It’s quiet, Like a lot of you- I’ve been up for hours. There’s a giant (As in: will this bird fit into the oven or, will I have to take a chainsaw to it? Sized) turkey in the oven. There’s an apple pie in the convection oven,(We’ll see how that goes.) and a pumpkin pie ready for whipped cream, on the stove top. (I hate pumpkin pie. But- my husband loves it and I’m a selfless giver- so I baked him a frozen one. In heaven, I get special jewels in my crown for that.) The rest of our side dishes are lined up on the counter and ready to cook.
As the turkey roasts- I can finally settled into my comfy chair with a steaming cup of peppermint mocha. (Cooking burns a LOT of calories.. right?)
Which is when the questions everyone is asking today, finally got a chance to whisper to my soul:
“Are you Thankful? What are you thankful for?”
I’ll be honest- My first thought?
“I’m NOT thankful for cancer. I hate cancer.”
Nice. There goes the jewels in my crown. They’re rolling around on heaven’s floor like marbles in my kitchen. (Sidebar: I’m so glad we’re finally past the legos and marbles and other toys of impending foot doom, btw.)
What a jerk. When my soul asks what I’m thankful for- I immediately answer with: what I’m not.
I took another sip of peppermint mocha.(Somedays, caffeine is the oil of joy for my soul. Deal with it.)
Let’s try this again: “Are you Thankful? What are you thankful for?”
“Well, I’m thankful I don’t have cancer… One cancer patient in the house, is enough.”
Really? Yup. Really.
Apparently, I have a one track mind and that track runs straight to cancer- regardless of where I’m trying to go. Probably because the past 6 weeks have been cancer- hell. 2 hospital admissions, 3 surgeries countless appointments, and on going care that involves a spreadsheet and is hard for both my husband, and I. Yeah.. could be why.
Here’s the thing-I’m learning that cancer can do to your heart and mind the same thing it does to bodies. It can cause one thought/feeling (type of cell) to multiply divide and take over the healthy ones. Bone cells and blood cells in my husband’s case- thankfulness in mine.
Here’s what’s interesting about cancer- from scans to blood tests- the focus becomes finding and looking for cancer. Pretty soon- that’s all you see. You totally forget the 99% of the body that’s healthy and clear of cancer. All you see and think about are those few,(Or, many but still, not usually the majority.) eerie ominous “spots.”
Like bodies though- my heart has more to it. My heart has parts that are still healthy. Still thankful. Even here.
So- this morning I’m taking a PET scan of my life… and I’m choosing to look at all the things that I AM thankful for….
I’m looking past the diseased parts and looking at the whole picture…
I may not be thankful FOR cancer- but there is a lot to be thankful for IN it…
- a husband who loves and trusts me with his tenders needs and care.
- Family and friends that’s messy and real and loves and does- whatever needs doing. Whether we ask for help or not.
- Friends who remind me and give me reminders that beauty can come from pain.
- Friends who get our pain. Because they’ve been here.
- Being able to be there for friends who are following in our footsteps.
- People who love us enough to walk this pain filled path beside us. Where ever it leads and however we feel. (Permission to feel is an enormous gift that brings peace. Trying NOT to feel, -been there- tried that-is like trying NOT to think about anything. The emotional equivalent to sudden onset OCD- whatever you’re trying NOT to think about or feel- becomes all you can think about- and feel.)
- Food to nourish us in our exhaustion and pain.(Even the stupid pumpkin pie. I’m thankful to be able to bless my husband with a small offering of yum to counter his pain.)
- A home to shelter us.
- Pets to comfort us ad bring us laughs. (Except when they pee -or worse-on the floor. Not so much thankful for that.)
- Insurance that covers us. (Even though the copays mount up- I can’t imagine trying to pay out of pocket for all this care and medication.)
- A job that provides for us and co-workers who help cover- what needs covering.
- Heat and power and appliances- to warm us and spoil us and make life a bit easier…(The dishwasher was dead for a few days this month- A good reminder of how thankful I am for that stainless steel counter space hog.)
- A hot cup of peppermint mocha on a cold morning.
- A reclining chair in a hospital room- so I could stay with my beloved as he fights for his life.
- Doctors who care and refuse to give up.
- Nurses and PA’s and surgeons and resident’s that go the extra mile and care about the people- not just the disease.
- Hospital housekeeping staff that bring a smile and dignity as they clean bodily fluids from more places than they belong.(I wish I had their attitude. I’m trying to learn from them.)
- A cottage that is always ready to relax in- with a view of water and a fire pit and a jet-ski…. a dream come true.Truly an abundant and extravagant blessing in a world where so many have no home. (Still struggle with some residual guilt there…justsayin.)
- Cars to get us to appointments, jobs and much funner places.
- Bookstores to lose myself in.
- An internet and phone that give me instant access to friends and family near and far. (Kind of amazing, if you think about it.)
- Being part of something bigger than myself- and being able to make a difference in the lives of others– even when I’m struggling.
- Yarn and sticks and the ability to turn them into something that gets done and stays done and is even-beautiful.
- Books and people that challenge and encourage me.
I could go on… but we all have pies to get to and turkey’s to check on.
Even here- in the middle of the fight of our lives- and when cancer tries to steal our focus-
I am thankful. In it- if not for it. There always is.
I hope today- even if the pie is burnt, the bird is raw, or the numbness that accompanies grief, bad prognosis’, a relational catastrophe or impending financial doom is wearing off and starting to cause a soul ache that steals your focus from thanksgiving to disease- you’ll sit down and join me in a life-PET scan- and find all the things you’re thankful for.
In the mess- if not for it. Because it matters.
To your heart- and to God- because-when we look for and find those things- we really find HIM.
Ask, Seek, Knock
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
The Narrow and Wide Gates
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
I’m asking, I’m seeking- I’m finding… I hope you are too.