Giving Thanks: Debt, Duty or Delight?

-Written by Stan-

Entering the third month of Katy’s health battles, I realize that my typical daily schedule has become a rather mindless routine where one day blurs into the next. I wake each morning and say goodbye to Anna who drives the 20 miles into Lexington to be with Katy. I go to my office at FAS for a few hours where my agenda normally has three items: 1) handle the urgent issues, 2) delay or delegate the less urgent, and 3) pray for grace to accept the unfinished reality of everything else. Mid-afternoon I then drive in to be with Katy so that Anna can come home. Normally, I remain at Katy’s side until she goes to sleep around 10:00 at night. The next morning we get up and do it all again. Sometimes, just to bring excitement into our lives, we reverse the order and I do the morning shift and Anna takes the evening. With no target date for Katy’s return home yet on the calendar, we just keep doing what we do… day after day.

As you can see, these routines have become, well, routine. They define our lives. This is not a bad thing, not at all. We actually find joy in the journey. It’s just… routine. It’s what we do.

On Sunday morning as I was driving in early to be with Katy, I was talking to the Lord about all this when it seemed the Spirit whispered, “But are you thankful?” This wasn’t the first time this question had crossed my mind. Am I thankful? The answer came quickly, almost automatically. “Yes, Lord, of course I’m thankful. I can think of many reasons I have to feel gratitude. Oh, I guess I don’t feel the emotion very often nor express it… but I’m thankful.” Then the reality hit! I didn’t need an audible voice from heaven to tell me the question God was asking: If you don’t feel it or express it, is it gratitude? You may be cognitively aware of certain facts but is that what it means to be thankful?

Touché.

So on Sunday afternoon (Valentine’s Day), sitting beside my sweetheart, I began to count my blessings and give thanks. I began to express it and to feel it. The attitude of gratitude is so wonderful that I want to share the list with you. I’m thankful for:

  1. Katy. Her life was spared and her memory and personality are intact. Though slow, her progress toward recovery is real and her future is as bright as the promises of God! Being her husband and doing life together is the greatest blessing I’ve ever known.
  2. Anna, Sarah and Elisabeth. Anna has taken a temporary home assignment from her teaching position at Black Forest Academy (Germany) so that she can help with Katy’s situation here. Sarah and Elisabeth and their families have sacrificially travelled back and forth numerous times. What blessings!
  3. Friends. The visits, cards, flowers, and phone calls have reconnected us with people who span the course of our lives: from Madison Heights to Crab Orchard to Fox River Grove to Paris to Wilmore. Especially I’m grateful for our church family in Albany, New York! Though we’ve been gone three years, the connections are deep and rich.
  4. Gifts. The typical gifts (flowers, meals, cards, etc.) have brought beauty and comfort and lightened the load during these challenging days. Other gifts have ministered to us because of how unique and thoughtful they were: digital picture frame, pajamas, travel mugs, an I-Pad, cleaning the house, gift cards for gas and local restaurants, a soft blanket, hotel reservations across from the hospital while Katy was in ICU, an eatable bouquet, a customized worship CD made by our favorite musicians, Valentine cookies to be distributed to the nursing staff, etc.
  5. Monetary gifts. We have been overwhelmed by the generous gifts people have given. As the bills begin to pile up, what a blessing it is to be able to have the money to write the checks!
  6. Medical insurance. Last October, before any of this happened, I had to choose a medical plan from the three options our company was offering. Would I go with the cheap, the medium, or the premium? Our choice in previous years had been the middle option but because of my heart attack last May and the commensurate heavy expenses that we incurred with that plan, Katy and I reconsidered what we would do. Breathing a prayer and swallowing hard, we opted for the more expensive premium plan, which took effect in November. In December, when the surgeries and stroke occurred, we had the best coverage we could have!
  7. The blog. Though we might debate the possibility of true “community” occurring in cyber-space, I want to testify to how meaningful the “Journey with Katy” blog has been for all of us. The fact that so many are still following our journey and carrying us in prayer nine weeks later is truly something for which we are grateful! Over 600 people have signed up to follow the blog and even more visit the blog. Many testify to how meaningful the blog has been for them. And we find great joy in reading the responses and interactions that people send in reply. I think “The Milk Shake Challenge” will remain one of our favorite family memories for the rest of our lives!
  8. The ways of God. The Scriptures teach us that “the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Heb. 12:6). Though unpleasant, the rewards of the Father’s discipline are very real. Let me name just one lesson God is teaching me: He works when I don’t. Perhaps you will respond with a “Duh!” but for thick-headed me this has not come easily. While I sit in a hospital room holding Katy’s hand, God is at work in amazing ways: in our own hearts, through the blog, through new ministries being created at FAS, etc.

