Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Thankfulness in Times of Darkness

Thanksgiving

It is hard to be thankful when your current circumstances seem dark and bleak. I know, I’ve been there. As I approached this Thanksgiving, I started reflecting back on the last few holidays my family went through.

5 years ago: we were unemployed.

4 years ago: we lost our house right before Thanksgiving.

3 years ago: we had just been informed by our landlord that she wished to sell the house we were in and we had until New Year’s to find a new place to live.

2 years ago: we were experiencing intense financial difficulties.

1 year ago: we were in the midst of changing ministries and preparing to move across the country.

Every year as Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled around, I felt anything but jovial. I wanted to pull the covers up over my head and let the holidays slip by. It was hard to be grateful when our lives were dark and difficult.

Yet it was during those very times I found small things to be thankful for, the things we usually pass over because life is going our way. Little things like beauty of a crisp, winter morning. The warmth of a fireplace. The wonderful aroma of something in the oven. The tenderness of a child’s hug. The joy in singing carols together. The gratitude of good health. The wonderment of unexpected gifts received. The goodness of God’s love.

I had to dig deep to find things to be thankful for, and what I found I always had. These things had always been a part of my life, but I never noticed until they were all I had.

This year is a quiet year for my family. There is nothing dark or looming in our lives (a first for us in a long time). But because of our past, I find my heart turning towards all I have to be grateful for. Every morning I wake up and I thank God for our home, for our church, for our family, for our health. And then I thank God for the little things too.

How about you? Are you having a hard time finding something to be thankful for this year? What is something little you can find, perhaps something you never saw before? Share in the comments below 🙂

The Gift of Thankfulness

A few years ago I wrote this post and thought it was appropriate as we draw near Thanksgiving. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving

This time of year, people start to reflect on what they are thankful for: houses, food, family, etc. I decided to challenge myself and come up with something I am thankful for every day in November. I didn’t want to just put something down. Instead, I really wanted to think about it, and search deep inside my heart: am I really thankful for this?

It occurred to me a couple days into November:

Thankfulness is seeing everything as a gift, not as something I deserve or am entitled to.

When I began to see everything with this definition in mind, I realized how much subconsciously I think I deserve. I deserve a house, because my husband has a job and we have earned it.

Um. No.

I deserve a dishwasher for washing dishes because no one washes dishes by hand anymore, especially someone with a family of six.

Nope. Wrong again.

I deserve a car, or how else would I go places?

I deserve my turn to choose out the movie I want.

I deserve a clean house. After all, I don’t make any of the messes 😉.

But when I began to see everything as a gift, it turned everything upside down.

I am thankful for a house. There was a time when Dan and I didn’t know where we were going to live. We don’t deserve a house, but God has given us one anyway. Thank you, God.

I currently do not have a dishwasher, and at first I wasn’t sure how I was going to get all those dishes done everyday. Instead, it has become a blessing. Every morning I wash the dishes as the kids eat breakfast and we talk. Wow, who would have thought?

We have a working car. We don’t deserve one and frankly, many people in this world don’t have one and still get by. But God has graciously given us a car. Thank you, God.

I’m thankful I have a family I can snuggle with on a couch and watch movies. We take turns choosing the movie and savor our time together. Love movie nights!

And as for a clean house, eh, it might happen someday. For me, a dirty house means I have life living here in my home: kids, dogs, husband. And I wouldn’t trade that for the world!

So how about you? What did you once think you deserved that God made you realize is simply a gift to be thankful for?

The Day My Heart Stood Still

It started on Thanksgiving four years ago. My daughters were recovering from croup. Having dealt with croup for a couple years, it didn’t scare me as much. I knew what to do, and my children recovered quickly. So as I fixed Thanksgiving dinner and heard Caleb (my youngest and 2 at the time) start coughing, I knew he had caught it too.

As night came, I stayed with Caleb, making sure to give him medicine and cool mist breathing treatments. Halfway through the night, he seemed to be getting worse and worse. I finally told Dan that he needed to see the doctor in the morning.

