Thanksgiving Vine

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  • 2

    Michelle Shen

    Sweater weather is officially here!

    Break has gone by so fast this year, with

    the motley of potlucks, parties,

    shopping, sleeping, and movie-

    watching! Its been a whirlwind of

    fun and laughter and happiness.

    But break, being break,

    has its downside: laziness.

    Its often easy to skip de-

    vos, forget praying, or let Gods

    Word fall to the bottom of our

    priorities. We push Jesus back

    and instead get caught up in eve-

    ryday life. Its hard to get back

    into routine again after falling


    Spiritual warfare surrounds

    us every day in every way imagin-

    ableits a constant battle be-

    tween sin and God. All of our choices (both posi-

    tive and negative) contribute to the ongoing


    This week, Ive struggled with remember-

    ing to say grace before I eat or finishing up my

    devos each day. And each day that I dont finish

    what I need to, I am moving away from God. Its

    easier to succumb to temptations than to fight

    them; but God equips us so we can fight the

    devils schemes. As long as we are honest and

    righteous, and we hold fast to the Bible and our

    faith, we are equipped with

    the Holy Spirit inside of us.

    With all of this, we can surely

    defeat any evil.

    Therefore put on the full ar-

    mor of God, so that when the

    day of evil comes, you may be

    able to stand your ground, and

    after you have done every-

    thing, to stand. Stand firm

    then, with the belt of truth

    buckled around your waist,

    with the breastplate of right-

    eousness in place, and with

    your feet fitted with the readi-

    ness that comes from the gos-

    pel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the

    shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all

    the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the hel-

    met of salvation and the sword of the Spirit,

    which is the word of God.

    Ephesians 6:13-17

    We must put on Gods armor, and fight

    against earthly desires.


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    Melody Zhang

    then it is most definitely Gods will for you to go

    to law school, become a lawyer, and earn big

    bucks so that you will eventually give back to

    charity and love in this way. Perhaps, however,

    this kind of talent-driven path isnt

    Gods will for everyone. Instead of

    listening to our own hearts, its

    time we listen to His.

    The disciples had all sorts of pro-

    fessions before they met Jesus, but

    they dropped everything and fol-

    lowed him. A God-given talent

    doesnt necessarily signify a one-

    way road to how a life should be

    lived; it could be a path to the path

    that you are called to follow, it

    could be a pride that must be

    overcome for humilitys lesson to

    be taught, it could be a gift from

    God that is not meant to be used

    for bread-earning. It could still very

    well be the path too.

    God tells us that we are all fearfully

    and wonderfully made, each in his own image. If

    the gifts that he blessed us with were put to use

    for His reasons instead of abused for selfish

    gain, then we may truly find peace within our-


    I SHALL NOT WANT: I DO NOT WANT I often think about what it would feel to be

    honestly, completely content with who I am and

    where I am at in my life. To those people who say

    they are content, are they true? What does it feel

    like to not want, or to never

    wish anything different at all? To

    not say, I want to be more, do

    more, know more but instead I

    am the Lords and he has set me

    in this place? Maybe some-

    times, when we are out there

    doing busy, our ultimate goal

    is to better ourselves, for our-

    selves. There would be nothing

    wrong in that, but that the focus

    is again put on us instead of to

    be the best we can for God.

    Anyway, the word best

    we can be is actually very

    vague. We could spend our

    whole lives testing our poten-

    tials for science, for literature, art, you name it.

    And maybe at the end, we are the best we can

    be on all of these subjects, but God just wanted

    us: stripped to the core, bare, and empty-handed


    Its true, lots of people think that a God-

    given talent should not go to wastethe idea

    that if you possess an extraordinary mind for law,

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    Does knowing God your whole life auto-

    matically make you a Christian? Does being a

    Christian for over ten years make you a good

    one? Does growing up in a Christian family all of

    a sudden make you the greatest Christian raised

    out there? Does having good friends keep your

    faith strong? Does going to Christian clubs make

    you a good Christian?

    I would answer no to all of these. Being

    raised in a Christian home my whole life didnt

    make me a better Christian. I came to Christ on

    October 16, 2004. I know; it was a long time

    agoI was only 6 years old. Now, looking back, I

    realize I accepted Christ way too early because I

    didnt fully understand what the real meaning

    was. I only did it out of fear.

    After I accepted Jesus, I felt greatI had

    the motivation to be a better child, listen to my

    parents, and always pray to God. It was truly won-

    derful when I felt God help me to overcome Satan

    for the first time. The feeling is absolutely inde-


    At the beginning of fourth grade, I decided

    to try and finish reading the Bible in a whole year.

