My coworkers and I are being encouraged to wear red to work on Friday, February 7, in observation of National Wear Red Day. National Wear Red day symbolizes the fight against heart disease in women.

For me, this day isn’t just about some anonymous woman (or women) I won’t ever see or talk to. It is about my friend Lisa. It is about my sister-in-law Ann who passed away in 1993 from an undiagnosed arrhythmia and the women in our family who have Long QT Syndrome. It is also about my friend and coworker Janet. Here’s Janet’s story, as shared via email with those of us at the office:

“Although most of you know that I’m ‘recovered’ now I went into pregnancy related heart failure when I had Bobby.  Not something I was expecting or had ever heard of.  I survived flash pulmonary edema and cardiac arrest and spent 6 days in cardiac ICU and another 10 days on the cardiac floor.  Heart Disease took away my ability to have any more children (not that I need any more after Bobby) LOL, and left me with a multitude of medications and days when just walking up the stairs does me in…  So wanted to put a face on Heart Disease that you don’t normally see…

Hope to see you all in Red tomorrow.”    


 For more information, visit www.goredforwomen.org.go red

One Year Later, A Family Walks in the Rain

Between nightfall on June 2, 2011 and dawn on June 3, 2011, Robert, Charlene, and Rebecca Spierer’s lives changed forever, along with those of countless relatives and friends.

Lauren Spierer, daughter, sister, and friend, disappeared (this Indianapolis Monthly article provides a detailed timeline of events between the disappearance and now).

Prior to June 3, 2011, Robert, Charlene, Rebecca, and Lauren shared a figurative umbrella of family togetherness. Even though they may have been distant physically, there was always the phone, email, texting, all of the ways most of us remain connected these days.

Lauren Spierer
Photo credit:  Free Digital Photos
After Lauren disappeared, I joined the social media community in blogging, vlogging, and tweeting in support of her family.
Lauren’s story stood out to me because (among other things), she is the same age as my nieces and shares the same heart arrhythmia (Long QT Syndrome) that caused the death of my sister in law (and a condition that several of my family members have).
Why support this stranger? Why her when there are so many people missing? Of course I hope for all missing persons cases to be resolved. From the beginning, though, I have felt an uncommon connection to Lauren and her family. I am pretty sure if things were reversed, they would encourage me to keep hope alive and would pray for a resolution to this nightmare. If they wouldn’t, I have seen over the past year that so many people, from every faith tradition and all walks of life, would.
When I was wracking my brain to figure out what to write about “One Year Later,” our priests at Holy Comforter Episcopal church sang the song “Take All The Lost Home” at a gathering last night. Some of the lyrics spoke to me about Lauren, especially these:
“Talk all the lost home
remember their names
Their journey is yours friend…”
“Walk close by the children
and learn their refrains
and leave your umbrellas
while you learn to walk in the rain.”
One year later, I still pray daily that the Spierer family will no longer have to walk in the rain, deprived of the comforting umbrella of closure, knowledge, and the Lauren-ness of Lauren.
 “Looking back is incredibly sad, but going forward without answers is impossible.”
                                                                                                            -Charlene Spierer

Help Lauren Spierer Surface

This is a special post, as part of an effort to help find Lauren Spierer. Lauren has been missing since June 3, when she disappeared from Bloomington, Indiana. If you don’t have time to read the whole post, here are the crucial points:

If you are on Twitter, follow @NewsOnLaurenS for updates.
If you are on Facebook, post Lauren’s Poster on your page.
Donate to help fund the search.


Here’s the long version of why this story matters to me, and additional ways you can help.
About 14 years ago, our family had just figured out that my sister-in-law, Ann’s, sudden death at the age of 30 had been caused by Long QT Syndrome, a hereditary cardiac arrhythmia. Our family was gathered by the pool and my niece (Ann’s daughter), Jordan, who was about seven years old and had just been confirmed to have Long QT, was gleefully swimming from the shallow end of the pool to the deep end, not coming up for air. Her father, new to the experience of having two children with a cardiac issue, and having lost his wife to one, was freaking out, pleading with her to come up for air and not risk the time underwater without oxygen. That moment stands out in my mind as the juxtaposition between letting your child be a child and wanting to protect them from danger.
Lauren Spierer, who is very close in age to my niece Jordan and who also has Long QT Syndrome, is in extreme danger. She was last seen at 4:30 a.m. on June 3, at the corner of 11th Street and College Avenue in Bloomington, Indiana. As of today, she is still missing. For a detailed timeline, read this.
I am joining bloggers from all over the world to ask you to help in the effort to find Lauren. There are ways you can help, even if you are not in the Bloomington area. Here are ten tips defining things you can do from your own space to help. 
Keeping news about the tip line and reward prominent is a great way to contribute. 
If you are closer to Bloomington than I am (I am in Florida) or want to help with the search, here are instructions.
As I mentioned above, if you are on Twitter, follow @NewsOnLaurenS for continuous updates.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba said, “No one will go to the rescue of a drowning man if his cries are feeble.” Seventeen days have passed since Lauren went missing. Let’s band together to keep the cries for her rescue for becoming feeble.
Let’s help Lauren surface.
Lauren Spierer flyer. Please print, post, share on social med... on Twitpic

To Awake Satisfied – An Advent Devotional

Each year, the parishioners of my church, Holy Comforter, contribute devotionals for the season of Advent. This is my contribution for 2010. 
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
When I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.
-Psalm 17:15

December 3, 2010, is the seventeenth anniversary of the death of my sister-in-law, Ann Kiger Paredes. Ann died in her sleep of an undiagnosed genetic cardiac disorder, at the age of 30. She left behind a husband, a six year old son, a three year old daughter, and a six month old baby girl.

Advent Reflection

Christmas 1993 was not an easy holiday for our family. Ann’s coworker, Faith Bass, captured the feeling in her poem, “Is There Christmas in Heaven?” from which I have provided an excerpt:

Do you exchange gifts,
have parties and such,
or is your only wish to be mortal,
to feel your child’s touch?


Are you watching us from heaven?
Do you feel our grief?
Is living in heaven such a relief?

Ann’s children are young adults now. How I wish she could have been here among us over the past seventeen years, marveling in their growth and, yes, grumbling about the trials and tribulations of parenthood. For some reason, God gave us, her family, that gift. When I “hang out” with that nephew and those nieces whose world was so drastically shaken so long ago, I know Ann is with us when I see Zack’s “AEK” tattoo on his arm, when Logan says something that just has that “Ann” tone to it, and when Jordan still has that exuberant little sparkle in her eye she did as a youngster.

I still do not understand why Ann did not wake up before dawn on December 3, 1993. She awoke to the likeness of God. As you contemplate the gifts of Christmas, may you awaken to a Godly likeness with every moment.

Advent Reflection
The Kiger Siblings, 1991 (Ann is 2nd from the left)