In my last blog post, I explained how, on Christmas Eve 1994, my two-month-old daughter Kara experienced what I can only explain as a miracle. While playing the role of the baby Jesus in my church’s Christmas Eve service, Kara, who had been crying like a mad-baby every evening at the exact time of the service, was inexplicably quite and peaceful. Moreover, after her stint as the baby Jesus, complete with “no crying she makes,” Kara never again had her predictable tantrums in the evening. It seemed that, in the midst of her experience playing the baby Jesus, Kara had been miraculously touched by God.
More proof came the next morning.
On Christmas morning 1994, Kara was exactly 51 days old. During the first seven weeks of her life, Kara smiled several times. I’m not talking about the wishful thinking smiles that parents of newborns claim to see. No, when held in a certain way and talked to enthusiastically, Kara would really smile. (The photo to the right is proof.)
The problem was, Kara would smile at me, but not at her mom. My sweet wife, Linda, who had carried Kara for nine months, given birth to her, nursed her for hours each day and night, and loved her dearly, could not get Kara to smile at her. I, on the other hand, was the smile magic man. Though I was thrilled to get such a response from Kara, I felt terrible for Linda. I agreed with Linda that Kara’s smiling preferences were simply not fair.
Then came Christmas Eve, with Kara’s miraculous transformation from yowling to silent. Linda was certainly pleased with this development, as was I. But she was still hoping for a little grin from her baby Jesus daughter.On Christmas morning, Linda decided to give it another try. She would hold Kara and speak kindly to her. She would see if Kara had a tiny little smile for her mom on Christmas.
As Linda held Kara and began to make eye contact, Kara’s face blossomed in an unexpected and unrestrained smile. After moments of delight as Kara beamed at her mom, I ran to our room to get the camera. I was ready, of course, for the miraculous moment to have passed by the time I returned. But, after securing the camera and coming back to the family room, there Kara was, still gleaming at Linda with joy in her little heart and enchantment on her face. I took several pictures, one of which I’ll share with you here.
Why did Kara smile at Linda that way on Christmas morning? You might think it was mere luck, and perhaps you’re right. If Kara had been older, you could surmise that she wanted to give Linda the best Christmas gift ever. But a seven-week old baby wouldn’t have been so intentional as that. For my part, having lived through that moment, and having experienced the “no crying she makes” Kara the night before, and knowing how much Linda yearned to have her beloved daughter smile at her, I’m inclined to believe that Kara’s Christmas smile was another small miracle, another extra bit of God’s grace.
If you’d rather think of it as extraordinary good luck, that’s okay with me. But I do believe that the God who became human in Jesus is not far away, watching us from a distance. Rather, the God revealed through Jesus is always near, always engaged with us, and always doing things beyond our comprehension and expectations . . . things like helping a baby smile at her mother on Christmas morning.