Mel Schroeder from A Barefoot Life is joining us today with her thanks-giving story. It is a testimony to the power of "small" things both given and received. Thanks, Mel!
I remember the day so clearly, and it wasn’t one of those warm, fuzzy, happy-memory kind of days.
Christmas Eve, 2005. A Saturday.
And we were on the opposite side of the world from our family and friends.
Life and a two-year commitment in Indonesia...but, really, it was all God...had taken us, geographically, about as far from "home" as we could get.
To say that I was in a bad mood that day may be an understatement...and it's pretty accurate to say that my husband was there, too.
All day long we spatted back and forth. With last-minute shopping and gift wrapping, Christmas music and cookie baking, giving a gift to our house helper, and anticipating the Christmas Eve service filling those hours, it should have been a day full of the joy of the season.
Instead, it was a day of spouting frustrations and complaining.
It seemed, that day, there was a continual focus on all we were missing…from family get-togethers and friends and our church in Minnesota, to really good eggnog, hot chocolate, and snow.
And maybe that makes sense somewhat…it doesn’t mean it’s right, but it makes sense. The holidays can be hard.
They're hard for missionaries and people who are away from loved ones. They are painful for those who have experienced loss and have empty hearts. They can be lonely and full of reminders of what was.
Probably each of us could place ourselves in one of those categories if we want to.
Sadly, I don't think it crossed our minds that day to give thanks for the many blessings that surrounded us. Even now, almost eight years later, I can look back and pinpoint so many things God had given during that particular season of our lives, though we were just several months into what would become a five-year commitment. New friends, community, adventure, beautiful mountains, NO snow (yay for the tropics!), a motorbike so we could adventure around the city, year-round flip-flop wearing, a house helper and guard who were wonderful, the chance to break from the busy of life and head to Bali the day after Christmas. (You can be jealous here.) ;)
That night we went to the Christmas Eve service at church, my sour mood still reigning supreme. I don't remember a lot about it, just that I was looking forward to going home and sleeping off what I was sure had been one of the worst days we'd had in Indonesia yet.
Thankfully, that night, God gave me a reminder, and He gave it in the simplest form. A hug from a friend.
It wasn't a huge deal, just a greeting from her after the service, and He used it to remind me of how blessed we were.
It's true that there are days when it's hard to give thanks, when the circumstances that surround aren't what we would choose.
But there is still always, always a reason to be thankful. Usually a million of them.
And from that single day...really, that single hug...came the reminder to live intentionally, to live a life of thankfulness, remembering that He always gives.
And that the things He gives are good.
Some days those blessings come in extravagant form...a gorgeous sunset on the beach, a surprise from someone we love, a kiss under the Eiffel Tower.
Other days, they are smaller but no less significant...a daughter's giggle, a hug in passing, a text from a friend just to say hi, sweet words of encouragement.
It may sound like the simplest of lessons, of reminders, but practicing gratitude and giving thanks for even the small things is changing my life.
I'm not there every day, but I'm working on it. Or, rather, He's working on me and changing my heart.
What are you thankful for, even the small things? I'd love to hear about them.
Mel is a follower of her Father, wife to Tobin, mommy to Mae, a friend, a writer, and a dreamer. She loves a good morning run, music, and some amazing coffee and chocolate, both of which are better when shared with a friend over a heart-spilling chat. She writes about the real of her heart and life at A Barefoot Life as she dances through her days with one hand holding her daughter's and the other holding a cup of coffee.
As we give thanks for all His gifts, our hearts are prepared to celebrate The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Jesus. I'm so excited to read this daily devotional beginning December 1. We will be discussing it at Winsome Reads, a Facebook book club. Join us!
Congratulations to Tee . . . you're the winner!
I'm giving away another copy of The Greatest Gift!
This giveaway will ONLY be open through tomorrow (Tuesday) at midnight, and I will announce the winner on Wednesday. Enter below!
We're celebrating Thirty Days of Thanks by focusing on gratitude here for the month of November. Join us every day or any day by posting your thanks-givings in the comments, at Winsome Woman on Facebook, and/or on your own FB wall!
Labels: Guest Post, Thanks-Giving Stories, Thirty Days