Lately our youngest son, Matthias, has been struggling with anxiety. He has tummy aches. He worries about homework. He prefers to stay home and is hesitant to try new things. It breaks my heart to see him worried. I wish life was carefree and easy—but that’s not real life, is it?
There’s been a lot of change this year. Matthias started fifth grade. I see him maturing and growing. He’s more aware of life’s imperfections and his own imperfections. He’s been such a confident child but I see that wavering a bit. He’s thinking more deeply about who he is and what makes him valuable.
We’ve also been traveling a lot with expanding production of our jewelry to the Dominican Republic. It means Steve, his dad, and I are tag-teaming with the boys and there have been times lately where one of us is gone while the other holds down the fort at home. Our routine has been, well, less routine. The other day, while Steve was out of the country, I asked Matthias what he wanted for dinner. I thought letting him choose would be special and fun. Instead he responded, “I just want a normal dinner. Nothing special.”
That spoke volumes to me about how much he needs routine.
In all of this craziness, our family has been focusing more on gratefulness. It’s easy to spend time and energy on what’s worrying us or making us unhappy. But I truly believe if we turn our hearts toward Christ and the abundant gifts he gives, we find a new kind of joy. A peace that passes understanding.
At dinnertime we go around the table and each share three things we are grateful for. Sometimes they are small, like being thankful for a good grade on a spelling test; sometimes they are big, like making a new friend. We want gratefulness to be woven into the everyday mundane. We want it to become more natural.
Life isn’t perfect. Around these parts it’s been particularly crazy lately. We’ve been working hard and the boys have had to be flexible. We’ve also been hit by a nasty cold and we’ve had car trouble. But I believe the beauty outweighs the pain.
Philippians 4:6 says,
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.
Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
In all of this, I’m finding my own heart being changed. I have so much to be grateful for. I am surrounded by a husband and two sweet boys that make each day sweeter. We have a cozy home, friends that love us, a business that provides for our family. I am truly blessed.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, but a heart of gratefulness is something we can nurture any time of year! Share a couple things you’re grateful for in the comments. Let’s thank God together for the blessings He showers on us.
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
I will pray for your family during this busy season with your business and especially for Matthias. I deal with anxiety a lot due to OCD, so I know how difficult and painful that can be for him. Yes, definitely shifting the focus from ourselves toward the God who created us, lessens anxiety and fosters gratefulness. Thanksgiving and gratefulness are more of a blessing than a command because in them we experience joy. I am so thankful for all the blessings in my life…our God is good!
Blessings to you,
ps. when my anxious heart gets to racing, I put on your necklace that says “be still and know” – it’s a calming reminder 🙂
lisa leonard says
Thank you Bev! You are always an encouragement. xx
Melanie Vanlaningham says
I am thankful for so many things- a loving husband of 32 years, three children who have taught me so much about God’s love, friends to grow with, and my job/ministry at school. It is a hard and challenging time at school right now but I know God is faithful and will make beauty out the ashes. I am thankful I can trust him in the trials.
lisa leonard says
So true, Melanie. Beautiful. xo
Feeling the pain first and then moving to gratitude is wonderful!
Often times I try and accept reality as it is but not worse than it is.
Gratitude comes alive with growth. We all need growth. We all need a compelling future. Use gratitude as a fuel to feel your genuine value. Then spring board into new experiences! Why not? Live is growth 🙂
Thanks so much for your words this morning that encourage us to step back from our trials, whatever they may be, and be thankful for “the beauty that outweighs the pain”. I’m thankful everyday for the many blessings God has provided to me. Family and friends of course, and also for the wet, sloppy kisses my dog gives me when he greets me. Lately, I’ve been trying to be intentional in recognizing the beauty of my surroundings. It’s been a lovely Fall where I live and I’ve enjoyed some magnificent sunsets on my drives home from work. Likewise, the sunrises have been spectacular as the rays illuminate the oranges, reds, and yellows of the Fall leaves. This sunlight that warms my heart has led me to be more focused on the Son who gives light to my very being. May I shine more of His light to those around me during this upcoming holiday season and throughout the coming year. Blessings to you all!
Nancy R says
Lisa, our one son started having trouble with anxiety and frustration at grade 5 as well. This is when their brain starts understanding abstract thought so that can be overwhelming. One trick to help calm anxiety is deep breathing. But sometimes that is hard for a 10 year old to do initially. What we found worked for a while was to have them blow their anxieties into a balloon. Once it was full we released those thoughts by bursting the balloon (or if that scares them just release the balloon untied). Blowing up a balloon forces deep breathing automatically as well as balloons usually bring smiles because it is silly.
