About the Author

Annie F. Downs is a bestselling author and nationally known speaker based in Nashville, Tennessee. Her most recent books include 100 Days to Brave, Looking for Lovely and Let’s All Be Brave. Read more at anniefdowns.com and follow her at @anniefdowns.

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  1. Annie,
    You echo the thoughts of so many…I remember holidays as a divorced single mom, holidays without my dad; I watch my single daughter who so wants to be married, put up a brave front during this season. Yes, there is SO much to be thankful for, but it’s okay to be human. God is “mindful of our frame”. He knows us so well – He created us and the ability to be sad or disappointed or panicked. Choosing thankfulness is a daily choice we have to make. Thank you for a great post and a good chuckle…I will think of you as the “thankful lists” begin…
    Blessings,
    Bev

  2. Thanks for saying it Annie. I admit I have a tendency to not participate in thankfulness posts during November because I’m a total ‘rebel’ that way. But, I love posting thankfulness posts every other time of the year. 😉 In fact practicing thankfulness has helped me stay on the bright side of some serious struggles. Thankfulness is one of my Brave things. If I ever meet you I’ll have to share the story. Hugs for the holidays.

  3. Oh, Annie, I SO get this. In my single years, holidays were something to be celebrated…when they were OVER! Love your honest (and fun) perspective on gratitude, something we all need to consider.

  4. Hi Annie,

    For those of us who live in Canada, November is a month to Remember and we celebrate Thanksgiving in October. So in a sense it’s different for us.

    Other than the given day (Thanksgiving) I really try to be thankful throughout the year and it really does help to make things better.

    I hope that whoever is struggling to find a bright spot in their day will have a light shine their way…

    PS I haven’t had the chance to read Anne’s book yet but I really would like to one day.

    Penny

  5. Annie – I love your honesty. Realness draws you to us. Telling the truth of our experience brings us closer to each other and to God. The good news is God loves ‘truth in the inward parts.’ He knows what we feel and miss and long for. So yes, we choose thankfulness because that makes our lives More and not Less. But we never have to wear a mask of perfection. Brokenness makes us beautiful to Him.

  6. I too am doing Ann Voscamp’s 1000 Gifts challenge this year. In spite of disability and pain I am better able to see the gifts, great and small, that God rains on us every day. And one of those gifts are blogs like yours that give us a daily boost of positive perspective and smiles for the day. Thanks Annie and happy November !!

  7. LOVE it!
    So, true! We just don’ t know what tomorrow holds.
    As I wind my way through what is my life right now,
    I dare not say “What next?”
    God is good. He carries us through!
    And I am thankful for what I have
    more than looking at my lack.
    LOVE that you wrote out “hashtag 1000 gifts.”
    I do that ALL the time on my Instagram
    because I don’t want spammers and trolls to come to my page
    because of my hashtags. But, I love to add a phrase or word
    with a hashtag. So, that solves the problem. lol
    <3

  8. I completely identify with that? When my children were little and I was divorced, the days leading up to Christmas and Thanksgiving, I was usually without them. Hearing all of the Christmas songs usually put me in tears because it would remind me of how I wanted thing to be….and a stark reminder of reality. I remember that and wonder why our Christian radio station plays those songs straight through November and Christmas. I know I am not the only one who was lonely at those times. There are homeless people…people without jobs and lots of hurting people! Why can they not play songs that encourage and minister to those people and give them hope. It seems to me the perfect time to minister to hurting people. Since I got saved in 2004, my life is better. Gos has give me Christmas back and I love Christmas again. And I have a 9 year old daughter who I adopted and for Thanksgiving we cook dinner together and take some to neighbors, etc to bless them. And we are making our own memories! Thank you!

  9. This was perfect for me today. I love November and all the “thanks-giving” but I also hate November knowing that I will be so discontent after I hear what everyone else is Thankful for this season. Just to remind myself that I need to be Thankful and I need to be OK with where I am at.

  10. Oh, not JUST November… You’re right – every day. Choose to see (and TRUST) His purpose and timing in all this! It may not feel like a blessing in the midst of “it” (singleness, marriage, childlessness, financial struggle, etc) but HE IS there in all of it with you! And THAT we can be thankful for!

  11. Annie,

    I get this! I was single for 39 years. It was hard to go through the motions of the holidays–oh I had my parents, but they were older and it just isn’t the same thing!! Now I get to celebrate holidays with my sweet hubby! Something I did to help my spirits is adopt an older needy person & go shopping for them at Christmas. I knew it would help them out and give them something to look forward to.

    I wish radio stations would wait till after Thanksgiving to start playing Christmas music. I love the tunes, but they get old after a while! And some of them can make people depressed.

    Through out the year I have a thankful list. I started this a few years ago and listed over 200 items I’m thankful for and each day since I put down what I’m thankful for that day. Even if it is just that I have a job (one that I hate) and good health! It helps keep me focused on what I have and not what I didn’t!!

