Thursday, May 5, 2011

Counting Gifts

One Thousand+ Gifts...that's the title and my intentionally notice, thank God, and write down 1,000 gifts He has given me, and to not stop there.

I strive to be thankful and I feel that it is a strength for me.  Daily I thank our Heavenly Father for all of the many, many ways He has so richly blessed me.  I admit, my gratitude wades in the pools of the bigger things in life...salvation, a loving husband and fulfilling marriage, a beautiful, healthy daughter, a comfortable home, health of family members, safety, etc.  Reading One Thousand Gifts has challenged me to continue to be thankful for those big areas of my life, but also to take out the magnifying glass and look more closely at the smaller things.

"There is a way to live the big of giving thanks in all things.  It is this: to give thanks in this one small thing.  The moments will add up." -Ann Voskamp

In light of eucharisteo, I am following Ann Voskamp and learning to count my gifts- not gifts that I desire, but the gifts that are right in front of me.  Ann shares her first few gifts...

"1. Morning shadows across the old floors
 2. Jam piled high on the toast
 3. Cry of blue jay from high in the spruce"

She continues, "...they are just common things and maybe I don't even know they are gifts until I write them down and that is really what they look like.  Gifts He bestows.  This writing it down - it is sort of like....unwrapping love."

"Well, if all these were gifts that God gives - then wasn't my writing down the list like...receiving.  Like taking with thanks.  Wait.  "And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them..."  Gave thanks."

Do you see the connection??  When we purposely recognize the smallest things as gifts from God, our mind shifts.  With that understanding, we then have a clearer picture of God and His immense love for us.  In turn, we live a life of joy and thankfulness for the countless ways he gives so freely.  God longs for us to have joy overflowing!

Ann quotes Alexander Schmemann, "Now, in the Bible a name....reveals the very essence of a thing, or rather its essence as God's gift....To name a thing is to manifest the meaning and value God gave it, to know it as coming from God and to know its place and function within the cosmos created by God.  To name a thing, in other words, is to bless God for it and in it."

I want this...I want to see the world around me, the good and the bad, and recognize it as a gift from God (more to come later on how to see the difficult times as gifts).  However, first I must learn.  In Philippians 4:11-12, Paul emphasizes the importance of learning, "I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.  I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little." (emphasis mine)

So that is what I am doing through this blog.  I am learning and practicing how to see every aspect of my life as a gift from God.  I am learning to find, unwrap, and thank God for the joy he gives us through his abundance of gifts.

"Joy is the realest reality, the fullest life, and joy is always given, never grasped.  God gives gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given: joy."  -Ann Voskamp

These first several posts have been the backbone and "why" of this blog.  From this point on most of my posts will be focused on counting my gifts.  However, the book One Thousand Gifts has many more truths I want to share, so I will sway in that direction at times.  In the meantime, I encourage you to read the book for yourself!  My attempt at describing her journey hardly scratches the surface.

PARENTS: I read a blog post by Ann on this topic and how it relates to raising children.  After reading this post it spurred me on even more to make it a priority to count my gifts as I want to instill this mindset in our children from a young age.  How to (help) Raise Grateful Kids

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