thankful box

In the past week alone, I’ve been stilled in ways that I’m really just now processing.


It may sound silly to some, but this week was just a really tough one. It was nothing life altering, or horrific. It was just frustrating. A simple LASIK procedure made me see bokeh for about five days… and I’m not talking about the good, pretty Christmassy kind. Everything was an absolute blur. I could do and see nothing, and I’ve never felt so helpless. Not being able to see at all, was perfect timing for the entire family to come down with strep. Even Jamin. So cut to me, trying to do things, stumbling around the house squinting like Velma Dinkley. The cherry on top of my sundae was last night, when Emerson said her head was itchy. I didn’t know it was possible for one to pray so frantically for the non existence of head lice while I blindly combed through her hair. As if fumbling through her locks would make it better or eliminate the problem. This, I had coronated as the absolute end of me.

It is what it is. We are all on the mend, and these things happen. It’s life. I can guarantee we will laugh at it later. But this week made me appreciate the people around me. Revealed my dearest friends. Brought me closer to my mom, who showed up at my house and hugged me and listened patiently while I blubbered incessantly in the hallway. Sometimes life is like that. And in short, it’s made me realize how much I’ve truly taken for granted in the every day. I’ve taken my sight for granted. I’ve taken my children’s health for granted. I’ve taken my amazing husband for granted. I take things for granted like it’s a hobby and there’s a grand prize for the most clueless. Some major things in my life were pointed out to me, all in one week… and it was overwhelming.

I’ve rambled a lot on how Jamin and I want to instill in our children a sense of gratitude. And to realize what wonderful things are happening all around them. This week was a real eye opener for me (for lack of a better phrase) in the sense that I am so often focused on the wrong things. And I demonstrate that, even when I don’t mean to at all.


So we decided to create a family thankful box. We actually got this idea from Aiden’s teacher, and the beauty of this is that you can do this however you wish. So yesterday, we took a basic photo storage box that we scored on clearance a while back, and put some simple polka dots with a gold sharpie. I even “colored” on the metal part to make it match. It may sound silly, but it was something I could see up close (for the first time yesterday) and it was therapeutic to make polkadots while everyone else was passed out. Who knew I was such a control freak, easily calmed with the act of coloring. It isn’t perfect and it was a quick project, but it looks kinda fun and the kids love it.


The idea is that we truly have so much to be thankful for. So each week, every time we think of something, we write it down. Into the box it goes. If we’re having a bad day, if we’re feeling negative, or if we’re complaining… we write something good that we can be joyful about, and put it into the thankful box. It was to the point this week, when every time I said something negative to Jamin, I also stated five things I was thankful for. Not to go all Polyanna on everyone, but there’s just something about that physical practice of acknowledging the good and the blessings, that can really keep you level headed. Or from losing your head, in my case.



The idea, is that at the end of each week, we can sit down as family (a great dinner time discussion) and talk about all the things in the box.


I often find that all of our wants all of our frustrations… those things put into our head from all the voices of the world… those things we are so worried about… are quickly squelched by our realization of how much we really have to be thankful for. The ways that God really is working in our lives.

Of course, my two youngest can’t spell yet. So they draw pictures of what they’re thankful for. And even if the pictures are unintelligible, we can still discuss. It makes them think. It makes all of us think. {By the way, Malone is thankful for our house-and I’m pretty sure they’ll all be thankful when they don’t have to take any more of that icky medicine.}


Oh, and I even included some free little ‘thankful’ printables for you guys if you’re interested in practicing this with your family, or just a little something for yourself. Simply go to our freebies page and look for ‘thankful’. Click, download + print.


Do you guys try to practice a lifestyle of gratefulness in your own families? I’d love to hear your ideas! You guys always have amazing ideas – You inspire us more than you know! Have a wonderful, peaceful Friday, y’all!

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Responses to thankful box

  1. Sarah says:

    If you go and read my blog from this last week…you will know how timely this little project is. I am thankful in this moment for free printables! THANK YOU!

  2. JT says:

    I love this and your tansparency. Not being able to see can sound like it’s not a big deal but I’ve been there and it is. Thank you for this. I needed it.

  3. Victoria says:

    Glad you are on the mend!!

