I turn the page to 2015. As we do with clean calendars, I look back at the old one—circled dates gone by, wishes granted or denied.
I am a different person now than I was this day last year. Better? Maybe. I don’t know. Certainly more tired.
But, I know what it means to pray so hard for something that I press my forehead to the carpet and forget fancy words. Sometimes to forget all words altogether and let God read my heart. (Romans 8:26)
I know what it means to hear "no," and then to walk a path strange and hard. Undeniably, I am stronger than I thought I was.
I know what it means to see "yes" just when I had bulwarked my heart to face reality. When my sense of wonder is revived by Grace, Hope is real again too.
And now here’s what I know: Miracles are true, though they take a thousand forms. They are shape-shifters, fluid like a shadow— and they always come to point us to eye-blinding Glory.
God says yes and God says no. And still: there are miracles.
My girl—they call her a miracle. And honestly, I don’t always know how to react to that statement. I mean, there has been no whiz-bang, medically-confounding moment. She is simply thriving. And for that, we are humbled. We are thankful.
At the beginning, we weren’t sure what her genetics looked like. Now we know they are as normal as mine and Lee’s. (Which, I guess, is a debatable statement depending on how “normal” you consider either of us.)
At the beginning, we weren’t sure what would happen with her ability to breathe independently. Now, she is wearing her Passy Muir valve all the time, and we are sometimes capping the trach with the hope of removing the trach later this year.
At the beginning, she needed a feeding tube placed because she was aspirating. Now, she is stronger and has outgrown some of her initial issues, so she isn’t aspirating any longer. With the help of an awesome speech therapist and lots of work at home, she has mostly overcome her oral aversion and has just recently decided that she likes food! We have a long way to go, but she is enjoying throwing puffs on the floor, smearing puree all over her high chair and generally making disgusting messes.
At the beginning, we weren’t sure what her physical mobility would look like, but she has made GREAT progress. Thanks to some wonderful PTs and OTs who have helped with splinting, stretching, and teaching me exercises, she is getting stronger and is an active, wiggly, curious 11-month old. Also, we have been doing serial casting with orthopedics since the end of October. It has slowly moved the bone alignment in her feet, and we will have surgery tomorrow (Wednesday).
Beyond all of this, K is sweet and smart. She already has a sense of humor and a flair for the dramatic. And, she is tougher than any sweet, cuddly baby has a right to be. Beyond anything medical, she is a miracle simply because she is herself. And we are blessed, thankful to have her in our family.
Which brings me to my next point.
We call it a miracle when odd things happen, but what about when things go according to plan? When babies are formed exactly as we expect, and still they come special—fierce compassion, wild curly hair, and an inexplicable love for dogs?
Here, too, is a miracle: my other girl who came tiny and strong, for whom I worry the regular things. She, too, has felt your prayers, even though she may not see it. She takes trach care and g-button feedings and casts as simply part of what we do. In her own way, she understands that this is not what is typical for babies, but also understands that different is not bad. It is simply different. She is curious, not scared. She loves her sister the way I love my sisters, and you can't really ask for more than that.
Today, I marvel in this: the typical and the unique. All is miracle and nothing, no one is accident.
A thousand blessings, a million miracles.
And sometimes, we do this: we write “Praise the Lord” only next to prayer requests that have been answered in our favor. But, what about when God says no?
My mom tells me to find the silver lining. And I think this is something more than forcing a glass-half-full perspective. In reality, it goes something like this: grieve the no, find the purpose, give thanks.
In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul says it like this: "Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; give thanks in all circumstances."
We toss this verse around as a nice thing to say when we don't know what to say, but I believe it. I grip these words tight. Make no mistake: this year has been hard, exhausting, draining even as it has been good and beautiful. If you've followed our story, you know that we have heard both yes and no to various prayers.
To rejoice always is not a light task; however, I think that's why Paul follows it with "pray without ceasing." We pray to ask for things, but then we pray as we wait, we pray to ask why, we pray to ask mercy, we pray to gather courage, we pray to say thanks.
And it's the praying that keeps me grounded, that turns me toward my God, who gives purpose to everything. Then, I rejoice. Everything under the sun has purpose! My story can affect someone else who will change the life of someone else, and so on for all time.
In Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts, she wrote, “Eucharisteo—thanksgiving—always precedes the miracle.”
When I read this the first time, my heart beat, “Yes.”
But, thanksgiving isn’t a prescription or a magical incantation to recite when we want God to do our bidding like a genie slave trapped in a bottle.
The miracle IS thanksgiving. A heart free of bitterness, a heart content in all things. The secret to peace revealed.
And so—I give thanks in the normal, thanks in the fantastic. Our God is good. All the time.