Let Your Heart Be Light

We are so grateful for this community & are excited to be able to come together to help support families who are struggling this holiday season. Below, I will outline submissions from friends & family members who are nominating those who could use a helping hand, along with links to their wishlist. If you can help in any way, know that it will make such a huge difference in so many peoples lives. Thank you all so much for being here and being willing to do this with us!

KATIE & ANDY, SUBMITTED BY KRISTIN: I am so excited to tell you guys about my cousin Katie and her husband, Andy! Katie and Andy are both disabled Iraq war (Army) veterans. I know Katie is 34 but I realize now I don’t know how old Andy is ??‍♀️.  They live in Mesa, Arizona with their 4 kids. They just moved into a house that they are renting and hoping to own some day. They have 2 younger kids, Jamie (6) and Adley (3) of their own and two older kids, Grace (15) and Anthony (11), who are actually their niece and nephew but Katie and Andy stepped up and adopted them. Andy works as a Veterinary Technician and he’s really good at it! My dogs love going to their dr appointments to see him.  
This family struggles a lot. The two older kids, Grace and Anthony, are great kids— they have some behavior things and situations from their past with their real Mom to work through but are really grateful for the life they have with Katie and Andy. Grace is a fabulous soccer and volleyball player! Anthony is really smart and struggles the most with his past. He’s a really good artist (drawing) and has the best laugh once he finally lets loose. He’s a little more reserved than Grace but once you get him out of his shell, he’s a rock star. 
Adley is a princess in her own right. She is a tiny little thing, still wears 18 month cloths but she has a strong opinion about everything and she’s not afraid to let you know all about it. Jamie loves football! He is a super smart kid, really sweet, and always makes sure his Mom is taken care of. 
Katie love coffee and taking baths. She loves cheering on her kids in all they do!  Because Andy works at a veterinary office, they end up with animals that other people have surrendered.  They have 5 dogs and a few cats!  They have a pug named Rocky and he is completely paralyzed in his rear legs. These two really have hearts of gold and would do anything they can for other people.
The bulk of their income comes from the VA (disability). They have worked so hard to get where they are, they just moved to a better neighborhood and finally have 2 cars! They are working their way up, slowly and they are so proud, it is fun to watch them work together and achieve some of their goals. However, they buy almost everything they get as far as clothes go, home furnishings, and toys from thrift shops. I help them when I can, giving them things my daughter (9) has grown out of. But I am in no position to help them with Christmas, unfortunately. Here is their amazon wishlist:

