This Thanksgiving, I decided that with all the extra time I have these days I would organize a family craft-y thing revolving around Thankfulness.

I also decided to make a turkey out of cheese, and it looked like an angry bird, which is pretty awesome.

Cheese Turkey

Cheese turkey aside, I wanted our family to spend some time reflecting on the things we are grateful for in a year that has been so fraught with difficulty and loss. And I wanted a physical reminder of gratefulness in my home so that when I’m feeling sorry for myself, I can just take a peek at all the things I could find to be thankful for during the most challenging year of my life and remind myself how good we still do have it.

Thankfulness craftSo I found a template online (and now I cannot find a link to it, no matter how many variations of “Thankfulness template” I google), printed it onto lovely craft paper, and had my mother in law help me cut the paper into strips. Everybody in the family had to spend a little time filling a few of the strips out during our Thanksgiving progressive party.

Yes, you can see that I am thankful for cheese.

So these little strips of paper have been lying around my house since Thanksgiving, waiting for some shock of inspiration on the level of the Cheese Turkey.

And now it is Christmas… or nearly. It is the Dub Family’s turn to have us for Christmas, but the Shiz side will be in town in the days after Christmas, so it was decided that we would host an after-Christmas dinner and gift exchange. This lit the necessary fire under my behind to get me moving on the craft-finishing, and although it didn’t turn into the Pinterest-worthy masterpiece I had hoped for, I have to say I’m pretty fond of the result.

Blessed Banner

I did that all by myself.

As I was folding all those little strips of paper in half, I was given a unique opportunity to contemplate the things I am thankful for as well as the things that my family is thankful for. The template had little prompts in varying fonts, things like:

I’m thankful for (crossfit, Diesel, coffee, etc.)
I love (my hubby, my brother, my family, etc.)
(Being outside, baking, Natalie’s smile) brings me joy
(Hudson, singing, music) warms my heart

and the big curveball:

God is

Not many of my family members filled this one out. But my dad did. He wrote:

…going to tell us why.

God is going to tell us why.

This really struck me. Because my knee jerk reaction to “God is going to tell us why” is “The answer won’t be good enough.”

I’ve expressed my frustration with the whole “God’s plan” business a time or two. I cannot wrap my mind around a God who would plan this. And there is no “Greater Good” that I can imagine that could justify losing Hudson. Call me selfish. Call me faithless. Maybe something about hearing it straight from the Omnipotent One will make it easier to grasp, but if God is going to tell us why, I’m not sure I will want to hear it.

We received a letter in the mail last week from LifeCenter Northwest, the organization currently in possession of our daughter’s heart valves.

“The evaluation of Hudson’s gift of Aortic heart valve is now complete and has been released for transplant into young patients.”

Perhaps because of our daughter, some other baby will get to grow up, and maybe that grown-up person with a piece of my daughter pumping in their chest will cure cancer. They had better.

God is going to tell us why.

I don’t believe in a God who watches these dramas and horrors unfold on earth and thinks, “Ah yes this is all going according to my great plan.” If God is going to tell us why my daughter had to die, then He is also obligated to speak with the parents of 20 kindergarteners who were slaughtered at their school a week ago. Sounds like a crappy job to me.

God is going to tell us why.

I feel like it should be some sort of twist ending, like in a good M. Night Shyamalan movie, something that puts an entirely different slant on every experience in our life since. If not justification for Hudson’s death, at least it would be good entertainment.

God is going to tell us why.

“The only excuse for God is that he does not exist.”

God is going to tell us why.

The truth of the matter, and what I know in my heart even when I’m feeling bitter and cynical, is that bad things happen for no good reason all the time. It is our responsibility as members of the human race to pick up the pieces and make some good come from all this bad. God didn’t take Hudson because He had some greater plan. Hudson died because we live in a vicious world.

I do like the idea of having a good long chat with God about all the ways that Hudson’s short life changed the world. But I don’t like it in the context of an explanation for why she died. Many people do find comfort in the “God’s plan” business and far be it from me to take that comfort from them.

This is just the way that I have to accept the nature of things, and certainly not a prescription for peace:

“Every life is different because you passed this way and touched history.”
–Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible


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2 thoughts on “Why?

  1. This post really struck a chord with me. First, I love your thankfulness activity and your ‘blessed’ display. Second, I very much admire the fact that you are hosting a Christmas party. My husband and I have been doing virtually all we can to ignore the holiday all together this year. Third, I too questioned God after losing Maya. I’m not a very religious person and was always somewhat confused about what to believe. When Maya died, I was at a loss. A nurse at the hospital recommended the book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”. I have to say it accelerated my healing slightly and helped me to understand and develop a better perspective on God’s role in all of this.

    I wish you strength through Christmas and into the new year.

    Thinking of you,

  2. Grandma Dub says:

    Wow, I do need to know why. I trust but, I do need to know

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