Love Conquers All

Faced with the impossible, Cassandra Poppe allowed God’s Glory to reign…


A terrible tragedy brings forth Hope.  Little four-year-old Fulton Poppe was excited to help his dad as he bundled up for the chilly Oklahoma morning on January 2013. What started as a typical day, in a blink of an eye, ended in a nightmare.

There was an explosion! Cassandra ran to see what had happened. Immediately panic ensued… her precious Fulton was engulfed in flames.

Over the next three months the Poppe family lives were a living hell as Fulton’s tiny body battled to stay alive. It was only through their faith and reliance on Divine Providence that they could shoulder such a heavy cross while helping Fulton recover.  Unsuspectingly, God had been preparing this humble family for such a cross for many years.

Cassandra reveals this preparation of hope and love as she chronicles the tragedy in her book, Fire of Love.  Upon reading the account, I gained more insight in how God constantly offers Himself to us throughout our lives and how God’s glory can overcome all obstacles.  The Poppe family accepted that offering.  From that acceptance sprang forth such a deeply rooted faith and trust that they found the strength to face the impossible.

I recently had the honor to meet Cassandra at a retreat in Sandford, Michigan. After spending time with her it was evident that the glory of God continues to shine through this humble sister in Christ as she shared words of wisdom and how a person can grow in faith.

May God bless the Poppe family and may their story help others grow steadfast in their own faith.

Out of Fear, Comes Courage


The Hirschman Family

Audrey(14), Mike, Erika, Eleanor(19)

Some miracles are quick and dramatic. Some are slow and subtle.

     At twenty-three she found herself dumbfounded leaving the tall brick building. What does this mean? she silently thought. Her mind continued to reel… It was only a bump. How can something as insignificant as a bump turn into such devastating news. What does this mean? What does the future hold for me now?

     She found a payphone. She dialed his number. Mike answered the phone. They had been dating for almost a year. “It’s cancer!” she numbly whispered. An uncomfortable silence lingered from the other end. What is he thinking? she wondered. Mike was her rock. He kept everything in perspective for her sometimes too-serious-nature. Finally finding his voice, Mike reassured her. He told her everything was going to be ok. Mike’s dry sense of humor had seen her through some of life’s more solemn moments. But, this was different. This was very serious; very serious indeed!

     Finally finding the courage to discuss the horrible fact with her father, a doctor, she questioned, “Am I going to die?” Hope filled his eyes as he gently shook his head, smiled, and tried to offer some comfort, “Not today!”

That was more than twenty years ago. The former Midland Daily news reporter, Erika Hirschman, shared her battles with me on a gorgeous, sunny, August afternoon as we sat on the beach enjoying the still waterfront at her cottage. This beautiful lady with a terrific smile and warm eyes, bravely recalled how scared she was when she faced her first confrontation with that dreadful six-letter word, cancer.

     This mother of two was no stranger to fear! She has stared the unthinkable in the eye, not once, not twice, but three times. She has endured and by the grace of God triumphed over three types of cancer, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and two forms of breast cancer-triple negative and estrogen positive.

     She was terrified when first diagnosed, but after 44 radiation treatments she came out strong. Donning her rosary beads she prepared herself for the lonely drive to Southfield; looking at the bright side she thought, At least the treatment center is close to home. Diagnosed in May, she completed her treatments four months later. She chose the fast path so she could get back to living.

     “Prayer was important.” she told me, especially as she faced the effects of the treatment; burnt skin, hair loss, intense follow ups, and the continuous CAT Scans. Expressing how difficult this was at twenty-three, when she had her whole life before, her she continued to explain, “I would not have moved past this [devastating disease] without my faith.”

     Hirschman, a devout Catholic, described how her battles brought her from fearful to courageous.

     “The second time…well…that was hard.” She said as I sat amazed at the life this gentle woman had to endure. “It was breast cancer; induced by the radiation treatments. They [the doctors] treated it aggressively.”

