When I was little it seems like money was always tight. There were 9 of us in the house, my Dad owned his own business and clients didn't always pay when they were supposed to. One year when I was preschool age I really wanted a baby doll and buggy for Christmas. I wanted it so bad! I even asked Santa at the mall for it. On Christmas morning all 7 kids had to wait in the long hallway that the bedrooms branched off of until all of us were up and ready to go see our stockings. As we waited for the last few stragglers, the anticipation and excitement would build. This year as I walked out to the living room I saw a doll buggy sitting in front of the fireplace. I had received the gift I was dreaming of! I was thrilled! I ran over and picked up my baby doll...and disappointment set in. I was picturing a perfect, beautiful doll. But what I was holding was a doll with a defect. Her eyes were not set in the sockets like they were supposed to be. Instead they were sunken back in her head. She wasn't beautiful at all. I shook her around a little and tried to fix it. I tried not to let my disappointment show. But I finally took her to my mom and told her that something was wrong with my baby doll. Close to tears I showed her the dolls eyes and asked her if they could be fixed. She told me no and then this is the part that I think illustrates what an amazing mother I have. But before I tell you I want you to imagine being in my mom's shoes. Money is tight, you have 7 kids, it's Christmas, and the only doll you can afford to give to grant your baby's wish is a defective one. When I asked my question she didn't show disappointment or shame, she just said, "you know, I think Santa knew that you would love that doll no matter what. You see, sometimes God gives parents a baby that has something wrong with it. He can only give those babies to the really special parents, the ones who will love that baby just like it is. I think that God knows you're one of those really special ones, so Santa knew you could love that doll." So love her I did. Sometimes I was embarrassed when a bunch of girls got together to play dolls and inevitably someone would ask me what was wrong with my doll. Sometimes I tried to hide her face. But my mom's words stuck with me and I kept that baby doll and loved her even when I received new dolls who were perfect in later years.
My mom didn't know at that point that I had been born with a genetic defect. She had already gone through 6 months of a hip brace, 3 surgeries, and countless doctor's appointments by that time. She had already dealt with rude people telling her she shouldn't let me act like a 2 year old because I was so tall that I looked 4 or 5 when I was 2. She didn't know that she would go through years of orthopedic visits with me crying and arguing. She didn't know that I would be teased mercilessly for my height and my skinny arms and legs and come home from school many days in tears. She didn't know that I would be hospitalized and sick with severe headaches for months in 1st grade, have surgery on my foot twice, and finally be diagnosed with Marfan's at 21. My mom was there every step of the way. She and my Dad were there during my high risk labor and delivery, they were there praying and pleading with God when my aorta dissected. They were there in my recovery taking care of me and helping with my kids as we lived with my parents while I healed. I was a pretty high maintenance kid and I'm still a high maintenance adult and their motto continues to be at 77 that if I need them, they'll be here.
And so I think back to her words..."sometimes God gives parents a baby that has something wrong with it. He can only give those babies to the really special parents, the ones who will love that baby just like it is." I think God knew that my parents would love me in the midst of my imperfection. I think God knew that they wouldn't ever make me feel like I shouldn't be the person I was. I am so thankful for the amazing, special parents that God gave me. Thanks for the lesson, Mom and Dad. You said it, Mom, and then you guys lived it out in my life.