Thanksgiving: The year so far….
This is my first Thanksgiving in the blogosphere. Most years go through my normal Thanksgiving ritual of being thankful for family and friends, salvation, work, and a place to live. That is all true this year, but I wanted to take a moment and share with you all my thankfulness that I have this year.
Let’s go back 11 months or so. January, just after the new year. I moved out to my first rental! I have been residing in half of a small duplex this year. Has it been tough at times? Sure, but I also know that it has been a growing and learning experience. Now I just gotta find that special someone that can make sure I get up when it’s time to get ready for work 🙂
It was that same month that I made plans to go on a men’s retreat with the men at my church. I had never been on one up here, so I looked forward to it with much anticipation. When I got the time off from work approved, it was time for the final break of the day. I walked into the break room with much excitement. Only one other coworker was there and she inquired to the reason of my excitement. I told her that I had just got time off for a men’s retreat. I said nothing of it being church-related or of a religious nature, but she picked up on what it was regardless and asked what church I attended. I told her and she expressed her like of the church. Impressed, I wondered if she meant the building, some people she perhaps knows there, or the actual teaching of the church. So stunned I was that I let the conversation drop right there.
It was a few weeks later that this same coworker approached me after a particularly tough night at work, inquiring to my Monday night activity. She knew I had Sunday and Monday off in that I was not there those nights, much the same as I knew she had Friday and Saturday off in that she was not there on those nights. When she asked what I did Monday nights, for some reason, I became quite fearful of what I should say. Most men experience this when asked such questions by ladies in their age group. Gulping internally, and fearing what her response might be, I answered by stating I pretty much went board out of my mind.
What was I afraid of you ask? Well, I was afraid that I might be getting “asked out on a date” or whatever your preferred terminology is. Granted, there was a curiosity by what exactly was meant by “I like that church,” and I was at a point in life where, if “asked out” by a lady in my age group, I probably would have accepted, regardless of my disagreement with the practice.
In a time frame much shorter than it took to write the previous paragraph, she invited me to a college/career Bible study at her church on Monday nights. Things were looking brighter now, but I wondered if the church had something like St. Mary or LDS of Kingdom Hall in the name, so I interestingly inquired as to the specifics (time, location, etc…) The name had none of the labels I disagreed with, so I felt safe in rejoicing for an opportunity to be with other Christians in my age group. I still go there (granted, besides the teacher, I am top-rung of the ladder concerning age) and enjoy the fellowship greatly.
Going on about another month, the ladies at my church threw a house-warming party for me. What a blessing to have to by a shelf to store non-perishables and a chest freezer for meats.
Finally, the big day came. A time in my life I longed for. Saving money on my car insurance! No, I didn’t get married, but I did turn 25, that magic year for male drivers.
VBS preparation was in full gear. The theme this year concerned creationism and evolution. I was playing the part of a detective (based on Columbo) that was on a case of a missing person at the local university. Memorial day came and we took a road trip up to Yellowstone and saw the Tetons at got home in time for dinner. We didn’t actually go to the Tetons, we just saw them from an overlook on this side of Yellowstone Lake. I had hoped to be able to point this out on a trip that I would be on in a couple weeks.
VBS went great. Come the end of the week, I had a multiple overlap of activity between VBS, a singles conference hosted by the same church that has the college/career Bible Study, and work (except for Friday, which I took off). I didn’t catch as much of the conference as I would have liked to (I’m not even sure that I met all the out-of-towners that came), but it was fun nevertheless.
The conclusion was a trip to Yellowstone Nat’l Park. Being a local and fearing “jinxing” the trip, I left my camera in my car at the church. What do I mean? Well, if a local brings his camera on a trip to a place such as Yellowstone, the chances of seeing wildlife decrease greatly. Well, since I had left my camera, wouldn’t you know, we get by Yellowstone Lake and the traffic jams up. Soon park rangers are spotted. That can usually only mean one thing, a grizzly bear! Sure enough, there was a griz, pawing away at the ground. Since this was such a rare sight, we stopped to watch for a time. I had been to the park nearly every year in 13 years up here and not seen a griz in the park until now. For many in the group, this was their first time and there was a griz. As it would turn out, we saw many a bear (griz and black) on this venture. You’re welcome for leaving the camera in Powell!
