Norman Rockwell Christmas?

Brown Family

So yeah, this isn’t the year of the Norman Rockwell Christmas for us. In fact, every attempt I’ve made at celebrating the Advent season has been derailed in some fashion. I’ve yet to be able to sit through the entirety of any service or function that is Christmas related. That’s been tough on my soul, as all I want is for life to slow down enough for us as a family to be able to enjoy some (dare I say, “leisure”) time together and to celebrate all that the birth of Christ has meant for our family, especially this year.

But just like with all those prenatal prayers when I asked God to heal Pearl, he is up to something different than what my heart desires. And just like that season of brokenhearted prayers when he said “no” over and over again, I can’t see what could possibly be better than what I am asking. Alas, my head trusts what my heart doesn’t. That tends to be the case most days right now.

It will be Christmas Eve by the time I am finished writing and posting this, and we are at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital again. Pearl has pneumonia and that is not something to be taken lightly for a child with HPE.  In fact, it can often be fatal. She was admitted on Saturday, so the doctors can be extremely proactive on the front end to battle this. She’s had a rough week and the last 2 days especially have been rough. Tonight, she is resting well. They have adjusted her medication and she’s getting heavy doses of a lot of drugs to try and battle seizures that are brought on by pneumonia. The hope is to once again balance the medication in such a way that her seizures are suppressed, but to not medicate her to the point of affecting her breathing. It’s a fairly calculated balance that sometimes takes a few days to dial in. We need to get rid of the fluid build up in her lungs, and that is a fairly urgent goal.

The older kids are doing well. Since we’ve only been here for 2 days now, the weight of the family being divided hasn’t yet started to take its toll. I imagine a bit of the weight will set in on Christmas morning when some of us wake up at home, and some of us wake up at Vanderbilt. I’m not sure what that’s going to look like yet. It’s not as though the Christmas morning gift giving is a huge part of our family celebration but it’s a huge part to the kids, so I’m sure we’ll figure something out.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t missing the sentimentality that is usually associated with this time of year, and that is tough. I know it’s all silly stuff, some of which is completely meaningless, but it’s silly stuff than often reflects deeper feelings. I wish I could clearly articulate to you why God is not allowing the sentimental warmth this year, and why he has instead, chosen this for us. I can still see gratitude way off in the distance. I can even see clearly with my eyes all that we have to be grateful for. Even as I type this, I’m sitting in a room at Vanderbilt… Vanderbilt…A prestigious medical community that is right in my back yard! My family isn’t split by hours of travel between our home and here. My daughter is here with me, about 5 feet away. I never dreamt that I would be with her on Christmas Eve. It’s incredible, though my heart is still pounding with frustration, worry, and entitlement.

So this Christmas is hard. This year is hard. Everything’s hard. But God continues to mold our hearts to be more like his. He continues to say “no” to what we ask, and instead offers us something richer and better than we could ever fathom. He continues to keep us at bay from our own desires and he uses his rod and his staff to shepherd us along the path. He continues to watch over all 3 of our children, caring for them and transforming their character to be more like his.  He continues to provide for us, and continues to weed through all that needs to change in our hearts. He continues to give us difficulty, and then he equips us for it, and often times, on the backend, shows us what he was up to the whole time. I’ll take it. I’ll take this life. I’ll take a split family Christmas over sentimentality, if that’s what he’s doing. Though my heart can’t see it, my mind can clearly see that whatever he is doing is better than what I would have chosen for myself.

So Merry Christmas from The Brown Family! Thank you for participating in this life with us. Thank you for not merely observing. Thanks for taking the time to read, and please pray for a quick recovery for Pearl. She needs to clear out this fluid before it get’s worse.



39 thoughts on “Norman Rockwell Christmas?

  1. Dear God, please heal Pearl’s sweet body and bring her back to full health. Be with her siblings as they are not with her for the whole day on Christmas. But thank you for bringing her all the way to Christmas. what an amazing God you are. Thank for using Pearl’s story to inspire so many.

  2. You don’t know me but I have been praying for Pearl for several weeks since I heard your story. My name is Mia and I am from BC Canada. I want to let you know that God cares for pearl and for you. That she is made in His image and such a priceless gift. I am sure you know that. I am standing with you and believe God still performs miracles everyday. I am praying for your family to receive the gift of comfort and joy this Christmas season. Like Moses allowed Joshua and Aaron hold his arms up please allow those both near and far help hold you up in this time. Blessings on you and your family. My prayers are with you.

