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Introducing Artistic Endeavors
Sep 30, 2011

Welcome to the first installment of Artistic Endeavors. Each month, leaders at the Foundation of Arts will share a bit about themselves and what role the FOA has played in their life. Sherri Beatty, executive director of the Foundation of Arts, submitted the first post for this monthly blog. Here is her story:

When I was younger, I had my life all planned out: by 35, I would be married to a handsome guy with whom I’d have five kids, I’d be teaching high school English and my husband would coach the football team (why hadn’t I chosen basketball?). We would eat breakfast together before heading off to school, and our summers would be packed with family adventures. I just knew that neighborhood kids would call our home theirs, and that my house would never be empty or quiet. I even pictured a specific tagalong – Jimmy – a kid that would spend more time at our house than his, one whom I would love as much as my own, which would have been just what Jimmy needed. Indeed, my life plan promised a picture-perfect storybook tale of simple blessings that come only from the joys of being a family.

At first, I followed the plan pretty well. With a BSE from ASU, I taught 9th grade English for six years. I was married and had five kids – well, sort of – I had five pets. But when I actually turned 35, my life was as far from that life plan as I ever could have thought possible. I was no longer married, I had no real children and I had ended my teaching career. I spent my summers working day and night, which left no time for the adventures I had so excitedly dreamed of. Had it not been for my dogs and cats, my house would have been totally empty. I found myself in a life that wasn’t supposed to be mine. It wasn’t a bad life…it just wasn’t mine.

At 40, my life still doesn’t follow the script that my life plan had written, and I have accepted the fact that it never will. But had that script played out, I would have missed out on other blessings that I never could have imagined. Those blessings come in the form of a great job at The Foundation of Arts, relationships with people I wouldn’t have encountered in the original plan and foster children – kids that weren’t born to me, kids that perhaps won’t even remember me when they’re older, but kids who are no less mine than if they had my DNA and would end up signing my nursing home admission papers when I’m 90.

Over the last several years, I’ve fostered almost a dozen children – some who were mine for only a few days, others who blessed me for several months, one who called me mommy for almost a year, and still, even though he lives with his daddy again (as it should be – thank you, God, for healing that family), he still says I love you as he gives me a hug. I have loved them with the heart of Mary – a mother whose child was destined to leave her while she could do no more than helplessly watch as He was taken away.

I often wonder how many other people look back on the life plan that should have been, only to find themselves blessed beyond measure by the life as they know it. For me, I wish I could have met Jimmy. I wonder if my coach husband would have been as handsome as I envisioned. I wonder if my children would have looked like me. I can only speculate as to what summer adventures might have been mine, but some of the best laid plans simply go astray, and that is OK, for certainly the blessings which we are given outweigh those for which we had hoped…and I know this, because it has been proven to me almost a dozen times over.

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