One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
The poetic stream-of-conscious, unfiltered lyrical poetry of her writing is exactly right for this stage of my life - it's how I think, it's how I move, it's how I write. When there's so little time to quietly reflect, my reflections are fluid and filled with movement. The concept of the book is a renewed challenge to me toward something I started independently a year ago when I was really struggling to see God's goodness in my life. I was weary and nauseous from an unexpected pregnancy (my sweet Millie) while caring for my toddler and a friend's toddler - in the midst of support raising and cramped living next to a thundering airport. The darkness overwhelmed the light most days. One day I tore a piece of notebook paper out of a pad and jotted down the Lord's mercies over each past hour. As I read about Voskamp's experience doing the same, I had to smile because it had the same effect in my life at the time as hers did - I actually found joy compounded simply by recording how the Lord had loved and provided for me in the small ways.
I let the discipline go and know now that I shouldn't have. I sometimes joke with Jesse that I'm not a pessimist - I'm "just a realist." But in my heart, I know that's a lie. I believe the worst, I listen to the lies that the enemy and my flesh feed me about God and myself. I don't just do it occasionally but I do it daily, hourly, even by the second.
This is why I never really learned the language of "thanks in all things"! Though pastors preached it, I still came home and griped on. I had never practiced. Practiced until it became the second nature, the first skin. Practice is the hardest part of learning, and training is the essence of transformation.And again,
Nails driving out my habits of discontent and driving in my habit of eucharisteo. I'm hammering in nails to pound out nails, ugly nails that Satan has pierced through the world, my heart. It starts to unfold, light in the dark, a door opening up, how all these years it's been utterly pointless to try to wrench out the spikes of discontent. Because that habit of discontentment can only be driven out by hammering in one iron sharper. The sleek pin of gratitude. (emphasis mine)I think it may not be necessary for everyone to take the discipline as "far" as Voskamp in writing down a thousand blessings. But I have started again and have found it to maybe - just maybe - be the key to learning gratitude. I hope in a month, a year, or two years, I will be able to see growth in contentment and gratitude in my life.