If I went all the way back to the beginning of this journey, I could write one hundred pages or more detailing the many, many ways people have come alongside and encouraged my heart and the hearts of my family.
But instead I’ll just start with a couple of weeks ago when we found out that Ryker would be delivered early-ready or not!
Encouragement looks like an old friend who texted back and forth with me the whole day as we awaited word that baby was born, his mama was safe and my son in Africa approved to come home. She kept me company even though we were miles apart. She sent random prayers and helpful details from her own premature son’s journey. She let me vent, moan and cry.
It was a gift.
Encouragement looks like a sweet friend who looks after our little farm and ridiculous animal set ups on a moment’s notice so I can drive down to be with my family and welcome this new life. She even continued the physical therapy we were doing with an elderly goat. Sitting in the pen, forcing her to stand, in the rain, under a tarp.
Encouragement looks like people who take just a minute to “like” and “share” the updates about the baby. You don’t even have to leave a comment, but evidence of your presence and prayers lifts all of us up.
It helps our hearts hold onto hope and strengthens us for the journey.
Encouragement looks like a beautiful worship song messaged to me one morning by a mom I’ve never met but consider a good friend.
Encouragement looks like taking my hand at church, looking me in the eye, and asking, “How are you holding up?” before asking me about church business or the weather.
Encouragement looks like all the folks I’ve never even met but who follow the blog and ask me for an address to send gift cards to this little family trying hard to take care of one another. I cannot begin to tell you how that overwhelms my heart.
And it’s less about the material help (which is HUGE!) and more about the time and effort someone is willing to put in for a couple they haven’t met but love anyway.
Encouragement looks like my family vet who called me every day I was out of town and reported on my companion animal, an older cat who had stopped eating and drinking a couple days before we left. All of my kids worked at her clinic over the years. James Michael learned a lot from her before he went to vet school. She knows how much the cat contributes to my sanity and emotional well-being and treated him like her own.
She didn’t have to make that additional effort, but she did.
Encouragement looks like all the comments, messages, notes and posts from fellow bereaved parents who are just as excited and joy-filled this story didn’t end in sorrow.
I think that is perhaps the greatest gift.
Those of us who know what we know and are so thankful they were spared.