Category Archives: Opinion

Tuxpan, Mexico by Patty LaRoche

 

2 Corinthians 8:7: But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all eagerness and in the love from us that is in you—make sure that you excel in this act of kindness too.

Three hours away, Hurricane Willa did major damage in the small town of Tuxpan. Last week, an email went out from Peter and Melinda, the Canadian couple who head the orphanage work here in Mazatlán, asking for two things: (1) volunteers, and (2) a truck large enough to pull a big trailer. Dave offered his truck, and I signed up to help.

Donations had allowed Melinda to shop for food, cleaning supplies and personal items which were loaded into the trailer along with chainsaws, wheelbarrows, etc. Our caravan left Mazatlán at sun-up, and once we arrived and parked, the men noticed a young boy and an elderly woman hanging muddy household items on broken tree limbs. With three wheelbarrows and several shovels, they set out to help. Two women from our team joined them to take pictures but immediately returned to the trailer because of the “stench and mosquitoes.” (Not sure what they expected…)

A young couple on a motorcycle stopped to help, sharing that a Red Cross shelter was a few blocks away and pointing to the one passable, residential road. Decisions were made. Food was placed in one car, and, assembly-line style, the other items were divided up into trash bags and loaded into a second van. Within two hours of us arriving, everything had been distributed, and since the shelter was completely out of food, our gift was a welcome relief, as were the mops, toilet paper, diapers, etc., for the owners of the mud-packed homes.

I then joined the men, only to learn that two of the wheelbarrows had lasted only five minutes before their wheels went flat. Five men with shovels were left with one wheelbarrow, and since the house had two-feet of mud in every room, work had been dramatically slowed. Peter was frustrated.

Before leaving Mazatlán, he had given two men explicit instructions to check the wheelbarrows, and since there was little electricity in Tuxpan, not even his air compressor could help.

Stepping into Rosario’s “kitchen,” I was Nancy Kerrigan on skates (the first time any of us had laughed since we arrived). This would be much harder than I had imagined. Grabbing a shovel, I began tackling a tucked-away area that still had three feet of mud in it, occasionally scooping up a pot or pan or lid. Resilient Rosario was thrilled to see some of her prized possessions rescued.

When it was time to leave, I walked (slid) through Rosario’s living room. Hanging a foot from her ceiling was a picture of Jesus’ mother, Mary. It was the same picture I had found on a tree limb outside, only then, her grandchildren were posed in front of it and it was caked in dried mud. We were able to give Rosario some money and saw this proud, Mexican woman’s smile turn to tears as she said, “Dios te bendiga” (“God bless you.”)

El ya tiene,” I answered.

He already has.”

Letter To Editor: Trevor Jacobs

I would like to thank the Lord that we as Americans still have the privilege and blessing to voice our thoughts and opinions at the ballot box and that we still have the ability to freely elect our government officials at all levels.

I am grateful for everyone who faithfully exercised and practiced their right to vote in the midterm elections. I pray all the decisions that will be made for “we the people” will honor God, and will truly be in the best interest of all Kansans and for the future of this great state.

Thank you and God bless,
Trevor Jacobs

Letter to the Editor: Carolyn Tucker

To Drink or Not to Drink

by Carolyn A. Tucker

Drinking alcohol is like playing Russian roulette. Sometimes you get by and sometimes you die. Everybody has their opinion about consuming alcoholic beverages, so we should see what God says about it.

“Wine has robbed my people of their understanding” (Hosea 4:11 NLT). That’s plain and simple, no commentary needed.

God was speaking in the Old Testament and said, “I chose some of your sons to be prophets and others to be Nazirites. Can you deny this, my people of Israel?” asks the Lord. “But you caused the Nazirites to sin by making them drink wine, and you commanded the prophets, ’Shut up!’” (Amos 2:11,12 NLT).

In the Bible, the Nazirites were set apart for God’s use and were not to drink wine. Today, Christians should desire to be sanctified (set apart) and dedicated to doing God’s work.

In another scripture, God says, “Suppose a prophet full of lies would say to you, ‘I’ll preach to you the joys of wine and alcohol!’ That’s just the kind of prophet you would like!” (Micah 2:11 NLT). That’s plain and simple, no commentary needed.

Now we should see what life says about drinking alcohol. My mother had twelve brothers and two of them had miserable lives as alcoholics. The obituary for H.R.J. stated “he departed this life following a long illness.” After brother E.A.J.’s death, his wife wrote in a letter to a family member, “I sympathize with drinkers. If Elmer had only realized how hard he made it on his girls he would have quit. I’m sure.” The autopsy report revealed that he died of pneumonia and cirrhosis of the liver.

