Every year we celebrate Thanksgiving, the start of the holiday festivities. We fill our social media with things we are thankful for, amazing meals, and smiling faces of friends and family. Each year, it makes me smile. I love to see others blessings that have been poured forth once again. And each year, at about this time, my mind starts racing and my thoughts get jumbled as I try to begin to process all the blessings in my life. So, if the following words do not flow as they once did, forgive me (but, please, continue reading).
I have been blessed beyond all measure. I am thankful for so much that has been poured out, shared, and given over freely. There are too many to count and far more that I have forgotten, but still I am thankful for each and every single one of them.
A year ago, I stood with a group of friends, an extended family through service, in Washington, IL. In the aftermath of a tornado, we watched and served beside the volunteers that descended upon the community to help rebuild. Today, I write from Detroit, where I am serving in the clean up and recovery operations in the wake of flash flooding back on Aug 11-13. A hidden disaster that has brought forth Conservation Corps and AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams (A-DRTs) from around the nation. Texas Conservation Corps. Montana Conservation Corps. St Bernard Project. Conservation Corps of Minnesota. Hoopa Tribal Civilian Community Corps. California Conservation Corps. St Louis Emergency Response Team. NCCC. FEMA Corps.
I am thankful for another year of service that I have the opportunity to pursue. For the friends that have become part of my life and part of my extended family. For the ability to serve.
I am thankful for my family. Both my immediate and extended family, by blood and friendship. For the love that they have poured out to bless my life and to act as guides for my feet on this journey. I am thankful for their support and their willingness to put up with my constant wanderlust that takes me far from home.
I am thankful for healing and recovery. Several months ago, my beautiful cousin fell to a stroke and heart attack. Through the miracles of modern medicine and the pure grace of determination and will provided through the support of family, friends, love, and prayer she has begun the long road of recovery. I am thankful for her constant smile through it all, her spunk, and determination to continue forward through it all.
Over the past several months (okay, years) I have been writing out my adventures and journeys to share with the world. I am thankful for each opportunity that has been provided, the lives that have helped to shape my path, and the opportunity to put these into words. I am thankful for the journey that God has led me on. For the love that has been shared. For the struggles and pain. For the successes and failures. For the battlefield of love.
This morning, I woke to two updates from missionaries out in the field. Their lives are an inspiration to continue to serve with every fiber of my being. I have been blessed to be a part of this journey with them and I am thankful for every moment we have shared together. I am thankful for the love that God pours out through their lives and I pray for them, with them every day. I am thankful for the opportunity to stand and support them in their journey.
I am thankful for the opportunities to love. Relationships that have come and gone. Friends who have drifted away and returned. I am thankful for the rough lessons of life that have knocked me to the ground, and the strength to stand once again through the support of those around me.
I am thankful for the conversations and the stories shared. For the words of encouragement.
I am thankful for the criticism, the words thrown out in frustration and anger. They have revealed more truth than any gentle lies ever could.
But to be completely honest, the think I am most thankful for is each and every moment. Every breath that I have the chance to breathe. For every sunrise and sunset that has blessed the skies. For God’s great love that moves me forward.
Live your life so that the fear of death can never enter your heart. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light. Give thanks for your life and strength. Give thanks for our food and the joy of living. And if perchance you see no reason for giving thanks, rest assured the fault is in yourself.
– Chief Tecumseh, Shawnee Tribal Leader
This is how I strive to live. To be thankful for every moment. And I am thankful for the strength to continue to do so.