Driving Hope

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Credit: Wikipedia

In my life I’ve known many people suffering from cancer. It took my father’s life 35 years ago. This debilitating disease affects both patient and family.

One of the greatest challenges faced by cancer patients and their loved ones is the necessity of traveling from home to a major medical center for treatment. Often such facilities are hundreds of miles away in major metropolitan areas with dangerous traffic volume and congestion.

The levels of anxiety, worry, and fear escalate in situations like this. The family member doing the driving is gravely concerned about and fearful for the wellbeing and life of the patient. Add to that the tension brought on by the trip and the result is a predictably high level of stress.

Last year Michael Hohle, truck-driving brother of my longtime friend Dr. Philip Hohle, came up with the excellent idea of what is now called Driving Hope of Texas. The plan is to secure at least one customized van that would be used to transport patients to treatment centers.

The comfortable van will include reclining seats, entertainment system, and on-board restroom. An atmosphere of Christian support, prayer, meditation, and encouragement will bless the ride.

The Mission of Driving Hope is to provide safe, timely, comfortable, affordable, long distance transportation to cancer patients (and their caregiver) by making a round trip from rural communities in Texas to distant treatment centers. Initial service will include the counties of Brown, Mills, Bell, Milam, Comanche, Hamilton, and Coryell, with more routes to be added.

Driving Hope provides neither medical nor counseling services. It is essentially a taxi service, set apart from other transportation options by the difference it will make for clients. The environment of care, comfort, and hope will make the trip as bearable as possible.

Because this is a startup organization, initial funding is needed. To assist in this endeavor, make plans now to attend the Friday, Nov 23 Glimmer of Hope BBQ, Dance, and Auction at Dale’s Essenhaus in Walburg. BBQ plates with sides are $15 and are also available to go.

The evening will include Country and Western music. Wear your boots! Shoppers will be able to pick up Christmas gifts at the live and silent auctions, which will feature many unique items. Few Black Friday deals are as satisfying as simply helping another human being in need.

Normally I do not advertise ministries or organizations in my Perspectives articles. Today I’m making an exception and encourage you to join Terry and me in supporting this worthy cause. Go to https://www.drivinghopetexas.org/ for tickets, online giving, and additional information.

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Hurricanes

Hurricane Lester on Approach to Hawaii

We’re in the middle of the Atlantic hurricane season. This week’s devastation expected from Hurricane Florence on our country’s East Coast is a stark reminder of the reality of our country’s vulnerability to these powerful and violent storms. Here are a few other examples:

Today, September 13, is the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Ike (2008), which ripped through the Houston and East Texas area, flattening homes and obliterating entire towns with a huge storm surge that destroyed buildings and businesses along Galveston’s Seawall.

August 29 was the 13th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina (2005), an extremely destructive and deadly Category 5 hurricane that struck the Gulf Coast of the United States, causing catastrophic damage from central Florida to eastern Texas, devastating the city of New Orleans.

August 29 was also the 1st anniversary of Hurricane Harvey’s arrival in Houston (2017), damaging or destroying tens of thousands of homes and businesses in that huge city and, for several days before and after, in other smaller communities along the Texas Gulf Coast. Flooding of homes and highways in Houston captured the media’s attention, while equally serious damage in smaller communities lagged behind in news coverage and recovery efforts.

Other historic storms in America include, to name only a few of the worst, Camille (1969), Andrew (1992), Charley (2004), Rita (2005), Wilma (2005), Sandy (2012), and Irma (2017).

A few days after Katrina’s and Ike’s arrival I made trips from St. Louis to affected areas, visiting people, pastors, and congregations. Those efforts were simply tokens of encouragement, prayer, and support for those whose lives were drastically affected by the wind, waves, and rising water that inundated their homes, churches, and businesses. More tangibly significant is the work of those who contribute their time, money, and energy in recovery and restoration.

Recently I asked Julie Tucker, Director of Disaster Response for the Texas District LCMS, about ongoing relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Here are excerpts from Julie’s response:

Though headlines from Harvey have faded, the devastation is still apparent, especially in the Coastal Bend and Golden Triangle regions. But thanks to generous support, homes are being restored and families are being helped. To date, 3,519 people have volunteered, 107,252 volunteer hours have been logged, and 325 households have been helped. One area recently reported to me that they have hung over 18,000 pieces of sheetrock – in one area!  

Progress is clearly being made. But, of course, there is still much to be done. At one of our sites, 356 homes have requested help. Another site reports 300 homes still awaiting some kind of assistance. Clearly, the need is massive. Experts predict recovery from Harvey will take five to ten years. Our work continues and your support continues to be needed.

You can help by donating to our Disaster Relief Fund. Remember, 100% of the funds collected are used to help those in need. You can also sign up to serve at one of our sites. Or, even better, you can do both! Please consider how you might be able to help. Your help is sorely needed.

I cannot thank you enough for your prayers, your gifts, and your willingness to lend a hardworking hand. The devastation of Harvey is no match for your generosity and love!

