Thanksgiving would have been an ideal day to share something on Still Thankful, but I was spending that time with family. I did, however, ask my family to share something for which they are thankful, and in the spirit of Still Thankful – “in spite of life’s challenges” – I asked them to share a challenge from which they found thankfulness if they could think of one.
Valerie - My partner, COO, doctor, best friend and best half (not that I have a good half without her):
My big challenge this year would have to be embracing CHANGE. Not only becoming an emptynester but downsizing to a downtown apartment, leaving a part time job of 15 years and learning to live in a totally different atmosphere has been difficult. However, now that I'm there I love my new stage of life! It's so much fun being a couple again with the man I married almost 30 years ago. Thankful for each and every day!
Cammy - My brother Danny's wife, and Chief Operations Officer at the Cary Compound, especially over the past decade as she has cared for my aging parents while managing her own gang:
I am thankful for my parents. For marrying so very young. For sticking with it even though you had so many things that were not in your favor. For raising me to be the woman I have become. I owe you so very much.
I have always thought of myself as thankful for my parents, but as a fifty something mom who has been through some large challenges, I can truly say that I appreciate them both now in a way that was simply not possible as an immature adult.
Clairanne & Curt & Grant & Nolan & Madeline - My younger sibling, her husband and three kids:
We are thankful for our 3 beautiful children. When unable to get pregnant naturally, we tried invitro-fertilization. As the process progressed, we were informed by the doctor that we were having triplets. Grandma was in the room as we found out and Curt had to sit down. As the doctor told us, "Baby one, baby two, and there's baby three," Grandma couldn't hear him, tugged at his coat and said, "What did you say? We're having three?" All I could do was laugh.
As the first few weeks passed, the fear of a triplet pregnancy became real. But we are still thankful that the pregnancy wasn't difficult. The worry of having them too early was always on our minds, but by the grace of god, they arrived healthy, and for that we're still so very thankful. But next year, we'll have 3 soon to be high schoolers, please pray...
Jaeton & Rachael - Danny's oldest child married a young woman this past summer who sings like an angel:
Rachael and I are thankful for our year of blessings. Many people (especially some our age) might lose their minds at the thought of marriage and a baby in the same year, but we couldn't be more thankful for the blessings the Lord has given us.
Austin - my oldest "child" is a CPA with EY:
I am thankful for my coworkers. When the days are long and the work is lackluster, I am thankful that they are quality people who help keep spirits high.
Kira - Austin's wife took the challenge of teaching in impoverished middle-schools, currently in Houston. Her kids, nearly all Hispanic, have literally been living in fear recently. Imagine trying to learn while fearful. Imagine being the one to teach and inspire them. Notice the creativity in her formatting, and be thankful there are people like Kira to teach our kids:
Sometimes it has been difficult
To remember why I decided to go
Into my profession. With the culture of
Learning focused on results and not process, my
Love for teaching has dwindled greatly.
Those moments when I question myself are
Hard to live through. But when I am
Awash in doubt, I think of my students and how they
Need me to be at my very best every single day.
Knowing that keeps me going; it gives me the
Fuel I need to keep showing up day after day.
Ultimately, they are what matters. Even if only one of them
Learns to dream bigger and reach higher, I have been successful.
And the opportunity to make a difference is why I am still thankful.
Madisen & Seth - Danny's second child and her husband:
Seth and I will have been married 2 years on the 29th. It’s been pretty smooth sailing for us, that is until about 7 weeks ago.
Seth has had Eczema since he was a baby. The go-to treatment is topical steroids. Little was it known at the time that you can get addicted, burning for more steroids to relieve the constant itch. The cure? Going off of steroids cold turkey. So, after roughly 25 years of steroid use, we decided to take him off of it. The result is withdrawal - intense itch, burning, sweating, dry skin, swelling, blisters, and no sleep. That has been our entire life these past 7 weeks, and recovery time varies - between 4 months to 3 years.
So what are we thankful for during this struggle? Many things actually.
