“… We can be sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good” (Romans 8:28–The Message).

The little Boy held the wooden object in his hand, clutching it tightly. “What is it?” he asked his Momma, eyes wide with wonder.

“It’s called a kaleidoscope,” she replied. “And it contains a miracle.” She rubbed the top of her son’s head before tweaking the tip of his nose.

“Miracle?” The Boy’s face scrunched, and he released the vice grip on the wooden object. “What’s … a miracle?”

“A miracle is when God shows up and does something that can’t be explained by human understanding.”

The Boy let his Momma’s words settle. “Like … a rainbow?” It was more a question than an answer.

It was the Momma’s turn to think a moment, pondering her response. “Well, science can sometimes explain a miracle by talking about things that naturally occur–like sunlight and rain. When the two meet, a rainbow is made.”  She paused. “But yes, Son–a rainbow is indeed a miracle, because God created both the sun and the rain. And He created the rainbow as a sign of His promise.”

Remembering the story from Sunday School, the Boy’s face lit up. “Yeah! He showed the rainbow to Noah after the flood!” he exclaimed. “But I bet getting all those animals into the boat was a miracle, too, huh, Momma?”

Chuckling, the Momma nodded. “Yes, Son. That was indeed a miracle.” Looking at the kaleidoscope her Boy held, she recognized a parallel. “That toy you’re holding–it, too, contains a sort of rainbow.”

“Really? How?”

“It doesn’t perhaps look like much–just a plain, wooden object, right? But see that eyehole there on the end?”

The Boy turned it so he could see. Nodding excitedly, as though he’d found a treasure, he lifted the kaleidoscope to his eye. “Do I do this?” he asked.

“Yes,” was his Momma’s reply.

The Boy pressed his eye to the end of the toy. After a moment, “But I don’t see any miracle.” His voice registered his disappointment.

“Well, there’s something more you need to do to see the miracle of the rainbow inside.” Gently, she took the toy from his hand, then guided him toward a stream of sunlight piercing through a window. “Now, look again.” The Momma smiled, excited for what her son would soon discover.

Again, the Boy held the kaleidoscope to his eye and looked in, his face crinkled with determination. Suddenly, he gasped. “I see it! I see it!”

“And what is it you see?”

“The miracle. I see the miracle of the rainbow!”

The Momma’s heart fluttered, giddy, too, at her son’s discovery. “Now, turn the kaleidoscope, and keep watching.”

The Boy’s small hand fumbled at first as he tried to turn the toy, and the Momma guided his other hand so that it was holding the kaleidoscope nearer its end . “Like this,” and she slowly helped him rotate the toy.

Again, the Boy gasped. “Yes, I see it! I do!” he cried. “It’s like a changing rainbow–a rainbow right inside!”

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

“My dear, you’ve discovered the miracle.” The Momma’s eyes were brimming with tears as she turned her face toward the sunlight, stood side by side with the Boy she so loved.

Wrapping her arm around his shoulder, she continued, “The kaleidoscope is a kaleidoscope whether you use it correctly or not. But the purpose for which it was created can only be discovered when one turns toward the light and looks inside–sees all those colorful pieces of cut glass in various shapes and sizes. Yes, that’s when one learns  how the artist begins with something broken and creates something beautiful …

And that, my son, is the miracle.


I have a cousin named John. He is son to my dear older cousin Linda whose father was my grandma’s younger brother. John is several years down from me, and he’s spent close to the last decade in prison for a mistake he made. He’s acknowledged his wrong-doing and has asked for forgiveness, both from the one he harmed, as well as from the One he calls Savior.

John has chosen to use the time he’s spent in prison to grow–taking classes and studying the Bible. He leads Bible study with other male inmates and prays with and for many in need–both inside and outside the prison walls. He’s worked toward earning a degree in theology.

John will one day be released from prison, but the years spent incarcerated will forever be part of his unique story–a thread in the tapestry of his life. He will never be able to deny both the circumstances that led to his imprisonment, nor the consequences for his actions, though he will have to choose how he’ll allow this to impact his future, his remaining days.

John and I were kids together, and though we lived many miles apart–he in Michigan and me in Ohio–we have shared memories. We played together in the fields of our family farm in the Upper Peninsula. We played in the corn behind my rural childhood home when he and his family visited from Detroit. Though I’m sure John and his sister, as well as me and mine, dreamed dreams together, prison was never a part of the plan we plotted.

Cousins playing in the tractor trailer, pulled by dear Uncle Johnny–brother to my Grandma Betty–at the Heikkinen Farm.

Prison never is. A child doesn’t proclaim, “One day I want to be an inmate–wake up in a prison cell and go to bed there too.” That simply doesn’t happen.

But prison does become a reality for some, even when he or she has other plans, because plans don’t always work out as one might hope. Poor choices change plans. Poor choices often lead to the death of dreams, to what might feel like a dead end street.

My cousin John knows this firsthand. But despite the fact that he is nearing fifty, he is still a little boy. Somewhere, at some point during the past decade or so, he discovered the miracle of the kaleidoscope. He turned toward the Son, invited the Light to come inside and, having released the vice grip on his life, discovered how all the brokenness could be made–yes, is being made–beautiful.

Because that’s the miracle–when our Redeemer steps in and does what no one else can explain.

And the rainbow is seen through tears and pain

When the Artist creates using sunshine and rain.

Dear Jesus, please be near Cousin John. Many all around him are getting sick with Covid-19. One fell ill just the other day, and now, many more. I pray for protection for him and for others. I pray for healing for those who are already infected. I pray that, above all, You will be glorified through this–as You show up and do a miracle. We’re all just your little boys and girls, wide-eyed with wonder–looking for a promise, awaiting our miracle. Help us turn toward You, sweet Light of the world–see how You make beauty from our brokenness, because that’s what You do, Jesus. Yes, that’s what You do. How we love You, precious Savior. Amen.

If interested in encouraging or being part of helping prisoners discover Jesus, click Prison Fellowship, and learn how you can be light in someone’s darkness.