Lost on Lake Palestine

By Connie Hilton Dunn © 2011

There I was—alone in the middle of Lake Palestine. I couldn’t believe my sister Linda had abandoned me. While riding wave runners, we had somehow lost track of each other. I buzzed the perimeter of the lake, enjoying the ripple of the waves, a blue heron soaring overhead. When I spotted a familiar white building, I headed that direction, but as I got closer, I realized this wasn’t the cove where my sister lived. I began to panic. I didn’t have a cell phone, sunscreen, drinking water, or a watch. I’d been on the water at least an hour, and the scorching sun was beginning to burn my arms and legs. I headed toward the center of the lake, thinking this would be a quicker way to survey the shoreline and identify a landmark.
I prayed desperately, “Lord, help me find my sister or her lake house.” I sensed a still, small voice say, Go to the shore. I steered toward the distant shore, and as I drew near, I saw kids splashing on a paddle boat. “Do any of you have a cell phone?”
“No,” they answered, staring at my sunburned face. “But our aunt is over there.” They pointed to a nearby dock where I saw several adults lounging. A woman lent me her cell phone, and I dialed my husband’s number. It rang and rang, finally transferring to voicemail. Frustrated, I left a brief message explaining my predicament.
“Do you have any water?” I asked. “I’m so thirsty.”
“Sure,” a man answered. He handed me a bottle of cold water, and I guzzled it down.
 “Thanks so much. I really appreciate it.”
The aunt, on her own wave runner, volunteered to help me find my sister’s lake house. We took off, my wave runner slapping and bouncing in her wake. As I scanned the horizon, I turned to my right and spotted my brother-in-law, Ed.
“Have you had enough fun on the lake today?” he joked.
“Yes!” A deep sigh filled my heart with relief.
The next day, I pondered the lessons I’d learned:
  1. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10). My sister and I could have avoided the entire escapade if we had just stayed together.
  2. The ant “has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest” (Proverbs 6:7-8). A little forethought would have prepared me with bottled water, sunscreen, and a cell phone before setting out on the wave runner in 100 degree Texas weather.
  3. “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5b). Instead of panicking, I could have acted on God’s promise. Even though I felt alone, God was with me.

Many times in life we find ourselves in similar circumstances: scared, unprepared, and confused about the next step. We try to rescue ourselves. Rather than ask God for help, we trust in our own strength, which proves to be frail and weak. Isaiah instructs us, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’” (Isaiah 30:21). When I stopped trying to navigate with my own wisdom and cried out to God with humility and desperation, I was able to hear his still, small voice.
In the midst of my drifting, I should have opened my eyes to see, not the S-U-N, but the S-O-N. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, the Son of God, instead of the lapping waves of our circumstances, we’ll be like Peter, walking on the water. So if you find yourself drifting today, I encourage you to lift up your eyes and see the Son! He is waiting with his arms wide open.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Connie Hilton Dunn believes in pursuing life passionately. Her roles include wife, mother, systems specialist, writer, and missions enthusiast. She has a heart for prayer and short term missions trips and has traveled to Tanzania, East Africa several times.  She and her husband are enjoying their empty nest in Kansas City. If you’d like to read about her Africa adventures check out her blog:

All Scripture NIV 1984.

Surviving Caregiver Burnout: Sound Steps to Guide You!

Thanks to advancements in medical science, Americans are now living longer than a generation ago. Presently, 36.5 million people or 12 percent of the U.S. population are 65 years of age or older. Within this group, nearly five million are age 85 or older. It is estimated that by the year 2050, 87 million Americans (21 percent) will reach age 65 and beyond.

While extending one's lifespan may be a modern miracle, for millions of Americans, this astounding growth has taken the act of care giving for a loved one from a historically temporary situation, to a new life stage called care giving that can and does now last decades.

Sixty five percent of persons with long-term care needs rely exclusively on family and friends to provide assistance, and it is estimated that 59 to 75 percent of those providing the care are married women working outside of the home. While men do provide assistance, female caregivers spend as much as 50 percent more time providing care than males.

With these astounding statistics, it is easy to surmise that care giving is a growing demand and one that requires immediate attention and support.

