“This is our life and while it’s incredibly hard, it is beautiful. We all have broken pieces and daily struggles that can sometimes overwhelm us to the point of wanting to give up – but we are perfectly imperfect and so, so incredibly blessed.
Last weekend our family was able to get away for a long weekend to an absolutely beautiful respite house in Corolla, NC. This would be our first trip to the Healing Hearts Respite, we were so very much looking forward to this trip and had big plans to make the most of every moment! The house is just beautiful and I fell in love with the Christian focused messages and artwork in each room of the home… such encouragement and hope surrounded us.
The first day was wonderful, we went to the beach in the morning and Alex got to take his tank in the sand for the first time. Watching him drive where HE wanted to go was awesome as usually Derek or I would take turns pushing the very large and kind of awkward to maneuver beach wheelchairs. He was having so much fun with this new found beach independence and “off-roading” – I felt a little bad having to tell him to keep him off the dunes as that was the first place he headed of course! We played frisbee golf with the boys and Caitlyn entertained herself by adding sand to buckets and dumping them out. It was as close to perfect as you could get.
Alex and I took a long awaited walk on the beach (with the tank) and collected shells for a keepsake vase that Healing Hearts had given to us for our stay. We collected ‘broken shells’ and talked about a book I had read to the boys the night before, a book in the respite house called, “My Beautiful Broken Shell”. We talked about the ocean, about how it looks like it goes on forever, about Christopher Columbus, and about God. It was again, as close to perfect as you can imagine. Another moment I hope to burn into my memory forever.
The wind started to pick up, Alex was getting chilled so we headed back to where we had set up for the morning, packed up and headed back to the house.
That evening we had a photo shoot scheduled with a girl who Kim at Healing Hearts works with – Ginger at Ginger Snaps Photography – and it was something I was really looking forward to. I’ve always wanted to do a beach family photo shoot and having these pictures of our family of 5 together now seemed to be perfect. I started getting big plans for canvases for our living room with pics from this shoot – hoping they would turn out well. I imagined this picture perfect photo shoot: our kids laughing and playing on the beach while Derek and I held hands…you know, the perfect family right? All of us matching and looking… well, you know – perfect.
So an hour before we need to be at the beach to meet Ginger, Jacob tells me that he can’t find his picture outfit. Yes we have ‘picture outfits’ – you know the one time Mom’s get somewhat of a say as to what everyone wears. So Jacob left his at home and all he has are swimsuit trunks and sports tanks…not really aligning with my perfect daydream of this shoot. Sooo, we improvise and decide to leave a little early so we can go hit the beach shops in search of something for Jacob that somewhat matches everyone else.
Derek drops Jacob and I off so we can shop while he drives Caitlyn and Alex around in the van. Ohhh – did I mention Caitlyn decided it would be the perfect day to NOT take a nap??? So his job was to drive her around so she could sleep and my job was to as quickly as I could bring Jacob in and out of the shops in search of something that would work. We did some record shopping actually – we hit 10 stores in about 15 minutes. We ended up with a cute but way overpriced billabong hooded shirt and drove back home to pick up Alex’s black adidas pants that Jacob could wear – I figured those would work better than the plaid teal swimsuit trunks I saw and since he strongly protested the pants I found that would match but just happened to be girls’ pants, we went with Alex’s black Adidas pants. Jacob and I hopped back in the van and Caitlyn, who hadn’t slept a wink, was starting to get super unhappy with being in the van.
We met up with Ginger at the beach and immediately I could tell she was super sweet, energetic and bubbly, and just incredibly kind. I felt at ease and excited again about the photo shoot.
We got everyone dressed – who still needed to be dressed – and headed to the beach. Caitlyn loved the beach earlier that day so I figured she’d have fun again despite the lack of sleep.
Ginger had a game plan all ready to go to help the kids warm up to her… Caitlyn however had other plans and decided she did not want to be anywhere other than my arms. She didn’t want to play in the sand, nor the cute boat Ginger brought, nor with the conch shell or anything else we were trying to coax her with. She didn’t want to take pictures with Alex or Jacob, she wanted her shoes ON, then almost immediately she wanted her shoes OFF… it was going to be that kind of evening. Ginger continued to shoot the boys first and we were hopeful Caitlyn would calm down if she had some time. Very quickly my perfect daydream of our hand holding hand family was slipping away and I had NO idea what kind of pictures we would end up with.
I became a little stressed and while the boys for the most part did great and Ginger was SO patient with all of us, in my head it seemed as though we weren’t getting any pictures where someone wasn’t upset. I gave Caitlyn my phone in an attempt to snag a few pics of Derek and I together and low and behold – Elmo on YouTube never fails! After a few more pics, Alex started to get tired and we decided we had gotten all the pictures we could.
I felt the need to apologize to Ginger for our ‘crazy’ family and while she sweetly assured me it was great – I felt in my head that it was anything but that and surely she was just being nice. So that was my take on our photo shoot day.
Then, I see Ginger’s post about the photo shoot for our family and the pictures…oh my goodness… the pictures.
In awe I scroll down slowly through each of the pictures and am amazed at the beautiful faces I see looking back at me. THIS is my perfectly imperfect family. THIS is the family that God has blessed me with, I am overwhelmed at His answer to my prayers to have a family – I never knew what I’d wanted to be when I grew up – but the one thing I did want was a family and children. Yes, we can be crazy. Yes, we are broken. And Yes, we are far – oh so far from perfect – but together, all of us, we ARE perfect! Each of us fits perfectly into our family puzzle, each of us has our strengths and weaknesses, each of us has our purpose, and those strengths/weaknesses fit perfectly together to make us who we are. God has promised that as His children we will have eternal life in Heaven, He has made us perfect through His son, our savior Jesus Christ.
No matter what this life brings, no matter what we are asked to go through, THIS is my perfectly imperfect family who God has given to me for eternity – this is my family forever and ever and NOTHING, not even cancer can take that away from me. For all of these reasons and so much more, we are truly blessed.”