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I scooped mac and cheese into my toddler’s bowl as she excitedly ran through the kitchen and jumped into her booster seat. Macaroni and cheese is her favorite food. If she could eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner I have no doubt that she absolutely would. I set the warm mac and cheese in front of her as she pulled her chair close to the table (she has learned the closer she is to the table, the less likely any of the precious mac and cheese will miss her mouth and fall to the floor!). She looked at her lunch, paused, then looked up at me and said, “Oh thank you mommy!” and started scooping the noodles up with her spoon. My mama heart beamed. It was the first time she had said “thank you” with no coaching, reminders, or prompting. It has been such a joy to watch her cultivate an attitude of thankfulness, and she has encouraged and spurred me on to likewise be thankful in all circumstances and even the smallest of things (like mac and cheese!).

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I write this in the wake of newly announced health advisories as COVID cases continue to soar and perhaps, for many of us, cultivating a heart of gratitude and thanksgiving feels especially challenging this year. Some women were unexpectedly thrust into the trials (and triumphs!) of homeschooling. Many are fighting to love their families and children while also battling fear and anxiety. Others became mothers for the first time and brought their babies into a fearful and chaotic world. Still others have been navigating marriage and motherhood in a season where relationships easily become fragile and broken. This year has been challenging, no doubt.

We may look back at the 2019 holiday season and desire to escape back into a time where people gathered together, nobody knew what an N95 was, and we didn’t have to justify every sneeze (“allergies!!”) or cough (“it’s just water going down the wrong pipe, I promise!”). I recognize this Thanksgiving and Christmas will look different, and there are certainly moments where I long to be back in those holiday seasons before COVID. Will my children even know a Thanksgiving where family sits around the table, or will they only know about gathering around a Zoom call? Will I ever have the opportunity to cook a big Thanksgiving dinner, or will our meals forever be quick, small, and socially distant? Will we be under travel restrictions for what could be the last holiday season for an aging parent or grandparent? There are many questions, worries, and hypotheticals to consume our minds as we look ahead.

But God calls us to rejoice always. To pray without ceasing. To give thanks in everything.

This Thanksgiving season, let’s rejoice in the good God has done in our lives this year! For some this will be harder than others, but God has done good things in all of our lives! How has He brought your family closer together? How has He given you a Biblical perspective on motherhood, friendship, His Word, or eternity? How have you seen Him grow you in your walk with Him? In what ways have you seen your children grow in their love for Him? We have much to rejoice in!

This Thanksgiving season, let’s pray without ceasing! How have you seen Him answer prayer this year? When I was 8 months pregnant with my son back in March, I battled daily with anxiety. Each day, multiple times a day, I thought about the virus (“so many side effects!”), the numbers (“it’s everywhere!”), and the impact it could have on my baby or delivery (“what if the hospitals are full and I have to deliver in the car!”). I prayed God would free me from the heavy burden of worry and anxiety. He mercifully showed me how my anxious actions revealed I was not trusting Him and was not believing He is sovereign. I confessed, repented, and turned from fear about the virus and experienced incredible freedom in truly trusting in Him alone! How has He shown you the power of prayer this year?

This Thanksgiving season, let’s give thanks in everything! What are you thankful to God for this year? How are you thankful for your family (whether thriving or hurting), your health (whether great or poor), and your circumstances (whether difficult or positive)? How are you thankful for your job, your country, and your church? What unexpected blessings did the Lord give you this year? How has He helped you overcome sin this year? How have the hard times caused you to depend on Him in new ways?

This 2020 has been a year full of surprises, emotions, and challenges. This Thanksgiving, let’s encourage ourselves, our families, and one another to rejoice in all circumstances, pray, and give thanks for the blessings and good gifts God has given us!

In love, Jackie