family life

A Story of Gratitude

On June 1st of 2010, I began counting my “one-thousand gifts.” I have now been counting for a full year, posting every week, and I’ve counted beyond my original goal of 1000.

I am by no means stopping the practice of counting my gifts, but I have firmly developed this habit thanks to the accountability of posting them, so this will [likely] be my last “official” gift-counting post.

And so, I want to share a story of practicing gratitude in the midst of one of the most difficult and heart-wrenching circumstances I can imagine:

Yesterday, Nathan was born — and died.


Moments after his passing, a well-intentioned and grieving family member said, “We prayed for a miracle, but we didn’t get one this time.

“Not true,” his daddy said.

Just moments after his first and only child had died, this daddy began to list the miracles — the things they had to be thankful for…

  • After years of infertility, Nathan’s conception was a miracle. Then his parents learned that he had Potter’s Syndrome, a condition incompatible with life because his kidneys did not form — so they savored every moment of pregnancy, which would be the only time they’d spend with him.
  • The pregnancy went longer than average for Potter’s babies, which meant more time with Nathan in the womb.
  • Nathan, which means “gift from God,” was born alive: another blessing-miracle.
  • Nathan opened his eyes and looked at the faces of his parents: another specific prayer answered.
  • Nathan lived nearly two hours: yet another blessing-miracle his parents had prayed for.

I am humbled by this example of gratitude.

Ken was there, photographing the family’s time with Nathan as part of our ministry work with an organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. I shot a maternity session for the couple a few weeks ago — part of how they savored the moments of pregnancy.

Today I am editing Nathan’s photographs.
And I am realizing how very much we take for granted.

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Stef Layton

choking on tears. It is so hard to find the good when things like this happen – I know for too long I could hardly write one for my gratitude list after being told our 17 week old pregnancy had just stopped. But I am thankful for 17 weeks – because now I have a daughter to meet and the hope / anticipation of heaven in my heart that was not there before.


Getting pregnant while infertile is always a miracle, any pregnancy is, but even more so then….I am so sorry for their loss though, but how wonderful that that miracle baby’s daddy was able to see the gifts through the darkness.

H-Mama @ Family Team

seeing the miracles through such heartache… oh my mama heart. sometimes there are no words. just hugs.

Susan S

Oh my goodness! What a remarkable couple to be able to feel gratitude in this situation. You know how sometimes you hear a story that sticks with you for life? This feels like one of those stories to me. I want to remember it and to emulate that attitude. I am glad you were able to be there for them. Thank you for telling us this story.


I feel it is a miracle in itself that they can smile through their tears and look for God’s graces in the midst of their sorrow. Thank you for sharing this story, it will stay with me always.


Wow. That has to be one of the most powerful things I have ever read about trusting God and thanking Him in all circumstances. Amazing.

Jen Ross

Sitting in the midst of my son’s 11th Birthday Party…crying! Tears of gratitude, tears of thankfulness and tears of sorrow for this dear, precious family! Thank you for the prospective! Ok…sniff, sniff, tear wipe and putting my Perma-smile back on!


Beautiful post. Heart-breaking and uplifting at the same time.

Praise God that He is faithful to always be with us, and shows us His tender mercies even in exceedingly dark hours.


Oh, Jamie. What a heartwrenching story. Thanks for sharing it with us.