Listing All The Gifts That God Gives

Three weeks ago I started a small group study referencing Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts. Through this study we are learning what true gratitude is, and how to make eucharisteo a practical, daily word in our lives. Today’s post is from something I wrote a few years ago, when first introduced to the challenge of listing all the gifts that God gives.

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Eucharisteo

Jan and I made some vegan chocolate chip cooki...

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EucharisteoGreek.  yoo-khar-is-teh’-o. Verb. Definition: 1.To be grateful, to feel thankful. 2. Give thanks

In chapter two of One Thousand Gifts, Ann talks about eucharisteo. Eucharisteo is the key word. The meaning behind it, the challenge of this entire book.

To Give Thanks.

(pg. 30)”On this page Ann asks herself if she needs to see the world, visit the exquisite, before she faces eternity? Or isn’t it here? Can’t I find it here? (31) Isn’t it here? The wonder? Why do I spend so much of my living hours struggling to see it?”

This is so true for me. It is easy for me to skim over the very real miracles of today, not seeing them. Blinded by the busyness of life, thinking I need to do something more. Something big. Something significant. Before I am witness to the incredible.Could it really be something as simple as giving thanks? Being grateful for what I have? Even if it is a simple thing…The simple things become the big things, if they are appreciated. If I remember to offer thanks for them.

(pg. 37) “What precedes the miracle is thanksgiving, eucharisteo, and it is a Greek word with a hard meaning that is harder yet to live. Do I really want to take up this word?”

Should I really take up the challenge of gratitude? Will it change me? Will my eyes begin to see the ways that God is saying “yes” to me, on a daily basis? Certainly it is true that God acts in big ways, when He chooses. But, isn’t it just as true that God acts in small ways? The small things that touch us in the grind of the every day? Shouldn’t I be as appreciative for the beauty in the quiet stillness of freshly fallen snow, as I am for the healing of a loved one? Shouldn’t I thank Him for hugs from children that he has blessed me with? As much as I see him in the faces of the forgiven? Shouldn’t the smell of freshly laundered towels be as heady to me as the view from a mountain top?

Isn’t God big enough to have everything under control? But small enough to to have communion with me as I thank him for the warm chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven? Why does my eucharisteo have to be small? Or only for certain things? Can I not thank God for ALL he does? All the ways he blesses? Even when I don’t understand? Even when things don’t go “my way”. Can I not thank him for being in control–even when I’m so out of control? For being sovereign when I can’t even see a second into my own future?

And with that…the Father of Lies whispers in my ear. He spits out the word eucharisteo. A whisper of irritation. A scratch of ungratefulness. “You don’t need eucharisteo. It’s useless. God isn’t listening.” And I am taken back to the garden. In the beginning he convinced Adam and Eve that ungratefulness was normal. That it was okay. That what God gave them wasn’t good enough…and with that they sunk their teeth into that glorious fruit. The same fruit that turned bitter and rotten in their mouths. Communion with God was fractured, and the ungratefulness started to fester. It has been that way ever since.

And yet…

I want to take the challenge….the dare….to give thanks. To live eucharisteo. To see with my own eyes the difference it makes.

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Keep Adding To The List

 

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Keep adding to the list.

Write them down as a testament to all the ways the Lord gives.

Practice, daily, until it becomes as normal as the breath you take.

Breathe in the moments and breathe out the thankfulness.

The sparkle of early morning dew on the grass, that shimmers like a million diamonds and then is gone….but, I was there to witness this fragile, delicate beauty, in that moment. The sun streaming through the fog. The neighbor walking the dog in the early morning quiet. Light shining through the turquoise mason jar on the window sill, sending color onto the counter. Clothes that smell fresh, like lavender. Hugs and kisses. Morning coffee. Cards written to friends. Knowing love. Seeing God as He walks in the every day. Simple things, yet not simple at all.

Practice.

Practice to be ready.

Strengthen the ability to give words of thanks……in all things.

Because the storms will come.

Eventually, the hard surf will pound you against the rocks.

