Tuesday, May 7, 2013

To Michaela ... When You Come Home ...

Over the years that you have been gone, I have had a thousand fantasies of what it would be like when you came home. Seeing Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight found has reignited those fantasies. I was so moved by the crowds lining the streets and cheering for these girls, and I wanted you to see their story. Michaela, when I tell you that the world is longing to hear those words, "I am Michaela Garecht," I am not exaggerating. In the days after you were kidnapped, the response of the community was so huge you couldn't drive down a street in Hayward that wasn't lined with flyers with your face smiling down from them, and those flyers stayed up for ages. Now, almost 25 years later, the love has not abated but seems to have grown. In the wake of Jaycee Dugard being discovered, your story went out again, all over the world, and with the world being so much smaller these days, so closely connected by the worldwide web, it isn't just the local community that knows your name. It is an international community. There are people all over the world who are longing to hear those words, "I am Michaela Garecht." In fact, I have been touched by the number of people who have messaged me and said that when they heard that missing girls had been found, the first thing they thought of was you.

I am posting this video, because I want you to see this story. You can hear Amanda's call for help, the pure terror in her voice. But then you can see the photograph of her with her sister, the joy on her face. You can see, also, Amanda's daughter. Her face is actually blurred in this video, but I've seen it in other places, and she has a big grin. I would be surprised if you didn't have children of your own, Michaela, and I know that their welfare would be uppermost in your mind. Please know that everything possible would be done to assure their safety and well being. Please know that they would be loved and welcomed with open arms by your family, by the world.


One of the things that struck me when I looked at this house, when I saw this story, was that it did indeed remind me of the movie "The Peanut Butter Solution," like the people you wrote the poem about, who had been kidnapped and were being held captive. And the spark of hope in my heart flared, remembering again that your own prophetic words were not about people who had been kidnapped and killed, but about people who were being held captive. At the end of the movie, those people were freed. Amanda, Gina and Michelle are free. And I know, Michaela, that it is your destiny to be free. 

I know that breaking free of whatever circumstances you may be in would be difficult, would be frightening. Remember what I told you, when we were together, that whenever you are scared, whenever you are sad, even if I can't be there with you in person, I am always with you in your heart. Touch your heart, and feel me there. I am reaching out across the miles that stretch between us, and I am holding your hand. It has been the most difficult thing I have had to face, knowing that you needed me and not being able to find you, not being able to get to you, but you have never been completely alone. And remember also what Pooh said to Piglet, "If ever there is a tomorrow when we're not together ... there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart, I'll always be with you."

But the unknown of what you would find after freeing yourself might be frightening, too. Wherever you are, if you reach out for help, help will come. You will be taken to a safe place. It might be a hospital, as with Amanda, Gina and Michelle. If you are in another country, the first place might be an embassy, and then a safe place in a safe country. Wherever you are, I will come to you, and probably some of your other family members will come as well. It's pretty certain Libby will come. I have posted one of your journal entries for school, about how annoying it was that Libby followed you everywhere, and how I told you that she just does that because she loves you. Well, she did, and she does. Of course, everybody in the family loves you and misses you, but Libby's heart is really tied into searching for you, second only to me. And Johnna might come, too, the little sister you have never known. Maybe your dad. At home, Robbie would probably be waiting, and your stepdad, Jeff. All the kids still live with me, except for Alex, and they are all really funny, so it's a fun place to be when everyone is here.

Alex and your dad both moved out of the area, and Alex doesn't often drive out here, but if he doesn't we will go and see him, along with his wife and daughters. Your dad will probably come and see you, but if not Libby can drive you out to visit him at his house. There are friends, people you have never met but who have tirelessly helped to look for you and supported me in my search for you. There are your old friends. Trina, remember her? She lives in another state, but I'm willing to bet she will come to see you. John Spahn and his wife, Michelle, are both friends of mine and keep you close in their hearts, and they live nearby. Debi Varner and Anthony. Kara Kelliher is in another state, but even she might come. Remember the Cabrals? Little Terrah, who we used to babysit ... well, she's not so little anymore. She is very much grown up, and has her own daughter ... named after you, actually, with a different spelling. I actually talk to her sister, Cherise, pretty regularly on facebook. I hope nobody minds me posting their names in a public place, but I am hoping that some of these familiar names will stir in you more good memories of friends you loved, who love you, who stay in touch with me and who I know would love to see you again. 

