I sit here on a cold, dark Ohio morning (25 degrees) drinking hot coffee and watching the first video in the One Thousand Gifts Bible Study by Ann Voskamp. Faithgateway is hosting this online bible study.
You might question if counting gifts from God works, but Ann is living proof. In Session One’s video she talked about how good she felt after the first day.
And I am here to tell you, it works even after writing down just one gift.
It was a gift I wrote down this morning – gift #1,197. Just a plain old random number. But I did not see this gift until I read the first sentence in the Video Discussion and Bible Study section for session one:
Tell about a moment in your life that was hard and painful and looked nothing like a gift, until later you began to discover that a gift was wrapped up in the pain of that moment.Video Discussion and Bible Study
one thousand gifts, a dare to live fully right where you are
Study Guide -pg 15
I was thinking of the voicemails on March 28, 2008 and said “Well there was no gift in those voicemails.” No sooner than I said that then I realized I was wrong and smacked my forehead for being so blind to God’s gift.
Here is the story of seeing a gift from God the day my nightmare of widowhood began. But first, I need you send you down the time tunnel to generic, a non-specific night in either January, February or early March of 2008 and then to March 28th, 2008 – my Day of Infamy, my personal 9/11.
Some Generic Night
Joe suffered from intense back pain in early 2008. So intense that he would wake up screaming during the night. I would get up and help position him so he was no longer in pain. We would go to bed together but because of his pain, I usually ended up moving to the spare bedroom after helping him get in a more comfortable position.
One night I was up three times with him. After the third time, I belly-flopped on the spare bed and had a heart to heart with God. No, wait. It was a one-sided conversation. I did not wait for an answer nor did we engage in a dialogue as I had no time for chit-chat about Joe’s pain.
I said “What are you doing? I’ve been praying for relief, healing for Joe’s pain and there is NO sign of it. I need you to heal him, even if it means he goes and lives with you. I will muddle through some how.”
Then I fell asleep.
March 28, 2008
Fast forward to March 28, 2008. Joe was in the rehabilitation department of a local hospital. Back surgery was successful and he made it though a couple of rough days in medical intensive care.
March 28th was Friday morning. I got out of bed and took care of Rommie and our foster golden retriever. Then I got ready for work as on Friday’s I had to be there at 8 a.m. instead of my normal 11 a.m. start time.
Joe knew my work schedule so I did not think much of it when he did not call and start barking like a dog, which was what he did every morning that week.
I arrived at work and went about my day resolving issues customers had with making their mortgage payments. Lunch came and went and I did not get a call from Joe’s brother with a report on how Joe was doing. Joe’s brother visited at lunch and I visited after work. Not receiving a call did not raise any red flags as I just figured he got busy at the fire station. No big deal.
I left work at 4 p.m. and stopped at Kohl’s department store on the way home to find a new vinyl tablecloth. The house needed fresh spring color as our foster golden had a meet and greet with her potential new parents the next day. However, the line at Kohl’s was long. Huh?! What?! This is not Christmas, even Easter had passed.
So I left. I thought about stopping at the mall but decided to go home and clean up the backyard while it was still light outside.
Upon arriving home the girls were excited and happy to see me. I let them outside. Then I noticed the blinking yellowish light on the cordless handset that meant I had messages.
I went to the office in our third bedroom and pressed the button on the main unit. The first message was from the doctor on the rehab floor. Joe was sick and I needed to get in there right away. Huh? The second message was from his primary care doctor stating Joe was sick and the doctor had to drive across town from his office and admit Joe back to the medical unit. He left a number where I could page him as Joe was in grave condition.
I was startled and jumped back about 3 feet and said “What the _________?” (You know what word to insert in that blank.)
That is how my widowhood nightmare began.
No gift in those messages.
Eleven years and 7 months later I see the gift.
Those message confirmed God was in the process of healing Joe.
He was answering my prayer – just not in the way I preferred. After all Joe moving to heaven was not my plan A, but it was God’s plan A because God heals people by taking them to heaven. It is a tool for healing that only He can use.
Healing people by taking them to heaven causes a hole in our soul that brings about pain and anguish. A hole that only God can heal.
And so #1,197 in my red, hard covered journal reads:
The messages from Joe’s rehab and primary care doctor’s confirming God was answering my prayer for Joe’s healing.
What did I feel after writing this in my gratitude journal?
Charis (Greek) = Joy
Bio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills while managing call center teams, co-facilitating a grief support group, and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, a lover of history, chocolate, red roses, and golden retrievers. She is also the amateur photographer behind the blog OgleOhio.com