Friday, September 07, 2012

My Journey to Thankfulness: Part Two

So contines my journey into finding out how to change my life by becoming more and more thankful.

I copied words from the book, One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp, into my journal.  Words and ideas that I did not wish to forget.  Here are some more of her words.

"How do I live?  Am I living a life fully alive or with empty meaningless motions?  How do I want to live?

Jesus, the God-man who came to save me from prisons of fear and guilt and depression and sadness.  With an expiration of less than twelve hours what does Jesus count as all most important?

" "And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them. " "  Luke 22:19

He gave thanks is the word eucharisteo.  The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning "grace".  Jesus took the bread, saw it as grace and gave thanks.  He knew it was a gift.

The derivative of charis is a greek word, Chara, meaning, "joy".  That has always been the goal of the fullest life-joy.  I long for more life, for more Holy Joy.  Was this the clue to the quest of all most important?  Deep chara joy is found only at the table of the euCharisteo-the table of thanksgiving.  Is the height of my chara joy dependent on the depths of my eucharisteo thanks?

 As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible.  Joy is always possible.  Whenever, meaning-now; whereever, meaning here.

Charis.  Grace

Euscharisteo.  Thanksgiving.

Chara.   Joy.

Eucharisteo-thanksgiving-always precedes the miracle.

Non-eucharisteo, ingratitude, was the fall-humanity's discontent with all tha tGod freely gives.  That is what has scraped me raw: ungratefulness.  Then to find Eden, the abundance of Paradise.  I'd need to forsake my non-eucharisteo, my bruised and bloodied ungrateful life, adn grab hold to eucharisteo, a lifestyle of thanksgiving.

If our fall was the non-eucharisteo, the ingratitude, then salvation must be intimately related to eucharisteo, the giving of thanks.  We only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanks."

As Ann kept pondering Thanksgiving and joy and the grace that God gives us she tried to find a way to make it real in her life.  She wanted it to change her at her very core.  A friend of hers challenged her to write a list of a thousand things that she loved.  This is how it started: in her own words.

"Could I write a list of a thousand things I loved?

To name one thousand blessings-one thousand gifts-is that what she means?  Sure, whatever.

I begin the list.  Not of gifts I want, but of gifts I already have.  They make me smile. They are just the common things and maybe I don't even know they are gifts really, 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 give-then wasn't me writing down the list like. . . receiving.  Like taking with thanks.

Paul writes, "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 i is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little."  Philippians 4:11-12

There it is-the secret to living joy in every situation, the full life of eucharisteo.  Paul had to learn.  I would have to learn eucharisteo.

Thanks is what multiplies the joy and makes any life large, and I hunger for it.

The discovery that naming offers the gift recognition-that is priceless.

This naming really does call now a gift, a gift from God.  I look at a day, a thing, an event in front of me, and it may look manna-strange: "What is it?"  But when I name it, the naming of it manifests its meaning: to know it comes from God.  This is a gift.

In naming that which is right before me, that which I'd otherwise miss, the invisible becomes visible.

The space that spans my inner emptiness fills in the naming.

God is in the details;  God is in the moment.

God is in all that blurs by in a life-even hurts in a life.

Though pastors preached it, I still came home and griped on.  I had never practiced.  Practiced until it became second nature.

I am happy in all these little things God gives.  I laugh.  I am changed!  Surprised by joy!

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!

Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant-a seed-this plants the giant miracle.  Do not distain the small.  Thw whole of the life-even the hard-is made up of the minute parts, and if I miss the small moments, I miss the whole.  Give thanks in this one small thing.  The moments will add up."

And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 5:20

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The more of her book that I read, the more I was challenged.  I had heard so many times growing up that I needed to give thanks to God and not grumble and complain.  I often thanked God for the big things He did for me and sometimes for the little things too.  But I had so made a habit of complaining out loud and in my heart.  It was going to be hard to break that.  But I was determined to try.

I got out my journal that my sister had given me.  And I started a new chapter in my life.  I figured I had to try to reach at least one hundred things.  I was going for a thousand, but that is a lot!!  When I tried to  thank God for things I normally gave up after I thought of all the obvious things and I got bored.

 At first my list of gifts God had given me were simple.  My husband's faithful love,  Hannah's slobbery kisses, I whispered "I love you" from Bekah, Warm patches of sunlight on the floor, little girls laughter, God, the smell of freshly baked bread.  I thought that I would just start out that way and some where along the way I would have really spiritual insights of the gifts God gave me.  As I kept writing His gifts down day after day, I realized that He poured his blessing on me continually.  I had never really looked for them.  All the little things that He did for me I had never named and so had never truly received them as a gift.  I was slowly starting to see His gifts all around me.  I started to write down the experiences that God had given me that blessed me: *Worship songs sung with our congregation.  Truth in each word.  Worship of our great God.  *Two deliveries at work.  They were born lifeless, after working on them, they were fine and stayed with their mommies. Such a miracle. * Hannah asked Jesus into her heart tonight.  She loves God with all her heart.  What a wonderful day.  *I went to wake Hannah from her nap today.  Her room was flooded with sunlight.  She was asleep all spawled out on the bed, wearing her bumblebee dress and Chris's Fourty-niner socks pulled up to her knees. That made me smile.  *My attitude with the girls has been so good lately.  I am calm and quiet instead of grumpy.  *Bekah is enjoying school and learning so much.  * New friends made today.  Excited about having them over to our house.

God was working in my heart in such amazing ways.  I started really focusing on all the little things that God has given me, all the tiny blessings.  I found myself smiling more.  I was experiencing more joy in my heart and more peace too as I focused on all the blessings God gives to me.  Why had I never done this before?  Well, I can tell you that I wanted that to continue to be my daily attitude.   I still fall back into the habit of complaining, but now it is just so much easier to snap out of it and start thanking Him again.

I challenge each of you to read this book and start your own list of One Thousand Gifts.  Oh, how have I done on my list.  Well, I made it to 100 gifts and kept going.  Over the last eight months I have continued to look for and record the gifts I see.  I am at 807 right now.  I am aiming for 1000 and then I will keep going.  This is going to be a habit that I hope to continue for many, many years.

1 comment:

Megan @ SimplyThrifty said...

Beautiful Sarah. I love you!