Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV)
Always be full of joy. Never stop praying. Whatever happens, always be thankful. This is how God wants you to live in Christ Jesus. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, ERV)
Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, MSG)
Thankfully, joy is not circumstantial, but rather something that is deep-rooted in our souls. Praying continually is far easier to remember, especially in times of crisis, and giving thanks is not about being grateful for our circumstances, but rather giving thanks for Who is with us through them.
Yesterday was a very good day. God showed us His faithfulness in countless ways. First thing in the morning, as Megan and I were preparing to make our way to the hospital for the day, we received the call from Sheila, the case manager (whom we adore), that the cabulance would be at the hospital at 10 am to move mom to the acute care facility. Her call hustled us out the door even faster than we would have normally exited, and we were on our way. Upon arrival, mom was seated in a chair and smiling, fully aware of the fact that it was moving day. Additional blessings that immediately came prior to leaving the hospital were: the removal of her IV, removal of the heart monitor stickers, leads and the five-pound accessory box that sat in a pocket on her chest, hospital gowns, as well as the standard hospital required practices of waking patients every four hours to ask a series of questions that may or may not inspire intelligible answers in the midst of a fog of sleepiness. The hospital crew was kind in their sendoff, and the cabulance drivers were incredible. In fact, one driver had been one of the EMTs on the scene when mom had been found in her home by the police, and one of the officers was her husband. (God is so cool!) Anyway, I knew they were in great hands as Megan rode with mom to the new place and I drove over with her belongings in my vehicle. As we arrived, though a whirlwind, we were overwhelmed with kindness and grace. God’s hand was abundantly evident. From the attending doctor, to the lead RN, to the superb social worker; everyone was hand-picked for mom and our family. God knew what we would need. After a sort of orientation with the doctor and nurse, mom met with the speech therapist for nearly an hour. That gave Meg and myself time to explore a bit, and I was able to speak with the social worker about paperwork. After eating lunch with mom in her room, (the only time that will happen, as they have a family-style dining area), we met Penny, her physical therapist, and they got to work. Penny began with some seemingly simple things, to evaluate where the disconnect lies. She asked mom to do something specific, did not see results, then begin making notes and mom did it! Megan and I sat watching in awe. I imagine someone could have come along and pushed our chins to close our mouths, and we would not have noticed… Even more amazing, Penny was so in tune with mom’s needs. She ordered a wheelchair that was the right size for her, an armrest for her uncooperative arm (to keep it safe and from swelling), and she had mom moving herself with her good foot and good arm, down the hallway, by herself! At first, mom wasn’t sure how to make the chair move, so Penny grabbed another wheelchair and sat in it beside her and showed her. It was then that the sweet game of chase began. Though slow, it was on. Mom is a fighter and a competitor. When she became tired, Penny knew to shift gears rather than stop. She helped mom get herself to a hallway that had a railing on her good side, stood her up out of her chair, and assisted her with walking several steps down that hall. I think both Megan and I were doing everything within us not to cartwheel down that hall in celebration! After PT was OT, but primarily a get-to-know-you session, followed by dinner, then we watched a movie, and the piece de resistance, was the freedom to take mom outside. The sun was low enough that it was not bright nor beating on us, the wind was still, and the air was a perfect warm hug, as we sat together in the little park by the tree surrounded by flowers, where bees were buzzing, and the green grass cooled our feet. Though all these things have happened, there was this beautiful, perfect peace. The little smiling angel figurine in the flower bed was a sweet reminder of His faithful army watching over us. We walked out of the acute care center yesterday, far lighter than we had gone in. God truly is so good.
And, for those who appreciate comic relief, we walked to my Jeep, hopped in, and were ready to zip away. Only, I turned the key, and nothing… Seriously? Ugh! It only took a moment, as it is a stick, and we are two, fairly strong-willed, stubborn, redheads. We started out with Meg pushing me and I tried popping the clutch, but could not quite get enough speed. We had it turned far enough around, so we switched spots. A young man and his wife were walking to their car, and he jumped in and joined me in the pushing. The added boost helped get the car to the speed we needed to pop the clutch, and all was well. Plus, I think Megan was eager for an opportunity to drive the Jeep, and this way she had to zip around the big parking lot several times prior to picking me up, just to make sure the charge was up enough. Add the kindness of a stranger to our list of reasons to be thankful for yesterday.
Each day we draw breath,
Let us choose rejoice;
Despite what we face,
We still have a choice.
Joy’s not a feeling,
Based on circumstance;
It’s deep in the soul,
And not there by chance.
Through a thankful heart,
That knows and believes;
That God is for us,
His joy is received.
All thanks we choose give,
To God, our great King;
May He shine through us,
Our praise offering.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your overwhelming goodness and grace. Thank You that You love us more than we could ever hope or imagine. Thank You that You make that love tangible. Forgive us for allowing circumstances to temporarily steal our joy. Fear is a liar and a thief. Protect us from such things. Thank You that You continue to show us the power of a smile, an encouraging word, a gesture; all things done in love. Show us how to love and encourage mom and all those who are touched by her both far and near. May her light spark a flame in the hearts of those who do not know You yet. Lead many into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we rejoice in You and give thanks for Your hand in all things and Your presence, always. Amen.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. – 1 Chronicles 16:34