Recently, I was digging through the hall closet, trying to find a stray spool of ribbon, when my fingers felt something familiar. I gently grasped my “find:” a large roll of papers, bound by a rubber band. There they were…the blueprints drawn up by the architect in Maryland nearly 12 years ago. Tom stepped into the foyer and saw that I’d unearthed them. He grinned, and implored, “You’re not going to throw those away are you? I mean, we paid for those…” We laughed, as we have so many times when we run across these plans. We unfurled them and had a look at the renderings, commenting that we had forgotten about the bay window we’d planned for the living room, and admiring the layout of the master bedroom. After a while, we carefully rolled them up, and gingerly placed them back into the corner of the closet, where I imagine they’ll remain for a long time.
Those were MY plans…but God’s plans were infinitely better. I sometimes wonder how different our life would have been had we followed through on my small ideas. I can’t fathom what our journey into special needs might have been like if I’d been in charge. God knew exactly what–and who–we would need. He had gone before us, planning every earthly moment with an eternal perspective.
As I write this, Annie is driving (!) to Kmart with Tom, trying to log more road time so she can get her driver’s license. She’s a junior in high school now…she plays the cymbals in the marching band, and is student director for the fall play. She’s beginning to consider life after high school and talking about careers. We still have scary days, and times that are frustrating and painful. Still, we are in a pleasant (albeit busy!) season with her.
Bill is 14 now and loves baseball, music and acting. I sometimes wonder if his acting talents were sparked during Annie’s hospitalization, as he performed his renditions of Winnie the Pooh for us in waiting room! He has grown four inches in the last year, and conquered the high ropes course at summer camp. He is also developing a wickedly funny sense of humor, which provides great entertainment at the dinner table. He joined the cross country team this year, a new experience for him. After his very first race, he breathlessly, and with great pride, told Tom, “I ran the whole way. I never stopped.”
This reminded me of my sister’s comment so many years ago in the PICU waiting room: “This is a distance race. It’s a marathon, and not a sprint.” This forewarning about endurance was a biting truth. Raising a child with disabilities does require endurance. There have been many days (and there will be many more!) when I’ve wanted to push it all away and say, “ENOUGH! I can’t do it anymore. I’m tired. I’m scared. This hurts.” On these days, in the midst of our grief and pain, God gently lifts us (or, when we need it, gives us a heavenly kick in the pants!) and we keep moving forward. I hope I can continue to run this race with the same determination and spirit I have come to admire in my own children. I know I won’t be running alone…God has already proven that. I marvel at the number of people He has brought together to coach us, cheer us on and care for our aches and pains…even carry us as we have struggled.
Some of you might be traveling a similar road as you raise children with disabilities…you are familiar with the jousting and joys this experience entails. Some of you might be learning about disabilities for the first time, and wondering how you can help. Wherever you are, and whatever your journey, I hope you will continue to visit me here for encouragement, information, and inspiration (and good fun!) as we endeavor to reach our goal of finding a church for every child.
Let’s press on together, with endurance, so that we can tell our Father, “I ran the whole way. I never stopped.” And when we’re done, Jesus will be there at the finish line. I’d like to think, just as Annie predicted, that He’ll pick us up, and put us on His shoulders…and He’ll carry us Home.