This is a post about my blog neglected child...a mystery to you, bloggy world...hidden in the shadows of my blog...but now brought out to the bloggy light.................CASSANDRA!!! ; )
I don't talk a whole lot about our oldest girl, but not because she is not ever present in our lives. She is just not around as much as the others, I suppose, because she is busy in many ways as most big girls are. But Cassandra is a very special young lady. And when I say that, I don't mean it in a "everyone is special" kind of way, a la the Barney song that Sarah loves to sing. She is really and truly special in the truest sense of that word. With her permission, I would love to share some of her story with you.
Cassandra grew up in the inner city. The church we were members of ran buses to bring kids in her area to our church on Sunday mornings. I taught the 3-4th grade "bus" girls' Sunday school class, and Scott taught the children's church service for all the "bus kids." It was a special ministry set up so that we could help meet those kids' unique needs. Their prayer requests were different...I remember listening to their stories of gunshots outside their homes, and gangs and drugs in their neighborhoods. It was a sometimes difficult but rewarding ministry to be involved with, and we really loved those kids. Cassandra was in my Sunday school class. We could tell something was different about her from those early days. She really wanted to learn and grow.
Cassandra grew up with a single mom (and a stepdad for a time), and two half brothers. Those were the siblings who grew up with her in her house. But all together she has a lot of half siblings-- several on her mom's side, and several more on her dad's. She hardly saw her dad growing up, since he was in prison until she was around 13. I won't go into a whole lot about her family. Suffice it to say that her mom had a rough life, and did what she could. We have gotten to know her well over the years, and we love her and Cassandra's brothers and sisters that we know. Most of Cassandra's family, immediate and extended, still live in the same area. Most of them struggle to get along in the world for various reasons, and we wish we could help them all. We wish many of them would realize their need for help and their need for a Savior.
Anyway....Cassandra moved in with us when she was seventeen. We already loved her like part of our family at that point, and when the need arose, we were happy to add her to our family--while sharing her with her first family.
Cassandra is 23 now, and God has done and continues to do amazing things in this precious girl's life. From a young age, she has had a special love for children and orphans, and decided long ago that she wanted to devote her life to working with them in an orphanage somewhere someday. She is in the process now of praying and preparing for when and where that will be. She loves her family--her adopted one and her biological one! She has a very special place in her heart for her nieces and nephews that she grew up with (they are only a bit younger than her), and her little half sister. She often goes out of her way to spend time with them and help them in any way she can. Her mom has been sick after battling cancer and a surgery that didn't turn out well, and she often spends time with her. She takes time out for her younger siblings here, too, and does special little outings with them that she calls "sister days."
Cassandra at her high school open house in our backyard with her mom, brothers (left and front) and uncle. (Paul is the one on the left. He was such a wonderful brother to her growing up, and is such a great guy.) As you can see, Cassandra doesn't really look like she fits in in her family! They are Mexican, but Cassandra's blue eyes and pale skin kind of set her apart, don't you think?
A recent picture of Cassandra and her little sister on her dad's side. We think they look a lot alike! (Their dad is half African American. But you can't tell by looking at them! We love Cassandra's diverse family background!)
Cassandra and her niece, Brittney, at her high school graduation last month. She loves Brittney like a sister.
Doing what she loves best--holding a baby. : ) This is one of her baby cousins.
In Ch*na in the foster-type home where she worked with special needs babies last year
Lovin' life with a precious bunch of babies. : )
Lovin' life with a precious bunch of babies. : )
Our boys love their big sister. : )
This is an old picture now, but I've always liked it.
Up at camp, ready to climb the rock wall/high ropes course. She is fearless about almost everything!
In her dorm at New Tribes Bible Institute
She loves to climb trees! This was as far as she could get up in this one! ; )
Cassandra loves Sarah and the feeling is mutual. She is honestly the best big sister Sarah could have hoped for.
Ben loves a good hug now and then, too!
She loves Grandma and Grandpa too. (Of course she does...it would be impossible not to.) She is so thankful to have them in her life!
We have often said over the years that we know that God has a great plan for Cassandra. Her unique start in life has prepared and equipped her, and given her a unique perspective that most of us simply don't have. We cannot wait to see what will be in store for our girl.
Happy birthday, Cassandra! WE LOVE YOU!!!!!!!