Hope at Christmas…

I hope I never forget the Christmas that I was pregnant with our first daughter Stella. A few months before we had found out that she only had a 50% chance of survival and in November we had met with the doctors who would be caring for her after she was born. Needless to say, that Christmas we were filled with both grief, for what was coming and hope, that the following Christmas our daughter would be home with us.

It is my tradition to put my Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving (we have a fake tree) but that year Mike had to work so he brought the Christmas tree, lights and ornaments up from storage before he left. I put on Christmas music and started working on shaping my tree.

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I was 7 months pregnant at this point and due to an extra 2 and ½ pounds of amniotic fluid (a result of Stella’s condition) I was quite large and my belly kept knocking the tree out of the stand. I kept plugging away wrapping lights on each and every branch, fixing the tree every time it tipped in one direction or another and singing Christmas songs to myself and our dog, Jozee.

A few frustrating hours later I plugged in the last strand of lights and stepped back to look at my completed tree. The colorful lights flashed on and then 10 seconds later the entire middle section of the tree went out. I started to cry.

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Then an old, over played Christmas song about baby Jesus and the role he would play on this earth came on the radio – Mary Did You Know.

I remember sitting down and just crying, not just over my tree lights but also because the gravity of Stella’s situation was hitting me. I remember crying to God about how I didn’t want my baby girl to have a tube down her throat, surgery or scars. I remember crying about having to hand my little girl over to strangers to take care of her, to save her. And then I realized that God too had to hand his little baby off to strangers to take care of him. He had to trust Mary and Joseph and this world to love and protect his son. His son too went through a horrible battle and he too has scars.

I realized so quickly that he understood, not only as God, but as a parent, as a father.

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This Christmas, Mike and I are enjoying watching both of our miracles, Stella and Nora, run around and be excited about everything. They love life, their family and friends. They are such a joy to us this Christmas and every day. Every time I get overwhelmed with what Nora will have to go through, I think about that Christmas and the lesson that I learned. I think about how hopeless I felt and then I look at Stella and I remember that God has never left us and he will continue to guide us through this life.

This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9

My girls may not be perfect – they both have scars – but it is my job to teach them to be proud of those scars, that those scars represent the miracle that they are. When Jesus appears to his disciples after his death on the cross, he always shows them his scars as proof of who he is. To remind them that he not only died for them and but by God’s grace, he came back to life. His scars are as much a symbol of what he did for us as the cross is. My girl’s scars are a reminder to me of our journey as a family. They are my symbol that we survived and they remind me of times in my life when Jesus carried me home.

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Merry Christmas to each and every one of you. May your season be blessed and may you see God’s grace shining in your own children.

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To listen to Somewhere in Your Silent Night by Casting Crowns – Click here!