I love November (and it’s not just because it’s my birthday month, although that’s a huge part of it). There’s just something sweet about this time. It’s a month of setting our minds toward being thankful. The weather is just the tiniest bit cooler. Gone are the skeletons and jack-o-lanterns of October. Little pieces of Christmas begin making their appearance, but the craziness hasn’t. November just makes me want to pause and look around and just be thankful.
Last year at this time, God brought me this verse:
Psalm 40:9-10 “I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord. I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.”
I think we often tend to hide or downplay what God has done for us, afraid that we will hurt someone’s feelings. We don’t share the amazing stories of what He has done because He didn’t do that for someone else. Does that make sense? It’s as if we are ashamed of what God has done for us, or we don’t want people to think we are bragging. I don’t want to be the kind of person who thinks ill of someone who shares what God is doing in their life. I want to be the kind of person who boasts in His name and praises God for the great ways He moves in the lives of others as well.
I wanted to take a moment to pause and be thankful. So here is what we are thankful for as we continue to walk this road:
– An answer: we have a diagnosis, which means we have a plan of action – movement in the direction toward healing.
– Our families: The moment Kris was in the hospital, his parents made arrangements to come down. My parents immediately stepped in and took the kids for an entire week. Since then, their availability to us has been amazing. They’ve been here at the drop of a hat to get the kids on the hard days. When we are exhausted and tired, they’ve come to help. It’s been wonderful.
– Our friends and Life Group: you know when people say “let me know how I can help” and then they never can get around to it? Well, that’s not how our friends have been. It started with meals because truthfully, that’s all I knew to ask for (we southerners know a hot meal is always a good place to start). We didn’t know what we needed. But as we have figured out where our stress points are, we have been able to ask for help in other ways. We’ve had friends take our kids to school and bring them home as we juggle doctor appointments. One friend offered his Saturday to help Kris with tasks around the house. One epic day two weeks ago, we had a dead battery in one car and a flat tire in the other (and my family was out of town!). One friend drove Kris to the auto parts store at 8:30pm to get the battery and another picked him up at 6:30am on a Saturday morning to get the tire fixed. One friend called me and said “I’m doing my grocery shopping tomorrow; send me your list.” She didn’t ask if I needed anything; she just said send me what you need. Y’all! I have been blown away by the love and support of our dear friends. Guys have stepped up to lead Life Group while Kris is too sick to teach. Several brought us food multiple times while we were in the hospital. We truly have amazing friends around us.
– Our Heavenly Prayer Warrior: I’d love to be able to say that I have had the richest prayer life during this chapter, but the truth is, I just haven’t. Not because I don’t believe God or I’m mad; it’s because I’m just so exhausted mentally. I’ve never clung so tightly to Romans 8: 26-27 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” I know there are a lot of fancy words in there, but basically, this verse means that when we are weak and we don’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit is praying for us. I’ve uttered countless “God, you know…” prayers these last months. I can’t even form the thoughts some days, but God knows and the Holy Spirit is a Prayer Warrior for us.
– Our Earthly Prayer Warriors: I have been truly humbled by the number of people who are standing in the gap for us and praying for us. There is an army of people surrounding us with their prayers – for healing, for guidance, for peace. I am so thankful for each one. I truly am.
– Time: God has given us the sweetest gift in this illness: we have been forced to slow down. Kris hasn’t worked in 10 weeks, but we have been able to soak up some really great family time. And it’s not the way I imagined. We aren’t able to go out much (with three kids, that’s exhausting even when you don’t have an energy-depleting disease), but we have embraced our time at home. Yes, it’s chaotic and no, we don’t sit around and sing kumbaya, but we have had some sweet moments playing Wii bowling (when my four-year old daughter legit beat every one of us), swinging in the backyard, building Legos, playing board games, eating dinner as a family and so many more. One aspect that has been particularly sweet is the extra time with just our youngest. Most babies don’t get this much attention from both mom and dad and we’ve really embraced the time with just him. I snapped this picture a couple weeks ago:
We had lunch – just the three of us. It truly has been a sweet time. I mean, if that doesn’t make your heart melt…
– Doctors and Medicine: The system isn’t perfect; I get that. But I am just so thankful for the men and women who research, develop and learn about medical conditions. I am truly blown away by the minds and technology behind the medications that Kris is on. We are also thankful for doctors who know this disease inside and out and can provide wisdom and insight in an area that’s new to us. Kris is turning a corner; that’s a huge praise. He’s sleeping more, has longer periods of energy, expanding his diet. Our prayer is that the long-term medication will work… that his body will accept it. We won’t know that for sure for a couple months, but so far, so good.
– God: I know this might sound like the perfect cap to a Sunday school lesson here, but I mean it. I can truly say I am so thankful for a God who doesn’t leave us or forsake us. I’ve really been honing in on His true character and praising Him for who He really is. He has been kind to us. He has provided for us. He walks with us. He is steady in a world that is ever-changing. He is truth in a world that can’t make up its mind. He is peace in a world that is so full of hurt. A friend said to me the other day, “I’m just so sorry you’re going through this.” Honestly though, I am not. God is doing a new thing for Kris and me. It’s so hard, but I am beyond thankful for the hard place. He is stretching me and growing me and teaching me to rely on Him in a new way. I may never know the reason, but I know He is using this.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.”