More than 2,000 years ago, a babe was born in a stable and placed in a manger to rest while his parents watched and marveled at this wondrous creation, who they already knew would change the world. In a short 23 years, he would teach multitudes of people to trust God, he would lead them to his Father, and eventually save all who would believe in him from eternal damnation.
Seven years ago, another boy was born in a quiet room and laid to rest as his parents watched and marveled at this wondrous creation, who they already knew would change their lives, but had no idea how much he would change the world around them.
Every child is a miraculous creation, a blessing from our Father in Heaven, born with a purpose only fulfilled by them. As parents, it’s easy to dream about the future our children will enjoy, all the great adventures they will experience and all the joy they will bring their families. Special needs parents are no different. We, too, dream of our children’s futures and wonder about all the great adventures they will enjoy, but the dreams are often plagued with bumpy roads to and from diagnoses and question marks of which path to follow from there. However, the dreams are no less real and the miracles we find in the moments of everyday life seem even more miraculous.
This Christmas season has been full of miraculous moments for our family, beginning with a different kind of worship experience Christmas Eve. Our church enjoys a quiet, peaceful, candlelight service at 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve each year. It is such a beautiful service, completely calming to my heart and soul, which is generally running near empty by that point in the evening. This service is also about an hour past the beginning of our bedtime routine, so there is always the question of if it’s really going to be worth it to go, as in, how tired are the kids and will we make it through without anyone falling apart?
We enjoyed a very peaceful, calming service with Ali snuggled up tight on my lap, Ben drawing happily next to his dad, and our big three sprinkled among us, filling our pew. Another young one was not having such an easy time with worship when Ben looked at his dad and said, “I hear a baby. Loud because he’s crying. Not happy. He needs to be quiet.” (smile) Chris confirmed there was a baby crying and probably wasn’t happy, but that everything was okay.
Candles were lit and Silent Night sung. Ben sighed, smiled at his dad, and said, “Happy.” Happy indeed. How could a moment be more perfect? It may not seem like a big deal to the average onlooker, but this is a family who struggles to get through morning worship without the whole church hearing Ben asking or telling us about what he has drawn, hearing us trying to get him to whisper, or hearing me reminding myself this is only a phase, that he will eventually begin to whisper in church rather than talk out loud.
The next morning, amidst the excitement of opening presents, I heard a small, sweet voice: our Ben reading a new book he had just opened. It was an easy reader Rudolph adventure. To understand the enormity of this situation, you have to know that a year ago, he had no interest in reading at all and honestly, little to no interest in even being read to. And now, on this beautiful Christmas morning, here he was, sitting in the midst of four excited siblings opening gifts, reading a story. The best part of this moment: his siblings noticed, too. It didn’t take long for the unwrapping to cease and our entire family to sit and listen to the new adventures of Rudolph. It wasn’t the birth of a baby who would save the world, but it was a perfect moment in our family Christmas.