Every good present and every perfect gift comes from above, from the Father who made the sun, moon, and stars. James 1:17a GW
Did you know that the first Nativity scene was staged in 1223 and it was St. Francis of Assisi who came up with the idea? Did you know Martin Luther wrote Away in a Manger? * Did you know that tonight, December 24, 2018 is the Bicentennial Anniversary of the first performance of the song, Silent Night?
I know all of this and much, much more, thanks to my daughter, Chloe. To those of you that know her, you totally get that. 🙂 She was due on Christmas Day but had to be induced eight days early, something that to this day still disappoints her. We gave her the middle name, Noelle, which means Christmas. She admits this was a nice consolation.
She loves Nativity sets and collects them. She owns every Christmas CD of just about every contemporary Christian artist. (FAWC, My favorite is Jason Gray’s Christmas Stories: Repeat the Sounding Joy.) She knows everything you could ever want to know about Joseph Mohr and Franz Gruber, the lyricist and composer of the most popular Christmas Carol, Stille Nacht also known as Silent Night. To say that Chloe loves the song, Silent Night would be an understatement. Last year on our trip to Germany to celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, she pleaded with her father to take a detour to Oberndorf, Austria where the carol was first sung in 1818. She wanted to visit the Stille Nacht Museum.
One day when Chloe was in Middle School she came home very excited about the fact the school choir was going to be singing Silent Night at their winter concert. Her choir teacher told the class he was looking for students who could sing a solo verse of the song in another language. Beside herself with excitement at the thought of having that honor but not being bilingual, she asked me if I thought the choir director would let her sing it in Tongues. 🙂 Pentecostal born and raised! (Acts 1:5,8; Acts 2:4; Acts 19:6)
Despite her Cerebral Palsy and all the cognitive, physical and social delays that accompany this diagnosis, she has an amazing understanding of the Word and all things spiritually related. I smile now and then when I think about the time we had to get after her for forgetting to put the top back on her bottle of anointing oil-something she asked her grandmother to buy for her. Or the time we had to restrict her to only filling out two prayer cards each Sunday rather than the five she was previously submitting to the poor prayer team. (Each card was covered front and back with the names of those who needed healing, comfort, salvation AND the Baptism of the Holy Spirit- William Seymour would be proud. 🙂 )
I could go on about this Apple-of-my-Eye but don’t worry, I won’t. There is, however, a reason I shared all this. I need you to know what a joy she has been to us, so you could understand the depth of our loss.
I have wept more in the past nine months than I have in my entire life.
One morning in early March, Chloe left for school as she had done every morning before- with joy and a smile. Around 10am, I received a call from the school nurse. Chloe was acting very abnormal. She wasn’t making any sense and was extremely anxious. I picked her up from school and brought her home. For the next week, I couldn’t leave her side due to the overwhelming fear and anxiety she was experiencing. In the months that followed, she saw many doctors, had many medication changes and made some slight improvements only to then relapse.
There were stretches of time when she would be seemingly in a catatonic state. No speech. No movement, which meant no eating or drinking. This lead to further complications which landed her in the Hospital Emergency Room. At the worst of it, she didn’t even know who we were. She was a shell of all she had been.
I grieved, wept, prayed-begged God to bring her back to us. Many of our friends joined us in praying for a miracle and graciously God answered. In early November things started to turn around. It started with a smile, then a laugh. We knew she was returning to us when she had her father up on the roof putting up Christmas lights the day after Thanksgiving.
I knew she had fully returned when I was going through the Christian Book Distributer catalog to see what she had circled for her wish list for her birthday and Christmas. (A tradition since she learned to read.) She had circled both the One Year Bible New Living Translation and the One Year Bible New International Version!
I mentioned that I have wept more in the past nine months than I have in my entire life. It’s true. But recently they have been tears of gratitude and joy. What a gift her healing is to me. What a gift she is to me. When Chloe was a little girl, her father asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. She replied, “A reformer, it’s better than a security guard.” We chuckled at the time, but now as I write this, I think she has become what she aspired to be. The dictionary defines reformer this way,
a person who makes changes to something in order to improve it.
Chloe has reformed me. She has changed the way I look at God- His anointing, plans and purposes. She has changed my perspective on life, disappointments and disabilities. God has given me this amazing gift. My life is better because of her. LH
*Some now dispute that Martin Luther wrote Away in a Manger, but if I had to make a wager-wager sounds more spiritual than bet, doesn’t it?-I would put my money on Chloe. 🙂