The Thankful Project



The Bible tells us to be grateful in ALL things - this includes our more difficult times of life. I truly believe there is healing and hope in offering a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God in our pain. Have you experienced something recently or even in the past that was difficult? Were you able to find a way to be thankful in those circumstances? Maybe you are in a challenging season right now and learning to have a thankful heart in the midst of your hurt or frustration. If so, your story would be a great addition to The Thankful Project!

If you would like to participate in The Thankful Project, please follow these guidelines:

Write a unique, non published, post describing your past or present circumstance and how you learned or are learning to give thanks through it. If you are a blogger and would like to put a teaser for your post (along with a referring link) on your blog, that would be great!

Please limit posts to 1,000 words.

One picture is welcome and will be posted with your story.

Please include only one link. You may attach a bio and link to your personal blog which will be posted to your story.

By submitting a story, you are giving me permission to post it to my Blog site as well as use it for linking to my site.

Submit posts to: SharaANelson@gmail.com



Current Story
Submitted by Mandy Kelly

Being Thankful Even When it Hurts



Everywhere I turn, they are there. I can’t seem to escape them. From my own family, to my Facebook wall, they haunted me. The desire within my heart almost had me sick to my stomach.

Babies. Beautiful, miracles from God. Ten tiny fingers and toes. Oh, how I long for a sweet infant of my own.

Yet, outside of a miracle from the Lord, I will not have any.

I have always wanted to be a Momma – and I love being Momma to my three blessings. My husband, whom I married just over a year ago, was a widow. He had three children who had lost their Momma. I get to be their Momma now. I have so much to be thankful for. Three beautiful children who call me the name I longed to hear.

I have learned that the job and title of Mommy is given from God. It is nothing something you get when you get a positive pregnancy test, a hospital visit, or even adoption papers. It is a job that is given to you by the Lord. The Bible says that children are a reward from Him – they are our heritage (Psalm 127:3). It is my highest calling to be their Mom.

Yet, this doesn’t mean I don’t long for children of my own. Yet, medical science says no. I pray the prayers of Hannah- asking that if the Lord will just give me a child in my womb, I promise them for Him. That I will them for His glory and for His service.

He gently whispers to do that with the ones He has entrusted me with.

He tells me that it is a high calling to raise another woman’s children.

The cost of discipleship is high in this world.

So, I am reminded to be thankful. Even when my heart is broken over what will never be- in all situations I am to be thankful. He has taught me to be thankful for the beauty in His timing and in His plan. I know I will never replace the ache that that the children (especially my oldest who will remember her birth Mom) will have in their heart- but I get to show them how to be thankful. We get to process this life together.

So today, as I look at the pictures of the newborn babies, and as I hold my new niece, I am thankful. For my children’s health. For their personalities. For the ways that they are like me. For how her hand fits into mine. For evening cuddles and bedtime stories and prayers. I am thankful for devotions in the morning, and shepherding their young hearts. I am thankful for girl talks and reading the Bible with my oldest. Most of all, I am thankful for the beautiful name Mommy- and so glad that I can wear it as mine.













Previous Story
Submitted by Lanna Webb

I am thankful for every minute of my pain.



Bear with me during the first couple of paragraphs and make it to the end, please.

I’m 41 years old. I’ve spent 16 of my adult years – beginning at 17 – with a migraine-intensity chronic tension headache born of a rare form of headache (yay, me) caused by Occipital Neuralgia. O.N. also causes migraines, including chronic ones. I was blessed with having those, also, although they came in clusters and sometimes gave me some down time. Yes, I DID have two different types of migraine-intensity headaches at the same time.

When I turned 32, I took my dream job as a teacher at Brazosport Christian School teaching Secondary (7-12th grade) students. In addition to the headaches, I also began to have pain in other places. It started in the legs – by 6th period every day I was shuffling instead of walking and had to teach sitting down. Then came pain almost everywhere else. Then came the extreme fatigue – so bad that I would sometimes have to pull over on my 20-minute drive home to catch a catnap so I could make it the rest of the way. Then I started tripping over my own feet. And one day, I realized that I was more and more frequently losing ordinary words during conversation. I know a lot of people struggle with trying to drum up words sometimes, but I was beginning to lose them at an alarming rate. I became so dizzy at times that I weaved and ran into lockers or other people in the hallways and fought blacking out. There were other symptoms, as well, and a bevy of tests that all came back clear or inconclusive.