Then there is the world. Michaela, there are so very many people all over the world who have genuinely come to love you. They have supported me, have supported you, have shared in this long and difficult journey through grief and pain, and I have always wished I could share the joy of your homecoming with them. And I will, through this blog, and through the media, share my own joy and thanks. If you feel up to thanking them yourself, you would have the opportunity to do that. But if you don't want to, for any reason, nobody will try to force you to, nobody will try to talk you into it. As much as you wish to embrace the world, the world will embrace you back. As much as you need or wish privacy, you will be protected. 

And you will be protected from any harm, Michaela. If people have told you that you would be hunted down if you escaped, that your family would be harmed, DO NOT BELIEVE THEM. You will be safe, and we will be safe. I guarantee that. Remember what you were taught in your child safety programs. Remember what we discussed at home. Kidnappers lie. Don't believe anything they tell you. If you come home, you will be safe.

In various places in this blog, I have featured photographs of your family members, some information about them, so that you will feel comfortable, so that they will not be unknown to you, so they will not feel like strangers. But here are a few again.

Left to right, Robbie, Johnna, your stepdad Jeff, me, Libby.
This is not the best picture of any of us, but it's rare to get one picture with all of us in it. This was taken last year on the anniversary of your kidnapping, actually in the very spot where you were taken. It is the place where the nightmare began, but the other thing this place represents to me is the spot where you spent your last moment of freedom. The tree is covered with yellow ribbons, some with personal messages written to you on them, from family, friends, and strangers who are all waiting to hear those words, "I am Michaela Garecht."

Here is a photo of your dad with Libby at the anniversary remembrance of your kidnapping.


Alex has moved away from the Bay Area and doesn't drive out here very often, but here is a photo of him with two of his daughters:

Alex with his daughters, Raina and Kalia.
Along with a stepdad, you have a stepsister as well, Ariel. 



And speaking of friends, here are a couple you might remember who came to your anniversary remembrance:
Here is a picture of Debi Varner with me.
Seriously, just seeing Debi makes you want to hug her, doesn't it?
The guy on the left, by the way, is your stepdad, Jeff.

John Spahn and his son tying ribbons on your tree.

And let's not forget the dogs. This is a picture of the living room, and in the lower right corner you can see Bella. She is a chocolate lab. She likes to bark and has a really deep voice. Believe me, she will protect you.


This is Spike, looking out the living room window. He is a little six-pound Miniature Pinscher. He also likes to bark, but he is not terribly scary. By the way, you can't really see it in this picture because it was a foggy day, but we have a beautiful view. We live in Nana's house, which you probably remember. It is three stories off the ground, so it is pretty private. 


What I can't put in a photograph and paste on this blog is my heart, Michaela. My heart is always waiting for you. Houses may have changed, friends and family members may have changed and grown. But the room you came to occupy in my heart on the day you were born has never changed. There is nothing, nothing that could have happened in the last 25 years that could change my love for you, my appreciation of you, my respect for you. You have an inner light that shines in the world even though you are hidden. I know you may have a hard time seeing it yourself, or believing in it, but it is true, and all the darkness in the world can only make it shine brighter. Your destiny is greater than the horrors that have been thrust on you. Have faith, my sweet girl, in yourself, in the love that surrounds you, in the light that leads you. Have faith, have courage, come home.

Love you forever, 
mom

41 comments:

  1. So beautiful..

    The news about those girls is wonderful, and I am always hopeful that some day Michaela will come home to you.

    <3<3

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  2. What a beautiful post, Sharon! I hope that wherever she is, Michaela sees this and that it will give her strength to break free and come home.

    Maybe it's the good news out of Cleveland, but I am feeling such hope for you today!

    Big, big hugs!

