Thankful…..For What?

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In the weeks leading up to today I’ve been admittedly ambivalent. There are numerous commercials, facebook posts and household conversations about menus, cooking devices and travel plans. Make no mistake, I have no resentment toward any of these, in fact they keep me connected and engaged. It’s a day of food, family, friends, football and fun. This is precisely why I feel the way I do! Consider this.

Last year this time I was in Trevose with my parents. I was on a bipap machine around-the-clock so a mask was always on my face. My voice was soft, often unintelligible. I designed a communication chart with letters allowing someone to spell out letter by letter my needs, thoughts and responses. I was totally fed by my CNA, or one of various family members. My food was chopped in a processor. I usually consumed anywhere from several tablespoons to a small bowl. The majority of my calories and nutrition came from Ensure juice, not to be confused with their shakes. Those were too thick for me to drink through a straw with my weakened oral muscles and diaphragm; and a straw was needed to get nectar-thickened liquid to the portion of my mouth that was capable of swallowing. With all of this I was still losing up to 20% of liquids down my chin into my clothing protector. It was only one of many degrading processes my life now entailed.

Despite these challenges I was still able to partake of the delicious holiday meal that my neice, Tasha prepared. Trust me, turkey, stuffing, gravy, candied yams, string beans and such may LOOK differently coming out of a food processor but it tastes just as good! LOL! I had some old neighborhood friends come visit and reminisce, it was enjoyable. It may not have been quite as years past, but I was a full participant.

Now, I’m back in Aldan with Jennifer and our children. Because of my need for continuous monitoring and gaps nursing hours, the family gatherings usually happen here. This allows my household to fully participate without having to rush back and forth. This means there will be a house full of food, laughter, debates (inevitable), good-natured ribbing and conversation. In other words, a bunch of stuff that I can no longer do. Again, there’s no resentment to it happening here; it would be no easier if they went elsewhere and left me with a nurse or if they did a stay-at-home celebration denying the traditional gathering for my sake. The weight of my limitations in this regard are mine alone. Finally, when my parents-in-law Bill and Becky begin the around-the-room “what you’re thankful for” I’m thinking there’s not much for me to say considering everything I listed above.

Suddenly, this dropped into my spirit: “Consider your last 365 days”. Okaaaayy. Wow, I survived a life-altering surgery that despite it’s drawbacks (no talking, eating, vent-dependent, tubefeeder), it has undoubtedly extended my life. Actually, it’s improved my life. No more struggling and failing to meet my nutritional requirements. Though my airway requires care it provides an easier breathing experience than before! I also survived a grueling and depressing 2-month rehab (more on that later as the anniversary of that experience is less than a month away) that saw me taking psych meds and having therapy sessions in attempts to cope. Now I attend church, concerts, theater and parks!

So, it turns out that sometimes when its difficult to identify blessings, and everything seems bleak; a vantage-point adjustment is exactly what’s needed! I encourage you to recognize when all you see is a pile of negative pressing around you, it’s no accident! It’s a plan to steal your joy! Fact is, life is full of positive and negative events. If all you see is negative, then somewhere is the omitted positives! Refocus and fight for your joy, it’s YOURS!!! Have a Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for indulging little ole me. God Bless!!

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42 thoughts on “Thankful…..For What?

    Judith Williams Sherman said:
    November 28, 2013 at 7:46 am

    Ben…Am I the first to comment on your first posting? Yaaaayyyy! Thank you for sharing your journey and showing us how to be thankful. Love you to pieces!

      bigben302013 responded:
      December 11, 2013 at 8:34 pm

      It appears you were, indeed, first!

    S said:
    November 28, 2013 at 7:49 am

    Thanks for putting things into perspective, Ben. Happy, Blessed, Thanksgiving to you and yours. ❤

      bigben302013 responded:
      December 11, 2013 at 8:27 pm

      Sis. Johnson, thank you for ALWAYS being one of the first to offer encouragement and support! It’s greatly appreciated! Keep praying!

    Africa said:
    November 28, 2013 at 8:01 am

    Thank you for allowing us access to such intimate places within Ben. If the eyes are the windows to the soul, you have given 20/20 vision to those of us who might not ever know what it is you have come to know through ALS. Your integrity and truth are indescribable. I don’t know why God chose you to be His voice, but I am thankful you answered the call. Happy Thanksgiving brother Ben. 1 Thes. 5:18

      bigben302013 responded:
      December 11, 2013 at 8:23 pm

      Thank you Africa! I don’t know why he chose me either but I’m trying to be obedient and represent Him well!

