Grace & Gratitude

Yesterday I was mad. Not just a little heated up, but over the top angry. And, the fact that I could not put my anger in its right place made me furious. Didn’t my anger know I had important things to do! 2020 is the year of Gratitude, and I have articles to write, plans to make, people to meet, photos to capture, and stories to gather. And didn’t my anger know that I am a woman of peace and love? My mission, no matter how lofty it seems, is to make this world a better place by uniting people with different ideas and belief systems.

The irony is that I was upset with an organization that has different ideas and belief system than my own.  Yes, please, let me have that anger with a large helping of humility. That stopped me dead in my tracks. I glanced in the mirror and did not like what I saw. I want to say that I took the high road, let go of my anger, and continued my journey to spread peace and love to all the nations. But I felt I justified in my rage. I was right, and they were wrong. I recounted all the years of feeling discounted, rejected, and judged by this group. No, despite the image in the mirror, I held onto my anger. After all, I earned the right to feel this way.

I spent my entire day wondering how I, an angry woman, could move forward with The Gratitude Project. How could I launch a project to encourage the building of bridges between communities when, in this circumstance, I was refusing to place the first plank or hammer the first nail?  Late in the evening, I found the answer. In an attempt to do something positive, I began to look at photographs that I had taken in the fall. Perhaps I could edit  a few images. The first picture I saw brought tears to my eyes and I felt a knowing in my heart. I was humbled for the second time of the day.

The photo was of a Maple Tree. I have always thought if love were a tree, it would be a Maple. They are big, tall, strong, and have branches that extend slightly upturned like arms to hold children just right when they climb upon them. The light honey-brown wood is stunning and often used in home construction. If that is not enough, they even feed us with their sugary sap. 

The Maple tree reminded me that we are all one. As I studied the image, I noticed first, the trunk, then branches, smaller branches, and finally the leaves. Each had a unique shape, color, and texture. The tree was magnificently complex and beautiful. My mind shifted and I began to think of the trunk of the tree as God, the branches as nations of people, breaking off into smaller and smaller groups, and finally, the leaves as individuals. Again, I thought, we are all one.

How is it then that my anger could possibly be justified? By withholding my love, forgiveness, and compassion from any group, I, in turn, withhold it from myself. I have been building and maintaining this wall of anger for over thirty years. Sadly, I only recently realized that it is not impacting the group that caused me pain. Instead, it has hurt the people I love the most and me. For that, I am truly sorry. 

So, to answer the question, how will I, an angry woman, go forward with The Gratitude Project? I will deconstruct the wall. It will take time. It will take practice. And, it will take an abundance of Grace and Gratitude.


Authors Note: Would you or your organization (e.g., community group, retreat) like to participate in The Gratitude Project?  Please feel free to contact me at [email protected].

Song of the Post: Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) By BYU Noteworthy –

Instagram – The Gratitude Project By Lakehouse Photo –

The Gratitude Project –

Instagram – Lakehouse Photo & Living At The Lakehouse –


2019© Gail Howarth, Living At The Lakehouse, and The Gratitude Project By Lakehouse Photo. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Gail Howarth, Living At The Lakehouse, and The Gratitude Project By Lakehouse Photo, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. Keri Crippin January 6, 2020

    What a beautiful post. I truly took time to reflect on your words and actually used it as my devotional today. We all have anger that we bury, regurgitate and suppress. This is why God is who he is and we are not. He uses these infirmities within us to humble us, mold us and to cause us to seek him. He then rebuilds us, renews us and fills us with his grace and forgiveness. He is a constant. Never failing. Always loving each of us unconditionally and providing us with counsel, support, peace and patience. I am so proud of you and as I’ve told you before….you are God gifted and I thank you for your honesty and internal exposure for all of us to share. You are truly making a difference in our lives and you are following your purpose beautifully.
    Love you mostest! ❤

    • Gail Howarth January 6, 2020

      Thank you, Keri. Your words lift my heart. To be vulnerable to others is a risk. I was not 100% certain that sharing the angry Gail with the world would serve anyone. But, you make believe it was and is worth it.

      • Julie January 13, 2020

        Gail, you truly have a gift. Thank you for sharing it. I would really love a poster of the Maple Tree picture and your Inspirational “Grace & Gratitude” that I can frame and hang in my office. It spoke volumes to me. Thank you for posting. Please consider selling these posters. So many people would benefit from them. With much gratitude,

        • Gail Howarth January 13, 2020

          Thank you, Julie. Your words mean a lot to me. I consider you one of my most wise friends.

  2. JoLayne January 6, 2020

    This is a beautiful piece. Thank you for sharing your heart and your humility. Onward.

  3. Marsha January 6, 2020

    I had a similar day, and your reflection calmed me. Thank you.

    • Gail Howarth January 6, 2020

      Marsha, I am so pleased that my words could help.

  4. JD January 13, 2020

    All hard things take grace (thankfully doled out by God with nothing needed for us in return). Do not be too harsh and be kind to yourself. You held yourself accountable; you chose to analyze and adjust your attitude. All of us will succumb to anger at some point in time – if we did not, we would not collectively deal with things like injustice, apathy, need of others…
    You did well my friend; keep up the good work!

    • Gail Howarth January 13, 2020

      Your words brought tears to my eyes. I can be hard on myself. And, for a perfectionist to admit being imperfect sets me up to be pretty vulnerable. Thank you for being gentle with my heart.

  5. Janice Keesman March 21, 2020

    The beauty of your words are enchanting, inviting oneself to be drawn deeper to look inward where our truths live. Thank you!

    • Gail Howarth March 28, 2020

      Thank you for your kind words, Janice. Good to see you here.

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