God will help you through this trying time.
lisa leonard says
Love your advice. Thank you, Nancy. I’ve heard from quite a few people that 5th grade is a transitional year, and he’s a tender heart. So good to know I’m not alone. xx
I really needed to read this today and sit back and ponder on my blessings and how truly blessed I am. Your right we need to thank God everyday every minute of all he gives us! I feel Im truly blessed sometimes I wonder why he is so good to me even thru the storms & seasons in my life! Thank you for this today!
lisa leonard says
He is so good. xo
I am grateful god pulled me out of during a storm my husband and I endured recently!
One thing I’m very thankful for is this (in)courage site and all the wonderful writers and bloggers!! Thank you all!!! Thank you for helping to put everything back into perspective on days that I’m not as focused as I’d like to be. Thank you for all your uplifting and wonderful caring words!!! Thank You!!!
lisa leonard says
Aw, thank you Lori. This is a pretty amazing community. xo
Thank you for sharing.
love denise ak
Grateful for another chance today….
Anne Marie says
Loving and godly family and friends; health; our home.
Linda McClellan says
Isn’t it glorious that we have a loving God to get us through all of the daily problems, big or small?
I am truly blessed to to have enough to not have to worry about too much. My husband and I live on Social Security and it’s provided all we need. I am grateful for the wonderful husband I have after several fails and abusive husbands. I’m not complaining because it has given me wisdom to be able to talk to younger women going through similar relationships. I believe the Lord allowed me to go thru the things I’ve been through for that exact reason. I am also grateful for the 7 beautiful grandchildren I have who fill my heart will love for them. Life with the Lord is the best thing that has ever happened to me.
lisa leonard says
Linda, this is beautiful. xo
This was a very touching post and thank-you for putting it up for us today.
I am thankful for many things but two of the things I am thankful for are my Faith and Family/ Friends. Without either of those things I would not be where I am today. I am also very thankful I found this site and for all who devote themselves and their time to be here for us….
(I submitted before I was done and meant to add that I am thankful to God above all else because I know that nothing in my life would of been possible without him
tiffany day says
so beautifully put and so VERY true!! I too have learned to weave gratetude into my everyday day all year long! Some days, I have to tell myself 3 things to be grateful for before I get out bed, it helps get me through a day I would otherwise not want to walk through!
God really is good – all the time no matter what!
Bri McKoy says
Lisa! My heart is so full after reading your words. Thank you for this sweet reminder. Today I am grateful for words. And how God uses them through my family & friends to bring light and joy.
Joanne Peterson says
I really understand the anxiety in children and routines, wanting both mom and dad there, etc. I am grateful for a lot, but I also have been noticing much more than in the past the songs on the radio no matter the time of day speak to me exactly where I am, Who God is, what He will do, my heart’s longing, etc. Very personal.
Other things to be grateful…wonderful adoption counselor for our two boys and for us, the promise literally heard again of the Lord promising to provide everything we will need to raise our two boys at our age, friends who call, Jesus being so personal, my husband even though this time has been stressful, and there is also more……
Thank you for this timely reminder of thankfulness.
lisa leonard says
Sweet words. Thank you, Joanne. xo
Beautifully written, Lisa! I’ll be sharing a link to your post with my readers. Last month we focused on 31 days of JOY and this month we’re talking about Thanksgiving as a lifestyle not just a holiday – so your post couldn’t be more perfect! And your son’s response, wow, that really spoke volumes, didn’t it? We try so hard to make everything just perfect – all they really want/need is our love. Blessings to you and your family – have a JOYous holiday season!
lisa leonard says
Thanks June! xo
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because our ground has been shaking underneath us for about the last 6 months. The remaining things are just the very most basic of needs: our health, our girls, a roof over our heads and food on our table. Gone are our days of being grateful for the “sexy” things as my husband says: the designer clothes, the enviable job, the beautiful car. But we open our eyes, see the gifts, and it really, truly does open our lives up to the most abundant joy. Thanks for this.
Lord I thank you for my healing this week and for my family who is walking through this with me.
I am thankful for my children, my sister, health and strength. I am grateful for communities like this where we genuinely pray for one another. And I am always grateful for God grace and mercy.
