On Sunday, April 26, Thistle Farms was introduced to a new audience... the readers of national newspaper and online presence, The Washington Times.
The story was crafted by gifted writer, Andrea Billups and was visually portrayed by sweet photographer, Barbara L. Salisbury. Capturing the essence of the Nashville-based organization, the article and pictures explained the complexity of the program as well as its simplistic bottom line: love is the strongest force for change in the world.
What was even more touching was the note we received from Andrea the day the article was released.
Twice a year, I travel to Florida where I speak to journalism students. I serve on a dean's advisory council there at the University of Florida where I advise faculty and students on best practices, etc. I am often asked by young students there what my best or favorite stories are to cover. I've been doing this for more than 20 years, but my answer is easy -- even though most of them expect me to say something about the celebrities I've met over the ages.
I always tell them that my favorite stories are about people who manage to redeem themselves, to rise above past transgressions and through hard work and God's grace, manage to make a second chance in this world. And how I love in our country, due in no small part to our faith traditions, that we embrace a comeback, that we like to see a second act, how we don't give up on people or their possibilities.
It was a tremendous blessing to get to visit Nashville and talk to you, Becca and the women who help run the Magdalene program and Thistle Farms. It was an emotional reminder that people are worth redeeming, that we never give up hope that there can be transformation and a better way ahead. It was my deep honor -- and I hope you will convey it for me -- to hear the women's stories and to see them striving to beat addiction, abuse and forge a life full of promise.
All of us have gone through challenges, no doubt, but this message that God and grace can save us -- and the roughest among us -- deeply resonates for me. Keeping the values of Thistle Farms close is a good guide as I push forward in my own life. And I am so very, very grateful for all of you who shared and showed me the way.
I hope my story and Barbara photos and video, do just a tiny bit of justice to your wonderful program. Truly, tho, the honor was all ours and we were touched deeply by everything we saw.
My wish to you in the year ahead is that all your hopes and dreams are resurrected with new life. Many, many thanks!Andrea
What a humbling email to receive from someone who has brought us into a new spotlight and whose words may also inspire and give hope to all those who read it. We are truly grateful for the gifts of Andrea and Barbara and are grateful to share their story with you HERE.