Beliefnet
A Touch of Encouragement

The letter sat in the mailbox nearly all day, because I was just feeling too crummy to go outside and check the mail
Yes, the flu season has finally caught up with me. If it’s this bad after getting a flu shot, I can’t imagine what it’s like without having got one. At first I tried to ignore the symptoms and “work through” the flu. I took the vitamins and herbs. Then finally I broke down and took the serious meds from the doctor. And I’m still fighting this thing, like so many people seem to be this year.


So yesterday, I realized that nothing was going to change until I relented and simply crawled into bed and waited for it to go away. Which I did. I canceled all my appointments and curled up with a bunch of pillows. Cleo, the dog, who hasn’t left my side since the first ominous cough, made herself comfortable at the foot of the bed, and I prepared myself for a long, healing nap.
Then I made a fatal mistake. I picked up the remote control.
I never really had time before to pay much attention to daytime television. But yesterday I lay in bed for hours, clicking and clicking, cycling through channel after channel of people suing each other and throwing chairs at each other for sleeping with their sisters, shopping networks convincing me to buy the last belt I’ll ever need, discovering that a genuine tanzanite ring can be mine for $29.95, and the truth about what NOT to wear.
I saw a man sentenced to 57 years in prison for murdering his pregnant girlfriend, two “journalists” on an entertainment “news” show made fun of a troubled actor, and a young woman got a make-over that saved her from looking like – horrors! – a soccer mom.
In a few hours lying in bed watching television, I was nearly convinced that my dry skin, my lifeless hair, and my bathroom tile could all be revived with simple, painless procedures. I learned that denim is still a fashion “must” and that I could buy 900 acres of land in Texas for fifty dollars down and no monthly payments.
I spent the rest of the afternoon clicking around in a hopeless search for something more encouraging than a new cure for cellulite. I came close when I stumbled onto “pet injury coverage” now being offered by Progressive. Cleo, however, was not impressed.
Finally, I found something worth watching for more than a few seconds. A biography of an Ohio State and Cleveland Browns football coach named Paul Brown. I’m not a big football fan, but something caught my attention. Apparently when he coached his college students during the Great Depression in the 1930’s, he discovered that his athletes were so poor that some of them were eating only tomatoes day after day. It was the beginning of the “booster club,” an organization to support and literally feed young people while giving them something to believe in and fight for.
At that moment, my husband walked in and handed me the day’s mail which he had retrieved from the mailbox. In it was the letter. The letter I’d forgotten that we were expecting. We had taken David Kuo’s challenge to his readers on his Beliefnet blog “J-Walking.” He had just returned from a visit with Compassion International in Uganda. His remarkable journey is worth reading, and in it he challenged us to adopt a child through Compassion. We did and now I was holding a photo of our new little friend, Willy.
Willy is a handsome little boy, with beautiful dark eyes and a brave smile that’s trying to look much older than his seven years. From his Compassion profile, he lives with his grandmother on an impoverished island in the Caribbean. He lives in a tiny wooden house with a cement floor. He eats beans and rice and plantains. His biggest chore at home is carrying the water. He has plenty of time to do that, since he has no school to attend.
I stared at his picture for a long time. Those eyes. That shy little smile. Those baggy little second-hand denim pants. “Denim is still a fashion MUST” screamed the television.
I turned off the television and put away the remote control. I started feeling better right away.

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