    Jackie

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  3. Michaela's name was the first one I thought of when the story broke yesterday. She is always in my thoughts and prayers. I hope you hear the words "I am Michaela Garecht" very soon. Your love for your precious girl inspires me to be a better mom to my precious girl. Thank you Sharon!
    MJ

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  4. Wow, such precious words from a precious Mom about her beautiful Daughter Michaela.
    It took me awhile to read because my eyes were blurred and filled with tears. You inspire me and so many other people with your love, words, and compassion. My heart is so very touched right now.
    Like I always say I will always have hope for Michaela to be found. You, Michaela, and all of your family is in my prayers always.
    Big Hugs to all of you
    from Thelma

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  5. I haven't even read this yet and I'm crying. I will be reading when I get home and have a few moments to myself. I think of Michaela all the time. we are the same age and I grew up in Fremont, not far from Hayward. I remember her then and I remember her now. I will never forget.

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  6. Sharon, I can hear the renewed hope in your writing. Stories such as these remind us that we can never give up, never lose hope, and always listen to our hearts.

    Cindy

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  7. Sharon:
    I am a 17 year old girl from the capital district of New York. I do not know you- nor did I ever know Michaela (how could I, I was born in 1996)-but I can not tell you how many hours I have invested in researching and reading about your beautiful daughter. Not only does this case amaze me in multiple ways, it also touches my heart. The face of your innocent daughter, her eyes and her simple smile, touches me every time I look at it.
    All in all, I pray that you are reunited with your daughter soon. 23 years is a terribly long time to worry... an emotion a mother shouldn't have to endure. You must view all of these success stories as hope, hopefully Michaela will be recovered soon.
    I admire your strength and your courage. Please continue to search for your beautiful daughter.
    Xo,
    Olivia

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  8. Sharon,

    I want you to know that your daughter has never been forgotten. I was 14 years old when she disappeared...I still remember all your pleas on t.v. during the Thanksgiving holiday. I rejoiced so much when I heard of the rescue of these three young ladies. However, I want you to know that Michaela's name was just uttered by me last week. I have a 6 year old daughter and a 9 year old son and I was just discussing the need to be safe a couple days ago. I mentioned the names of your daughter and Eileen M. I remember these names so clearly. I did my best to stress safety without overly burdening them with fear.

    I want you to know that your daughter has never been forgotten and she is found with Godspeed.

    A warm embrace from a stranger,

    Sandra

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  9. I had a dream of Michaela would you like 2 hear it?

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    1. I had a dream that a man and three women robbed a bank and one of the girls was murdered and dumped in a lot and the man tight up another woman(Michaela) police arrested the man and woman and rescued Michaela then In trial the woman(Michaela) was on a stand saying details and a woman said are Michaela Garecht and everyone was shocked and she said no and left the court house the man was found to not guilty and left then I saw a creek of water and saw a white feather then I woke up.

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  10. Sharon,
    My first thought on hearing the news from Ohio was about Michaela.
    Michaela's kidnapping shaped my life and my children's as we lived in the area. My daughter was the same age. Her life was never the same, I was never the same as a mother. I shopped at that store. We have never forgotten her, and I PRAY that we will see her story of her safe return everywhere.I can't wait until the time I can post on a news story and say how grateful I am. There is hope. Always. You are the shining example of hope.
    God bless you, this is a beautiful post. It made me cry.

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  11. I grew up in Fremont as well and am the same age as your daughter. I've thought about her and prayed for your family countless times over the years. God bless.

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  12. Sharon,

    I also thought of Michaela immediately after hearing about the 3 Ohio women. I am continually praying for Michaela's return. I hope you too one day will hear her say those words, "I'm free now".

    Anna/B.C :)

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  13. I am an Ohio resident from a Cleveland suburb and your story has touched me so deeply. I had never heard of your daughter's kidnapping before now but after the great news here locally, I spent some time browsing related links on news articles and came across this blog. You are so right about the world being smaller these days with the internet and I hope that this increased media attention on kidnapping cases helps lead to your daughter. Prayers and love.

