Saturday, November 19, 2016

Living Thankful

"I don't know how you do it."

We hear that every so often from others when they learn about our story. People often wonder how our family has been able to survive and even conquer the challenges of caregiving for so many years. My response is always to give God the glory for His keeping power over one of the most difficult seasons of our lives. We couldn't do it without Him.

But I know that any work of any value that accomplished in this life is done in partnership with the Sovereign. He has the plan, but we are His hands and feet and voice. It's His power displayed through our effort.

Caring for others is hard work.

It's easy to get in a rut. It's really easy to feel sorry for ourselves when we're tired and feeling overwhelmed. Complaining takes a lot of emotional effort and drains us of our joy.

That's why cultivating a thankful heart is key to successful caregiving. It takes work, for sure, but it's key to breaking old thought patterns that feed a sour disposition.

I'm always amazed at the joy with which our spinal-cord-injured son faces life. Sure, he has bad days, too, but he generally faces most days with a truly grateful heart. He's suffered so much that he's just glad to be alive and well. He lives without bitterness. He accomplishes what he can each day. He looks forward to the future.

I, who can move and breathe without disability, often shuffle through the days with a grumpy attitude. That makes both me and those around me miserable. So, for this Thanksgiving, I'm sharing a few things for which I should be grateful every day of the year.

For this, and much more, I'm grateful:

*The gift of Life 
After watching my son learn to breathe again, I'll never take even the next breath for granted.

*Good health
I'm so thankful that, even in my sixties, I'm still healthy and able to care for my family.

We have just emerged from a brutal election cycle. But I'm still amazed how this country can come together and move on in a generally civilized manner. I thank God that the citizens who peacefully disagree with those in power aren't hauled away to jail or beheaded on a beach. And I'm deeply grateful that those who are disabled and aged aren't forced to give up their lives for the supposed greater good of society. I pray that never happens in this country.

*The faithfulness of God
He is good to me, even when I'm not good to Him or others. His grace blankets our family with peace.

*The loyalty of my family 
We were always a close family, but it took a disaster for me to see how devoted they really are to each other, and how they make sure that their relationships stay solid, even in the worst of times.

Especially in the worst of times.

*Daily miracles
We were told that if would be impossible to care for our son at home. He was told it would be impossible to go home. Every day, for two decades, we have lived the impossible!

*Answered prayers
If there's anything I've learned in the last year, it is to NEVER quit praying, unless I know God's answer is no. I've had prayers answered in the last year that I had prayed for years, seemingly without an answer.

Trust in God's timing. He does hear.

*Financial provision
We never have too much. But we always have enough. The bills are paid, and there is food on the table. There's even enough to share with others and have some fun. I'm very grateful to the federal and state agencies that work hard to help us care for our son. Sometimes, when I'm feeling irritable at some regulation or bureaucratic snafu, I try to remember just how much they have done for us. They are human, too, and are trying to help, even when the red tape seems counterproductive.

I could go on and on...

There is such an embarrassment of richness bestowed on our family that I could spend the bulk of most days in an attitude of thanksgiving. Instead of waiting for the annual Turkey Day,  my heart should be on its knees saying grace every single day. Because for us, life is good.