Several years ago, I started a Snapchat tradition with my kids that we call “Church Feet”. Since they were older and we weren’t able to attend church together very often, on Sundays I would snap a picture of my feet and label it “Church Feet”, before sending it to them. My hope was that they were also in church and would send a picture back of their own Church Feet.
Over time, this little game of ours started to spread. It wasn’t just my kids who were sending me pictures of their feet on Sundays anymore. I started receiving Snaps from my mom and sister in Michigan, and even a few of my friends. Among these friends were Russell and Gina Ralston. Russell is a 2013 graduate of His Way and since then, he and Gina have become my very dear friends. Even though they now live 3 hours away, they have been sending me Snaps of their feet every Sunday for several years.
Time together with loved ones is special. The little moments can turn into cherished memories and inside jokes, and they can be the things that help us stay connected when we can’t be together. For me, one of those little things is “Church Feet”.
But what started as a fun tradition to stay connected with my kids while we were apart turned into something much more profound.
Around the time the pandemic began, Gina was diagnosed with cancer. What started out as a small dot on the bottom of her foot that was originally mistaken for a wart- began to quickly spread until it had consumed most of her foot. Yet, she and Russell kept sending me their “Church Feet” snaps- which were now four feet on a couch, one of them wrapped in bandages, watching church service on TV. Their faith and resilience were inspiring, and I was moved by their determination to stay connected to God and to each other, even when times were tough.
At the beginning of last year, Gina’s doctors gave her the devastating news that she likely had only 3-6 months left to live. By the summer, the decision was made to amputate her leg, which was now covered in cancer, to try and alleviate some of her pain. When I saw her in August, I genuinely thought it might be for the last time.
At that time, the Ralston’s “Church Feet” was usually just two feet – Russell’s – as Gina was too sick to attend with him.
But then, in a true testament to the power of faith and medicine, something miraculous happened. Gina’s doctor found a new clinical trial targeting her exact cancer mutation, and the results were almost immediate. The cancer began to shrink!
The Snaps started to show 3 feet as Gina started to feel well enough to attend services again, even minus one of her legs. And then finally, she received a prosthetic leg recently and now there are 4 “Church Feet” once again!
Gina’s journey has taught me so much about faith, hope, and the power of connection. Even when things seem impossible, we can find strength in each other and in our shared beliefs. The love and support of family, friends, and community can make all the difference in the world. And sometimes, even the smallest traditions can have the biggest impact.
So, to Russell and Gina, thank you for sharing your “Church Feet” with me and for reminding me of the importance of staying connected to the people we love, no matter what life throws our way. Though they still have a long road ahead, I’m grateful for their friendship and faith. And I look forward to many more Sundays of connection.