BRITTANY & CHRIS, SUBMITTED BY CARA: It was almost serendipitous you posted about your “Let your heart be light” project. A friend of mine who I met when my daughter was in preschool (two years ago) has been going through such a hard time (honestly, for 5 years now) and I was scrolling the internet looking up ways to help her and her family when I saw your post. 
A little bit about Brittany; when someone says “Oh, she is so nice!” about someone, it is usually just a surface statement, but Brittany Tyler is truly the kindest, most hopeful, pure and kind person I have ever known. Her energy is uplifting and you can feel how kind her heart is. Her husband, Chris Tyler, is just as kind and their boys are so sweet. She handles herself and her boys with such grace, I am in awe of her positive outlook on life after what she has been through – and what she goes through.
Please bare with me as this is long and heartbreaking:
Brittany and Chris met in highschool. They married on October 11, 2013 and started a family soon after. Brittany was a hairstylist and Chris, a police officer, welcomed their first child, Brayden, in November 2014. Brittany then became a stay at home mom and B was the light of her life. Eight months after Brayden was born, life was never the same, Chris was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. He went through his first brain surgery and 30 rounds of chemo, however 6 months after his chemo ended, Chris and Brittany heard the devastating words “your tumor has returned”.  Chris then tried chemo for 6 more months but unfortunately it didn’t work, and Chris went for his 2nd brain surgery followed by heavier doses of radiation for 33 days. About a year later Chris’s tumor grew back in a different location. He required a third brain surgery and more rounds of radiation. 
After this radiation and the tumors being removed, they had a new lease on life and wanted to give Brayden a sibling, they had to do IVF because of all Chris’ body has been through, and they welcomed their second son, Declan, in the summer of 2017. Terribly, months after Declan was born Chris required his 4th brain surgery which caused massive bilateral lung clots which nearly took his life and he was told “You have six months to live”. In January 2019 Chris went on to have his 5th brain surgery followed by his 6th brain surgery in Jan 2020. He was diagnosed with a brain infection and had to have half of his skull removed for six weeks. This nightmare was happening during the beginning of COVID and Brittany couldn’t be by his side. At one point, an ICU doctor called Brittany to tell her he had a 106 fever and things were looking “grim”. Brittany thought she was going to lose him this time and her heart was shattered. Miraculously, Chris pulled through, however, the doctors then found out Chris’s tumor on the opposite side of his brain was growing and needed to come out. He had it removed and they put down more radiation seeds and he also  had a synthetic skull made and placed on the opposite side. When Chris woke up from these two  surgeries he no longer had function in his limbs. He was sent to Spaulding rehab in Boston for six weeks where he had to learn how to walk again, all while being away from his wife and his boys. He managed to gain enough strength to enable himself to go home to finish his recovery.
This brings us to the now, in October (2020) they were devastated to hear so suddenly Chris had a few tumors come back. He went in for surgery on November 3rd however, Chris is suffering from another brain infection while at home trying to recover, and being monitored as closely as possible. 
Brittany is the sole caretaker for her husband and her two boys. She went to night school when Bradyn was around one years old to become a nurse, and is a registered nurse, however she is hardly able to work. Chris didn’t think to get life insurance at 27 before his diagnosis and their medical bills are through the roof. They are essentially drowning and Brittany has never complained and never asked for anything. Even years back when we first met and we were just two stay at home moms, complaining about our husbands schedules (my husband is a firefighter in town where hers is a police officer in town) – she never said just how hard she had it. She is still so upbeat and so grateful for her time with Chris, I have tears as I am writing this. She does nothing for herself and is so deserving of an easier life. Last summer, when Chris was feeling better, they were at my house and talked about “maybe having one more baby” hoping for a girl this time. It is beyond heartbreaking to think they may no longer talk about that dream.
I truly can’t say enough good things about them and how kind they are. They are so undeserving of this pain and anything to lift them up would be so wonderful. I wish I could do more but hopefully this story helps them in ways I can’t. 
Here is their amazon wishlist:

KRISTA’S FAMILY, SUBMITTED BY ELLIE: Last night a wife lost her husband, four young children lost their father. Aaron Arnold was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this year. Aaron was the sole provider for their family and once he was diagnosed, he had to quit his job at a local factory leaving his wife Krista to take care of their children and go back to work. Aaron was admitted to the hospital in September and after a hard fight, lost his battle last night. Krista has / had a job as a substitute teacher at their local school but due to COVID AND Aaron’s care she hasn’t been able to work. Now, she is left to pick up the pieces and remain strong for her children. All while she is faced with medical bills upon medical bills and while trying to figure out how to navigate these new waters. 
On top of losing her husband, Krista has also faced the unthinkable in losing her mother and father in previous years. No one deserves this more than her and her precious children.
Here is their amazon wishlist:

