Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Thankful for Facebook Memories

If you on Facebook, you are familiar with the daily Facebook memories that show up each day on your home page. For me, these have been opportunities to see pictures of my grandchildren from a few years past, or to be reminded of places we have traveled, and occasionally get a good chuckle over something I or some friend had shared.

Over the last week, these Facebook memories have become something altogether different for me. They have connected me to this time last year, to a time I have no memory of. Every day this week, Facebook has connected me to friends and family, and even to strangers, who prayed for me during the days and weeks following my stroke. I had no idea what was going on, but as Facebook has brought these things to my understanding, I am overwhelmed with thanksgiving.

Here in our family, we often refer to this as the time I was "away". Since I "returned", I had often been told that there had been a lot of people praying for me. Until these Facebook memories started showing up, I had no idea just how many people had prayed for me. Friends I hadn't seen in years. Family members. Church friends. People I don't even know. I am overwhelmed and humbled by this outpouring of prayer on my behalf.

While I was in Rehab last year, I received a number of cards. From friends, from family, from church members, from people I don't even know. I saved every one.

Al read these to me as they came in each day, because I couldn't read them myself. Several times over the course of the last year, I have reread these notes. The reading has been a little easier each time! And it is my plan, during this season of Thanksgiving, to read them again.

Just as with the Facebook memories, each of these notes is overwhelming and humbling. Each is a reminder of just how much I have to be thankful for this year.

Along with the cards and notes, I also received a number of other notes.

I have no idea who sent these love notes from God. Like the other cards and notes, I didn't really understand them at the time. But, like the other cards and notes, I have reread them several times during this last year and been blessed and encouraged.

Sometimes during this year of stroke recovery, it has been easier to focus on what is wrong than on what is right. To focus on what I can't do rather than on what I can do. These Facebook memories remind me of how far I have come. Of how much I have to be thankful for. They help me remember the things I don't remember.

What happened to me last November could have had a very different outcome.

These Facebook memories are a reminder of that.

And these Facebook memories are a reminder that with God, nothing is impossible.

Today, in this season of Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for the miracle God brought about in my life. I'm thankful for friends and family and strangers who prayed me through that experience. And I'm thankful for Facebook memories!

"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits." (Psalm 103:1-2 NASB)

Monday, November 20, 2017

Are You Ready?

It's Thanksgiving week. And in just a few short days, we will be in full Christmas mode. The holiday season is upon us!

Are you ready? That's a loaded question, isn't it? This week it means having lists made, grocery shopping done, baking begun, all in preparation for the biggest eating day of the year. After that, "are you ready" will focus us on cookie baking, decorating, gift wrap, and all the business that becomes part of our Christmas celebrations.

In all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, are you ready to focus on the reason for the season. Are you ready to celebrate the gift of Christmas and the Gift of Christmas?

That was the reason I wrote "Are You Ready for Christmas" last year. If you or someone you know may not be ready for Christmas, the book is still available on Amazon.

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and a joyous Christmas season!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Didn't See That Coming. One Year Later.

One year ago today I had a stroke. One year ago, life was normal. And then it wasn't.

This last year been quite a journey.

There was the time in the neuro-ICU, which I have no memory of.

There was thanksgiving dinner at Spartanburg Rehabilitation Institute, another thing I don't remember.

But things began to improve. My first clear memory came a few days after Thanksgiving. On that morning, I had a clear memory of a passage of scripture which I shared with Al and Brandon when they arrived that morning. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusts in Thee."

At that time, I couldn't speak clearly. I couldn't read. I couldn't write. I couldn't always understand what was being said to me. Even so, God brought this verse very clearly to my mind. It got me through those days in rehab, and through all the days since.

From that morning forward, I made steady progress.

Eventually, I traded my eye patch for a new pair of glasses.

I was able to teach Sunday School again, something I had never thought I would do again.

We even went on a cruise!

This has been quite a year! A year of challenges. A year of ups and downs. A year of frustrations and discouragements. A year of great joy.

This has been quite a learning experience.

Learning to talk again.

Learning to read and write again.

Learning that even on that days when I struggle with those things, and I still sometimes do, God is still good.