    I didnt succeed, but I remember people becom-

    ing interested when they saw me put down the

    Bible on my reading list. Soon other churchgoers

    and Christians began to put the Bible on their

    reading list. But in fifth grade, I actually started to

    bring my Bible to school to read. Classmates be-

    gan to question once again, but this time in a dif-

    ferent way: Why does she get to read that? or

    What is that? Believe or not, this didnt affect

    me to become a better Christian.

    Going into middle school, I was sur-

    rounded by worldly actions. Middle school was

    when I first started gossiping and backstabbing

    and becoming the person I used to be. I noticed a

    change in myself at first, but I thought I would

    never do it again. All my friends gossiped and

    swore and eventually I fell into the same trap.

    (Well, not the swearing part. Okay, okay, maybe

    once in a while in my head.) When I was in sixth

    grade, a Christian club at my middle school was

    formedEPIC, Equipping People in Christ. I was

    super excited for it and I loved it. But around the

    corner came seventh gradeI didnt know this

    at the time, but my backstabbing, gossiping,

    judging friends had grown on me; I never

    touched my Bible or did my devos. I was never

    excited for church or for EPIC. I would just think,

    Its at 8 in the morning. Who would be excited


    At the end of seventh grade, one of my

    best friends (Girl A) moved to my middle school.

    She and one of my other friends at the time (Girl

    B) absolutely hated each other because of a stu-

    pid Facebook fight, even though they didnt

    even know each other. They always told me bad

    stuff about each other when they hadnt even

    talked or made any effort to get to know each

    other. At first I was thought, WOW! Stop being

    so judgmental. But before I knew it, I was join-

    ing in on their backstabbing conversations. I

    truly thought there was no problem with this. I

    used to think, What else would we talk about?

    In eighth grade, I soon realized that it was

    a big problem. In March, Girl A and one of my

    other friends (Girl C) got into a huge fight. Girl A

    starting the fight by calling Girl C mean. I found

    out about the fight when Girl C messaged me

    and told me about it. She eventually began to

    say nasty things about Girl A and Girl B and I

    semi-agreed, maybe adding in an opinion or

    two. This sounds so stupid to me now, but be-

    fore this fight happened, Girl A told me her

    Facebook password and I gave her mine in re-



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    Joanne Tan

    About two weeks into summer, Girl A went

    on my Facebook and saw I had a conversation

    with Girl C. She looked at it because of her curios-

    ity and showed it to Girl B! A huge fight blew up

    and they said they didnt wanted to be friends


    The first person I blamed for this mess?


    Why is it when something awful happens

    the first person we usually blame is God? But

    when we need help or are

    thankful for something we

    dont go to him right

    away? Isnt it ironic how

    we become angry at the

    great being that created

    the very horrible things

    that happen to us? I was

    upset with God. But why? I

    hadnt talked to him or

    read his Word in two

    years. It turned out being

    mad at Him helped me

    understand why all of this


    As freshmen year started, I found a new

    group of friends. Then all the pieces started to

    come together: God wasnt trying to hurt me; he

    was trying to help me. Surprisingly, I started pray-

    ing more often and asking God for help. Looking

    at the big picture, those friends were horrible in-

    fluences on me and swayed me to pursue worldly

    actions. I also realized that in my new group of

    friends, no one gossiped or made nasty com-

    ments about other people. Eventually, I began

    going to the high schools Christian club, REACH.

    I also began coming to Oasis. Going to REACH

    and Oasis, I met many people who were on fire

    for God, wanting to serve Him, ready to do what

    He told them to do. I finally began reading the

    Bible again and I recommitted myself to God. I

    didnt know how big of a difference it was be-

    tween just knowing who God is and actually

    KNOWING God. The transformation was amaz-

    ingI understood the Bible much better; I could

    analyze it and apply it to my life. I made an ef-

    fort to show Gods love to people around me

    and not be as judgmental. By doing this I real-

    ized how many more friends I could make and

    how much more open I felt toward others.

    My old group of friends still

    has their own little clique. Girl A got

    over the fight quickly and now we

    are super good friends. And after all

    that has happened to me, I know to

    trust in God with all my heart. One

    of my favorite verses:

    Trust in the Lord with all your heart

    and lean not your own understand-

    ing; in all your ways acknowledge

    him and he will keep your paths


    Proverbs 3:5-6

    God is almost always the first person I

    turn to and talk to. I have learned that trusting

    in Him wholeheartedly really works. Having trust

    problems makes it harder, but I still try my best

    to trust in His will. Whenever I doubt God, I

    pretty much pray nonstop. Remembering that

    the Lord is my anchor guides me to remember

    God has a perfect plan to prosper me and not to

    harm me, plans to give me a hope and a future

    (Jeremiah 29:11). Even though things may seem

    bad at times, I now know it is ultimately part of

    Gods great plan and will benefit me in the long

    run. Whether it is a minute, two days, three

    years, or four decades whatever it may be, God

    has it all planned out and under control.