EMILY’S STORY, SUBMITTED BY KACIE: My best friend, Emily, is a single mom of 2 little boys. Her oldest, Xander, is 7 and her youngest, Griffin, is 2. They are actually local to KC. As a single mom, she receives no support from the boys’ fathers & she recently left a very abusive relationship and started over from nothing. Her oldest son has a multitude of special needs. He’s on the autism spectrum, has DMDD, and ODD along with other lesser known things. This past year he has been hospitalized 5 times, once’s for a 4 month period in a Psychaitric Residential Treatment Facially during the local lockdown, where they didn’t see each other once due to visiting restrictions. As you can imagine, the bills for that are pretty high, but the emotional and mental strain was even higher. This year she’s had to fight tooth and nail for Xander and what he deserves. She got him into a special school that is meant to heal him grow and learn, both educationally and emotionally/socially. She literally “advocates like a mother” every second of every day. Griffin is a little ray of sunshine. He’s funny, smart, and so daring. He is so loved and has been such a bright spot for his mama while Xander’s been hospitalized. All of these hospitalizations have definitely put a strain on him, too, though.
With covid and the demand that all of Xander’s appointments have on her, she currently isn’t able to work a traditional job. She relies on small jobs she can do here and there to get by, but she does it. She does everything she can for these boys. She refuses to buy the things she needs to ensure they never go without. She literally owns one pair of shoes and has had them for at least 3 years.  I know she is so heartbroken that she can’t do much this year in terms of celebrating the holidays and bringing all of that magic for her boys. There’s just too many other expenses for her right now. Life has been so rough for her and them lately and I just wish there was something to do to help them and give her some peace and faith in the world again as she has been knocked down so many times. She could definitely just use a little help from the village right now.
Emily is my hero. To know her and her babies is to love them fiercely. Those boys will move mountains, and It’s all because of what their mom has given up for them. What you’re doing to help families in need is truly amazing. It does my heart so much good to see God working through people like you during this trying time.
Here is their amazon wishlist:

KATIE’S STORY, SUBMITTED BY BRITT: I have a crazy “God” story. I’ll make it as condensed as I possibly can. My husband and I had a very rocky marital road for a while and he had an affair in the year of 2017. We have since found God and restoration in our marriage. The crazy part of this story is that, this year I felt called to reach out to the person he had an affair with and tell her that I forgive her. I did that in the spring of 2020 and ever since her and I have had a sort of unique bond that not many would understand. Understandably so.
But God… She’s battling a severe, complex chase of chrons disease that doctors cannot seem to treat successfully. She’s had 20 some odd surgeries I believe. She’s extremely thin and has to fight every day to put on weight. She has a baby girl that she is trying to support. She shared with me that her baby’s father had an affair as well. She told me that she felt her fiancés actions were her karma for the role that she played in my husband and my marriage. I want her to have freedom from that type of thinking and know that forgiveness and grace exist and that I have so much forgiveness in my heart for her. I know how expensive a baby is and I know she must have insurmountable hospital bills. She works full time. I know how hard it can be to parent when I don’t feel 100% well. I cannot imagine battling a truly life threatening illness, working full time, and having little to no support in raising my child and having to worry about Christmas on top of it. Her name is Katie and she lives in Springfield, MO. Please consider her for the Let Your Heart Be Light project.
Here is her amazon wishlist:

KASSI’S STORY: My name is Kassi. This is a super longshot but I stumbled on your Instagram post and it brought me to tears. I thought I’d just give this a try and see if something could maybe happen to us. I’d like to nominate my own family. I am a single Mom and lost my job during the pandemic. It’s been so hard to make ends meet and I cry every time I think of Christmas. Its so hard writing this but, it is me, my 10 year old daughter and my two little ones (4&5). This year has been such a struggle and the kids & I have been praying for a Christmas miracle every single day. Not to have gifts under the tree but people to encourage us. With our church being closed, it’s been so hard. That was our only fellowship as we don’t have any family- so the holidays have never looked so dark. We are hurting so much and would love even a friendly, encouraging word. Thanks so much if you did take the time to read this. It’s truly means so much. If I don’t hear back that’s okay and I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas.
Here is their amazon wishlist:

