“Providence is wonderfully intricate. Ah! You want always to see through Providence, do you not? You never will, I assure you. You have not eyes good enough.” ~ Charles Spurgeon
Just a couple of weeks after Kathryn turned two, I journaled the following thoughts:
Midnight Reflections – May 20, 2006
It’s after midnight, and she’s having trouble sleeping. This is one of those nights when she needs to know that I am here, feel my arms around her, feel my body touching hers. I look down into Kathryn’s face and wonder at the beauty there. It takes my breath away. Such a perfect little body; such a broken little brain. Oh, God, I love this baby. My heart feels as if it could burst with the love You have planted and nurtured there for this incredible child You created. How can I ever say thank you for allowing me—for trusting me—to parent her for You? She must be so special to You, yet You entrusted her to my care for however long she graces this world with her presence. God, what do I do, though, if she still needs to be held like this when she is fourteen? How will I meet her needs when she no longer fits into my arms? But right now, at this moment, she isn’t fourteen. She is just barely two. And she fits perfectly in my arms with her beautiful head nestled against my chest and her soft breath rhythmically warming my face as I lean over to smell her hair and her silky skin. So for now, I will hold my precious baby and drink in the miracle of being her mom. There is no time but this moment, and I will lose myself in it. Kathryn Felicity, “pure happiness,” welcome to our world for a time. I wish we could all live in yours.
And now . . . here we are. Kathryn turns ten today. She’s not yet fourteen, but she weighs ninety-two pounds and is still as helpless as she was at the age of two.
I can no longer lift her, and she no longer fits into my arms. Yet, how comforting—thrilling, really—to see that I am still able to meet her needs. She has no trouble finding ways to snuggle with me and drink in the assurances she needs that I’m always here beside her. God continues to provide all that she—and I—need as we weave our way through the very uncertain path that is Kathryn’s life.
Our journey with Kathryn has always been a mystery. You can read more about Kathryn’s story here, but every day with her is a wait-and-see moment.
Life at her side has been full of unexpected victories and heartbreaking disappointments. And the future remains shrouded in secrecy. Only God knows what’s ahead.
As she nears adolescence, it’s likely that her seizure activity will increase. There’s always the possibility that she will sustain further brain damage from these seizures and lose much—or even all—of the ability she has so surprisingly achieved.
We don’t even know how long her life will be. Her time with us could end unexpectedly at any time.
And what if she does live on much longer than anyone imagines? If I should go Home before she does? How will she ever survive without me? I am her lifeline. This is one of my greatest fears in life, and, yet . . . I can’t bear the thought of even one day here without her.
Although it’s much more obvious in some lives than in others, we are all walking through a land of complete uncertainty. We may think we have our plans all nicely laid out, but it only takes one horrible car accident; one tornado; one always-feared diagnosis and our lives are changed forever.
One of my favorite quotes is from a poem by Minnie Lou Haskins originally titled, “God Knows.”
“And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied: ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
To truly and intimately know and walk with the One who can see the full picture brings indescribable peace and assurance that all is well. There is nothing to fear.
Yes, there will unquestionably be very hard things ahead. Pain and unwelcome changes await us all. Of this we can be sure. But each and every trial and triumph is carefully orchestrated and wrapped in—infused with—love that is richer, more complete, deeper than anything we can imagine. And each one comes to us overlaid with promises that we will never pass through them alone. He will walk with us, sustaining us; taking us from “strength to strength” (Psalm 84:7).
We chose long ago not to allow fear to rob us of any moments of joy brought to us through parenting Kathryn. We would’ve missed so much if we had wasted the past ten years wringing our hands and fretting over the what-ifs.
We are very human, though. Physical exhaustion; mental and emotional strain; the stresses of every day life—all of these things often allow the fear of the unknown to break through and disturb our peace.
The only remedy for this is a tighter hold to the God who brought Kathryn to us and a more complete surrender of the flimsy grasp on our futures that we sometimes fool ourselves into thinking we have. And when I’m too tired to hold onto Him, then I relax into His forever-promised hold on me.
“You who have been borne by Me from birth and have been carried from the womb; even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you.” Isaiah 46: 3-4
Then peace flows through my soul. Rest. Deep contented sigh. I’m set free to soar to heights unimaginable and soak in all of the joy this life has for me; every precious drop of happiness that God squeezes through the ups and downs of parenting my no-longer-so-little Kathryn.
Happy, happy birthday to my girl. She has already accomplished far, far more than anyone ever dreamed possible, and God has already used her to touch others’ lives. Her determination and perseverance and spunk and innocence and effervescence urge me on to better things every day. She and I will continue forward together — sometimes dancing, sometimes crawling, sometimes crying, sometimes rejoicing — through the days ahead. We don’t know what those days hold, but we know Who holds them and us.
The following is a photo journey of our amazing life with Kathryn through the past ten years: