For about a year now I have been making a list. It's a list of the things I love- the blessings of God. I was inspired and challenged by Ann Voskamp on her blog A Holy Experience. I have shared on her before how making this list has already impacted my life. In January Ann's book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, was released. I shared with you how excited I was to read her book. It is the story of her life and how she began her journey to a full life. I am in love with this book. It is seriously challenging me, inspiring me, moving me in ways I couldn't have imagined. You need to buy this book. The honest truth is that if I could buy this book for everyone I know, I would. Seriously, I would. Today I read Chapter 4. There is so much I could write about and say. But for now, let me just share some quotes from Chapters 1-3 that really pushed me and challenged me. The basic idea behind her book, her theory or thesis if you will, is that all sin originates in a heart of ingratitude. We are ungrateful for all God had given- we want more, we want something else. That is the essence of Adam and Eve's sin in the garden- of our sin today. We are not satisfied in God and with His goodness. And in the first three chapters she shows so beautifully from scripture how, then, the inverse is true. If ingratitude is the foundation for our lives filled with sin and sorrow, then gratitude must be the key to lives lived fully and full of His joy! Here are some amazing quotes from the first three chapters.
"From all our beginnings, we keep reliving the Garden story. Satan, he wanted more. More power, more glory. Ultimately, in his essence, Satan is an ingrate. And he sinks his venom into the heart of Eden. Satan's sin becomes the first sin of all humanity: the sin of ingratitude. Adam and Eve are, simply, painfully, ungrateful for what God gave. Isn't that the catalyst of all my sin? Our fall was, has always been,, and always will be, that we aren't satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other." p. 15
"He means to rename us- to return us to our true names, our truest selves. He means to heal our soul holes. From the very beginning, that Eden beginning, that has always been and always is, to this day, His secret purpose- our return to our full glory. Appalling- that He would! Us, unworthy. And yet since we took a bite out of the fruit and tore into our own souls, that drain hole where joy seeps away, God's had this wild secretive plan. He means to fill us with glory again. With glory and grace." p. 17
"I wake to... the wrestle to get it all done, the relentless anxiety that I am failing. Always, the failing. I yell at the children, fester with bitterness, forget doctor appointments, lost library books, live selfishly, skip prayer, complain, go to bed too late, neglect cleaning toilets. I live tired. Afraid. Anxious. Weary." p. 27
"The face of Jesus flashes. Jesus, the God-Man with his own termination date. Jesus, the God-Man who came to save me from prisons of fear and guilt and depression and sadness. With an expiration date of less than twelve hours, what does Jesus count as all most important?
' And he took the break, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them...' Luke 22:19" p. 31
"In the original language 'he gave thanks' reads 'eucharisteo'.... Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, Charis. But it also hold its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning joy. Joy. Ah... yes. I might be needing some of that." p.32
"I may have always known that change takes real intentionality, like a woman bent over her garden beds every day with a spade and the determined will to grow up something good to strengthen the heart. I may even have known that change requires more than merely thinking warm and fuzzy thoughts about a way through and that Greek word, eucharisteo, holding the mystery to the full life and ever after... how in the world, for the sake of my soul, do I learn to practically pick up eucharisteo, the word I had underlined as a firm foundation to lay down under all my days?... I would have to do something....it was a dare, like a love dare of sorts, and I take it one clear November morning... Can I write a list of a thousand things I love?... To name one thousand blessings- one thousand gifts." p. 44-45
"Now, in the Bible a name.... reveals the very essence of a thing, or rather its essence as God's gift.... to name a thing is to manifests the meaning and value God gave it, to know it as coming from God and to know its place and function within the cosmos created by God. To name a thing, in other words, is to bless God for is and in it." p.53
"I know there is poor hideous suffering, and I've seen the hungry and the guns that go to war. I have lived pain, and my life can tell: I only deepen the wound of the world when I negelct to give thanks for early light dappled through leaves and the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July and the song of crickets on humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that God gives. Why would the world need more anger, more outrage? How does it save the world to reject unabashed joy when it is joy that saves us?... the brave who focuses on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discovery joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world." p.58
"The gift list is thinking upon His goodness- and this, this pleases Him most! And profits my own soul and I am beginning, only beginning, to know it. If clinging to His goodness is the highest form of prayer, then seeing His goodness with pen, with shutter (camera), with a word of thanks, these really are the most sacred acts conceivable..... Eucharisteo takes us into His love." p. 61