Measure Your Heart of Thanksgiving

“We will be measuring your daughter for a wheel chair at 3:00 this afternoon,” the nurse told me with a cheerful smile on her face. 

Befuddled images traced vellum pages on my mind. 

A bridal shop. A pencil line on the kitchen door frame.  Stepping paces at a freezing high school track meet. I treasured these measurements. They marked happy events, achievements and growth. 

The last time I’d seen her measured it had been for her wedding gown. A white bridal gown draped like fairy dust. She stood in front of an enormous floor to ceiling mirror. Her reflection showed arms straight out on both sides. Wisps of sheer white hung loosely from them like pale wings all the way to the floor. The bridal shop assistant mumbled through a line of pins between her lips while she busily gathered the gauzy white into fistfuls. A measuring tape marked the length of her arms, torso and then circled her slim waist. 

I never imagined measuring my daughter for a wheel chair, and everything inside me screamed, “NOOOOOOOO!”

I can’t explain the myriad of pictures that knocked on my mind’s door, such a tired brain, filled with fuzz and fog. My images juxtaposed against the nurse’s smile. All I wanted was to lay my head down and weep. I wanted to rewrite the script and wake up to a new story. 

I remembered again the hospital room where she took her first whimpered breaths. 

“It’s a girl,” they said. 

Red, scrunched, tender and tiny, laid on a scale, she measured 7 lbs, 14 oz.; 21 inches. 

Time pushed ahead with a memory of us back to back. Measurements competed between daughter-height and mommy-height. Her long blonde braids pressed between us like thin ropes. Our heads pushed at each other and laughter bubbled. On the crown of our heads, a book balanced precariously. Her daddy stepped back to view the tilt. She stretched as tall as she could and the space lessened. Too soon, too quickly. 

Another picture, transparent and thin of her stepping out the paces for a long jump competition, her long white legs blue with cold. So cold, she trembled, or was it a case of the nerves? 

I saw through the fog, measurements, ghostly imprints like floaters inside my eyes, real yet imagined.

That day my journal only read, “Today they measured my daughter for a wheel chair.” There didn’t seem to be much more to say. 

I never imagined measuring my daughter for a wheel chair.   

Scenes flickered through my memory.  I smiled at the nurse, checked my tears, nodded and promised to be there for the wheel chair measuring. 

I’d never imagined it, nor had I known how measuring for a wheelchair also measures a heart. 

Thanksgiving is at times an act of trust.  

“Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name.” Hebrews 13:15 ESV

We thank Him not because we can yet see the end, the outcome, the answer. We thank because He is Who He is. Sometimes we affirm with our lips what our heart is slow to accept. This is a sacrifice of praise given with open hands and relinquished at the feet of Jesus. It trusts His will and ways to be right and good.

When Jesus walked His earthly journey He paused in His activities and thanked God. Gratitude marked His life. He thanked the Father for the hidden things found in His gracious will (Matt. 11:25-26). He thanked God before the crowds when He provided food for them (Mark 8:6; John 6:11). He thanked the Father prior to raising Lazarus from the dead for hearing Him (John 11:41). And again Jesus thanked God at the Last Supper knowing He would go to the cross in mere hours. (Luke 22:19). 

Surely He understands well what is a sacrifice of praise.

That year, when our daughter got her first wheel chair, thanksgiving didn’t vanish but it was at times a bit anemic. Yet, in the routine of finding things to be thankful for, we discovered a treasure hold. So many things deep inside the sorrow were gifts. We had so much to be thankful for.  

Jesus cherishes our sacrifices of praise. He holds them dearly and lifts each burden to the Heavenly Father. 

He measures our tears, and promises one day, God will wipe away each one.  

I don’t know what your Thanksgiving season looks like. I sincerely hope you find thankfulness a happy overflow of God’s blessings this year. I hope your home fills with joy and laughter. But there are times in every person’s life when thanksgiving is an act of trust, when the measure with which we are measured tries our hearts. 

Be assured, Jesus embraces each sacrifice of praise and finds it precious. How much greater is a treasure of gratitude than all the riches of this world. 

17 Replies

  1. Don Pahl Reply

    “Say something you’re thankful for.” The phrase often sounds so glib.

    You’ve made us aware of a heightened meaning to “sacrifice of praise!” Thank you.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Don! I hope you and your family have a wonderful time of thanking God this season!

  2. Pauline Montgomery Reply

    “So many things deep inside the sorrow were gifts.”

    Thank you Sylvia for a powerful reflection on praise as a sacrifice to God. Praise is indeed a sacrifice in the midst of great pain. As I read your story and Jesus’ offering of praise in the instances of hunger, grief, and betrayal and awaiting gruesome death on the cross, it is certainly compelling to sift through the sorrows and find the gifts that he has scattered for us. So, I am sifting through my own sorrows and finding many gifts I am thankful for. Thank you my sister!!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Pauline, Your comment blessed my heart. Thank you. I easily forget the lessons of dark times, and as you say, sift through the sorrows. I’m also looking for the shining glints of gold. Thanks!

  3. Barbara Latta Reply

    Sylvia, we do have much to be thankful for even when our lives are filled with pain. This week I lost a 34 year old nephew to causes unknown (at this time). The pain is deep but I know God is good. I am thankful for His comfort and peace and that He is always there.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Barbara, I am so sorry for your loss. There seems to be so much pain sometimes, and a thankful heart becomes for me a discipline and a trust. I am grateful you know His comfort and peace in this trying time. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Nancy E. Head Reply

    Powerful story. Powerful point. May God especially bless all the tried hearts this holiday. God bless! Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Happy Thanksgiving Nancy! I am always encouraged by your comments. Thank you for reading and responding.

  5. Jennifer Hildebrand Reply

    Sylvia, Thank you for sharing so effectively something that I couldn’t put into words. My dearest and sweetest friend is going through such a dark time…and Thanksgiving is upon us. I am sending this blog to her, I know she will resonate with what you so eloquently said. Thank you for sharing your gift with us. It helps so many!♥️

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Jennifer, thank you for your kind words. I am grateful if God is able to use this post to encourage someone else! Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. Katherine Pasour Reply

    Your message is a poignant and beautiful reminder of God’s grace and love. Somehow He gives us the strength, faith, and courage to go on, in in the midst of pain, hardship, and tragedy. And in that journey, we find thanksgiving.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Katherine. I know you have been a testimony of this, and I appreciate you commenting!

  7. Dixie Torrech Reply

    Thank you for this.