It doesn't slip by me that God had a special purpose for me from the moment he began creating me. It wasn't a fluke of nature that less than one percent of the women in the world go through premature ovarian failure but even fewer at the age of sixteen. It wasn't bad luck or a tough life that ALLOWED me to spend the majority of my childhood with my grandmother. A Christ centered, Godly woman who managed to teach me about God's unconditional love each and every day so that when I did face trials of many kinds, I would withstand the test and persevere because of my faith in God.
At a very young age she read the poem Footprints In The Sand to me and we were able to read that to each other several times throughout the years. I even had the honor or reading it at her funeral. I know that through the roughest times, he is carrying me.
I loved reading notes that she had written with her sweet crooked finger that she damaged while making leather shoes. She started a tradition of leaving notes on white paper plates (probably because they were easier to find than a paper tablet) in her chair. We always knew to go straight to her chair or her bed when we walked into her inviting home. The notes would say something like, "Be right back, Darlin" or "I love you Darlin." Darlin is what she called me. (That's a fun story to share later)
I guess paper plates meant promises, fulfillment, happiness, hope, or even a commitment. At only 10 years old, I started writing my prayers on the same type of white paper plates. The ones with the ribbed edges. Usually, they are the least expensive ones! Some prayers I would boldly place on my walls for all to see and some I would secretly pull out from under my dresser at night, read them to God and then confidently tuck them safely away again until the following night.
It's no surprise that when the doctors informed me at the age of sixteen that I would never have a child, I replied, "Miracles Happen To Those Who Believe."
The first thing I did when I got home was make a Paper Plate Prayer that read, "Dear Lord, I pray that it is in your will that I will one day have a blond, blue eyed girl that looks just like me." I prayed that exact same prayer every night until I was thirty years old and married to a wonderful man who also said the prayer with me. Although I did not take the plates to college and beyond (however, I should have but that's another post!) I never forgot to say the prayer and I never said it differently or with any less faith.
It's amazing to me that ten years have gone by since God answered that specific prayer according to his will. He not only blessed me with a blond, blue eyed little girl named Ashley but he blessed me with a little boy, Grant and a baby girl, Brooke. All three are adopted, all three were specifically created for me to raise. God's purpose for me is simple. I am to raise Ashley, Grant and Brooke as if I was raising them for him because actually, I am! And I am so blessed that he chose me. I'm teaching them about Paper Plate Prayers and I can't wait to see how and when God's will falls into place with their prayers. God knew that I had everything I needed in order to be Ashley, Grant and Brooke's Mommy. You see, Ashley and Grant both have special needs. Ashley has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. It is more of an epidemic than a rare preventable birth defect, it is often misdiagnosed or undiagnosed. God gave me the wisdom to write about my journey with Ashley and I could never have had our story published if his hands were not all over it. The book, Forfeiting All Sanity, A Mother's Story of Raising A Child With Fetal Alcohol Syndrome has been available for two and a half years now. I still get emails almost daily from other families all over the world thanking me for writing the book. The book was God's idea...his plan...it was never intended to be for financial gain, it was actually therapeutic for me write (which I am sure was his plan too) and I never intended for it to be an "answer" book for FAS families. If anything, I prayed that it would touch people's hearts enough to share it with others in order to create awareness and prevention of FAS. I also wanted people to know that they are not alone and God can help them through the challenging times. I never dreamed it would be such an encouraging tool that it would reach people world-wide, that it would help to create a better understanding and it would give both birth mothers and adoptive mothers the strength to FIGHT for a proper diagnosis in order to help their child.
I know that my purpose as far as Ashley is concerned is far from over and that my purpose with Grant and Brooke are in exciting stages.
I am reminded of the movie that we were actually watching the night a friend of a friend called to tell us about a little blond, blue eyed girl available for adoption. The movie was Pay It Forward. The brave little boy wanted to start a "trend" if you will or a radical movement of sorts by doing something good for someone then having them pay another good deed forward for someone else. In the movie, it took a crisis to create such a phenomenon.
After reading some of the emails I received today from people whom I have never met who have read the book, I can't help but feel led to start a "trend" or movement as well. I want to give back to others because God has given me something to share that has and will continue to help others.
Today I handed complete strangers the book. Tomorrow I plan on doing the same and my goal is to give updates on where the books are being left. I see leaving the books in churches, restaurants, restrooms, waiting rooms, salons, car washes, classrooms, pregnancy centers, doctors offices, hospitals, retail stores, sorority houses....there is no limit.
If this mission reaches just one person who will know it is not okay to have even one alcoholic beverage during pregnancy, or one person who may discover that her child needs help or one person whom may realize the reason they have struggled throughout life then it will all be worth it! It was not unintentional that God is mentioned throughout the book. I would not have Ashley unless it was in his will, I would not have the knowledge of FAS unless it was in his plan and the book would not be reaching people I've never met if it wasn't for his purpose. This book was written to witness, support, comfort and educate believers and non-believers. Even the book has a purpose!
If you would like to help me by getting copies of the book Forfeiting All Sanity in as many places and hands as possible, I will gladly send you copies as long as I can so that you can help me pass them along to others. I am asking for donations only to help with the costs of buying the books from the publisher and shipping them. It costs me $110.00 for 25 books, $220.00 for 50 books, $440.00 for 100 books.... plus shipping them out. Believe it or not, I can go through those pretty quickly when giving them to all the places that actually NEED them plus if I have help in other cities, states and countries we could literally touch millions of lives. Donations can be made through my PayPal account at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can email me through email@example.com and I can give you mailing information. Either way, you will receive a receipt for your donation. Please know that you do not need to make a donation in order for me to send you books to hand out. I only ask one thing of you. Please start a Paper Plate Prayer that says, "Lord, I pray for the purpose of Jennifer and her family that they are able to touch each person that is in your plan by the words you have given Jennifer in Forfeiting All Sanity. I pray that those words will provide encouragement, strength, and most importantly faith in you Lord. Amen."