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Thankfulness: Finding the Silver Lining

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.

Daily Stress List to Ponder | 5 Ways to Find Thankfulness by Larissa of Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

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 STORY

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.

Prodigal Pieces Kids Graveside | prodigalpieces.com

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.

Larissa of Prodigal Pieces in Emergency Room | Finding Thankfulness | prodigalpieces.com

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)

MOVING FORWARD

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.

IN ACTION

Here’s what I put into practice and encourage you to do so too.

  • Reflect
  • Volunteer
  • Donate
  • Teach
  • Celebrate

REFLECT

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. Here it is in case you need a lift too.

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

VOLUNTEER

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
  • libraries
  • 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.

DONATE

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.

TEACH

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.

CELEBRATE

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.

Kids Laughing with Thankfulness | Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

SAVOR

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. One last song that really hits the nail on the head is this one. My motto: NO REGRETS. Please listen and enjoy.

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.

Do you feel overwhelmed? Finding thankfulness can feel daunting, but it may be easier than you think. Head to Prodigal Pieces for the details | prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces #family #thankfulness #faith #healing

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More posts about sharing and enjoying thankfulness:

DIY not what you thought it would be? Remodeling Stress is real and we want to help! | Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.comMy story of determination and finding God in the hard times by Larissa Haynes of Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.com

 

Comments

  1. Cheryl Atkinson says

    Larissa, thank you so much! I needed this today. You dont know how much I needed this.

    • Larissa says

      Same for me, Cheryl. It felt good for me to stop and remember that the current trials will soon be past memories and I hope to make the most of each lesson. Sending hugs today!

  2. Judy Burnside says

    God bless you today and everyday – I am so grateful that you allowed his words to be spoken through your writing. Your post touched my heart at just the right time – I’m in the middle of volunteering for a large community event for Thanksgiving, yet my heart feels burdened with the weight of this health crisis and how it is impacting our daily lives and the lives of our children and neighbors. I too find comfort in Christian music (you highlighted a couple of my favorites!). I pray your Thanksgiving Day is filled with pure delight, surrounded by your amazing family! Blessings!

    • Larissa says

      Thank you for those words of affirmation, Judy. Blessings to you for volunteering and making this holiday special for those around you. Hoping you have a wonderful time and holiday! {{hugs}}

  3. lee lee says

    Thankful….gratitude. Not everyone possesses these feelings. I believe it starts with inner peace. I believe acceptance of what we have no control over and having faith that God will keep us together and safe. Once you experience an untimely loss or sickness, something changes…..you take nothing for granted anymore. I can attest to volunteering your heart and soul and love to someone that needs it so much more than we do. Cooking, donating a meal, clothes, toiletries, buying a meal for someone that is struggling. All of these small gestures that are done with Great Love….well, that is what sustains and makes my heart sing. Blessings and love to you and your beautiful family this 2020 holiday season.

    • Larissa says

      Yes, for sure. It truly baffles me how anyone can make it without Christ. Kudos to you and your service to others. I know they are blessed as you are. Blessings!

  4. Kat Dornbirer says

    Beautifully said, Larissa💙Thank you for sharing!! I am daily reminding myself that my loss was heaven’s gain, as Mom passed away in July from complications of a stroke. She accepted the Lord as her Saviour, in her hospital bed, & the Lord called her Home 20 days later. Not my plan but God knows what’s best & I continue to trust in Him.

    • Larissa says

      Thank you, Kat. My heart goes out to you. Wow. That is a testament to your faithful love for her. Sending you healing hugs. <3

  5. Rebecca - NC says

    I’m currently sitting in the waiting room of the Cancer hospital while my husband is undergoing a scan to see how this current treatment (clinical trial) is working on his metastatic cancer. I was sitting here feeling sorry for myself when I saw your pot in my inbox. Now, I’m sitting here counting our blessing and feeling positive!! For example: I’m thanks he’s still here 3 years after they gave him 3 months…. that God seems to provide a new treatment just as the old one stops working…. that we are financially sound…. that we still love each other like the day we said “I do.” Your motto is mine as well… no regrets. Just love. I’m praying for everyone who needs to be reminded that blessings are there if we just look. Happy Thanksgiving and thank you Larissa for being my spiritual gift in a way I never expected to find it! 😍🙏🏼

    • Larissa says

      Oh, Rebecca! Bless you! I truly felt led to post this for you, for anyone who needs it, including me. Life can be so full of negative and it can be daunting to see the positives. I wish I could hug you!!

  6. Kaycee says

    Hello Larissa, your words this morning are a blessing to my ears. I am thankful for you and your post this morning. I will continue to pray for you and your beautiful family, and ask for special blessings especially today. God bless you and your family Larissa.

  7. Donna says

    Wow Larissa,, I just had to chuckle to myself your post was certainly timely for me. God knew the encouragement I needed to hear today. I woke up feeling worn out today with how the world is these days, everything that others count on me for and just getting through an accident my son had in April…..so thankful he even survived and and not even paralyzed but he had a fall over the weekend and suffers great pain. But like the second song sings about living in the moment, that’s what I have to concentrate on. Thanks for sharing your story. You are an inspiration and I will pray for you too.

