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Friday, April 20, 2012

A Lesson In Gratitude

Editor's Note:  This story is from a previous post in March of 2011.  The man in the picture is my Uncle Floman.  At the time of this writing, he was in the hospital seriously ill.  We never gave up hope that he would win his battle with disease.  However a few short months later, my uncle left us here for his place with the ONE he had devoted his whole life to serving in ministry as a bishop of a church.  Heaven must've had quite the party the day he arrived!  A little over a year later his wife, my Aunt Betty joined him there after a long battle with breast/bone cancer.  My life is forever changed because of the lessons these two taught me.  We have such a short time to love, to make a difference around us.  We should never sweat the "small stuff" or allow anything get in our way of living life to the fullest.  "I miss you terribly Uncle Floman and Aunt Betty..."


March 12, 2011

          This morning I was reminded of today’s date.  It was seven years ago that my grandfather Pa Pa Weeks went “home”.  I thought about the last few years of his life that were spent lying in a bed from a stroke and heart disease.  He was unable to feed himself; dress himself, to stand or walk and in the end was even unable to eat.  He had lost so much of the strength and vivaciousness of who he was but there was one thing he never lost – he never lost his attitude of gratitude - always positive, thankful and full of praise .  As I sat teary-eyed during my morning meditation remembering this wonderful man, I expressed my thanks and gratitude for heritage he and my grandmother gave us; then I saw a post from my cousin on Facebook.  He had posted a picture of his father, who now is also lying in a bed unable to do the things we all take for granted.  My uncle is on a ventilator, has a trach, cannot talk, eat, or breathe on his own.  He does not have the strength to stand or walk.  He too has lost so much of who he once was.  Oh but he has so much more!  He too, has not lost his praise! 

          Take a moment to look at his picture.  This was taken a couple of days ago.  His son and family had begun playing some worship music.  As the music filled the room, so did the presence of the Divine.  Everyone there began to weep and to express their praise and gratitude.  My uncle has not had enough strength to really do anything in his therapy, but here he is with those weak arms and hands raised - nothing less than supernatural at best and a sacrifice of love to God at most.  Sitting beside him during this whole ordeal is my precious aunt, his wife who has walked her own difficult road with breast and bone cancer.  When my uncle was admitted into the hospital she was recuperating from a mastectomy.  Sometimes she’s weary, and yes, like the rest of us, sometimes she has more questions than answers.  But still, she has faith and trust and allows worship and praise to lift her up and carry her through. 

          I confess.  There are so many things I don’t understand.  Like the weight this amazing family is carrying.  Or like the weather and violent earth lashing out with a vengeance like it has in the last couple of days devastating so many lives with earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes and floods.  Bad things happen, life is not always fair.  Each one of us has found that out in some way.  I think about my own storms, my own burdens.  No one is exempt from hurt, pain, loss, sickness, difficulty.  So many ask the question; “where is God in all of this?”  He’s right where He’s always been.  He’s as close as your next breath or heartbeat.  Why do we expect a relationship with God to be different than the relationships we have with those we love here?  Do they only share good times with us?  Are they only present when things are going well?  Do we only love them when things are right in our lives?  The answer of course is NO!  We need them even more when things are bad, when life has turned upside down.  We do not stop expressing our love to them and them to us just because circumstances are difficult in our lives.  Actually, we probably express our thanks, gratitude and love to them even more.  It seems we are not that way with our Creator.  We want to shake our fist, puff our lips, stomp our feet and blame Him for all that is wrong in our life and our world.  I’ve said this many times but I’ll say it again.  We are frail human beings living in an imperfect world of both darkness and light.  Bad things happen to good people, bad people – all people.  This does not make God any less than who He is or thanks and expressions of love any less necessary.  We may not always escape our difficulties and God may not always provide a way out.  But He does provide a way THROUGH!  We are never alone...

          I don’t know what you are going through today, but the ONE who created you does.  Take a moment to shift your focus from the problem to praise.  I would like to leave you with the words to a song.   It is entitled “I Never Lost My Praise”.   

I've lost some good friends along life's way
Some loved ones departed in Heaven to stay
But thank God I didn't lose everything
I've lost faith in people who said they care
In the time of my crisis they were never there
But in my disappointment in my season of pain
One thing never wavered one thing never changed
 
I never lost my hope
I never lost my joy
I never lost my faith
But most of all
I never lost my praise
 
I've let some blessings slip away
And I lost my focus and went astray
But thank God I didn't lose everything
I've lost possessions that were so dear
And I've lost some battles by walking in fear
But in the midst of my struggle, in my season of pain
One thing never wavered, one thing never changed
 
I never lost my hope
I never lost my joy
I never lost my faith
But most of all
I never lost my praise