  4. Anna says:

    I love this. Hang in there Mills family!

  5. Centsational Girl says:

    Wonderful idea! I’m so grateful for YOUR words and attitude today and this new practice in your family is so wise and such a great idea, I think we need a Thankful Box too!

  6. Juliette Mariano-Carlson says:

    I am thankful for your blog and honesty. I love that you keep it real. Praying that your family feels better soon.

  7. Patty Page says:

    I keep a journal that I write the things I’m thankful for in—it all started after reading Ann Voskamp’s book “One Thousand Gifts”—a must read!

  8. Sue Lambrix says:

    What a beautiful idea…………..we all have “those weeks” or days that make us appreciate life more. This is a great way to teach our children about gratitude in a visual way. Can’t wait to share this with my daughter for my grandchildren. I want to put one in my house for when they come over. It would be great to save the box for them to look at as they get older.

  9. Paula Abay says:

    What a wonderful post! I take for granted so much in life, although I’m trying to change that. I have kept a “Blessings Journal” for many years but haven’t written in it for quite sometime. Thank you for encouraging me to return to it and update it.

  10. Darcie says:

    I, too, was going to mention Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts…it will completely transform your thinking about simply being grateful. Another daily (or every time we all 6 sit together for dinner) tradition at our house is to simply ask everyone person at our table, “What are you thankful for today?” before we pray. We even ask guests to share when they’re at our table. Wow — it has created such a better “tone” for our mealtimes. Our children are 9,7 5, and 2, so mealtime hasn’t always that peaceful, but focusing our hearts on the good things and on the One who made all things good has made a tremendous difference! Blessings to you as you heal.

  11. emily hope says:

    so sorry for your family maladies! & hope it’s all going away soon. but yes, it’s amazing how hard days/weeks/months can remind us of how much we take for granted, isn’t it? love the thankful box. on my pinterest list now to remind me to make soooon 😉

  12. Barb Lewis says:

    what a great idea. useful for every single person. we so often get pulled down by all our challenges we forget the great and wondrous things/people in our lives. thanks for this reminder to remember!

  13. having an attitude of gratitude is SO important! what a great tool you’ve created to get your whole family in on that practice! :)

    it was about 4 years ago when i was going through a particularly dreary time in life that i began intentionally ‘re-framing’ my negative thoughts into SOME teeny tiny reason to be thankful despite my current situation.

    kids are being SO whiny – re-frame: so thankful they are healthy and at home with me rather than stuck in a hospital bed – now lets find something FUN and active to do with our able bodies!

    i’m so sick and tired of living in a rental house – i can’t paint how i want, this is not my dream lay-out etc, etc…
    re-frame – i’m so thankful i’m not responsible for replacing that hot water heater that just broke down. i’m thankful for a warm house on this cold night – maybe i’ll find a fun throw blanket and pillows to inject some color into this joint! i’m thankful for a safe neighborhood that my kids can run and play without a care…

  14. Adore this idea! When I was going through a stressful time a couple of years ago it helped me make a list of things I was thankful for to pull me out of that funk. Love the idea of children participating and starting to count their blessings.

  15. Gilit says:

    I think we’ve all had weeks like that but what’s great about you is that you took something from it. I love the idea of a thankful box and think we’re going to start one also. Of course well have to make it up for the four month old but I bet she’s grateful for a lot :)

  16. Elizabeth says:

    I adore your website and wanted to thank you for all your freebies! AND you have turned me into a font snob. :)

  17. Emelyn says:

    This is great!! Our family has one too… We call it the “gratitude” box… Which completely introduced a new word to my kids… When I told them about the gratitude box, they were like, huh what the heck is gratitude? Anyway, I love yours too and completely agree with your post here.. I want my kids to realize that there is a lot to be thankful for and to focus on that and what they do have, instead of comparing themselves to others and what they don’t have.. The kids have fun with it.. Though sometimes the 2 older kids have some pretty snarky things to write.. I get sort of amused by it.. We try not to look at what the other has written and the idea for us is to open the box and read the scraps of paper on New Year’s Day 2014..It’s like our present for the new year.. It will be fun.. I just need to get a bigger box..

  18. Casey says:

    I really love this!

