JOY IN THE UPSET

Ahh…the good ole 30 Day Thankfulness Challenge. Let’s see just how much “thankfulness” we can publicly cram into a single month’s worth of Facebook statuses. I actually love reading these posts. While some folks are as sincere as the day is long, there are some folks who run out of thanks fairly early and start praising Jesus for ridiculousness somewhere around Day 4. That, or they turn their “thankfulness” into passive aggressive ways to air their dirty laundry.

“I’m thankful today that my baby daddy got arrested. He got exactly what he deserved.”
That’s a little extra, but you get the point.

Sometimes our view of gratitude and all it encompasses gets a little skewed. Ann Voskamp challenged me a few years ago as I read her book, One Thousand Gifts, to dig deep for the gratitude. It’s not always in the obvious.

Early on in life I set out for the American dream – the perfect (dysfunctional) family, the white picket (chain-link) fence , two perfect (nothing funny here-my kids are perfect😉) kids, a (slobbery, allergy-proned) dog, a nice (extremely used) car and a (lean) 401K that was being built while I stood back and did all the things I loved – raising babies, making music and making a home.

Absolute perfection (fiction).

My years of pursuit actually lended themselves to some form of that delusion, so my thankfulness looked something like this:

Thank you for this beautiful life you’ve given me. Everything looks exactly like I saw it going in my dreams (minus the happiness and the fence). I really appreciate that. Also, I would greatly appreciate you keeping it this way from here on out until I enter into Your gates with thanksgiving and into Your courts with praise. P.S. – You’re doing a great job, Lord! Keep up the good work!”

Being completely ignorant in and of my idealistic life (that was not really idealistic at all), this sounded completely acceptable in my head. It’s all I knew. Thank Him for the obvious (even if you are failing miserably and sustaining a disguise). Make everybody think you’ve got it all together, Heather. Pretend. And while you’re at it, throw some “thankfulness” in during the month of November for good measure. After all, it’s not called Thanksgiving for nothing.

I guess somewhere along the way, in the Lord’s fabulous sense of humor, He decided to call my bluff. “Thanks for the yearly shout-out, sweet girl. (This is Jesus talking for all you slow learners). Some not-so-holly jolly Christmases are headed your way. Let’s see what you got…”

Years of perfecting the facade – it was a pretty good run, don’t you think? I mean, the diligence, y’all… Little did I know the real Thankfulness Challenge was on it’s way. Straight out of divorce, I was faced with something nightmares are made of – no home, no money, no job, no direction, no stability. I was over a thousand miles from my hometown. All I had was all the homemade crap I had conjured up with burlap, buttons and a glue gun over the years (which was a lot), but that wasn’t gonna do me much good right then.

What would we do? Where would we live? Would we be ok? Would we survive?

Would this hurt forever?

Life was about to get messier than I ever imagined. One day I will sit down and tell you all the crazy, amazing stories that you just can’t make up – all the things the Lord did along the way. For now just let me say this:

He used all of those things that were stripped away to show me all the “things” that actually mattered. As my journey progressed, my mindset changed from “Thanks for all the stuff, God”, to:

“Thank you that I get to hold my babies every night. Thank you that we are ok. Thank you for friends who gave us a place to stay. Thank you for peace in the middle of turmoil. Thank you for support – people who didn’t leave when things got messy – who gave me a job and money and a U-Haul and a listening ear…even Christmas.  Thank you that we are surviving. And most importantly, thank you for the hurt that has lead me back to the cross. Thank you for the loss so that I could know what true wealth really looks like. Thank you for the mess and the uncertainty and the not-knowing so that I could watch You work and move and lead and do what You do best. Thank you loving me more than I ever thought possible. And thank you for the broken things, because I would’ve never known just how beautifully you can put them all back together.”

And I meant it – every word. I remember on more than one occasion saying, “God, if this is what it takes for me to feel close to you, I’ll stay in this place forever.” I’m really grateful He didn’t listen to me on that one.

