Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Month of Thanks, Day 30

Well, here it is, the last day of November. I have enjoyed this adventure in gratitude. I hope that I can keep up the practice of gratitude, even after November is over.

Today I am thankful for airplanes, especially all of the planes that brought my parents to Japan-and there were several over the past 48 hours! After being re-routed through Hawaii, with a 19 hour layover-which I think was shorter because they were late and had to search for one of their bags, Mom and Dad arrived safely, even a little early.

My friend Noriko went to the airport with me to welcome them. A kind lady passing by took this picture for us.

I think Noriko was more excited than I was. Okay, well, maybe not, but she was excited, too!

Thank You, Lord, for the gift of my parents' visit!

A Month of Thanks, Day 29

I was just about to turn off my computer. But, I couldn't do it until I wrote a blog post. I don't know why I felt compelled to write.

Today I am thankful for another day of life. I want to remember that each day is a gift. It is not guaranteed. Here I am, getting ready for bed after yet another day.

How did I live this day? Was I faithful steward of the gift God gave me of this day? I am not always. Sometimes I am partially. And, on very rare occasions I make it through an entire day.

I look forward to tomorrow. Not only because my parents are coming, but also because His mercies are new each morning. He gives me another chance to serve and worship Him.

Good night!

Update: I found this on my flip calendar today when I turned the page:
"To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us- and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a gift of grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him." Thomas Merton

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Month of Thanks, Day 28

My parents are coming for a visit! I am so excited!

Tonight I went to the laundromat to dry sheets, towels and a quilt. I do not have a clothes dryer-like the most of the rest of Japan. So, in the winter, I go to the laundromat to dry these things. I forget what it is like to have soft towels!

When I got home I finished gathering up the trash and took it out. Then, I did a couple other little things and decided to check email quickly before getting ready for bed. I have a list of things that need to be done tomorrow.

My plans have changed. My parents got re-routed through Hawaii! So, they will be 24 hours late.

Tonight I am thankful for technology! Without making international phone calls and playing phone tag with my sister, I was able to get all of the information I need. Email, digital photos and skype!

No technology pictures for you tonight. Since you are sitting at your computer reading this, you don't really need picture of another computer!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Month of Thanks, Day 27

Advent. I remember the excitement as a child. Taking out the little wreath Mom had made. Taking turns reading the Bible and the devotional. Every Sunday, sharing the experience with our church family. The lovely calendar Mom made out of felt and sequins. Trying to decide who should start-because that determined who would finish!

I also remember the anticipation. Anticipating the celebration of Jesus' birth. Reading the story together on Christmas Eve. Going to church with our friends. Singing Silent Night by candle light (still my favorite carol).

This year I am anticipating my parents' arrival in two days and celebrating with them here in Japan (Thank you, Shonda, for sharing!:) I am on excitement overload right now. Tomorrow night will be like Christmas Eve as a kid, waiting, waiting, waiting!

Enjoy the anticipation of advent this year!

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Month of Thanks, Day 25

I am thankful for my family. I saved this one for today because it is my mom's birthday. (It is also my cousin's birthday which I had forgotten, but thanks to facebook have been reminded!:)

Although God has given me the gift of being able to live far from family and have very little homesickness, I love my family deeply. My sister and I like to sing the sisters song from White Christmas. We have been through a lot together and have grown closer through it all. I have a deep respect for my parents, all they have taught me, the ways they help me, their continuous prayers for me, the way their love for God and each other grows daily.

I appreciate that my grandparents took the time to teach my parents about God's love and the importance of teaching their children the same thing. Our family isn't perfect and we've had our share of trials, however, having this love for God as the center has kept us strong and together.

I am also blessed with an amazing extended family. I am thankful for aunts, uncles, cousins and now their families. It is a blessing to be part of such a circle!

Thank You, Lord, for the wonderful family in which You placed me!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Month of Thanks, Day 23-24

I am thankful for my missionary family.

I grew up in South Dakota in my immediate family of four. No relatives in SD. For a while we had relatives in Minnesota but then they moved to California. So, for most of my growing up years, our nearest (geographically) relatives were in Kansas, about 9 hours away by car.

Therefore, I learned at an early age that family doesn't always have to do with bloodlines and biology. Our family grew when we moved to South Dakota. I now have 'aunts' and 'uncles' and 'cousins' and 'nieces' and 'nephews' and 'grandparents' who, I suspect, are nowhere near biologically related.

When I moved to Japan, I, like my parents, moved far from biological family. But, I walked right into a family. We get together for holidays, for fun days, hang out, get frustrated with each other, and pray for each other. We do have to have business meetings together, too!

I am thankful for the way God provided this family for us. This doesn't mean our biological family is replaced, it means that our family has grown. God has added blessings to my life because of this mission family.

