Grateful for a Chance to Serve

Three weeks ago there was a marathon in and around the town. Some runners ran only a 1/2 marathon, but even THAT is 13.1 miles. A lot more running than I can do! I “high-fived” several finishers as I threaded my way down to That French Place for a croissant.

Just as I crossed the drawbridge I saw a runner lying on the ground. She was not moving. People lost of stood around and looked. One man asked her questions. “Did you drink anything as you ran? Are you still having tunnel vision?, etc.” Actually, she could hardly answer or move. I laid my rain-cape over her. I placed my wadded-up my jacket under her head. I prayed that the volunteer medics would assist her. I was not in charge — they were.

When I walked back from the croissant mission, the young runner was gone. Hurrah! Ah, but she had just been carried to the medics’ station, and was still not moving. Her mother, a woman I had high-fived 20 minutes earlier, hugged me. Seeing no action yet, I ran home for a warm blanket. I was able to say the honest words of, “She needs to get to the emergency room right now. She needs intravenous rehydrating.” I KNOW that being able to hug the runner’s mom, and to speak gently to the volunteers was a gift to me as well as to them. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve.

Later in the day the runner, her mom and fiance came to return the borrowed items and to say thank you. Really, though, I was grateful to have been included in the flow of life and activities. God is with us all.

— Kris Jones

Grateful for Beauty & People

I just walked to the end of my street trying to see my neighbor, Beverly, before she went back inside. Ahh, but our timing is always off.

And then again, WOW.  At the end of my street the lake is bright aqua.  The wind is up. The waves have whitecaps.  I chatted with a lovely couple from Grand Rapids.  We three were almost speechless for the  beauty of the lake and the day.  “It is so much bluer here,” said Mrs. “We come from Grand Rapids, but THIS view is absolutely awesome and special.” I am grateful for the blue water, the whitecaps, the wind and the possibility of simple, happy chats with people walking down my street.

Give praise in ALL things!

— Kris Jones (who spends her time in Richmond and Michigan)

The Gift of Parenthood

Never a day goes by that we don’t lift up in gratitude to God for the wonderful gift of our children… for they were truly a gift. After eight years of marriage and no pregnancies, despite fertility pills and surgery, we were devastated. We had our careers going, bought a house, and had a washer and dryer (which I always said was a must before we had any children). The one missing piece was our inability to conceive a baby.

I received a telephone call from my mother one evening telling me to call a woman (Peggy), whom she knew was pregnant, not married and was interested in putting her baby up for adoption. Peggy’s sons went to my mother’s nursery school located in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, which is how she and my mother knew each other. Mother realized she was pregnant, knew her situation and approached her with our story. Peggy felt like this was the answers to her prayers.

I immediately called her and we talked for three hours. She explained she was a 32 years old divorcee, had two sons (Adam, 5 yrs. old and Derek, 3 yrs. old), had just gotten off welfare, had a good job and had bought a house. Having a new baby was something she didn’t feel like she could handle. She was concerned about giving the baby up for adoption to an agency, not knowing to whom or to where the baby would go. Having the option to decide who would adopt the baby was something she felt good about doing. She loved my mother and felt like this was a win-win situation. The baby was due in two months and we settled the deal that night!

During that time, adoptions were closed agency placements where no information about either party was divulged. The infant would go to a foster home for 3 months and then placed permanently with no way to locate their birth parents. Our plan of an open adoption was met with much scrutiny by social workers and some others. They told horror stories of birth parents taking back the babies after changing their minds and the devastation that caused the adoptive parents. There were no guarantees and they wouldn’t advise engaging in this. Our response to them was, “If we didn’t take this chance, we may never have a child.”

Then there were the legal hurdles we had to jump. We were told we couldn’t legally take a baby across the Illinois state line until it was formally and legally adopted. Then we were told this and that. Finally, we were able to secure a document that Peggy, the lawyer and the hospital signed releasing the baby to us so we wouldn’t be accused of kidnapping. Then, after six months, Peggy would come to Virginia to meet with a judge to finalize the adoption in Virginia.

On August 26, 1979, we received a call from mother that Peggy was in labor. We jumped in the car and drove to Mt. Vernon. We stopped to call Mom in West Virginia to see how things were progressing and learned we had a baby girl! We went straight to the hospital to see our baby through the nursery window. She was placed in the very back of the room and as we were looking in, she raised her arm up—we decided she was waving to us! On the day of discharge from the hospital, we were put in a private room. The nurse came in with the baby and placed her in my arms. I will never forget that moment.

Sven, Mother and I drove Erin back home to Virginia. The funny thing was, we stopped in a restaurant on the way to Illinois to eat..with NO baby. Then we stopped there on the way back, got the same waitress and now WITH a baby!!! The only thing that bothered me is people would say, “You sure don’t look like you had a baby three days ago!” I wanted everything to be as normal as could be.

Six months later, Peggy and we met with the judge and all went through. There has never been a problem and we credit Peggy for making this a wonderful relationship. Peggy’s mother even sends me Mother’s Day cards.

Five years later, Peggy calls us and she’s pregnant again and asks if we wanted the baby! Of course, we did! Basically, the story is the same as with Erin, but times had changed and things weren’t so secret anymore. Actually, we all—Peggy, Mother, Sven, Erin and the baby (Krister)—left the hospital together! We took Peggy home, had a family picture and left for Virginia. Six months later, Peggy and I met with an Illinois judge. He said this adoption granting was the best thing he’s ever done in all of his career!

Thirty-nine years later, Erin and Krister are both married, have families of their own and we are GRANDPARENTS to Fiona, Kayla and James! We are still in contact with our extended family in Illinois and Erin and Krister are friends on FB with Peggy, Adam and Derek—and so am I!!

Our gratitude for what Peggy did for us is unmeasurable. She is the one who took all the risks and had the courage to do the right thing, despite all of the disparaging remarks she undoubtedly encountered. We became the adoptive parents of two babies, five years apart, half-brother and sister, three days old, right out of the hospital. She is our angel and we know God was the facilitator of all of this remarkable story.

— Gay Olson

Morning Commute

One morning my schedule was flip-flopped, so that I was traveling to a different work station. I found myself driving east out of Richmond on a very busy interstate during rush hour. Too early for me.

Forced to look where I was going (!) I met the most spectacularly vivid sunrise I had ever witnessed. A Grand Canyon sunrise could not have rivaled the sun emerging from behind the hills and the traffic before me. We think that we must be in the midst of nature to experience it, but the mundane urban surroundings made the sunrise even more beautiful.

I wondered how many other drivers noticed it. Perhaps they are used to the show. Or perhaps it was God’s special gift to me at a moment when it was needed.

— anonymous

Photo by Taber Andrew Bain on Flickr