Life has it’s way, doesn’t it, of bringing out the worst and the best – the blame or the gratitude? Trust me when I say, I’ve had my days full of anger and self-pity. But I also found Jesus while I was at the bottom, and I hung onto Him for dear life. He showed me the beauty in the ugly and brought me more joy in the upset than I ever knew possible.  He took my 30 Day Thankfulness Challenge and turned that sucker into a minute-by-minute practicality.  He has given me more good comedic material through all my bad choices and life experiences than I could’ve ever hoped or dreamed. (Sometimes we have to laugh or we’ll cry. Am I right?) He taken the chaos and turn it into delight. And for that, Lord, I am forever grateful. Perspective is everything, isn’t it?

Life is full of hard seasons. Know that it is ok to be where you are in your season – unashamed, unapologetically. Just know that somewhere in all that wreckage, there is a little piece of treasure begging to be held up and recognized as beautiful. Beautiful wreckage.                                                                                                                   It’s there, in whatever situation you are facing, and I just bet you won’t have to dig too deep to find it.  I challenge us all to let the 30 Day Thankfulness Challenge turn into a routine benediction. And if you’re the one with the baby daddy in prison and that’s the best you can come up with, then you go girl. You gotta start somewhere….

86 thoughts on “JOY IN THE UPSET”

  1. I have been broken, many times in my life, in many ways, by the actions of others who are close to me. I have rebelled against God in an attempt to feel something…I stayed in my anger and hatred and sadness…..I have been praying and working with Jesus instead of against him. It’s been a long process, but I can say this, throughout the disappointments, heartbreak, depression, anger, emptiness, God has taught me lessons that I can use to not only praise His faithfulness, but to guide others through similar pain. Thank you for being an open, honest, raw person.

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    1. This is me. Every word. (Minus the glue gun). Jesus picked up the crumpled pieces of my broken life. He soothed my wounds with His Word. He gave me peace with His Presence. And He showed me what real love feels like. I am His. And He is mine. 💜✝️

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      1. Good Morning… This is so true in so many ways. I find when there is a challenge come up that I was not expecting I have a choice to make. I can either let it interfere with my life or I can ask God to help me through it. I have also experienced with great joy that when a negative presents itself for example….one morning in church there was another speaker instead of our Pastor. The man is from our church and he is good but when he started to talk instantly I softly hear, ‘o this is going to be like a history class, you might as well slip out and go home.’ I heard this a few times but thought how I would feel if I was speaking and someone got up and left. even thought of waiting until he might turn his head to the side and slip out but thank goodness I didn’t. It ended up being very informative. I often wondered why the fishermen just dropped everything and followed Jesus. It was because they other rabbis had picked better men to teach and felt the fishermen were nothing. But when Jesus called to them they were excited. great answer. Then he ended with a question…Do you know God believes in you? Are you kidding..I never heard that before, I knew I believed in Him but He believes in me??? What a difference that made in me. Another older lady remarked that she had never heard that before either. WOW, no wonder the devil wanted me to leave church that day, he knew what was coming!! So now when negative thoughts or ideas try to interfere I think, mmmmmm I wonder what God has planned for me? Must be good ’cause the devil does not want me to find out. I am so thankful and full of joy of the Lord I am amazed and humbled by how much He loves, provides and forgives!!! God bless you with this site and thank you

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  2. Oh wow. Did I ever need this one today. Hard times are on going but when I live in a state of gratitude and thankfulness my heart is full and I see the beautiful love of Jesus for me everywhere. Thank you for your honesty.

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  3. Thank you for this. I succumb to the Facebook challenge every year and most days am genuine in my gratitude. I look at it as a way to publicly declare my gratitude for my family and friends. I am also in a hard season, having been there for the better part of the last six years, as I am a full time caregiver to my husband. It is a lonely, stressful life, but I remember daily Whose child I am and that someday I will know why this all came to pass. We must find the beauty in each day, each situation, or we will lose ourselves.

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  4. I am not as evolved as you are ;)…But I’m working towards it. I have spent many a miserable hour sitting in my broke-down car, crying and shaking my fists and screaming at the heavens because How Much Do You Really Think I Can Take and Stay Upright, Lord??? I have been able, later on down the road, to look back and see the miracles in the misery, but DAMN. The holidays are hard. And I’m always Thankful when they’re over ;).

