the gift of learning to breathe

TThe words must always become flesh. Else they aren’t words but lies.

Heaps of lines that that lie like skeletal remains, dry bones.

On dark nights for over a year, I write a ream of papers, words whispering that all is grace and God is always good. And God, He orchestrates the stars that the week those words take wing into the world, my days-old niece stops breathing and turns blue, color of heaven.

Will we still look up to the heavens and find grace in this? Will the words become flesh? Will I remember again what I once lived and wrote and now will we live it again?


We wait to hear from doctors in the critical care unit. My niece breathes shallow and laboured. The stack of words on paper flutters unexpectedly, surprising us all where she lands. But God asks us not to read or write words, but become them.

Will we live the hard eucharisteo, gratitude for that which makes no sense to us on this side?

My sister emails an update from the blinking, beeping, monitoring hospital room and this blinks across my screen:

I am grateful today

for a husband who loves me even when I’m breaking
for oxygen…oxygen…oxygen…
for friends and family who put aside what they need and sacrifice for us… their time, their sleep, etc., so they can throw us a lifeline…
that days like today come to an end and that He is faithful to provide His grace for each suffocating moment…

I bite my the corner of my lip to hold it all from giving away. The words in a book breathe. We are living it. The words on a page about thanks in all things again take on sinew and muscle and blood and skin and again we become words.

The words that matter most are the ones we live. And what ranks the highest is how we write our lives.

So my sister, Molly, writes….

‘Walking this out with Ema over the last twelve days with my husband David and our girls has been excruciatingly hard – a rollercoaster that we didn’t know would end or how it would… and sometimes, if it would.


And as a family we had sang “it is well with my soul” all gathered around the table with little Ana heard loudly above the din… We said He was always in control – but we’re only human and in the quiet late at night with the monitors glaring and her little chest rising, the pain and fear stifles and grips us. Never knowing if she’ll just stop breathing forever.

And your prayers carried us and He provided the strength to keep walking with Him through it. And we watch the video Ann emails and laugh and cry to see Ema so beautiful, tied inexplicably to this gift of giving thanks. I don’t know why He allowed the two to intertwine like this –Ema being sick, and Ann’s book about staying open and alive to Him being thankful for the moment as it is all. we. have. And it is.

So we stretch and groan to do the uncomfortable – what seems so unnatural – to raise our hands to the heavens and to offer the only gift that we have – to say thanks to Him as it is




And I don’t do this well – this thanking when I’m breaking but I do it anyway. And we question and wonder but keep giving Him thanks. And slowly the seed – the miracle — growing in us changes us… not Him or what’s happening around us but what’s happening in us.

Either way – any way – we keep offering it up to Him.

And in the end – the end of then that ebbs into now – Ema slowly recovers staying pinker and brighter without any huge medical cause or intervention. But we know that the miracle is more than just her — it’s in us and it continues to grow.

And it wasn’t how I was raised and I wonder if it will ever be natural to me – this bowing and bending and thanking and lifting. But I’ve felt it and know it and want it more than ever.

And maybe this juxtaposition of her not breathing — and me learning how to breathe — is the greatest gift I could ever receive.


Picnik collage


:: :: ::

And when we are home and all are together – all 7 of us!—in our small little house gathered around our wonderful old table, we all join together and sing our blessings, all beginning to count them – me quite a bit older and them starting young.


And here’s what we all give thanks for (written for/by each person with no editing)

Ana (2 years old) is thankful for “Alisha and Carlene and Zoe and Stella and AmyBeth and Grammie and Colin and Aunt Ann and Uncle Darryl and for Carlene’s van and the Boyce’s.”

Lia (4 years old) is grateful that she “got to eat cake and has a new baby sister and other sisters and a Mom and a Dad and that she has balloons and a little baby sister to play with.”

Mya (7 years old) is thankful for time she got to “spend with Gram and for going to the museum with Dad, for snuggling with Mom, and for my baby sister, my cousins, my sisters, my friends.”

Noa (8 years old) is thankful “for my baby sister, for all of us back together, for the presents Janice gave us, for all the people who provided food for our family, for the doctors who helped Ema, for Grammie and Sarah helping us, for Daddy who always helps us and for Mommy helping Ema at the hospital.”


David (who is older than Molly) is so thankful for

Peace that I cannot understand….only to know from where it comes.

