Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!
What do you do when your prayers are finally answered? What do you say to God? What if you prayed for something every day, for weeks, months, nearly two years and then it happened? How would you feel?
I'm afraid that sometimes we notice the prayers that are not answered more than those that are. So many wonderful small things come to us as answers to prayers. Sometimes we miss those moments, distracted perhaps by thoughts of prayers unanswered.
I am one of the lucky ones, or shall I say blessed? My prayer was answered and it was no small prayer by any means.
I remember when I first heard my prayer answered. It was shortly after 9:00 on October 6th. The cry of a newborn baby from the other side of the hospital door told me my prayer had been answered.
I saw my prayer answered as the door opened and a nurse scurried out. There, lying with eyes wide open was a beautiful, little baby - my grandbaby! Prayer upon prayer and here she was taking in the world for the first time.
Moments later, I felt the answer to my prayer as I held seven pounds and fourteen ounces of heaven in my arms. I stared at the face I'd longed to see for months and told her over and over how glad I was to finally meet her.
Madeleine Rose Wharton - born at 9:07 on October 6, 2008 - was the answer to those prayers for me.
For nearly two years so many of us had been praying for this - a healthy child to be born. Now she was here. Every morning as I pulled out of the driveway it was the first thing on my mind as I prayed on the way to work. During the day, as I read the prayers tucked away under my keyboard, it was my most frequent prayer. Walking to the car, as my hand brushed the Miraculous Medal in my pocket, the prayers continued. As I put my head on the pillow each night, I prayed.
"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever."
It was like that every day - every night - for weeks, then months. But now, the prayers were answered. How was I to feel? What would my prayers be now?
I felt joy, of course, and profound gratitude, but I couldn't help but think of so many others who did not get their prayers answered - couples who wanted children, parents whose children were not born healthy. I was filled with joy but also sadness as my mind turned to them.
So, how was I supposed to feel? In the midst of this joy, I still did not know.
At church, I told my story to my good friend, Phillip Troha. I told him I almost felt guilty that after all that we'd been through, we now had Madeleine. I know I did not feel worthy of God's grace to be bestowed upon me. Why should my prayers be answered while others go unanswered?
Phillip related something he'd heard from a priest many years ago. In moments like this, he said there's only one thing you need to say. "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"
The way Phillip said it - with such joy and enthusiasm - brought a smile to my face. Thank you, Lord, for this great blessing. Thank you, Jesus, for being our friend and helping through the past two years. Thank you, Blessed Mother, for watching over my daughter and helping bring us baby Madeleine.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
I took that simple advice to heart and smiled up to heaven repeating those words. They are words I hope I repeat every day as I pull out of the driveway, sit in my office at work or climb into bed for the evening.
The focus of my prayers has turned to others - mostly two little boys born just weeks before Madeleine. They came into the world a little early and have been fighting ever since. But I pray for the day when they go home from the hospital and I can join the family in saying "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"
As we near Thanksgiving, it is naturally the time of year we should all count our blessings. Mine are more bountiful this year than ever. Perhaps you, too, have been blessed. Don't wait until Thanksgiving or Christmas to reflect on God's goodness. Take the time now. It's really simple. Just say "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"