When you go on God’s errands the most exciting things can happen. Although I am often unaware of God’s plan for my day, each can be filled with amazement and wonder as I catch glimpses of His great love for each person.
The day seemed ordinary in every way. I had scheduled a home visit to do a medical assessment for a 13-month-old girl. The only information I had was her name, date of birth, and the fact that she was living in a foster home. As I sat at the table with the foster mom and reviewed the stack of medical records, I took notes as she talked about the child. It didn’t take long to learn that this child had endured more in her short life than anyone should ever experience.
Summer (not her real name) had been born prematurely to a mother who had used alcohol and drugs during the pregnancy. There was no record of what happened from the time mom took her home from the hospital when she was ten days old until she was eleven months old. Medical exams did verify she had experienced physical and sexual abuse and presumed mental abuse. This is Summer’s story.
The police had been called late at night to a home for a drug bust. As the policemen looked through the small, dirty home they found the baby girl; so small and listless they weren’t sure she was alive. When the baby was picked up she stiffened and cried. Not a normal cry, but the high-pitched scream of one who is terrified and in pain. Child Protective Services took the infant, wearing only a soiled diaper, wrapped her in a blanket they took from a bag in the trunk of their car, and rushed her to the hospital. Tests determined this child was grossly malnourished and had been severely abused, sustaining brain damage that left her blind and with seizures. She had achieved none of the developmental milestones for a child half her age. She required a feeding tube for administration of formula, water, and medications.
When anyone touched her, she stiffened and cried. It didn’t take the nurses and doctors long to notice one exception to that behavior. If the blanket that had been wrapped around her when she was removed from her home was wrapped around her, she stopped crying. If that blanket was placed beside her and the person talked softly, she allowed them to care for her without crying. She was evaluated by the neuropsychologist (a psychologist who specializes in studying brain behavior relationships), a pediatric psychiatrist, pediatricians, and nurses. They determined that blanket must have been the first warm, loving thing to touch her in months. There was no pain or suffering inflicted on her tiny body by the one who offered her the blanket. The doctor wrote an order that the blanket was to always be with Summer while she was in the children’s intensive care unit. When she went to the foster home two months later, the blanket went with her.
I listened silently as the foster mother talked. Then she added her opinion. “I am sure that the lady who made the blanket prayed with every stitch that it would comfort the child who received it. She made it with love and because of that blanket, Summer is able to accept our love.” I held my breath and thought about something. Normally, blankets aren’t associated with the person who makes it, though quilts are almost always associated with their creators. People don’t speak of the stitches in a blanket. Stitches in quilts are often mentioned. Perhaps there was more to this story than I would have imagined. I asked to see this “blanket.” The foster mom was eager to show it. She took me to the bedroom and held up a hand made quilt with cheerful colored blocks. I touched the quilt and gently looked at the corners. There it was, an “It’s My Very Own” decal declaring that it had been made by the Women’s Ministry of the Apache Junction Seventh-day Adventist Church. With tears in my eyes, I told the foster mom that she was correct. This quilt was made with love. Prayers were offered by the one who made it and by those who placed it in the Bag of Love. Silently I thanked God for allowing me to see that my church family’s ministry did make a difference one child at a time.
As I drove home that evening, I praised God for the IMVO ministry that my church family supports. I thanked God for allowing me to see how this ministry of love touched a little girl’s life and helped her feel love without pain.