The Smell of Rain"
A cold March wind danced around the dead of night in Dallas as the doctor walked into Diana's small hospital room. Still groggy from surgery, her husband David held her hand as they braced themselves for the latest news. That afternoon of March 10, 1991, complications had forced Diana, only 24 weeks pregnant, to undergo an emergency cesarean to deliver the couple's new daughter, Danae Lu. At 12 inches long and weighing only one pound and nine ounces, they already knew she was perilously premature. Still, the doctor's soft words dropped like bombs. "I don't think she's going to make it", he said, as kindly as he could. "There's only a 10 percent chance she will live through the night, and even then, if by some slim chance she does make it, her future could be a very cruel one." Numb with disbelief, David and Diana listened as the doctor described the devastating problems Danae would likely face if she survived. She would never walk, she would never talk, she would probably be blind, and she would certainly be prone to other catastrophic conditions from cerebral palsy to complete mental retardation, and on and on. "No! No!" was all Diana could say. She and David, with their 5-year-old son Dustin, had long dreamed of the day they would have a daughter to become a family of four. Now, within a matter of hours, that dream was slipping away. Through the dark hours of morning as Danae held onto life by the thinnest thread, Diana slipped in and out of sleep, growing more and more determined that their tiny daughter would live, and live to be a healthy, happy young girl. But David, fully awake and listening to additional dire details of their daughter's chances of ever leaving the hospital alive, much less healthy, knew he must confront his wife with the inevitable. David walked in and said that we needed to talk about making funeral arrangements. Diana remembers, 'I felt so bad for him because he was doing everything, trying to include me in what was going on, but I just wouldn't listen, I couldn't listen.' I said, "No, that is not going to happen, no way! I don't care what the doctors say; Danae is not going to die! One day she will be just fine, and she will be coming home with us!" As if willed to live by Diana's determination, Danae clung to life hour after hour, with the help of every medical machine and marvel her miniature body could endure. But as those first days passed, a new agony set in for David and Diana. Because Danae's under- developed nervous system was essentially raw, the lightest kiss or caress only intensified her discomfort, so they couldn't even cradle their tiny baby girl against their chests to offer the strength of heir love. All they could do, as Danae struggled alone beneath the ultraviolet light in the tangle of tubes and wires, was to pray that God would stay close to their precious little girl. There was never a moment whenDanae suddenly grew stronger. But as the weeks went by, she did slowly gain an ounce of weight here and an ounce of strength there. At last, when Danae turned two months old, her parents were able to hold her in their arms for the very first time. And two months later-though doctors continued to gently but grimly warn that her chances of surviving, much less living any kind of normal life, were next to zero. Danae went home from the hospital, just as her mother had predicted. Today, five years later, Danae is a petite but feisty young girl with glittering gray eyes and an unquenchable zest for life. She shows no signs, what so ever, of any mental or physical impairment. Simply, she is everything a little girl can be and more-but that happy ending is far from the end of her story. One blistering afternoon in the summer of 1996 near her home in Irving, Texas, Danae was sitting in her mother's lap in the bleachers of a local ballpark where her brother Dustin's baseball team was practicing. As always, Danae was chattering nonstop with her mother and several other adults sitting nearby when she suddenly fell silent. Hugging her arms across her chest Danae asked, "Do you smell that?" Smelling the air and detecting the approach of a thunderstorm, Diana replied,"Yes, it smells like rain." Danae closed her eyes and again asked, "Do you smell that?" Once again, her mother replied, "Yes, I think we're about to get wet, it smells like rain. Still caught in the moment, Danae shook her head, patted her thin shoulders with her small hands and loudly announced, "No, it smells like Him. It smells like God when you lay your head on His chest." Tears blurred Diana's eyes as Danae then happily hopped down to play with the other children. Before the rains came, her daughter's words confirmed what Diana and all the members of their extended family had known, at least in their hearts, all along. During those long days and nights of her first two months of her life, when her nerves were too sensitive for them to touch her, God was holding Danae on His chest and it is His loving scent that she remembers so well.
To the Purple Hat wearers in my life.
Age 3: Looks at herself and sees a Queen!