     Erika said that after she hit the ten-year cancer free anniversary from the Hodgkin’s Lymphoma she thought she was in the clear. She had just gained her confidence back when a strange coincidence, or what I like to call ‘God Moment’ occurred. It was October 2007, when she went on a special assignment for the Midland Daily News. She found herself interviewing a breast cancer survivor. This story did not sit well with her. She had this nagging feeling after the interview. She decided to go directly home for a self-breast exam even though she had been diligent in keeping her mammogram appointments. All of them had been clean, she tried to reassure herself. Yet, that fearful feeling ate at her very core as she pulled into her driveway. It a blink of an eye, she entered back into the dark nightmare of her past…

      What is this? she thought sinking to her knees. She found one! All those feelings that she had finally pushed away suddenly flooded back, engulfing her. She did not want to believe it, but that nagging feeling proved to be right…it was definitely a lump. She had to tell Mike, her husband, one more time.

     The next morning, she immediately called her doctor who, because of her history, swiftly made the necessary arrangements for a biopsy. She was told to call the following Monday for the results.

     Monday came. She looked at the phone. She could not do it. Mike made the call. He was still at work. Erika heard the garage door open that afternoon. Mike had come home early. She was in the bedroom when he walked through the door. He slowly lowered himself to the edge of the bed where she sat. Dread filled the room. “It is a triple-negative.” Oh No! she thought. This is horrible news.

      Everything snowballed. Decisions had to be made—quickly. “There was no time to think!” Erika told me as she took another drink of water recalling those difficult days. She explained that triple-negative breast cancer was very aggressive, requiring a very aggressive treatment.

     Erika and I sat quietly as we watched our ‘tweenagers’ play. “They are having fun.” I said and smiled, breaking the serious moment. “Yes!” she said as a smile crossed her lips when the pair jumped off the floating, wooden dock and back into the water leaving ripples to make their way back to shore.

     After a few moments, she slid back to her memories. “I remember asking God, ‘Didn’t I pay my dues?’ during a weak and frustrated moment.” Yet, the reality was so many decisions had to be made and promptly. Single or double mastectomy? What about plastic surgery? The questions continued… She found them overwhelming. “It was paralyzing.” She recalled.

     “Then one day,” she stated with confidence, “God told me to move forward.” So even though she was overwhelmed, she made the necessary decisions and was quickly found herself whisked away for a double mastectomy.

     Just when she thought it could not get any worse, the real cross came when faced with the chemo treatments. “Everything hurt! My hair hurt! My fingernails even hurt. It was awful! It was worse than the radiation treatments I had from the first battle.” This was Erika’s fate when she should have been playing and enjoying time with her most treasured gifts, children.

     Although life was difficult, Erika felt blessed. She was told that due to the radiation treatments with her first cancer she most likely would never have children. But, God, in his goodness, defied the odds and blessed the couple with two lovely daughters.

     When Erika’s treatments started this second time, her youngest daughter was only two. She told me, “I could not lift anything! I could not pick up my adorable two-year-old. I could hardly lift my arms I was in so much pain.”

     She continued to tell me how she again turned to God one day when she was at her breaking point…she could not even change her daughter’s diaper. A task so easy for most people was practically impossible for her. “God, help me! How am I going to do this?” she cried in desperation.

     I could see boldness in her eyes as she looked at me and recalled, “Do you know what God did? He answered me!”

     She went on to tell me how her daughter was suddenly potty-trained within that very week. “She did not even have one accident,” Erika proudly stated, believing it was a sign from God. “He told me, ‘I will help you.’” Through what most would consider insignificant Erika regained confidence in yet another God Moment, “God did not abandon me!” she said. She explained how in that moment she was renewed in her resolve to move forward. From that moment on she battled the awful disease not for herself, but for her husband and kids.

     If that was not profound enough, she adopted a new attitude, Pay it Forward! Looking at me, she justified this new attitude with a simple statement, “It seems that someone always has it worse than you.”

     The chemo treatments proved to be successful. Soon Erika found herself back in remission. One year went by and she found herself cancer free. She was finally healthy enough to help others as she tried to live out her new motto. Then two years came and went, then three years…again she hit the five-year mark and everything looked great. Erika started running and getting into shape. Not only did she become physically fit, but also took great strides to grow in her faith as well. She decided to pursue a Montessori certificate so she could work at St. Stephan’s Catholic School and continue her paying it forward mantra. The girls were doing great in school and were involved in many extracurricular activities. Her family life was flourishing as her husband’s business was doing well too. Life was good. Peace and harmony finally became a regular rhythm.

