things they make movies about…a couple months ago a dear friend and mentor of Keren’s asked her to share her perspective on healing- Keren started writing and what you’re about to read is life changing.  My wife never seeks any platform but has a powerful voice and influence that is beyond measure.  Enjoy….

A friend asked me to share part of our journey in about 1,000 words. I’ve been trying to cut out pieces but felt I had to leave it as is for now, about 6,749 words. Feedback welcomed. I’m so thankful she asked because I probably wouldn’t have a starting place to add all the other stories, miracles through and in this journey.
If it can give a glimmer of hope, encouragement to one person, that is the reason for sharing.
Be blessed! #wpk #warriorprincesskiara #grindrod5 #Godisgood #grateful #blessed #slayyourGiant

Healing…before I can talk about healing, I have to describe the wound, and before describing the wound- a little background is important…everything connects- God is good at making masterpieces from messes.

“I’m pregnant?” I asked myself this question every time I saw that little pink plus sign. None of our pregnancies were planned…from thinking I wouldn’t have kids to now being a mom of 3 seems like a miracle!
Our kids are more than I ever dreamed possible. Jameson, was the cutest baby from birth… He is the smartest boy, 12 but really an old soul of about 40. Kylie our youngest, I can see her on billboards and on tv. She has the wits and strength of a lion and she is only 5! She held her head up and did a cobra (yoga talk) first day we brought her home from the hospital.
Kiara…when she was born she saved our marriage. It was crumbling to pieces. I could see myself being a single mom of one but now two!? I knew not to be stressed, my mom’s words resounded “everything you do will be transferred to your child; whether it’s how u eat, or how u react or feel”. I definitely wanted a healthy baby if I could control it. I’m forever grateful how the importance of praying for our kids including future spouses was passed down. So I did. Whether it’s my choosing or not, everything in me and around me is My responsibility (Responsibility is one of my strength finder top 5 strengths so this is natural), especially our family. Our kids mean the world to us and we would do just about anything for them. With this kind of thinking I made the mistake of putting them above my marriage in the beginning, that’s something I struggled to understand but after doing it our way and having no success. we decided to follow God’s order; God first, marriage second and then our children.

It felt like I was praying every second throughout all our pregnancies. These prayers, honestly were motivated by fear- my thinking about prayer was broken- almost as if I could keep praying for what I wanted and God would succumb to my request by the sheer volume of my prayers…While my understanding about prayer has changed (more on this later) I can say the volume of prayers for our kids has increased.

Fast forward 6 years- Kiara had become one of the most athletic and gifted children we knew. Definitely a dad trait. Her drawings, paintings & stories should be in a gallery, some of them are framed and still hanging in our house. One of her nick names was “rapunzel” due to her beautiful gold shiny hair that had never been cut. It had gotten to the point where we would have to pull it up front so it wouldn’t touch the toilet when she went potty. If felt as if God had indeed “listened” to my every request in prayer about our daughter…then things started changing….
It started, in retrospect innocently enough, a couple of night mares about black bears and panthers and getting hurt. Then, Kiara had an incredible dream that turned out to be so prophetic for what was about to come. She dreamed about being in a time machine in Jerusalem as one of Jesus disciples. Jesus was preaching to thousands of people, she fell into a body of water, she couldn’t swim but Jesus pulled her out of the water. She thought it was a dream but he told her no, it is real life.

Her nightmares were intense and they concerned us, so we called one of our pastors seeking wisdom. He recommended playing scriptures and worship music at night- just like that they completely stopped. I had also received some calls from my parents, they too were experiencing nightmares of Kiara being kidnapped and seeing her face on newspapers and news. I was annoyed at first, if you know me, I am one of the most protective mothers on the planet (responsibility trait)! We don’t allow our kids to just go off by themselves to the park or even in a grocery store. Even though I was annoyed- something in my spirit couldn’t ignore it. The “mom radar” increased; my prayer time with and for the kids reached another level. There was not a single night, nor time when something wasn’t feeling right that I was not praying in the spirit. If I was thinking, I was praying. Our kids would ask why I prayed like that and they mimicked. I had gone to a couple of women retreats where they taught about the power of praying in the spirit. In one of the sessions they had us partner up with another lady and just start praying in tongues over each other, their husbands, their kids and then turn it around and pray over our own. Not just so we could hear each other but as Loud as our voices could go with power and authority. I hesitated for a second then went full force. I felt like the time in the bible when Jesus told them “you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me (Acts 1:7-8). There was a shift. Heaven had heard it. Lighting bolts and thunders rose from earth and to heaven back and forth. I felt it. Before that my worship time with the Lord had reached a deeper lever it was and is amazing! In church but especially in my personal time with him. When Jeremiah was at his temporary job I would spend hours worshipping on my knees sobbing in his tender presence like a little baby. I knew something was coming….I could feel it. I had been praying for our family to be used by God for His kingdom in a mighty way. For our kids to be used NOW in their young years. I was also praying “God change MY testimony” I knew he wanted us to help other marriages, but ours had been so messy! By His Grace and compassion for restoration He continues to heal our marriage and we continue to fight to make it even better, we have a story to tell. I knew God was opening an even bigger door for ministry and carry on the legacy he started with my parents.

This Hillsong worship song “Oceans”:
“Your grace abounds in deepest waters, your sovereign hand will be my guide. Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me, I will call Upon your name and keep my eyes above the waves, my soul will rest in your embrace You’ve never failed me and it won’t start now, spirit lead where my trust Is without borders, let me walk upon the waters WHEREVER you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made Stronger in the presence of my Savior”
Those are some of the words I sang, I felt Ready for whatever was coming. Our kids were also part of that worship, and when all was done with chores and school our only tv time was watching Joyce Meyer, Steven Furtick on video podcasts, Kris Valloton, Bill Johnson, Jimmy Evans or Pastor Robert Morris. Kiara imitated Joyce Meyer with a laundry basket pulpit- she called it the “joyer smith show”. We felt a strong pull to minister and we had just said yes to be a part of a new church plant and it was a dream come true. We had already been a part of the baby stages of another church we are still a part of today. I had asked my leader there for her blessing to do this, I think she thought we were crazy.
Our life was busy, full of ballet, taekwondo, soccer, morning bootcamps, outreach commitments.

