For many households, April 15 is a notable day on which we must all “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” For the McCall household, this April 15 holds even more significance. It was 10 years ago (April 15, 2010) that Nicky sat in a federal courthouse in Alexandria, along with 39 of her “closest friends,” and raised her right hand to take the oath of U.S. citizenship.
She took that oath when Julia was only 6 weeks old, so Brianna and Julia were technically U.S. citizens before Nicky was. That moment culminated nearly seven years of effort that included endless forms, significant fees, long lines and boundless patience. There was one moment along the way when I was not sure we would get through the bureaucratic machine, but then I was reminded that I married a woman who is even more persistent than me.
This April 15 is also significant for me because of what happened 30 years ago. It was on the morning of April 15, 1990 (Easter Sunday) that my paternal grandmother passed away. She had suffered a stroke two days earlier and declined rapidly while in the intensive care unit.
What I remember the most about that morning was what happened after she passed away. As we all stood outside of the ICU absorbing the shock, the doctor came out, looked at my dad and said two words: “Be thankful.” It seemed like an odd thing to say to a man who had just lost his mother, but as the days passed I began to understand what the doctor may have meant. My grandmother had lived a long, healthy life and had never been in a hospital except for the two days before she died – her passing could have been much different.
As more time passed, I thought about the good things that did happen versus the bad things that did not. First and foremost, my grandmother was a Christian; she obeyed the gospel in her late 70s after the passing of my grandfather. Her entire life was one of service, whether it was cooking meals for others, making gifts in her woodworking shop or driving a couple in their late 90s to church every Sunday.
I have such wonderful memories of time spent with her, and there are things I can still hold today that were made by her hand and from her heart. Her personality and industriousness remind me of the worthy woman in Proverbs 31, and her examples of patience and love have carried me through some challenging times. Her life was a blessing to me and to others, and for that I can “be thankful.”
Too often we limit ourselves when considering what we are thankful for. If it’s good, then I give thanks for it. If it’s a problem, then I ask God to fix it and when He does, then I give thanks for it. However, I Thess. 5:18 tells us to give thanks “in everything.”
I may not be thankful for the trials in my life, and yet they have a purpose in strengthening my faith (James 1:2-5). I may not be thankful for leaders when I don’t agree with their decisions, and yet it is for the purpose of leading a quiet and peaceable life (I Tim. 2:1-2). I may not be thankful during times of stress and uncertainty, and yet it is through prayer that I am reminded of my dependence upon God (Philip. 4:6).
To be thankful is to approach each day with the same mindset regardless of the crisis du jour (Psalm 118:24). Even in a crisis such as this, there is still so much to be thankful for – the memory of a godly grandmother, the love of a godly wife, the laughter of happy children – and the fact that my taxes are not due until July 15.