Like beauty, are in the eye of the beholder.
We were privileged to be a part of the Starlight Children’s Foundation’s Great Escapes Program last night. It was a Christmas dinner cruise on the Sternwheeler, which we had been a part of last year. Thankfully, it wasn’t as crowded this year, but we did end up on the bottom floor where most of the families with children in wheelchairs have to sit. The upper deck was completely full by the time we climbed aboard.
We’ve been taking part in Starlight for over a year now and I often wonder why we continue. Not because it’s not a good organization, but because it takes effort on my part. It takes energy, planning, gas and time to participate, but I am NEVER disappointed. I ALWAYS come home with lifted spirits, yet surrounded by the sadness of the harshness of real life. Since Josh’s diagnosis, I’ve come to realize it’s IMPOSSIBLE to separate joy from sorrow.
As my husband, two daughters and Joshie got settled around the far back table, I wondered what the Lord had in store for us this year. Last year, I felt His love and spirit in a tangible way as I watched the families file out at the end of the trip each one hugging Terri and Yvonne, the leaders and planners of these events. My husband and I literally FELT God’s love as we watched the procession of physically broken children and their weary families leave with joy, laughter and happiness written on their faces. We both had stood side by side, marveling as our eyes filled with tears. And I wondered what would happen this year…
Then I saw them, the last family to arrive. There wasn’t really any place for them to sit. We quickly offered to shuffle ourselves around making room for their small wheelchair filled with a precious little girl, their mentally disabled high school aged son and themselves. Once they were settled, the mom and I began to talk, while the father listened. This was their first outing with Starlight and she commented on how hard it is for her to go anywhere with the wheelchair in tow. Full of gratitude for our willingness to make room, she quickly told me her son had been born at 24 weeks gestational age weighing one pound and had suffered many brain bleeds, thus his mental disability. Then she introduced us to her three year old granddaughter, who had also been born at 24 weeks and was unable to walk, talk or even swallow on her own due to brain bleeds! They had adopted her instead of letting her become a ward of the state. I was stunned.
My mind quickly went to my precious first born. Twenty-one years ago she was born by an emergency c-section at 25 weeks weighing only 1 and ½ pounds. But unlike these two children, she NEVER had one brain bleed. She had her share of complications and problems, but she left the NICU fairly whole. In fact, my oldest will soon be graduating from college and will be giving birth to her first child. There was a time when we wondered if she would ever even be able to conceive because of the multiple x-rays, scans, steroids and her prematurity. She definitely had mild physical consequences of her prematurity and sometimes suffered through being teased by her peers because of them. But she always had a healthy knowledge of who she was and where she had come from and what could have been. As an adult now, many people don’t know about her beginning. They don’t know they are looking at a miracle.
As I sat across the table talking with that mother, I knew that could have been me. I knew that was a road the Lord could have had me travel down, but for whatever reason, He didn’t.
Instead, I was given a beautiful miracle…