I love the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. When the leaves are all dying and falling off the trees, when it becomes way less appealing to leave the house after 5pm because it's already dark, and when it could be tempting to give up hope and lose motivation because we're stuck inside, we have built-in holidays to gather, celebrate, reflect and give thanks.
but Giving thanks in all seasons can be hard.
I Thessalonians 5:18 says "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, giving thanks in ALL circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." Woah. That's a tall order! Why does God challenge us to do this?
As our heavenly Father, God knows that asking us to be thankful is ultimately for OUR GOOD. It’s not an outward facade of happiness that we’re supposed to put on lest we be condemned. Rather,
giving thanks is an opportunity for us to recognize the great blessings God has placed in our lives.
The greatest blessing I have is having a real and interactive relationship with the Living God through Christ Jesus. My God maintains the universe, but he also guides, encourages, and provides for me. His faithfulness alone gives me great hope and joy as I face each day.
Do you know what happens when we give thanks even for things that we don't think deserve our thanks?
We actually start to be thankful for them. And then we recognize even more things to be thankful for.
Do you have a roof over your head? Give thanks.
Do you have food to eat? Give thanks.
Do you have clothes to wear? Give thanks.
When I reflect on this past year, I am actively, at this moment, choosing to see beyond the challenges, hardships and loss (and there have been some serious losses), and instead to focus on the enormous GOOD that I've received.
Here are the things I am deeply thankful for this year:
1) family and friends who love me and support my work
I don't know how I got so blessed in this area, but I seriously have the best family, church body, and precious friends who have walked by my side in every season, praying for me and encouraging me to believe God. I'm thankful especially for my husband, who has been a strength to me in life and in work, always challenging me to do my best, to keep learning, and to believe that God has great things in store for my business. And He does!
2) our first home!
It took 7 long months, hundreds (no exaggeration) of house tours, offers on a dozen homes that were out-bid, and realtors who told us we were crazy, but we held on to what we believed God had for us - a GOOD home. And He provided WAY beyond what we could have hoped for. I mean like dream kitchen, rooms full of windows, incredible office, huge yard, perfect location, help with closing costs (!!!), and more space than we know what to do with - CRAZY GOOD.
3) Knoxville and a community of entrepreneurs
This city rocks. Knoxville has such an awesome network of entrepreneurs who meet regularly to encourage and equip one another, to provide mentoring and support, to hear what entrepreneurs need and work together on solutions to make it all happen. When I started my business, I visited the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center to see what they did, and I walked out with several solid leads and resources. The city hosts monthly meet-ups, annual conferences, and business incubator programs throughout the year to help companies like mine get started. Through the KEC, I've made connections who started out as colleagues, then became clients and now have became friends.
4) clients who believe in me
I'll be honest, it took an enormous amount of courage to start a business and reach out to clients before I had much of a portfolio to share. I couldn't hide who I was behind an impressive website or fancy demo reel, so when clients hired me, it was because they believed in ME and the work that I could do for them (even when I was 8 months pregnant!). I'm so thankful to each of them for taking the chance, and in a lot of cases, for hiring me again and again!
5) coffee, babysitting, and support
Most days, I work with my toddler at my side. She toddles and eats cheerios and explores the activities in her play corner while I work on admin, editing, and other work-related tasks. I have loved watching her develop and feeling like I'm still present for her when she needs me. For the most part, we do just fine (especially during nap time), but when deadlines are approaching, meetings come up, or I go out shooting with a client, I'm thankful for trusted babysitters who make this work-life dream possible. Oh yes, and coffee. Always coffee!
Well there you have it!
Even the simple act of writing this blog post is deeply encouraging and refreshing to my soul. What are you thankful for? Write it down and share it with a friend! If this post encouraged you, let me know in the comments below.
Are you lacking? Give thanks for what you DO have in your life, then ASK God for the things you need. He WILL provide!