Every breath, noise, gurgle, squeak and cry that little Ema makes.

Hands that wrap around my index finger. Toes that curl around my thumb.

For four little girls who stood strong and trusted when life didn’t make much sense suddenly.


Family, both near and far who stood with us in any way they could…but more importantly knelt with us in prayer.

Friends…the depth of whose caring and concern and love I have never experienced. Our debt to you is immense, our gratitude towards you a hundredfold more than that.

The prayers and petitions from so many on behalf of little Ema…many of whom we will never meet, but have left an imprint on our lives that will remain into eternity.

For my wife, who faithfully and lovingly held Ema through every hour, every test, every poke and prod. Who went without sleep many nights so I could. Who found joy in a journey so difficult. Who touched the people she met along the way by listening to their stories, sharing from her heart, and encouraging them in their lives by choosing to focus on how she could love others instead of asking why me? For remembering to smile and laugh so hard she cried. For walking through life and whatever it brings with me….

For a Heavenly Father who, in spite of me, loves me and you with a never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love.

Molly (younger than both Ann and David) is so thankful

for each of you – those we know, family and friends, our small group, and our Woodside church family — and those we don’t know, all of you here in this space and on facebook that we’ve never met – all of you who kept praying for Ema and for us. The lifeline you extended to us was amazing and words don’t even come close.

for the nurses and doctors and midwives who tirelessly pursued healthy outcomes for Ema. Your compassion and humanness inspired us to keep pushing on.

for each person who took care of our older four girls – my Mom, my sister and her family, AmyBeth and Colin and family, Carlene and family, and Jason and Tara and family. You all made it a bit easier to breathe without our shadows and knowing they were in such good hands made being apart more bearable.

for visits from the outside world – my brother John, my Mom, Irene, Glen and Shelly, Leilani, AmyBeth and Colin, Jason, Carlene, Ben and Nadine and family, Bob and Kathy, and Dan – your laughter and support, prayers and encouragement carried us long after you left.

for emails and phone calls offering love and support. You know who you are and we’ll never forget your grace.

for kitchen floors that I still need to lie on and kiss and the gift of today that they represent – that every moment – cleaning and washing and scooping and loving – the moment of now and the reminder of it all as a gift. I pray I never forget.

for my husband and partner who never. gives. up. staying calm and safe through it all. Your grace shines and your love amazes me. You are the best Dad anyone could ever have loving little Ema through every test and all our girls no. matter. what. You sacrifice your comfort and sleep so often for me. Watching you get coffee travelers for the staff in PCCU as a tangible way of giving thanks was so beautiful. You are perfect for me and I thank God for you.

for Noa, Mya, Lia, Ana and Ema – our fabulous five – you are each a gift perfectly chosen to shape me into the Mama He wants me to be. Loving you is one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given.

for our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who saves us and gives us the Gift of His Presence. Thank you for carrying us and giving us all that we need for each moment. Thank you for waking us up to now. You are mighty to save.


We want to thank you all for journeying the last twelve days with us. If anyone would like to send a comment, or a prayer for Ema, or a story of praying for her, please email us. We would be honoured to hear from you.

With heartfelt gratitude,

David and Molly Morton Sydorak

DaySpring’s Bloom Book Club is all encouraging each other as we put skin on the words we read. Care to join us over there today with a video where we just chat and get to know each other (and I ridiculously nervous and keep twisting my hands ~weak smile~)… We’d love to read the book in community with you, discuss, grow… Bloom.

Picnik collage

{And the faces of all you beautiful people who are keeping me company in all of this? Thank you. We’d love to meet youtoo! Just add your photo to the community by sharing on your FB & tag me and we’ll slip you into the gallery of of those giving thanks…} And those of you who just keep stacking up those reviews at Amazonthank you for emailing me with your addresses. I’m working at slipping those signed book plates in the mail to you. Thank you for grace… And thank you for sharing the dare with friends. The whole earth is full of His glory — may we fill the whole world with our gratitude!}

updated button code here

Today, if you’d like to share your own celebrating, your own marking towards 1000 Gifts of thanks — (please, jump in!) — just add the direct URL to your specific 1000 gift list post… and if you join us, we humbly ask that you please help us find each other by sharing the community’s graphic within your post