Care giving is an important and stressful job. Most folks enter into it from an emotionally fragile place where their worst fears can be, and often are, realized. If you are caregiver and want to survive this life stage, you must surrender your uncertainty about what to do and commit yourself to acting on a well thought out plan. Like any successful enterprise, having an understanding about what you are about to enter into will help you accept your new role and give you a roadmap for coping.

Steps for Coping
Unless you become an "accidental caregiver" meaning that something happened suddenly, it's usually a slow process that creeps up on you. The signs are different for each individual, but they are definitely present. I encourage you to be pragmatic. Here are some steps to approach the process.

1) Become an Observer -- You must take yourself to the place of a distant observer, where you can view the situation from an unemotional, well thought-out, objective place. By standing back and removing yourself temporarily from the center of the "storm", you will gain perspective and this will go miles in helping you create a plan.

2) Define Your Roles and Responsibilities -As a caregiver; particularly if you are female, it is natural for you to be tempted to try to do everything for your loved one. Depending on the condition of your loved one's health, you may find yourself having to do many things they previously did for themselves, such as personal grooming, driving to appointments or day-to-day household duties. Responsibilities such as these have the potential to cause undue stress. Even if the person is greatly dependent upon you for their care, you will find that you are better able to maintain your own mental and physical health, and the dignity of the person for whom you are caring, if your roles and responsibilities are clearly defined.

3) Practice Open Communication -- This is not the time to be shy about your needs. It is the key to your survival, and you must clarify your role through open communication. Unless your loved one is mentally incapacitated, you must talk about his/her wants and needs, and be sure to make yours clear as well. Discuss today's necessities, but plan for the future. In time, you may find yourself with increased responsibilities such as, medical, home maintenance, legal and financial matters. Make certain that you not only understand what your fiduciary boundaries are, but to whom you can refer to for other important decisions when the time comes.

I cannot stress enough that in order to survive the caregiving process and total burnout; you must set up systems to help you. You do not have to do this alone. Help is available; the time you take to understand where it is and how to access it, will be crucial to your survival.

Surviving Caregiver Burnout
Caregiver burnout is a real condition and should not be taken lightly. It is described as "a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned." Burnout can occur for any number of reasons, but usually does because the caregiver has tried to do more than she is able, either physically or financially, (or both). Burnout symptoms include:
  • Social withdrawal from friends, family and loved ones. 
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed. 
  • A constant feeling of hopelessness or irritability and helplessness. 
  • Changes in weight, sleeplessness coupled with complete emotional and physical exhaustion. 
  • Frequent illness.

How to Avoid Burnout? 
The best way you can avoid caregiver burnout is to create and use a well-planned support system:
  • Set realistic goals and turn to others for relief with certain tasks. 
  • Stay realistic about the illness you are confronting. Your role is not to heal, but to help make life manageable for your loved one. 
  • Set aside time for yourself. This is not a luxury, but a necessity. 
  • Talk to a professional if you feel your life is spinning out of control. You cannot afford not to. 
  • Explore/research respite care services and options. 
  • Educate yourself, take the time to research, and learn. There is a plethora of information available. 
  • Stick to the basics: eat right, exercise and get plenty of rest. Know when it's okay to turn off the phone and be quiet. 
  • Pamper yourself. Take a bath; a long shower; spend time in nature; tap into your own spirituality and ask for help. 
  • Accept your feelings of frustration and anger as normal. 
  • Join a care giving support group. Sharing your feelings with others in your same situation can be extremely helpful. Support groups help you manage stress, locate resources and provide a venue to reduce feelings of frustration and isolation. 
  • Make time for activities you enjoy. 
  • Caregiving is rewarding, but there will be times when you will also feel anger, sadness, frustration and grief. Try not to judge your feelings. They are neither good nor bad, but rather a normal part of being human.
Care giving is hard work, filled with numerous demands. Sadly, many caregivers lose perspective about the importance of their role and feel guilty if they spend time on themselves. You cannot care for another person if you do not care for yourself. You must be kind to yourself and embrace the idea that your role as a caregiver is vital to our society. You are engaged in the ultimate service - giving of yourself to another person. Honor your role and honor yourself.

