A Happy and Thankful New Year

Nothing beats an “interruption” in life to shake us up and give us a new perspective. And what better time to happen than around the New Year, overshadowing those time worn resolutions to lose weight, exercise and eat healthy. Oh, there’s nothing wrong with those goals. In fact, we should make them part of our daily routine. But when a sudden, unexpected event puts your life on hold then brings you back again, something wonderful takes place. It’s called “thankfulness.”

Last month, my husband suddenly found himself in the emergency unit of the Edmond hospital with a radiologist and ER doctor scratching their heads over an anomaly in the CT scan. A couple of days later, Carl was wheeled into surgery, not knowing exactly what the surgeon might find. There was a possibility that a temporary colostomy might have to be done. But of far greater concern was the probability of a tumor in the colon that had somehow telescoped over itself, requiring removal of a portion of the colon then
a resection.

Just minutes before going into surgery, a minister from our church prayed over Carl while surgical nurses gathered around his bed. People across the nation were also praying—friends, family and people we didn’t even know. Two hours after going into surgery, the surgeon stepped into the waiting area to give me the report. The colon resection was complete—no colostomy needed. Praise the Lord! Yes, they did find and remove a golf ball-size tumor but it appeared benign on visual inspection. Three days later, pathology reports proved the surgeon’s theory true. Benign! Everything benign! Sweet words. Wonderful words. Healing words. Another “praise the Lord” found its way to Heaven.

In less than a week our lives had catapulted from what we called “normal” to a life-threatening emergency and a sea of emotions—surprise, shock, fear, faith and thankfulness. Thankful for a young ER doctor and radiologist who identified the condition. Thankful for an excellent surgeon and surgical team of doctors and nurses. Thankful for consulting doctors and skilled nurses who tended to my husband during his weeklong hospital stay. And most of all, thankful to God for a good outcome.

Yet during all this chaos and care another scene was taking place away from the hospital. Outside of being a wife, mother, grandmother, writer and speaker, I am a full-time caregiver for our 33-year-old son with special needs. Because of his compromised immune system and severe heart disease, Jay does not work outside the home. He and I spend 24 hours a day together. And though I try to find part-time help, it often proves difficult, and at this particular time I had no one helping me at home.

Nothing to do but put out emergency phone calls and e-mails to friends and family, asking for help. A hard thing to do. I am more than willing to help someone in need, but being that “needy” person is not my choice. Most of us want to be strong and self-sufficient. We don’t want to ask for help. But with emergencies, it becomes inevitable.

Our oldest son, Aaron, came from Arkansas and spent three days with his brother, taking him to his church Christmas party, redecorating his room with new WWE Smackdown posters and going wherever Jay directed to get a daily Coke, not to mention fixing meals and keeping Jay on his daily schedule. Brotherly bonding during an emergency event with Mom at the hospital taking care of Dad. Thankful! So very thankful that Aaron was able to step into this emergency situation and become his brother’s keeper.

After Aaron left, my 93-year-old mother came to spend a week. Not only did she keep my dishes washed and my laundry folded, but she also provided a “constant” in Jay’s daily routine as friends came to sit with him while I was at the hospital or even doing grocery shopping. Again, thankful! Thankful that friends took time out of their own busy schedules to care for my son, bring snacks and even clean my house. Thankful for the many prayers for our family and thankful for my mother’s presence and devoted care. We never outgrow our mama’s love.

So as the New Year begins, I challenge you to count your blessings instead of resolutions. Acknowledge all the good things in your life and offer a prayer of thanksgiving. Make a habit of telling friends and family how much you love and appreciate them. If you do this, I think you will be well on your way to having a very happy and thankful New Year! 

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