Our very saving is associated with our gratitude. “Thy faith has saved thee” The leper’s faith was a faith that said thank you. Is that it? Jesus counts thanksgiving as integral in a faith that saves. We only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanks. Because how else do we accept His free gift of salvation if not with thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives. Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our YES! to His grace.
This was the first Thanksgiving that I’ve anticipated with dread. Weeks ago I started preparing for what unknown emotions this day would bring… would I feel sad? Would I wallow in nostalgia of past thanksgivings? or would I be ok, walking forward as if it was just another day, like the rest of the people around me in this far country? Today I woke up and got out of bed, treading carefully the fine line between self-pity on one side and joy on the other.
Generally, I consider myself a thankful person. Realizing how much joy is found in giving thanks for all things changed my life about two years ago… the Lord took my heart which was so sad and lonely and selfish and broke it in all the right places, allowing me to see that all is grace- the dark nights, the tears of pain or joy, the embrace of family, the losses and the gains. Since then, I have never been the same, and He graciously led me through more difficult times– through valley’s of sorrow to rivers of joy. So now, this year in Korea, I trust Him even more. He’s never failed me yet, and I believe He never will. I walk the sidewalks of Changwon, South Korea and go about my days here with more joy in my heart than I thought could be possible. Like most experiences in life, difficulty and pain often precedes the ease and happiness, and the past three months have been no exception -however: I find I am experiencing the good and the bad simultaneously. “Hard but good” sort of became my motto upon moving here, and each day, week, and month has proved it to be true. Hard days followed by peace and joy in God’s presence– I wouldn’t have it any other way.
This morning, the words from psalms echoed in my head as I made coffee and folded clothes, just another day still made special because of this truth:
“Oh, give thanks to the Lord for He is good.”
To give thanks today feels almost more difficult. Korea feels farther away than normal, Thanksgiving day looks more beautiful via Facebook than it ever has, I’m strangely craving cranberry sauce (which is gross), and the whole day just sort of feels like I’m dreaming, as I’m watching all my family and friends from a distance. But still, I am giving thanks. Because it is more difficult, it is more necessary, and because of the necessity and difficulty, my gratitude feels deeper and more meaningful, the gifts more beautiful.
Two years ago on thanksgiving, I wrote An Anthology of Thanks. Today I think I will bring that tradition back. So, from The Studio in SK, here I am with coffee and leftover pumpkin pie in hand, my bible and journal open before me and my heart ready to give back a small, small portion of the goodness God has given me, remembering that when I taste His goodness, I shall not want.
*REQUIRED thanksgiving day listening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZM51liNM6k0
An Anthology of Thanks — A to Z from South Korea
Andrew. (Confession, I totally started writing “Andrew Peterson,” you know, the singer I’m obsessed with? and then realized there’s an equally important Andrew in my life… sorry babe! haha!) I am grateful for the man that you are, for all the ways you show your love to me, for how loyal you are to your family and friends, for your sense of humor (I admit it), and for your commitment to work on our relationship from the other side of the world!
Community. When you move across the world by yourself, and when you find a community of people who love Jesus, and when you have friends in your building and friends across town, you realize how vital community really is to your heart and soul. I really couldn’t make it through without the people God has in my life here. Along with this theme, COURTNEY HILL: I’m so thankful for you. Also I hope you already knew that.
Desert for breakfast!
Emily – my “manager,” co-teacher, and friend
Family. My wonderful, supportive, hilarious family (Dad, Mom, Mare, Matt, Jacob, Jonathan), friends who are easily family, and the many church communities that I and my family are apart of who are family to us, too.
God’s faithfulness, God’s constancy, God’s control, God’s goodness, God’s peace, God’s grace.
Hannah Disbrow — If you read this, know that the Lord used you (and continues to use you!) to make my first days and weeks in Korea as smooth and manageable as possible. You are a great encouragement to me!
International friends: It is so cool to meet people here from all over the world! From parts of the States I’ve never been to, from France, South Africa, Ireland, Canada, it’s awesome. Even more awesome- to worship Jesus together.
Joy! Deep joy even on homesick days, during stressful weeks, and in-between the good and bad.
Keeping in touch: I was so scared of losing touch with friends after I moved here, fearing the time difference would be too hard to coordinate communication and most of my friendships would simply fade away. I am thankful for faithful friends who have not let this fear be so!
Learning: I am thankful to always be learning.
Martha & Caleb Button: I am so thankful for you guys!! For weekly community group, for your encouragement to me over the weeks, for our thoughtful discussions, and for getting to pray for each other. You guys are awesome.
New experiences- this year has been full of them! New mercies- with each and every sunrise. New friends, new foods, new life.
Outdoors: It’s almost December and Korea is still warm enough to walk to school and spend time outside!
Pumpkin pie. For breakfast. Leftover from Sunday’s beautiful feast.
Questions: I’m thankful for a God who can handle all my questions. Lately I’ve been calling into question a lot of things, but I know He can take them all, and that whether on this side of eternity or the other, one day they all will be answered.
ROSE CORBETT. You, woman, are an incredible gift. My experience this year would not be the same if I didn’t have you. I’m thankful for all of our shared interests, for all the good long talks we’ve had, for getting to experience the first few weeks of Korea together, for your amazing pep-talks that almost always include “get yourself some coffee,” and for the months ahead that will be full of all these things and more!
Singing: Lately I’ve been singing all the time to myself, while planning lessons, while walking to the copier, while walking to school, while washing dishes, singing along to the music I’m playing or the music in my head. I think it’s good for me. umm also SKYPE.
Toffee nut lattes at Starbucks… becoming a weekly thing, because Christmas.
Understanding co-teachers: To understand each other in spite of language and cultural barriers is incredible. The teachers at my school have been so patient and gracious with me, and now as relationships are forming it is amazing to realize how much we can understand each other though we are so, so different.
(Emma) Van Vuuren: Contagious joy, constant encouragement. So glad to have met you here and I’m so thankful for every interaction we have together!
Warm weather, still.
eXplaining new things to my students: “Teacher, your hair is curly!” “Yeah, it’s magic!” (really it’s just dirty, but they believed me), the wonders of popcorn chicken.
“Yes and amen,” all the promises of God.
Alpha — Omega. thankful that God is from beginning to end.
Don’t you ever wonder why
In spite of all that’s wrong here
There’s still so much that goes so right
And beauty abounds?
‘Cause sometimes when you walk outside
The air is full of song here
The thunder rolls and the baby sighs
And the rain comes down
And when you see the spring has come
And it warms you like a mother’s kiss
Don’t you want to thank someone?
Don’t you want to thank someone for this?