“I…go around your altar, O Lord,
proclaiming thanksgiving aloud, and telling all your wondrous deeds.”
You know you’ve got a friend for life when you can steal from her. I have one of those forever friends but I’ll call what I did “borrowing permanently” which sounds less illegal.
A few years ago Abby and her family moved back to Texas and their house was on the market for way too long. Her first mistake was leaving me as keeper of the keys. Before Abby
abandoned moved, we discovered Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts and devoured it like starving refugees, dissecting and discussing every chapter. In 2011, together we began the practice of listing gifts and making gratitude part of our daily disciplines. Celebrating thanksgiving became part of the bond of our friendship.
Abby, among her many talents and gifts, is an amazing painter. She created a canvas with the word Eucharisteo, a multilayered word that Ann so graciously introduced into the world. This thanksgiving casserole of a word defines grace and thanks and joy altogether in one beautiful expression.
Months after Abby’s move, I found myself celebrating thanksgiving with other friends via Ann’s book and DVD study. I knew this canvas still hung lonely and sad in her ‘waiting to be sold’ home. We needed that piece of art as a centerpiece for our listing of gifts together on Wednesday nights so, with her permission, I took her trusty key and borrowed her painting.
When we finished with the series, I stole her painting. Her art found a place on a wall in my home and I’m just waiting for her to call the cops. That’s what she gets for moving.
The week of Thanksgiving is my favorite of all the year because my life continues to be transformed by the simple act of giving thanks. This week provides the perfect opportunity to reflect and celebrate the beauty that has been built one numbered gift at a time. What started as a challenge to list 1,000 gifts became an obsession to find the joyful grace in all things. In the past four years, books have filled and the counting continues for me.
This is the fourth year of habitually numbering gifts. The awe is that they just keep showing up. Every day. More than I have time to count, these tiny stones of thanks.
Here are entries from the most recent page in the book shown above.…
6129. IF:Gathering planning team sisters
6130. Melissia’s willingness to hear me vent
6131. Sunshine on a cold day
6132. Lifegroup laughter
6133. Sinking Deep by Hillsong Young and Free
6134. Sausage balls and coffee
6135. Date night with Scott and Kelli
6136. Funny convo with Grandma Irene
The more that sincere gratitude is practiced the more gifts it seems you have to give thanks for. It is quite miraculous when you think about it. This attitude of thanks giving completely transforms life. Everyday ordinary moments are turned into special gifts. It’s a colorwash that heightens and brightens life. Recognizing and naming all of life’s moments for what they are: grace that brings joy. It sets even the ugliest and hardest of places into perspective. The fewer gifts I feel I have, the greater my need to list. It’s a sure bet that my gratitude list is dusty if life starts feeling all knotted and small.
The miracle is that naming gifts…
Sweetens the pot
Slows life down
Enables the savor
Smooths out the wonky
Redeems pain and hurt…
which makes gratitude pretty much a superpower.
I look back on the year’s worth of gifts and realize this act of listing is actually documenting my story. A series of small stones stacked one upon the other that at year’s end will resemble something like a chapel with the Lord’s altar nestled inside.
Stone upon stone they gather. With each one listed, more line up waiting turns to be counted. Some gifts are the visible and material and deserve to be on the list. But the real magic happens when I dig deeper into the intangibles, the words spoken, the people connected, the fruits received.
There are also those things, those people or situations that cause me to pause my pen in midair and whisper “not yet”. I’ve learned if I can’t count it, there is chiseling that needs to happen first, usually within my heart. And when in time that work has been done, the listing of that ugly beautiful number is all the more wondrous.
That is one of the best kept secrets of Eucharisteo. We truly do have the grace that allows us to give thanks for ALL things.
The active living of gratitude is powerful. I can’t think of a better routine to recommend starting this week. Throw a new notebook in with the turkey while you shop. Let your numbered gifts tell your story.
I am so thankful today for gift #6133. Enjoy!