"When I think of Courtney...."

Many of you who are seeing this blog have never met us or our daughter. So, we thought we would share some testimonies about how Courtney has impacted the lives of some of those around us. For a child who is cortically blind, non-verbal and non- ambulatory, it amazes us each day, how she touches peoples hearts.
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"Sparkling blue eyes, tousled blonde locks and a smile that ignites a room with love -- that is Courtney Lenaburg. To describe Courtney this way would never reveal the fact that she has multiple disabilities, nor should it. That is not the first thing one sees when Courtney is known through the prism of Christ’s love and mercy. There is so much more. “[K]nowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope…” (Rom 5:3-4) is telling of the journey that Courtney and her family have been on for 15 years. This is the measure by which one must come to know this marvelous young lady.
From the moment I met her in the Chantilly library parking lot 6 years ago, I was convinced that Courtney had big plans. It was through her mom, Mary, and her brother, Jonathan, that I initially sensed the level of determination that Courtney would later display to me. There was a presence in her family; it was loving, resilient and Christ-centered. It was full steam ahead. I liked it, mostly because it was similar to the way our Army household operated with our son, Eddie, who has significant special needs, and all his siblings. This image solidified when I met Jerry, Courtney’s dad and former Naval Officer. He was a dad with a purpose – very Navy -- and a heart full of love. 

I had the privilege of introducing Mary to a therapy that helped my son, Eddie, learn to organize his muscle movements which eventually enabled him to crawl, creep and walk. My son was 2 yrs old when we “patterned” him. Courtney was nearly 11 when I proposed the idea to Mary, Jerry and Jonathan. That didn’t seem to matter. They said, “Let’s do it!” and off we went with a full head of steam. It took many wonderful volunteers to make this therapy happen for Courtney, and all the while, none of us knew whether it would have the slightest effect on her physical or cognitive delays. It was a most profound corporal work of mercy and total surrender to God’s will. There were no guarantees that all the time and energy would amount to anything at all.

The therapy proved to stimulate Courtney’s cerebral cortex to the point that it would cause her to seize. While she was becoming more alert and aware and maybe even able to organize some muscle movements that she hadn’t been able to do before, it was too aggressive and too stimulating to her very fragile brain chemistry. Courtney began to seize during almost every session. The therapy had to stop.
This sounds like defeat, but it was not. It was all part of Courtney’s mission. Courtney was instrumental in touching the lives of over 15 volunteers through this therapy. She showed them a strength and endurance that could not be matched. Through her sufferings, Courtney let everyone know that she would work hard, she would persevere and she would endure. Such motivation is rare among able-bodied people, but for children like Courtney, it is life. Every breath, every swallow, every movement requires thought, energy and coordination, the demands of which would exhaust you or me. 

So, where does she find this resilience? She finds it in the gift of her birth into Christ through her baptism. It is the indwelling Spirit that moves her. That same Spirit is what keeps her family strong and touches all those who ever get to meet this charming young lady. She carries the Cross of Christ with grace in her sufferings. “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” (Rom 8: 18) If we can’t see Christ in the suffering of His child, Courtney, in the submission of her family to the will of God, in the gift of sanctifying grace that is offered through service to this wonderful family, then we are not looking through the prism of Christ’s love and mercy. We have the problem; we are missing the great wonder of this precious life offered so that many may know conversion and be brought to Christ through her sufferings. 

She also finds her strength through the “never quit” attitude of her family. They will not be discouraged and are certain of the good that Courtney is doing through her suffering. Courtney has been a catalyst for many to consider the goodness and the greatness of God. She will continue to do this work for as long as God wills it to be done. She offers her “fiat” every day while held in the spiritual arms of the Blessed Virgin who comforts and protects her and her family. “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8: 28) This bright eyed, smiling, young woman with multiple disabilities understands her mission better than any of us ever could. She has been called and she will change many hearts. May all of you have a chance to meet her and benefit from her joy and determination and that of her loving family."

Kathy Vestermark/2007


"Our dear friend, Mary, has always said that Courtney is with us to touch people's lives. Spending time with Courtney teaches patience, compassion and thankfulness. She brings out the best in people who take the time to allow her to touch their hearts. Knowing Courtney provides opportunities to discover the depth of your character, the depth of your love, your commitment, your patience, your abilities;
the opportunity to explore your spirit more deeply than you imagined possible. For the gift of these opportunities to grow we are forever grateful." 

With love, 
The Gerbigs


"Court makes us stop and think...with our heads and our hearts. She is a question with no easy answer. When you see her, the first thing you notice is her broken and frail body...but then you see her smile or hear her singing and you start to see a glimmer of the Grace that surrounds her. The first time we saw Mary and Jerry at Mass with Courtney , we took a good long look that has stayed in our hearts and caused us to ponder, even till this day. Our first thought was wonder...We wondered at the great love of the parents in their taking such efforts to bring this child to Mass. We had 3 healthy children and it was a struggle to get them dressed and out the door in presentable fashion and in a timely manner. Yet there they were, the Lenaburgs, all four of them, nicely dressed and early. What herculine effort and what incredible dedication...to Courtney and to God. We would often watch how gentle and loving Mary, Jerry and Jonathan were with Courtney, the hand on the shoulder, the wipe of the cheek, Jonathan's smile (and Courtney's) as he pushed her wheelchair. Visible signs of an incredible love. That is what Courtney brings to this world, an incredible propensity for reflecting love...real love...God's love- present and active. It is not the easy love of a cheap Hollywood movie. It is the real love of suffering, sacrifice, dedication, service...and joy! The very love Christ calls us to as Christians and the same love He showed us on the cross. Courtney, you cause us all to stop and to wonder and to try to be the loving people God calls us to be. Thanks for being the vehicle of His Grace!"

John and Therese

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