On Thanksgiving week, Leah Helms was clinging to threads of hope. Hope that her newborn son's heart could be healed. Hope that her broken heart could be healed. Hope to see her other 3 children in Mississippi. Hope that her tears would dry up.
Leah was alone in Washington, DC, and 2000 miles from her family and friends in Brandon, Mississippi. She and her barely month-old son Pierce Allen Helms had been at the National Children's Medical Center since November 1. Doctors there were Pierce's best hope of survival. He was born with congenital aortic stenosis, an abnormal narrowing of his aortic valve.
Yet, none of this tapestry would not have been revealed to Kim and I had work not kept me home and if Leah didn't have such a loving friend in Stephanie Barnes.
Tuesday night, I opted to not be on the road for some after-hour conference calls and remained home. My family and inlaws were meeting for dinner and then going to a Maryland basketball game. However, had I gone the Facebook email that Stephanie, wife of a college friend, would've been seen later that night and perhaps not resolved in the same way.
Stephanie needed help and her husband suggested she contact Kim and I. Phoning the number on her email, Stephanie shared how her friend Leah was alone in DC at a hospital and her purse had been stolen. Everything was in her purse: ID, cash, checks from church members, return plane ticket, digital camera, and more. Only her cell phone remained in her possession. However, Stephanie was uncertain which hospital Leah was at.
Thankfully, I had a former coworker and friend who confirmed she was indeed at Children's and would have concierge services help her in the morning. Also, thankfully, a friend from another church is a nurse at Children's and via Facebook received information about Leah and Pierce, checked on her, and reported back to us that she had visited with her and given Leah her and our phone numbers.
Thanksgiving Eve morning, Kim contacted Leah and that afternoon we brought her lunch, cash, and two bags of various assundries including chapstick, a change purse, camera, snacks, water, and other items to help with her stay.
While visiting with Leah, Kim and I met the Mississippi's First Lady, Marsha Barbour, her son Reeves, and his wife Jackye. Governor Barbour was babysitting his granddaughter in Northern Virginia so these folks could being Leah a replacement driver's license.
Now, let's look at tapestry here. So many different scenarios today require one to have an ID or driver's license. Leah's ID was stolen with her purse. She's 2000 miles from home and uncertain what to do. Her friend Stephanie knows Jackye. Before long, Marsha has made a phone call and she and her husband are flying to DC with the card.
Marsha pondered how many other people might have this very thing happen to them and could have their fears lessened if she only knew about the problem. She dismissed the effort as "just making a phone call" and was glad to have helped.
How many other First Ladies would be so down to earth and real? So willing to help a state resident whom they barely knew? But that's just Mississippi for you. For a state that is raped or forgotten in the press, the people of Mississippi are the kind that will "give the shirt off their back and never expect anything."
Sure, I had my doubts about this whole thing. Someone else surely could help her. It's an hour's drive away. How could she not have access to cash? Is this really on the up-and-up? All the typical human doubts that we have. But that's where discernment and peace kicks in. When God wants you to move, it doesn't matter what the world says about a situation. You move and God blesses you for it.
Look what blessings came from a stolen purse. Leah got a replacement license hand-delivered from Mississippi's First Lady. Leah gained two new friends in Kim and I and we forged a deeper bond with Stephanie and Don Barnes in Mississippi. Leah had her and Pierce's story featured on my old TV station W*USA9 and on WUSA9.com, on WLBT in Jackson, and perhaps more. None of this would've happened without that purse disappearing.
Tapestry is a funny thing. Leah could've been in DC two months and only her inner circle of friends and prayer warriors would've known about it. Without me having known Don Barnes in college, and his wife reaching out to us, and me having worked in TV for 10 years, even with a stolen purse her story would not have made the news. And only the Lord knows but one of the many reasons that my family is here in the DC area was to help Leah in her time of need.
One more note of interest, on Pierce's Caringbridge page, Leah shares a verse I claimed many years ago. Exodus 14:14 "The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still."
We can never imagine how and when the threads will cross but that's not the point. What matters is if we're willing to be willing. Instead of asking doubting questions, focusing on our own selfish needs and plans, and overall wasting time...will you help someone in their time of need? Will you step past your nose to show the love of Jesus Christ to someone?
Few of us will have a chance to help many people but many of us will have the opportunity to make a difference in one life. For my family, that's what Thanksgiving is all about.
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KARK Video: Heart Transplant
WJTV Video: Praying For Pierce
WLBT Video: Brandon mother stays with sick son in Washington D.C. for Thanksgiving
WUSA Video: Mom Loses Everything In Children's Hospital Theft
Text: Barbours help Mississippi mom after her purse is stolen
Facebook: Leah Helms
Caringbridge: Pierce Allen Helms