{Thanks}giving Week: Vulnerable Thanksgiving

Hey gang! Have you been as thankful for this week as I have? I sure hope so! As promised, there’s one more day of {Thanks}giving here for you, today!

Grace Kinne has a beautiful guest post to share with you today. She is a well-named young lady after God’s own heart. We share an affinity for the culinary arts and decorating, and we enjoyed life and church and good and not-so-good weather together during my four years in Scotland. She blogs at grace. Her words are grace-filled, and I hope they’ll be an encouragement to you!


Vulnerable Thanksgiving

I woke up this morning to great lashings of rain against my window. ‘Ah November. How I love you’, I thought. It’s on days like this that I find it hard not to succumb to the Anne-of-Green-Gables-Depths-of-Despair-ness. Oh the melodrama.

But in all seriousness, it is in the dark and cold of coming winter (or, if you are anywhere near the North Sea like I am, the very much arriving winter) that we are called and reminded to celebrate a day of giving thanks.

Honestly, though, I find it hard in the day-to-dayness of this thing we call Life. I get discouraged so easily. Before me, all I can see is a bleak, cold land. Barren. This seemingly endless search for a job, a purpose, has led me to the bewildered and twisted places in my soul that I would rather have let fester quietly in the dark. I question my value, my place, my foundations.

I have felt recently like I’m trying to hold warring parts of my soul together, desperately grabbing through my tears at some sort of future. Some sort of hope. Why is this disorienting time of waiting, longing for a ‘something’ to sink my hands into, so very prolonged? I wake up each morning fighting. Fighting to believe that He has a purpose for me; that this wait is not empty, but it is paradoxically a time of fullness.

It is in these times of barrenness that we are most vulnerable. And when we are most vulnerable, our thanksgiving has the most power for our souls – for we truly have nothing else to cling to. It lifts us out, placing us on our Indestructable Foundation.

‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength….’ (Isaiah 30:15).

For it is when I am quiet, when I am still and remember….I know. I know that He is God. I remember Who He is. I remember my salvation. And suddenly, my barrenness is swept aside in the torrent of His grace. His grace that delights to remember and pour into the barren, the empty, the foolish, and the forgotten.

What makes it a vulnerable thanksgiving, though, is that I still don’t seem to see where the path is leading. It’s vulnerable because in thanking Jesus for where I’m at, I am trusting that the ‘boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance’, that He has ‘made my lot secure’ (Psalm 16). I am trusting again. Again and again and again and again. I am trusting that He is my Answer. Not a job. Not a duty. Not a purpose. He alone is my Answer. He alone is my Provision. He alone is my God. This vulnerablity of thanksgiving is oddly freeing. I am free to rest in His provision, grace, and presence. To just breathe.

So November? Rain away. Rain all you want. My God is stronger….and though I might not be able to see just yet, I’m trusting that around a corner, tucked away in a wee cobbled alley, is a sunny, wooded path. As Anne Shirley says, ‘There’s always a bend in the road’, for….’God’s in His heaven and all is right.’

Surely that assurance is worthy of our utmost, vulnerable, and heart-full thanksgiving?


Grace is a girl who doesn’t currently pay taxes (one definite benefit of being unemployed!). But she finds herself quite busy nonetheless; cobbling together a random assortment of daily activities she loves as well as loathes, such as: experimenting with random recipes, exploring the hidden coffee shops of Edinburgh, and writing job applications. She is also rather fond of the word nonetheless.


Thank you SO much for these words, Grace. I am going to read this again. And again.


{Thanks}giving Week: As Long As It’s Healthy!

Hello, guys and gals! What a week it’s been! I have been so challenged and encouraged and blessed by what’s been shared. I am {thank}ful! I have some great news to share before today’s guest post — we have a bonus day of thanks happening tomorrow! One more beautiful post is headed your way to close out our {Thanks}giving Week, so please come back!

Today’s guest post is by an old friend of mine who is an encouragement and inspiration to me for so many reasons. Annie Beth Donahue is a woman of great faith. Inside a tiny frame, she is a woman of boldness who lives out an authentic life for Jesus that is a beauty to see. Her post verbalizes some things on my heart that I struggle to express even after researching in this subject area for a year and a half at PhD level. I hope it provokes you to thankfulness, and thoughtfulness.


