Did you know that Roy Rogers and his wife Dale Evans had a little girl named Robin Elizabeth that lived only 2 years? She had Trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome.) I recently read Dale's little book Angel Unaware. I liked it so much I read it again a few days later. The book is told from Robin's point of view in heaven and is very comforting. I highly recommend it!
In 1950, the year Robin was born, it was not the norm in the United States for parents to keep their disabled babies. Instead they were put in institutions or homes. However the Rogers would not stand for this. Roy said, "We are taking our baby home. God has a purpose for allowing this, and if we put her away, we will never know it." Dale cited Romans 8:28: "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
So, they took their baby girl home from the hospital, loved her fiercely, and fought for her medically. (Sound familiar? Miss Lilly - have you met Robin yet?) Robin had a heart problem that could not be fixed. She was developmentally and mentally delayed and her health was up and down. But through her short life, and the public example of Roy and Dale, life for Down Syndrome children in this country began to change for the better.
When Dale worried and cried about Robin, Roy reminded her "God will take care of her; she's in his hands, and his hands are big enough to hold her. We will pray and trust him."
Robin remembered one lady telling her that she "should never think of [Robin] as an imperfect child but as a child perfect in [God's] eyes." Look at the delight on Dale and Roy's face as they spend time with Robin - they certainly did not think Robin was "imperfect":
I have always said that Lilly brought me so much closer to God. Robin did the same thing for Dale and Roy. During Robin's life, Dale said that "she was coming to believe that the only important thing in this world was a person's relationship to God and his faith in Jesus Christ." She was also "grateful to [God] for sending [Robin] in [her] handicapped condition, because she had made her walk closer to you."
One day while caring for Robin, Dale prayed "God, is it your purpose to heal my baby? If it is, I'll use that healing to your glory, and all the rest of my life I'll tell people about it, everywhere I go. But if that isn't your will and what you want, then give me the strength to meet it, Lord. Strength to face the future and to finish what Robin has started in all our hearts in this house, strength to get her message across the world. Just strength, Lord, for whatever you have decided."
At the end of Robin's life on earth, she became very sick with the mumps and a fever. Robin's fever raged to 108 degrees and Dale and Roy paced and prayed. Roy reminded Dale, "God will call her when he's ready. We've just got to trust him." When Robin died, Dale prayed a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord for letting them have Robin for two years.
Robin's life taught the Rogers "to see purpose in pain and messages on the crosses they have to carry around." Roy even began to use a lot of spotlights to form a cross in the center of the arena during his rodeo shows.
Little Robin, lived only two years, and her life has touched millions. Sixty-one years after her death, I feel like her story has impacted me. I know it impacted Lilly even before I knew about it! During Lilly's first hospitalization (when she had surgery for a pulmonary artery band to be placed on her heart), Dr. L, in reasoning through Lilly's case, said that Trisomy 18 children were treated like Trisomy 21 children used to be. She wanted to see that changed. I will always be so grateful to that doctor!
I doubt "millions" have heard about Lilly. However, in her 17 months I do know that she touched thousands of lives of people all around the world. How amazing is that? God so often seems to choose the most unexpected people to carry out his work.
My sweet Lilly says "thank you God, Robin, Dale, and Roy!"
I have no doubt that Lilly is enjoying her wings, just as Robin couldn't wait to try hers out.