My whole life I’m surrounded by this great cloud of witnesses, who teach me, who inspire me, who encourage me, who challenge me.

I’m thankful for my mum, who taught me about commitment to something you believe in, even when it’s hard and even when no one acknowledges your efforts, who modelled for me generous hospitality and how to believe in yourself in the best way.

I’m thankful for my dad, who taught me the life-filling value of laughter and silliness, who passed down to me the oh-so-needed value of empathy, and showed me that bravery can be trying something new even when you’re a bit afraid.

I’m thankful for Diana and Carol and Rosie and Ken, who taught this opinionated girl with patience and grace each week in Sunday school and gave me safe space to question and to be passionately sure all at the same time.

I’m thankful for Lungile and Pretty and Zanele, who welcomed me into their lives and their homes and their culture and shared to generously with me, who taught me that we’re really all the same, with the same fears and hopes and daily battles.

I’m thankful for Alice, who taught me to love art and poetry, who pushed me into my first public speaking moment with a twinkle in her eye.

I’m thankful for Hannah and Ellie, my first forever-friends, who loved me enough to let me sleep on their floor when my heart was broken, and still make time to stay in touch across so many miles.

I’m thankful for Joanna, who managed to live with me in a studio flat for ten months without killing me, who taught me so much about open communication, who showed me through her life that practising what you preach is the most important thing.

I’m thankful for Marissa, who shows me what perseverance looks like, whose laughter lifts my spirit and reminds me that games and playing and joy should be a central part of our lives.

I’m thankful for Jodi and Nino and Carlton, who choose to take Jesus at his word, and feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, invite the stranger in.

I’m thankful for Melanie, who left me flowers on my doorstep on the worst day of my year, who teaches me abundant hospitality and shows me what welcoming friendship looks like.

I’m thankful for Grethe and Jenna and Sarah and Anneke and Rica and Mrs Vereker and Pam and Paul and Beth and Evelyn and Micha and Amanda and Simon and Mrs Bexon and Diana and Clotilde and Elisabeth and Henrietta and…

I’m thankful for my beautiful sister Jenni, who teaches me about loyalty and steadfast commitment, who shows me what it looks like to love people generously and without favouritism.

I’m thankful for my husband Rasmus, who believes in me beyond what I often think I’m worth, who challenges me to be brave, to not settle, who shows me what good work and a good life looks like, who loves me with romance and with patience and with passion.

Today is American Thanksgiving. I’m not American but I got to spend one Thanksgiving in the US with my uncle’s family, and twice hosted Thanksgiving in our Brussels home when Marissa needed a bigger oven and dining table.

And really, is there ever a bad moment to count our blessings? “It is impossible to give thanks and simultaneously feel fear.” (Ann Voskamp) So here’s to fearless living and that great cloud of witnesses that cheer us on our way.