A Miraculous Birthday Breakthrough
A few simple words from a special-needs daughter inspire great joy in her proud mother.
Everything was ready for my trip. I was one of five speakers traveling to Florida for a “Sharing Our Faith” conference. I headed to my daughter Kelly’s room to say good-bye. At the door, I heard Kelly talking to herself and stopped to listen. “Okay. Tomorrow. Spelling test,” she murmured.
I loved the sound of Kelly’s voice, and I didn’t hear it nearly as often as I wanted. Kelly was born with a rare syndrome called Cornelia de Lange. The genetic disorder had caused multiple problems, including severe reflux and heart defects, as well as developmental delays.
Talking was especially hard for Kelly. She communicated mostly in two-word phrases. Names she shortened to a first or last name—never both together. At the high school where she attended special-education classes, the students and teachers hardly ever heard a word out of her.
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Even at home she never initiated a conversation and rarely made eye contact. But alone in her room, she sometimes spoke to herself in a stream-of-consciousness way. Whenever I heard her, I would stop and listen.
“Kelly?” I said, stepping inside. “It’s almost time for me to leave for the conference. I’ll be back on Monday. The day after your birthday.”
I hated to be away the day my eldest child turned 18, even if she didn’t mind. There was a time, after Kelly was first diagnosed, that an eighteenth birthday seemed impossible.
The conference kept me very busy, but whenever I had a moment to myself I thought about Kelly. The night before her birthday I called home to check in. I spoke with my husband, Larry, but as usual Kelly refused to talk on the phone. “We’ll wish her happy birthday for you tomorrow,” Larry promised.
That night I had dinner with the leader of our team. “Why don’t you come with me to the church where I’m preaching in the morning?” he said. “You could give your testimony.” It sounded like a great plan.
I went back to my room to prepare. I didn’t need much practice to deliver a talk on how my faith came alive years before. I’d told the story in front of many a congregation. Yet this time, when I started to practice alone, something felt wrong.
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“This is the only testimony I’ve got, Lord,” I said. “What else am I supposed to talk about?”
The answer was clear: Kelly.
As of her birthday tomorrow I’d have loved her for 18 years exactly. I needed God to be a little more specific about what he wanted me to say. But when I prayed for an answer, all I heard was, Trust me. You’ll know.
When I arrived at the church the next day, I was nervous. Inspiration had not struck me during the night. In minutes I would step in front of a church full of people still not knowing what I might say!
I grabbed the service bulletin and scanned it for the day’s readings. Luke 13: 10-17, where Jesus laid hands on a woman suffering from a disabling spirit. “She was made straight, and she glorified God.” The woman had been troubled for 18 years.
Eighteen years! Kelly turned 18 years old today! I turned to the pastor. “I think I’m supposed to give my testimony after the Gospel reading,” I said.
When the time came for me to speak, the words flowed out of me. I told the congregation how special Kelly was to our family and to everyone who met her. I’d given testimonies before, but not like this. God was at work in this room. I could feel it.