Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Journey through Thankfulness

I found my seat on the plane.  It was in the middle position but in an exit row.  Some people might breathe a sigh of relief to be in the exit row.  But the extra leg room is wasted on me.  In fact, I’d rather be in a row where I can wedge my feet between the seats in front of me and lean against the window.  So I asked the flight attendant if there might be a person with long legs sitting by a window who might like to change with me.  She gave me a look as though this is the first time she had been asked this question.  The man seated next to me remarked that he would have taken me up on that offer in an instant.  His legs were twice as long as mine (and if I weren’t flying to the US, I would have pegged him for a Dutchman).   This exchange led to a 2-hour conversation with my new friend Logan, which means that the flight attendant’s search for a long-legged window-seater turned up negative.  Thankfully!

The conversation started with the typical exchange: Where are you from? Where have you been?  What do you do?  But the responses were anything but typical.  It turns out that Logan is a writer, focusing on travel and technology with an emphasis on the appropriate use of technology.  He has become something of an expert on this after he and his wife conducted a year-long experiment starting in 2001 when they sold their Brooklyn home and moved to Staunton, Virginia to live using only technology that existed before 1900.  You can read about it in his book “SeeYou in a Hundred Years.”  As you might imagine, we had much to talk about. 

As I was recounting my story to him and some of the things I’ve experienced in the past year he made this remark: “You know, as I hear you talk about your experience, I hear you talking about a similar theme that my wife and I experienced as a result of our experiment, and that is “Thankfulness.” 

No kidding.  Thankfulness, indeed.   How can I not be thankful?

Camino de Santiago, Spain - September 2013
I’ve been living like a nomad since I packed up my home in May of 2013 and the journey that has unfolded has been filled with one blessing after another.  As always, I come back to the people.  I’m so thankful for the people that I’ve met along the way who have shared their lives with me, opened their homes to me, guided me on the road and blessed me with fellowship.  As I come upon the one year anniversary of each of my destinations over the past year, I find myself taking a moment to remember the people whom I’ve shared the journey with.  I’m eternally thankful for these people.

Everest Base Camp - October 23, 2013
During this time of travel, I’ve laid my head on more beds/couches/tents/floors/buses than I can count.  Thankfully for eye masks, ear plugs, inflatable neck pillows and the occasional Benadryl, I’ve woken up (surprisingly rested) in some of the most beautiful places in the world.  Did I really get to see the sun rising over the tiny Spanish towns lining the Camino de Santiago, from Everest Base Camp, the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, the desert of Israel, the Cordillera Blanca, Machu Picchu, the Cuban Caribbean and the Colombian Caribbean, all in one year?  Yes.  That happened.  So, I’m thankful for the physical ability to be able to have had these experiences and to appreciate the beauty of the Lord’s creation and creativity in each of these places.         

Mount Kilimanjaro - January 5, 2014
And the things I’ve learned along the way have filled me with excitement.  Whether it was learning how to cope with the extreme culture shock I experienced in Kathmandu, or the complexity of life for Israelis and Palestinians, or the culturally rich yet rigid reality of life in Cuba that I am still attempting to wrap my mind around, I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn how the rest of the world goes round.  It’s funny to me how I continue to learn more about these cultures even once I have left those surroundings.  What’s even more exciting is that I believe I will continue to learn and attempt to understand what I have experienced for a lifetime to come.  I’m thankful to be able to take this journey in my mind as well!

Mitzpe Ramon, Israel - January 19, 2014
But really.  It’s not just this season of travel and adventure that I have to be thankful for.  The ten years leading up to this season have been filled with incredible blessings.

I have an incredible community that I have been blessed to share life with in the Vail Valley.  Since my first weekend in Vail in February 2003, I have called Calvary Chapel Vail Valley my home.  I’ve been beyond-blessed by the fellowship I’ve been a part of there and the teaching I’ve experienced from Pastor Tommy.  (And typing this makes me want to be seated in row 5 on the left side in those comfy-blue chairs, worshipping with some beautiful souls in the Valley.)  And this fellowship has led to being blessed by a group of incredible women who have gathered together to share life and life with Jesus every week for years.  (And this thought makes me want to curl up on the couch with a cup of tea in hand and dig into the Word with my Bible Study Beauties).  I’m overflowing with thankfulness for this fellowship, even from afar! 

Cordillera Blanca from Huaraz, Peru - March 2014
I was blessed to find a job (the first and only place I interviewed) at Eagle Valley High School starting in August of 2003. Over the next ten years, I was blessed to spend time with some of the most kind, caring and funny students I could imagine. Many have asked me if I miss the classroom. My response is always that I miss my students, the students I’ve already taught. And I’d love to go back and teach those same students again. A solid majority of my “friends” on Facebook are former students. Over the years, and especially this past year, they’ve blessed me with encouragement for the journey I’m on and for that, I am thankful.

Machu Pichu - April 6, 2014
Let’s be honest.  I have my whole life to be thankful for and that is rooted in an incredibly supportive family.  My parents have cheered for me and prayed for me every step of the way.  Moms continually responds to curious friends asking about concerns for my safety by saying “I gave her up to the Lord a long time ago.”  That is an incredible example of a woman of great faith.  And Pops is my biggest marketing agent.  I know he’s been working when I get a friend request from a person I don’t know whom our only mutual friend is my father.  This kind of support is one I’m sure I take for granted as the alternative (having disapproving parents) is one that would take much of the joy away from this experience.  My brothers and their wives have been great as well.  As they continue on their incredibly successful career paths, they still encourage me, their unconventional sister.  And they are looking out for me.  In the past 3 weeks, Zack and Luke both emailed me with future career ideas.  My initial thought was that my parents put them up to planting these seeds but I’ve been assured that was not the case.  It’s sweet to know that they have my best interest in mind… and know me well.  Both suggestions were intriguing, both in the travel realm, one being a restaurant-tour guide.  (You can read all about it in Luke and Rachel’s blog on their Middle Eastern adventure at WhereAreTheWeavers.blogspot.com). 

Havana, Cuba - April 23, 2014
In my life, I have experienced the provision of the Lord. In abundance. All. The. Time. Actually, I think the Thanksgiving Feast is a perfect metaphor for what I have experienced. Incredible food, meticulously prepared and presented at a full table, surrounded by some of the people I love the most. Truly, I don’t deserve any of it. But I will enjoy it, with great thankfulness.

Costeno Beach, Colombia - October 1, 2014
Thank you for reading my Thankfulness Manifesto.  I hope you find time in this season, no matter your circumstances, to reflect on your own.  


  1. Every time I read this blog, I have a smile on my face! I am thankful to have you as a friend.