Maybe the busyness masked the beginning or maybe it really began innocently enough, that we didn’t catch it. Kiara was complaining of some minor headaches, we would pray over her and make sure she was hydrated (Arizona heat is no joke) and she always rebounded and recovered. She had just had her annual checkup and immunizations. At the dentist they had found a deep cavity in a molar, surely that was the cause of the headaches we thought. Then a couple of weekends before Halloween she awoke in the middle of the night with a headache so intense she was screaming and puking. By this time I had noticed her right eye turning in ever so slightly, Jeremiah couldn’t see it, our self diagnosis wheels were turning non-stop. Kiara was so full of energy- last to bed first one wide awake- and now lethargic and tired all the time. With the intense headaches- something had to be done immediately. With our first we ended up in the emergency room for every bump, bruise, and illness, so I knew the most likely treatment: children’s tylenol and schedule a follow up Dr. Appt. Responsibility again kicked in, so I filled out an “in-quicker” appointment to the emergency room, gave them all info and requested a cat scan (I had discernment this needed to happen). Inquicker allowed them to be seen at an exact time with less paperwork, instead of suffering in the waiting room. Kiara requested her Dad to accompany her- while I stayed with our other two. They ran some tests, she took a full IV and the decision was made not to proceed with a cat scan. Ironically enough they were concerned about excess radiation exposure in kids. They even reassured us the percentages of a tumor were less than one percent. I was frustrated because we needed reassurance and confirmation, but at the same time it was a relief. She felt and looked better.
Our diet is not normal, it was and still is on the strict side. Our girls love anything with lemon and salt; cucumbers, kale, spinach, broccoli, apples. You couldn’t find junk food in our house unless it was given to us or we were hosting a party for some sort. Jeremiah and I continued the dialogue of what the next step was- Something was still off, slight improvement but we knew it wasn’t solved…did we find a pediatric migraine specialist, change her diet even stricter? We were looking for answers and advice anywhere and everywhere.

Halloween came, and some dear friends were in town visiting. They wanted to take their children trick or treating- so because of their desire we joined our church friends at a get together last minute. During this time we briefly were introduced to Wes Little- a man who in a small act of obedience made a connection that would help save Kiara’s life. This introduction was brief- honestly we barely remember it…but it was God sent. God appointed.
As we were walking the neighborhood in search of candy loot (that we were planning on throwing out) Kiara started to wobble when she walked. She could not keep her balance- she told us her legs were asleep. Were her shoes too tight? Was it the hour long drive? We carried her during trick o treating, it was late anyway, but it was clear something wasn’t right.
The next morning we went to the playground, Kiara kept being clumsy and falling down. I asked to help her, to hold her hand, ”No mom, I got this!” She kept insisting! Once we got home, a slight bump from her sister and she went down and landed head first on concrete! That was it- Jeremiah was at church and I called him and told him we had to take her in…Not happy with the ER experience the previous time, we found a pediatric urgent care- this time I knew I had to go…I knew I had to be hands on- we arrived at the urgent care and the Dr. looked at the notes and told me “this is something neurological” He immediately transferred us to Phoenix Children’s Hospital- he ordered all the scans and tests for Kiara. The wait felt like eternity. It was 11pm, eight hours had passed since we left the house to go to Urgent Care. We were still waiting for cat scan results. Our nurse kept apologizing for the wait of approaching 10 hrs. She assured me, once the results come back we were out of there.When she came back in, she closed the curtain, turned and faced me and she began to weep. Jameson our oldest was texting Jeremiah the words out of her mouth “We found a mass on her brain” Surprisingly, I didn’t cry or break down at this news.… I was stunned, in disbelief even- but immediately I knew God would deliver a miracle, there was no question in my mind. We are blessed that we are surrounded by a community of faithful prayers- they joined us immediately in praying for a miracle.

Being a pastor’s kid I saw a lot of things. Our family went through so much, that even led to my dad to leave ministry. Our family was attacked from every angle you can imagine. The enemy knows if it eliminates the Shepard, the sheep scatter…and scatter we did. The front row seat to pain and attack partially desensitized me to emotionally reacting to trials in life.

I do believe I had an unfair advantage to knowing about Jesus and the bible thanks to my mother she was diligent in teaching us. I can still recall stories and remember worship music playing all the time… but it wasn’t until later in life, broken and lost, where I encountered His grace, mercy, forgiveness and unconditional love. I was ready for God to not only be my Savior but also my Lord of all.
I witnessed the radical and supernatural through movies like Father of Lights, Furious Love, and Finger of God. What I resented about the church we were a part of growing up was people being erased from the church when they most needed it, having it be more about justice than grace (John 1:17), I don’t know if I missed it or I was too young to remember but didn’t know much about things like the prophetic or speaking in tongues. Everything we did revolved around the church. As our church pianist or when leading worship I was more focused on performance & rituals, maybe based on my insecurities, than allowing the Holy Spirit to lead and be free to let go in His presence. My dad was very generous and compassionate. We gave a brand new car away once, the very mattresses we were sleeping on, several times my dad took off his belt or shoes to give away, and it seemed there was always someone living with us that didn’t have a place to stay. Sacrifice, work ethic, obedience & respect was pounded into us. We ate okra and chewed roasted garlic heads, my early introduction to colonoscopies was traumatizing. I was constantly being encouraged to do new things; teaching bible studies, preaching, singing solos, one time I was asked to sing at a baby’s funeral. I think this explains my personality and thick skin. I grew numb to any criticism and just made sure I met my expectations as a pastors daughter. I was given rules but rarely taught- “do this or else this bad thing will happen” Fear was the motivator…..Legalism kills relationship.

