I'm going to jump on the bandwagon here and do a Thanksgiving post. Now, before you get all excited and start saying to yourself, "But Ashley, Thanksgiving was TWO days ago. Do you realize how LATE this post is?", allow me to explain. I returned yesterday from VA - where my grandparents are still using AOL for internet access (how old school), which makes it quite difficult to use whenever I so desired - and felt it was more important to catch up with friends than make sure this Thanksgiving post was up in a decent amount of time. Allow me to use this as an example that I don't have to ALWAYS be on time! Now, back to the important stuff...
On Thursday when I came inside after playing with my cousins I overheard my grandmother talking to my sister. Now, my grandmother loves to sing, especially when she's working in the kitchen. It's not unusual at all to walk into the house and find her singing a hymn and washing dishes or something similar. Thursday, she and my sister were trying to remember the words to the song "Give Thanks". Naturally, I took it upon myself to look up the lyrics when I had the chance.
Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
For He's given Jesus Christ, His Son
And now let the weak say "I am strong"
Let the poor say "I am rich"
Because of what the Lord has done for us
If that doesn't sum up what Thanksgiving's all about, then I don't know what does. Now, I know that there are a lot of people who have many things to be thankful for and who don't know of everything the Lord's done for them. How much more thankful should I be that I know of the incredible lengths which my Father took to have me by His side for all eternity? We went around the table before we ate and each person thanked God for one thing.
"Thank you for the food placed before us and the hands that have prepared it"
"Thank you for my mommy and daddy and my friends"
"Thank you for the food before us, for our health, and for those not able to be with us today"
"Thank you for this beautiful day to spend with family"
"Thank you for my cousins being here to play with me"
"Thank you for sending Jesus to die for us"
"Thank you for the much needed break from school and the ability to spend it with family"
The list went on and nobody had trouble coming up with a single thing to thank God for because He is so abundantly good. So, I'm going to take this time to list more than one thing, and I guarantee that even this will be incomplete because there's no way to name everything God's done for me and given me - that's what I have eternity for! I have plenty to be thankful for, so I'm going to try and use these tangible pictures to sum up all the intangible gifts I have been blessed with.
First and foremost, I am so thankful for my parents and the example they have been and continue to be in my life. From raising me to know and love the Lord to showing me what it really means to pursue a personal relationship with Him. For my mom who has never been anything but supportive and is my constant example of what it means to serve God selflessly From attending band concerts and field hockey games to midnight chats at Round the Clock when I needed them most. From driving me to youth group and choir for so many years to pouring herself into the small group ministry at Zion. For my dad who has always worked to give our family more than we could ever need and who serves as both my voice of reason and encouragement. From reading all of my papers for school to leaving poems on the kitchen table for me to find in the morning before school. From getting up early every Thursday to lead a mens group to serving the youth group for as long as I can remember. I couldn't ask for better examples for what it means to live a life seeking God's face.
I am thankful for my beautiful little sisters. I have had the incredible opportunity to watch them grow up from little girls to young women of God. We've been through everything together and I am so glad that these girls are truly my sisters in Christ now as well. Through the years we've transitioned from "sleep togethers" to eventful car rides, from passing journals around to texting each other and hour long phone conversations, and I wouldn't trade a minute of it. I am thankful for Your Joy which bubbles through Courtney and Your Compassion which flows so gracefully from Melissa. I am thankful that I grew up with these girls and that I can see You in their lives today.
I'm thankful that Nana's surgery went well and she's recovering quickly. Her hospitality has been such a blessing to me and my friends since I've been here at school. Her strength through everything life has dealt her has spoken volumes to me. And through it all, she, like my mother, is the perfect example of serving the Lord selflessly. Whether its serving directly on committees I can't even pretend to keep track of or working with CASA so tirelessly, she throws herself into things 110%. Nana's unswerving faith in You shines through in absolutely everything she does.
I am thankful for friends at home who make life so much fun. I love coming home and catching up with them. Whether we sit down and talk over a meal or coffee, play frisbee in the park, travel to Baltimore and get lost (JOPPA ROAD!), enjoy a beautiful fall day on the Rail Trail or just chill at somebody's house in the basement or around a campfire, we never cease to have a great time. We've known each other for a long time (kindergarten for some, 6th grade for others) and I am so thankful that no matter how long we may go with minimal conversation while at our separate schools we always seem to be able to pick up where we left off.
I am thankful to have a group of wonderful G.I.R.Ls at home who love God and were willing to give their Monday nights this summer to come explore the reality of His love for us. I couldn't have asked for two better people to lead these girls and the relationship that grew and flourished between the three of us this summer couldn't have been more blessed. I am so thankful for the openness of each of these girls this summer and for their continued support, encouragement and prayers that have followed me to VA.
I am thankful for a roommate who understands exactly what is going on in my life because its her life too. Okay, not exactly, but it sure seems that way sometimes. Having a Christian roommate has been so refreshing this year. And not just any Christian, but my partner in crime and fellow LT member! It is this often unspoken bond that makes our relationship as roommates so strong.
I am thankful for my "big sis" and everything she is to me. Whether she's playing the role of big sister, Bible study leader, friend, or - let's be honest - chauffeur, her ability to see You and the way she follows so willingly never ceases to encourage and inspire me. I am constantly encouraged to push forward and seek You in every aspect of my life. I am thankful for the person You created her to be and for the time we are able to spend together every week.
I am thankful for our "sisterhood" and the way we each have our God-given roles to play that makes it work so wonderfully. I can't imagine school without these girls - I absolutely love the way each one of them loves You and encourages me to do so as well. Sadie for her open and fun heart and the way she seeks You in her daily life and isn't afraid to show it. Noelle for the way she relies on You for everything and her ability to to see You in the small things and the large. Lisa for the way she loves others in Your name and her caring and loving nature that just shines for You. Mary Beth for the joy that comes only from You and radiates from her and the way she is so grounded in You and wants everyone to know. (Sorry Jen -you got your own picture, no use repeating myself...)
And those were only the people! See what I mean - there's a lot to be thankful for! I guess what I'm really getting at is that instead of focusing on stuff this Thanksgiving - which I am very thankful for - I wanted to really look at the stuff that's going to last. I am so thankful for the foundation I've been given and the people around me who have helped to strengthen that.