I'm sure many of you have read Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts or at least have heard of Ann and know what she's all about.
Last year I read her book. Well, to be completely honest, I read most of it. Her writing is very, um, how can I put this without offending any of her many fans? Oddly indirect? Strangely descriptive? Not straightforward?
Not sure exactly how to describe her writing but I find it very hard to read and I think I'm probably the only one who feels that way because most people love her book and her website A Holy Experience.
Regardless of how I feel about Ann's writing style, it's her message that's most important. And it's a simple one: Give thanks in everything and you will find joy. She recommends taking her Joy Dare. Write down three things every day that you give thanks for. And they don't have to be big things. In fact, usually, it's in being thankful for the small things that you find your true joy.
Last May after reading her book I started keeping a list. And it's amazing that when you do this, when you start to look for God's little blessings throughout your day, you realize how much he truly loves you.
And if you write down three a day, you will easily get to one thousand gifts by the end of the year. I am currently on gift 758 so I'm a little behind. And I will have to admit it's because throughout this pregnancy, I have sometimes found myself wallowing in the uncertainty and the questions and the pain and not focusing on the daily gifts of joy that God is sending me. But I've refocused myself the last few weeks and I'm trying to go through each day on the lookout for these little gifts, and trust me, some days they are small. But they are there.
A bird perched on the top of a tree, my kid's laughing with each other, the sun after three days of rain, a Lindt chocolate truffle, a sweet email, a full moon, that perfect song on the radio at just the right time.....see, nothing huge but if you look around, really look around you for these tiny treasures, you will find that God delights in bringing good things to us. We just have to make the effort to be willing to look for them.
As I'm nearing the end of this pregnancy, I've been reflecting on the good things that have come of it and I wanted to write down some of them so that I don't ever forget the good that God has sent us in the middle of this seemingly bad situation.
1. My MS pain has been in complete remission since the very beginning of this pregnancy. I have had zero pain and I have taken zero medications and I have felt better during this pregnancy than I have felt in the last ten years. I am praying that my pain doesn't come back but most likely it will. Even if it does, I have been extremely thankful for these last nine pain free months.
2. I have a great relationship with my husband. In fact, if you asked me 9 months ago I would have told you that there was no way possible it could get any better. Well, I was wrong! Knowing that we are going to have baby that is "incompatible with life" has brought us closer than ever. I have always felt that our love would withstand any struggle or problem life throws at us but now I know for certain. And potentially, our struggles are just beginning, but I know that I have married the man God planned just for me and I know that we will truly be living out for better or for worse together.
3. Our prayer lives have increased exponentially. I've always been a pray-er. If I tell you I am going to pray for you, I will. But there is something about praying for your unborn child that really gets you down on your knees so to speak. Your prayers become raw and true and honest when you realize you have no power and that God is the only answer.
4. The whole time I've known Dan, he has started and ended every day on his knees beside his bed in prayer just like his mom taught him. Every day. And I've always loved seeing him physically kneeling to pray. I'm more of a pray as you go, anywhere, anytime kind of person but seeing him bowed down always brings a smile to my face. He is also praying more than ever as well. He has taken to finding a quiet place in the evenings, and retreating with his rosary beads and praying the rosary nightly. Knowing that he is taking the time to do that really brings joy and peace to my heart.
5.We have so many people who are praying for us, it's actually quite humbling. It's hard sometimes to be on the receiving end of help but we need it and knowing that people we don't even know are praying for us is such a blessing. And if you are praying for us, please know that I am praying for you as well. I ask God every day to bless all of the people that are praying so fervently for Rebecca.
6. Each email, text message, blog comment, Facebook message, note in the mail or phone call letting us know that people are praying for our baby has brought me much joy. Reminders that we are being covered in prayer are a beautiful thing.
7. Even though I'm large and having trouble sleeping, this has been a fairly easy pregnancy on me physically. I've had no morning sickness, no food aversions, no other health issues and for that, I'm truly thankful.
8. Doctors that seem willing to help Rebecca. I have come across horror stories while doing my research on Trisomy 18 of doctors strong-arming women with Trisomy 18 babies into abortions or doctors that refuse to treat these babies or try to help them in any way because they are deemed incompatible with life. So far all of the doctors we have spoken to seem ready and willing to help Rebecca even though the much of the rest of the medical world may not see value in her life.
9. The love and support of family and friends. This may seem like a given but it's so nice to know that in times of true need you have people there to support you and your family.
See! Even in times of trouble, or sorrow, or despair, God is right there with you giving you exactly what you need to have a joy-filled life right where you are.
All you have to do is look.