By Cindy Laverty, founder of The Care Company

Five Caregiving Tips to Help Save Your Sanity!

By Cindy Laverty © 2011

Someone asked me the other day to list five (only five) things that EVERY caregiver should know...five things that would really help them figure things out. It was a big challenge for me because there are hundreds of things someone needs to know. But I wracked my brain for a few days and decided that these were the TOP FIVE!

1. Now don't freak out! You don't have to be a CAREGIVER!
I know that statement makes you really uncomfortable, doesn't it? The truth is that you don't have to be a caregiver. There is no law that says you have to and there is no punishment (except for your guilty conscience) if you decide not to. This statement should be freeing for you, because it means you have a choice and choice means that we are then guided by our ATTITUDE. When you change your attitude from one of obligation and servitude, then you are free from all of the baggage that accompanies the "I have to" attitude. You get to decide what the caregiving journey looks like for you and your loved one. Once we accept that "have to" is not part of the scenario, then we bring a more positive energy to the whole process. No one likes to be told, "You have to do this or you have to do that." The same is true with caregiving. What you do have to do is DECIDE that you will assume the role, but also that you will be very clear about what you can do; what you can't do; what you will do and what you won't do. It will take some getting used to, but if you change your attitude and realize that you indeed have a choice, the journey will be better for you and the person for whom you are caring.

2. Caregiving needs to be set up like a BUSINESS and you are the CEO of the business.
Think about this for a minute. There are legal, financial, medical and physical components that accompany caregiving and sometimes there are even employees who need managing, especially if you hire outside caregivers to assist you. There is also the day-to-day scheduling combined with the emotional feelings. All these moving parts need to be managed. Set up caregiving like you would a business from the very beginning and your life will be infinitely easier. Most caregivers have not done this step and this is when the financial issues become overwhelming. You really need to consider putting systems and procedures in place that everyone can easily follow. Having a roadmap for the business of caregiving is extremely beneficial.

3. You cannot do caregiving ALONE!
You absolutely must have a support team in place and this support team involves your family, your friends, and anyone who can help you get this job done. Many caregivers are afraid to ask for help. For some reason they think they should be able to do this by themselves. They quickly learn, however, that it takes more than one person to care for an aging loved one.

4. Stop trying to FIX what is wrong and embrace the role of ADVOCATE!

This one tip will change the way you view your caregiving responsibilities. You can't fix the aging process and that's what you are faced with. You can, however, become an advocate and you can never underestimate the importance of advocating on behalf of someone who cannot advocate on his/her own behalf. When you are trying to fix everything you set yourself up for disappointment. Be realistic about what you can do and stop trying to fix the impossible. Instead, become a strong advocate.

5. You Matter! Learn to embrace and practice SELF CARE each and every day.
Caregiving takes a physical, emotional and mental toll on our lives and you must learn to be clear about your personal needs and put yourself at the top of the pyramid. You've read all the articles about caregiver burnout. Perhaps you've heeded them, but most caregivers think it will never happen to them. When it does, the rug is really pulled out from under you. Caregiving is a beautiful gift to another person, but you are not meant to lose your life while doing it. Become proactive today!

Thanksgiving in Early America

by Elaine Marie Cooper

When we sit down at our Thanksgiving meal this month, we’ll be recreating a celebration that is as old as our country: sharing food with loved ones while thanking the God Who has provided the abundance.

While we understand that the First Thanksgiving was celebrated here by the Mayflower survivors along with the Indians that had helped them, the first official proclamation that was decreed to celebrate such a holiday was in 1777. It was a recommendation to the thirteen states by the Continental Congress to set aside December 18th that year as a “solemn thanksgiving” to celebrate the first major victory for the Continental troops in the American Revolution: the Battle of Saratoga.

The Battle of Saratoga has significant interest for my own family since one of my ancestors was a soldier there. But he was not on the American side—he was a British Redcoat. After surrendering to the Americans, he escaped the line of prisoners and somehow made his way to Massachusetts and into the life and heart of my fourth great-grandmother. *SIGH* L’amour!

This family story was the inspiration for my Deer Run Saga that begins in 1777 with The Road to Deer Run. There is an elaborate Thanksgiving meal scene in this novel as well as in the sequel, The Promise of Deer Run.