By seven in the morning, having stayed up all night with Caleb, I finally dozed off on the hide-a-bed couch I had been sharing with him. Next thing I know, Philip is waking me up and telling me Caleb was blue. I found Caleb on the floor and screamed for Dan.

Dan immediately started CPR on our son while I called 911. We lived in a small town out in the country and were told it would be faster if we could drive our son to the hospital rather than send out an ambulance.

Caleb continued to labor for breath as we climbed into the car. I will never forget looking back and seeing the faces of my other 3 children in the window of our living room as we drove away. We could not reach anyone to stay with them and with our son dying, we had to trust God would take care of them as we raced to the hospital.

Caleb barely breathed as we raced 90mph down the highway. Then he stopped. His eyes went still and his body limp. It’s that look when the soul has left the body. I can’t describe it, and movies do not capture it.  That look in the eyes that there is no life inside.

In that moment, I felt the most helpless I have ever felt. If I could have, I would have breathed for my son. I would have traded places with him and died in his place. But I couldn’t. Instead, all I could do is cry out to God.

Dan talked me through CPR as I tried to administer to it to my son. His skin was pale blue, his lips too. Nothing.

Then I finally screamed in the car, “God I can’t do it! I need a miracle here!”

Before this point, Dan and I had been through one of the toughest years of our lives. We had lost a job, a home, and almost everything we had. I couldn’t bury a son too.

Then Caleb gasped. A flicker of life came back into his eyes and he looked at me. He could only take a breath every few seconds. I told him to keep breathing, to hold on, because we were almost there.

The hospital staff met us at the door and immediately started working on Caleb. They had no idea what was wrong with him. One of the doctors came to me and said he needed to be transferred to a bigger hospital in the town north of us. So Caleb and I got into an ambulance and raced up to the next town.

The staff there started working on Caleb, doing everything they could to keep him breathing. But they could not stabilize his breathing and could not figure out why he was having problems.

Finally, the pediatrician on call pulled me aside and said she had no idea what she was dealing with and the fact that he had went from a healthy boy to dying in less than 12 hours meant it was something serious. She advised that Caleb be flown to the children’s hospital in Portland.

I hate flying. And the smaller the airplane, the scarier. But one look at my little boy and I knew I would get on that plane, if it could save him.

However, his breathing would not stabilize enough to make the flight safely. And it was coming to the point where they would need to hook him up to a machine to breathe for him.

But again God worked, and Caleb stabilized long enough that we could fly.

So to Portland Caleb and I flew while Dan drove. By now we had finally reached people who could take care of our other kids. I found out later that when our friends arrived at the house, they had found Philip had dressed his sisters and fed them breakfast.

In Portland, the doctors began all sorts of tests. Caleb had to stay in the hospital crib, what we dubbed “the cage.” He wouldn’t stop crying, and that made it hard for him to breathe. Finally, the nurse told me I could go into the “cage” with him. So I crawled in, lay down, and placed Caleb on my chest. Immediately he calmed down and just looked around. I stayed there all night.

It took until that morning for Caleb to stabilize. We stayed there 2 additional days. In the end, no one really knows what happened. The doctors hypothesized that it was a mutant strain of croup never seen. I don’t know.

I am a very logical and factual person. Faith has never come easy for me. But I know within my heart that on that day four years ago, God answered the frantic prayer of a mother and worked a miracle on a dying son.

Because of what happened, Thanksgiving took on a new meaning for Dan and I. All we have to do is look across the table at Caleb and know that God still works miracles. And that we have much to be thankful for.

The Gift of Thankfulness

This time of year, people start to reflect on what they are thankful for: houses, food, family, etc. I decided to challenge myself and come up with something I am thankful for every day in November. I did not want to just put something down. Instead, I really wanted to think about it, and search deep inside my heart: am I really thankful for this?

It occurred to me a couple days into November: the best definition of thankfulness is seeing everything as a gift, not as something I deserve or am entitled to.

