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A Vicious Instructor and Choosing Gratitude

No parent can prepare for that moment.

My little girl – daddy’s little girl – had just come out of open heart surgery. She was “doing well” according to the doc’s report. After a 4 AM wake up, a brutal IV insertion, and 8 hours of anxious waiting, Danielle and I would get to see our beautiful baby.

I was almost smiling strolling down the CVICU corridor. I knew Evie would have a bit of a recovery. I knew she would have a wound. I knew there would be slight discomfort and unsettled sleep. I thought, as the medical experts had forecast, that we would be home in 5-7 days.

All my “knowing” evaporated as I entered the hospital room inhabited by my 6 month old. The scene before me was truly gut-wrenching. There lay my girl, her stitched incision glowing red with fresh blood. Wires coursed from every part of her body. A grotesque chest tube emerged from the wound. The after affects of the anesthesia and the pain from surgery caused her to unceasingly squirm, repeatedly crying out in agony.

I won’t detail the emotionally excruciating 15 day journey that followed, but can state with absolute certainty that those were the darkest days of my life. In all honesty, that two week span served as the climax to a truly grueling 2017. Betrayal, slander, spiritual attacks, hurricanes, car accidents, surgeries, and plight upon plight have stung repeatedly as the calendar has rolled. Yet, through it all, I am learning (please note, I have NOT conquered in this area) through the Scripture, the church, and the Spirit to give thanks. It is an absolute intentional effort, as it is much, much easier to gripe and fret.

So with this intentionality in mind, here are seven things I am grateful for in the midst of a truly hellacious year:

1. I’m thankful for what I have learned through it.

This point alone could stand as a separate post, but I’ve truly learned so much through the struggles of this year. Suffering is a vicious instructor, but if we stop to pray, think, and question we will walk away more informed and with increased wisdom and compassion.

2. I’m thankful for modern medicine and technology.

So Irma was brutal. Twenty-six hours in a truck with kids and dogs fleeing strong winds and a lot of water was miserable. But at least we knew the storm was coming and could get out ahead of it. On a far more intense level the same could be said for Evie’s two surgeries. That they had to occur was devastating. But I’m grateful that the docs could see the problem and that God had provided through them a means of saving my little girl’s life.

3. I’m thankful for the support and love of true friends.

Many will claim friendship throughout this life, but when things are tough we will see the true church and our genuine friends rise up. BLDG 28 (the people) has been a constant source of comfort and my friends have supported me when I needed it most.

4. I’m thankful for good music.

While Evie struggled in the hospital I strummed my guitar and played almost on repeat the anthems “It is Well” and “Boldly I Approach.” The resonating truths of these songs soothed my soul during very dark days.

5. I’m thankful for turkey, stuffing, and pie.

Yea, I’m stoked to chow in two days time, but I’m most grateful for the holiday trimmings because I’ll be able to see my little girl stuff her face (girl loves to eat) reminding me that things could be worse and that she is healthy and happy.

6. I’m thankful for every day with my family.

I have often said “I will never get to the end of my life and wish I had spent less time with the people I love.” I’m so thankful that I get to spend such an enormous amount of time with my fam.

7. I’m thankful for what God has done through it.

Just to be clear…if I could choose for Evie to be well, for friends to stay true, for hurricanes to dissipate, and for all moments to be bright, I certainly would. I am not a masochist, and would much prefer ease to discomfort. But I am grateful for doors that have opened, truth that’s been heralded, and advancement for the kingdom that has taken place because of what I have been through this year. God is always moving, even in our pain.

There are certainly still days of struggle and moments of doubt, but through the topsy-turvy I am learning to thank God and I would encourage you, my friends, to do the same. G.K. Chesterton once said, “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” I would agree.

Semper Reformanda.

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