Thankful for LIFE

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.  His love endures forever… When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord.  He brought me into a spacious place.  The Lord is with me.  I will not be afraid.  What can mere mortals do to me?  The Lord is with me.  He is my helper.  I look in triumph on my enemies.  

I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me.  The Lord is my strength and my defense.  He has become my salvation.  The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!  I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.

I will give you thanks, for you answered me.  You have become my salvation.  The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

Let us rejoice today and be glad.  

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good.  His love endures forever.

– Excerpts from Psalm 118

Thanksgiving remains one of my favorite holidays because it reminds me that every day should be spent being thankful for what we have.  And in the last few years, I’ve really grown to recognize that we all have so much more than we could ever completely realize.

Each year, I really like to make “Thankful Lists,” but this year, I really don’t know where to start.

After all, what’s not to be thankful for?

No struggle, no matter how large or difficult, isn’t meant to be or doesn’t become a part of who you are.  You can either grow from every situation, or you can become bitter and ungrateful.  It’s your decision.  That’s something to be thankful for in itself.

I’m so thankful that we all have that opportunity.  The last few months have been so difficult, and the last year has been nothing short of treacherous.  What a ride.  I lost my fiance, I lost the opportunity to go to college, I was in the hospital for everything from a nervous breakdown to chemotherapy, and I received a liver transplant… after which I lost my health, my independence, and my dignity.  But do you know what I didn’t lose?  My God.  My hope.  My peace.  Whether or not I chose to accept what has happened, I am so thankful God somehow got me through all of it.  I am thankful our Lord has a greater plan.  I know I didn’t always make it easy on Him, let alone myself.  But here I am.  Beautifully, wonderfully stronger than before.

More specifically, I’m thankful for the unconditional love shown my so many family members and friends.  I’m thankful for the acquaintances who became important members of my life, forever pieces of my heart.  I’m thankful I lost my fiance in January, even though it almost killed me.  I’m thankful I wasn’t able to finish spring semester as I know it was meant to be.  I’m thankful I got to go to Disney World, one of my favorite places in the world, before my life would change forever.  I’m thankful I was diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma as early as I was.  I’m thankful that chemoembolization destroyed the tumor on my liver.  I’m thankful I was listed for a transplant at such a great medical facility as the Cleveland Clinic.  I’m thankful I had the opportunity to lead Team Race for Amanda in the LifeBanc Gift of Life Walk & Run.  I’m thankful for everyone who came and how much we were able to raise.  I’m thankful for the support I’ve found in Akron Canton TRIO, Transplant Recipients International Organization.  I’m thankful for my new online and real life transplant friends. I’m thankful the parents of a critically injured young man chose to donate his life.  I’m thankful for him and his family every morning when I wake up with a new day before me. I’m thankful my liver was shared with a three-month-old infant.  I’m thankful I woke up from surgery on September 1 – and am here living to tell about it two months, three weeks, and four days later.  I’m thankful I only stayed in the hospital one week.  I’m thankful for a family and dear friends who were there every step of the way.  I’m thankful I only ended up in the ER twice after my surgery.  I’m thankful my incision finally healed.  I’m thankful I’m slowly adjusting to all of the new medications, and I’m thankful I’ve been weaned off the highest doses and most frustrating meds.  I’m thankful – and completely humbled – that my story has touched lives.  I’m thankful I got to go to two big concerts with my sister – Lilith Fair in July and Carrie Underwood in October.  I’m so thankful that both of us got to meet Carrie Underwood. I’m thankful that I have so many families in my life – through the children I nanny – who I can almost call my own.  I’m thankful for the honor of witnessing and impacting the lives of so many little ones.  I’m thankful to live in a free country protected by so many selfless individuals across the world, fighting for our freedom.  I’m thankful for shopping online and thunderstorms and random calls from friends.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to go back to school.  I’m thankful for my voice through my blogs, the people I meet, nursing publications, and opportunities like being a guest panelist in a chronic illness college course.  I’m thankful for new connections and a bright future.  I’m thankful for the literal gift of life and how I have a renewed health and many more years of life… all because of a young man I’ll never meet.  I’m thankful for safety and peace, comfort and joy.  Most of all, I’m thankful for the grace and protection of such a loving God.

This year, please join me in being thankful for all that is life – the good and bad days, the good and bad years, the trials and pain, the triumphs and joy.

Remember our promise…

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Matthew 11.28-30

We are so blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Much love,

PS – A similar but different Thanksgiving post is on my blog – Gratitude & Thanks

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