  19. Christine says:

    This an awesome story and idea. Thank you so much for sharing. Even though my kids are grown I think this would be a great idea to set up in kitchen or where ever they can see it, or even friends if they want. I so wish I had you young ladies around with your many ideas when I was young, even though can be over whelming . Too many ideas that is. Again thank you so much and pray you all get better soon.

  20. Samantha says:

    At the beginning of this year, I decided to keep a gratitude journal. It started out as a short list of a few things I was grateful for that day and has ended up being small, meaningful journal entries about the important, touching, memorable things that happen each day… the things that make me grateful to be alive and be near my family and have an awesome husband. It’s been refreshing to read through just the last two months and remember how much I’ve accomplished and how much I’m loved and love others.

  21. amy says:

    this is so perfect. so perfect.
    last week my husband (a high school teacher/coach) was driving a bus full of kids and it broke down. in the midst of trying to figure out what happened, he got his wedding ring caught on a bolt and he lost his finger. it was such an eye-opener for all of us. not to take each other for granted. to love each other and be so thankful for all we have. for health. for incredible family who steps in to help and to our amazing small community who overwhelmed us with kindness and generosity.
    so I for one am definitely going to make a thankful box. and I especially love that it’s for everyday kinds of gratitude rather than just a single day of thanks.

    • Goodness, Amy. Wow. I am so glad your husband is okay. How scary that must have been for him and you. I truly hope he is feeling better soon. And amen to every day gratitude. It’s a great feeling. ;}

  22. Tonya says:

    Thank you for the reminder. I about burst into tears when I read this, as I’m having a frustrating day at work. Who knew a lunch break blog read could encourage me to get my focus back on the good stuff.

    Blessings and I hope you can see clearly now.

  23. Jen says:

    I am thankful for YOu darlin! We have many weeks like the one you described, but you are so very right, it is important to take time outs and focus on the positives. Such a great way to heal from the stresses that life throws our way.

    Everyone should make a thankful box, in fact, it is on my list for this week!

    I hope everyone is on the mend, sending healthy happy vibes your way…

  24. Nicole S says:

    Just started our Thankful Box. Thank you for the free printable!

  25. tara says:

    I’m so sorry that you’ve had such a horrible week. I’m hoping and praying by now things are looking up.

    My recent health scares shook me up, too, and turned me inside out, if I’m honest.

    I love your thankful box…what a great idea. We don’t have one of those, but we do nightly tell what we’re thankful for at dinner. It’s a great time to focus all of us on what really matters.

  26. Lynsey Braggs says:

    Oh I love this idea! I’m glad your family is on the mend, God’s timing is perfect sometimes in the ways he brings you closer to the things in life that are the most important. I’m sorry it had to be through sickness,yuck! But it truly does make you thankful for health! I think I’ll make a thankful box today! Thank you for the idea!:)

  27. Sondra Burnett says:

    LOVE this . . .would like to post it on our Joy Book Company Facebook if that is fine with you. One of my main things is desiring gratefulness in the center of our lives. Thank you for this fine idea. Sondra

  28. Cindy Black says:

    This is such a beautiful idea! Being thankful allows us to be who we are while others absorb our gratitude and pay it forward.

  29. Carrie Beth says:

    Hi! I am a new reader and am in absolute LOVE with your website!

    May I inquire as to what the magical stenciled background behind the box is? I can’t tell if that’s your wall, a board that you’ve stenciled, a chair rail, etc. Would you mind sharing?

    Carrie Beth

  30. Annie Hawker says:

    Thank you!!!

  31. Kim says:

    This is a beautiful idea, and your box turned out so pretty! I love the idea of stopping to give thanks everyday, even when everything’s going haywire. A friend got me started on a gratitude journal, and now we meet daily in a private Facebook “hope group” and share our thanks. It’s amazing.

    I’m totally making a box for us this Thanksgiving and using your printables! Thanks for sharing! I hope all is calm and peaceful at your house this week.

  32. Nickesha says:

    I’ve seen this idea around a few times and have always been planning to do one. Thanks for this post, which has served as a reminder. It’s really is easy to focus on things that really don’t matter and to take so many things for granted.

    Will do one pronto! God bless! xx