We are so blessed. Wow. Seriously - do you ever have so much joy that it feels like your heart is really swelling? Well, this is one of those moments. Don't really know why -- just know we have so much to be thankful for...
- Being with Julia and her new family and seeing them get to know each other. Beautiful. The end of one journey and the beginning of another. I need to write a whole blog post about the Julia story, but for now I just want to say that when you get to see a child go from brokenness to wholeness, you'll never forget it. There's nothing more beautiful. And, I've seen Julia make that journey. She has a long ways to go still, but this looks like healing.
- Watching Julia's new parents interact with Julia's foster parents with more grace and mercy than I think I've seen anyone else ever muster. The foster parents really love Julia, and they are already grieving the fact that they might not see her again, and Julia's momma and daddy are handling it beautifully... to the point that the foster parents say they now have peace about what's ahead. I love the fact that Mark and Michelle's hearts are big enough to have room for all the other people that are part of Julia's story. Not everyone does, and seeing it is inspiring.
- Cooking for 150+ people, many of whom were having their very first Thanksgiving! Jacob made the mashed potatoes, and I helped make the gravy and stuffing. Oh, and one pumpkin pie and a pan of cornbread for the stuffing. It was a lot of work, but I love sharing the holiday with the students in our language school. They're so cute and enthusiastic as they try new foods. Even though we miss having the holiday with family back home, I almost enjoy Thanksgiving in China more. It seems more in the spirit of the actual holiday -- not just stuffing ourselves and watching football.
- The foster home madness Thanksgiving meal. Imagine nearly 30 toddlers in a small room being fed a BIG meal. Wow. The decibel level alone is enough to send me running for cover. But the chaos is great in a way... so many little ones enjoying their very own Thanksgiving feast. I love that we do it "right." We don't scrimp or cut corners. They get the real-deal, complete with homemade pumpkin pie and whipped cream. A roomful of orphans being treated to a lovingly-prepared feast -- I think that's what the Kingdom probably looks like.
- Watching our Chinese village friends enjoy sweet potatoes prepared American-style, complete with a marshmallow topping. They licked the bowl clean. And they say they don't like sweets... The kids aren't the only ones who like Thanksgiving...
- Our family... we got to talk to almost everyone in the last couple of days, including most of our grandparents and even some of our aunts and uncles. On a related note, I'm also thankful for Skype.
- I'm thankful that our somewhat harebrained idea (Scarlet Threads) has actually gotten off the ground this last month. It's been a lot of work, but we so believe in its potential and we're excited about what the future holds for our 'lil company. Thanks for helping launch it... it would have been a spectacular failure if it weren't for you guys.
- And finally, I'm so thankful for you! Our blog friends! You are amazing. You pray for us. You encourage us. You give to us... care packages, donations, sweet notes. You get involved in what we're doing here. We're so blessed by your gifts and your love and your prayers. Thank you for enabling us to be here because seriously friends, if it weren't for your encouragement and support (financial, prayer, and otherwise) - we wouldn't still be here. So thanks for letting us do this.
So, Happy Thanksgiving! Even if you aren't American and aren't celebrating the holiday, we're still sending these wishes your way... after all, everyone can use a day of gratefulness.