If you look at the calendar this time of year, you will note that we (the USA) celebrate Thanksgiving (other countries are in different months). However, while the holiday proceeds no matter what our current situation is, it doesn’t always mean we are thankful. I’ll go into detail as I go, but my goal today is to help you find thankfulness no matter the situation.
You may be wondering what qualifies me to be able to help you. Well, let me begin by saying that November hasn’t been my favorite month for a very long time. If you’ve followed me for long, you know I’ve had my own troubles and most of them have come in November (though other months have their troubles too…haha). If you can’t take the time at this moment to read, please save and come back. Just know I’m writing this for me as much as you. The reality is that hills and valleys are coming.
Back in October of 2003 we moved into our first home while I had my 1 year old son and pregnant with my second. By mid-November, I had pneumonia and a staph blood infection that left me in ICU for 11 days. During that time the medical staff thought they lost me. You can read more about that HERE.
Then, fast-forward to November 2011. I was 21 weeks pregnant with my 6th baby trying to catch sleep on the couch because the pain of my subchorionic hematoma made sleeping a wish. During that night, my water broke which caused our stillborn daughter to enter the world. That Thanksgiving I remember my family going around the table stating what they were thankful for. All I could do was cry. I wanted to be thankful, but I was bitter. My full post is found over HERE.
Next, this last Thanksgiving of 2019, I had another issue. It’s a long story, but the jist is I lost vision in my left eye. The doctors believed I was having strokes, so I went down a rough medical journey until March of this awesome 2020 year.
This current November already has us on another very long journey. I can’t go into detail as of yet, but your prayers are coveted for me and my family, especially today. (and no, I’m not pregnant. haha)
Do I blame the month? No. Do I blame myself? No. Do I blame God? No. My focus is trying to find the best parts of each of those moments despite the obvious pain and sadness.
For instance, in my first November incident while pregnant. I remember lying in the bed on forced oxygen thru a CPAP mask with the threat of being put on a ventilator. Also I remember telling God that if one person found Christ during this time, it was totally worth it. Nothing like being immobile or not able to talk, to make you appreciate those sleepless nights you used to complain about. I had a new home, a wonderful husband, a little boy, and a baby on the way. Much to be thankful for.
Then, in the second occurrence with the loss of our daughter, it took years for me to find thankfulness. Since sharing our loss, I get monthly emails from other mother’s in the same situation – fearful for their babies lives because of a a subchorionic hematoma. I can’t say enough how my suffering has allowed me to help others. It wouldn’t be a choice I’d make on my own, but that is how God sees fit to use my past troubles, and how I see fit to see it.
Last, the third November, last year, has me busting with thankfulness. So many things occurred that gave me a different take on my daily activities. Especially my having bilateral vertigo for many months. Not being able to walk or drive as a normal adult really made me thankful for what I could do.
All that to say that while I could have only focused on the depressing issues (and I wanted to, believe me), it took effort to see the silver lining.
Here’s what I put into practice and encourage you to do so too.
First, when you are in a situation that is dragging you down, stop. Just stop and be. It’s okay to be upset, angered, or discouraged. However, letting yourself stay in that spot too long isn’t healthy. Do whatever it takes to regain your focus. Music for me is definitely a way to get my mind reset or, at least, refreshed. For instance, the other day I woke up feeling heavy in my heart because troubles were looming. Then, I did my devotions and a song I enjoy came to mind. So, I popped it in, sang, and even danced.
In addition to listening to music, I enjoy playing it too. During that time, I also find it extremely helpful to make a list of what I’m thankful for. It isn’t always easy, because my head wants me to focus on why I should be upset. However, when I put my hands and eyes to use, I can reestablish my focus. Seeing it on paper is something I can come back to and remind me of my thankfulness. Though, I will say there have been times I chucked that paper when things weren’t going my way…hey…I’m real. But, I try!
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. James 1:2-3
Then, another way I found helps me to see my situation in a different light is to spend time helping others. While I may be wallowing in my own troubles, it always seems to me I can find someone else in a worse situation than myself. By volunteering, it puts the focus on others and off of myself. There are many ways to get involved in helping others.
- food pantries
- pet shelters
- nursing homes
- church ministries
- public or home schools
- nature preserves
- city cleanups
- fundraising for a worthy cause
- assist elderly or invalid neighbors
…just a few ideas of shifting the focus and embracing thankfulness.
I don’t know of a single business or group that would turn away free help. If you are not physically able to do activities, you can offer to do online services , phone calls, or mailings. By volunteering, you are putting the focus off yourself and onto others. I guarantee you will come out smiling with a load lifted.
Before you make an eye-roll at my suggestion to donate, hear me out. I’m not talking about digging into your wallet (though that works too). I’m talking about finding an individual, a family, or a group that could use what you have to offer. Maybe you can donate your time (volunteer) in any form. Find a family that is going through a hard time either financially, medically, or is grieving. Offer to do their errands for them, mow the grass, wash the windows, or even create a special meal. Just being there and being a shoulder to lean on works wonders. And, you may find you don’t have as heavy of burdens as you thought.
Yes, you read that right. Teaching is a way to share your abilities and blessings with others and find thankfulness. What is something you truly enjoy that you could share with others? Maybe your forté is writing and someone needs help with a resumé? Maybe you can sew, and there’s a young mother who would love to learn. Can you cook a mean meatloaf? haha. Show someone how! By sharing your gifts with others will boost your confidence and fill your heart with joy and thankfulness.
Last, there are without a doubt days that before I even open my eyes I feel the burden of what the day is going to bring. In that moment, I can either choose to carry that burden all day, or stop to be thankful for the fact I woke up. Literally, the minute you wake up you are gifted a new day. I’m the earliest bird in my home, so I like to pause outside the bedroom doors of my loves and give thanks for the peaceful breathing I hear.
Or maybe when you’re the one on the hospital bed waking up to the harsh reality of what smacks you in the face and days are running together, just know the previous day is done and today you can make a choice. Thank that nurse that comes into the room to check your blood pressure, or thank that custodian emptying your trash. Throw a smile at the ones you encounter. You get the idea, right? Yes, they are paid to do be there, but how many times in your own life did someone taking the time to recognize and it gave you joy? That’s thankfulness in action.
Most importantly, do those very same things for your family. Did you have clean laundry today? Is there food in the refrigerator? Or did you kids do their chores or get their school done? Take a minute to thank or uplift each and every one. Your words of love mean more than you know.
Last, I just want to ask you to take a step back and savor. Maybe you don’t see what’s before you is the ultimate, however, what if it were all taken away? We are never promised tomorrow, never promised to grow old with our spouse, or never promised to watch our kids grow.
Please, do share what you are thankful for because it blesses us. Tell us what you’re thankful for!
Also, do pin and share my story of thankfulness. I’m sure you and I are not the only one that need a reminder. May you have a blessed time of thankfulness.
More posts about sharing and enjoying thankfulness: