Monday, March 29, 2010

Look at these sweet faces. Three beautiful little girls who shouldn't have a care in the world. But these three precious faces are just a tiny fraction of the children left orphans in the devastating Haiti earthquake. The picture was taken by my assistant, Misty, a remarkable young woman with an MBA who fell in love with a sweet man from Fort Sumner, married him and moved here a few years ago.

For five years straight, Misty has made an annual trek to Haiti where she spends a week doing mission work in various orphanages there. After the earthquake this year, she feared she wouldn't be allowed into the country - but at the last minute, both she and her new husband, Tim, were cleared to go. For six days, Misty, Tim, and 32 other volunteers worked with the children; holding them, reading them stories, playing games and just providing some loving comfort to them during this difficult time.

I'm so proud to know them both. They've taken the time out of their lives, spending precious vacation time from work -  to do something that really matters - something that really makes a difference.

Another dear friend, Pat, who has been at Leanin' Tree almost as long as Mike, just returned from Afghanistan where she spent more than a week helping to rebuild homes and lives in a war torn land. Pat is another of my heroes. She made the effort to do something - to make a difference in someones life. To make it better.

We've  had the good fortune to meet and get to know a lot of folks over the years - some regular and a good many famous by most standards.  There were many who were insanely wealthy  and spent thousands of dollars to maintain their status quo. But I can honestly say that of all the actors, artists and corporate giants we've rubbed shoulders with, none have left the lasting impression that Pat, Misty and Tim have.

I admire them and long to be more like them - they are my heroes.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Sweet Whisper

Jessie Boone is a little firecracker of a girl. Last March, Jessie, then 15, went on a ski trip to Colorado with her youth group from church. She lost control on a run and hit a tree, cracking open her skull and forever changing her life and the life of hundreds of people who love her.

Jessie was airlifted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in Grand Junction where she stayed for the next three months. For the first few weeks, she lay in a deep coma with two sides of her skull removed in an effort to control the brain swelling. Her tiny body fought one infection after another until she was finally stable enough to be flown to a rehab hospital in Oklahoma.

Many weeks later, her parents were told Jessie was ready to move on to a long term care facility where therapy could continue or they could take her home and arrange for therapists to make home visits. Jessie's parents, Lisa and Bill, knew she would do much better in her own home. Lisa, an RN who worked for Hospice, left her job to stay home and manage Jessie recovery.

Just before Christmas, after months of therapies, Jessie was able to crawl up the stairs to her bedroom. It was grueling but exciting. Several times, she's been able to eat small amounts of food and keep it down - YEAH! And one Sunday morning, she sat at the kitchen bar and "helped" her dad make sourdough biscuits - probably the best biscuits that family ever had. While being helped to her bedroom one night, she sort of steered her drivers into the family office and sat down at the computer. She looked at the keyboard for a while, then tried to type something. Her vision is still very impaired which made it impossible for her to type anything but the doctors are hopeful it will get better as her brain heals.

But then last week, there was a biggie baby step. Jessie hasn't been able to speak since the accident, which was heartbreaking for her parents. Then last Saturday night, Lisa leaned close to Jessie's face to kiss her goodnight and as she pulled away, in a soft sweet whisper, Jessie said Mom. Lisa ran to get Bill and asked Jessie to say it again. And she did.

Now that, my friends, is pure God given joy.