"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Gratitude List

It all began November 6, 2011. Maddie’s Sunday School teacher challenged the class to keep a gratitude journal for one week. If they wrote every day and brought it to church on Sunday, they would receive a special prize. Maddie latched onto the word “prize” like a Black Friday shopper on an early morning deal. Each night, she faithfully listed 20 items. The reason she picked twenty is easy—20 lines on the page means 20 items for which to thank God.
Her first day, she wrote:
1.       Parents/family
2.       Clothes
3.       Toothbrush and toothpaste
4.       Food and clean water
5.       House/shelter
6.       Pencil to write with right now
7.       Paper to write on right now
8.       Hot tub on my deck
9.       Paintings and pictures
10.   School, even if I don’t like it
11.   Homework, even if I don’t like it
12.   Light
13.   God to lead the way through my life
14.   Books
15.   Coupons
16.   Clocks
17.   Timers
18.   Glasses
19.   Contacts
20.   Chairs
At the end of the week, Maddie recorded 140 items (many duplicates). She brought her journal to class and chose her bag of bubble gum prize.
Since November, with no extra incentive, Maddie diligently scribbles in her gratitude journal nightly. She’s amassed 1200 things she’s thankful for from the entire alphabet to love at first sight, from everyone’s birthday to muscles, from big eyes to smelly nail polish, from fingers to pillows. Maddie covers the gamut of her life from the mundane to the meaningful. She takes her journal to sleepovers so she won’t miss a day of writing. And, if for some reason a day slips by, she doubles up the next. It’s become as much of a habit as brushing her teeth.
This attitude of thankfulness developing inside her, this ritual of writing down her thanks, causes her to dwell on the goodness of the Creator. Each day she searches her mind for those things, those people, those events for which she can give gratitude to the Giver. This daily writing awakens her mind to all the good gifts God has given her and even some she finds distasteful, like school and homework. Still, she offers thanks. She leads by example, and for that I am grateful!
"Give thanks for the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever." (Psalm 106:1)