And still I taught and even began a career as an administrator serving as Secondary Principal. It was more than a job; it was a very clear manifestation of the use God had planned for me, for which He had worked all those decades to prepare me.

And then one day I couldn’t read.

Let me backtrack. I noticed that I was having trouble understanding statements and questions about anything that was not overly familiar to me. It wasn’t just that I couldn’t comprehend; I could not understand the words spoken. It was literally as if the person talking to me were using a foreign language. And then I picked up a book and could no longer read. Oh, I could read each individual word, but I could string no more than two together to form a cohesive idea.

I’m not going to lie – I totally freaked out.

Long story cut short: I had to quit my job and leave my students. I grieved as if I had lost my best friend to death. And I grieve to this day. My health tanked so badly I ended up, for all intents and purposes, bed-ridden – I could get up some and on the rare day go places, but mostly I lay in bed. For several weeks, I couldn’t read because I couldn’t understand stuff; I couldn’t watch TV because I couldn’t follow the story line for the duration of the show; and I couldn’t adequately converse with my family and friends because I couldn’t hold my concentration to the end of a thought.

Gradually it got better. Turns out I had suffered brain trauma similar to that of a mild stroke, trauma brought on by too many stressors – illness, long hours, concern for my school & teachers & students, not to mention keeping up with my family, and the ever-present pain. My brain began to heal but my pain remained and, in fact, grew. I’ll spare you the diagnoses and theories that brought on the various types of chronic pain and bring you to January, 2013 when I could no longer sit in our living room (which I rarely saw) and watch TV with my family because the pain in my back was too intense to allow me to sit through even a 30 minute sit-com.

Since then, I have had several huge bounds forward and a couple of devastating tugs backward. But one thing remains constant:

My God loves me so much that He bore the pain of watching one of His kids – a child He loves more than we can fathom loving one of our own – watching His child suffer for the vast majority of her adult life. He bore that pain because He is more concerned with her good than her feel-good.

How incredibly amazing is that? He held tight during the really bad times because He refused to sacrifice an eternity of good for a fleeting temporal moment of feel-good. Wow!

There are so many things for which I am thankful – lessons that I know I have learned and areas in which I have profited, all because of the pain I’ve endured. There are so many people for whom I am thankful because of their compassion and service and intercession and love and faith and trust and help, all cultivated because of dealing with a loved one in chronic pain. There are so may relationships for which I am thankful that have grown exponentially tighter and more valuable because of the things we have gone through together because of my pain. There are so many virtues for which I am thankful that I see in my children, virtues that I have no doubt were wrought out of the ordeal of having a mother with chronic pain.

But I am infinitely more thankful for my God, the Father, the Author of the Universe, who saw all of the pain beforehand and the outcome of afterward and allowed me to go through it all for the sake of good. He is El Shaddai, God Almighty, the all-powerful God who could have taken the pain away in much less than the blink of an eye but chose not to do so, all for the sake of good. He is Jehovah Rapha, the God Who Heals, and yet He held off on my healing for the sake of good.

I’m so thankful and incredibly humbled that the God of the Universe who has so many other things to draw His attention, has firmly placed Holy Spirit between me and all the (Christian) naysayers. God has protected me, provided for me, shown mercy to me, and given me the ultimate gift of not giving in to what so many people tried to tell Him (and me) the He should do in order to make things turn in the direction of what they, in there finite and earthly minds, deemed the good for me.

I am supremely grateful that God is smarter than I and knows that yes, I shall be healed by the stripes of Yeshua my Messiah, but that God’s timing is of utmost importance, that good is more important than feel-good, and that God’s will surpasses all others – for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.


Yes, I am thankful for every minute of my pain.




Previous Story
Submitted by Heather Nelson

Thanksgiving and a Giant God-smack!