Some may wonder why such detail was afforded this holiday in my novels set in Massachusetts, while Christmas is barely mentioned. The reason is simple: Thanksgiving was the major holiday in the northern colonies, with Christmas considered nothing more special than a workday. According to Jack Larkin in his book, The Reshaping of Everyday Life, “The Puritan founders of New England and the Quaker settlers of Pennsylvania had deliberately abolished (holidays) as unscriptural.”

But Thanksgiving was begun as a way to give thanks to God for His provision. It usually began with attending church services in the morning, followed by an elaborate feast in the afternoon. The food for this meal was prepared for weeks in advance.

Since the individual state governors chose their own date to celebrate the holiday, it was theoretically possible for some family members—if they lived in close proximity—to celebrate multiple Thanksgiving meals with family and friends across state borders. The dates chosen could be anywhere from October to December, according to Dennis Picard, Director of the Storrowton Village Museum in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

Chicken was most commonly served, said Picard, as it was readily available in the barnyard. And the oldest woman in the home had the honor of slicing the fowl for dinner.

Pies were made well in advance of the holiday and stored and became frozen in dresser drawers in unheated rooms.

“I like the idea of pulling out a dresser drawer for, say, a clean pair of socks, and finding mince pies,” said Picard, tongue in cheek.


Have a BLESSED Thanksgiving!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elaine Marie Cooper grew up in Massachusetts but now lives in the Midwest with her husband, her three dogs and one huge cat. She has two married sons and triplet grandchildren who are now one year old. The Promise of Deer Run is dedicated to the triplets and to veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Elaine has been a magazine freelance writer for many years, and is a regular contributor to a blog on the Midwest called The Barn Door (www.thebarndoor.net) and a blog on Christian living called Reflections In Hindsight (ReflectionsInHindsight.wordpress.com). She is the author of The Road to Deer Run and the sequel, The Promise of Deer Run. Prior to becoming an author, Elaine worked as a registered nurse.

Accepting Infertility

By Danielle Ripley-Burgess © 2011

I woke up, somewhat foggy, to my parents gazing over me in my hospital bed. The good news: no cancer discovered on this second surgery. The bad news: the surgery itself, performed to save my hormone function before pelvic radiation, made me medically sterile.

My mom looked like a ghost had walked by. My dad looked guilty. The doctor insisted my surgery meant life or death; she focused on my life. My ability to create future lives was null. My parents’ eyes swelled with tears, but my 17-year-old self perked up with gratitude to be alive. Parenthood was so far off my radar.

I lived with this perspective for many, many years. Even when I married, my husband accepted infertility. We viewed our situation as special and unique. I thanked God for a great testimony and story of survival. We told others of our plans to adopt; we “high-fived” over the fact I’d never be pregnant. It was our special treat, until it started to hit me one day.

Handling Criticism

by Greg Baker © 2010

I pastor a church. I have my own opinions about God, religion, society, heaven, hell, salvation, government, and right and wrong. My views are strictly biblical, but that won't stop other Christians and Bible believers from criticizing my stand and beliefs let alone the non-believers.

If you take a stand on anything, you will be criticized for it. But there are a variety of things you need to be aware of in regards to criticism. Understanding the nature of criticism will help you handle it without being overly defensive.


Critics are often very insecure about something in their life. Who knows what it may be, but secure people aren't bothered by other people's opinion. They don't feel the need to attack someone else. I'm a Christian, and I'm not bothered when someone else has a different opinion on God. I'm very, very secure in my beliefs. I've noticed, however, that critical people are often not secure in some of theirs.

They attack other positions because that is easier to do than take a long hard look at their own. Critics will often cut others down to make themselves taller.

You can't argue with a critic and win. It doesn't matter if you have a stronger argument, position, or logic. Arguing with a critic is always a losing battle. It'll only frustrate you.

Recently, I had someone challenge me on something I wrote. That's fine. I sent a clarification back and received a very long argument in reply. After reading the first line and realizing what was happening, I deleted the letter. I knew that reading it would only frustrate me more, and it was clear that I wasn't going to change his mind either. To save myself frustration, I simply deleted it.

