Today my girl turns seventeen. I spent a few minutes searching through my pictures for a recent picture of her, but settled on this one...
This picture was actually taken three years ago, but it so perfectly captures her personality, I just had to use it! She is bubbly and beautiful, loving and kind, and brings so much joy to our lives. I'm looking forward to spending a fun-filled day with her today.
I can't help, though, thinking back to Hannah's 17th birthday about 3 1/2 years ago. We spent that day getting a radiation treatment at CARTI in Little Rock. The staff there was wonderful, and they gave her a little birthday party, but it just was not a great way to spend your birthday. In fact, two days later, she lost all of her hair.
About three weeks before her birthday, we had received the news that her cancer had returned with a vengeance, in the form of multiple tumors in her brain and spinal column. Our oncologist had told us that there was virtually no chance of survival. Of course, we knew that God could heal her at any time, but we also knew that in His omniscience, He may choose not to.
What kind of birthday gifts do you get for a teenager who is not expected to live? And how do you "celebrate" a birthday in that situation? With God's help, and the support of wonderful family and friends who made her birthday special, we managed to do just that.
Fast forward now to today ... Bethany's seventeenth birthday. What a contrast! She is vibrant, healthy, full of life. She is looking forward to the future with great anticipation ... in fact, she would skip summer break and start her senior year tomorrow if she could! Yes, she misses her sister every day and is still learning to deal with that grief, but she has also discovered the truth of Psalm 27:13 -- "I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living" -- in other words, she's beginning to find her joy again.
And what a blessing that is to me as a Mom....to know that both of my girls are right where they need to be in life. Hannah is in Heaven, fully healed and complete in Christ, and Bethany is here, healthy and growing in Christ. Yes, I would rather have Hannah here with us ... of course I would! There is nothing I would want more! But I know that is not an option, and knowing she is in Heaven makes the waiting bearable. And in the meantime, I'm going to enjoy every minute of Bethany's 17th year with her!