Monday, October 7, 2013

A Life of Gratitude Part 2

I wrote a few weeks ago on how I have struggled recently with joy and gratitude in the midst of suffering and I wanted to give a small update.

I finished the book I was reading, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, and although there were parts I may not fully agree with, the overall message painted a beautiful picture of learning how to practice living in gratitude to a faithful loving God. The great thing was it wasn't a self help book, it was a memoir, a reflection on how noticing God's graces leads Ann to a more grateful life and a greater union with Jesus.

Couldn't we all use more gratitude? More Jesus?

As I began reading I decided to take on the challenge and write down 1000 gifts over the course of the next months or however long it takes me. Each day I try to write down one or two things I am thankful for. Simple things, some recent examples being: walks with friends, the smell of the woods in fall, and driving under the yellow trees on Kossuth Street.

A word of caution, one could fall into worshiping God's creation rather than worship the true God. So we must be careful to recognize that we are giving thanks for the good gifts God gives, no matter how small, not worshiping the gifts themselves.

I have found that being intentional about keeping track of these gifts, these moments, has helped me to be more aware of what God is doing around me. As I said in my earlier post, my vision has been completely obscured by negativity lately and this forces me to find the positives of each day. Slowly shifting how I view the world.

It's a wonderful thing when we can begin to feel God moving in us, making us more like Him. Although small so far, I am hopeful that this shift is just the beginning of beginning to live a more grace filled, grateful life. That joy and gratitude would overcome my tendency towards negative realism. I feel like this is just the starting point, just the beginning of freedom from negativity.

Ok, I love a good quote so I will leave you with a few on thankfulness.

“Those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayer and worn with thanks.” 
― Thomas Goodwin

"Resolve to spend most of your time in thanksgiving and praising God. If you cannot do it with the joy that you should, yet do it as you can. You have not the power of your comforts; but have you no power of your tongues? Say not that you are unfit for thanks and praises unless you have a praising heart and were the children of God; for every man, good and bad, is bound to praise God, and to be thankful for all that he hath received, and to do it as well as he can, rather than leave it undone.... Doing it as you can is the way to be able to do it better. Thanksgiving stirreth up thankfulness in the heart.”  Hence Baxter

"It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness." Charles Spurgeon

“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?” 
― Ann VoskampOne Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

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