When Ronda asked me to share my testimony, I was afraid. Afraid that I didn’t have one to share, that no one would really read it. So I prayed and prayed.
Here goes….my name is Gail Reichelt and I have 3 beautiful children and a wonderful husband of almost 28 years. Our lives have evolved around my son Corey for almost two decades. Corey had Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (muscle weakening disease) and died at the tender age of 21 on April 30, 2011. When he graduated from Snohomish High School, three years ago, I decided to leave my job to be his full-time (paid) care-giver and he became my boss! It was the only decision I could make considering the circumstance. Corey would not have wanted a stranger to take care of him, nor would I.
Let me back up a bit and tell you more about me and how I came to this point in my life. I grew up in Seattle. My family lived across the street from my dad’s boss, Al. They did landscaping together and Al let me ride on the big tractors! I spent more time with Al than I ever did with my own dad. My dad was kind of self-absorbed in his love of hunting & fishing. He was also a drinker, but I never considered he had a problem. It was natural for me to fetch him bourbon & water. (Side note: my dad passed away last year.)
My first recollection of church or God, I must have been about 3 or 4 years old. I think it was the church of the Nazarene. I only remember the juice and cookies that were served. I remember another church once, but just vaguely. My mother told me I was Jewish and that Jews were “GOD’S CHOSEN PEOPLE”. It made me feel special to know that God, whoever He was, chose me. I found out when I was older that we were not Jewish.
I was born with a few issues and had braces on my legs and ear surgery when I was very young. I know that I was a burden to my mom. She always favored my sister (who is 4 years older) and compared me to her often. I can remember her saying, “Why can’t you be like……?” I don’t think it was her intention to be hurtful, it was just her way. She had issues of her own. I remember getting stung by bees (on purpose!) and running to her for help, just to get her attention! (Ouch! What a glutton for punishment!)
My family (including two brothers) spent a lot of time at Al’s house. We celebrated the holidays with him and his wife Marie. We played cards often and sometimes other relatives would come over. We even went on vacations with them, but I don’t recall my dad going…maybe he was fishing.
Al & Marie did not have any children of their own. I was there often enough to be adopted along with my younger brother too. Al had a “candy store” in his basement that we were free to visit whenever we wanted! It was like a small version of Costco! (Eyes growing bigger-no appetite for dinner!) I sat in front of his TV eating one chocolate bar after another…just zoning out.
Al gave me my first Bible, a KJV with a zippered cover. It was very sweet. He inscribed in it for my 10th birthday. Now that I’m thinking about it, he also had pictured books with Bible stories about paradise. I know his wife was Catholic and I’m not sure what Al believed.
Al was very generous to me and bought me whatever I wanted. Perhaps Al was trying to redeem himself when he gave me that Bible. Maybe he was trying to justify what he knew was his own wrong-doing. He had sexually abused me and preyed on my every move for several years. I only have snapshots, frozen pictures in time, in my memory. I know that I was very small when it started and I know that I was a pre-teen when it ended. He watched me from his car onto the school playground and from his house window into my backyard. He would pick me up from school and take me to a burger place where I gorged on the biggest burger, fries and hot fudge sundae that I could order. And somewhere during this time my own father was inappropriate with me. I cringe, to this day, when I feel someone is watching me!
I stopped going over to Al’s house and eventually my parents found out the truth from another neighbor who thought something was going on. Al died when I was 15. My mom blurted the news to me when I was coming through the door from school. I went to my bedroom and cried. I’m not sure why. I had written a poem the night before titled “Darkness”.
My parents moved from that house to a bigger home where my mom still lives. I was in high school and remember a group of kids on the bus talking about a movie they had seen at the Northgate Theater, something about repenting and Jesus. I have a faded memory that I attended one of their meetings and thought I didn’t fit. I didn’t go back.
Fast forwarding through the next decade or so, I wasted a lot of my young adult years looking for love in all the wrong places. I was nightclubbing and dancing, drinking and romancing. I made a lot of bad choices; a lot of regrets. I wish I could redo this part of my life and reap the benefits…like a college education!
I met Ed and we married when I was 29. He was about the only guy I knew that had a steady job and he didn’t owe me money! He was a keeper! We bought a house, shortly after we married in West Seattle where Ed grew up.
When I was about 33 I felt something missing in my life and started attending a Lutheran church because everyone I met went there. I met some great people and I liked my pastors. Took some classes that were offered, became a member and got baptized but I still felt I didn’t fit in. Ed would only go on occasion; he was raised Catholic and felt religion was crammed down his throat.
After our children were born, Ed had a desire to move to the “country.” He wanted land and God delivered ... 2 ½ acres to mow! We landed in Machias and I found another Lutheran church to attend. Again I became a member, got involved and Ed attended sometimes. My neighbors both attended this church too.
Then our lives took a devastating turn. Corey was five when we found out about his disease. Ed wanted to seek out whatever he could to heal Corey. We went to some very strange churches in search of a cure. My mother-in-law agreed to pay for whatever it took to get Corey healed. I even prayed with Ed with his rosary beads. Poor little Corey was so patient through all this nonsense.
Finally Ed was exhausted and he/we decided to give it to God. He didn’t want to go to a Catholic church (Yay!) nor a Lutheran one. So we went church shopping and came upon Machias Community Church (MCC). We really liked Pastor Ron and he really grabbed our attention! (God working through Ron of course!) We learned about a personal relationship with a living God. It wasn’t a religion to put in a box for Sundays. So, this is where God led us and where we continue to grow as Christians.
Sometimes I ask myself, why God allowed all the terrible stuff to happen. I realize my bad choices in my twenties were my choices, but what about the times with Al or my dad? I think the answer is out of that experience I gained a spirit of giving, sensitivity and strength that I would need/use much later. Romans 8:28 comes to mind: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called (chosen) according to His purpose.”
And why did Corey have to endure such a painful life where his body failed him slowly over his short existence? I don’t know, but I will know when I see him again in Heaven. I do know that he was a gift to me and my family. God used him to lead us to Himself. God planted the desire in Ed’s heart to move to Snohomish, He led us to MCC, and continues to lead us in our everyday lives. He also provided for all the expensive needs of Corey in His perfect timing. 1Cor. 1:9 says, God is faithful, who has called (chosen) you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Many of the people in my life have failed me, misguided me, or mistreated me. God has always protected me, led me to the truth and loved me. Where man has failed God has prevailed.
I still have issues to work on; I’m a work in progress. God has given me a great opportunity in not having to find a job right away. I have some time to figure out what I can do with His leading. I struggle with my weight and still use food to comfort me and I don’t always feel like I “fit-in”. My relationship with God isn’t all it could be, but I’m working on it with Him. This is my time now to grieve, work on my health, and my walk with the Lord.
And you know what? My mom wasn’t totally wrong after all! I was chosen! Maybe you are too. If you are reading Ronda’s blog and keep coming back, but don’t know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ here is verse just for you: Rom 10:9 Because if you confess the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.
In closing, I want to thank you Ronda for allowing me to share my testimony and realizing that I actually have one! God bless you Ronda and your sweet family.
|Gail Reichelt Snohomish, WA|
Note from Ronda~
You have been through so much and I cannot even imagine what it would be like to lose your child. I praise God that he has been your source of comfort through these difficult times, and that you have never stopped loving Him. I am so happy that right now Corey has a new body, that works right, and that he can walk, and run, and dance. Thank you for sharing Gail. I am so thankful for all my wonderful friends.