Hello Readers!  I’m a mom of 4 that grew up in Washington, North Carolina and now lives in Charlotte.  I already have many stories I could share from our relatively short journey as a family.  My children are 6, 5, 3, and 2.  Two children were adopted and two are biological- and they all have some kind of health problem, running the gamut from spina bifida, to food allergies, to sensory processing disorder.

We knew our child with spina bifida had this particular birth defect before adopting- but the rest of our children’s challenges showed up after birth.  Through my connection with such a wide range of health care professionals, this summer God led me to start Signposts Ministries.  Signposts Ministries is a religious and charitable organization designed to minister to the whole person.  We meet the needs of families that have children with chronic health problems in a variety of ways- physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual.  We want to provide free devotions and Bible studies online for both parents and children, and we hope to continue meeting physical needs both here in the U.S. and internationally.  Check us out at: www.signpostsministries.org

Unconditional Thanks

I have several friends who are pregnant right now.  I remember being pregnant.  It was both enjoyable and loathsome at the same time.  But then again, I had terrible morning (all day) sickness.  That was actually the only loathsome part.  Overall, it was pretty fun.  I really enjoyed getting to the point where I was showing.  I didn’t mind people asking me about my pregnancy.  I was kind of hoping they would notice, because I was pretty excited, and I wanted everyone else to be just as excited as I was.

There are recurring themes in people’s conversations with parents-to-be.  When are you due?  Is this your first?  How do you feel?  Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl?

Usually, if the parent does not know the baby’s sex, they will answer, “We don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl- as long as it’s healthy!” *Big smile*

That sounds nice.  To the average person.

I’m not sure when this phrase started bothering me.  I think it was when I first became a mom, way before I knew what our journey would be like in a few years.  Don’t throw tomatoes yet.  I understand the sentiment behind the words.  We hope our children are healthy.  For that matter, I hope I’ remain healthy, and that we all live to a ripe old age, doing God’s kingdom work to our fullest, until we peacefully pass away in our sleep with our grandchildren gathered round.  Every single one of us.  I even wish that for you, dear reader, whom I may not even know in real life.

“As long as it’s healthy.”  I want to ask, “And if it’s not?”  Then what?

For some people, the answer to that question is abortion.  Children like my daughter are aborted by the thousands every year.  But even strong, pro-life Christians can be found spouting the phrase, “as long as it’s healthy.”  So, it *kind of* sounds like we’re saying, “God, I’m letting you pick the gender as long as you don’t give me a child with a disability.”  I wasn’t aware that God was making deals like that.  Personally, I think he’s most capable of picking the gender and the physical and mental condition of our children.  As Job  asked his wife, “should we accept good from God and not evil (trouble)?”

I could never make those words come out of my mouth.  My pregnancies and adoptions were totally surrendered to God.  We wanted him to pick the way things turned out.  We wanted him to be totally in charge.  Because if there is one thing we know about God, it’s that he is trustworthy.  He loves our children more than we do (can you imagine)!  No matter what their physical or mental condition, your children contain a precious soul that is worth more to God that anything else on this earth.  He wants you to cherish your child, no matter what packaging they come in.  Knowing this, I can thank God in advance for what he is going to give me, before I even know the outcome.  I can thank him for his goodness and kindness and omnipotence.  At church, we often do a call and response of, “God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good.”

Sin, disease and sickness are not things God intended.  We live in a fallen world.  I’m sure that if it weren’t for his divine intervention, we would see much more deformity in the earth around us.  Any good health you or your children have is a gift.  For my children that gift has been temporarily withheld on this earth, and God has not intervened in every situation to make things the way they “should” be.  However, I have found that sometimes God takes things that Satan means for evil against us, and he works and uses that very same thing to produce a harvest of righteousness.  It almost makes me laugh aloud sometimes to see situations in which I’m sure Satan thinks he has control, only to realize that God is miraculously aligning the universe to turn that evil into a blessing.

