September 29, 2010

One Thousand Gifts

Earlier this week I was sitting at my little desk with my laptop and all of our bills feeling weary in spirit.  I began sorting through them all and let out a huge sigh.  No reason in particular provoked such a negative response.  I was just tired.  So tired from feeling the weight of so many different things.   I went online to view our bank account. Knowing our present situation and expecting our account to reflect poverty status I looked at the balance and nearly lost my breath.  I had to look twice and thought to myself, "There is no "earthly reason" that we should even be making it."  No "earthly" reason whatsoever.

     I quietly whispered, "Thank you God.  Thank You for Your so very many gifts.  Thank You for a vehicle that runs. Thank You for food on the table.  Thank You for my family.  Thank You for a husband who loves me.  Thank You for my children and for their enthusiasm for life.  Thank You for meeting our needs.  Thank You for Your grace to meet us wherever we are.  Thank You for Your peace.  Thank You for LIFE.  Thank You for JOY.  Thank You that life is more than just "getting by".  It's about the extraordinary things You do. It's about You showing off Your goodness for the world to see.  A testimony to WHO You are and how You love us so.  Thank You.  Amen."

     My sigh was replaced with a smile as I just sat there in awe of God's goodness.  But here is where I found fault with my gratitude.  Why SHOULD I be surprised!?  In awe, yes!  Amazed, absolutely!  God never ceases to amaze.  But why should it surprise me WHEN (not IF) He does what He promised in His Word He would do!?!
     I looked at my husband and told him why I felt so overwhelmed and began to cry.  I quoted to him that familiar hymn, "Count your blessings name them one by one.....and it will surprise you what the Lord has done."  I said, "Why am I even surprised?"  I felt disappointed in myself....for ever doubting God's ability to not just MEET my needs....but to OVERWHELM me with His GREATNESS in meeting my needs.

To be living in EAGER anticipation of the next extraordinary thing He's going to do!  

     He can take an ordinary moment and turn it into something extraordinary.  He can take any need, big or small, and meet it in astonishing ways.  He's not just about moving on our behalf....He's about making His name great and showing off His glory and grace.  He's a jealous God and He wants everything in our lives to display HIS goodness!!!!  From the smallest of things to the biggest.

     I was moved in that moment to begin making a list of every thing, every moment, every person I considered to be a GIFT straight from the hand of Grace Himself.  I truly felt overwhelmed.  The list was long.  In that moment I decided that we as a family would keep a running list of every gift we have in the moment we experience and realize it.   

     The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.” — Henry Miller

     It wasn't my idea.  While visiting "A Holy Experience" I learned of the challenge in creating a list of One Thousand Gifts....the joy of chronicling God's gifts.  After all....shouldn't we be doing this already!?  Living our lives with an attitude of expectancy and gratitude?

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein

     I was reminded of how MUCH we truly have one day when I was on my face in my room before God praying.  My weary cries sounded more like pleading.  Almost as if I were begging God to listen to me and to move on my behalf.  I heard Him almost audibly say.  "My love, why are you BEGGING me?"  That's all I heard.  It wasn't a chastisement.  It was a gentle nudge to awaken my spirit to the reality of being a child of God.  It's all already mine.  Healing.  Wholeness.  Joy.  Peace.  Forgiveness.  Grace.  Mercy.  Blessings.  Love.  I already have all of those things.  I always have had them.  I don't need to ask for them.

I certainly don't need to BEG Him for them as if He is a God who would with hold ANY good thing from His children.  

I wiped my tears and I repented for my lack of faith.  For my ignorance.  For not believing in His goodness enough to KNOW what He's already done for me and given TO me.  For being ungrateful.  After all....every moment is a gift waiting to be unwrapped.  In it ALL you will find something that points to His undeniable grace and relentless love.  He's wanting so much to give to us.  He's desperate to love on us.  In every moment.

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” — William Arthur Ward

     After I repented I began thanking Him, NOT asking Him, for what He's already given to me.  I never realized how MUCH my lack of faith made less of the HUGE sacrifice Jesus' made at the cross.  It diminished the power of redemption's work in my life.  It weakened the effect of grace on my life.  It's all a gift.....waiting to be received.  Everything in my life points to [it].  (His goodness.)  Everything.  All of it.

     So we as a family  have begun our gratitude journals. I am blessed by my children's enthusiasm and humbled by my husband's response to this project.  I should think that after having listed every single moment we experience the goodness of God it SHOULDN'T surprise us what the Lord has done.  After all....we're expecting it. 

“There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.” — Ralph H. Blum

1000 Gifts: 
1.  His relentless and unconditional love in spite of me
2.  for Grace.  From Him, for me, for living my life, and to give to others
3.  my husband's hand to hold
4.  for happy children
5.  a warm hug first thing in the morning 
6. a friend who's fully aware of who you are and yet is always there
7.  a chorus of birds singing in the morning before anyone is awake
8.  *early* morning meetings with Him in silence
9.  for little projects---a happy distraction from routine
10. a vehicle that runs
11. having lunch and conversation with a friend
12.  celebrating life's miracles and answered prayers with someone else
13.  sharing tears
14. uncontrollable laughter
15. long walks in the cool of Autumn
16. celebrating birthdays
17. having a day to myself
18. the chatter of my little rooters after a quiet day
19. for my husband's willingness to do this gratitude journal with me
20.a productive day and the grace to roll up your sleeves "get 'r dun!"
21. a heart of flesh
22.  ears that hear
23.  eyes that see
24.  for a God who is ALWAYS speaking
25. my children's enthusiasm 
26.  neighborhood children wanting to stay
27. new friends
28. old friends who will always be there
29.  that His mercy is NEW every morning
30. for a giggle that just won't stop
31. playing outside
32. sleeping with peace of mind
33. being a jungle gym for the little monkeys to climb on
34. snuggly children after a bath
35. bedtime prayers
36. reading Tom Sawyer to 3 little boys
37. children singing at the TOP of their lungs with all they got!
38. for my husband's well thought out surprise---just because
39. for an unproductive and reflective day and the grace in knowing tomorrow's a new day
40. starting over
41. a random, unprovoked, unexpected, "I love you mommy"
42.  for *ALWAYS* having *SOMEthing* to give
43. living life in abundance in all things always having enough for me and MORE to give
44. for a personal violin concert given to ME with pride and a smile by my son
45. thankful EVEN for the recorder and the "beautiful" music it makes :)
46. Being still and just "KNOWING" it's ALL good :)

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