Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Lessons in Grace, Thanksgiving & Joy

I started reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp this past week and I was challenged. She had studied about giving thanks and its connection to joy in the scriptures, when God started to convince her that she needed to go a step further and act on her studies. It was at this point in time that she received a challenge from a friend to write a list of a thousand things that she loved. "To name a thousand blessings --one thousand gifts...". I am not one that embraces every fad or trend but there was something in her challenge that spoke to me (maybe God had been working on me through challenges of my own).  Her goal was not to become some Pollyanna that ignores the ugly and painful and can only see the bright side of life. I am not sure that she even had a really clear goal beyond writing the list. But in writing the list she found herself recognizing the minuscule gifts of grace that God places in our lives. The acknowledgement of that grace lead to thankfulness, and the thankfulness lead to joy and living more fully each moment of the day. I know that this sounds very Pollyanna-ish but what was compelling about Voskamp's book was the acknowledgement that fully living means being fully open to what God is doing in your life and recognizing both the joy and the pain of life because they are inseparable. 

So, I started a list this week. I don't know that I have noticed any radical changes in my life. I am not sure that we fully see the changes that happen within us (and what can I say, its hot season in Niger!) I don't know if I will be disciplined enough to make it to a thousand let alone a lifelong habit, but I am enjoying seeing God in the little moments of daily life. Maybe you will want to join me?

#23 A smile returned by a stranger

PS Please keep us in your prayers as hot season is in full swing and we are facing the pressures of the end of the school year. Dave is finally in the home stretch with his thesis and I think we are all feeling it, hopefully that burden will be relieved on Thursday. Please also pray that the building will be able to be completed by this summer. There have been bigger rains earlier than usual and that may have an affect. --please also pray that these rains won't be a problem for plant life here.

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