Happy belated Turkey Day!!! I say belated because like the rest of the country, I have been in a food coma since Thanksgiving and have only just emerged. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and found much to be thankful for. I know Michael and I are very thankful for God, each other, family and friends, our cat Bubbles, Reese’s peanut butter cups, our big screen TV, our new king size bed, celery (Michael only), my apple cutter (it saves so much time!), Alabama football, Celestial seasons Honey Vanilla Chamomile tea, the movie The A-Team, and Krista’s caramel pecan pie (YUMMY!)
On a more serious note, Michael and I are so thankful for our own personal relationships with the Lord and for the sacrifice of his Son. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, New International Version). We have hope in God’s promise that if we believe in Jesus Christ, we receive the FREE gift of eternal life. We know that what we experience here on earth will never come close to the riches of heaven, and so we continue to glorify God and give Him praise until he decides to call us home.
Our Thanksgiving in Arizona started in typical fashion...chaos. I like to compare it to battle. Michael’s mom Beth was the general and the rest of us minions were her soldiers. Roll Call: Michael, Rachel, Zach (michael’s brother), Krista (Zach’s wife), Eric (Zach’s friend, and may I say a VERY picky eater), and big Mike (Michael’s dad). Michael’s cousin’s Dawn and Oliver conveniently opted to arrive later in the day after most of the work was done, though they brought some tasty snacks of their own to make amends ;) .
Having so many people in the house caused much uproar and excitement for the three miniature dachshunds (Auggie, Lady, and Max) throughout the day. I don’t think there was a spot on the carpet that wasn’t marked with their excitement! Though Beth had us running on all cylinders by 10 am. Seriously, I bet we could walk into any restaurant in the country and run the kitchen like a well oiled machine under her leadership. The menu included Turkey with gravy and stuffing (which big Mike forgot to take out of the bird for the actual dinner...oh well), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans (made by yours truly), homemade rolls, corn pudding, salad, canned cranberry sauce (I blame Zach), cranberry compote, and raspberry jello mold. Dessert included an assortment of delicious pies homemade by my brilliant sister-in-law Krista: Pumpkin, Apple, Pecan, and Caramel Pecan. Except for the pecan shell found in my slice (I blame Zach), everything was wonderful, though only Michael was able to sample the apple since the dogs ate the entire thing when we weren’t looking (though they left us the leftovers in the yard later in the night). Suffice it to say, the entire evening was a huge success with only minor mishaps, and everyone gained the requisite 5-10 pounds.
The description of our Thanksgiving week would not be complete without introducing one of the most amazing people Michael and I have ever met. On Tuesday afternoon, Michael and I had a fabulous lunch with our friend and one of the groomsmen in our wedding, Geoff Hill. Geoff told us about his lovely girlfriend Courtney, and how anxious she was to meet us that week. Well, on Friday night we finally got to meet Courtney and shake her hand, as she lay in a coma on life support at University Medical Center at the University of Arizona. Courtney was hit from behind by a speeding car at 2 am on Thanksgiving morning. She suffered significant injuries and doctors told her family and Geoff that she may never wake up, so they made the difficult decision to let her go to God.
However, these details are not what I remember most about meeting Courtney. I learned that Courtney was 23 years old (celebrated her birthday earlier in the month at Peter Piper Pizza), worked at a sushi bar, and was looking to go back to school for psychology and media arts. She loved gushers, country music, Michael Buble, and her pink pig named Pudgy who kept constant watch over her in the hospital. She would light up a room with her smile and bubbly personality, but tell off a stranger for smoking in a restaurant. Most importantly, I learned that Courtney was a true and unfailing Christian. This was evidenced in her final moments when her family and Geoff discovered that at age 20, Courtney had gone to the DMV to become a full body donor. This meant that if she died, her entire body would be donated to other people needing organs, tissue, bone, and fluids to live.
The bible says “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” (John 15:13, New Living Translation). Courtney took this one step further...she was asked to lay down her life for strangers she had never met. Because of Courtney’s sacrifice, doctors were able to find numerous recipients for her body, including her heart, lungs, kidneys, pancreas, and liver, and they continue to search for more individuals in need. Praise God for the quick work of the hospital to locate so many recipients, and even though it may seem odd, I thank God for giving the person who hit Courtney the courage to get out of the car and administer CPR until the paramedics arrived. If that person hadn’t, none of this would have been possible.
The bible also says that “Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come. For those who follow godly paths will rest in peace when they die.” (Isaiah 57:1-2 New Living Translation). God explains that sometimes he takes good godly people from this world to spare them a life of difficulty because he loves them. In John 13:7, “Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” (New Living Translation). We must trust in God’s purpose and plan, even when we don’t understand it, because God’s timing is perfect. He never makes mistakes.
Though Courtney’s death has brought sadness and pain to so many, we can take comfort in the idea that because one person checked a little box at the DMV, many more lives were saved. Courtney’s heart is still beating and giving life. Her lungs are still filling with air. Her kidneys, pancreas, and liver are still working to keep balance within a body. In many ways, Courtney is still alive in those recipients, just as Jesus is still alive in all of us.
She is a true disciple of Christ, giving her own life so that others may be saved, just as Jesus gave his life so all who believe in Him are saved. I pray that those of us who met Courtney will always be thankful for her amazing life. I pray that Courtney’s family and Geoff may find peace in Jesus Christ and the overwhelming love of God, and the promise that they will see Courtney again someday in Heaven. And I pray that we may all give thanks each and every day for the people we love because you never know when God will decide it is time for them to join His eternal heavenly family.