Friends, the time is upon us. Stores have been advertising pumpkin everything, classes are speeding up the pace in preparation for upcoming vacations, and I find myself constantly aware of an intense craving for turkey. It is time for us to pack up the books (and unwashed laundry) and head home once again for Thanksgiving Break!

This season always brings about an awareness of each blessing in life. While thankfulness is a practice that should be maintained throughout the year, this holiday serves as a reminder to reboot this mindset. While I have been allowing all of the blessings from this semester to marinate in my mind for a while, I am consistently struck by the thought that blessings are meant to be returned. While I have a mile-long list of things to be thankful for, I find that I have an equally bountiful amount of opportunities to bless others. So, rather than rant all about things to be thankful for, I’d rather take the common ideas and offer ways to return the blessings and bring the focus back to others.

First of all, I am always thankful for my family and for my little town in Northern California. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to go home for the week. While I adore my life here, I find myself missing my small town and the people there. I have been and am continually blessed by my family and close friends from Ukiah, and choose to focus on ways to bless them in return on my upcoming trip. I’ll make a point to make various coffee runs for those who still have to work, drop off cookies at my old office, and catch up on life with everyone I can. Being home with family is wonderful, and while rest is important, it’s also good to make a point to fill your days with simple acts that can make each person you encounter feel loved. This becomes especially important if, like me, you don’t make it home often. Continually invest in your relationships, and use each minute of this time off to ensure that your friends and family feel blessed by you.

Seeing that finals are rapidly approaching, despite the thrill of the upcoming week off, I’ve been constantly reminded of the blessing it is to be a student of the subjects I love. Studying literature and film is, quite honestly, my dream come true. Life is a never-ending book club where I get to talk and write about literature, while simultaneously watching astounding new movies and geeking out about why they are great. Not only do I greatly enjoy my area of study, I get to see the ways in which they are being used to further the Kingdom, and learn how I can play my part in that plan. A challenge to consider in the midst of all of this is to take a moment and put the education we’re receiving into perspective. Consider why you are in school, and what it is you hope to accomplish when you earn your degree. Remember that furthering your education is one way to act as a light in the world, as Christ called us to be, as we can use the knowledge and experience we gain to become more awestruck by the world and the God who made it. This makes me all the more excited to learn continuously, and to play my part in using the knowledge I gain to worship my God.

Readers, I hope that you will be especially blessed this week. As you enjoy the class-free time with those you love, be a cause for blessing to everyone you encounter. I’ll see you in two weeks!