As much as I love to read (a quick glance at my “Books I Love” page will attest to that! :), there are few books that I would classify as life-changing.
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare To Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp definitely qualifies as a life-changer. Ann is a beautiful, lyrical writer; one who paints breathtaking word-pictures across the hearts of her readers. I did not want the book to end and the minute I read the last word, I turned right back to the first chapter and began reading all over again! Almost every page is highlighted, underlined, and starred. Simply put, this book powerfully stirred my soul and filled me with joy.
One day in November a couple of years ago, Ann received an email from a friend, daring her to make a list of one thousand blessings in her life. That simple exercise proved to be a journey into joy for Ann. She discovered that “thanks is what multiplies the joy and makes any life large…God gives the gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given: joy.” (pp. 48, 57).
Joy is a huge theme in my life (more on that subject in posts to come) and when I decided to accept the same challenge, I was delighted to discover that immense joy filled my heart as my eyes were truly opened to all the gifts and beauty that surround me daily: a snow-covered backyard bathed in the light of a full moon; my son playing a piece from “Fiddler on the Roof”; the sound of my daughter laughing with her friends; the feel of my husband’s strong arms around me at the end of a long day; the smell of fresh chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven; the sun making the white snow glitter like a million diamonds; sharing childhood memories with my brother. To say nothing of eyes that see, legs that walk, and ears that hear! Gifts are everywhere!
As Ann so rightly declares: “…the heights of our joy are measured by the depths of our gratitude.” (p.166).
Life is such a precious gift, bestowed upon us by our Creator.
However, we so often take that gift for granted.
We live, but we are not fully alive.
We see, but we do not savor. (When is the last time you truly gazed at the faces of the ones you love, rather than just taking a passing glance?)
We pass the time (and sometimes even waste it) , but we do not invest it.
We tend to focus on all that is wrong rather than celebrating what is right.
We rush through our moments rather than treasuring them .
We worry rather than worship.
This day, choose to see–really see– the gifts that surround you, no matter how small. Begin to name them.
Choose gratitude…and you will find joy.
I do not write these words from an ivory tower. Life has been hard these past several months. Fears loom large, tears spill, and there are more questions than answers sometimes.
YET…gratitude has a way of redeeming those fearful moments into a celebration of the goodness of my beautiful God in the midst of the pain.
Embark on a treasure hunt through your life. Celebrate the gift of today, right where you are.
This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. — Ps. 118:24
(You can find Ann Voskamp’s blog at: www.aholyexperience.com and the Amazon link to “One Thousand Gifts” is on my ‘Books I Love’ page).