Thursday, January 27, 2011

Happy 13th Birthday, Madelaine Grace!

Oh how I wish every family could have a Mattie in it!  God blessed our socks off when He chose to share His beautiful creation, Madelaine Grace Patterson, with our family.  (BTW, the name Madelaine is a combination of my husband's name (Matt) and my name (Lorraine).)  Mattie is our only biological daughter, and she is the main person responsible (aside from God, of course) for our family entering the world of adoption.  Mattie begged God for years to give her a sister, and while we (her father and I) thought we were done having children and tried to convince Mattie for many years that she would  never have a sister, God was working behind the scenes to bring about His beautiful and perfect plan for our family, and, in doing so, God blessed Mattie with the sister she had prayed many years for.  Not only did He gift Mattie with the ONE sister she had begged to receive, but He chose to bless our family with a total of SIX girls!  I'm so grateful Mattie prayed for that sister she always wanted!

When we first prayed about adopting our very first daughter, Meribeth from Colombia (Nov. 2007), my husband's main concern was for our biological daughter, Mattie.  Mattie had been Daddy's Little Princess, the only girl in our family, and the only granddaughter on both sides of our families.  My husband was concerned for the way Mattie would feel about losing her status as THE princess in our family if we adopted a girl. 

I will never forget Mattie's response when she heard about the possibility that she could have a sister through adoption.  My husband and I decided we would pray together as a couple before we mentioned this idea to our biological children or extended family.  Well, the first morning after my husband and I committed to praying for God to show us if He indeed had chosen Meribeth for our family, Mattie walked into my room and saw Meribeth's photo as I was praying over it.  I gently explained that we were simply praying for this orphan in Colombia who needed a family.  (My hubby was gone to work when this happened.)  Mattie darted out of my room after hearing this news, so I continued to pray.  Shortly thereafter, I received a message from my hubby regarding an email he had received from Mattie, who was 9 years old at the time.  Here is the email that Mattie sent to her daddy (BEFORE we even had a chance to discuss the possible problems with the coveted princess position in our family):

“Dear dad, I cant believe what I just heard! I could have a sister!!! I realize that this will change my entire life, and I know your very concerned about me. But I feel like I don't even have to pray about this. I realize that everything will be centered around her, and I know I wont be the little ''princess'' any more, but I'm willing to change all that to be able to change both me and Luz Mary's life.”

(This photo is of Mattie at her princess dress up party for her 9th birthday, eager to give up her princess status in order to change 2 girls lives.)

And here Mattie is walking her sister to the car in Colombia shortly after we met Meribeth.

It still gets me choked up to see Mattie's response to the possibility of her world being rocked by adoption.  Yes, that is our Madelaine Grace, full of unconditional love, overflowing with grace, and a model of selflessness.  She never hesitated ONCE about losing her status as the one and only princess in our family.  It was Mattie's response to the idea of adopting Meribeth that God used to turn all of our hearts toward adoption.  Mattie modeled the ultimate Biblical response to adoption:  It's not about ME!  I care more about others than I do about myself.  I want to die to self and allow God to change my life by laying it down for another.  Oh the wisdom of a beautiful 9-year-old princess, leading her parents toward the heart of adoption!  Yes, I wish every family could have a Mattie in it!

Mattie before she donated 9" of her hair on her 9th birthday.

Mattie (who looks like she aged 5 years!) sporting her new hair cut at the age of 9.

Mattie has always had a heart for others.  From the time that Mattie began receiving an allowance (at the age of 4), she always spent that money on others instead of on herself.  (We chose to give our kids an allowance to help them learn money management.)  We always encouraged our children to give atleast 10% to help others in Jesus' name, but Mattie usually gave 100%.  Mattie always chose to give her money to help children, by donating to organizations such as St. Jude's Children's Hospital, Make-A-Wish, Compassion International, and then she decided to "adopt" a child who she gave all of her money to every single month for a year in order to give that child daily food, medical care, and an education.  And if she ever had extra money (like birthday gift money), she would choose to buy a gift or card for someone special instead of buying something for herself.  (And, believe me, I was not the one modeling such selfless, compassionate, generous choices!)  Yep, I wish every family could have a Mattie in it!

