A few months ago I was talking to two adorable little sisters at church, one of whom is Melody’s age. These sweet sisters wanted to know if Melody had shoes. When I replied that she did not (as they were not all that necessary since she does not walk), they appeared a bit forlorn about this news. Immediately their tender hearts sprung forth, and they decided that they would pull their money together and buy Melody a pair of sandals. Apparently, these girls could not imagine life without shoes.
Since that time, unbeknownst to these little girls, Melody’s oldest sister purchased a pair of sandals for her. Since Melody is standing more and can take steps with help, these were definitely in order.
One day the sweet sisters, Abigail and Mary, were out shopping with their mom and siblings at a thrift store. Lo and behold, they found a pair of shoes that they deemed perfect for their buddy Melody, and they proceeded to purchase them with their own money.
When they presented their sweet gift to us, it brought such joy to our hearts. In fact, every time I look at those shoes, it brings me tremendous joy. The shoes are exactly the right size, although we never told them what size she was. They are not too wide even though Melody’s feet are quite narrow. They are especially cute and absolutely perfect for Melody.
We have experienced the purest of love and devotion from many little children in regards to Melody. Melody has a treasure of a friend at our church in little Nellie. Nellie is three years old, and she is a healthy child, but has had some delays in her development. Trust me though, this adorable little girl more than compensates for it with her incredibly sweet smile and charming personality. Nellie was a little delayed in her ability to walk, but now she is a pro. She seems to be quite fascinated with Melody, and it is not uncommon for her to wander over to Melody after church. That works out well, since she is the mobile one in this friendship. Nellie is making significant progress with her verbal skills, but is limited in her repertoire of words. She and Melody have sweet interactions with each other. They seem to communicate in significant ways without words. Melody appears to understand that there is unique connection between them, as she gets excited when she sees Nellie and sometimes even reaches out to hug her.
We are grateful for all of Melody’s sweet little friends. They love and accept her just the way she is. In fact, it seems as if Melody’s friends do not merely accept her, but they highly value her. They deem her exceptional. So do we. We are thankful for her precious life and the sweet love she draws out of others. We feel privileged and honored to experience the tenderhearted love of so many sweet children in a way we would not have experienced without Melody in our lives.
Melody is not the only one who has sweet friends. Recently some dear friends of ours, the Powers, took Melody almost all day while the rest of us went for a hike. That is the first time Melody has been away from us in four and a half years. I told her to be a happy girl so they would invite her back. She complied. Apparently she was a perfect angel. We were able to thoroughly enjoy God’s beautiful creation, as we knew Melody was in such competent, loving, tender care with our dear and precious friends. If you ever have opportunity to give a family with a special needs child a break so they can participate in something they could not otherwise, I encourage to do it. It will be a gift they will likely remember for years.
God designed all of us to walk in community with others and to encourage one another through this life. Fellowship is critical. Isolation can be dangerous. (“A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment.” Proverbs 18:1) We are ever so grateful for our church family and the precious love they have bestowed upon our little girl and us. Not only is the church family excellent for us, Melody is a blessing to them. I recently read an outstanding and insightful article about how beneficial special needs children are for the church. It encouraged me immensely, as I had not thought about things that way before. As our pastor’s wife Roxy expressed, “We ALL benefit from sweet Melody. She helps us appreciate God’s unconditional love for all of us and His perfect plan.”
Melody’s life truly is a beautiful illustration of God’s amazing grace, a free gift received by faith and not striving. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) That is a concept worth meditating on.