Updated to show added countries and states. No need to re-read unless you want to scroll down to maps to see changes.
I’ve always made it one of my personal missions to live life thankful. I guess what I mean is that I told myself at an early age that I didn’t want to wait till one designated day in November to show my gratitude for all the things that happened throughout the year. Now before someone gets offended thinking I’m knocking the daily “I’m thankful” posts on FaceBook, that’s not my intent at all. I’m also not saying we need to get rid of the national holiday that is Thanksgiving. I mean why stop a tradition that gives me permission to over eat and sit around watching football all day?
Now one way I fail in this personal philosophy is that my year long thankfulness often gets focused more on my vertical relationship with my heavenly Father and often is played out less significantly with my horizontal relationships. Frequently, I find myself in moments of tears as I recognize how gracious my Creator is. Unfortunately days, even weeks, can pass without me uttering the words “thank you” to friends and family who bless me with kind words, timely hugs, even their very presence.
I think this is one way, albeit one of MANY ways, the journey of Carter’s black eye has effected me personally. Through these past months I have used the word overwhelmed more than the rest of my life combined. Our family has been overwhelmed with emotions as we have dealt with the words cancer, blindness, enucleation, etc. We have been overwhelmed with the tests, doctor visits, and trips to the various hospitals. We have been overwhelmed with the feeling of uncertainty and helplessness. We have also been overwhelmed with the mountain of love and concern from so many people. The sheer number of people that have joined us on this journey is overwhelming.
At one point over the past couple months it hit me just how many people seemed to care about what was going on in our family and especially Carter. Every time I opened my email, checked FaceBook or Twitter, or listened to my voicemails someone else had said they were praying for us. It finally got to a point where it physically overwhelmed me – in a good way. I can think of numerous nights where I laid in bed asking God what we had done to deserve this kind of love and attention. I have had several conversations with friends where I have mentioned that, as a Pastor, I have lived a life of praying for others. I believe in prayer and enjoy getting to intercede for others. This is the first time I have ever been the recipient of concerted prayer and it is quite the staggering feeling. I am so taken back by this that I wanted to make sure we don’t lose sight of it once we move past this part of our journey. I want to be able to show Carter one day how the body of Christ minister’s to each other; how community is a beautiful thing when we hurt for one another and share each others burdens. So I have been keeping track, to the best of my ability, of those that have partnered with us. Let me show you what I have learned:
Across the world people have been praying in the following countries (that I am aware of): Austria, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, India, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Mexico, Netherlands, Palestine, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, St. Lucia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, United Arab Emirate, United Kingdom, & United States.
visited 29 states (12.8%)
And within the United States: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Tennessee and Virginia.
visited 22 states (44%)
The thing is, I don’t know anyone in Turkey. I don’t have a clue who is praying in Russia. I can guarantee you neither my family nor Amy’s family has immediate connections in 21 different states. What this does is prove that the body of Christ far reaches what we could ever imagine and I have no doubt this list is incomplete.
So this recent journey has brought me to a place where I have felt the need to say thank you, not only to our Sovereign God, but to those He has placed in our lives to help us along the way. Thank you to the countless family, friends, and even strangers in foreign lands. Thank you for praying for us to maintain a faith that would make Christ proud and that He would be glorified through all of this. Thank you for the continual prayers for our sweet little six year old who has had to endure things that most adults will never have to face. Thank you for the way you have blessed our family by praying to an Almighty God on our behalf. I hope this isn’t seen as a one time, catch all, generic thank you. If we had a way of knowing how to properly thank you individually we would surely do it. Since that does not seem possible we simply ask God to bless you the way you have blessed us.
This journey has not been easy and is still not over but it has been bearable thanks to people like you investing in us. We have been overwhelmed by you, and for that, we simply say thanks!