“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” ~2 Corinthians 4:15
the birth of my daughter just after thanksgiving two years ago has given this time of year even more meaning for me. i remember that particular thanksgiving day, hoping that i would eat myself into labor. instead, i was induced a couple days later and left the hospital with my arms full of 8 pounds, 4 ounces of beautiful, healthy baby girl. our lives had changed for the better and because of her we had that much more reason to be thankful.
since jonathan’s and kate’s due dates were the exact same date (november 30), my pregnancy with jonathan was measured against my pregnancy with kate from the beginning. i compared my weight, the babies' measurements, and how i felt during each pregnancy. we would also share special times of the year together, just as i did with kate. for instance, both babies were 12 weeks old when they flew on an airplane to st. louis to visit family. both babies were 15 weeks on our anniversary. both babies were 25 weeks on my birthday. we would share many holidays and special times with family, such as thanksgiving. or so i thought. i can’t help but think that jonathan should still be here with us for thanksgiving this year. but even though he’s not, i still have a 4 pound, 3 ounce reason to be especially thankful this year.
however, i could say that 2009 has been an extremely hard year for us. i could dwell over my grandmother’s passing early this year followed by the eight months of being consumed with a very complicated pregnancy and then losing our baby boy to a cruel disorder. i could be angry that God in all of His infinite power, chose not to heal my son. i could say that that alone would be enough difficulty for one year, but then add to it almost losing a pet (twice), less than a month after jonathan died and the related expense with keeping her alive and well…i could say i’m ready for 2009 to be over with.
this is the attitude i’m often tempted to abide in. it’s not pretty.
i know i am not alone in having a rough year. in fact, there is a lot of suffering going on in the lives of people i know right now: cancer. life-threatening surgeries. car accidents. financial burdens. infertility. divorce. death. the list goes on.
i’ve written here before that when you’re deep in the pit of despair, things become a lot clearer. some of you know what i mean. when i was there, i was able to see that the issues i felt made my life difficult, pre-diagnosis, were nothing more than petty annoyances. yet they caused me to take for granted many blessings in my life. post-diagnosis, i caught myself many times longing for my “old life” back, wishing there was some way to turn back time to the days where things were going pretty well in life for me, and to be more thankful for every moment.
fresh out of the pit, i still see pretty clearly these days. to believe anything other than the fact that i am blessed and have so much to be thankful for would completely dishonor jonathan’s life and depreciate the amazing grace that has been bestowed generously to me during our time with jonathan.
thanks to jonathan, i know better than to allow myself to believe that God is anything but good, even when it appears He allows bad or tragic things to happen. among the many lessons my time with jonathan has taught me, i have learned that when you’re in the darkest hours of your life, His grace is readily available and will provide for your every need.
"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." ~Hebrews 4:16
"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." ~2 Corinthians 9:8
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." ~2 Corinthians 12:9
i am thankful for many of the same blessings year after year, but this year the blessings take on a bit more significance:
i am thankful for my husband. you don’t know what your marriage is made of until you are tested with a trial of life and death proportions; where the decisions you make together will not only affect the rest of your lives, but that you will both be held accountable for one day before God Himself. where if there is any strife or contention between the two of you, it becomes like a thread unraveling, eventually giving way under the pressure of being pulled in two different directions. i am so thankful that this is not our story. i am so blessed that when we were knit together in marriage 6-plus years ago that our most valuable asset we had in each other was our trust and faith in God. this is a cord not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12.) greg and i didn’t have decisions to argue over. we only had each other to lean on while the decisions for jonathan’s life were left up to the Lord. our time with jonathan has only strengthened the bond we share.
i am thankful for our families. greg and i are blessed as it is to live so close to our parents, but to have their unending support in so many ways is invaluable. both kate and jonathan are so loved by them, and there is nothing better than watching your parents completely adore and care for your children. we are so glad that they were all able to meet jonathan shortly after his birth and enjoy that time together as one big family.
i am thankful for good health. my physical and emotional recovery has been good. our family is also doing very well.
i am thankful for my church. when i began attending about 8 years ago, i had no idea that i would meet my husband there, meet true lifelong friends there, and develop a much deeper relationship with the Lord thanks to my church’s careful devotion to teaching scripture. we know that our pastors and church body were faithfully praying for us, and they certainly bent over backward for us by putting together an amazing funeral for jonathan. our church family made certain we were fed well, that kate was looked after when necessary, and that basically any need of ours was met. their love for us and service to us is a true testimony of what the body of Christ looks like in action. what a blessing to be at the receiving end of it during our time of need.
i am thankful for my friends. when we first embarked on our journey, someone told me that during our trial, we would find out who our “true” friends are; that because of the difficulty and potential awkwardness of our situation, some people would not know what to say and just avoid us altogether. this has (mostly) not been the case for us. we have been blessed with many true friends who supported us in so many ways. we have even been contacted by old friends we haven’t seen in years who have offered their support. we have also gained some new “friends” through this blog and through the “living with trisomy 13” website, who have prayed for us and supported us.
but mostly this thanksgiving season, i am thankful for grace. grace means unmerited favor from God, and we certainly have been showered abundantly with it.
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." ~Ephesians 2:4-10
it is "by grace" that through jonathan’s life, i can better understand that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” ~Romans 8:28. though the trials and tragedies we face may sometimes cause us to question God’s goodness and purposes, we must be steady in the belief that God knows what we don't, and none of this changes who He is.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” ~Romans 12:2
it is also truly “by grace” that i can be thankful in the midst of what most people consider to be an unimaginable tragedy. that i am able to get out of bed each day. that i am able to smile, laugh, and count my blessings.
“From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.” ~John 1:16
may you also have much to be thankful for this season.