Congratulations to our Thanksgiving writing challenge winners

We had a wonderful collection of Thanksgiving devotions submitted for our recent online writing challenge, and are happy to announce the winners!

What a challenge it was for us to select our top winners, but we were especially inspired and encouraged by the four writers who produced our first, second, third-place and honorable mention selections.

Congratulations to...

Renee Norris--1st place

Shirley Crowder--2nd place

Alice Murray--3rd place

Denise Gray Dupree--Honorable mention

(And thank you to ALL of you who submitted a devotion to this challenge. We pray that these challenges will continue to encourage you to write on a regular basis; look for more of them in the coming months!)

"An Unexpected Blessing"

by Renee Norris

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)

I lost my mom at an early age.  I don’t mean I lost her to death.  My mom pretty much checked out on life when I was ten years old.  I never understood it until a few years ago, and even now I don’t understand why she didn’t fight harder for the relationships that should have meant the most. 

For forty-five years, I have longed to have the mother/daughter closeness that my girlfriends have with their moms. I finally have it.

My mother has dementia.  She still knows me, but in a much different way.  Since moving her close to me within the last year, I have the mom I always dreamed of.  She loves spending time with me. We joke around and laugh. We go out for lunches and shopping sprees.  She forgets that we do those things, but in the moment, it is beautiful! I’m thankful.  

I will never grasp completely why Mom made the choices she did.  However, because of our lack of closeness, I mothered intentionally.  Because she guided me through lenses of negativity, I chose to parent encouragingly.  Due to her absence, I was very present. I am so grateful for the loving relationships I have with my boys.

This Thanksgiving she will sit at my table; I will serve her and be forever amazed that I have gotten to experience my mom—however late in life—like I always wanted.  God is never late.

“Lord, you grant us unexpected blessings. Thank you for working disappointments out for good and always in your perfect timing.” 

"Let ‘em Fall"

by Shirley Crowder

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV)

A friends’ 6-year-old granddaughter was playing in my front yard. Beautiful yellow, orange, red, and purple leaves were blowing off the trees and shining brightly as they danced across the yard.

The little girl ran from one tree to the next saying “Come on, it’s time to let ‘em fall! You’ll get sick if you don’t!”

I was curious about what I overheard, so I asked her to whom was she speaking.

“The limbs, of course!” she said with a you should know that look on her face.

Her daddy taught her that once the leaves turn beautiful colors they start to die and if the limbs held onto the leaves too long, the leaves would get yukky and make the limb get sick. The leaves have fall off so the limb won’t get sick and can get ready for new leaves to grow.

This sweet exchange and today’s passage teach a great biblical truth. Let ‘em fall! We are not to stubbornly hold on to our leaves (bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, and malice), we are to let ‘em fall (put them off). This makes way for us to put on and grow godly attitudes of kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.

What things are you hanging onto that have become “yukky” and causing you to become spiritually weak or sick?

Heavenly Father, give me a sensitive heart to respond quickly in repentance when Your Spirit convicts me of sinful attitudes. Enable me to put on and grow godly attitudes in place of the sinful ones. Amen.

"All Circumstances"

by Alice Murray

"Give thanks in all circumstances….” I Thessalonians 5:18a (NIV)

Our Thanksgiving feast lay before us. There was no turkey, no mashed potatoes, and no pumpkin pie; instead there was a heated frozen pizza. The table was not decorated; there was no tablecloth, cornucopia, or lit candles. The mood was subdued; there was no music or laughter. 

Despite the lack of trappings, this Thanksgiving was my most memorable. Death does not respect holidays, and my mother had died that day.

The inclination to forget the holiday was my first impulse. But did my mother’s death mean I had nothing for which to give thanks? If I answered that question in the affirmative, then why would Paul have urged believers to give thanks in ALL circumstances? All is an encompassing word big enough to cover when someone has lost a loved one.

Upon reflection, I realized I had many things for which to give thanks to the Lord that Thanksgiving.

Mom was gone, but she was in a better place—with her Lord and Savior. Hallelujah! Because it was Thanksgiving, I was off from work and able to spend time with loved ones during this time of grief. Mom would still be a part of future holidays; she had given me her recipe for broccoli puff, a family favorite we always ate on Thanksgiving. Yes, I was sad, but I had reason to give thanks and did so even under difficult circumstances.

Dear Lord: Open my eyes that I may see the many things for which I have to be thankful even when circumstances are trying. Amen

"A New List"

by Denise Gray Dupree

"And whatever you do, whether in wordier deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Colossians 3:17)

According to, "mundane" can be defined as ordinary, or commonplace. Often the mundane activities of everyday life do not make the “what I’m thankful for lists” shared at Thanksgiving. Good health, a nice home, a loving family, and a good job are always mentioned.  But what about the commonplace things of life?


Let us not forget to give thanks for the forty-five minutes one-way commute to that good job. Let us not forget to give thanks for washing another stack of dirty dishes after feeding that loving family. Let us not forget to give thanks for having to vacuum or mop the floors in that nice home. Let us not forget to give thanks for that gentle nudge from our mirror to continue healthy living.

Every ordinary or mundane thing from God is a blessing.  We should be thankful for each routine moment of life.

Let's challenge ourselves this year to make a new list this Thanksgiving.

Dear GOD, Thank you for every mundane moment that binds life together. It is those moments of day-to-day activities that sustain me. Give me the strength to be a witness of your love in these moments. Thank you GOD. In the name of Jesus, Amen

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