Monday, April 11, 2011

One Thousand Gifts - loving this book!

This book that I'm reading is just amazing. I'm only a few chapters in, but it's quickly becoming one of my favorite books for my own spiritual growth. It's about living fully right where you are, which is so what I need in my life right now. Instead of looking forward to when I'm debt free, or having kids, or whatever, I need to be living fully in the here and now. I don't want to miss something that's happening now because I'm busy waiting on the future. My next breath isn't guaranteed let alone my next week, month, or year.

Ann Voskamp describes how part of living a full life is being thankful for everything and finding joy in all circumstances. This is especially challenging for me since a large part of my life (work) is so completely opposite of that. But I'm trying to find small moments of joy throughout my days at work and fill my evenings and weekends with things that are good for my soul. I believe that God has me where I am for a reason and I may not ever understand why, but I do have to trust Him.

I'll leave you with some of my favorite quotes that have really spoken to my heart:
page 54:
God is in the details; God is in the moment. God is in all that blurs by in a life - even hurts in a life.
page 55:
This is the whole of the secret learning? I confess, even after all that I've seen and tasted and touched, I do scoff. I yearn for the stuff of saints, the hard language, the fluency of thanksgiving in all, even the ugliest and most heartbreaking. I want the very fullest life.
pages 55-56:
This is why I had never really learned the language of "thanks in all things"! Though pastors preached t, 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. Practice, practice, practice. Hammer. Hammer. Hammer. This training might prove to be the hardest in m life. It just might save my life.

page 57:
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.

It is true, I never stop wanting to learn the hard eucharisteo for the deathbeds and dark skies and the prodigal sons. But I accept this is the way to begin, and all hard things come in due time and with practice. Yet now wisps of cheese tell me gentle that this is the first secret step into eucharisteo's miracle. Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant--a seed--this pants the giant miracle. The miracle of eucharisteo, like the Last Supper, is in the eating of crumbs, the swallowing down one mouthful. Do not disdain the small. The whole of the life--even the hard--is made up of the minute parts, and if I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole. These are new language lessons, and I live them out. There is a way to live the big of giving thanks in all things. It is this: to give thanks in this one small thing. The moments will add up.

I, too, had read it often, the oft-quoted verse: "And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:20). And I, too, would nod and say straight-faced, "I'm thankful for everything." But in this counting gifts, to one thousand, more, I discover that slapping a sloppy brush of thanksgiving over everything in my life leaves me deeply thankful for very few things in my life. A lifetime of sermons on "thanks in all things" and the shelves sagging with books on these things and I testify: life-changing gratitude does not fasten to a life unless nailed through with one very specific ail at a time.

page 58:
How does it save the world to reject unabashed joy when it is joy that saves us? Rejecting joy to stand in solidarity with the suffering doesn't rescue the suffering. The converse does. The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world. When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. How can this not be the best thing for the world? For us?

page 64:
Oh yes, I know you, the busyness of your life leaving little room for the source of your life.

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