Broken Thanks {replacing ‘me’ with ‘He’ series}

Nov 3, 2011

This past weekend the wonderful Relevant sponsors blessed us with soooo many gifts (check the sponsors out here).

The last night of the conference I sat next to a Family Matters representative, Karis Murray. She and I had a great conversation about mothering and grace (hoping to have a review of “Grace Based Parenting” soon!). My take-away from what she taught me: remember to give my children the freedom to be different, freedom to be vulnerable, freedom to be candid AND (the kicker) the freedom to make mistakes.

During the dinner sponsored by Incourage (online community for Christian women, division of DaySpring), we discovered that one person from each table was going home with 2 beautiful glass hurricane vases etched with the words “Giving” on one and “Thanks” on the other.  I WON!! (thank you Karis for helping me find the sticky note under my seat…tricky for a preggo to reach!).

Determined to get these gorgeous vases home, I stuffed them with clothes, wrapped them in a blanket & gently placed them in my small carry-on. Sadly, I opened my bag in Dallas to discover one of the vases had broken.

Ironically, I didn’t stop to take a picture of my “broken thanks” vase. Immediately it was in the trash and I missed the lesson God had for me (thank you Craig for opening my eyes).

The moment Halloween is over (and even before!) Christmas items are available everywhere. Christmas music starts playing. Typically these celebrations aren’t focused on gratitude for the arrival of God on earth. We just love the warm & cozy feelings associated with a beloved holiday. Which I totally understand…

 A local radio station takes a counter-cultural stand and waits to play Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving, claiming to keep the “thanks in Thanksgiving.” I also think this is an admirable stance for them to take. For myself I want to go beyond gratitude in November.

The book “One Thousand Gifts” opened my eyes to the spiritual discipline of gratitude. True communion, joy & peace comes in thanking God for His gifts of grace…every day (not just Novemeber)… in the mundane tasks and trials.

Let’s not allow each other’s “thanks” to be broken. Let us challenge one another. Open our eyes to His gifts each day.

Some people write their gifts down in a list. For me saying out loud: “Thank you Lord for…” helps me be present in that moment with gratitude.  Verbalizing my gratitude has unintentionally become a model of contentment and joy for my children.

The sweetest sound to my ears is when my young boys stop to thank God for a gift in their day.

Imagine how sweet it sounds to our Father, the Ultimate “grace-based parent” and gift Giver, when we stop in the midst of the busyness to offer “thanks”?

He gives us freedom to decide if we will stop and thank Him. He gives us freedom to make the mistake of not thanking Him. Ultimately, it is ourselves that suffer when we chose to focus on what’s wrong in our day. It is to our detriment when we chose to be discontent instead of grateful.

In the freedom the Father has given you, what will you chose? Joy that comes from verbalizing “thanks”? or frustration that comes from a heart of discontentment, “broken thanks”?

{2 Corinthians 9:15} “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”

{Ephesians 5:20} “Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,”

{1 Chronicles 16:34} “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”


  1. eryn {mamahall}

    what a beautiful lesson He teaches through strangers-turned-friends, broken gifts, rushed holidays, and homecoming.

    • Heather MacFadyen

      very well summarized! thanks eryn!


    Heather, this is so wonderful – I love your thoughts here. I can’t tell you how many times I have been a bit miffed over the fact that Thanksgiving just gets shoved aside and truthfully, it really should be one of our most celebrated holidays – and not just on the third Thursday in November. I completely believe, especially after travelling to Ghana this past summer, that gratitude is the key to complete joy in our Father – Ann talks about this in her book as well. She says something like gratitude leads to trust in God and trust in God leads to complete joy in Him.

    Good stuff.

    So wonderful to meet you and LOVE our parallel worlds!!!

    • Heather MacFadyen

      Thanks natalie!! thanks for reminding me more of Ann’s great wisdom. Such a gift!

  3. Craig

    I hearted this whole thing – the only thing I’m a little unclear about is whether it was the thanks or the giving that got broken – the message is obviously the same either way. And I heart your thoughts on Thanksgiving – and Ann’s writing is the reason I blog in this community – her and Amber Haines – their words changed everything for me – and Eryn, since I began blogging 11 months ago has been like sunshine from Texas – and now I’m glad to meet you – and I look forward to reading you more. And it’s totally okay, by the way, that the link with my name on it doesn’t work – and I’m serious about that – don’t fix it – don’t worry about it – I just hearted everything too much to think that matters at all – and I really shouldn’t even have mentioned it – grrrrrr – anyway God bless and keep you and each and every one of yours Heather.

    • Heather MacFadyen

      thanks craig!! link is fixed! sorry I had “deep in love” not “deep into love”…makes a big difference. =)

  4. Craig

    and ohhhhhhhhh IT WAS IN THE TITLE – never mind ツ

  5. Martha Shadoan

    This was amazing. I have really been struggling the past three weeks with a feeling that God is telling me to start a blog to share some of thoughts, experiences and lessons learned as God has brought me through various trials in life. But of course, the moment I decided to obey what God was trying to tell me, I immediately started having doubts such as: am I being pompous to assume that anyone besides my close friends and family would even care what I had to say, will I be able to graciously accept criticism from people I don’t know, If I am real and truthful about my own short comings are people going to doubt my walk with God, , etc… Reading about the doubts you have and how you overcome them is just more confirmation to me that these fears are normal and that God is calling me to share, even if it only helps 1 person, it will all be worth it. Could you tell me how to access more info re: Relevant Conferences. Thank you so much for allowing God to use you to reach others like me.

    • Heather MacFadyen

      thank you martha for taking the time to share that with me. May you be inspired not to worry about what others think but to be the thunder that prepares the way in the desert for the Lord. Allow Him to rain to thirsty souls (all those words came from Ann Voskamp at the Relevant Conference). If you want to know more about Relevant , check out their website

  6. Karis Murray

    I was blessed to meet you as well. I can’t wait to hear more from you as you read through “Grace Based Parenting.”

    As a mother of daughters, I am very grateful that there are mom’s like you out there raising MEN! (I know we talked breifly about this at dinner.) I am so passionate about the need for real men in the next generation. As you give your boys the 4 freedoms that we talked about, you are not only shaping wonderful people for the world to come, you are shaping amazing men.

    Can’t wait to get to know you better online, and hoping we can see each other again “in real life” sometime soon!

    • Heather MacFadyen

      One of my favorite conversations of the weekend. Felt like I was talking with a kindred mom…working through the pull of law & grace…laughing, sharing kid stories. Thank you!

  7. kelli

    Thanksgiving sandwiched between two big retail money-makers: Halloween and Christmas. It does get less publicity sometimes, it seems. But maybe that’s the point. I mean, since when are the really weighty matters — like the cornerstone of giving thanks — put in a visible place? No, usually the deeper, sweeter, richer things are hidden. Hidden to the wise and learned and revealed to babes . . .
    “According to your faith be it unto you” . . . and “he who seeks, finds . . .”

  8. Kristi

    YOU are something I am thankful for, sweet friend!! Such a joy to know you and meet you, just days ago. Agree wholeheartedly with your post. YES. Love you 🙂


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