The trash can is your best friend when it comes to criticism. Hit that delete key. Don't bother with a response.


Concern is from someone who cares and has the power, position, and authority to make a difference. When a parent tells a child to do something different, that is concern and love. When a boss corrects the way you do something that is his right. He is concerned for his business.

Criticism is from someone who has neither the power to change anything, the authority to try, nor the position to say anything. And yet they still do. A critic is more interested in tearing down what others build than in building something of their own.

I'm way to busy building a Church for God to worry about what other Churches are doing. I'm not responsible for other pastors, other ministries, and other churches. So I don't bother looking into it. I focus on what God has given me and what I know I ought to be doing. So should you.

Isn't it amazing how critical the crowd is of a referee? The crowd can't do a single thing to fix, to correct, or to change the call that a referee makes. Referees are rarely critical of other referees because they understand the position and the difficulties that come with it. Do you ever see a referee booing a ticket holder? Someone who is doing something doesn't have time for someone who is merely watching and criticizing.

It amazes me how critical we are of the President. No matter if he is a democrat or a republican, we all know better, don't we? Do I agree with him all the time? Of course not! But I am not in a position to be constructively critical. I'll express my opinion in the voting box.

A critic is often envious of others. Many times that envy reveals itself in the form of criticism.


The critic will consume your heart and mind if you let him. Criticism has the potential to hurt and hurt deeply. Remember, the critic isn't really trying to help. He is trying to tear down what others build instead of building something themselves.

This is what irks me about politics, to be critical myself here. They are very good at pointing out where the ideas and policies of their opponents are doomed to fail, but they offer no solution of their own.

Don't joust with a critic. Just focus on where you can make things better. Realize that not everyone will agree with you. In fact, in my case, I would be extremely puzzled if everyone agreed with me all the time. I'd think someone had thrust me into some sort of bizarre virtual reality.

There are people who are counting on me to help build their lives for the better. So why in the name of all things good would I give my attention to a critic whose only thoughts are to tear down and destroy?

I disagree with a lot of preachers and ministries. But for the most part, we are too busy loving and helping people to have time attacking each other. That's good. That's the way it should be.

Have you been criticized? Trash it in the mental trashcan of your mind and go on and build something.

More at: http://articles.christianbaptists.com Or http://www.fitlyspoken.org for books on communication and social skills in relationships! Specifically, our books 'Fitly Spoken' and 'Restoring a Fallen Christian'. For editing and ghostwriting services: http://www.affordablechristianediting.com

Growing in Glory

This article by guest columnist Teresa Tierney is available all month from our "Growing in Glory" tab. 

Thankful—For This?
By  Teresa Tierney © 2011
Scripture tells us to give thanks in all circumstances. (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV)

It’s easy to thank God during the happy events of our lives but how do we give thanks during those less than happy days? Does God want us to fake it? I believe even in life’s most difficult circumstances, God makes loving provision for us for which we can be thankful.

This has been made clear to me through the life of my son. If you picture a 3-year-old in an adult body, you will have some idea of our challenge. Brad was born 33 years ago with brain damage. He can be as willful as any toddler and then turn around and be a grumpy old man when it comes to dealing with change. He complains if anyone but Daddy makes his toast and he will throw clothing in the trash bin rather than wear something new.

While it is annoying to be put in the role of trash monitor, I am thankful for the revelation in his innocent belief that all his needs will be met. When we give him money to spend, he digs up every single penny of change to give back to us. He has no interest in hanging onto any of it. He believes that whenever he needs money again, it will be provided. His faith is perfect. Mine—not so much.

Some handicaps come with disruptive behaviors that make it difficult to be around other people. I can be thankful our son is well-behaved—at least in public. In fact, Brad is the perfect date. He is delighted with any menu; he has yet to meet a food he doesn’t like, and he is very non-judgmental about the movie-going experience. While he might snore through the quiet scenes or laugh at people rolling down the deck of a sinking Titanic (purely a Laurel and Hardy moment for him!), he has yet to pick the plot apart or complain about an actor’s performance.