When I was a child one of my favorite movies was “Polyanna.” I seriously could write an entire dissertation about this film and why it is completely awesome, but instead I will just tell you to go and find it and watch it, you will thank me. The main character, Polyanna, is an orphan who has been raised through many trials. She constantly plays what she lovingly calls “the glad game.” It is her goal to always find something to be glad about in every circumstance. Man, what a lesson! In thinking about thankfulness through adversity, this was the first place my mind went. Can I truly find something to not just be glad about, but be thankful for in every circumstance?

So, here I am thinking of writing a piece on thankfulness through adversity. In my mind I started scouring through at least a dozen different situations in my past where a specific adversity or “trial” had occurred and tried to think of how I could write and encourage thankfulness in all things.

In doing this, I began to unearth a pattern that I was not prepared for. God's funny like that, right? So instead of telling you what a great Christ follower I am when faced with trials, I am going to tell you, ugly blistering sores and all, the truth. The truth is, I flipped out. Every. Single. Time. Oh, I was thankful. I was ALWAYS thankful when it seemed the trial was over, or when God pulled me out, or provided. Man was I thankful for Him then. But in the middle of ugly, in the smack dab center of hurt, pain, and worry, I was not thankful... I was fearful. Though I know that having fear in my heart for provisions is not having faith that God will provide ( Luke 12:24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!) I still have struggled through the years with surrendering to His care.

For the most part, the pattern essentially ended up looking like this (and I will use examples of actual trials I have faced).

Trial -struggled with infertility - My response: Flip out (depression, a lot of crying, hopelessness, jealousy of other pregnant women, anger at God,).... After God Delivered (opened my womb and allowed me to be pregnant) : I was so thankful.

Trial -marriage separation- My response: Flip out (depression, anger, hopelessness. I did eventually learn to completely lean on God and He did allow me one of the sweetest times of communion with Him at that point. )...... After God Delivered (my husband and I were reunited and began to work hard on our union) : I was so thankful.

Trial - Financial hardship - My response: Flip out... After God delivered (provided): I was so thankful.

Trial - Lost job, move to smaller place - My response: Flip out. After God delivered: I was so thankful.

Trial - YADA YADA YADA you get the point.


Wow. And this is where God did His thing to me that I am very familiar with. I can describe it as a full fledged smack in the forehead, like an “I should've had a V-8” moment. Can somebody say “CONVICTION”?? Yeah. Conviction. Well that was SO NOT what I was planning on for this article. Ok then, lets take a big fat look at what's going on right now shall we? I'm in the middle of a financial hardship again. Things are, well, really tight. We have to fully rely on God for everything. For those of you who've been there, you know that this type of struggle can put a strain on many of other areas of your life, thus creating a bunch of little hairy mini trials. THEN- just tonight (hahaha, go figure) I fell and injured my knee, as in, going to get an xray tomorrow type of injury- ugh. So, my first reaction to this, were the following thoughts.... 1. are you serious? How can I be such a klutz? 2. I'm so mad, I am 36 years old, not 80 for crying out loud. 3. I'm trying to lose weight and being unable to work out is really going to make this harder. 4. We do not have the money for this.

Yeah, not a great example to list here IN THE MIDST of me working on this. Then I sit down to start writing about thankfulness and my V-8 moment is back. Back this time with a flashing light. I just totally wrecked that up God. Please forgive me.

These are not life ending, cancer ridden problems I'm dealing with here people, I totally get that. But, they are MY problems. So I am forced to take a better look. I don't want to be in this pattern anymore! I want a new pattern, and you know what? I think that's what God wants too. In fact, I KNOW that's what He wants, and here's why:


1. Colossians 3:14-17 14And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


2. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

So, my new pattern should look like this: Trial - My response: Thank God for his faithfulness, rejoice in His sovereignty and grace. Trust - If God delivers – Praise him. If He doesn't – Praise Him. Because, I know He is in control of ALL things, and I KNOW that I can rest in His Sovereignty.

