Thanksgiving: The Moment I Realized It Could Be Every Day in My Life
An Unexpected Lesson
How fitting that I am writing this lens during the month of Thanksgiving AND National Adoption Awareness Month. Adoption has been a big part of my life, both as an adoptee and also as an adoptive parent. Much more to come on both of those topics, but this lens will tell the story of the unexpected lesson I learned from the experience of adopting my son several years ago.
This photo is from the day my husband and I first laid eyes on him when we traveled to Vietnam to bring him home. Take a close look at the picture. What I realized when looking at it again sometime after we had finalized his adoption broke my heart and taught me a lot about some of the simplest things in life that I have unknowingly taken for granted. How sad that, as it was put by those writing about this SquidRockets Challenge, Thanksgiving is an almost looked over holiday, when the vast majority of Americans should be the most thankful people on the planet.
The lines between need, want and luxury
The aha moment happened when I looked at this picture and it occurred to me that my son was sleeping in a crib, on wooden slats underneath him, with no mattress. I thought about my bed at home and how comfortable it is. I thought about how he struggles sometimes to get a good night's sleep. And then it hit me that some of the simplest things in life, like having a nice, comfortable bed to sleep in at night, I have truly taken for granted because it is all I have ever known (or at least can remember, but that story is for another lens another day).
The trip my husband and I took to finalize our son's adoption was an eye-opener for me. It was the first time that I had traveled outside of the United States. If possible, every American should experience traveling to a developing country. I love this country, but unless exposed to other countries, it is difficult to keep a healthy perspective of the abundance we have come to expect as Americans. The lines between need, want and luxury have become very blurred.
I realized that I needed to make an effort to cultivate more of a grateful heart in my own life, and to learn to appreciate the things that may seem simple, such as the availability of ice for drinks and having clean, warm water for showering. Please share any that come to your mind here.
Other Ways to Cultivate More of a Grateful Heart
If I ever feel like I'm taking the blessings in my life for granted, all I have to do is find a video like this one and I am reminded immediately to change my perspective!
The Work of Samaritan's Purse in South Sudan: Another great reminder
Just a few months after graduating from college, I had the privilege of working at Samaritan's Purse for a couple of years. Of all of the amazing work they do all over the world, it was their work in Sudan that touched my heart deepest. The people there are such a beautiful people and have struggled for so long.
Please take a moment to watch this video and to pray for these people and the work of Samaritan's Purse there, and allow it to serve as yet another reminder of all you have to be grateful for in your life.
Teaching Children to be Grateful - The Thanksgiving Tree
I think one of the greatest legacies we can leave is in teaching our children to be grateful. This can be as parents or as aunts and uncles, teachers, friends, and neighbors. Having a grateful heart can go a long way in helping one to keep perspective when life is unfair or is not going so well. There almost always is someone else who is going through something much more difficult or challenging, and learning to count your blessings at an early age can set a foundation and be of great help later in life when those reminders are need to cope with trials.
One way I have found that I think is a neat idea is this Thanksgiving Tree. This photo is one I came across on Pinterest, and I am using it with permission by Julia. On her blog, you will find the instructions for making a Thanksgiving Tree for your family.
I pinned this idea to my Family Projects board on Pinterest, along with a couple of other great ideas for teaching children to be grateful. You can click over to check it out and follow me on Pinterest, if you would like to see the other things I come across on there:
Warning: Most of what I pin is delicious looking, mouth-watering food and recipe ideas!
I would love to read them.