Not the one day a year we stop to give thanks...learning to give thanks daily, moment by moment...in any and all situations. Is it possible?
Can I truly give thanks through everything? We are commanded to you know...
1 Thessalonians 5:18
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
How? How do we give thanks in everything? I've been in places in my life where thanksgiving was the farthest thing from my mind...How do you thank God for a dead child? How do you thank God when you miss him so much it physically aches?
Tina, my sister-in-law, gave me a book for my birthday...yes, I turned 38 last Thursday. How did I get to 38 already?
The title of the book is One Thousand Gifts written by Ann Voskamp. I picked it up and couldn't put it down. I fully intend to turn around and read it again for fear that I missed some important morsel. I soaked up her poetic truths like a dry sponge. Honestly, it was not an easy read...one that you fly through in say a day or two. I quickly learned that I needed my pen and or highlighter in hand. In essence, Ann embarked on a journey to find chara or joy...deep joy...the kind only found in a relationship with Jesus. Charis, grace...the beginning of deep joy only complete when followed up with eucharisteo, giving thanks. Ann has had struggles in life. There are things that she has been unable to come to terms with on her own. Haven't we all? Ann's journey sees her keeping a journal of one thousand gifts. She finds a gift and writes it down. It becomes a part of her. She gives thanks through the finding of these gifts. The gifts are everywhere when she looks with the "eyes of her heart". A harvest moon that she chases...mail in the mailbox...long lisped prayers...kisses in the dark...All things she stops and gives thanks for...practices eucharisteo. The more I read, the more I want to practice too.
As I read, I had one resonating thought...This is the day the LORD has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it! I repeated it over and over and over again. I jotted it in the margins of the book because I couldn't stop thinking about it. Before Eli was born, my uncle David told me about hearing God speak to him after the death of his son. Those were the words God told him. He told them to me that February day a week or two before Eli came. I was quick to reject. I couldn't rejoice right then...I just couldn't. Eli was alive and kicking in my womb then...Thank you Lord for those moments! Eucharisteo! Looking back, I rejoice! Why didn't I rejoice more then? I was scared, fearful of what was to come. Had I rejoiced and thanked Him more would I have been as scared? Here I am on the other side and God is stronger today than then. My "heart's eyes" see now what they couldn't see then. I am thankful for His strength. Eucharisteo! I rejoice!
The day Eli was born those words repeated in my hollow soul or as Ann calls them "soul holes". This is the day the LORD has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. I heard them... I was not in a place to rejoice. In her book, Ann calls this hard eucharisteo... give thanks for grace even when it is too hard. He beckons us to practice this hard eucharisteo. I think back...
I wanted to give to that sweet baby boy. I wanted to give him a lifetime of love. God allowed that in the short two hours of his little life. He was in his mama's arms when he slipped from earth. He knew only love. Thank you Lord for those moments of love. We were able to prepare his sweet, beautiful little body just as Joseph of Arimathaea so tenderly and lovingly did with Jesus'.
Thank you Abba Father for those moments. The moment his brothers and sister so gingerly touched and held him. The moments as Eli's daddy unwrapped his fragile little body and so gently bathed him...all the while speaking to him...calling him buddy. The moments Jamie spent making sure he smelled just like a newborn...baby soap...baby lotion...fresh diaper...swaddling him up...placing him back in my arms. Those are some of my most precious memories. THIS.IS.HARD.EUCHARISTEO... Thank you Father...I rejoice for this is the day You have made.
I never, ever knew I could give so much thank amidst so much heartache. As I went and took his Christmas tree down today, I was able to practice eucharisteo. I was dreading doing this but knew it needed to be done. So, I went and knelt to take the ornaments off. I noticed a new ornament there. One we didn't put. Who, I wondered? A lantern was placed on his marker by my mama Christmas eve and lit to burn through Christmas day. Thank you Lord that his brief life is still remembered by others. Thank you for remembering!
What about giving thanks, practicing eucharisteo brings deep joy and an unfailing relationship with God? It is not only the "hard eucharisteo". It is the daily, momentary eucharisteo...praising Him through the storm, but praising Him in the calm also! Isn't that when we tend to get lax? As Ann points out, "it must be learned." It is about giving thanks when those precious arrows in my quiver are poking me in the side! It is about giving thanks and trusting when the bank account is drained and dental work on top of broken arms demand more. Dig deep and then dig even deeper to find the Grace in those moments. Then thank Him for His Grace!
This book opened my eyes to wonderful truths. I must practice this thing called eucharisteo! After reading the other night, I went to bed only to be woken up at 2:30 by the cries of my baby girl. I made a conscience effort to practice this eucharisteo instead of being ill and grumbling. I thanked him for full arms...for baby smells in my nose...and dozing sleep in the rocking chair. It was a sweet time. I didn't feel cheated of sleep. I felt chara.
I encourage you to journal your gifts...one thousand of them. If you would like to join, take the dareHERE. Read the book! I promise you will be blessed!