I had an unconventional Thanksgiving this year (my second one, actually – for the first unconventional one, I was studying abroad in Paris in 2011). I spent the actual holiday in classes, later attending an art show by an American guy who had lived in Dallas for almost 30 years working for the US Department of Defense. The show is always held on Thanksgiving, as it’s his favorite holiday, and to celebrate, there was apple cider and pumpkin pie (and festive Thanksgiving napkins, too!). Thankfully, to cap the night, I got to FaceTime with my whole family back home and enjoy being a part of Thanksgiving there, too. So fun!
Black Friday is when the real dinner was held. My amazing Hungarian teacher, Aniko, offered to host Thanksgiving at her home, and her and her family went above and beyond to make it as homey as possible. They decorated their place with posters that said, “Happy Thanksgiving, Layo!” and baked traditional apple and pumpkin pies for dessert. The rest of my medical group brought traditional foods from their cultures for all of us to share. It was a beautiful night, full of food, laughter, thankfulness, music, great conversation, and lots of hugs. It’s definitely a Thanksgiving for the books – one I’ll never forget. I’m so thankful to be blessed with family and friends such as this, both here and at home. Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving as well!
Happy Easter – He is risen! I’m so very thankful for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross…it’s a truly incredible act of love to think of on this day and to cherish as a child of God. I couldn’t help but wake up with a smile (really…I was serious about Easter being one of my favorite times of the year!) – knowing that Jesus, the King of Heaven, died thousands of years ago as a man to create a way for us to have a meaningful relationship with God is completely overwhelming, in an awesome way. I’ll never get over it, because I can’t wrap my mind around that kind of unending grace and love! What an awesome gift to be thankful for.
Woven in time, the scarlet string To breathe and create a sacred thing
The fight we’re in has already been won
Arise, for the kingdom has come Arise, for the kingdom has come
Faithfulness. That’s the word that I would use to most accurately sum up my 2013. Every single experience I’ve had this year, whether a high or low, has been especially memorable as I think back on many of them because I’ve realised that God’s mercies – or in other words, His constant faithfulness – have been increasingly abundant in my life this past year. He hasn’t been more or less faithful than before, but I think I’ve grown to appreciate the simple things in my life that truly capitalize on His daily faithfulness. I could reflect on the “big” things in my life – like finding a job after graduation for my gap year – or the “small” things – like the fall afternoon where the rain in the sky miraculously held off from pouring down until seconds after I returned home from running – but either way, His faithfulness shines through. I can’t think of one encounter I’ve had this year where God’s immense faithfulness hasn’t been at work in my life, and it makes me so incredibly excited to continue to do life with Him guiding me in the new year.
This song, Great is Your Mercy, is taking it old school (I seriously adore the fact that it’s 10 minutes long…if you know me, you know I love abnormally-long songs) – it’s one of those classic church songs where the same sentiments are sung repeatedly by different people. But the way each person articulates the same message is profound in my eyes. I can almost feel how greatly each person has experienced God’s faithfulness in their own personal, varying situations through the way they express each word in song. That’s how God’s faithfulness is as well. We each experience it, whether knowingly or not, and it impacts us in different ways based on where we are in life. The difference comes with how we respond to it. I’ve seen myself be completely ignorant of how faithful God has been in certain past situations, because my eyes have been focused on circumstances, rather than above. I pray that in the new year, I can continue to respond to God’s faithfulness just as the people above vocalising “Great is Your mercy towards me” have: with fresh eyes and a humble, grateful heart.
Happy New Year! 2014 is sure to be a spectacular adventure.
A decade ago, on July 4, 2003, I wrote an essay for a “patriotic essay” contest sponsored by Trinity Fest in Dallas. It was about why I loved America – basically, a few paragraphs considering all the opportunities I have been blessed to experience since my parents decided to move here to the U.S. many years ago. I’ve always been grateful for who I am and the things I’ve been blessed to do, but looking back over the past decade after reading the fabulous 10-year follow up article in the Dallas Morning News by Ms. Floyd, it almost baffles me at how far God has allowed my family and I to come. Truly, we’ve accomplished things that I don’t think would be possible had we grown up in Nigeria. Of course, we’re extremely proud to be Nigerian (my family and friends can attest to that!) and I can’t wait to visit soon, but I really believe that each of our talents, from my parents to my little sister’s, have been unimaginably cultivated by the experiences we’ve had by also growing up as proud Texans in the U.S.
Truthfully, I don’t think we can ever adequately thank God for these opportunities and blessings. But for sure, I can say my family and I are really grateful to Him to be here.
Yesterday, my family and friends celebrated so much: my graduation, my sister’s graduation, my other sister’s trip to Indonesia, long-time friendships, and even the great weather. I’m reminded daily that I have so much to be thankful for as I enter into this next stage of life, and this song truly begins to reach to the depths of what I feel in gratefulness to God for all He’s doing in the lives of my family and friends. Every time I begin to think of the many things the Lord’s done in my life these past few months, I can’t help but think of how awesome these next few months will be. He’s so unerringly good that I can barely stand it or can’t even begin to explain it. I think I say I’m thankful for things a lot, but in this season of life, I’m really, really grateful for just so much. Over the years, I’ve found that being grateful is the best medicine one can take. When I get in the mindset of thankfulness, other circumstances melt away as I realize that I’m truly blessed despite whatever else may seem pressing.
I also told my sister I’d love to share some of the photos she takes while in Bali, Indonesia, for her photography class, so I’m hoping she’ll email some while there or share others when she returns!
Also, I’ll be keeping the people of Oklahoma in my prayers; I can’t imagine the stress surrounding the families there right now.