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?
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.
P.S. The Paper Gratitude Challenge below took me about 13 minutes Maybe you can beat my time!