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Have any of you had a “There but for the grace of God, go I” moment? Or several in your lifetime?
I am sure we all have.
But the one I want to tell you about is not about one of my moments. It’s about a brave 23-year-old woman who lives in Slaton, Texas, and who has embraced her fate through faith and, in so doing, elevated the faith of two communities.
Brianna Graves is gravely ill. She has a disease fewer than 200 people have ever had documented in the world’s medical literature. Ever since an injury at age 9 — an injury while playing basketball that would normally be an inconsequential fracture — Brianna’s bones have been weakening and vanishing.
The medical community knows little about this rare disease, including why it happens and how to cure it. At age 17, the disease and its consequences ravaged her body enough to render her quadriplegic. She now depends on a respirator and help for almost everything for her life. Brianna has survived Gorham’s disease for more than 16 years and knows what fate awaits her.
Don’t let Brianna’s physical issues fool you. She is one smart cookie with a great sense of humor. She is politically astute and resents Rick Perry and the budget cuts that he has inflicted on Texas and that have affected her health care. But she can also tell you her faith has kept her strong and underpins her message that she wants to make a difference.
So when Josh Reglin, a Tahoka, Texas, resident and chaplain for Interim Hospice in Lubbock first met Brianna, she was living in a converted garage at her grandparents’ home in Slaton. As Reglin got to know her, he and others in the community, decided they could pull together and give Brianna one of her dreams — the privacy and comfort of her own home. Reglin also involved the Interim Healthcare Foundation, with which Brianna agreed to work as a spokesperson for the value of hospice care. And so, the dream for Bri’s Chateau was born and Sunday culminated in a dedication ceremony in her grandparents’ back yard.
Brianna doesn’t ask for your pity.
Nor do I.
But I ask on her behalf and on behalf of the millions of Americans who, especially through no fault of their own, suffer from all manner of ills that you pray for her and for them. I ask that you consider how we are called to help those who are the lesser of us, keeping in mind that when we do for them we do for Him. If that means making your own contribution to support a cause to fight a disease, fine. If it means visiting someone who is homebound and needs a friend, great. If it means you run a business and want to pitch in like those who help build Bri’s Chateau, wonderful. And, if it means not undercutting a government program that reaches out for the good of the community — or the country — consider that, too, as part of your recognition that when we do for them we do for Him.
Our boundaries of compassion can be limited only by our own hearts and imaginations.