Real Life Story | #ichoosethankfulness

We came across such an inspirational story as we spent some time looking through the Instagram hashtag, #ichoosethankfulness. Our friend Beth joined us the year the hashtag was introduced in 2012. We asked Beth to to share her story in her own words......as she can tell it so much better than we could ever attempt. We encourage you to take a moment and let this story sink down deep...and let HOPE rise up in your hearts tonight. 
 

Sitting in the dimly lit NICU room with alerts from the various machines beeping all around me I glanced through my Instagram feed to pass the time.  I spent most of my waking hours in the fall of 2012 in a hospital room and as I mindlessly scrolled through my phone that day I was struck by the gravity of the #ichoosethankfulness challenge.  Could I find something to truly be thankful for every single day with all that weighed on my heart?  Although I was walking through the most difficult thing I’d ever faced I decided then and there I would CHOOSE to be thankful. Even in the midst of circumstances that seemed hopeless, I made the decision to choose joy.

Gibson was born in August of 2012, so by November we’d gone through several grueling months in the NICU. On October 31st (the day before my first #ichoosethankfulness post) he’d been transferred to a new hospital and had taken a very serious turn for the worst.  My first post was a picture of him hooked up to the ventilator with a little pumpkin hat on his tiny fragile head that some sweet woman had knit by hand and placed in his hospital room.  I vividly remember taking that picture and the nurse who carefully moved the hat around all the cords and IV’s on his head for me.  To this point I’d tried to “filter” what I allowed to be seen of him and his status, foolishly thinking others just couldn’t handle our reality. But in that moment I didn’t care… I was thankful.  And I was going to continue to declare the good in those hard days.  Little did I know, there were many worse ahead.

 Over the month of November the things I found to be thankful for included friends & family that were carrying us through those dark days, the nurses who loved so deeply and genuinely, the community group that showed up at the NICU to bring dinner and pray with us, the tender moments we had as a little family in the NICU together, including our first and only family picture with Gibson.  I found joy in the eyes of my other kids like never before as they stood at their brother’s bedside.  I learned to be thankful for a baby’s cry after not being able to hear it for days on end, and I thankfully took him in my arms at every fleeting opportunity not knowing when I’d hold him again.  One of my favorite and last posts was celebrating 100 days of life.

 Choosing thankfulness was slowly changing the trajectory of my heart with each simple click.   Choosing the little joys was the only thing I could do.  I couldn’t control the doctors’ reports each day, I couldn’t change the circumstances we were walking through and I couldn’t possibly guess what was in front of us, but I could find these things, these little glimmers of hope in the midst of it all to be truly grateful for. 

 Gibson went to be with Jesus on December 6th.  Although it was the most painful day of our lives and the grief that followed at times seemed completely insufferable, what rose up in our hearts was deeply rooted (and honestly slightly unexpected) gratitude. We CHOSE to be thankful. And as we chose it others around us did too. 

 "Turns out gratitude is highly contagious." 

Our friends and family, instead of questioning God, were able to stand with us in the middle of our pain and give thanks as well.  To have them walk along side us and praise God with us was the beginning of our walk through healing.

 After Gibson died I wasn’t sure I’d ever be brave enough to give over another chunk of my heart and bring another life into this fallen world.  But I’m so grateful to say that my God is a redeemer and restorer of all things and he specializes in broken hearts.  He renews.

Three Weeks ago we welcomed our beautiful healthy baby girl, Stella Wren into our family. 

This year I’m walking through a whole new bountiful season of thankfulness.  God is still a God of new seasons.  If you're in a drought, there's refreshing beauty ahead.  If you're in a winter, there's a spring budding up below you.  Hang in there.  And CHOOSE thankfulness with me.