    Almost ten years after her last bout of cancer, just before Christmas, life came to a screeching halt  once more. The cancer battle ensued once again when she spotted a red mark under one of her incision scars. There was no warning, just BOOM and it was back! She found herself faced with yet another type of breast cancer—estrogen positive.

     She was an expert at this drill by now and was ready to face this monster head on! Her fear had turned into determination…courage! She decided she had plenty of fight in her as she tried to cushion the blow from the girls. She remained strong even amidst the difficult days when she would retreat to her room—alone—and let the emotions run their course. Yet she never lost focus on God. She remained hopeful. Reflecting on this third battle she realized that God had been preparing her. This time she was physically fit, she was strong in her faith and she was surrounded by a loving family.

     Although she would not have to endure the surgeries as she did previously, she would have chemo treatments to deal with. Fortunately, Mike was able to go with her this time.

     So, when she started to lose her hair for the third time she was not shocked. As a matter of fact, it became a family event. Her close friend started to shave it while her girls brushed the patches of hair off her shoulders and arms; a beautiful gesture of love and support. Mike, with his sense of humor, even drug the vacuum into the bathroom and attacked the hair as it gently fell to the ground; something that made everyone laugh.

     As I listened to Erika’s story I contemplated the virtues that have sprung forth from such suffering. It became clear to me that Hope helped this family take a terrible moment and turn it into Love and Compassion. Courage was forged in that Hope and replaced the fear that tried its best to linger within in the Hirschman’s home. That, in itself, is a great miracle; for with Courage comes Trust, with Trust comes Peace. Although there will always be bumps in the road, this resilient family has found something that many people chase most of their lives, Peace.

Yes, Erika is truly a courageous woman! She has taken tragedy, three times mind you, and turned it in to a silent strength that can be seen in everything about her— especially, in her eyes. She has miraculously turned that fear from her first battle at twenty-three into courage that emulates from within her. Be prepared if you are ever blessed to meet her for her warm smile and handshake quietly yet confidently states, “Hello, I am Erika! I am a fighter! It is my pleasure to meet you!”

     May the good Lord continue to shower the Hirschman Family with healing, strength, courage, love and peace. Erika is a true witness of someone living for Christ. Hopefully her story will help others face their cross with strength and courage too.

Michelle Davis

Finding Hope…is now a Required Read at Alma College


I am flattered and excited to announce that Finding Hope on Vegas is a required read for Nursing 101 class this fall semester at Alma College.  I never imagined that this book would be used in such a capacity.  God works in mysterious ways!

Preview: Finding Hope on Vegas


Eighteen and three-fourths gallons of blood was what it took to save him.

“Finding Hope on Vegas” chronicles how seventeen-year-old Nathan Davis escaped imminent death after being stomped by a fifteen-hundred-pound bull at the Gratiot County fair in Alma, Mich., on Aug. 9, 2014.

Michelle Davis takes readers on a rollercoaster ride as she recounts her family’s journey leading up to Nathan’s accident, the accident itself and the horrific battle of survival that ensued. This profound story will have readers on the edge of their seats as they discover how dedicated family and friends, along with determined medical personnel, witnessed miracle after miracle as Nathan clung to life. Yet, in the midst of it all, the Davis family found an unexpected gift by an unsuspecting giver: hope on a bull named Vegas.

“There are no coincidences, only God moments.” said Michelle Davis.



It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon in May when the Davis and Cassiday families gathered together at some property owned by my parents, Richard and Kathy Cassiday, to prepare for yet another event. The property itself was nothing special. It consisted of thirty-nine partially wooded acres with trails that provided hours of dirt bike entertainment for the thirteen Davis and Cassiday cousins. Three towering maple trees stood over a large field. Providing some shade, it was the perfect spot to set up base camp and a fire pit. For years, running water was the only luxury we had, thanks to a couple of gas generators. Earlier that spring, we finally finished construction on a small pole barn that we had started the previous summer. It became the camp kitchen: complete with a propane stove, sink, and food prep area. The kitchen area had been cleaned and restocked earlier in the day to prepare for the summer. Memorial Day weekend, the official start to the camping season, was just a week away, and we were anticipating a slew of campers as we tried to get everything in order.

