Thanksgiving. The day devoted to giving thanks. The day that we eat more in one single meal than any other day of the year. The day that the Lions play football and lose (well, we Packers’ fans are a little nervous about history changing this year).
Facebook statuses remind us of everyone traveling to be with family for this holiday weekend that kicks off Advent and all the Christmas festivities in December. It’s now okay to listen to Christmas music, watch “It’s a Wonderful Life”, and pull out the red and green decorations.
Thanksgiving is – for us…at least, this year – the day that kicks off celebrating these holidays a bit differently. There is nothing to remind us here that tomorrow is Thanksgiving – no family, no big gathering tomorrow (we’re celebrating it next week with teammates), no TV to watch football, no crisp and cool weather, no Black Friday commercials or grocery stores closing at noon. Even still, we have much to be thankful for. And that’s what the day is all about right – being thankful?
So, while we will miss spending the day or weekend with family, gorging ourselves on a big, fat American turkey and green bean casserole, and watching the Packers take on the Lions (Go Pack!!!), here are a few things that we’re thankful for this year:
-Derek. As I type, he is cleaning up the kitchen (and I really made a mess today!), so that I can put my feet up and write this blog. That is just one example of the many ways that he loves me. I couldn’t ask for a better, kinder, more loving, or gentle husband and leader. After 5 1/2 years of marriage, I can honestly say that I am more thankful for and more in love with Derek than ever. Thank you, God, for such a good gift!
-Family. Our families have always supported us in our decision to come to Zambia, from the time we first mentioned it through our entire time here. They pray, Skype, spend a gazillion dollars on care packages filled with loads of love, support us to be here, email, and genuinely care about what we’re doing here. Thank you, God, for such amazing family!
-Friends. We left a bunch of friends back in the States. Even though we miss them some days so much that our hearts hurt, the pain reminds us how incredibly blessed we are to have friends that have inched their way into the corners of our hearts. And of course, in these last 10+ months of being in Zambia, we have made many new friends who are already attaching themselves to our hearts – on our team, in our church, around our neighborhood, and across Zambia. American, Zambian, South African, Zimbabwean, Dutch, Australian, Canadian, and more. Thank you, God, for the friends we left and for the friends we’ve made!
-Zambia. Recently, you have probably read as we’ve described some of the frustrations of living in a different culture. But even with the frustrations and disappointments, we are SO thankful to be here. We really love the Zambian people, and we love even more seeing God work in their hearts to help them desire and apply the Word of God to their culture. Thank you, God, for bringing us here, keeping us here, and using us (in spite of our endless weaknesses!) to spread a passion for Your name here!
-Supporters. There is no way that we could live or work here without such a committed and generous support base. Many of you give and pray, and some of you we barely know. Over and over, we are humbled to tears by God’s provision through such tangible means, each with a name. Thank you, God, for your work in these lives that impacts us beyond words!
-The Gospel. The more I live, the more I see a bit more clearly how life-changing and absolutely incredible the gospel is. “Before the foundation of the world…he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ…We have redemption THROUGH HIS BLOOD, the FORGIVENESS of our trespasses, according to the RICHES OF HIS GRACE, which he LAVISHED upon us…For by grace you have been saved…not of your own doing; it is the GIFT OF GOD.” Selected verses from Ephesians 1-2 – read it and find thankfulness welling up within your heart. Thank you, God, for adoption, redemption, Jesus’ blood, forgiveness, lavish riches of grace, and not letting me work for my salvation…through Jesus Christ!
The amazing thing about giving thanks is that it’s addictive. Once you start, it’s hard to stop! So, of course, there is MUCH more that could be said. But we hope you have a wonderful, thanks-filled Thanksgiving (no matter who wins the game), and may you find God to be the giver of all these good gifts.