-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?
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:
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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!
- 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).