There are so many thoughts and feelings stored up in my heart that I could share with you about this precious child who is the bright spot in our family. I have wanted to write this post for a very long time to simply share about our Chloe and the journey that God is leading her on.
To understand how far she has come, we really need to start in the beginning. Chloe's story starts in the fall of 2002 when we wanted another baby very much. Imagine our joy when I found out I was pregnant! We were thrilled and I was certain that I was carrying a little girl. :) Chloe Abigail was born July 25, 2003...one of the happiest days of my life! She was the sweetest baby you have ever seen or held and immediately captured the hearts of anyone who was blessed to be in her company...the same is true today.
What people notice first about Chloe are her beautiful big blue eyes and her smile that lights up the room! She is a determined little girl who goes after what she wants with her whole heart and doesn't give up. Little did I know that God created her wonderful little personality to get her through some very difficult times in her life.
When Chloe was 1 year old, we left for Madang, Papua New Guinea as missionaries with New Tribes Mission. We spent 1 1/2 years there and returned home when Chloe was 2 1/2 years old. We lived with my parents for a few months until deciding that we would remain in the states. In June 2006, a very generous family allowed us to rent a beautiful house with 3 acres of land and enough room to make us feel as though we were living in a mansion! It was like a dream really. We lived there for 1 month and it was a good time for us as a family. I enjoyed beautiful summer days of playing with the kids, watching them play in the yard, visiting the library, etc. Alex had just turned 5 and Chloe was just weeks away from turning 3.
One evening Joel came home to the responsibility of mowing the 3 acres of land that was in our care. After dinner I left for a class and Joel continued the job of mowing. The details of that night from what I have learned were a series of innocent circumstances that led to an agonizing accident that has left us all changed in every way. After giving the cherubs 'mower-rides', he instructed them to play in the yard at a safe distance from where he was finishing the mowing. From what we can tell, Chloe ran up to Joel to ask for a drink of water just as he was reversing the mower. Joel never saw her until it was too late.
There were so many touches of God that night that He revealed to us months later after the shock and survival mode wore off. Looking back we see things a little more clearly than before. I believe with everything that is in me that God spared Chloe's life. For that I am forever grateful.
Chloe was flown to Johns Hopkins Hospital for treatment and care. My parents drove me down to meet Joel in the waiting room. Hours later the surgeon would give us the news that tried as they did, they were unable to save her foot. In order to give Chloe a better chance at walking normally, they would have to amputate her foot. This news robbed me of breath and rocked my soul to the core. I couldn't imagine that this was really happening to my baby, it had to be a terrible dream that I couldn't wake up from.
The 2 weeks that followed were spent in the hospital. A member of our family was with Chloe around the clock. In those 14 days, Chloe became my hero as I watched her struggle to be brave in frightening circumstances and fight to heal and fight to go home. They were awful days, horrendous days and dark days for me. I was so afraid, so angry, so confused and so numb inside.
But Chloe would go on to inspire and encourage all of us. She exceeded the hopes and expectations of every doctor who cared for her! The Dr. had us use a leg immobilizer to keep her leg straight. Chloe would use it to WALK...foot or no foot, that child was gonna walk! I would take her to indoor playgrounds and everyone would just stop and watch her in disbelief. Chloe was faster at getting all around than the kids with 2 feet!! :) She was and is amazing.
Because the accident happened when she was so young, alot of the things Chloe has to deal with are simply normal to her. But there were things she just didn't understand. For a long time she asked me when her leg would grow back. She would misunderstand us when we would talk about her getting a new prosthetic leg, thinking it would be a new leg like her other one.
Chloe does talk about the accident. She has told me many many times what she remembers about what happened. There is some sense she has that what happened is her fault somehow, that "she couldn't run fast enough". I must admit, conversations like this break my heart and bring me to tears. And although I assure her that there was no fault that day, I believe that it will be the work of God to heal her heart and ours.
I still struggle with that old anger that likes to pop up every once in a while. It likes to show its head at times when I see Chloe have to respond differently than other kids her age. For instance, I have to search for pants that have extra room in the knee area so that she can sit cross-legged at school. She can't wear the cute shoes like other little girls or flip flops and that makes me sad. In the mornings, she crawls or hops around the house until we get her leg on. She still takes baths because she can't stand to take a shower without her leg on. When it rains she can't just run out to jump in puddles because her foot can't get really wet. Or when we're out in public and someone stares at her or asks her what is wrong with her leg...I resist the urge to clobber them.
So after I'm done having a pity party for my sweet angel girl who never complained a day in her life...I realize, wow she is still here with me. I have so much to be grateful for!
I must admit that to this day, when I think about that time I still tremble, I still ache and I still have questions. How I wish I could change those circumstances and put myself in Chloe's place, anything to prevent her from experiencing any kind of pain. But I can't. I wasn't meant to.
Today I stand 2 1/2 years after that dark time, I can tell you that by faith I am writing this post. By faith I see light and hope. I see a strong and brave daughter who is everything I could hope she would be. I see the ways that God undertook for Chloe and for our family. I also by faith believe the solid unchangeable truth that God is faithful and loving and good ~ despite what my eyes may see and what my heart may feel.
By faith, I believe in God's good and perfect plan that He has in action for our sweet girl. I say that knowing that in just 2 short weeks, she will face yet another surgery. That fact pulls at my heart and when I feel like I can't quite breathe...by faith I reach out to the only One who knows right where I am and loves me despite my fear. By faith I reach out to the One who loves my daughter infinitely more than I ever could.
It's my hope and prayer that by sharing Chloe's story, or better yet God's story of Chloe...that you may be encouraged in whatever stage your journey of life is at. He's not done with Chloe, or me, or my family and He certainly isn't done with you yet. May you feel God's peace and know His love for you is endless and all encompassing...may you know that the one true source of real life is found in God's Son Jesus Christ. He is the ONLY reason that my family and I are still standing together and enjoying this ride called life that God has us on!
Below are some of the big posts that I wrote about Chloe in the last 2 1/2 years...feel free to click away and read! :)