The editor at The Beacon newspaper recently asked school children from Bracken Christian School and a couple of other area schools to write a 400-word essay to explain what they were thankful for. There were 524 submissions and we are proud to say that several from Bracken Christian School were the winners!
Since we are approaching the Thanksgiving holidays we are reminded of all that God has blessed us with and are thankful for - His blessings are overflowing.
High School Winners: Trey Fischer, Galina Wheelock (in conjunction with her sister), and runner-up: Joshua Chu
Middle School Winner: Macey Wheelock (in conjunction with her sister)
Winners of Class with Best Effort (Elementary): 3rd grade, Mrs. Connie Guercio and 4th grade, Mr. Fred Hilgendorf
In case you missed them, here are their essays - Special thanks to Miss Laurie Long and Mrs. Carol Ballard, their English teachers!!
What I Am Thankful For
There are countless things which we take for granted being Americans. Today, people can hardly go thirty seconds without checking their phone for texts and social media, while necessities, such as clean, running water and good healthcare, go unnoticed and unappreciated. Additionally, ideals which used to be commonplace and the backbone of our society are becoming more and more of a rarity, such as having two, married parents. As a typical American teenager, I am working on becoming ever more grateful for the good foundation God has given me.
Water is absolutely essential for almost every aspect of life. When going to the grocery store, we might spend five dollars on a few bottles of “ultra-pure” water shipped from halfway around the world. There are millions of people who go thirsty every day, many of which would be perfectly happy to drink the water that we have washed our hands with. In almost all of the same countries lacking water, there is a desperate need for healthcare as well. In America, if we are not feeling well or have an ache or pain, we seek some form of medical help. This may be as simple as disinfecting a cut or taking a pill. In many African and Asian countries, obtaining what we call basic supplies is a very difficult task, not to mention surgeries and more advanced medicines such as antibiotics. I am immensely grateful that I live in a country that has clean water and easily accessible healthcare.
Children born to and living with two biological, married parents have become the minority. Currently in the United States, the divorce rate is 50%, while the number of babies born out of wedlock hovers around 30%. Bringing children up in such unstable conditions creates insecurities in emotions, finances and most of all spirituality. When not given a good model to follow, these same children will find it extremely difficult to get married and stay married. I am so thankful to both God and my parents for staying together even when the going got tough.
Humanity takes many things for granted every day. We receive blessings, push them aside, then crave more. I am seeking to be grateful in the seemingly small things, knowing that even these may not always be available to us. In the words of David the Psalmist, “The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.” (Psalm 126:3)
What I am Most Thankful For
One of the things I am most thankful for is my family. I know from my past what it feels like to be without the protection, provision, love and support of parents and siblings. However, God had a special plan for my future.
When I was five years old, I was removed from my family by policemen. I remember how scared and terrified I was because I was being taken away from everything I knew. Screaming and crying, I tried to get out of the car, but was too small and weak to break free. I remember it all, as if it had happened yesterday. My siblings and I were taken from everything we knew and loved. That day our world was destroyed, never seeing my parents again. To this day, I still don’t remember them, almost as if they never even existed.
As the second of three children, I lived in an orphanage for seven years. My only family was an older sister, who was always like a mother to me. My younger brother was taken to a different orphanage where I never saw him again. I don’t know what he is like, what he likes to do, what his favorite color is. I’ve missed out on seeing him grow up, never having any relationship with my own brother. I grew up in an orphanage not knowing what it was like to have a mother who loved you and cared for you. As a little girl, I never got to sit in my daddy’s lap. I never got to dress up as a princess, and I never got to do things that normal little girls get to do with their parents. I had to grow up and mature faster than I wanted. Sometimes, I wonder what it would have been like if I had parents all those years.
A few years later, the devastating news came that my sister had been adopted. The last precious bit of family I had was gone in the blink of an eye. But just when it seemed what little I had left was lost, God gave me a wonderful family! God gave me incredible parents, who love me and care for me more than I could ever imagine! I now have seven other siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents! To an orphan, this was a dream come true. By His grace, God gave me more than I could have ever asked. Each day I thank Him for pouring out His blessings on me when I did nothing to deserve them.
There are countless things for which I’m grateful: food, clothing, friends and many more. However, the single thing I’m most thankful for is my family. It is one of the greatest gifts God can give to anyone. I know that many children take their families for granted, while others would give anything to have a family. I was once one of those kids.
Thank God It’s America
“[W]e may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor…for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.” George Washington, who stated these things through the Thanksgiving Proclamation, urges Americans to thank God for the blessings He has given us through the United States of America: Blessings such as protection, peace, freedoms, and food. Sadly, however, these mercies granted to us from God are often overlooked.
When I was twelve, my mom took me and my sister to the Philippines to visit her grandmother. The Philippines, my family’s homeland, was quite different from America, the land which I had been born and raised. One big difference was the despair I felt when viewing the low class of society, which contained the majority of the people in the Philippines. These people lacked food, clothing, and shelter. Some would die from disease caused from uncleanliness, stemming partly from lack of knowledge and education, and others would succumb to the forces of nature, such as temperature changes and violent storms, since they, taking refuge in uncomfortable places, such as a cardboard box, lacked any real shelter. The people of the Philippines are also still recovering from a dictator who shut down many freedoms of the people that we enjoy here in America. In some places in the Philippines, like Mindanao, people are always in constant fear of getting killed by a fanatic religious organization or the New People’s Army. In other words, coming back from the trip, I learned about how lucky we are to live in the United States.
The United States, a land of freedom, has been blessed so much by the Lord. Many things we enjoy here are not experienced in every country. The sense of protection you feel at home or the food you eat for dinner or the education you receive at school are all things that God has blessed us with. Do not take these things for granted; instead, thank God for them every day.
What I Am Most Thankful For
There are many things in this world I am thankful for. Food, water,electricity, shelter. etc. But the thing I am most thankful for is my family. My family in particular is especially unique. I have seven siblings, five adopted from all over the word, and two biological. I, myself, ambiological. Being the oldest biological child and gradually watching five strangers that become your best friends come into your home is quite interesting. You get to witness all of the different cultures, languages, and hear fascinating stories.
One story in particular stands out to me the most. It is about my sister, Galina, whom we adopted from Ukraine. Her parents were both big-time alcoholics and they were not around very often.
Galina got put into an orphanage when she was five years old. There, all she got to eat was fish, potatoes, and oatmeal and slept on a tiny twin mattress in a room filled with hundreds of other girls. My family adopted Galina when she was twelve years old, and she has been with us for five years. Hearing testimonies like hers makes me appreciate my family much more and that most people nearly always take their families for granted. They don’t realize that they could have been dropped off at an orphanage or abandoned on a doorstep with nobody to love or care for them.
From the perspective of someone who grew up her whole life listening to all the stories and hearing about all the things that my brothers and sisters went through makes me want to pursue my dream of travelling around the world, helping others and being a light to those in need. I am so very thankful for my family and
everything they have done to provide for me.
In conclusion, I want to close with my favorite scripture, James 1:27, “Pure and undefiled religion is caring for orphans and widows in their distress.” I will try my hardest in life to live by that scripture and I can’t wait to see what God
has in store for me.