A little over a year ago I read a book that changed my life. Click here to read more about the book – One Thousand Gifts – A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp.
After going though multiple difficulties, the author starts a “thankfulness journal” that leads her on a journey of discovery with her Creator. Shortly after finishing the book I felt compelled to start a thankfulness journal of my own. When I read One Thousand Gifts I was battling a nameless disease that kept getting worse. I had constant debilitating pain and was crushed with a fatigue so severe, it would keep me in bed for days at a time. I was also wrestling with God and had even stopped praying for healing. I didn’t understand why He wouldn’t heal me or at least give me a doctor that cared. In the very least, I just wanted an accurate diagnosis. I wanted others to know my pain was real and there really was something wrong with my body. I wanted answers and I hated what was happening to me. I had to let go of doing things I loved due to my illness and because of that, I didn’t feel fulfilled. I was empty and hurting, vulnerable and hopeless…I felt abandoned.
“Losses do that. One life-loss can infect the whole of a life. Like a rash that wears through our days, our sight becomes peppered with black voids. Now everywhere we look, we only see all that isn’t: holes, lack, deficiency…It is in the dark that God is passing by. The bridge and our lives shake not because God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by. God is in the tremors. Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will. Though it is black and we can’t see and our world seems to be free-falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us.” ~One Thousand Gifts
I started writing in my journal every morning and as the days passed, God began to press in close. As I wrote out my gratitude, He started whispering words of comfort and hope to my heart. Pretty soon, it became a habit in my life and once I started writing, I couldn’t stop. My thankfulness overflowed. I found myself even thanking God for my disease ridden body and for the hidden gift it gave – a beautiful humility and dependence on Him like I had never experienced before and a slower pace of life, one in which I had more time to enjoy the little things and find Him in unexpected places.
“When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. How can this not be the best thing for the world? For us?” ~One Thousand Gifts
Within days of starting my thankfulness journal I found a doctor who was able to give me a diagnosis. A tick-born bacteria was to blame for my symptoms. I began treatment that has helped significantly. I still struggle daily with this chronic illness -whose presence may never fully leave my life, but I have found joy in the journey – as cliché as that might sound.
“The secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is.” ~One Thousand Gifts
Keeping this thankfulness journal has changed my outlook. In spite of painful circumstances, there is always something (thousands of things) to be thankful for. I am blessed and undeserving of so many wonderful gifts and each day that I write out my thankfulness, I discover even more gifts. So, I thought I would share some of the pages from my thankfulness journal. Happy Thanksgiving! May we all be aware of how beautiful life is – not only in this season of Thanksgiving, but in every single moment.
In case you can’t see them, I typed out the pages below and in doing so just realized that “Coffee” and “Books” are both written twice. You might learn a lot about yourself if you start keeping a thankfulness journal! 🙂
Nature hunting with Chloe
Praise music in my head when I wake up
Security of family
Big bows in sweet blond hair
Time with Ryan when we can actually finish a conversation!
Little pubs with good beer and yummy food
Ryan’s back rubs
Hot coffee on chilly mornings
Grown up conversation
Snuggling with my girls
My girls laughter
Hot coffee with cinnamon sprinkles on top and time to finish a cup
The way a song can move my spirit
Anticipation of a journey
A clean home
Little arms around my neck
Packing for a vacation
Melting butter on toast
Sweet prayers from little voices
Big hugs from little arms
Little feet that don’t stop growing – new shoes
Minds that are quick to learn
Pictures to remember favorite moments
Hands that are able
Legs that can walk and run
Eyes that can see God’s beautiful world and the faces of my loved ones
“Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant—a seed—this plants the giant miracle.” ~One Thousand Gifts