It happened...

Last night I told Chris I would be headed to bed before he finished brushing his teeth...

Then... it happened.

It happens every three or four weeks, always keeping me up until 2 or 3am... crying, smiling and feeling the love.

Yep. Last night it happened again... I started thinking about January.

This is the face we wake up to every morning. Seriously, it doesn't get better than this.
I imagine it'll start happening more and more often as we get closer to January (that's only three months away, y'all!)

I can't always identify what brings it on, but last night it was a quick glimpse at my sister's Instagram feed. I ended up looking through every picture since January, and reading all the sweet comments on the photos she has posted of Mercy. By the time I got to that very first photo, I was in too deep. It was too late to get out and I headed over to Facebook to look through my photos from January and read all the incredibly supportive and amazing comments. There were  some tears shed and I just couldn't stop smiling thinking of all of you who loved us through that stage of our lives and continue to love us now.

By then it was 2am and I found myself reading this note I had posted on Facebook on January 12, six days before Mercy's surprise arrival... I was writing about trusting God with my girl as she grew in my belly, and giving some information on the liver disease I had been diagnosed with and what that meant for Mercy.

My favorite part is when I explained that we would not wait past 36 weeks to deliver Mercy, and then I said, "And being the impatient types, we're very excited to meet our sweet Mercy sooner than expected!"

Sooner than expected meant six days!

While I thought I was writing about six weeks from that point, God was writing an incredibly beautiful story that I couldn't have written better myself.

Those memories are so sweet and I wouldn't trade them for anything... but I can't help but wonder... if I had known beforehand what was about to happen, would I have typed that sentence out so convincingly and sincerely?

No. I don't think so...

...and maybe that's why we don't get to know. How many awesome lessons, moments, conversations, smiles, tears... how much we would miss out on if we knew what was going to happen, if we were able to try to avoid situations in our lives that might just be hard... in many cases we would experience worry, fear and anxiety increasing as certain moments approached. We would completely miss the opportunity to grow as God works out our lives according to His perfect plan.

I know I wouldn't be who I am today if I didn't experience what we went through in the NICU and each surprising and perfectly ordained minute of the day that led to Mercy's arrival. I know I wouldn't have enjoyed those last six days of my pregnancy as well as I did if I had been worrying constantly about her coming so super early. I would have cried, trembled in fear, foolishly begged God not to bring her so soon... Never once realizing that I would actually have been begging Him to keep so many beautiful gifts from us.

Oh, His plans for His children. Not always easy. Yes, so hard to wait blindly, so hard to trust when we have not even a glimpse of what will be. Always worth it. Always.

To the Jewish exiles in Babylon:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

How beautiful this promise of comfort is to a group of hurting people. They would not understand what would come between the time this statement was declared to them through Jeremiah and the time they would be given hope, they would not be able to grasp the lessons, moments, tears they would experience before that hope would come... but they were told there was a plan, that was for sure... and that in itself is a truly amazing gift of HOPE.

It's the same gift of hope God offers His children today, He always knows His plan and His plan is always worth it.

...and going back to that passage, you know He's not only promising to bring the Israelites back to the promised land... He's promising them eternal hope. He's promising them Jesus.

His. Son.

His only son who would come to this earth, fully human and fully God, who would live a perfect life, die a death that would take away their sins, be raised from the dead, ascend into heaven where He sits today at the right hand of His Father pouring out an eternity of hope....

And that hope wasn't just for them either.

Friends, let's stop wishing we knew what the future will bring and let's enjoy the gifts leading up to tomorrow. Let's hold onto the hope of the sure plan that God has made and let's grasp tightly to the eternal hope of Jesus.

And on a different note...

My last blog post included a photo of Mercy and a caption contest! I received many 'entries' via Facebook, and one clearly stood out to me...

The first few days in the hospital one of the many things that captured our hearts about Mercy was that at least one arm was always raised! We often said it was as if she was praising God constantly, giving thanks for the work He was doing in her little life each and every minute.

So without further ado, Rebekah Rico (who, by the way, has a sweet Mercy of her own!) here's your special surprise from Mercy!! She designed it herself just for you! ...and you'll all be happy to know that since she started sitting up ALL THE TIME we've seen less and less preemie posturing going on... which is why her hands are just barely raised in this photo! :)