Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Jackie Gordon Lehto

This posting is going to be quite different than all of my previous ones. At Iron Mountain we had seen in a local paper an article which noted that a woman, Jackie Lehto, was traveling across the Upper Peninsula on her bike to raise funds for domestic abuse. To our pleasant surprise on Saturday evening, while attending services at Sharon Lutheran in Bessemer, we learned that Jackie was speaking at the church Monday evening. We made it a point, then, to get back from our hiking at the Porcupines State Park in order to hear her speak. She had a horrifying story to tell of suffering abuse at the hands of her father during her childhood, as well as domestic abuse from two of her ex-husbands during her adult life. It was with the aid of many counselors, several spiritual advisers, as well as one hospitalization, that she finally received the help she so badly needed. She was then able to climb out of the resulting recurrent bouts of sadness and depression brought on by the abuse. In her message she also gave a powerful testimony to the grace and love of God. She has learned in her faith journey that God is always with her and frees her to move from sadness to hope. This is her second trip to get her story out. In 2004 she biked a total of 2000 miles. This year her goal was 800 miles in 18 days. She chose the number 18 because it is by the age of 18 years that one in three girls, as well as one in seven boys, are abused. In my lifetime there have been two women whom I knew to have been abused. Hopefully now I have better insight into helping such women should the opportunity arise again. I also am now more aware and appreciative of the important role domestic abuse shelters play in the lives of these women. Fortunately Jackie's story ends well. Besides being happily married, she is now a proud mother and grandmother, as well as a successful home economics teacher for special needs children.

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