Hard Thankful

Hard Thankful February 28, 2012

“One act of thanksgiving, when things go wrong with us, is worth a thousand thanks when things are agreeable to our inclinations.”

-St. John of Avila (via Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts)

My brother Brooks’ lifelong friend died Sunday night. He had brain cancer. Jeremy was a groomsman in Brooks’ wedding. My brother loved him. Brooks has been in Haiti, working with some orphanages. He left last Wednesday knowing that his friend could pass away before he returned home. He’s supposed to speak at Jeremy’s funeral. He recorded his message ahead of time just in case.

I haven’t mentioned this on the blog yet, but my mom has been diagnosed with cancer. It seems so personal that I’ve held it close, I guess. My mom’s more private than I am (obviously, this blog will attest that I’m not so private), so I’ve also felt a little quiet about sharing it with you. (And, honestly, I haven’t liked the thought about seeing “my mom has cancer” in print.) But, today, she will be in surgery. It’s possible that they will remove the sick thing in her and that will be the end of it. Or it’s possible that more cancer will be found and we will have to face the possibility of chemo or radiation.

Today I’m on a flight home with my two boys to stay with my parents for the week, help care for my mom.

It’s Thankful Tuesday.

So, yeah, sometimes my Thankful Tuesday posts are probably the kind that make you feel like my world is all glitter and musical numbers. And, honestly, sometimes it is. But the hard Thanksgiving is found when there’s sacrifice in it. Today there’s sacrifice. Because I’m broken-hearted for my brother and for Jeremy’s family. Such loss. So unfair. And I’m hurt for my mom. I don’t want her to feel afraid. I don’t want her to face any kind of physical pain or heavy illness.

But sometimes being thankful is the sacrifice. That’s what Psalm 50 calls it: a sacrifice of thanksgiving. I don’t have to be thankful for my mom’s illness or for the terrible loss of my brother’s dear friend. Death is always Christ’s enemy. We should be outraged over it, because it is wrong, because death was never God’s intention. But I can be thankful that there’s grace in the horrible. There’s always grace. There’s always God’s good presence.

Yesterday morning, while I drove August to school, we had the radio on and news broke in to mention the school shooting in Cleveland. I realized what they were saying and that my boy’s ears were listening and I went to change the station, but it was too late. I looked in the rearview mirror and August wore the look he saves for serious questions.

He said, “We should pray for those people, Mama.”

Sigh. Yes we should.

Here is my sacrifice of Thanksgiving:

  • Bright red Texas sunsets and a backyard deck to watch them from
  • Coffee dates with my college girls, getting to love them and know them
  • My baby’s first steps! And how proud his little face was (and is).
  • Airplanes that can get me to my family in 45 minutes
  • The sweet sticky smell of springtime rain (yep, it’s springtime around here)
  • My friend Emily’s new baby girl

Will you join me in praying for my mom today? Please pray the doctors will remove all the cancer and that she will be healthy and encouraged by God’s nearness. I’m thankful for this community and all the encouragement you all bring to my life.

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