Thanksgiving is a bittersweet time of year for me. For the first 24 years of my life, I always spent Thanksgiving with the extended family on my mother’s side. It is a time of belonging, sharing hearts in conversation, eating the best Thanksgiving meals ever prepared, and topping it all off by playing football with the cousins. Since I am one of the two members of my extended family living West of Indiana, and due to the logistics of flying home for a short weekend in the middle of a busy season at work and school, I have not made it back to the family Thanksgiving for several years now.
I woke up this Thanksgiving morning struggling to feel thankful. All I could think about was how for yet another year, I can’t be back with my family for this special time. Realizing that ingratitude is often a matter of perspective, I tried to think again about my circumstances and made an important discovery. I am thankful for friends who become like family.
As of 10:00 PM, on Tuesday, November 10th, 2009, I am officially debt free! After five years of struggling to pull myself away from the spending habits that kept me in debt, I am finally 100% out of debt and not looking back! So why am I telling you about this? It is rather personal and embarassing but my hope is that if you are not in consumer debt, this will encourage you to stay that way and that if you are, there is hope and good reason to do whatever it takes to free yourself.
Joyce and her unforgettable smile at the El-Shaddai Hope Centre for Orphans.
Strolling through the gate camera in hand, I was delighted to finally be back at the orphanage I have long hoped to revisit. Pausing for a moment to take a picture in the middle of the courtyard, a little boy suddenly came running with arms outstretched and wrapped himself around my legs. Reaching down I picked him up and took him into my arms. Here a little boy who has no idea who I am yet feels the confidence that if I am there, allowed into his space, I must be safe and welcome. This is what happens when children who have lost everything are welcomed into a community of hope.