About the Author

Michele Morin is a wife, mum, and Bible teacher with a passion to see women become committed followers of Christ and inspired students of God’s Word.

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  1. Oh gosh, Michele… What a day! I can just see it. But you are such a determined woman, and I know that was burgeoning even back then! Emmanuel, even then.

  2. Michele,
    So wonderful to be reading your post here this am sweet friend. Even in lament (which I agree we have lost the art of embracing) , we are to give thanks “In” all things. Even in the broken places in our lives and relationships, God honors our broken hallelujah. I believe our thanks is even sweeter to His ears when we are not in the zone where all is fine and dandy. We must look deep to give thanks when sickness, pain, suffering, and trials are at our doorstep. I love this line: ” Until Jesus comes, it will be this longing and this feasting that keeps my heart’s sonar trolling for kingdom shalom.” You have a wonderful way of weaving words that express our souls deepest desires. Trolling with you my friend….beautiful post and may you have a blessed thanksgiving!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

  3. This is holiday time. Well put, Michele. As you get older there is always that sadness that some have gone on. But all our expectations will disappoint somehow. Yet we still give thanks. Thank you!

    • The empty chairs multiply don’t they? I’m working on my Christmas card list and finding that I just can’t cross out or delete anyone, but just leave the names there as a reminder to give thanks for what was.
      It’s always good to hear your voice, Diane. Thanks for reading.

  4. Yes, most all of us who gather with you here will be living out that sadness / gratitude push /pull in some way this season.

    You have captured that stark reality mixed with the peaceful grace of it all, Michele. I am grateful to sit with your words this morning in the midst of my own heartbreaking family upheavals.

    And somehow, I’m finding Him whispering peace in the craziness of it all …

    Blessings to you as you celebrate with your tribe.

    • The “push/pull” is an apt description of what we feel, and I’m so grateful for your testimony of peace within the crazy upheaval. This is the most amazing of gifts that come with the following life.
      Thanksgiving blessings to you and yours!

  5. What a treat to read your words here this morning!
    I love the bold contrast of your words. Lament and Thanksgiving do not usually go together but you show us through your story how it’s possible.
    Thank you for giving us reasons to celebrate and give thanks even in our disappointment. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • I remember being shattered and surprised by the collision of sadness and celebration on that long-ago Thanksgiving, and it’s happened a few times since then: a diagnosis that sent a friend quickly to heaven; disappointing outcomes and dead ends. The surprise felt like a bubble of protection bursting and God telling me to grow up and trust Him for the challenges I’d been reading about in the New Testament.
      I know you’ve experienced this as well, and I am always encouraged when I read about your journey of faith.

  6. A beautiful celebration of all the aspects of love and loss that we each encounter through the seasons of our journey here.
    Recognizing the hand of God in the working it all together for His Glory and our ultimate good. May our hearts be turned more and more toward Him in praise, for He is worthy.

    • Martha, I feel as if I’ve read a psalm here with your words like an arrow, pointing toward the goodness of God. Our thanks and praise are certainly a right response to all He is!
      Blessings to you!

  7. Michelle,
    You have written a beautiful post about our need to lean in to God when things we hoped for don’t look like we thought they would. So often we pull away from the only One who is in control of the unexpected events that come.

    I loved your line “I will give thanks for the forgiveness that lubricates our relational gears…” such a wise practice that will transform our Thanksgivings if we lean in to God and hear His perspective. He endured the cross and the shame, so that we would be able to give thanks from redeemed hearts.
    God bless you for this post and the example your life is to all who know you.

    Happy Imperfect Thanksgiving!
    Debi

    PS I’m featuring this on our blog. ♥️

    • Thank you, Debi, for sharing my story with your readers. I’m blessed!
      And certainly our lives would be a wasteland without the grace of forgiveness. It’s so easy to fall into a pattern of being hard on the people who sit around our tables, but when we remember the grace we’ve received, our hearts are pushed in the direction of mercy and forgiveness.
      And may your own Imperfect Celebration be a blessing to all who gather with you!

  8. God’s record of His people’s laments in Scripture paints a picture of His love and care for our deepest sorrows. Every holiday contains some lament as I see the empty places-my daughter, my dad, and this year, my mom. But there is also joy peace, and hope, knowing they are with Christ. Thank you for your thoughtful words.

    • Debbie, my heart goes out to you with those three empty chairs. We do need inspired words to guide our own hearts into the right-ness of lament in a world in which the people we love become inaccessible to us for a season. Your comment reminds me to be grateful that the present reality is not all there is, and God has plans for our eternal good that are beyond our ability to comprehend.

