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Page 1: Thanksgiving Vine
Page 2: Thanksgiving Vine


— 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! It’s been a whirlwind of

fun and laughter and happiness.

But break, being break,

has its downside: laziness.

It’s often easy to skip de-

vos, forget praying, or let God’s

Word fall to the bottom of our

priorities. We push Jesus back

and instead get caught up in eve-

ryday life. It’s hard to get back

into routine again after falling


Spiritual warfare surrounds

us every day in every way imagin-

able—it’s a constant battle be-

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

tive and negative) contribute to the ongoing


This week, I’ve struggled with remember-

ing to say grace before I eat or finishing up my

devos each day. And each day that I don’t finish

what I need to, I am moving away from God. It’s

easier to succumb to temptations than to fight

them; but God equips us so we can fight the

devil’s 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 God’s armor, and fight

against earthly desires.


Page 3: Thanksgiving Vine



— Melody Zhang

then it is most definitely God’s 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 isn’t

God’s will for everyone. Instead of

listening to our own hearts, it’s

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

doesn’t 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 humility’s 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 Lord’s 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


It’s true, lots of people think that a God-

given talent should not go to waste—the idea

that if you possess an extraordinary mind for law,

Page 4: Thanksgiving Vine


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 didn’t

make me a better Christian. I came to Christ on

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

ago—I was only 6 years old. Now, looking back, I

realize I accepted Christ way too early because I

didn’t fully understand what the real meaning

was. I only did it out of fear.

After I accepted Jesus, I felt great—I 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 didn’t 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 didn’t 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

formed—EPIC, Equipping People in Christ. I was

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

corner came seventh grade—I didn’t 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,

“It’s 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 didn’t

even know each other. They always told me bad

stuff about each other when they hadn’t 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-



Page 5: Thanksgiving Vine


— 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 didn’t 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

don’t go to him right

away? Isn’t 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

hadn’t 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 wasn’t 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 school’s 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

didn’t know how big of a difference it was be-

tween just knowing who God is and actually

KNOWING God. The transformation was amaz-

ing—I understood the Bible much better; I could

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

fort to show God’s 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

God’s 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.

Page 6: Thanksgiving Vine


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, it’s a wonder why I don’t talk with

them more. Amongst the festivities and rush for

presents, don’t 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 wouldn’t 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

Christ—for us Christians. Al-

though the repetition of varia-

tions of thanksgiving in 120 words has made the

article mundane, it’s 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 us—He 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, it’s 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 don’t

see why not. Laudate Deus (Praise God)!

There is a slight line that separates the two

holidays’ definitions. The purpose of Thanksgiv-

ing—besides 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).

Page 7: Thanksgiving Vine


— 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 you’ll soon find many oth-

ers around you. Truly appreciate life, and you’ll

find that you have more of it.”

—Ralph Marston

We’ve probably all grown

up learning to say “please” and

“thank you.” At this point,

“thank you” is an automatic re-

sponse. We’re 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 don’t really

appreciate—sometimes I even

thank my teachers when they

pass out tests. It’s 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 like—when I say thanks—I

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 she’s actually

sacrificed so that the people

around her can be happy, and I

really do appreciate all that she’s


So say thank you! Maybe

it has lost its meaning; maybe

people don’t really care anymore

when you say thank you. But to

some, it could mean a lot. Taking

time to appreciate someone can

make their day—and 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 us—the roof over our heads, the food

we eat, our education. Be thankful for a God

who never relents, a grace that we don’t de-

serve, a love that never ends.


Page 8: Thanksgiving Vine


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

circumstances—the facts—and 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.

And—what 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.


Page 9: Thanksgiving Vine


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 right—in 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

Page 10: Thanksgiving Vine


— Teddy Du



What if we woke up

With only the possessions

That we thanked God for?


Page 11: Thanksgiving Vine



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

Page 12: Thanksgiving Vine


Love your Editors,

Mel +