So today, I want to prove my gratitude by both feeling it and expressing it. It is a debt that I owe and a duty I feel obliged to perform. But far more than that, it is a joyful delight.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (I Thess. 5:16-18).

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37 thoughts on “Giving Thanks: Debt, Duty or Delight?

  1. Thanks for sharing this Stan!! I “learned” too, to look for the blessings and to express thankfulness to God… especially during the tough phases of life. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in circumstances and loose our focus. Discovering all the blessings brings such joy! God is good!! Praying for you all! Give Katy a hug for me!! Love, Sherry

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  2. thanks, Stan..as always, these blogs bring tears to my eyes…you all bring glory to God even as you walk this incredibly hard journey…so so grateful her mind and personality are still intact….and may God restore the physical more than you can imagine even now…love to all, Ruth Van Reken

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  3. Thank you for today’s great blog!

    We continue to pray for Katy and her family.

    As I was cleaning up and organizing my office this weekend I came across these words by Stan from years ago that gave me a big lift at the right time…I pray it does the same for you.

    God is for us. “The fact that the verb “is” is not in the original Greek indicates that what Paul is saying is true in all times and in all the places. God for us yesterday, today and forever. That means whatever trial we happen to be facing today: God for us. Right here. Right now.

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  4. Thank you for sharing your heart Stan, we are blessed to have crossed paths with precious people such as you and Katy. We pray with confidence for all your needs.

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  5. We are delighted that you are delighted in how God is holding you all! It is what I’ve been praying for. Like you Pastor Stan, I don’t always remember God is working, even when we don’t hear specific results, but what you wrote above delighted me, because it IS what I’ve been praying for. “Peace, peace, wonderful peace coming down from the Father above. Sweep over our spirits…in fathomless billows of love”. Thanking God for His lavish love for us, and especially for you all!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Stan, thank you again for honesty. As God was honest with you, asking you to go beyond the surface to truly reveal the heart of your gratitude. Thanks for sharing them.
    I recently spent parts of several days putting together a puzzle of a Thomas Kincaid painting. It was hard because of all the mutations of light…why he was called The Painter of Light. I almost gave up several times when pieces just didn’t seem to fit where I thought they should. And I discovered that the best light to work with was not man made, but bright daylight…light created by Him. Perseverance won and the puzzle now complete. I think often about that analogy. Life has straight, level paths at times, but also many crooked pieces that don’t seem to fit. But God sees the finished picture of each life, and when we allow Him to fit the straight and crooked together, we are amazed and He is glorified.
    Hugs to each of you.

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  7. Thank you Stan for loving Katy, holding her hand and being with her every day! For making wise decisions in her care, for advocating for her, entering in to her pain and praying for her while holding her close. I am thankful for you and the love you show her daily, hourly, minute by minute. We continually pray for Katy, you and your girls. You are each patiently and painstakingly walking this walk side by side with Katy which I imagine is giving her incredible courage and comfort. Thanking God for His love and mercy over Katy as she heals, and thanking Him for Katy’s loving family

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  8. Great entry! We all need to remember to keep that attitude of gratitude! Thank you for the reminder. Trusting our God to bring Katy and all of you through this difficult journey. I look forward to the blog and what inspiration you will offer us. Praying and thinking of all of you often. Hugs for Katy! XOXO

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  9. We have been praying for you since we first heard the news, and wanted you all to know how often we think of you and pray for strength and perseverance in this journey. We love you guys!

