By Melissa McLaughlin
There are some things I just have to write down…
The side dish I promised to take to the next family gathering.
The scripture verse I am attempting to memorize.
Birthdays and anniversaries I hope to remember.
The list for the grocery store.
The new neighbor’s name.
Many things can be recorded in phones and gadgets, but somehow, jotting these things down on a piece of paper helps etch them more deeply in the tablet of my mind.
A precious memory of my mom revolves around a piece of paper. After going through a particularly stressful experience, Mom announced to me with a voice of determination and resolve, “I need to take out my tablet and write down all the things I am thankful for. That always helps me gain a better perspective.”
This is something my mom doesn’t just say. This is something my mom actually does. It “forces your hand” to refocus on your many blessings.
Sounds simple. And it is!
The truth is, how often do we pause long enough to do more than count our blessings? Or even if we think about or thank God for our blessings, do we actually list more than 3 or maybe 4 at most?
Paper Gratitude Challenge
As we head into a season of thankfulness, I’d like to invite you to take the Paper Gratitude Challenge with me.
Here’s what you need:
1 piece of paper (notebook paper or computer paper)
1 pencil or pen
1 heart of gratitude
I challenge each of us to fill one full sheet of paper with the blessings God has given, both great and small.
Another bit of Mom’s advice? Start with Jesus. My mom once said this to me and I have never forgotten it…”If God never gave me another gift, beyond the gift of Jesus, I could never stop thanking Him. Any blessing God gives me, in addition to Jesus, is a bonus.”
Start your list with Jesus. In Him we have forgiveness of sins and the promise of heaven. That should overflow the gratitude list in our hearts daily!
Here’s an additional piece of golden advice from a friend going through cancer. She says that after Jesus, she thanks God for the things closest to her and then moves out from there. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for another day of life, for the warm clothing I am wearing today, the socks and comfortable sneakers on my feet. Thank you, Father, for the chair I am sitting on and the soft pillow behind my back. Thank you for this paper and pencil and for the ability to think and write. Thank you for this table where I where I now write, that allows us to enjoy family meals and family games.
Slowly expand your gratitude list, including spiritual, physical, mental, family, friends, church, neighbors, employment, education, talents or hobbies, indoor and outdoors, transportation, beauty, love, laughter, etc.
The only thing is…you must fill the paper. I pray that you discover once you get going, it doesn’t really take long to complete the Paper Gratitude Challenge.
Take it from my mom, it’s worth it in the end. Pausing in gratitude to God can change your perspective, your day, your week and your life.
Colossians 3:17 – And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
The Joy of Brokenhearted Praise By Melissa McLaughlin
Powerful Prayer Tool – Praising Over Pleading By Melissa McLaughlin
P.S. The Paper Gratitude Challenge below took me about 13 minutes Maybe you can beat my time!
Love this idea!
Thank you, Nancy! Pausing to thank God is nothing new, but somehow we need reminders again and again to do just that!
In this season of Thanksgiving, this is a great reminder! The most encouraged period of my life were the two years when I kept a daily list of praise for the special gifts of each unique and individual day, the moments when God reached toward me and gifted me with a treasure of beauty or tenderness. I was inspired by Ann Voskamp’s first book. It’s time to do this again, to “force my hand” to refocus on my many blessings.
Thank you for sharing this testimony, Melinda, of the encouragement you experienced during the time when you kept a daily praise list. I would like to add that to my daily routines. I have a journal of thanks that I try to add to each Friday. But pausing in joy and thanksgiving daily is something I would like to pursue. Oh Lord Jesus, help me pick up my pen and say thanks!!!
What a wonderful idea!
Thank you, Melissa! I hope you get a chance to tackle this little joyful challenge. Maybe your grandson could help. I would love to hear the things he would include on his list! It would be so cute, I just know it!
“Start with Jesus”!!!!!! Yes.
Amen! “Start with Jesus”, no better place to begin, than at the point of new life, new hope and new joy in Christ! May your heart overflow with gratitude toward our sweet Savior this day!
What a wonderful way to start this season of Thanksgiving. I love that your mother always places Jesus at the top of the list. When we start there, everything else falls into place. I know you will be on my list Melissa! Thank you!
Thank you, Linda! You are right, putting Jesus at the top of our lists, puts everything else into perspective. Awww, what a sweet thing to say! I need a whole piece of paper to thank the Lord for dear and Godly friends like you who have blessed my life again and again. Thanking the Lord Jesus for you!
I love this idea! I try to write three things daily that I’m thankful for, so I’ll have to extend that and do an entire sheet! Thanks for sharing this with us. 🙂
Emily, that is so awesome! I would like to get into that habit, as well. Just 3 things to be thankful for daily. Lifting my eyes from the heartache and stress, to see the sweet blessings along the way. It makes such a difference. Thank you for sharing this strategy.
A great challenge that has a lasting impact on our minds and hearts. Thank you for this!
Thank you, Marcie! I have found this simple task to reap wonderful rewards. May we help keep one another’s heart softened with gratitude for the many blessings bestowed us on by our loving Father!
Love this challenge, Melissa. I like some things on paper as well. Like Scriptures I’m memorizing and journaling in a hardcopy journal, not digital. So this challenge for what we’re thankful for writing down the old school way!
It’s true, Karen. Sometimes paper makes things seem more real. You hold in your hand a tangible proof of the experience. May our overflowing gratitude be tangible proof of God’s powerful love at work in our lives!
What a wonderful idea! I was just given a new small journal, and when my husband found a small cut-out word left over from one of my craft projects, I knew what the journal would be for! The word was “giving” as in “Thanks-giving.” It really is so important to focus on the blessings we have been given. Blessings to you Dear Melissa!
Oh Bettie, what a wonderful idea! You always seem to be up to something with your writing, your faith journey and your eye for artistry. I think part of what makes this simple job so powerful, is the time that it takes. It forces us to slow down, pause and ponder the overflowing blessings God pours out upon us. God bless you, dear Bettie!
I love this challenge! Sometimes I forget to be thankful for the little things. They may seem insignificant, but this challenge forces you to consider them! Thank you.
Glory to God! You are right, Pam. It is so easy to gloss over the small blessings and feel like we have nothing great to be thankful for, when every single thing we have, has been provided by God. When we pause and consider one by one, the blessings are overflowing daily!