Sitting in the ICU, everything was a blur, everything was happening so fast! A golf size tumor in brainstem growing, blocking the passage of fluid to and from the brain and spinal cord, and it was very probable it was cancer. Surgery was done a shunt was placed to relieve the cerebral spinal fluid that had been building up and squishing her brain- thus the cause of headaches. On Tuesday, November 4, 2014, we put the life of our princess into the hands of Dr. Bristol to remove the tumor. 9.5 hrs of surgery, like a scene from a movie- the waiting room dwindled, names came off the board, until it was just us, just our Kiara in surgery. We were strong- and had just finished rejoicing over a devotional that I had just shared with family and church friends and declared it over our daughter. My physical parents were there praying but our spiritual parents were there hugging us.
Our faith was so big that the prayers we were praying was for the tumor to disappear. We believed it wholeheartedly- truthfully we believed with all our hearts the tumor would disappear, then we believed with full faith it wouldn’t be malignant. When Dr Bristol met with us, she informed us it was indeed a cancerous tumor- we felt like we had been punched in the stomach….

That night, we sought wisdom- one of our pastors told us: “She will be healed and it will be through the practical, the devil has been behind your heels for a while, he tried to go after your marriage couldn’t get it, then your finances, couldn’t get that and now he is going after your babies” We believed and held on to those prophetic words. There was a prophetic word Kiara had received that summer about being an author and writing books. We held on to that too.

What was also interesting was the response of our neurosurgeon when I asked her how long the tumor had been there and the cause? The time was impossible to know or tell and the cause “bad luck”. This gave me relief of any lies that we had done something wrong or there could have been something we should have or could have done to prevent it. I was so careful with everything. We had plenty of people offering solutions trying to influence to do what they thought was right to help. In trial, I knew that Gods voice has to be clearer and louder than everyone else’s. There was no confusion. We knew what to do. God had prepared these nurses and doctors for this time. Jeremiah felt the conviction for our family to be a family of gratitude- we went on a mission sowing genuine gratitude into every Doctor, nurse, specialist, environmental service worker, everyone we encountered. We wrote personalized thank you cards, we filled out Daisy awards-We thanked our neurosurgeon for finishing school and for all the sacrifices she had made in her life to be prepared for Kiara’s surgery. We set out to control the environment Kiara was in- no sorrow, no mourning- hope, joy, and faith would be the fragrance of her room and our family.

Getting biopsy results was heart wrenching, 10 days after surgery we received confirmation cancer had metastasized and spread aggressively and significantly to her spine. We refused to hear statistics, but understood she was classified as “High Risk”, decisions had to be made immediately- time was not on our side. Meanwhile she was receiving breathing treatments to help her breath on her own, she was being fed through a feeding tube, she couldn’t eat, talk or move. She couldn’t even give us any face expressions, move her fingers or toes to communicate. Even though she couldn’t respond we spoke life, hope, and her future into existence for her to hear.

After the biopsy and spinal results came back we met with the euro-oncology team to formulate a plan- this was the breaking point. We needed to start treatment within days- the tumor in her spine was growing aggressively. The decisions we were left to make seemed impossible…The posterior fossa complicated treatment- if we started it wouldn’t give her body time to recover, if we chose not to treat we would lose her and if we did her quality of life down the road would be drastically impaired. We couldn’t focus down the road we need to save her life now. This was the practical. We knew we had to go through it.
The long term side effects of radiation treatment for pediatric cancer is nothing a parent wants to hear. Children aren’t fully developed and it can affect so many different things; growth stunt, mental development, cognitive defects are just some of the
few. Chemotherapy is also harsh, it has more instant side effects like: hearing loss, nausea, affects organs and bones, it kills your immune system and you have to protect your child from infections. Sometimes infections or the drugs trying to kill cancer are the cause of death and not the actual cancer. It’s like giving your kids poison, your body fight backs to recover with the help of other drugs and transfusions and right when it starts to recover, not fully, they hit you again, month after month. You body fights hard in the beginning and then it gets weaker and its harder.
Wes Little connected us with the Conti family- a gift from God. They has been down our road, they fought the same fight except they were fighting in memory of their daughter, to help us fight for ours. They started a foundation to help families like us- who didn’t know what to do, what questions to ask, or where to find hope. Anthony came in to the consultation room where Jeremiah and I were still crying- trying to make impossible decisions- and throws a 2 feet high stack of papers and says “this is hard but I need you to buck up, this is what you need to read and these are the questions you need to ask”. We finally had some ammo to fight- Jeremiah barely slept for two days as he read every clinical trial, and every treatment option- We could finally ask the right questions- We sent off her medical records for second opinions. We knew no matter the cost it was up to us to find the best treatment. We would leave no room for regret, we had to do our part. Jeremiah took care of reading all the clinical trials, insurance, getting and resending medical records arranging friend visits and friends packing up our house.

After Jeremiah arrived to the ICU after we discovered the tumor, I went home briefly to grab an extra set of clothes and never turned back, never looked back. We were in a battle. Now I think back and reflect on the story of Gideon in Judges, where God needed a few soldiers who would have urgency to obey. Gideon continued even when he was afraid. God sent confirmations through other’s dreams and Gideon took time to worship before the battle had been won.

God sent friends, who took the call and flew down to pack our house. We didn’t know what was sold or packed. It no longer mattered. I had spent a lot of time decluttering and collecting items to create our dream home so to say it had not been important would be dishonest. Memories of pictures was our only request.

I really didn’t have time to go down the road of what ifs. My husband took over communication and used media as a therapeutic outlet to write, he felt called to share and be transparent about everything. Thousands tuned in and showed support. It was unreal. I know it wasn’t about me but God hadn’t called me to be a part of that yet. I decreased and He increased and used Jeremiah in a mighty way.

