Gratitude and grief



pianoThe season of gratitude is upon us. Tomorrow many will be gathered around tables laden with food and follow a tradition of verbalizing what they are grateful for. I love this tradition. I love hearing what pleases the heart of the speaker. I love hearing the different things that people are thankful for. Some make speeches and some falter and laugh and can only manage that they are grateful for a good meal, or football.

Gratitude reaffirms the heart.  It’s a heart change that acknowledges goodness and places focus where it should be, on good things, abundance and LIFE.

But I have always worried about those who have circumstances that seem impossible to be grateful for. What will they say? How will they manage to “fit in” this season when life has thrown nothing but curve balls all year? What if they are in a season of crushing losses, defeat, health crisis’ or even facing death? What are you grateful for now?

A wise old nurse told me one Thanksgiving, “I felt sorry for myself because I didn’t have new boots. Then I took care of the diabetic who just lost both her feet.” She smiled and offered me some of her homemade cranberry sauce.

Um, ok. Wow. Good visual, but does the fact that there is always someone out there somewhere in worse circumstances make your personal circumstance better? Easier to bear?

It’s all a matter of perspective. I can look down and see the muck at the bottom of my pity pit or I can look up and see the light. No matter what happens or is happening on this sphere, my ultimate destination is heaven. My Redeemer lives and so will I. If I can give thanks for NOTHING else– that is enough!

And rather than hide that light under a bush I can share it with other’s who may not know the Light, or have that Hope of Heaven. If nothing else, I can still provide that to someone in need of comforting.  In this current season of my own life, I am grateful for that.

So let us be a grateful people.

Let us not allow divisive politics, depression, social issues, health crisis’, loneliness,  monetary woe’s, or anything else to mar this season of gratitude. Let’s share our light, our gratitude, and allow Light to overcome darkness in this land and in our lives.


That being said, there will be those among us who are grieving. This will be the first holiday season spent with out a loved one who has passed on. This is incredibly difficult. I can tell you from personal experience that Christmas has never been the same for me since loosing my mother. She adored the holidays and Christmas was her time of year to shine. Christmas will always be dimmer without her light shining here on this earth, and the first few were especially hard. So let’s be grateful for everyone in our lives and extend comfort to those who are missing someone special to them. They may have a hard time coming up with something to say at the table while their mind does mental gymnastics around the missing one. We can be grateful that we can extend kindness to them and let them work through it without condemnation.

This weekend I will posting a guest blog from Amy K. Hines related to this subject and I hope you enjoy her thoughts as much as I do.

And I am grateful you spent the time to read this post and I pray you have a BLESSED Thanksgiving full of joy!

photo used in this post is courtesy of Zan Phillips, Zan Phillips Photography, Jackson Mississippi. Thank you Zan for sharing your amazing work with us!

Praise in the Pit

4929374625_cca549bba6_m Down in the dumps. Drowning in debt. Upside down on your mortgage, the depths of despair. Hitting rock bottom. Marriage on the rocks…

What do all these phrases have in common? They all describe situations that are down, below something else, away from goodness.  In the bible the Psalmist mentions a “pit” 19 times. The pit is described as a place of the deep, a darkness, a place prepared for you by your enemy. A horrible place that anyone who has ever been in one of the clichéd pits above can tell you is indeed deep, dark and horrible.

Any pit has a  top, an opening, and that is where the light is. There is only one way out of a pit and that is up. You must look up, you must look to the light. Looking down is easier but it gets you nothing but more darkness, more muck, more depression. Even if you cannot reach the light you must look to it, reach for it, strive to get there. But how? Again the Psalmist, who is very familiar with the pit gives us the answer:

“But thou are Holy, O Thou that inhabits the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted Thee: they trusted and Thou did deliver them.” (Psalms 22:3) The deliver inhabits the praises of His people. Even in a pit, we must praise. We must not give to looking down, succumb to the temptation to have a pity party sitting in our muck. We must cry out and trust the One who delivers. If we are going to dig deeper we must dig for the faith to trust that God is there no matter how deep the pit. Keep praising and trust God for your deliverance is at hand!

He brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.    Psalms 40:2

This post is an excerpt from “The Little Engine who could Not…” available on in Kindle and paperback.