Drinking alcohol is like playing Russian roulette. Sometimes you get by and sometimes you die. It isn’t worth the risk. Perhaps you say, “I can handle it.” But what about your children and grandchildren that you influence…can they handle it?

God Is Always Working by Patty LaRoche

Dave and I left early Sunday morning to drive to our winter home in Mazatlán, Mexico, with high hopes of relaxing, working at the orphanages and catching up with dear friends. We were grateful there were only a few problems (Dallas traffic-NUTS!) in the twelve-hour ride from Fort Scott to Lytle, Texas, where we spent the night, approximately two hours from the border. That evening, friends began texting warnings of Hurricane Willa which was to hit Mazatlán Tuesday evening. We figured that, with an early start on Monday, we could beat the storm and be there mid-day Tuesday to protect our property.

We have no common sense.

Dave and I left Lytle at 7:00 A.M. and two hours later pulled over just short of the immigration office in order to find our passports and documents to present to the guards. Upon NOT finding my backpack which held my passport (not to mention, my laptop and cash), I was a little desperate when I spoke. “Dave, didn’t you say that you were bringing my luggage to the car this morning, and the ONLY thing I was to get was my water bottle?”

I said I would get your suitcase and reminded you to get your water. That didn’t mean that was the ONLY thing you were to get.”

“Swell,” I growled. “My backpack, the backpack that I assumed you carried to the car, is in the hotel room. We have to go back.”

Two hours to return to our hotel. Do the math. An EXTRA four hours of driving before even crossing into Mexico. Dave was nonplussed about the entire ordeal. I wanted to bang my head into the dashboard. Four hours seemed like ten.

Around noon we registered our truck and had our documents approved. At 12:30 we were greeted with the Mexico Red Light, meaning we would be delayed as our vehicle had to be inspected, X-rayed and designated drug-free. So, at 1:30 P.M. instead of 9:00 A.M., we were in Mexico. The hurricane was five hours closer than when we started.

At dark, we settled in a hotel room the size of a storm shelter, figuring we now could arrive in Mazatlán around 4:00 P.M. the following day, beating Willa by five hours. WRONG! Text alerts and emails kept us posted on the dangers ahead. People were evacuating Mazatlán and heading for Durango, a city on the other side of the mountains…the mountains we still needed to cross. Should we proceed, we would be driving into 120 mile-per-hour winds and flooded streets. Electricity would be turned off, water polluted and tree damage severe.

When it dawned on us that we really did lack common sense, Dave and I stopped in Durango to spend the night. From there, we continued to receive the devastating news of what awaited us in Mazatlán. Because our condo is on the bottom floor, I pictured our furniture floating, smashing through windows and drifting into the Pacific. But by morning, the forecast changed. Willa had altered courses and missed Mazatlán completely.

There was more good news. The hotel concierge reported that the toll roads now were open which was fortunate since they had been closed the day before. We couldn’t have made the drive even if we dared to! Today was a different story.

In retrospect, it was a blessing my backpack was left in the Lytle hotel room. Those four hours lost possibly prevented us from determinedly pressing forward on our trip, causing us to be on the mountain pass when it was closed.

I wonder how old I will have to be before I live out Paul’s writing to “give thanks in all circumstances.” I could have spent those four extra hours singing praises to God instead of pouting. I’m expecting there to be many more times of testing before I have the common sense to know that God is always working for good, even when I’m not.

Knowledge Of The Truth by Patty LaRoche

Susan’s friend recently enrolled her three-year old in day care. She was stunned as she filled out the application and found not two but three choices for the sex of the child:

(1). Male (2). Female (3). Undecided

What started as a fun, after-church-pizza-get-together for my friends and I soon morphed into a discussion about what is happening to our country. Gender choices for three-year olds? Have we lost our ever-lovin’ minds?

The same week, a young father I recently met shared that since the beginning of 2018, his wife, a pediatric dentist, has treated three twelve-year-old, transgender children. A few years ago, they were in her records as one gender. Now, the records need to be changed. Parents had given permission for this procedure.

I repeat, have we lost our minds? When my kids were twelve, it was hard for me to let them pick out their own clothes, much less their gender! Twelve-year olds are hormonally challenged, immature and prone to mood swings (which is why, in my opinion, middle-school teachers are saints and totally underpaid. I digress).