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    Zhou Arnold

    VIVE PRO DEUS As the winter holidays approach, families

    reunite. Children spend more time with their par-

    ents and vice versa. For me, these days are some

    that I spend the most time with them and thus,

    these days hold a special place in my heart. 365

    days a year and more than six hours a day in the

    same house, its a wonder why I dont talk with

    them more. Amongst the festivities and rush for

    presents, dont forget to be together with family

    and our Lord!

    As the last words to this, I leave you

    this verse. Hence, I say adieu today


    Give thanks to the Lord, call on his


    Make known among the nations

    what he has done.

    Sing to him, sing praise to him;

    tell of all his wonderful acts.

    Glory in his holy name;

    Let the hearts of those who seek the

    Lord rejoice.

    Look to the Lord and his strength;

    seek his face always.

    Remember the wonders he has done,

    his miracles, and the judgments he


    O descendants of Abraham his servant,

    O sons of Jacob, his chosen ones.

    He is the Lord our God;

    His judgments are in all the earth

    Psalm 105

    Vive pro Deus (Live for God)!

    Thanksgiving. What is it? Well

    A celebration was held by Pilgrim settlers

    in Massachusetts during their second

    winter in America in December, 1621.

    A feast of turkey, mashed potatoes, and

    all that good stuff.

    A break from school, homework, and


    A time of, well, giving thanks.

    I bet at least one of

    these thoughts scurried across

    your mind at the word thanks-

    giving. You wouldnt be wrong.

    But what really is Thanksgiving?

    Like most any other

    word, its meaning is subjective,

    but there is one underlying fact

    we all agree on: it is a giving of

    thanks to our Lord and Jesus

    Christfor us Christians. Al-

    though the repetition of varia-

    tions of thanksgiving in 120 words has made the

    article mundane, its true! But I digress

    Out of all of the gifts that God has given us,

    the one of the utmost importance is Jesus Christ,

    our king and savior. On that sacred cross Jesus died

    for usHe paid for our unfathomable sins and

    granted us an opportunity for eternal life. As the

    Apostle Paul so nicely put it, Thanks be to God for

    his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15)

    Be as it might that I try to focus on Thanks-

    giving, its not wrong to also mingle the idea of

    Christmas in as well. In fact, the idea behind Christ-

    mas and Thanksgiving is one and the same. But why

    have two separate holidays to praise God? I dont

    see why not. Laudate Deus (Praise God)!

    There is a slight line that separates the two

    holidays definitions. The purpose of Thanksgiv-

    ingbesides serving as a time to praise Him

    is a symbol of good harvest, while Christmas is a

    symbol for die natali Christi (birthday of Christ).

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    Esther Yan

    Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To ex-

    press your appreciation, sincerely and without the

    expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate

    those around you, and youll soon find many oth-

    ers around you. Truly appreciate life, and youll

    find that you have more of it.

    Ralph Marston

    Weve probably all grown

    up learning to say please and

    thank you. At this point,

    thank you is an automatic re-

    sponse. Were taught to say

    thank you to everything: those

    birthday gifts from family mem-

    bers that no one really wants,

    people doing things with good

    intentions that we dont really

    appreciatesometimes I even

    thank my teachers when they

    pass out tests. Its a habit deeply

    ingrained into society, and the

    words thank you hardly mean

    much anymore. So I have a hard time showing my

    appreciation. It feels likewhen I say thanksI

    have to smile a little wider or say it a little more

    emphatically so that it is more genuine.

    This is a lot of effort.

    But I also think this is effort worth putting

    in. Someone close to me once told me that she

    was fighting depression because they felt as if

    no one could ever appreciate her, that they just

    gave and gave and the people around her took

    and took and never gave anything in return. Not

    even a thank you.

    I make it a point to thank

    her a lot now. Especially because

    I know how much shes actually

    sacrificed so that the people

    around her can be happy, and I

    really do appreciate all that shes


    So say thank you! Maybe

    it has lost its meaning; maybe

    people dont really care anymore

    when you say thank you. But to

    some, it could mean a lot. Taking

    time to appreciate someone can

    make their dayand at no extra

    cost to you.

