Supporting Wounded Warriors and their Families

If you’ve been following my Lenten Journey on this blog, you’ll know that today’s photo theme is “Help”.   I thought it was a perfect time tell you about a fantastic ministry that we are helping to support here in Bethesda, Maryland. It’s called Loaves & Fishes, sponsored by the Bethesda United Methodist Church where our family has been worshiping for almost a year.

Some of you might already know that Bethesda Navel-Walter Reed National Medical Center, which treats injured soldiers, is located just a few miles from our house. Loaves & Fishes Ministry was born in the fall of 2010 when the people at BUMC decided to engage in an intentional outreach with wounded servicemen and women at Bethesda Naval Hospital/Walter Reed.

Loaves & Fishes is serving an important unmet need – providing food, fellowship and other assistance not only to recovering veterans, but also to their families. Due to the often extensive nature of their injuries, these young men and women are here at Bethesda Naval Hospital for six months, a year, or longer. And their families make incredible sacrifices to be here with them during that time. The Loaves & Fishes ministry provides important resources to these servicemen, servicewomen, and their families.

The BUMC congregation has been serving a monthly meal for patients, their families, and the staff for the last year now. And there are plans to expand the Loaves & Fishes Ministry in 2013 to include a ride program to help family members get off campus, and the program is planning to add an outreach to longer-term rehabilitation patients living in the new barracks at the hospital.

So what is our part in this? It’s kind of a Forrest Gump thing. Lloyd’s going to run.  (I’m going to volunteer at one of the transition points).

Two teams with 12 runners each from Bethesda United Methodist are participating in a 200-mile relay from Gettysburg, PA to Washington, DC. You can learn more about the relay race at  We start on Friday morning, April 26th, and run all night until we reach DC sometime on Saturday.

The goal is to raise $1,000 per runner. Every dime – 100 percent – raised in this effort goes directly to support the wounded soldiers and their families, and the church is providing receipts for those who want to them for next year’s taxes.

If you are interested in helping the Loaves & Fishes outreach, please just follow this link to the church’s online giving page.  You will see a space to enter your donation to the Loaves and Fishes Ministry.  In the field next to the donation amount, please make sure you type in “Lloyd Brown” so that your generosity will count toward his fundraising goal.

No gift is too small, and as I said above, 100 percent of donations are going to a great cause.

For several years Lloyd has been fortunate to train and run. He has finished four marathons, a few triathlons and ultra marathon relays. These have been fun and challenging – a true blessing to him and our whole family.

It is through the sacrifices of our service men and women that we are able to have the freedom to pursue these things. When Lloyd takes off on this relay in April, I know that he will be running with gratefulness in his heart. It will be an honor to do to this for a ministry that is serving those who have given so much for us.

Thank you for your support, and please let us thank you on behalf of the veterans and families that will be served by your support of the Loaves & Fishes ministry.

Abiding in Him,

Stephanie & Lloyd

lloyd running


We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

Romans 15:1, ESV

Elderberry to the rescue!

Right after Christmas, my son developed a cough and fever (thank  you to all the people who boarded our flight from Portland to DC while they were sick).  He has a heart condition and the flu could be quite devastating for him.  Actually, the flu can be quite devastating for anyone and I think that sometimes we take it too lightly.  Maybe not after this year when we’ve seen a flu epidemic.  Pretty much everyone I know has had somebody in their household with the flu.  And, yes…many got the vaccine.

The thing about the vaccine is that it only contains certain strains and it doesn’t 100% guarantee that you won’t get the virus.  The way those strains are determined is certainly scientific, but there’s a little bit of guesswork that goes into it.  And, it’s impossible to know which strain you might be exposed to.  My son tested positive for Influenza Type B.  The pediatrician said he was surprised because most of the Type B cases he’d seen this year were in October.  Now, he said, they are mostly seeing Type A stains.  It wasn’t a surprise to me because we had just returned from a big dvd replication job.  In any case, he said that this year’s vaccine contained two Type A strains and one Type B strain.  So, lucky us….we got exposed to a strain that wasn’t in the vaccine.

Normally, our pediatrician’s office doesn’t prescribe Tamiflu to children, but since my son has a congenital heart defect and is therefore at a higher risk for major complications, he would be an exception.   Except that no pharmacy within a reasonable driving distance had any Tamiflu on hand.  Then, the doctor started telling me about a study that was done (and actually there have been many) during the H1N1 outbreak that showed Elderberry extract to be as effective in reducing the length of the illness and reducing the symptoms as Tamiflu.   Evidence also exists to suggest that it can prevent illness as well.  The doctor said to give my son 1 TBSP, 3x daily.

After I got home and gave the sicko his first dose, I started doing some research and was dumbfounded by what I found.  There was so much evidence to support elderberry as a “cure” for the common cold and flu.  And, all these years we’ve been told there’s not much you can do about a virus.  In fact, Elderberry is probably the most promising herb in our modern medicine cabinet.  I couldn’t believe I had never known this before.

As I researched, I found studies completed in Israel and Norway that showed Black Elderberry to be 2 times as effective as Tamiflu.  Both the Israeli and Norwegian studies confirmed that Elderberry cured the flu symptoms in 2 to 3 days and those using Elderberry reported that their symptoms were less severe than those treated with Tamiflu or placebo. Tamiflu cure times range from 4.5 to 6 days. The placebo groups resolved their symptoms in 6+ days.   Our own personal timeline went like this:  Symptoms developed on Thursday, flu test was positive on Friday, 1st dose of Elderberry extract was given Friday evening and the fever broke by Sunday.  Even the inevitable cough that seems to last FOREVER this year was gone within a week.

There are several brands of Elderberry extract on the market.  I happened to pick up the Vitacost brand at Whole Foods because the only ingredient was Black Elderberry Extract and I figured I didn’t want to muddy the water.  Amazon carries it at great prices.   But you can also find it at most drug stores under the brand Sambucol.   It is a bit thick and tastes like dark berry and is generally recognized as safe for children and adults.  A friend of mine said that she mixes it with sprite for her son to drink and he loves it.   When I was searching on Amazon, I found and Elderberry Fruit Powder and am thinking of buying it to put in my breakfast smoothie.

Since our experience I have been harping on everyone I know to try it.  A few have and have reported positive results.   If you’re sick…try it.  It can’t hurt and it won’t give you medicine-head.  It’s becoming a daily part of our morning regimen.  Forget apples…a shot of elderberry keeps the doctor away!

Speaking of shots…I wonder if it would help a hangover?

Disclaimer: This post is based on sources, education, and experience.  It is NOT intended as a substitute for the care and advice of a physician.