My Thanksgiving List

This post first appeared on Assist News Service in November 2015.

My husband, four young sons, and I live in Ukraine. Just over five months ago, we decided to move from the small city that our kids had always called home to Kyiv, the capital of the country with a population of roughly 4 million. When we made the announcement, our kids didn’t seem to mind, but several days later, my eldest son confided in me that he wished we didn’t have to move, because he was sad about leaving his friends.

I had my own reservations about living in Kyiv. I was familiar with the city, having lived there for four years before our children were born, and my memories were overwhelmingly negative. But I didn’t voice any of this to the children. On the contrary, my husband and I did everything we could to play up the move for the kids. We talked about all the new friends they would make in the church we were going to pastor. We told them about the fun things we could do in Kyiv that weren’t possible in our little city. We described the mighty Dnipro River running through the middle of Kyiv and the bridges spanning it. We reminded them of how much they loved to ride the Kyiv subway.

As we continued to highlight the positive aspects of life in Kyiv, my husband and I found ourselves actually becoming excited! Neither of us had ever wanted to live in Kyiv again, but now that God was clearly calling us back, and we were embracing His will, our outlook on life in the capital was changing.

It’s now been almost four months since we moved, and we are continually discovering additional benefits to life here. As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, I thought it appropriate to share a list of things I am thankful for about Kyiv. I hope it will be a window for you into another place and culture and perhaps inspire your own Thanksgiving reflections.


Mommy Blessings

I take care of my children because I'm their mother. I want the best for them. When the baby is hungry, I nurse him or give him some age-appropriate food. When his diaper is dirty, I change it. When my 2-year-old is done with his business on the toilet, I wipe him. When his older brother picks on him, I intervene. When my 4-year-old finishes brushing his teeth in 5.6 seconds flat and rinses out his toothbrush, even though I have told him repeatedly not to do this, I put more toothpaste on it and painstakingly coach him (for the 82nd time) on how to brush all the surfaces of his teeth. (Sometimes I do this patiently . . . and sometimes not.) When the same 4-year-old asks me a question, and then another, and then another, and then another . . . I answer each and every one of them as thoughtfully as I can. I am Mommy. This is my job. I do it out of love for my children, not for reward or recognition. (And it's a good thing too, because some days there doesn't seem to be much of either!)