I sit here today and struggle with whether or not I will do a traditional "Thankful" November post or step outside the box and share something different. What if I decided to not bore you with all the things I was thankful for, but rather be honest and tell you all the things I struggle to be thankful for?

What if I was really honest with you when I say that sometimes I'm more annoyed by my husband's commitment to exercise and be healthy than I am thankful that he is caring for his body? How about how exhausting it is to get up at 2:00 am these past few mornings to feed and rock the baby, instead of rejoicing that he has hit a growth spurt and is growing big and strong? What if I told you how I just muttered how stupid my dog was after jumping on the window for the 3rd time in a row instead of being grateful for all the joy and comfort she has brought me over the past 7 years of her life?

Do you ever have those moments? The ones where you know your attitude should be better. The ones where you know if you quit thinking about yourself so much that you would be able to be thankful and CONTENT. The ones where you know if you could just not be that tiny bit jealous and rejoice over the good things in other people's lives. I have those moments. Sometimes more often than I would like to admit.

Some weeks I do so well, being so conscious of being thankful and teaching my almost 3-year-old how to be thankful. We thank Jesus for the beautiful sky he made, for the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the clean water we drink and bathe with. We thank Jesus for our friends and family, for those we know in ministry. The list goes on and on. In fact we are so thankful sometimes, we even thank Jesus for the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse gang...what can I say? We don't want to leave anyone or anything out! But other times I get too busy to be thankful, too tired to be aware of what good things are happening around me. I find myself annoyed, or stressed and forget to stop and take it all in. Like today, right now - I have been tired from nursing a sick 10 month old last week, I feel overwhelmed for missing nearly an entire week of work, my house is somewhat messy, and my schedule feels out of control. But if I stop for one second and quit thinking about poor me, I realize how amazing it is that I got to stay home with my 10 month old and personally nurse him back to health without penalty from my job, I realize I have a job that I love and am truly thankful for each day, I recognize that God has gifted me with an amazing house full of things to create mess and my schedule is full because we have family, friends and ministry in our lives! There is so much to be thankful for in the midst of all our chaos, we just have to stop to look for it sometimes!

We are embarking on one of the busiest seasons of the year - everyone's schedule gets chaotic, busy, and overwhelming. Aside from holiday functions, we have family gatherings, financial pressure to buy tons of gifts for others, and for some there are year-end projects for work. How on earth are you suppose to be thankful in the midst of all that?!! I for one find this impending holiday season to be so stressful that some years I would have rather just skipped it and went straight to January! We have Thanksgiving, Lucas's birthday, Christmas, New Years, our anniversary, and Amy Kate's birthday all in a matter of a few short weeks! Throw in a few holiday social events, and our regularly planned life and we already feel doomed!

I am telling you all this to say that hopefully I am not alone in my feelings, and to let you know that if you struggle with gratitude sometimes - you are not alone! I think this is normal and OK. It's ok to not be perfect, to not walk around just giddy because you are thankful you have good socks to keep your feet warm. But it's not ok to get so cynical that you begin to hate everyone and everything. There is a balance. Let's find that balance this busy holiday season. Will you take the time to just stop for a few seconds a few times a day and reflect on what you can be thankful for right that moment? Big or small, silly or strange, materialistic or spiritual, whatever it may be...just be be thankful for it.

I'll go first...I'm so thankful for Chili's curbside to go that is preparing my appetizer I have to take to a party. I am thankful for the friendship we have been privileged with as we go to say goodbye to friends tonight before they move. I am thankful that Lucas is throwing Cheerios all over my floor, because it means his appetite is back after being sick. I am especially thankful for the daily episode of Barney that puts my 2-year-old to sleep for her nap time while I tend to the baby when we get home from our day. Instead of griping that I have no clothes, I think I'll rejoice because it means I lost 20+ pounds this year. I am thankful I have options to get a newer car and will be thankful for the one I drive if that option doesn't work out for me. I am thankful to know so many close friends that have answered the call to ministry. I am thankful for so much. Of course all the usual things like my husband, children, our home, our jobs, our family, friends, etc...but think outside your box. Look at your circumstances and find a reason to be thankful today, tomorrow, and the next. Don't let this busy holiday season steal your joy and your gratitude this year. Fight back by being intentional about the things you are thankful for!

Until Next Time, Be Blessed and Be a Blessing