Thank goodness for belated gifts. This year, the timing was perfect. My birthday falls near Thanksgiving, the time of year when holiday pressure begins to mount. Adding to the tension there was so much unfriendly, election year political banter, international terrorist attacks, and funerals and illnesses for several special friends. I found myself feeling anxious and out of control at times. My prayers became long lists of requests.
On Christmas Eve I received a belated birthday gift, “One Thousand Gifts,” by Ann Voskamp. My first thought was, “What? I don’t have time to sit down and read right now!” But I did make time to get it started and I’m so glad I did. This book may be a vehicle for finding a fuller, more positive Christian life.
Ann Voskamp begins her book with her childhood story. Without giving it away, I’ll just say it is a depressing story. I was ready to put the book down. I didn’t need a depressing story. However, in her subsequent search for a full, happy Christian life she discovered that giving thanks for even small things that delighted her, moved her, or caught her eye, helped her see God’s love in her life. Jesus modeled this many times in the Bible, even as He gave thanks for the bread and cup at the Last Supper in spite of his impending death on the cross. Writing the blessings down each day, naming them, helped her remember them. She could return to them in her difficult moments. Looking for blessings made her slow her life down and live in the moment, appreciating the blessings God brought to her life. She didn’t intend to be naive about current events but as she embraced God’s blessings she felt loved by God and she was able to be a messenger of God’s love to others. Ann’s life began to feel full and blessed.
I’m still reading the book so there is more to learn but I want to move in this direction. I was challenged on Face Book, in the past, to do something similar for three weeks. I loved it and told myself I would continue until it became a habit. I had good intentions but I fell short.
Then I received my second belated gift, a Christmas gift of two colorful journals and two pencils. Now I have confirmation that I should begin my list of God’s blessings. Valentine’s season seems like an appropriate time to recognize and receive God’s love and to gift God’s love to others. I will begin by naming the blessings in my daily life. You and your children are on that list. I thank God for all of you!
Happy Valentine’s Day!