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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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ATHLETES FOOT

Alice had been through this many times before. She could not remember how often her hopes were raised only to have them dashed to the floor. The pattern was always the same. First, there wa the call to leave the dorm room she shared with others at the orphanage. Then there was the wail outside of the superintendent's office, listening to the muffled voices discussing her behind the closed door. Words like "slow" and "difficult" came through often. Finally, there was the inch-by-inch scrutiny that made her feel more like a specimen under a microscope than the homeless. parentless girl that she was. She hated the women who looked at her the way they did, like a piece of meat hanging in a butcher's shop. They all smelled like lilacs and Alice hated lilacs.

Bad memories came back as she now stood under the searching stares of the young man and woman in front of her. She remembered how one lady would not even look at her after she saw how poorly her dress fit her. Another did not want to have anything to do with her because she stuttered and the servants would only laugh at her. Yet another was afraid that Alice's clubfoot would make her too clumsy to be a good serving girl. Tears welled up as she remembered how she was once slapped when she tripped and her hands brushed against the lilac-smelling woman's soft fur coat.

Alice felt very self-conscious in front of this couple. The woman's hair was soft and radiant and Alice's was dirty and tear-stained. In vain, Alice tried to hide her misshapen foot behind the good one. The pretty young lady sat erect in front of Alice. The folds of her long dress reached neatly to the floor. Slowly, the tall, handsome man walked around Alice. At intervals he would stop, glance towards his wife and raise an eyebrow as a thin smile barely traced itself on his lips. He circled Alice a couple of times and then went to the side of his wife. Not a word was spoken as they looked deep into one another's eyes for the longest time. Finally, he turned to the superintendent, who sat behind the mahogany desk, and said, "Yes, she's the one. We would like to have her." The superintendent shook his head in disbelief.

Alice was stunned. "Y-y-y-ou m-m-mean y-y-you want me t-t-to b-b-be your s-s-serving g-ggirl?" she asked.

"No, Alice," the pretty lady said. "We want you to be our daughter."  Alice could not believe what she had just heard. No one had ever said that to her before. Often she had dreamed about what it would be like having a mother and a father and a home. "It can't be true," she said to herself. She wanted them to tell her again. "You really want me to be your daughter...to live with you in your house?" Alice was not even aware she did not stammer a bit.

"Yes," the handsome man said. "We've never had any children. My wife and I have so much love to give, and we want to give that love to you. We want you to be happy."

"But why me?" Alice asked, remembering the many times she was turned down before by the others. The pretty lady stood up and smiled at Alice. Slowly she reached down and lifted her floor-length skirt and revealed her own malformed foot. Softly, lovingly and understandingly, she said to Alice. "Today, we want you to be our child. Please, Alice, let us love you."

"Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. " (Hebrews 4:14-16).

For His Cause,
Tim Woodward