This article was first published in the Fall 2012 edition of FaithTalk magazine.
“From the fullness of God’s grace we have all received one blessing after another.” John 1:16
“We don’t have the right syrup for my pancakes!” “I’m tired of getting up for school every day.” “I can’t find anything to read.” These were the kinds of complaints I was beginning to get on a regular basis from my three kids, ranging in age from 3-13.
How could I help them see that life was pretty good in their world? They lived in a beautiful home with two parents who loved them, they always had food in their bellies, and they had plenty of clothing choices every day. In short, they lived in as safe and comfortable environment as one can in today’s world. They certainly had it much easier than 90% of the planet.
I hit upon my idea when I unearthed a beautiful white leather journal my mother had given me for Christmas the year before. It was still pristine and so beautiful that it needed to be used for a special purpose. As a side note, just jumping right in and using things that are beautiful is challenge for me. “I can’t use this – it’s so beautiful!!” is a common refrain for me, so much so that once my mother sent me a gorgeous baby’s quilt with a note pinned right on it that said, “I know it’s beautiful – Use it.”
I got out the journal and wrote my first entry – “I’m thankful to God for my wonderful family.” I also added in some specific things I was grateful for about each member of the family.
Over dinner at our weekly family meeting, I introduced the gratitude journal. They could feel free to write in it whenever they felt thankful for something, or felt God’s hand on a situation.
My middle daughter took to it right away, adding in notes regarding thankfulness for her family, as well as great new haircuts, time with friends and Pizza Hut. We put the journal on the kitchen counter, along with pens and a sign on it that noted, “Please feel free to contribute!” Family and friends who have visited have done just that, adding their own contributions in with ours on all the things we appreciate in this world.
As a page through it now, I can see some of the challenges, followed by blessings, that we have faced, such as gratefulness over dad’s new job after a long span of unemployment. I can also see the kids’ growth through their handwriting and types of things they added. I hope that it will serve to remind us to really stop and remember to thank God for his wonderful blessings.