Four years ago this week, my daughter underwent surgery on her spine to repair a broken neck. When I re-visit memories from that time, I turn over many questions that remained unanswered until the surgery itself. One of those questions was if the pediatric neurosurgeon would be able to correct Faith’s problem — a malformation of her second vertebrae — the more secure way or the less secure way.
If the doctor was able to correct it the more secure way, by inserting a pin into the bone on each side of her vertebrae, she would be able to wear a neck brace post-op. But if her bones were too small for this procedure and he had to use a less sturdy means of treating her injury internally, she would have to wear something that provided additional security externally during recovery: a halo. A halo is a more restrictive apparatus than a neck brace, a type of headgear that attaches to the forehead through 4 pins and keeps the head and neck completely and totally still.
Obviously, we prayed circumstances would allow our girl to wear the neck brace rather than the halo.
The neurosurgeon, Dr. Grabb, told me a nurse would call us in the waiting room from the OR just as soon as he knew the viable option. So my husband and I sat in that hospital room, murmuring and fidgeting and reading the same paragraphs of magazine articles over and over as we waited.
That whole time felt like a held breath, like someone hit the pause button on our lives.
Finally the call came. The nurse told us the good, good news that by the tiniest of margins, the doctor was able to insert a pin on one side, so our girl could wear the neck brace during recovery. In that moment, some of our gray world turned to color and the music played again. I told Dr. Grabb if I ever became pregnant again with a son, he’d be named after him. And I meant it.
Thinking back to this time, the waiting wasn’t long in the grand scheme of things. Two or three hours, I believe. Heaven knows we’ve waited longer for other scary things, and I don’t doubt you have too.
Sometimes those waiting times have ended favorably, as ours did here. Sometimes they have not. But regardless, they have all ended.
And if they have yet to end? Well, they will one day.
Two and a half weeks into the season of Advent, we sense Christ’s coming with increasing clarity. We see it in the dark navy evening sky punctured with stars, and we feel the expectancy riding on a crisp breeze. We take a deep breath and say, “He is coming.”
But today, we wait on.
If you’ve heard the “Hallelujah Chorus” of Handel’s Messiah wafting through a church sanctuary or concert hall, you know the end carries a very dramatic pause. It’s hard not to hold your breath during the pause in anticipation for the rich, final Hallelujah! As Pastor Bates at my church beautifully explained, when winter won’t end — when the waiting time won’t end — and everything has gone dark and gray, know your wait time is not the end of everything.
When the music stops, take heart. The Conductor still holds His baton, waiting for the right time to finish the song with one sweeping hallelujah.
Christmas proves the pause will not last forever. Hope floats down from God to us, shimmering like endless stars.
May we not despair in the quiet pause. Instead, may we expectantly listen for the harmonic final chord.
It is coming.
He is coming.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
This gave me goosebumps…even in that last pause, the conductor still holds His baton. Even in those seemingly never ending pauses, God is still conducting, ordering, working out His will in our lives and in the lives of those we love. This gave me great comfort and hope this morning…
Bless you sweet friend,
I’m so glad, Bev. Appreciate you so much. Merry Christmas!
Beautiful, friend. Your words give life to that hope. xoxo
And your encouragement gives life to my heart this morning. Adore you, Kristin, and Merry Christmas!
Ann Rowland says
“know your wait time is not the end of everything”. I love this especially in this time of Advent when we “wait”. There is so much to be learned in the waiting; so much that God is working out in me, in my circumstances and in the people around me. It may not work out the way I want it to, but even then, I know that God is in control and knows what I need before and better than I do.
Grateful for your thoughts here, Ann. Merry Christmas!
This is so beautiful! I needed this encouragement this morning. Thank you… <3
Lovelle! A big hug to you, dear one. Merry Christmas!
Shauna Viele says
This really spoke to me this morning! So many ways this applies:
“When the music stops, take heart. The Conductor still holds His baton, waiting for the right time to finish the song with one sweeping hallelujah.”
An aunt’s death from Alzheimer’s this week made our “three” for this fall…daughter’s boyfriend’s dad passed the end of October after a valiant battle with cancer, a classmate and childhood friend died December 1 from his cancer battle, and now Aunt Ruby, whose mind was stolen years ago but her faith was not.
They have all moved on to a higher choir than anything we have heard here on earth.
Oh my. I’m so sorry for all the loss you’ve experienced this year, Shauna.
I love the image your words about a “higher choir” paint. I needed it this morning. Merry Christmas to you and yours.
Shauna Viele says
Thank you. Just built onto the train of thought your post started dear.
And as a former Pediatric ICU nurse, your post brought back many many memories from over the years. Cannot imagine sitting and waiting for that kind of news on our own two daughters, and am all too well aware of what risk your precious girl went through in those hours. Bless you for sharing your story as only a parent can.
Shauna, may the peace of Christ lift you all up in His comfort. I am so sorry for your losses. May He gently bring you His love and grace today and this season.
Beth Williams says
So sorry for all the losses! May God surround you, family and friends as you grieve these losses! May you feel His loving touch around you always!
Shauna Viele says
Thank you for your kind words!
Kristen, what beautiful encouragement your words provided this morning. This in particular spoke to my heart “The Conductor still holds His baton, waiting for the right time to finish the song with one sweeping hallelujah.” Amen!
Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas. 🙂
I’m so thankful, Veronica. And may you and yours have a Merry Christmas too! xo
Thank you, Kristen, for this beautiful message from the Lord. Advent is such a special time of waiting and this gives me hope in my waiting that overshadows how long the waiting has been. Thank you for helping me focus on our true Hope this morning. May your Christmas be wonderfully blessed in His love 🙂
Kristen, in 2003 my husband broke his neck and wore a halo brace for 6 1/2 months – it was hellacious to say the least. Every time I look at him I see the two dimples on his forehead where the screws went into his skull – every time I see them I thank God for His grace.
What a timely message as always:) I am reading your book and is savoring every word as it applies to me. Praying and waiting on God as I go through a possible stem cell/bone marrow transplant next month to eradicate a blood disease. Please pray for me. My heart is steadfast and I will not “despair in the quiet pause, but will expectantly listen to god’s comforting voice and the harmonic final chord. ‘ Amen!
Beth Williams says
Prayers for a successful stem cell transplant! May God guide the surgeon’s hands and bring complete healing! I pray He gives you peace and contentment as you wait!!
Evaughn, know I’m praying for you right now. May God comfort you Himself and through others who generously love you through this ordeal. So much love. xoxo
Susan G. says
So beautifully written! We do wait for you, Oh God. We do have hope in you.
Thanks so much for this Kristen!
Merry Christmas to you and your family!
Beth Williams says
Loved this post! It is so poignant! Waiting is hard work! It can seem like forever before God answers our prayers–but like the conductor holding the baton-He is waiting for the right time to bless us! I pray we don’t despair in the waiting but expectantly listen for the harmonic final chord!!
Have a blessed Christmas!
Jenny Howell says
Kristen, Oh good heavens, what a hold-your-breath time with your girl. Those moments are sometimes just too much when we are waiting for the “whats next”. I went through back surgery a few years ago and I remember the Dr. saying, “When you wake up from surgery, we will know immediately if it worked and if there would be permanent damage.” I’m not a fan of the unknowns but God sure does show up doesn’t He?