    • Thanks, Kristin!
      I can remember, in the moment, in my little cute sweater and my jeans which may or may not have been acid washed (cringe), I could barely see beyond the disappointment and futility. Looking back on this kind of memory gives me hope in present-day occasions for discouragement. God wastes nothing, and His lessons are always administered with love.

  9. I’m writing this comment through the blur of tears, Michele. What a blessing to read these words this morning, my friend. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  10. Thank~you for sharing this heartfelt message from your journey, & one that so many of us have either been traveling or may someday. Personally speaking, my heart’s felt anguished over the realization that ~ just as you stated ~ there lies now 3 empty seats… the absence of my Beloved Parents, & now my only Sister … even if I had a thousand, she is irreplaceable. Before they left us all, I suffered many losses in pregnancy, yet, know someday we’ll hold these PreciousBabies in our Loving arms & that for now, until that Glorious Reunion day comes, they all are being Lovingly embraced by our AbbaFather … HEmakes all things new, including those we’ve lost here from the horrible effects of dementia, cancer, & more…HErestores to complete newness with His Loving Touch! Both my Parents had dementia – Mom has Lewy Body, whereas Dad had Vascular, & my beautiful Sister valiantly battled as well, only against the ravages of cancer. I miss them more than words give justice to, yet, know ~ like our dear friend shared after losing Mom~ in the twinkling of an eye we’ll be together again. So, we can join hands & with grateful appreciation take that moment at our Thanksgiving time gatherings to reflect,l with such deeply grateful hearts, for those we’ve so deeply Loved& miss…while beholding with such equal hearts of gratitude those who are still right before our very eyes to give Himthanks for…& we most certainly do! We know HE, too, fills a seat at our table & promises to both sup with us, as well as, walk with us through our entire journey both here & forevermore!

    • Mary-Alice, your words of faith and your determination to trust God’s motives even in the pain of loss increase my own faith. Thanks for sharing some of your story here in this space today!

    • I too have deep sadness and brokenness of loss. First, my brother who died of cancer in 2001, my mom who died of heartfailure in 2004 and my dad who had dementia and my sister put him in a memory home where he didn’t lost but for three months and broke his him in 2015. He died New Year’s Eve 2015. This Thanksgiving there is bitterness, many many tears and broken relationships. I have suffered and cried everyday since Dad died and even before. I feel so distant from God and I don’t want to be distant but I don’t know how to make my way back to him. I try oh I try. The tears will just not stop flowing even in stores. God please help me!

      • Oh, Lord, I know you hear Trisha’s heart, and I pray for healing to reach her innermost parts in the days ahead. Please grant peace to her days, and help her to let the tears come without fear or shame as she mourns years of accumulated sadness and loss. Remind her through your very own Words that you are close by, and help her to live her way forward into a new thing, a fresh awareness of all that you want to do for her and in her. Give her grace and courage to envision a future with you at the center as she releases bitterness in favor of forgiveness and mercy and welcome. Thank you, Lord, that this dear sister was led to this gathering place, and may she continue to read and grow and find comfort in this fellowship of women.

  11. Michele, this.is.so.good. We must embrace the lament of our hearts. Our table is always missing someone – a living someone who cannot or will not come. It makes this mother’s heart sad but … Love you and love your words.

    • Thank you for sharing your heart, Susan. I’m so sorry for your sadness and will continue to uphold you and your loved ones in prayer for redemption and reconciliation.

  12. Michele,
    This was so touching, and beautifully spoken, thank-you so much for sharing with us today.
    To quote the Reverend from my Grandmother’s service (years ago),”Remember with gratitude.”
    Blessings to all,
    Penny

    • Oh, that’s so rich and memorable: “Remember with gratitude.”
      Gratitude puts its very own spin on every memory. So glad you shared that wonderful quotation of wise words, Penny.

    • And, of course, we need supernatural enablement to do that, and I’m grateful that God stands ready to hold our hand through the sadness and then to remain there at the door alongside us, making us brave.
      Blessings to you, Lynne.

  13. Thank you Michele for this. Thanksgiving always brings mixed joy and pain for our family. It marks the 20th year this year we lost my beloved sister, Judy, and so many other losses. But it gives us great joy in the family we do have. I feel so blessed to call your family part of my extended one! I am ever grateful for you all in my life. <3

    • Your words are so wise: shared losses do bind us together — and the joys do seem sweeter because of them.
      I can’t begin to tell you how thankful I have been for your part in our family’s story. Woven in and much-loved, you are a treasure!

