An Unusual Answer to Prayer

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I set my alarm for 6:00 a.m. so I can make a cup of tea and sit in our dining room and read and pray before the house awakens. We have finally transitioned into a time when all three children usually sleep through the night. We are starting to feel settled. I am starting to regain a rhythm to my days. This morning, I begin my prayer requests by writing, For help paying attention to Marilee. I worry that she gets less of us than she deserves.

Approximately two minutes later, I hear crying from upstairs. Two-year-old Marilee is awake, an hour earlier than usual.

My first response is irritation. She’s interrupting my contemplative moment! She’s getting in the way of my plan!

And then I laugh out loud.

She is also an answer to prayer.

A few days later, Marilee has a fever and is rubbing her right ear. So I take her to the doctor and discover she has a double ear infection, which may, come to think of it, have been what woke her up so early. She takes antibiotics for ten days. Two weeks pass, and then she has a high fever. I take her back in. Double ear infection still present. Another round of antibiotics, this time with a follow-up appointment. At that checkup, both ears are still infected, so our pediatrician sends us to a specialist forty-five minutes away.

During the car ride to the specialist, we sing and talk about her friends at school and she asks me questions like, “When I gonna get oldah, Mommy? When I gonna dwive a cawah?”

We go to the mall and I take her to lunch at Panera.

The specialist prescribes round three of antibiotics and suggests we return in two weeks.

And as I suppress a sigh at the thought of three more hours to get to the doctor and home again, I remember that prayer from months earlier. I remember how often I have bypassed opportunities to be alone with Marilee. I’ve sent her to extra hours of school when I’ve had too much work to do. I’ve gotten together with friends and their children on mornings when she and I could have been alone together. I’ve done housework and parked her in front of an iPad.

But these Friday morning trips to the doctor have been just the two of us. Time to hold hands and listen to her count to ten. Time to let her push the button on the elevator without competing with her older siblings. Time to wrangle her into her car seat, even though she desperately wants to be four years old and sit on a booster like her brother. Time to blow kisses. Time to get to know my daughter.

Two weeks later, we come back and the infection is gone but there is still fluid in her ears, which leads to a third visit to the specialist two weeks after that, at which point Marilee is finally pronounced healed.

I never thought I’d find myself grateful for a lingering double ear infection and hours and hours of related doctor’s appointments. I never thought I’d consider a double ear infection an answer to prayer.

When she wakes up from a nap at the end of these ten weeks, I say, “I love you Marilee.”

She says, “Love me so much?”

“So much,” I say.

“This so much?” she asks, arms outstretched.

I love you even more than that.

Watch the Small Talk Video

Excerpted from Small Talk: Learning from My Children About What Matters Most by Amy Julia Becker, copyright Zondervan, 2014.

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Your Turn

What unusual answer to prayer can you think of that has seemed like a frustration at first? Come share with us on our blog! We’d love to hear from you!

Amy Becker

Amy Julia Becker is the author of Small Talk: Learning From My Children About What Matters Most (Zondervan, 2014), A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations and a Little Girl Named Penny (Bethany House), named one of the Top Books of 2011 by Publisher’s Weekly, and Penelope Ayers: A Memoir. A graduate of Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary, she blogs regularly for Christianity Today at Thin Places. Her essays about faith, family, and disability have appeared on the Motherlode blog of The New York Times, Theatlantic.com, The Christian Century, Christianity Today, The Huffington Post, and Parents.com. Amy Julia lives with her husband Peter and three children, Penny, William, and Marilee in western CT.

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