"....... for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust" Psalm 103:14

Thinking thankfully - August

Photo by Erico Marcelino on Unsplash

Some years ago I came across a review of a book by Ann Voskamp, called One Thousand Gifts (a dare to live fully right where you are). That teensy bit of "pop culture" aside, I bought the book and began to mull over Ann's questions:

How do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama and daily duties? 
What does a life of gratitude look like when your days are gritty, long, and sometimes dark? 
What is God providing here and now?"

In the first pages, Ann defines the name she was given at birth as meaning "full of grace" - and then confesses that she hasn't been. No stranger to tragedy - in fact the book opens with tragedy - Ann writes of her up and down life, and her journey towards "eucharisteo" - the practice of thankfulness.

She writes this word a lot. It's a beautiful word that rolls off the tongue, but having had no "church" upbringing, I had no knowledge of it before I started reading this book. The eucharist (yes, I'd heard that one, but it had just gone over my head). The giving thanks in all circumstances. No matter what.

How do I wake up to joy?
I found Ann's writing beautiful and frustrating in equal measure. Her incomplete sentences frustrated the linguist in me, and at the same time made tears catch in my throat. She is brutal, with herself as much as anything, calling sin for what it is. I kept reading because I was so drawn to her honesty.
I also wanted what she wanted. I wanted answers to questions like Ann was asking, questions like this:

Can there be a good God? A God who graces with good gifts when a crib lies empty through long nights, and bugs burrow through coffins? Where is God, really? How can He be good when babies die, marriages implode, and dreams blow away, dust in the wind? Where is grace bestowed when cancer gnaws and loneliness aches and nameless places in us soundlessly die, break off without reason, erode away. Where hides this joy of the Lord, this God who fills the earth with good things, and how do I fully live when life is full of hurt? How do I wake up to joy and grace and beauty and all that is the fullest life when I must stay numb to losses and crushed dreams and all that empties me out?

I wanted to find these answers for myself, but many people I know have asked these same questions. Sometimes they've asked them of me, and I've felt inadequate to respond with anything even remotely resembling wisdom.

So I kept reading.

Learning eucharisteo
What Ann writes about is a call to action. I realised I actually had to DO something. I had to BE thankful, I had to PRACTICE it. I had to LOOK for the gifts that I have right now.

Eucharisteo must be LEARNED.

The book is an invitation to "wake up to God's everyday blessings". Something I'm not always very good at. But I want to get better. I started reading the book again just recently, because I discovered, along with Ann, that thankfulness begets joy. And I, for one, want more joy in my life!!

So. This is the first of what I hope will be a monthly post where I look back with gratitude on the month just gone and see the gifts of God in my days and nights.

August eucharisteo
For the month of August, I'm thankful for these things (among others).

  • The chance to spend some down time with my husband, away from home.
  • The blessing of the most beautiful weather on the east coast, plenty of sunshine and sparkle on Sydney Harbour and the amazing coastline of Australia.
  • Special time with family who are normally so far away.
  • Four year old nieces and the things they say (like "How did you get to be so old??")!!
  • A visual feast of green hills as we flew back over Perth, thanks to all the rain of late July and early August.
  • Resuming our familiar weekly routine.
  • A day of sunshine in Perth (just one........ kidding!!)
  • Our faithful surrogate dog who just loves to be loved and brings so many smiles to our days when he's with us.
  • Sons and their sweet girlfriends who I'm getting to know.
  • Well-crafted, thought-provoking blog posts.
  • The sounds of birds chirping in our Jacaranda tree in the morning.
  • Paid, guilt-free, sick leave, giving me time to rest up and recover from a nasty cold.
  • Heaps of unanticipated time to read and write, afforded me by aforementioned nasty cold.
  • New life - a sweet friend's new baby who arrived this month.
  • Capable (and perfectionist!) carpenters progressing our renovation.
  • Sweet stepdaughter gifting us orchids from her Nana's garden.

I'm thankful for all these things and more! What have you been thankful for in August?

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