I have tried to encourage others to write posts for this site and my Friend Dean Burgess has. So I am very proud to post his message and believe it will be inspiring to you even more than anything I have placed in here so far:


We were talking just the other day about how God will sometimes use the strangest instruments to change peoples lives and to implement His will. I used to think that I knew all the answers to all the questions in this life, not just the FAQs, either. But I was just fooling myself.

When I was younger and a lot more arrogant, God sent me a gift: my wonderful stepdaughter. But this was a special gift. You see, I have a pretty high I.Q., not genius level, but close. The last time I was tested, I broke 160 on the Wechsler Adult Test, and believe me that was an interesting and strange 4+ hours.

My daughter is mentally handicapped. On a good day, her IQ is around 60 to 65. And that was God’s gift to me and no, I am not being sarcastic. It was the best blessing He ever bestowed upon me. You see, dealing with my daughter’s handicap and mental illnesses has not only humbled me, but has also taught me things about myself and other people that I would have never understood otherwise.

For example, I have become more understanding of those who may not think or understand things the same as I do. I have become more patient with others, and I STILL could stand to be more tolerant and patient of those around me. And then there’s the really special part of the blessing:

My daughter, who is 30 chronologically but will always be 12 emotionally and developmentally, is and always will be that rarest of humans, a true innocent with more guardian angels than can fit on the head of a pin. No matter what happens to her, she comes through it blissfully safe and secure. And those around her, are often changed, usually for the better.

I will tell you how God used my daughter to bring my late wife to Him. First, let me briefly tell you about my wife. My wife was raised in the Roman Catholic Church and eventually became a nurse in the field of Correctional Medicine. As with most people who enter the wonderful world of Law and Order, she always saw life in black and white, with very little, if any gray shading.

In Gwinnett and Hall Counties in Georgia, during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, she became known as “Nurse Hell”, or “Medical Officer Hell”. Nurse Ratchet could have taken instructions from her and 3 notable citations stand out in her personnel file:

A Letter of Commendation for saving a suicidal inmates life, another Letter of Commendation for legally obtaining a confession from a murder suspect prior to his formal interview by detectives, and a third Letter of Commendation for literally tearing off an inmate’s arm cast.

She felt that the cast was not professionally applied and the subsequent discovery of several hundred dollars worth of cocaine and marijuana previously concealed in said cast. This was a professional LEO that was extremely competent, yet regarded by most of her co-workers and all of her charges as somewhat of a bitchy cold fish.

Now, let me tell you the story about my daughter. Once upon a time not too long ago, my daughter was living in Louisiana with the proverbial and stereotypical evil stepmother when she got into a physical fight with that woman. Rather than let herself get beat up by her, my daughter ran off.

Now, this is Central Louisiana, the place where a couple of Bayous and the Red, Black, and Atchafalaya Rivers either merge with, or branch off of, the Mississippi River. The whole region might be 25 feet above sea level. Needless to say, what is not developed or farmed is dangerous swamp and river bottom land.

The kid ran off into a corn or soybean field behind the house where she was staying. When she didn’t return, her grandmother called the sheriff, who deployed a helicopter, every deputy he could, and the blood hounds from the state prison in nearby Angola. They could not find that kid.

The grandmother also called me and my wife in South Carolina. And every hour, she would call just to say they where still looking for Little Susan. Between phone calls, my wife would pray over and over again, “Lord, I ask nothing for me, just please watch over my daughter and keep her safe.”

Her prayer became a litany. We both knew that part of Louisiana was full of canals, alligators, bears, and water moccasins the size of an elephants trunk. I prayed too, that God would give me the strength and the wisdom to comfort and console my wife and my family, regardless of the outcome of this life shattering drama that was being played out several states away.

Around 5:30 the next morning, one of my daughter’s uncles found Little Susan. She was filthy, naked, curled up on the stoop of a Baptist church, and unharmed. He brought her not to her home where the wicked witch of Central Louisiana was staying, but to her grandma’s house where she stayed for a couple of days until the Evil Step Mom had calmed down.