After sending out Kiara’s medical records for second opinions she was accepted into a clinical trial at St Jude research hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. We arrived the Sunday before Thanksgiving. After 30 treatments of radiation, sedated for each one, Kiara was still not communicating, her rapunzel hair was getting in the way of a mask the shape of her head that was screwed to a table to help position her head for accuracy. The radiation nurses cut her hair- that same night, Jeremiah cut and shaved Jameson’s and my hair, including his own with hospital scissors and a beard trimmer. Kylie gave us clear instructions not to touch her hair. I don’t blame her. Days were going by with little sign of improvement…our faith was resolute our bodies exhausted.

The research about posterior fossa syndrome is limited, but showed the benefit of earlier treatment to rehabilitate. We ventured to a renown pediatric intensive rehab facility that focused on brain and spinal injuries in Baltimore, MD during our 6 week break. Kiara began progressing at a rapid rate, she was holding her head up, was tasting liquids with thickeners and she’d wake up around 4am with her arm and finger pointing up saying “God”. We had been playing worship music and healing scriptures 24/7. Nurses loved being in our room. In the beginning Jeremiah and I took shifts reading from the bible, declaring psalms 91 over and over again. It was exhausting. God reminded me of Psalm 127 “Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, To sit up late, To eat the bread of sorrows; For so He gives His beloved sleep. Children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth.”

The week before we were suppose to finish, Kiara started throwing up in the mornings. Not a good sign. Scar tissue was now blocking the passage of fluid. We were transferred to John Hopkins Hospital. Had we been anywhere else a permanent shunt would have been placed. The risk of a shunt for a cancer patient who already had cancer spread is great- if it wasn’t gone or if it came back we would be pumping cancer cells directly into her stomach. Instead Kiara had a procedure where they make a whole in the scar tissue of the brain to create new passage, the surgery was a success.

We headed back to Memphis for 7 months of chemotherapy. Jeremiah and I had already become daddy and mommy nurses and therapists. We lived at the hospital. We never left her side, we were her advocate, her voice, we knew her better than anyone else. We took our job seriously.

At 3 months she started uttering words and it gradually improved. Our ways of communication consisted of squeezing, smiling, closing eyes, pointing at charts. She had been working up from thickened liquids to soft foods and after 8 months her feeding tube came out. She threw it up and our attempt to place it back into place as we had done before was unsuccessful. There had also been a failed attempt to surgically place a tube closer to her stomach to relieve discomfort in nose and throat. During sedation stomach didn’t expand correctly as they filled her stomach with air. We decided to proceed without either. She was a champ! Staying hydrated, taking medications in pill form and liquid, and eating was now a challenge via mouth. We couldn’t just insert through tube bypassing taste buds that had also drastically changed. We became barf experts and discerners of which medicines needed to be retaken when that happened. We still followed a stricter diet than most throughout but we refused do it out of fear. 10 months later we finally heard the words we wanted to hear. NED = No Evidence of Disease. Cancer free!
She still needed more rehab, we headed back to Baltimore Maryland for 5 more months of treatment and help transition to our “new normal”.

It’s been 23 months now since diagnosis. Her 1 year checkup last week still shows clear scans. Kiara still says, I can do it by myself mom! Her lack of hair still screams for eye stares. Sometimes she notices the disgusted, pitied looks and lack of compassion from people. And we pray daily God still uses us in those situations. She loves to give, love on people and make them laugh. Cancer will not define her. She is still in a wheelchair but she is not handicapped or disabled by it. She still takes longer to communicate, draw and write. Processing emotions is still challenging but she is as keen, witty and funny as her dad. She’s now only on 1 medication, her hearing loss is minor, and her eye surgery in June was a success. There’s a high possibility she’ll have to start taking growth hormones after the results of tests scheduled during our next 3 month checkup in January 2017. I think all of our kids have matured in this process by 10 years at least. We can handicap ourselves or others with our limited thinking and fears. She is not Kiara strong she is God strong. The joy of the Lord is her Strength.

We made a commitment to keep the family together and to allow God to lead us. We spent 457 days away from home, living in a 1 bedroom with all 5 of us. And we were probably only able to prepare 1/4 of the 1,371 meals we mostly ate in hospitals (6,855 meals if u count all of us)
We celebrated 2 anniversaries, 2 thanksgivings, 2 Christmas’s and 2 New Years away from home. And we all celebrated our birthday in the hospital.
Lost track of blood transfusions, platelet transfusions, Scans, MRI’s, pet scans, lumbar punctures, IVs, countless medications, bed baths and central line flushing and cleaning without fail. Kiara will continue to have check ups every 3 months for 1.5 years, then will move up to every 6 months and so forth until she is 25 years.

God provided every need plus more. Our hearts desire is to give, it’s been a humbling season of receiving and being lavished. But it has only increased our passion to being bigger vessels to give back. He protected us from so much! His favor was strong. I can’t possibly tell all the stories and miracles here. This journey has not been easy. Sometimes God turns our faith into trust in baby steps. The times of abundance have been overwhelming and humbling. We fall in love with our provider daily. There were prayer warriors standing in the gap. We weren’t solo, God orchestrated a symphony, an army.

Sometimes serving Jesus looks different. He needs you and I to step up and be His hands and feet. For us, although not the only thing we do, has and still is being His hands and feet for Kiara. Our compassion, honor and respect as been stretched to beautiful people who love, take care of, or adopts a special needs, and/or disabled children.

Our prayer from the very beginning was for God not to allow us to walk out, finish the same. Refine us, unite us, bring spiritual healing to us and ones around us. If I could give back anything we couldn’t take to heaven to have our healthy daughter back, I would.
Perspective changed daily for us, seeing families in worse situations and outcomes. I’m not sure why some get healed and some don’t. We have met beautiful people who have lost their battle to cancer. Some with the same diagnosis Kiara had. Some lost limbs to save their life. Paraplegics, quadriplegics due to car accidents, asthma attacks or abuse. Some paralyzed, woke up and couldn’t move and there was no explanation or known cause. Instant deaths without warning.
We are finite people with frail bodies in a broken world but God has place eternity in our hearts. I’m trusting the Why’s will be answered in heaven. We had to learn to start asking HOW, Lord? How do we share Your story with our story?

