Sometimes I hesitate to write things down because I've already written them before--maybe not in the same way or with the same words, but with the same heart, the same eyes for His grace.
Sometimes I read others' counting of gifts and wonder Why didn't I see those things? Why didn't I name those gifts, too?
And I wonder if it's enough. I wonder if I'm really seeing God in my everyday or if my eyes are still shut to the Hand of Grace Who weaves my moments into a life full of Him.
But then I remember something Ann Voskamp wrote five years ago when she first began counting gifts to a thousand. Something I read before beginning my own list just three months ago:
My list is different than another’s for a reason: God has made me uniquely me. The Gift List is about gratitude… but it is more. It is about what defines me and my own personal identity. Reflecting on The Thousand Gifts List…I am thankful for the things on it, yes, but I am also thankful that He has given the gift of me; that God made me who I am and I am one who sees and experiences the world in a way uniquely her own. The Thousand Gifts list is about the gifts Abba gives this child every day… and, ultimately, about the very gift of self, life as I know it. (Ann Voskamp)Not long ago, I didn't even know who I was. The things I did know--or thought I knew--I didn't like. In truth, hated them. Hated me. Through God and Grace and a whole life's worth of healing, I entered my mid 20s with new eyes to see who I was, new love for the woman He created me to be. And it has been a slow awakening ever since, a gentle opening to not only see the woman I am but to accept and even, somehow, to love the woman I am.
I had read it back then, before I began my list, that this counting of gifts was ultimately about giving thanks for the gift of me, the gift of life as I know it. And though I believed it then, I didn't understand it. Didn't know it in the deep-down, soul-changing kind of way that only experience can bring.
But I am beginning to know it now.
I give thanks for what I see of God, what brings me joy and hope and grace, what gifts He's given just for me. And in that seeing from eyes uniquely mine, I give thanks, too, for who He has made me to be, for the life He has written for only me to live, for my own corner of His Goodness that He lays beneath all my days.
So I'll keep on giving thanks for things that others may not see as gifts. I'll keep on finding joy in things that are ever-present in my life, things I have long loved yet have not always paused to breathe in and celebrate as gifts.
I'll give thanks for the colors of the sky, the clouds that shift and hover, the birds that take flight and settle again nearby. I'll give thanks for these over and over while I spend long hours working beside a window and I'll let the sky be a never-ending gift of joy and surprise.
I'll give thanks for the kitties in our household, running wild and sleeping soft, making mischief and melting hearts. They are my companions in daily life, and for a season at least, they are like my children. I'll give thanks for each of them often, because they are constantly giving me the gifts of love and laughter.
I'll give thanks for tea and mugs and the way they warm hands and souls, the way they soothe and cheer, the way they bring friends together over cups of sweet joy. I'll give thanks for these because they have become a part of me these last years, drops of Grace quenching a thirsty soul.
I'll give thanks for snow that falls, for sun that shines, for flowers that bloom, for seasons that change, for beauty all around because these are the things I always see. And I never want to stop seeing them.
I'll give thanks for a strong dad, a persistent mom, friends who love deep and strong and wild--for these are the life breath of a woman who craves relationship and who withers away without them. And these are gifts of the most precious kind.
I'll give thanks for a God Who sees when I fall, Who pursues when I run, Who holds fast when I let go, Who faithfully loves when I unfaithfully look elsewhere for what I need. I'll give thanks for Him often and always, in ways subtle and loud, because He is both and neither and everything in between. Because He is life and He is the One Gift that covers all of me.
And through it all, I'll give thanks for this girl who struggles to become a woman of God. I'll give thanks for her because she is me, she is the one He made me to be, and she is a gift. A gift from a good God.
Because "God is always good, and I am always loved" (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, pg 100).
#256 Balloons caught in tree branches
#257 White trellis stark against brick house
#258 Forsythia blooms glimpsed alongside the road
#259 Birds by the hundreds, in flight overhead
#260 Counting down days until Spring
#261 The days when gifts are harder to see, making me look closer, pay more attention to Him
#262 Productivity deterred by too many cats on a lap
#263 Last amaryllis bloom taking form
#264 Friend who bakes cookies, offers as much help as I need
#265 Wind clearing the sky of clouds...
#266 ...and just as quickly filling it up again
#267 Rain falling while the sun shines and the wind blows
#268 Day of strange weather, sky full of surprise
#269 Picking out teas for a new day
#270 Sleep--however short and fragmented
#271 God Who never sleeps
#272 Cat who startles easily, goes flying for nothing
#273 Cat playing with shower curtain, towels, slippers--finding joy in the ordinary day
#274 Neighbor's morning call for dog named Mocha
#275 Spellchecker settling on unfamiliar name and wanting to change it to "overjoyed." I'd like to change my name to "overjoyed" too. Maybe eucharisteo is taking me there.
#276 Cry of seagulls, reminding of childhood
#277 Days with pain, making me grateful for days without
#278 New months, new days, new moments to start again
#279 Break in the storm just in time to run errands
#280 Parking space five blocks closer than usual
#281 Standing in the rain, choosing plants to bring home
#282 Transformation showing its face on a stormy afternoon in the car
#283 Cat-covered apron hanging up in the kitchen, surprise gift from Dad
#284 Burgundy-colored hyacinth bloom waiting to show face
#285 Tiny daffodils blooming out happy in a dimly lit garage
#286 Finding the strength to rest in Him
#287 Introducing friends to the wide, wonderful world of tea
#288 Successfully hosting a tea party--my first!
#289 Pouring tea into waiting cups, held in the hands of friends
#290 Everyone showing up, saying "yes" to being with me and sharing a love of tea
#291 Friends who keep telling me to just breathe when the pressure overwhelms
#292 Mom who keeps on baking scones, even when I tell her to give up
#293 Learning a new way to tie a scarf--because tea parties aren't all about tea
#294 Dad cooking us dinner after long day of hosting
#295 Blueberry scones hot out of the oven on the morning after a tea party
#296 Staying in pajamas until the afternoon
#297 Bringing order back to a house full of chaos
#298 Day to recover, find my feet again, start anew
#299 Friend who sees me in my love of tea
#300 The woman I am becoming, the woman He is making me.
#301 That God is always good and I am always loved.