Xiaojian Zhou <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Many things in my family this year are worth being grateful for.
Last year when I shared my thanksgivings, I mentioned that my son had not received the results of his university application, my daughter was facing difficulties in finding a job and applying for graduate school, and the company I worked for was being acquired, possibly leading to significant layoffs, especially as major companies were taking turns in conducting massive layoffs. Although there were no clear outcomes for these issues, I believed in expressing gratitude first. This was what I said at this time last year. I also didn't know how to pray for these things back then.
Later, all three of these issues turned out positively, much better than we had expected. Furthermore, my father fell seriously ill earlier in the year, to the point where he couldn't finish a bowl of noodles, but miraculously, he recovered and has gained several kilograms in weight. My mother-in-law's tongue cancer received timely treatment. Tongue cancer is particularly prone to recurrence, but due to being designated as a case for medical observation and learning, missing follow-up examinations was not an option.
There are many more examples like this. Today, however, I want to highlight a few more things for which I am grateful and want to share.
When my son Victor applied for university this year, he repeatedly expressed his desire to have a single dormitory room because he was afraid of conflicts with his roommate. I agreed. He even went online to look at reviews and I recommended several dormitory buildings to him. However, he chose the one with the lowest rating and opted for a double room. We were both surprised and asked him why he chose that building. Moreover, didn't he want to live alone? He impatiently replied that he had also read online reviews, and people said that the building was good. He had changed his mind and now wanted a double room.
When he moved in, because he had to fit into my wife's schedule, he became the last person to arrive at the entire dormitory building. To our surprise, he was warmly welcomed by all the students on the floor, and everyone came over to greet him. The dormitory staff was also very nice. He was thrilled. He is someone who really needs a warm environment. His roommate is also very kind with excellent habits, which can help my son to correct his bad habit of staying up late.
Indeed, what God provides is the best.
The second thing is that, to prepare for the impending empty nest life, we have started walking for exercise. My wife sets a goal of walking 15,000 steps every day, and, more importantly, she requires me to accompany her for half of it, which is over an hour for 8,000 steps. We have a dedicated time each day, and as a couple, we walk and communicate while leaving our phones behind. Looking back, we used to be so busy, family life became all about business, and in our free time, we'd each look at our phones, with very little communication. Now, we often pray and share our gratitude during our walks because, having gone through those experiences together, our gratitude sharing is more sincere and profound.
The third thing is that this year, I started taking online piano lessons. The main teacher is a Christian, and he clearly aims to spread the faith through free piano lessons, which is a wonderful activity, and I'm thankful for it. Most of the practice pieces he chooses are hymns. I am familiar with these songs, but playing them on the piano is a different experience. It requires practice, over and over again, with each practice leaving an impact. For example, for the last examination piece, "Listen Gently" and "I Come to You in Prayer," I practiced them hundreds of times. In the recent fifth lesson, we are practicing "The Essence of Love." I was suddenly moved by the lyrics of this song and paused to reflect. I knew that this was a passage from Paul's First Corinthians, and now, when I read it word by word, I realized that each word is so relevant and important. I have always been immersed in various forms of love without being aware of it. I used to constantly feel that society and the world owed me something. However, when I contrast this passage, it becomes apparent that I have given too little in terms of "love."
Many years ago, Brother Yang Mingyin said to me, "I feel that God has a lot of grace in you." For several years, I didn't agree with his words. But on that night of singing practice, I suddenly recalled what he had said. In comparison to the pursuits of education for my children and career in life for me and my wife, the greatest grace is actually that God chose me, allowing a person as proud and stubborn as me to believe."