Thursday evening, we attended a reception for participants, and their families, of a recent project done at Loma Linda University Medical Center, the place where Rachel has had all of her surgeries, where her team of doctors practice.
The special project was that of a makeover to a major hallway on the 1st floor of the hospital. It's the hallway that leads from the elevators to the cafeteria as well as connects the Medical Center with the Children's Hospital. So it's a highly traveled hallway. The project name is called the "I Am Hallway". And in this hallway, now hangs about twenty pictures, up and down the hallway. These pictures are huge, maybe three feet by three feet?? If not bigger. The individuals chosen for the project have each been given an "I Am" statement. For example, "I am a Survivor", "I am a medical marvel", "I am Loved", and the list goes on and on. In the corner of each of these pictures, there is a paragraph that tells the story of the person and how it is that they represent their "I am statement".
Rachel's "I Am Statement" is "I Am Beautiful". To read and see pictures of it, visit her blog, Rachel's Journey, and read the post titled "The I Am Hallway".
So back to Thursday evening, this reception was attended by all the amazing people that participated in this project. There were young (one little girl was younger than Rachel), there were not so young, there were men, there were women, there were perfectly healthy looking individuals, and there were some that weren't. But every participant had a story. And as we got into the car after this event, I felt exhausted, emotionally and physically exhausted. I'd been fighting tears back most of the evening.
When Rachel was born with undetected birth defect, we were devastated. Deep down, we knew things were going to be okay, she had a long road ahead of her. But it was still hard nonetheless.
The evening represented a few different things in my mind.
For us, it was a celebration of how far we'd come with Rachel. That picture that now hangs on the wall in a major medical establishment, is a testament to God's unfailing love, His unfailing concern, and of answered prayer, many, many answered prayers.
The evening also made me think about people's outside appearance. To look at quite a few of those people, you would have no idea what things people had gone through. Others, it's obvious what people are going through, or gone through, - the boy in the wheelchair suffering from muscular dystrophy or the little boy about Rachel's age walking around the room with a walker and a tracheostomy, living his life with Spina Bifida, but just as happy and outgoing as he could possibly be. Every person has a story, some stories just aren't obvious. I need to take more time to learn people's story, who they are, how far they've come in life, do they know Jesus.
This week, one morning while the girls are in school, I want to go back to the Medical Center and stroll down the hallway, looking at every single one of the pictures, reading each and every one of the stories. The few I did read the other night were touching, I'm sure the rest will be too...