We just had Thanksgiving dinner together here, since next week many of us will be at a teachers’ conference in Thailand. I was excited to do a small part in helping organize by coordinating what each person at my table would bring, but then after school when I got to the auditorium I wished I was anywhere else for a while. I think it’s just an introvert thing – I’d been dealing with people all day, tried to do some grading, and now I was ready to get back some shreds of emotional energy by being alone. Thankfully the Father let me sit undisturbed for a little while and then the meal started. Higher blood sugar probably helped a little, as well as the much-lower noise level, but what helped the most was hearing people share what they were thankful for in the mic we passed around the tables. An added burden of “what will I say? I feel so un-spir’tual” became joy at hearing others’ blessings and often an agreement of “Me, too!” bubbling up! (Hearing one of my staff-kid students say he was thankful for his teacher didn’t hurt my mood either.)
So here’s the list I finally came up with when the mic made its way back around to me.
I am thankful for my loving, mostly-healthy family back in the States. I’ve been sad for friends here who lost family in recent years and prayed for those who have life-threatening illnesses. Just this weekend I talked with someone who has been loved by my parents and didn’t have a relationship at all like that with her own parents. It makes me so grateful for them, and glad I get to “share” them too!
I am grateful for the amazing gift of J’sus. I’ve been learning to think more truth this year. Just memorizing the first few verses of Ephesians is mind-blowingly encouraging.
I am thankful for the quick healings I have had, first from the flu and then from a twisted foot.
I am thankful to work with people, both local and fellow-foreigners, whose first concern when I’m under the weather is to care for me and assure me that classes are covered, not to gripe that they have to pick up my slack. My appreciation of them goes way beyond this but it’s a good example of how blessed I am to work with them.
I’m also thankful for the community of expats who care for me when I’m in need. I don’t know all of them well, but being an expat and being brothers & sisters in one Family, there is a huge foundation that comes immediately. Relationships still take work, don’t get me wrong, but I know if I needed help I could ask any of these people and they’d do what they could – and that they would ask me too, which is an important part of being part of a community!
And in addition to the caring community, I’m thankful for my cat, who happily greets me when that I come home every night. When I was sick Stella kept me company all night and day and night as I went back and forth to the bathroom to throw up, dozed for hours on end, and finally pulled myself to the kitchen to make applesauce before falling back into bed. Life – single, introverted life – is so wonderfully balanced with a cat in it!
One more thing I’m thankful for: now that Thanksgiving is over, the Christmas season has begun! When you have to mail gifts the first week in December, it’s nice to feel like Christmas is already near and not over a month off while you work on them. 🙂
(PS: I forgot to mention it at dinner or in this post, but I’m thankful for my students too!)