"Welcome to Holland"
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.

(Written by Emily Pearl Kingsley in 1987, to help others understand what it is like to raise and take care of a special-needs child)

I came across this poem on a friends’ blog and it is perfect for me… for my life.  I didn’t choose this journey.  In fact, I never dreamt that I would ever be here.  I always pictured my life with 4 healthy kids: 2 boys, 2 girls, and each 2 years apart.  However, God chose this journey for me.  I do not yet know why.  However He knows.  I guess He is my travel agent.  In fact, He is also my travel guide.  You know, that’s the amazing thing about God.  He didn’t just send us on this journey.  He is on this journey with us, holding our hand.  This hasn’t been an easy trip but it could have been worse.  I have met amazing people, heard amazing stories, and seen amazing things happen.  If I would have gone to Italy, I would not know what it was like to have 100’s maybe even 1000’s of people praying for my baby girl and my family.  I would not know what it was like to trust God fully with her precious, fragile life and I would not have seen miracles happen first hand.  I have been able to minister to other families on this same journey and I know there will be more.  Most of all, I have learned how much I need God. 

I will always wonder what life would have been like in Italy, and as that poem says, that pain will never go away.  However, the tulips, windmills, and Rembrandts are absolutely beautiful.