We’ve all seen Christmas miracles happen in the movies. We smile and think, “How wonderful!”. It’s even more wonderful to truly believe, down in the depths of your heart, that miracles do occur. I have had my prayer answered countless times over the years. I’m known to cry at sentimental movies, no matter how many times I’ve seen them. I’ve actually cried at Budweiser-horses-in-the-snow or when a military-parent-surprises-their child commercial. Yes, I’m a little sappy. I’m especially emotional this Christmasy time of year. However, a real ‘Christmas Miracle’ not once, but twice this season left me filled with awe and overwhelming gratitude.
Recently, my husband and I decided to adopt a furry family member. It breaks my heart to think about those sweet animals in cages for so long, especially at Christmas time. We discussed the pros and cons and considered the responsibility very seriously. Our daughter, Faith, who has Down Syndrome has been afraid of dogs since a bad experience about eight years ago. We made the decision to adopt and planned how we could desensitize her of her fears. The decision was made, in part, because John and I have wanted a dog for the past several years. But also because raising a child with Down Syndrome is partly helping her to learn and overcome challenges. And I believe helping her overcome her fears is a worthwhile task.
The adjustment has had its challenges, but Faith gets closer to our tiny black lab mix every day. Primadonna is a sweet pup and seems very aware of Faith’s differences. She is patient and understanding where Faith is concerned. She will sit quietly if Faith gets upset. And Faith has allowed the distance between them to lessen a little more each day. Miss Prim has proven to be a great choice and we instantly fell in love with her.
A little over a week ago, Primadonna ran off while at a friend’s house. I was devasted. I cried and prayed. The search began that morning and continued well past nightfall. I eventually realized I had to return home, to take care of my daughter. We lived about half an hour away from where she ran off. I drove home at about twenty miles per hour, still crying, and praying I just might see her. I was heartbroken. I took a personal day from work and John and I returned to the scene first thing in the morning. After searching, crying, posting on every site imaginable, hanging flyers, and going door to door, in tears, we feared the worst. She had been outside in below-freezing temperatures, in a strange neighborhood, all night.
Then, our smart pup just ‘showed up’ playing with our friend’s dogs when he let them out in the morning. By the grace of God, Miss Prim was back! No one person found her. There was no heroic human event rescuing her from danger. We don’t know where she was or how far she had run. We had scoured the area calling for her along with several strangers that volunteered their time. Just when hope was running low, God blessed us with an actual Christmas miracle.
I was so grateful and more excited than ever for Christmas. It was wonderful! We felt so blessed, happy, and grateful. And then… As if that wasn’t enough, three days after Christmas…
There are everyday activities performed by teenagers that I believe some people take for granted. One of which is writing and basic fine motor skills.
As a mom, of a child with Down Syndrome, and a teacher, I have used every trick up my sleeve to assist Faith, in her sixteen years, with her writing and coloring. She hated to color. When I somehow tricked her into it, the page was all one color and a scribbled mess. I blamed myself for not knowing how to help her. I’m not sure which one of us has been more frustrated.
Then just this morning, at breakfast, she amazed me with her focus and showed off her much-improved skills. I watched in awe and cried in my omelet. She wrote, “mom” and “Matthew” (her brother) more legibly than ever. She proceeded to color a quite detailed picture. I did help, you can notice where, but the rest was all her! Not only did she vary her use of color choices but she stayed within the lines better than ever. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it. I play with her and help her practice her skills on a regular basis and have never seen this level of ability from her before today.
My second Christmas miracle!
This is why I will NEVER stop teaching her, playing with her, or believing in her abilities!
So, my friends, as we prepare to enter into a new year, I will leave you with my heartfelt, yet, unsolicited advice.
Don’t stop believing.
Believe in the kindness of others.
Believe in the abilities of others, no matter how different they are.
Believe in yourself.
Believe in the power of prayer.
And no matter how old you are or how defeated you feel, or what time of year it is…
never stop believing in miracles.