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Joe Kennedy: The grace of God has changed our view

We are given grace not only to endure the season, but to enjoy every day. We take for granted and stay content until a tragedy happens. This is when life gets real, and this is our story on how we handled adversity.

My first My View column was printed in the Buffalo News July 18, 2012. I talked about how my granddaughter Kayla was just diagnosed with leukemia at 8 years of age. I mentioned that we were thrown a curveball in life, and felt all alone.

I knew God was testing us at the time and the only thing that would get us through this was our faith. Even in high school I wasn’t a fan of tests, so this would be very trying.

Two years later – July 18, 2014 – in a My View Column I talked about how when “you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” and that they did. Every day we practiced an attitude of gratitude. We were grateful every day for every positive step she took toward getting well. We all believed that Kayla’s health was being restored. We knew she was the answer to so many prayers.

God used that opportunity to teach us many of life’s lessons. We grew, he developed our character and most of all he made us trust him.

Looking back, as a family we all wondered how we would ever get through this. When stuff happens in life we find strength we did not know existed. None of what happened to Kayla was a surprise to God.

What was meant for harm, God used to our advantage, although it never looked like that at the time.

The awesomeness of friends, relatives, strangers, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Carly’s Club and Camp Good Days & Special Times, we cannot thank you enough. Y’all gave us peace on our path to victory. You helped us see the bigger picture. You helped us trust that the man above – knowing of our adversities – would move us to our destiny of God’s goodness.

It’s time we give back. God is counting on us as a family to give back in every way we can. We have to make a difference in other people’s lives, the way they made a difference in Kayla’s. In June, Kayla rode in the Ride for Roswell. She raised over $1,000 and belongs to the extra-mile club. As I stood at the finish line with raw emotions, I watched her and other survivors cross. I praised God for all their blessings.

Kayla will not be defined in her life by her past, but by her future. Nothing that happened to Kayla was a surprise to God. Every setback she had, God already arranged her comeback. Yes, her ending is so much better than her beginning.

When God heals, he changes our circumstances, and that he has in this case. Our family is closer, our faith is stronger and our Kayla is 13, a teenager, and destined to do great things. Her middle school average is 99, she flips for gymnastics and today she is God’s masterpiece.

Our view of what happened is so much different now. She is in a new season ready to bloom and blossom with all the gifts, talents and untapped potential to fulfill her destiny.

The storm has passed. Not only are we standing, but we are stronger and better human beings because of it.

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