  3. No matter how many times we say we know God knows best, it’s still our CHILD who is losing ground. OUR child we love with all our hearts, and don’t want to lose. OUR child we cry for and don’t know what tomorrow brings for her. God says He will handle it and it’s so hard to let go and let God handle it. God gave us feelings and we know sorrow, tears and fears. But God will help us thru this if we just let him. My heart goes out to you and your family during these trying times. Keep faith. God WILL show you the way.

  4. Hoping and praying for the best. Even though we have never met, I have grown to “love” your family. Especially Pearl. May you all have peace. May you all have joy. May you all have ther merriest possible Christmas.

  5. +
    Dear Brown Family,

    Yours is a journey of deep faith. Thank you for sharing your faith with us all – it is, and will be, an inspiration to many. May God continue to envelop you in His love and assure you that He plans only the very best for each of you. May your love for God and one another grow ever stronger. My prayers for Pearl’s complete recovery and for a most Blessed Christmas for you all. In His Love, Jan

  6. May the Lord continue to bless and keep you, Pearl Joy and your family. God has already used you to display His love and power to men.  Can’t wait to see more of what He has in store for you! You are a tough little girl and though we can’t wish you to go through more trials, we are impacted by how He has shown up to strengthen you and your family. Praying for you to continue to astound your doctors and the world as He grows your body and your brain, specifically. Some day, God willing, we will join arms and praise Him together. The Walsh Family Spokane, WA


  7. Hey guys, of course i will continue to pray for Pearl and her health. and for all of you. And I am sending you a big hug right now because it is tough when a child is ill and in hospital, no matter how great the hospital is. It sucks that you are not all together Christmas morning, even though you are not far away, and it’s ok to be cross about that in the midst of all the amazing stuff that is happening. God gets it. Love to all , Fiona xxx

  8. GOD BLESS YOU. I just learned about yor family. I praise God in a world.where problems are easily disposed of that you saw your beautiful and wonderful baby girl for what she truely is a gift from our Father. I pray that Pearl is resting comfortably this morning. God has her here for a great purpose. We see some of it by the difference.she is making in the lives of those around her and everyone online who are growing to love her. Thank you for sharing your daughter with me.

  9. Eric, you have such a way with words! As I’ve told you before, you and Ruth are rock stars.
    You are handling every situation with such grace. Pearl is so proud of you! You are providing a loving, Jesus centered home for your children. That is the best present they’ll ever receive. Still praying!

  10. I will b praying for U and your family. I will prat that the fluid subsides and is gone. Dont give up God still has a plan for your little one. I have been blessed by your honesty on your feelings. I have had sadness for your trials. We lost our fourth daughter lasr year. We did all we knew to do we left the rest to God. She lived for 2 glorious weeks.
    Prayer is our direct line to God. I will b praying for u all. I will pray u have a BLESSED CHRISTMAS…

  11. I know where my Creator is, right by that bedside with one of the most perfect little Angels that has ever been created. You have known unconditional love and have given it. What a gift your family has received and what a gift you have given to Pearl. There are not many people that God would have trusted Pearl to. Our Creator had to find just the right family for Pearl and He did.
    Merry Christmas to each of you, and please know how much God loves you unconditionally, as you love His Pearl.

  12. I do not know your family, but I tearfully pray for you now. For you to have such steadfast faith and unwavering trust in the face of the trials and fears that God has placed in front of you reminds to not lose my own. My thought is of Psalm 139, “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” He knows what tomorrow brings and will not leave you and your wife, your children, your Pearl, to suffer through it alone. I will continue to pray for you all, and ask God to heal Pearl, and give her and you the strength to persevere, and to give the doctors wisdom in their care. God bless you all.

  13. I am so sorry to hear of Pearl’s recent illness. I know you must be worried sick. I’m so sorry this season has been plagued with such hardships, but the Lord will carry you through as always. It’s not necessary for me to tell you that. Your entire family, but especially Pearl, will be in our prayers. Praise be to God for all that he provides! He is so good!

  14. Your words are moving! I am fixed on the manner in which you receive your gift –“I’LL TAKE IT! I’LL TAKE THIS LIFE!”

    There is no holding back on your part. It’s as though you’re ready to snatch it from His hands before someone else claims it!

    Clearly you serve an awsome God! It must be, that He has proven Himself worthy of your devotion. It must be, that you know Him well–to rely so heavily on His character.

