Even when you don’t feel thankful, you can still praise

It is certainly easy to say thank you when we get what we want.

When all is going well in life, it’s not hard to thank everyone around us, to thank God. Thank you for this job, for this food, for this bonus, for our kids’ health, for our big, beautiful home. Of course, we can exude gratitude in these good times.

But gratitude in suffering, in despair, in defeat and in hardship naturally comes a lot less easily. Being thankful during the difficult days feels pointless. Because we don’t understand why and we feel angry, hurt, even betrayed – not at all grateful.

from Rachel Wojo

Last August, when Brenna was hospitalized for 8 days, we had several occurrences where she had to have a new IV put into her arm. This kind of effort is extremely hard, as her veins are difficult to locate and obviously, IV needles don’t feel super awesome anyway.

Holding my sweet girl on my lap, pinning her legs down while she screams out in pain as the nurse sticks her arm, once, twice, and again, is such a horrible feeling as a mother. In my head, I kept crying out to God to make it stop.

No, I don’t understand why she has to go through things like this. Every time, I wish they would stick me instead of her. Every time she gets a skin infection, I wish it was my skin that hurt and not hers. Every time she scratches all night, I wish it was me that couldn’t get comfortable enough to sleep and not her.

But what I am grateful for? First and foremost, Brenna’s life. That she is a very loved and valued part of our family. And secondly, for modern medicine and medical advances in the way of treating Harlequin ichthyosis. I have talked to and seen photos of other children with her condition all over the world to struggle to care for this condition with their limited resources, and we are extremely grateful for the medical community we have access to.

God never promised a fair and easy life, to any of us. What he did promise is everlasting love. He promised to redeem us, and to give us life with Jesus in heaven. And that alone is worthy of unending praise.

Gratitude comes easily in the moments of joy and of laughter. But in hardships, gratitude is often a very intentional choice that we must consistently seek out, again and again.

Even when we aren’t feeling thankful, we can still praise. Even when we don’t understand or agree, we can still praise.

Faith doesn’t necessarily come from answered prayer or miracles or met expectations. Rather, I have been finding is that faith comes from trust in God’s will and God’s greatness, and sometimes we must fight, every day, to maintain that trust, as the world pushes against it.

What true gratitude offers us is the opportunity to view obstacles, hardships and disappointments in a new way, unfolding and opening the raw and sometimes complex beauty of a situation that we might not have ever been able to see before, through the lens of Jesus’ love for us.


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Sharing my “Mud Story” – a podcast with Jacque Watkins

When I started following Jacque Watkins on Instagram, she then emailed me to say I had won Susie Larson’s newest book by following her (she was running a giveaway)…and by the way, she had taken a look at my blog and did I want to possibly record a podcast interview with her for her podcast Mud Stories?

It was my first podcast interview invitation, and I was elated and nervous. And then I received another from Bringing Up Betty, and I recorded them both on the same week – which happened to be right in the middle of our house being completely put back together after our water damage (I had to go sit in our dark, unfinished basement to speak with Jacque because she could hear contractors banging in the background!)

Jacque was so warm and helpful and encouraging. I’m something of an open book in this episode, not very polished but very real.


The episode is called “Finding Beauty in our Differences and God in our Unexpected Adversity.”

Life changed for Courtney and Evan the day their daughter Brenna was born, leading them through the grieving of normal, and into a life of surrender and change. It would be a time where their faith would grow, God would be near, and they would learn to give thanks even in the hardest circumstance they’d ever faced.

Courtney’s perseverance through adversity is inspiring, and her love and care for her daughter is an example of choosing thanks and getting joy, as the hardship of Brenna’s life has become one of their greatest blessings.

Go here to listen to the podcast episode on Jacque’s blog, and you can also listen on iTunes and on Stitcher. Thanks for listening!

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The importance of hearing “good job” as a parent

Note: this is a sponsored post for Socialstars and Minute Maid, for the #doingood #minutemaid campaign.

When Brenna was born, I was, frankly, wrought with guilt, especially involving Connor.

As I divided my time between my two children’s needs and different physical locations, I struggled with guilt about how much we had to be away from Connor, how I was missing pieces of his life for the first time, how distracted I was when I as with him as I worried about Brenna, how he had to see tears in my eyes every day.005

But there was more than just the guilt of the present. There was also guilt of the future. Guilt about how Brenna’s health care would take away from Connor’s attention, guilt about how family vacations would be different, guilt about how he would “have” to stick up for her.

However, that guilt began to lift very, very slowly when my sorority sister Sarah wrote me to tell me about her brother, who was two years younger than her and who was born with Down syndrome. I had never known that about her.

When Brenna was a few weeks old, these words appeared on my screen:

“I can’t imagine life without my brother. Brenna will bring more meaning to your life than people who are staring could ever imagine. They are the unlucky ones.

I want you to know, it’s OK to leave Connor if you need to be with Brenna. As someone who has lived it, with my parents basically living at the hospital, he will not remember. And actually he will respect you and admire your more for your strength. Maybe not right away, but when he is older, he will. I know I do.”

With that letter, Sarah helped to reassure me of one thing: you are and will be a great mom to your kids.


How empowering is it when we hear the words “great job”? And yet, even when we praise other parents in our minds, we often fail to express those very sentiments to them.

My friend Anne will always remember the elation she felt when she was walking her children to the park and an older gentleman took the time to stop and tell her what a wonderful job she was doing. One simple gesture that built her up immensely.

The next time you see a fellow parent in the trenches of this parenting journey, take a moment to say “I just wanted to tell you what a fantastic job you’re doing with your children.”

When a fellow mom is in the checkout aisle with her shrieking toddler, how uplifting would it be to stop and tell her “I know it’s hard, but you’re doing great”?

When another mom asks you desperately for parenting advice, maybe what she needs to hear even more is what she’s doing right, instead of what she’s doing wrong. Maybe she just needs to hear “me too.”

There isn’t a parent anywhere who doesn’t second-guess themselves, feel guilty, or become frustrated in the grocery store. But we all have the power to fill each other up, to push each other through those times of frustration and guilt, with a few simple words of affirmation. Let’s not contribute to the mom guilt by criticizing, but instead reach out to call attention to the amazing love that parents are showing all around us.053

Today, I challenge you to go tell another parent how much you admire them or express to them what a wonderful job they are doing at this parenting thing. We’re all just #doingood and doing our best. Even when our parenting styles differ, we’re all in this together, and we can learn a lot from each other.

Minute Maid has a touching video (that made tears stream down my face this morning!) about the importance of hearing “good job”:

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