Gratitude in the Ugly Beautiful {Miss November}

November 25, 2013

James 1:7 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, from the Father of lights.” I finished Beth Moore’s study of the book of James this past Fall and He taught me so much through that short book. One of the main things that kept coming to mind this year as He has taught me much about gratitude (see previous guest post) is this verse. Every. Gift. Sometimes, it’s easy to see those gifts or as most in Mississippi would easily call “blessings”. We are thankful for the rain, for the cooler temperatures, for our team’s win on Friday or Saturday night, for the gathering of family, etc, etc, etc. Especially during this time of year, it seems everyone wants to talk about the blessings that you have around you. Today, though, I’d like to talk about the other blessings, the rest of those good & perfect gifts – that often don’t get recognition as such. They are normally shown much less gratitude!


In Ann Voscamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts, she uses the term “the ugly beautiful”. Do you know what she’s talking about? Those moments, the gifts, the blessings, that at first glance just seem dark and ugly – the ones that make us cry instead of smile? The times where, it feels like nothing else could possibly go wrong, or you wonder why THIS is happening to you? The challenge lies in finding what you can be thankful for, what you can show gratitude for in the midst of the darkness. When you are right in the middle of an ugly moment – can you find the beautiful part of it?


While I do always like a challenge and at times it can be fun, it’s often hard to find this “ugly beautiful”, but I have been reminded over and over by my Savior that He “works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes” (Rom 8:28). I did a blog a while back on the practicality of thankfulness in which I shared some of those “ugly beautiful” moments, but be assured those are not all of them. Life is hard friends, we live in a fallen world. However, there is something truly miraculous about looking for & expecting to find our God at work within every moment. He is the source of hope in every day – not just ones of despair. Finding Him and where He is working is something that deserves our gratitude whether the gift is easy to find or it’s one we have to search for.


Isn’t it just like Him to teach me this first hand as I was in the process of typing this post? Back in September (yes, I tend to write things in advance), I started having pains with my pregnancy. The local doctor in my town – (note there is nothing advanced or 1st world about our medical care here) – believed it to be early contractions and suggested bed rest. After a week of this going on, something changed and I knew I needed to get to the capital (the best place for medical on the island). This in and of itself is not a simple feat. The capital is 16 hours away so it meant a plane ride, leaving Ryleigh at home with Steve (who at the moment was in the bush), and did I mention we were in the middle of moving houses?!?!


Upon arriving in the capital, I received two different diagnoses – from the two best doctors here – until on the 3rd day that I was there, they arrived at the same conclusion after some blood tests were done. I had a severe infection that was creating the symptoms of contractions, Lyllian was doing fine, I was not in danger of pre-term labor, and I had to get the infection under control immediately. It was a whirlwind week to say the least.

There were tears.

Tears over the unknown, over wondering if these doctors were qualified to be making these diagnoses, over missing my husband & baby girl, and over not knowing when I’d be back home.

In the midst of it all, there were other tears too.

Tears that came: from the joy of knowing that Lyllian was doing well and was healthy, from the hundreds of FB posts & emails we got saying people were praying and sharing scripture with us, from the relief that the capital of our 3rd world country did have the capacity to figure out some things via medical tests, and the list could go on.


There was much to be thankful for in the midst of a situation that I didn’t feel like being thankful. He was faithful to show me all of the ways His grace was moving around me and when I took the time to open my eyes to it, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. Thankful this month, and every month, for the ugly things that He makes beautiful.


*Read more from Nickolee at On the Journey.

Emily White November 25, 2013 at 11:46 am

Absolutely LOVE Ann Voscamp’s One Thousand Gifts! Beautiful post!

Cindy Shirley January 6, 2014 at 4:12 am

I have just been introduced to the Madagascar mission website that you are working through. After reading some of your blogs, I have become very interested in your work. Where are you from originally?

My family, located in a rural area of MS, has participated on several short-term mission projects, both in the US and abroad. We have a heart for missions, but have not felt The Lord calling us to be full-time missionaries…yet. In addition, I teach students with special needs, so I was very interested in your sign language Bible storying. Please share with me how you teach the Bible using signs.

nickolee June 24, 2014 at 3:18 am

I’m so sorry that I’m just now seeing this – if you get this reply please email me at thanks!

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