The Resilience of Children

The Resilience of Children

Dear Patty,

I feel so grateful that you published my last posting on your webpage. That is so awesome. I do hope that it has helped someone.

This is a continuation of my bike trip. There is more to come. This is an especially long post 1764 words. But, it is what it is, and I hope this will help many. I would love to inspire people to realize their dreams and to live a wonderful life. Life can be so much more than what we hope or plan for.




The Resilience of Children



Penny Fleckenstein


Continuation of my series on biking the Great Allegheny Passage

Mark’s whole mood changed from anticipating the adventure to desperation. He announced that a major part of the tripplet had fell off the bike somewhere on the road between Pittsburgh and Buena Vista during transport. Our vehicle support had all left us–Beth’s Dad and Tim who had picked up Mark and Zachary and me. We were assembling the tripplet bike and making sure all was set on both tandems–we’d have to replace my back brake. I felt thankful that we were in a shelter just in case it rained. I also felt thankful because I had brought Zachary’s IPad Mini to help keep the children from getting too frustrated because I knew there would be inevitable delays. I thought of how often my sister and I had waited as children through many flight delays and cancellations. How both are unavoidable parts of life and when traveling.

Throughout the trip, Beth and I had to explain to our children that patience is necessary. It’s better to have patience and be safe than to be impatient and unsafe. It seems to have been a reoccurring theme in our adventure. Exercising our patience muscle is hard even as adults. how can we not expect it to be hard for our children?

Finally, after a couple trips to the port-a-john, and a trip to the store to buy bread, we were on our way to Connellsville. We knew we had to make a stop at West Newton to buy bike parts and fix Mark’s tripplet when on the trail, another part of the bike fell and had to be replaced. Another good reason to start near a bike shop. Only three miles into our excursion, Beth and I fed our children ice cream at Mark’s insistence. We had planned to feed them lunch, and as they were enjoying their ice cream, Beth teased Mark about having stock in the Yough Twister. Zachary still laughs about going three miles and being “forced” to eat ice cream instead of lunch. He’d been looking forward to pizza since he’s never had real food at the Yough Twister.

The stop at the bike shop went well. Beth even saved us $5 because the man at the bike shop wanted to eat his lunch. Beth and I marveled at how God shows us he’s here for us by the discounts we’ve been able to receive. We ate our snacks knowing we weren’t going to have a meal until dinner at Wendy’s in Connellsville. It felt good knowing that the tripplet was in good condition to go on, and we had our back brake to put on whenever Mark felt he had the time. It was a hot day. Riding on the bike felt like a relief from the hot sun with the breeze surrounding us offering its cooling comfort. Absolutely heavenly!

18 miles down! Over halfway, I felt so elated! Strange how a little over a year ago, I thought 20 miles was a lot, but now, 20 miles is nothing. “Easy Peazy,” as Zachary says. We stopped at another picnic shelter near a playground, a port-a-john that flushes, and bleachers. The kids asked if they could play on the IPad, and I told them “No,” because I felt we were going to spend relatively little time there. I was looking forward to Wendy’s and a night at the Melody Motor Lodge. They wanted to play in the playground, but Mark wanted them to have energy for the rest of the bike ride, so they decided to climb the bleachers.

I said, “Beth, can you find my nuts for me?”

As she was looking for them, I heard her yell, “Get off the damn bleachers!”

To me, it seemed like it happened simultaneously, but Beth told me the kids got off the bleachers as she had asked. Then Moriah ran right back on. She fell injuring her lip and her mouth. To me, as a Mom, seeing a child get hurt is when time stands still. My friend and her child were suffering, and I felt totally helpless. I prayed as I often do when I feel helpless. I knew that Beth had the wisdom and the strength to take care of the emergency. We were all focused on Moriah while Gabe and Zachary gleefully attempted to flush bloody tissues down the toilet. Mark was calling around asking for prayers and found out there’s an urgent care near the motel.

After the bleeding stopped, which felt like forever to Me, Beth asked Moriah if she felt she could do another 15 miles. She said she could. Mark had Beth ride around on my bike for a little while by herself to make sure she felt confident and stable enough to be able to ride with me. When Beth and Moriah were ready, we continued on with Gabe and Moriah behind Mark, Zachary behind Hayden and me with Beth as my captain.

