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….

94 thoughts on “JOY IN THE UPSET”

  1. Sounds like we have walked the same roads…To say I can relate is the understatement of the year!
    So glad I found you on Facebook and that led me to your blog. God knows there hasn’t been a post that I have not said – Gracious Lord that sounds like me and my situation! I don’t do the 30 day thankful stuff on FB cause I am thankful everyday and today – I am thankful to have found your page!

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  2. I wanted to Thank You for telling the truths in the funniest way! In the world of negativity you bring positive, fun God loving truths in such a wonderful way that is uplifting. I practically wet my pants from your posts (IK TMI) but they are hilarious!!
    Thank you again & God Bless to you and yours. 😇

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  3. You go girl i am so blessed to have you in my life, you can bring tears to joy. And yes I will try the 30 day Thankful challenge. Today I’m thankful for a changed life from drinking to enjoy what I truly missed. And having money I can do things with instead of running to the bar.

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    1. Thank you. I needed to read this today (as I search for a job) After 25 years with one company, I am a little behind the eight ball. I am worried, a lot of people count on me. However I have family and friends and I trust God. So bring on the holidays -I refuse to be depressed!

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  4. You are AWESOME , and Thank you for sharing . I love your I ain’t doin it video’s . You say what alot of us are thinking. Keep up the awesome videos . And being a single mom for so many years myself and never getting anything from her father sucks, but like you said with the help of Jesus ,family and friends , my 43 yr old daughter is fine .

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  5. I am in the middle of my life being stripped away and you have spoken words so true and hit me so close to home. You are able to express my thoughts in ways I couldn’t find a way! Thank you!! Thank you!!

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  6. This is perfect! I love your humor, and your “real”ness, and the way you put on paper the thoughts that run rampant in my own head! I’ve been in that place where my life has been turned upside down and inside out and learned to cling to Jesus and never let Him go…I’m still clinging. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family ❤

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  7. It is gratifying to know that I am not the only person with a history that would surprise new acquaintances. There is nothing like a few months (years?) of feeling lower than a snake in a wagon-wheel rut for clarifying priorities and Who should be at the wheel. I value the hard times for allowing me to appropriately cherish the good.

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  8. It’s totally amazing to go through life with some of these really hard times & learning to cling to the Lord & be back at the cross. Thank you for sharing. I love the laughs but I love your heart & the Lord loves it more! Blessings!

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  9. Heather, the title to this post caught my attention right away. I too was changed forever by divorce. I always knew that God had a plan and there was a reason he allowed it. I believe it was to bring me back to the cross into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I’ve prayed something similar to what you wrote (quote below) during one of my thankfulness prayers. ”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.” Thank you for making me laugh.

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  10. Reading this made my eyes get watery….I love your words and your devotion to our Lord. I’m thankful everyday for the blessings in my life and even the challenges and heartaches that have creeped into my life as it has brought me more closer to our Savior😘

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  11. Hi Heather! Thank you so much for this post! I love your blog and adore your videos. They always bring a smile and laugh out lou laughter to my days. This post brought me to tears because I can relate so well. I too found my in a similiar place 12 years ago , not with a divorce but with a cancer diagnosis. We had the American Dream… cars, the dream house, jobs, the right friends, kids schools, neighborhood. And we lost it all… even the friends we thought would always be there. But that’s where I found Jesus… with me in the mess. He has redeemed all of it… every broken piece. My family is closer now that’s we ever could have been with that perfect life … I am eternally thankful for His grace. I am thankful for you 🙂

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  12. Thanks for the words of wisdom. You always seem to tell it like it is. You have just helped me open my eyes to all the good I really do have.
    Your SnapChat videos hit me hard with so much laughter. Love ya girlfriend and have a very Blessed Thanksgiving also.

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  13. I’m thankful to have found your blog. After my husband of 42 years passed suddenly, I felt the joy or any reason for living was gone. I was just going on day by day in a fog, not caring about anything, then WHOA, one day a friend shared one of your “I ain’t doing it” videos. I laughed so hard I cried. It was like an awakening for me after months and months. That made me realize there could be joy in my life if I just climbed up out of this funk and embraced living again. Look at all this beauty around me, not just flowers and trees but people! Those who had been there for me but I looked thru them not at them. A wake up call for which I will forever be greatful. So again, thank you for bringing JOY back into my life.

