One Thousand Gifts: Learning to See and Name Every One

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One of my goals this year was to become a radically thankful woman. I know in my heart that thankfulness is key to true joy in this life. I know that I could truly experience the fullness of life when my heart chose to purposefully focus on the good. I know my life could bring honor and praise to my Creator, and attract a watching world around me, when I was thankful and did not take for granted the precious gift of this life. This is my quest.

And yet so often, I falter in depression. I stumble into focusing on my little daily troubles – the ever growing laundry pile, the messy toys thrown here and there, and the financial struggles of staying within our budget. I loss sight of the good…I loss sight of the beauty all around me.

Since meeting Ann Voskamp at the Relevant Conference this last month, I have been challenged again and again by her life and witness. Her mission has been to list out one thousand gifts – watching, recording, and naming all the sweet little gifts that God bestows each and every day that we so often pass by without a second thought. She has desired to see and savor every moment. It is a list of one thousand gifts. Not what she wants. But what she has.

“I don’t need more time to breath so that I may experience more locales, possess more, accomplish more. Because wonder really could be here – for the seeing eye.”

I have witnessed her passion and I can see the way it has changed her life. By focusing on every little gift, through the thick and thin, she radiates such true joy that speaks clearly through her speaking and writing. I am eager to follow in her example. She has now surpassed one thousand and is into the second thousand, but she continues to write, and observe each and every day, what sweetness the daily grace that God supplies. Observing every time God whispers “I love you” in the here and now.

I started my very own gratitude journal earlier this year, but have strayed. This month I am starting anew. I have my little notebook. I keep it with me throughout the day. I jot down little gifts here and there. And my life is already beginning to be transformed. Praise is what I was made for!

“The holy grail of joy is not in some exotic location or some emotional mountain peak experience. The joy wonder could be here! Here, in the messy, piercing ache of now, joy might be – unbelievably – possible! The only place we need see before we die is this place of seeing God, here and now.”

My goal is to record 1000 gifts over a period of 6 months – which equals out to recording 5 gifts per day. I know as I get going, and I pray God transforms my eyes to see the beauty all around me, that I will quickly surpass this goal as I get enraptured by these gifts. I am joining the Gratitude Community and will be sharing my gifts via twitter and collectively here every month during my monthly family journal. Will you join me?

Ann shares in her amazing book, One Thousand Gifts, (coming in January) that the last thing Jesus did before facing His death was sitting down, breaking bread, and giving thanks (Luke 22:19). In the Greek, it is eucharisteo. It means thanksgiving. At its root it means grace and its derivative is joy. This deep joy is found only at the eucharisteo – the table of thanksgiving. We start our week at the table of thanksgiving and communion at church. We take bread every day. These are moments and opportunities that Jesus intended for us to give thanks. The act of eucharisteo – thanksgiving- always proceeds the miracle (John 11:41). It is the central symbol of Christianity. True wellness and completeness is promised to the one who gives thanks (Luke 17:17-19).

We will enter into the full life when we habitually practice and learn the art of giving thanks. It is a hunt – a journey – a discipline. But this is where true contentment is found.

“The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live..He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything.” - Albert Schweitzer

And thus I begin…

#1 – The sweet moments in the early morning reading the Word with my husband
#2 – The delight of cuddling in his strong arms
#4 – A warm house that shelters from the storms outside
#6 – The sweet joys of smothering my little ones with kisses
#8 – Talking until I fade into oblivion
#10 – The glorious ability to read and enter so many different worlds
#16 – Meeting new people and new friendships sprouting
#18 – Two freezers full of food
#25 – The first “please” that comes from my little boy’s mouth learning his manners
#26 – The precious “I love you, Mommy” initiated by my girl

I started on November 1st and have already surpassed 100 gifts. There is so much to be thankful for when we slow down, stop, and simply observe. It is beautiful!

The quotes above are all taken from Ann’s book, One Thousand Gifts, a book that I highly recommend, one that is transforming my life. I was blessed to receive a digital copy as an attendee at the Relevant Conference. It is set to be released in January 2011, so add it to your wish list!

