I received a gift this weekend…a book titled, One Thousand Gifts by  Ann Voscamp.  I have only read the first 29 pages, but I’m caught by her poetic voice as she tells her story of “daring to live fully right where you are” (subtitle).  I don’t know exactly where she’s headed with the 1,000 gifts…but it has inspired me to chronicle the gifts I see in each day as a thumbnail sketch, or more developed if I should so choose, or have time for.

This book is very timely.  I’ve been screaming inside lately, “Where’s MY life?…the life that I want to live? Why do I constantly seem to live OTHER’s lives? When will things EVER slow down enough for me to pursue the things I’d like to?”  Of course, I recognize that I, MYSELF have signed up for many of these things that are taking up so much of my life.  Family events and activities are a given; I don’t want to miss out on those.  But I have way overcommitted in other things, and it seems to be a pattern.

Voscamp’s call to LIVE FULLY RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE resonates hugely in my heart.  Yes, yes, and yes.  I do NOT want to squander my life, even the busy one I’ve concocted, and let it all pass me by.  I want, and indeed CAN, look for the gifts I’m given every day, every moment…if I’ll just look and see and open my heart to them.

So here’s what I’m doing…maybe you’d like to join me?  I’m going to make little thumbnail sketches of these gifts as they come to me.  I’m NOT going to make a production out of them, because I’ll never do them if they seem like they will take gobs of time.  I’m NOT going to say I’ll do ONE a DAY, though you may want to.  I want to be free from constraints of any kind…just log them, a little tiny breath of a sketch, with some words if I’d like, to record the gift as it came to me, or at the beginning and end of each day.  Maybe there will be several a day.  Maybe there will only be one or two.  Maybe none, on days when the busyness and the resentment of that busyness blinds me from seeing any light.

You may also want to read her book.  A note of warning though:  I was not prepared for the right-out-of-the-gate, page one stories of horrific tragedies in her life and those of her loved ones.  Although poetically rendered and masterfully redemptive, her accounts of tragedy touched my own “holes in the canvas of my life.”  (pg. 16) But her writing is redemptive.  She does not merely fling her pain in our faces for us to then flail around finding some meaning…no, her writings point us to hints of healing:

“I wonder too…if the rent in the canvas of our life backdrop, the losses that puncture our world, our own emptiness, might actually become places to see.  To see through to God.  That that which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond.  To Him.  To the God whom we endlessly crave.  Maybe so.” (pg. 22)

And then: “How do I give up resentment for gratitude, gnawing anger for spilling joy? Self-focus for God-communion.  To fully live–to live full of grace and joy and all that is beauty eternal.  It is possible, wildly.” (pg. 23)

And I have 200 more pages to go.  This book is not preachy.  It is not full of platitudes.  It is a poetic account of a farmer’s wife’s story.  Go figure.

Last week, our family spent a few cold, rainy days at the beach.  I began this thumbnailing idea then, as I struggled to find the beauty in a trip to the beach where it was 40 degrees and raining just about every day.  On top of that, Maddie’s blood sugar numbers were sky high! My husband and I struggled to figure out why and hence bring down her blood sugar to a healthier range.  We were not successful. Thus, the two boxes drawn above…sweet gifts to me as I tested her in the middle of the night last night.  Brothers and sisters everywhere…we MUST, if we are to truly LIVE, we must look for and really SEE the gifts we are given each and every day, no matter the weather of our lives! Will you join me?

P.S.  And another gift to me today…check here! It’s gonna be in the 80’s here in North Carolina!

0 thoughts on “Gifts

  1. Amanda says:

    That’s great, Jennifer! I’ve been struggling with so much of this myself…. when do I get to live MY life instead of picking up other people’s messes? When do I get to the part where all my sacrifices are worth it and I finally get to where I want to be? I’m also struggling with… I don’t want LITTLE blessings, I want BIG blessings that are proportional to what I’ve given up. I’m having a hard time with my equity mindset. Maybe I should read this book. But your blog really hit home with me today. Thank you. 🙂

    • jenpedwards says:

      Oh, thank you Amanda, for commenting here! And from what portion I know of your life, I can understand the struggle. Yes, you would “like” this book…a lot. At least I think so. If you read it, let’s get together for coffee and discuss, ok? Hang in there, in the meantime, and look for “little” blessings. Who knows, maybe they will have a bigger impact than you’d think. Thanks again, for reading my blog!

  2. nancy t says:

    Recognizing and honoring the gifts in our lives is such an easy thing to overlook, especially when we’re feeling stretched to the max. But I’ve found that when I remember to do it, my vision seems to shift a bit and I always feel better. I love your idea to record them in some way! Thanks for the reminder. nancy

  3. Timaree says:

    Uh-oh, I see that equity point of Amanda’s. I think I may need to alter my weather box on my journal pages and put a little gift from the day there sometimes. I think I am so busy looking for the big gift that I may be missing some of the little ones. We get little ones far more often than the big ones so while I wait for the big ones I will practice my gratitude on what I have this day! I like your idea a lot.

  4. BarbaraB says:

    What a wonderful gift this book sounds like. I love your idea of doing a thumbnail of each day’s gifts. The sketch at the bottom of your post is very nice. Do you know May Sarton’s poem “Now I Become Myself” and Joyce Rupp’s “Old Maps Never Work” ? They may speak to your condition of wanting to live your own life. They certainly spoke to mine.

    • jenpedwards says:

      Ooh, I just read May Sarton’s poem, but cannot find the Rupp one. It’s perhaps in a book I must get:) Thank you for sharing! and for visiting!

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