I haven’t been able to get my hands on a copy of Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, but the title alone intrigues me, and the book pops up everywhere I look on the internet. Plopped down in a city of 4 million Muslims, I am worlds away from Ann’s Mennonite farming country, but her One Thousand Gifts website has touched me with its message of gratefulness and wonder over God’s gifts.
Petty complaints and giant obstacles
To be honest, when life gets tough and things go wrong, my tendency is to complain, worry, or feel sorry for myself. I love the unique cross-cultural life and ministry God has given us, but it’s easy to get bogged down if I focus on daily frustrations like:
- No central air conditioning with summer temperatures of 40 Celsius
- Equipment and furniture that break frequently due to a lack of quality control
- Trying to organize my time among people who do not plan
- Occasional water, electricity, phone and internet cuts
I don’t want to miss out on God’s gifts
Even though we face obstacles, I don’t want to miss out on the joys of the life God is giving me now. Ten years down the road, I don’t want to look back and realize that I can’t remember the myriad grace gifts of God and the joys of raising a family because I was focused solely on the challenges of serving in a Muslim country. I want to be present each day to receive God’s love and grace and to give him thanks for His gifts.
Years ago someone challenged me to thank God for 5 things every night before bed, and last month again God convicted my heart about cultivating gratitude. I’ve been encouraged by the 1000 Gifts dare: “Ann invites us to embrace every day blessings and embark on the transformative spiritual discipline of chronicling God’s gifts.” (her website) I see bloggers everywhere are making lists of things they are thankful for, so I decided to make one myself. Every morning before my quiet time, I write down 5-7 things I’m thankful for. Here are some examples:
109. My 14 year old son playing guitar as we worship together as a family
110. My daughter, who styled my hair the other day and did a great job
111. My husband, who serves all of us in so many ways
112. Dear friends and a sister who generously gives her possessions, money, and spiritual encouragement
113. The garlicky deliciousness of Turkish green beans cooked in olive oil, tomatoes and onions
114. The chance to put my feet in the Aegean, squish my toes through the cool sand, and listen to the waves come against the shore last weekend
115. The daily presence of God, whose love and mercy never leave me
116. The slow but steady advancement of God’s grace touching lives here
I’d like to say that making this list is transforming me into a more grateful person, but I’m not there yet. I have to confess I still complain, but my 1000 gifts list is helping me to open my eyes and reminding me to enjoy my blessings.
Have you read One Thousand Gifts? What did you think? If you haven’t read it, leave a comment about what you’re thankful for today.