Three Things that are Good to Know for November:
- If you’re struggling through grief in a season of gratitude (or know someone who is), here is my journey to find it again.
- It’s National Adoption Month. Find out how to be an encouragement to an adoptive family.
- How I organized my holiday season to prioritize relationships over busyness (Plus a free download for you!)
1. Finding Gratitude When You’re Hurting
I remember the first November without my son, Silas. I felt no gratitude about any of the usual things I thanked God for–food, home, health, family. It was a month of tears and darkness.
My appetite was gone. My home was a painful reminder of what I had lost and I felt constantly tired. My family—usually a rock of support–struggled alongside me.
Survival was the only goal—and some days even that felt out of reach.
During that first November, I took long walks and found in nature something I couldn’t find anywhere else. There was no pressure to act happy or pretend to be thankful for what I did have.
I simply was.
And In that space of being, I also found myself releasing expectations. Instead of trying to force feelings of gratitude, I discovered beauty in the small things of life.
The bright red leaves, the sunsets painting the sky blood orange, the flowers hanging onto their blooms deep into fall.
In this broken Eden, I found hope.
And where hope is, gratitude is born.
I find connection in nature. The woods or garden is my church as much as a cathedral.
Where you find God is often where you’ll find gratitude. In music. In nature. In prayer. In His Word.
And if you don’t feel gratitude this month? That’s okay too. During difficult times (especially grief), we don’t have the same response to things.
My advice for those in the valley: Spend time with God just being. Read the Psalms. Take a walk in the woods. Spend time by the river. Gratitude will come in a different season.
It can be born from a broken heart.
This month, pray for someone that might be struggling through the holidays–including those who have family struggles, a personal crisis, or ongoing health issues. Pray that God will enter into their brokenness and provide healing in the places where there seems to be no hope.
And if you need prayer? Send me a message. I’d love to pray for you.
2. National Adoption Month
November is National Adoption Month, a chance to highlight all the families impacted by adoption. Focus on the Family offers some words on what hurts–and what helps–an adoptive family:
- Adoptive families absolutely feel their children are their real children; comments to the contrary are very hurtful. (For example, do not say, “Do you have any children of your own?” in front of an adopted child.)
- Treat all children the same regardless of whether they came through birth or adoption.
- Because God designed adoption, it isn’t a second best option, so be sensitive about saying things that convey it is somehow a plan B.
- Comments like “I’m sure you’ll get pregnant now that you’ve adopted” feed into unrealistic expectations.
- Family, friends and church members shouldn’t assume they know what’s best for the adoptive family without being willing to learn about the differences in parenting a child who was adopted.
Read the full article at Focus on the Family.
3. The Holiday Overwhelm
After looking at my November and December calendar and deciding that there simply wasn’t enough margin, I decided to cut things out and prioritize. In the process, I journaled my plan to create space and called it my soul reset plan for the holidays.
Then I wondered: Would you want to see my process of journaling this change? This motivated me to create a simple resource for others who want to reduce their holiday overwhelm and do a soul reset this Christmas (Thank you Shauna Niequist and her new book Present Over Perfect for inspiring the change.)
You can download this soul reset holiday plan to help you focus on your priorities and create more margin.
I hope one of these ideas helps you or a friend this month.