I sure do find myself saying "thank you" a lot lately. I love that. Every day it seems there is someone to thank for something, whether it is a sweet gift for Lily, an encouraging word, or a reminder that someone is praying for us.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I always have the desire to thank YOU as well, those of you who still read these words that I write and who have shared in our joy as we prepare for this baby. I want you to know that I don't take this blogging community lightly. Once I've spent weeks, months, and years reading your blogs and praying my heart out for you in your specific situations and struggles, I no longer just think of you as acquaintances. Sure, it's different; there are some of you whose faces I've never even seen in pictures and whose real names I don't know. But I still feel a connection and a shared bond with many of you.
More than a year ago I started keeping a list. It's just a simple Word document on my computer that I began when the list of blogs that I follow kept growing. I've admitted to you before that I like lists. Okay, not only do I like them, but I'm a bit obsessed with them. They help me keep things in order, which is always a good thing! This list of names and blog titles served to help me remember who went with what blog and what the specific situation was. It also became a way of keeping up with my prayer requests for you. I was able to easily look it over and see who might be struggling with a loss, who was heartbroken over infertility, who was celebrating a pregnancy, who was waiting to adopt, and so on.
That list has grown to about 80 individual names and situations. I keep them updated with new information, or when a baby that I've been praying for is born or adopted, listing the baby's name (if given) and birth date in orange. I don't know why I picked orange, but that's what it is. Having the list brings me a lot of joy, partly because there is a lot more orange on it than there used to be! Each one is an answered prayer. Unfortunately, I know that not everyone's story will end with bringing home a baby. The purpose of the list is not to ultimately put down a baby's name by each one. Instead, it reminds me how many friends I've met along the way and how many different people's lives have in some way been connected with mine as we've shared our stories. I'm thankful for this list and each name that it represents. I'm thankful for the support and prayers we've received over the past couple of years from people who started out as strangers, as well as from my sweet real-life friends who follow along with my blog (I pray for you guys, too, of course!).
So, that's the long way of telling you how much I appreciate you for reading and responding to this little blog. It is sweet to be able to share some good experiences with you lately, after enduring what felt like a lifetime of disappointment and loss. I know that it's not always easy to follow someone when you are struggling. I'm always moved when I receive a comment from someone who I know is having a bad day (or year), and I'm very touched to get e-mails from new readers who are in the beginning or the middle of their own battles with infertility or recurrent miscarriage, who tell me that reading my story has given them hope. That alone is what keeps me writing about this experience I've been through. It wasn't easy, but with the Lord's help I've survived through multiple miscarriages and many years of heartbreak and despair. Thank you for finding hope in my story and encouraging me to keep sharing it!
There is a whole lot of thankfulness to go around! And now I've come to the part about mercy. I'm going to share with you very briefly but honestly that there have been some times that have stung in recent months. While I recognize the hurt and the struggle, it is still a sobering thought when you realize that your answered prayer, your miracle baby who finally survived in your womb, is the very thing that will cause some to stop following your story. That is the only thing I will say about it, and I don't plan on revisiting the subject in the future. I've felt some sadness over it and I've spent some time dwelling on it. Then I was at church this past Sunday and we had a guest speaker who talked about showing mercy, and the message went right to my core. I've made up my mind to let go of whatever hurt feelings I may have had and just continue to handle it with love and with mercy. I'll continue to follow and I'll continue to pray even if the sentiments are not returned.
I have for a long time resisted the tendency to lean towards an "us versus them" mentality, both when I was waiting to have a baby and especially now. A woman with a heart that aches over the sadness of infertility and the despair of pregnancy loss is not someone I used to be. It's someone I still am and will always be. A successful pregnancy hasn't caused me to "change sides." I'm the same woman... whose heart is also thankful to God for the grace and mercy that He has shown by giving us this child after we've entrusted six others to His eternal care. That wasn't a small sacrifice, but through it all we've learned to trust Him. This experience continues to teach me new things and grow me in ways that I never imagined. Sometimes the growing pains are not easy, but I'm grateful for the lessons learned.
Let me say again, thank you for walking with me and for sticking around for as long as you have, through the bad times and the good ones. It means so much to me!