Last year while celebrating New Year’s with our children, we introduced a new tradition, The Gratitude Jar. We each started the night off by writing something we were grateful for on a notepad and placing it in the jar. Throughout the year we continued with this habit. Periodically, if we were feeling discouraged or just needed to smile, we could pull out a few gratitude notes and be reminded of the blessings in our lives. I loved hearing the “clink” of the lid being placed on the jar, a sweet reminder that my children are aware of their blessings.

We sat together as a family after attending Mass on New Year’s Day and read the notes together. It was fun to dump them out of the jar, dig through the pile and read them. Some were adorable, many presented a common theme, some reminded us of particular events we went through during the year, a few were odd and there were many that brought me to tears.

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It is reassuring as a parent to read notes from your children that state they are grateful for their siblings, their teachers and priests and for YOU as a parent! Every day of my life I thank God for blessing me with my husband and these children and knowing that the daily lessons we are teaching them are sinking in.

There are far too many to list each one, but I would like to share some of our favorites with you. (I am writing these exactly like they were written, spelling errors and all.)

I am grateful for Father Abraham & his wonderful sense

of humor!

Thankful for: being able to go to a safe place during the

day & come home to a safe place at night.

I am thankful for life and Jesus and my family!

I’m thankful for PETE! (We call our daughter Payton, Pete.)

I am thankful for shelter!

My family

I am thankful for school!

Friends Dane Alec Alex. (The cutest part about this is that

 these are our oldest son’s friends, but this was written by

our youngest son.)

The Bishop & him taking the time and saying Mass at KCHS.

My beautiful family

I am thankful for the bibble! (Adorable)

I am grateful for Betty Streff

My mom!

I’m tankful for food and drinks and my house! 😉

Karla Jensen – for being my support system away from home.

For my parents love and support

Snow days w/my family! P.S. Any day off work is a great day!

I am thankful for Klotheing (Keeping these FOREVER!)

St. Cecelia’s Cathedral

For mom


I’m thankful for Pete! <3 Jackson (Complete with artwork)

A beautiful wife who has my best interests in mind!

The four Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke & John

KCHS XC (Kearney Catholic Cross Country)

My professors (past, present & future) especially Mr. Moore

My mom

My inhaler

I am thankful for Pete and Weedum (A.K.A. Payton & Liam)

Catholic Schools Week! We Believe!

I am grateful for Sunshine

Goerg Washingtin (Personal favorite)

I am thenkfol for everything

I am thankful for praying.

Endless supplies of books!

Great kids!

I ttankful for God! (six year olds are adorable!)

Liam – inside & out he is one of the best people I know (written by a sibling, proud mama moment!)

For the opportunity to be involved with Invisible Children (GREAT organization, check it out HERE!)

I am grateful for my SendOutCards team & family! <3

The Sharps

Troy Potthoff and his nurse Ashley

I am grateful for the loving people my children have to teach them.

To have an awesome life

Im thankfull for Jackson as my Best friend.

Lots of food.

I thankful for my family

For being able to run with my family

Dr Bibler and Deb Quinn

I am grateful for fun times with my kids.

Dr McNeil and the support/encouragement he provides for me

For dad

The staff at the Cancer Center

I am thankful for punishment

Father Paul & the way God has blessed my family! He always takes care of us!

I am blessed for all the teachers that take their time and help prepare us for our future <3

Rachel Pokora for always being there for me & having faith in me

I am grateful for Kody & Jodi Bateman

To constantly be inspired by Jason Russel & Jedidiah Jenkins

God giving me six healthy children & my best friend for my husband!

For witnessing true love at Brad & Erica’s wedding

Carl Stevens, Mercy Southam & Angwech Collines


This is just a sampling of the notes in our Gratitude Jar this year, I wish I could list them all! What I learned about this was that my children take time without being prompted to be grateful for even the littlest things in their lives. They love one another, they love their schools, their friends, their parents, (even punishment!) & their God. Our family is abundantly blessed, not merely with material possessions, but with a true deep down positive spirit, with Faith and Gratitude.

What is MOST important to ME in my daily life is that I am a positive example to my children. If I were gone tomorrow, would I have taught them what TRULY matters in life?!? What I noticed about this was that they didn’t say they were grateful for a gaming system or a fancy car, designer jeans or an iPhone, they are grateful for the PEOPLE in their lives and for simple blessings and for their Faith!

We have already got a nice little pile of notes building up for this year, I am looking forward to reading them again together with my favorite people! I hope you will be inspired to begin a Gratitude Jar in YOUR home and remember to ALWAYS thank God for the blessings in your life!

Happy New Year and may God’s BLESSINGS upon you be abundant!

Traci Runge

Traci was born and raised in San Diego and has called Kearney, Nebraska home for the past 18 years. She is married to Darby Runge and together they have 6 children. They own and operate Pro-Tint, a window tinting business. Along with being a full-time mom, Traci is also a Manager and Certified Trainer with SendOutCards, she works with businesses and individuals to build relationships and grow their income through Relationship Marketing. Traci works hard to balance her roles of mother, wife and business owner. She strives to help make the world a better place through kindness and love and leading by example. Traci is committed to her family, church and community and can often be found volunteering in some capacity.