I’ve recorded my life in journals for years–since I was 15, actually. And I keep every one of those journals. If our house caught on fire, I’d reach for those old journals before many other things–even my Kitchen Aid food processor. Periodically, I read through them to reflect on what I was thinking or praying or learning in a certain season.
In one past journal entry, I read the words of my own thanksgiving for a good workout, a good meal that was eaten and enjoyed by the whole family (this doesn’t happen every day), a nature walk with my children. Just re-reading that made my heart feel lighter. I decided then that I would write three things each day for which I was grateful. I sometimes miss a day here or there, but I still record my gratitude list from that day. As time has passed, I’ve included in my “thankful three” the things for which it might not be easy to give thanks–such as my struggles, which show me where I have room to grow and to be sanctified. Or the marks on our couch made by my younger son, who humbly came to me to confess his mistake as soon as it happened.
I want to cultivate gratitude in our family–and with my children–so we instated The Gratitude Jar. You can find prettier, cleverer ideas almost anywhere–such as this one that I found on Pinterest. But ours works.
I washed a peanut butter jar, peeled off the label (mostly), and made my own label–which I affixed to the jar with homemade glue. I keep it on the kitchen counter with some paper and a pen, and usually my boys and I jot down our thanks during lunchtime. When it gets full, I dump the slips of paper into a bag. During Thanksgiving last fall, we read aloud all the ones we had written for 2014. Re-reading those hand-scrawled words of thanks the way I re-read old journals: taking note of what we experienced at that time in life and how we gave thanks to God in the midst of it.