Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Lemonade Award - That For Which I Am Truly Grateful

Although a long time in coming, it seems only fitting that since I was given this award, I should at the very least detail the things for which I am thankful. If I listed every one of my blessings, I suspect that blogspot's server would be so totally overloaded as to permanently crash it. Therefore I set as criteria to come up with a ten item list since the award operates in tens. This was even harder than trying to narrow down to whom the award should be passed. God has so richly blessed me that trying to limit my list to ten items is daunting. Nevertheless since that was the criteria I established, here they are, again in no particular order.

1. I am thankful beyond words for the man that God has given me for a husband. A man whose loyalty and commitment to me and our marriage has never been questioned. A man who has not let anything else in life supersede his role in our family. He has sacrificed repeatedly through the years for the good of his family and never once complained about it, rather he continues to assure us that his role as husband and father are at the top of his priority list. He is a wonderful father and has loved me with all his heart along with his total commitment for over 31 years now. Not a day goes by that he does not find some way to make sure that I am aware of his love. In the mornings for as long as I can remember a love letter awaits me on rising. My coffee is already made for me; a little thing, perhaps but it is a love letter in my heart. And although certainly not what we had envisioned for ourselves, I have no doubt but that he will be there for me at the end as he constantly tells me that he will take care of me no matter what. That, is what "for better or worse, in sickness or in health" is all about. Thank you my sweet husband and best friend.

2. I am grateful for my children - all of them. There is not a one who has at one time or another not brought joy and contributed something positive to our family. The majority of them are turning into fine young adults of whom I am so proud. Even the ones who are still not making good decisions and living outside the will of God are loved and always will be. While we are not so proud of some of their actions, most of them are at the very least attempting to fix things in their lives. For the others, well we do a lot of praying that they will one day figure it out. I cannot even imagine our family having never known any of them though as each of them was sent to our family in a very special way. Others are doing so well and bring joy on a daily basis. The ones who have been at home these last three years deserve special thanks. They have cooked, cleaned, transported me, kept me company and amused me on a daily basis. They've taken on responsibilities beyond their years and have for the most part done it in a cheerful manner. I love you my dear children.

3. From nearly the first moment my church and church family has been at our sides. They let us know how loving and giving a church we have. They wrapped their arms around us and surrounded us with care and support. We have wanted for nothing. Each and every chemo week, they are right there with meals. They have volunteered to sit with me through hospitalizations, appointments, and just trying times. They have provided transportation for little and nondriving bigger ones on a regular basis for dental appointments, speech and a myriad of events. In an incredible act of generosity last fall, they took over work on our house and completed it in an amazing way. Various members have loaned us their vacation houses so that we could have time together as a family. They have made serious donations to us to ensure that we could indeed enjoy ourselves. Words cannot possibly do justice to the kindnesses that have been shown to our family by this wonderful community of believers. They have demonstrated in every way possible that the body of Christ stands together. I honestly don't know how people get through trying times without a church family. We extend our deepest gratitude Jarvis church.

4. My extended family has been amazing. Each and every one of them has made life a little more bearable for us, particularly over the past six or seven months. What a blessing our relatives have been to us through this trial. Both Howard and I are lucky enough to still have both of our parents. My sisters and brothers, as well as their spouses, have been a wonderful source of love and support for us both. They have visited, phoned on a regular basis, sent many an email, and even thrown us little parties. Listening ears have been provided for us all from youngest on up. Our children know that they are loved by so many and that is a source of great comfort to them. Without fail, they have made sure that both the children and Howard know that they are in it for the long haul. That is a reassurance that they really need so I am particularly appreciative of this. And of course I could not possibly forget to mention our wonderful daughter in law and mother to our first granddaughter, sweet little Maggie. Bethany, our Daughter-in-law has spent the last year of her life ensuring that the first year of little Maggie's life is a happy one. Always a formidable task, Bethany has had more than the usual first year challenges taking Maggie from this:

to this:

I also want to mention that our daughter-in-law's family and church family have been a source of great support and comfort to us. Thank you family.

5. Then I have a network of friends who are always there for me, both in real life and those who are only an email away. Although perhaps not seen on a regular basis, when we had a huge need before Christmas I had no less than three of these "imaginary friends" as Howard calls them to offer to come and help as we needed. None of them even live in our state. Daily they email me, chat, provide nutritional advice, and check up on me. They have blessed me with items such as prayer quilts, uplifting books, wonderful Christian CDs, food gift cards to be used on those nights that our church is not supplying our dinner but I still just don't feel up to cooking, cards of encouragement, and most of all their love. I doubt that they could possibly ever know how much their hearts have meant to me. I thank you dear "imaginary friends".

