I'm not sure what has changed, but this year is different. Granted, I'm still struggling. We always are struggling with something. We wouldn't be human nor would we long for our REAL home if struggling ceased. It's still super hot & I still dripped sweat while decorating my tree this year. I still miss being with my family for the holidays, Starbucks Christmas drinks, boots & scarves. But I can honestly say that, there is no where I'd rather be than here on my little island home right now. I still can't pinpoint exactly what is different, but I'm pretty sure the key is purposeful thankfulness.
The last nine months have been the most difficult yet for us as a family. It has been a roller coaster ride that never ends. Going from being extremely busy to flying almost slacking off completely. Constant changing of plans & looming unknowns. Being hurt by people we love. Being incredibly blessed by others. Times of loneliness. Times of friends abundant. No stability. More goodbyes than I care to count. Joyful reunions...
We've watched our little island country slowly struggle to get back on its feet in the aftermath of the worst typhoon in history & helped in what little ways we can. It has been absolutely overwhelming as we have seen incredible destruction with smiling faces poking out of the rubble because now they have rice to eat.
It's amazing what looking into the face of tragedy does to your heart. Overflowing thankfulness is the only response. I know tragedy & sadness often make people hard & angry at God & I could be there as well. So easy. But I haven't been able to get this out of my mind-
"So Jesus said to the twelve, "You do not want to go away also, do you?" Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life." -John 6:67-68
Where else would I go? Who else has the words that speak life to the weary & hurting soul?
Thankfulness & gratitude. They make all the difference. Focusing on what I do have, not what I don't. Knowing who I serve. He speaks peace & life to my heart.
Whether you are with you family or far away from them this Christmas, in tropics or snow, with lots of presents under tree or with few, may your heart know the One who has the words of life. Let Him speak peace to you & thank Him.
"The people here are so very, very happy for all the food things you bring us here!" --Lucilla, grandma to many children and grandchildren on Bandit island that will now get to eat one meal today. One.