Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4 NLT
Today is my dad’s birthday. He would have been 64 years old.
I can look back over the years he’s been gone and see so much of the good that God brought out of his death.
Yet 11 years ago, I couldn’t see past the grief.
On May 5, 2001, while on a vacation to the mountains, he was killed in a car accident.
As an only child, I felt that my whole world had fallen apart.
I was completely devastated.
But in the midst of my brokenness, God began drawing me in, healing and restoring me.
He used the people closest to me to give me powerful, but practical insights that would change the way I saw life.
On one particular day as I was agonizing over the reality of my situation, my mother in law, Bonnie, suggested that I start a Thanksgiving journal.
I would write at least one thing every day that I was thankful for, regardless of how small it was.
As I began the journal, each day seemed to get a little bit better.
My perspective began to change.
Instead of questioning the why’s of my dad’s death, I started seeing the many blessings that I still had.
About 6 months ago, while rummaging through some old boxes of books, I found the Thanksgiving journal.
Reading back through it, I was amazed at how little I could be grateful for.
One entry simply stated, “I am grateful that I am alive today.” That was it.
However, as I flipped through the pages I discovered day after day, words that would allow me to see the healing that was taking place over the next year. The lists got longer and more detailed about the things I was thankful for.
Through all this pain, I realized something….
It doesn’t change our circumstances, but it does change our perspective.
Reflecting back on that time in my life, I wouldn’t change the hard times I had to go through.
It was during the difficult times that God brought me closer to Him.
As His daughter, He lifted my chin and and directed my eyes upon Him.
The more I focused on Him, the more peaceful and thankful I became.
I learned how to be grateful even in the midst of the most difficult times.
Today I celebrate.
I celebrate my dad, who has gone to heaven and is rejoicing without sorrow or pain. And I celebrate my Lord who stepped out of heaven to give me everything, that I may live a peaceful and victorious life.
** I found a funny, relevant video of Zig Ziglar telling a story about gratitude that I thought you would enjoy!**
Practical tips for How to be Grateful When Christmas is Hard:
Journaling has been one of the most powerful ways to see how God has moved in my life. The entries have become “Stones of Remembrance” of all the blessings I can be thankful for. I encourage you to try it today. The writing doesn’t have to be long (unless you want it to be!). It’s really just a way for you to jot down your thoughts for the day.
Gathering together as a family and sharing what we’re thankful for is a great way to produce a Christ focused environment. Each person can tell what they are thankful for and why. Even the little ones love to do this!
For those who are Married
Sit down with your husband after the kids are in bed and talk about what you’re thankful for as a couple. It will draw you closer together and the children will follow your lead.
For some of you this season is joyful and exciting, while for others this time of year can be very difficult. Remembering lost loved ones and broken relationships can make this season more of a time of sorrow than celebration. But this Christmas, I encourage you to seek the One Who heals and redeems. He can make all things new.
Lord, we thank You for Your goodness in our lives. Each day You give us something to be thankful for. Father, as we celebrate Your Son’s birth, help us to see all the wonderful blessings You’ve given us. Help us to continually acknowledge You as the giver of all good things. We love You and thank You today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
What do you do to keep an attitude of Gratitude during the Christmas season? I would love to hear how you keep Christ in Christmas.
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