Gatherings like this were typical for such a crowd since we were such a close-knit family. When there was work to be done, we all pitched in to help. As the ladies worked in the kitchen area, the rest of the gang spent the day working hard: mowing the large camping area, setting up horseshoe pits, erecting a temporary pool, and painting picnic tables and the wooden playground. We knew the hard work would pay off the following Saturday for the huge celebration we had planned.

This property had become hallowed ground in a sense to my three brothers—Bryan, Jason, and Steve—and me, since our families and many great friends camped here throughout the summer. It provided a fun escape for the kids and the adults, to halt the craziness in all of our lives, even if it was used only a few weekends during the summer.

The venture began one Labor Day weekend over thirteen years ago when my sister-in-law Kelli and I decided to camp there. Our oldest kids were still quite small, so we chose the spot since it was fairly close to home. It was only natural for this hallowed ground to become the location for their dual graduation party.

Nevertheless, this day was vastly different than anyone could have expected nine months earlier. A lot had changed for everyone since August. Gratitude filled the air while everyone worked together cheerfully. We were all very thankful to have two graduates for the dual graduation party next weekend rather than just one.

After a long day’s work, the grill was loaded with barbecued chicken to feed the hungry crowd. When dinner was finally ready, one of the grandkids rang the large cast-iron dinner bell. Everyone instinctively gathered in a huge circle and held hands to say the blessing before we ate. My father, after all of the difficult times our family had been through, became a little sentimental and asked, “Please, would everyone please say something they are thankful for before we eat?” Everyone was a little surprised. This was a Thanksgiving tradition and not expected at a graduation, but, again, this was no ordinary gathering.

As I listened to a few of the twenty-three family members express their thanks, I became lost in my own thoughts.  What am I thankful for? Where could I begin? The last nine months had been such a roller coaster for all of us!  What should I say? There were too many things to be thankful for: my husband (Tim), the kids, love, family, God, hope! How could I choose just one?

Click here to continue to preview Finding Hope on Vegas

Eighteen and three-fourths gallons of blood …

First-Time Author Michelle Davis Releases Riveting New Read

New Book “Finding Hope on Vegas” Restores Faith in Friends, Family and Divine Intervention

 BEAVERTON, Mich. June 1, 2017 — In her newly published book “Finding Hope on Vegas,” author Michelle Davis chronicles how her seventeen-year-old son Nathan escaped near death after being stomped by a fifteen-hundred-pound bull named Vegas at the Gratiot County fair in Alma, Mich., on Aug. 9, 2014.

As abruptly as the ride ended, Nathan’s health drastically changed as he found himself fighting for life in a small, rural hospital. Michelle takes readers on a rollercoaster ride as she recounts her family’s journey leading up to Nathan’s accident, the accident itself and the horrific battle of survival that ensued. This profound story will have readers on the edge of their seats as they discover how dedicated family and friends, along with determined medical personnel, witnessed miracle after miracle as Nathan clung to life.

Eighteen and three-fourths gallons of blood was what it took to save Nathan Davis in two and a half weeks’ time. In the midst of it all, the Davis family found an unexpected gift by an unsuspecting giver: hope on a bull named Vegas.

“There are no coincidences, only God moments.” said Michelle Davis.

 Finding Hope on Vegas was published by BookBound Media, LLC, and released on June 1, 2017.  It is available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. To learn more, please visit or the Finding Hope on Vegas page on Facebook.

About the Author

 Author Michelle Davis lives in a small, rural Michigan community. She graduated from Central Michigan University where she received a bachelor’s degree in computer science. After working for almost eight years in the technology industry, she left to dedicate herself to her family where years later she found herself faced with the most difficult experience she had ever witnessed. A devout Catholic, Michelle believes God has a plan for everyone. She began to write about that experience in what she called her post-traumatic stress journal and feels blessed that it has been transformed into a book to allow her to share her family’s incredible story of hope.