It was summer time in Michigan, one of my favorite times of the year. I was working as a camp counselor, one of my favorite jobs ever. I met him that summer, the child that would change so much of my life. He was one of my campers. He was beautiful, and he was blind. I loved him immediately. To date, I don’t know if I have ever loved another child, aside from my own children, like I loved that little boy.
I had never worked with blind children before, but I had an innate ability to be able to anticipate his needs and desires. I took great pleasure in describing in the most vivid adjectives what the day looked like. When he asked about what a particular tree looked like, I ‘showed’ him the tree, taking his hands and running it all over the bark, circling his arms to feel how large it was, and using his feet, to feel where the base was. I instinctively knew to count steps, stairs, and paces for him. By the end of the summer, we were so bonded I could anticipate his every move.
I could not have known it then, but God was writing pieces of my story. This small boy was the instrument, and my heart was His tablet. Beautiful and deep, He was carving into me, lovingly preparing me for what was yet to come. I felt Him in those days, and I briefly yet seriously contemplated changing my major in college to specify vision impairments, but that would mean going to another college altogether as mine didn’t offer such a specialization, and I was madly in love with my now husband, so transferring was out of the question. For years, the thoughts of how much I enjoyed that work lingered in my mind, and I wondered if perhaps someday I might be able to work with blind children again.
The years came and went, three beautiful boys were born. Our lives were complete. But HE wasn’t done writing. We were delighted to discover that we were not complete after all, our number would grow once more. She was born. She took our breath away with how much we loved her. She was diagnosed with glaucoma. I knew from my research it is the second leading cause of blindness. I remembered the little boy I had loved working with so many years ago. Please, dear God, don’t let it have been to prepare me for her! I wept. I begged. I bargained. And then, I prayed. Justin and I, tears streaming, prayed surrendering, life changing prayers. We prayed prayers that begged Him to keep writing this story, begged Him to not let it end with us.
And He kept writing. He knew. This was not the end. This was the beginning. The beginning of a new chapter for us. A beautiful chapter, entered into through pain, but somehow the pain makes it that much more beautiful. He is so good like that. A vision grew. A vision to help other little ones, like the one that is so dear to us. There are so many needs that are unmet by our world. Needs like, grants to help them get educational materials, a grief share program for the mommies and daddies that have lost so many beautiful dreams for their littles, and most of all, reminding them of the Savior who promises someday EVERY EYE will SEE Him just as He is. Beautiful promises, encouragement to hurting hearts, and we were in the unique position to understand.
There are other needs too, that He has pressed upon us. Needs from those that do not have anyone to call Mommy and Daddy. They are in countries that do not have access to the resources we have. They need to know that they are loved. They need to know that they can bring value, and their community needs to recognize their value as well. He has whispered, and we have heard. We cannot meet these needs, but He can. Oh to be a tool in His hands! That is all, just to be a tool.
And so, The Bartimeaus Project is being birthed. A non-profit project to attempt to meet these needs, but mostly just a tool to direct them to the One that can meet them all. Pray for us friends, as we embark on this journey!