My Little Corner of the World
When I was 9 or 10 years old, I saw the first images of little kids in third world countries with their bellies ballooned due to malnutrition. I had a hard time realizing that while I had a home and food on the table each and every day, there were kids in the world that were dying daily from starvation. I made a vow to myself that, one day, I would help those kids and get them food, so their parents didn’t need to watch them die. It was all so senseless, when we had such an obvious abundance here in my little corner of the world.
Of course, life goes on, memories fade, and you wonder if you’ve made your mark on the world. Sure, I adopted a child through Childreach, Inc. and gave till little Lillian turned 18 and aged out of the program. I suppose I had an impact on that child, but the problem of those children, who are still going without, doesn’t sit well with me. Will I ever feel that I have done my part on their behalf?
Fast-forward with me! I’m happily married to John and have three grown children, who for the time being are still living at home. Let me introduce them to you!
My oldest, Sarah, is 26. She’s had a host of health issues over the years including Crohn’s disease, eosinophilic gastroenteritis, and a plethora of food & environmental allergies. At one point in her life, she was almost 14 years old and weighed 65 pounds. The only thing she could hold down was white rice with a pat of butter, along side her feeding tube formula. Many days and nights, I didn’t think that she would live to see adulthood. Watching her struggle was so hard, that there were times that I prayed for God to take her home if he wasn’t going to fix her. Years later, after traveling more than halfway across the country, we finally found a doctor that could help her. I am blessed to say that she’s now a college graduate and completed her first three years of college through CLEP exams and did the last year through correspondence. Downsized from her last job, she’s temping at the moment looking for a more permanent fit. Prospective employers have no idea what a powerhouse of a young woman is sitting across the desk from them. She’s fierce, but her introverted nature won’t reveal the real inner-beauty she has to share if they would only take the time to get to truly know her.
My next pregnancy ended prematurely! People said, “You’re young! You’ll have another one!” It was the harsh reality that other people don’t really want to share your pain. I don’t know for sure, but I’ve felt in my heart for many reasons that he was my first son. We named him Adam John and buried his less than inch long body.
Then came Juliana, my little songbird full of smiles! God knew I needed to be lifted up and he gave me a perfectly healthy baby girl. I learned what life was like for the average parent for the first time. Jules, as we affectionately call her, is 22 and engaged to Josh. The wedding is set for next June. Amidst health struggles of my oldest and youngest, folks would look at her and say that she was my healthy child. What a label of guilt to put on a child, but she heard it again and again and internalized it. While in the throes of medical insanity with two of my three kids, I felt she really needed a way to process what was inside of her. While spending a night at the Ronald McDonald house in Wilmington, DE, she had a ball playing on the light up keyboard. Even though we really shouldn’t have spent the money on it, I will never regret getting her that keyboard for Christmas. It might have totally changed the course of her life. By the next summer, she had written a handful of original songs. Two years later, her first CD came out and she was on the local radio. She’s been doing full concerts of her original music ever since and has a message to share with the world.
My last bundle of joy is Timmy! It doesn’t matter that he’s 20 years old and most folks call him Tim these days. At three months old, I questioned the doctor why he had all these little birthmarks all over him. The doctor said it could be from a genetic disorder with some long name, but not to worry. It was more than likely just birthmarks. At six months, his birthmarks had grown and I wanted the name of this disorder and I wanted testing done. After seeing a genetic specialist and having his first of many MRIs, we were told that our Timmy most likely had a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis, or NF for short. It’s a big word that means he was most likely to have tumors grow anywhere there are nerves in his body…inside or outside. NF has a host of things that it can do to you, often leaving people somewhat disfigured and dealing with a society that glorifies beauty. They called me a few weeks later and said that after reviewing his MRI with a board of doctors, they felt the white spot on his report was most likely a brain tumor. I was told to wait five more months and we would take another look at his brain. So I spent the next five months wondering what, if any kind of future my Timmy had facing him. We dodged a bullet when the next MRI revealed he didn’t have a brain tumor. The brain tumor came when Timmy was eight years old. Till this day, it’s wrapped around his left optic nerve and reaches into the chiasm, which basically means that he could be blinded in one or both eyes. What I wouldn’t have given to know back then, that Tim was one of the lucky ones and has never needed chemo and never had sight issues, albeit one spell of blurry vision that was most likely caused by medication instead of his tumor. Tim learned to stand on one leg and hop in physical therapy. He eventually was also diagnosed with Tourette syndrome which caused severe disabling tics. Medication has given him a new lease on life. Through it all, there was one defining moment when I knew Tim was going to be okay with whatever life threw at him. He had had his MRI the previous day. We were back at the children’s hospital walking to our appointment to see how things were looking for his tumor. I asked him how he was going to handle it if he got bad news. He looked at me, smiled and said, “Mom, it’s okay! If it’s bad news, I’m still going to praise God!” At some point, my little man was forced to look at his life through grownup eyes and he nailed it! He’s been busy frying chicken and slicing deli meat at our local grocery store. He’s considering engineering and saving up for college.
Long story short, with all the health issues, I ended up putting my teaching degree to work right here at home. One by one, I pulled the kids out of school and homeschooled them…a journey I never expected to take, but it was a wonderful one for which I am thankful.
It was during those homeschooling years that I dreamed about the day they were all graduated. I had life all planned out in my mind. I was going to be a professional volunteer and work wherever I wanted. I might work at the shelter one day and at hospice the next!
Life happened & medical bills hit hard. By the time I was done schooling the kids, it was clear that I was going to need to get a real job. It was a bit of a bummer, but I pulled up my boot straps and got a part-time job at the pharmacy downtown. It was the perfect job for me. I have always loved old people and God was putting me in touch with the elderly in our community and it was a joy to greet them each week and listen to their woes.
Two years passed and I found myself thinking that I have so much more that I want to accomplish in life. An experience from a few years ago left me a real heart for the homeless. They kind of represent those starving children on the TV, but these are people that I can reach out and touch and help in a tangible way. I can’t tell you the frustration of driving by people that were obviously hurting and not having a dollar to my name to offer any help.
If you want different results, you have to do something different! How many times have I heard that in life? Too many to count, but it kept ringing louder and clearer in my mind. In May, I decided to start my own business. I am 52 and I’m not getting any younger. In the last two years, we’ve buried my father and my mother-in-law. It’s that time in life when your own mortality hits you in the face and makes you wake up and reassess your life. Where did I want to be in five or ten years, or twenty? What legacy do I want to leave my children? What impact do I want to make on this world before I check out?
It was time for a change! I want to one day ride on a gondola in Venice, Italy! I want to minister to the homeless & change real lives for the better in my little corner of the world. I don’t want all this to have people pat myself on the back and say, “Job well done!” Rather, it’s a deep-seated urge that God has put inside of me at this stage in my life. Hence, I need to answer that call, so at 52, I quit my job and I am wandering into that sea of e-commerce. I am starting my own business called Schnee Way. It rhymes, so now you can pronounce my German name that means snow.
Speaking of names, Cynthia means moon goddess. I’ve always thought it was kind of cool. The moon has no light itself, but rather reflects the light of the sun. I’ve always thought that I too should reflect the Son’s light to the world. If one person can clearly see Jesus through me, then I will have lived my life well and with purpose.
I started a blog a few years ago, but I only ever added two entries, so this is a fresh new start. This is my life folks, so sit back and enjoy hearing about my little corner of the world!