Several years ago I stumbled upon a blog that impacted me deeply. I was new to the blogosphere and really found it because I was doing some research for a retreat at which I was to speak. It was filled with the words of a Canadian farmer’s wife and homeschooling mama to six. God used her words and her photos to stir my heart. Our lives were as different as day and night – me living in a liberal college town, a preacher’s wife, and public school mama to just two. Nevertheless, our love of Jesus and His grace made us sisters and I felt like I had “met” a kindred spirit.
When she started blogging about everyday graces and being purposeful about giving thanks, she planted an important seed in my heart. It was a seed that I desperately needed to let take root – in a place that had been given over to grumbling and criticizing. For I am a woman who loves to evaluate ideas and think critically. I know that critical thinking can be beneficial. But, it’s a good quality that can lead to bad character if left unchecked. To being judgmental and critical. To looking for the next, better thing instead of enjoying the current situation. In a nutshell, it can lead to a lack of gratitude.
Of Blogs and Books
So, I joined her in keeping a journal of thanks. I started soaking in the everyday and thanking God for even the little blessings or the hard moments. As I began to really notice my life, even the way I took photos changed. A pile of laundry became a thing of beauty. An unmet expectation transformed into an opportunity to trust.
And then, I read her book. It was the food and water that brought the seed to fruition – gave it roots and a place to grow.
Since then, it’s been a process of embracing gratitude and seeing all of life as grace. It’s not a new concept – it’s clear as clear on the pages of Scripture. Right there in the beginning. Pretty much all sin, right back to the first sin, stems out of an unthankful heart. A heart that demands more is a heart that can’t see the bounty of God’s goodness. It’s a heart that doesn’t trust the Giver. And, a lack of gratitude is an easy companion to pride and selfishness.
Ann says it this way: “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.”
No, it’s not a new concept at all. It’s just that Ann wrote into a void. There’s just not a lot out there about gratitude. Just take a look at the most-read articles or the most-popular books on the shelf. Most people want to know how to get more, not be happy with the less you already have. We compare and we covet and we fantasize about another life. And unless we do something obvious like rob a bank to get that life, we can hide these “little” sins behind a good work ethic and the American dream – maybe even hide them from ourselves. An extra-marital affair at work usually gets discovered; but you can be envious of your friend’s life for a lot of years without ever recognizing the lack of gratitude (and the damage it does to your heart).
Yesterday I told you I was going to give you some tips and traditions for November. I did compile a list of links and ideas to help you celebrate gratitude. I think I’ll actually save them for this weekend.
For now, the only tip I’ll give is the one I gleaned from Ann. Start counting. On a scrap of paper. In a journal. Use her printable. Just start jotting them down. And be specific. Maybe it would go something like this: #1 the way his breath sounds next to you when you wake up in the middle of the night, #2 the bright green of the moss that grows in-between the bricks of your walkway, #3 seeing her handwriting when the mail came last week… etc.
When Ann first started counting, her goal was to record 1,000 gifts. But once she started, she decided to never stop.
Can you imagine what it would be like to live life this way – not just in November but all year round? No matter the circumstance? Sometimes, I like to imagine all of our thanks rising up to heaven like great big bowls of incense. Wafting up before God and bringing Him great pleasure.
For He delights in giving to us.
Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow. – James, the half-brother of Jesus
Could we try it together?
To help with the counting, you can join me over at our Facebook page. Each day in November, I will post a new quote about gratitude on the In A Mirror Dimly page. Below it, you can comment and list another thanks (or two or three) for the day. I know some of you are already doing this on your personal Facebook pages. But, how cool would it be to also do it together in one place? To rejoice with each other and see a growing list of thanks?