I started this post a few weeks ago – closer to Thanksgiving, but didn’t finish it. Pardon the lack of timeliness. Then again, this shouldn’t be something that is talked about once a year anyway so I guess I take back the pardon request.


Reverend Mark Foster, Acts 2 UMC

Our pastor, Mark Foster, gave a good sermon a few weeks ago on being thankful. I’m not going to repeat it all here. I honestly hate to try to paraphrase him for fear of having interpreted him in my own way (you can listen for yourself here), but these are two of the main things I heard:

  • The most important time to be thankful is in the face of adversity.
  • Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity.

The couple months following my diagnosis, I actually felt extremely thankful. Obviously, I am not excited about going through this, but the enormous amount of love and support our family has experienced kept me really positive.

When we took our trip to Houston last month only to find out that the cancer had, in fact, showed itself in my lymph nodes and that my tumor was double the size they thought … well, I definitely noticed myself being more resentful, worried and bitter. I definitely needed Pastor Mark’s reminder about thankfulness that morning.

It is easy to take things for granted in our daily lives, but I think it is even easier to take things for granted when times are tough. When you are having a bad day, you just don’t take the time to fully appreciate the cute card that says, “I hp thdt you fl bedr,” (translation: I hope that you feel better) from your 5-year old.

One of MANY cards she has made me

I mean, it made me happier, and I gave her a great big hug for it. But, I didn’t fully appreciate the time she spent drawing and coloring the picture of me as precise as she could. I didn’t think about how long she spent trying to spell all of the words … all while she was at school. To really think about the fact that I was on my sweet little girl’s mind while she was drawing in class.

Those are the things I need to focus on. The positives. The kindness. The happy things. As Mark said, there is power in giving thanks and remembering what is good around us. Giving thanks changes us.

In the same breath, I will say the opposite applies, too. Not giving thanks changes us.

When we moved into our house four years ago, I remember telling the neighbor across the street that we were going to stay here until Brynlee graduated from high school. I followed that with, “It would be stupid for me to think we will ever need more house than this.” I’d be lying right now if I told you I didn’t wish we had an office in our house. It would also be nice to have an extra bedroom for company to spend the night.

When I begin going down that path, I reign myself back in. I remind myself of what I told that neighbor that day — because it is true. I’m blessed with a beautiful house. We have more than enough room for all of our family. But, I do have to consciously remind myself of that statement to get back on track. I was so grateful for this when we moved in — how does that change? It changes when you start taking what you have for granted.

Now I have a real problem. One that is scary and shows me each day that it is beyond my control. People have told me how “strong” I am and how “great” I’m handling all of this. In my head, I just think, “What is the alternative?” And, something Pastor Mark said during last night’s message struck me, as well. He was referring to facing difficult times in life …

“You either get bitter or you get better.”

I choose better.

So, I’ve resolved to keep a list of things I’m thankful for as we journey through the next year. I think that taking the time to call out the things that make me feel grateful will help me stay positive and keep perspective. I’m going to keep my list on this blog, but I’m also going to have some posts about some of them as well. I say all of this out loud to you for accountability.

And, in light of yesterday’s tragedy in Connecticut, I start my list with the health and safety of my three beautiful children.

8 thoughts on “Thankfulness

  1. Loved this post. Brynlee’s card is very special.
    Sounds like the Pastor’s message was a direct hit for you that week.

  2. Praying that this week, this hospital stay, THIS surgery will be the ‘turning point’ for all of you. Your Pastor Mark reminds me of someone very dear to me in my life; someone who could speak wisdom to my heart, and those words have carried me through many a dark time. Listen to whatever wisdom finds its way to you and know for sure: that is the voice of god. You are all SOOOO loved. Your family is here for you. Go #TeamJenny!

  3. Your mom sent me your blog website & how very touching & relevant are your words! Thanks for sharing. I will continue to follow you on your journey to complete wellness.

  4. I started a ‘grateful’ list a couple of years ago. It’s amazing how many things we truly love and how the little things can make you smile. A full harvest moon, the sound of tires on gravel, Christmas lights, fireflies, campfires, bluebonnets, goldfish, the fog, high school football, homemade ice cream, kisses, math (ok, jk!), and on and on. My late husband, was a traumatic brain injury survior, and despite headaches, legal troubles-bad decisions, sleep troubles, left-right confusion, and a changed personality, always said, “You don’t have to look far to be grateful.” Jenny, I work with your beautiful, sparkly sister…you and your family are in my heart and prayers. Group hug!! : )

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