It’s been years now since I started keeping a mental joy journal- a running list of the things in life that made me happy, that made my cup overflow, that brought my heart joy and made me thankful to be alive.

Sometimes my lists are filled with obvious things. Sometimes it is filled with little things that only my heart can really know and understand. Sometimes it is filled with random bits that would make others laugh, and often I laugh too, but to me they are also glimpses into the blessings of Him who cares even for the small things in life.

Whatever the case, I call these lists my Ebenezers. They are testimonies between my heart and my God of His goodness and grace. I only wish I’d written them down in a real and true journal more often than I have, for no matter how dark and rainy of a day it may be, a little glance through the joy journal never fails to lift my heart and encourage my spirit to keep looking.

The saying that says there’s a golden side to every cloud… it is true. The sayings that say that no matter how dark the day, there’s always a glimmer. It’s true. The sayings that say that there’s something beautiful about every day. They are true, too. We just have to look for those things in places that may be quite out of the ordinary.

I like to think of it as a training project. Life is made up so much of what we look for. And what isn’t made by what we see, sometimes can be made better if we look for the best. Our minds aren’t always naturally bent to look for the good and the best and the beauty. Sometimes the heart can be painfully loaded with cares and heartaches, and the eyes so filled with tears that it seems nearly impossible to see any thing beautiful or good. That’s the time to start looking.

For me, it has been a lot of different things. Dewdrops sparkling on the grass. Clouds parting so I could see a lunar eclipse. A random tulip growing up out of what looked like a cinder-pile. A snatch of a song that unexpectedly spoke to my heart in a big way. It has been a smile. A note from someone who said just the right words- though they may never know it. It has been the wind on my face, blowing back my hair, and in my mind, blowing away the cares from my heart.

Whatever it is that brings a sparkle of joy into your heart, if you find that your eyes seem to see more bad than good in life, start your own journal to collect these little things. Make it your training this year to focus on beauty, on goodness, on blessings, and give your heart every reason- no matter what circumstances may bring- to be truly thankful. Not just in November, but every single day of the year.


  1. I love this post Chantel! This summer I’ve really been focusing on my Ebenezer…and I had never thought of the small joys as part of my Ebenezer, but that’s a great perspective.

    One thing that I’m thinking about doing (and I stole this idea, it’s not mine) is writing an Ebenezer that covers my life…all the milestones that have shaped who I am today. I’m sure if I write it out, God’s hand will be obvious!


  2. i thank you Chantel for such a wonderful post…You don’t know how greatful i am for articles and Lanier and Gretchen and others write on here, they always inspire me daily to keep going after the Lord, and to keep striving..:)) And to be thankful..maybe i Should Also start a thankful journaling…i need to!!! i already have a prayer i just gotta start writing 🙂

    thank you Chantel and YLCF for all that you do :))

    Blessings & HUGS!!

    Happy Holidays!

    In His Love, Jane

  3. Aletha M. says:

    Amen! I couldn’t have said it more beautifully myself!

  4. It was because of you that I was inspired to start writing down in the back of my regular paper journal at least one thing I was thankful for each and every day. I’ve done that for over 2 years now… and looking back, I can see how it has changed my perspective on life in general.
    There is always something good and beautiful in each day.
    Always something to thank God for!

  5. I love this….inspiration for me 🙂 thank you for sharing!

  6. Thanks for this encouragement! I think I might start a journal to record God’s blessing in it.

  7. Beautiful!
    Thank-you 🙂

  8. Thanks so much Chantel for writing this. I read it on your blog recently and meant to comment there. It’s so true – how can we be thankful if we don’t live thankfulness? we’d get into such a routine of ‘unthankfulness’ that when it was time to be thankful we wouldn’t know how. Oh Lord, fill me with gratitude!

  9. I love that idea! Thanks, Chantel for the beautiful reminder.

    “Sometimes the heart can be painfully loaded with cares and heartaches, and the eyes so filled with tears that it seems nearly impossible to see any thing beautiful or good. That’s the time to start looking.”
    So true! I loved those rich, inspiring words.


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