It was hot and muggy with insects all around. It seemed when we took bathroom breaks and stood still, the air stood still. The hot air felt oppressive. I think Gabe was so enthusiastic about having Zachary along to play with, he kept hugging him and touching him. Gabe is ten years old but does not have the maturity or capabilities of a ten-year-old due to his global approxia. He is absolutely sweet, loveable and adorable in an innocent kinda way. He just loves Zachary to pieces. He usually doesn’t mean to cause any harm.

Beth said, “Gabe, stop hanging on to your friend. It’s too hot!” She said it to him at least two or three times during the last fifteen miles.

A little while later, Beth got all excited about something and started to hug all over me, I yelled, with a great big smile on my face.

“Beth, stop hanging on to your friend. It’s too hot!” We laughed hilariously every time we thought about that incident.

As I observed Moriah consistently pedaling, I thought of the pain I was in and the pain she was in. How it hurt me and Beth to know she was hurting. The better we pedaled the sooner it would be to get her to the urgent care. We had to get there before it closed. We had to get medical attention. The more miles we put behind us, the closer we were to a doctor.

I thought of the many children who are abandoned, left to die, all over the world. I pondered the plight of those in concentration camps and internment camps around World War II and those who are refugees now. I’m in awe of the survivors–the children who climb up mountains, walk for miles and miles to reach freedom and safety. I was in awe of Moriah as she pedaled getting ever closer to our goal of Connellsville. In fact, Moriah and Zachary did very little complaining about biking the whole expedition. I’m so proud of them.

It amazes me that children live through so much. I feel they’re on this Earth to be loved and so many do not experience love. So many are born or placed in bad situations and must endure starvation, poverty, abuse, homelessness, bullying, threats and intimidation. They must suffer through everything with no control or having little say as to their plight. They do not have the knowledge nor the skills to survive, yet they do.

Beth did get Moriah to the doctor but not till the next day. She arrived at the clinic at 8:10 p.m. ten minutes after they had closed. Beth took appropriate measures to keep infection away. They went first thing in the morning. We had been told by several people that it was the only medical facility around. Beth said she didn’t see any blue H around town indicating the presence of a hospital. We did, however, see lots of postings of the ten commandments. Only when Beth took Moriah to the doctor in the morning did we find out there is a hospital emergency room close by. Next trip we won’t rely on the trail guide for our information. We will search for hospitals and medical facilities online beforehand.

Moriah and Zachary fared well during the four-day trip. They pedaled fairly consistently, and all our children who were on the expedition made it to the finish. I’m so impressed with Moriah’s positive attitude and Zachary’s drive. Not once did Zachary insist that he go home before it was over. He was excited about all the different places we stayed, the animals and people we saw on the trail, and our journey up Big Savage Mountain. Beth and I concluded that people had made a bigger deal than what it really is and that the mountain is quite doable. “Not horrible,” Beth said.

When we asked the children their favorite part of the trip, Gabe and Zachary said flushing the port-a-john. Moriah said she liked seeing the animals.

God wants us to see things as little children and have faith in Him as they do. He wants us to be excited and enthusiastic about what comes next and the changes He has in store for us. Having our children around is a temporary state, but we can learn so much from watching them. One of the greatest rewards as a Mom is to watch our children sleep at the end of the day. My heart is filled with so much gratitude, pride, love, and admiration of them. *** A Gift from the Lord


“children are a gift from the lord,” My friend Beth says,

But I think of them as borrowed

We’re entrusted them by God

We’re to teach them joy, love, and praise

to prepare them for many tomorrows

so they nourish, nurture, and show other’s the love that comes from our God

For, as they grow older, and mature into adults, they move away from our lives but hopefully not from our ways.


“These changes are tough,” this Mom sadly says,

“But God has entrusted me with them and they must grow

and their Father from Heaven will smile at me and nod

“They were never meant to stay with you, just meant for you to raise.”

I will always treasure the times we’ve had, and all the love that flows

Their resilience will be in them here at home and when they go abroad

the love will spread when it’s time for them to have their children to faithfully raise.

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