Saturday, July 6, 2013

1000 Gifts

I recently read a book, "One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are" by Ann Voskamp, and it changed my life. If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it.
(spoiler warning) The very first chapter, you find out that the author (Ann Voskamp) witnessed the death of her little sister when she herself was still a child. She admits that such a vicious tragedy had lasting ramifications in her spiritual life (or lack their of).

The book is her journey to answer her questions, to restore her faith, and to find true peace and joy. It starts with a challenge to number and list 1,000 gifts, and it changes her entire perspective.

It may help that I can totally relate to the author in the fact that she is a home schooling mother of six, living on a farm, who also enjoys photography. However, I am sure that everyone can relate to the fact that we have questions we cannot answer. All of us, at one time or another, have asked the question of "Why?" Many of us desire a more intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father!

After reading this book (literally the day I finished it), my car broke down in the parking lot at Vacation Bible School (VBS) at a church we were visiting. I was mortified and frustrated (especially since I had taken my husband's car as mine was not working). So the "good" car I took to VBS wouldn't start, and I had to ask people to help me jump the car over and over only to find out the alternator needed to be replaced. I wanted to cry, but I found myself trying to be thankful in the situation. I had to make a conscious choice to choose to be thankful:

1. I was at VBS, so there were people there to help me.
2. The weather was nice and not pouring rain or really hot.
3. The kids were having fun in church instead of sitting in the car waiting for it to get fixed.
4. My friend's husband called and found the part I needed and went to pick it up for me.
5. My sister-in-law's boyfriend is a mechanic, and came to the parking lot and fixed it on the spot before the kids even finished VBS.
6. Better that it happened before Dustin drove it to Georgia that weekend.

Wow, Praise God. Talk about blessings. When I chose to recognize the blessings, it changed my entire perspective!

Why does this surprise me so? Isn't that what I have my children to do if they start to have a pity party? I tell them to "count your blessings." List the things they are thankful to God for to turn their focus from self-pity to thanking God. It's all about perspective.

Sometimes, it's the rush to get things done, the "inconveniences"when things don't go as planned or plans have to change, the change in our schedule, not getting as much done as we had wanted,...etc. These things prevents us from taking the time to thank God and recognize His blessings.

I love this quote from Ann Voskamp's book about our hurried lives:

"Being in a hurry. Getting to the next things without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I've ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing...Through all that haste I thought I was making up time. It turns out I was throwing it away."

I want to fully see what is right in front of me. Recognize it, cherish it, enjoy it, without rushing to the next thing and failing to see and give thanks for all the God has blessed me with.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons why I love taking pictures, each photo is a documentation of His gifts, the blessings that our Lord has given us. We just need to slow down, recognize the gifts, and give thanks for them.
"Joy is the realest reality, the fullest life, and joy is always given, never grasped. God gives gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given:joy." -Ann Voskamp One Thousand Gifts

(I will say that the author has a very unique style of writing. Her imagery and description is poetic, and I enjoyed that; however, I have had a couple friends explain that they found the description a little distracting. However, hang in there and read this book in its entirety because the over all message and content is life-altering; it has seriously changed my life).

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