So, I'm re-reading Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts. If you haven't read it, read it. Today. If you've read it already, read it again with a hi-lighter and sticky notes in hand. It is to be cherished and savoured, but also studied and used as a companion to looking deep into scripture.
I read it the first time several months ago, loved it, prayed about it, cried my eyes out, started my own gratitude journal, felt an overwhelming sense of joy in offering thanks for the everyday, tapped into that deep understanding of life's gifts... then my dog then ate the book. I laughed at the irony and asked for a new copy for Christmas. And so, here I am in January, reading it for the second time and enjoying it probably more than I did when I first devoured the pages (not literally like the dog, however).
I truly do need a constant reminder to embrace the very moment before me. It's not something I can think about weekly or every few days or even daily. It's hour by hour, minute by minute. Thinking intentionally to be thankful and savor these minutes. And I completely relate when I read Ann's words related to taking a photoograph of a plate of cheese. "Ridiculously happy over slips of cheese. That I am, and it's wild, and, oh, I am the one who laughs. Me! Changed! Surprised by joy!" (p.57)
Because when I'm walking with a big floppy pup on a leash at 8am and the sun rises over the Blue Spruce standing thirty feet tall, I'm giddy too. My cheeks hurt from my smile. And when our big old truck bounces through slushy streets three hours later, just me and three kids, I cry. Tears roll down as I tell the kids, "Look... it's like God covered the whole earth in jewels." We see how the white powder shimmers in the sun light and we all breath in that gift. I'm trying to embrace this lifestyle of gratitude myself and also instill it in our children... so they won't have to learn it at almost 30.
Two years ago, I would never have thought to say those words. I would never have thought to pause and fully inhale. I might have sighed and whispered, "oh, pretty" and moved on - but this is so much deeper. So much more pure.
So, when again I'm whining that, "I hate winter," and I need a boot-kick reminder to be thankful in all things, God gives me snow.
And then He gives me the whispers to, "accept". Because when I complain about the season, it's like saying no to the present He has sent us in this beautiful, shimmering earth cover. And I don't want to be like a child that complains about the things her Daddy gives her. "I don't WANT that, it's not GOOD enough... I deserve something better...." Ouch. I feel like I lack the maturity to understand that all good things come from Above... and all good things are, um, undeserved.
I feel so incredibly blessed to have my eyes opened to these little gifts. And to remind myself of it hourly, I've started journaling gifts again. I got up to number 250-something and then I just stopped. I didn't stop noticing, but I stopped writing it down. There's truly something sacred in documenting all the undeserved bounty poured on me. Putting the pen to the notebook is definitely Holy work when you are accepting those little gifts and whispering thanks to Him with every number.
In this childlike, "THANK YOU, DADDY!", we can just fling our hands up and allow Him to fill us with joy all day long. Rather than complaining or thinking the negative, I shake my head and allow myself to see the blessing in every single moment... I guess that's 'the dare'... "to live fully, right where you are."
And so, the simple things become cherished gifts...
A messy breakfast table... beautiful and bright.
Morning sunshine casting shadows on a favorite book.
Sweet puppy-girl, resting on a dusty floor.
Little boy, messing with Math puzzles.
Little girl's birthday flowers, popping with color.
God, teach me, grow me, mature me in every way.
"Do not be so preoccupied with getting,
but instead, respond to God's giving.
Steep your life in God-reality,
Linked in:A Holy Experience