Yesterday, while the rest of the country's newspapers probably had headlines about Russian spies, oil spills, or presidents, the Cumberland Times-News dedicated its front page to prayer. Oh, it might not have known that's what it was doing. But we did.
See, the front page story yesterday was about how one of our own was coming home from Johns Hopkins hospital.
Those of you who know me fairly well have heard about Vanessa. She's 16, the daughter of my sister's dear friend, and a country girl through and through. Well, a couple months ago she was roping a steer and got dragged and trampled. They rushed her to hospital and she was soon heading for Baltimore. The initial fears were about internal organ damage.
The people took to their knees. Everyone I know around here contacted everyone we know elsewhere to get people praying. The doctors weren't sure she'd live through the night.
The next concern was brain damage. Vanessa was in a coma, and everyone knows brain injuries are unpredictable. For weeks she lay there, sleeping. We prayed that God would use that time of rest to rebuild her from the inside out.
During this time my sister made countless trips down the road to visit Vanessa and her mom. She came back with updates, prayer requests, and an assurance. "I prayed before I went back to see her," my sister said, "and I got the feeling that she's going to be okay. Might take awhile, but she's going to be okay."
Vanessa started coming out of the coma. It was a slow process, and an MRI revealed separation of the hemispheres of her brain. She would squeeze a hand but couldn't open her eyes. Then she could sit up, but not open her eyes.
We kept praying. My mom prayed, "Let her next hurdle be speech. Let her say, 'Mom,' Lord."
Two days later we got the report that Vanessa said "Mom." The next day she was singing the Barney song. The day after that, a country tune. She was recognizing people and greeting them by name. Still, the doctors were worried. Some of her behaviors indicated severe brain damage, the kind people don't recover from.
When has that ever stopped the Lord?
A couple weeks ago, we got the report that Vanessa was eating, out shopping, learning to walk again, doing art projects, and stealing her mom's cell phone to call her brother and beg to be taken home.
Yesterday, she came. And Cumberland praised God.
There are times I miss the culture and opportunities available in Annapolis or other larger areas, but you know, in times like these I'm so very glad to live in a small town. I love that everyone here knows that we're praying for a teen named Vanessa. I love that her recovery has made the front page.
Most of all, though, I love my God, who hears our cries and responds.