What if what you pray for doesn’t get answered? Do we give up? Do we get angry? We had been praying for a friend who was in life support, we prayed for healing. When in Baltimore, we got the news she had passed away in Memphis. My prayers were “Raise her from the dead, God”. We were heartbroken and Kylie prayed for her to be raised from the dead for weeks. Her mom Typed a message after her passing, She is healed. What’s your definition of healing? whats your definition of Heaven? Do you know if you are going to Heaven? Where and what are some of the physical, emotional, spiritual wounds you NEED healing in?
That has not deterred us to stop praying for people. We still believe in the supernatural and suddenly miracles. God put it on our hearts to bring hope in the way of a prophetic ministry night and worship in Memphis. Not everyone accepted the invitation and there was no laying of hands, nor people falling on the floor. It was a sweet appointment and encounter with Jesus ministering to the hearts searching and in need of hope, God encouraged them and gave glimpses of His promises they could hold on to just as we are holding ours.

Prayer is not a discipline, its a relationship. God prepares us through His Word and through prayer. Worship enters us into His presence and sends us out with ammunition. When we surrender ourselves fully, accept His plan, there are waves of peace and spiritual understanding. We don’t have to know details, stay on the line and he will give you glimpses of His promises. Our reward is great but the journey isn’t easy….Be honest and vulnerable with God and pray your heart’s desires.

Sometimes unanswered prayers are really blessings, and may not even see full effect until we are in eternity. “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

If I could have, I would have taken her place, it would make more sense. Seeing your child fighting for their life has to be one of the most difficult things you could ever witness. I envisioned Mary at the feet of the cross watching Jesus die. God entrusted Mary with Jesus, she carried him in her womb, raised him and was now giving him back, He was God’s son first. She had been entrusted. We have been entrusted. What an honor. If we partner with him, our kids will be shaped better by God than anything we could ever do on our own. There are so many different stories of heroes in the bible where parents and guardians played a vital part; Abraham & Isaac Joseph & Jacob, Moses & Amrad/Jochebed, Esther & Mordecai…Be encouraged you play a vital role.

Kiara’s physical healing is still unfolding before our eyes. Where Drs say she will never walk without a cane or run again we turn to our faith, hold on to his promises and trust in his timing. God has the last word and his work will be complete. We are praying for 100 fold restoration on her body mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I love the confirmations God has sent through different peoples’s dreams about Kiara walking an running on her own, just like Gideon. We have also witnessed spiritual healing in our own lives and continue to hear testimonies of others.

Although my parents weren’t perfect they instilled bible principles and morals. I grew up in a church going home. (2 Timothy 1:5)
Most of us have had to forgive our parents for something they did wrong whether they knew or not. By God’s grace, my mom is one of the kindest most loving person’s you’ll ever meet, so much so that I would love to see her really mad sometime, because if she is, you can’t tell. A true Servants heart, worshipper and anointed preacher. My dad is very intellectual and has so so so much knowledge about the bible. His passion is to learn and find remedies to just about any situation. He is now beginning to minister from the heart just as the Father does. Jeremiah is the most compassionate and loving husband and father, it transfers into all leadership streams. He is an anointed communicator, activator, encourager, giver and doesn’t miss an opportunity to speak life to any situation or person. I pray for our kids to be able to forgive my shortcomings and the mistakes I have made. Every little thing you do matters. We can alter and change the legacy we hand down to our kids or grandkids at any time. Whether good or bad, sin or blessing, fears or God’s promises, we are handing those things down to our kids. Start your foundation now if you haven’t already. It’ll be tough to build one during the midst of a storm. Pass down unshakeable Faith, generosity, honor. Knowing who to turn to first and having His traits; showing forgiveness, love and compassion. and being a love experience to every one you meet. Starting with your family, your first ministry. Jeremiah and I knew we would have a firm foundation for our family in Jesus, our Rock – a foundation that our kids can stand on in eternity.
“For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children; That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children, That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments. Psalms 78:5-7

And just when I thought I had passed the patience test…a beautiful mess enters our life…a puppy. The stresses of life can weigh us down. Bills, keeping up with house chores, new responsibilities, life demands…worry can easily steal our joy and peace and makes us forget about the provision thats in front of us. Just like the Israelites did in the wilderness, after being delivered as slaves from Egypt and before entering the promise land. We don’t feel we are in the beginning to this journey, we are somewhere in the middle…the wilderness…that can be the hardest part. Not knowing what to do next, can’t deny the ache still in my heart for Kiara, things that came easy now require a lot of time, her frustration can escalate quickly sometimes. She’s so delicate, gets hurt easy and although she’s tough, her bones, balance and coordination don’t allow her to be as adventurous she once was or even perform any daily tasks on her. It brings about a nostalgia and I have to remind myself to keep a heart of gratitude and to not forget the miracles in front of me. He is not done yet, keep looking forward. “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” Philippians 1:6

This verse had never resonated with me before and now does…
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I and gently and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls For My yoke is and My burden is Light.” Matthew 11:28-30

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

I pray for the supernatural peace and grace of Jesus Christ poured over your life as you seek your heavenly Father, Lord and Savior. I pray for the impossible to move, for you to be a living testimony to His goodness, grace and mercy. May his favor and wisdom be upon you. By his stripes You are healed. Cancer, sickness, you are defeated. I declare and Speak life and healing in every area of your life. In Jesus name Amen.

Keren J. Grindrod
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A song to sing….

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In life I believe God has given us all a song to sing…a cause, an organization, a charity, a calling that we are passionate about.  Some of us have known that song for years, and pursued professions in order to sing it.  Some of us have been led to our song by some of the hard choices and rough paths our lives have mapped out.  Yet even some, like us have found our song through a set of difficult circumstances we could have never imagined….

