Giving Thanks

When Ann Voskamp wrote One Thousand Gifts | A Dare To Live Fully Right Where You Are, she had no idea how well the timing of that book would intersect with the tragedy I was engulfed in.

Five years ago we lost a family member, a best friend, a brother to suicide.
Nothing could have prepared me for the intense grief that follows losing someone to suicide.

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Mired down in sadness while somehow trying to raise a baby and a toddling two year old, I’ll never forget the day my friend Lindsey suggested I read this new book she’d just finished…”Jessica, I really think this would help you process everything you’re going through.”

I am beyond thankful she gave me that suggestion, because that one book forever altered how I view life.
It altered why I give thanks in the first place.
It altered my relationship with God.

It goes deep, it challenges you.
From the first paragraph, Ann’s words grip you and forces you to question…

Do you only give thanks for the easy?
Do you solely thank God when goodness abounds and life looks perfect?

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I still wrestle with the giving thanks for tragedy. I thank God for the friends that never left our side during that period of our lives. It’s easy to thank God for getting you through a time of tough finances. But thank him for job loss? Thank him a pregnancy ended? Thank him a brother died?

Yeah, not easy, right??

But reading Ann’s prose on how God doesn’t say that every gift is wrapped up magically tight with a beautiful red ribbon..it pushes me to the boundaries of my faith and as a result my relationship with Christ grows to greater depth.

I don’t understand why God answers some prayers
but other prayers I’m left in silence
with only the call of a Whippoorwill to keep me company.

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But I do believe he’s called me to find things, IN EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE, to give him thanks for.

Hence, this morning I journaled #4,163 in my every growing list of things to be thankful for.

Giving thanks, every day, multiple times a day…keeping a list of gratitude…choosing to find the positive instead of getting caught up in the negative….these are the things that change your life…these are the day to day actions that pull you out of the muck & mire…

Giving thanks is a choice you make every. single. moment.
Every. Single. Day.
What will you choose?



What I’m Thankful For…

Isn’t it easy to get so caught up in our busy lives that we forget to be thankful to God for all we’ve been blessed with? I, for one, am very guilty of this.

I run from errand to errand, chase kids around the house just to get them clothed, and at the end of my day wonder where all those seconds and minutes went to. But if only I stopped to think about what I’m doing in the present moment, I might be more thankful for kids that have amazing vocal chords, their imaginative brains that turn hands into backhoes for dirt, or those little legs that run at lightning fast speed.

But those are the easy things to be thankful for. Maybe I should also be thankful for my pre-schooler no longer taking naps…perhaps this gives me more time to spend one-on-one with him and to experience first hand the wonders of a child. Or to be thankful that my younger sister moved back in with us again…what a blessing to get to spend time with a loved sibling. Or to be thankful for the changing tides of friendships which make you all that more appreciative when a friendship blossoms again later in life.

Earlier this year I read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and I cannot say enough good things about this book. It is amazing, life changing, and very thought provoking.  It really challenged me to be more thankful to God for everything. Not just the good stuff. Or the easy stuff. But the really hard stuff too. Like the trials of grief, the difficulties of broken relationships, and the insecurities of seemingly starting life all over again. If you get a chance, check out Ann’s blog here which contains information on the book and inspirational ways to live your life full of eucharisteo.

Some things I’m thankful to God for…

1. My toddler’s ability to nap 3 hours

2. My pre-schooler’s radar vision that keeps me from missing out on the beauty God surrounded me with

3. The breeze blowing outside while the birds tweet in the tree

4. Friends, Friends, Friends – My cup overfloweth from the love of such amazing friends

5. Completing an item on my husband’s honey-do list…I unclogged a slow drain all by myself

6. My five senses, especially the ability to taste

7. Dirty messes – they mean my house is well loved and well lived in

8. Caramel Apples and all their gooey yummness

9. Butterflies

10. Still working on being thankful for the really tough things….but I can say this, I am thankful for the ability to learn from mistakes, from tragedies, and from disappointments

What are you thankful for?