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  14. Blessings girl., I just wish you were my next door neighbor so I could really get to know you. Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours. God’s Blessings is on all of us if we just took to time to let Him know our appreciation.

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  15. Thank you Heather for sharing your life! Your blog hit home with me as I too went thru that dark season of divorce…so thankful for family & dear friends who were there for me. Thankful for the beautiful wreckage that came out of this season as I too held on dearly to Jesus. Fast forward 20 yrs….as I read my journals from then, I don’t recognize myself. Blessings to you this holiday season! So thankful for you!

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  16. Spot on Heather! Our God has an amazing sense of humor and occasionally he’ll let us in on the joke. Beautiful wreckage, a hot mess, beauty for our ashes, that’s His promise to us, so we can drown in our mess, or thank Him for using the mess we’re in to show us the important stuff in life. Love your humor and I hope and pray you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!

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  17. Heather, thank you for this post. I went thru a similar (kinda) situation. Our heavenly Father will guide us thru this brief life, if we let him. God bless you and your family ❤️

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  18. Thank you. I am looking at a divorce after 27 years. I am swirling through so many thoughts….you nailed so many of them. I do know that Jesus is near. God is in control. Thank you for bringing laughter back into my day. God bless you….

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  19. I love your candor. Life is hard. The Christian life is hard. And I love your humor. Humor is my safe place, my sweet spot.
    Please keep your videos coming. And please please keep sharing your heart.

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  20. 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. <——- THIS!!! ALL THIS!! Sometimes, we need to hear it!!

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  21. What a great Thanksgiving tribute. I have been through some of what you have. I am glad you trust God for your life. There is no one better to trust!! Love your videos, they make me laugh. Enjoy your holiday.

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  22. I’m thankful for God loving me when he didn’t have to. I’m thankful for you ( a breath of fresh air). I’m thankful for my family (no where near perfect). I’m then thankful for God letting me be me when no one else can understand my hurts or life’s ups and downs. Thank you God and heatherland

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  23. Wow, I have been there walking with you,but; in another time and place!! I love,love, love “I ain’t doin it “. I wish you could do it MORE ❗️😘 We all Need that laugh….,, Take care little Sistah and God is Blessing us ! Happy Thanksgiving 🍁🦃 and Merry Christmas!🎄

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  24. Heather, thank you! this post made me cry! My life has turned quite chaotic here lately! 32 years of marriage going down the tube, no job, family relationships….well, let’s just say they are challenging at the moment. Lots of heartache, fear, concern over the future…thank you for being so real! You are tremendously encouraging! Thank you and God Bless you and your family!

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  25. You could not have pinned those words more perfect from what my life has been and still is. Clawing my way back up, but I’m getting there. I also loved how you have turned your life into a series of jokes. Me too! If only people knew that my material seems endless, as I have definitely taken the road less traveled. I am still trying to work in the courage when I hear people say “how could they….”…um, usually I want to finish it with” I did”. If only my friends knew half my life, they may actually stop judging others. Or would they then decide I wasn’t the person they knew…hmmmm. Either way, life has given me much material, now to be brave and learn to use it like you have. Thanks for the daily chuckles. The realness of your blog, it feels good to know we aren’t all perfect.

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  26. Heather, just wanted to thank you, for bringing me out of my ” whoa is me attitude “. Getting older, can’t do everything I used to…quickly. Anyway, was feeling sorry for myself, and giving my husband a hard time. I sat down, got on Facebook, there you were, talking about crossfit. I laughed so hard….I’m meeting Jesus in a cocktail dress….🤣
    Got my self up, and finished my Christmas tree. Not as fast as I usually did it, but I finished it. Then I thanked God, for my day! And yes, I already have my tree up, I love Christmas! 🌲❤️

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  27. This is lovely. I’ve made it out of a sad, unloving, lonely, hateful place. I’m healing. I’m thankful to have that part behind me, but still despair over loneliness and isolation. I’m dreading the holidays. Thank you for your grateful words and the laughter.

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  28. I could have wrote this….well not as well as you did but geez you could have picked my life as a example!
    Thank you for this one! I needed and for that I am thankful!

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