I am grateful for the (in)courage website and emails and for the bloggers who post there. Each message is usually spot on and just what I need at the time I read it. Thank you for your commitment to share of yourself and your family to encourage the rest of us.
I’m thankful for so much; my sister, my momma, my dad and stepmom, my house, my amazing friends, the prairies of North Dakota, laughter, joy etc
I am thankful for God’s strength each day.. I am thankful for being able to teach children.. I am thankful for friends who pray for me.. I am thankful for a loving family.. I am thankful for God always being with me.. He is here with me in the storm..
Beth Williams says
Thanks for a wonderfully, timely written post. This whole year has been tough. Seems like one trial after another with my aging dad, hubby’s job situation, my job–I don’t like anymore, friends illnesses. etc. and the list could go on.
Through it all God has been faithful and true! I am thankful that my hubby has a new job closer to home with same company, I am still employed, dad is ok for now, friends and my church family, etc. and this list could go on forever! 🙂
Prayers for you as you deal with your son and congratulations on the business growing!!
I’m most thankful to be alive and living alive!!! My fight for joy through hardship and goodness is finally over; now resting in a good place. Jesus!!! I know its the normal thing to list all what I’m grateful for. However my first duty to honor is our savant and merciful God. Thank you Lord……giving all honor and praise. Hallelujiah!!!
I can relate to your post so much. We’ve had seasons of life where things have been really busy…with 4 kids and their activities, life was crazy. I also think that when you have a child with special needs, the other siblings are naturally more thoughtful and introspective, because things can be serious. And the older they get, the more aware they are of the complexities of their family…or maybe that’s just the way it was for us. Our oldest son is 28 years old and has Down Syndrome. Routine is a HUGE and important part of his life. We “think” that we make it okay with him…and with all of our kids…when things are hectic, but they notice more than we think they do. And they each express anxiety in different ways. They value normalcy and routine…and peace. Just like we do. Such a great post and a great reminder to embrace gratefulness every day.
Nancy Ruegg says
I wish I had read this post years ago when my children were young. Your habit of focusing dinner conversation on things each family member is grateful for is sure to reap great rewards for your boys as they grow older. I’ll have to ask my granddaughters–frequently–what they’re grateful for, to help them see God’s blessing upon their lives. Thank you, Lisa, for the reminder that, when gratitude is woven into each day, joy is sure to result!
I am thankful for my loving family, my health, and a dear friend of mine. I am also thankful for you, Lisa Leonard. The words you share on your blog and your jewelry brings me a smile and food for thought. I was born with a birth defect called spina bifida and spend most days in a wheelchair. Spina bifida gives me the opportunity to see the world and the people in it in a different light. Of course, it gives me many challenges, but I am also grateful for spina bifida and the adventure that is my life!
I am thankful for the MOPS group that I recently was blessed with joining. I just love all of the topics we have spoken about so far and I love being challenged to become a better mom and wife!
Veronica Butler says
I’m so grateful for the coming together of (in)courage. How you all uplift my life daily with the word.
I’m grateful I have my children and my family near me.
I’m thankful for a Savior who paid my way to be here ! God bless all !
I work 3rd shift and live alone with 2 cats. When I wake up at 9 P.M. and they are both looking at me they bring a smile. That’s when I thank God for waking me up and giving me a job to go to. I thank him for a lot. I’m very grateful for him letting me see the good part of life. 4 years ago was not to good for me. The day I excepted him into my heart was a very big turn around for me. That is why I thank him everyday I wake up because I enjoy life now. Thank-you so much for the word this morning.
I’m GRATEFUL for LIFE!!!
Arlene Barajas says
I am grateful for my daily devotional with the Lord. Part of my devotional time with Him is reading this devotional. I’m grateful for technology like social media and email so I am able to receive this daily. Reading this today allowed me to understand God’s big picture for my life. Thank you for sharing and being transparent. I know that if I trust in the Lord, even the mundane can be beautiful. 🙂
Thankful for this blogpost 🙂 & thankful for baby nephew who was introduced to this world on 11 Nov! & thankful for his older sis who has been sweet & protective over her baby bro; just melts my heart. Thankful for caring parents & in-laws! & caring friends who’ll be visiting tomorrow! Indeed, there’s so much to be thankful for 🙂 God is good!
