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‘Families Are Forever’ tells mother’s ordeal with tragedy

OAK GROVE, Mo. (BP)–The journal started out as a way to help a mother cope with her daughter’s illness. Today, as a new book, “Families Are Forever” provides a look into one family’s journey through the life and death of a loved one.
The author, Karen Garnier, a member of First Baptist Church, Oak Grove, Mo., said writing “has always been a relief for me, to get feelings out on paper.”
“Our daughter, Angie, became sick in 1977, and she died in 1986. It was such an ordeal for our family, and it changed our lives drastically, so I decided to start writing it down — mainly for our children and any other extended family that might be interested.”
In 1997 — 20 years after Angie became sick at age 12 — Garnier started piecing together her journals to form a book. “It took me 22 years to write this book,” she said. “Right after her death, it was too painful to read my journal, let alone write anything down.
“I’ve always had a passion to write a book, and I was working on one about my childhood when God spoke to me and said I need to write a book that will help others — write about Angie.”
After leading a normal, healthy life up until age 12, Angie started having kidney problems, but doctors did not know why. Two years later, she was diagnosed with Wagner’s Disease, a rare condition that causes inflammation of the blood vessels that leads to kidney failure. Garnier’s journal documents it all.
“It’s a detailed account, starting from Day One of her illness,” she said.
“It’s an account of the feelings I had as a mother — the fear, the uncertainty from day to day. It’s a story of our coping, a family that’s hit hard in the gut, and we survived. But it’s only through God’s grace that we survived.”
That inspiration flows throughout the book, she said. “One thing I’ve realized through writing this book is to look for the blessings. No matter what situation you’re in, look for the blessings. God has them there for you. He provided for us throughout — with people, money and prayers, whatever we needed at the time was provided. And it’s only through God that could happen.”
When proofreading the manuscript, First Baptist associate pastor Bret Pritchard saw the potential the story could have to encourage other families. He encouraged her to publish it.
“It is intimately and warmly written, and that’s what grabbed me about it,” Pritchard said. “I felt like I was walking up and down the hospital halls with them. I felt the anger and fear and sometimes the humor and joy. I felt like it would be a help for other families who either are going through something like that or have gone through it to see how God ministers in even the darkest of times.”
The author acknowledged it makes her feel vulnerable to have her thoughts on display for anyone to read. “It’s very personal, very private; there are some raw feelings in there. But knowing that it’s helping other people, it’s worth it.”
Garnier and her husband, Richard, live in Oak Grove. They have two other grown children, Steve and Sarah.
Among the outlets where the book can be obtained are LifeWay Christian Stores and Baptist Book Stores.

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  • Stacey Hamby