Tuesday, April 27, 2010

One of My Girls...

There are a number of people who feel that "Being on Facebook" is a waste of time. I, however, have had many remarkable things happen through my Facebook involvement. One of my favoritel things was the renewal of friendship with a very special young woman I'd gotten to know well about eleven years ago.

Emily* lived at the Maternity Home while my husband and I served as houseparents there. She was a beautiful 15 year old who had chosen to continue her "surprise" pregnancy. She had loving parents but for Emily, it was best to move away from them and her baby's father through her eighth month of pregnancy.

With Emily's decision to keep her baby, came the desire and determination to give her baby the best pre-natal experience possible. Emily chose to eat only the most nutritious things available. She had a great appetite, was up early each day for a good breakfast and made sure she continued with healthy choices throughout the day.

In addition to good food, vitamins, Dr. visits and high school studies, Emily took steps throughout her pregnancy to begin communicating with her daughter. Each evening before she went to sleep, she propped a book on her tummy and read her daughter a story.

Emily fell in love with that precious little girl as she waited for her birth. Our Maternity Home allowed her to be safe, cared for and loved. We also provided the nurture of daily devotions with her and the other girls in residence so that God's truth was filling her mind.

As planned, Emily moved home a month before the baby was born. We learned of her little girl's birth and we visited her new home once but as the years passed, we lost touch with her.

Until Facebook. Somehow Emily found my name and sent me a note in January 2009:

Hey Linda I tried to contact you but I couldn't for the LIFE of me remember your last name! NOT good eh, well I can proudly say I have accomplished many things in the past 10 years since my wonderful daughter was born and your influence was impacted. I know at the time and still some today I have childish and impulsive decisions I make. But I have come a very long way, I joined the army at 19, completed my term and have contracted through the years, serving both in Iraq and Afghanistan. My wedding is going to be in Oct. I am super excited; dated some over the years but finally find the one! My little girl's 10th birthday in on the 29th, she is SO grown up. I have had to sacrifice a lot to support her but every time I see her smile I realize that she is worth it and she is respectful and will thank me someday (but she already does!) ....take care~

It was a thrill to receive this note. How wonderful to learn that the precious Mom and baby our Maternity Home nurtured, would continue to value the support gained while a resident there. And most of all, it's so gratifying to know that a precious child that many would have recommended be aborted, is now giving her thankful Mom smiles and love.

In Emily's words, "She is worth it..."

*not her real name

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Biking Across America...

A fourth year medical school student, Lauren Leffler has the month of April off in order to pursue something other than her usual work and study. After researching several other options, she decided to pack her bicycle into a box and fly from Florida to San Francisco. In California, she took her box of bike pieces to a bike shop and said, "Bring this bike back to life, please!" They worked their magic and soon she set off on what is the adventure of her young life! She is taking a month to bike from California back to Florida with a commitment to raise funds for Shriners Hospitals for Children. This is a wonderful cause she believes in strongly. Her residency will be in pediatric orthopedics.

I learned about Lauren's adventure from a friend. My friend was seeking a home in which Lauren could spend an overnight one day this past week. I quickly agreed we'd love to welcome Lauren to our home when she arrived in Kerrville.

But Lauren had 150 miles to cover between Del Rio, TX and our home and she would be biking through the most challenging hills in TX - more than a day's ride even for the most experienced long distance bikers. Lauren and I talked by phone and decided that I would pick her up if the distance proved too great the day she was attempting to cover that segment of her trip. We planned her route and had a stopping place for her in mind if needed.

She started early on Wednesday with overcast skies but slowed with pavement containing small pebbles rather than smooth asphalt. Lauren's call came about 3:45pm saying she would like a pick up at our prearranged spot about 6:00 pm if possible. I told her I would arrive there about 5:30 pm in order for her not to have to wait long for me. By now it was and had been raining all day - sometimes quite hard.

I arrived at Garven's Store before Lauren. I considered pulling out my book and reading until she arrived but I thought of the nearly 100 miles Lauren had already covered, saw the rain and threatening clouds and decided to head down the highway in her direction. Within a distance of about seven miles, I saw a speck in the distance I thought must be my biker. As she approached, I slowed my minivan and rolled down the window as she arrived. Her first words were. "Linda? Am I happy to see you!"

She was soaked and physically tired but got the bike loaded quickly so we could head off to a warm shower and hearty supper. She eagerly enjoyed the apple and banana I offered her.

But before going home, I felt she just had to experience Garven's Store. That lonely gas station and country store has a little bit of everything and is pure TX country charm. She purchased several flavors of their specialty Jerky before we dashed through the torrents of rain to my car for our ride home.

Lauren assured me that only her body was tired but her mind wasn't weary. She filled me in on her life, her family and some of the adventures she'd had so far on her trip. She admits it's been very different from what she expected. She's had only one or two days of ideal biking conditions but has seen magnificent countryside and met wonderful people. Her bike and her flip flops are keeping her on schedule - along with a few "helps" such as I had been that day.

Over supper we discussed the routing she'd mapped before the start of this trip. It would be another long day of biking but again it would take her on beautiful country roads in central TX. Since this is the peak of a spectacular season for bluebonnets, we knew she would have beautiful views along the way.

