One Sunday a few months back, during worship, Linda heard God calling her to reach out to the children in Valleybrook by doing a weekly craft time with them at Joe’s.
Linda has quite a story of her own. She was an airplane mechanic in the Air Force. She loved her job! It was fun and fulfilling. She got to travel, see new places and do what she loved most. Until she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The military gave her a medical discharge, and the doctors went to work trying to save her life.
Linda’s tumor is a long story from many years before we knew her. We met her when she started coming to Joe’s. Those first few times we saw her, she sat silently in a corner and read a good book. Then she began telling us how much she loved this place, how peaceful it is, how much she loves the community atmosphere. Slowly we got to know Linda and her story.
Oh! and Linda is a “cut-throat” Skipbo player! She doesn’t smack talk or make a scene, but quietly lays her cards with strength and intensity. Her name sits atop the “Skipbo Champion” sign several times a week.
The bottom line of her tumor story is that she survived. Doctors removed her tumor—along with other parts of her brain—important parts. She lost her pituitary gland, causing chronic medical problems for her. She lives on steroids and other medication—with the many side effects that they cause. Then, recently Linda was diagnosed with Lupus. She is in constant pain and many days cannot even get out of bed. She never knows how she will feel from day to day.
But Linda loves kids! And that Sunday, she knew that God was calling her to bless the children of Valleybrook. Her first thought and answer to God was, “But how? How am I going to plan events when I never know whether I will even be able to do it?” God answered her, “I am going to let you have fun.”
Her next thought was, “How will I pay for the supplies? Will the church pay for that?” Linda lives in a trailer park down the street from Joe’s. She receives a small check from the military each month that covers her modest needs, but rarely leaves any money leftover. God did not respond immediately. We broke for a few minutes of fellowship and snack time (also known as smoke break for many). Then we came back together, and LInda settled in to listen to the Sunday sermon.
The text for the day… Five Loaves and Two Fish! She knew that God was telling her He would provide if she stepped out and began serving the children.
Bubbling over with excitement Linda stood and told this story recently in church. She has been planning and hosting craft time every Saturday at Joe’s for several months now. The children love it. They love her! She is incredibly creative and fun. Joe’s frequently has craft items hanging from the windows and decorating the tables, as we display their jack-o-lanterns, paper snowflakes and Christmas magnets. Adults have even joined in, considering their time with Ms. Linda to be Art Therapy for the soul.
Linda simply gushed with excitement as she told us her miracle. She has not missed a Saturday! She always makes plans for someone to cover for her, just in case she wakes up feeling too bad. But just as God promised her, He is letting her have fun! This is the fun part of her life. Loving on children (and adults) and making special hand-made crafts with them.
The other miracle is that her military stipend check has never once ran out. She buys all the craft supplies herself, and loves doing it! Dollar General should make her a shareholder for all the glue sticks, paper plates, confetti, and paints she has bought. Every month she has had more than enough to cover her own needs, as well as provide for the fun that she gives the Valleybrook kids.
This is the adventure that not only is ours at Joe’s, but the people in the community are learning to listen to God, to follow His voice and to trust Him with their lives, even with their little bit of money!
Linda’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.