A year ago we were right where we are right now, here in Atlanta for Thanksgiving. But things were different. It had been over a year since I’d been home. {And that was hard.} I was pregnant with our precious second son (we opened the envelope to find out his gender while we were here!). I was growing weary from a long World Cup year in South Africa, five long years away from family.

Are you ever afraid to admit the honest truth, even when it seems to be staring you in the face? There is so much excitement… joy… anticipation in answering a calling that brings you away from all things familiar, to faraway lands you know little of. But what does it look like… sound like… feel like when it’s time to go home? Seems a little anticlimactic in comparison. In some ways it was hard to be thankful when the picture became clear that our time in SA was coming to an end.

Staring at the closed door, not seeing the open window…

Our focus on thankfulness over the last holiday season wasn’t lost in translation. You can be thankful, even when things are hard. Thankfulness can frame life for you, even if the baby pees on your raisins.

Thankfulness isn’t the denial of reality when reality seems riddled with difficult circumstancs — it is rightly recognizing that life is full of gifts, even when life is hard.

The eight hour drive to Atlanta Tuesday seemed like a breeze compared with the 11 and 13 hour drives we did with the wee clan before we left SA. I was thankful.

It was easier to be thankful for the boys when they were sleeping than when they were awake.

But isn’t their fully awake, bright and cheerful life the greater gift?

Perhaps we need to learn what gifts are. The hard times of this past year are rightly seen as gifts. The challenging transition is a gift, too. The fruit of overcoming, pressing through, growing stronger, is the unwrapping of the gift of the trial.

The pilgrims gave thanks for the help of the Native Americans — thanks that they were going to survive. I wonder if at the feast they gave thanks for the trial, too.

Seems to me all of life — every breath — is a gift. Sometimes we just need to take pause long enough to look past the packaging.



Last year’s week of {Thanks}giving posts starts right here if you want to have a look back!