"I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete." John 15:11

Thursday, March 7, 2013

One Thousand Gifts

Last winter a friend of mine coordinated a study of the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.

The basic message of the book is the need to speak our thankfulness to God which will lead to finding joy and contentment with where we are right now. As a practice, the author recommends writing down three things each day that you are thankful for. In one year's time, you have documented one thousand gifts. 

While not a style of writing that I am attracted to (very poetic, at times meandering) I found the book full of depth and inspiration. Ann hashes out some very difficult things that have happened in her life and it can be hard to read - especially getting through the first couple chapters. However, there are many beautiful insights that I gained from the book. Here are a handful of passages I highlighted.

"I look down at the pen, this pen I keep wielding, one writing her way all the way to one thousand. This pen: this is nothing less than the driving of nails. Nails driving out my habits of discontent and driving in my habit of eucharisteo (thankfulness)."

"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."

"And I see it now for what this really is, this dare to write down one thousand things I love. It really is a dare to name all the ways that God loves me."

I keep a notebook beside my bed and each night during prayer I write down three things I am thankful for from that day.  Some days I would write down more than three gifts, and on a handful of days I found it really hard to come up with a third gift - but I always found something.

This January, at least a month ahead of schedule, I reached my thousandth gift.  I found that this practice helped me take in so many little moments of joy in my life. When I was experiencing something joyful, I would think, "I want to put this on my list" and try to really take in the moment.  Sometimes in the evening I couldn't remember exactly what that moment was, but I had taken the time to give thanks in the present. It is neat to have an encapsulation of my year in this notebook. I can look back and remember so many little moments in time that would have otherwise slipped away. I remember where I was, who I was with, what time of year it was, without having to take the time to write a page in a journal or a blog post about it.

Here is a peek at some of my first thousand gifts.

65. Our first weekend without work and school.
80.  A baby girl!
115. A solo grocery run.
278. A full moon over the ocean.
313. An afternoon chat on the front porch.
345. Hearing Philip say "I love you."
475. A full night's sleep.
579. Going to Mass and appreciating the gift I held in my arms.
664. Being taken aback by our children's beauty.
703. How our community has provided for us.
854. Hearing joy.
924. Phone calls with family.
1000. Small acts of kindness.

Thanks Katie for helping me appreciate all of these wonderful ordinary and extraordinary moments in my life!

1 comment:

  1. You know I have that book but I haven't read it yet. It sounds like a great idea. I'l have to move it up my list and get to it soon! (Unfortunately I just have not been able to read as much as I used to or would like to, but hopefully soon that will change :) )