  14. The yin and yang. Thanksgiving and lament. When we see what could have been we are compelled to give thanks. A pleasure to see you here today.

    • Nylse, you’re so wise in remembering that we need both. I’m afraid that in many ways, the church here in North America has forgotten the role of lament in riding through the hard seasons and appreciating the good.
      Blessings to you, my friend!

  15. Ah, Michele, this post very much touches my heart. I could feel what it was like to live out that day with you. I am thinking about those empty chairs as well and wrote about that today. I am also watching our adult children as they (and we) face yet another transition around this holiday (and Christmas in a month). We will actually have Thanksgiving dinner with our son and his family on Friday afternoon to accommodate their oldest (our oldest granddaughter) who is a new RN and working nights at the hospital much of this week. She has popped in and out between shifts, but it isn’t the same as when she was in college a year ago. Her brother just arrived home from college last night and is clearly more involved with college relationships.

    Saturday we will start the long trek from our son’s in TN to our daughter’s in MD to be there on Sunday for a second Thanksgiving to welcome home their oldest (our oldest grandson) who returns from a semester abroad in Chile very early that morning. Their lives are racing ahead as he begins to explore medical school options in a few months as he will finish his junior year of college.

    When my parents were alive, this was the big holiday celebration of the year replete with many traditions everyone still talks about. I am not sure there will be any traditions in our family that go on in that way for that length of time with distances and occupations that pull everyone differently. It causes us to be thankful for any times we get together and this year our whole family will not be able to get together for Thanksgiving or Christmas and we will do a great deal of driving to see them all AND be thankful we are able to do so!

    Have a blessed Thanksgiving, my friend!

    • You have twice as many layers of commitments and schedule challenges as I do currently, so your holiday plans are both inspiring and instructive to me. One of the revelations that has come to me in recent years is that the older my kids get, the more complicated life becomes — more people to consider, a wider scope of complexity, and a more complicated web of communication! I’m cherishing these years with tiny grandchildren who, currently, have no schedule of their own. 🙂
      Safe travels and many blessings to you as you connect with all your people!

  16. Thank you for this beautiful post today. I think one of the hardest thing to do at holidays is “look at the empty seat” and feel gratitude or joy. Your reminder to relish the lament and the feast is wise. Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

    • It’s an act of faith, isn’t it, Heather. We trust that what God says about eternity is true, and so we consciously choose not to put all our eggs into the basket of the here and now. And it does occur to me that we’re safe in voicing our lament to God because He is infinitely patient with our feelings and even with our sin.
      Blessings to you as well!

  17. The message at the church we visited on Sunday was an overview of the book of Lamentations. 🙂 I think sometimes we hold lament at arm’s length because we don’t want to sound like we’re complaining. But that’s a different thing from honestly acknowledging pain, dashed hopes, failures, losses – the Psalms are full of the latter. And I have learned, too, that a smiley, stiff upper lip, “everything’s fine all the time” demeanor is less than authentic – and less than helpful. Thank God we have hope in Him even through lamentations. Thanks for this lovely piece – not only in message, but there are some nicely crafted sentences throughout! 🙂

    • Wow, good point, Barbara, because our stiff upper lip can be a real conversation stopper. If we insist upon being opaque with our feelings, others will feel as if masks are the only acceptable apparel in our company. I’ve loved studying Lamentations because I appreciate the intensely curated structure of the book that climaxes in an affirmation of God’s faithfulness. God infused faith to Jeremiah’s howling heart in spite of all evidence to the contrary — in the space of only a few verses he goes from gravel in the teeth to new mercies every morning. That’s an amazing work of God!

  18. I beautiful post, indeed, Michele. Appreciated your wise words: “Our feasting can be deeply sincere, even in a context of deep suffering or deep disappointment.” Yes, we lament, but without celebration, our souls wither into despair. I also want to remember your parting words: “for the cords of grace that hold our hearts in joy.” Oh, praise God for that too. Thank you, Michele!

    • I’m experiencing those cords of grace this weekend as family gathers, as my husband and kids love me “warts and all,” and as we open our hearts to receive guests tomorrow. So much joy, and so much to be thankful for. I’m grateful for your words of encouragement as well, Nancy. Thanks for reading.

