This summer we've had guests from Guntersville, Cherokee, Leighton, Dutton, Wellington, Duncanville, Piedmont, Harvest, Elkmont, Sheffield, Lacy Springs, Pisgah,Florence and Henegar, AL as well as Ridgeland MS, Shelbyville, TN and Austin TX. It was a very busy summer with guests who left us with memories we will never forget. One of our guests was from Austin, Texas. Her husband was in Huntsville on business and became seriously ill. This was a very sweet family. Her devotion to her husband was was evident from the beginning of her stay. She would stay with him most of the day. She made the comment "Every City needs a "Shanon's House." Here's the card she sent to us- "There are no words to express our gratitude for the love, care and compassion that the Mayfair Church has shown us during my husband's critical illness in Huntsville. You were an answered prayer during a very stressful time, particularly being 14 hours from home. Shanon's House has been a blessing to our extended family-a perfect example of how God will provide. We thank you for being "His hands and feet" during our time of need. We will be eternally grateful." Another guest wrote, "Your church truly lives out-Loving your neighbor as yourself. God asks us to show His kindness and love through our actions. You do this with the ministry of Shanon's House."
There are so many stories we could tell you of our guests at Shanon's House. We meet so many kind guests who are going through stressful times. One of those guests was a young couple with a baby that had been born very early. The baby weighed 1 lb 6 oz. When the couple arrived and told us about the baby the father said "God's in control." They told us how this was their miracle baby. We enjoyed getting to know the Grandmother who stayed with her daughter when the father had to go back to work. One afternoon the Mother and Grandmother came back to Shanon's House. The mother looked very tired and commented "I think I've overdone it today" In just a few minutes we were calling 911, the mother was having a seizure. When the ambulance arrived we followed with the grandmother to the emergency room. The Grandmother was holding on to me and said "Christy, I'm really scared." Johnny called the father and told him his wife had been taken to the emergency room. When the father arrived he asked if we could pray and he lead the most beautiful prayer-asking God to spare his wife. In just a few minutes the doctor came in to tell him that his wife had passed away. His first words were "I know where she is, but what am I going to do?" After the family arrived Johnny and I slipped away. As we sat outside in the garden we were shaken by what had happened. We never even considered that something like this would happen here. Johnny remembered how he had talked to the young mother before the ambulance arrived telling her to breathe and he realized he was talking to her like she was his own daughter. Two days later the father called to tell us the funeral arrangements. He told Johnny, "The day she died I went home and opened my Bible. It fell open to Psalm 51. I knew then that God was going to take care of us." He said "I can see God's hand in all that happened. God knew how much my wife wanted to be a mother. God also knew her time was limited so He let our baby be born early so my wife could experience the joy of being a mother and then He took her but left a part of her with me." We were amazed at his faith. One week later he called and asked if we wanted to come to the hospital and see the baby. When we arrived he had the quilt from the "Tree of Life Quilters" that we had given him. He said "Today our baby gets to have her own quilt. Would you do the honors of putting it on her crib?" My eyes were filled with tears as I told him this was the best and sweetest gift he could give me. This little baby got to go home and we are able to keep up with her progress through Face book. We continue to learn so many life lessons from the experiences of our guests. This summer we saw first hand how you praise God in the storms of life. Our guests showed us that God is faithful to be there in the hardest of times and that yes, God is in control.
This summer we had the dedication of the beautiful garden at Shanon's House. The garden was dedicated to two girls from Kentucky who were involved in a wreck in 2010. The families of these girls stayed with us. The family came down from Kentucky for the dedication. It was a beautiful morning and even though it was the middle of July the gentle breeze we had prayed for was there for us during the ceremony. God is so good. The garden is a very restful and peaceful place for our guests to enjoy after a long day at the hospital. One guest said, "I was so tense, but when I drove up at Shanon's House there was a sense of peace when I saw the garden." Another guest said "just being able to get away from the noise of the hospital and coming here is refreshing."
The refrigerator has pictures covering it of babies whose parents have stayed with us. When we get a call from the NICU we don't know what's wrong with the baby only that it's in NICU. When new parents arrive they are worried about their babies. We often show them the pictures of babies that started out so small and then show them how they are thriving after 2 years. One young couple arrived and we could tell the mother was very stressed and worried. I showed her the picture of the mother and baby that stayed with us 2 years ago. The picture on the refrigerator was of a mother who had requested to adopt a Down Syndrome baby. When I finished telling her about this mother, she looked down and said "Our baby has Down Syndrome." I thought about this later and wondered why out of all the pictures on the refrigerator,I chose that mother and baby to show this young mother. The only explanation was God was answering our prayer-the prayer we pray for God to guide us in this work.
Thank you to all who have come by to encourage us. The 5th and 6th graders from VBS made gift bags for our guests. Several have brought by paper products and breakfast foods. A Life group from the University Church of Christ in Tuscaloosa made bags to give to our guests. This ministry as in all ministries has times when the devil sends discouragement but God is so faithful to send us encouragement and it comes through your generous gifts, visits, phone calls,cards and prayers.
It's hard to believe that in December we will be finishing our third year at Shanon's House. We've had over 200 people stay with us and many of them continue to send us updates of their families. We've become friends with our guests and also with the social workers at the Hospital. Johnny and I are so grateful to the elders and the Shanon's House Board and all of you. We are blessed to be here and we always know we couldn't do this without God's help and the encouragement from all of you. We are thankful to be a part of a congregation that lives out the commandments of our Lord to care for the hurting. As one guest wrote "We were strangers and you took us in."
Johnny and Christy