Last week my heart was unfolded.
I receive emails and messages about our girl constantly [thank you!] and I am always so interested and intrigued as to what people have learned about her and because of her.
Some people have learned to stop feeling sorry for themselves.
Some people have learned how to empathize far deeper than they could before.
Some people have learned selflessness.
Some people have learned about Jesus.
Each story is so touching to me. Each story reflects a little bit of who she is and even more about who He is. A young, local dad reached out to me a couple weeks ago and literally said that if he could trade places with Mabel, he would. I was drawn to the fact that I felt his true desire to do so. And I was reminded that there is 'no greater love than to lay down one's life for a friend's.' (john 15:13).
I don't know if this man believes in God and quite frankly, it doesn't matter. His heart and his true desire showed me that sometimes it takes beauty like this to reach a man who may otherwise not have felt this type of desperation. Sometimes I believe that God wrapped himself in a Mabel-package so that the world could see the type of purity that He is.
He is good. He is oh so good.
I thanked this man for writing me. He has been a sweet support, sending more than one encouraging message in this journey. He has been around Mabel a total of two times and his life has been changed.
In the beginning of this journey with her I made it clear that it would all be worth it to me if even one person's life was different because of it. And even now, with this diagnosis and these unbelievably hard days, I still mean it. It's still very much worth it.
Because some day I know that these people who learned to love this little girl purely will join me in eternity when otherwise, they may not have.
There is something very humbling about being a mother. But being a mother to Mabel has taught me humility. It has taught me patience, endurance, long suffering, gentleness. It has taught me to slow down, accept help, and to be vulnerable.
These are qualities that I was lacking before and sometimes, in big ways.
For an entire year I grieved.
I grieved the loss of dreams for my child. I grieved the loss of skills and capabilities. I grieved the relationship that her siblings would be missing and so many fine details.
And then suddenly, I stopped grieving.
I decided to wake up again and live. I wanted to know that although there were great reasons to grieve those things, they weren't all that this was about. This is about so much more than that.
When I came to acceptance of Mabel and what God was doing in us, I was drenched in a peace that I never knew existed before. It was something that was physically present upon me.
I decided to stop fighting God and to stop being angry at Him and to instead join Him in exactly what I believe He planned for good in our little girl. When I did that, my eyes were open to all she was capable of and the world became new to me again.
It was a beautiful thing.
I hope when you see her you see the delicate details of a God who is not only precise but intimate. I hope that you can look at her and know that He is at work and He is real.
She is not God. But He lives in her in a very unique way and every day I am humbled to be able to care for her, love her and share her with you.
Make no mistake about it, He lives in all of them. Not just in my children but also in yours.
I know now that it is our responsibility to cultivate the Spirit in them. To quicken them to His presence and to help them understand who He created them to be.
My boy with the tender heart...?
He knows that is a gift. A gift that many young men will not share with him. He knows that he is unique and I have promised to help him continue to learn that gift for good in his life.
Please hear me:
If you have a child who looks at you with eyes of hope, take the time to explain to them about the Lord. Take the time to explain who He is and that He lives in them. Take the time!
Early on, in this journey with Mabel I grieved the most for Nora. Even now I have a hard time not feeling incredibly sorry for her. I gave her a sister and she is not going to share in the same things that I cherish about my relationship with Jeni. It was incredibly hard to get through some of those moments when I felt so sorry for her I could literally vomit.
But now I see 6 year old Nora with Mabel and my heart bursts open. She is gentle with her and speaks quietly. She embraces her with such a love that only a sister could give. They share smiles and giggles that are unique to them and that is more than I could have ever dreamed. It is still so hard for me to picture Nora not having a sister to grow up with, stay up late with, torment her brother with, have sleep overs with...but it in these moments right now, none of that matters. Not to Nora. Not to Mabel.
Not to me.
Nora has a heart that is giving.
She has made it clear that she wants to grow her beautiful red hair extra long just to cut it short again so that she can give a little girl living with cancer a wig of red locks.
Last night she asked if we could visit a Children's hospital and paint the nails of the little girls staying there. She saw it on a commercial and she was spurred to help as well.
She worries about Mabel and she worries about me. But she is smart and she is quiet.
What she doesn't know is that I worry most about her and I hope that I can continue to build her up, lift her up and encourage her in the areas where she is gifted. I hope that I can teach her all about the God who has no limitations and no restrictions.
She deserves to know those things now, rather than later.
And again, so do your children!
It doesn't need to be a long, drawn out Sunday School lesson that you have with them each day. I know that it might seem intimidating especially if you haven't talked to your children about God before. But start somewhere. Start by pointing out one thing in your day that God made, like a sunset perhaps.
I say to our children, "Look at what God gave us?! How beautiful is that?!"
Now is the time when they need to know the things around them that He is responsible for creating. He is in it all. If your son plays a sport, maybe pray with him before he begins. If your daughter needs help with home work, maybe tell her that you prayed God would help her do well on it.
Loving God and teaching our children about Him doesn't have to mean that we will do it all right or get it all right. It simply means that we do our best to show them that He is near and that He loves them.
They already know it; He lives inside of their hearts. So just encourage it and watch them bloom and grow with a desire for Him that is unmatched.
I have continued to write here during this journey not because it is easy or because I really need to but because I know that it is important. I have scaled back and made sure that many moments between the redheads and I are sacred for us. I want them to have the privacy that they deserve. But I also know that in this story is written a really wonderful notion of acceptance, strength, courage, and faith. It's not because we are a family full of those things. It is because we are a family that is striving to be.
We are a family who is trying every day to live in a way that is authentic. That used to mean one thing to me and now it means another. What it means now is that when I feel angry, I allow myself to be angry. When I feel sad, I allow myself to feel sad. When these kids show emotions of any kind, they get to do that. We aren't masking it or pretending. We are just trusting God and living.
And it is really just as simple as that.
I hope that Mabel has changed you.
I hope she has inspired you or comforted you.
But more than that I hope that the God in her has done those things.
And I hope that you look at your own children and your own grandchildren and you feel those things as well. They are all incredibly special and just because God has tucked inside of Mabel a few unique pieces of DNA doesn't make her any more worthy of love or attention than any other child. They are all gifts.
So when you are showing your kids photos of Mabel and explaining that God made her special, please look at them and say, "He made you special too."
It may be different but it still has great value!
Have a story to share with me?
Thanks for continuing to teach your kids about our girl and for allowing us to share our story. Please continue to tell me how your lives are impacted because it fuels me. It strengthens me.
We love you and appreciate you!