For When You Don’t Know Where to Turn

You’re reading Week 3 in the series Hearts Undaunted, an exploration on living a life free from overwhelming fear, anxiety, discouragement and worthlessness. You can read the previous posts in the series by clicking on the links below:

—My dear friends, I hesitate to share this post, but I do so in hopes that it may lessen even one person’s pain. I wrote it this weekend. This morning, I awoke to a phone call informing me of a friend’s personal tragedy. Will you please pray for the O’Rourke family: Amy, Eileen, Mary, Andrea, and Stephen? Their father/husband Patrick, a police officer, was killed in the line of duty. They are relying on the power of prayer.—

“When you’re desperate to know what God wants you to do, when you’ve surrendered everything to Him and need His direction, but you hear nothing…What do you do?” 

She paused. Acknowledged the struggle. And then, with wise counsel, Andrea responded:

“You praise Him.”

I didn’t understand it until then.  Years ago, a friend explained her own stress: their van died, leaving the family of eight with no transportation.

But she was smiling.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “We’re just praising God anyway! He’ll provide for us.”

Your van just broke down, and you’re praising God, I thought. Why? No transportation in not a good thing.

I was baffled.

But hearing Andrea say those words? I got it.

I had centered my focus on my problem. The worry of it consumed me.

It was like childbirth: the more I focused on how much it hurt, the worse it hurt.

What if I turned my attention somewhere else?

Like up.

All those qualities of God we named a few weeks ago? The ones that are true yesterday, today, and tomorrow? There’s my praise material:

“Heavenly Father, I praise You for Your infinite goodness. I praise You that you are faithful! That You are merciful. That You love deeply and perfectly. That You provide and protect.”

Our God is a mighty God! What with his business of creation, sea-parting, and a little thing called salvation…I think He can handle my problem.

I need to look up, not in front of me.

Then my fear, my anxiety, my paralysis, my striving…it dissipates.

 I will extol the Lord at all times;
His praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
Let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt His name together
–Psalm 34:1-3, emphasis added

Whether it’s a broken down van, a where-do-I-send-my-children-to-school decision, a job loss, anything, praise Him!

We try to begin our school days with praise music. It’s just fun that way:

The cousin of praise is just as important.

Meet Thanksgiving.

Heart Verse:
It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night…For you make me glad by your deeds, O LORD; I sing for joy at. the works of your hands.”
–Psalm 92: 1-2, 4

I don’t exaggerate when I say that Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts changed my life. It took the notion of being thankful from head knowledge (Yeah, it’s good to be thankful, especially to God) to heart fuel (This is how to have union with God.)

I have a choice. In everything. I can complain. Rail against injustice. Dwell in anger. Cling to pain.


I can see what He gives. Which is the same thing as saying that I see how He loves. That I walk with Him. And have joy.

I look up, and I see His glory. I thank Him, and He cultivates joy in my heart. I receive joy, and it fills me to bless others. The grace that enters into life is astounding.

Eucharisteo [thanksgiving] always, always precedes the miracle.”
One Thousand Gifts, page 72

Literally counting my gifts worked for me. As in putting ink to paper and, later, keystroke to cyber space.
Post-its might work for you. Or a photo treasure hunt. 
Whatever shifts your focus from the struggle to the Savior, do it, friend!

Shortly after finishing One Thousand Gifts, I had a strong desire to know what my church had to say about thanksgiving. Yes, it is surely important, but how important?

I began searching, and my written studies yielded much. However, what I heard as I listened carefully at Mass stopped me cold:

Priest: Lift up your hearts.
Response: We lift them up to the Lord.
Priest: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
Response: It is right and just.

Priest: It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.

Our duty and salvation? Thanksgiving is our duty and salvation!

This prayer takes place just before the reception of the Eucharist. Eucharisteo, as in the Greek word for thanksgiving.
Amen. I hear you, Lord!
Heart Questions:
1. What struggle is shifting your focus from God?
2. Which qualities of God speak to you? Praise Him for these attributes.
3. How might beginning to cultivate an attitude of thanksgiving transform your present situation?

Heart Challenges:
1. Write a prayer of praise to use especially in times of strife. Post it where you can see it often.
2. Pick a specific way to cultivate an attitude of thanksgiving. Whether it is in daily prayer, a weekly list, a photo shoot, or something completely different, start today!

What are you thankful for? Do you find it hard to praise God? Let’s chat about these or whatever is on your heart. The comments are open, as is my email: mandy (dot) mianecki (at) gmail (dot) com.



  1. May I humbly offer Isaiah 35 for looking up, for praise, thanksgiving & comfort. My heart hurts so for Amy, Eileen, Mary, Andrea & Stephen. Prayers for all…

  2. Amen Mandy. I especially loved this, “It took the notion of being thankful from head knowledge (Yeah, it’s good to be thankful, especially to God) to heart fuel (This is how to have union with God.)”
    I loved the “heart fuel”. My prayers will continue for them. It’s awful.

  3. Another great post, Mandy!
    We have a choice….YES! Praising Him all the time helps me see it really is true. God IS good all the time…

    Praying for this family. My heart hurts for them. I have no words, which is why i’m so thankful He reads hearts…

  4. Beautiful post Mandy. I have been so overwhelmed with so many situations lately that I have not been praising and thanking God for how he’s stretching me, molding me and providing for me still during all these trials and this time of confusion. Thank you for sharing from your heart (and thanks for linking up at Motivating Monday on CEO of Me)

    • Thank you, Misty. Prayers for your overwhelming situations! Satan would love nothing more than to see you spin out with whatever you’re facing. You can do it! Your Lord has your back and will be your strength.

  5. I will definitely be praying for your friends :0(. I agree that 1,000 Gifts is a life changer! I have found keeping a joy list to be a great attitude changer for me!

    • Thank you for your prayers, Donna. That means so much. I am so thrilled that you have experience the joy that comes from gratitude, ala 1000 gifts:)

  6. “Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.” Ps 22:3

  7. As hard as it may sound, Job fell to the ground and worshiped God after hearing that all his children had died. Then he said “…The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Love & prayers, in Jesus, Cynthia

  8. Great words Mandy! Thanks for sharing.

    Thanks for linking up at too.

  9. Hi! I found you through Women Living Well and I’m your newest follower! I look forward to connecting with you!


  10. I really think I need to read this 1000 Gifts. I just have to get my hands on a copy. I’ve thought about starting to count…but I want to read first! My Type A has to do it in order! haha.
    The attribute of God that I am focusing on lately is His faithfulness. He is oh so faithful and I’m trying to remind myself of that daily as I walk through this season.
    Thanks for linking up friend!

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