"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 a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
Nine years ago, I remember answering the phone and being greeted with the question... "Are you sitting down? We just found out that we are having a baby girl and a baby boy!" The ecstatic voice on the other end of the phone belonged to a dear family friend who we've watched grow from a little girl into a beautiful adult woman. During her college years, she would spend the summer with us and she basically became another member of our family. As a result, my young children would endearingly refer to her as "Kristen from the Basement", which would always generate a few puzzled looks from those who were unaware of the situation.
When the delivery date finally arrived, I received a joyous text message stating, "They're here!" and a photo of two precious babies, one wrapped in a pink blanket and the other wrapped up in a blue blanket. However, the tone of the phone call the following day was much more somber when the detection of Down Syndrome in the little girl was shared.
Over the years, I have had the privilege of watching this sweet baby grow and blossom into such a delightful and beautiful little girl. Every time that we are together, I am also in awe of Kristen and her husband as I watch how well they guide and parent her, as well as motivate and encourage her to attempt to conquer any challenge.
Listed below is a poem that Kristen received from a friend shortly after her baby's diagnosis. It is such a beautiful reminder that really helps put things into perspective:
Welcome to Holland
by Emily Perl Kingsley
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills... and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.
There will be times when all of us will have unexpected journeys and/or events that will occur in our lives. Situations may take detours that put us on alternate routes but ultimately, each road still leads us back to Christ.
During this Lenten season, may each of us see the beauty and the blessings in our individual journeys designed by God as we focus on His tremendous love for us.
In Jesus' love,