One of the best gifts given to me as a child was the Christmas I received a $25 gift certificate to the book store. As a child, I loved visiting the small library in the center of town every Saturday with my mom. But a visit to the book store far exceeded the joy of borrowing a book for a week.
There, I could buy a book I could keep forever. I spent every cent of that gift certificate on a massively thick book about animals. I still have it.
My love of reading is so much a part of who I am that I feel anxious when I don’t have another book waiting for me as I approach the end of the book I’m reading. I know – one of my many quirks.
I just finished reading One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp. With this book, I didn’t feel anxious about not having the next book; rather, I wanted to read it again. And again. One soul-deepening read wasn’t going to be enough.
In light of my ongoing journey to uncover and share the journeys of overcomers, the following excerpt mirrors what many of the women I’ve interviewed learned from their struggles.
“I wonder too . . . if the rent in the canvas of our life backdrop, the losses that puncture our world, our own emptiness, might actually be places to see. To see through to God. That which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To Him. To the God we endlessly crave.”
IT IS hard to see through our earthly struggles and open our souls to see God.
In her study of Jesus’s last hours, Ann unearths a nugget of truth of such significance that she spends two hundred pages trying to explain and quantify how life changing it can be for believers.
“He (Jesus) gave thanks.”
In the original language, “he gave thanks” reads “eucharisteo.” Grace. Thanksgiving. Joy.
She is struck by the simplicity and the magnitude of giving thanks. It literally changes the way she views her life.
She began chewing on this new understanding of thankfulness. She knew she had to do something, so she began a list of the things (big and small) she was grateful for. She wanted to participate in eucharisteo or giving thanks. After recording her God-gifts for several days she realized, “This writing it down – it is sort of like . . . unwrapping love.” As her list of gifts grew, she found more joy, more love, more grace. Even more time.
Aren’t those the things we want most in life?
Journaling her one thousand gifts allowed her to count all the ways God loves her. She in turn gave thanks for all of it. Clean sheets. The crackle in the fireplace. Mail in the mailbox. Mismatched socks.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to truly see how God shows us His love each and every day? In the big things (a promotion at work) and the small things (a smile from a close friend). In the tough times (a scary diagnosis) and the smooth times (a son receiving his diploma). Give thanks in all of it.
Before I read the last sentence of her book, I was convicted. Years ago I started a gratitude journal. I lasted several months before I found myself repeating the same things.
I missed the point. In more than one way. I missed being grateful for the small, ordinary things . . . boys putting dirty clothes in the basket without a reminder. I also missed the connection of thanking God for those being ways He showed His love for me.
I decided I would take the challenge to record one thousand gifts. Determined to get the point this time.
Some days I forget. Other days I record several gifts. I’ve already learned much about God’s love for me already.
I encourage you to read One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. Jesus knew the significance of giving thanks. What if recording His gifts and giving thanks could strengthen and deepen your love for God? Wouldn’t it be worth it?
Find out more about Ann Voskamp and her books at onethousandgifts.com.
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