It was finally the day of the long-awaited dermatology appointment. I prepped Nora for the process of wearing our masks and keeping a safe distance from other patients while in the waiting room (thanks, COVID-19). In her happy-go-lucky way, she pleasantly smiled and said, “Okay, Mommy…but will I have to get in my underwear?” I stifled a giggle (because this a legitimate female concern), and reassured her that the doctor would only need to see her face.
In the parking lot, I put my mask on first then placed the pediatric one on Nora’s face, pulling back the caught tendrils of curls that had woven their way around the ear bands.
“You ready, Babe?” “I’m ready, Mommy.”
When the nurse came in to get our intake information, I instantly began to get nervous. I hadn’t been nervous at all up until this point. Why now? But as she began asking questions like: “How long has the spot been present?” ” How have you been treating it?” ” Do you have any questions?”… my mom-brain floated off into oblivion and my nurse-brain started scrolling through the rolodex of causes or conditions that this could be… please, God, anything but….
As soon as the doctor came in, he gently asked Nora to remove her mask. And though he said it with calm, caring words…they still stung.
“Yes, Mom, I’m afraid she’s got vitiligo”.
My heart sank.
Then he said, “But she’s such a beautiful girl. And I know she’ll handle it like a trooper.”
Though he’d only just met her, he was right. She is a trooper…and a feisty one at that!
Let me tell you more about our Nora, or “Eleanor”, which is her given name. You see, she is an answered prayer. In fact, everything about her is an answered prayer — even down to her ringlet curls.
While pregnant with Nora, I’d had complications. She was the third child to inhabit my womb, but her brother (Elias) who’d been born 20 months before her had been born prematurely and I’d painfully abrupted at 35 weeks. I was taken by squad and as soon as he was born, he was sent to the NICU with low blood sugar and in respiratory distress. So, because of my history (my age and weight didn’t help much either — to be totally honest), I began progesterone shots at 16 weeks pregnant with Nora to prevent preterm delivery. Then, about 3/4 of the way through my pregnancy, it was discovered that I had oligohydramnios (low amniotic fluid).
I was a wreck.
I battled fear and anxiety for much of my pregnancy; having to pray away thoughts of preterm delivery or complications with her health and safety. But somewhere near 37 weeks, when she became full-term, I started to relinquish the control I thought I had — and fully let God lead. I had prayed silent prayers that she’d be a girl — long before we found out her gender. And I’d whispered, “Oh, and God, can you please give her curly hair?” So when she was quickly born at 38 weeks in the operating room (because there was no time to prep a labor room) — She came safe and sound, and as I looked down at my dark-haired girl held firmly in my arms, I KNEW she was an answered prayer.
I’ve recently looked back over my journals from that time. I even have a prayer request that I’d written out on a piece of paper that asked for a “healthy pregnancy, delivery, and baby.” I’ve kept it in my prayer journal as a reminder of how God hears us — how God hears me and He knows my heart’s desire (Psalm 20:4, Psalm 37:4 ).
Not long after she was born, we were told that it was likely she had hip dysplasia. So, I took our newborn baby girl to Children’s Hospital, and prayed the whole way — but having peace that all would be okay. The technician was kind, and in subtle ways reassured me that it was a normal scan. The radiologist confirmed the normal diagnosis days later. Thank you, God, for answering yet another prayer.
So now here we are…4 years later.
But God, in His loving way, allowed us to experience a miracle for Nora right before this most recent diagnosis.
She’d been playing outside with her brothers, fell, and broke her arm. The X-ray confirmed a “well-approximated radial fracture” of the left arm. We went 2 days later to the orthopedic surgeon. He looked at Nora — who was wrapped only in an ace-bandage, went back to review the films and returned saying, “I think the report was fake”. Fake??!!
Maybe it was because I was feeling a bit brave behind my face mask (thanks again, COVID-19) but I said, “I don’t believe it was fake. We’ve been praying, so I believe it was healed.”
