When Thanksgiving is Bitter and Sweet

Hi Friends,

Even though today is a busy day for many of us, I wanted to jump on and wish you all the happiest of Thanksgivings!

I am so thankful for each one of you. As I have spoken at events and retreats over the past few months, I’ve been deeply reminded of how much we need each other. We have a lot going on – and so much of it is painful and hard.

One of my favorite memories as a little girl was to visit my grandparent’s farm in the Fall. My grandmother, my mom and I would walk into the woods on Sunday afternoon and go searching for a beautiful vine that hung from the trees called, Bittersweet.

An invasive plant, Bittersweet climbs and winds its way around the branches of trees. After the first frost, it’s little yellow berries burst open and inside, a smaller orange berry pops out.

In November, when the leaves fall off of the trees, the vine is exposed. It hangs like a garland from the bare branches. Its vibrant orange and yellow berries remind me of Thanksgiving ornaments dangling down to welcome the holidays.

Both my mom and grandmother used Bittersweet to decorate their homes at Thanksgiving, and for as long as I have had my own home, I have too.

I’ve been thinking — what a perfect name for a vine that appears just before the holidays.

The word ‘bittersweet’ means, ‘to have two conflicting emotions all at the same time’.


This is exactly the place where I find myself today, and I imagine it is the same for many of you too. As I have prayed with, listened to and learned from many of you this Fall, I know all too well the kinds of situations you are dealing with.

  • A loved one whose chair will be empty at the table
  • Missing your kids because of shared custody with an ex-husband
  • The angst of interacting with a family member who struggles with addiction
  • Estranged relationships with parents or siblings
  • A marriage that is distant and disconnected
  • Loneliness
  • Financial stress

And so on. It seems the holidays just amplify it all – and if we are not careful, the bitter will overtake the sweet.

Yes, you have a lot going on and I do too. But here’s the thing — there may be some bitter in our circumstances, but the sweet comes from our relationship with Jesus, and that is what we need to amplify.

We can be thankful at Thanksgiving and have true joy at Christmas because we know He’s got it. He is in control and working everything – not just some things — but every single thing out for our good.

We may not know exactly how our circumstances will turn out, but we can trust in the ONE who does.

My prayer for you is that you will feel the love of your Father tomorrow and as you navigate your way through the busy weeks leading up to Christmas.

  • Get some rest
  • Take a walk outside and get some fresh air
  • Carve out time out to sit at His feet with your Bible open and listen

Let His truth pour over you and bring you thankfulness and joy. Wait for it – it will come.

And above all else – fight for it. Don’t let anyone steal it from you. Wield the sword of the spirit and the shield of faith any time you feel the bitter coming on. The enemy is no match for a sister with her shield and sword!

Sending love and prayers to each one of  you.

Happy, happy Thanksgiving,

Book Laura

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