There are many things Brad will never experience because of his limitations, but I am thankful for the impact he has on the people around him. When I see my 7-year-old grandson gently guiding his 33-year-old uncle into an apology for losing his temper, I see the tiniest corner of the plan God has for every imperfection in our lives. God doesn’t give us perfect minds, perfect bodies or perfect lives. To do so would deprive us of our need for Him—and our need for each other.

Having a handicapped son is not something I would try to thank God for. But I truly am thankful Brad is the son God gave me.

How to give thanks in every circumstance:
  • Look beyond the situation to find God’s plan for you.
  • Trust God for his unique provision for you.
  • God’s plan or provision may not be obvious. Ask him to reveal them to you.
  • There may be a season of waiting for your answer. Be willing to wait on God’s timing.
Ask God for the faith to trust in His promise: “In all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28, NIV).

Question:  What can you find to be thankful for in your less than perfect circumstance?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Teresa Tierney is a writer, a mother of two sons and grandmother of three. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska. You may contact her at T68114@gmail.com

Giving Thanks

You can easily find "Giving Thanks" all month long by clicking on the "Words of Strength" tab above. 

Giving Thanks
by Kristi Bothur © 2011

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:6-7

Thanksgiving is coming up soon – one of my favorite holidays, in part because it has managed to avoid the stain of commercialism over the decades. Unlike Christmas and Easter, no one has attempted to make Thanksgiving Day anything other than what it is – a day to focus on our blessings and turn our face toward heaven in gratitude for all God has given us.

Keeping the holiday of Thanksgiving pure is one thing. Maintaining an attitude of thanksgiving the other 364 days of the year is more challenging, especially when you are going through a difficult season of life. Thanksgiving Day of 2009 was especially difficult for me. I was still mourning the loss of our daughter Naomi from six months before, only to undergo a second miscarriage the Friday before Thanksgiving. My body had not yet recovered from my two abdominal surgeries of the spring, and I was anticipating another surgery in a few short weeks, this one to check for the possibility of thyroid cancer. My mood was dark, my heart was broken, and giving thanks was the furthest thing from my mind. Give thanks? For what? For children who should be around the table, but aren't? For illness? For pending surgery? For financial stress and for strained relationships? I survived that Thanksgiving, but that is all.

Since then, I've given a lot of thought to what the Bible teaches about giving thanks. One of the verses I've meditated on is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, " Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."

That is a tall order. To rejoice, and pray, and give thanks in all circumstances – even the hard ones. Is that humanly possible? But the key to it is in the phrase that follows: "for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." God is all about molding us to the image of his Son, and these phrases describe the life of Jesus. Although a "man of sorrows", he always rejoiced in His Father; his followers knew him as a man of prayer; and even in the hours before he knew he would be betrayed and killed, he broke bread and gave thanks. If this is God's will for me, and for you, will he not equip us to do it?

One thing to note – he doesn't command us to give thanks for all circumstances, but in all circumstances. In other words, in whatever situation we find ourselves, we must find the gifts and the blessings of that moment and give thanks for that. This is not to minimize our pain, but to help us find His grace in the midst of it. If we can't think of anything to be thankful for, we ask God to show us – and He will. Small things like a cool breeze or a pleasant fragrance. Bigger things like the kind words of a friend, a comforting touch, good medical care, a roof over our heads. And even bigger things - the love of God, salvation, the promise of eternity.

And somewhere along the way, we notice that we are no longer focusing on the gifts, but on the goodness of the Giver. Perhaps that is the reason for the promise of Philippians 4:6-7. When we, instead of giving into anxiety, choose instead to lift our faces and voices to God in prayer and thanksgiving, we are promised that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds. Why? Because in that moment, we are looking at God in all his goodness and splendor, and in the words of an old praise song, "the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace."

If Thanksgiving is hard for you this year, test His promise of peace. Present your requests to God – but do it with thanksgiving, looking for the little things to be thankful for. It may not take away all of the pain in your heart, but it will bring peace for your soul.

Father, Thanksgiving seems trite sometimes in light of my struggles and trials. It is so hard to find things to be thankful for, and when I do voice them, I feel like a hypocrite. Please fill my heart with thanksgiving not only this November 24, but the other days of the year, too. Help me to focus on You over my circumstances, and to see your goodness in all things. Amen.