Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. Food, family and football… what can go wrong!? In recent years, after we eat, we have sat down as a family and reflected over the past year. After a little reflection, each of us takes a turn listing all the things we are thankful for from the past year.
In March, we learned we were pregnant with a November baby. I immediately pictured family gathered at our house, celebrating the birth of our miracle baby. Even though November was still several months away, that positive test filled my head with Thanksgiving dreams. I had this image of our families jammed into our living room, passing around a sweet little newborn (with adorable turkey pajamas of course) laughing and praising God for His blessings after a long wait. Thanksgiving was still going to be full of food, family, and football but this year it was going to be full of all things baby too. My thankful list was going to be so sweet and I couldn’t wait!
However, I only carried that November baby for 10.5 weeks. This year, Thanksgiving won’t be at our house and I won’t have a precious tiny little newborn to pass around. My arms ache for the second baby I won’t hold this side of heaven. Sometimes, it is hard to be grateful with a broken heart. When it’s raining, my first instinct isn’t to be thankful for my umbrella, I just jump to begging God for sun.
1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 says:
Make your life a prayer. And in the midst of everything be always giving thanks, for this is God’s perfect plan for you in Christ Jesus.
Thankful in the midst of everything. That’s hard. There are so many times in the bible, where the main characters of the stories were not only thankful in the midst of trails, they were thankful for the blessings that were coming. Again, when it’s raining, my first instinct isn’t to thank God for the sun that he has promised will come. My first instinct is to complain that it has to rain to begin with!
Recently, my dear friend Lauren reminded me of the importance of practicing an attitude of gratitude in all things. Lauren has a delayed fertility story full of deep disappointment. Honestly, her story is something I just can’t wrap my head around. She really deserves to have an angry, ugly heart; but instead she is one of the most positive people I have ever known. (check out her awesome website and story here.)
Recently, Lauren shared something that really spoke to my heart. She was having a hard time being thankful, so she created what she called her “5-year-old thankful list”. She started with: “Lord, I’m thankful for the sun, the sky and the beach”.
That spoke to my heart so much. The bible doesn’t say, be thankful in the most eloquent beautiful way. It simply says, be thankful. So, as I drove home from work, I started my 5-year old thankful list:
- I’m thankful for my family
- I’m thankful for my cats
- I’m thankful for my home
As I worked on my list, the tears came and my attitude started to shift. Suddenly, it started to become easier to find things to add to my list. 2017 is far from what I expected, and Thanksgiving won’t look like I had dreamt. However, I can choose to be thankful in the midst of everything. As I look over 2017, I realize there are three big items that rise to the top of my thankful list.
First, I’m thankful to be married to my best friend. Like most girls, I had a list of things I thought I wanted or needed in my perfect husband. The Lord not only gave me everything on the list, but 1,000 other things that makes Dan perfect for me in ways I never could have dreamt. In 2017, Dan celebrated a positive pregnancy test with me, when it actually scared him out of his mind. Dan laid hands on my stomach and prayed for a miracle, when my faith was small. When our world was rocked by loss, Dan held my hand and cried with me. Dan has encouraged me to be brave. When I said I thought I wanted to start a blog, he made it happen. When I said I wanted to help plan a women’s conference, he not only said ok, he jumped all in and helped me. He has texted me encouragement when I was so overwhelmed by anxiety that I couldn’t breathe. He has been the calm to my storm and my safe net when it felt like my world was falling apart. I hate what 2017 forced us to walk through, but I am so thankful for the strength that has come from it.
Second, I’m thankful for the amazing community of women the Lord has placed around me. When we moved to Missouri, I experienced extreme loneliness. I asked the Lord to send me a tribe. I prayed specifically for women who were rooted in the word to help me through all parts of my life. The Lord answered in a huge way. I have a large support system who I can e-mail, text or call anytime. We laugh and cry together and also pray for each other. Many of them are not located anywhere near me, but that just means I have a long list of vacation spots to check out!
Finally, this year, I am especially thankful for Jesus. I have been a Christian for such a long time, but this year the Lord broke through the lies I had believed and showed me that there is nothing that will keep me from his love. His love for me is reckless. It’s so much bigger than my mind can imagine. I can’t begin to list the ways that His love has stopped me in my tracks this year. God is so good. His love so extravagant. I’m thankful that what the bible says is true, He is close to the broken hearted. Even on the darkest days, he has been with me. Again, I hate what 2017 forced me to face, but I am so grateful for a deeper walk with the Lord and a renewed hunger to know him better.
If you are struggling to be thankful this Thanksgiving, I challenge you to focus on your “5-year-old thankful list”. Write that list down, and add the little things as you think of them. I promise, gratitude will soon become a habit, and you will start to be thankful for the sun, even when it’s raining.