    • Larissa says

      What a burden to have had on your mind…I can’t imagine! It is such a blessing he is still with you and praying for his health and spirit. You’re a wonderful mother.

  8. Meg Haba says

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. You lifted me up as I was feeling depressed with this being such a different holiday season without our family. We have so much to be thankful for and your message helped me pivot to that joy.

    • Larissa says

      I feel ya, Meg. Things have changed for us too and you just don’t know if they’ll be another year. I’m clinging to His promises!

  9. Becky says

    Thanks for the reminder that there is so much to be thankful for. Life is hard and painful, …but that works out nicely to keep my focus going back to the eternal. Hmm… I wonder if that’s NOT a coincidence?! 😁
    Thank you for all you give, Larissa!
    P.S. My GOODNESS, those kids of yours have grown! They’re a good-looking crew!

    • Larissa says

      Yes! So hard and full of joy at times. And my kids are really blooming in leaps and bounds – exactly why I want to savor and give thanks.

  10. Lorrie says

    Thank you for opening your life to us, it shows we are all human and share so many similarities/emotions.

    • Larissa says

      I feel it helps others as well as me. God put it on my heart to share and I hope He blesses those who read.

  11. Jaymie says

    You have such a beautiful soul. God bless you and your family for knowing that finding true happiness is pouring yourself out for others. Have a very happy Thanksgiving.

    • Larissa says

      Your words are precious, Jaymie. Thank you so much. Happy Thanksgiving!!

  12. Deanna says

    You are a spiritual, strong woman with a beautiful family. Blessings to you and yours during this special season of Thanksgiving. May the peace of God’s love continue to shine upon you and your family. Thank you for making time for your extended family of readers to share your special gifts.

    • Larissa says

      How sweet of you to say, Deanna. Yes, I do love hearing from my “family” that I write for. I pour my heart into my work and hearing from you means so much. Thank you!

  13. Mary says

    Larissa you and your words are something that I am thankful for! You often remind me that focusing on the good blessings/things in life always changes your perspective. May you and your family be blessed this season, with health, happiness, and the grace of God. Thank you again for your strength and positive view of all of our precious lives😘

    • Larissa says

      Sending huge hugs to you, Mary! 😀 I’m so thankful you are hear to share it with me. Finding the joy is a journey.

  14. Marie-Interior Frugalista says

    That last video brought me to the ugly cry. I have so much regret over not spending more time with my Mom when she was in long term care. I let the busyness of life get in the way with only weekly visits. Like the elder gentleman in the video, my Mom probably sat waiting for a visitor to brighten her day. Now she’s gone. Beautiful message today, Larissa! xo

    • Larissa says

      You and me both!! I have had similar guilt in various relationships. I felt like time was so wasted. I also remember all you did for you mom with her blanket and effort to help her in her stage of life. Hugs beyond measure for you!

  15. Michele says

    Thanks for your uplifting words. I follow many blogs about repurposing things and yours is the only one that I really feel like you’re my neighbor and friend. I love how you have welcomed us into your life – warts and all!
    This has been such a rough year for all and it’s easy to feel discouraged. I had a serious heart problem and major surgery in March. I have not been able to give my youngest daughter a hug or even have her in the house since then because she works in a medical facility and I can not risk being sick. A good friend and her husband recently had covid which left them very ill. Both her parents (they were in their 90s) also got it and passed away within a day of each other – they had just had their 68th anniversary. But I am thankful for the wonderful doctors and medical staff that got me through everything and I am thankful that my daughter has her job when so many are losing theirs. I am thankful that my friend is still here and that her parents will still be together in Heaven. Even trying to look on the ‘bright side’ it is hard, but I am so thankful for my family and we will all get through this together!

    • Larissa says

      Love me some warts! haha! 😀 I’m so glad you here with us, Michele. Yes, you have had a rough year too, and am glad to hear you are seeing the sunny side. Many hugs to you!

  16. Fran says

    Many of us can relate to your words today; thank you for reminding us. This has been a difficult year in many ways. The first stocking stuffer I thought of for my grandkids was a prayer journal. There are great ones for teens out there. This age group are pack animals and not being able to be with their peers has been especially hard on them mentally and emotionally. I also got them for my adult children and myself…..much to be thankful for during this unusual time. Blessings to you and your family during this Thanksgiving and Christmas season!

    • Larissa says

      My pleasure to share as it helps me too. That is a funtastic idea …I love that gifts that keep on giving. Blessings to you too, Fran!

  17. Connie Minnich says

    Thank you for sharing this to remind us we are not the only ones that go through these types of things. God bless you for your concern and care for others.

    • Larissa says

      Yes, I have very real issues like most or more than most at times. Hugs to you!

  18. Tess says

    What beautiful words! It’s amazing how helping others even in small ways can bring joy! The more you practice that , the happier you become! There have been serious health concerns and loss in our family this year but covid blessings as well! You so live your faith! I am so glad that you expose your warts as that is truth and we can all relate. Blessings to you and yours.
    Tess

    • Larissa says

      Sending you huge hugs, Tess. It’s definitely been a hard year for us too. Hang in there!

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