Three years ago, during my junior year of college, my heart was wrecked by the life-giving reality of giving thanks. Wrecked in the best sense, of course, because once you start to realize all you have to be thankful for, gratitude spills out all over everything. That thanksgiving, I wrote an anthology of thanks — gratitude from A to Z. The next thanksgiving was a busy one, spent in Delaware and Pennsylvania with family and friends, introducing them to Andrew for the first time and making really fun memories. Little did I know that the next thanksgiving to come, I would wake up in a studio apartment in South Korea, with just a slice of pumpkin pie and no family to dine with, and a full day of work ahead of me just like any other day. Even so, that thanksgiving found me weaving together sentences and prayers just like the years before, and my heart spilling over with thankfulness. It really is true, that gratitude turns everything we have into enough.
That being said, here is my anthology part 3 — each year finds me unpredictable circumstances. Not always good, sometimes hard, but surprising, wonderful, and incredible nonetheless.
Ready? Here we go.
- Andrew, how thankful I am that you’ve been on the top of my gratitude lists for so long now. How thankful I am that we get to be thankful for one another for as long as we breathe.
- Best friends, I hesitate to ever use the word “best” to describe friends, because friendship is not a thing to be ranked. But friends, you all are the BEST encouragers, listeners, sources of laughter, carriers of truth, and I am incredibly thankful to have friends both near and far (Korea, Ohio, Dominican Republic, Wisconsin, NYC, Tennessee, New Jersey, Virginia, Guam, South Carolina) — you make my life so rich.
- Carolina, you are my current and future home (South –> North) and I really like you. Warm weather, amazing food, beautiful trees, family, what more could I need?
- Dad (David), your southern accent still makes me giggle, but your strength and wisdom far outweighs the hilarity of how you say “Facebook.” ;) I’m so thankful it’s you who raised me, who taught me to treasure Jesus, who showed me what love looks like by serving adoring my mom, and who still has the power of a great hug when life gets hard.
- Emily (Mom), being your daughter is just the best. I can’t believe God gave me to you, to learn something new every single day from your beautiful example of incredibly selfless love and deep joy in all things.
- Family, near and far, blood or not, old and new, I love you and pray to love you better and more in the days and years to come.
- Grace of God, I will never get over it for I am forever changed by it.
- Hurst family, how I love you! Thank you for loving my family and I well, for bringing so much laughter and sweet fellowship into our lives, and for making the cutest, funniest, brightest kids on the planet. Our lives are totally better with you in it, near or far.
- Income, I learned what it means to hold really lightly to the things of this world because of you, when you significantly decreased in value in the middle of the Guam airport. Nevertheless, I don’t deserve you but I’m glad I get to pour coffee to earn you so I can spend it all on throwing a huge party for family & friends in April!
- Jacob & Jonathan, I hope you know how much I am thankful for you (in spite of your sometimes huge turd moments). You make me laugh harder than anyone on the planet, your hugs make my heart soar, and each time you buy me Chick-fil-A I love being your sister a little bit more.
- Kingdom anticipation, it feels sometimes like eternity is far off, but we pray that is not so.
- Light, you are the metaphor I have been dwelling on most lately. I pray for light to evade darkness all the time, not knowing fully what that even entails, but I am thankful for the contrast; illuminating hearts and rooms and attics and souls and pathways.
- Mary Ellen, my sister, my matron of honor, I am thankful you have never left my side. Now more than ever in my life, I am so deeply glad for your friendship and grace and forgiveness towards me and I am so incredibly excited for the seasons ahead of us! I need you always, and I love you forever.
- New mercies, each and every morning I wake with the reality that God’s faithfulness begins again and again and again and again as if it were the first time, every time. Sometimes I only revel in this mercy for a few minutes and need go to bed early so I can wake up and experience grace again, but even so, morning by morning, I’ll take it.
- Orton family, I can’t believe I get to take your name and step into your family! I am so thankful for everything you have done for Andrew and I over the past few years, your help with the wedding, your amazing letters and care packages you’ve sent, and goodness gracious- thank you for raising one of the best men I’ve ever known. I am thrilled I get to be your daughter-in-law!
- Peace, thank you for the force that you are. I’m thankful that you are straight from the hands of Jesus that cover me and reach out for me no matter where I go or what I feel.
- Quiet, I’m learning more about you, and I’m thankful for the gentle hand over my mouth that you are when I could say something I shouldn’t. Thank you also for meeting me in the still of the mornings, in the rush of the afternoons, and in the slow of the evenings.
- River Crossing Church, I’m so thankful to get to worship with you each week.
- September, I’m grateful for you although you are the most whirlwind 3o-ish days of my entire life. Thank you for teaching me how to sink my heart deeper into Christ while everything spins around me.
- Tomorrow, because you are always anticipated in a season of countdowns. Time, because you are teaching me to be patient in a season of countdowns. Tea (the sweet kind), because the Southern in me needs something to enjoy in a season of countdowns.
- Umbrellas, because one time in Korea an old man shared his with me and I have never been the same.
- Very early bedtimes and very early mornings, I’m thankful for the great sleep you provide, and the sunrises I get to watch while I serve people coffee.
- Waiting, I am not thankful for you at all, but I think I’m learning to be.
- X-presso, foreverever thankful for you and how you taste and how you perk me up and how you are now my source of income ;)
- You, if you’re reading this, chances are you’re probably my friend, I probably like you, and I’m thankful for you!
- Zinger — this word, once used by my dad in a sermon, provides so much laughter in our family. Bonus points when used in an over-exaggerated southern accent by a younger brother or two. Ironically, because I have no “zingers” with which to end this post ;)