I had been the chapter director in Raleigh/Durham for slightly more than a month when my Family Coach Supervisor called to tell me one of our moms was in the hospital and needed someone to sit with and advocate for her.
I walked into that hospital room on a Thursday in November of 2021 not knowing what to expect. Jaida and I had never met before, and I wanted to do my best to make a hard day more comfortable for her. As everyone knows, emergency rooms are slow moving. In between tests and nurse check ins, we began to get to know each other.
We swapped stories about our kids and shared photos. We discussed her history and where she was hoping to be one day. We talked about faith, views on God, and church. I invited her to go to church with my family sometime at The Summit. She chose to let me in and showed great kindness and strength. By the time we left the hospital, I knew that I would do anything I could to support her.
As I dropped her off, she asked if I meant it – that I would take her and her son to church. So we made plans for that Sunday. Over the next six months, I picked Jaida and Jeremiah up most Sundays to go to church with my family. We would discuss the sermon on the way back to her house. I found myself learning more about God just listening to her perspective of the day’s message. Sometimes there were challenging topics and little disagreements. But through those conversations, we built trust. We could say the hard things that needed to be said and still be ok.
Over time, I noticed a shift in Jaida. She seemed to have a renewed sense of hope for the future. She was able to find joy even when circumstances weren’t going the way she hoped. She was making choices that aligned with the truth of the Gospel and what it meant in her life.
It seemed like every time Jaida was at church with us, someone was getting baptized. She shared with me that she had trusted God, but she had never been baptized. Jaida asked if I would help her through the process at my church The Summit. She was ready to take the next step in her faith journey.
On June 26, 2022, Jaida was baptized! She asked me to go up with her – and as a huge bonus – I was able to be the one who baptized her. It was a beautiful moment. Several members of her circle of support were there, along with people she had met at church, and most importantly, Jeremiah. It is so important to Jaida that Jeremiah see and bear witness to her faith journey. She is a wonderful mom and strives daily to forge a new path for her son. She wants him to grow up knowing that it wasn’t through her own strength that change occurred, but only through her trust and faith in Christ. The hope and belief that God is at work in all things – even, and maybe especially the difficult things – is the legacy she wants for her life.
Walking with Jaida and Jeremiah has been one of the greatest joys of my life. They truly are a part of our family. Just last week my 7 year old daughter asked if Jaida and Jeremiah were coming to an event with us “because they’re basically our family now.” We are making plans for the holidays and Jaida counts me as one of Jeremiah’s ‘aunties.’
It has been wonderful to walk with Jaida not only through difficulty and crisis, but to be able to celebrate with her as well. That’s the part that can be easy to overlook – yes, we walk with parents on their worst days, but we also get to experience the best days with them too.
Written by: Lyn Ballard (Chapter Director for Greater Raleigh-Durham)