Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Thankful List

It is a Facebook thing, the Thirty days of Thankfulness for the month.  I usually participate and today is Day 21.  The first week and a half are easy, but I find myself lingering a bit longer the last half of the month creating my list.  Many things that I am thankful are so small, private or just not humble, so I list the nice, readable 30. For the past two years, thankfulness has been whispered and actually cried out in my prayers, so I don't believe 90 days would be long enough. 

We are approaching the second anniversary of Pat's death next week, and thankfulness and gratitude would be what I have to describe to be the strongest emotion other than grief.  Oh, there is the journey itself with so much pain and challenges, but the gratitude, laughter, peace and love have carried us. As the days go by, the beauty of relationships dulls the grief.  

What has been the most painful for me is my children's pain.  I have seen it in their faces and felt it in the words that they text me. In the middle of the day or night, I will get a text from one of them. "I miss my dad." "I dreamed about dad last night."  "If I had only one more day."  They are experiencing major life events such as graduation, job promotions, engagements, weddings, and dad is not here to share with them.  I told Garrett the other day how thankful I am that your dad's handprints is all over him."  His reply, "I know. I am too."

I just read this:

During the month of November, we hear a lot about gratitude. Gratitude is more than being thankful for your blessings. Gratitude flows from a person’s heart when they see the good in God’s character, the good in themselves, and the good in others.

Gratitude is about finding what is good and magnifying it by appreciation and celebration. When we appreciate and celebrate the people, miracles and gifts of God in our lives, we begin to prosper because kingdom assignments are being fulfilled and expanding! Paula White

My kids have absolutely shown selflessness with me in the way they love me, support me, encourage me and even brag on me!  My relationship with each child has grown stronger and the closeness of Elizabeth, Matt and Garrett is so strong and evident. Now that Kristin is my daughter, I am seeing Elizabeth and Garrett just embracing her and initiating her into our crazy Easterling madness!

This year introduced more changes for me as Matt moved out this summer, Garrett went off to college, so I am now an empty nester.  I really have adapted well and love my space.  We had the most magical wedding last month when Matt and Kristin married (I will blog about that soon....can't wait to show you the wedding photos.) and oh, how I would love to relive that day.  Elizabeth got promoted this past year in her job as marketing director for a skilled nursing facility and doing excellent. She also has a new love, Rob. Garrett is finding out that school is hard, but he is up for the challenge with a bit of griping!

Sadly, I have friends that are walking the journey that Pat and I traveled and those raw and realistic emotions have hit me at times.  Just reading my daily Bible these past few days, I am reminded of that journey when I see some of the notes that I made in the margins such as: tough days; "tired and weary"; "need wisdom regarding Pat's pain"; "do we do chemo or not"; and finally "Pat met Jesus today, November 26, 2011".  What is my advice for couples facing cancer?  I first tell them that there are many gifts in cancer.  I tell them you will experience God hugs and they will just make you smile.  I tell them to soak in God's word and allow Him to love, encourage and allow Him to teach you more about His faithfulness, sovereignty, and hope.  I share with them that my most cherished gift I ever received was His peace.  A peace that is so unknown and foreign....peace that which surpasses understanding.  

When you lose a spouse, you start to learn about who you are without that person, especially after you have been together 30 years, and discover more about who God created you to be.  I have found some discoveries about myself that are good, surprising and also hidden.  I would like to use the word "unfortunately" as I begin the next sentence, Unfortunately, I have discovered some things that I don't like much about me, but I can't as God is using these ugly discoveries to show me more about who He is, how He can transform me, but most of all that He loves me....unconditionally.  

As I close, I realize that I could add to my list of those thankful days, but I will just bask in the fact that I have thankfully discovered more!

Happy Thanksgiving!

In His Grip!