So, I’m not going to judge people who say, “as long as it’s healthy.”  I just think that it goes without saying that we wish the best for our children, and that maybe we should examine our words.  The next person you say that to in the grocery store may have a child at home that is twisted by cerebral palsy or who is severely mentally retarded or who lives in constant danger of dying from a peanut allergy.  The words “as long as” kind of sting a little because they seem conditional.  It’s not that I don’t desire heath for the child, it’s that I don’t want the child without health to be undesired.  There’s a difference.


Thank you so much for sharing those challenging words with us today, Annie Beth. I found myself starting to say “even if it’s not healthy” in response to that phrase a few weeks ago. I hope your thoughts will provoke thoughtfulness, and even conversation in the days ahead. I am even more excited, being reminded that the omnipotent and good and kind God of the universe has plans for the little one He’s forming in me right now!


{Thanks}giving Week: Little Things Thankfulness

Hey guys and gals! Hope those of you who are Thanksgiving-celebrating folk enjoyed a lovely celebratory moment yesterday. Perhaps all these thoughts about Thanksgiving made it even a lil more special? Mehopes… The week of {Thanks}giving in this space is continuing just a wee while longer (yay) and I am especially delighted to share today’s story of provision and trusting God because many of you might be thinking of heading out to make some Christmas-related purchases today!

The delightful Michelle Dameron is sharing thoughts on thanks with us today. Michelle and I went to East Carolina University together (Go Pirates!) and she is a woman of great faith. I hope her stories will encourage you to patiently wait for things, and to bring your requests to the Lord before throwing them on the Black Friday credit card! Michelle blogs at Michelle Has Thoughts, where her thoughtfulness and her honesty are both a challenge and an inspiration. Now on with the {Thank}fulness!

Thankful in the Little Things

Thanksgiving happens once a year, but I think most of us know we should try and cultivate thankfulness all year long.  I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.  I know in my life, if I cultivate an attitude of thanksgiving Jesus is more likely to keep doing some pretty cool “little things.”

We get so bogged down with life and all that comes at us.  We even can chalk some events up to “good luck” or “just happening”.  But shouldn’t we be looking for the hand of God in our everyday lives.  After all, He does care about the little things.  If you read the story of creation you know just how detailed our God is.

I would like to share a story of Jesus doing little things in my life lately.

This past month I’ve been working hard on some ideas for a friend’s baby shower.  I really wanted it to be a great event and blessing, but knew financially I would not have a lot of money to put into it.  God knew the desires of my heart and opened some doors.  I wanted to make a diaper cake and low and behold at a consignment sale I found all I needed for $12 instead of $35 at the store!  Then I wanted to get some mini pumpkins for decoration and found them at Walmart for 19 cents a bag!  They had them priced wrong and I was able to get 35 mini pumpkins for $2 instead of $20!  Then, to top all this off, I received a TV survey in the mail from the Nielsen Research Company with $30 enclosed to fill it out for a week!  Isn’t it neat how God provides?!  It’s never predictable and always creative.  And He wants to do it for everyone!

It’s neat to see when our hearts are for others to be blessed He works things out for us.  I don’t mean this to be a trivial example.  I am well aware there are much more important things in life than planning showers.  But the point is, it meant something to me for this event to be special to my friend.  And God knew that.  And He provided.

It seems the more I’ve thanked Jesus in the moment, the more He does.  Let’s thank Jesus in the “little things,”  even if you think what you desire isn’t that important.


My name is Michelle Dameron and I live in Eastern North Carolina.  I am married to the love of my life, whom I met my senior year in college.  He was a campus minister in the campus ministry I attended.  But it’s not nearly as scandalous as it sounds! 🙂 We were friends for a while and married in May of 2006.  Two years later we had our first son Isaac who is now two.  We are currently 16 weeks pregnant and awaiting the debut of our second child in May of 2011!


Thanks so much for sharing, Michelle! I am so encouraged to be reminded about God’s great provision — it challenges me not to try to make things happen in my own strength! I am glad you shared this important thoughts with us on this particular Friday!


{Thanks}giving Week: True Thanks?