    Yolanda Butler said:
    November 28, 2013 at 8:27 am

    Thank u Minister Toland. Let God use u in any venue He sets in ur spirit. Thanking God 4 u.

      bigben302013 responded:
      December 11, 2013 at 8:10 pm

      Thanks Yolanda! I will try to do just that! It’s not as comfortable as the organ but He does have a way of pushing us out of our comfort zones!

    Beverly said:
    November 28, 2013 at 8:47 am

    Ben… the Lord continues to use you…..there is a song that has been in my spirit since last night….”Everyday is a day of thanksgiving……glorify the Lord today” when I read your blog, I received confirmation in my spirit. Be Blessed, and stay thankful…

      bigben302013 responded:
      December 11, 2013 at 8:02 pm

      I remember that song! Thanks Bev! Pray that I continue in the path that brings God glory!

    Judith Williams Sherman said:
    November 28, 2013 at 9:06 am

    So, I told my 18…almost 19…year old son who you are and how we “grew up” together, etc. Then I read him your blog. His response, “Wow…He is such a strong man, Mom. You’re blessed just to know him.” And you know what…I guess I, indeed, am!

      bigben302013 responded:
      December 11, 2013 at 7:57 pm

      Judy, I appreciate you encouraging me to begin this endeavor! I loved working for you and am proud of your success! Going back as far as we do, it’s great having your support and love behind me! I’m blessed to know you!

    Tamara said:
    November 28, 2013 at 10:19 am

    I’m glad you have started your blog. Your gift will make room for you. The ability to reach and touch so many people will be a blessing for all. God is awesome, He’s timing can’t compare. He knows just what he’s doing, and wonderful. His perfect will and the way he uses people for glory and will. The purpose goes beyond our imagination.

      bigben302013 responded:
      December 11, 2013 at 7:48 pm

      Thank you Tamara! I’m humbled by what God’s doing; please continue to pray for us!

    Angela wells said:
    November 28, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Ben…… I have no words except Thank you very much sir. And Happy Thanksgiving. You are truly Amazing .

      bigben302013 responded:
      December 11, 2013 at 7:44 pm

      Thank you Angela! I hope your holiday season is both joyous and blessed!

    Sabriyah Harris said:
    November 28, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    WOW!!! BEN YOU TOTALLY ROCK!!! ALL I COULD DO IS SMILE READINGTHIS AS I COULDN’T EXPECT ANYTHING LESS FROM A MAN OF GOD WHO CAN BREAK IT DOWN OH-SO ELOQUENTLY!!! I AM THANKFUL TO KNOW AN AMAZING MAN LIKE YOU!! I THANK GOD FOR YOUR UNWAVERING FAITH, TENACITY AND STRENGTH!! NO DOUBT ABOUT IT, YOU’RE BUILT FORD TOUGH!! MAY GOD CONTINUE TO BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY!! AS ALWAYS, YOU ALL ARE IN MY THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS!!! GLORRRAAAAY!! 🙂

      bigben302013 responded:
      December 11, 2013 at 7:40 pm

      Thanks Sabriyah! Your words of encouragement are greatly appreciated! Please continue to pray with us!

    Crystal Gagum said:
    November 28, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    So beautifully said… You continue to make me proud. I love you. We continue to look to God and wait on Him, together…

      bigben302013 responded:
      December 11, 2013 at 7:32 pm

      Crystal! Thanks for loving and encouraging me ALWAYS!!

    yolanda aka lorraine said:
    November 28, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    You know what been…2nd time I read something of yours that hit home…the paragragh is what got me…I’m trying to get past the negative..its not easy..I’ve tried to elminate the issues that cause my negativity and saddness but a replacement always come in its place to get me back to what i was trying to avoid..and sometimes I lose faith because I pray to god to help me but nothing yet…unless I missed it or not seeing it…but you are right I have to look at the other things that’s presented before me…but its difficult at times when the negative ALWAYS show its face…but in time I guess everything will be in place…

      bigben302013 responded:
      December 11, 2013 at 7:22 pm

      YOLANDERRRR! I know you’ve been through some pretty tough times. But I also know that God is more than able! It’s not something that the enemy will make easy to do so you’ve got to be all-in! I’m to the point that no matter what happens, I believe GOD! I’m praying for you and available to talk (type) anytime Sis!