Thank you for this gentle reminder. I am thankful for Jesus who died for me and for my family. My son who is now 18 and a freshman in college didn’t start talking until he was 3. He was on an IEP all through school and didn’t have many friends. I was anxious about him going to college, and I prayed that he would have friends and enjoy his college years. Praise God – he is thriving, has so many new friends, joined an intramural volleyball team, and even ran for an SGA office. I know that God has something special in store for your son. Hugs!
Dinia G. says
God must have directed me to read your blog. Thank you. It touched my heart. I was feeling so low these past few days but yesterday was worst. As I was driving to church, negative thoughts were racing and I thought about my life being so hard most of the time. I told myself, Thanksgiving Day is coming but it’s just another day in my hard life. It’s a tug of war in my mind because the other part of me says, there are plenty of things to thank for and God has always been there no matter what. So when I reached church, ( Saturday Service) I raised my hands and praised God, offered all my troubles to Him, and thank Him for everything. I find that singing praises help a lot. Our Pastor, talked about the story of Joseph in Genesis 39 up to chapter 50. Joseph adapted to all his circumstances and he maintained his relationship with God. God was always with him in all his troubles and and as the scriptures say, Joseph becane a successful leader of Egypt.
Our Pastor said, everyone of us may have a ” Joseph” story in our life. We go through life with trials but if we keep our faith and trust our Lord, we will overcome.
Today is another day. I’m grateful for everything in spite of my circumstances.
I just felt the need to be grateful this evening inspite my tough circumstance and as I turned on to read my email and got this devotion it felt like the Holy Spirit’s confirmation. And for this I am so THANKFUL
I thank God every day for life with all the good and bad. I’m just happy to be alive. I thank HIM for my beautiful baby boy (8 months and counting). I thank HIM for my loving family and for a career that I love!!! I’m thankful for the gift of salvation. I pray to receive it every day. And I thank God for people like Lisa who write such encouraging words that help us through the many challenges of this life!!!
This was an awesome expression of gratefulness. Today I’m thankful for words of wisdom. Those words people speak into your storm and confirmation of peace. Reading about the lite things that we overlook daily. So I’m thankful for these words that make you think and appreciate the little things in life.
Being from Canada, we celebrated Thanksgiving about a month ago. I had a difficult time, as we are going through some difficult trials. It’s so easy to get focused on what going wrong, but when we make the time to raise our face to glorify the One who sent His son to save us, I am truly thankful. Our problems don’t go away – my mother is still dying, our sons have not given their lives to The Lord, and our finances make me want to cry. But when I turn my focus to God and thank Him, I can see all the blessings that my mother has brought to the family rather than what she is going through now; I can thank Him for the faith I have that He will lead our two sons to Him … One day… Somehow … In his plan. I know that if we can give our financial worries up to Him, He will provide (although it isn’t easy to do). But then I look at my daughter and I see how He is working in her life, and I want to burst with praise. I look outside and see his beautiful creation and can’t help but think that He gave that us us for our enjoyment – how great is that!? What a wonderful, loving God we have!! Praise Him!
Thank you, Lisa 🙂
Thankful for many things, but will share 2 for now. One, God is strengthening me through your words, & gives me opportunity to share also. Two, I have a precious 15-year-old daughter who strives to grow her relationship with God even in the midst of her busy, sometimes overwhelming schedule. And she does all this with a great sense of humor! She challenges and encourages me. I am a blessed mom. Thank you, Jesus…
Thank you for your honest sharing. Be encouraged, sister. I have a husband who doesn’t believe in a loving God, and who sometimes vents his spiritual frustrations on me. I have been praying & I’m beginning to see the fruits. Your sons will come around. I will pray for them.
My family has also been struggling financially for many years now. Many times we’ve said, “This is the end of the line.” But God always provided. Through all these things, I’m learning to truly confess, “God, your love indeed is better than life.” I pray for you, and everyone else reading this, Philippians 4:19 – “…my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
Lisa V. says
I’m grateful for my health and the ability to make it better. I shouldn’t take that for granted for one day.
Matuu Aumua says
My first time discovered this web page! But your family story touch my heart! Yes indeed we all going through situation in this life , but we truly thank THANK the LORD for his love and mercy daily upon us! We will remember your family in our prayer! We thank The Lord for who he is! God! Love u guys in Jesus name!
