I am thankful for so many things, blessed beyond measure, and each week as I record my thoughts about being gracious, it occurs to me that I am thankful not only for what is now, but also what brought me to this place.
Years ago, as a youth volunteer for the junior and senior high youth groups of my home church, I thought I was pretty special. I had just graduated from college, I was 21 years old and had it all; great job, brand new sports car, nails done, hair coiffed, only the finest clothes, you name it, it was all good.
Then, something interesting happened...I was walking through the hall at church one Sunday and my dear friend Mary approached me. I remember the interaction like it happened yesterday...Her daughter was wearing a mini skirt and these really cool tye dye tights, she was high schoolish age and Mary was chiding her for her choice of apparel that morning. She stopped her tirade briefly to ask me a question, "Would you be interested in leading a group for the upcoming Mission trip this summer?" I love Mary and I love kids, but somehow sleeping on dirt floors and wearing (gulp) overalls, just didn't fit my image at the time - yes, I really thought this. She told me to sleep on it. She said she would contact (read "bug")me until I had made my decision. I was still living at home, and when I sat down with my parents for dinner, I laughed out loud when I told them about the proposition I had encountered. Thing was they didn't laugh...my father especially, offered this could be an opportunity that would change my life. Oh the wisdom, almost prophetic. A seed was planted.
So, that summer I went on the first of ten Mission trips I would take with this group of senior high youth. Did it change my life? - Oh yes, I would go on to pastor that youth group until I had my own family. I became passionate about serving others and though I still like the occasional finer things in life, I truly know the desperation that people in our own backyard live with daily. I met families with enormous medical needs and no insurance or financial means to receive care, I met senior citizens who had never in their life experienced running water until we arrived, I met children who had never slept in a bed, just covers on the floor (dirt floor, I might add). Here, in the good ol' USA there were communities with no economy, no hope and no future. I have ever since supported the mission that I originally worked with, and our family commits to support them as long as there is air in our lungs, even in the most difficult of times for us. Because those times will never look as dreary as what the beautiful people of areas in Appalachia have experienced.
There is a point to all of this - I received an email from one of the young ladies, Kate, with whom I travelled at least twice. Now a junior at Penn State University, she spent her winter break in Peru playing "Pato, Pato, Gonzo" (duck, duck, goose), offering a VBS program to families and building and repairing an orphanage. The pictures were positively heartwarming and these kids (45 of them!) worked HARD.
Kate said I planted a seed; I beg to differ, God laid it on my heart to plant a seed, just as God laid it on Mary's heart to move my mountain so that I might see the best He had in store for me. I pray my ladybugs will know the joy of serving others. Kate titled this picture "one of these things just isn't the same". I would agree Kate, you are a leader among your peers, an example.
Today I am thankful for all the seeds planted, be it missioning, the adoption community, motherhood, teachers, people serving people. It's all good.