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  14. Hello Sharon,

    I discovered your blog when Jaycee Dugard was freed. I wanted to come back and read your blog because I knew you would be celebrating the freedom of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight. I am looking forward to the day when Michaela is also freed.

    Best wishes to you and your family.

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  15. Dear Sharon,
    I hope the escape and rescue of these 3 extraordinary women and little girl brought a warm and penetrating sunray to your heart and soul as it did to mine.
    As a Bay Area native, my thoughts and prayers immediately went to Michaela, Amber, and Ilene. Last night I found it selfish to pray for anything else except for thanks at the ones rescued and for God’s help and comfort to the ones that remain in captivity.
    There are a couple of things about this story that have caused an awakening for me:
    1)Many times the abductees are in regular neighborhoods, co-existing amongst us. The kidnappers may have odd habits that if all of us just paid a little more attention, we might realize something more is going on besides “well they are just weird”. I guess this reality both shocks and frightens me.

    2)It took an Angel in the unlikely guise of Charles Ransom to take the initiative, be brave, and proactive in physically breaking down his neighbor’s door. This to me cannot be undermined….he was not apathetic when it came time to act. I still wonder at the tragedy of what if he just had minded his own business? Or what if he explained away in his mind the Amanda’s screams?

    3)Lastly, it dawned on me that for long term abductee cases we are not looking for little girls with toothless grins. We are searching for adult women (or men), that have been brutally stripped of their childhoods, and live in truly atrocious situations of bondage and torture as adults. I know that age progression pictures are not that accurate, but is it perhaps time to update Michaela’s adult photo?

    I wish you strength and comfort in yours and Michaela’s 20+ year nightmare. The rescue of Amanda, Gina, and Michelle brought such joy to me, but at the same time reminded me that we must all be constantly vigilant in this terror, and that one person’s selfless actions in a community result in a tidal wave of change.

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    1. Thanks. I find it really exciting and illuminating also. But I will remain forever opposed to the age progressions because I do not think they are accurate. With cases like Michaela's, as well as the three girls who escaped, it takes opportunity, motivation, and/or a knowledgeable informant. The public needs to help spread the word to hopefully reach out to those who are missing, like this blog, or to those who know and haven't said anything. Age progressions just bring a lot of calls into the police department about people who look like the age progression, who invariably have nothing to do with the case. It's just a sad fact of investigation.

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    2. I really think that Michaela would look very similar to Libby. When I saw Libby's pic as a little girl I thought it was Michaela.

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  16. When the Amanda story broke, I thought of you, Sharon. *hugs*

    Love,

    Donnah

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  17. I was 8 years old in November 1988. I am from the Bay Area. I remember that everything I knew of the world changed the day I watched the news reports of Michaela's disappearance. I remember hoping with all my tiny body's might that she would be found again.
    Every time I see these stories, she pops into my mind. The hope is renewed. Will she be next?
    These stories happening have brought a glimmer of hope into what seems like a hopeless situation. All these missing person's cases that may have been written off can be reopened and reinvestigated!
    I still hold out hope that she will be found. I felt a sort of connection to her being so close in age. It would bring peace to a lot of people if she came home ... none more than you and your family.

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  18. Never, ever giving up hope... sending hugs to you and Michaela.

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  19. Michaela -

    Everything your mom has said is absolutely true. I want to reiterate something that she said.

    Any type of violence that you and your family have been threatened with if you escape are LIES. Kidnappers/abusers are liars and manipulators. That is what they do, and they are very convincing. As a child, I was sexually abused repeatedly by a close family friend of my parents. Someone no one would have guessed in a million years was capable of such a thing. He told me if I ever told anyone what was happening, I would be in a great deal of trouble and my parents would think I was lying and would hate me. He, just like all abusers, was absolutely convincing, and was also an absolute LIAR. I know now, as an adult, that if I had summoned the courage to tell someone and get help, HE would have been the one in trouble, not me. My parents would have kept me from harm from that point forward. But I believed his lies and did not get help. I do not ever talk about this, but I will to you Michaela, in hopes it helps you understand that abusers lie. They LIE LIE LIE, and I cannot stress enough how important it is NOT to believe them when they say you will be harmed worse if you escape. Please believe your mother. You WILL be protected, and you will be safe, as will your children if you have any.

