34 Days of Favorites: Counting Blessings

While I was lounging around in Florida this last winter, I shared with you how I was enjoying Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts.

This book has been everywhere in the last year. You see it on countless Christian women’s blogs. You hear about it in churches. You see it advertized on every Christian bookstore flyer that comes in the mail.

Because it’s amazing. It really is. That book has truly earned it’s popularity.

After reading it in January, I joined thousands of other people in the spiritual discipline of listing daily gifts and blessings God gives to me. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I hoped it would be as wonderful, dramatic, and life-changing as what the book seemed to suggest, but I didn’t know.

As I sit here typing this post, my list is up to #954. And it has been just wonderful.

It has made me more aware of the blessings that were there all along.

I’ve had to specifically choose positive thoughts and attitudes.

I’ve learned that everything in life can be viewed in a thankful way, with enough effort and creativity.

Shortly after I began my list of blessings, I became aware of how often I was having to remind Anika to change her own attitude, and stop whining or complaining. Day after day, we were dealing with the same issues, and what I was doing to help her change…was not helping.

One day, I started praying (should have thought to do it much sooner!), and asked God for some brilliant insight as to how Anika’s attitude could be changed.

And suddenly, it hit me – Anika needed her own “Happy List”.

I got out a little notebook, and when Anika started complaining, I sat her down, explained what we were going to do, and asked her to list five things she was thankful for.

She couldn’t do it. She didn’t know how to choose to change her thoughts from grumpy to thankful.

So I had to teach her! I got out my own notebook, and started reading my list to her. She loved hearing what I’d written down, and was more open to coming up with her own list afterwards. I gave her some prompts, and she verbally listed five things she was thankful for.

The most amazing thing happened as she did it – I saw her attitude transform before my eyes. Her voice and facial expression completely changed, and it was incredible to watch.

Six months later, we’re still using the Happy Book! Most of the time, it only takes five thankful thoughts for her to change her attitude, but every once in a while, I have to send her back to her room to come up with five more. (I can always tell by her voice if she’s truly ready to proceed with a good attitude!)

I love it because it works so well, but also because I’m instilling a habit in her. She may not continue this habit for the rest of her life…but she might! I am teaching her to choose her thoughts – to take every thought  captive. I get excited when I think about how this ability could shape her future!

I know that for myself, it is a habit I hope to carry on for many years to come.

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Okay, for comments today, let’s do something fun and have everybody share one thing they’re thankful for! Or more than one – once you get going, you might not want to stop!

(To read more about “34 Days of Favorites”, go here.)

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12 thoughts on “34 Days of Favorites: Counting Blessings

  1. I’m thankful for the stuffy feelings in my lungs, the aches in my back and the super stretchy feeling of my belly because it means our baby is growing exactly how she is supposed to. I can’t always say I feel thankful for it, but you’re right Kendra, life is all about perspective. I have really been trying to take on this attitude during this last season of pregnancy since it will be my last (that we’ve planned anyway!) What a shame to squander it or wish it away, but so often I do exactly that. And thanks for sharing about how you help Anika to change her attitude. I’ve been wondering how to do this as of late, and I do think I’ll give this a try with a few modifications for a younger child.

    • Oh, I love it, Juls! You’re right – pregnancy can be so uncomfortable at the end, but when it’s over, we can still look back on it with such positive memories! I want to feel as positive while as happening as I will when it’s over!

      Let me know what your ideas are for making this work with a younger child! I can see that challenge coming up for me soon!

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  3. Have the book and LOVE.IT. I have a thankfulness journal as do each of the kids. Gets to be a bit of work having to write for the youngest 2 but I love listening to what they are thankful for. We need to write in them more often. Right now, I am constantly in a state of thankfulness, even when progress seems slow since I never imagined building our house would look like this. The thing I am most thankful for right now is my MIL who watches the kids each afternoon, often feeds them lunch, teaches them German when they want, sends me cucumbers and tomatoes and corn-on-the-cob and fresh baked cookies and never ever complains. I love her.

    • Alright, I’m inspired. I had never thought of starting a list for Kaylia, but she was completely capable of telling us yesterday that her favorited thing of the day was going to the splash park.

      And your MIL sounds amazing! It’s so great to have that kind of support, hey?

  4. oh i love this! you know i’m doing the 1000 gifts on my blog – but the idea of having your children do it too?? wow! i would never have thought of that before. thanks for this idea, i will be using it FOR SURE!!

    • Yes, I do know that you’re doing 1000 gifts on your blog – you are one of the first people who got me thinking about actually starting my own list!

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