    Blessings 🙂

  12. Annie, you are so right. For all of us, there are broken dreams and unfulfilled dreams that seem to scream at us during this season of gratitude. But what we have is always enough when we have Jesus…you are in my prayers!
    Love, Taylor (ps…loved “let’s all be Brave”:)

  13. “I can list what I don’t have that I really want or I can list all the things I never knew I wanted but God generously gave me.” I love that little twist on gratitude, Annie–to notice what God has already given me. Let’s see… #1: chilly, rainy days to soak up warmth of family. #2: a ranch house instead of a two-story (more practical as we get older). #3: an email from an old friend that warmed my heart and encouraged. Oh, yes! When I focus on what I have, joy follows! Thank you, Annie.

  14. Annie, I hope you answer this or email me hopehearthome@gmail.com
    I need a good book for my almost-18 year old granddaughter who has been so hurt in the dating arena. Let me explain. There is a girl ask boy dance at her school tonight, masquerade, and she asked two different guys and they both said no. She is going alone, which I think is hugely brave of her. But her heart is hurt and she doubts herself. I will say, she is a lovely girl (seriously pretty and nice). I know it is God protecting her and I’ve prayed since she was in the womb that no one would come into her life until God brought him, the perfect one. Prayed for purity, etc etc. To the point where she almost wants me to stop praying for her!!! Please, a title…thank you beautiful Annie.

  15. No matter the stage of life we are in, may we be grateful for what we have and not what we lack. What a timely reminder as this season of extra focus on giving of thanks begins.

  16. Annie,
    Love November because this is the month that my Mom was born and also the month my Dad went to with God in Heaven. Love the cooling off and the beatiful leaves and going to the Praise Fest in Pigeon Forge. And this will get me ready for Christmas.
    Your words fit my thoughts of November. Thanks for sharing.
    Becky

  17. I am a bad person you send me postings and I rush by and dont stop to readIapologise right now .
    I am single and hope that maybe next year my partner and I will be shopping fro christmastogether
    I crashed my car on Friday and instead of a loving partner sitting by me it was my daughters

  18. Cool post Annie. I love the cool Florida air. Its the time of year my husband and I enjoy walks around the neighborhood. We always love the lights. It gives me joy to know that Christmas is around the corner.

  19. Thanks for so honestly putting this out there! An honest reflection that is exactly what I needed to hear. It’s not the thankful list, but New Years Eve year end reflections and goals that get me. A great reminder to frame thoughts and adjust my focus heading into the holiday season.

  20. I lost my job last month and still have yet to find employment. It’s been hard and I started sharing my list of thanksgiving on Facebook, going through every letter of the alphabet. I hope you’ll stop by!

    • Barbie, praying for your job search. I got a job in September after eight long months of unemployment, so I know how rough that is. My new job doesn’t pay a boatload of cash, but I feel like I’ve found my people here and I love it. Praying your door opens soon, and I’d love to come follow your thankfulness list on Facebook!

      Lisa

  21. Annie, you make me smile. I wish we could sit down and have a cup of coffee, because I think we’d get along well! You are not the only one who has moments of panic over the upcoming thankfulness season. We’re dealing with some pretty big financial issues right now, and it is SO HARD to remember all I have to be thankful for when I feel like we may be just a week or two away from living in a box under a bridge. (Wouldn’t be as concerned if it were just me and my husband, but we have two boys, and I worry about their well-being far more than I do my own.) But I find the times I struggle are the times I most need to stop and thank God for His gifts and praise Him for His faithfulness.

  22. Annie, thank you so much for this post. This line “this year has held more heartache than we expected, we also have lots to be thankful for.” is so true for me. You have said what is on my heart so beautifully.

  23. Annie-

    Your words made me chuckle and I loved that because laughter is definitely medicine to the soul. Your words also resonated with me on many levels. When I was living in Southern California & working for Pepperdine University, I discovered a book by Sarah Ban Breathnach called “Simple Abundance” & the accompanying “Journal of Gratitude”. It got me in the habit of listing out each day things I was grateful for. At the time I was struggling with some very debilitating health challenges & was working with my doctor to figure out what was going on. All I could do was press in & depend on GOD, and choosing to focus on all HE had already done for me really saved my sanity. Some days all I could come up with was “thank you God for a bed to sleep in & a roof over my head”, and I learned to be OK with that. Choosing to focus on gratitude for what HE had done for me all my life kept me from spiraling into a deep depression & from allowing fear to overwhelm me. Even though I don’t keep that journal any longer, I continue the habit of stopping throughout the day to thank Him for things that come to my mind. Sometimes I can even feel Him “thunk me in the head” & say “hey, remember where you were & where you are now” and HE will bring memories to me of how bad it was & then a picture of how much better it is now. In those moments I have an “ah hah” & immediately thank Him for reminding me. I get so focused on where I want to be & what I want it to look like, I forget to remember how far I have come.

