By Victoria Klinker

About four years ago, my father Paul Gatlin was diagnosed with a brain disease called Frontal Temporal Degeneration. The lives of everyone in our family were drastically changed, but the bond of our family has only become stronger.

Three years ago, my husband Matt and I were searching to find the perfect church family for our future together. Matt was raised Roman Catholic and I was a very active member of the UCC church. Together, we found St. Luke’s, and I also quickly found the United Methodist Women (UMW.) I established an instant bond with the women of this group, which was only strengthened from our fellowship together. At that time my parents were living in Indiana, but the prayers of UMW stretched nationwide to them.

My father’s disease has continued to progress and my parents relocated to the Houston area this past October. When capable, Paul and Peggy attend St. Luke’s with Matt and me. I invited my mother to take part in the UMW group and she quickly found it to be a true blessing in her life. Witnessing the

prayers, support, and reassurance this special group has been able to offer my mother, fills my heart with joy and peace.

One of my favorite memories of UMW was the first meeting my mother attended. As our group prayed for one another, my mom opened up about my father’s disease. As she finished talking, many of the group members closed with comments about how we, the UMW group, had been praying for my dad for the past three years. Tears of warmth and “welcomeness”

overcame my mom and me. She instantly loved these women, just as I had at my first meeting.

UMW is a beautiful group of life, laughter, and prayer that has made a huge impact on my family, especially my mother and me. Even as one of the youngest members, I have felt extremely blessed to be part of this group.