When the storms of life threaten to overwhelm, this list will become precious.

Priceless words that remind of all the ways that the Lord has blessed.

God was faithful then, and He will be again.

 

The Daily Becomes Joy

The moments….the moments, are fleeting. Those moments that are brief glimpses of joy. Those sweet seconds that might never happen again, because time never stops and the clock keeps ticking. Oh, this flickering joy. The kind that brings a smile to both the mind and the heart. That is why it remains so important to see the moments when they happen…while you are living them, and to be present.

 

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Today the refrigerator thermostat gave out and the food is going warm on a hot summer day. Scramble to keep things chilled. Husband rigged something up to temporarily keep heat at bay. I may as well clean the glass shelves in the refrigerator while we’re at it. Things could always be worse and the shelves needed cleaning anyway.

The farmer across the road and the farmer behind us are baling hay. The tractors roar and the large round bales sit like rural sculptures in the fields, pretty against the green. The view from the kitchen window makes me slow smile, as I continue to wash the shelves.

 

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One load of laundry hums in the dryer and another in the washer. Always more to do. Laundry is never done, only managed. Some days even that is not possible. But, I am happy for it. Clean clothes, such a simple thing, really.

This dog, that I love so much, he is a terrier. He sheds and sheds some more. His white fur is swept up off the floor, small tumbleweeds of fluff. He won’t be with us forever and I will miss his fluff. I pet his head and enjoy his big brown eyes now.

 

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Saturdays. How many are in a lifetime? How many days of dogs licks, and loads of laundry? How many fields full of beauty seen through my kitchen window? And how many times will I open and close my refrigerator door? Nothing life altering…and yet, it is. The simple becomes more, and the daily becomes joy.

A Life Well Lived

My Day Runner is open on the desk. The days marked off neatly on my calendar.

Calendar

I’m already thinking ahead.

I am marking and highlighting the important events that will occur over the next several months.

I try to prepare for what lies ahead.

Hours. Days. Weeks. Months = TIME

I consider this…the value of it.

How I use it. How I abuse it. How I appreciate it and how I take it for granted.

We all do those things, don’t we?

We assume that we will always have enough, and that the calendar will always allow us yet another day.

That is the worst sort of cavalier attitude, for without appreciation, time, no matter how much, is wasted.

One of my favorite quotes…….

“Don’t be so busy making a living, that you forget to make a life.”

Because, hasn’t God given us this one wild life, to appreciate? Doesn’t He give us the precious gift of time to enjoy?

Shouldn’t our days be full of Him?

Oh sure, we have to work, there are necessary appointments and mandatory assignments…

But, most of the calendar should be filled with moments of thankfulness. Days of gratitude.

A life well lived.

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”  James 4 –NASB

One Of Those Days

Do you ever have days when you wake up and you believe it is going to be a good day…and it turns out it isn’t? Today is one of those days for me. The kind of day where all the little nerve wracking things just add up to one big pain? I wanted to write my Multitudes on Mondays post this morning, I really did. Then life happened and I wasn’t feeling very thankful. To be completely honest, I was irritated (and rightly so) but, it put a damper on things. Once I had let myself go there……it was all over……like a downhill slide on a sled with greased runners.

I’m not feeling thankful. There I said it. I actually feel guilty for saying that. I guess it is just my day to be human, be real, be imperfect, me.

Okay, I am thankful about one thing. I’m thankful that God loves me, even when I feel unlovable. On days when my mood is darker than the storm clouds rolling in, He is there. He doesn’t leave me, even when I’m frustrated, irritated, and wishing I was sedated!

There is tomorrow.

2 Timothy 1:7  for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Monday

Monday (Photo credit: Eric M Martin)

 

Brief Quiet Glimpes

Gratitude

Gratitude (Photo credit: ally213)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes, it really is the little things that matter. Oh sure, the big, huge blessings are wonderful and I am grateful for them, but I’m talking about the little day to day things that, in reality, make a huge difference. After all, it is those little things that keep each of us going. The special moments in the daily grind, that make us smile and give us hope, to carry on.

No fanfare.