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  10. We Lewickis do love you and your family and we find ourselves quoting you and recalling your word pictures. We are so grateful for those wonderful years at LCC! We get excited when the blog comes through our email. As you said, cyber-space relationships are strange indeed but we are grateful that we can hear from you and know what to bring into the throne room of grace for you.

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  11. Just returned home from Monday night Bible study, lifted you all up in prayer. People that don’t know you are praying for you. What sweet aroma!

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  12. Powerful sharing brother. What I love about you is that in every situation, you are asking what is God saying to me and what is He doing. To that person, deep intimacy in experiencing the Trinity is possible (John 14:21,23). Praying for that “daily grace” that sustains (I Peter 5:10).
    Love,
    Randy

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  13. I was reading today’s blog entry while waiting for rehearsal on the Brahams Requiem to start. (I’m singing in it with the Huntsville Community Chorus.) The main point of this work is that for believers, suffering is not the final word; joy is. It made me think of you all and this long road of suffering and routine you’re on. We continue to pray for you.

    Also, I’m not surprised by the number of followers & visitors you have to this blog. Your family has touched so many lives all over the world!

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  14. Stan,beautifully written from a heart of gratitude. He is with you all and answering so many prayers. Continuing to come in agreement with the prayers Jesus is praying for you all. Looking forward to the next 3 days of concentrated prayer for Katy and you all and His world who don’t have a personal relationship with Him. Anticipating this Jubilee.
    Linda Six

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  15. I am very grateful and privileged to be one of the many people who are following your family’s journey. I continue to be enriched, enlightened, and inspired with each post that you and Anna so eloquently share. My heart breaks for the pain that Katy, and all of you, have endured. Yet I rejoice that God is holding you in His hands and carrying you through each and every day. Even my mother frequently asks about Katy, as I have shared the blog with her from time to time. She is a stroke survivor herself so she especially understands some of what Katy is going through. She also remembers meeting you briefly when you and Vangie dropped in to say hello on one of your long ago trips to Indiana. She attended Asbury at the same time as your parents. She loved your mother’s name and my sister shares that name now. It is a small world! We are blessed to pray for all of you, most especially Katy, and will continue to do so. Your updates help us be more specific and remind us that the family of God is not small. He is a great God and we are his children. I am so glad you are feeling His presence and will pray for you to continue to experience that in the days ahead. You and Katy have certainly been blessed with wonderful daughters. Anna’s posts have touched me as well.
    Still praying,
    Brenda Dixon

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  16. We take our health so for granted, that when we are not ourselves it is so humbling. God will see you through this even as each day rolls into the next. This too shall pass, but oh, the lessons we learn as we muddle through it. Praying for progress, mobility and peace for Katy.

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  17. Thank you for yet another valuable lesson. You are living this, and your words are so authentic. Your list of things for which you are thankful is a good reminder for all of us. Prayers for all of you continue.

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  18. I am rejoicing with you and Praising GOD for the ministry you all are having to each person reading your letters and blog. This doesn’t stop with just those who are reading your updates but also to a multitude of persons with whom they share your situation and how the GRACE OF GOD IS SUSTAINING YOU ALL in the midst of great suffering and challenges. GOD IS WORKING THROUGH YOUR LIVES DAILY to influence the lives of many, many people unknown to you. GOD DOES NOT WASTE OUR SORROWS, OUR TEARS, OUR DIFFICULTIES, OUR DISCOURAGEMENTS, OUR VICTORIES,…….-Others are observing how GOD IS WORKING IN AND THROUGH YOU! Your faith in GOD and testimonies speak for the GLORY OF GOD!

    God’s SUSTAINING GRACE keeps us during the refining process going on in us Through the work of the HOLY SPIRIT.

    YOU ARE SUCH A GREAT ENCOURAGEMENT TO ME. I thank GOD for all HE IS DOING in and through your lives…..so much unknown to you.