  19. rich and beautiful and true. my sister texted today – so sad not to have a large table filled w/ married kids all far away. I’ll share this with her and w/ others. you are a dear and wise and talented. may tomorrow ring w/ joy and the laughter of your sons. love, sue

    • Hoping along with you that words of hope will be healing to your sister’s lonely heart — I’m sure your listening ear was comfort and spelled love. Thank you for your kind words — I can actually identify a tiny bit with your sister as this will be my first holiday without all four sons around the table. Two will be celebrating with in-laws and so it gives me joy to know their laughter will be gracing another space, and I’m thankful for the feasting and the laughter here. We’ve filled the seats and will have full hearts as well.
      Blessings to you and the man in plaid!

  20. Michele, this is beautiful! “By acknowledging and even embracing lament — an art we have lost here in North America — our celebration can be restored.” I wholeheartedly agree with you here. We have forgotten how to lament, but it’s a necessary part of worship.

    Blessings to you! xo

    • I know you are familiar with the music of Michael Card, and he expresses all this so beautifully — and has been instrumental in forming my thinking about this. The psalms and the writings of the prophets give us words for lament when we cannot find our own.
      Gayl, thank you for your friendship. I hope your Thanksgiving celebration was boisterous and blessed!

  21. Oh, Michele. Yes, through tears, to every wise and beautiful word here. I was going to paste a favorite part but cannot pick one. Sharing and saving and sending to friends who, like me, are both celebrating and lamenting today. Bless you.

    • You’re adding to my gratitude on this glorious day with your kind comment and I can’t begin to tell you how humbling it is to hear that words written from my heart have touched yours as well.
      Thank you, Elizabeth, for your friendship and the collegiality we share in this mothering and blogging and believing life.

  22. Happy Thanksgiving Michelle. I know about the haze of disappointment that hangs in the air, the thickness of illness, and irritated relatives ready to leave. I always made good plans, they didn’t always work out. Thankfully, His does. Most people leave off the first part of that verse, not to sorrow. Jesus was a man of sorrow and I believe He took it for our joy. So this Thanksgiving, even though it’s not I planned, it’s like He planned, no haze, no disappointment, I have seen the miraculous. He is welcome at my table.

    • Wow, that last sentence: welcoming Jesus into our mess (or into our beautifully curated celebration even!) makes all the difference in the world because the it swings the focus away from us. When I forget to do that, everything becomes all about me — which cannot help but lead to disappointment.
      So glad you found your way here, Rebecca, and that you’ve added your helpful thinking to this conversation.

  23. I love this post, Michele. It’s so packed with truth and understanding of the broken world in which we live. We have had a number of years with a breach in the family. It has broken my heart to see the missed milestones of cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. But this year, God moved and brought great reconciliation! I’m praising Him, but I know there will be other breaches and other hurts. They are a part of life. And there were still some empty chairs, partly because of distance and circumstances, but partly because all is not as it will be one day when our hallelujahs are no longer broken.

    • So happy to hear about the healing of the breach in your family, and you are so wise to hold this close to your heart alongside the realization that perfect reconciliation and peace is a future gift, and one that we will not see in this lifetime. In the meantime, let’s savor the hallelujah moments, however broken. I’m thankful, Donna, for your fellowship in this journey.

  24. MIchele,

    So great to read your writing here this day. My Thanksgiving 2017 is similar to your post. It started Monday after I shopped for all stuff I would need to cook both for my hubby & in-laws. I was going to make 2 meals. Monday night my mother-in-law called to say she might have to take father-in law to hospital. Sure enough Tuesday she took him to ER & well she ended up in ER also. She was much worse off than he. Tuesday night (cooking night) I spent in ER with her and checked on him in his room. Wednesday night we got a call & they transferred my mother in law to a bigger hospital-something to do with heart. Good news is father in law got to come home Thursday. I found out that my mother in law is having a heart cath on Saturday. She also has a UTI that went septic. Fortunately it isn’t growing any more.

    My dear sweet hubby had to work Thanksgiving, hospitals never shut down. Wednesday night after work I came home & whipped up our meal. We both enjoyed it. God is wonderful. My pastor’s wife had invited me over for dinner on Thanksgiving & I texted her the long story & she said come on. I got to eat with fellow church friends who didn’t have another place to go. There were 7 of us there. Good food, great friendship. On top of all that I got a nasty cold.