I’m new to your site, and so glad I didn’t miss this! The title about “Beauty & Pain” grabbed my attention as I have lived through so many difficulties and health problems. I finally realized that G-d would use me as I have known both victories and failures. The battles with cancer, and injuries from multiple car accidents (none my fault) have been terrible. I have often felt akin with Job, calling him. “My distant Uncle”! I have grown in my faith, ministry through Facebook as I am mostly home bound, and a sense of humor, a must… But it has been very hard (and still is) on my husband, and our 3 children through the years. I was touched by your sharing about your sons anxiety. My two sons also had anxiety problems when they were young, as I also did. For a long while they even suffered terrible Panic attacks. It was disheartening too see them struggle, but I believe it made them stronger, more understanding people. I taught them to be grateful IN all things, and it’s not easy to always be cheerful, but that we must have hearts that are THANKFUL, no matter what. G-d is molding your son(s) into His image with great purpose ahead. Don’t forget that, and make sure he doesn’t. I am so grateful to say both sons are doing great. G-d Is using them in ways we never would imagine! The oldest lives in Jerusalem, ministering the Gospel. The youngest, is tasting some fame traveling the world with an up and coming a Capella singing group. Truly, beauty and humbleness can come from suffering, and a grateful heart…
Lady Dorothy says
Greetings In The Precious Name of Jesus,
I thank God for the gift of “FAITH” that he has given me and the trust in him to know that he is “A rewarded of them that Digently SEEK him” as he has rewarded me total healing and restoration. I thank him for my family who has been so faithful in their love for me. Now Lisa I’m thankful to you for the opportunity to give God praise and thanks for ALL that he has done! He is my Healer, my Savior, My deliverer, My keeper, My comforter, My everything, and “I can do ALL things through Christ JESUS who strengenth me, for he shallsupply ALL of our need ” philliians 4:13 and 4:19. I bless his Holy Name! Lisa , if you just continue to call on JESUS, I assure you he will answer your prayers! As you believe in Philliians 4:6. I love you , but how much more does our Heavenly Father love us? Keep praying! And just ” Be STILL and know that he is GOD ” Thanks for the opportunity to share and give my testimony! Praying for you Lisa, Be of GOOD courage! For you will overcome! ” We overcome by the BLOOD of the LAMB , and the words of our TESTIMONY” Revelations 12:11″. May God bless you! And Keep you! In his service Lady Dorothy
I am thankful for the gift of our Savior. I am thankful for my great family and friends, a good job and a comfortable home.
Debbie Farmer says
I thank God for saving me through my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and letting me rest in Him. It’s a beautiful thing to have God’s peace in knowing that I belong to Him as His child! I’m grateful for my husband, Wayne, and the life we share together. We’ve been married 18 years and I wouldn’t want to spend my life with anyone else! I’m also thankful for my son, Andrew, and my daughter, Veronica. They are such a blessing and a joy in our lives. I’m thankful for the loved ones God has given us and how God has protected us all over the years. I’m thankful for the prayers of those loved ones who came before us and interceded on our behalf (and we’re reaping the blessings). I also thank God for the promises He’s made to me, that I know by faith He’s going to fulfill!!!
God is great and greatly to be praised!!! Thank You Jesus!!!
Hi Lisa, first this morning I am thankful for this post. I received the link in an email which led me to you. I am also grateful for all of those who responded and their sharing of God’s goodness. Hearing others’ stories are a blessing in their own.
Your message -the beauty that outweighs the pain- speaks dearly to my heart. In 2012 I was surprised by a very rare syndrome that led to 2 major surgeries, one of which was damaging. I developed a movement disorder and have been unable to work for the last 2.5 years. I am in pain most of every day and we aren’t sure this will change. Through this journey my FAITH has grown to a place I had never been. I am so grateful it continues to open my eyes to the blessings I do receive each day! The once “small things” are truly wonderful gifts. By taking all concerns, fears and thanksgiving to the Lord I am living with a greater joy than I knew could be possible. God is so good! I am grateful to be His child. Bless you Lisa and your words. They are very touching. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.
Lydia Flores says
Lisa, thanks so much for your post. I thank you for reminding me that “…beauty outweighs the pain.” This year started out badly and sadly for my family as we lost a young loved one, and healing comes slowly, but it comes, thanks be to our merciful God and our Lord Jesus Christ. I am also thankful for new beginnings with a new church home for my husband and me. Have a blessed Thanksgiving!