This past Friday Jubilee and Johnny had the joy of attending Night to Shine at our church!! Since they had both attended last year, they were over-the-top-giddy-with-anticipation as the day approached – they knew what to expect!!
Last year Liberty had been Jubilee’s “date” and this year Jubilee loved the idea of Liberty being her date again! There is nothing like a sweet sister to spend the evening celebrating life with you! The Night to Shine evening starts with each guest’s name being announced as they walk the red carpet. Last year I was the one who drove our kids and watched the evening unfold.
I have to tell you, I was struggling to see through all my tears as each came down the red carpet. But it wasn’t just that my kids (and other special guests) were being honored but it was the fact that people I didn’t know, were standing cheering for them as they came. The folks who were cheering were not, for the most part, other parents of special needs individuals, they were people who attend our church and understand the joy that these special guests bring our world!!
This year Dw drove them and he was able to take it all in. He told me that he was swimming in tears at different moments throughout the night as well.
But one of the greatest thrills for our souls was something our youth pastor’s wife, Kinsey, posted on Facebook. I share what she wrote and the picture with her permission:
I have to share one of my highlights from Night to Shine.
Zach and I were stationed in the karaoke room for the night which we LOVE doing! (We have seen some serious performers, and some serious joy in there!) While we were there, one of our 56 students came in with his buddy, who happened to be my mother-in-law, so we knew he was having a great night! He decided he wanted to sing, but he would only do it if Zach sang with him. He asked Zach to pick a song, so naturally, All-Star by Smashmouth was chosen. John was a bit nervous at first, but once the song got going, and these two got to dance and sing up there with each other, he really warmed up to it quickly, and they had so much fun! Both of them had smiles on their faces that were so genuine, and so overwhelming that I got a little bit emotional.
John is one of the many students that we get to see while we do the 56 ministry at Highlands, and we will never get to explain how blessed we are by him, and by all of our students. When we were first starting in 56 at the beginning of this school year, John was one of the first students that we met and got to know, and I have to say, seeing him in there every week gives both Zach and I so much encouragement. He always makes us feel so loved and welcomed (even though that’s our job)! The friendship that these two share is just beautiful to me, and watching this at Night to Shine was so amazing. Thank you @timtebowfoundation #nighttoshine2018
Weren’t her words beautiful? No doubt, Highlands Church intentionally honors, values and celebrates those with special needs but she didn’t have to write all that. For Dw and I to hear one of our pastor’s wives honoring our son in such a precious post while acknowledging the notable difference he has had on their lives is incredibly humbling. (And truly, we’re not push-overs. We know when someone patronizes our family and we also know when someone authentically loves our family. Our church gets it – they breathe love for special needs!)
Truthfully friends, what if we had reasoned we were too old (which would have been deemed legit by most of our peers)? What if we had decided we already had a dozen and that was plenty? What if we had decided adoption was too costly? What if we had said that their needs are pretty involved and we already have others that are involved? We would have missed out on an amazingly beautiful blessing in both Johnny and Birdie.
Having 14 is truly a joy! For sure it’s crazy loud and chaotic at times, but truly a joy! And we kinda’ like to think that having our big ol’ pile keeps us young. I feel maybe 37-ish most days. (Insert big kinda’ tired smile here!) As for the cost of adoption…as I’ve mentioned many times before: Our faithful, dependable, loving God is not a deadbeat dad. He will provide every penny when a family acknowledges Him and wants to bring an orphan home. He has been astoundingly faithful to provide for each of our 11 adoptions – without a loan – ever! That would be miraculous in our book – we know our income!
Lastly, friends, just the other day I shared right here about some very precious boys who need a family. Yes, their bodies are kinda’ broken, but just like our Johnny, their only true special need is to have a family to call their own! True enough – adoption is not always easy but neither is marriage or parenting and most eagerly sign up for both! To think – we could’ve missed this!
Children are a gift from the LORD;
they are a reward from him.