Wow, so easy right? NOT! I know I will have to revisit this every single time, because in my own will I will not ever rise up to this. Here's the deal folks, I need Jesus, and I need Him B-A-D. So then, what do I do? I pray. I pray a lot. I read His word, a lot. I seek to glorify Him, because ultimately, all of my pleasure, my joy, my life, regardless of my circumstances, will come through Christ being magnified.





Previous Story

Submitted by: Dayna Bickham


Thankful in the Messy Moments



She yells and screams at me, “I hate you!” and something inside me breaks. How did we come to this? This place where all we ever seem to do is fight and all we ever see in the other are the things we do not like?

Parenting teens is difficult. Any parent who tells you they don’t worry or wonder about their kids a little bit more than they did before they turned into hormonal, easily aggravated and somewhat unbalanced people is either a- not a parent, or b- insane. For me, parenting teens is a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute I feel immense pleasure over who my kid is becoming and in the next moment I want to scream “What did you do to my precious cherub of a child, you hideous monster?!”

Not that I get to yell that.

Ever.

But boy do I want to.

So, in the midst of all the angst, and between their bouts of yelling and the occasional silent treatment, how can I honestly say I am thankful for my kids?

When it all boils down to it, they have been the catalysts God has used to challenge and change me more than anything else. For that I am thankful.

I thought I may never get to have children so having two is a bit of a miracle. On top of that, having both of them healthy has been a challenge. We have battled epilepsy, learning disorders, emotional problems, and personal differences.

Through it all I am constantly surprised and generally amazed by them. Even when we are fighting, my girls display so much character and strength. I look at them and I get, in some small way, how God must feel about us.

Even when we are acting like complete rear ends, He manages to love us perfectly. For that, I am also grateful.

So during a month that is both beautiful and beautifully challenging with its busy shopping season, family gatherings, and reflective qualities, I chose to be grateful for the thing that brings the most aggravation into my life: my kids.

Without them, I would feel a little less full. Without them I would be more self-centered, and without them I would probably be a little less tired. But I would not change it. Not for all the rest, money or peace of mind in the world, because in the end, they are the reason I was made. And for that, I am thankful. Even if I need some Tylenol and a nap.



Previous Story
Submitted by: Linda Rouse

The Ups and Downs


I have found out that in life there are many ups and downs.  In the up times, I can be so happy and so thankful and in the down times, well, let’s just say that I am a “Big Cry Baby”.  But, the Lord is changing that attitude in me.  
A little less than a year ago I got myself into a real mess.  Type II diabetes was ruining my life.  I had let myself be convinced that I could do whatever I wanted, eat what I wanted and how much I wanted and never exercise and that all these things would not bother me.  WRONG!
The diabetes got out of control and so did I.  My Dr. tried a new medicine, but it didn’t work for me.  So, he told me that he really couldn’t help me anymore and that I needed to see a Diabetic Specialist.  I was heartbroken and very scared.  I pretty much felt hopeless, which is a lie from the enemy.  All kinds of things went through my mind, like I would be on insulin, my kidney’s would fail and I would be on dialysis, etc.
After getting my appointment set to go to the Diabetic Doctor, I really got myself in gear.  I was on my knees seeking God’s forgiveness for doing this to myself and I was asking God for direction.  He led me to a low-carb diet and to a gym.  By the time my appointment came to see the Diabetic Doctor, the blood sugar numbers were coming down.  Dr. Daniel, just kept me on the one medicine that I was on and didn’t add anything else.  He told me to keep eating right and exercising and to keep losing weight.
The next two times I went to see him, I got awesome reports.  Things just keep getting better.  
I can truly say that I am so thankful that all of this happened.  Had it not, no telling what would have happened.  The Lord has shown me that His Hand is always on me.  He wasn’t caught off guard and He wasn’t surprised.  He also, has shown Himself faithful.  He has been with me leading me and helping me every step of the way.  I still have a long way to go and I now know that He can be trusted fully.  When I waver or get off track, he gently leads me back.  When I feel down, He lifts my head.  I give Him Praise and Honor and Glory.  HE is the Faithful One who loves me and who loves you.  

Don’t ever give up.  Always be thankful.  If you are His and are living according to His purposes, He is always working things out for your good.  Thanking Him for all He has done in my life.  I can’t make it without Him