A Paper Trail of Proof

by Jenny Stricklin


I told my husband one year that ALL I really wanted was a love letter. But not just a sweetly signed Hallmark card. A deeply personal, well-thought-out, and very specific handwritten letter from him to me.

Don’t get me wrong. He was really great at daily speaking and showing love. But we’d just had our first two kids 13 months apart, and some of you know what I mean when I say that those first couple of years felt a lot like full-blown mayhem. In the middle of the crazy life, I wanted a written record that our relationship was still moving forward. I wanted to be reminded of who we were and why we loved each other, to remember “us” stuff and linger over the details. I needed a fresh indication that even with busy toddlers, interrupted conversations and leftovers for dinner, our love was real. And I wanted proof that I could grip with my hands.

It may sound like a silly request, but I can say that my man DELIVERED. I woke up that morning to a manila envelope holding a small stack of pages each filled up with beautiful words that warmed my heart and fully exceeded my expectations. And don’t you know that I read and reread the love letter many times over. There’s just nothing that beats having a written record of love and commitment.

In a similar way my husband challenged me to document my year with the Lord. Nothing fancy necessarily, but like he did with the love letter, he suggested I take time to write down evidences of my growing relationship with God…“proof” of His activity in my life that year and of my commitment to Him. Obviously God isn’t desperate for a handwritten letter like I was. But in all likelihood, unless I write it down, details will get lost and precious memories will slip from my mind.

Look at the steps the Israelites were to take in order to remember what God had said and done. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 says:

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

And later in the chapter, we are told that when the children ask, “What’s the meaning of all this?” we are to recount to them the activity of Almighty God on their behalf.

Just as I want my kids to one day find a paper trail of their parents’ love for each other, so also I want them to be able to have a clear record of my relationship with Jesus. I want my children to have reason to ask, “What does all this mean, Mom? Tell me more!”

Psalm 77:11-12 says:

“I shall remember the deeds of the LORD; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will meditate on all Your work and muse on Your deeds.”

And in the following verses, the Psalmist goes straight from remembering, to praising and worshiping. Isn’t that the goal anyway? Whether in a physical marriage or a spiritual one, the purpose of remembering is to fuel our love and stir up our affections for the other person. Writing it down is a surefire way to never forget.

So as this year is drawing to a close, I decided to take my husband’s advice. And wow! When I saw all that God had done this year laid out so clearly on paper, it was such a faith builder and quite an inspiration to press in to further intimacy with Him. Through the ups and downs of this year, looking at the big picture helped me to see God’s faithfulness and nearness in it all. That the God of the universe sees and speaks to ME is mind blowing!

So maybe you’re not a “journaler” (I’m not.)  But maybe you’re interested in wrapping up your year in this way? I thought I’d share a few thoughts that helped me get started.

Looking back over 2016:

  • Are there specific verses or books of the Bible that brought encouragement, direction, or an expanded view of God and His agenda?
  • What were events or circumstances that were clearly divinely directed?
  • What did you labor over in prayer?  Have you seen answers? Are you still persevering?
  • Did you receive financial provisions or physical blessings to give God praise for?
  • Did you experience trials or hardships that created character and taught endurance of faith?
  • What acts of obedience did He call you to, whether simple or profound?
  • Did he whisper anything to your heart?
  • Were there people, books or other aids especially valuable in pushing you toward Christ?
  • Describe your feelings and emotions toward Him throughout this year.
  • Was there an overarching theme? Did you see any pattern to His movement in your life?

What an incredible thing to be in a loving, forward-moving relationship with the Living God. I am continually amazed and humbled that He would choose to be active in my life! Let’s not neglect him in the hurry of the season. REMEMBER and RECORD!  Let written evidence of His activity and your response to Him be your gift to Him this Christmas…AND to future generations.

Jenny Stricklin

Jenny Stricklin

We’d love to hear from you in the comment section below! Are you willing to share one way God has moved in your life this past year? Let’s be encouraged by telling and hearing the God stories we’ve experienced this year!


  1. McKenzie says:

    I love the way you reflect on 2016-in light of God. We had a failed adoption this year (my youngest daughter’s sister actually.). It has been amazing to see God’s grace through that time and the growth it brought to my family.

    • missionalmotherhood says:

      Wow, McKenzie, I’m sure that was a very difficult situation for your family. Thank you for sharing part of your story with us! May the Lord continue to be near and bring encouragement and peace to your hearts.

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