Wednesday, November 26, 2008


This isn't what I had intended to write about this morning. I had so many other things to say about Thanksgiving.

This is a hard time of year.

Thanksgiving 2003 was our last holiday... before.

Before Ethan got hurt.

When tragedies come to a family, everything is marked by before and after.

Ten days after that Thanksgiving, we received the phone call that changed our lives forever.

We became one of those families.

A family with a before and an after.

I could write about Thanksgiving Day 2003. I remember everything about it.

I could write about the Thanksgiving Days since.

I could write about the journey that has taken us to today.

And, I will.

The reason for this blog was to share the story God has written with our lives. The story of Ethan's injury, our struggles to trust and believe God, His Grace and Mercy, and the miracles He has given.

I've put off going back to the beginning. Reliving those moments. But God has reminded me lately, in so many ways, that I am suppose to go back.

To tell the story.

And I will.


But today, I want to share another story.

A story about what giving thanks can do for a heart.

And most of all, what giving thanks can do for a heart that is breaking.

Around the end of January 2004, about a month after Ethan had been hurt in December, Judy, one of Ethan's nurses, came into his room and decided it was time to get Ethan out of the bed and into a recliner. I was alone with him and was pretty apprehensive about it. But Judy was fearless and she loved Ethan. I think she would have tried anything to get Ethan to wake up and to be responsive. She reassured me that even though he was in a coma, this would be good for him.

Judy had hope for Ethan when none of the people in the medical profession did. She always expected him to wake up.

She treated him like he was going to have a future.

Judy used something called a Hoyer lift. She slid a sling under him in his bed, and then the machine, like a mini-crane, lifted him off the bed. With me holding my breath, she maneuvered him right into the recliner. She raised his feet and put pillows all around him.

Then she left. She left me alone with my baby boy sitting in a chair.

My baby boy that didn't know his momma.

He looked so "Ethan" just sitting there.

His beautiful blue eyes were open. He seemed so relaxed. I expected him to say, "Mom. Turn on the TV and hand me the remote."

But, he didn't.

He just sat there. Unresponsive. Staring ahead.

Not knowing me.

I remember I stood in front of him and looked into his eyes. I was going to make him remember me. I was going to get him to respond. I was his mother. We were best friends. If he would respond to anything or anybody, it would be me.

But he didn't.

His eyes never made contact. His eyes were open, but he didn't see me.

I remember thinking, he really is gone.

I had been by his bed for weeks and weeks with him not knowing me or responding to me. But, it was different with him sitting beside me.

As long as he was in the hospital bed, he was hurt. He was sleeping.

But Ethan wasn't sleeping.

This was different. This seemed permanent. This was out of our control. This was too real.

I started to cry. To fall apart.

I don't know why I did what I did next.

I hadn't read about it. I hadn't learned about it in a Bible Study. I didn't know about a sacrifice of praise. I didn't even know the verse that is at the top of this blog.

"Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And forget not all His benefits."

I now know, looking back, that God's presence was real in that hospital room; that He was so close, that I had to praise Him.

That I had to thank him.

I'm not sure I had a choice.

His presence and His holiness required it.

I took out a yellow legal pad and I started writing everything I knew about God.

I had grown up in church. If the doors were open, I was there.

I knew a decent amount the Bible. I could say all the books in it from memory. I knew Bible stories. I knew what we were suppose to believe as Christians. I could sing hymn after hymn.

I knew what other people had told me about their God.

And, I was thankful for it all.

But I didn't write about those things.

I wrote what I knew about God.

My God.

The One that came to me December 7th, 2003, when I called. The One who had not left my side. The One who had been carrying me. The One who had been breathing for me.

I wrote about Him.

I have no idea where that piece of yellow paper is today. But the words are still in my heart.

God is good.

His faithfulness is great.

His mercies are new every morning.

God is love.

There's nothing that can separate me and Ethan from his love.

Everything will work together for good if we trust Him. And love him.

His grace is sufficient, even for this.

God sent His only Son to die for us. For me and you, Ethan.

There's nothing too hard for Him.

Nothing is impossible with God.

We can rejoice in all things because He is with us.

He will lift us out this pit. Out of the miry clay.

He is holy.

He is just.

We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

I wrote a verse from Job that God had reminded of while I was standing in front of the elevators one day. I was filled with anxieties about decisions we were having to make about Ethan's care. Fearful of making a mistake. Of our decisions hurting Ethan. I wrote-

"I know that Thou canst do all things,
And that no purpose of Thine can be thwarted."

I just wrote.

Verse after verse. Everything I knew about God, I wrote.

And, then, I read it out loud to Ethan.

With his beautiful eyes looking straight ahead. With him not knowing that I was his mom, I read it to him. Slowly, but with full confidence, that every word was true.

It had to be. It was all I had.

I've heard it said that we may not know a lot about God. But, we stand on what we know. If we only know just one thing, that's enough. Because He is so big, that one truth that we know that we know, is enough.

Because of His grace, the list of the things that I know that I know about God has grown.

And yet, many times, I find my heart is still broken.

And like Jeremiah said in Lamentations 3:20-24:

"My soul still remembers and sinks within me.
Then I recall to my mind;
Therefore I have hope.
Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed,

Because His compassions fail not.

They are new every morning.

Great is Your faithfulness.

"The Lord is my portion," says my soul.

"Therefore I have hope in Him!"

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving as you remember All His Benefits.


  1. Love you, Cheri!! Hope to see you while we are down in Florida.

  2. That was so beautiful. Thanks for sharing. We all do thank God TODAY for all the blessings He has given your family and we also thank God for all the blessings we have received from God through Ehtan. There is difinite a "before and after Ethan" in my life. We love you Ehtan, you have been so strong and brave. You are our inspiration. We LOVE YOU SO MUCH. MaryLois

  3. I love you Cheri, Jim Ethan and Seth. And like Ma-there is definitely a before and after for me as well. Thank you for sharing.