It’s a WONDER-ful Life!

Last Christmas our 3-year-old daughter fell in love and became obsessed with the famous fictional character named Charlie Brown. I’m talking completely obsessed despite the fact that she had never even seen him on TV. All she had was a Charlie Brown Christmas music book that went with her wherever she went…to the grocery store, to the doctor’s office, to my parents’ house…it went everywhere! If it was accidentally left behind, she made sure I’d never want to forget it ever again. 

Though the book offered 10 various push button sound effects, she only cared about one. All day long I cleaned and cooked and played to the sound of Charlie Brown’s children’s choir singing, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing!” I often had to resist the temptation of mercilessly pleading for my daughter to stop playing the carol one more time as George Bailey did in the classic movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” 

My daughter’s sense of wonder and imagination didn’t end with Charlie Brown. Eventually there was a new imaginary friend, named Gracie, who began to make frequent visits. As someone who extensively studied child development, an imaginary friend was not alarming, rather expected for this age. However, I began to wonder about this Gracie the more my daughter talked about her. I taught my daughter the difference between real and pretend. She could correctly identify items and concepts as either real or imaginary, so when I suggested Gracie was just pretend, my daughter became agitated by my inference and insisted Gracie was real. I didn’t push the issue and continued to listen and wonder as my daughter engaged in full on conversations with this Gracie while playing around the house.

One night, as we cuddled in bed reading a Bible story that pictured an angel with majestic wings holding a fiery sword, my daughter pointed to the flaming object and nonchalantly mentioned that Gracie has one of those. “What does she use it for?” I curiously inquired. 

“Nothing. She just keeps it by her side.” replied my little one. Again, deep inside me I began to wonder if Gracie might be real. 

Weeks later, my daughter began to tell various family members that Gracie is an angel. Perhaps she finally found the word she had been searching for to correctly identify her familiar companion. Thankfully, nobody argued or questioned my innocent child’s faith. Her awe-inspiring claim was actually refreshing and I could see wonder welling up in those she shared with. 

As much as I would like to think I had something to do with cultivating a child so spiritually in tuned to the whispers of God, I can take no such credit. When my daughter told me that Gracie likes to sing, I asked, “What does Gracie like to sing?” Because we enjoy a plethora of children’s music to worship music, I assumed my daughter would say whatever song we happened to have stuck in our heads that day from our morning music selections. 

Rather, my daughter exclaimed, “Holy, Holy, Holy!” before I even finished my question as if Gracie was already singing the hymn for my daughter to overhear.

I know Angels exist, but I had my own preconceived ideas of what they did and playing with my 3-year-old daughter was not one of those ideas. It was then I realized that all this time my husband had been praying every night for God to send His mighty warrior angels to protect us. So, why did I fail to expect God to hear our prayers and be awestruck when we actually received what we requested? I struggled with this question thinking I have such little faith. While I know God tells us to expect our prayers to be heard and answered in faith, I think He delights in answering our requests in unexpected ways just to watch us wonder and awe at His works! So, the next time you pray, pray with expectation, but expect God to answer your prayer in an unexpected and wondrous way. 

Merry Christmas,

Jennifer McDaniel


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