суббота, 15 декабря 2012 г.

Kaylie's Christmas Prayer

By Marilyn Phillips

If you count all your assets, you always show a profit.
~Robert Quillen

Another festive December is here but what is there to celebrate? Fighting back tears, I drive my courageous daughter to the hospital. Rebekah has cystic fibrosis and must be hospitalized often due to lung infections. You would think that I would be used to frequent hospitalizations by now. But it is so near the holidays and my daughter has never been quite so sick. Rebekah has pneumonia and bronchitis. Her doctor said, "Rebekah might be hospitalized throughout the entire Christmas holidays." So she needed to be prepared for a long stay. Rebekah must have strong antibiotics and receive numerous breathing treatments to clear her congested lungs.
But how can Rebekah be in the hospital during December? Distraught, I focus on all of the yearly family activities my precious daughter will be missing, including decorating our Christmas tree. Will Rebekah improve and get well enough to be out of the hospital in time for Christmas Day?

December is a time of celebrating. My family has wonderful traditions. But since Rebekah is in the hospital, how can we participate? My daughter will miss family parties, school festivities, last-minute shopping, driving around and looking at Christmas lights, decorating our traditional holiday cookies and the Candle Light Christmas Eve Celebration at our church. I am depressed as my husband and I carry Rebekah's luggage to the small sterile room that will be her home for at least the next two weeks.

Although the situation is dreary, Rebekah has an amazing attitude. She openly shares her faith in God with each doctor and nurse. She is a college senior and will graduate in the spring. However, this semester was physically demanding and has taken a toll on her fragile health. She is unable to sleep without sitting up. And, she coughs constantly.

Although Rebekah is positive, I focus on the negative. Our house is not ready for Christmas... no tree, no lights, no treasured decorations are displayed. And because I have a new full-time teaching position, I have not even purchased one single gift for Christmas. As I sit outside the hospital room, my tears flow freely.

My amazing daughter makes the best of the situation. Rebekah plays Christmas music in her hospital room, reads the Bible, and watches Christmas videos. But I keep focusing on all that we are missing due to the hospitalization.

Finally two days before Christmas, Rebekah has improved enough to be released from the hospital. But, she still has the IV PICC line in her arm and is required to administer daily IV medications for two additional weeks. Once we arrive home, we hurriedly unpack Rebekah's luggage and my family quickly puts up the evergreen tree and a few decorations. Due to time constraints, we only put on the minimum amount of lights and tree decorations.

The next day, my husband and I go shopping and buy all the presents in one day and frantically wrap the gifts and put them under the tree. I look at the remaining unused decorations and one box marked FRAGILE. I know what is in the box... it is the Nativity set. But there is no time to unwrap and set out our beautiful Nativity figurines. Memories flood my mind as I gaze at the box. I recall that each year since my two children were small, we read the Christmas story from the Bible on Christmas Eve. Each child would move a figurine as my husband read Scripture describing the beautiful angels, hard working shepherds, and baby Jesus. Exhaustion sets in. I decide the contents of the box can wait as I slide it in a corner. I go to bed exhausted.

Although Christmas Day arrives, I feel no joy. We go to my sister-in-law's lovely home for lunch. As always, her house is beautifully decorated. Christmas music plays in the background and our entire family is there, including my niece and her children.

We sit down to a festive meal with all of our holiday favorites... roasted turkey and cornbread jalapeño dressing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, green beans and a variety of desserts including pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and fudge. The table is beautifully set with gorgeous Christmas china and scented candles. My daughter is so happy and grateful to be part of this holiday event.

Before we begin to eat, my husband is asked to say the prayer. But to our surprise... my niece's spunky four-year-old daughter, Kaylie, proclaims, "I want to say the prayer." So, we all giggle and give her permission to pray thinking Kaylie will be praying for lots of toys for herself. However to our delight, Kaylie says, "Thank you God for Christmas because we can celebrate Jesus' birthday." Suddenly, I fight back tears as I realize that I haven't even thought about the birth of Jesus this entire Christmas season.

I smile and silently thank God for Kaylie's heartfelt prayer which focuses on the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But, Kaylie isn't through. During the meal, she proceeds to ask each adult, "Did you know that we are celebrating Jesus' birthday today?" And in response each adult laughs and says, "Yes!" To our amazement in the middle of the meal, Kaylie proclaims, "Let's sing 'Happy Birthday to Jesus' to celebrate." We each swallow our mouthful of turkey and dressing quickly and begin singing a loud and off-tune version of the "Happy Birthday" song to Jesus. Kaylie's sparkling eyes watch gleefully to ensure that each adult is singing. We pass her approval. Later in the meal, Kaylie requests that we sing to Jesus again. And so we do. Kaylie's holiday wish is granted.

Finally, the dinner is over and all presents are unwrapped. We hug relatives and leave. Once at home, we unload our Christmas gifts and goodies and I sit to ponder the day's events in front of the fireplace. I notice a box in the corner. I open the box marked FRAGILE! I gently un-wrap the Nativity figurines and place them on the coffee table. And I realize that during the hospitalization, I was busy dwelling on negative thoughts and the activities that we were missing. Instead, I should have been thinking about all of God's blessings. Gazing at the nativity scene I suddenly have an overwhelming peace and I experience the joy of the season. I pray and praise God for the blessings of my family and Rebekah's improving health but most of all I thank God for the gift of eternal life. The prayer of a four-year-old child helps me again focus on the reason we celebrate Christmas... the birth of Christ... and I whisper, "Happy Birthday, Jesus."

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