- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 KJV
. . . in everything give thanks . . .
It was a blessing to have all of us together over the weekend despite the locational challenges of being in the hospital. My heart was so full to have all three brothers picking at each other and playing. I needed little boy hugs and snuggles, and, for a few hours, we felt whole. When it came time for the boys and Mike to leave to head home on Sunday, my heart was torn in two. McCoy and MaGill cling to me and I cling to them. It's hard to understand this cancer thing when you are just a little guy. It's hard to understand when you're a mom or a dad. It wears you down and tears you up. I was torn up. But I picked myself up and headed up to the 9th floor after saying good-by and wiping my tears, ready to hang with my number one Spartan fan.
Thankfully, MacKale was feeling great and wanted to snuggle together and watch movies. That doesn't happen a lot in the hospital so I jumped all over the opportunity, even if he requested a 'football movie.' First up . . . Remember The Titans! Love, love, love that movie. But then MacKale suggested a movie he had watched in his homeroom class last year. "Mr. Main showed us this movie I think you'll really like mom. It's called 'Facing the Giants.'"
It wasn't what I expected. The acting was just ok, and it is definitely not award winning in the 'traditional' sense, but it spoke to me. There were two messages in this movie that resonated with me and shook me to my core. I have been struggling lately with worry and fear. The 'what ifs' have been shaking my faith and wearing me down. Oh believe me, I pray about it . . . A LOT. But it has been difficult to shake. And then in the midst of this movie, when this coach was in the deep-end of doubt, a friend of his tells him the story of two farmers. These farmers were both experiencing a horrible drought and they both prayed to God for rain. But only one of them went out and prepared his fields to receive it. The friend asks the coach, 'which one do you think trusted God to send the rain?' The coach replies . . . 'the one who prepared his fields for it?' And his friend asks . . .'Which one are you? God will send the rains when He is ready. You need to prepare your fields to receive it.'
I looked at MacKale and said, 'Mac, we don't have time for worry and fretting, buddy. We need to prepare our fields.' Lesson one from 'Facing the Giants' hit me square! I got it!
Then . . . as this little football team of 32 kids were facing the biggest, baddest team ever--the Giants . . . three times bigger . . . three time state champions . . . this is what the coach tells his kids . . .
"And if we win, we praise Him; and if we lose, we praise Him. Either way. We honor him with our actions and our attitudes."
"MacKale, we need to always be thankful . . ." Lesson number two . . .This war we are waging against cancer with MacKale has so many battles. It is so easy to become defeated, to feel like you're getting beat up and that we just can't get a break. We end up in the hospital after chemo, we are separated, we are stressed, we are tired and can't quite understand why this is all happening, but win or lose, we have to continue to praise Him, because there are so many many many things that we have to be thankful for . . . an abundance of amazing things that we can not lose sight of.
We are thankful to every single person that has taken the time to pray for MacKale, to pray that the chemo kills the cancer in his tumor 100% and heals his body. For Mac's fifth grade teacher, Jason Main, for introducing MacKale to 'Facing The Giants.'
We are thankful for our friends, Ami and Jackie and for Papa and Lucy who continue to care for the little boys, picking them up from school, keeping them over night and making them feel safe. And for caring for Maya too . . . someone has to love our dog when we are away. That is no small task when your dog is a Doberman. We are so thankful for our co-workers, colleagues and clients who have supported us from the beginning. To everyone that has covered for Mike at the resort or at the office so he could be with us during treatment, it is a precious gift, thank you.
We are thankful for MacKale's soccer team and their families who have cared for us. We will never be able to express our gratitude for the parents who started the t-shirt drive at Mackinaw Trail Middle School which has boomed into something amazing. And for every single kid, grandparent, store owner, teacher and adult who wears a #TeamMacKale shirt, we are so thankful for you and for continuing to show your support for MacKale.
For every single bald head shaved for MacKale, we are blessed. For our St. Agnes Church family, Father Joe Fix and every church in the Cadillac and surrounding communities that continue to keep MacKale on their prayer lists, we are so thankful. For Cadillac Area Public Schools, my Franklin family and my aide-Laurie, Mackinaw Trail, all the teachers, staff, families and students who continue to stand behind us, you are loved. For the parent who said, 'go Team MacKale' in the grocery store to Mac yesterday and to the stranger who stopped and hugged me because, even though she didn't know me, she felt like she just needed to, I am thankful. I needed it too.