Sweet potato fluff, you cats are spoilt for content this week! I hope it didn’t just grate you that I used the British spelling of “spoiled.” It sure does roll of the tongue, and the fingertips nicely. As our week of {Thanks}giving, ahem, with a capital T, continues, I thought you might appreciate at least one voice in the chorus that has a little more bass. Or at least baritone.

{Happy Thanksgiving, by the way!!!}

It feels kind of wrong to add the week’s sassy advert to this post, since it is pink and looks like it got hit with an elvish bedazzler, but humour me, will ya?

Neal Alligood, among other things, is a delightful joker and a lover of basketball and Jesus. And, at the top of the list of his credentials, in my opinion, besides loving Jesus, is the fact that he has been on the Price is Right. I just think that’s awesome. Neal keeps the jokes, and the deep thoughts, rolling at Serving Him With Shaky Hands. Don’t ya love that name?

Without further ado, here are a few thoughts about thankfulness, for the first time this week from someone who has never considered whether his handbag and shoes match.


True Thanks?

So often in our lives, especially at this time of year, we almost feel a tad obliged to spend time “giving thanks” for our things.  My fear is that even during this practice of positive intentions, we often fail to focus on the factors in our lives that should bring “TRUE THANKS”.

My hope/intent/desire is to share a small sampling of these from my own life with you today.

In a shameful personal plug, I invite you to check out another recent post, which included a glimpse of “TRUE THANKS” for the financial freedom found in God’s Economy.

Now back to the task at hand – TRUE THANKS!

I am truly thankful for parents who raised my sister and I in not just simply a “loving” home, but more importantly a GOD-loving home.  For two people who have impressively displayed exactly what it means to live in full reliance upon His will and trust of His ways.  How they powerfully embodied the words found in Proverbs 22:6 of “The Message”: “Point your kids in the right direction— when they’re old they won’t be lost.”

I am truly thankful that they realized the importance of not MAKING every decision for us, but instead showed us the way in which TO MAKE DECISIONS for ourselves.  How to properly weigh the risks & rewards and to contemplate consequences.  Then to be man and woman enough to live with those choices and not be “rescued” from the pain that might be involved.

I am truly thankful for parents who did not spend so much time PROTECTING that they failed in PREPARING us for the journey that would lie ahead.  Indeed I’m even thankful for the punishments (although not so much at the time) that were doled out in efforts to teach those aforementioned truths, that there is pain and consequences sometimes involved with poor decisions made.

I am truly thankful for the lessons I learned about “lightening the load”, living more simply, upon my move from Raleigh to Atlanta.  For being nudged that it was time to sell much of my earthly possessions to free my time, talents, and treasures to be used investing in things of more eternal value.

I am truly thankful for friends and family that helped make my moves, transitions and ministry so much more effective and efficient.  Thankful for new friends who have provided housing, fixed vehicles, cooked meals, welcomed me into their homes to provide for all of my needs in keeping with the promises of my Savior to “ALWAYS BE WITH ME – TO THE VERY END OF THE AGE!”

I am truly thankful to have been blessed through partnerships with awesome organizations here in Atlanta, who have opened my eyes and awakened my senses to the dire needs and concerns of this world, which to this point, I never realized existed.  The plight of pregnant, homeless women; the poverty and destitution of world hunger; the horrific exploitation of children in the sex slave industry, to name a few.  While I am NOT thankful that these evils are taking place in this world – I am most deeply and truly thankful to be shown the HOPE that can be found through the Love of Christ in the midst of despair.

I am truly thankful for the men and women who are tireless servants – who give of their time, talents, energy, efforts, hearts, hurts, family and faith.  These people who have shown me a new way in which it means to live and to love as the Body of Christ.

Which brings me to the factor that I AM MOST TRULY THANKFUL for; the physical BODY OF CHRIST – the body that was formed in the womb of a teenage girl who had been found faithful in following her God, much like my own parents have been.  She would be the one to bring this baby into our world in a manner that we could have never conceived.