When I began to see everything with this definition in mind, I realized how much I subtly think I deserve. I deserve a house, because my husband has a job and we have earned it.

Um. No.

I deserve a dishwasher for washing dishes because no one washes dishes by hand anymore, especially someone with a family of six.

Nope. Wrong again.

I deserve a car, or how else would I go places?

I deserve my turn to choose out the movie I want.

I deserve a clean house. After all, I don’t make any of the messes ;).

But when I began to see everything as a gift, it turned everything upside down.

I am thankful for a house. There was a time when Dan and I didn’t know where we were going to live. We don’t deserve a house, but God has given us one anyway. Thank you, God.

I currently do not have a dishwasher, and at first I wasn’t sure how I was going to get all those dishes done everyday. Instead, it has become a blessing. Every morning I wash the dishes as the kids eat breakfast and we talk. Wow, who would have thought?

We have a working car. We don’t deserve one and frankly, many people in this world don’t have one and still get by. But God has graciously given us a car. Thank you, God.

I’m thankful I have a family I can snuggle with on a couch and watch movies. We take turns choosing the movie and savor our time together. Love movie nights!

And as for a clean house, eh, it might happen someday. For me, a dirty house means I have life living here in my home: kids, dogs, husband. And I wouldn’t trade that for the world!

So how about you? What did you once think you deserved that God made you realize is simply a gift to be thankful for?

Thanksgiving

2011 has been a hard year for my family. So when Thanksgiving rolled around, it was difficult at first to get past all the bad things to see the good. But as soon as I started, it was like a thousands lights filling my soul. I realized that despite circumstances, God has given me so much to be thankful for.

Picture of my family

First, I am thankful for my family. Three years ago, on the morning after Thanksgiving, my youngest son almost died. During that frantic car ride to the hospital, I believe he did. But God had compassion on my family and gave us Caleb back. We were shipped from hospital to hospital until Caleb and I were life-flighted up to Portland. None of the doctors could explain why our son went from healthy to dying in 12 hours. I don’t think we will ever know. But every time I looked at my son’s face, I am so thankful God let that little boy live. And not just Caleb, I am thankful for all my family. We are healthy and we are together.

Secondly, I am thankful for a home, food, and clothes. For the last couple months, Dan has been without a job. It has not been easy. But God has taken care of our every need. We still have a roof over our head. We have food to eat. We have clothes. We had a family give us a dryer when ours went out and we could not afford to get it fixed. We had someone else give us money to help get tires for our van (they were getting threadbare). I am thankful to God for meeting our needs.

On that note, I am thankful for my job. It came just when we needed it most. Through my job I have been able to help my family. Its also nice to have a job that I like going to every day. I hope someday to be back home, but working outside the home has given me a greater appreciation for what I had before and for those women who don’t have a choice but to work. Its hard to have a foot in both worlds, trust me, I know!

Most people never live to see a dream fulfilled, but this year I saw mine. At the end of July I signed my very first book contract. And not only that, but I signed with the publishing company I wanted, Marcher Lord Press. My first book, Daughter of Light, will release Spring 2012. That is definitely something to be thankful for :).

Early this year, Dan and I met a couple who became very dear friends to us. They have prayed for us, cried with us, and helped us during this dark time in our lives. That and they are as geeky as we are (and play a mean hand of cards :P). I am thankful for friends who when the storm clouds come, they stand right beside you.

I am also thankful for my husband Dan. He is a man of integrity, respect, and love; a man I am not ashamed to lift up before my children as an example to follow. No, he’s not perfect (trust me, I live with the guy), but I couldn’t have asked for a better companion in life. God blessed me when He brought Dan into my life.

Lastly, I am thankful for God. I do not list him last because he is least important on my thankful list, but rather because God is the one that holds everything I am and am thankful for. Without him, the rest of my list would not exist. He is the Light in my Darkness, my Defender, my Hope when all hope is gone, and the only One who could save my soul. Why God loves me with all the ick that dwells inside of me I will never know. But He does. And I am so thankful for that.