I laugh every time I see the picture above. This is a shot of my little granddaughter, something I snapped in August during a family reunion. It was a blistering hot day, and before it was over, we were all wishing we were dressed like Aari. ;) There she was, balancing herself with one hand, lifting up something that to her was quite heavy. She was doing her best to imitate her daddy who was playing a similar game nearby.
Aari possesses moxie and this fills my heart with joy. She recently learned to walk and she now toddles everywhere, eager to explore life. This past weekend, I followed behind as she climbed something that to her, appeared to be a giant mountain. It was a long set of stairs in my sister-in-law's home, but to Aari, it was a steep challenge that beckoned and we both cheered when she reached the top.
Aari had a rough start in life. For months we agonized over a kidney problem that became apparent compliments of a series of ultrasounds. Before this tiny girl was born, it appeared that she would endure some health issues. At the very least, we were told that surgery would be required to fix the kidneys in the months following her birth. If things looked grim enough, transplants were in order down the road.
No one likes to be told that a tiny baby will be facing procedures of this magnitude. We fasted. We prayed. We kept her name and the names of her parents on temple prayer rosters. The biggie was maintaining our faith that all would be well. Then about a month before she made her arrival into this mortal realm, we witnessed a miracle---one kidney decreased in size, exhibiting signs that it was working properly as the swelling disappeared.
We cried with relief, expressing heartfelt gratitude to the One we knew had made this possible. But our celebration was dampened somewhat by the solemn face of a doctor who pointed out that the other kidney was still in trouble. He explained there wasn't time for the second kidney to improve on its own. It would need surgery after her birth.
It's a difficult thing to walk by faith. Doubting fear can rob us of peace of heart and mind, and in the weeks before Aari's birth, we agonized over what this precious child might have to endure. Still we prayed, clinging to a thin thread of hope that all would be well.
I was fortunate enough to be there at the hospital the night that Aari was born. She arrived into this world early on the morning of September 30th, 2008. And yes, we all cried as we took turns holding this beautiful baby girl who meant so much to us.
That first day, we also held our breath, hoping her kidneys would work. For hours we waited and when the waterworks in question didn't seem to be functioning, we prayed. Aari was taken back for another ultrasound to see what the kidneys and bladder now looked like.
We'd shed tears earlier, so there was no pride at stake when the doctor returned with Aari and very good news; her small bladder was filled to capacity. Both kidneys looked normal and appeared to be working just fine on their own. We cheered. We cried. And we prayed again, thanking God for another miracle.
Miracles do still happen. I've witnessed enough of those in my life to know that we seldom walk through life alone. We are watched over and helped far more than we ever fully realize.
During a challenging time in my life several years ago, I was blessed with a message dream. They don't happen very often, most dreams are silly nonsense, but once in a great while, when the need is great, an important message can surface in this format. Years ago I was given the following dream:
I was trying to walk up a golden staircase. Every step was agony and this effort required strength beyond my own to accomplish. Then my eyes were opened and I was shown that a dark force was doing their best to stifle me. Darkened hands reached for my feet, determined to block my way. Angels hovered nearby, allowing me to move forward on my own if I chose to take those precious steps. That part was up to me. The angels could keep the dark force at bay, as long as I kept moving forward, up the staircase toward an important goal.
I don't think it was a coincidence that the next morning, after waking from this extremely vivid dream, I found myself in the local drugstore where I saw a painting of a similar scene. A golden staircase rose toward heaven, and a solitary figure was making the climb. At the top of this picture were the following words: "Help me believe in what I could be, and all that I am. Show me the Stairway I have to climb, Lord, for my sake, teach me to take one day at a time."
Stunned, I purchased this picture with my prescriptions that day. I found a frame and it has hung in a place of honor in my computer room ever since. It's a reminder that even though we all have to make that climb, we never make it alone. Inner determination, something I call moxie, gives us the courage to keep taking those steps, even when it seems that all is lost.
Aari is a living example of what can happen when we choose to continue forward. It is my prayer that she'll continue walking forward up this fragile stairway we call life. It's something we all must do, taking it one determined step at a time, ignoring the doubting fear and darkened force that tries to stifle us. Reaching the top will take everything we can muster, but it is possible when we walk by faith, step by step, until our goals are realized.
Welcome to Crane-ium: thoughts, poetry, lyrics & photography of Cheri J. Crane
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