It is this exact season of the year that reminds us what TRUE THANKSGIVING is all about – the FREEDOM OF A FAITH IN A FATHER that loved each of us enough to send the gift of His One & Only Son.  This freedom that led pilgrims to a new land, and sustains spiritual aliens who now live in a land not their own – waiting patiently for the day that they raise a song of TRUE THANKS for their eternal, Heavenly Home.

I remain hopeful and prayerful – that we will take this time – these few weeks from Thanksgiving to Christmas, to set the tone for the rest of our years, to understand and be reminded of that for which I, you, WE can and should be TRULY THANKFUL!

What are your causes of TRUE THANKS?


Neal is probably the coolest guy you will never see on Dancing With the Stars, but that’s okay since back in ’99 he made his debut on The Price is Right. Too bad he was foiled by the price of flatware…oh what could have been! Join Neal’s blogging adventure, Shakyhands, and find out why those hands quake while he strives to serve and speak all around this great globe!


Thanks so much, Neal, that was really encouraging! Glad you braved the pink-bedazzled advertisement to join us this week! I hope you, dear readers, will take a moment to respond (in your heart, in your head, and with your fingertips in the comments section below!)


{Thanks}giving Week: Wait! I thought I got to stay on the bus forever!

Hey lads and lassies! We are smack dab in the middle of our {Thanks}giving week, and I sure do hope you’re enjoying it! Mayhaps you’re even a little thankful for it?

The sweet and sassy lassie sharing with you today hearkens from a brave and rugged land that will ever hold a place in my heart, since it’s where the Hubs and I fell in love, and where the Bear was born, among other things. Laura Anne Mackay is a delightful and bonnie Scottish lass, who blogs her brave heart out at Learning from Sophie. But she has a better intro lined up for you, so let’s segue… (I told you letting people write their own intros is brilliant!)


Wait! I thought I got to stay on the bus forever!

(Video c/o Central Christian Church, Las Vegas!)

Poor Lisa. I remember when it was me who was the new Christian, and my friends had told me that knowing Jesus was the coolest thing ever (truth) and that I’d never be sad again (lie) – I was pretty destroyed when I discovered that being a Christian did not keep me on that proverbial ‘happy bus’ forever.

There are times in our lives when God is so obviously and blatantly present in our lives, we feel close to Him, we can hear His voice clearly and it seems we are abundantly blessed. Life is good. Everything is not just as we had hoped, but so much better than we expected!

And then there are those other times. When there are bills to pay and no money to pay them, times when we wonder if we will ever be able to stop fighting with the ones we love, the times where people get sick or die, when it feels God is distant or He just simply doesn’t seem to be protecting us or blessing us in the manner we think He should.

It’s easy to be thankful when we are on that happy bus.

It’s not so easy when we are the ones in pursuit of happiness.

And yet, there is something about choosing to praise God in the bad times as well as the good ones. Not that we’re happy to be going through a difficult time, but because we have hope and comfort in the fact that God is the same – yesterday, today and forever. I find myself challenged by Job’s response to losing so many people He cared about, had worked hard for & stewarded well:

“… he fell to the ground in worship and said:
‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.’
In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”

-Job 1:20-22

The fact is that in our lives there will be times of mourning, and times of celebrating. We won’t always be happy, and we won’t always be sad or angry or mourning. And the thing is, God just has this amazing ability to bring good out of the situations we can despair of – along with free will, He also gave us grace.

But here is what I strive to be: content in all circumstances, always praising, always thankful, and never taking anything for granted.


Laura Anne Mackay is a woman with a passion for God and a passion for people. Her vision: to minister to broken people, to encourage and connect people, to show people God’s love in action. She’s a writer, singer, youth worker, support worker – and loves to tell you all about sex ed!

Laura Anne lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. Amongst many other activities, her main role is to co-run a pregnancy resource centre, as well as helping support a national network of pregnancy centres across Scotland.  She has never eaten haggis or a deep fried mars bar, and does not know how to play the bagpipes.


Thanks so much for sharing that, Laura Anne! I still can’t believe you haven’t eaten haggis, but that was certainly some food for thought (for me at least) on the American ideals regarding life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I hope I can get on the contentment bus and stay there! 😉