    Your mom also mentioned that people all over the world that do not know you or your family have come to love you and are hoping and praying to finally hear "I am Michaela Garecht." I am one of those people. I too learned about you after Jaycee was discovered. I have been praying for you daily since then, and wishing everyday you are finally found. So keep in mind, if you ever find the opportunity to break free and are filled with fear - the entire world is cheering you on and has your back!! You will be protected. Please go home to your mother, who has touched all of our hearts with her unwavering love for you.

    Lots and lots of love and prayers from Michigan,
    Becki

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  20. Sending love and prayers to you and your precious Michaela. Here's to speaking good things in existence and hoping your daughter and many other missing children can escape their situations and find their way home.

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  21. Only a Mothers love. My heart and prayers go out to you all. My heart bleeds for you, I pray your dear baby girl Michaela is only a minute from being back with her family. God Bless you all of you..angel

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  22. 5/9/13- I watched the special CNN interview here in N. Cal at 4:00 (Feature at 4:22-) It was very tender. Thxs for the heads up ahead of time! looks like ERIN BURNETT OutFront will be on again tonight at 8 p.m. on channel 56. They *just now* posted the video! ((hugs)) http://outfront.blogs.cnn.com/

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  23. So beautiful Sharon. You are such a great mother. We will never stop searching! I am praying for Michaela....

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  24. The CNN interview with you & Kyung Lah was deeply touching. To see snippets of original news coverage, search efforts, missing posters , special PD room dedicated to your daughter with a file cabinet filled with over 1500 tips, pictures of your children then and now, college presentation, and the yellow ribboned tree left me speechless. The long suffering yearning within your heart was seen & described so well by you as well as the hope fueled by the recent return of 3 long time missing. Kyung Lah ‘s stats of 2,ooo going missing a day was shocking! Each family is at a different level in the process. I have no doubt that your 25 years inspire others to hold on…that your journey inflates their balloon and helps them carry on for a while.

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  25. Sharon, You are an amazing person, and an even more amazing mother. In November of 1988, I lived in the Bay Area, was a new young mother to my baby girl, just 5 months old at that time. I watched every news report I could find, riveted by the news reports of Michaela's kidnapping. It is there in that small apartment, in front of the TV, holding my baby, that I became a Mother. The fact that such an evil exists that could snatch a young girl away from her home and family, hit me like a lightening bolt. That terror has never left me. I did my best to maintain a balance between safety and over protectiveness while raising my daughter. I think my protective side won. My daughter is 25 years old now and lives on her own. She does not resist or resent my need to know she is safe. In a group of her peers her age she does not think twice about taking my call or texting me to let me know where she is. It is part of how she grew up and our family culture. I grew up in that small apartment 25 years ago. I learned that my beautiful baby was a gift, not a right, a gift from God and that I needed to cherish every moment that I had her. I have never forgotten Michaela and have thought of her many many times throughout the years. I think of you, Sharon, and am awed by your strength and bravery. You are the finest example of a mama, mommy, mom, mother, and your unwavering determination to find Michaela and share her lovely spirit with all of us, so that we all know her too, is a blessing to all of us. I am the mom I am because of you and I will continue to pray that Michaels comes home to you. Valerie Bach, Manteca, CA

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  26. I grew up in Hayward and was 13 years old when Michaela was kidnapped. I still remember the story vividly. I believe there are people all over the world who think about your daughter Everytime a story comes on the news about a girl being found. I was just retelling the story to a coworker yesterday. I don't live in Hayward anymore, not even in the US, but I remember. I hope your story has a happy ending someday.

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  27. Sharon, my thoughts and blessings go to you and your family...

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  28. Good news comes in 3's. Jaycee, now the 3 girls, next is Michaela's turn to be found. They say 3 time's a charm. Keep hoping.

