Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Hibiscus, a Grandma and a Ballerina

My firstborn granddaughter will be eighteen years old tomorrow. She’s somewhere in France, working on a variety of organic farms, taking a gap year before the grind of university.

I miss her terribly, but have wonderful memories of that extraordinary girl and can hardly wait to see her again. Until then, let me share the miracle of the Hibiscus...

Bethany lived with me for odd chunks of her growing-up years. One day when I picked her up from school, she informed me that she needed a dress for ballet photos which were to be taken the next morning at eight a.m.!

“And, Grandma, it needs to be the dress for my ballet solo!”

It was a great honor to have a solo, but I didn’t realize that I was supposed to supply the dress!

With no ballet costume stores in our little town, there was no alternative but to go to the fabric store, find a pattern and some fabric and hope to create something that would work! While I used to love designing my own things as a young mom, my sewing machine had been gathering dust for a long time.

The first challenge was finding fabric that would move and feel comfortable — and a pattern to turn it into something worthy for my beautiful solo ballerina. Finally, bags in tow, we made it home, ready for me to begin at 8:30 p.m.

While the others got dinner on the table, I carefully laid out the pattern pieces on the fabric — and realized that the salesgirl had not given me enough fabric! Stuffing everything back into the bags, I rushed back to town, hoping to beat the 9 p.m. closing! But there was no more fabric! She had given me all they had! I had to make the critical choice all over again!

Finally, by 10:30 p.m., I was back at home, laying pattern pieces on two shades of soft green fabric.

Setting my sewing machine up on the dining-room table, I glanced at the Hibiscus plant sitting on a nearby table. Its dark green leaves were shiny and healthy, but the beautiful pink flowers of summer were just a memory. I had hoped that it would continue to blossom after bringing it in in the fall — but it seemed totally disinterested in sharing any of its beauty inside. It had been several months since the last blossom had curled up and died.

Soon, everyone was in bed and I had begun to sew. About midnight, I noticed that a bud had formed on the Hibiscus. All through the watches of the night, it grew, began to show its pink, and gradually began to unfurl.

I sewed, and sewed, finally getting the bodice together and attached properly to the rest of the body-suit. Before attaching the skirt, about three a.m., I took it upstairs and woke Bethany for a groggy fitting. It was perfect!

By the time she got back into bed and I returned to the sewing machine, I was astounded to see that the bud had half unfolded and was becoming a beautiful flower. As I continued to sew, attaching the skirt, inserting the zipper, crisscrossing the ribbons, the flower continued to reveal its magnificence.

When the morning light began to dispel the darkness of night, I put the final touches on the shoulders and went upstairs to awaken Bethany. “Sweetheart, I have something very special to show you!”

“Is the dress finished?” she asked, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.

“Yes—but something even more special than that! Come and see!”
Running down to the sewing machine, she saw the dress. “Ohhh—Grandma, it’s beautiful!”

“But Bethany,” I said, pointing to the flower, “here’s the really special thing. God has given us a special sign that He will be with you as you dance for Him. This plant has not bloomed for months, but a bud began to form as soon as I began to sew. It has been unfolding all night and I believe that it tells the story of your life. As you allow God to unfold His plan for you, just like the flower, your life will become a thing of exquisite beauty. All it takes is staying in harmony with Him. He loves you very much—and so do I.”

Well, the photos were taken and Bethany danced beautifully and now she is so far away.

That Hibiscus never bloomed again. It had already communicated it’s greatest message — the message of how precious Bethany is to God’s heart.

Somewhere, a Hibiscus blooms for you — by design.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Doctor God

At the age of 13, my eldest son, Timothy, was already showing signs of the determined adventurer he would become.

I had the boys in swimming lessons for the summer at a pristine little lake in Central Ontario. One day, as the lesson time drew to a close, the instructor said, “OK - we’ve got a few minutes left until the end of the class. Let’s see who can swim the furthest under water. Naturally, Tim won, but came out of the water with a whopper of a headache. For a boy who was not prone to headaches, it was cause for concern. Little did we know that he had broken a blood vessel in his head.

With Tim in such agony that he “just wanted to die,” I rushed him to the Orilia hospital. “Just give him a couple of Tylenol, Mrs. Lee,” the doctor said. “Bring him back tomorrow if he still has a problem.”

“No!” I said. “This is not like Tim! You need to do some tests right now and find out what’s going on!”

The doctor did a bit of a double take, and realized that he needed to listen to mama bear. When the nuclear brain scans came back, they showed a patch of blood in the right quadrant. (See photo.) A helicopter was summoned to fly Tim to St. Mike’s in Toronto for microsurgery to relieve some of the pressure on the brain. He was not given the weekend to live.

The head of Radiology in Orillia was a Christian by the name of Andre Lussier. When I was not allowed to go in the air ambulance with Tim, Andre took me into the chapel where we prayed desperately for God to heal Tim.

From there, I drove to meet my husband for the two hour drive to Toronto. I could not speak. I had no words. I remember staring out the car window as the scenery passed, thinking, “It’s your move, God.” I knew there was nothing I could do for my precious, precious son. Little did I know that God had already answered those desperate prayers in the hospital chapel and had already healed Tim in the air ambulance.

When we arrived in Toronto, the doctor came out and met us, saying, “We’re not sure what happened, but we can’t find the bleeding. It’s there on the scans, but we’ve done a lumbar puncture and a catscan and can’t find a thing. The only test left is a neural angiogram and that’s way too dangerous a test. Your son could be left a vegetable for life if anything went wrong with that test. You might as well take him home.”

We were stunned - but thrilled to be able to drive home with our son in the car. He told us about how his headache had suddenly left up in the air.

That was Friday of the long weekend. When Tuesday morning rolled around, Dr. Baer, Chief of Neurology at St. Mike’s (who had not been on duty on the weekend), called me. “Mrs. Lee - you’ve got to get your son right down here. I don’t know why the tests didn’t show anything, but these things don’t just go away. Your son could be dead in five minutes - that’s how critical this is. You’ve got to get him down here for a neural angiogram. That’s the only way we’re going to know what’s going on!”

Well, I thought, if God healed Tim, He’s got to have a special reason and He’s not going to let him become a vegetable through a test. Besides, I believed that if God really does a miracle, it should be open to scientific investigation. And so, Tim and I got in the car and drove down to St. Mikes, where we met my husband. We were conscious of the possibility that Tim could suddenly die and it was very scary—in a normal kind of a way—but deep down, we all knew that God was at work and we could trust Him.

After completing the dangerous test, Dr. Baer met us in the hallway, shaking his head. He couldn’t explain why there was no bleeding. He only knew that, “these things just don’t go away.” When I pushed him to admit to the possibility of a miracle, he simply said that he’d never seen anything like that and didn’t have an answer.

Long story short, Tim entered Grade Nine that fall and played High School football. In later years, he went on to become a fire fighter and thought nothing of running up the steps to the top of the CN Tower in full gear, wearing a Scott Pack as a fund raiser for United Way. Now he lives in BC where he’s an avid rock climber and adventurer. If there had been any weakness where the blood vessel ruptured, we would have certainly known it by now!

Thank God! He is awesome—by design.