I took last Monday off because we went on vacation to Maine. What an incredible trip we had! We kind of planned it last minute because we couldn’t figure out whether we wanted to go to the beach or switch it up and go somewhere new. We both have always dreamt of going north to Maine. We finally found a place and we hit the road! Upon arriving to Maine, we immediately took note of the state sign, “Maine, The way life should be.” I honestly agree. HA! Blueberry picking, lakes, ponds, rivers, ocean, mountains, beautiful homes, kind people, etc. We made a fire nearly every night and swam in the shallow lake. We went out on the canoe and a walk in the mornings and evenings down the neighborhood to see all the homes. We cooked almost every meal except one night in Bar Harbor where I got my first lobster and Luke got his first lobster roll. We sat and enjoyed our first experience of Maine food by watching the sun set over the water on the harbor.
This trip felt especially sweet because we have been working so hard on our health. I’ve been seeing results and figuring out some answers. I have felt so validated by the lab results we’ve gotten back as to why I’ve felt so sick for so long and finding ways to heal.
I truly believe that a part of healing and growing up is finding thanksgiving in everything. Throughout my suffering, this has been a recurring reminder that the Lord has pressed on my heart, “be thankful through everything.” Not just being thankful when there is good report, but thankful in the mundane. Finding ways to be thankful in the pain brought a sweetness to my season that I otherwise could have missed or grown bitter through. I was thinking about this a lot while we were in Maine. I’m not sure if it was because I was finally sleeping or if it was because I was in silence. I could not help but think about this recurring theme in my story, “be thankful through everything.”
Looking back, about 7 years ago, the first week after our lives changed from the accident, I’ll never forget on the radio it was all about “being thankful through everything.” Our family has a whiteboard in the kitchen on the island. It often said “Welcome to the Shuler’s” or “Happy Birthday so-and-so,” but one day my dad wrote a scripture, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” That’s when I started to really recognize how the same theme kept popping up. I was hearing this over and over. It was so hard for me to be thankful in all circumstances while going to physical therapy daily, getting treatments, and doing MRI scans. God showed up in mighty ways when I struggled to believe. And I still have days where I pray for my unbelief but I have grown to trust Him. I thank Him that He is a God who shows up and is with us. He would show up when I hardly believed through His promises, words from others, rainbows, radios, music, scriptures on whiteboards…and prayers from others.
On Wednesday, I was sitting on the dock in silence and reflecting on all the ways the Lord has been faithful in my life and expressing my heart of thanksgiving to Him. I then prayed a child-like prayer, “God will you clear the clouds?” A child has faith and hope that He cares about all the little things adults seem to forget to pray. I also knew that if the clouds didn’t part, it wouldn’t sway my belief in Him being good or real. To my surprise, it started to rain more. Ha! I went inside but it quickly cleared and became a vibrant glow. I knew at that moment there had to be a rainbow above our little home. I ran outside and I saw it. There it was, a beautiful rainbow. I was so excited and happy, again thanking God for how kind, incredible, wonderful and present He is!
My dad used to teach us that a sign of maturing in faith is a heart of thankfulness. I have held on to that because I desired to be mature, but now I recognize that it is mature because it takes discipline and wisdom to choose thanksgiving through our circumstances.
On the day that we went to Acadia in Maine, Luke and I both woke up with stomach aches and we didn’t feel well. Actually, I’m not even sure if Luke slept. We had planned to go to Acadia because it was Thursday and we knew that if we waited til Friday there could be more of a crowd since it was a holiday weekend. I have previously canceled plans due to sickness because I can feel so miserable and anxious. But I told Luke that I know that if I were to get sick he would be so kind and gracious. I knew he would never judge me. If I were to be sick, he would probably clean everything and never hold any resentment or be grossed out. Shout out to him for being an excellent ICU nurse. But if I chose not to go I would regret it and be so sad. So we got in the car and we chose to be thankful through the circumstances. It ended up being the absolute best day ever. And we didn’t feel sick! Praise! We kept raving about how sweet and incredible the day was. I think that learning to be thankful creates space for layers of healing that are necessary for our hearts and relationship with Christ.
If you find yourself comparing, bitter, jealous, or having a deep root of anger, I challenge you to find ways to be thankful through all circumstances. Pull up the roots of the weeds of ungratefulness and bitterness and plant the seeds of a thankful heart. I have been practicing this for years. Again- it is a way of maturing. Maturing takes discipline, listening, pausing, reflecting, and growing in wisdom…not just aging. Someone can be old and wrinkly and very immature with a heart of bitterness.
Oh also- if you haven’t been to Maine…GO.
Thanks for reading,