Learning to Be Grateful as a Family

It’s the one thing I long for my family to learn, live:


It’s the one thing I teach by example (or lack 0f), a heart full of thanksgiving, overflowing on my husband, surrounding my children. They are watching, waiting. Not just for the outward, polite, mandatory “thank you.” But the grateful heart that spills out and is contagious.

It’s not just the gratefulness for new things, a comforter on sale for my daughter’s bed brings praise, “thank you, Mom!” It’s thankfulness in the trials, the hard times, the difficult spots we find ourselves. These are the moments that define us: digging deep when gratitude isn’t easy.

Thankfulness isn’t inherited. It often doesn’t come easy. It needs to be practiced, made a priority.

We are counting to a thousand in our house, one thousand thanks to Him.

Each night after our dinner routine, we pull out pen and our Family Gratitude Journal. It’s lovely and leads us into deep, fun conversations.

This past week, we talked about Sara and her choice to choose joy in all circumstances. She has been in our prayers, this far-away, (in)courage writer-friend of mine, who passed away after her fight with a debilitating illness. She left a legacy of thankfulness, which is really about finding the joy in every situation.

My kids asked a couple of hard questions. The kind I don’t have answers for. But we look for the good even when it feels bad.

My kids bring a pen to the table, offer their answers to questions like, “What’s your favorite thing about our house?” and “What makes you laugh?” and then we take turns around the table giving thanks. “Today, I’m thankful for…”

Sometimes the answer is silly (my 4 year old answered “Facebook” the other night to a hysterical family. What??) and sometimes they take my breath away. Like last night when my oldest said she was thankful, truly grateful for something I’d done for her. It hadn’t gone unnoticed and her thankful heart made me smile.

How to Stir Up Thanksgiving in Your Family:

  • Record your gratitude
  • Read past entries aloud
  • Reflect on the day, the good and bad
  • Reinforce-nothing is too small
  • Resolve to give thanks, in all things

I was gifted a Family Gratitude Journal (from Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts) by (in)Courage. Although they aren’t available for giveaways, I bought one to share with one of you, today!


Thank you Lord for… hands of friendship, God our Father, and the Way into Joy. With 1,000 numbered spaces, this robin egg blue journal with a closing strap provides a special way for your family to keep track of God’s gifts to you. The pages are filled with Scriptures, inspirational photos, and conversation starters so you can continue to keep track of the memories your family makes together. Measures 8 3⁄8″×1 3⁄8″×8″ Pockets are built in to many pages for keeping precious notes, photos, and other keepsakes.

If you’d like to win, please tell me something you’re thankful for in the comments.

(You can also purchase one for $24.)

So, choose it: joy. And by doing so, you’ll be teaching your family the greatest gift of all-gratitude.



  1. 151

    Alyson Ferren says

    I am thankful that after only 1 month of unemployment, my husband has a job. I am thankful for all the many ways the Lord has told us and shown us over the last month that He has us firmly in His grip. I am thankful that our family is so much better since he isn’t in his previous job. Just soooooooooooooo thankful.

  2. 152


    I am thankful that my dear, sweet friend Kerry has gone home to be with the Lord. She has fought cystic fibrosis for the 24 years of her life, and now, she is running, DANCING, and breathing freely in heaven.

  3. 158

    Jessica M says

    I’m thankful for my husband and my kids and also that no matter what life throws at us the lord always sees us through.

  4. 160

    Sam ES says

    I am thankful for my parents, who raised 5 children, have adopted 2 more, and have fostered (and still are) countless others.

  5. 161


    I am thankful for forgiveness and do-overs. I needed several of them today.
    And for my virtual book club ladies (via FB) :) who are helping each other count to 1000, including the hard ones.

  6. 162

    Kim says

    I, too, am trying to learn gratefulness in all things – large and small. As I read 1000 gifts, I’m reminded to look for and notice those small things. And, I’m trying to figure out ways to teach and show my family gratefulness and self-lessness. Today, I’m thankful for you and this post as a reminder and encouragement. I want us to get past all of the “me”,”I”, “us”, “we”, etc. Thanks, Kristen!

  7. 163

    Anita says

    I’m thankful for the faithfulness of God when so many other aspects of my life seemed filled with uncertainty and betrayal. He is my rock.

  8. 164


    Wow! That’s a hard question. I’ve got soooo many things I’m thankful for…but to pick one to list? Today it would probably be that we finally seem to be getting out from under the medical bills that have terrified me for the past four months.

  9. 165

    Rebecca says

    I would love to win this, I have been keeping a “thankful gifts” journal since I read the book. I am thankful for so many things….good health for me and my family, plenty to eat, salvation from sins and a new life in Christ, my husband who bends over backward for this family, oh….so many things!

  10. 166

    Sam says

    Each day I am thankful for the relationship I have found with Christ..and for all that he has given me and continues to give me…both big and small!

  11. 167

    Sylvia says

    Yours is one of a few blogs I try to read every day…and as I read this post I was thankful for those blogs. God uses you ladies in tremendous ways. I don’t think you can realize the impact you have and the lives you touch. So thanks for what you write and the inspiration you provide. That’s one thing I’m thankful for.

  12. 168

    Catherine says

    I am grateful for reading this blog entry today, a day that started with my own complaints and didn’t change focus all day. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

  13. 169

    Marla says

    I am thankful for your blog and Ann’s book she has written on gratitude. I have a tendency to always being pessimistic and I’m trying to learn to be grateful, and to know my life is in Gods hands and He is in control. Thank you!

