Last week I had the joy and challenge of watching one of my nieces.  The niece who continues to teach me what it means to thrive in the wilderness.  This niece is the same niece that was “not supposed to make it”; “not supposed to sit up”; “not supposed to feed herself….”  The list goes on and on.  And so do her check-marks accomplishing items on the “not supposed to” list.

Her current challenge–walking.    And I got to see her take three baby steps with her walker.

Three steps.

Three steps that in one moment can seem both insurmountable and insignificant.  What’s the big deal about three steps?  It’s only three steps.  What’s the big deal about three steps?  Three steps that were never supposed to happen.

I think what’s more amazing is to watch her with the physical therapist.  My niece grits her teeth and grunts to take each step.  You can see the sheer determination.  At the same time, she’ll fake a yawn to get out of an exercise and sign “all done” at the sound of the physical therapist’s voice.  Needless to say, her spunk and spirit seem to be equal measure of help and hindrance.  It’s become the therapist’s and our job to lovingly travel this path with her—cuddling in some moments, challenging in others.  Right now it’s a balance of when to push for one more step and when to pick her up and simply breathe.  Pushing too hard only leads to a complete melt down.  But a little push gets her beyond her faux yawn and in touch with a spirit of determination equal to no one I know.

When it comes to my niece, the list of not-supposed-tos don’t apply.  Like so many of us, her journey isn’t a straight line on a flat road.  But that doesn’t seem to slow her down.  She’ll take it one step at a time.  What better company could you have in the wilderness?