Day 6: 30 Days of Gratitude

Since Day 4, I’ve been thinking about my gratitude to the Lord for our many kids.

Note: I have reworked my post schedule, so I can write about Bethany and Seth on their birthdays, which are both in November.

After we lost “Isaac” (that’s what we think his name would have been), we were silently devastated. Neither one of us were at a place emotionally to help the other, and that was hard. When we talked about losing the baby with other people, we often got the response that “it’s something that many couples experience, and we should be able to go on and have more kids”. What we heard was, “This is just something that happens. Suck it up and move on.” But the truth is, we never felt like we merely lost a group of cells and tissue. When we looked at Blake and Hannah, we saw something so precious and treasured. Waves of grief flowed through us at having lost another child who, to us, was already treasured and precious. If you’ve been through it, you understand. If you haven’t been through it, I am so glad that you have no idea what I’m talking about.

Psalm 147:3 promises us that “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Personally, I was never able to just “get over it”. But as only God can do, he bound up my wounds and brought (is bringing) healing. But it was a slow process. It’s interesting that mentioning it on Day 4 of this series has started me thinking about it a lot in these last couple of days, even though it happened over 22 years ago. In fact, as I went back to edit that post, I realized that I had several paragraphs about that loss and ended up cutting most of it out because it overshadowed what I was grateful for that day. That means that so many years later, it is still a tender spot in my heart.

This doesn’t sound like a post about gratefulness. However, thinking about it and feeling it again has brought to the surface some things for which I am extremely thankful to the Lord.

  • Deep and extended grief that can still ache after two decades means that we lost something really valuable and important when that baby died. Yet, miraculously, we have that valuable and important thing times NINE. Furthermore, I believe that the loss caused me (and Mary) to value our children even more. I am so grateful for that.
  • When someone I know loses a child, I am not just sad because I feel sorry for them. I feel their grief profoundly and can be with them in their grief without being afraid of it. It may seem counterintuitive to be grateful for that. That kind of loss is so lonely, and there are no words or advice that can ease the pain. However, having someone that just wants to be with you in the grief makes it lighter. I’m grateful to the people who were that for us, and I’m grateful that we can be that for others.
  • I am thankful that even when there are life-storms, the Son is still shining brightly in the darkness of the storm. And darkness always gives way to the Light.
  • I am deeply grateful that God grew our family from two to eleven. Sometimes, nine kids is overwhelming, but it is ALWAYS a gigantic blessing and an immense privilege to have this tribe in my life.

Today, on the way to the doctor’s office to get the kids vaccinated, Ethan was sitting in between Mary and me in the front seat. He was contemplative and didn’t make a sound. He was nervous because he had been to the doctor just a couple of weeks ago and had gotten blood drawn and his flu shot. Thus, he had an idea of what was coming when I explained to him that we were going to the doctor, today. In the past, when he has been afraid, he would become really aggressive and would quickly dissolve into a full meltdown. Thankfully, he has grown into being loved and protected by us, and that doesn’t happen anymore. But fear is still a big issue for him. Every few minutes during our hour-long drive to the doctor, he would reach over and grab my hand and just hold it. I could feel his little hand trembling because he was afraid. Then he would let go of my hand, as though he had found enough strength to be okay for a little while. It made me so glad to be his papa. And as I thought about all of our amazing kids, my heart filled with gratefulness to be a dad x 9. And thankful for joy that springs from mourning, and for ashes that transform into beauty.

Chris Malone

Chris and his family serve as missionaries near Kyiv, Ukraine. Chris and his wife, Mary, have nine children. Five of their children have Down syndrome and four of those are adopted from Ukraine. Their four older children are in various stages of starting college and starting careers.

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