October 29, 2020



1. It’s a miracle to me that the Doctors are working to solve the covid Shots.

2. It is a miracle that most people grow strong and healthy like a tree grows strong and healthy.

3. It is miraculous to me that our bodies can heal from illness, cuts, wounds, breaks.

4. Babies are a miracle! Matilda Mae Lilburn was born at 28 weeks 4 days gestation weighing 1 lb 13 oz. Her twin sister Eleanor Esther Lilburn was born at 28 weeks 4 days gestation weighing 2 lbs 5 oz. They are Miracles! As are all of the nurses and doctors who care for tiny babies.

5. “I work for an organization that advocates for seniors, and I work in a position where the unexpected is the norm.  I am at the frontline of the agency, receiving calls from anyone and everyone, and I never know what issue someone will share or question they will ask when they call.  Some of the problems people have are heart-wrenching, ones for which there is no quick fix.  Other times I can more easily answer their questions or provide them options to address the issue they bring forth.  I do know this: many people are just so grateful, in this difficult time when our elders feel so isolated and lonely, just to connect with someone, to get to have someone hear them out, listen with compassion or empathy, maybe even share a laugh.  Miraculous?  I don't know.  But if it eases their burden for a time, gets them a little further down the road in solving a problem, causes them to have some hope, and they feel like someone took the time to care about them...that is stewardship in and of our broader community outside the church.  It's a mission that is kindled in the church and taken beyond our ‘walls.’”

6. The bible tells us many stories of miraculous healing. As a nurse of over 40 years I am drawn to those stories and have witnessed such events multiple times. The ones that are meaningful and near to my heart involve my brother.

He is a veterinarian, rodeo guy and someone who is always ready for an adventure. His accidents started very young when he fell out of the barn loft way too often. I remember a time I was with him and when I looked down, he was not moving. I was sure he was gone so when he came to, it was miraculous to me as a young child. Another time a truck backed into his legs as he sat dangling them off the tailgate of another truck. Thankfully, a man in the bed of the truck with him pulled him up at the last second so he only sustained two broken legs and recovered. It was miraculous to me that he still had his legs. I was happy to push him around in the big wooden wheelchair for as long as he needed to heal. The latest event was when a dog managed to bite him leaving his right thumb hanging by a thread in the incident. Thanks to the calm, level-headed thinking of the staff working with him, he was rushed to a nearby hospital. After taking a look at the injury, he was informed that he needed a hand specialist and there were none on staff. So, he was then driven 30 miles to a bigger facility where he underwent several hours of surgery to reattach the thumb. That was very important to him as he does a lot of surgery and other procedures that would be difficult otherwise. To me it was miraculous that the people around him at the time of the injury were able to act with such calm and purpose to get him to a hospital that could help him. It was miraculous when he got to the larger hospital that the hand surgeon was already there and could see him and do the surgery right away. It was really miraculous that his thumb was reattached and he has full use of it today.

My brother is very special to me and I’m so grateful for these miraculous times. He’s in his 70’s now but hasn’t slowed down so I say prayers for his health and when I think of all these incidents and more, I’m reminded of God’s blessings and miraculous works.

7. The Bible gives us several stories of miraculous events in which people are fed, sheltered and/or treated kindly. I remember a recent event at UCC Missoula that I feel meets the miraculous definition. In August of this year our church was to host three Family Promise households. But how could we? The church had been closed since mid-March due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the weather was hot, the church facility had no ventilation system, church leaders were deeply concerned about hosting. But our church had a commitment to Family Promise. How were we to honor that commitment and help these households?

The decision was made by the Cabinet, our governing body, to pay for the Family Promise households to stay at a local motel. The cost could be up to $3000 for the week’s stay. The Cabinet decided we could cover the cost from our Vision Mission Fund but we would ask the congregation to contribute as they were able. The call went out via a video from our moderator, Brad Herron, and our weekly eblast.

The following Tuesday I was at the church making the bank deposit. We had received several contributions. I, my fellow tellers, and pastor Jennifer were overwhelmed. Plus, Jennifer shared that the motel had given us a generous discount, so we had more than enough funds to cover the cost for Family Promise. Miraculous!

And the best part was a comment heard from one of the Family Promise participants. “We get to go home and turn the air conditioning on.” God Bless.

8. With our first child, we were able to get pregnant quickly and have a very normal pregnancy and birth of a healthy little one.  When we were ready to expand our family, we again got pregnant relatively easily.  We celebrated the positive pregnancy test results with family and friends.  Morning sickness showed up right on schedule.  But this time, we lost the baby late in the first trimester.  The doctor indicated there was no medically evident reason for it.  I had friends who had experienced miscarriages.  I knew they were common.  I chalked it up to being unlucky.  We marched on.  Then we got pregnant quickly again.  This time, we were more guarded with the news.   As before, I was (happily) sick.  But at the end of my first trimester, the doctor confirmed another unexplained miscarriage.  I didn’t feel unlucky.  I felt devastated.  What was wrong with me?  I had a lot of guilt.  Under the advice of the doctor, we gave my body a break before trying again.   We eventually did get pregnant a fourth time, but miraculously, it culminated with the full-term birth of another healthy little one – my rainbow baby.  So, my miraculous story is the story of the beginnings of life.  So many women struggle with normal conception, pregnancy, and birth.  Every time a healthy baby is born, it is indeed miraculous.

9. Feeling down and lonely after the passing of my spouse, I decided that it would be fine with me if I could just will myself into not waking up the next morning.

I felt the early morning sunlight on my eyelids, so bright and hopeful — no wait, this isn’t supposed to happen!  I grudgingly put on my robe and slippers and went to retrieve the morning paper knowing full well that the day would be called off due to my lack of interest.  This is what I found.  

10. I often reflect on my sense of place and where I am from when the seasons change.  I have friends and relatives who have chosen to live in places where the temperature and climate change very little over the year.  When I am shoveling snow, raking leaves, weeding dandelions or watering the sunburned lawn, I wonder if living in an area with a more moderate climate would be easier.  Yet, the miraculous change of light, colors, and temperature are what draw me to living where I do.  I find miracles in all those changes of the season.  The golden leaf of the quaking aspen in autumn, the crystalline differences in every snowflake, the budding of balsam root, or the haunting call of the migrating loons.  These are reminders of the miracles that surround us in every season, and I feel so blessed to be able to experience them every year.

11. A friend recently told us that some mutual friends were in trouble. She had heard rumors about illness and possibly the approach of death. On Saturday we decided to find out for ourselves. We called ahead, found them home, and arranged a visit. In preparation we put together a basket of fresh fruit and vegetables, along with a few herbs from the garden still untouched by frost. We also loaded a cloth bag full of frozen soups and pasta dishes.

Choosing love over safety, we drove to where they live, parking under autumn’s falling leaves. Masked up, we knocked on an open door. Also masked, our friend pulled us inside, and desperate for contact, hugged us both. Over the next half hour, she and her husband told us their story—flight from Arizona, exhaustion, ambiguous compound diagnoses, a terrible fall resulting in a broken shoulder, the need for oxygen, a waning interest in food. But as her husband panted for breath on the couch, she also told us about the kindness of friends—former neighbors who come to the house after work to clean floors, drop off food fresh from Farmer’s Market or The Good Food Store, and a handful of other friends who in the service of love and to honor the memory of better times, come to sit, listen, or supply what these people need. The miracle seems less what people do to help others and more the preservation of empathic concern. When so many forces could cause us to contract, pull back and withdraw, people keep reaching out in the knowledge that someone else’s vulnerability could be our own.

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