Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
As my child was born I fought against nature and attempted to hold her in. This is not how the baby books tell you to approach labor. Quite the opposite, actually. I was supposed to work with the contraction, breathing out and letting it deliver my baby into the world. Instead I gripped bed rails and held every breath attempting to stop her from slipping away from me, in both body and spirit.
They took her anyway, through an incision, making that effort to fight my own body all for naught. At twenty-five weeks gestation she was born near Thanksgiving rather than Valentine’s Day. Many Thanksgivings have left my lips but none so full of truth than the day I whispered it over her softly, as a nurse cleared away the tubes from her nose and mouth. I could see her heartbeats on a monitor and I counted every one.
Another heartbeat. Thank you, Lord. Another heartbeat. Thank you, Lord. She forgot to breathe. Let her breathe. Please breathe. She took a breath. Thank you, Lord.
Elsewhere other families broke bread and bowed heads while I sat in the dark and uncovered a Thanksgiving I didn’t know could exist in such suffering. I don’t need a calendar for Thanksgiving now, all orange and brown, marked by apple cider and falling leaves. When she rolled over, it was Thanksgiving. When she spoke a single syllable, it was Thanksgiving. When she took shaky steps toward us, it was Thanksgiving.
I know our story could have ended differently and I’m still counting the Thanksgivings with heartbeats, a new rhythm of life where the smallest things really do call for rejoicing. And at night, when I tuck her in with the tulip blanket and feel her chest rise and fall with breath and pulse of a heartbeat underneath my hand, I can see it in the flesh. Thank you, Lord.
Look for all the small Thanksgivings in your day today. Another heartbeat. Another breath. And give Him thanks.
This message was written by Kayla Aimee and appears in A Moment to Breathe, a 365-day devotional from the (in)courage community now available where books are sold.Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
While reading your story, my heart just prayed, “Lord, let her be okay.” We so desperately want life for our children. We will do anything to make that happen. I can only imagine your desperate prayers for her heart to beat and her breath to come in rhythm. When we come so precariously close to losing the life of a loved one, somehow the gift of life becomes that much sweeter. I can hear the joy in your voice when you talk about celebrating Thanksgiving now and tucking her in with her favorite blanket. Would that same joy be there had you not almost lost her?….I don’t know. God DID lose someone very precious to Him…His Son so that we, sinners, could be come His children and heirs with Christ our brother. I can’t even fathom losing someone so dear to you unless you really, really loved the ones you were losing your Son for. I am SO thankful for the loss that makes my joy complete this Thanksgiving. Thank you for sharing your beautiful and true story of a life found and growing and for the Thanksgiving you so obviously have. May I hold this lesson close to my heart….
Michele Morin says
Thank you, Kayla, for viewing that memory through the lens of thanksgiving. Your courage invites me to ask myself what stories I could learn from if I faithfully did the same.
Thank you for sharing your story x Much love to you and your precious child.
Jeanne Takenaka says
Kayla, what a beautiful post. I’m so glad your girl lived and gives you many reasons to offer Thanksgiving throughout the year. My niece was born very prematurely as well, and right around Thanksgiving. She’s now a college-girl. It’s beautiful to see God’s merciful miracles in our daily lives. When He gives us the gift our hearts yearn for, may we always remember and be thankful.
Thank you for sharing your story.
Beth Williams says
Such a heartfelt but profound story. Yes! Thanksgiving shouldn’t be a date on a calendar, but an everyday event. Like Bev said Christ gave His only precious son-we should be thankful daily for the fact that He loved us enough to die a horrible death for us. I try to find a reason every day to be thankful. When I start to feel down I make myself write out all my blessings. You’d be surprised how many you can think of. We all need to hold the lesson of thanksgiving in our hearts & soul!
Valerie Bruce says
Kayla …that was do beautifully put. Thankyou for the reminder that thanksgiving is everyday. We should be thankful everyday for the little things in life that are important. I too have a special needs child born early. A true blessing to be thankful for. God bless you kayla.
Carol L. Gonzalez says
You were truly blessed! I am thankful for the roof over my head, light, heat, electricity, hot water, clothes, food…the basic necessities of life, also my car and the finances to pay the bills. I pray that everyone has something, even if it seems “small”, to be thankful for on Thanksgiving.
Thank you for sharing your story. God is so good and is always there for us. Your story reminds me of my story with my first son. My water broke at 23 weeks and I was able to carry my son until 33 weeks. I prayed daily and others who entered my hospital room could feel all the love in there. I was sent (praying for you) cards from family, friends and even people I didn’t even know. My sister-in-law cross stitched a beautiful banner with a guardian angel on it. My son is now 12 year old and doing well. I pray that your baby grows up to be a healthy, happy, God loving child.
Thank you for the reminder to be Thankful for each small thing. My Father is currently at hospice and is slowly dying. I give God thanks for each day he shows me blessings, encouragement and hope that my Father is not in any pain and is at peace.
May you continue to have Thanksgiving daily.
It helps to be thankful for the little things, throughout the day. thank you for this
I’m so happy for you that it turned out well for your little girl, what a beautiful gift. Thank-you so much for sharing, it literally was breathtaking for me.
Blessings to all,
Melanie Horning says
Truly a reminder that all we have is the present and to be attentive to the graces in the now of living. Thank you for sharing your story.
Jody Cates says
What a tender reminder to never take for granted the many things – both large and small – we have to be thankful for every day. Your precious daughter is blessed to have such a sweet and thankful mama who is treasuring each moment with her. My kids are all grown up now, but you better believe that the next time I see them I will be holding them close, feeling their hearts beat next to mine, and giving thanks for the miracle of life each of them are. Thank you for sharing your story.
Good evening, Kayla Aimee. Thank you for sharing your and your little girl’s beautiful story with me. Three years ago, I attempted suicide for the 4th time in my 48 year-old life. I was in a coma for a week, my lungs were filled with pneumonia, my heart was very damaged, my hands were contractured into fists that couldn’t be opened, and I had a breathing tube down my throat. When I awoke, I was angry that I was still alive and breathing. I desperately wanted God to let me go home to be with Him. It took me nearly a year to recover from what my doctors said should have killed me or left me permanently brain damaged, with a pacemaker in my chest, and disabled. I know that it was God’s Grace and Steadfast Love for me that saved me from death by suicide. I know that He has a plan and a purpose for me, and that it is good. Here I am, 3 years later, and every single morning, I thank God for breathing the breath of Life into me and for His mercies that are new upon me. I have been seeking Him and His Righteousness like never before in my 30 years of being saved by His Grace, and the outpouring of His good blessings are abundantly overflowing and manifesting in my life! I am thankful that He is my purpose and reason for living and breathing. I am thankful for my Savior, my Redeemer, my Sanctification, my Lord Jesus Christ, and for the precious blood that He shed for me so that I may have Life and have it more abundantly. Blessings and Grace to you.
Kim B Smith says
Thanksgiving, every day. Kayla, I am delighted your daughter is fine. I feel as a society we need to find Thanksgiving in our everyday lives, not just on the holiday. Begin with God thanking Him for all that he provides & more.
Gratitude is vast and not just on the holiday.
It really is all about the small things. I loved when you said “a new rhythm of life where the smallest things really do call for rejoicing.” My ministry is caring for the hearts of women and it really does start with a slower rhythm so we can recognize how important the small things are. I wish that the heartbreaking and scary things weren’t the way to make us see it, but I’m grateful for the new perspective that suffering brings. Thanks for sharing your story.