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    1. Amen to that! I am always thankful when holidays are over too. Prayers for you! I don’t have a broken car but I have other broken areas so I know how feel.

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  5. I just realized why I love you so much! You make me laugh with every post and to find out a little of your background and where your grounded was so heart warming!! ❤️❤️❤️

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  6. Here I sit laughing and crying at the same time, all the while thanking God for Heather Land, who has brought so much joy and insight into my life this year. Wow. Just wow, girl.

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  7. Love this…Love your honesty …could have been my life in a nutshell! Thank you for doing what you do and helping us to laugh and BE REAL! Youre a treasure!

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  8. I have never agreed to do any type of 30 or any day type of challenge however Heather Land this is one I will see through. It has been a tough year for my husband’s health & a very busy year adjusting to all the changes not only for him however me as well. I have taken on a lot of the “Mens” work outside & inside our home. I am grateful that God sent you our way because no matter what you always make both of us laugh. We look forward to your next video & hope you will come to Indianapolis, IN sometime so we can see you in person. Thank you for sharing with us. Laughter can heal anything. It is very important in our lives.

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  9. It’s amazing how close you can feel to someone by just reading their blog and watching their hilarious videos. That’s the way I feel towards you. I look forward to “spending time” with you by reading and watching those videos over and over! Thank you so much for being a part of my life my sister in the Lord! You are amazing!

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  10. I can truly say I loved you before but now i love your heart not just that you make me laugh. Your talent to take what others what to say and you do it in a funny way is a blessing. But this post makes you a really real person. I am thankful for you. God bless you always.

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  11. I thank the Lord for you, Heather Land. You are an exceptional person. I was feeling so sorry for myself, then I read your blog. I am now grateful. You made me cry and see that things are not always as bad as they seem. Thank you for your honesty and for being here when I needed you. Thank you for making me laugh and just being you. Thank you and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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  12. I understand that it is comforting to think that God is looking out for you and that he leads you to do these things, but I honestly want you to know that the truth is in yourself. You were the one who was strong enough, friendly enough, smart enough, and resilient enough to overcome all of your struggles. You have only yourself to thank. Happy Thanksgiving.

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  13. So good. Once again I seem to read your posts at a time when I need them most. God truly is good…he knows I need a bit of humor to get me interested. Thanks for letting Him use you in such a positive way.

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  14. This was spot on! Thank you for your transparency. I am a widow of just 5 months and your video’s make this girl laugh and the Lord knows that I need some laughter in my life. I can always find something to be thankful for, God is so faithful and literally carries me through most days. I have not jumped on the FB thankful in 30 day challenge but it doesn’t mean I don’t have things to be thankful for, but I’m sure mine would look a whole lot different to others like you felt yours would be, but I am thankful nonetheless for God’s love and peace.

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  15. Father thank you for the wilderness I’ve experienced- I’ve learned to trust you. Father thank you for the loneliness- I’ve learned to hear you in the quiet. Father thank you for the turmoil, chaos, and hard times- I’ve learned to believe you.

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  16. I love you!! I cannot get enough of the “I ain’t doing it” videos!! I just recently realized you have a blog, and I love reading it!!! Reading each post and learning about you and where you have been and where you are now just reinforces how great our God is!! I only happened upon your “I ain’t doin’ it” videos just a few months ago when a friend of mine shared one on her fb feed saying that she knows and loves you. That friend is Heather Lackey Green. Her and her husband used to pastor at a church that my family and I attended. I figured “hey this must be pretty good stuff if Heather is sharing it” I’ve been hooked ever since!!! God bless you and keep the videos coming!! I will definitely be keeping up with your blog posts as well!!!

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  17. So I actually just found out who you are about 30 minutes ago. I was on Facebook and ended up watching a bunch of your videos and decided to look you up to see what you had going on because you are hilarious. This is the first place I came on your website and I can not begin to tell you what this blog means to me. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful testimony. The Lord works in very special ways.

