“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”
The tiny baby girl was a victim of a mother who chose a husband over a child. Her mother gave her up moments after the birth, and the baby was placed in a foster home where the foster mother took full advantage of the system, as well as the money intended for food and nurturing. At eight months old, authorities rescued the baby and 10 other children. When rescued, she weighed ten pounds, didn’t know how to eat and was emotionally and physically starving.
That was many years ago and I was that baby girl. If I had not been rescued by authorities, the odds are that I would not be sharing this story with you today. If I hadn’t been adopted by Frazier and Smiley McMillin, I might not have understood the power of parents’ love that could nurture a neglected, unloved little girl back to health. I am blessed because I was placed in the arms of a beautiful woman who was once abandoned herself—a woman who had been praying to love a child just like me for a very long time.
Smiley McMillin was raised in the Louisville Jefferson County Children’s Home. Margaret Louise—as she had been named at birth—lost her father when she was one year old. Margaret’s mother later married William Smiley, and life seemed good again. But at the age of 11, her mother entered the hospital for a simple operation and never left the hospital alive. Margaret, now nicknamed Smiley, reeled from the unexpected death of her mother, but the worst shock was yet to come. Unable to cope with his loss, William Smiley sent Margaret away to Louisville Jefferson County Children’s Home.
Smiley could barely believe that she had lost both mother and father and ended up in an orphanage. They called it a home, but who would be her mother? And where could she find someone to care for and love her as Cora Smiley had? The answer to her questions came in the form of a woman who worked at the home, Elizabeth Broker. Miss Broker took young Smiley under her wing, and nurtured the young girl until Smiley left for college several years later.
Elizabeth left such an imprint on Smiley that she returned to the home after college to work part-time. As she worked with the children, she dreamed of one day having her own family and children to love. Elizabeth encouraged her that one day she would have that opportunity and to not give up. Not long after, Smiley met a handsome man, Frazier McMillin, and they married. Smiley was determined to have a family right away, but was devastated when she found out they could not bear children. Years passed and she and Frazier traveled around the nation as part of his military service.
Smiley continued to pray for a child. None came.
One day, by chance, Smiley ran into Elizabeth Broker. They caught up on old times, and after they spoke for a long time, Smiley shared with Elizabeth her heartbreak at not having a child to love. The older woman asked Smiley a blunt question, “When are you and Frazier going to adopt?” Adoption had occupied Smiley’s thoughts a great deal and she was excited to share her hopes with Elizabeth. Gently joking with Smiley, Elizabeth asked, “So tell me, do you want a pretty child or a very intelligent child?”
Without hesitation, Smiley answered in a soft voice, “Elizabeth, I want a child that’s just like me.” Elizabeth understood.
Smiley, who knew what it meant to be abandoned, was not asking God for a normal baby. She was opening her arms and heart, praying for a child who was left behind just as she had been years before. Eight months later I was placed in the arms of Frazier and Smiley McMillin. I was so scrawny and sick that I had to be carried on a pillow to avoid bruises. I was emotionally starved. I did not know how to receive caresses or touch. Health care workers had predicted possible retardation, but no one really knew what lay ahead. They simply could not predict the long-term effects of my grim beginning.
Frazier and Smiley were undaunted by the challenges and welcomed me with new parents’ bliss. They began to concoct milkshakes out of eggs, chocolate, butter, milk, cream, cheese, and potatoes—every nourishing thing they could think of. It wasn’t easy. Months of starvation had deprived me not only of food, but also of the desire and ability to eat. It took seventeen tries the first time they tried to teach me to swallow. But my new parents were committed. Feeding was a full-time job. From the blender, to the bottle, to the baby, my mother delivered food with lullabies and caresses, until I began to respond. She was as protective as a lioness protecting her cub. Every time I made an inch of progress, my mother celebrated and thanked God.
Today our lives have come full-circle. My dad has passed away, and I lived with my Mom from 2000-2005, taking care of her until she died in 2005. I can never repay the love of Frazier and his wife Smiley McMillin, an orphan who reclaimed the life of a discarded infant. I cannot help but be thankful that God “reached down from heaven and took me and drew me out of deep waters.”
Currently, I am the president of With Time to Spare and lead seminars for Fortune 500 clients, businesses and churches across the country. My job is to bring organization out of chaos. That is what God did for me as a tiny, abused baby. He brought order out of chaos. As I share my organization skills, I pray for opportunities to share how God can bring order into our lives as well. When I speak to corporations, churches and women’s groups, I cannot help but share my humble beginnings.
I will always be thankful for a Heavenly Father who placed me in the arms of a woman who was asking for “a child just like her.”
Sue McMillin is president of With Time to Spare, a business productivity solutions company that offers seminars and hands-on training in organization management to businesses, non-profit organizations, churches and homes. A national speaker, Sue has been featured in the Washington Post, Changing Times, The Godly Business Woman, Focus on the Family Magazines and other publications.
She is the author of eleven books including Taken By Surprise, If I File It, Can I Find It? and The Organized Home. Sue can be reached by phone:719-495-7626 or email:or www.WithTimetoSpare.com.