Giving thanks: Keeping a record of the good things…and the God things

Written by Jen Forsthoff
Published on November 25, 2022

I keep a lot of records for my daughter. I have contact information for each doctor and therapy office where we have taken her over the years.  I keep records of her medical assessments and paperwork. I have a binder filled with dividers and documents from doctor appointments to monitor the progress of her heart, her vision, her hearing, her blood work, her sleep studies, and more. I have IEPs from various teachers and support staff as she has continued in her education. I have folders of activities and therapy exercises that she can do at home to strengthen her current abilities and help her reach the next milestone. I have a collection of flyers from ministry programs and respite opportunities available to our family. I have pamphlets and brochures I have gathered from conferences and events about Special Olympics, financial planning, and other state-offered support for our family. 

Keeping track of the God things

I know I am not alone in my record keeping. As a special-needs parent, you understand the value of tracking this information and being a secretary of sorts for all the important and useful information that supports the development of your child.  These are all good things to record as we advocate for the wellbeing of our children. But I want you to consider something… something that may be new but powerful for you as a Christian parent and advocate for your child. 

What if we kept a record of not only the good things, but the God things? 

What if we kept an ongoing list of the answered prayer, the moments of favor and seeing the hand of God on the lives of our children? What if we did what 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to do by giving thanks in everything as we raise and care for our child with special needs? What if we kept a record of the God things and expressed our thanks as he is working in the lives of our children?

Just the other night, I set out to do just that. I was inspired to start a list of all the God things I have seen in my daughter’s life. I grabbed an empty journal that sat on my nightstand. On its cover, it had bright yellow lemons and the scripture, “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). Quite fitting if you ask me. I opened the front cover to find something already written inside — my daughter’s name. She had taken this journal to church camp and had written her name in purple ink at the top of the first page. Looks like I grabbed the right journal for this “give thanks” list. I wrote this title at the top of the following page: Give thanks for all he has done.

I sat for a moment, not knowing where to start. Over the past 10 years, God has done so much in my daughter’s life! Where do I even begin? So, I started my list with something very simple…

Thank you for my 10-year-old daughter.

A running list of gratitude

In the moments to follow, my thanksgiving started to flow, item after item, page after page. I began to look back over the years of medical miracles, answer prayers, financial provision, loving teachers, supportive friends, praying grandparents, and developmental breakthroughs. I just couldn’t stop giving thanks. My list continued effortlessly, not being able to write fast enough as one God thing after the next continued to flood my mind. Not until my husband walked in the bedroom did the list take a pause with my pen in hand. I looked up at him, far from being done with my list of God things to be thankful for. What started as a simple act of obedience to 1 Thessalonians 5:18 sparked a desire to continue this list of gratitude, a running record of the God things that we have seen in our daughter’s life.

So, my encouragement to you is to do the same. You keep such great records of your child’s medical needs, educational assessments, etc.; why not take a few moments to write down what you are grateful for as you have seen the hand of God work in your child’s life? As you continue to believe God and pray for your child in this season, set your heart on what he has already done in and through your child by giving thanks.

Giving thanks for the big and small things

You can make your list in a journal, start your list on your phone, or maybe even make a “Give thanks” poster to hang up in your prayer closet that will encourage you as you continue to pray for miracles in your child’s life. Consider the big things and the little things, and even if you have thanked God in the past, you can thank him again and keep a record of it. These records will serve as reminders of his faithfulness and power on the days you might need that extra dose of hope as a parent. Keep this list close by so that you can add to it and reflect upon it as you need faith moving forward.

God is honored when we give thanks. He has done and will do much more in the lives of our children.  It is our joy as Christian parents and advocates to keep a record of the God things he has done, and give thanks in every season!  

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Jen Forsthoff

Jen Forsthoff is the author of Chosen for Charlie: When God Gifts You With a Special- Needs Child and Champion For Charlie: Rise Up and Advocate For Your Child. Jen and her pastor-husband, Lucas, live in Michigan with their three children. Their oldest, Charlie, was diagnosed with Trisomy 21 at birth and has opened their eyes to the needs of families just like theirs. Raising Charlie, along with her experience as a classroom teacher and in ministry, has fueled Jen’s passion to positively impact families who face the challenge of parenting a child with special needs.  She writes, speaks, and advocates for families who need a message of hope and biblical truth to shape the everyday perspective of their role as the parent and champion for their child. In both ministry and educational platforms, Jen is a voice for parents raising a special-needs child. As God has opened doors through radio, television, community events/organizations, and ministry partnerships, she continues to bring a message of hope to families. You can connect with Jen at and on Instagram @jforsthoff.

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