Feb 9, 2015

delighting in 1000 gifts // the end of the beginning

"Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives . . . the manifestation of our YES to His grace . . . When I give thanks for the seemingly microscopic, I make a place for God to grow within me".
Ann Voscamp

The past several months, I have shared some of my favorite "gifts" or blessings that I journaled during October 2013 until November 2014. It was a year full of mountain-top joys and dark valley sorrows, yet it was all (yes, all of it) a gift that taught my heart to look to God's faithful hand over my life. 

Here is a recap of the first seven posts:

#893. Stopped by a cute little apple orchard on my day off and picked up some delicious organic apple cider and apples in late September.

#901-#910. I visited Seattle in October for a nurse practitioner continuing education conference and got a change to hang out with friends, visited beloved corners of the city I love so much, and learned a lot during the actual conference. I love Seattle!

#921-#940. I visited G.W. in October in Texas. We had a day trip to Austin (hiked & picnicked, kayaked at the Hamilton Pool, had dinner with friends, and spontaneously danced under the moonlight at the top floor of a garage as live music played nearby), biked through the historic King William District of San Antonio & ate at two of the districts best restaurants (The Guenther House and Liberty Bar), attending our first wedding together at a beautiful plantation full of Southern charm, fancy dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse downtown, serenaded by GW's guitar (Jack Johnson's Belle), reading and journaling for introvert time at a french-themed cafe, and celebrated a friend's birthday in Gruene.

#967. Being able to share my heart with my community group leaders and their prayers for me during a season that was full on anxious thoughts. I am so thankful for friends of all ages who pour so much compassion and intentionality into my life.

#987. Took a trip to explore Portland's Japanese Gardens with my sisters in November. The leaves of the trees were in various vibrant autumn shades. SO gorgeous!

#991. Going through She Reads Truth's Hymns study during an especially stressful few days. It's amazing how God's faithful hands provides us with His truth in the time we need it most! Each hymn and scripture passage spoke directly to my heart each of the five days of the study.

#994. Short surprise trip to see G.W. A few days before the trip, I was full of anxiety (the same days I was going through the study in #991) and God brought a lot of peace, joy, and hope during the five days with GW. We said those special three little words, had lots of quality time and conversations, and enjoyed a ballet of Vivaldi's Four Seasons in Gruene (I love that little town near San Antonio!). It was a restful trip without tourist attractions and was absolutely perfect. 

#1000. The grace of God carrying me through a whole year-worth of gifts of all shapes and sizes! Some were joyful and fun. Others were hard, but brought tremendous growth and healing. 

Through it all, God brought so much blessing in my life while journaling "gifts" or evidences of His presence in the every day moments. It was a lesson of looking around with an expectant gaze, knowing that His hand is at work even when not clearly evident. It may be in the glorious hues of a sunset, a comforting cup of tea and good book, an encouraging discussion with a friend or coworker, life-changing lessons from studying the Bible, weekend trips full of memories with family and friends , or  (my favorite) a budding new romance with a man that reflects God's love and watching it grow into a love that stands strong against distance an tough days. Through it all, His hand held me up and holds you up as well. 

So, I finished my 1000 Gifts journal in November, but I don't want it to be an end to this intentional thanksgiving. Rather, it is an end to a beginning. I hope it propels me forward this year into continuing to have a heart that looks for gifts everyday and that I would have a heart of thanksgiving that looks to the best Gift Giver there is. 

"Thanks is what multiplies the joy 
& makes life large & I hunger for it"
Ann Voscamp, author of One Thousand Gifts

 Seattle from underneath Pike's Place Market
King Wiliam Historic District in San Antonio

Portland Japanese Garden 

Vivaldi's Four Seasons ballet

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Elle Alice