No hoopla.

No fireworks.

Just the small, quiet, brief glimpses of who God really is…

Father, today I come to You, thanking you for all the little things. Forgive me that I take so many of Your blessings for granted.  Each day is a precious gift. I’m sorry that I am so cavalier with the time that You have given me.

* a soft pillow to put my head on * hot water * electricity * emails * hands that can pet the dogs and hold a leash without pain * good health* smiling faces * making a positive difference in children’s lives * cold winter air and frozen ground * chickens that lay eggs * pets * cards in the mail * a husband to change a flat tire * time spent together

*Thank you for my stubbly faced boy-man, that has grown up so quickly * Thank you for the opportunity to be a mom. I know many who don’t have that privilege. * Thank you for emails from friends. Sometimes the emails are silly and they make me laugh. Other times, I lean on their strength. I’m so fortunate to have good friends. * Thank you for family. I love my family members. The family I grew up with, the family through marriage, and my family in Christ. * Thank you for the beauty of the country. I am still deeply moved by the beautiful sunrises, and gray snowy days. The loud honking of geese, and farm fields that stretch for miles. *Thank you for this life.  I realize that my life might never have turned out this way, had I not had to walk the dark valley to get here. May I never forget that. I try to always be aware that it might never have been. * Thank you, Lord , for Your love for me. A deep love, an all consuming love, a sacrificial love. When we were yet strangers, You saved me. If You chose to bless me with nothing else in this world, but that, that would be enough. And yet, You, through Your love, give me so much more.






There Are Always Things To Be Thankful For…

There are always things to be thankful for…

I continue to learn this truth–sometimes with a joyous smile on my face and unfortunately at other times, with my lips tightly pursed.

1,000 Gifts

1,000 Gifts (Photo credit: LearningLark)

Thanksgiving is a discipline and as with all discipline, sometimes it can sting. I’ll be honest–there are days when I cross my arms and the only words my mouth can form are dark and griping words. My vision is blurred by the want(s)…and my thoughts dwell on my lacking. There is frustration with the mundane, the routine, the daily occurrences that leave me frustrated with the ordinary. Complaining is so much easier. It seems more normal…all too often it is.

A little over a year ago, I found Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts. Her grace filled words set me on a journey. A journey to learn true thankfulness. The Lord used her poetic prose to stir me. The book left me with a desire to discipline myself to be grateful. To give thanksgiving to my Heavenly Father for everything.

Is this journey easy? Do I still struggle. Of course! I am human and my heart’s desire does battle with my strong, stubborn will. And yet, I move forward…inching ever closer to my God who has blessed me beyond what I ever could have imagined on my own.

He didn’t have to. Give me gifts, I mean.  No where does it state that God owes me. He doesn’t.  He owns all things, so anything He gives is a gift, right? Isn’t that so?  I would not take one more breath of air, if it weren’t in His plan. The sun would not rise tomorrow if not for His command.

And before you think that I can’t relate, or I don’t “get” pain or struggle–and where, by the way, is the blessing in that??? Let me say I have struggled…and continue to do so…Life is not easy, not for any of us.

Thanksgiving is not about ease, not about fancy clothes, big houses, or perfect families. That life would be a fairy tale. For those of us that live in reality, thankfulness is a choice. I choose to give thanks to the One most deserving.

Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.    Ephesians 5:20 NIV

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.    Colossians 3:17 NIV

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Thankful…always thankful

* a husband who is committed to me, even when I act unlovable

* beautiful music that feeds the soul

* storm clouds that roll across the sky

* fuzzy springtime chicks

* kisses left on scruffy boy-man faces

* beautiful locks of daughters hair

* a chance to practice having a servants heart

* my mom’s encouraging words

* blended family–and knowing, there is indeed life after a death

* old friends

* new friends

* quiet stillness

* each breath I take

* walks around the property

* a beautiful new necklace that reminds me I’m chosen (2 Thessalonians 2:13)

* daily provision

* journaling  my life

* good health

* promises kept

* shelter from life’s storms

* hope…always, hope!