I am deeply concerned that we as a nation, like some of these parents, are making critically unwise (irreversible?) decisions that are leading us away from moral authority and ultimately, God. Ethical buttons are being pushed. Too many things make no sense.

We no longer are shocked when public speakers on college campuses are shouted off the dais because their audience disagrees with their position. Louder and meaner wins. Peaceful protests are a thing of the past. Now, stores are looted, cars set on fire and rocks pelted at police.

As I write this, San Francisco city officials are conducting meetings to find answers for homeless people defecating on public streets. One reporter wrote, “This is also often a passive-aggressive payback to a society that shows every day that it doesn’t care about it’s (sic) most vulnerable citizens who I often meet on the street: veterans, disabled, elderly, mentally ill, and mothers with babies.”

My suggestion: Perhaps someone needs to create sanctuary cities for those people instead of for illegals.

Speaking of which…recently, hundreds of illegal immigrants entered the United States, creating a nightmare for those responsible for vetting them. Many children arrived with non-relatives and no paperwork to prove who they are. Once it became apparent they expected to be treated with the same rights as U.S. citizens, a geographical, legal, emotional mess ensued. As I write this, approximately 7,000 more Central American migrants are on their way to our border. Which should prevail, justice or mercy? No one seems to know.

My husband and I cross the border between this country and Mexico two-to-four times a year. Without our legal documents, we would be introduced to an escort service (i.e., armed guards) who would love to hear us demand our RIGHTS. You know, our RIGHT to see what an unairconditioned, dirty, crowded, one-meal-a-day jail is all about.

I fear where all of this will lead. Hopefully to our knees. In 1 Timothy 2:1-4, Paul tells us what we can do. I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

God’s truth. Not the “truth” of people who have lost their ever-lovin’ minds.

Win As Many As Possible by Patty LaRoche

A few months ago, a former classmate and I ran into each other downtown and began discussing our upcoming high school reunion, a conversation that somehow turned into how little we knew about each other’s families, even though we had attended school together for twelve years. She remembered that my father had died when I was young (eight-months old), but not how he died. My knowledge of her family was not much better, for even though we had been best friends in grade school, all I remembered about her dad was that he worked for the railroad and had no sense of smell. “We were so into ourselves,” she said. And I agreed.

Two weeks ago, my high school graduating class celebrated its 50th reunion–which makes no sense, considering I am only 30 years old. (I’m funny.) Anyway, because this was such a special event, a committee of us locals spent several weeks preparing for the celebration, and with our Class of ’68 graduating survivors nearing 165, we counted on large numbers.

Save the Date” postcards were mailed months in advance, but by the registration deadline, only 23 graduates had responded that they would come. Ten of those were on the committee. This was not what we expected. A second email was sent, followed by personal phone calls. A total of 55 registered. A few classmates had health problems that prevented them from attending, but our committee was saddened by those who said that high school was not a good experience, and they had no intention of reliving those years.

Again, not what we expected.

At one of our organizational meetings, we questioned the “Why’s” of such responses. Our committee members had run in different crowds and been involved in various activities during our school years. Two had boyfriends, their primary focus. Still, high school held fond memories for all of us. At one point in our conversation, we questioned if we could have done more to help others have the same kind of experience. I mean, none of us had been unfriendly, but had we been selfishly focused on ourselves?

The answer was obvious.

So, here it is, decades later, and several former classmates still carry the wounds of those years. And even though we cannot turn back the clock and soothe their hurts, we can—and should—learn from this so that today, whatever our circumstance, we become aware of those we encounter who need a kind word or an invitation for a cup of coffee or an opportunity to be valued. Instead of surrounding ourselves with those with whom we are comfortable, maybe it’s time to meet that neighbor who keeps to himself or the cashier at the local convenience store or even an old classmate with whom we have lost contact.

Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 9:19 are a fresh reminder of what our daily objective should be. “Though I am free, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.” In Paul’s early years, he was all about himself. Unlike our committee, his primary focus was to intentionally hurt the Christian community, but once he met Jesus, he cared only about others.

One day, a Heavenly reunion will be held. We Christians carry the invitations for neighbors and pew-mates and random encounters to “Save the Date” as well as the responsibility to follow up with reminders of its importance. None of us want to be the reason someone rejects this eternal opportunity.

What to do?

The answer is obvious.

