Thankful Thanksgiving Threatened

Fall, burnt orange leaves

Well, Thanksgiving week has arrived. As always, it arrives at the end of November in the middle of my end-of-semester crunch. Students are submitting their largest projects that demand my swiftest grading so they can take their final exams knowing their interim course grade.

And somewhere in the mix I have to shop, prepare and serve a feast.

Bridget Hand, Acorns

My husband has been a dear about it all, offering lots of help, but I still can’t shake the weight of a daunting to-do list. I have found myself with less of a thankful heart than usual because of additional stresses. I have speaking engagements to prepare for in December and a brand new on-line course to set-up over Christmas break. I feel like my “break” is already erased.

Thanksgiving hasn’t even arrived and I am having a hard time trusting God with the looming to-do list of Christmas.

I am struggling. Really struggling.

Fall, Burnt yellow leaves

I know your list is long too, and most likely much harder. In fact, I am praying for one church friend who, along with her sons, is keeping vigil at the bedside of her critically ill husband. Another friend is attending the funeral of her mom this week and then having celebrating the first Thanksgiving without her.

Sometimes Thanksgiving arrives at a time when being thankful does not come naturally. 

The Bible says in so many places, however, that thanksgiving is to be pouring from our lips every day of my life:

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him…abounding in thanksgiving (Colossians 2:6-7).

…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

It’s time for action.

Fall, fenceline

If I don’t get it together, the “Happy” in Happy Thanksgiving will be missing in my home this week. Twenty years from now, my children and husband will not remember what I served this week but they will remember how it felt to go home for the holidays.

I have to get it together.

Fall, water reflection

Nearly twenty years ago I implemented the practice of keeping a gratitude journal during a very difficult season and have never stopped. But this week — this year — is calling for extra effort. I am putting a thanksgiving plan in place for my Thanksgiving week and I thought others might want to do the same. After all, I cannot be the only woman on earth finding the thought of upcoming holidays daunting.

I have printed out a giving-thanks plan to keep on my nightstand and employ before my feet hit the floor each morning. If you wish to join me, I have not included pictures within the list below so you can easily copy and paste that portion for your own use.

Steps between Gilden and O'Connor

faviconGiving Thanks Plan for Thanksgiving Week

Monday – I will not get out of bed until my eyes are on His concerns instead of mine.

Seek first His kingdom.  I will thank the Lord for His promise in Matthew 6:33, that if I seek first His kingdom every day instead of mine, all these things will be added to me (things like, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we wear?”). If I seek first His kingdom I will have all the provision I need. Ready or not, Thanksgiving is going to happen, but I will be ready if my eyes are on God and His concerns instead of my to-do list.

Tuesday – I will not get out of bed until my anxieties have been transferred from my shoulders to His.

Casting anxieties. I will thank the Lord that I can cast my anxieties on Him, and then I am going to cast them! I am going to list the myriad of anxieties trying to rob my joy and that God is willing to handle for me.

Wednesday – I won’t get out of bed until I feel taken care of by my Father.

Safety and Provision. I will thank the Lord for every single day my children have come home safely. (There is no promise of such an end to the day.) Each occurrence is a gift, as is each paid bill, each paycheck, each month without a doctor bill, each day I am clothed…(let the list of all He has provided continue).

Thursday – I will not get out of bed until I feel rich in relationship.

People. I will begin Thanksgiving day thanking the Lord for all the people in my life. One by one, He will hear each name said slowly, carefully and lovingly. I will ask that He continue to draw each individual closer to Himself each day that they live.

Friday – I will not get out of bed until I can see His hands holding the earth in my mind’s eye and am grateful He never stops drawing people to Himself in the midst of the chaos.

Current events. I will thank the Lord that He holds the whole world in His hands. I will thank Him for the truth that He knows what is going on in France and Mali, then I will name every city, state, country and continent that comes to mind. I will thank Him for the truth that the chaos in the world was allowed to exist one more day so every person on the globe gets another chance to know God (2 Peter 3:8-9).

Saturday – I will not get out of bed until I am grateful to be an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20).

My spheres of influence. I will thank God for His goodness to me this past week and then focus on my part of the globe…my home, my neighborhood, my children’s schools, my workplace. In my mind, I will move from one sphere of influence to the next thanking Him for each one and naming the joys of each sphere. These areas are His to influence. I am so grateful to be entrusted with them.

Sunday – I will not get out of bed until I am grateful that I have been adopted into the family of God.

The Christian life. I will thank God for my Bible (sharing the nightstand with this week’s thanksgiving plan). And I will thank Him for the privilege of being able to pray any time I wish to the God who spoke the world into being. I will then thank Him for my church and all the people in it, carefully lifting their names to His ears.


Dear blog readers, please let me know if you are joining in! And trust me when I say the following…

A little over a year ago I started sharing each week what God put on my heart. I had no idea what He was going to do with it. I only knew that I had become willing to throw my heart out there in cyberspace and had come to trust that He would show up somehow.

I am so thankful for those that read this blog. There are about 100 of you now. I don’t know who most of you are, but it helps to write when I know you are out there. I can’t see you, but I know you are real. I pray for my posts to bless you, and I pray for God to bless you.

“Happy” Thanksgiving, everyone.

Laurie O'Connor

© 2015 by Oaks Ministries. All rights reserved







7 Responses

  1. I empathize with you and I totally get it. (Sorry to hear things are piling up for your break as I had hoped you’d get more of a real break and enjoy some needed down time.) I too am struggling and the thankfulness part isn’t coming easy, even though it IS there somewhere. I also know what it is to blog from the heart and want to know who’s reading and that (hopefully) they ARE reading! So, I thought I would comment and say I’m here, reading!

    1. How fun! Thanks for raising your hand and eliminating some anonymity. And thanks too for empathizing and reading. Let’s be thankful this week!

  2. Yes, I absolutely can relate …..thank you for taking the time to share your heart and encourage others to express a THANKFUL HEART and GRATITUDE! This is a character quality that has taken me a lifetime to grow in!! Thank you for the reminder and tangible ways to rise above our “CHAOS” this week and the coming Christmas Season!! I’m here and enjoy reading your posts! 🙂

    1. Hello! I have been wanting to give you a hug but haven’t seen you in forever. Have an amazing week relishing in the goodness God has bestowed on you and your family this year.

  3. Hi Laurie. Thanks for sharing. I, too, feel the pressures of various burdens, but I am working to keep my focus on God’s sufficiency rather than my insufficiency. “His power is made perfect in my weakness.” I have plenty of areas of weakness, so the stage is set. All I have to do is keep trusting Him in proportion to all my weaknesses. Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

  4. Thank you for your blog post today and for the encouragement not to be so focused on the “busy” stuff that I forget to be Thankful this Thanksgiving! It is easy for me to be so concerned about how the house looks and how much food we will have that when my family arrives I am worn out! You are right: they will not remember the house or the food. They will remember how they felt. I want them to remember feeling loved, and I want them to remember the joy that they felt being Home! I am going to print out your “Giving Thanks Plan” to help get each day started with thanksgiving and praise and a touch from the Lord, that I hope to carry with me throughout the day! I will be praying for your heart and your week ! You are a blessing to me, Laurie!

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Planting and Watering

I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes growth.

1 Corinthians 3:6

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