I celebrated my 60th birthday in a manner different than most. I walked and biked across a portion of northern Michigan, ending at Lighthouse PCC in Manistee, where I’m the director. I stopped at other pregnancy care centers along the way.
My goal was to raise money to pay down what remained of the center’s land contract. My friend Deb Roberson served as my SAG (support and gear) wagon driver.
Monday, September 12, 2016 – We began our journey in Gaylord. Before heading down the road, we met with Julie Holmes, Director of New Life Pregnancy Resource Center, and one of her board members. It seemed appropriate to start by giving glory to the One who saved me, so I shared my testimony with them. The sun was shining brightly as I started my trek to the Moms and Tots Center in Ellsworth – 35 miles away.
Along the way, I talked to the Lord, sang favorite songs, and thanked God for all He’s given me. About 12 miles into the walk a local television station came upon my path and did a wonderful interview. I was able to share about the sanctity of human life and the importance of pregnancy centers in our communities.
At the end of the day, we arrived at the Moms and Tots PCC in Ellsworth. I looked forward to a hot bath and a soft bed on which to lay my head.
Tuesday, September 13 – After an interview with a radio station, we met for prayer with Gayle Kroon, director of Moms and Tots. The village of Ellsworth has a population of 342, but the Christian community there serves the region through the PCC, a family service resource center, and a restaurant serving breakfast and lunch for the price of a donation (but only if you’re able to pay).
It was cold, windy, and rainy for the 40-mile trek to Traverse City. I prayed for endurance and a good attitude. My surroundings were beautiful, with rolling farmland for miles. Deb kept me hydrated and supplied with snacks.
About 17 miles into my walk it started raining harder and the wind was whipping right in my face. I took refuge at a farm market. While there I received a phone call from a Traverse City radio station. I shared the work Lighthouse does in our community, the love and support we give women considering abortion, and how we walk with them through their pregnancy and beyond. It was the greatest interview I’ve ever done.
The weather hadn’t improved, so we got my bike out of the truck and I began pedaling – all uphill. I kept repeating Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” And He did! The remaining 24 miles went quickly despite the weather.
Thanks to the interviews and publicity, drivers recognized me. They’d blow their horns, wave, and yell encouragement out their windows. My spirits were high and God was near. It was as though He pedaled my bike!
I arrived at my lodging for the night. A friend and former colleague donated a room at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa with a gorgeous view. A rainbow graced the sky as Deb and I looked out our window – a reminder of God’s promises. At about 1:00 am, we woke to a loud pop! The tube in my tire had blown.
Wednesday, September 14 – While my bike was getting fixed, we stopped at the Pregnancy Care Center in Traverse City. After prayer, I was on my way. I had 38 miles to log this beautiful and sunny day! My heart felt light and full of gratitude. I spent the morning singing praises to God and waving to cars as they passed with shouts of encouragement. My husband and sister-in-law met us for lunch – a big boost!
But then I began having excruciating pain. For five miles or so my feet throbbed! I could barely make it to my next rest stop where I changed footgear. Another mile went by and I was still in pain.
I got on my bike, hoping to make up lost time, but my feet burned and my body ached. I cried and prayed. Negative thoughts took over and discouragement set in, yet I tried to thank God for the beauty of my surroundings, and for His provisions in my life. I didn’t want defeat to conquer me.
I asked Deb how much farther, and she said, “Five miles.” They were longest five miles of my life!
Dismounting at Crystal Mountain Resort, I could barely walk. My husband met me and his hug felt so good. He looked over my bike and found the brake was stuck, which had made it so hard to pedal. In my room, I laid on the bed with tears streaming down my face. After a long soak in the tub and prayer with my husband, I slept well.
Thursday, September 15 – I awoke feeling refreshed with no pain. It would be a short day, only 22 miles. My new SAG driver would be Sue Johnson, a good friend and the founder of Lighthouse PCC. She arrived early for a time of prayer, and we thanked God for the healing of my body. The day was sunny with perfect temperatures. I rode past rolling fields with horses and cows, and freshly mowed lawns. I walked 7 miles before mounting my bike to my own home where I could sleep in my own bed. It was all downhill!
Friday September 16 – The morning of my birthday, I lay in bed praying. Excitement filled my soul. In a few hours, I’d complete my mission. Through strength from God I would complete my journey of 147 miles.
This was my shortest jaunt – only 17 miles. My husband met me at the 12-mile mark, put my bike in his truck, and walked into town with me. He then went ahead to alert everyone at Lighthouse PCC that I was nearly there.
Tears of joy, relief, and gratitude streamed down my face that last mile. As I approached the center, the local newspaper met me, asking questions and taking photos. People hugged and congratulated me. As I looked at their faces, I couldn’t help but rejoice with them for the Lord’s goodness.
My trek raised over $12,000. We have just under $38,000 to go, with the rest due June of 2019. This journey was my personal contribution in honor of our supporters, our clients, and the babies in heaven because of abortion.
After refreshments and well wishes, my husband and I drove home. He noticed I was quiet and asked what I was thinking. I said, “I wonder what God is going to have me do for my 65th birthday.”