Obituary of Robert R. Lamb

Robert Ray Lamb, age 88, resident of rural Bronson, KS, died Friday, October 12, 2018, at Medicalodge of Girard, KS.

He was born March 26, 1930, in Bronson, the son of Ray Linus Lamb and Winona Agnes Goodno Lamb. He married Lois Irene Rogers on October 15, 1950, at her family’s home in Bronson.

She preceded him in death on June 17, 2018.

Together, Bob and Lois operated their own dairy farm for many years. Bob loved going to yard sales and farm auctions.

He was an all-around handyman who enjoyed tinkering with mechanical things in his workshop.

Most recently, he regularly attended services at Dry Ridge Baptist Church.

Survivors include two sons, R. W. Lamb, Bronson, KS, and Michael Ray Lamb, Pittsburg, KS; two grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. Bob had two sisters, Wanda Braden and Shirley Toon.

Besides his wife Lois, he was preceded in death by his parents.

Pastors Lon Hale, Michael Miller and Mark Davis will conduct funeral services at 10:30 AM Friday, October 19th, at the Cheney Witt Bronson Chapel.

Cremation will follow with private family burial in the Battlefield Cemetery at a later date.

The family will receive friends from 6:00 until 8:00 PM Thursday evening at the Bronson Chapel.

Memorials are suggested to either Dry Ridge Baptist Church or Bronson Baptist Church and may be left in care of the Cheney Witt Bronson Chapel, P.O. Box 93, Bronson, KS 66716. Words of remembrance may be submitted to the online guestbook at cheneywitt.com.

Pray For Mercy by Patty LaRoche

2 Chronicles 7:14 ~ if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 

Mercy Hospital of Fort Scott, we are told, will close its doors at the end of this year. The news causes many to question how a medical facility that, at one time, was touted as being one of the most respectable, highly-sought providers of medical care in southeast Kansas will no longer exist. Community members are stunned by this decision and saddened for the future of those faithful employees who no longer will have a job.

It is time to pray.

It is time we take this loss to our Heavenly Father and ask Him to perform a miracle. Blaming the powers-that-be or welfare recipients or drug addicts or insurance companies is a natural response (and just a few I have heard), but our best chance to give Fort Scott a chance to resolve this earthly crisis is to pray.

Will you join me in doing that? Today? Right this moment and every time you think of this loss? Will you give God a chance to be God?

You know…

The same God who created the world…and you?

The same God who made it possible for a 90-year old woman to give birth?

The same God who parted the Red Sea for the Israelites and provided manna to them for 40 years?

The same God who delivered Daniel from the snares of the hungry lions?

The same God who joined three faithful men to save them in a fiery furnace?

The same God who sent his son, fulfilling hundreds of Old Testament prophecies, to save this world?

And, if you are reading this article, the same God who has given you another day of life?

God is not surprised by Mercy Hospital’s decision to close. He is not pacing Heaven’s golden streets, wringing His hands, trying to figure out what His next move will be. Quite the opposite, according to evangelist Alan Redpath who wrote the following in the 1950’s: “There is nothing—no circumstance, no trouble, no testing—that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and past Christ right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose, which I may not understand at the moment. But as I refuse to become panicky, as I lift up my eyes to Him and accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing to my own heart, no sorrow will ever disturb me, no trial will ever disarm me, no circumstance will cause me to fret—for I shall rest in the joy of what my Lord is!”

Re-read 2 Chronicles 7:14. Let us not waste our time fretting. Let us humble ourselves and seek God’s face, repent and trust that God waits for us to rely on Him.

Let us pray.

Miss God’s Will For Your Life? By Patty LaRoche

Sometimes I question if I missed God’s will for my life. What if the choices I made were not God’s best for the Kingdom? I mean, what if God really wanted me to become a lawyer who would fight for those who had been incorrectly incarcerated? I do like to argue and to be a hero, so maybe that was the direction I was to take. Or what if I should have been a horse trainer? How could someone love horses like I do and not use that passion? Then there always is the paramedic profession. Granted, I once performed the Heimlich on a lady who, as it turned out, wasn’t choking, but perhaps I could redeem myself.

Do you ever waste your time with such senseless questions? Paul, a “servant of God,” certainly had the opportunity to do just that. In Acts 16: 6-8, Luke writes this:

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.  When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.  So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.

Did you catch it, or did you blow right past it like I did the first dozen times I read it? This is not a leisurely stroll on the local jogging trail. Historians write that Paul’s journey involved thousands of miles of walking, all while trying to figure out what God wanted him to do. I’m frustrated, just thinking about it. Then we come to verse nine:

During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”  After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.