    And be thankful, not only

    for others sake, but because it is

    good to remember how little we

    have without others. A lot of what we have is

    given to usthe roof over our heads, the food

    we eat, our education. Be thankful for a God

    who never relents, a grace that we dont de-

    serve, a love that never ends.


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    WAVERING "Hi! Right this way, have a seat."

    Which visit is it now? Fourth, fifth?

    I shuffle inside the extravagantly deco-

    rated room, take off my scarf, and sit down on

    the overly-soft couch that seems to swallow me

    up. My mom sits next to me.

    The businesslike lady I've come to know

    over the past year sits across from me.

    She starts as usual. How's school? How has the

    past month been? Any changes?

    And then: Any opinions from Mom?

    "I think," my mother begins, "that her

    faith has been helping her. I think that she's

    come to know God lets everything happen for a


    I look up from my usual position of hands

    -folded and head-facing-down, and think: Uh.

    Mom. This is not the time.

    "I think that every time she has a low

    point, she knows that God will pick her up

    again," she continues, and goes on like this for a

    few minutes. I stare quietly the other way, be-

    coming agitated. Why am I agitated?

    And do you agree with this?" the familiar

    voice asks.

    "Not necessarily," I reply, not missing a


    What did I just say?

    "Ah. Yes, well, it's great that her faith has

    been helping her, but my job is to look at her

    circumstancesthe factsand deal with medi-

    cation... And what you said is great and all, but

    from my observation, I see a sad face."

    A sad face. The familiar phrase.

    "We may have to increase dosage, or

    change medication..."

    As they discuss what they have to, I re-

    sume my usual position of folded hands, eyes

    to the floor.

    A sad face. My sad face.

    Andwhat did I say? Not necessarily?

    Had I, in the heat of the moment, just

    messed up two opportunities to be the good

    example I was supposed to be?

    But it's true, isn't it? My faith isn't what

    she needs to know about. She's a doctor. She's

    here to fix me with medicine.

    But couldn't I have said something else;

    anything else? "Yes, Mother, that is indeed very

    true; however I do not find it necessary to pre-

    sent this true information in a professional en-


    No, I outright denied it.

    I denied that my faith helped me.

    That must have come from somewhere,


    "And I guess we'll wrap it up here," a

    cheery voice signals.

    I stand up, put on my scarf, and walk my

    sad face out of the room.


  • 9

    with that. No matter how unthinkable it is at

    the moment, no matter how impossible it may

    seem, I've reached the conclusion that God is

    helping me BY letting me go through it. How

    exactly, I'm still not entirely sure, and probably

    won't be for a long while, but I've thought of a

    few things:

    By going through certain strug-

    gles, God equips us to help others

    who are going through the same


    Without struggles, we'd be so

    content with our own lives that

    sooner or later, we'd forget. We'd

    forget to talk to God, to think

    about God, and we'd just throw

    Him to the back of our priorities.

    And I'm sure there's plenty more,

    but for now I'm content with know-

    ing that God knows much, much

    more than I do. In fact, this same

    thing can make me frustrated. But

    in the end, it's really a good thing.

    Even when my faith wavers, God

    will not stop moving. Even my sad

    face better be sure of that, because

    it's the same sad face that God keeps pointing

    up time and time again.

    Jenny Boudon

    I was reading the poem I'd submitted to

    the last Vine. Something didn't strike me as

    quite rightin the last few lines I wrote "to skip

    and fly down this long path".

    I think that poem began as an upsetting

    way to let out my feelings. Then later, I felt the

    need to pick it up and write a happy ending.

    And, y'know what, I

    really do think there is a happy

    ending. Sometimes, though,

    the path isn't.

    Sometimes it's not al-

    ways that easy. It isn't always

    skipping and flying. Even if God

    is a rock that won't ever move,

    it doesn't mean that our faith

    won't ever waver.

    To be honest, I'm a com-

    plete pessimist, and it's only

    gotten worse recently. I've been

    struggling to stay afloat. But if

    I've learned one thing in the

    past year, it's that God doesn't

    give us hardships just for the

    sake of making us suffer. No,

    that's not what God does.

    Thinking back to why I denied what my

    mom said about my faith helping me, I think I

    can trace it back to my own thinking. My think-

    ing was, 'If God is letting me go through this,

    then He isn't helping.

    And now I think I can see what's wrong

  • 10

    Teddy Du



    What if we woke up

    With only the possessions

    That we thanked God for?


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    Great Are You Lord by All Sons & Daughters

    Fill Me Up by Will Reagan A City On A Hill by The City Harmonic


    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak Color of Water by James McBride

    Joshua 1:9 Matthew 5:13-16 Philippians 4:13

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    Love your Editors,

    Mel +