Thursday, May 5, 2011


I have just recently started an online small group that is reading through Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts.

(For more information on it, check out her website here.)

It's amazing (& I don't use that word lightly, at least not here). It is a very timely read for me - although with the quality of the book, I think it will speak to anyone at any point in their life.

So - I wanted to share a little something that God has been speaking to me about through the book. Without going into too much detail, for those of you that haven't read it, the context to which I'm referring in the excerpt below is that she's talking about making a list of 1,000 things that she is grateful for - that she appreciates and is choosing to thank God for. She refers to this as receiving God's gifts, when we choose to write them down and acknowledge them as from God.

Anyways, at this point in the book, she is just getting started and is realizing that it seems trivial, to write down little things like appreciating the way that the sun reflects off a blade of grass in light of suffering and tragedies in the world, and she starts to question whether or not this will produce in her a thankful heart that can 'give thanks in all things' as we are commanded to do in 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Anyways, she goes on to realize that it's a starting place, & like all things, we have to practice it until it becomes a way of life, until it develops into a lifestyle of gratitude and genuine thankfulness.

This is what I shared with the group today:

I really liked the quote from page 49, "the moving the ink across the page opens the eyes." Have you eyes been opened to things in your life already that you so often miss?

God gave me a neat analogy first thing Tuesday morning to help this hit home with me personally. I'll admit - I was running behind in my reading, due to company being in town & just allowing myself to totally get out of any type of schedule I try to keep - & so I was just finishing up Chapter 3. What Ann talked about regarding practice was really speaking to me.

Because I hadn't started my list yet, I couldn't relate yet to her comment about feeling that it was becoming a little trivial after a while, and her thoughts about whether or not appreciating the little things would ever lead to a life where she could be thankful in the harder tragedies of life. But I will admit that I could relate to her getting to that point. I could totally see myself questioning the effectiveness of all of this after a while...especially because I am inconsistent & I would start to see my old habits of ingratitude coming through.

Anyways, so I really appreciated that she shared that and that she dug deeper to get past it, instead of just giving up like I think I so often do, before I get to the real heart of the lesson God is trying to teach me.

So - I must practice because this isn't something I'm used to and I don't have the muscle strength yet to hold back the criticisms and tendency towards the negative. And God directed my thoughts towards Natalie, my 10 month old daughter, and how in just the past few days, she's starting walking while holding on to a toy push stroller. I thought about how excited she was, so proud of herself - the joy just flowed out of her. And we were standing around her, cheering her on.

And then God brought to mind Hebrews 12:1, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,-"

And how we have a great crowd of witnesses, cheering us as we learn to walk - to stop crawling through our spiritual walk, weighed down by so many things - and learn to stand up and work the muscles required for us to experience the walk, the abundant life, that God intended for us to have through Christ's sacrifice and resurrection! How often do I settle for just crawling through life instead of doing what is required in order to learn to walk - not to mention even run!

And yet God has placed within Natalie, and all of us, this innate desire and knowledge to develop. Jordan and I didn't tell her to start walking - we haven't even really been showing her how. She just knew that there was more than what she was currently experiencing. And spiritually, God has placed in us an innate knowledge that there is more - even if that is now just a whisper because it's been drowned out by this world & deception.

And so Natalie perseveres, even though it's hard for her to stand up and walk, using muscles she's never used before. And she doesn't have the stamina to walk for long - but she gets back up and she tries again later.

Man - what a picture. God sure knows how to get my attention and to speak my language.

And sure enough - I had this great time with God that morning and started my list and was even feeling the joy and excitement that Ann was referring to as she started hers. And then 5 minutes later, I got caught back up in my hurriedness of the morning, & was making negative comments towards my husband about a frustrating situation that was happening. BUT, God in His faithfulness, immediately brought all of this to mind again, and it was like He was saying - 'See - it's going to take practice. That lasted for 5 minutes. We've got to practice to build more stamina.' He knows my tendency to get discouraged and want to give up when I don't see things working. So, I think I will have to cling to Hebrews 12:1 & be reminded that I have my own cheering section in Heaven, & a Savior that daily pleads my case before the throne, to keep me going!

I do love how God speaks to us in ways that He knows are close to our hearts - like the joy I experience for & with my daughter as she's learning new things.

Thank you, Abba Father, for being so personal!

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