Mic drop and all the bold, brave mom hashtags!
I don’t know if he was smiling or not behind his mask, but I KNEW God had miraculously healed Nora.
So why am I struggling with THIS diagnosis now? With my own eyes, I have seen God work in her life over and over again — real, physical, tangible, ‘touching the scars in Jesus’ hands’-kind of evidence. He’s given me so many examples to prove His faithfulness to me. So why does this shake my faith?
Is it because it’s more serious than a fractured arm? Is it because it affects her appearance? Is it because it’s an autoimmune condition? Is it because I don’t want her to suffer rejection? Maybe it’s the frustration that it could be so much worse — and I feel guilty for being sad about this because I know it’s all relative and there are other children with much more serious conditions. Or, maybe it’s simply the sorrow that this is not what I envisioned for my child.
Maybe it’s all of these things.
Pain, suffering, and not-so-great medical diagnoses are not without purpose. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”(ESV) And Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”(ESV)
God uses our trials to illustrate that He alone deserves the credit. Trials make it obvious to the world that we are not in control. Everyone can see that we don’t have the capacity to fix ourselves or our problems. So, when God reveals His handiwork, He gets all the glory, not us...
If I can trust God with my eternity, why do I struggle to trust Him with my day to day? Why do I struggle to allow Him authority over the future of my children?
A wise women, one of my mentor moms, once said, “We have to trust God with our children because He loves them more than we do.”
Ouch! That’s a zinger.
The truth is, it’s my pride that tries to insert itself into the perfect will of a Heavenly Father.
I get in my own way.
I think I know better.
I remember a song I used to sing with my mother by Sandi Patty called, “Masterpiece“. And in the song, there is a part that says, “He breathed in you a song and to make it all complete, He brought the masterpiece into the world. You are a masterpiece a new creation He has formed.” And then the song ends with, “Just be the masterpiece He created you to be.”
When God created us and fashioned us in our mother’s wombs, He did so with intentionality and purpose. In Psalm 139:13-18, we read about the Creator of the Universe making us, knowing us, and thinking about us. The Scriptures say:
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous — and how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day has passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God! They are innumerable! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up in the morning, you are still with me!“Psalm 139:13-18, NLT
I don’t know about you, but when I read that the God of Heaven and Earth intricately formed me — that I was not a mistake — and that He thinks precious and innumerable thoughts about me — that moves me. And to add to that, the fact that He loves me in spite of myself and without me having to do anything for Him, that is the definition of unconditional love. That’s the amazing thing about the Father’s love for us — it is not earned, it is not deserved — it is freely given.
This reality was revealed to me the other day when I had my sweet girl’s face rested in my hands. As I looked into her chocolatey brown eyes, I began to pray over her. I said, “Lord, if it be Your will, please heal Nora’s patch.” She immediately interrupted and said, “And God, even if You don’t, I don’t care. I like my patch.”
I abruptly opened my eyes.
She likes her patch?
I had never thought that could be a possibility. I’ve been so consumed with worry and fear for her, that I was not able to see the absolute beauty in it. I was not able to see her own beautiful acceptance of the way God made her.
She was intricately formed by the Creator of the Universe and nothing about this diagnosis is a mistake — She is His masterpiece.
I was reminded that the very name we gave her— WILL be her life’s calling. “Eleanor” means “shining light“. I believe she WILL be a shining light in the darkness because she already is. God WILL use her “patch” to receive glory. I believe it. I trust His plan.
If a four year-old-can, then I can too.
Lord, in Your infinite ways, You see that this diagnosis is a means to an end. Through a tiny, feisty, four-year-old — You WILL be glorified. Thank You for teaching me and revealing Yourself to me. I thank You that You’re not finished with me yet! I thank you for the masterpiece that You have made in each and every one of us. Open our eyes to see ourselves and others as You do. Thank You. I love You. Amen!