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  18. I have been seen me have a pitty party on the way home from the hospital where my husband stayed because of the stroke he had a few hours earlier. It lasted a few minutes and then out of nowhere came the song, Because He Lives. I still had tears running down my face and my voice was choked but I kept singing and then it was good, belted out that chorus like there was no tomorrow and then rebuked the devil and praised My God!!! by the time I got home I could have preached a sermon. lol I am so thankful during the storm God is right there with us. Grateful just doesn’t seem to be a strong enough word to describe how I feel. Thank you for giving us all the opportunity to share. God bless you all!

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  19. Love the message you send with each blog and the way you know exactly what I’m thinking when “I ain’t doing it”. Some days just knowing that my struggles aren’t as all encompassing as I may see them to be, is enough to keep me moving. That has become my motto, “keep ‘er moving” because as long as we keep going change will find us. Some days are better than others, progress can be slow (and I am an instant gratification kind of woman) but if I’m moving I am forging onward. GOD seems to forget where podunk North Dakota is somedays (again, instant gratification talking) but than I am reminded to clean the window so I can see the bigger picture. Surprisingly I am not always in the picture…some days I am just the photographer, with a humble heart and renewed faith, I keep moving. Thank you for your inspiration and honestly. You are a bright spot in my day. Keep it up and keep moving…even when you want to say “ain’t doing it” lol

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  20. When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. When life is bitter, say thank you and grow.
    Thankful for many lesson’s in my life.
    Happy Thanksgiving..

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  21. Sitting here in tears after reading this. Have only watched your wonderfully funny videos until now…but this…hit me in the feels. Am six years out of the divorce, also losing our home, my car, etc…the things I thought made a happy life. And yes, it was in that struggle, those darkest hours that I grew closest to God…that when I thought I was at the end of my rope, He always tied another knot. Thanks for just a vulnerable post…& the reminder of how blessed I am because of Him.

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  22. Heather,
    Thank you for bringing levity to this crazy world. The early years of social media were delightful. Friends and family staying connected. A steady stream of photos of everyone’s babies growing up. Reconnecting with friends from high school. Positive quotes and prayer chains. So many delicious moments. Now it is a place for haters to pursue their agendas. It is a place to become addicted to vanity. It makes me want to gather up my dogs and the humans I adore and go build a commune up in the mountains with no social media or news channels. Thank you for giving me a lifesaver so I can stay afloat in the toxic swamp that is society today. You remind me that not all of us are self centered egomaniacs or evil manipulative haters hiding behind a picket sign and marching around destroying joy. Most of us are in the same boat trying to navigate these negative waters in the pursuit of Jesus. I guess I’ll stay here in Music City. If I lived in that commune, I’d have to hike down every week and borrow a computer to find out what you “ain’t doin” next anyway. So, while the others are taking their duck face selfies and making their obnoxious video blogs about “How Great Moi art”, I’ll be over here laughing about pocketbook wonder bras and breaking open peanut butter cups for the hypoglycemics in the back of the Walmart line. You are the sugar in the pitcher of lemon juice!! Today, I count you Heather Land as one of the many blessings God has sent my way. God bless you and the people and animals you love. Happy Thanksgiving!! 😘

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  23. I just discovered you – one of your videos was posted on my crossfit coach’s FB Page. (No, not that CF one lol).
    I’ll be diving into your previous posts later tonight while working. Single mom, work nights when kids are with their dad, stay at home mom when they are with me. Result: NO life. I am in that wilderness… of loneliness, of pain… I am trying to be grateful for it all but some days it’s impossible. My only joy is when I hold my children. They are my safe place.
    God bless you! I look forward to getting to know you through your blog:)

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  24. First, I love all your videos! Also, I am a born Tennesseanand still live here. I’ve never read your blog before but thank you for this. It is so true! God is so good all the time! Right now we are going thru some things but I know Hod is with us. Just as he promised he always will be. Thank you for being you!

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  25. You are amazing..I’ve been down the same road a;so. Divorce: broke , scared and scarred…Five beautiful children and my sweet sweet Jesus, who just was there waiting for me..I’m a little slow sometimes..lol He was there all along, I just wasn’t looking at the time..Thank God for good friends who can show you the way..Thank God for you, Heather…

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