But then. Then, out of the blue, as she twirled about in the kitchen one sunshining afternoon, I heard it. One of the sounds. Not separated from the rest of the word. Not whispered as we'd been working with it in the past. No. It was voiced and it was connected to the word she was saying and I fully understood it. And I heard it! I was stunned. We've recently begun seeing a new speech therapist and we had speech later that day. I expressed to her this sudden new sound I was hearing. She probed it a bit in their session and Hannah came home singing a sweet little song fully loaded with words beginning and ending with her new sound. And she sang it to me. And I heard it. The whole song. With all the syllables and all the sounds. I was over the moon and I have the phone full of video proof to fully document my joy. Her surgery in the fall? She's finally healing, she's finally figuring out what to do with that new anatomy, and she's using it!
Then, about a week later, in about the same fashion, out came sound number two! No longer whispered and separated fully from the word after it as we'd been working on. It was voiced, it was loud, it was clear, and I understood. Again, we showed off to our new therapist and again, she came home singing a sweet song chock full of her new sound. It was sweet, precious, wonderful music to my ears.
Eighteen months. Eighteen months of hard, hard labor with no evident fruit. I spent those eighteen months questioning and doubting so many things. Were we approaching therapy the right way, was she ready to tackle what we were asking of her, was the diagnosis correct, was the surgery effective, should we go to Cincinnati for further opinions, should we schedule more medical procedures to ensure everything is functioning as it should? Often I felt like a dog chasing its tail. Often I wanted to give up, walk away from therapy for a while, give her more time to mature. And that's just how I felt. I wasn't the one in the therapy room working so, so very hard. I wasn't the one fighting the frustration of being misunderstood (or entirely not understood). I know she wanted to give up. And sometimes she did. So many times it felt as though time was being wasted, progress wasn't being made, or that our attempts were futile. Yet, God took that fight and has given her fruit.
As we've been truly relishing her victory this week in our home, I've been reminded of the Father and His relentless pursuit of our hearts. He starts with us gently at first, like we did in Hannah's therapy. Slow and steady. An upbeat and tender approach. Then He digs a little deeper, pushes a little harder and starts trying to chip away at walls built up, entrenched sinful habits, and straying hearts and minds. Often He is met with resistance. Sometimes we build the walls taller and thicker. At times the work may feel like drudgery and no progress or movement can be seen. We may even backslide and seemingly erase in an instant what took weeks to accomplish. But then He starts to hear it, faint, far off in the distance, almost hardly audible. The quietest of "yeses." Yes to Him, yes to His love, yes to what only He can offer. Just a glimmer. Tiny signs of fruit from His labor to redeem us. And then one day, out of the blue, as only God could appoint, the walls are shattered, the straying hearts turn and as clear as the clearest of nights we utter the words, "YES, LORD." And the work, His work, was worth the effort, worth the pursuit, worth the shed tears, the lost sleep, and the desperate prayers. He didn't give up on us. He pursued us and brought us to victory.
May I ever be reminded in Hannah's precious victory this week that pursuit is worth it, that victory will come in His time, and that hard doesn't mean we're outside His will. Redemption is His and His alone to claim and He has a glorious plan as He reveals it to us. My heart sings for joy this week. I heard my daughter utter two brand new speech sounds. May she one day create even more music as she utters a "yes" to Him.
"Sing to him; sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!"
~1 Chronicles 16:9~