Hooray! Celebration time! Finally, a clear direction from God. Strap on your worn-out sandals, Paul. God has plans for you and your friends to tell others about His Son. You soon will be able to sit around a few campfires and share your faith!

Uh, maybe not. Time (perhaps weeks) goes by with no clear opportunity. In fact, the only significant occurrence in scripture is the appearance of a fortune teller who keeps irritating Paul and his companions. No doubt his nerves are a little frayed when he says to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” Which it does.

Good, spiritual move, Paul… until that is, the locals take exception to this exorcism, drag Paul and Silas before the city officials, strip them, “severely” flog them, bind them in chains and throw them into the inner dungeon of the prison. Now, if I’m Silas, I’m going to be looking for a new BFF, and if I’m Paul, I’m going to be throwing a hissy fit to God. And I’m definitely going to be questioning if I missed God’s call on my life.

Not on their eternal radar.

Verse 25-26: And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bands were loosed.

Read the rest of Acts 16. Because of this incarceration, the jailer (and his family) become Christians, and soon a solid Christian community is formed.

We, like Paul, never know how God is using us, but one thing is for certain. No matter what our circumstances, no matter what job we have or the spouse we have chosen or where we live or what problems we are dealing with, God can use us. And if our life isn’t working out like we originally thought it would?

Paul has the answer.

Praise God!

City of Fort Scott Responds to Mercy Shut-Down

First off, the City would like to recognize the incredible effort by all of the Mercy employees and it’s local leaders.

1886.

That is the year the first Mercy hospital opened and we have been blessed to have their services.  The tireless effort of these employees proves the strong community character of Fort Scott.

What makes Fort Scott a great place is the people. Our people have seen this town thrive, face challenges, and rebound like never before.

Fort Scott continues to see remarkable industry growth with the addition of over 800 jobs within the last 5 years.  Over a 24% increase in the hourly median wage.  In addition to the commercial investment with employer expansions, the residential investment has grown by 45% within the last two years.

Fort Scott is home to generations of families.

People who have been raised here and are returning home to raise their families.

People who have gone to the Community College here and choose Fort Scott as their home.

We have a district-wide student to teacher ratio of 13 to 1.  An aquatic center which opened in 2012.  One of the top 10 best public golf courses in the state.  A 360-acre lake for fishing, boating, and recreation.  Over 7 miles of bike trails within Gunn Park which is home to 7 shelter houses, 2 fishing lakes, playground areas, and a 9 hole Frisbee golf course.  A state of the art baseball facility featuring a 1,200 seat stadium, 2 indoor batting cages, clubhouse with lockers and lounge, turf infield and grass outfield.

Fort Scott has tremendous community pride.  The City intends to support our residents in every way possible through this transition.

Robert Uhler, Community Development Director, Rachel Pruitt, Economic Development Director, and Dave Martin, City Manager are actively working on solutions and have been pleased with the outreach of interested parties.

Our citizens work hard and deserve affordable healthcare.  We are confident Fort Scott will overcome this challenge and continue to be a great place to work and raise families.

 

Respectively –

 

Economic Development

City of Fort Scott

Fake Money by Patty LaRoche

With Dave asleep and my ten-dollar-missionary-money due at this morning’s Bible study, I needed to retrieve my emergency stash from its hiding place. Imagine my surprise when I found not only a ten-dollar bill but a onehundred-dollar one as well. It was Christmas in September! I happily stuffed the money into my purse, headed to the Bible study and placed my $10 in the missionary collection.

Following that meeting and returning home to organize my day, I could hardly wait to share with my (now) awake husband about my windfall. This was happy news for Dave. He asked if I would exchange that bill for five-twenties. No big deal. It all spends the same. Dave handed me the twenties, and I gave him the $100 bill. He paused, rubbed it with his fingers and immediately appeared to lose his happiness. Holding the bill close to my face, Dave pointed out that I had missed one teensy, weensy matter, like the faded words “Play Money” stamped next to Benjamin Franklin’s picture. (And yes, if you are wondering, there was a certain “I think you have done this intentionally and find this funny” tone to his voice.)

Which was ridiculous. This was not Monopoly money. These bills were made to look real, and other than their size, thinness and that nearly invisible “Play Money” wording, could fool anyone…well, except Sherlock Dave.

