Sunday, June 1, 2014

One Thousand Gifts

I have followed Ann Voskamp's blog for a long time now and have wanted to read her book, One Thousand Gifts, since it came out but never got around to it. About a month ago a sweet co-worker and I were talking about the book over lunch. The next day she surprised me with the book on my desk. What a blessing to work among such precious ladies.

I have just practically inhaled this book and all its truth and goodness. I cannot encourage you enough to go out and get this book. If I had to sum up what I have learned from this book so far in one word it would be thankfulness. Eucharisteo.

As Ann explains, "the root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning 'grace.' Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks. He took the bread and knew it to be gift and gave thanks."1

"But there is more and I read it. Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, charis. But it also holds as its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning 'joy'."2

"Deep chara joy is found only at the table of euCHARisteo - the table of thanksgiving. I sit there long.. wondering... is it that simple? Is the height of my chara joy dependent on the depths of my eucharisteo thanks? So then as long as thanks is possible.. I think this through. As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible. Joy is always possible."3

I hope it's okay that I quoted Ann (proper credit given), but this thought has completely transformed my way of thinking about joy. Not that I ever consciously thought that joy was out of my control, but by my attitude and the way I lived - unthankful - I was unconsciously preventing myself from experiencing true God-given joy. This thankfulness that she talks about isn't just thankfulness for the big celebratory moments in life - but in the everyday, God gifts. And true thankfulness is also present in the difficult, trying moments. But while this concept has completely grabbed my attention, I need a practical way to put this - eucharisteo - into practice. Ann introduces the idea of an ongoing journal where she writes down one thousand blessings. And as one who often "thinks through my fingers", or through writing if you will, I can totally get into this. As I picked up pen and paper to begin my list, I excitedly began writing thanks. Thanks to God for things that I so often take for granted. Little things and big things. Exciting things and hard things. And as I continue writing in the days, weeks, months, and years to come of 1000+ gifts (because I know they are there), I encourage you to write along with me. The list will continue as life happens and I'm sure some days there will be more to add than others, but if someday all we can add is the fact that we have air in our lungs, well that is still something to be thankful for.

One thing I have noticed about myself as I continue my list is that I am seeing things as gifts from God that I usually overlook or simply do not give credit to God for. Like these beautiful deep purple hydrangea blossoms that are decorating the front of our house.

 Or fresh clean clothes, warm from the dryer.

Uplifting, christian music playing from our local radio station.

These beautiful ladies, inside and out, that God has given me as co-workers.

Sweet puppy kisses after a long day at work.

Smiles on sweet two-year-old patients' faces.

Fresh grown strawberries and creamy gourmet chocolate. 

Andrew getting to come home from work a day early. 

A season of growth for our marriage.

Live oak trees standing tall on either side of our driveway.

Fresh cut grass and a husband who mows.

And the list goes on. What kinds of things can you add to your list? Thinking on these things has created new depth to my relationship with Christ. For as Ann says, "is there a greater way to love the Giver than to delight wildly in His gifts?"4

1-4. Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), 32-33, 219.


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