    Carrying you all in my heart and lifting you up to our Precious Father. Mary

    I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word. I gave an account of my ways and you answered me; teach me your decrees. Cause me to understand the way of your precepts, that I may mediate on your wonderful deeds. My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word…Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. Psalm 119:25-28, 49-50

    Sent from my iPad

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  19. Wonderful post today Stan. What a powerful reminder to all of us that God wants us to be thankful in all circumstances so that He can be in control. It made me think forward to a time in the not to distant future where your who family and the hundreds of people will look back at Katy’s full recovery and praise God for his faithfulness.

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  20. From “Jesus Calling” for February 16 …

    “Thank me for the conditions that are requiring you to ‘be still’. Do not spoil these quiet hours by wishing them away, waiting impatiently to be active again. Some of the greatest works in My Kingdom have been done from sick beds and prison cells. Instead of resenting the limitations of a weakened body, search for My way in the midst of these very circumstances. Limitations can be liberating when your strongest desire is living close to me.

    “‘Quietness and trust’ enhance your awareness of My Presence with you. Do not despise these simple ways of serving Me. Although you feel cut off from the activity of the word, your quiet trust makes a powerful statement in spiritual realms. ‘My Strength and Power show themselves most effective in weakness’.”

    Zechariah 2:13; Isaiah 30:15; 2 Corinthians 12:9

    Love you …

    Sandy Johnson

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  21. We want to express gratitude also, for the blog that has connected us back to your wonderful family. We always loved and appreciated all of you. This has also reminded us that we,want to praise God and to pray for the body . As retired folks we have the time to pray and worship and we have rededicated ourselves to this mission. We love and thank you for all the help and direction you gave us when we first met. I want to thank you Katy for the advice you gave me pertaining to my daughter. We trust that as you heal, God will control nude to teach us important life lessons through your journey. God Bless you all. We are pouring ourselves into supplication for you. Keep going!! Love…….

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  22. Dear Stan, thank you for sharing so deeply and personally. Your humility and sharing (both times) inspire me spiritually, and I am touched to remember how very blessed I have been to have you as pastor for many years and also as friend to our family. You, Katy, and the girls have been in my prayers. I have been awed at the faithfulness you all have shown in devoting yourselves to Katy. What an example you are! Thank you for sharing your list of thankfulness. We love you,and please give Katy our love!

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  23. Amazing how quickly we can reshape routines to human tragedies and challenges in our life- but as you said, delight in these , grateful hearts, thanksgivings for the tender mercies of God- well, that’s what makes us ‘more than’ conquerors through Christ’s power at work in us. Thank you! Praying for the heavy challenges ahead of you!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  24. Thank you Stan for the lesson today. You are truly a teacher at heart. This is an opportunity for all of us to remember how great and merciful our God is.

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  25. Oh my, thank you Stanley! I feel like I was sitting right in the pew. I learn so much from you and you remind me of things I should be remembering. My love to all of you, hugs and kisses to Katy. Please tell her that I’m getting to the point where I need to see her again. I need to get my Katy fix.

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  26. Great word, Stan, and we are so thankful to be partners with you in prayer and encouragement. I so appreciate you sharing the things the Lord is showing you, as Katy and you walk through this together.

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  27. Stan- Thank you for being you… Even more, thank you for loving Katy more than yourself. Ephesians talks about that, right? As Christ loved his Bride.
    Don’t beat up on yourself too much for not always being in “thank you” mode. Our brother and Savior Jesus, prayed that prayer, “Remove this cup.” But in his perfect submission to the Father’s discipline, followed up with, “Not my will but yours.” I really believe that this is the example that you are following, quite well. Your pain and your honesty are appreciated because we shared some of those types of moments over the years while you served here, and you never gave up and you always made us see God’s way in all circumstances. Thank you for continuing your shepherding of your people here at LCC through your blog. Your meek and faithful steps are strengthening and encouraging us. When you reported that Wilson could wiggle, I could feel the eruption of joy around the world. Thank you for trusting us to pray for Katy, you and the many lives in the trenches with you now. By your (and your girls’) sharing we can do much better at “watching and praying.” Thank you.

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