By Lindsey P. Brackett
I passed a church sign today. Give thanks in all circumstances. I use that verse in my debut novel, and when my main character, who’s had her share of tragedy, reads it, she wonders if it’s possible, really, to always give thanks.
Two years ago, our Thanksgiving was marked by similar questions. Two years ago this time was when we first began to suspect something was wrong with our youngest daughter. When we first took her to a doctor and were told we weren’t crazy. When we first realized this might be the beginning of the end.
Or the end of the beginning.
During those first six weeks of tests and blood draws and hospital stays and tears cried until my throat was raw and my knees burned from the carpet at the alter, I could not give thanks. I could not find a way to see gratitude because I was blinded by fear.
And then one day, I did.
I stood in the cold hallway of a children’s hospital and watched a man, a father of a child much smaller than mine, ask the nurse for toothpaste. They had left with almost nothing and found themselves confined to the neurology floor of a place where people spoke in whispers and used words parents are not always equipped to understand.
He caught my eye, this man who shared my fear, and he smiled. I had dirty hair and red-rimmed eyes and hands that shook around my coffee; I had no smile for anyone.
But he had one for me.
I began to make a list, Ann Voskamp style. A daily list of random acts of gratitude, of ways I still felt loved even when they sent us home and the neurologist called two days later and had us come back.
Someone brought us dinner. Gift cards came in the mail. My editor gave grace on a deadline, and so many other mamas stepped in for our three other children. The day we went across the state line to the Birmingham specialist, my husband’s truck broke down. The receptionist at the mechanic shop drove us to our appointment—and she picked us up.
Give thanks in all circumstances. It’s the only way to live thanksgiving, really. We gather around these feast-filled tables one day out of every year, but in reality, we should give the same thanks over the bowl of soup or peanut butter sandwich that graces our plates the rest of the time.
If we can give thanks in the bounty, we must also give it in the meager. If we can give thanks for the new home, better car, bigger paycheck—then we must also give it for the diagnosis and the doctors and the anxiety. Eventually, grace always overcomes. Just watch and you’ll see.
Somewhere in those darkest moments, those worst of times, there will be goodness, there will be kindness, there will be faithfulness. Give thanks in all circumstances—perhaps, especially, in ones that bring us fear.
Award-winning writer Lindsey P. Brackett once taught middle grades literature, but now she writes her own works in the midst of motherhood. A blogger since 2010, she has published articles and short stories in a variety of print and online publications including Thriving Family, Country Extra, HomeLife, Northeast Georgia Living, Splickety Magazine, Spark Magazine, and Southern Writers Magazine.
In both 2015 and 2017, she placed in the top ten for Southern Writers Magazine Best Short Fiction. Previously, Lindsey served as Editor of Web Content for the Splickety Publishing Group, and currently she is a general editor with Firefly Southern Fiction, an imprint of LPC Books. In addition, she writes a popular column for several North Georgia newspapers.
Still Waters, influenced by her family ties to the South Carolina Lowcountry, is her debut novel. A story about the power of family and forgiveness, it’s been called “a brilliant debut” with “exquisite writing.” A Georgia native, Lindsey makes her home—full of wet towels, lost library books, and strong coffee—at the foothills of Appalachia with her patient husband and their four rowdy children.
Cora Anne Halloway has a history degree and a plan—avoid her own past despite being waitlisted for graduate school. Then her beloved grandmother requests—and her dispassionate mother insists—she spend the summer at Still Waters, the family cottage on Edisto Beach.
Despite its picturesque setting, Still Waters haunts her with loss. Here her grandfather died, her parents’ marriage disintegrated, and as a child, she caused a tragic drowning. But lingering among the oak canopies and gentle tides, this place also tempts her with forgiveness—especially since Nan hired Tennessee Watson to oversee cottage repairs. A local contractor, but dedicated to the Island’s preservation from development, Tennessee offers her friendship and more, if she can move beyond her guilt over his father’s death.
When the family reunion brings to light Nan’s failing health, Cora Anne discovers how far Tennessee will go to protect her—and Edisto—from more desolation. Now she must choose between a life driven by guilt, or one washed clean by the tides of grace.