2021: A Different Year, A Different Gratitude List

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. I love that it’s the least commercialized of the major holidays. If there’s one attitude that brings physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual wellbeing it’s gratitude. It’s always appropriate to express gratitude for family, friends, and any material blessings God has brought. But each year I try to look for a different gratitude list.

The more years that go by, the more I’ve become able to truly feel thankful for things that might not immediately feel good. That was one of the most important elements in my grief journey after my husband died a few years ago. I kept at it until I actually felt grateful – not that he died, but for his life and for who he had been to me.

So here are the top three things on my gratitude list for 2021.


I am so profoundly grateful for you!

Without you there would be no reason to write these articles, or produce podcast episodes, or maintain all the goodies on our website.

Without you writing back to me I’d have no idea what you need help with, or what is especially meaningful.

Without those of you who have chosen to connect via one-on-one coaching I wouldn’t have the joy of being such a close participant in the transformation God is working in you.

Without the gifts from those of you who can financially support us we would not be able to share these materials with more hurting people.

If you could see and hear me right now, you would hear me saying Thank You!

Closed Doors

Yes, I’m grateful for closed doors.

Sometimes I think we all wish God worked by sending a text message or email every day giving us clear and specific instructions for what we are to do next. Wouldn’t that be easier?

But instead He trusts us to pay attention to the ways He does lead, and then to use our creativity to build things of beauty in the world. Our experiences, skills, and desires are unique for a reason. There are things each of us can create that no one else can.

And in doing so we, or at least I, so often set out to try something hoping it’s “right.” A particular way of saying something, a specific tweak or product in business, a relationship to nurture, a ministry initiative to try.

And when God closes a door, it’s a great gift.

I’ve seen specific instances this past year when God closed a door as a great act of kindness. If going in that earlier direction had proved “successful” I wouldn’t have been able to walk into the next opportunity to do something more in line with what God has truly prepared for me to do.

I’m grateful for the closed doors that guide me closer to God’s good purposes for me.


When God put Adan and Eve in the garden of Eden He gave them dominion over their realm (Genesis 1:26-28, 2:15) The garden of Eden would come to reflect their creativity, the effort they put in, the way they tended things. God was extravagant in the way He shared His creative nature with His human children.

And it’s the same with us. Even after thousands of years of sin He still invites us to create with Him. We are not automatons, cogs in a wheel. We are put here to build something beautiful.

That might be some new software code, a lovely garden, a piece of music or art, a unique business solution, or a scientific discovery. It might be the lightbulb that goes on in a young person’s soul when you help them “get it.” It might be a space for people to deeply connect in a beautiful way. And people; they’re not problems to be solved, but artifacts of beauty on the way to being formed. (Thank you, Dr. Curt Thompson.)

This understanding has become freeing for me recently. I get to build something. Follow Jesus, absolutely. But my creativity gets to shape what results from that in my world. My imagination and desires mean something.

I’m grateful for the creativity God has built within me to bring beauty to the people and world around me.

Your Gratitude

What are you grateful for this year?

Take the time to look more deeply. Ask, what does this make possible? What have you learned? Where is God inviting you to do something beautiful?

And nurture the attitude of gratitude when it springs up in your soul.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Your Turn: I’d love to hear from you about what you’re grateful for this year. Leave a comment below.

Tweetables: why not share this post?

  • For 2021 I have a different gratitude list. I’m grateful for YOU! For closed doors. And for creativity. What are you grateful for this year? Tweet that.

Hear A Bit More 

I talked about these ideas more deeply in this video. Enjoy.