    This journey of life is full of ups & downs, hills & valleys, and can overwhelm us at times with its struggles. I will never forget reading Hannah Hurnard’s “Hinds Feet On High Places” & her other books. I read them when I was in high school & the impact was powerful. It was a great reminder that without the valleys, we wouldn’t have the mountains & the dark times make us appreciate more fully the moments of light & beauty. GOD even gave me a song at one point (HE has actually done that several times, always full blown with words & music) and one of the lines is “this mystery that we call life, can be both a puzzle & a prize; and when the pieces just won’t fit, oh Lord send us Your light”. Without HIM I can do nothing, but through Him I can do all things. I have to speak that over myself regularly. There is such power in speaking His word over ourselves.

    Thank you for sharing & being real. The holidays can be very challenging for me because my mother passed away October 24, 1991. Time has certainly made dealing with the loss easier, but some years things get really stirred up & the pain of the loss becomes fresh again. Her birthday is October 17th, anniversary of death the 24th, then comes Thanksgiving & Christmas. She was a lovely and gracious southern lady who loved to cook & decorate & welcome people into our home. 90 people showed up to visit her the 1st day she was in the hospital (apparently the staff there still talks about this), over 500 people came to the viewing the night before her funeral. Everyone had stories to share of how she had touched their lives in some way. In those moments when I miss her so much & wish she were here to talk with & spend time with, I remind myself of how lucky we were to have her for the time we did; that some people never get to experience the special “mother love” that she gave to my brother, sister & myself; that many people didn’t have the privilege of growing up watching the incredible love my parents had for one another. I choose then to focus on all the good things & list them out in my mind & talk with God about how grateful I am to HIM for these precious gifts. My mom wasn’t famous or wealthy, she wasn’t from a well-known family, or all the things our world tends to focus on. She was simply an average woman who chose to take what God had blessed her with & make her life extraordinary. She chose to reach out to others & make a difference in their lives & leave this world better than it was just by sharing herself.

    I also relate to your singleness. I am 55 and have never been married, and choose to not give up or lose faith that God will send the right man at the right time. I just get frustrated sometimes that His timing is not my timing, and I am sure you can relate. My parents had an awesome marriage and that gave me high standards for what I am looking for. I have also watched so many friends go through bad marriages & relationships, and my sister was in an abusive marriage for 20 years. She is now married to a wonderful man we all adore, who loves her unconditionally & took all 4 of her children into his life as if they are his own. I have seen the good & the bad, and there are worse things than being single. I often have to remind myself of this when I get discouraged. At one point I just completely gave up on my dream of having the life I always wanted & the relationship I have always wanted. I didn’t even realize I had given up hope, until GOD restored it. I was just in a time of “survival mode” in every area of my life: health, finances, job/work, and all the rest. It was such a dark time when I felt buffeted on every side. Every time I would start bouncing back from one wave of attacks, another would come until I was exhausted beyond my strength to bear. Due to the challenges I have faced with my health, I have literally started over again from ground zero 3 different times. Each time I would get back on my feet, get a decent or even good job with good pay & benefits, build my finances back up, get a good place to live & get a beautiful home established, be moving in a good way & “wham” my health would crash again. GOD has really been showing me some patterns HE wants to “bust me loose from” and I am choosing to go through the painful process of allowing Him to do so. I will always choose to allow Him to peel back another layer of the onion & show me areas HE wants to purify & change. It is always painful, but pushing through is always worth it as HE then reveals hidden treasures & gifts He has long wanted to bestow. I can’t trust me, but I can always trust HIM. Part of what is making things possible to be so positive right now is that I can look & see what HE has orchestrated over the past 2-3 years. HE had me move to the city where my sister lives & it has been so good to spend more time with her, and my nieces & nephews & brother-in-law. My sister and I have become even closer and have really helped one another. HE also brought me to a great church with wonderful praise & worship, and introduced me to some great women. One of these is my current roommate and her complete unconditional love & acceptance has helped heal many of the wounds inside me, some I didn’t even realize I had. GOD always brings what we need when we need it. HE has also used me to heal some things in her. Other than my uncle, she is the best roommate I have ever had. I had prayed to GOD for a good roommate and He answered. We have both learned so much & it’s been great for both of us. It is actually helping to prepare me for living with my future husband.

    I finally gave in to pressure from friends & family to try the online dating thing. Wow what an experience, and VERY time consuming let me just say. One thing it did help me do was get much clearer about what I do and do not want in a relationship. I have been praying for many years for all my single girlfriends who would like to meet the right man & get married. Each time one of them gets married, I tell myself I am one step closer to finding mine and that I played a part by praying for them. I will add you to my prayer list. 🙂 Practicing the “attitude of gratitude” really does make a difference.

    Thanks again & many rich blessings to you,

    Desiree