Thanksgiving 2020

First off, thank you all so much for your continued thoughts and prayers. Second, I want to give you an update on Jonathan.

This week was excruciatingly hard. When we arrived at the hospital to get Jonathan checked in for his cardiac catheterization on Tuesday morning, there was some type of snafu and he wasn’t entered into the system correctly.  We sat waiting in the hospital lobby for 45 min, growing more anxious by the second, as coughing, sniffly people walked by close to us and our time to check in at pre-op came and went.  Finally, someone correctly checked him in through admissions and we made it upstairs to pre-op nearly 30 minutes late.  We felt a bit flustered but Christina and I began our usual routine with Jonathan in preparation for him to be sedated and for us to hand him over to the surgeon. Ninety minutes passed as we waited for the surgeon to come brief us before the procedure. Then ninety more passed.  I was already stressed and irritable after the morning’s rough and became increasingly more agitated. This agitation soon turned to anger, fear, and panic. I wondered if any of the pre-op or surgical staff understood how anxious we were or if they just assumed that we are seasoned veterans, and blindly waiting beyond the procedure start time didn’t affect us. Eventually, the surgeon’s assistant came in and notified us that there had been and emergency situation with the baby whose procedure was before Jonathan’s.  She did not know how much longer the surgeon would be on the case but they were doing all they could to safely complete the procedure. 

At this point stress levels were high, especially since Jonathan hadn’t had food or drink since the night before. My family is no stranger to life and death situations, and sometimes you realize, one bad thing after another keeps happening and you know things just aren’t going to go well. I was ready to call it. Let’s just pull our chips off the table, cash out and get this taken care of at another point in time. My more emotionally stable wife said fear and anxiety do not come from God. Having gone through this so many times I realized she was right. Once selfishness subsided, I realized how big of an ass I was being. How dare I? I knew sitting outside those operating room doors was another family whose entire world was falling apart, while their child fought for its life. In my mind I could see them, sitting in the exact same “OH CRAP” seats that we have been in too many times before; feeling anxious, worried, disturbed, and probably angry at their personal circumstances. I was saddened and realized how thankful I was to not be in their seats right now. I was holding my peacefully sleeping boy knowing all was safe for the time being.  We began praying for the surgeons, the baby, and the family.

Several hours later, the team came to take Jonathan. He came through the cardiac cath with flying colors, but no clear answer was found for his fatigue and low oxygen saturations. The surgeon shared in our disappointment but we remained optimistic. We have been down this path before and seen what God can do through Jonathan when the doctors say no way. Today, we are thankful nothing bad happened during the procedure and nothing dire was discovered. We are thankful to have been discharged from the hospital the following morning after some follow up tests.

Today is Thanksgiving and I have heard many say, “not much to give thanks for this year.” I myself am guilty of saying this. Since Jonathan’s diagnosis, I have been deeply distressed by things I cannot control. I have seen greed, anger and jealousy take over my thoughts throughout many times during the past three years. I have loathed my existence. This morning was I particularly down. No turkey, no family, no Grandpa, no happy Danny.

I know this year has been especially tough for most. Heck, I have lost my faith in humanity as I have seen sin and greed consume clients, friends, family, and well most of the world. But, for my family 2020 has been more of the same.  I keep joking that our 2020 really started in 2017. Really, it is with this experience of the past three years that I feel I have the authority to discuss giving thanks during a time of trial and suffering.

Many are angry that they cannot travel or see their loved ones due to Covid shutdowns. Remember to “rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17. Bad things are happening all over the world. Praising God in times of trouble is many times the only way to see any light in your pit.

To those scared of catching covid, see above and remember that “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:15-17. God strengthens us through hardships. Furthermore, if you use it correctly you can achieve moments of intense closeness with the Almighty. Please, remember that this life is temporal.

For those of you who recently lost love ones, remember them fondly. Be thankful for the time you were able to have with them and remember the pain will pass as  “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” Revelations 21:4. To my family, you know you will see them again. We lost so much but we will gain even more. I love you.

For those of you who have a sick family member, give thanks for the time you have had and let them all know how much you love them. The people who have lost loved ones this year you would give their turkey leg for one more minute with their loved ones. Praise God for the time you get to spend with them today, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!” ~ Psalm 150:6

For those of you angry, anxious, distressed, or feeling let down about the election pray to “not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:6-7. Remember God is still in control and knew the outcome right or wrong of your beliefs. He has an ultimate purpose. A purpose you can never begin to understand. I know how the Bible starts and how it ends.

To be honest, I originally wrote this post yesterday and I didn’t have the courage to post it today because I didn’t believe it. I love Thanksgiving; the food, the turkey, the time spent with family, the football, the turkey! Did I mention the turkey? It was always a special holiday I shared with my grandpa, and this year was a hard reminder that he is no longer with us. This morning I was sulking. I was angry, anxious and distraught. I was disappointed that Thanksgiving wouldn’t be everything I longed for it to be this year. We had canceled all our plans and definitely didn’t have a turkey. Then our neighbors showed up at our door with a Thanksgiving meal. Not leftovers. AN ENTIRE HOMECOOKED MEAL! All of the fixings, the sides, dessert and a fifteen pound bird in tow. I was, and am completely overwhelmed by their graciousness. This is what Thanksgiving is about. Friends, Family and God. A God that gives you a break when you are too far down in the pit to see the light. When you are so sad you cannot get out of bed. When you are so anxious you cannot focus. When you are too angry to love any more. This is my God. A God that never gives up. A God that loves you more than you love your own son. A God that brings you a turkey on your favorite holiday to let you know he still is in control and loves you.

My Grandpa’s favorite saying was “this too shall pass.” Be thankful today that God is in control. Grandpa was right, this will pass because “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” ~ John 3:16. For that, even more than turkey, I am truly thankful.

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