Dec 6, 2014

delighting in 1000 gifts // part four

In October, I started sharing some of my favorite blessings from the last twelve months of writing in my 1000 gifts journal. Inspired by Ann Voscamp's book by the same title, I wanted to challenge myself to daily fix my mind on the gifts of each day rather than the hardships. I don't know about you, but I naturally gravitate towards the worst part of the day as I try to lay down and sleep. Rather than counting  blessings (or atleast sheep!), I count my failures, regrets, and fear. And then I wonder why I can't sleep well at night! But from my first gift that I wrote down in October 2013 until my 1000th gift I penned in November 2014, my heart and mind have seen the hope, rest, and joy found in fixing my gaze on the may blessings or gifts that have been showered upon me.

 But do not miss the point. The gifts themselves are not the means to an end in themselves. They are meant to point me to the best Gift Giver.

"So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him."
<< Matthew 7:11 >>

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change."
<< James 1: 17 >>

Don't get me wrong here. I had a hard year. Anxious thoughts seemed to rule over my peace and joy for a good portion of this year. Yet, and that is a big YET, God was faithfulHe was faithful in the days that it seemed my hand could not move the pen fast enough to write down each gift from the day.  He was also faithful when I stared down at a blank sheet and wondered if I was being a fool for trying to think of a good thing that happened during a ridiculously hard day. His character did not change, which meant His gift giving did not cease. Rather than obvious gifts that were easy to recount, these days held buried treasures that, once found, brought tears to my eyes once I realized that God was there in the midst of my darkest moments this year, still giving. 

As I look back at some of my favorite gifts from this year full of gifts, I can truly say that I am blessed. Not in a fluffy #blessed way, but in a deep-rooted, held-in-the-Everlasting-Arms type of blessed. I was reminded during this gift-counting year that God is the best giver. He gives and gives and gives. This year, He has given me gifts that changed me physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. He is an all-encompassing God. He does not stop at financial blessings like paying off a school loan or having enough money each month to pay off rent, though I can praise Him for both this year. He also gives generously in supplying our social needs such as a loving community of people to build us up and point us to Him and speak truth into our lives (again, a gift I am so thankful for this year). And the giving does not stop there. 

He gives through the life-giving words of His written words, the Holy Bible. 
He gives beauty through a dazzling sea of blue or a majestic sunset.
He gives hope through a new dawn each day that is brimming with possibilities.
He gives second chances when we think we've reached the end of our rope.
God the Father gives and gives and gives.

And the best gift of all? The most extravagant gift showcasing His unfailing love? "For God so loved the world, that He gave."  God gave us His Son, Jesus. But, Jesus was not passive in this giving. He gave Himself to us as well when He surrendered Himself to the Father's will to become our substitute for what we deserved. He gave us the life we could not have ever given ourselves.
God the Son gives and gives and gives.

As Jesus returned to heaven, He promised to keep on giving and gave the gift that keeps on giving. He gave the Third Person of the Trinity: the gift that comforts, corrects, guides, encourages, and points to God the Father and God the Son Jesus.
God the Holy Spirit gives and gives and gives. 

No, I am not the fluffy blessed that has become synonymous with a prosperity-focused theology or ideology. I am blessed in the sometimes jagged gifts that I oft-times want to initially skip over, but later on see the deep love that brought the gift. I am blessed with both loud gifts that are easily noticed and joyfully celebrated. Yet, still, the quiet and shy gifts that wonder if they'll be noticed at all (or even if they're wanted). 

As I find myself in the rush and busyness of the season best known for giving gifts, I hope that I (and you too) will be reminded of the God who gives and gives and gives. 

I shared some of the early gifts of the last year (here, here, and here). Now, here are a few more gifts (that all occurred in February) that rocked my world in 2014:

---> 264. Heart-to-heart conversations with close friends and sharing them exciting news about a new handsome Texan I had recently met & would soon become my amazing boyfriend :-)
---> 265. Sushi and a sister-date to watch Frozen!
---> 273. After a long, hard few days at work, an out-of-town friend called and left an encouraging voicemail with truth-filled words that my heart desperately needed to hear. It was certainly a "God moment" because we hadn't spoken for a while and she said she had thought of me and wanted to call.
---> 274. The heaviest snowfall of 2014 in the Pacific Northwest personally meant a four-hour commute from work and wondering if I'd make it home without my car being totaled by angry drivers. But my handsome Texan sent sweet text messages to read when my car was at a dead stop behind hundreds of others. Once home, I treated myself to hot cocoa, Wives & Daughters (its a must see for any Jane Austen fans. Y'all would love Elizabeth Gaskell!), Skype chat with the encouraging friend from #273, warm beef veggie stew, and walking around my apartment complex in the moonlight shining down on the snow-covered complex. I made snow angels for the first time in ages! 
---> 306. Visiting my BFF in SoCal. We laughed well, ate well, and adventured the sunny beaches well. It was so good to finally hang out with her again!

Aside from being the longest 4 hours of my life, it was also a very beautiful drive as the snow came down in buckets
Walking in a Winter Wonderland at my apartment complex. I will never forget the peace and solitude of that night.
Two weeks after our snow storm, I find myself looking at this view near Laguna Beach!
BFFs reunited at last!



4 comments:

  1. I absolutely love this. It's so beautifully written. I too started a 1000 gifts journal after reading the same book and I love how it has just opened my eyes after intentionally writing about the little blessings throughout the day I start to look and appreciate daily life's moments so much more, because really it's all a gift- the good stuff & the hard stuff.

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    1. Thank you so much, Amanda! I agree, it was such an eye-opening experience to daily reflect on the little blessings of everyday life! And, yes! AMEN! "It's all a gift"!

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  2. LOVED THIS!! and those SNOW PHOTOS!! AMAZING!!!!

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  3. isn't it crazy how CA is still so warm! especially southern cal!

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Elle Alice