Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Book Basket: One Thousand Gifts

One of my heroes is Ann Voskamp.

This farmer's wife and homeschooling mother of six speaks to my heart and soul when she tells of her struggle to be thankful when the pile of dirty jeans is so high it's about to topple over, when the clean floor is no longer so minutes after finishing it, when dirty dishes far outweigh the clean ones, and her fears of not fully living the life God has given her.

God has given her an amazing ability to capture with a camera and words the essence of a moment. She has been through horrific valleys; some I relate with and some I have no way to understand except by knowing how big God is. Her blog,  A Holy Experience, is one I follow closely and one I highly recommend. It's always a perspective turner for me.

In her book, One Thousand Gifts, she has a chapter called "a word to live... and die by".  In it she relates a dream where she was told she had cancer. She goes through the last goodbyes and feels panicked as she realizes how badly she wants to live. Her panic wakes her and causes her to reflect on what it means to live life fully.

"It's the life between, the days of walking lifeless, the years calloused and simply going through the hollow motions, the self-protecting by self-distracting, the body never waking, that's lost all capacity to fully feel - this is the life in between that makes us the wild walking dead." 

She goes on to talk about how people who want to live usually want to live for something. Live to see the world... cities/architecture/mountains/countries/people groups that otherwise they'd never see.

"So - more time for more what?  The face of Jesus flashes. Jesus, the God-Man with his own termination date. 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 NIV)."

He gave thanks. As I was sitting in Panera last Friday evening for a little R&R, it really stood out to me. Jesus considered giving thanks (eucharisteo) to be one of the most important things He could do in His last 12 hours on this earth. Even with the betrayer present, He still gave thanks. 

If I'm honest and I had 12 hours left on this earth, I don't think I'd be concerned about giving thanks for the little things like bread. I'd, more than likely, be consumed with worry over my husband and children and making sure everything was as prepared as I could make it. I'd be soaking up the last moments of remembrance and hugs and saying goodbye. 

Serving? Nope. Exuding thankfulness and giving thanks for all things? Um... hardly. 

Christ gives us a pattern that I'm taking steps in.  Give thanks. Always. In all things. 

There are no more excuses - like "I'm having such a day with these crazy mutinous kids!" or "Why do I bother cleaning?? No one really cares. And tomorrow I'll have to do it all over again anyway." 

Ann challenges us to make a list (yes, this definitely goes along with my propensities!); looking with different eyes to see the things God has for us in every single moment of every single day.

Here are some of mine today:
- The shine of my brown eyed boy's eyes and how his dimple deepens when he sees me.
- Greasy little handprints on the front window reminding me of little hands that will leave someday
- The swaying of a neighbor's giant tree as it dances in the breeze.
- Lunch crumbs on the clean floor; God's abundant provision
- Precious time to spend stringing my thoughts together in quiet reflection
- Long eyelashes lining the blue eyes of my little man as he pulls my face close to tell me secrets.

I'm learning to count my one thousand gifts.
I challenge you to begin the journey!

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