Thankfully, I had not tried to pass my counterfeit find off at Price Chopper, the top of my errand list. But then it dawned on me. What if my $10 missionary payment also was play money? And what if next Monday, Billie Jo Drake, our Bible study leader, held it up and asked if anyone in our group was missing a fake, ten-dollar bill? Yikes!

When Dave realized that I was clueless (Save your comments), he seemed stunned that I had made such a careless mistake. (Seriously? We’ve been married 45 years. He should be used to this by now). Still, my immediate problem was not my husband; it was having to admit to Billie Jo that I was an idiot. My happiness, like the Play Money wording, was fading. Could I somehow avoid this phone call? Pride sure wanted me to.

I reminded myself that little things like repenting to Bible study leaders is minor compared to acknowledging my failings to God, even though He knows about my sins (and yours—you’re not off the hook here) before I even commit them. Which, when you think about it, should make contrition rather easy. And it would be, were it not for Pride.

Blame it on Adam and Eve. They were the ones who originally disobeyed and hid from God instead of repenting, and since Pride worked so well in the Garden of Eden, maybe that is why Satan relies on it being just as effective today. But there is hope! Even though erring is part of our sinful condition, repenting is a privilege of our Christian condition.

It’s true. God doesn’t bang His head on a table when His children mess up. He knows what we are going to do before we do it. All He asks is that we ask for forgiveness.

It was time to call Billie Jo and…Gulp… try to explain what I had done. She was gracious, checked the bills and told me that none were phonies. I thanked her (and Jesus) and hung up. Hubby wasn’t quite so understanding. He stood there with his hand outstretched, expecting me to give back his twenty-dollar bills and definitely not happy that he had been had…proving my point that no one is exempt from Pride.

Gracie by Patty LaRoche

Gracie loved putting on her sunbonnet, grabbing her decorated basket and picking strawberries in her backyard. When her parents, John and Erin, learned that their precious two-year-old, Downs syndrome daughter had leukemia, their time spent in the Houston hospital almost equaled that of caring for their other two young children. Little did they know, that was as good as it would get. Still, the parents’ faith did not waiver, as Dave and I witnessed when we became a part of their weekly Bible study. On one of Erin’s middle-of-the-night runs to the emergency room with Gracie, an inattentive nurse left the mother-daughter pair alone for hours in the examination room. By the time Erin was allowed to take her child to the oncology floor, Gracie’s heart stopped. Doctors worked for twenty minutes to revive her, but Gracie was left with a severe brain injury.

Many encouraged John and Erin to file a lawsuit. After much prayer, they chose instead to ask the hospital for free access to bless the families of the other oncology children on that ward. The hospital agreed. His Grace Foundation was formed, and money raised went to providing support, gifts, meals, and parking for the parents. That program continues today.

Fast forward fifteen years. Now living in Georgetown, Texas, Erin visited Brookwood, a community of disabled adults in Brookshire, Texas, and was determined to create such a place in her area. In 2011, Brooktown in Georgetown (BIG) opened and began to provide meaningful work, a sense of belonging, dignity, and respect for adults with functional disabilities.

Gracie was enrolled in the public school. Wheelchair-bound, on a feeding tube and unable to talk, she became the delight of the other 3,000+ students in her school. As a senior, she was voted Homecoming Queen, an event carried by major news stations. (See insert.)

 

Last week, when Gracie’s color changed and her perpetual smile disappeared, Erin took her to the E.R. where a cat scan showed no problems. Gracie was sent home, but that night, when her breathing slowed, John and Erin drove their daughter back to the hospital. This time, the news was not good. Gracie had sepsis. Emergency surgery came too late.

Family members were called. Gracie’s sister was two hours from returning to her missionary job in Africa. Others were within driving distance. They praised God when they all made it to the hospital in time, and after singing hymns around Gracie’s bed, Gracie died.

Her aunt, Mollie, penned these words to God in her blog this morning: “I am convinced she (Gracie) had the benefit of enjoying a preview of heaven at three when she had no heartbeat for 20 minutes. I think she saw glorious things she simply could not un-see. Although Gracie returned to us without language we could clearly understand, she never needed words to worship You. After her experience with You “outside” her body, Gracie’s exquisite response to even the mention of Your name was unbridled bliss…I want to be more like Gracie. I want to be fully dependent on You experiencing the unbridled bliss of Your presence. In my utter weakness, please be my boundless strength.”

I pray God does the same for all who mourn the loss of this precious young woman.

I