Who Can I Thank Today?

One of the wonderful problems we are struggling with is being sure to say “Thanks” to folks who support us. And I mean “support” literally. We want to thank the people who are holding us up. This is a problem for us for several reasons. First, we just forget. Or we get busy. So many people approach us with so many different helpful things it’s just hard to remember it all. Let me give you a few examples just from yesterday.

Our local community hosted a benefit dinner for Wendy. During that dinner families in our community came together to make and serve soup, wash dishes, sell t-shirts…who did this? Not any one person. The whole town. One of my dad’s brothers calls me every Sunday at noon while he has lunch with my grandma. He is just calling to check on our daughter. He called during the benefit yesterday. Mom’s brother came to the benefit yesterday. He made it a point to relate to our daughter personally by comparing chemo stories. How do I say thanks for all that and remember the person who took out the trash?

MomAndJack

The second reason it is a problem is because we need to make the best use of the resources shared with us. We have to be good stewards. Our daughter is a sick little girl. She is getting the best medical care in the world and the best medical care in the world is not cheap. And insurance doesn’t cover gas, food, wear and tear…you get the idea. So, as Mrs. Reid patiently explained to me yesterday, we really need to be focused on making sure our finances are sound and our daughter is loved, not on writing and sending thank you cards.

So what do we actually do?

We care for our little girl. That’s what we do. But the time will come when our opportunity will change. The time will come when we are helping to host a benefit dinner for another family in need.

I reached my saturation point Sunday afternoon. It was all too much. Too many families missing football. Too many people making soup. Too many people stretched in a line out the door. Too many dishes being washed. Three generations of two separate families were easily identified on the front lines yesterday and I had no idea, really, who else was involved behind the scenes. So I asked. And I started to say thanks. And it was all deflected.

The universal response was, “It’s wasn’t me!”

Ugh.

“Oh, no. I didn’t order the t-shirts. That was all so-and-so.”

“No, we are just carrying bowls of soup. Those folks in the kitchen are the ones working.”

Then, to compound the issue, someone said, “Chris, what you need to do is keep writing your blog.” There are things I do that I don’t fully understand. My blog is one of those things. I sometimes don’t know why I do this. Maybe to publicize my own ignorance.

I started a blog because I wanted to learn how to write. But I wanted to learn how to write because a friend made a time investment in me through phone calls and emails. She wanted me to grow. To explore. To learn and to share. She encouraged me to write. Four years ago she passed away. Four years ago I began my blog. Linda Brady Traynham deserves all credit for that. But she was just one person. One influential person. And every time I write I remember the friendship we shared…even if only briefly.

Remember where I was yesterday…beyond saturation. Too much blessing. Too many people. Too many unknowns. And the straw that broke the camel’s back, if I can be the camel in this metaphor (and I think I can), is someone deflecting praise and complimenting my blog when I just want to say thanks to somebody. Anybody.

Heck, I’ll say it to you. Thanks.

Thank you for reading this. Thank you for understanding. Thank you for praying. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for showing my daughter your own chemo port so she doesn’t feel like a freak. Thank you for giving us gas cards. Thank you for ordering t-shirts. Thank you for understanding when I need time off. Thank you calling on Sunday. Thank you for asking her if she wakes up without feeling rested. Thank you for the plush kitty and blanket. Thank you for the knit hats, the window paint and the balloon animals. Thank you for bringing your service dog to Children’s hospital so it can jump up on her bed and give her some snuggle time. Thank you for washing your hands. Thank you for making us a lasagna. Thank you for the puzzles and paints and stickers and friendship bracelets and books. Thank you for broccoli and cheese soup. Thank you for baking cookies with the other kids, taking them to youth group and helping them with the chores. Thank you for picking me up at the car repair shop even though it made you late for work.

Julie and I are so thankful.

The only way we can see to repay your kindness, though it is not expected of us, is to serve our community. To look for opportunities to serve and encourage in the future. Either to ease the burden on another family in need or just to make an investment in a new friend as Linda did with me. We see so much need at Children’s Hospital. But those needs exist here at home too. There are people in need right here. People who need help caring for a sick child and people who need to be encouraged to try something scary like actually hitting the publish button. I can do those things. And that, I think, is how we say thanks.

But we also just say it.

Thanks.

And Mrs. Reid, the blog is almost free…other than the hour it took to write this early Monday morning and the annual domain registration. This was a lot easier than sending a bunch of cards. Thanks for the reminder.

7:25am addition:

Thanks also to my dad, my cousin and my cousin’s son who helped me bring the cows home from a night’s adventure after the deer knocked down the fence.

