Aiden’s Light

 

https://www.aidenslight.org

Have you ever procrastinated on something important?

That’s typically not me, but it was last week.  My topic for this post hit close to home, and I had trouble with the “going there”.

I remember the first time I left Abby for an entire weekend.  After all of the years with children in-and-out of the hospital, I’d been yearning to finally get away with “girl-friends” now that my family appeared medically stable.

As the date of the 2015 Living Word Community Church Women’s Retreat drew near, I hesitated, knowing that I would be leaving my toddler behind, one with half of a functioning heart.   One from whom I’d rarely parted.

One who’d nearly died many times.

I admit to being nervous.  Christian and I had spent countless hours over the course of several years fighting to keep our children alive.  Their birth defects and challenging diagnoses had transfixed us into this perpetual state of crisis, torturing us to no end with the pain of possible outcomes . . . the not-knowing how things would turn out . . . and worse yet, the dark moments when we thought today was likely the last . . . nearly drove us mad.

Thankfully, it all drove me deeper into the arms of God and made me trust Him more.

I decided to go.

I’m glad I went.  I met Joanna Beck on the very first night.  Pretty and quiet with her hands tucked into the pockets of her sweatshirt, she’d offered a “hi” and a simple smile when a mutual friend introduced us.

While I discerned Joanna’s greeting to be sincere, I noticed that her countenance saddened immediately after our introduction.  My instincts screamed that something unrelated to me was amiss, but I didn’t know until later that night the reason why.

Her little boy had drowned less than two months prior.

Beacon of joy and player of drums, Joanna’s precious Aiden had lost his life due to a negligent caregiver.  With one horrible phone call, Joanna and her husband, Chris, found themselves thrust into the midst of a heart-wrenching tragedy, immersed in the darkest moments of their lives.

My worst nightmare of eight years had become their reality.

How moving the moment when I next gazed into the eyes of this mother, this beautiful woman who’d loved and lost, this wife who’d survived utter anguish of soul!

The results of such loss can be devastating.  Shock melts into anger and despair.  Depression soars.  Addictions increase.  Bitterness breeds.  Marriages fail.

But not the Becks.

While they have endured an intense grieving process, and, truth be told, some days still prove difficult, this amazing couple has founded a non-profit organization, Aiden’s Light, Inc., with a mission to counter the negative effects of poverty on children.

Swimming lessons.  Piano lessons.  Scholarships for education majors.  Mentoring and goal-setting, psychological counseling and emotional support, academic tutoring and additional programming.

That’s not all.  Their long-term goal is to build community centers in underserved areas in order to provide further support and opportunities that empower local youth.

Living Word Community Church will sponsor the first fundraiser for Aiden’s Light, Inc. on June 2, 1018.  Please visit Aiden’s Light, Inc. for more information regarding their 501(c)3, upcoming events, and ways you can support this incredible ministry.

O Lord, I pray you would richly bless the efforts of this inspiring couple!  Swing wide the door for them to help children find light in the darkness, to know that they belong and and that they matter in this world.  

May Aiden’s Light shine brightly upon many children, that they may dance into their future, brimming with confidence and full of hope, living testaments to how You give beauty for ashes and trade joy for mourning (Isaiah 61:1-3).

https://www.aidenslight.org

 

 

 

 

Strategic Planner

Do you enjoy personality/strength/weakness tests?  I do.

A few years ago, I took one located in the book titled Now, Discover Your Strengths by Buckingham and Clifton.  The questionnaire proved similar to most I’d previously taken, but the labels for the end results were uniquely termed.  And I liked it because I felt that it not only gave an overall great assessment but it also pegged my number one strength to a T.

Strategic planning.

When I think of great strategic planners, two amazing women come to mind.  My mother and my good friend, Wendi.

The kids and I had the pleasure of spending an entire six hours yesterday with my dear friend, Wendi Fulton Wetzel Pickel.  There’s much wisdom to be had in this little 50-something package, who kindly delivered herself to my doorstep that damp February morning.

I’d met her seven years ago during one of my darkest seasons.  She’d contacted me online regarding a book I’d written, and after chatting back-and-forth, we realized that we’d both planned to attend the same fundraiser for Kenyan orphans in Philadelphia and took the opportunity to ride together.

It was a Divine appointment.

John had been home from the hospital roughly six months when I popped into Wendi’s car.  Even though medically he was doing great, my husband and I found ourselves in the midst of a marital mess, mopping up after our son’s crisis had passed.

I have no idea to this day what made me do it, but I dumped my bucket to this sweet, compassionate, total stranger.

I’m so thankful I did.  She’d been through nearly the exact same thing.

God paired us up that night, as she became intimately acquainted not only with my family but also our troubles.  Because of her incredibly challenging life experiences, she was uniquely qualified to walk beside me through mine.

She has listened for hours upon hours.  She’s done my dishes and brought me ice packs, she’s met me in hospitals and made me oatmeal, she’s cared for my children and spent countless hours boldly loving, pouring herself unreservedly into my life.  A fabulous sounding board, yet discerning and wise, unafraid to be a truth-teller, a blessed one who holds me accountable to biblical principles.

I thank God for her.

Wendi couldn’t stop smiling as she watched the kids play yesterday.  “It’s amazing to watch them together,” she said as she shook her head.  “They look so normal – so healthy, so happy.”

She saw them at their worst.  The meltdowns, the feeding tubes and oxygen tanks, the downward spirals.  I’ll never forget a bittersweet moment when Abby turned a corner after a difficult bout in the hospital and was unexpectedly discharged early.  We were ecstatic . . . but I had no idea how we were getting home.  The timing seemed terrible.

Until I called Wendi.

All she said was, “Great!  What’s the exit?” as I heard keys jingling and feet walking . . . and then the car door closing.

She’s been through much – I have great respect for her and have found her amazingly gifted at helping others during crisis because she knows how best to survive them.  Through much adversity , God has made her shine like the sun into the lives of many in their darkest times.

He’s even taking her international.

This brilliant retiree has met her unexpectedly challenging life-stage head-on as she and her wonderful husband, Tim Pickel, have channeled their energies wisely and well.  They’ve partnered with a missions organization founded by Larry Roth and Marsha Roth called OneMillionChildren, which serves to bring clean water, medical care, and the Word of God to one million children in Africa.

 

Thank you, Wendi, for all you’ve done to lift me up and walk with me in this life.  Thank you for your steadfast example and countless selfless acts.  Thank you for your wise counsel and uncompromising quest to strategize what’s best for everyone.

Thank you for being an absolutely wonderful friend.

I praise the number one Strategic Planner for allowing our paths to cross in this life – I’ve already put in a request for a regular time-block with you in eternity.

May He continue to use you to bless many as He richly blesses you and Tim and the work of your hearts and hands both today – and beyond!