6. I am greatly blessed with numerous material comforts, and I am truly grateful for this. We have a very comfortable life and compared to the majority of the world are extremely rich. We live in a wonderful home, have heat and air conditioning, plenty of clothing for us all, cars to drive, computers, TVs, books to read, abundant hot running water available at any time. Our water is completely potable, an abundance of fresh vegetables and produce, meats, and convenience foods are available at a variety of grocery stores which are continually stocked. I'll never forget a story I read as a child. My parents subscribed to Readers Digest. During the height of the cold war, a woman from Russia visited the states. She was hosted in a typical American household. Her hostess attempted to make her comfortable but kept meeting with rebuff. Everything which the hostess tried to show her was met with an icy "We have those only better in Russia." Eventually the hostess needed to replenish her groceries and took the woman from Russia with her to the grocery store. As she stood among the seemingly endless rows of fresh produce her icy demeaner fell and she wept as she surveyed the abundance which makes up our everyday lives. I think we often forget just how blessed we are. I thank God for His marvelous provision not only for our basic needs, but a great deal of our wants as well.

7. I am grateful for the health and time I do have. While it may seem a bit strange, one thing which is learned quickly when entering the world of cancer is priorities. Things which only a short time ago were worries, are now only minor annoyances or perhaps even nonfactors. I do not choose to use my energies to worry needlessly or become angry at silly stuff like slow moving traffic or the driver who blows their horn and then proceeds to cut me off in traffic. Even in my limited time situation, I am truly grateful for the time which I have. I am fully aware that life is brief and can be taken in instant. I have the benefit of some time to finish projects, prepare my children who are capable of understanding, and say the things that I want to make sure my loved ones know. How often is a life ended suddenly with a heart attack, stroke or accident. How fortunate I am to have some time. Knowing that the tomorrows are limited, has made me extremely grateful for today. While certainly my health is not great, there are many whose health is much much worse. At this time, I am still able to be up and about most of the time. I am able to interact with my family and friends, and enjoy life the majority of time. Any day that I get out of bed is a good day.

8. I am grateful for a plethora of what some would consider small blessings, the majority of which are not really small. We live in the wealthiest country in the world. While our economy is not where the many of us would like, we are still blessed with opportunities that most would only dream of. We live in a free country where we are afforded the ability to have whatever career we desire, freely change jobs if we wish, go to the college of our choice, and in our case the freedom to choose to homeschoool our children. We worship as we desire rather than having to hide in basements to fellowship with other believers in praising our heavenly father. Although at times threatened, at least for now we are able to openly express our faith. We have excellent medical care available, we read waht we desire rather than what our government deems appropriate, freely view movies and television at our discretion, attend concerts of musicians who do not need government approval to perform or are limited to approved subject matter, and view art work of the artist's choosing. We own our homes, have a wealth of appliances available for purchase at reasonable prices, freely travel outside our borders, and raise our children as we see fit. How often do we tank God for these things which we often take for granted?

9. I am grateful for my five senses. This is one of those things which those of us fortunate to have been born without special needs simply do not think about with any regularity. I am thankful that I have ears to hear the music I love, the sweet 'I love yous" of children, and assurances from my husband that he is and always will be beside me. I have eyes to behold God's majestic mountains, to watch the crashing waves of the ocean, the colorfully spectacular beauty of a winter day's sunset, to see the faces of as my children as they break into infectious smiles and watch as they grow to fine adults. I am grateful for taste which makes appealing delicious life sustaining food and better yet - chocolate. I am grateful for my sense of smell used appreciate the sweet fragrence of fresh flowers, cookies baking in the oven and the unique perfume of an infant's head. Lastly, I am grateful for the sense of touch used to feel the strong supportive arms of my husband around me to comfort me in my weaker moments, to feel the sweet touch of a small child's arms around my neck and feel the wet sloppy kisses of the very young. So rarely do I remember to thank God for my senses, but my life would be very different without any one of them.

10. Listed last, but first on the list is God who gave His son for us, Christ's redeeming love for us who are so undeserving. I cannot imagine my life without God's presence. What if He had just given up on us? I don't believe I would blame Him if He did. Throughout thousand's of years of history we have continually strayed and disappointed God yet continue to call Him when in need. Throughout it all His grace and mercy are as reliable as the sun's rising each and every morning. Without His gift where would we put our hope, what would we have to live for, in whom could we rely, how could the day be something we look forward to, and in fact why would we even rise for a new day without promise of an eternal bright tomorrow of a heavenly exsistence? Thank you Lord for your unending and unchanging love.


TheDideonGang said...

Cindy, what a beautiful reminder of what we often forget and take forgranted. Continue to think and pray for you as you endure this journey of cancer.. and how God is blessing you and those around you through it.
Lavonne Dideon

Mom Of Many said...

I am thankful for your list...your depth of grace you exhibit reminds me that that kind of depth only comes from adversity. Painful for you and your loved ones, but so much to learn from. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

Much love, Linny

Angel said...

Cindy this is your imaginary friend Angel.
Thank you for your words, you have such a way
with them.
Sometimes Life is just so hard and sometimes we get exactly the words we need, when we need them, to make it through.
Thank you.

Linda up north said...

There is no way to top your list. What a wonderful life God has blessed you with... Thank you for reminding me of the huge blessings that are mine.
You are in my prayers

Mama Temple said...

Thanks for keepin' it real, Cindy. We have to take the good with that which we don't like so well. At times the latter wants to overshadow that good. God's grace and our faith & hope push those clouds away.

Anonymous said...

I just came upon your journal from the HFS list. Bless yo and thank you for the reminders I needed to hear. I am praying for you and your family.

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