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  29. Sharon

    I have been so touched by your story over the last 23 years,I too grew up in the bay area and was almost a victim of an attempted abduction myself, possibly by the same indvidual who kidnaped michela. I can tell you it has taken me years to recover from the guilt and to repair relationships that were lost due to the fact that this nameless entity was running around our area for years essentially decididng who was going to be the next victim. It has taken the relaization as an adult that we as children were just babies and had no control over what happened to us, and our parents had no control either. Parents due the best they can with the siutatiobns that are preseneted to them. As a masters degree student in public policy now I would like to use those experinces to hwlp others in their searches and recovery. There really isnt a year that has gone by that I havent thought of Michela and said that could have been me, but I know that my path is to use my education and skils to stay postive and be strong, so on that note I have come across a comnay as I am looking for an internship and employment here is the website

    http://www.polarisproject.org

    I hope it helps, on the website they are talking about international legislation. This is the program I came across



    The Global Hotlines Project is the international program of Polaris Project and provides technical assistance related to international anti-trafficking hotlines worldwide. The program seeks to equip countries with the necessary tools and training to successfully launch a national anti-trafficking hotline, incorporate human trafficking services into existing related hotlines, and improve the effectiveness of existing anti-trafficking hotlines. The Global Hotlines Project serves as an international resource center and training and technical assistance adviser for the international community on building and operating national anti-trafficking response mechanisms that serve victims of all forms of human trafficking.

    I'm sure they can help you..espcially if you feel Michela is in the UEA. Just wanted you to know that everyone really is hoping to bring Michela home and there are other survivors out there who need closure as well.

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  30. Good Morning Sharon Murch,, what a Beautiful Testimony to Your Precious Michaela.. I,, lived just down the road from you (well off of Tennyson Rd.) when your Beautiful Baby Girl was Stolen,, and,, since that Horrific Day,, I have Prayed for Michaela's SAFE RETURN... I too have NEVER given up on Michaela,, Illene ,, Amber Swartz-Garcia,, I Pray that Our Love-ing Father TEARS DOWN THE WALLS , that EVIL BUILT AROUND ALL OUR MISSING CHILDREN OF ALL AGES.. Father OPEN THE DOORS AND LEAD ALL YOUR LOST CHILDREN INTO THEIR LOVE-ING FAMILIES ARMS.. Father keep them Strong.. keep them Courageous.. keep them Healthy.. SURROUND THEM WITH YOUR ARMY OF ANGELS... Father Please answer the Prayers of SO Many Parents,, Grandparents,, Sister's,, Brother's,, Aunt's,, Uncle's, Cousin's, Friend's, Teacher's , Employer's.... Father I ask this in Your Precious Son Jesus Christ name... Amen...

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  31. p.s. an inspirational video for SPIKE the “little six-pound Miniature Pinscher.”—Options for when times are RUFF! :
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLrLlu6KDss


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    1. That is adorable! Thanks for the smiles!

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    2. You're so welcome! I'll be more careful where I post next time. I agree that dog is adorable!!:)!!!

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  32. Oh UGH! I intended to leave the cute video link for SPIKE on your blog where there was a picture of him looking out the window-came here to get his name right- forgot to return to YOUR blog :'( and put it here..NOT THE RIGHT PLACE!...SO VERY SORRY. Please know my family and I continue to daily uplift for a resolution which WILL come!

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    1. I came back with A lovely song and was relieved to see your kind feedback! :-) …. Here is a precious video “I'll Hold the Light - Dedicated to Missing Children and Their Loved Ones.wmv “ HOPE CONTINUES… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYNf3oED1o8

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  33. Oh Sharon. I hope along with you. I was 11 years old living in the Bay area during the time Michaela, Amber Swartz & Ilene Misheloff were taken. Know that you're not hoping & praying alone.

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  34. Praying for her and your family the pic of bella the dog in the fireplace if u zoom in really looks like a face anf kinda like an angel. God bless yall

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  35. Sharon,
    Every night before going to bed, my daughters and myself pray for Michaela, we pray that she is found,and that she knows how much she is loved not just by her family but now by us..My best wishes to you and your family..

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