I've been reading an amazing book, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Read her blog and you will see her writing style and her heart. I posted a trailer on Facebook a few weeks ago about her book and you can see it on her website now. I'm only halfway finished and was going to wait until I read it all to recommend it, but I feel the need to start counting my own one thousand gifts.
Ann's story is one of such honestly in her struggles. She came out of a dark childhood as her parents turned away from God after her sister's death. As an adult she began to study eucharisteo, or thankfulness in the Bible and found that it is essential to living out your salvation. She began to make a list of one thousand gifts and over time it became habit. When she finished she simply kept writing them because she couldn't stop. She learned to see gifts she would have never seen before, even in tragedy. She is learning how to live a full life.
"And the miracle of eucharisteo never ends: thanksgiving is what precedes the miracle of that salvation being fully worked out in our lives. Thanksgiving - giving thanks in everything - is what prepares the way for salvation's whole restoration. Our salvation in Christ is real, yet the completeness of that salvation is not fully realized in a life until the life realizes the need to give thanks. In everything?"
My soul needs to begin counting these gifts. There is so much pain in the lives of people I love. Things I believed to be true and real and lasting are not and it can cause you to doubt many things. A friend asks me, "Is this what it will be for us, too - this unhappiness and discontent in life and our choices? Is it inevitable?" It makes me wonder if a life can be lived well and full for all our days. And yet I have seen people live this way, or I think I have. Once again, I question and wonder how many things there are that I don't see.
Ann learned that this fullness doesn't happen by accident or chance. In her life it was a lot of work. It must be learned and intentional and it must not be dependent on our circumstances. I answer my friend that I can only control my choices. I can't control Taylor's or my children's and that gives me a panicky feeling. What if they make horrible choices that send my life spinning out of control? Somehow this fullness can't be dependent on all that. Thankfulness needs to transcend all that.
So today sitting in church I feel the need to begin my list of one thousand gifts. It really isn't difficult in my life at all and yet counting them helps me believe that this God of goodness is not just present in the blessings in my life, but also in the pain all around me.
As scripture is read I know what my first of the thousand will be.
1. My dear friend flourishing in her new faith
As Sophie works on papers from Sunday school next to me I write,
2. Children learning the stories of our faith
As Taylor stands up to preach I am reminded that my same dear friend once commented how fulfilling it must be for me to see Taylor doing his job that he is gifted at and passionate about. How many wives get to see their husbands in their work?
3. Watching Taylor do what he is passionate about
As familiar and comforting music swirls around me I write number 4.
4. Songs the saints have been singing for generations.
And just now, tucking my little man in for a nap, it came so easily.
5. A kiss on the cheek and the words, "I wuv you bery much."