It’s become a practice of mine over the last several years as one year closes and the new is in view, to think and pray about a word to focus on/intentionally seek out for the upcoming new year. They tend to pop up unexpectedly and yet so perfectly. Three years ago, the resounding word that popped up everywhere that December was FIAT (meaning ‘yes’) and I tried to push it away. The main reason? My primary point of reference for fiat was Mary’s ‘yes’ to the angel Gabriel at the Annunciation. The human, tired mom side of me felt that God’s prompting to me with the word fiat couldn’t possibly mean an unexpected ‘yes’ from me to embrace and carry another pregnancy. Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I most definitely were open to having more children. I just don’t know that the realistic side of me was ready to accept it beautifully, but God knew. Looking back, He had already been preparing me and my heart to be open even where I didn’t see it. And guess what? Shortly into that new year of 2015, we found out we were expecting a new little one in September. Oh gosh, how I laughed (and cried)! And you better bet that pregnancy took more ‘yeses’ and being resigned to God’s plan rather than my own “perfect” one. You also should know that fiat turned into a boy that we couldn’t possibly imagine our family without. Fiat definitely was meant to be for 2015.
Fast forward to December of 2016 and I became aware of the word JOY entering around every corner. Brushing it away, assuming it was because it was near Christmas and that word is often used in décor and references everywhere, I continued to seek something different. There was no avoiding it. Even as the first days of 2017 began, joy still found its way. I wondered where I would perhaps find new joy or maybe a different way to be joy-filled each day in my vocation. I most certainly could use a brush up in attitude and true happiness in my life and vocation, so I was up for it.
It didn’t take long for me to learn that joy was to be found in circumstances and two particular people, a toddler and a teen, to stir me to the core.
Within a day or two of solidifying JOY as my word, God put before me the story of a little girl, baby Joy, as I opened my Facebook newsfeed one early morning. I read the horrifying story of a toddler, not much older than my youngest, who was in a coma due to a drowning accident over Christmas (read Joy’s story here). Tears filled my eyes as I read Joy’s story and the urgent request for prayers. Her parents’ faith and humble intentions that she just be given the chance to survive, prodded my own belief in a miracle.
My family and I joined prayer warriors across the globe who heard about baby Joy. My heart connected to Joy’s mother, Kristin, a woman whom I’d never met, but with whose motherly heart I could identify. In the days and weeks that followed, I checked Facebook for any updates as often as I could each day. There was something about being united in prayer, but also witnessing a miracle as it unfolded. Joy had gone from being without a heartbeat for nearly thirty minutes, to coming off of a ventilator and out of a coma, to smiling and laughing. Later in January, Joy left the hospital and I watched the video with tears streaming down my face and cheering her on.
I kept praying for Joy and her family, thinking of them often. I still followed her journey on Facebook and was delighted to read any updates I found (especially this one at National Catholic Register).
I learned a lot about the power of prayer and the impact of a single life in the world. I’ve seen how the smile of a radiant, life-filled toddler who is a walking miracle can draw the family of God together through even the most tragic life events. I also found that what God was teaching me about joy would be a link to deeper, unforeseen relationships to the body of Christ.
This is part one in a series.