Monday, April 11, 2011

why thankfulness really matters (1,000 gifts list #s 876-885)

It was April fool's day that the heartbreaking news reached our ears. My parents and I had just gotten home from Bible study, a study about giving thanks in every season of our life, no matter what the circumstance. The message machine was beeping and my mom pressed the play button and our world changed. The voice of my Grandpa filled the room and his straight forward words, "I have some pretty bad news. I have stomach cancer." felt like a punch in the gut. The mind races to four years ago when a similar call from my Grandma, his wife, came and we learned she had brain cancer. She went to be with Jesus not six months later.As my mom and I held each other and cried she whispered these words to me, "give thanks, give thanks."

In that moment giving thanks was the last thing I wanted to do. Giving thanks was no where on my radar. I felt bitterness and anger welling up inside of me, my own cancer, eating away at my soul. We cried. We talked a bit. My parents went to bed. 

I know the cure to bitterness and anger. I know it because I've been practicing it for over a year. But you see, the cure is not a magic pill you take once and the cure lasts forever. No, it's a practice. A daily practice. Much like physical exercise once you stop the muscles lose their strength. It's a cure that only works if it is practiced daily.

My mom and I had both just finished reading Ann Voskamp's book 1,000 Gifts.  We each have a gratitude journal but I knew that this practice would help everyone in our family, not just my mom and I. I also knew that there was no way that my brothers would just start writing in a journal if I gave them one. I needed somewhere where our family could practice eucharisteo together. Iron sharpens iron and this practice of giving thanks with each other can only help to heal the broken pieces inside of us and isn't life just easier when we do things together?

So I choose a spot in our house where everyone frequents and I take a long roll of butcher paper. I choose a verse that fits where my family is in the here and now and write it on top, along with some quotes from Ann and these simple instructions, "giving thanks, all of us, together, one by one."

I scratch out a couple of gifts on the list, mostly just to demonstrate what I mean, and as I write, as I am forced to think of the ways He loves my heart is lightened. I think I am beginning to see that all IS grace. With that recognition I am able to understand more fully the words of that famous song, "amazing grace, how sweet the sound..."

I am overjoyed as I watch the list grow. I love that it is on our fridge and I also love that those who are not in our family feel free to add to the list. 

I replaced the paper last night. Collectively we had recorded 49 gifts and it was time for a fresh start. I put up a new piece of paper, a new verse and a new quote. And the journey continues because we can never out thank God for the many gifts He's given us!

 My list continued, looking forward to breaking 1,000!

876) the face that the size of the tumor does not determine the presence of the Savior!
877) Jared's music filling the house 
878) clean microwaves
879) blustery days!
880) roses in bloom, everywhere!
881) rain and sun together!
882) Daddy home :)
883) modern day technology
884) grace, grace, always grace
885) so many different people's handwriting on the list :)

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