Epiphany: A day to reflect on gifts

Merry Little Christmas! I hope you still have your Christmas tree up and some lighted garland around the house! Today is a very special day! Today is the day that we celebrate the visit of the three wise man to the stable in Bethlehem — it is the Feast of Epiphany. This feast ends the 12 days of Christmas- and what a lovely way to end. I love this day of Christmas because it is one more opportunity to focus on the amazing gift of the Incarnation, without all the chaos of Christmas! As I shared last year, Little Christmas has always been a special time for our family. Having had many hospitalizations around the holidays, this day has served as a “do-over” for Christmases spent in the PICU. For more than a few years, we have waited to exchange gifts until Little Christmas because of Johanna being critically ill. [...]

2017-01-08T20:42:48-05:00 January 6th, 2014|Categories: Life on Purpose|0 Comments

What’s in a name? So very much

When a couple is expecting, one of the fun preparations is to come up with a name for the baby. Before the advances in ultrasound, parents had to have at least a name for a boy and a girl. Some parents decide to wait to meet their newborn face to face before deciding on a name. Whichever way itʼs decided, most people would agree that a name can have a powerful affect on a personʼs life. We gave each of our children Biblical names which help to point them towards role models who lives reflect Godʼs love. For two of them, they also were named after relatives; my eldest son and daughter share their first name with great-grandparents. Sometimes names are much more than we expected. When I named my daughter Mary Angela, we never imagined that her namesake and adopted grandma, Angela Mary would die suddenly, just one month [...]

2017-01-08T20:42:48-05:00 December 22nd, 2013|Categories: Caregiver, Life on Purpose|0 Comments

We should pray for our leaders

God gets my attention best in the early morning. He created me that way. My finest hours of focus are typically between 5-10am. Typically, I wake up with a thought, a song or a scripture that the Lord uses to get my attention. Sometimes I wake up with a picture of person’s face whom I being called to pray for. The other day, I woke up with President Barack Obama’s face before me in my imagination. There was a pained look in his eyes that struck a chord in my heart. I was immediately filled with a sense of sadness and conviction that I don’t pray for him or any elected official often enough. As many readers of RiverheadLocal and followers on Facebook know, our own situation with insurance and healthcare issues made national news when my pediatrician and I were interviewed on the nationally syndicated, Sean Hannity Show [click [...]

2017-01-08T20:42:48-05:00 November 24th, 2013|Categories: Caregiver, Life on Purpose|0 Comments

Cancellation of health insurance leaves local family with special-needs child ‘in the lurch’

The troubled implementation of the Affordable Care Act is threatening one local family with the loss of coverage they've relied upon for years. Eileen Benthal, of Jamesport, will speak about her predicament to Sean Hannity for a segment to air this afternoon on his radio talk show. [The segment will air at 4 p.m. on his WABC radio, 770 AM.] Her daughter, Johanna, 17, has undergone 86 surgeries since she was diagnosed at three months old with a rare genetic neurological disease that causes tumors to grow in her brain. Her parents' insurance plan has always covered her care, soaring to at least $100,000 per year in medical expenses. With the new rules and surrounding confusion, that coverage hangs in the balance. "I was in my daughter's hospital room when I was on the phone with the insurance company and they told me our plan would be terminated," Benthal said. [...]

2014-09-07T20:39:14-04:00 November 15th, 2013|Categories: In The Media|0 Comments

Finding peace, even in Manhattan traffic

Most of us think of peace as the absence of conflict, a period of quiet or a feeling that sweeps over us when everything is going well. When we look at peace through the lense of scripture and try to understand God’s perspective, peace is so much more. The Hebrew word for peace is “Shalom” which implies a state of being; of complete restoration and wholeness. It is understood that one can only experience this sense of wholeness when we are in relationship with God. Isaiah 26:3 says: “A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace; in peace for its trust is in you.” Shalom, rather than a fleeting feeling is a place to dwell “in peace” because when we make it our firm purpose to trust God, we will be living in a place of peace. I don’t know about you, but I don’t always feel like I [...]

2017-01-08T20:42:48-05:00 November 10th, 2013|Categories: Caregiver, Life on Purpose|0 Comments

Acknowledging ‘things unseen’

Have you ever felt a tug on your heart and emotions, feeling a sense of grief creeping in that you just can’t explain? Then, when you look at a calendar, you realize that it marked a time of great loss in your life? I had that same experience while walking up 33rd Avenue in Manhattan this past week, as Johanna was in NYU hospital recovering from a recent surgery. I left the hospital to take a walk, to clear my head and feel the crisp fall air hit my face. Johanna was resting in the PICU, but not comfortably. We were all concerned about the pain in her head and watching the intricate system which monitored the pressure in her brain, hoping the new shunt would work well and give us all some reprieve. As I walked, I became aware of this grief tugging at the my consciousness. It was [...]

2017-01-08T20:42:48-05:00 November 2nd, 2013|Categories: Caregiver, Life on Purpose|0 Comments


I distinctly remember the prayer; I prayed it often. “Lord make me holy. Make our marriage and family holy. Do whatever you have to do in our lives to make us truly holy.” The prayer was inspired by a sense of complacency. My husband and I were in full-time ministry, raising a family with Gospel values, yet something was missing. We seemed to have our fill of God; we served Him and His people, lived simply and raised our kids with a knowledge and experience of faith in the context of community. Yet the cry of my heart, indeed my deepest desire was for holiness. Scripture says that the Lord fills our deepest desires and answers the delights of our hearts. It just doesnʼt tell us how. Johanna was born one month after our 10th year wedding anniversary. She was our celebration baby. The two older kids were 9, 6 [...]

2017-01-08T20:42:48-05:00 October 23rd, 2013|Categories: Caregiver, Life on Purpose|0 Comments

Dear God, Why?

“The whole genome SNP analysis detected an interstitial duplication of the chromosomal segment listed above.” This was the first line of a very complicated report on genetic testing for my daughter, Johanna. This was not an email I wanted to read before Iʼve had my cup of coffee. Recently, I was in a discussion with the geneticist who ordered these tests. As he rattled off terms like those in the sentence above, I bit my tongue not to say; “Itʼs all Greek to me.” This renowned doctor is Greek, so I didnʼt think the expression would impress him. At this point in the progression of Johannaʼs disease, we are seeing more debilitating effects on her brain and her whole body. When she was first diagnosed with cavernomas in her brain, there was only one article in a medical journal. Then five years and numerous brain surgeries later, there were a [...]

2017-01-08T20:42:48-05:00 September 22nd, 2013|Categories: Caregiver, Life on Purpose|0 Comments