I am 58 today. FIFTY-EIGHT!! How did this happen?! I can SEE 60 now! And I still feel like I’m in my mid-thirties most of the time. So many others describe this same phenomenon as they age — the feeling of surprise when they look down and see their parent’s hands attached to their own arms; the shock of looking into the mirror and seeing some old person looking back at them. Anyway. . . here I am.
Six years ago, I wrote a little “thing.” I was turning 52. I titled it, Living a Fairy Tale. I’m going to post it here because it’s all still pretty much a true and accurate picture of my life.
But I didn’t know then that God had four more children waiting to come home to us; that, down the road, the medical needs of several of our kids would reach such intensity that I would seriously feel like I was being held underwater at times; that Scott would fight cancer; that my heart would be broken by my children even more than it already had been at that time.
The past year and a half or so, more than any other time in my life, has brought periods of self-examination; questioning of all that I believe; darkness and feelings of hopelessness; doubts about the path we followed God onto (did we really follow Him here, or did we somehow just wander into a world of nothing but screaming chaos and exhaustion?); even times of wondering if He, and all that I proclaim about Him and His workings in our lives, is real.
And through each of those dark, questioning times — those periods of self-pity and heart rebellion — God, always remained faithful and constant. His love for me never wavered (even when I couldn’t feel it); His provision for our family continued to astound us and a watching world (even when our ability to trust bottomed out during times of silence from Him, and thinking He had forgotten us); His carrying of me never stopped (even when I felt I was all alone and weary beyond description).
He remained the same even while many things around me and inside of me were changing!
For I the Lord do not change. Malachi 3:6
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8
So I’m sharing, here, that little “thing” the 52-year-old I wrote six years ago. Maybe I won’t be so surprised over the next six years when life gets even harder.
Maybe I will be quicker to remember that God is refining me, making me into something beautiful through these trials.
Maybe I will doubt His promises and His love less in the next six years.
Maybe I won’t be so slow to realize, one more time, that I would never change any aspect of our life, and that real life is better than the fairy tales we dream of. Because it takes all of the good and the bad; the blacks and the greys along with the pinks and greens and blues and yellows; the shadows and the light to make His stories and His masterpieces all that they are supposed to be. And all that He does is perfect!
Living a Fairy Tale
Written June 11, 2011
Scott and I married when I was eighteen — barely eighteen. Almost four years later, we had our first baby, and life seemed so perfect. Baby number two arrived with significant special needs, and suddenly things didn’t seem to be going the way I had planned in all of my little-girl dreams. Baby number three arrived healthy and “normal.” By the time baby number four arrived with a physical disability, God had led me to a place where I was more willing to try to accept His plans for my life, rather than lamenting the death of the plans I had fabricated for myself.
Why is it so hard to take this step? Why are we so afraid to believe Him when He tells us in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”? Gradually, God showed us some of those plans as He built our family over the next two decades.
Currently, we have eighteen children – fourteen of these adopted, and most of them born with special needs. These special needs range from mild to very severe and include blindness, missing or deformed limbs, cleft lip/palates, hearing impairment, spina bifida, brain damage and cerebral palsy. How can it be that my life is overflowing with joy – not in spite of, but BECAUSE of the challenging life to which God has called the two of us? The answer is that true joy can only come from following the path He lays out for us — from fulfilling the role He created us to fulfill. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10.
Today was my birthday. I turned fifty-two. It was an incredible day. Scott and our older kids all worked hard to give me as much of the day off as possible while they prepared one of my favorite meals, put together a special family birthday party, handled all of the kids’ catheterizations, and took care of most of the typical issues that come up each day in the life of such a large and unusual family.
At dinner, my heart overflowed as I listened to my kids express some of their reasons for loving me so much.
Then as we all gathered to sing “Happy Birthday” and blow out candles, I was presented with a huge stack of homemade cards. They were beautiful and brought smiles to my face and tears to my eyes. One of the cutest ones was from our youngest little guy, Ethan. He dictated to one of his sisters, “I like ice cream, I like snowflakes. Thank you for teaching me about birds, insects, and other things. I like insects.” Then he added a “Happy Halloween” sticker.
The most emotionally moving card came from one of our children who has struggled much with breaking free from her traumatic and crippling pre-adoption history. The journey has not been an easy one for her or for us, and there were times when we wondered if her heart would ever be ours. She wrote, “You’re the greatest mom ever. Thank you for being so motherly to me and teaching me wrong and right. If it weren’t for you, I would be a mess. Thank you so much for everything. Through the good and bad times, I always have you.” Wow.
My husband’s beautiful card (not homemade) said, among other things, “You are my refuge when the day is long, my shelter when times are hard. You are the sharer of my dreams, my support when I am challenged, and my very best friend on this earth.”
What more could anyone ever want from life than to be loved like this? How can it be that I was chosen to be so blessed? Not always, but sometimes, I really do feel that I am living a fairy tale life. It’s been a really great day.
So, here I am, six years older and tireder and more blessed, and hopefully wiser. I’ll close with a few snapshots of my recent life — the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful.