I’m big on keeping your word. Don’t say it if you ain’t gonna do it. I promised Lib I that I would use our home in Gladys as the Healing Place it had been to both of us to bless the next woman, and I intended to keep that promise.
You see, Lib hadn’t been the only woman to do something like that for me. And to whom much is given, much is required. I had more than one reason to pay it forward and help someone in need. That’s another story of God’s grace and provision, but I’ll save it for another post.
Healing was slow as molasses in winter for me, so I figured I had a long time before the next “someone in need” would come along. Little did I know, the opportunity was going to present itself just a few months later.
Sitting in my cubicle one snowy day early in 2010, reconciling accounts and singing to my country music Pandora station with my earbuds, (and probably driving the other accountants crazy), I got a Facebook message from my friend Tracy in Washington, DC. A dear friend of hers had a daughter who was a freshman at Liberty, and they just found out she was pregnant. This girl had to get out of the dorm, and she didn’t want to go to the Godparent’s Home, where girls who are pregnant can go to finish school and get maternity classes and childcare. Tracy wondered if I knew anyone who could help. They didn’t want her to lose the semester she had just started.
As soon as I read the message, I knew I had to help her. I’d spent years ministering to teenagers, and they will always have a special place in my heart. Even though my little house only had 3 bedrooms, and ONE bath, technically I had the room. Kaitlyn had continued to live with her roommates in an apartment (my independent, “I can do it myself!” daughter), and Lindsey preferred to sleep with her Mama every night. (Even after she got married, I had to tell Lindsey NO she wasn’t sleeping with me, and to go sleep with her husband — if I’m lyin’, I’m dyin’. After I was the one who got married, I STILL had to tell her she couldn’t sleep with me! Some things never change!). I went back to Greensboro on weekends to stay with Daniel more than he came to Gladys, so we had space for her. It wasn’t the Waldorf, but it was clean, safe and warm. My mind was made up. This girl was coming to live with us.
One of the greatest joys I had while working at Liberty was having my girls come have lunch with me, or just swing by to say hello in between classes. I had big news this time!
Guess what? A pregnant freshman is moving in with us! No, I don’t know her, didn’t know she existed until while ago. I have no idea what she’s like, don’t know anyone in her family, or how she even looks. Won’t this be fun?
My kids know their Mama. I doubt they were the least bit surprised. Thankfully, my children all three have hearts to care for others. They were ready to do what they needed to do to help as well.
The next day, I met Leah, this scared 18 year old girl from a big city, and her very concerned mom, Kim. My mother’s heart broke for Kim. She was a strong woman, and she bravely trusted the Lord to take care of her little girl, even when she couldn’t be there. And the day after that, Leah and her precious unborn child moved in with us.
I can’t imagine how she felt, moving way out in the country (and I mean WAAAAYYY out) with someone she’d just met the day before. If you know me, you know I’m a hugger (and a kisser!). But I knew Leah needed her space. Morning sickness will kick your butt, and it’s even worse when you’re young and alone. I tried to cook her things she might could eat, and it seemed I was always boiling a ginger root to help with her nausea. I’m a born nurturer, but she also had two nursing students, and my future son in law, Dan, a premed student, ready to look after her if she would let us.
One night as I was reading in bed, Leah came in, fear in her eyes, and softly said, “I’m spotting.” We lived next to the Gladys Fire Department and Rescue Squad (which I think consists of 5 volunteers), and in no time, I was following her in the ambulance to Lynchburg General Hospital. All night long, I kept vigil by her bed. As the sun was coming up, we headed back home, tired and worn out, but with the tiny baby still safe in her mother’s womb. I had been praying for a way to show Leah I loved her and would take care of her, and I thanked God for giving it to me.
After that, she started to warm up to us. She would ride to school with Lindsey, who would pull over to let her throw up, and would even let her drive so she wouldn’t feel so carsick. Leah started coming out of her room, eating with us, and joining us to watch all the seasons of Friends on DVD since we didn’t have cable. That little city girl was learning how to live in the country. Before long, we were no longer strangers, we were family.
We all look back on that ordeal as precious time where God’s grace, providence, provision and direction were so clear. Leah became, and continues to be, my other daughter, and sister to my girls. We laughed and loved, played games and watched Friends. After the semester was over, Leah went back to DC to be cared for by her parents, and they welcomed the most beautiful baby girl in the world, sweet little Emma. Leah is now happily married, and has two more precious daughters. She is such a good mother, following in Kim’s footsteps — Leah learned from the best.
I remain grateful that Kim shared Leah with us for that semester. Leah gave me more than I gave her. She gave me the chance to pay it forward, to continue making a Healing Place, to add someone else to our family. Most importantly, I was afraid God was finished with me, that He wouldn’t use me anymore, that I was damaged goods, and useless to the Kingdom. Leah proved me wrong.
Let me encourage you — if you feel sad and alone, give to someone who is sad and alone. Take your eyes off of your hardship and pour into another who needs love. Don’t close yourself off. Be open to opportunities to bless someone. Mark my words, you’ll find you are the blessed one in the end. God promises it to us in Luke 6:38,
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.