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Monday, November 16, 2015

Counting the Thanks…

 When most of us count our blessings, we think in generalities: family, faith, friends, etc. For many years this was what I thought of as giving thanks. But then I read Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts, and my life was changed. I realized that there were so many other little ways in which God demonstrates His love. There are miracles happening every day - what I call "Grace moments" - those few seconds of awe when the world stops whirling and God becomes just a little closer. Thanks-giving became a way of life to me when I began looking for such minutes of wonder. Every day started to hold some element of purpose, some aspect of joy, some touch of love from God. Because the blessings are everywhere. We just have to open our eyes. We have to stop fighting and stop rushing and just listen. Watch. Wait. And wonder. 
 As we pause this season to express our gratitude to God for all the ways in which He gives throughout the year, I am going further than usual. I am listing the little things. No generalities. Because He isn't a God of generalities. He is God of details. Of intricate specifics that make up the beautiful whole of Him and the world He has made. So here goes my list:

I am thankful for…

…the time this last Spring when my friend Asa called me up, having no idea that I'd had the worst week possible, just to tell me how much he appreciated me - and to pray with me for peace and grace.

…for how 26 college baseball athletes made me laugh this summer and accepted me as one of them.

…for the Grace moment when a friend and I sang the National Anthem unplanned with an Army veteran on top of a mountain in Alaska - and an eagle soared past us. 

…for the shared cup of tea with a dear friend after not seeing each other in two years.

…for the moment when I was told that three new friends of mine had joined God's family.

…for the long-awaited meeting with a once suicidal veteran that I had worked with over the phone for six years and never met in person. Three Grace-filled days of watching God bless and work. 

…for the moment when someone sent to me the link to tenor Daniel Craig's rendition of "It is Well." God stepped down and spoke life.

…for the unexpected gift of friendship that a college athlete named Michael extended to me. One conversation on a set of bleachers in Alaska changed my life. 

…for the peacefulness of hiking in the majestic mountains of Hatcher Pass and feeling God renew my soul.

…for two childhood friends re-entering my life this year.

…for a long-time friend finding love after many years of waiting and seeing her marry one of my good friends!

…for the moment when a friend let me into the dark chapters of his past - and God's grace restored the broken places. Transparency is beautiful. 

…for the assurance of knowing that God's light is forever out-shining my darkness!

…for the humbling feeling of undeserved favor with God and others.

…for prayer becoming a powerful force in my life.

…for the opportunity to reach out to another person and offer hope - simply because I was open to God.

…for the little resident squirrel at my house who (quite selfishly) begs for a peanut hand-out on the windowsill and yet brings so much pleasure. 

…for the orange sunset that reminded me of the Master Artist and the One who calls me His own.

The list could go on and on…
So tell me: will you join me in going further?? I would love to hear what some of your thousand little gifts are…
Together, let's continue the giving of thanks...