I started to write something for the Evangel, and then a second mass shooting happened in two weeks. This time almost every casualty was an elementary school-aged child. I immediately thought of my elementary schooled age great-nephews and checked in with my nieces. I texted my kiddos to tell them how much I love them and how precious they are to us. As I went to bed, I thought of the mom that wouldn’t kiss their child goodnight because they died while sitting in their classroom. This morning it all still weighs heavy on me. What do I do with all the feelings and this sense of dread?

What do I do with the anger I feel that once again we have to mourn senseless deaths at the hand of a crazy person? I tend to be a person who is always looking for the silver lining, and my go-to in these moments is to crawl into my creative cocoon when I find comfort through knitting, painting, or working on a house project. Yesterday that wasn’t an easy thing to do, so I turned to my “I’m at the end of my rope ritual.” I made a list.

Several years ago, while amidst a hectic time of ministry and raising kiddos, my husband and I decided that we needed to get our minds on a more positive track. We’ve all been there. Life seems to come at you from all directions, and instead of seeing the glass as half full, you automatically see it empty. I turned to a portion of scripture that has become our go-to when we feel anxious and tired. Philippians 4:8-9 says, “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.”

After reading those verses, I asked myself, “What do I know to be true? What is honorable? What is just? What is pure, pleasing, and commendable? What is worthy of praise?” I wrote my answers down in my journal. It’s turned into a 20 +year tradition of writing what has evolved into the Thankful List.

So on Wednesday, I wrote out a Thankful List. With each sentence, I slowly felt my blood pressure lower. My mind slowed down and felt less chaotic. I even stopped to notice the sunshine and beautiful blue sky. I think this change is related to the promise in verse 9. “Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” I took a moment to remember who God is, and I felt peace. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. What do you know to be true? What is worthy of praise? I’d love to hear what’s on your Thankful List.

Here’s an example of what’s on mine: