Saturday, May 4 is fast approaching.  My date with a first-ever effort at running a 5K is on the horizon and my preparations have begun.  For a little more background look up my blog on “The Run”. 

The run raises awareness and funds for Mercy Ministries.  Mercy is a program for young girls who need help for various reasons.  This program is important to me because my youngest, Courtney, was a girl who needed help.

Due to circumstances, that I will not disclose, she was in a revolving door, trapped by horrible circumstances and worse choices.  After years of hurt and pain she made the brave choice to confront her challenges.

This meant applying for entry to Mercy Ministries.  For now, I will skip the amazing details of how God placed Mercy in my path.  What matters most is that Courtney had to come to grips with the need for help and volunteer to go because, as most of you know, you cannot change unless you recognize the need and commit to it. 

I will pause here to tell you that the worst day of my life was driving my precious daughter to Nashville and then leave her.  I felt like Abraham offering Isaac.  I had to place my complete and total trust in God to use Mercy Ministries and the staff to help my daughter find north on her compass.  

On Tuesday, July 10, 2012 I placed my daughter’s bags in the foyer for check-in.  I then met with the program director, toured the facility, spent a few moments with the founder, Nancy Alcorn, visited with a counselor…then, I said good-bye to my daughter.   I am crying as I write.  The pain of that moment will never leave me. 

I cried the entire drive back home.  I would walk into her bedroom and do the same.  Though it was bittersweet, just being in her room helped me to feel like I was with her. 

I saw my daughter a few times in the next seven and half months.  God provided me with friends and those friends offered me a townhouse so my daughter and I could be in a more home-like setting.  Our time together was priceless.  Each time, I saw progress.  Slowly, the layers of pain were being stripped away.  In those long weeks when I could not see her, we were allowed to speak on the phone twice each weekend.  We also exchanged letters…yes, old fashioned mail.  I decided that I would create for her a “newspaper” where everyone on the family could contribute articles and photos.  I kept her up-to-date on her favorite sports teams and offered encouragement with scripture and special notes written by dear friends.

She came home for Christmas, but she had to return to Mercy to finish what God had started.  She did not want to go back to Mercy and when she did return to the Mercy home she did not want to stay.  I reminded her that “He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it.”  She endured the first couple of weeks of returning to Nashville, and then settled in to finish her race.

On Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 2:15 PM (CST) Courtney graduated from Mercy Ministries.  She greeted me with tears and the words, “Daddy, you have your little girl back.”

She has settled back in to life at home.  She is “a new creation in Christ.” We have little bumps in the road, just like all parents and kids, but I have my daughter back.  She is as she always was…the answer to my prayers.  I wanted, prayed for, my last child to be a girl and God gave me Courtney.  Daddies and their little girls…sigh. 

She has much of her past sorted out and placed in perspective.  The things she does not fully grasp she has given to God.  She takes classes online right now and will return to school in the fall and graduate on time, which given everything she has gone through is as amazing a feat as anything.  She obtained a 3.75 GPA while at Mercy; she entered with a 1.4.

Altogether…this is why I am running.  There are hurting girls out there and Mercy Ministries does not charge…girls are admitted regardless of their financial status.  I figure that my daughter’s stay cost about $45,000.  On average there are forty girls at a time in one of the homes of Mercy Ministry.

You can do the math.

They are going to build a home in Florida, in Santa Rosa…yes, a Mercy Ministries of our very own.  That’s what the Run4Mercy is for, to bring awareness and funds for the project. 

I prayerfully ask you; if this has touched your heart please consider joining me in the run or making a donation.  Remember, this is going right to the project.  Some of you can give big, some little…but each and every dollar will change, possible save, a life.  I have a lofty goal and I would appreciate your help.  You can look up Courtney's name and donate to her run or mine.  It all goes to the same place. 

That is the greatest investment you can make. 

Should you decide to join me in the run look for my team, The Morning Show with Preston Scott.