BRANDI & CHAD, SUBMITTED BY LINSEY: I am writing this email on behalf of my sister in law and her family. My sister in law, Brandi Slate, is a nail tech turned florist. She went out on a whim in our very small hometown of Richlands, VA and opened up her floral business, Slate & Stone Co. in January of 2020.  Due to the pandemic, business has been very very slow and they are struggling significantly right now. She has 3 kids: Emma, 17, Evan, 14, and Eden, 5.  Emma was recently in a car accident so they are down a vehicle as well. Emma works at huddle house and does her own homeschooling on the side. Evan helps Brandi with her shop by woodworking beautiful items for her decor section. Eden is in kindergarten and just wants a baby doll for Christmas. Chad, my brother in law, works for an HVAC company 12 hours a day with only Sunday’s off of work. 
I guess the reason I am sending this email is because although the work, it still isn’t enough. They are busting their butts every single day and trying so hard and I just want to see them be able to give the kids a nice Christmas. 
Here is their amazon wishlist:

DANIEL & NICOLE, SUBMITTED BY JENNIFER: Daniel and Nicole have the most amazing little family. Their marriage is as strong as steel and the love they have for their daughter, Livia is like no other. We have been friends since middle school. Over the many years,  I have watched them get handed some pretty difficult cards in life but always handle them with such grace and joy. Here is their story in a tiny nutshell… Back in 2016 they finally got pregnant after many years of trying. However, their beautiful daughter, Adelina was born sleeping at 35 weeks. Watching them walk through the difficult time was heartbreaking. They clung to each other and to God. Fast forward to January 28, 2016 they gave birth again to another precious little girl. Her name is Livia. She entered this world medically fragile and her doctors say it is quite a miracle that she is alive today. Much of her life has been spent in and out of the hospital and you know how the world has been living the quarantined life since March? That is the way they have been living since Livia was born. Nicole hasn’t been able to work so they are on one income and a lot of medical bills and supplies to pay for. They face daily challenges that we cannot even imagine, one after another, but you never hear them complain about it. Not a single word. They call to check in with YOU to see how YOU are doing and to ask what they can pray for YOU about. They are those types of people. They are awesome people that do so much for so many. I would like to nominate them this Christmas season. I would really like for someone to do something extra special for them. To know them is to love them.
Here is their amazon wishlist:

BREE’S STORY: I wanted to nominate my own family for help to lighten the load this holiday season.  We were hit hard with the shutdowns being in the trail running event space (we put on trail running races in Northern California) and my husband has had to cancel all of his races this year and into next year. We were already struggling to get by after we had massive California wildfires cancel a ton of our races two years ago. Then we decided to start a homeschool co-op/adventure school/learning center a few months ago to help support all of the influx of new homeschool families that still had to keep their full time jobs and try to juggle homeschooling with working full time too…but we aren’t making enough yet for my husband to take a salary so he’s been working for free this entire time so that we don’t let the 50 families that were counting on us down. Ryan (my husband) is the hardest working, most selfless person I know and it just crushes him to think we won’t be able to afford to give our 4 kids a good Christmas because we have no money. Worth a try to nominate myself. I love that you’re doing this during such a hard time for so many people.
Here is their amazon wishlist:

LINDSAY’S STORY, SUBMITTED BY JOYA: I was introduced to your blog by my close friend Lindsay, 9 years ago when at the time you, Lindsay, and I were all pregnant with our first baby girls. (back in the chalkboard days!) Lindsay went on to have three girls just like you; and aside from being beautiful and God-fearing, has been a hardworking, frugal, stay-at-home mom all that time until this year when her husband’s multiple, frequent, and long-ranging extramarital affairs came out – thrusting them into a tumultuous and hard-fought divorce. She still has custody (thankfully) of her three girls, but is navigating a sudden reentry to the full-time workforce while struggling with basic necessities like now having to afford daycare for her youngest and make her mortgage and van payments.  I’m doing what I can to help her but watching her electricity get shut off while her soon-to-be ex-husband drained their account with excessive spending is awful.   Any special gift of love or help this holiday season would go really far to boost her spirits and to bless her girls who certainly don’t deserve any of what they’ve going through.
Here is their amazon wishlist:

