Giving Thanks and Finding Joy

For my birthday I received a book.
This book has altered the way I view everything each day,
even the most mundane.

There are so many little gems in this book.
So many words of wisdom.
I wish I could drink up each poetic word,
each sentence, phrase, paragraph...
like it is ice cold water on a hot, hot day.
That's how I feel when I am reading it.
My eyes flitting from one word to the next,
not moving fast enough.

I want to know the author's secrets.
These things she has discovered about giving thanks in the ugliest of circumstances.
This woman, a wife, mother, daughter, sister, sister-in-law...
She has experienced and seen so much ugly,
had so much heartache and 
she records her path to discovering true eucharisteo in all of it.
And I mean all of it.
The deaths of her baby sister, her nephews who both hadn't made it even to a year.
Her mother whom she watched slip away in a psych ward.
Her parents whom she saw slip away from their faith once they held their daughter as she died.

What does it mean?
To truly have joy in all circumstances,
the way God calls us to?
To see each moment, the good and the bad,
as a gift from Him?
A moment, that we are so undeserving of,
as an act of mercy?
What does it mean?

She unpacks it all in this book.
Each step of her journey she shares with the reader.
She shares with me.
Her doubt, her fear, her questions and anger.
The simple, the mundane,
she gives thanks for each of them.
All to work toward the bigger picture of giving thanks
for all of it.

Every single thing.
Pain, death, tragedy, suffering.
For the laughter of a child,
the warmth of an embrace,
safety and protection.
Warm apple pie, 
a cherished memory,
clean linen,
a cool summer breeze,
fresh strawberries and sudsy baths.

She has brought me on her journey.
To see each thing as beautiful.
Even the ugly as beautiful.
'The dark can give birth to life; suffering can deliver grace.'
(Page 99)
I am discovering the beauty in all things
(I am a slow learner!),
but this last week I can feel it changing.
My attitude, my outlook, my perception.

'When I realize that it is not God who is in my debt but I who am in His great debt,
then doesn't all become gift?'
(Page 94)
All of it-
this very breath, a new day, another chance.

I am learning.
I am seeing.
Each moment a gift.
Each moment a chance to turn the glory back to Him,
to offer a prayer of Thanksgiving from my very soul.
What gifts will He reveal to me tomorrow?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

This past few months I have been overwhelmed
with grief and sadness.
There is so much sickness,
serious illness,
that surrounds us.
Infertility, mental illness and cancer.
One friend I think of in particular
is on the cusp of losing her father.
It brings me so much grief and sorrow watching from the outside.
If you know me well,
you know I carry her burden as my own.
It is heavy.
But I am practicing 
intercessory prayer. 
Lifting him up,
lifting her up,
lifting them up.
Giving thanks.
Knowing that in this darkness he is near.
The trembling we feel is not in fact our world coming crashing down around us,
it is the Great Almighty passing through.
He is near, He is present in our darkest moments.
In that grief and sorrow,
our gutteral cries out to the Lord,
Christ on the cross cried that  very thing out to His Father.

Here is a piece of the book I'd really like to share with you.

'...I won't shield God from my anguish by claiming He's not involved in the ache of this world and Satan prowls but he's a lion on a leash and the God who governs all can be shouted at when I bruise, and I can cry and I can howl and He embraces the David-haters who pound hard on His heart with their grief and I can moan deep that He did this - and He did.
I feel Him hold me - a flailing child tired in the Father's arms.
And I can hear Him soothe soft, "Are your ways My ways, child? Can you eat My manna, sustain on My mystery? Can you believe that I tenderly, tirelessly work all for the best good of the whole world - because My flame of love for you can never, ever be quenched?"
I only close my eyes...Enter the dark too. Sometimes we need time to answer the hard eucharisteo.
How do we converse with a God who may not seem to honor our honor?'
(page 89,90)

Her writing,
so real, so raw, so honest.
Tough questions, she's not afraid to ask.
To show me how much hurt she has,
how much pent up pain there is.
And how much potential there is for the Father to show her,
show me,
what gifts, what grace He has for us.

Tonight I will go to bed and give thanks for my pillow,
my bed, the husband who is beside me making noises as he sleeps.
The baby in the next room sleeping without blankets on no matter how many times I cover her up.
The eyes that can rest knowing that I have a Protector who offers me second, third, forth...
Here goes my journey to true, deep, meaningful eucharisteo.

To order a cup of Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
click HERE


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