Thanksgiving Tree

Our arrival back in Cambodia after a month away was rather startling. The chickens had turned our front gate area into their own personal chicken coop, the dust left unswept was thick, and our plants looked less than stellar after a month of no water. One in particular hadn’t survived the lack of moisture and the spindly sticks that stuck out of the dry ground looked like they might as well be in the trash heap.

But, a few snips with some scissors, a recycled pasta sauce jar, a little ribbon and scrapbook paper, and the dead twigs have become a Thanksgiving decoration for our table that might even be Pinterest-post worthy. Maybe. 

The last year has felt a bit like the branches of our dead plant; that is to say, it has been pretty rough. Heading into the American Thanksgiving holiday this week, my heart has been struggling to feel grateful for all that has happened, for the dry and painful days and months. Yet God is the One who takes those dead twigs of our lives and makes them into a centerpiece for His glory to shine bright. So, I pulled out my colored pencils and crafted a simple tree in my art journal with some of the things I am thankful for in the beautiful mess of the last 11 months.  

– An exciting part of this overseas life is the chance to travel, and getting to visit Turkey for a meeting earlier this year was fascinating! My feet planted on stones representing centuries of history, experiencing a completely different culture and amazing food were definitely gifts.  

– Velvet Ashes- this network for women serving overseas has uplifted and sustained me in so many ways. I was able to be part of a small group of women through their Connection group in the spring, then led one of these groups this fall. I also got to share a post on singleness on their site, and am daily encouraged by the things the women offer in the emails I receive from the group.

– The guesthouse aunt was the very first person we met here in our border town and she has been one of our closest friends! She helped us through several crises with her gentle guidance and ability to solve sticky situations. She went back to stay with her family while we were in the States and I regret that we didn’t get to thank her properly and say goodbye but I am so very grateful that we had the chance to know her.

– Home in the fall- leaves of all colors, harvest time, soup and snow and gorgeous days.

– Comforts like air conditioning and hot showers- things I am NEVER again taking for granted.

– Our supervisor Gayle’s support through all of our crazy ups and downs this year.

– Starbucks- hey, one benefit of so many trips to Thailand this year!

– Brokenness

– The opportunity to re-connect with so many wonderful friends in Texas.

– The chance to be part of Michael and Pey’s wedding

– Being an auntie

– The decision to move

– A birthday trip across the border

– Our friends’ house in Seattle- where we land when we first arrive in the US, how it feels like we’re home once we get there.

– The day my whole family could be together.

What kinds of things would you put on your own Thanksgiving tree?


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