It’s been nearly 6 years since I began my gratitude journal. You can read more about the start of that here. A woman I only knew as @delightingdays on Twitter had gifted me an amazon gift card so I could buy One Thousand Gifts. I now know her as Stacy Karen @delightfulhome. She likely has no idea of what an impact that small gift has made on my life.
Back in 2010 I was a single mom raising 4 kids on my own. Three of those kids have come to me through adoption. Day-to-day life was a battle. Every. Single. Day. I was alone and couldn’t figure out how I could better parent children with a background of trauma.
Depression was my constant companion. It lurked in the background, other days I wore that thing like a robe. It was all worn out and comfortable to me. Shaking it off left me feeling empty.
I didn’t know it could be replaced with JOY. I had never known such a thing.
I knew there was something more. There had to be. Jesus didn’t come so that I could be trapped in my own mind. I didn’t know how to get out. Then I began to read A Holy Experience Blog by Ann Voskamp. She had begun the practice of listing 1000 for which she was thankful. Interesting concept. It certainly couldn’t hurt, right?
In One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are Ann points out in Luke 22:19 that Jesus broke bread and gave thanks before feeding the people.
In the original language, “he gave thanks” reads “eucharisteo.”
I underline it on the page. Can it lay a sure foundation under a life? Offer the fullest life?
The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning “grace”. Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks. He took the bread and knew it to be gift and gave thanks.
But there is more, and I read it. Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, charis. But it also holds its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning “joy.” Joy. Ah…yes. I might be needing me some of that. that might be what the quest for more is all about ` that which Augustine claimed, “Without exception…all try their hardest to reach the same goal, that is, joy.”
There it was! Grace and Joy wrapped up as a gift in our giving Thanks.
This isn’t anything new to us, is it? God’s word tells us to pray always giving thanks. Paul is a great example to us. In each one of his letters he’d say that he gives thanks for them [the people he’s writing to]. It has been right there all this time. There is no secret to joy.
So, I sit down to write. Some days I forced gratitude until it began to pour out of me. It was like those old water pumps. You begin to pump and the water doesn’t come at first. Then suddenly there’s a deluge of water, overflowing your bucket.
Today I’m at number 1147. I don’t write every day, but it has become my habit to look at this life through the filter of gratitude. I find that is most important for me to practice gratitude when I feel the world closing in on me. We can sit in a room full of people we love and still feel so alone. Get out that gratitude journal and begin by counting the gifts you have right there.
My friend used to say, “Look at your hand. What’s there?”I thought it was silly at first. Then suddenly it was profound.
What can you be grateful for today? Running water, paid bills, new deck, chirping birds, electricity?
Today and yesterday I wrote:
1139. Joshua and Jessica’s wedding.
1140. Though today had some really tough spots, the day ended well. I count that as a victory.
1141. The migraine that threatened to overrule my day has quietly slipped away.
1142. Dinner was delicious – yay me!
1143. Kitchen is clean.
1144. All the laundry is done.
1145. Late night quiet moments to work and write.
1146. Early morning vineyard sunrise shooting with the love of my life.