I'm thrilled to introduce you to Olivia Fulmer who blogs at One Word. She's no light-weight when it comes to giving thanks. You'll know what I mean when you read her story!
November 2011. The Fellowship Circle sat around the table in the fellowship hall at church. I had not been to a meeting in a while. My family had been living with my parents since June 10, 2011, after we lost everything (again) to a house fire. But I had signed up to be the program leader for the November meeting, and I had to be there. At the end of the program, Pat looked up at me, and said, “I don’t know how you could do that. After all you have been through, how can you talk about gratitude?”
How could I not talk about gratitude? I was alive. I was healing. True, I had lost everything (again). Our finances were in shambles after trying to restore and replace the necessities. We were still trying to sort everything out with the insurance company and still praying over whether to pursue a legal case to receive restitution (we did not go to court). I did not want to live through the experience any more than I had to. I woke up many nights shivering with fear, my right arm burning with (imaginary?) pain where the new skin was slowing but surely taking hold and covering the 4% that had sustained second and third degree burns.
How can I talk about gratitude? I can because even in the depths of that horrific experience of being taken to a local trauma center and not knowing what happened to the house, of lying in that ER with my mother standing beside me and shaking her head when I asked, “it’s gone”—in the midst of all that—there was gratitude to be found, albeit later.
Paul tells the early Christians repeatedly that we should give thanks in ALL circumstances. Thank goodness, he doesn’t tell us that we have to give thanks for the circumstances.
While preparing for my program that November night, I came across the story of the hymn, “Now Thank We All Our God.” A Lutheran minister in Germany during the plague years ministered to his congregation faithfully. During that time, though, he lost his beloved wife to that plague. Yet he continued to minister. And he wrote just days after her death and burial in a mass grave the words that we too often reserve just for Thanksgiving services:
Now thank we all our God,
With hearts and hands and voices.
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom this world rejoices.
Let me tell you just a few things that today, two years later, that I am grateful for after this experience:
- An unknown (to me) man who came to my door to tell me the garage was on fire and that he had called 911. He probably saved me from further injury because I was about to take a nap that afternoon.
- A cadre of volunteer and professional firemen from two counties who came out on the hottest day of the summer so far to fight the fire. Thankfully, only one firemen had negative effects from the heat of the atmosphere and the fire, but they were not serous.
- Neighbors who stood with my husband, sons, and father and comforted them even though everyone felt helpless.
- My neighbors Melanie and Pat, both nurses and one an EMT herself, how started immediate first aid and probably kept my burns from being worse than they already were.
- The doctors, physician’s assistants, nurses, aids, technicians at the Steele Burn Center in Augusta, Ga., for their extraordinary care. Today, there are scars, but because of their knowledge and skill, they mostly go unnoticed by anyone who does not know about the injuries.
- Our church family who prayed and gave generously of their time, talents, and money to help us rebuild our lives.
- The season in the wilderness when I drew closer to my God.
Oh, yes, Pat, I can talk about gratitude and feel gratitude in spite of the circumstances. I realize how very blessed I am.
All is grace. All is worship. All is thanksgiving.
Thank you for sharing your story, Olivia! Your real life example of giving thanks in all circumstances is inspiring and challenging.
Have you given thanks in difficult circumstances? How did it change your perspective?
I'm giving away a copy of One Thousand Gifts!
The giveaway will be open through Sunday at midnight, and I will announce the winner on Monday. Enter below!
I'm celebrating Thirty Days of Thanks by posting my list of thanks here daily for 30 days. You can join me every day or any day by posting your thanks in the comments, posting at Winsome Woman on Facebook, and/or posting on your own FB wall!
Labels: Guest Post, Thanks-Giving Stories, Thirty Days