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Cassidy Van Slyke Blenke considers how her faith served as a life preserver in a moment of family crisis.

I'm progressively learning that life gets harder and harder the older we get. I look back on my childhood and teen years, where my most significant problems and stressors were relatively minor compared to the challenges that come hurdling your way once you gain dependents and decide to give your heart away. Those younger years mainly were learning to cope with emotional turmoil resulting from learning to exist within society and its socio-emotional imbalances. I had a roof over my head, lunch in my backpack, and a general destination of where I was headed. As I started trudging through life and growing older, the cracks in the sidewalk began to appear, and soon enough, the entire pathway began pulling out from under me.

I can count the number of times on one hand when I started to freefall into the endless abyss with no safety net, encountering life on life’s terms and facing head-on moments of hardship & heartache. But somehow, I was thrown a life preserver each time and gifted the chance to see another day. 




One of my most recent episodes of experiencing life on life’s terms was when my husband suddenly began to lose all sensation in his arms and legs and almost collapsed in the ER. Here I sat next to him, holding his hand, covering him with a warm blanket, focusing solely on his comfort. I immediately suppressed the worry of our four young children at home and all the responsibilities left behind and continued to center my attention only on him, God, and our strong love for one another. The only thing that mattered to me during this terrifying period was that he could return my loving stare, still say my name, and recognize my smile.

As I comforted his weakened body and mind, time appeared to stand still. It seemed like it was just last week that we had met and were experiencing the joys of newly discovered kinship with one another and the potential footholds of a possible future. But here we were, a decade later, with four children five and under, a home, and plenty of adult responsibilities, facing life head-on. Where had the time gone? Wasn't it just the other day that we were carelessly falling in love and imagining what would come next? 

The fear of the unknown in this terrifying season of life encouraged me to focus on one of God’s greatest gifts to humans: the simple ability to love and care for one another. While I was in the hospital supporting him and in the following weeks, I once again felt the familiar tug of panic-driven gravity pulling me down into despair. Still, I was consumed with a mission to care for him and my family and reminded that my life preserver was tied tightly around me. All along, it was my higher power who served as my life jacket pulling me upward during these challenging times, and at this moment, He was encouraging my growth, granting me the courage to care for the person I loved most in his time of need. 

Diagnosed with a neurological syndrome, my husband is now home and beginning his road to recovery, and my young children, family, and I are here to support and love him. Overcome with gratitude, I grabbed the hands of my two oldest girls the other morning and we prayed to God. We thanked Him that Daddy was home from the hospital and how wonderful for us that we all had each other.


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The fear of the unknown in this terrifying season of life encouraged me to focus on one of God’s greatest gifts to humans: the simple ability to love and care for one another. #CatholicMom


I certainly don’t think God intends for our journey to be easy, but He sure does provide us with plenty of opportunity to embrace love and grow in our ability to step outside of ourselves and serve a higher purpose. Next time you encounter a challenging season of life, look for the life preserver, channel your courage from God, and hold on tight!



Copyright 2023 Cassidy Van Slyke Blenke
Images: Canva