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Out Of Order

It’s all messed up. Inside, I mean. Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

I should focus on my relationship with God, my relationship with Julie then my children. But that’s not what we’ve got. We are certainly on our knees. No doubt. But then I think it’s our little girl. She is our primary focus. So our marriage is suffering…in some small way that’s hard to pin down. And our other children are feeling neglected.

We are out of whack.

Summary behind us, let’s go into the long-winded Chris Jordan blog post thingy.

There is nothing I can physically do to help my daughter. She is wrapping up 6 days at the hospital. I can’t help that. She cries in the morning because she wants to be home. She cries in the evening because she wants to be home. But she can’t be home. We can’t fix her at home. We can’t fix her at all. We have outsourced the fixing to the people most knowledgeable in the subject matter…possibly in the whole world. But I don’t feel that’s enough. Our doctors are hard working, knowledgeable, polite and, even, humorous. But they aren’t God.

And, yes, I believe in God.

And I believe God knows all about cancer.

So I pray. And Julie prays. And since there is nothing else for us to do, we pray a lot. This is a good thing. Our level of dependence on God is at 10…the highest it has been in years. And that’s good. Because that dependence is eternal. Forever. It won’t end. But sometimes, when life is calm, it is easy to forget.

But now we remember. Every minute of every day.

But the next priority is my relationship with Julie. Those kids we created? They will get hitched and move out within the next 10 years. My covenant with Julie is for life. That’s a long time. And we married early.

That lifelong agreement…that lifelong covenant…that life sentence I agreed to is kind of a big deal to both of us. But it seems like something we are just doing right now. It’s just a familiar pattern and we are going through familiar motions. Like brushing our teeth. It’s mechanical. Make coffee, eat breakfast, kiss. It’s just a daily pattern. We are working on momentum.

But what if we lose momentum?

Then what?

Is that what happens to empty nesters? A couple realizes too late that their marriage has lost momentum…that they have been focused on their children for decades and now have little in common with the stranger across the sheet.

I don’t know. I’ve never been an empty nester. I can tell you things were certainly different before there were children.

And I can tell you things were different in August.

But then September happened. And now my daughter is ill and spends a third of every month in the hospital and the balance of the month sick or recovering from the medicine. Julie is with her every step of the way.

SnuggleTime

And that’s where Julie should be.

But the most important human relationship we have is our marriage.

Our little girl will grow up. The cancer will go into remission, she will grow, she will be strong, she will move into a home of her own.

So will the other kids.

But Julie and I will finish out our life sentence. We would like to continue to grow closer for the next 60 years but if things continue on their present course, if we continue to coast through our days without putting any effort into our relationship…well, people that go neglected begin to feel rejected. Unwanted. And, eventually, begin to consider alternatives.

The other kids are people too. People feeling neglected…

Our kids work hard. Their contributions need to be acknowledged. That 15-year-old manling is a feed sack carrying, hay bale lugging beast. He also plays guitar, enjoys video games, sports, time with friends, hunting and desires the attention of a select few young ladies.

Big brother, little sister.

A post shared by Julie Ann Jordan (@handfulofacorns) on

He also had a birthday in the last week.

Where is his cake? Presents? What have we done to make him feel special?

Not enough.

It is not a question of “if”, it’s a question of “when?” When will he begin to express resentment? Some level of that is natural, normal…even important. He will want to spread his wings. That’s part of growing up. But the hospital is intensifying the pressure. How can I teach him to monitor his own emotional state as he is dealing with a sick sister, staying with grandparents, schooling himself, completing farm chores, helping with housework and, generally, sucking it up when I don’t have time/energy/ability to model it for him?

Or for the other two kids?

I don’t have any answers here. I don’t think there is anything you can do to help either. I think I, too, just have to suck it up. Go short on sleep. Renew my commitment to Julie and do so in front of the kids so at least they have the security of a stable household. That manling and I need to chat. Just chat. Even if his responses are single syllables. I have to show an interest in all of the children. Maybe work with them to find things all of us can do to help mommy rest and to help little sis to feel better. Or celebrate our evenings home without mommy by eating junk food and watching movies. I don’t really have specifics but I know I have to take an active role in building positive relationships in our home.

Because that’s my job.

I heard two women talking in the hospital. One was expressing herself publicly and was quite animated and energetic as she said, “I can’t respect a man who won’t do what a man should be doing.” I really don’t know what she meant but it sounded bad.

This is what I should be doing.

I pray.

I love and honor Julie.

I care for my children.

In that order.