September is officially pediatric cancer awareness month…gold ribbons will fill social media, statistics about funding or lack of will pop up on your timeline.  Walks, runs, lemonade stands, fundraisers galore will be shared and you will be invited to give/participate more than you would probably like.  The songs written for the causes that have begun in tragedy and injustice are often the most passionate and difficult to write.  When our daughter was diagnosed we never could have imagined the road we were about to go down…we suddenly were in the middle of writing a new song, one that is hard to sing.  During Kiara’s fight with cancer we became members of a community unlike one we have ever experienced.  We met the most amazing families, forged special friendships.  Cancer parents connect with other cancer parents on a level that is hard to comprehend, it is a level of hell that you wouldn’t wish upon anyone.  You see no bad decisions went into our Warrior Princess Kiara getting a brain tumor.  It is the ultimate injustice- and an assault on innocence…so we sing this song.  We sing it everyday, not just in September.  Keren and I sing it differently, than some; not better, not worse, just different…

While there is much work to be done…so much work to be done- there are many who are doing amazing things.  The Purple Society is an organization that helped us get into St Jude for the clinical trial that saved Kiara’s life.  The Conti family started and carry on the mission in memory of their sweet daughter Nitalia…you see someone lost their life and the work done after that tragedy helped saved our Kiara.  St Jude Research Hospital- a place that is beyond me to describe by words in a blog…some of the best people in world work there and do work that matters daily.  The Ronald McDonald House in Baltimore- where strangers became family.  We have seen friends, family, strangers, dr.s’, nurses, and therapists (at 3 different hospitals), companies, corporations…all move from
“Awareness” to “Action” on our behalf.  The generosity show to us would fill a book…but thank you to the doers.  Thank you to those who took a break from your songs to sing ours.

So, before you get annoyed by our song or anyone else’s song for that matter- seek to understand why we sing it.  Friends- seek to understand, there are many songs that need to be sung.  And if the tune of our song isn’t sweet or appealing to your ears- that’s okay!  Go sing the song that God has put in your heart, and don’t get distracted by the ones He hasn’t!  Lastly, I encourage you- move from Awareness into action!  Remember: Love looks like something- it is always in action!  Thank you to all who have been and continue to be a love experience for Warrior Princess Kiara and the Grindrod5.  If you would like to follow WPK (Warrior Princess Kiara) she has a Facebook page where we share her progress and updates:  fb.me/WarriorPrincessKiara

Ciera, MaKennah, Zion, Nitalia…..we promise to do what we can to keep singing your songs.

If Pediatric Cancer is pulling on your heartstrings we would like to suggest these 3 organizations for your donations:

St Jude Children’s Research Hospital:  https://www.stjude.org

The Purple Society:  https://werpurple.org

Ronald McDonald House Baltimore:  http://rmhcbaltimore.org/ways-to-give/

Reflections on a year and maybe a start?..

I enjoy how Facebook reminds me of memories from the years past, I like to reminisce on status updates, and pictures from different points of my life.  I love to see how much my kids have grown, I cringe at some of my posts, and laugh at other ones- appreciating how timeless my sense of humor is..(this is where you nod in agreement).  This year is different however…I am not looking forward to the reminders of the beginning of the past year.

I want to be honest, I want to tell you all honestly what I am going through- I am just not sure I can appropriately capture the past year…It is a challenge to feel secure in the emotions that come- I don’t know how to communicate the peaks and valleys that come wave upon wave, sometimes from one moment to the next.  How can I be frustrated? Kiara is the one going through the battle…How can I be distraught? Kiara is still fighting and countless others are not…How can I celebrate the small progress when just a year ago these tasks were completed with ease now take fight, determination, and assistance.  Our faith is strong, but something I stole from Levi Lusko fits so perfectly…”hurting with hope, still hurts.”

Trials reveal foundations…so often the fingerprints of God are unseen, unacknowledged until you look back in the rearview mirror.  So much of this past year applies to what we have walked through.  Faith must be tested and tried before it becomes real in your life…

So, thinking about the past year- so many have asked how we came to find out Kiara had a brain tumor…dare I say “The beginnings of Chapter 1”…..

Halloween for Christians…..what a conundrum for so many parents.  Can our kids dress up, can they trick or treat, or should we stick to the church harvest party, or better yet turn the porch light off and hide from all the sinners?  I laugh as I write these because we have been all over the board on this issue.  Ultimately, we have settled on letting the kids dress up.  We sometimes trick or treat, we sometimes go to a church function and sometimes both.  We aim to get back home to pass out candy- the kids seem to enjoy this the most- seeing all the other kids and celebrating the cool costumes.  Keren is amazing- she speaks life and love to every trick or treater and parent, we get backstories on costumes and try to be generous with the candy. She does it with such a genuine heart, it touches people.  We are aware of the origins of Halloween, I think, unless the internet has misled me.  We also get a Christmas tree, and sometimes eat chocolate bunnies on Easter for those judging at home.  Halloween 2014 was the “tipping point” for Kiara getting diagnosed, it is such an important part of our story because in addition to realizing something was severely wrong; we met a family while we were trick or treating with some friends from church. It was a brief introduction, but one that God would use to answer prayers and be a part of our story in the days, weeks, months, and forever to come…..

I’m not sure if this is a start to a book or just a start to organizing my thoughts about the past year…anyway, thanks for reading.

A “Stand by Me” Moment………


Over the past nine months I have learned so many lessons, some of them beautiful, some of them have been learned by the difficult circumstances we have found ourselves in the midst of.  Having a child with cancer can bring the greatest feelings of inspiration; courage; thankfulness; and joy.  It can also bring the lowest of lows….helplessness; fear; sadness; hopelessness; etc…It has been the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows as a dad during this time.  Daily I try to ask God what would he have me see and act on for the day. This isn’t easy…ever, but when I am obedient and give my time or attention to the people and moments He seems to highlight I am usually blessed beyond measure.  Today was no exception, and I am honestly still processing my feelings.