1. People who listen. Most doctors we have found are not willing to listen to the idea that you can get addicted to topical steroids. They want to give you more, concluding it is only a bad eczema flare. Once, when shopping at Walmart for something to help relieve Seth’s neck pain, I asked an employee where I could find Oragel, and she asked why. Turns out her own mother had gone through the same thing and used Oragel to help as well. I'll never forget her last comment: "I hope this helps, but both of you are in for a ride." She was right.
2. The internet. No, seriously. We really would not be able to get through this without testimonials of others who have shared on blogs or started websites. In fact, we never would have realized there was a problem/possible cure to Seth's eczema in the first place.
3. Showers. One of the only things that gives Seth some relief for a bit, and helps me to un-stress :)
4. Family, friends, and prayer. All of those go together I am convinced. The love and support we have received has been so encouraging.
Trenton - Let me translate his message below. Trent is thankful for a video game programming class, because it is one of the biggest projects he has had, making him a better programmer:
using namespace std;
cout << "Hello world" << endl;
Jessica - Six months after transplant #2, Trent met Jessica; and a few months after that, he was helping her deal with the loss of her father.
I am thankful for friends and family support. When my dad was in the hospital I had friends that were always there for me to talk to when I needed it and it helped me get through those two months. Even now they are still there when I'm having a hard time and missing my dad.
Taylor - Danny's third child, or better yet, Cammy's daughter, dependable, sensible, a cook, the one who gets things done without need for the limelight:
I am thankful for the Dazzlers new studio. After twenty years of meeting in spaces around town, we were given the opportunity to open our own studio. There have been many challenges along the way. One of which was finding affordable, quality flooring for our dancers. A Dazzler mother attended the auction of a school that was closing in Kansas and bought us a very nice floating gym floor for an incredible price. The catch: we had to disassemble the 7,000 square foot floor and haul it to Norman, so a willing group drove to Kinsley Kansas in the rain. I mention the rain, because we hydroplayned four times and nearly flipped the car. We arrived nine hours later and the floor was loaded. We were thrilled until we found out the floor was basically useless, due to the school having glued down the planks, ruining the tongue and grooves of almost every piece of wood. In discouragement, we looked for another option. My Uncle, who works for a flooring company, heard about our situation and helped us get a deal on beautiful wood floors! Our dancers, practicing on a floor that we spent so much energy on, reminds us that whatever challenges come in the next twenty years, God’s grace will leave us Still Thankful.
Allison - My youngest is now a freshman at the University of Oklahoma, living in the dorms just minutes from Danny's family:
I have found many things I am thankful for since moving to Norman. One in particular that stands out is this voice, or accent, that Mikayla does all the time because she knows it's the only way she is able to make me laugh. But beyond just that, I am very thankful for all of the Norman Cary's for not only loving me like one of their own, but also giving me a job and free toilet paper because ya girly broke.
Mikayla - Danny's fourth child and the best hope to continue a legacy of humor through my brother's lineage:
I'm very thankful for the many things God has given me. This year the Lord has blessed me in more ways than one but I would have to say one thing I am most thankful for is my best friend. Shoshana has been a great support for me in all aspects of life. She has been there for me in the good times as well as the bad. I consider her my sister and I'm very thankful for the friendship she has given me, and I know that this friendship will continue through the years.
Danny - You may not know our family has experienced the loss of a child. As you will learn more in future blogs, Danny and Cammy lost Alyssa, their fifth child, at four months old. One sentence from her dad says a lot:
I am thankful that the Lord is faithful, even in the time of great loss.
Elton – Dad just lost his wife recently, and this is the first big holiday since then. Plus, he will be ninety-six next month, so understand that, when asked by his grandkids what he was thankful for, all he could share before getting emotional was:
And me? Not this time. My family has this one. Besides, if you haven't figured it out by now, you will. Just know I'm still thankful.
P.S. We often create our own challenges, which is fine, but can often lead to unexpected challenges for others. Cammy took on the challenge of hosting twenty-five people for Thanksgiving dinner, and with it, the challenge deviling every egg attainable. She can be thankful for her success, however, veterinarians in the Norman, Oklahoma and surrounding areas are reporting the challenge of treating a spike in hen exhaustion.