Spirit of Thanksgiving

The past two months have been a whirlwind with school well underway, afterschool activities, and much more going on here in Accra.  With that said though there is no excuse for my silence over the past two months.  I am sorry if you feel like we had a bad break up and I am that awful ex that has not returned your phone calls, texts, or Facebook messages.  No worries I am here to rectify that situation and update you all on life here in Ghana.

I have still been posting pictures and such on instagram and Facebook so I do not feel like I completely wrote everyone off like a bad check.  However I have not written on here in a while.  For this post though I think I am going to simply list some things I am thankful for over the past two months.  Back in Virginia our small group read the book One Thousand Gifts by Anne Voskamp and it helped revolutionize my everyday thought life.  Finding thankfulness in the simplest of things.  With it being November and American Thanksgiving coming up, I thought what better way to re-establish our relationship than letting you know what I have been thankful for over the past two months.  I have had some recent conversations with close friends about not being attached to the material things in life because it seems in Ghana; eventually they will disappear or be stolen 😉 It has forced me to focus more on the non-material things (however I am human and this list will contain some material things, because let’s be honest living as an ex-pat in West Africa you still get excited about your embassy friends who have you over for dinner and bust out Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip cookies or present you with a real authentic Diet Coke ha-ha).  So here we go in no particular order

Natalie arriving safely to Ghana (Yes, it has been that long since I wrote

Hammock adventures with friends in botanical gardens

Face timing with my parents

Notes from one of my favorite third graders

Impromptu dance parties with friends

Ukulele jam sessions with my roommate Laura

Playing in a basketball tournament where you are only one of two females (the other being one of your closest friends in Ghana), however showing other girls that they too can play with the guys.  It raised a lot of questions and encouraged female spectators to ask questions.

Visiting an NGO that equips girls and women with actual life skills they can use to make a living and reintegrate back into society

Korean festivals that have amazing food

Hope City Church Accra

Johnny Appleseed day at school with the kindergartners.  Epic cuteness

Snap chats from far away friends

A cool drink on a steaming hot day

Birthdays, mine was nothing less than spectacular in Ghana

Surprises

Impromptu dance parties with students

“Family” Time

Church barbecue and pool party

Meeting new people

Water fights

Sharing a meal prepared by friends

Pedicures (Finally found a place in Ghana that is legit and this is a great self care therapy for a school counselor)

Seeing people you love smile

Hearty laughter with close friends

Honest conversations

Married folks who are farther along in the journey of life who take you in as their own child, have you over for dinner, and give you advice.  I am particularly grateful for one couple that does this frequently and for that I am eternally grateful for their love and support.

My friend Mallory’s laugh…it is the best and once she gets started she can’t stop and it always is contagious and gets me laughing.

Carving watermelons for Halloween instead of pumpkins because we don’t have any big enough to carve here in Ghana

Face time dates with my friend Chelsie in Singapore

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Packages from loved ones back home.

Impromptu trips to South Africa

Reuniting with a close friend who you have not seen in nearly 10 years.

Dancing at weddings

A good cappuccino

Sunsets that make it look like the sky is on fire

Road trips through the country

A stranger’s smile

Dancing with small children, they are fearless and so carefree, not self conscious like us adults sometimes are about our moves

Phone calls with mentors back home

Solid alone time with Jesus

A cool breeze in South Africa to remind me of fall back home in the States

Accountability from those who know you best

Conversations with strangers

Scripture verses that come alive when reading them

Contagious smiles

Grace

My mom making it through a major back surgery and beginning to see her move through the recovery process with such strength and determination

Loved ones who surround my family during difficult times, who support, pray, and visit

My relationship with my siblings, no matter where we are all at in the world we can always call or chat each other and pick up where we left off

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Hearing stories of how God is moving in other people’s lives

Encouraging words

Warmth of the sun on your skin in November when you know your family is shoveling snow already

Looking back and seeing God’s sovereignty in your life

Proper Diet Coke, not Coke Light from the middle east  (This picture is with my friend Mallory who has the contagious laugh as well)

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Meaningful conversations with students about life and watching the wheels turn in their mind, praying and waiting for that moment when they “get it”

I want to challenge you all that as you go throughout your next full day, look around, soak it all in, and see what simple and extreme things are you thankful for.  You would be surprised.  Trust me as a girl who used to take consistent electricity for granted, I am thankful that when I flip the light switch and it actually turns on, I am impressed.  I am also thankful for those little moments when I am sitting around a meal with close friends and everyone is smiling.

Take in every moment.

Don’t let life simply pass you by.

Most of all, be thankful.

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