We awakened Thursday morning to more rain - gentle as we ate breakfast at 7:00 am. She relished the big bowl of Old Fashioned Oat Meal with raisins, cinnamon, brown sugar and a little milk as well as my signature homemade pecan rolls.

As my husband helped Lauren add some bike oil to her chain, he whispered to me, "Maybe you should drive her part way."

With the threatening weather and the distance she faced, that seemed very logical. Our suggestion was warmly accepted; "maybe to the edge of town?" But I felt a drive through Comfort past the Interstate 10 exchange which would get her on the road to Sisterdale would be better. This way she would avoid the "heavy" morning traffic coming into Kerrville.

So off we headed toward Sisterdale. As we left Comfort, there didn't seem a good place to stop so I decided to go all the way to Sisterdale. As it turned out, that was wise as a several mile stretch of road was under construction with the surface only rough, rocky gravel. It would have been a very rough, damaging ride on a bike.

But the quaint village of Sisterdale, (pop. 63) seemed a friendly, welcoming place for Lauren to reclaim her bike in order to set off for that day's ride. With a jacket giving some protection from the cool rain and all her supplies for the trip in a small bag encased in a garbage bag to keep them dry, Lauren donned her gloves, helmet and big smile as she straddled the bike and valiantly rode away.

I'm keeping informed about Lauren's progress through emails from her mother. At this point she has promise of only a small portion of the funds she hopes to raise for Shriners Hospitals for Children. But there is still time to participate with her if you feel inclined to add something for her worthy cause.

It was a pleasure to meet Lauren and host her briefly this week. This gal has courage and determination. She is trusting God for protection during this venture as she pays attention to her health, the road and her faithful flip flops.

She expects to arrive in Tampa, FL between April 26 - 28th. I think she'll make it with some amazing stories to share with her family, friends and future patients.

Lauren arrived April 26th at 5:30pm to cheers from her family and friends.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Easter Letter to Jesus... #5

(Note: Please see Easter Letter #1
for introduction to this series of posts.)


The tomb IS empty! It IS true! On my way to the temple this morning, I learned that something has happened which has created great excitement in Jerusalem today. It is being reported that there's been a resurrection from the dead - Jesus of Nazareth has risen from the dead! I decided I just had to come here for myself and make sure Jesus' grave really was empty. You see, I am Josephine, the woman who was ill for 12 years with hemorrhaging. He miraculously healed me one day and I just knew he really was the Messiah, the Anointed One of Israel. There have been many things I wanted to tell him, so I have written him a letter. Let me read it to you.

Dear Jesus, my healer,
Until I met you that day as you walked through my neighborhood, my life was miserable. For twelve long years I had been bleeding abnormally. I had been to so many different doctors. I know they tried their best to find a cure for my problem. They experimented with any new theory they heard or read about, but for me there was no answer. My money was gone, my suffering continued and worst of all, I was shunned by society as continually unclean. I felt so abandoned and forlorn. There were many days when I thought God must be punishing me for something evil I had done or thought. I was brokenhearted because I would never know the love of a man or be able to give birth to a child. I questioned whether or not I was really a normal woman. I felt so different and rejected. How I ached to be able to one day hold my own flesh and blood - to have that wonderful experience of motherhood which so many women are privileged to have. I knew in my present condition, I was without hope. But then, I heard about you.

I had heard of great miracles which you had performed - blind were given sight, paralyzed were made to walk, deaf were made to hear - why couldn't my bleeding be stopped? But for me, it seemed impossible. I was not allowed to be amongst other people for fear of making them unclean. Then I heard that you were nearby.

There was a very large crowd following you, pressing about you and I thought maybe I could slip unnoticed into that crowd and get close enough to just touch just the edge of your garment. I was able - I touched your clothes and as I did, I was immediately healed. I felt it - I knew the miracle I had been praying for had happened. I wanted to just slip out of sight and return home to quietly meditate on what had happened, but you stopped and asked who had touched you. I saw there was no escape so I fell at your feet in fear and told you the whole story. You then said to me, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering." How elated I felt. You recognized me - you blessed me - you healed me physically and spiritually.

That day I went home a changed person. You said my faith had healed me. Yes, it is true. I had great faith. I know you honored that and gave me the greatest desire of my heart - a cure for all my problems. I can't thank you enough. I knew I needed physical healing and you knew I also needed spiritual healing. I now know that your death on the cross makes that healing possible and your resurrection makes it certain. I am most grateful for all that you have done for me. I give you my allegiance and will always be,
Your faithful friend and follower,

I, too, have a letter I've written to Jesus.

Dear Jesus,
I can relate to Josephine. I, too, have experienced being different from most other women. My womb is barren. I have not yet been able to conceive a child. I long to one day become a mother and hold my own flesh and blood in my arms. And I don't know if you will heal my physical problem and make that dream of mine come true or not.

But this one thing I know for sure. My love for you does not depend on your response to my deep desire to conceive and give birth to a child. Easter is so important to me today because I know that it really shows me again that you will do what's best for me. Your death wasn't what you wanted, but it was best for all humanity. Your love for me took you to the cross. And I love you for being the worthy sacrificial lamb for my sin. Whether or not you chose to bless my husband and me with our own biological child, I give you my allegiance and aspire to always be, your faithful friend and follower.