An Attitude of Gratitude from At the Picket Fence

Today is the fist day of November! I can’t believe that Christmas will be here in just seven weeks. But before the Christmas holiday festivities begin, we have the chance to celebrate Thanksgiving, a time to focus on our gratitude, for the gifts and blessings in our lives.

From now through Thanksgiving, sixteen bloggers are going to be sharing what it means for them to have an Attitude of Gratitude. (Click here for the complete list of posts).

Join us Monday through Friday, and feel welcome to share your own stories as well in the comments sections of each post.

My first guest is one of the sweetest people I’ve met as a blogger. She has incredible talent and a huge heart, and she’s an adoptive mama, like me. I know you will all be as thrilled as I am to welcome her.

Hi there Simply Klassic Home readers, I’m Vanessa! 

When I’m not vacuuming up Legos (on accident of course!) and having tea parties which include stuffed animals, I am co-author, along with my sister Heather, of the blog At the Picket Fence

There you will find everything from DIY and home improvement projects to recipes, crafts and the everyday stuff of life.

Mostly, you will find a community which we hope is warm and welcoming to all who stop by! 

Kristin has become a cherished friend (isn’t she the best?!!) and it is an absolute honor to be here with you today kicking off this amazing Attitude of Gratitude Series. No pressure being first! 

I hope you hear my heart coming through in my words and that it blesses you in some way.


The mom of the little girl who sits next to my daughter in Kindergarten is battling brain cancer.
It’s Stage 4.
Since the beginning of the school year I have watched her drop off and pick up her precious girl
with a huge smile on her face. This seemingly ordinary occurrence has become an
extraordinary event.

Every day I fight back tears as I witness it.
And I squeeze my own darling girl a little bit tighter.
How does she do it?
Where does the ability to smile in the midst of the pain come from?
How do we maintain an attitude of gratitude when the world around us is falling apart?
James 1:2-4 says
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers/sisters, whenever you face trials of many
kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not
lacking anything”
“Pure joy” to face
Is that even possible?
Recently, I found myself sitting at a table with other parents answering this question. 

“What is our greatest goal for our children?”
There were many different answers being tossed around but the predominant feeling was that as
parents we will have done our job properly if our children grow up to be
Now, sometimes I like to ruffle feathers a bit in these kinds of situations.
Call me a rebel!
I listened and nodded my head and waited until it was my turn to answer the question.
Then I said, “Well, my children’s happiness isn’t actually my main goal as a parent.”
They all looked at me as if I had just said that I let my children run through traffic!
I decided I should explain myself a bit before they turned me in.
If my goal for my children, or for myself, is happiness, than I am going to be in a continual
state of pursuing the things that I think will make them, or me, happy.
“So”, they asked, “what is your goal for your children?”
I answered, “For them to be filled with joy, no matter what.”
Happiness and joy are so easily confused, aren’t they?
You see, happiness is a fleeting emotion.
One which is defined by our circumstances.
“It’s not your circumstances that shape you. They are outside you and beyond you; they can’t
really touch you. It’s how you react to your circumstances that shapes you.
That’s between your ears, and that affects the ‘real you’.”
Anne Ortlund in
“Disciplines of the Heart”
It’s so easy to feel “joyful” when everything is going right. We experience success
in our jobs, relationships, finances and suddenly the world seems brighter!
But, what happens when things aren’t going our way?
When a business crumbles.

When a relationship is fractured.

When we suffer the loss of a loved one.

When we are given a devastating diagnosis.
Is it possible to still feel joy in the midst of the pain?
Not only do I think the answer to that question is a resounding YES, I also believe that we can
even be grateful for the pain.
I’ve always said that the bad news about pain is that after you experience it you will never be the
same again. But, the good news about pain is that once you’ve experienced it, 
you will never be the same again!
Stay with me here.
You will forever be a different version of yourself.

It’s up to you to decide which version that will be.

Will you allow the pain to deepen your relationship with God and with others?

Challenge you?

Refine you?
Years ago, I found myself at a crossroads in my own life. Had I known then what I know now, it would have been very easy to be grateful for this difficult time.
Because things worked far more wonderfully than I could have imagined when I was in the depths of despair. (I have two precious kiddos to prove it!)
That isn’t how it works though, is it?
 Somehow, even in the midst of the pain, I discovered that I was grateful for what I was experiencing.
Grateful that it opened up my eyes to things I needed to work on. 
Areas of my heart that God revealed to be hindrances to moving forward.
It added layers to my marriage that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.
And it taught me empathy.
The ability to have an attitude of gratitude and to know what having joy really means.
For that, I am thankful!
Thank you so much Kristin for allowing me to share my heart with your readers today as part of this incredible series!
I hope you will stop by and visit us either at our At the Picket Fence Blog or on Facebook.
And blessings to you as you pursue an Attitude of Gratitude,
Thank you Vanessa! Such a beautiful post and wonderful way to start this series. 
Be sure to come back tomorrow for another grateful guest post.



Owner at Yellow Bliss Road
Hi! I'm Kristin, the creative mind behind Yellow Bliss Road where you will be inspired by tons of easy to follow recipes, lots of free printables, and a little sprinkling of life thrown in for good measure.
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  1. says

    I hugged my children a little harder this morning after reading this post. Life is hard and if we can be strong and have joy in our sufferings we are for sure to have a much fulfilling life then try to always avoids things that don’t make is “happy” I am now on my way to check out your blog!!!

  2. says

    Vanessa, this is such a wonderful post! I am doing a bible study in the book of James and we are talking about some of these same things. I really like the way you’ve explained joy in any circumstance. You’ve really given me some things to think about. Thank you.

  3. says

    Tearing up, since we were just faced with a terrible diagnosis, and feeling lost and scared at what may come. Funny how God talks to us sometimes, giving hope and reassurance. Today, it was through a blog post. Thanks!

    • says

      Chiwei, words cannot express how sorry I am that you are in the midst of such a difficult time in your life. As soon as I read this I prayed for you. One of my favorite songs to listen to when life doesn’t make sense is called “If you want me to” by Ginny Owens. Part of it says this, “The pathway is broken and the signs are unclear. And I don’t know the reason why you brought me hear. But just because You love me the way that You do, I’m gonna walk through the valley, if You want me to.” It goes on to say that God never promised that this life would be easy or without pain but that He would be there to walk through it with us. That is my prayer today for you and your family…that you would feel His presence in a very real way and His strength will carry you through it.
      Blessings to you and just remember that you aren’t alone! :-)

  4. says

    Dear Vanessa
    I am catching up today and had a chance to read your touching and very meaningful gratitude post. Thank you for blessing our hearts with the courage with the grace that this leaves. What a beautiful reminder about walking with God and trusting in Him for our lives. Much love to you xoxo Kate

  5. says

    First of all I just want to say to you, Kristin, what a lovely idea this series is in a time where we all start the hustle and bustle of the holidays. I look forward to reading about others’ attitudes of gratitude and being reminded myself to appreciate the blessing of everyday. And Vanessa….what a beautiful heart you have and you expressed it so well. So encouraging to read your words. Today amidst the hardships of real life I will remember that joy is a choice I can make and show my children by example. So glad you have joy in your life!

  6. says

    Kristin this series is so special thank you for bringing it to us all.

    Vanessa this is so soul filling for me today. Thank you so much for blessing me with your thoughts. I love your view and this just opened how I want to go about teaching my kids. You are so kind to share and inspire us.

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