With the holidays quickly approaching and a long Saturday with my little family and some dear friends, it is hard for me not to find myself reflective and eager to write out my thoughts this evening.
It’s easy to be reflective during the holiday season for most of us. With many cherished and sometimes painful memories flooding our hearts, we find ourselves thinking of days past as we plan and prepare for the days ahead. In many ways, I will do that this year just as I have always done. But unlike the years prior, this year I hold a new memory in my heart.
At just about this time, on this very day last year, my husband was returning from a work trip. Unbeknownst to him, or to anyone, I was waiting with a very BIG surprise. In the early evening of November 21st, 2014, I sat, paced, cried, laughed and felt more emotion in the span of 5 minutes than I ever had before. I was alone in our home, two pregnancy tests in my hand, with a total of 4 soft pink lines staring back at me. I cannot explain the intensity of feeling and thought, swirling together to create a whirlwind in my mind that night.
I was terrified. Overjoyed. Shocked. And I knew that I could not contain this secret from my husband for more than a few hours time. When he came home, I gave him a card and the wrapped tests. Seeing his reaction will likely remain one of the greatest memories I have of him in our marriage. We sat, stunned, together in silence, laughter and tears that night. We knew our lives were changed forever. We just never could have understood just how much.
Tonight we gathered with friends, as we have every year for awhile now, for a “Friendsgiving” feast. Laughter and song and the pattering of tiny feet were filling the house up and Judson’s eyes grew wide at the sight of blueberry crisp and hymns sung in a cappella. As I think about those who sat around me and the tapestry of time that has woven all of us together, I can’t help but feel a true, deep thankfulness. When I consider our children, carefully and wonderfully and wholly created and knit together, I stand in awe of the One who gives and takes life away.
And then, tonight, as the clock continued on and I rocked & sang my sweet baby to sleep, my voice turned to a song that I have probably sung dozens, if not hundreds of times. It’s lyrics resonated deeply as they always do, but this time, with so many memories of the last year and all it has held for us. As I considered where Jason and I were one year ago at this very same time, my eyes were wet.
Stunned. Amazed. Overjoyed. Thankful.
These words still describe the fullness of our hearts and the thankfulness that puts a lump in my throat in the very best way.
This thankfulness did not come through a Pinterest-picturesque life together. The beauty of our deepest joy and thankfulness often comes from the dark, hard, painful places we have stumbled through, praying to see an end in sight. The wait and discomfort of nine long months of pregnancy, doctor’s appointments and even a scare or two. The anguish and groanings of the most intense labor pains. The dozens of soiled burp cloths piled in the laundry and heaps of dirty diapers and sleepless nights that seem like they might not ever end. And even several moments of hot tears and frustrations and wondering if life would ever feel “normal” again.
What a blessing that the most beautiful, precious gifts of our lives are birthed (sometimes literally!) out of the greatest of agony and struggle! So much thanks is in order when we stop to consider the sweet joys that come from the moments that once felt so fear-inducing and overwhelming to us. And my fickle heart is…well…fickle. Tomorrow I will forget.
I will want to cry over spit up and too-much-laundry and sleeplessness. I will probably get angry over dirty dishes and have a moment or two of self-pity or self-loathing for not being able to do more, be more, etc, etc. But I pray that these little moments…memories and traditions and baby giggles and hymns sung in rocking chairs with tired eyes…will remind me. And today…today, I will give thanks for burp cloths and sleepless nights and God’s great, great faithfulness.