Beautiful, Inside & Out

On February 12, 2011, my sister posted this as her Facebook status:

On our way to lehigh burn center. Madison has third degree burns. PLEASE PRAY.

On February 13, I updated with this:

Update on Madison: She has moderate to severe 2nd degree burns to the right side of her face. She is in Lehigh Valley. As of 330 am, she was bandaged & on pain meds. Please pray for her, Jen & Steve. More treatment will come today – they will probably be scrubbing the burns this morning. Will update as we know more.

The time lapse between was horrible; in an accident that never could have been predicted, my beautiful niece leaned over to smell a candle, and her hair caught on fire. By the time the flames were put out, she had horrible burns up the right side of her face and across her scalp. The phone call was excruciating: Madison’s been burned, they’re on the way to the hospital…HURRY.

Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.

I’ll never forget the scene as I rounded the corner in the emergency room. My sister Jen and her daughter sitting on a gurney in the hallway, my sister sobbing, and my niece in agony. Words abandoned me. My other sister, who worked in the ER, was on shift that night and was there, as was my mother. The horror at what had just happened was palpable. We all wanted to do something…anything…to take the pain away from her. Beth had every available ER doctor on notice that Madison was HER niece, and they’d better do something

Madison was evaluated, treated the best they could, and then sent to a nearby burn center for further treatment. The trip there was excruciating, Madison & Jen in the ambulance, Steve following behind, and Mom & I hurrying to catch up. Words escaped us; what was there to say? We could only pray, fervently, agonizingly, that Madison would be okay.

Let me dwell in your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!

At the burn center, the ER limited the number of people in the room at a time, so Steve came out while my mom went back in with Jen and Madison. I didn’t know what to say to him, don’t remember what I said to him, but know I said something. We prayed, and we talked, and most of all we hoped. Hoped that God would answer our prayers. Hoped that Madison would be okay. Hoped that everyone would be okay. That night, we watched as Madison was admitted, assessed, wheeled off, and returned sobbing from the initial treatment given to help the healing process start. Steve & Jen were shaken, and it took all I had to pray the God would do something, anything, to ease their pain.

The following months must have been a blur for Jen & Steve – multiple trips and followup visits to the burn center, as Madison was evaluated, re-evaluated, and treated. As we watched over the next few months, something incredible began to happen – Madison began to heal rapidly, and better than predicted. The saints were praying for her, and prayers were being answered.

Time lapsed, and Madison still had complications – fire sirens and candles terrified her. The burns had impacted her in a deep and significant way.

Jump to the present – today was Father’s Day, when many celebrate the leaders of their families. Gifts are given, cards are opened, and fathers all over feel appreciated and spoiled.

Today was different though; today, we celebrated the 5th birthday of Madison. The candles still frighten her to an extent, but there’s something deeper and greater that could be seen today, something that only glorifies God.

You see, I received TWO great gifts today – one I’ll talk about some other time, but another that I’d like talk about now, one gift, that is wondrous and beautiful and incredible. One gift of which only God deserves the credit, with a helping hand from her wonderful parents…

Madison is a beautiful 5 yr old girl, inside and out.

Hard to imagine that just over a year ago, Madison’s head was wrapped in bandages, she was suffering in pain, and an utter feeling of helplessness had descended over all those around her. Today, she is a sweet little girl, with hardly a physical scar.

So today, Madison, from your Uncle Todd, and many of the saints that have prayed for you…


We love you. And God loves you too.

Soli deo gloria.


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