    Lois Lott said:
    November 28, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Thanks for such an intimate story: your telling it was a Blessing to those who heard and understand that He has left you here to witness Glory! God’s continued Blessings to you, Ben!

      bigben302013 responded:
      December 11, 2013 at 6:59 pm

      Thank you Aunt Lois! I’m endeavoring to be available to God’s move! Thanks for your encouraging words and prayers!

    Sarah Collins said:
    November 28, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Fighting back the tears. To say that I am proud if you is an understatement. You my dear have opened up a portal to healing for so many. You are the apple of God’s eye. I love you very much and am honored to be associated with such a strong, gifted, and unique man of God. Happy Thanksgiving my dear. Peace and blessings to you and your family.

      imawarshipr said:
      November 28, 2013 at 7:31 pm

      I am fighting back the tears. For me to say that I am proud of you is an understatement. You my dear have opened the portal to healing for so many people. You are the apple of God’s eye. I love you very much and am honored to be associated with such a strong, gifted, and unique man of God. Happy Thanksgiving my dear. Peace and blessings to you and your family.

      bigben302013 responded:
      December 11, 2013 at 6:45 pm

      Sis, you know I love you! Thanks for your encouragement and prayers! This experience has been monumental and requires a monumental God! I can’t help but to reflect what He’s doing! Keep praying!

    joanne borine said:
    November 28, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    Ben, you leave me speechless and that is not an easy thing to do!! You radiate , you glow, you sparkle with so much love.

    Stephanie R. Battallio said:
    November 29, 2013 at 5:59 am

    Ben, I am filled with joy to know you and to be a witness to what has done and continues to do through you. I still hear your music…….through your writing! God bless you and your family!

      bigben302013 responded:
      December 11, 2013 at 6:19 pm

      Thank you Sis. Battallio! God is really showing Himself strong daily in my life! I appreciate your keeping up with me!

    Jennifer said:
    November 29, 2013 at 7:35 am

    I cannot tell you how amazed I am at the journey God has trusted you with. Some days I don’t understand why…or how… But you have shown me so much about peace and love for our Lord – I’ve seen the transformation and you are a testimony that God uses to shame satan. I’m proud of you babe… And so are our kids… And so is God.

      mytym2ryz said:
      November 29, 2013 at 12:01 pm

      Amen……I continue to hold you & your family in prayer. As a writer myself, I am always encouraged to see your diligence and strength which is an example of your faith in God. Your love for each other is a testimony in itself.Your children are blessed to have parents like you;who show them true love and true relationship with the Father. I will continue to pray for and with you, as your journey continues……..

        bigben302013 responded:
        December 11, 2013 at 6:36 pm

        Thank you so much!!

      bigben302013 responded:
      December 11, 2013 at 6:12 pm

      Thank you for all you do for me! This is a tough situation to live through but you’re wearing it well! Thanks Dear!

    nanatoland said:
    November 29, 2013 at 9:18 am

    I’ve been waiting for this to appear and today I found it!!! Mommy is so proud of you and am getting to greatest joy watching you grow in the Lord. You are showing to many that ‘Jesus is the Way, the truth and the light’. ‘No man cometh to the Father except by Him’! You are pointing the way and many, whose footsteps are faltering, will follow you, just because they love you and believe what you say. This is the way God has chosen for you to go and I am so glad that you are showing, by example that you trust in and believe every word that He says. You are stepping out into the deep, with this blog and encouraging so many others to trust in God, through whatever circumstances come their way. Wow, what an encourager you are to me!!!Continue to allow the Lord to use you in your unique way. Loving you! Mommy

    Kimrenee said:
    November 29, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Thanks and God Bless you! Thanks so much for sharing.

      bigben302013 responded:
      December 11, 2013 at 5:52 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to read!! God bless you too!

    charron said:
    December 5, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Ben u r truly an eloquent speaker! Your postings are always food for thought and I am blessed by them. You r always on my mind and heart. I am so proud of u. Your honesty is refreshing. Keep up blogging my friend.

      bigben302013 responded:
      December 11, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      Charron, you know I appreciate your encouragement! We’ve nursed many people over the years, it’s so surreal on this side of things! But God’s keeping me! Love ya!

    Niki said:
    December 11, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Hi Ben! This was amazing and thank you for being an inspiration once again. He is truly using you! Hope your Thanksgiving was great!!

      bigben302013 responded:
      December 11, 2013 at 6:30 pm

      Thank you Niki! I’m way outside of my comfort zone!! Thanks for taking the time to read! Your support is always appreciated!

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