Beautiful Things, Beauty for ashes

The Wilderness Will Rejoice and Blossom

The desert and the parched land will be glad;the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.  Isaiah 35:1,2

Last summer I was seated in the waiting room at the physical therapy office where I take my daughter. It has been a weekly routine for many years as she has struggled with walking because of her Cerebral Palsy. The first time I ever saw her walk was across the waiting room of a physical therapy office when she was seven years old.

Chloe with one of her physical therapists

On this particular appointment, my reading was interrupted by the sound of her singing to all the physical therapists and their patients in the main physical therapy room! Because of her cognitive challenges, I wasn’t sure what to do and as I was contemplating going back to the physical therapy room to quiet her, a lady sitting next to me began to speak. “That is Chloe Hempel!”, she said in a cheerful voice to all of us sitting in the waiting room,”I would know that voice anywhere!”  Surprised by her statement, I told the lady that Chloe was my daughter. The lady introduced herself as a teacher at Chloe’s middle school. She informed me that just a couple of months before, Chloe had sung a song for the talent show on the last day of school before the entire student body. She went on to say that as Chloe sang, many of the audience was moved to tears. And that when she was finished, many stood to their feet, wild with applause and gave her a standing ovation! As the teacher finished describing the event, Chloe came out to the waiting room, exchanged enthusiastic greetings with the teacher and then we left. I was encouraged by what the teacher had shared but didn’t think much more about it until just a few days ago.

 Chloe, again, was slated to sing at the talent show on the last day of school last week. This time my schedule allowed me to attend. My older daughters and I arrived early, checked in at the office and proceeded to the gymnasium. As we got to the gymnasium, a lady was handing out kleenex as she explained, “Chloe Hempel is singing again this year!” The moment came for the show to begin and Chloe was first on the program. She slowly walked to the microphone with the aid of her walker and began to sing, “Beautiful Things”. I knew the chorus of the song she had chosen but I had never caught the verses, until that morning.

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You . . .

By this time in the song, I was bawling and wishing I had taken the kleenex that had been offered to me! As I listened to her sing, I thought about the conversations we’ve had over the years, when she would ask me, “Mom, why did God make me like this?”  Chloe, unlike her brother, is aware of every single limitation the Cerebral Palsy has caused. She notices it all. How she couldn’t join the circle and sit criss cross applesauce or play the jump rope games with her classmates when she was in elementary school. How all her friends keep moving up to High School and go on to get their driver’s permits and licenses while she remains in middle school. How she walks different. How she writes different. How she can’t join her classmates playing sports in PE.

As her mother, I see her frustrations, disappointments and isolation and I sing with her “Could all that is lost ever be found? Could a garden come up from this ground at all?” Lord, could you? Could you make something beautiful out of this desert ground of disability? Then I listened to her sing the chorus, “You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of the dust.” Over and over I heard her proclaim, “God, You make beautiful things!” Chloe finishes her song. Just as before, the audience is moved. They applaud and stand to their feet and in the midst of her wilderness, our wilderness, I see a bloom. LH

(Check out the Bible Study link below to see what the Bible has to say about your desert/wilderness. Also below is the video of “Beautiful Things” by Gungor . If you would like to view the video of Chloe singing it at her school CLICK HERE.)

“JUST SAY KNOW” Bible Study

Click on the link below for this week’s Bible Study on “The Wilderness Will Rejoice and Blossom.”



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is an aspiring Bounty Hunter who is always looking for God's Bounty-- His grace and goodness-- in the mundane and melancholy as well as in the miraculous. She is also a wife, mother of four adult children--two with Cerebral Palsy, grandmother and minister of the Gospel. "You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance." Psalm 65:11 NLT

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