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of three, homemaker, and writer. She is the editor of Passionate Homemaking since its beginning five years ago. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

31 Responses to One Thousand Gifts: Learning to See and Name Every One

  1. Katrina August 1, 2011 at 6:28 am #

    What a wonderful idea. My daughter (6) and I started our lists this morning. I think it’s a great way to talk about thankfulness with a young one. Her first one…she was thankful for good sleep…:)

  2. Sarah July 7, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

    Picked up a fun little journal and began my thankfulness journal today! Thank you for passing this idea on! I am already encouraged!
    blog on!

  3. Jennifer Dawn July 2, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    Oh my! What an amazing idea. I want to do this myself. Would you mind if I copied you and started a list myself. :) If I posted anything about it on my blog, I would of course credit you.

    • Lindsay July 3, 2011 at 7:44 am #

      By all means! I was inspired by Ann Voskamp as it certainly was her idea before me! This is here to encourage you to pursue the same practice!

  4. Allie December 3, 2010 at 10:58 am #

    Loves this! I CANNOT wait to begin my journal of gratitude! I am also in the middle of moving during the holidays, we move out/in on the 10th of December!! So, I am going to have to find my new journal to start writing my daily thanks and thoughts in. You are such an inspiration, thank you.

    Thanks for writing your testimony as well. God has more than blessed this blog of yours!! I pray he will continue to use you :) I see you have a missions heart- you should visit my website and see what I do!

    Merry Christmas! Allie

  5. Jennifer December 2, 2010 at 2:12 pm #

    Hi Lindsay!

    What a blessing this blog is to me, a new mother! Thank you for being willing to let God use you to bless so many women!

    Would you be willing to share how the Lord led you to become a Doula. I had my son naturally and am fascinated with the miracle of birth and how perfectly God designed our bodies to bring forth life.

    I don’t know if the Lord is leading me in this direction just yet but I’d love to hear your story!

    Many thanks,
    Jennifer

  6. Jessie V. November 25, 2010 at 5:36 am #

    Am so doing this. Thank you!

  7. sarah November 20, 2010 at 9:12 am #

    Thank you for this!

    I am currently mama to four foster kids ages four and under. Some days I am joyous about the ministry God is allowing me to partake in, and other days I am completely overwhelmed. I find daily that a heart of thanksgiving makes all the difference. Thank you for being real and honest!

  8. Melanie November 16, 2010 at 11:54 pm #

    Wow! Thanks for this post. I so needed to think about this. I hope that you don’t mind, but I’m going to share a link to this post on my blog. Thanks again for taking the time to write this!

  9. Renee Stam November 16, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

    What a blessing it was reading this today! There is so many blessing around us and we often fails to see them!!!

    One of our favorite hymn is “showers of blessing” this post reminded me of it!

    thanks for taking time to share this with us!

  10. Daniele November 16, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

    Good for you! I joined the Gratitude Community about two years ago and it has CHANGED MY PERSPECTIVE on life & impacted my spiritual walk in a radical way. Yeah…Ann’s book is such a treasure. Glad to have an early e-copy too.

    Blessings in the gratitude journey….

  11. tacy @homemakinghabits November 16, 2010 at 12:10 pm #

    I was meant to read this today! Last night we were doing family prayer and my husband and I prayed for all of our concerns and worries. Then we asked Molly (our almost 3 yr. old) if she wanted to pray. She sang “God our father..we thank you..for our many blessings..amen.” That was it… so convicting. Out of the mouth of babes…

  12. shauna November 16, 2010 at 8:49 am #

    I absolutely love your blog, so very inspiring!!! Thank you very much. I was Listening to a talk by one of my church leaders and it made me think of your blog. thank you for helping me simplify and showing me how by the things you do. You are teaching what my church leaders are teaching and it is so nice to have inspiration from your blog.

    oh and just a small question when you order from azure do you get organic Sucanat?

    • Lindsay November 16, 2010 at 3:19 pm #

      I usually get whatever I can get on sale. I order the bulk quantity of organic sucanat or the organic whole cane sugar (also known as rapadura) and split with friends. They both work the same way and are equally interchangeable.

  13. Debbie November 16, 2010 at 7:47 am #

    I just made it to a thousand gifts after a year of doing Ann’s Gratitude Community. It has changed my life and attitude!