In this group was a family that, like many, I didn’t know. When I say that, I mean that like I didn’t know many in the group, I didn’t know this family. I had missed much of the conference, part of which was the meet and greet time. I just sorta showed up mid-way and became a hit-and-miss attender. Perhaps if I had the opportunity and time, I would have been there for more and thus known more, but I didn’t. I did get to briefly talk to the mother of this family, because she took interest in a book I had borrowed. It was a creationist’s road-guide to Yellowstone and the surrounding area. She thought it was quite neat that some one had written and published such a needful work.
The following Wednesday night, my coworker informed me of the news that the Seidler family had been in a terrible wreck on their way home that Tuesday night. Two, Joel and Kathy, had passed away, two others, Jessica and Charity, were in critical condition, especially Jessica, who had undergone many surgeries just to be kept alive. Heidi, who was driving at the time, was stable. The news shocked me like it did all of us that found out. I really couldn’t put faces to the names, but I knew I had talked so briefly to Mrs. Seidler. As time wore on, my heart went more and more out to them. I sent a card the next day, not knowing who to address it to. I left the greeting blank, not knowing if Jessica would be able to read it eventually. That night I was thankful for leaving the greeting blank. I learned their father had already passed away last Sept. of stomach cancer.
Time goes on. I wrote cards and e-mails, never expecting them to put my face to them, though I did tell them I knew of them from the singles conference. I got to see some Denver news reports online and was able to vaguely recall seeing them there, and now I could at least put faces to the names I prayed for.
August came and a date for the memorial service was announced. I had enough vacation time and only a couple months left to use it that I could potentially get to Denver. Then the hurricanes hit and the gas prices followed suit. I scratched my plans I was getting ready to pursue.
September came and the Lord kept working on me. Time went on and with only a week to go before I would have to leave, I could hardly stand it. The thought kept coming to mind that I needed to be there. Not like they were going to know me or recognize me right off. I was probably a faint shadow in their minds before the wreck. Who knew what I was now. I put in my request with a prayer for God’s will in the matter. After a couple days I checked on it, and I had been approved! So, a few days to pack for what would be a whirlwind trip. I planned to surprise my extended family in the days after the service as it was only another 100 miles (one way) to see them.
The night after I arrived in Denver was the service. I arrived early and shyly meandered about. I inquired if I had the right location, and I did. More meandering. A small group across the room caught my eye. They looked familiar. One was in a wheelchair. Could they be…..If they are, what to say. I am more formally dressed than they saw of me in June, and that’s if they remember me. Do I “reintroduce” myself? Did we ever formally meet the first time? I was at a loss for words, much like I was back in February. One of them I was sure was Charity; the one in the wheelchair had to be Jessica. My thoughts kept tripping over what to say first, how to approach, etc…
While I stood in stunned silence, much like a deer just before you run into it, one of them approached me and greeted me, thanking me for letters, e-mails, and cards. I thought for sure she had me confused with someone else, but politely and sympathetically replied anyway. She continued on, asking when I got into town, pointing out her brother and sister-in-law and that they of course were not at the singles conference. OK, so Charity knows me. Shortly thereafter, Jessica, in her wheelchair, turned and saw me and recognized me, thanked me, etc… After the service, Heidi even knew how I knew the family, and so did Josh when I told him my name. The Seidlers were a much bigger blessing than I ever planned to be that weekend. Their testimony is amazing, and I am thankful to have seen how God has worked in their lives.
At this point in time, as we come to October and on into today, all I can say is that there are a number of friends and family out there that have been a huge encouragement over the past several weeks. You know who you are. If you are a friend or a relative, thank you for being there. To those of you that have been reading in the short life of my blog, thank you for your interest. Feel free to comment any time, just keep it clean.
Today is Thanksgiving. The word doesn’t have to be sandwiched between “After” and “Sale” to be a holiday. You don’t need “after” and “sale” to be thankful, though sales have their place–on boats 🙂 Oh, that’s sails! Sorry. But seriously, take time to be thankful this weekend, and not just for the great deal on this or that. Look back on the year as I did in this writing, or go through the alphabet thinking of something to be thankful for that starts with each letter (granted, some letters will be harder than others). Before I forget, there’s nothing that says you can’t be thankful throughout the year too!
I trust your Thanksgiving this 2005 will be among the most meaningful you’ve had to date.