How to Cultivate Gratitude in the Midst of the Mess


The children shoved closer, unbothered by the sticky wet flour-caked countertops.

A familiar wave of anxiety started to rise within me.  This was supposed to be fun. I knew this moment (in theory) was precious, but in that tiny kitchen, the moment didn’t FEEL especially precious. It felt chaotic.  Honestly, it felt a little stressful.

The littles were helping me make surprise cupcakes for daddy’s birthday, but mostly we were making a mess.

In the midst of the madness, I took a couple of pictures to document our day.  The moment captured, a slice of life frozen in time on my iPhone.


Today, as I look back on those memories from 2 years ago with a smile, all I feel is grateful.  Time smooths the rough edges of reality.

It’s hard to be grateful in the midst of the mess.

What if, in the middle of messy moments, we could look past the mess, and look into the memory?  What if we could appreciate the worth, without the passing of time?

Thankfully, with three little ones, I’ve had many opportunities to practice the habit of seeing past the mess into the memory.  Life brings many opportunities to practice gratitude when it’s not my natural go-to response.  I’m learning gratitude is a discipline and habit I can grow in with practice.

I’m learning that  gratitude is possible in the midst of the mess by looking through the mess to the memory.

Cultivating gratitude in the middle of the mess means changing how we see; a change in perspective.   It’s changing HOW we see, and WHAT we see.

Instead of the mess on the hands, it’s seeing the tiny fingers that will never be that small again.

Instead of the sticky countertops, it’s seeing the kitchen where I cook dinner to nourish my family, and the memories we have around the table.

It’s looking at the moment as we will look at it when days have passed, and time has smoothed the sandpaper grit of the present.  It’s intentionally looking for the beauty that we will remember in the middle of every mess.  Sometimes we just need a new way of looking.

This week many of us will make precious memories with loved ones.  But as we gather together, there is mess all around us.  Our country; our world is in a bit of a mess. And really, we’re messy people.

Friends, let me encourage you to not let the negative political atmosphere seep through the cracks of your Thanksgiving celebration.  There is much to divide us, but let’s look through the mess to the memory.   Gratitude has the power to change us, as we fix our eyes on the gifts and the giver of every blessing.

Imagine, if, just for a day, we could see all that is RIGHT.

Imagine, if, we could “Set our minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Col 3:2)

Snap a photo, capture the faces of the family and friends you hold dear.  Without a doubt, someone will look on that photo with a smile – one year, ten years, fifty years down the road.

Even, if just for a day, let’s choose to believe that there is beauty here, in the midst of the mess.

A few favorite of my favorite memories from Thanksgiving past.  When I snapped these, most of these moments were messy, imperfect moments. But there was SO much beauty there. 




I love making Pumpkin Praline Cheesecake on Thanksgiving








2014 with Grandma Cleo – on her last year with us here.


Free Gift 

To help you cultivate gratitude in your hearts and homes this Thanksgiving, I have designed a pdf printable  with 12 Questions to ask around the table this Thanksgiving. Print it out, put the questions in a basket and have each family member draw one.  Then watch and be amazed as God changes your heart through gratitude.    I offer this gift to my email subscribers, to thank you for connecting with me through email.  If you’d like to join my email list and receive this gift, you can enter your information in the sidebar. New subscribers will also receive my Prayer & Gratitude list printables.

To receive the free, full size “12 Questions to Ask This Thanksgiving” pdf, please join my email list, to the right. 




  1. Julie Brown says

    Brooke, this made me cry! I look back and wonder where the years have gone! Bailey is such a teenager, and Brayden is almost to that stinky boy stage. While I am so grateful for the memories we make everyday, it makes me sad to think of all the time I have taken for granted. So happy you are intentionally doing this for yourself and making me start!

    PS-Are we going to pull out of a hat on Thanksgiving? Would be awesome!
    Thankful for you, your insight, and your beautiful family!

    • Brooke Turner says

      I feel the same way, as I often take the moments for granted! I look at these pictures and wonder where the time went! Yes, let’s draw names at Thanksgiving! Love you!