Finding Thankfulness in Unexpected Places this Thanksgiving

Here we are! Thanksgiving week already! Do you have any exciting plans? Are you traveling? Hosting? Having a quiet day of reflection? Shopping? If you live outside of the U.S., what are you up to this week? Do you have a celebration of thankfulness in your culture, or anything similar?

Regardless of your traditions or plans, I’ve got a challenge for you. I realized that my list of things I’m thankful for has stagnated. Don’t get me wrong, each and every item on my list is a gift from God. I just haven’t put much thought into it lately. I’m always thankful for my family and friends, pets and paychecks, shelter, and such. This year, I want to make my list more unexpected and meaningful. Will you join me?

Finding Thankfulness in Unexpected Places this Thanksgiving

“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18

There are some things for which we seldom stop to give thanks. But God is good, and He wastes nothing in our lives. I want to recognize the blessings in places I don’t usually think to look. I have 3 examples to show you what I mean.


The other evening I was out jogging. (Yes! I’m still at it! If you read How An Eerie Scene Provoked Me to Run and Keep Running, you know the crazy story of how that came about.) Anyway, I thought I heard something in the bushes beside me and as I turned toward it, I inadvertently looked directly into the setting sun. It was so bright! Instinctively, I threw my hand up to shield my eyes and the motion aggravated my bum shoulder. Pain shot to my fingertips and my arm fell limp at my side.

My arm has been doing this the past several weeks. I’ve learned that if I stay still for a few minutes, the pain goes away. So still I stayed. Then, perhaps emboldened by my stillness, the most majestic deer stepped out from behind the bush. It stood looking right into my face. We studied each other intently for a while and then it slowly went back about its business.

Deer: Finding Thankfulness in Unexpected Places this Thanksgiving
Photo by Skyler Ewing on
This is not my photo. I didn’t dare move to grab my camera. But this is much like what I experienced (minus the spots and second deer in the background).

The pain in my arm caused me to stop. Without it, I never would have experienced the wonder of looking into those wild brown eyes from just a few feet away. I was – I am – genuinely thankful for the pain. I can’t say I’ve ever put pain on my Thanksgiving list before. What an amazing thing!

Busy work

I work in a lab. I get to do incredible things every day. Science is fascinating! But lab work generates piles of paperwork and time-consuming cleanup. The busy work is not nearly as fun.

I realized this week that busy work never comes up on the list of things I appreciate in life. But why not? I enjoy the job I have. The paperwork and cleanup testify to all that my team and I are accomplishing every day. For the first time, I truly understood that I have many reasons to be thankful for all that busy work. What an incredible realization!


I try to avoid conflict. It rattles me. But, let me tell you, there is nothing like it to make me fall to my knees. I need God to help me understand it, navigate it, and handle it well. I feel that I’ve had an unusual amount of conflict lately. Have you heard this saying?

Sometimes, God uses difficult people, like sandpaper, to rub the rough edges off us.

Power sander: Finding Thankfulness in Unexpected Places this Thanksgiving
Photo by Thijs van der Weide on
The abrasiveness of sandpaper smooths and softens

It is not pleasant, but it is effective. Conflict smooths my jagged edges and softens my corners. In it, I see ugliness in me that I must confess and give over to God for refurbishing. I usually start by asking God to change the situation or the other person and end up being so thankful that He changed me. This Thanksgiving, my recent and ongoing conflict is high on my list. God is so good!

Those are a few of my examples. What about you? Where can you find hidden blessings? Are there things for which you haven’t yet thought to be thankful which belong on your list?

If you ask God to show you, I’m sure He will. He loves to cultivate an attitude of gratitude in His people. Will you join me and take up the challenge of finding thankfulness in unexpected places this Thanksgiving?

You’re welcome to join in, whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not. Thankfulness is always in style. I can’t wait to hear what you come up with!

“Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures for ever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Psalm 100:3-5
Devotions Reflections

Resolution Rut

It’s been a while since the New Year, how are you doing with your resolutions? Wait, don’t get defensive, this is a friendly post! If you’re anything like me, you’ve hit a Resolution Rut and I have some rope from my heart to yours!

I set some big goals this year, and I’ve already fallen behind. I was feeling disappointed in myself, anxious about how I was going to catch up, and all those guilty emotions that we pile on ourselves… when suddenly I saw through it all. I hope I can save you some stress with these 3 main thoughts:

  1. My resolutions we made by me and for me. I have complete authority to adjust them to better serve me. I purposed to ask a ton of questions this year, and to really listen and learn about people. It sounded reasonable but with increased awareness comes heightened responsibility; so, when someone presents me with an honest answer to a personal question, my next move can take some time and thought. In order to steward the trust well, I have recognized the need to pace my inquiries to match match my ability to respond.
  2. It is beneficial to show myself grace, when a neglected objective has piled into a tall burden, to avoid the temptation to quit. I intended to memorize a large portion of scripture this year. I broke it down into daily chunks, which seemed manageable. But I got behind and the effort required to close the gap felt overwhelming. I contemplated quitting, and trying again next year, but realized that anything I can commit to memory this year will serve me well. This is not a school assignment and there is no hard deadline. If it takes longer than a year, so be it! I will eventually reach my goal.
  3. Sometimes it is just a matter of recognizing the intent behind the resolve and letting go. I originally wanted to craft, read, and find a new podcast. My reason was to replace a game that I was playing (way too much!) on my phone. I deleted the game and thought I’d use the time more productively by pursuing some of these other hobbies. But then I took up blogging and it has replaced every minute I previously spent playing and then some. There is no longer a need for these things on my list and I can cross them off without hesitation or remorse.

Do any of these insights apply to your Resolution Rut? There is no harm in deciding to realign your goals as your year progresses. Your world is in constant motion and you are wiser today than you were on January 1. Maybe you need to adapt accordingly. Or maybe not. Did you simply get lazy? Well, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep going. You might reach the finish line slower than you had hoped, but you’ll get there – if you still want to. Or have you realized that you created an answer for a problem, but God gave you a more natural solution? Friend, what a gift!

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

Proverbs 19:21

One last thing, lest you think this Mama’s advice is to play loose and free with all your commitments. If you’ve prayed through your decisions and made them out of a conviction that they were God’s will for you, then, take them seriously. Enthusiasm level is not an indicator of whether something is right. Our emotions bounce all over the place and if we were beholden to them for the follow-through on our plans, we’d have troubles much deeper than a Resolution Rut!

Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed. 

Cavett Robert