    I am grateful for friendships, family & being able to help my sweet hubby out! God is awesome & I am thankful always for my many blessings 🙂

    Blessings my friend :_)

    • My head is spinning, Beth! What a tumultuous time, but your spirit is inspiring to me!
      Blessings to you as you enjoy the remainder of the weekend, and I’m thankful that your in-laws are both stable again.
      Our stories are remarkably alike, and I’m thankful to have been able to share mine so that I could hear yours!

  25. Michele, love this post…especially this…”Until Jesus comes, it will be this longing and this feasting that keeps my heart’s sonar trolling for kingdom shalom.” Amen, amen! Many blessings to you ❤️

    • I’m feeling that “trolling” especially during these days of “not quite Advent” coming hard on the heels of a season of gratitude. It’s so good to have these interim days to get our hearts ready to celebrate Jesus’ birth while the practice of giving thanks is still close at hand.
      You’re always a blessing, Beth!

  26. I guess we could even say they are Siamese twins, because they definitely move together.
    Thanks, Andrew, for your input, always insightful and very welcome.

  27. What a memory, Michele! It must have been precious to Ma to have you there, preparing and sharing that feast- and the many after! And a what a blessing that God’s gifts are as good in our disappointments and troubles. Your words are as beautiful and helpful as ever, thank you!

    • I’m so thankful for all the opportunities we were given after that day to give to Ma and to celebrate with her. Selfishly, I believe the ten years God gave us with her were a special gift to me so that I could have a mother-in-law to love. And now, as a mother-in-law in training, I am thankful for her loving example!

  28. Imperfect gatherings. You hit it right on Michele! This is something I’m coming to grips with as well, and our Father, in His grace, is helping me with this battle! 🙂

    • It’s hard to let go of that image of perfection, but so often when we do we find that God has something more suited to us and will use the sharp edge of that longing to change us in some crucial way. I’m thankful that you are finding grace to move through the transitions with a peaceful heart!

  29. It is probably exactly what I needed to hear, imperfect gatherings. Reminds me of the year on Christmas when my mother was ill and taken to hospital on Christmas morning (also my sisters birthday) and my sister in law ranted about how ‘her’ Christmas had been ruined, I was just so grateful my mother was alive, her battle went on, she became so ill she lost her memory, her ability to walk, her use of one arm. Slowly she recovered and now by a miracle she is walking again and I can never express what it meant the day she remembered who I was, the first thing she said to me was ‘why do you look like me?’ Anyway I am going off topic, but just to have those we love is a blessing. #mg

  30. Mackenzie, I don’t think you were “off topic” at all, because it’s the connection with our loved ones we crave, and when it’s interrupted in ways we don’t expect, it really hurts. This is the longing and the lament of our hearts during a time when we have the unrealistic expectation that “all manner of things shall be most well.” Your sister was very “Out” with her feelings, while your concern for your mum took all your attention.
    I’m so glad to hear that she’s doing better — and what a gift to have her recognizing you once again. I had no idea that all this was part of your story, and I’m so glad you shared it here for the good of others.
    Blessings to you!

  31. This post is absolutely amazing Michele and it struck such a cord with me. I have gone through two very difficult Thanksgivings but I’m praising God that the Holidays don’t always have to be as we pictured. He does some amazing things in the messy. I’m featuring your post on my blog for this week’s Salt & Light Linkup. Thank you for sharing!

    • It’s always so encouraging to know that words written from my own experience have landed with grace on another woman’s life. I’m sorry for the sadness that has permeated Thanksgiving for you, but thankful that you seem to be coming into the Christmas celebration with clear-eyed perspective on the gift of messiness.
      Blessings to you!

  32. I’m reading this after Thanksgiving, after celebrating my less-than perfect day, and this is just so beautiful and really spoke to my heart. Thank you!

    • Isn’t it just a gift to look back on an occasion and to find grace — retroactive grace! — to say “thank you” even if nothing went the way we planned?
      I’m thankful for your kind words, today, Barbie!

  33. Childhood Thanksgiving celebrations were full of food and fun. I miss those days when the tables were as full as our hearts. But those missing seats leave a gap. Making these words breathe life into those empty places: “Thanksgiving Day serves as an annual reminder that we live with one foot in celebration and the other in lament.” Thank you, Michele!

    • Yes, the empty chairs are a challenge. And this planet seems to become emptier every year, doesn’t it?
      I’m thankful for the grace God provides and the perspective that heaven gives us. In the meantime, God meets us in our places of lament, bringing to us the gift of Himself.
      So glad you were here, Crystal.