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The Healing Power of Unconditional Love

Seventy-six abused or neglected kids find a home in the unlikeliest of places.

By Donna Martin, Center, Texas

As appeared in

All the rest of that day my mind just wouldn’t let it go. What good was I really doing? That afternoon, when Terri walked in the door, reeking of cigarette smoke, I was at my limit.

“Terri, have you been smoking?” I demanded, much louder than I had intended. Still, I was ready for a battle. For lies and evasion. For attitude.

Terri looked right at me. I was shocked to see tears in her eyes. “Yes, Mom, I have,” she said, her voice quivering. Sometimes the truth will do that to your voice. The thing that got me, though, was that one beautiful word: Mom.

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God had not just given me a daughter, he’d given Terri a mother, just like he’d given me a mother to love me no matter what. Love that was unconditional, love that could be trusted.

I pulled her close and hugged her as hard as I could. “I promise I won’t smoke ever again, as long as I live in your house,” she said. And you know something? She never did, not once. And she really got her act together at school too.

So how is it all working out? Terri is 23 now and works in Shreveport. Mercedes, she’s 20 and went to college for two years. She wants to be a social worker so she can help other children in the system. Joshua will start college in the fall and Tyler is a high-school junior.

Of the 76 kids little old Possum Trot has adopted, almost all have graduated from high school. They’re working full-time jobs at the flooring plant or at Tyson, like us, or studying in school or raising kids of their own.

Some people say it’s a miracle. If it is, it’s a two-way miracle. We gave them all the love we had and ended up with more love to share.

That’s something Mama would have understood. Every child is special, every child deserves to be loved. Even if it is in a little town back in the woods, with no paved roads, no stoplight, just a cool sweet Texas breeze that blows in when you least expect it.


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