Every year, I watch the 30 days of thankfulness posts on Facebook and think about how I would like to participate too. However, I know myself well enough to know that I would likely make it to about day 4 and then I would lose steam. So, this year I decided that I would record some of my thankful thoughts in one swoop, on my blog, on Thanksgiving Day. Except that I was so exhausted when our 50ish guests left last night, that I crawled into the bed at 9:15, without recording my thankfulness. The good news is, I am awake early this AM and still have a heart full of gratitude. Since Black Friday shopping isn’t an option, I can use this time to share my thoughts. Here are some of the things I am most thankful for in this current season of life...
- An incredible husband who loves me so very much and shows me in lots of little ways that aren’t bouquets of roses or fancy date nights, but that suit me so much better. Heavens, I love that man. Marriage takes WORK, no matter how delightful your mate, but I think we are as “made for each other” as two sinners saved by grace can possibly be.
- I am thankful for 5 of the greatest kids on the planet. I have been so, so proud of them these last 6 months as we’ve transitioned to a new place and a new school routine. They have hit some bumps, but I have consistently seen them respond in ways that make me smile or at least to be willing to learn from the times they didn’t. They make me laugh and they bless me in too many ways to count.
- My extended family. My mama was one of 11 and I was blessed to grow up in a family chock full of cousins and aunts and uncles. I don’t complain about having to sit at the kid’s table on Thanksgiving when I was growing up because I didn’t stop long enough to sit down. There was so much fun to be had, I just grabbed a roll on the run. I married into an extended family that was just as big as mine. Between the ones I share blood with and the ones I married into, there are some pretty amazing individuals that I call family!
- Technology! Doing what I do is so much easier because of Skype, Facebook, and e-mail. I fully acknowledge that I am living overseas at a time when these advantages make staying connected so much easier.
- School, and the fact that we have choices about how to educate our children. I’m thankful for the resources offered to us and the fact that I have options to meet each child’s needs as they come. I know that many parents around the world would give their all to have that luxury.
- Africa, and the fact that I am learning to appreciate it more and more as time goes by. One day this week, I was stopped by a friendly police officer. I really think he wanted to practice English more than anything. We made a brief smile-filled exchange, partly in French, partly in English. He didn’t ask to see my license or my papers...just asked where I was going and why. After wishing each other the best, I pulled away and thought, “Two years ago, that exchange would have made me want to hop a plane home. Now, I am laughing about it and thinking about how I have a good dinner table story to tell tonight.” And as I was thinking that, I glanced out the window and noticed that I was passing a trader with a camel and a woman in a burka and then I thought, “Thank you Lord for this really cool life I lead! What a privilege to be in this place a this time!”
- My slowly growing French. Progress, little by little, in French. I’m thankful for it. Not so much because I want to learn French, but for the opportunities it gives me. Like Wednesday afternoon, on the way home from school, this orphan boy that I sometimes buy fruit from, flags me down as I’m sitting in traffic and asks me if I want to buy some bananas today. Knowing I’m about to move, I decline. Then he says, in French, “You will come next time and tell me another story?” And I smile and say, “Yes, I will come again soon and tell you another story!” And then I think about how this means that I now have to kick it into high gear and get my next Bible story down better because the Demon-Possessed Man is the only one I know well enough to tell to others yet.
- My American passport and all that it represents. The fact that I have the opportunity for education, a career, to choose a loving spouse, to worship freely as I desire, to travel, to have 5 children, to pursue financial gain, and a host of other things, is not lost to me. When you live in a country where women marry as teenagers, live behind a veil, and often have to accept their role as wife number 2, 3, or 4, you can’t help but be thankful for the rights that come with American birth. I don’t know why God had me be born to a family living in a split level in suburban USA instead of a mud hut in West Africa. Or why I was given the opportunity to become an educator rather than selling handmade soap off a tray that I carry on my head. I just hope and pray that I will use the opportunities I’ve been given in a way that honors Christ and not to take for granted the responsibility that comes with those rights.
- Churches in the States who give generously to allow us the privilege of serving here without having to worry about if there will be enough money this month. I am also thankful for the ones who love us individually in little ways like packages or an entire suitcase of goodies that they send with volunteers for us to use for game prizes at Thanksgiving. It was a lot of fun to get to give out chocolate chips, candy canes, and pepperoni to our colleagues because a church wanted to bless them!
- The assurance that I have that when I die, I will spend eternity in heaven. That means more to me now that my mama is gone than it ever did before. I have no fear when it comes to facing eternity, only longing for a time when there will be no more striving, no more tears, and I will cast off the cares of this old world. Last Sunday in church, a man here sang a song in English. The church has very few English speakers, and he is not one of the few they have. He obviously had learned this song in English just well enough to share it. It was an old gospel song about heaven. If I hadn’t heard the song before, I would have struggled to understand much of what he was saying. But, knowing the chorus, I followed along and thoroughly enjoyed his efforts, singing along on the parts that I could. When he got to the lines that say “I have a precious mother up in Glory Land, I don’t expect to stop until I clasp her hand, for me she’s waiting now at heaven’s open door, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore,” I nearly ugly cried. In African church. Where I was the only white woman and no one else even understood what the man was saying. Yes, I am thankful for my eternal future in Glory Land!
I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there. I imagine that in 5 years, when I go back and read this post from a very different season of life...3 out of high school and 1 more nearly there, I will smile and appreciate the place I was in at this time.