God's main commandment is to love God and love others.  I continue to be in awe of how Mattie models what this looks like.  God uses Mattie to teach our family how to live the way He wants us to!  Mattie genuinely loves and adores her Heavenly Father with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength, and she is such an inspiration and source of encouragement to all of us.  Click HERE to read about how Mattie read through the entire Bible in just 90 days.  (Mattie's birthday wish list is a testament to where her heart really is.  Mattie asked for 3 books for her birthday:  Knowing God, Systematic Theology, and The Bride Wore White.)  And when it comes to loving others, the way God commands us to (including loving those who are not so lovable), Mattie continues to be an inspiration to us all.  Mattie continuously puts others before herself, not because she has to, but because she wants to.  She loves people, all people, from newborns to the nursing home, she truly loves them all.  And not only does she love them, she SERVES them.  Yep, I wish every family could have a Mattie in it!

For her 6th birthday, in lieu of gifts, Mattie asked her party guests to bring a donation to help a local animal shelter.  Another one of Mattie's birthday parties, she hosted a baby shower to benefit the local Christian crisis pregnany center.  And on Mattie's 9th birthday, she chose to donate 9" of her hair to Pantene's wig program to give a woman with cancer a wig.  For Christmas 2009 and again in January 2010, in celebration of Mattie's 12th birthday, Mattie once again wanted nothing for herself.  She asked for contributions to Amy Block's Pass It Forward Fund/Abby's Wish in lieu of gifts for BOTH Christmas and her birthday.  Click HERE and HERE to read about this experience.  By the power of God, Mattie raised a total of $4,000 for the PIF fund by asking for donations in lieu of Christmas and birthday gifts, as well as baking and selling dozens of homemade pies, soliciting donations door to door, selling her iPhone (which was gifted to her), and pouring her heart into raising money to help another family, putting the needs of others before her own desires.  Yep, I wish every family could have a Mattie in it!
Mattie was ecstatic about donating $4,000 to Amy Block's Pass It Forward adoption fund!

Mattie is a true servant, not because she has to be, but because she wouldn't have it any other way.  If you were to step into our home at any given time, unannounced, I would be willing to bet that you'd find Mattie serving in some way.  Whether it be serving dinner, cleaning up dinner, doing dishes, giving kids baths, reading to little ones, scrubbing toilets, doing laundry, feeding the baby a bottle, or ministering to someone's needs, Mattie is most satisfied when she is serving.  And the most fulfilling part of watching Mattie is that she serves with a joyful heart, without having to be told or asked.  Mattie could literally serve her entire family and run our entire home, with joy.  Yep, I wish every family could have a Mattie in it!

I want you, the reader, to know that I am not saying these things about Mattie in an effort to boast about what an awesome child we've raised!  That is NOT the case at all, in fact, there are many times that I feel Mattie is "raising" us!  We have not been the role models that Mattie has been to us.  We have not served others the way Christ has asked us to, but Mattie has.  We have not put others before ourselves the way God's Word commands, but Mattie has.  We have not modeled unconditional love the way that Mattie has.  We have fallen short in more ways than I can count, but through it all, God has discipled Mattie and shaped her into the beautiful young woman she is today.  We cannot take any responsibility; ALL glory to God for His beautiful creation, Madelaine Grace Patterson.

Mattie, on your 13th birthday, I want you to know what an inspiration you are to all of us.  My beautiful middle child, I pray you will always know and believe that God has made you in His image, and you are an incredible reflection of God's beauty, inside and out.  We are incredibly blessed to call you our daughter, and we thank you for being you.  We love you forever and always, no matter what, beautiful one!  Happy 13th birthday, princess!

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