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Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017


Posted Wednesday, December 16, 2009, at 9:43 PM

Lately, the news (even local) has been filled with heartbreaking stories of people losing their loved ones. In an instant, their loved ones are taken and the ones left behind to carry on are forever changed. As the holiday season approaches, I am reminded more and more to be thankful for all the wonderful things and people I have in my life. Sometimes, life is hectic and busy and I forget to be thankful.

Why does it take such a tragedy to remind me to be thankful? That's something I should do every single day. My children are healthy, I have a roof over my head, foot to eat, clothes to wear.... a coat when it's cold outside. So, so many reasons to be thankful. So many days I'm busy or stressed or having a rough time and I don't stop to think about the bigger picture. Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, God never says how many days we are here for, how long we have to enjoy this life. If we don't enjoy our life right now, today and every day, we may never get to. Life may be over before we've taken the time to be happy and thankful for it.

I remember when I was in middle school, the church I was a part of went on a mission trip, to Lexington, Kentucky. I was one of the lucky ones who had the chance to go. The trip literally changed my life forever. I worked for the Salvation Army, doing many things, including volunteering time in a shelter for battered women and children. I also served as a big sister to some of the kids in their program. Wow! Those kids had been through so many tough times, but they were just happy to have food, a bed and clothes to wear. The first day, I was a little worried about the new experience, but the moment I walked into the doors of the shelter, I had little kids climbing all over me, just wanting held and picked up.. they just wanted to be loved. I was worried about fitting in, and these kids just wanted to feel loved.

I was so blessed. My family had food, clothes, a nice house in a safe neighborhood, I didn't have any REAL worries in the world. Sure, I worried about homework and making friends, whether my teachers and classmates would like me, but some of those kids had worried about someone hurting them, where there next meal would come from and if they would ever have a nice house in a safe neighborhood. It was humbling.

One little girl, Savannah, captured my heart. Savannah was 3. Her mom and her other two siblings, an older sister and a new born baby brother, had left their alcoholic, abusive father after he had put them through years of abuse. Their mother finally had the courage to seek help and when she did, the Salvation Army opened their arms to her. They lived in a small, apartment like room in the shelter. They had hand-me-down clothes and toys, donated blankets, but they were happy and healthy and appreciative of everything they had. Savannah loved for me to hold her, read to her and for me to fix her hair.

The first day there, Savannah had been shy, not one of the first children to run up to me. But I saw her, her little tan face, with big blue eyes and sun bleached hair. She was tiny, but feisty. She never let anyone rain on her parade. Slowly, she became attached to me and became one of my favorites. She loved the color pink (just like me) and wanted to grow up and be rich, and have a big house that she could share with her mommy and siblings. She loved to color, drawing on any piece of paper she could find.

Our last week there, I found myself dreading the thought of going home and never seeing her again. She had become like a little sister to me and I loved her dearly. Before we left, myself and several others took notes on what the children (and the staff) thought they needed more of. Their requests were modest: new coloring books and crayons, more warm blankets, books to read. They asked for very little. A group of us chipped in money and spent a day going to businesses asking for donations. In the end, we were able to get everything on their list and then some. A local business even donated some brand new pillows, blankets, towels and other items! The look on those kids faces was amazing. They were so thankful and appreciative for everything they received, not once did they forget to give thanks or complain about what they received. They were just happy to have the bare essentials. They were happy to be alive and safe, to be able to have a warm bed to sleep in each night.

The day I said goodbye to little Savannah, my heart nearly broke. I cried as I hugged her goodbye. As I left, she told me how happy she was to have a new box of crayons, none of them broken and a whole tablet of paper to herself. Wouldn't it be amazing if we were all thankful for such little things?

When I get busy and forget to be thankful, I remember little Savannah. I was there to be a mentor to the kids, but her and others like her, taught me so much more than I could ever teach them. I hope, even though I'm human and sometimes forget, that I can be just as thankful for my blessings each and every day as she was hers. After all, God has truly blessed me with so much.

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I am the Editorial Assistant for The Fort Scott Tribune, where I have been employed since March of 2008. I live in the country near Mapleton, Kan., with my husband and our two children. I graduated from Uniontown High School, Uniontown, Kan., but before attending Uniontown, I moved around several times during my childhood. I love to take photos, write, read and spend time with my family. I am also a member of our local fire department and enjoy attending church with my family and appreciate everything a small town has to offer. I look forward to watching my children grow and spending time with my husband and family while living in the country.
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