…for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Thanksgiving is upon us along with all the #Gratitude challenges and reminders every day to tell friends what you’re thankful for. It’s a fantastic practice, one that hit me deepest 10 years ago when I read 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Giving thanks and keeping written reminders of what we’re thankful for is a transformational, spiritual practice; not just a healthy, self-care technique, but a deep and wise rhythm that puts us in the middle of God’s presence.
This morning’s list started as a health update but I’d rather share the #Grateful side of each part of the story as the main attraction. I hope this list calls to mind some of your own “everythings” that you’re thankful for, and draws you closer to the God who gives all good gifts. Also, there are 12 items, so I’m officially caught up to the daily post limit for this November.
- I’m thankful that we were able to use our Hamilton tickets on the 28th, and have an amazing dinner out, before having a gallbladder attack. Actually, the dinner might have been one thing that tipped my system over the edge (8 oz steak, amazing homemade ice cream and apple tart!) but today, I have no regrets. It was my last truly full meal, actually, since then. And now I’m glad I have a few more chances for “last meals.”
- I’m thankful that I paid attention to chest pains and went to the ER on Halloween night. Sure, we were in a movie theater, and I confess saying to my husband “It’s okay, let’s finish the movie.” (It was “Free Guy” with Ryan Reynolds – and yes, it was really good! I know some of you were wondering) …Nevertheless, for me to take heed and go to the hospital was a big deal. #winning
- I’m thankful that the hospital did due diligence and ran all the right “heart” tests, even though I seem fairly low risk. I’m also thankful the tests were inconclusive enough that I went home that night with a list of other symptoms to watch for.
- I’m thankful that in the ensuing 5 days, I paid attention to my body and physical needs in ways I hadn’t in months. Maybe years. I know I speak from a place of privilege, but I truly have so many choices about how I live, work, move, and eat. That week gave me an opportunity to make better choices and pay attention to how those choices made me feel and function.
- I’m thankful that last Friday, after a small lunch and a half mile walk, I realized that the chest pains were returning and got worse as the day went on. It was only an hour before I realized I needed to call my husband to leave work early and head back to the ER. #FridayDateNight (I’m also thankful for Harold’s empathetic and immediate response, in contrast to my own tendency to feel put out when getting called away from work, or interrupted from plans. #LessonLearned) More about Harold later.
- I’m thankful for deep diaphragm breathing techniques learned in choir and voice lessons, and even meditation and focused breath skills learned in yoga class. I used those skills, along with scripture memory, hymn lyrics, and prayer, through my 30 minute visit to the MRI machine. My goodness. That was something. (It’s worth noting that when I was in school, I had to learn algebra and always wondered if I’d use it as an adult. The answer is no. There is no algebra for the patient in an MRI scanner. But I’m sure glad I took choir and yoga, and went to church!)
- I’m thankful for the reminders of Isla at the hospital. Even though it’s a bit triggering to be admitted to a hospital room that looks uncannily like the ones she lived in for so long, I actually felt Isla’s strength and bravery holding my hand along the way. She went through WAY more procedures in her short life than I have in my long one.
- I’m thankful for breaking into tears on the surgery table waiting for anesthesia before my first procedure. I know, this one takes a bit of unpacking. First, if you know me well, I am a busy woman, I like to accomplish things, and I don’t like to be distracted by pesky emotions. But guess what? When we slow down (I was literally fastened in place with wires and IVs), when we have no control (nope, none), when we recognize that EVERYTHING is out of our hands, we are finally in a place where God can bring the emotions to the surface and say HEY! Pay attention to me!
So I did.
The GI doc had not made it to my room in advance to tell me about the procedure, so I’m already stressed, maybe because I’m hearing his updates from a supine position in the OR (again, no control). I had thought this Saturday procedure *might* have eliminated the need for gallbladder surgery later (I knew they were two separate things #thanksGoogle) However, the GI doc casually mentioned “You’re going to have to get your gall bladder out, too.” So I’m trying to ask logical questions like “HOW MANY SURGERIES ARE YOU DOING TODAY?” and calmly, rationally…freaking out.
The questions are answered, the tears are flowing, and the anesthesiologist finally arrives to send me off to dreamland. In those moments between awake, aware, and asleep, I’m brought to my next point of gratitude.
- I’m thankful for the nurses. There were three in that room that saved my (emotional) life that day and showed me the face and hands of Jesus. One checked my IV and patted my arm, saying “we’ll be right here with you.” One gently wiped tears off my face and from behind the oxygen mask, since I was unable to reach for a tissue. Another squeezed my shoulder, leaned close, and looked right into my eyes saying “It’s going to be okay. You’re in good hands.” As I fell asleep, like a stubborn child who finally relaxed after fighting for a toy too long (or a grown up who fought for control too long), I remembered whose hands I was in and let go.
- I’m thankful for all the nurses and staff at CHI Lakeside Hospital in Omaha, NE. Seriously, medical professionals deserve a daily gratitude post from all of us. THEY WERE AMAZING. I hope Harold kept a list of names because when I get out from under my surgery fog, I’m writing thank you notes and taking them brownies. Every single person who came in and out of my room was professional, caring, knowledgeable, and kind. The one in the ER who reminded Harold “This doesn’t count as date night!” The one who got me a black cup of coffee at 3 in the morning for my caffeine headache because I was “clear liquids only” after almost 40 hours of NPO. The one who advocated for me to get the surgery (the second procedure) on Sunday instead of Monday. The one who scrubbed my back before surgery and managed to keep my dignity intact. The one who got a heating pad in the middle of the night and an ice pack in the middle of the day. Give thanks for the medical professionals!
- I’m thankful for my husband, Harold. Seriously, the guy is a rockstar caregiver. He asked good questions, wrote down notes, kept me entertained with memes and funny animal videos, brought me extra pillows and blankets from home, walked me around the hospital halls, and prayed with me before surgery. Since we’ve been home, he’s planned meals and cooked for both of us, made smoothies when I didn’t feel like eating, kept the bills paid, and worked from home so he was always available to me. All with a great attitude. Find yourself a man who takes the “sickness and health” part seriously. This one’s mine.
- Finally, I’m thankful for our family, friends, and community of support. Some of you kept the ministry work moving forward while I was not available. (Reminding me, of course, that each person on the team matters…but the team can and should function beyond the limits of each person. #theBodyofChrist) Some of you live close and helped with groceries or meals. Some of you reached out with texts, flowers, calls, and prayers. Some of you live far away but kept in touch with encouragement via Facebook. Every single post, prayer, and mention was a blessing to me. Thank you.
In everything, give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus
(1 Thessalonians 5:17)