Thursday, November 24, 2011

Through It All, Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving Day in America, a day that our country sets aside to be thankful for the many blessings we have received. It's an important family day, too. Thanksgiving just isn't the same if you can't spend it with people you care about.

On Thanksgiving Day 3 years ago, we had our SDA appointment in Kyiv for adopting our children Valya and Sergey. You can read about that here. It was a somewhat difficult day in unfamiliar surroundings, not special at all to anyone around us, no different than any other day. Our Thanksgiving "meal" was unrecognizable food in the food court of the Globus mall in Independence Square. But it was very symbolic for us to have the opportunity to increase our family on Thanksgiving Day. We were, truly, thankful.

Three years have passed and now our family has been turned upside down with events that have caused a lot of pain and heartache. I will only share what is public that everyone who knows us already knows. In July, our daughter gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Our granddaughter was put up for adoption and the family took her home from the hospital at birth. The events leading up to that were not good and one of our sons no longer lives with us. He is receiving counseling, and hopefully will get the help he needs. Our daughter is also being counseled, working through many things. The rest of us have gone through counseling too, trying to deal with our emotions. I have told people that I have experienced every emotion possible over the last year. It has not been easy but I think we are beginning to heal.

Valya asked me the other day if I regretted adopting. Truthfully, we did not expect this situation and it has been so difficult. But I told her, no, of course not. We love her no matter what. This is one of the positives of what happened. She has learned about the unfailing love of parents. Something she didn't have in Ukraine. We see our son often, and he still comes over. We also reassure him that we love him as well. We are hoping that someday we will be together again.

Last weekend we were all together and took a family picture. It was like old times again.

For the last three years I have written one of the Advent devotionals for our church. I wrote one this year and the scripture for the day is 1 Thess 5:12-24. I will close by sharing it with you, too.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances” If you were to ask me the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian, I think these words from today’s scripture would sum it up very well. It’s easy to be happy when everything is going well. And it’s easy to be thankful when we have what we want. I saw a t-shirt once that said: I’m easy to get along with… as long as you do things my way! It’s meant to be humorous but, really, there’s a deeper truth here, which is that we are all selfish by nature. When things don’t go our way, we get angry, or anxious, or afraid. Is there anything in your life today that causes you to not be joyful or thankful? Most of us have something. But God’s word for us today is that we are to recognize that He loves us so much that we can give our troubles to Him. There’s a song we sing in church that says in part, “I’m trading my sorrows, I’m trading my sickness, I’m trading my shame, I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord.” This past year has been a difficult one for our family. I’ve asked so many times, Why did this have to happen? There are no easy answers, and yet, we lay it down and choose to rejoice, pray, and give thanks. May the peace of that starry night in Bethlehem rest on you today and always! Amen.
UPDATE

Last night, someone on FB shared this video from a Ukrainian pastor who passed away only a couple of days ago. It is about being thankful in the midst of suffering. Pastor Peter had been suffering from cancer and was near the end of his life when he preached this to his Odessa church on Oct. 24, 2011. He uses the same verse from Thessolonians that I used in my Advent devotional above. As you hear him speaking of bread, know that he himself wasn't able to eat because of his cancer.

12 comments:

Healy Family said...

Thank Heavens you know the Lord. None of this caught Him by surprise, as you know. But I am so sorry for the immense heartache you have gone through! He has a plan...

Diana said...

So much I want to say. So few words to say it with. Don't even know where to start...except "Whoo...I get it. So very much I get it. And I'm so sorry this has happened to your family." I get the emotions that are so big and so mixed up and so intense that we have no idea where to even start untangling them. We're not even close to the same people we were 4 years ago. I don't even recognize that old life as mine anymore. Yet through the experiences I've learned lessons about life and the depths of God's love that I wouldn't trade. Happy Thanksgiving!

Better Together said...

I have tried to post, but didnt seem to go through...hmmm :) Anyway, just want to thank you for being so transparent on your blog. We adopted from Ukraine and have followed your blog and have been going through some very hard times with our adopted children as well. It's is reasurring to know that we are not alone. God bless your family! Melanie Hall

Better Together said...

Also, I want to invite you to a blog that has been started by a friend and I for mothers of Attachment Disordered children. You have not stated your adopted children's diagnosises, but I feel that we could relate to each other with similar experiences or that you may know someone who does have a child with Attachment Disorder. Also, if anyone reading this fits this description and would like to be apart, please feel free to email me a request and I will send you an invite. It is a private blog, so by invite only. It is more of a support group where every one is a blog author to be able to post at anytime :)

My email: melhall1975@gmail.com

Here is the official description copied from the blog:
Better Together
- SAFE SUPPORT FOR CHRISTIAN MOTHERS OF ATTACHMENT-DISORDERED CHILDREN

Welcome to a Christian-based place of support for moms of kids with attachment disorders and trauma histories. Our goal is for this to be a safe and private place to share our struggles, ask questions and get suggestions, post prayer needs and encourage each other that we are not alone in our uncommon mothering challenges

Aaron & Elizabeth said...

I can't even begin to imagine the struggles and heartache you have all been going through. What a blessing though for Valya to have loving parents to love her and guide her through this. Something she would not have had in Ukraine. And for Sergey, whatever his trouble, he would be all alone, with no one who is heartbroken with his decision or committed to helping him make the right choices in the future. Although my kids are younger, I still fear how will they turn out. I can show them God's love, I can teach them God's ways. But in the end they have to make choices. All I know is we will be here for them. Loving them. Heart aching for them. Because we are their Parents.

Kevin and Pam said...

Happy Thanksgiving Pretre Family! I remember all being together for Thanksgiving dinner three years ago. We all enjoyed the wonderful dinner. Praying your family continues to heal.

Gary and Tina Bell said...

Thank you for sharing your life. Praying for your family. Have loved following your blog. How thankful we are to serve a God who loves us, knows us and is always there for us.

Tina

Conethia and Jim Bob said...

Hugs from afar!! You are an inspiration!! Keep on keeping on!

nicole said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The McEacherns said...

I can't even imagine how difficult this has all been for your family, but I am thankful that, by the grace of God, you still have the ability to LOVE and consider all of you family still. May His peace and wisdom and healing presence rest in each one of your hearts. Blessings!

Amber said...

Thanks for sharing this. Sergei and I watched this together this morning. I think he enjoyed it, and he said that he understood most of it. He's lost a lot of his ability to speak Ukrainian because he hasn't used it barely at all in the last year a and a half. I think he really enjoyed hearing a sermon in his native tongue.

Ashley said...

Oh sweet family, we love you! Thank you for your post. I have been thinking of all of you and praying. I also am so happy you know God. I do not know how people get through without Jesus Christ. He will never leave you or forsake you. Keep holding onto that.