I’ve never had a Thanksgiving like this before. In every way, it changed. No extended family, no traveling, no rushing to dress up the kids. We spent the day, just us, sitting around our own table in our comfy clothes and laughing together. Just us, decorating our house for Christmas; looking forward to the season to come. Though I could have been focused on the hard, messy reasons why we were doing this alone, I didn’t. It was simple. It was beautiful.
As I sat and looked around at all God has given me, my heart was overcome with gratitude. I don’t deserve any of it. Yet, He loves me still. He gives me all I could ever hope for and more.
Then, my joy faded into the background as I looked at the empty seat at our table. The place where any of our sponsor boys in Haiti could be sitting…but aren’t. The sharp pain hit my heart again; the longing to have all of my children in one place. The handful of tiny humans that call me “Mom” has grown, and so has my capacity to love. My ability to trust the God who holds it all in His hands is daily tested as I dare to hope that, one day, we will all be together. I am thankful for each of their lives. And that word, thankful, has been redefined for me completely through the experience of missions work.
When I think of my blessings, the things that come to mind are no longer broad or generic things. My blessings are now in the details, counted moment-by-moment in the midst of sometimes frantic prayers:
“Thank You, Jesus, that he has food tonight.”
“Thank You that I heard his voice.”
“Thank You that they were allowed to go to school this week.”
“Thank You that the gunmen didn’t enter his home today.”
“Thank You, God, that he is still alive.”
My prayers as a missionary mom are more fervent, more desperate, and more intimate than they ever were before I’d stepped foot onto the mission field. One of the many ways that this journey has changed me…I’ve never been more thankful for more truly important things as I am today. Yes, I feel deeper sorrow but I also feel deeper joy. Living life on mission for Jesus will always cost us something. I will always fight the urge to be afraid; to pull away. But I’ll never regret my decision to walk down this path, because this is what we are made for- to know the meaning of loving with all that we are; the same way that God loves us.