Hi friends! As we near Thanksgiving, my mind is drawn back to another Thanksgiving 15 years ago when we received word that my husband was dying….
I have just finished writing a book about that experience with Cancer, difficulty, death, and the loss of husband and father, but most importantly, the Love which Encircled us. In fact just today, the first batch of books were delivered on our porch. I am so grateful to God, my late husband, my family, editors, advisers, and all of you that have encouraged me and supported this effort. Many of you even helped with the costs by pre-purchasing copies. Thank your for supporting this work to share our message of Love, Hope, and a Heavenly Father. Thank you for helping us to share the magic, peace, joy, and miracles that come from gratitude in any situation. My heart is full of gratitude right now.
As a gift, I share with you a section of Chapter 24, from Encircled in Love in the Midst of Loss.
“The news of my husband’s impending death came right before Thanksgiving, but I remember it as our most special holiday. My husband’s parents and sister came to our home for Thanksgiving dinner. We had ordered our dinner from a grocery store so that we wouldn’t have to worry about preparing it and because of our family traveling to be with us. When I went in to pay for the dinner, I was told that someone else had already paid for it. I believe this was probably the kind neighbor who worked at the store or perhaps our family, but this began a neverending stream of gifts and services done for our family.
As we sat down to Thanksgiving dinner, we started by giving thanks to God in prayer for our blessings, then we performed our gratitude tradition: each of us had three grains of wheat on our plate, symbolizing the first Thanksgiving. One at a time, we expressed our gratitude for three things, removing a grain at a time. It was a bitter sweet experience. As we prepared for Chris to return to God, promised blessings came to be. We were encircled in the arms of God’s love, from heaven and earth. There were many tears, but there were many more times of triumph through trials, meaningful moments, and family focus.
I had not been able to adequately meet my children’s needs— especially emotionally—through our last big trial (Chris’ debilitating surgery at the same time as the arrival of our fifth child), so this time I was determined to reach out for help. I had known that the tumor would come again and take Chris’ life, specifically because of my revelation in a house of God. He wasn’t passing away; he was passing on to a new life and mission, and we would all help him. It could be a special, beautiful experience where heaven and earth connected. We could all help him go to heaven. We could give him a farewell.
As the tumor progressed, he would not be consciously aware of much nor would he remember any of it, but our children would. He needed the greatest physical support, but they needed the most emotional and spiritual support, some of which only I as their mother would understand. Someone else could do the laundry, grocery shopping, take kids to lessons, or do whatever else needed to be done. I wanted to concentrate on helping my husband as he prepared for heaven and help our children as they said goodbye to their father. I had thought this out ahead of time, so when the president of our church’s women’s organization asked how they could help, I was ready. I told her that my priority was supporting my husband’s physical needs and my children’s emotional needs through this transition. I didn’t want people to be assigned to help, but to voluntarily sign up for how they wanted to help.
I wrote a list of things that other people could do to lighten our load and allow me to put my time and energy into what really mattered. I wrote every tiny, little thing that others could do, that would allow me to care for my husband and to help my children through the loss of their father. Giving her the simple, specific list of how others could help worked well! The list was cut into strips with a simple idea on each one. A clipboard with the strips was handed around in church and people simply chose one if they desired. Friends and family, even those who did not live close, called, visited, and helped where they could. It felt like we all helped Chris to heaven and supported the rest of our family whose missions were not over yet. It was a difficult time, but it was also very special. We were encircled in the arms of love—reaching, teaching, serving, lifting, giving, hugging, helping, even healing, just like the arms and hands of our Savior Jesus Christ.
I had to open our home to receive help, even if I didn’t have time to keep it as clean as I wanted. This was hard but necessary for me. I could spend my time worrying about it and keep people away, or I could welcome them into our home and our hearts as we all helped Chris go to heaven. For the kids’ sake, I needed to let others help. Despite the difficulties, this was a special time for all. It unified our families, friends, and church members in a common cause—the cause of Chris; the cause of Christ.
One service stands out in my mind as the ultimate example of Christ’s compassion. A kind man and leader in our local church came to visit us after hearing of the diagnosis. We invited him in, and this big man held our little toddler on his knee and cried with us and for us. He was embarrassed by his tears, trying desperately not to cry, but his compassion caused him to hurt with us. If he could have done anything to fix our situation, he would have. I am reminded of the scripture in Romans 12:15 where it talks about our commitment to follow Christ where we, among other things, “mourn with those who mourn.” (finishes excerpt of Chapter 24)
As I write this blog 15 years later I am filled with gratitude for all who served us, and all the good things and great times we had together with friends and family. I am thankful for the good things that have come about because of this experience. They are too many to mention now and would require a 2nd blog. Suffice it to say that I know from experience, “You can get through ANY trial with God, Gratitude, and Good people. We can be part of that encircling for others. I pray that this Thanksgiving your hearts and homes are full of gratitude for your many blessings (you can ALWAYS find them). My heart is full of appreciation for God and the good people like you who show me how to live and love by your example. I’m grateful for my home, family, the gospel of Jesus Christ, endless blessings and THANKSGIVING!
JoLyn Olsen Holladay
p.s. If you pre-ordered a book, I am starting to personally sign and send those out. Thank you for your support and patience. I do have some extra copies so if you live in my area and would like to order a signed copy, or more copies, you can do that here and I will deliver it to you in person. https://essentialanswers.me/product/encircled-in-love-by-jolyn-olsen-holladay/
Would you like to have more abundance of every kind in your life? The secret is living in a state of gratitude. I have recorded an audio where I share a personal story of how gratitude helped our family through the hardest trial of their lives. I teach about the precious benefits of gratitude, including peace, abundance attraction, and the ability to find the blessings in burdens. I share 3 simple tools to increase your gratitude. I hope you will Choose with me to Find Abundance through Gratitude! You can purchase this audio download (on sale for $10 only through Thanksgiving) at https://essentialanswers.me/product/finding-abundance-through-gratitude/ (Please remember to hit the red download button at check out. I will also follow-up personally to make sure you got it).