Gratitude, Cuba, and Singles’ Ministries.

This weekend has been full of processing for me. Whether it is good or bad (I’m still undecided), yesterday was full of promise and freedom as I had one minor commitment for the whole day. For anyone reading this that even remotely knows me, that is a recipe for disaster. I always need something to do, something to  keep me busy. And thus, my brain was running all day. Upon discernment throughout the day today, I resolved that I may as well write some of these life-altering thoughts down by the pure chance that one or two individuals may actually read this. So here goes.

This time of year is typically filled with thoughts of thankfulness. And in the midst of one of the most challenging semesters I have encountered yet, I think I’ve been slacking on the tangible praises for the many, many blessings I have in my life. Some are easy and quite immediate, like my family, my education, my job, my health. Others are more obscure, like my opportunity to perform in last week’s band concert at Furman, the completion of the first draft of our business block group project (20,000 words in 54 pages to give you a hint of the effort applied), and yes, I’m even thankful for all of the challenges and difficulties this semester has brought me. I realized in my pondering yesterday that I am, of course, thankful on a basic level of simply having these blessings in my life. But there’s much more to it. These things, good and bad, make me who I am. The quandaries I’ve faced build character and strength and faith. The privileges I’ve had provide me a particular perspective on life that makes me inquisitive and experienced and courageous. So as I enter into the typical quarter life crisis of turning 20 and wondering what I’m really doing with my life and how I got here and where the heck I’m going, I realize there is a lot more to say about gratitude than one simple sentence at a round the table prayer one day a year.

In my reflection upon gratitude, I was stopped in my tracks to praise God for a more recent blessing. This past week I found out I have selected to go on a travel writing course through Cuba for 3.5 weeks next May. After pouring hours of intense vulnerability into applications, I was incredibly scared no program would care enough to accept me and take me around the world with its class. Yet again, God pulled the perfect timing He always does and showed me an opportunity of which I never dreamed. So as I begin to fill out mounds of paperwork and discern what questions I am supposed to be asking in preparation for this life-changing trip, I just have to stop and rest in the stillness and greatness of God. God is doing something huge, and once again I am beyond blessed to be just a small part of it.

As I prepared and attempted to consolidate my thoughts in the car on my way to Pelham Road’s church-wide Thanksgiving meal, I thought I had completed what I was going to say, starting with gratitude and ending with Cuba. Silly me for thinking I had a concrete idea. I sat down at a table with a few folks from church I normally don’t get to spend extended time with, in an effort to branch out and get to know the congregation better. Right as I was sitting down with my plate of ham, macaroni and cheese, and green beans, 3 lovely folks from Upstate Christian Singles group joined us. Excited enough about the prospect of new friends, we began conversation about where we are in life and how God is working through the opportunities He so particularly has placed in our lives. Who would’ve thought that such a variety of folks could tell such a variety of stories that all break down to one simple concept: God is so good? And that, my friends, is the biggest blessing of all this Thanksgiving.

So I challenge you just as I challenge myself this holiday season to think deeper about who you are and whose you are (to quote an old friend). And maybe, just maybe, you’ll get to see something remarkably beautiful that has been there, or will be coming soon, to positively and wonderfully change your life. Peace and blessings.


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