Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Simplicity of Thankfulness

Branson at his 6th birthday party
 Thanksgiving is fast approaching but I had it early today when I saw a video of our oldest grandson walking across a large room to the applause and cheers of well wishers at Special Stars.  As many of you know, our grandson was born with complicated and rare neurological issues.  Some thought he might never walk, but there it was in a short 14 second video - our grandson walking across a room.  How often we underestimate those with special needs and what God can do in their lives and in ours.
     I am a fervent believer that God does not make any mistakes.  His ways are perfect and even though some are born with bodies that don't function in the manner that we expect or follow a certain timetable for development yet they are precious in His sight.  Life, all life, from the unborn to the aged and in every place in between is to be cherished, loved and protected.  I wish I could say our world culture has done this but we have only to turn on the news to know otherwise.  Whether it is an aged person with Alzheimer's or a special needs child, their life is sacred in the eyes of God.
     Having walked ten years with my mother through the pain of Alzheimer's Disease, I know firsthand how much time and energy go into taking care of someone who is unable to do things for themselves; yet, through it all, I learned thankfulness.  God taught me love in the crucible of heartache.  Those of you who know or work with those who have dementia are aware that it is a slow downward spiral, but during this time, I came to love my mother more than ever before.  Her life was a blessing to me. God taught me to be thankful for the little moments that would come when she would recognize me or smile in a knowing way.  Her mind and body were slowing down, but her spirit was intact.  I rejoiced in singing hymns to her and praying with her and for her.
     While my mother's illness decreased her ability to function, our grandson's abilities are growing with the time and patience of his parents who have diligently sought to provide him with every means to grow and mature.  However, at the heart of all their efforts is their love for Jesus Christ which gives them persistence, love and amazing perseverance.  With them, our whole family rejoices in
every little victory because we see God behind every achievement no matter how big or small.
     When the world looks at a special needs child, they often say, "Oh, you poor dear family.  This must be so hard for you."  I know it was that way when I cared for my mother, but what they do not know is that Christ is glorified in and through their lives.  I was changed when I served my mother.  Going through the pain of loss while at the same time coming to love her more was the way in which God was at work in both of us.
     All too often, we are not thankful for the small victories of life.  We take so much for granted.  A heart of gratitude starts when we begin to look at how the Lord brings good out of what the enemy has meant for evil.  We must develop eyesight that looks beyond our circumstances and sees the many blessings we have through eyes of faith in Him who is Sovereign over all.
     Thanksgiving is coming, but I have had mine already in seeing our grandson walk!  In that accomplishment, I see God's handiwork all over it.  Begin today to look for the victories even in hardship and see that we have a great Lord and God at work.  Psalm 107:1 tells us:  "Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!"  May this be our theme song as we prepare for Thanksgiving.  Selah!

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