Day 24 – Thankfulness for family and grace

When I began my “30 Days of Thanks” journey, I wondered what these days would hold: would God use this time to say, “Hey!”; would there be more substance for me to recognize; or would there be previously unrecognized icing on life’s cake? Or would there be happenings that may otherwise cause me to question God’s goodness, with the questions now negated by the recognition of His gifts? And why am I asking these today, of all days?

Last night, my husband received two phone calls. Whenever his phone rings after 10 p.m., we know that either the university computer network has major problems, or a family issue has arisen. In this case, it was the latter. The first call was from T.R.’s aunt, then he spoke with his stepsister for quite a bit. You see, T.R.’s dad passed away yesterday afternoon. Because his father left when T.R. was in junior high, their relationship was strained at best, but this was still an unexpected loss. My role here is more that of a support and sounding board for my husband, but I know that these happenings bring things to light for which I am certainly thankful. While I feel like some of my recent “thankful” lists have been more on the whimsical side, today’s isn’t in that category. T-shirts and tomatoes are lovely, but they are certainly trumped by issues that strike life’s core.

Day 24 – 5 key things of thanks – today and every day parents especially Dad, who also dealt with divorced parents as he grew up with his mother and stepfather. Times of life and relationships weren’t the same, but he helped T.R. navigate some of the rapids he faced. And Mom has done so much to demonstrate ways to support her husband, and how to express love in so many ways.

2. truly amazing grace – when T.R.’s dad, Tommy, was in the hospital last spring, he reached out to T.R. for the first time in years (making me wonder if our Christmas gifts and birthday cards had mattered a little bit… we never knew). Tommy asked T.R. about his faith, and he asked T.R. if he could bring a Bible for him. So his father received a large print Bible (specially purchased by T.R.), and after reading parts alone and together, Tommy prayed for forgiveness and for Christ to enter his heart. Since that time, a lot has happened, but despite doors that were closed in our direction, we pray that Tom didn’t close and lock that door. We understand that he had been spending time recently reading this book again, and we pray that Tom did indeed reach out again to the Father. I’m not going to pretend to comprehend how deep and wide the love of our God is.

3. Our loving children – our daughters are so dear to us, and I am thankful for the love, hugs, laughs, tears and special times we share together. What a treasure, and may we never forget that! (With two 13-year-old girls, there may be times we feel less blessed than others… but we love them just as much in these throes of early adolescence.)

4. my mother-in-law – T.R.’s mom, Connie Murray, has done a wonderful job of parenting, grandparenting, and not “taking sides” against T.R.’s father. This is especially meaningful to me as I watched Dad’s parents. I loved my grandmother, but the room would become quite chilly if my grandfather’s name was ever mentioned. This was the case until her death – my grandfather passed away the following week. They were in different parts of the country, both in their 80’s, they had both remarried, but it was hard still for all involved. Grandma’s situation surrounding the divorce was eerily similar to Connie’s, but there is a huge difference: Connie wasn’t bitter, just sad, sad about Tom’s decisions and priorities. And the joy he missed in the lives of his son and grandchildren he could have known. Her words to T.R. last night were healing, as she reminded him of good times during his younger years.

5. my father-in-law (T.R.’s stepdad) – I’m sure that my very determined (or I suppose you could say ‘stubborn’) husband would have been a challenge during his high school years, when Dave entered his life. Dave, his loving heart, his corny jokes, his mechanical prowess and his alma mater (as the one who first sent T.R. to Taylor) is much loved and appreciated by our family. We love you, Dave!