  14. Tamara November 16, 2010 at 5:48 am #

    Thank you so much for this beautiful post, with three litte ones under five and starting a business with my husband I have realized that my cup is empty and I have been exhausted and short tempered, what a wonderfull inspiration and reminder you have given me to have gratitude and count my blessings, I will begin today!

  15. Sea November 15, 2010 at 10:00 pm #

    I turned 35 a few weeks ago and had been going through a little depression (more like exhaustion) and decided that I needed to write down 35 blessings, similar to this but yours is much more thorough. I haven’t worked on it but I am motivated to get back at it! WOW! Thanks for the inspiration!!

  16. Kayla November 15, 2010 at 9:53 pm #

    I hope you don’t mind, but I am going to link to this post plus write my own take on it this Friday in my Simple Fridays post. I plan on issuing it as a challenge to my readers. Thank you for posting about the book – it is now on my Christmas wish list!

  17. Tara November 15, 2010 at 7:04 pm #

    I love your blog. LOVE IT.

  18. Shaye Elliott November 15, 2010 at 2:01 pm #

    Lindsay, thank you for bringing us this great perspective. It’s important to remember that we are able to do all things to His glory and for His kingdom – whether it be nursing, cleaning, or changing diapers :) It’s good to have perspective. Thank you for your wonderful post!

  19. Kimberly November 15, 2010 at 1:47 pm #

    Just pre-ordered book!! Thanks!

  20. Ashley November 15, 2010 at 1:42 pm #

    Lindsay,
    Thank you so much for this post. The timeliness is a visible sign of God’s grace in my life. I recently wrote a post on my blog about go through a dark period having just had my third child. I can see how a simple act of thinking of all we have to be thankful for can really shed some Godly light during this dark period.
    I will try to be more thankful. Really there is so much I can list.
    Thank you for your service.

  21. Kimberly November 15, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

    What a great idea!! I know that when I am purposeful about being thankful, it is much harder to be depressed :) I really need to start a gratitude journal!

  22. Stacey November 15, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    Oh wow! God has been directing me to my favorite blogs these past few days. He is slowly showing me how to find joy. I feel like I could have written the first part of this post, and now I want to be able to write the second half too :) Thank you for sharing what God has laid on your heart! You are a true blessing to me, in both my spiritual life and my everyday life. For example (in my everyday life) I just made my first batch of kefir this weekend and I just ordered my Nutrimill! I have gained so much health knowledge from you and the resources you share.

  23. melissa November 15, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

    Thank you for sharing this…I am in desperate need of working towards having a Thankful heart. It is so easy at my current life stage–2 boys, 1 almost 3 and 1-4 months, to feel overwhelmed and that there are so many things going on each day that I forget to stop and be thankful for this time and the moments that I am sharing with my children now. I will begin a thankful journal today…thank you for the inspiration.

  24. angie November 15, 2010 at 1:17 pm #

    Oh, I REALLY want to pursue this challenge! Praying God will see me through it:)

  25. Melissa November 15, 2010 at 1:01 pm #

    What a wonderful habit to start! I just rummaged through my desk drawer for a notebook and wrote down my first blessing…thanks for an inspiring post.

  26. Katie November 15, 2010 at 11:13 am #

    Here’s where I am sharing your link. http://mexicanwildflower.blogspot.com/2010/11/cultivating-thankful-heart.html

  27. Katie November 15, 2010 at 11:12 am #

    It’s amazing how different your outlook on the day is when you give thanks! I have been journaling five blessings a day for many months now! I never thought about numbering them 1-1000+. I just wrote a post on cultivating a thankful heart yesterday and am going to add a link to your post. I hope to buy or find Ann’s book soon! Thank you for sharing. It is always a blessing!

  28. Amber November 15, 2010 at 10:55 am #

    I came across Ann’s blog a couple months ago, and have started making my list, recording all my blessings. I love your idea of having a little notebook that you can jot things in throughout the day. For now I have been sitting down on Sunday evenings and recording a list of about 20 on my blog. (I just reached 100 last night). It has been such a good way to start my week, and help put me in focus. God is soooo good to us!
    Oh, and can I just say that I am thankful for your blog! You are such an encouragement and inspiration to me!

  29. Sonja November 15, 2010 at 9:59 am #

    I’ve pre-ordered mine and can’t wait to get it! Glad you can share little snippets with us. :)