Until they all know Him,
Julie Tucker

Check out this link for a first-hand look: https://youtu.be/PFImCIMuQi4

Thank you for any assistance you, your congregation, and your community can provide for the thousands of people still reeling from the damaging effects of hurricanes along the Gulf Coast.

Lord, have mercy!

Missing Spoons

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Recently I visited a longtime dear friend of Terry’s and mine who has a son with a history of substance abuse. Our conversation included the topic of missing spoons, a telltale sign of heroin addiction.

Not knowing much about the connection between missing spoons and substance abuse, I consulted that veritable treasure of information, Google, and found a story by Mary Cucarola dated May 1, 2016. It takes a few minutes to read but I believe it will be worth your time. Here are a few excerpts:

“Where are all of my new William & Sonoma spoons?”

I texted my son, Cody, who was living with me at the time. No answer. Texted again.  No answer again.

I had recently bought a set of stainless steel flatware for my kitchen at my new house. Cody was working for his dad, and I thought maybe he had taken them to work for lunch or maybe eaten cereal for breakfast on the run, and left them in his car or at work. Still no answer.

By the time he got home, I had forgotten about the spoons. I did ask him again the next day, and he said he didn’t know. I couldn’t figure out what happened to most of my new spoons. It was such a mystery to me, but I figured they would turn up soon (I know you’re thinking how stupid can this woman be). They didn’t show up. 

My current knowledge didn’t include how to heat up heroin in a spoon to be injected intravenously. It didn’t ever occur to me my spoons were being used as cookers to liquefy heroin, and were now burnt spoons. It was most definitely wisdom outside my current knowledge.

I will forever remember the Saturday morning I found out where my spoons were. I was putting away clean clothes in Cody’s top drawer, and I found it all. My heart stopped. I was stunned, mortified, and angry by what I found, but most of all I felt betrayed.  

I wasn’t wise enough to know the signs of opiate addiction, but I put it all together, and there was no more mystery of my missing spoons.

To read the rest of the story, including a list of telltale signs of various kinds of substance abuse, go to: http://www.codysfreshstart.org/spoon-insight-tell-tale-signs-of-drug-abuse/ 

I pray that Mary’s story will be helpful to people and families whose lives have been drastically and painfully affected by this ever-growing source of distress, dysfunction, despair, depression, and death.

And I also pray that if Mary’s story reflects the circumstances of your life or the life of someone you know and love, as you seek help for your loved one you will be comforted by the words of Jesus: ““Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matt. 11:28

When God Sends Help

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When God sends help, don’t ask questions!

That’s the title of the following story that I recently received from a friend:

She hurried to the pharmacy to get medication, got back to her car and discovered that she had locked her keys inside. The woman found an old rusty coat hanger left on the ground. She looked at it and said, “I don’t know how to use this.”

She bowed her head and asked God to send her some help.

Within five minutes a beat-up old motorcycle pulled up, driven by a bearded man who was wearing an old biker skull rag. He got off his motorcycle and asked if he could help.

She said, “Yes, my daughter is sick. I’ve locked my keys in my car. I must get home. Please, can you use this hanger to unlock my car?”

He said, “Sure.” He walked over to the car, and in less than a minute, the car door was open. She hugged the man and through tears, softly said, “Thank you, God, for sending me such a very nice man.”

The man heard her little prayer and replied, “Lady, I am not a nice man. I just got out of prison yesterday. I’ve been serving time for car theft.”

The woman hugged the man again. Sobbing, she said, “Oh, thank you, God! You even sent me a professional.”

Perhaps this story will add a smile to your face and a reminder that sometimes the help God sends comes in a surprising package.

God bless your day!

The Heart of a Hero

Hurrican Harvey Response

The following words include some content from an anonymously authored article I read this week. Other portions are purely mine. It’s about the heart of a hero.

After Hurricane Harvey struck, hundreds of pickups, 18-wheelers, and SUVs from across the country headed for Houston and other parts of southeast Texas, driven by men and women with the heart of a hero. They used their own vehicles, sacrificed their own time, spent their own money, and risked their own lives for one reason: to help total strangers in desperate need.

Many came alone, some in groups from service organizations, neighborhoods, or churches. Most wore tattered gimme-hats, t-shirts, and jeans. Some just brought stuff needed by people whose homes were flooded. Others came to help any way they could, including providing a hugely helpful service described by the highly technical term of “mucking” out flooded homes.

For days they waded in cold, dirty water, dodging gators, water moccasins, and fire ants. They ate whatever meager rations were available and slept wherever they could in dirty, damp clothes.

Their reward was in the tears, hugs, and smiles from the terrified people they helped rescue from rooftops, and the saddened people who saw decades of furniture and personal possessions taken from their homes and stacked on the curb along the street on which they lived.

When disaster strikes, that’s what real, heroic, selfless people do. Day after day they got up before dawn, to do it again, until the helpless were rescued. Many will continue to do so in the months ahead until the recovery process is completed and the restoration work is accomplished.

Most of them will not be paid for their labors or reimbursed for their expenses. They won’t receive any medals. They don’t care about accolades. They simply have a heart for people in need. They’re heroes. And doing what this article describes is what heroes do

Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it for me” (Matt. 25:40). There’s nothing stronger than the heart of a hero!