CityLine Women — Volume 20

CityLine Bible Church   -  


A couple of weeks ago, a childhood friend of mine posted an Instagram story of herself and her husband out for breakfast on a weekday morning. Her caption read: “Being grateful for the life we’ve been given.”

Though it sounds like a garden variety #blessed post, some of us who’d seen it knew that, just several days prior, she had experienced a trauma that could have been a life-changing tragedy for her family. While driving home one afternoon, her husband was struck by another driver. The impact flipped and totaled their car, but, despite the severity of the incident, her husband crawled out from under the car with just a few scrapes and cuts. What’s even more harrowing is that their children were originally meant to be in the car with him–a grim reminder of this appears in the accident photos with two upturned kids’ meal buckets in plain view just under the rear end of the car.

In contrast, another dear friend is about to experience her first Thanksgiving and Christmas season without her mom, who passed away earlier this year. The two of them hadn’t always had the easiest relationship, but in the last couple of decades, they’d become the best of friends, and she’d become her mother’s caretaker in the final years.

With these two situations rolling around in my head, slipping through my lips in prayer with very different emotions, I came across a line in a blog–I didn’t read the entire piece–that commented that Thanksgiving is a reminder that we spend our lives with one foot in celebration, and the other in lament.

This led me to consider the following passage:

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

While I love the simplicity of the traditional Thanksgiving holiday—which is basically not much more than time off to be thankful with loved ones while sharing a meal—I realized that I often bring complications to this moment.

Maybe you can relate.

Between focusing on the fuss of whatever celebration our family is taking part in that year, trying to convince my kids that “it’s just fine to enjoy a holiday without presents!” and generally feeling a bit guilty that I’m not more thankful more often, I’m usually thinking, “I’ll get this right next year.”

And this go-round is no exception. Because while, undoubtedly, an endless list of gratitudes runs through my head, I’ve also got my share of lament. For example, a business that I started in the spring isn’t quite where I want it to be. I hold regret about a few relationships that I didn’t put as much work into as I had planned. Finally, and most pressing, is that I’m seeing the health of one of my own parents declining, and I’m coming to terms with the fact that every day is bringing me closer to that inevitable separation.

As the Lord would have it—as is always the case—all of these things swirling about in my life have come together to a realization that Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be 100%.

I can be grateful and sad at the same time. I can give thanks in disappointment. I can come to the Lord from exactly where I am, be honest that I’m not fully happy with every single thing, and offer gratitude and praise despite that—and He accepts it. The internal wrestling match between contentment and mourning that goes on inside every day is constant—and God knows about it.

“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever:

1 Chronicles 16:34

So this Thanksgiving, maybe you’ll join me in just being grateful. Maybe not for everything, but in everything, like the verse says. I’m not telling you that gratitude will obliterate all the pain, suffering, and disappointment in our lives—and neither is the Lord. But all those things can co-exist, and we can praise our all-knowing Father God to care for all the thankful and not-so-thankful parts of ourselves.


Heavenly Father,

We come to you this Thanksgiving season with hearts that are broken, in one way or another. Our lives are littered with pain, regret, and mourning. We thank you for accepting our imperfect thanks and for knowing our hurt. Fill our hearts with gratitude as we acknowledge that every good and perfect gift comes from you. We thank you for the lives we’ve been given.

In Jesus’ name,



Jessica Canlas

About the Writer

Jessica enjoys the gifts of family and Jesus. Born in Manila, she lives in Chicago with her husband, Philip, who hails from Ireland, and their two kids. She loves to write and work out with people. Her favorite letter is W.

Serving Opportunities

As CityLine Women, it’s important to us not only to grow personally in our walks with God, but also to be the hands and feet of Jesus outside of our local, church community. Here are three serving opportunities you can take advantage of:

  1. AWANA is a volunteer-run program for children starting at age 3 all the way up through 5th grade. The club meets at 6:30-8 pm on Wednesdays and is made possible by dedicated and faithful leaders like you! This is a perfect opportunity to serve families within CityLine and the surrounding community.
  2. We are collecting items for Rose of Sharon at the women’s breakfast on Jan. 28. View the list of requested items online.
  3. SPA Women’s Ministry Homes.

If you are interested in any of these opportunities, please contact Frances Jimenez.

Community Groups

Join a Women’s Community Group today and be part of Bible study, fellowship, accountability, and fun!

Ministry Needs

If you have the heart to serve women and are interested in joining our women’s ministry events/hospitality team, we would love to connect with you.

If you have a gift in the fine arts (painting, spoken word, dance, writing, etc.), we would love to hear from you.