12:18 PM

We have a special tradition in our family that begins around my youngest daughter's birthday during the first week of November. It continues throughout the holidays and has expanded to include my dear husband, son-in-law, grandparents, and other extended family members. It is our family's Gratitude Journal. It sits on the mantel or dining room table where it is always available to the family. I started the tradition of writing in it quite a few years ago. At the time, I was a single, working mother. The holidays were around the corner, along with seemingly endless challenges and I soon found myself in a dark place

I was in the midst of wallowing. It was deep and muddy wallowing full of painful emotions and financial burdens. I was reeling from the effects of betrayal, abuse, messy divorce proceedings, and I was chin-high in bills and financial obligations that were left behind as a result of it all. My children were in the thick of it with me. It was painful to see them suffer innocently and so eventually I found myself also wallowing deep in self-pity. Then I did the most dangerous thing a person can do when wallowing, I started to compare.

I began to look around and compare my life to others. Everywhere I went and everyone that I saw seemed blissfully happy. I falsely assumed and was sure that behind their smartly-wreathed and decorated front doors there was only laughter, joy, and peace. The more I compared myself  and my family to those around me, the more miserable I became until I was literally in fetal position in bed one night, full of self-pity and paralyzed with grief. I began to wonder what had I done to be dealt such a sour deck of cards. Then I started the negative self talk which included a list of all the reasons why I of course, didn't deserve happiness. I was in a bad place!

When I am in trouble I have learned to do two things; I reach up and out! I pray and read inspirational books or scriptures! While reading one day, I came across this advice, "When you are struggling to feel grateful, have an attitude of gratitude. Keep a journal and write down something daily that makes you feel grateful."

Initially, when I read that advice I thought to myself, "Well, that's a bunch of hooey (or some other descriptive word)!" Sometimes when you feel miserable, wallowing can feel so good but only temporarily. So then I eventually decided to act on that advice. I found a notebook that would become my gratitude journal. I started to write down specific things that made me feel grateful each day. It took awhile at first to think of something to write. I was so focused on everything in my life that difficult and sad at the time. 
My list started out simple and short; air, food, water, life. 
Then over time I couldn't stop writing. My list was getting longer and more detailed.
 My life hadn't changed, but my attitude did and so then my burdens became easier to bear.

Soon, I encouraged my children to participated in the gratitude journal writing and I bought a special book with a picture of the resurrected Christ on the cover. The picture reminded me of His promise to heal my broken-heart (Luke 4:18) and it gave me additional strength. 

Our Family Gratitude Journal

Being grateful helped me to feel closer to Him and my children felt this peace as well. I felt humbled and blessed when my children expressed their gratitude for the simple things we had in our lives and for the small blessings that can easily be taken for granted.

These words are a treasure to me now. A collection of all that we truly had during a time in our lives when at first, I thought we had almost nothing. Christ keeps his promises! He blessed me with the desire to feel gratitude while experiencing adversity. Through this experience, He healed my broken heart and helped me to see more clearly.

When we first started the tradition, Bella wasn't writing by herself. We transcribed her words as she spoke. In her first gratitude entry she said that she was grateful for her name! In this entry above, she wrote that she was thankful for all of our food and the vegetables that we had harvested from our garden.

One of my favorite pages

My sweet girls

You Might Also Like


  1. Love it, Wendy! I love the idea to make it a family community type of thing where you share together.

  2. Great idea! I've done a gratitude journal for myself but it's even better to make a family one!