Age 8: Looks at herself and sees herself as Cinderella/Sleeping Beauty.
Age 15: Looks at herself and sees herself as Fat/Pimples/UGLY (Mom I can't go to school looking like this!)
Age 20: Looks at herself and sees "too fat/too thin, too short/too tall,too straight/too curly" - but decides she's going anyway.
Age 30: Looks at herself and sees "too fat/too thin, too short/too tall,too straight/too curly" - but decides she doesn't have time to fix it so she's going anyway.
Age 40: Looks at herself and sees "too fat/too thin, too short/too tall, too straight/too curly" - but says, "At least, I am clean and goes anyway.
Age 50: Looks at herself and sees "I am" and goes wherever she wants to go.
Age 60: Looks at herself and reminds herself of all the people who can't even see themselves in the mirror anymore. Goes out and conquers the world.
Age 70: Looks at herself & sees wisdom, laughter and ability, goes out and enjoys life.
Age 80: Doesn't bother to look. Just puts on a purple hat and goes out to have fun with the world.
Maybe we should all grab that purple hat earlier.
Different This Christmas
Here are the 25 ways we're different this Christmas:
1. Last Christmas, we were thinking about all the things we didn't have; this Christmas, we are thinking about all the things we do have.
2. Last Christmas, we were placing wreaths on the doors of our homes; this Christmas, many are placing wreaths on the graves of our heroes.
3. Last Christmas, many were letting our sons play with toy guns; this Christmas, we are teaching them that guns are not toys.
4. Last Christmas, we were counting our money; this Christmas, we are counting our blessings.
5. Last Christmas, we paid lip service to the real meaning of the holidays; this Christmas, we are paying homage to it.
6. Last Christmas, we were lighting candles to decorate; this Christmas, we are lighting candles to commemorate.
7. Last Christmas, we were digging deep into our bank accounts to find the money to fly home for the holiday; this Christmas, we are digging deep into our souls to find the courage to do so.
8. Last Christmas, we were trying not to let annoying relatives get the best of us; this Christmas, we are trying to give the best of ourselves to them.
9. Last Christmas, we thought it was enough to celebrate the holidays; this Christmas, we know we must also find ways to consecrate them.
10. Last Christmas, we thought a man who could rush down a football field was hero; this Christmas, we know a man who rushes into a burning building is the real one.
11. Last Christmas, we were thinking about the madness of the holidays; this Christmas, we are thinking about the meaning of them.
12. Last Christmas, we were getting on one another's nerves; this Christmas, we are getting on our knees
13. Last Christmas, we were giving thanks for gifts from stores; this Christmas, we are giving thanks for gifts from God.
14. Last Christmas, we were wondering how to give our children all the things that money can buy--the hottest toys, the latest fashions, the newest gadgets; this Christmas, we are wondering how to give them all the things we can't--a sense of security, safety, peace.
15. Last Christmas, we were thinking about all the pressure we are under at the office; this Christmas, we are thinking about all the people who no longer have an office to go to.
16. Last Christmas, we were singing carols; this Christmas, we are singing anthems.
17. Last Christmas, we were thinking how good it would feel to be affluent; this Christmas, we are thinking how good it feels to be alive.
18. Last Christmas, we thought angels were in heaven; this Christmas, we know some are right here on earth.
19. Last Christmas, we were contemplating all the changes we wanted to make in the New Year; this Christmas, we are contemplating all the changes we will have to make in this new reality.
20. Last Christmas, we believed in the power of the pocketbook; this Christmas, we believe in the power of prayer.
21. Last Christmas, we were sharing/spreading/listening to gossip; this Christmas, we are sharing/spreading/listening to the Gospel.
22. Last Christmas, we were complaining about how much of our earnings went to pay taxes; this Christmas, we comprehend that freedom isn't free.
23. Last Christmas, we valued things that were costly; this Christmas, we value things that are holy.
24. Last Christmas, the people we idolized wore football, basketball and baseball uniforms; this Christmas, the people we idolize wear police firefighters and military uniforms.
25. Last Christmas, "peace on earth" is something we prayed for on Sunday mornings; now, it is something we pray for every day.