|Not a great picture of either of us, and you can tell Carson in a few years what you think of him, but I love you anyway!|
Let me just start by saying: I hope that this blog post, on my very famous, world-renowned blog, doesn't offend your brother and sisters, since I have never written them a post on any of their birthdays. I love them no less than you, but you see, I never had to write a post like this one to any of them either. So, they will just have to trust that Aunt Clare would give her life for any of them, same as you, and they probably don't really want a blog post anyway. They will most likely happily settle for the usual gift card. ;)
But you, Gracey, where to begin? At the part where you literally are only here because God is so much better, so much more powerful, so much more *grace* full than I could have ever imagined a year ago? Because I thought I knew Him, and then I met you. And if I think you turned my life upside down, I can't even begin to address how your mom and dad feel. But for the grace of God, you should be dead. And that seems like a harsh, hateful thing to say, but it is true. You, my sweet, sweet, niece are the most physical evidence that as the heavens are higher than the earth, so His ways are above our's.
Your tiny little busted heart could not sustain you. You were so ill, after months of waiting your trademark grin had faded to the faintest smile. You were not doing well. And neither were we. The Lord and I had this conversation every day: "It's today, Lord, right? We've waited long enough, haven't we?". And *my* heart started to fail, and the doubt crept in, whispering in its hateful way... "What if?".
And I will NEVER forget the night before God graciously reached down and decided to restore your life. I called your mom-she needed help, she was constantly at the hospital, and your brother and sisters needed someone, and she needed someone, and I wanted to be there, but was worried-what if we had months ahead of us? We were looking at plane tickets and trying to make travel plans and nothing was working. I kept hearing a Still Small Voice, and I finally stopped. I could hear, as plain as day, it was saying, "Wait". And I told your mom. And we agreed, we would stop trying to make plans and take the weekend to figure out what the Lord wanted us to do. We prayed, and I felt peace wash over me. I knew the Lord was going to make His will so abundantly clear we would not be able to miss it.
I went to bed that night and slept like I hadn't slept in weeks. And I woke up to a phone full of messages-that peace? It was the Lord. He was just being patient, wanting me to trust that He had it under control. Do you know what it is like to hear that the Thing you've been praying for-for days, that turned into weeks, that turned into months has finally happened? You feel like you are in a dream. You keep checking-is it real? Yes, it is still real? But is it really real? Yes, it is really real. And you don't know what to say, or do.
But then, like with all of life, the dream turns into cold, hard reality. And you had your precious donated heart, the greatest physical gift any person can give. There were ups, and there were downs. You could go home, wait; no, you couldn't. You were out of the hospital, now you were back in. You were gaining weight, you were losing weight. And that is when it hit me, as a pastor I once knew used to say, "The way you get in, is the way you go on." We realized: the prayers we had prayed before your gift? Those were the ones we would keep on praying. "Lord, provide." "Lord, sustain."
So that is you, my darling niece. You never let us forget Who is really calling the shots. Your life screams what we should all take time to remember: every moment is precious, tomorrow is promised to *no one*! You are a breathing, smiling, talking, moving reminder that your life is not your own-you were bought with a price. And every moment is a gift.
You are me- except you are highlighted, underlined, written in boldest black. You are each of us, we just don't want to see it. Every moment of your life has been bathed, showered, flooded with prayer. And mine should be no different. Because I, too, have been bought with a price. I am not my own. And I am also living on borrowed time, each fragile, priceless moment to be accounted for to Someone Else.
You have showed me what it means to pray without ceasing. You have shown me how to smile through the pain, to carry on with the glorious task of living in the mundaneness, the beauty and the tragedy that is life. The very prayers I prayed, not just for a heart, but for you to taste ice cream, meet your siblings, sleep in your own bed! have happened before my very eyes. And it, you, are my very own miracle. And I haven't stopped being thankful. And I won't stop being grateful.
You are amazing Gracey, not because you had a heart transplant, but because God created you. You are amazing Gracey, not because you live on borrowed time, but because we all do, and our time is better because you are in it. You are amazing Gracey, because your smile can light up a room, and your laugh is contagious, and you radiate God's goodness. You are amazing Gracey, because God filled you with possibilities that are on the cusp of being explored, and you get to wear on the outside what most of us only wear on the inside: we are here by God's grace, no more, no less. And I can't wait to see what He has in store for you.