It’s that time of the year again. You know what I mean, time for food, family reunions and a lot of words of affirmation. Yes, friends, Thanksgiving time is here!

Being huge into words of affirmation myself, I have been giving and receiving a lot of encouragement over the past week. On my way to class, I have done that thing that only annoying kids do where they see a friend off in the distance and promptly scream their name and run to catch up with them to let them know how important they are. In a less extreme and annoying way, I have made an effort to make each and every conversation intentional. Over lunch with a group, I have taken the time to ask each person what they are looking forward to over the break and how I can be praying for them. The amazing conversations that this has led to has stood as a challenge for me to love people in this way every day, and not just during the holidays. After all, Christ calls us to love others in this way.

Being so close to Thanksgiving, I have practiced my usual tradition of listing all the things I have to be thankful for. While I try to do this on a regular basis, I take the time around Thanksgiving to do this more in depth and sincerely thank God for all that I have. Here is what I have so far:

I am thankful for the life I have at CBU. Being so far from home has brought about its difficulties, but it has also given me so many opportunities to reestablish myself and grow further into the person God wants me to be. I have been able to learn so much in the subject I am passionate about and become better prepared to pursue a career where I can serve best. I have also developed some of the most influential friendships of my life and been able to enjoy a supportive and Christ-centered community.

I’m also thankful for the fact that I am returning to an amazing home. Not to brag or anything, but my family is awesome and my small town is charming. I am so proud of my background and grateful for that part of my life.

I’m so thankful for my ability to think, feel deeply, and have a relationship with the Creator of all things. This, above all, is the most defining aspect of my being and is what inspires me to love and serve others each day. For that, I am most definitely grateful.