When my wife heard the wonderful news, she prayed and thanked God profusely. I did take advantage of the emotion of the moment to remind her that “Baby, He did His part, now are you going to keep YOUR word and continue to believe in Him and let Him in YOUR life?” and Big Sue did.

It was not a sea change, but a sincere one. By this time, she was a Clinical Substance Abuse Counselor subcontracted to the South Carolina Department of Corrections and over the next few months and years, her attitude and personality changed from that of “Nurse Hell”, to that of a person trying to help others.

She no longer stereotypically regarded as the “Scum of the Earth”, but whom she MOSTLY considered human beings who may have simply been caught up in circumstances where they made an unfortunate and bad choice.

My daughter doesn’t talk much about bad things that happen to her. But a couple of years later, Little Susan was in a talkative mood about some of the things her step mom had done to her while her dad was in Iraq, and I, ever the one to seize an opportunity, asked her about the time she ran away from home and why she was naked when her uncle found her the next day.

At first, Little Susan said that she didn’t really didn’t want to talk about it, but then the floodgates opened and after she had a good cry, she told me a most incredible story.

Little Susan was running and very scared of the dogs that she could hear chasing her. She could hear the deputies calling her name and see the lights of the helicopter that was looking for her, but she continued to run away from that house as fast as she could.

She came to the banks of a Bayou and was running up and down the bank to the water and along the top of the levee when she saw a stranger. This stranger told her not to be afraid but to do as he would tell her and the dogs would not find her.

This person told Little Susan to take off her clothes, throw them as far as she could into the swamp, then follow him as he walked in a nearby canal and the dogs would go away and not find or harm. My kid is usually very hard to calm down and not THAT trusting of strangers, yet she told me, “Dad, I didn’t think at all. I just did it”.

After they walked in the water awhile, the man told her to come out of the water and showed her a small church off in the distance. He then told her to go to that church, and that if she stayed on the steps of that church, someone she knew and loved would be there to pick her up in the morning.

My kid obeyed this person, and you know the rest of the story except for two small facts: the church where she was found was nearly 10 miles away across that plowed field and another bayou, and my daughter had never seen that man before that night and hasn’t seen him again since. God is indeed good and performed at least 3 miracles that night.

As for the Evil Stepmother? At her house the next day, the sheriff arrested her BOYFRIEND on a felony escape warrant from Indiana, and as soon as her husband returned from IRAQ, he served her with divorce papers – On Christmas Eve, she was in the hospital recovering from both an Oxycontin addiction and a triple bypass, no less. God don’t like ugly!

My wife died from Endometrial Cancer in March 2011. Officiating at her funeral was the Reverend Randy Bowers, a SCDOC alumnus who had heard of my wife from several of his parishioners who lived in our small, conservative southern town, and from quite a few of his former dorm mates.

He would not accept my offered honorarium. At the request of Inmate Representative Committee at the institution where my wife had retired as a Clinical Counselor, the US and State Flags were lowered for three days following her funeral.

My daughter is still mentally challenged and still lives with me. She has accepted her disability as gracefully as she can and goes to as many different churches as she can whenever she wants.

She only stops going to a particular church if they expect her to often stand up and read a passage from the Bible or from a tract, because she is still a little embarrassed that she can’t read all the big words well, but that too will change with time and love. I love her very much

And me? I am me. I do read Ecclesiastes a lot, along with Psalms, Daniel, Revelation and other books, both biblical and secular. Even with my scientific and engineering background, I long ago learned to see God’s thumbprint on everything from our planets orbit, to the beauty of a hummingbird in flight or the design on the back of a seashell.

I also think that “To Infinity and Beyond….” is more profound than the joke that the folks at Pixar intended it to be, and I continue to often thank God for using me as an instrument of His Divine Will. May God Bless!

Filed under: Rev. Calvin

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