December 11, 2011

A Promise Kept

I've kept my promise, to you and myself.  I began reading Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts this weekend.  Ann spoke at Relevant '11.  No, she did more than that.  When she opened her lips, the words that came softly, drifting down on the audience like flakes of snow, pure and sparkling, were like manna from heaven feeding and refreshing tired, starving souls.

The woman has the most grace-filled way of speaking and writing.  Each word is like a brushstroke from a master's hand, slowly building and filling in the picture that most of us don't have the artist's eye to see.  As beautiful as her words are, though, they pale beside her message.  A message of a life lived fully in holy joy through thanksgiving....and doesn't that just make me sit up a little straighter and pay attention, when that is exactly what this blog is meant to be about!

There is something about Ann's story that resonates deep within the soul of each person who reads it.  I only made it to page 27 before something struck me, cutting me so sharply, so deeply, that a sob escaped and tears ran down my face:

"I wake to self-hatred.  To the wrestle to get it all done, the relentless anxiety that I am failing.  Always, the failing.  I yell at children, fester with bitterness, forget doctor appointments, lose library books, live selfishly, skip prayer, complain, go to bed too late, neglect cleaning the toilets.  I live tired. Afraid.  Anxious.  Weary.  Years, I feel it in the veins, the pulsing of ruptured hopes.  Would I ever be enough, find enough, do enough?"

Holy crow!  It was like looking in a mirror for the first time and being shocked because all this time you thought you looked pretty good, but really your hair is sticking up, you've got dirt on your face, broccoli stuck in your teeth, and well, you're just kind of goofy looking to begin with.....and yet, you don't doubt the mirror image is you.  You recognize yourself.

This journey that Ann writes about.  The one that doesn't go anywhere.  The one that happens right here.  Right now.  This one that teaches thankfulness that leads to living a full life.  This is the abundant life I seek.  The life Jesus came to give.

I am not yet, even half through the book, but I'm going to begin to join in each week with those who link up to Ann's blog every Monday to share the things they find to be thankful for in this moment.  This right now.

And so my list of 1000 sweet blessings begins:

1.  The soft "swoowsh...swoowsh...swooswsh" of a whisk mixing cake batter in a green bowl.

2.  The lights on the Christmas tree that twinkle like stars in the sky if I squinch up my eyes just right when I look at them.

3.  The poodle who flops against my chest, gazes adoringly up at me, turns his tiny paw to cling to me, and heaves a mighty, contented sigh.

4.  A husband who can fix anything.

5.  Cold, late-Fall Sundays with not much else to do but simply enjoy the day and the people.

6.  A sudden memory of Nana.  Kind, loving, ever patient, nature-loving, and always my champion.

7.  Peppermint tea....warm and soothing on a throat thinking about being sore.

8.  The hour of twilight when the sun grows dim and the shadows lengthen.

9.  Steamy, savory, homemade chicken noodle soup.

10.  Yankee Candles in scents so delicious you want to lick the jar.



Modern Day Disciple said...

Glad you followed through! Been waiting for more @ the book. Nice post...I guess I should not ask if I should read the book or

Stacy said...

Modern Day Disciple...READ!!! ;)

Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

You just confirmed it, Stacy. I need to get the book. I have been dragging my heels so now there's no excuse. I'm going to let J know that I want it for Christmas!

I like your list of thankfulness...especially scrunching your eyes just right so that the lights look like stars. I also find comfort in the whrrrr of cake beaters.

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) said...

Lovely post. I was given the book last winter, but I couldn't get into it. Perhaps your posts will soften me to it.

Stacy said...

Chocolate Covered Daydreams...I don't think you will regret it. It is a lovely book and Ann was a lovely lady when I met her. :)

Ellen...we're all wired differently. Maybe Ann's style just isn't for you, but if I convince you to give the book another try....:)

ArtyMarti said...

I went to an art class last week taught by Debbie Schuh, and we made a journal so that we could keep track of our blessings. She said the idea was based on her reading of 1000 Blessings.

Stacy said...

Marti...journaling is something I believe Ann promotes. I plan to pick one up today just for that purpose.

journeytoepiphany said...

I love that you were able to write about Ann's book with humor! Painful truth is so much easier swallowed with a little sugar! You've made me laugh out loud today, thank you for the gift.

Josh and Kelly said...

welcome to the club! I've been reading her blog since 2009 and have been gift-listing since then. It has been so transformational for me. And even my husband can tell if I haven't been gratitude-ing in a few days- it's that noticeable! Blessings on your journey! Merry Christmas from Uganda

Stacy said...

Journeytoepiphany...Thank you for the kind words and the visit. I love to laugh. God created humor, Jesus lived it, and I believe when we laugh they are smiling right along with us.

Kelly...Thank you! And thanks for visiting. My only regret so far is that I'm so late discovering Ann's book. It does make a difference. I was driving this morning and found myself intentionally looking for things to be thankful for. :) Uganda?! Wow! A Merry Christmas to you and yours, as well.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

I bought that book months ago but haven't even opened it. It think I better start reading it.

Stacy said... should. It is very good.

Cindy in PA said...

I'm glad you're beginning your list toward 1,000 gifts. I find myself actively looking and then recognizing all the blessings that surround me. Ann's book has been a blessing in my faith journey. And you're an empty nester like me? I'll be back to visit you for sure. Thanks for sharing your list this week. Blessings!

Stacy said...

Cindy...I'm doing the same thing. I'll be doing something and find that I'm thinking of things to put on the list. The nest is not quite empty. The 19 year old is still sort of here...coming and going as she pleases. I'll look forward to your visits and getting to know you. :)


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