Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Great Thanksgiving!

Hebrews 12:28
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.

I looked up Thanksgiving on wikipedia. Here's what it said: “Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving Day, presently celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, has been an annual tradition in the United States since 1863. It did not become a federal holiday until 1941. Thanksgiving was historically a religious observation to give thanks to God, but is now primarily identified as a secular holiday.”

Most people in America, when they think of Thanksgiving, think of food—lots of food—and most likely a big turkey dinner. Or football—lots of football.

As an afterthought, they might think about giving thanks for the many blessings they've received. Many have no idea to whom they should give thanks. They're just in a thankful mode. When you think about it, that's ludicrous. It's like being in love, but not with anyone in particular. How can you be thankful without having someone to receive those feelings?

Thanksgiving celebrates God blessing the Pilgrims after their first year in the new world. They celebrated a bountiful harvest, peace with the Indians and survival amidst all the hardships of being pioneers. There was no question whom they were thanking—the Lord and Creator of the universe.

While I knew whom to thank, I have to admit, my priorities were similar to many of my fellow Americans'. My thoughts as Thanksgiving approached were, “Where and what time are we going to eat the turkey dinner?” and “What games are on TV?”

Not so this year.

We have so much to be thankful for, just like every year. But there is one thing—and some peripheral things that go with it—that dominate our thoughts. A year ago at this time, we were facing the uncertainty of a cancer developing in Tammy's blood. The doctor had told us that the way this disease develops she would not be here this Thanksgiving if she did not get a bone-marrow transplant. That was no sure thing, because they had to find a donor who was a perfect match and willing to donate.

We went to one of Tammy's brothers for Thanksgiving dinner and Tammy barely had enough energy to sit at the dinner table. David Lee was still in Poland with a few weeks left in his time there, and he called us on my cell phone. I'll always remember Julie saying to David, “You don't have to come home early, but don't be late.” We knew that healing was possible, but not guaranteed. We tried to put on a happy face, but we had to wonder if it would be our last Thanksgiving with Tammy.

As you know, a lot has happened in the past year. Two days after having our own bone-marrow drive at the end of January, to which 144 people showed up compared to the normal 30 to 40, we found out that a match was found through the national bone-marrow donation program. A 37-year-old male had given Tammy life.

On April 1, after a week of heavy chemotherapy, Tammy received the new bone marrow. On April 2, she was rushed to ICU with pneumonia. The doctor told me, “This is what we were afraid of. The next 24 to 48 hours are critical for her survival.” The ICU nurses and doctors got her through the night, and into the next day. Three days later, she was released back to her room. She was released from the hospital on April 20.

Over the next seven months, she has continued to improve, gradually, day-by-day. Today, she is 100 percent in remission. She is nearly back to her old self. This morning, she was up before the rest of us and made blueberry muffins (Julie came home last night for a couple of days). If that smell wasn't enough to wake us up, the cranberry sauce cooking on the stove was.

She's got much of her energy back, though she still has to take rests from time to time. We're working together to get the food ready to take to her brother's house tonight for Thanksgiving dinner, plus the food for our own family's dinner tomorrow. All appearances are that she will survive this and live a long life.

We are thankful, not just in a general sense, but very specifically to the Lord of the universe. He has blessed us with a wonderful family, with many precious friends. More specifically to this blog, He led the donor to be willing to donate his bone marrow to give life. He gave the doctors and nurses the wisdom and skill to help her through the recovery. He gave all the people at the cancer clinic the love to share with her in her recovery. He gave her family and friends the energy to tend to her needs during this long process.

In other words, he gave life. He gave physical life to Tammy though it seemed doubtful. He gives eternal life to anyone who accepts it, even though it is undeserved.

For that we are truly thankful. Have a blessed Thanksgiving.