And who shall say that Jesus Christ did not do many mighty miracles? And there were many mighty miracles wrought by the hands of the apostles. And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God, and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles. (Mormon 9:18-19)
When many of us think of miracles, we think of Moses in the Old Testament who brought the house of Israel out of bondage from Egypt. Or we think of Jesus and the many miracles he performed while on the earth. He healed the sick, caused the blind to see, and the lame to walk. He even raised the dead.
God has told us that he is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. So, are there miracles today? My answer is an unequivocal yes! I have had miracles in my life. Let me tell you of one.
My youngest daughter, Danielle, has never been “normal.” At first, we just struggled to get her to gain weight. She was diagnosed as “failure to thrive,” and by eighteen months she only weighed eighteen pounds. At age three, she was evaluated by a developmental pediatric team to assess her progress. She was found to be functioning one to two years below normal, and immediately entered Early Intervention. Among Danielle’s other problems were that she had systemic neurologically based problems including a tremor, she couldn’t run, jump, or throw a ball because of muscle weakness, and she had learning disabilities.
Just a month prior to her entering kindergarten, she became a Selective Mute. This condition is a phobia, a fear of social interaction. Danielle stopped talking to anyone except her immediate family. It wasn’t that she was just being stubborn and refusing to talk; she was terrified of talking.
Danielle’s first real breakthrough came because of church. One of the counselors in Primary, a Latter-day Saint children’s organization, assigned Danielle to give a talk. I was about to call and tell her there was no way she could do this, when Danielle told me that she really wanted to give this talk. So we chose a very simple story to tell. We drew a picture about the story which Danielle then colored. I took a tape recorder and recorded Danielle telling the story. We did it a couple of times until she was satisfied. On Sunday morning when it was her turn to speak, she stood up and held up the picture, and I hit the play button. The response from the children was overwhelming. She heard comments such as, “Wow, Danielle can talk!” She was so pleased by these responses that she went to school the next day and told her teacher. As great as this breakthrough was, it didn’t open up the flood gates; she still struggled for years to express herself.
Fast forward several years, Danielle was then twelve years old and going to girls’ camp run by the Latter-day Saint Church, and at that time was held at a Girl Scout camp in late August. I decided that I would volunteer to work in the kitchen that year so I would be around if Danielle needed me. On the last evening of camp, there is a tradition of building a bonfire and allowing the girls to express their testimonies and feelings about God and their experiences at camp.
The cooks and I came late to the testimony meeting since we needed to finish up in the kitchen. When we arrived, they had already started. I took a seat on a bench log at the back. It was a beautiful night, so peaceful with the stars shining above. As each girl came and stood near the fire, they would lower their heads and talk in soft tones about their feelings. I have a moderate hearing problem and wear a hearing aid. Because of my hearing loss, I could not hear one word the girls were saying. So I let my mind wonder and looked at the stars.
I then noticed that my daughter had gotten up and was standing in line to give her testimony. To me this was huge! It was the first time I had ever seen Danielle voluntarily express her feelings publicly I wanted desperately to hear her. I thought about moving closer to the fire in hopes of hearing better, but two things prevented me from following that course. First, if I tried to move, Danielle might see me and get intimidated. Second, it was very dark and the ground was uneven so I knew chances were high that I would trip, thereby drawing even more attention to myself. All I could do was sit on that log and pray fervently that somehow I would be able to hear her. Danielle’s turn finally came. She stood near the fire and began her testimony—and I heard every word! It was the only complete testimony I heard that night, but I heard my daughter.
Okay, you might not classify this as a miracle. You could call it a “tender mercy” of God, or just that God answered my prayer. Whatever you call it, I heard! To me that was a miracle. Danielle is a miracle. She had so many obstacles to overcome in her short life. So, where is she today? Danielle graduated from high school and was inducted her junior year in the National Honor Society—one of two special needs children to be so honored. She went to college and graduated in developmental psychology, with a goal of teaching children with special needs. She worked at Perkins School for the Blind for two years. And last August she was married.
I would like to share a poem that she wrote in high school describing her perspective of growing up.
I am painted face
A face that shows nothing is wrong
I am from many tears that have been shed
Tears of shame and guilt
I am from frustration
I am from a failure to thrive
I am from endless doctors
I am from silence
A girl without a voice
Like a doll, empty inside
I am from death knocking at my door
I am from many childhood fears
I am from a dark past
I am Joy
I am Laughter