This has been a year of learning to trust.

A year of learning to deal with my limitations.

Of knowing that even though I have limitations, God is still God.

God is still in control.

God has a plan and a purpose for all things.

Even for strokes.

I may not understand (I don't!), but that's ok.

Because God is God and I am not.

Because even in the valley, God is still God and He is still good.

This has been a year of good days and bad days, of frustrating days, of encouraging days. It has been a year of learning and growing. It is an experience I certainly don't want to repeat, but I am thankful.

Thankful for all God has taught me, and is still teaching me, through this experience. Thankful for family and friends who have walked through this journey with me. Thankful for all the people who have prayed me through this experience.

I didn't see it coming. But it happened. And I survived.

I am a stroke survivor.

And it's all because of God's amazing grace.

"Now therefore, our God, we praise You, and praise Your glorious name."
1 Chronicles 29:13 NASB

Monday, November 13, 2017

Because Sometimes We Need To Be Reminded

It's that time again. The season of Thanksgiving. The season of daily "I am thankful for...." posts on social media.

Today's post is a reposting from a few years ago, because, in spite of what our social media may lead us to believe, we don't always look like or sound like or act like very thankful people. We spend far more time complaining than we spend giving thanks. We spend far more energy stressing over the not-as-we-might-like-it-to-be things in our personal lives or our family or our world than we spend being thankful for the as-we-like-it things in life. We even look a little grumpy more often than we look happy or joyful or thankful.

Why is that? That's really the question, isn't it?

Perhaps the problem is that we spend too much time focusing on what's wrong rather than on what is right. Perhaps we are spending too much time focusing on what we don't have rather than what we do have.

Perhaps we need to be reminded of just how blessed we really are!

Here are a couple of my favorite quotes on the subject, along with a couple of favorite Scripture verses. Perhaps these reminders will help us get our focus where it needs to be. Perhaps they will help to remind us of all the reasons we have for being truly thankful. Because sometimes we all need to be reminded.

"When we learn to give thanks, we are learning to concentrate not on the bad things, but on the good things."  (Amy Vanderbilt)

"Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many, and not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some."  (Charles Dickens)

"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."  (Philippians 4:8 NASB)

"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.  Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits."  (Psalm 103:1-2 NASB)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Blessing upon Blessing. A Thankful Tuesday Post.

When I was a child, I often heard my parents say that time passes more quickly as you get older. At the time, I thought that was just silly. But now that I'm older, I realize they were right, as they were about so many things I didn't understand when I was younger. I can hardly wrap my mind around the fact that we are already a week into the month of November. Where does the time go?

I love the month of November. This is the month it finally begins to feel a little cooler here in South Carolina. The holiday season is beginning, with thoughts of Thanksgiving and Christmas and family gatherings. And November is often celebrated on Facebook with daily lists of reasons to be thankful.
(Apparently we aren't all that thankful during the other months, but that's a thought for another day.)

November puts us in a thankful frame of mind, doesn't it? And whether or not we post our lists on social media, it's a good time to slow down a bit, to stop and reflect on all the reasons we have to be thankful. Whether you have a fancy journal, or a notebook, or you use some electronic means, making a list - writing things down - helps us to focus. To remember. To give thanks.

Here are a few of the things on my list this morning:
  • Another day of life. My stroke last hear reminded me that every day is a gift!
  • My family
  • My new church family
  • Coffee!
  • My husband making breakfast this morning
  • The weekend we had with our family
  • Christopher recovering well
  • Anticipation of more family time in a couple of weeks.
  • Good health
  • Friends
And the list goes on.

So many reasons for giving thanks. One blessing after another. Blessing upon blessing. My heart is overflowing!

"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all of his benefits."  (Psalm 103:1-2 KJV)

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times......."
                                             from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

That quote perfectly fits my weekend. It was the best. It was the worst.

I was very excited on Thursday to learn that the Greensboro Feasters would be here for the weekend. What an unexpected treat! A weekend with a grandson (and his parents, too, of course!). What a gift!

We had a wonderful weekend together. Laughter. Good food. Time together. Nothing makes this Nana happier! It was the best!