  14. 170

    Tina says

    I am thankful I was able to go on my first mission trip this summer and am looking for ways to help the orphanage I visited.

  15. 173

    Nicole Gaylord says

    I have an appt. tomorrow with a specialist about some test results I didn’t expect so I am so thankful that I had another day to spend with my husband and four kids. Btw I LOVE her book…so much so that I’ve bought over 20 and given them as gifts. I’ve really been wanting this so it would be great to win!

  16. 176

    Katie says

    I’m choosing daily to be grateful for my job, which is outside the home. It’s very difficult to be away from my family for much of the day, five days a week, but financially it allows my husband and I to work in youth ministry (him full time, me as much as I can). It is helpful that I believe God is glorified in the field where I work, which is helping families to go through the adoption process with children in foster care.

  17. 177

    Shawn Bensley says

    I’m thankful for teachers at my sons high school who care about his learning and are willing to communicate with me in an honest way.

  18. 179


    I am grateful for my friends who can always put a smile on my face or lend a shoulder to cry on – whichever is needed. Everyone needs friends and I am blessed with so many!

  19. 185

    suzi failing says

    I am thankful that we have a chance to give our adoped teen daughter a real chance at life, even though she doesn’t want to be here. She would rather be back with her drug addicted mom…………We will not give up on her………

  20. 186

    Sharilyn says

    I am so thankful that I get to be a stay at home mom and that God is our Provider. I have been learning what it means to walk by faith and would love a copy of this book!!

  21. 188

    Janet says

    I’m thankful for the still, fresh, quiet of the morning.
    I’m thankful for my sisters in Christ, as we walk together, growing together, encouraging each other.
    I’m thankful for the wonderful ladies of my book club for their friendship, fun, support and showing all our families how women can stand by each other.

  22. 193


    I am thankful for my two beautiful grandchildren and the opportunity to spend a few days with them next week.

    Keeping a gratitude journal helped me through a very rough time in my life. I spent many years as a caregiver for both my parents, and as I approached the critical mass of burnout, I knew I had to do something to maintain my sanity. I bought a small spiral notebook at the Dollar Store and made myself write 3 things a day for which I was grateful. It really did help refocus my heart and my attitude on the more positive things in my life and helped me maintain a more loving attitude on the hard days.

  23. 194


    I’m so very thankful for the fact that God chooses my portion and my lot. That means that I can be content where I am and what I’m doing because He has put me here and He is enabling me to do whatever I’m doing. Even when I feel like I’m failing, I can rejoice because it is He who is working in me.
    I’m also thankful for my husband when he draws a bubble bath and makes me a coffee smoothie after a long week at school. :-)

  24. 197

    Tara says

    I am thankful that even though we have “downgraded” from a house to apartment, my sweet family is all safe and together and cozier than ever!

  25. 200


    I am thankful for a wonderful family. For a son that didn’t talk for a long time that won’t be quiet now, for a daughter who loves to cook with me and for a husband who works so hard in order to let me stay home & homeschool these blessings.

  26. 201

    Henita says

    I am thankful that God is at work, and hasn’t ignored my lost soul, but loves me with an everlasting love.
    I am thankful that there are people like you who carry heavy burdens to help bear the heavy burdens of others with great need.

  27. 202

    Lynn says

    I am so grateful for my family. I love my husband and son with all my heart.

    I am grateful that our son has such a positive attitude. He has many challenges in his life, but faces them head on and with a spirit that can only be God-given. He inspires me daily!!

    I am thankful for cozy blankets, warm fires, and candles on cool evenings. Welcome Fall!

  28. 204


    Thankful for the rain we’ve had this past week -will hopefully get past our drought, for my energetic little guy who just makes me smile when I need it most, a fabulous husband and daughter, and the love of our heavenly Father.

  29. 206


    For me gratitude changed when I realized I needed to not only look for but feel grateful for the difficult and the hard. When I started looking for the hard thankfuls my outlook really began to turn and my eyes opened to seeing more and more of God’s daily gifts.

  30. 208

    Meli says

    I’m thankful that my husband and I are still together, through the grace of God and our hard work (he had an affair last year).

  31. 211


    I’m grateful that Ann created this gratitude journal for families. Because whether I win one or buy it, it will be SO helpful in getting my family on the right track to gratitude journalling again. :)

  32. 213

    Cindy says

    I’m thankful for the word JOY that the Lord instilled in me for my word this year. It also became my daughter’s middle name. I am learning so much about joy and about making choices for joy.

  33. 214

    amanda noda says

    i am thankful that when my husbands 11 yr old car could no longer safely carry he and my daughter to work and back (both of us have vehicles over 10 yrs old) and we couldnt afford to have a car payment of buy another car due to me bieng pregnant and needing baby items and us gutting an old fixer upper house and needing to be moved in by december that my hubbys parents gave us their extra car wich is a 10 yr old car that has been sitting! and we were thrilled it might last 2 months it might last 1 year but it is getting us by and for that i am so very thankful!

  34. 216

    JHollyhock (aka Jennifer) says

    i am thankful for our new healthy little boy and his five siblings who adore him and a husband who is taking such good care of all of us.

  35. 218

    SandyW says

    I am thankful for my home. It may not be perfect, but it is a roof over our heads and a place filled with love.

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