On top of my dresser between pictures of the kids, chapstick and earrings, a small rectangular book sits with a colored pen next to it. The book’s location and the words on the cover – One Line A Day – remind me to stop and pause each night. For six years I’ve been coming to this dresser, pen in hand, to write about my days in only a few lines.
Tonight is no different than every other night.
With the sound of the kids’ noise machine humming through my room, I check the monitor one final time. Charlotte’s scrunched close to the wall. I have a hard time finding Isaac sleeping between stuffed animals and blankets, but one hand with his fingers curled lies atop his head. Shutting my bedroom door, I make my way to the shower. Hot water pounding my body is a luxury after a full day. For these few moments no one demands my attention and I bask in that knowledge. Once I’m showered, dried, and cozy in my pajamas I grab the purple pen and start writing. I only have a few lines to tell about my day and what we all did: the food we ate, the places we visited, the times of reading books on the couch, playtime at the park, and our walks around town.
I first heard about the one line a day journal from Tsh Oxenreider’s Simple podcast. She shared about her recent purchase and commented that by the time she finished the five years her daughter would be a senior in high school. Five years didn’t seem to be so long after all.
When Charlotte was two, I started my own five year journal as a new way to mark and honor the days. At the time our life was filled with playdates with friends, naps, books, and church. A few weeks into writing I found out I was pregnant again. And from then on, the journal became a time capsule of our family of four, the simple and beautiful and hard stories of our lives, captured in a few lines each night.
In our town we have recurring events every year. Now six years in I can flip back to a day and see how we experienced our town’s fair and Christmas market and opening of the pool. In a way, it seems like not much has changed when I flip through the years. We live in the same town with the same people and worship at the same church. Yet, each line represents the growth and experiences that are transforming and enriching our lives. When I write about the kids playing at the playground I can see their growth by their willingness to slide down the slide or climb across the monkey bars. Our times with books on the couch are changing too as Charlotte takes her turn reading to us. Our memories in the kitchen not only include the food and baked goods we’ve made but the times the kids have helped mix, pour, and bake for others. Each night I write about our days and in the writing and remembering I realize I’m praying.
Prayers of gratitude for wet kisses and small hands, reciting the alphabet and hearing stories come to life, walks around town and phone calls with family and friends. Prayers of being fed and feeding others, fresh baked bread and home made meals shared, laughter and meltdowns around the table.
Each day a gift.
When I read through the days turning into years, I see one word more often than others: good.
After all the long nights feeding the baby, the meltdowns over what clothes the toddler would wear, the endless pile of dishes, the worry about a family member’s recent diagnosis, the food to be cooked, the distractions, the constant busyness, and the coordinating of schedules, the days are good.
Because as night comes and I’m ready for bed, the words come naturally.
A good day.
I lived. I loved. I prayed. I played. I wrote. I read. I messed up. I asked for forgiveness. I stumbled. I forgave. I yelled. I lost my patience. I rested.
That’s the beauty of my Five-Year Journal. Writing every night allows me to take a few moments to see my days as they really are – beautiful, hard, hopeful, sad, and joyful.
Every night I come to the dresser and open my journal and am able to see the day for what it is – a gift to experience in this one, precious and fleeting life.
This post originally appeared on the author’s website.