    Blessed man, you are. Yes–Blessed to KNOW HIM!!!

    I will wait on Him with you. I will join you in the watch.

    May our loving Father pour out His blessings on you and Ruth, Brennan, and Abbey. I pray He will bring healing to Pearl. May you be wrapped in His loving embrace.

  15. Praying the pneumonia heals quickly! Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a New Year full of more miracles! Eric it was great seeing you in Pittsburgh last week on the Hits Tour!

  16. Merry christmas – as we celebrate the birth of His son we will also be remembering the joys He has given us in Pearl! We include her in our prayers and glow in the knowledge that God has a special plan for a special princess and we are all just witnesses. thank you for including us inyour journey – your story and your faith have helped strengthen mine so perhaps that is His plan with her! To bring more of us to Him in glory! God please each of you!!

  17. Dear Eric and family, I am praying for and have been praying for Pearl and the family for some time now. I do understand what you mean about finding it hard to understand God’s plan in things like this. The only thing we can do is keep praying and thanking Him for each little thing as it comes. We have to stand on His promises as he never has broke on yet. My favorite one is” All things work for good for them that LOVE THE LORD” I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas how ever God has planned it for you this year. God Bless you all, Linda Harmon

  18. My prayers and thoughts are with all of you. I have been following this lovely family’s journey in life. It is not for us to understand the things we face on this earth but to look forward to much brighter things in the everlasting arms of our dear Lord. Please continue to be strong for it is all in God’s hands. I will continue my prayers and may God bless you all.

  19. Merry CHRISTmas to Pearl and the entire Brown family. God’s will be done in and for Pearl and all of us this season and always. From the Babe in Bethlehem to you, may God continue to hold you close.

  20. I’m a Nashville mom/grandmother and have followed your tweets and blogs from very soon after Pearl was born. I’ve prayed Isaiah 42:16 for you and your sweet family….that you feel God before you and know that you are not forsaken. Thank you for the reminder to trust God, and not my circumstances or feelings…one of the many ways Pearl’s life is blessing others!

  21. Merry Christmas to you in your hospital room on your non Norman Rockwell Christmas! I haven’t had one in years so truly I understand.

    Pearl is lovely and my prayers are with you al that God shines perfect Grace and joy for you amidst the unexpected places you tread

  22. I am always deeply touched by your faith. I can’t imagine the trials and fear you and your family must face each day. I pray for Pearl and your family often and am hoping and praying for a miracle. God is in control no matter what. He knows what is best for us all, even thou his plan makes no sense to us at times. I know he will bless you greatly for your faith. Hebrews 11:6 NKJV – But without faith [it is] impossible to please [Him], for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and [that] He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Praying God Blesses your lives with Wisdom, Peace, Joy, Happiness that only he can give.

  23. Sending wishes for a Christmas as merry as you can muster! I have learned the hard way that while HE may have a different plan that what we would wish, it all turns ok. I will also send prayers for all of you, for strength, peace of mind and peace in your heart for ‘it is what it is’. There are not too many Norman Rockwell days but many Rockwell moments to be enjoyed.

  24. Thank you for putting life in perspective. Please give all your children a hug for me and know I do believe God gave you Pearl so that all of us can know her pure love. Bless you all and may you enjoy each day as it comes wrapped differently everyday.
    Love and Joy,

  25. iv been praying for pearl and your family since sept. i do believe that God put pearl here for reason.maybe its to help all of us to have faith in him and his 3 yearold prays for pearl also and i show her pics to my daughter and she always says what a cute baby.we will keep u and your family in my prayers and im looking for the next update on pearl.oh and i love the pics of pearl pushing up they are awesome!!!

  26. Eric, we’ve never met, but I go to TVC and I’ve heard about your family, and I’ve prayed for you guys and little Pearl several times. I think I saw you in Trader Joe’s a couple evenings ago. I didn’t realize who you were, but you were carrying a tiny baby in a pink outfit. I thought I saw a glimpse of Pearl’s face as you went past and then realized who you were after you were gone. I just wanted to see if there is something I can do for you guys. Do you need me to bring you a meal?

    • Ellen,
      Thank you! You’re right – Eric did have Pearl at TJ’s the other day! Thank you for your prayers and your sweet offer to help. Norma is organizing some meals for us from church – I’m sure she could help you find a time to help if you’re interested. Thank you!

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