As with my biological family, there is the immediate family and then cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. I have several missionary friends who also feel like family but are not part of the immediate NAB mission family. I am thankful for these family members, too!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Month of Thanks, Day 22

Because it is getting late and I have to get up and out the door fairly early in the morning, this post will be short!

I am thankful for God's creation.

I love that I can spend even just 5 minutes in nature and feel refreshed.

I love looking at the variety of life all around, size, color, shape, etc, of everything!

I am amazed at the uniqueness of creation-including human beings! It is wonderful to look around and see how beautifully unique we all are.

I have, probably, hundreds of photos I could post here. I have already done an entire post on sunsets, so I will not post those. I'll just post a couple before I head off to sleep...

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Month of Thanks, Day 21

I am thankful for food. I am thankful that I have always had enough-usually more than enough. I am thankful for the fun of making food, especially sweets! I am thankful for the enjoyment that sharing a meal together brings.

Some random food pictures:
(As I was looking for pictures I noticed that most of my food pictures are of sweets!)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Month of Thanks, Day 20

I am thankful for a warm home. Today it has been ridiculously windy. As I blew in after church, it was nice to open the door, feel the warmth and smell the soup I had made for lunch.

It is such a blessing to have this place to live. I suspect my neighbors wonder what I do with all of this space. I know the apartments above and below me each have 4 people living in them. I look forward to having my parents here and finding out what it is like to live here with a family! (smile)

Although we don't have central air and heat here, my apartment stays nice and warm on sunny, winter days because I have sun shining in my living/dining room all day. This is an added blessing of living here!

Also, since I live on the 9th floor and there are no tall buildings in front of ours, I can see the mountains!

Come visit anytime!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Month of Thanks, Day 19

I am thankful that there are people who still write snail mail. I used to write a LOT more snail mail but many of the people I was corresponding with have died or can no longer write. But, I do still have a few faithful writers, and some of them are from my generation!

Today when I got home I checked my mail and found NO junk mail, maybe the rain helped with that (in Japan it is okay to walk around house to house putting fliers into mailboxes). But , there was one lone envelope with familiar handwriting. What a blessing to receive that letter.

I also love that Awana has children write to missionaries. This guarantees at least a letter a year, but usually a lot more. Some children are using email these days, but I do still get real letters, too.

Thank you to all of you who have ever written me a letter. I appreciate it.

I guess I should remember how much I like to get mail and send it to others, too!

(The picture was taken from a free clip art site!)

A Month of Thanks, Day 18

Tonight was missionary fellowship. Several of us gather about once a month to eat, share, encourage, pray and laugh together. I am incredibly grateful for this space where I can be with people who, like me, have left their country of origin to live in a culture so different from what we grew up in, because we have been called by God to share His love with people here. We don't have to talk about that. We understand each other. Even though we are all in different cities doing different ministries, we are one in heart. What a blessing!

(I haven't a clue where a picture of all of us is right now and it is too late for me to find. Maybe when I am more awake I will post one!)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Month of Thanks, Day 17

I am thankful for God's faithfulness. I am so inconsistent you'd think I was a wave in the ocean! I want to be faithful. I want to be consistent. I want to be stable. I desire these things. I try to do these things, sometimes in my own strength which never ever works out.

BUT, God is faithful. Even when I am wavering around. Even when I take a step away. Even when I feel as close as ever. In all of these times God is faithful. He doesn't change. He loves me the same, each and every day, each and every moment.

As I thought about a picture to post with this, the hymn "Great is Thy Faithfulness" came to mind, especially the line 'morning by morning new mercies I see.' So, I decided a picture of the sunrise would be a good picture to post!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Month of Thanks, Day 16

I am thankful for friends. I am thankful for the way God unfolds a friendship the way a rose unfolds, one petal at a time until it is in full bloom, beautiful and fragrant. I am thankful that God planned for us to live in community, not only with family but also with friends who laugh when we laugh, who grieve when we grieve, who encourage when we are down, who open their hearts and let us climb inside, loving us and caring for us.

I have been blessed to get to live in two countries, three states, and more cities than I care to count. (When I give you my address, just put it in the 'X' section because you will cross it out several times!:) Along with all of this moving has come the joy of friendships. Even when I knew I was moving away and tried not to make friends so that my heart would not be ripped out again, there was God setting someone in front of me who I could not avoid befriending! And, even with all of that heart ripping, I am always so thankful for the friends God has placed in my path. Some are friends for a season, some are sister-like friends, but all are precious to me.

Thank You, God, for my lovely friends!

I want to post pictures of my friends here. I am afraid I will forget someone! If I do, I am sorry! It is not because I have forgotten you, it is that I couldn't find a good picture to post or didn't go back far enough in the archives!