For our friends, family and siblings, who text Mike and I on a daily basis to let us know you are thinking of us, I can't tell you what it means. I am so grateful for the teacher/blogger/TeachersPayTeachers community. Teachers are an amazing community. They have embraced my family and cared for us from miles away. Maria, Jennifer, Mary, Jodi, Annie, Deedee and all my blogging teacher friends, I can not even begin to express my gratitude for all you have done to help me.
For the guys who blew our leaves this fall and will plow our drive this winter, we are thankful. For Jeannie who cleans my house and my mom who does my laundry, for everyone that has sent cards and notes, we are thankful.
We are thankful for MacKale's friends, the ones who will still jump in bed to play with him, who email, reach out and send notes. We are especially thankful for MacKale's friends Rylie and Micaih who continue to call and visit even when MacKale is not particularly talkative. I know it's not always easy, but please don't stop. It makes his day.
To Jack for playing video games and for his mom and dad for letting us crash at their house, for my friend Patty who sends jokes for MacKale to tell his docs, thank goodness for you.
For our wonderful babysitters, Erica and Jenna who, without fail, will drop their studies at Aquainas every time Mac is in the hospital to come and see him, play games and make sure he drinks, you are heaven sent. I am thankful to their mom and dad for raising some amazing daughters. For anyone that sent gas cards, Starbuck dollars, frozen casseroles, board games, books and cards . . . we have no words. You continue to bless us. We are thankful for music, jokes, Facetime and anything that can take our mind off from treatment.
We are blessed and amazed by the community of Cadillac. We can never begin to express our gratitude to the people we grew up with, our parents' friends, our boys' teachers and strangers who have embraced and supported us during this journey. Our friends and family are kind of obligated to love us, but strangers . . . how did we become so blessed to receive the kindness of people who have never met us. God is truly good and alive and well in Cadillac because we see it in the people who live here. I am especially thankful to Shawna, who has shared her own journey as a Osteosarcoma mom with me, she texts me, answers my questions and listens.
For anyone that will talk golf, football or hunting with MacKale to keep his mind off all the ugliness he's facing, we can never tell you how much it means. We are thankful for MacKale's medical staff, from the staff at Mackinaw Trail Pediatrics to his hemophilia team in Traverse City to the amazing nurses at DeVos, childcare specialists, Dr. Mitchell and her oncology team and Mac's surgeon, Dr. Post.
Thanks to God for McCoy and MaGill and their wonderful resilience . . .
And I am SO thankful that God has given me a partner in Mike that is so strong. He has held me up and kept our lives together despite distance, the distress and the despair of this journey. The boys and I are truly blessed.
We are thankful for these things and so much more . . . so many more things and so many more people. All of you . . . have made it very clear to us that we do not travel this journey alone.
. . . but . . . in every thing give thanks . . . every thing . . . every single thing? It's easy to thank God for the the good things, to thank him when everyone's healthy, when all is well, when we have no worries . . . but isn't our greatest gift to Him, to be able to praise him even in our darkest hours. It's hard, almost impossible for me to say that I am thankful for cancer. How can that even make sense? It has taken so much from our family, from MaGill and McCoy and mostly from MacKale. I don't understand how to be thankful for THAT, but I pray that God shows me how and I'm trying. I think about hemophilia and the devastation Mike and I felt when MacKale, this seemingly perfect, fat and happy little fella was diagnosed with hemophilia. I wept for all the things he would never be able to do. If only I would have known all the doors it would opened for him and how it would shape his life. If you would have told me 11 years ago that I would ever be thankful for hemophilia, I would have thought you fell on your head. But look, 11 years later, I am so incredibly thankful for hemophilia. Hemophilia, in addition to all the amazing opportunities it provided for MacKale and our family, has allowed us to find his cancer and start treatment quicker than if he never had it. It gave us an oncologist who has been invested in our son since birth and who we know is fighting for him on every level. Is it possible to feel this way about cancer someday? While I'm not quite there . . . (Heck, I'm not even close to being there. Who are we kidding?) . . . I will continue to try, because I believe that He will find a way to use this horrible journey for good. How or when or why is still a mystery to me, but it will be used for good. And until then, we continue to ask you to pray for us, for God to grant us faith without question, for strength, understanding and for the chemo to kill the cancer in MacKale's body and in the tumor that is in his leg 100%.
We are so thankful for all of you this Thanksgiving Day.
"You'll get through this. It won't be painless. It won't be quick. but God will use this mess for good. In the meantime, don't be foolish or naive. But don't despair either. With God's help you will get through this." --Max Lucado from You'll Get Through This.