(Although Thanksgiving is over, allow me to share some of my blessings this Thanksgiving season)
At Thanksgiving our thoughts turn to giving thanks. There is a verse in the Bible about giving thanks that has always been a bit hard for me to swallow, “In everything give thanks.” It’s one of those verses that has provoked me to want to say,”God, you can’t be serious.” I have often tried to twist the words or their meaning so I could interpret it differently.
However, since my stroke, I have had a different response to this idea of giving thanks in everything.
Perhaps God is commanding us to do something that He knows will help bring healing. Perhaps the best thing about thanksgiving is that the focus is not on me. In order to give thanks, or even feel thankful, my focus must turn outside myself, to someone for whom or to whom I am grateful. Perhaps this is one reason for the verse in scripture that tells us to give thanks in all circumstances, for all things. Perhaps this is more a prescription for our own health and well-being, since gratitude can be a sort of spiritual and emotional therapy.
So I would like to express thanks here. If “faith is focus,” as my brother once wisely said to me, my faith will be strengthened by focusing on the blessings of my circumstances! I would like to name a few things for which I am thankful in this Thanksgiving season of 2016:
- I am thankful it is Thanksgiving 2016 after my surgeries/stroke instead of 2015 before these health traumas.
- I am thankful I am about to come to the end of my first year post stroke (December 14)
- Though slow, I choose to be grateful for the progress that His grace and strength have made possible this year.
- I am eternally grateful for the chance to live longer in order to love longer the very ones who have loved me through this journey, of whom my husband is the first. When I stop to think what we have learned to do together, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that he has been with me all the way. In 11 months of this journey through dark, deep, uncharted waters, He has never left my side. I thank God for my husband who took his vows seriously, to love in sickness and in health.
- I am thankful for the good hard laughs we have shared, more than ever in our married life.
- I am grateful that, through God’s power, I have been able to embrace the humiliations of this new normal for me.
- I am thankful for God’s mercies in allowing me to see another Thanksgiving and Christmas.
- I am grateful for the miracle of being present at the birth of my grandson and namesake Josiah and for the opportunity to love on and be a part of my grandchildren’s lives.
- I am grateful for all the times I cried out to the Lord for help and He sent a person, whether a medical professional or aide, a family member, care-givers at home, new and old friends, therapists who brought the perfect skill sets to my places of need.
- I’m thankful for my children and their many expressions of love to me in meeting my needs as they have arisen through these months. I am thankful for their genuine prayers and their belief in me through the darkest of days in this journey.
- I thank God that I have never suffered boredom, even in months of disability.
- I thank God for a friend who baked pumpkin pie and spice cookies for me during Thanksgiving. And for her sweet and talented daughter who has helped to redecorate my home with new ideas and new seasons.
- I thank God for Becky, who takes me on outings and errands. No errand is too small, no outing too big.
- I am thankful to the Lord for His unimaginable provision for our financial needs.
- I am thankful for the faithful support of friends from our past church, and from the Chinese church of Niskayuna, NY! We have been able to pay medical bills, purchase equipment for a handicapped lifestyle, pay for services of others to meet physical needs. This has all made it possible for Stan to even continue working and traveling.
- I am thankful for the healing of my scalp and the regrowth of hair after two surgeries.
- I am so grateful for the many visitors I have had from near and far. Two of the more recent ones have been the Collins and the Mackeys. The Collins were a huge source of encouragement and inspiration to us as they understand our reality in ways that few can. And what joy to see the Mackeys even if only briefly. I am grateful for both these families.
- I am thankful that one year after my stroke I can sit, stand even take steps with minimal assistance. 11 months ago just sitting and holding my head up felt like Mt Everest.
- I am grateful for those dear friends who saw a need before I was even out of the hospital and gifted me with an iPad that has made life so much easier as I can no longer type on my computer.
- And most of all I am thankful to the One who entered into the mess of this world as a baby in order to redeem us! The One who willingly took on flesh and understands suffering, loss, and pain. The One who never leaves us or forsakes us! Immanuel, God with us!