Today is Thanksgiving! A day full of cooking, eating until you are stuffed, sitting around the table with friends or family, and remembering what we are grateful for in our lives.
Today I am reminded that I have not been very thankful in recent weeks, I have been stressed and my heart is heavy with everything but thanks. I'm not going to talk about what was making me stressed and ungrateful, but rather I am going to remember that today, and every single day, that I am extremely blessed to have this life that I have been given. Today I will reflect, and give thanks both for the good times and the bad times that I have gone through that have gotten me to where I am today. Today I will give thanks to my family, because they deserve far more credit than what I give. Today I will give thanks to my friends, the ones that truly care because they are amazing and they need to know it. Today I will give thanks to my Husband, I do not appreciate him as often as I should, and he is truly one of the best blessings in my life. Today I will give thanks to my God, because he is good, and I dare to know it.
Today I want to tell you a story, one that many of you already know, it is a story about a girl from many years ago learning the true meaning of Thanksgiving and what it means to have a grateful heart.
In the Autumn of 2011, a young girl was taken out of her home by two strangers in the very early hours of one October morning. Her mom watched with sad eyes as she left her family home never to return again(or at least not for a long time). She traveled by plane from North Carolina to Utah where she would soon embark on a life changing journey that would be one of the hardest, most challenging things she had ever done. This new journey was called Wilderness.
In wilderness she slept on the cold, hard ground with nothing more than a thin foam mat and a sleeping bag and a blue plastic tarp above her head to keep her warm and "comfortable". She ate rice, pasta and meat from a can and cooked over a fire with only a small tin cup and a wooden spoon that she carved herself. She hiked 2 to 8 miles a day, with a 50 pound pack on her back that was nothing more than tree branches, rope and a bag rolled into a tarp. She learned to make fires out of only natural materials, a rock, a juniper tree bow with parachute cord, a sage spindle, and a sage root board. This technique of creating fires is very primitive, but very effective, it is called bow-drilling. She was very good at it. When she wanted to speak to someone outside of her group, she could only send letters. She sat by the fire each morning and night surrounded by people she did not know, but knew almost everything about. Together they opened up about their lives, talked about their troubles, why they were sent into the Wilderness, and how they have started and wanted to change.
As the weeks flew by, the girls in the group did not expect to have Turkey or stuffing or pie for Thanksgiving, instead as they hiked they planned out how they would flavor their rice and make their own cinnamon rolls with our food supplies. But the afternoon of Thanksgiving our staff disappeared into the sage bushes and pulled out a giant plastic bin that will full to the brim of Turkey, pies, stuffing, yams, and canned green beans. The girls had tears swell up in their eyes from the joy of getting "real people food" and especially at the sight of pumpkin pie and whipped cream. The girls dug out a fire pit faster than ever before, and She started the fire with her bow and her drill.
As the girls sat around the fire, heating up their food and talking to each other about how thankful they were for not only this food, but for their families, and everything else in their lives. She sat back and thought to herself how truly thankful she was. She was thankful for her parents, who she had taken for granted for far too long, she was grateful for the experience of being in Wilderness so she could face her problems head on, she was grateful for being surrounded by nature and being reminded how much she had because she knew what it was like to barely have anything. She was grateful for her life, because before this journey she was lost and slowly fading away. That Thanksgiving, sitting in the dirt, with a fire that she built from nothing but sticks, surrounded by strangers in the cold Utah desert, her heart was the fullest it had ever been on Thanksgiving, she ate her pumpkin pie as if it were the most amazing thing she had ever tasted and she cried happy tears as she thought about her family, and friends, hopefully she would soon see them again.
You might have guessed it, that the young girl in this story is me. That Thanksgiving will most likely be the one that I cherish the most, because I literally had nothing but the clothes on my back, the food in my bag, the backpack I carried and the people I was with.
It is so, so, so easy to forget how much we have to be thankful for! We get caught up in petty things that we allow ourselves to get upset by, and we allow those silly things to cloud our hearts and minds with ungratefulness. You may never experience what it feels like to have nothing, and to have nothing but a tarp as a home, but you and I can appreciate what we do have. How much we have, and how much that matters.
I too often let my thankful heart give way to the worries of the world. And in doing so my happiness also fades away, because when you have a thankful heart you are actively seeing the good in your life and in the world and there is much to be happy for. But when you allow that thankfulness to retreat you will focus more on the negatives and you will soon be unhappy.
So Today, I make a goal - to have a grateful heart and focus on the good things in my life, instead of on my bills, the election, the bad things that happen all over the world, and whatever else I get caught up in. Today and everyday I want to remind myself how far I have come, the people in my life that I love and cherish, and the good things, like pumpkin pie, and puppy kisses.
There is much to be thankful for, we just have to see it. And sometimes we need to take a step back and humble ourselves in order to clear the fog of ungratefulness, and you might even have to spend time in the Wilderness to realize how truly blessed you are.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Watch me make a fire with my Bow-Drill set!