I want to tell you about two pictures.
My husband sent me this picture today:
It is from 2007. Lily is 21 months old. She is also already a brain tumor survivor. She's had six surgeries --tumor resection, shunt in, shunt out, shunt in, port placement and port removal. She's had countless MRIs. She's been sedated 30 times for proton radiation to the back of her brain.
She needs a therapy walker to walk and a harness to give her extra support so she does not fall if she really gets going.
And then, this picture taken of Lily just a couple months ago:
She is 15 years old. She is still a brain tumor survivor. She's now had 8 surgeries, an astronomical amount of MRIs and CT Scans. She's had friends die from the disease that tried to take her life. She's had one emergency ambulance ride to CHOP and two shunt failures. She's had hundreds, maybe thousands hours of therapy--physical, occupational, speech and counseling. She's danced, ran, rowed, ridden, swam and pedaled just as much--all so she could ditch that walker.
I am not in the picture; she doesn't need me to hold her up, anymore. I don't think she ever really needed me to hold her up; she would have found her way with or without me.
When I look at these images, side by side, I see so many things--miracles and hard work and grit and determination and grace and beauty and luck. I see the hours of prayers that resulted in Lily's present life--not in a miracle, magical, wipe the slate clean sort of way, but in the way that requires patience and hard work and giving up expectations.
Our prayers got the Lily in the first picture from her grandparents house to the playground. There was a leap of faith fueled by prayer and backed up by physical therapy in every single step that day.
Our prayers got the Lily in the second picture from her post-shunt failure blue days to the stage, where she shined, putting the blues behind her. Every song and dance and line delivered took faith--faith that her prayers would be answered and that every rehearsal would pay off.
When I look at these pictures, I see the very proof that prayer moves the Spirit in our lives. We don't get everything we want when we pray--but we get to experience the glory and movement of the Spirit in our lives. The Spirit that gives us wings to rise up against unchangeable things and the faith that we can take one step towards the playground, towards the stage and towards whatever path is waiting for us.