After a long day spent at St Jude, we let the Warrior Princess pick what she wanted for dinner.  Food with a 6yr old fighting cancer is a “pick your battle” affair…we would desire to eat a perfect diet but we also desire for Kiara to eat so tonight we ended up at Chik-Fil-A.  We were in the middle of our dining routine- making sure all condiment needs are met, setting the number of bites that result in Kylie being “finished” with her meal, Jameson fulfilling his role as the runner for more napkins, forks, bbq sauce, and whatever else we requested…  During all of this a homeless man sat down in the booth across from us and began pulling pennies out of his backpack and counting them.  Keren told me in Spanish to give him some money…problem one- I had almost none.  Earlier in the day Keren had given Jameson $4 so I told him to give it to me and with the $5 I had gave the gentlemen the $9 cash we had.  He was shocked and thanked us- mentioning how hot it was outside and all he wanted was something cold to drink.  It brought us joy to bless him and when he returned with his frosted lemonade it was cool to see the satisfaction and pleasure on his face.

Then, the wheels fell off.  Our operation turned into what I best could describe as a dumpster fire…..Kiara’s counts are low, which in turn means Kylie cannot play in the germ infested petri dish known as the play area…too risky for Kiara.  Our standard operation is if Kylie eats her food, play area is the reward.  Kylie knowing that this is usually standard operating procedure, proceeded to stuff all four of her remaining chicken nuggets in her mouth at once and declare that she was off to play.  This is where it got ugly…we broke the news of no play area to Kylie while her cheeks were still packed with nuggets.  The sobs and cries of a 4 year old scorned ensued….We managed to calm her down and she managed to swallow her nuggets.  Keren began reading Warrior Princess the book that came in the kids meal and Kylie ran to her side of the table to listen in…..and then it happened….

The nuggets, the fruit punch from earlier in the day, her lunch, her snacks, everything that Kylie had eaten for just by sheer quantity seemed like a month came projecting out of her stomach and mouth into Keren’s lap and hands….I sat frozen in disbelief….Keren managed to catch a good portion in her hands (as parents of a child going through chemo, we have actually gotten quite good at this) the rest was on Kiara’s wheelchair and all over the floor.  Then bad became worse…upon the sight of Kylie’s puke Kiara began to gag…Keren told Kiara “don’t you dare” but alas….it was too late.  Warrior Princess quickly emptied her stomach of any and all food and drink that had been consumed during the course of her day.  I managed to actually respond this time and caught some in my hands…Keren and I made eye contact and then did what was only appropriate…laughed.  We laughed, holding our daughters puke for a good 10-15 seconds without doing anything else…Jameson wanted no part of the clean-up; Kylie made her way back to the other side of the table and wanted to open and drink her chocolate milk…  The homeless man was gracious enough to alert the staff to help clean up.

We began cleaning up, and the homeless man returned and asked if Kiara had cancer.  I confirmed his suspicions and his response was heartfelt.  He went on to tell us “I would trade places with him in a heartbeat” (it didn’t matter in that moment that he referred to Kiara as he) “I don’t understand it, a child so innocent, why do they have to suffer through it, look at me, look at my life, why couldn’t it be me instead of him”  It was not words in passing, words to make us feel better for the puke fiasco that we just unleashed in the Chik Fil A, but this stranger was genuinely asking a question we have asked ourselves about our precious princess.  It was heartfelt.  I couldn’t look him in the eye- I was holding on and not breaking down with everything I had.  Keren managed to tell him “God loves you, and has a purpose for your life” he left us with “I’m sorry, I wish I could do something” This interaction left a mark on my heart…I don’t have a moral to the story ending, or a nice bow to wrap up this ridiculous evening, but am left mesmerized at the compassion of a stranger not in any generous act, but in an honest, heartfelt, evaluation of self-worth and life value, deeming my daughters life significantly more important than his own.  I don’t know what I think about this, other than it was a profound interaction.  I am left with the beauty that is the gospel, regardless of where you are at today God’s grace and mercy are not only sufficient but they are available to us all.  God loves that man just as much as He loves my little princess, just as much as He loves you- IN SPITE of everything you have done, and even the things you will do..this love cannot be earned or lost and it is waiting for you to receive it.  Because of Jesus, we have hope.  And because of hope, even in the midst of the worst storms of life, we have an anchor for our souls.

My Daughter Has Cancer….

So it has been quite sometime since my last blog…I love to write, but to be honest- I am not skilled enough, nor have I learned to share my heart on paper without hedging at the thought of the unknown.. what people might think…I am a work in progress.  It is however therapeutic…it soothes my own soul to get things down on paper- I think I am funny so I make myself laugh, it feels great to laugh especially at ones self.  I try daily to do ridiculous things to make myself and my children laugh, I am blessed to have a wife who still thinks I am amusing and has patience when I cross the line of funny and annoying…(this happens more frequently than I will probably admit).  This isn’t that kind of post however……My beautiful 6yr old princess is fighting the battle of her young life and its the most heart wrenching, terrifying, and often helpless feeling imaginable.  If you know us, you will know that Keren and I have a big faith in our God- our faith has been tested the past 7 months, but through it we have grown stronger not weaker.  It has been difficult- I attempt full transparency when I write- so please know our faith isn’t built on circumstance, but on a God whose promises are still true.  Daily I battle doubt, fear, and the questions of an unknown future- but we trust EVERYTHING is made perfect in its time.