But there was also the worst. On Friday evening we learned that Christopher, our other grandson, had been in an accident. While at a birthday party, he had fallen off a golf cart and had been transported to the local hospital. He was later transported to St. Joseph's in Tampa with what the doctor described as a very, very, very bad concussion. Did he really have to say it 3 times? Didn't we get the idea when we heard it one time?

So, in between the "best", there was a lot of calling and texting to get updates on Christopher's condition. Thankfully, he was discharged on Saturday afternoon, and is recovering well.

The weekend was an emotional rollercoaster! But through it all, through the bests and the worsts, was the absolute best - a faithful God who was not surprised by any of this. A faithful God who knows exactly what we need. Who meets our every need. Who watches over and protects His children.

These "bests" and "worsts" are a good reminder of that. God is in control. Sometimes bad things happen. Even so, God is there to meet all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

How thankful I am for that truth.

How thankful I am that all this turned out well.

How thankful I am for the scripture I memorized long ago as a child:  "What time I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee." (Psalm 56:3)

How thankful I am that in all the "bests" and "worsts" and all the in-betweens, God is good.

"When it looks like things are out of control, behind the scenes there is a God who hasn't surrendered His authority." (AW Tozer)

Friday, November 3, 2017

A Song of Thanksgiving

"Let all things now living a song of thanksgiving
To God the Creator triumphantly raise,
Who fashioned and made us, protected and stayed us,
Who guideth us on to the end of our days.
His banners are o'er us, His light goes before us,
A pillar of fire shining forth in the night,
'Til shadows have vanished and darkness is banished,
As forward we travel from light into light.

His law He enforces, the stars in their courses,
The sun in His orbit, obediently shine.
The hills and the mountains, the rivers and fountains,
The deeps of the ocean proclaim Him Divine.
We too should be voicing our love and rejoicing,
With glad adoration a song let us raise,
'Til all things now living unite in thanksgiving
To God in the highest, hosanna and praise!
                                                                              -Katherine K. Davis

Those are the words to a hymn titled "Let All Things Now Living", written by Katherine K. Davis and typically sung to a traditional Welsh melody. It's one of those hymns we don't sing in church any more, but it's still one of my favorites.
This hymn seems to come to my mind every year at this time. It isn't because we frequently sing this hymn at this time of year, or at any other time of year, for that matter. In fact, I can't remember when I last heard this hymn as part of congregational singing. Rather, at this time of year particularly, this hymn is called up from deep in the recesses of my memory. It's a catchy tune, but this morning the text has my attention.
Perhaps it's because I'm not as young as I used to be! Or perhaps there is some other reason. In any event, I am becoming more and more aware of how much I take for granted. How often I forget to say "thank you". It's not that I'm ungrateful. Forgetful, yes. A little scatter-brained sometimes. More forgetful post-stroke than I was previously. Easily distracted, particularly since the stroke. But not ungrateful. Never ungrateful.
At this time of year, and particularly as I am approaching my "strokaversary", this Song of Thanksgiving is appropriate. I have so many reasons for thanksgiving this morning, not the least of which is the beauty of the world around me. I love this season of the year with its brilliant reds and golds. With its spectacular sunsets and breathtaking morning skies. It's a beautiful season of the year, my favorite season, and I am so thankful. This year the colors haven't been as brilliant as they are in some seasons, but it is still a beautiful time of year.

Beyond the beauty of the season, I have so many other reasons to be thankful. I'm thankful for my husband and my family. For dear friends. For my new church family. For my health. Especially for my health.
I'm thankful for the privilege of prayer. I'm thankful that God hears and answers. I'm thankful for those times when I utter a prayer with a very specific request, and within just a few minutes I have my answer! And I'm equally thankful for those times when the answer is a long time in coming. The times when I'm learning how to wait and how to trust. I'm thankful for all that those times are teaching me about God and about faith.
I am so very grateful for a Sovereign Lord. One who knows me best and loves me most. One who has all things under control. One who has a purpose for all things.
This morning I am so very grateful. For another day of life. And for the privilege of living it for Jesus!

So very grateful.

It's a good day for a song of thanksgiving!

"My heart overflows with a good theme."  (Psalm 45:1 NASB)