NOMINATED BY JANINE: I nominate my sister and her family for your Let Your Light Be Light Project this Christmas season.  My dear, sweet sister is 39 years young.  She was diagnosed with an aggressive from of breast cancer in January of 2018 at the age of 36. She did all the things required of her to combat the cancer.  Chemo, radiation, mastectomy, reconstruction surgery, more chemo, more radiation along with all of the sickness, hair loss, scars, etc that go along with battling cancer.  She did it all with dignity and grace and never once did her family reach out to ask for help. She had a little bit of time off after treatments and felt pretty well until February of this year.  She started getting daily headaches that became more severe.  An MRI revealed the cancer had returned in her brain.  She was diagnosed with 5 tumors at that time and was given a year to live. Right after that, Covid struck so she and her family have been battling this awful disease and diagnosis more alone than they should ever have to be. Not even her husband has been allowed to come to the hospital with her for some of her appointments because of Covid restrictions.   Her family lives far away from the rest of us and we are completely heartbroken that we cannot be with her on a daily basis to help her.  She has reached a point where her health is in real jeopardy.  She can no longer drive or be out on her own.  She has seizures often.  She needs a lot of rest.  She is on a lot of medications just to be able to function for a few hours each day.  I am crying as I write this because my heart aches so badly for her little family.  All she wants is to stay so she can raise her children.  She and her husband have 3 young kids.  A boy, 14, a girl, 13, and another boy, 10.  They are old enough to know their mama is dying and it is gut wrenching to see the pain in their eyes as symptoms become worse.  I am hoping that they can have one more memorable Christmas together, without the thought of medical bills, or worry about the financial burden that cancer puts on a family.  If this community can somehow help it would help answer so many prayers and truly be a dream come true.  
Here is their amazon wishlist:

JORDAN’S STORY, SUBMITTED BY KELLY: I would like to nominate my friend, Jordan Wells. She has four kids and they have just had a hard year. I think the best way to tell you about her is to share a post she wrote on Facebook for her birthday in October.  So here it is, as said by Jordan herself:
As I lay here thinking about the “year 30,” my heart is just a mess thinking about all of the pain and extremely hard things life threw at me and my family.
-The day of my 30th birthday was the due date for baby Quinn that we lost. I was also really sick that day.-Painful kidney stones-Kidney stone extraction surgery-Kidney cancer-Major surgery to remove the cancer, In an instant I became a widow and my precious young children lost their father Randy, We lost my father-in-law, And today I am so so so sick and got tested for COVID. Year 30, you were horrible to me. Absolutely horrible. But, the evil does NOT win.
Year 30 also brought some wonderful things. -Precious baby Jonathan was born, Due to the pandemic, I have been able to spend so much extra time with my precious kiddos, I have gotten closer with some of my closest family and friends-Strangers became family-Witnessing the love and support from the community has been beyond amazing and helpful that words cannot express how thankful I am-I asked the kids “what does mommy always say I want for my Birthday?” And they all go “just us!” And I said “yep!” “So even though it stinks we are sick and mommy is really sick, I still get you guys. No school, just movies and snacks all day.”
While writing this my tears turned from pain to smiles…evil will NOT WIN. Not around here and not on my watch. I will forever be in shock how I survived this past year. Even though God and I have had a few rough patches, I know I couldn’t have gotten through it without HIM. In so much hard stuff, she has still found all the good! Since writing that post, her family was personally impacted by covid (the family did get over her birthday) and after a tragic chicken incident (her daughter has and LOVES her chickens) involving a dog randomly attacking her flock, Jordan ended up breaking her foot saving “their girls.” She has recently had surgery (this week actually) and is on bed rest for a period of time still. 
Please please consider helping this sweet family. They are just the nicest people and mean so much to so many. Again, she may refuse being selected but she is totally worth it if she’s willing to have your community lift her up!
Here is their amazon wishlist:


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