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Tonight my heart was ripped out of my chest. Gretchen, the girls, and I ventured off to the Mall of America this evening. Yes, I decided to go to the Mall of America on Friday, December 1. The destination, more specifically though, was the park at Mall of America where the largest ginger bread house in the world is located. Tori & Isabelle have been excited to see it all week. The house is seriously three-stories tall. Pretty amazing! Anyway…we grabbed some food from the food court and did a little Christmas shopping as well. I made plans with Gretchen in the Gap to check out another store by myself for my good old father-in-law Gary while the girls played at the Lego-land place. This is when it happened. We walked out of the Gap and in the hallway I saw something that still has my heart in my throat. There was a girl holding her father’s hand with a small build-a-bear bag. It wasn’t a big build-a-bear, just a little one. The girl however, had a huge smile on her face. The father and mother were smiling too. They were lost in a moment together. The reason this scene did such a number on me was this little girl, most likely no more than 8 years old, did not have any hair except for a few straggling strands here and there. She was having a hard time walking…struggling with each step. The family even stopped so this beautiful girl could get her breathe. The dad bent over and whispered something to her in her ear. Maybe he asked if she was OK. Maybe he asked if they should sit down and take a brake. Maybe he just said, “I love you.” Whatever was said it was spoken with tenderness and the father and daughter continued to smile.

I walked away from this scene just trying to keep myself from bursting into tears. I felt so horrible for this family. In all likelihood this would be the final Christmas the family would spend together. Suddenly, the gifts, busyness, ginger bread houses, and hot chocolates didn’t seem so important. A sense of thankfulness rose from within me because my little girls have hair (well, except Macie) signifying their health. I had a mini-van that was given to us sitting out in the parking lot. I was going home to a heated house with food in the cupboards. The God of the Universe resides in my soul. I am married to the most amazing woman in the world. I do life with a wonderful community that is on a journey. Life became very simple at that moment. I am blessed.

I found my gift for Gary and started walking towards Lego-land. As I walked the hallways I looked for this little girl. If I saw her I don’t know what I would have done. It may have been freaky for her to have a 6’2, 210 pound goatee-wearing stranger wrap his arms around her and ask God to heal her, but I might have not been able to fight back that impulse. I most likely would have shook the father’s hand and looked the mom in the eyes and said “God loves you.” I might have even said “Thank you.”

I didn’t see this family again though for the remainder of the evening but I don’t think I will every forget them. I dedicate this blog and this Christmas season to them. The girls and I prayed for this little girl tonight and we will continue to pray for her. I will think of this family when I open & give away gifts on Christmas morning. I will be thankful that Jesus came to earth for the sick. Mostly, I will try to smile every day just like that blessed family did and remember every moment is a gift from God.

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