“Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name!” Psalm 100:4
By: Dana Baran
About nine months ago, I felt a deep need for a change. I had changed careers almost a year before, trading in my dream job teaching reading to seventh graders for a new dream, staying home to care for our baby girl. It was a huge adjustment. While I was so happy in my new role as a mommy, I still felt prickles of discontentment and annoyance at the repetitiveness of my days and the seeming insignificance of my life. In March of 2013 my MOPS book group chose to read and discuss Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. It turned out to be just what my heart was craving.
Voskamp uses a lyrical, almost poetic style of writing to share her message of eucharisteo, soul-deep thankfulness to our Heavenly Father. As I read about Voskamp’s journey, I realized how much I could benefit from being more intentionally grateful. I started my thankfulness journal on the frigid first day of Spring, and am now less than one hundred entries away from making my own list of one thousand gifts. I couldn’t emulate Voskamp’s practice of carrying her journal everywhere and recording each moment of thankfulness as soon as it happened, but I did challenge myself to write down at least five gifts every night before I went to sleep. Sometimes it felt like just a rote exercise, but I did it anyway. And I did feel a change. Not a change in my circumstances, but a change in my attitude toward my circumstances. As I thanked the Lord for #3, “toys scattered around the house by an active baby” my resentment toward having to pick up the same toys over and over faded. Being grateful for #70, “A husband who pushes through tough circumstances at work to do his best” helped lessen my irritation when my hubby came home late from work. As I reflected on days full of simple pleasures, like #425 “A nice stroll with my family” and #669 “Glorious sunshine paired with a cool breeze” I started to learn deep contentment in place of my former dissatisfaction. Gifts like #680, “C’s head on my chest as I sing her lullabies” and #721, “Splash pad fun on a hot afternoon” helped me fully engage in the moment, instead of thinking about my to do list. I know I’ve barely dipped my toe into the practice of thankfulness, and that the Lord has much, much more to teach me through eucharisteo. I am positive that if you read One Thousand Gifts and commit to an attitude of thankfulness God will bring a beautiful change in you. But you don’t have to take my word for it! Here’s what some other women from our book club have to say about this book:
“One Thousand Gifts beautifully describes the true meaning of eucharisteo. As I read each chapter full of practical wisdom ,I was reminded that by naming each blessing (gift), and giving thanks, I would draw closer to God and be filled with joy. This book helped me transition from a prayer life full of ‘requests’ to prayers overflowing with thanksgiving. A life changing transformation!” – Candace
“My first journey through One Thousand Gifts sliced straight through the cloak of ingratitude and self-centeredness that safely covered my broken soul with dreams to grieve. The second journey delivered to me the true healing, hope and power available when I choose to receive God’s grace and experience His strengthening joy as a result of praising Him in thanksgiving no matter my circumstances.” – Polly
While reading the book, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, I have had to overhaul my thinking when it comes to the true origin of gratitude. I’ve realized that true gratitude has been sparse if not unexistant in my heart. Let me tell you that my pride certainly fought that realization. However, the conviction was persistent, and eventually I gave in to the truth that I had a severe crack in the foundation of my faith. It’s been a journey, one that I will always be on, but WOW has it changed my heart. -Gretchen
This is the “official” season of Thanksgiving. I think it’s the perfect time to make a commitment to gratitude, not just one day a year, but every day, every hour, every moment. God is calling us to thankfulness. Will you answer?