Howdy, all. I’m Rebecca Trotter, writer at The Upside Down World and a friend of Linda’s. She agreed to let me write a post here in order to share a bit more about the woman behind the poetry, worship and spiritual insights she shares here. Some of you may not realize this, but today Linda is a homeless single mom with autism and the heart of a superhero. 7 years, ago, however, Linda was living the dream.
She was a successful businesswoman, entrepreneur, and activist with 5 kids, a husband, a beautiful house on a hobby farm. However, when her 4 older children were nearly ready to leave the nest and her youngest was just a pre-schooler, she stumbled on child pornography on her husband’s computer. Faced with the evidence of children being harmed, she walked away from everything but her children in order to build a case against her husband and get help for the victimized children in those pictures. Not only did she give up the house, the business, her church, most of her relationships, the money and everything that went with it, Linda and her youngest daughter were forced to go into hiding during and after the trial due to threats from people associated with her husband. Her husband was found guilty on 397 counts of child sexual abuse in February of 2011.
With the trial done and her children safe, Linda was left to start a new life on the other side of the country from nothing. However, within months Linda was hospitalized with uncontrollable bleeding in need of emergency blood transfusions just to survive. Her daughter was put into foster care while the doctors struggled to figure out what was wrong with her. They performed an emergency hysterectomy to preserve her life and keep her from bleeding, but her health continued to deteriorate. Doctors tried to figure out what was wrong with her – cancer? A bleeding disorder? A rare metabolic problem?
Eventually, doctors decided that Linda was suffering from an autoimmune disorder which was causing her body to turn on itself and destroy healthy tissues. They informed her that she could expect this to cause permanent disability and that she would never be able to work again and would struggle to care for her own children without help. Linda refused to accept this grim prognosis. She battled child services to have her daughter returned to her. She went on disability and set about rebuilding a life for herself, returning to her areas of expertise in child advocacy and helping autistic children. She helped her youngest daughter, who also has autism, begin a charity called We 3 Kids which raised money to help children in need and to pay for her to attend a private school able to offer a learning environment that met her needs as an autistic child.
Unfortunately, disability payments don’t come anywhere near enough to meet actual living expenses. Maintaining housing became an ongoing battle. At times Linda and her daughter resorted to sleeping in a tent or a camper owned by a friend, without electricity, access to the internet or any of the tools needed to continue trying to build a new life for herself. Along the way, she and her daughter repeatedly had everything stolen or lost until Linda was left with one pair of pants and two shirts to her name. Under these circumstances, still working to heal from her autoimmune disorder, the projects which Linda and her daughter were building fell apart. They would couch surf among friends when able and earlier this spring simply went to a shelter for street people and prayed for the best.
The thing to know about Linda is that even as her life fell completely apart and the rug was snatched out from under her over and over, she just keeps getting stronger, braver and more loving. I’ve watched Linda walk through hell and pull herself back out repeatedly. I’ve witnessed her raise a few bucks to buy sweaters for kids in an orphanage in Africa when she had one pair of pants to her name. She will and has given her last pennies to friends in desperate situations so they could avoid falling into the sort of dead-end situations she’s been facing herself for the last few years. She stops to pray and cry with homeless moms on the street. Worships with abandon at her church on weekends. Took college courses without even having access to a computer or a home. Gives everything to make sure her daughter is at school, clothed, fed and loved no matter what the circumstance. All it took was a hotel room to work from and Linda’s already started writing again here on her blog. This woman is amazing.
Thankfully, Linda caught the attention of a housing case worker at the shelter who was able to secure her a and her daughter a spot in a hotel and a housing voucher good for a year’s rent. She’s still facing an uphill battle to find a rental willing to take her voucher, after discovering that a former landlord had lodged a filing claiming unpaid rent which she no longer has the paperwork to disprove. However, the good news is that by God’s grace, through her own steady discipline and with the help of a few good friends who have come around her, Linda is at least finally healed in body, mind and spirit enough to begin to dream and rebuild again. Because of her illness, Linda’s body won’t ever be able
to withstand the rigors of a full-time, all day, everyday work schedule she can’t control that would come with working for someone else. However, in her previous life she successfully built businesses using her artistic and design skills and that is what she would like to do again. Which this is where you get to be a superhero for a real life superhero and her daughter.
Linda’s plan now is to use her skills to start a portrait photography business specializing in kids with autism. Because of her past work with families of kids with autism, she already has contacts inside that community to begin building a client list and a targeted marketing plan. A new website is starting to be built for her as you read this now. She’s already managed to get her hands on a professional grade camera so all she needs now is a few more pieces of professional equipment, some space to work and resources for implementing a marketing plan to get going.
I believe with all my heart that the time has come for the world to give back to Linda so she can soar free once again. To that end, I’ve set up a Gofundme account for her to collect funds needed to get her business up and running. If you can contribute, that’s amazing and she will literally be forever grateful. But even if you can contribute financially, please pass on this post or the link to her Gofundme page so perhaps someone who is able will see it. If you’ve been reading the things she writes, you already know that this is a woman has an amazing heart and a love for God that won’t stop. Life’s been incredibly hard and unfair for her, but there’s not an ounce of bitterness or self-pity in her. Will you be a superhero for a real life superhero and help?