Last October Kiara started having headaches, severe headaches….we took her to the ER and she was given IV’s and blood tests which disclosed nothing.  On Halloween she struggled to keep her balance when she was out and about trick or treating- the next day we took her in and discovered she had a golfball size tumor at the base of her brain stem. On November 4th she had surgery to remove the tumor which was discovered to be cancerous, and 10 days later we discovered the cancer had metastasized and spread aggressively to her spine…the punches just kept coming. In addition to the cancer diagnosis(officially Medulloblastoma) Kiara developed a serious case of Posterior Fossa Syndrome following her brain surgery.  She went from an active 6yr old who did ballet, soccer, taekwondo, loved running (she actually participated in our run club), and just doing what 6yr old kids do; to having almost no motor skills in the span of 8hrs (length of her surgery).  Kiara didn’t talk from November 4th 2014 until January 31, 2015- it was the longest, hardest three months of my life.  We were blessed to get accepted into a clinical trial for treatment at St. Jude in Memphis, TN.  This has been our “home” since the Sunday before Thanksgiving of 2014.  We spent a month in Baltimore at Kennedy Krieger after 6 weeks of radiation treatment at St. Jude.  At Kennedy Krieger Kiara had intensive inpatient rehab, this is where she was first able to hold her head up on her own, sit up, start completing basic tasks painting and drawing, etc… and this is where she regained her speech.

Fast forward to today- 7 long months into this process which has felt like the longest and at the same time, shortest 7 months of my life.  Keren and I have learned to administer medications, flush double lumen hickman lines, re-insert a feeding tube, basic speech; occupational; and physical therapy.  We have become professional barf bag responders- all of this way past any capacity we could have imagined for ourselves…Kiara had scans last week which showed “stable” at the tumor site (basically no sign of tumor regrowth) her lumbar puncture came back negative (no cancer cells) and the spine looks clear on the MRI.  All of this is praiseworthy news, a deep exhale for parents looking to get on the other side with their princess….

We have seen and experienced so many miracles and divine connections during this time- I heard it once said that “our praise is never richer, than when it is pressed down and costly”  this is true- I praise God for walking us through step by step always bridging the gap between what we can handle and that space He had had to carry us over.  I have grown to despise the sayings:  “God never gives you more than you can handle” False- He gives us so much more, it allows us to recognize our need for Him…and my least favorite “God only gives His strongest battles to His toughest warriors” you cannot convince me that God gave my princess cancer…that He looked down from above and decided she could handle it…don’t try- it won’t work…I do know that Romans 8:28 is a verse we hold on to- “…all things work together for good to those who love God…” We believe He is using Kiara to tell a wonderful story…but we refuse to believe that He caused this.

Even with a strong faith, I wish I could say doubt never creeps in…but that isn’t the truth; my thought life can be punishing…there is still such a long way to go.  Parents of children with cancer have to make the most difficult decisions- the medicine that is used to save Kiara’s life has the potential for crippling side effects- in fact we were told regarding the radiation treatment- it is not a matter of will she get side effects or not, but how severe will they be…we make decisions on care praying that 10, 20, 30 yrs down the road Keren and I can look Kiara in the eyes and honestly tell her we did everything in our power to do….this weight doesn’t allow for much peace or rest.  Kiara is still learning to crawl, walk, write, read, so many things that we took for granted before.  Her chemo treatment finishes in September but the long road ahead is daunting…everyday we see parents return to St Jude with their children whose cancer has returned- I would be lying if I said these fears didn’t creep in often…

So often we get the compliments of being strong parents through this- I am the farthest from strong…Keren is a rock, but I feel so inadequate to lead through this.  The burdens get heavy and to be honest it is so difficult to unload because few people really understand what we are going through….Some days I am so angry…watching Kiara suffer with no one to take it out on…the daily rollercoaster is difficult to ride- emotions wanting to take the wheel, fighting to make sound decisions when the physical and emotional exhaustion has taken its toll…

We have been supported through this by the best families, friends, strangers, people have come out of the woodwork to love us.  That has helped more than anyone could ever know.  The text messages of support, the cards, the giving, the phone calls…the community of support we have has done so much- we are blessed.  If you know someone who has cancer- don’t ask what to do- just do something.  We are so blessed to be surrounded by friends and family who just “do”…it makes all the difference.

I don’t know what the point of this post is….words on a screen out into the googleweb for who knows to read.  I feel better, maybe thats the point…sometimes I just need to write it all down- it helps gain perspective and I hope it doesn’t come off as complaining…

If you would like to follow Kiara’s fight we keep a Facebook page updated for her:  Prayers for Warrior Princess Kiara please follow along.  And if you pray- we ask that you join us in believing for full healing and restoration for Kiara..she also has a big brother Jameson, and little sister Kylie who will gladly take some prayers as well.

God bless!

Love “The Grindrod 5”


My True Identity….and a 2014 declaration

Its not easy for me to be honest…that is a hard statement to write and even harder to realize its truth….

In my life, I have done a pretty good job at hiding my true identity. I’ve quickly learned that who I am and what I believe doesn’t often fit with so much of the rest of the world, so I’ve determined by default that eventually my best course of action is to keep it secret, or even worse agree with the masses to “fit in”.

And it’s not so much a matter of a conscious choice I’ve made as it is my own survival mechanism.

Don’t believe for a second that I intentionally try to deceive people.  It’s not that at all.  It’s just that when I try to talk to other people with passion regarding what I have seen, what I have experienced, what I believe,  the world, for the most part they just don’t get it.  People will often smile politely, make a comment as best they can, and then move on.

So over time it becomes easier for me to stop sharing.  And stop challenging myself.  And that’s when I get stuck, and discouraged, and lots of times in my life I have quit.

Here is what I have learned-

I can’t and won’t stop the challenges.  I must keep moving forward and doing things that are important to me, even if no one else cares about them.

And if what I choose to do doesn’t work the first time, I will do it again, and again, until I conquer my fears and accomplish what God has purposed me to do, and then and only then will I ever be all that I was meant to be.

So in true resolution form- in 2014 I will be more transparent and honest- even when it’s scary for me to do so.  I am going to draw attention to my time and how I spend it- I will be greatly aware of the brevity of this life.  I want to number and VALUE each day.  No more will I ride the coattails of what I “intended” to do, rather I will be a true man of my word who follows through on his commitments.  Thanks for reading- thoughts, comments, and accountability appreciated!

This is going to be a great year- I implore you to enter into 2014 with intentionality, focus, and most importantly ACTION.  Blessings-