“I run my fingers across the pages of the book. I read it slowly. In the original language, ‘He gave thanks’ reads ‘eucharisteo.’ I underline it on the page. The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning ‘grace.’ Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks. He took the bread and knew it to be gift and gave thanks.
But there is more. Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, also holds the Greek word chara, meaning ‘joy.’ I breathe deep, like a sojourner finally coming home. That has always been the goal of the fullest life – joy.” ~Ann Voskamp, Selections From One Thousand Gifts
Two years ago I read a book that moved me deeply. “One Thousand Gifts”, by Ann Voskamp, challenged me to see my life through the constant lens of thankfulness and grace. I started a gratitude journal – a list of thanks, of blessing, of grace. It is a discipline, this learning to see grace in all things. But it has deepened my walk with the Lord and helped me to see through His eyes so much more. It has brought me more patience, more understanding, more joy.
It has been four months now since we moved to Idaho. There has never been a doubt in my mind that this is where God wants us to be, yet there are times that it has been very hard. Settling into a new home is a long process, especially when that includes starting over in the area of relationships. But we have been blessed to meet some great people and are excited about what the future holds for our family.
As we hit our 4-month anniversary in our new home, I also reached 500 in my gratitude journal. It’s a big mark for me, and as I reached it I took some time to look back and read many of my entries over the past several months. I was struck by how many of my thanks would not have been possible without the Lord bringing us here.
193. all of our friends who helped us move – working so hard, long, and selflessly
196. laying-on of hands and prayers from cherished friends
199. the sweet surprise of a beautiful drive to get to our new home
200. our new home – beautiful – and on the outskirts of town, in a beautiful setting off a country highway
213. grandparents living close
237. the homeschool freedom we enjoy in Idaho
250. horses down the street, in pastures of wildflowers
257. our first time enjoying our neighborhood pool
274. two generations of brothers, throwing footballs in the backyard
280. joy-filled days spent at the grandparents’ house
285. the freedom, space, and safety we enjoy in our new home
294. summer days!
296. family time at the pool
298. mountains in the distance, decorating the horizon
299. grandparents, close enough to babysit
300. renewed vision for the future, with God’s calling at the center!
I know that big changes can be so scary. Even when you know that God is speaking, taking that big step of faith is so hard, so unsettling at times. We doubt, we wonder, we can’t see the future, and it is so, so hard! But as I’m learning and growing, the Lord is good – always good – only good – and He knows the beginning from the end. He knows the plans He has for us. He knows the desires of our hearts. And His plans for us are bigger than our own! But in order to get to that place of being used, we must trust. We must choose to take joy and offer thanks even when it is hard. It is a discipline, but one with amazing payoff.
311. evening family walks around our neighborhood
367. family time to explore our new town
393. clarity, given by God, about His purposes
396. sunny days – now the norm
399. grandparents around for birthday celebrations
429. making new friends!
440. the sun, red at sunrise and sunset from all the smoke – beauty from the ugly
448. blue sky again after so many days of smoke-haze
458. Avigail’s love for the outdoors, and how easy it is for her to access it
480. three kids in a row, all on scooters
501. the multitude of birds in the tree next door, all chirping together in the morning
507. my children’s growing comfort in the water
509. the park behind our house
510. a summer of children riding bikes and scooters to their hearts’ content
If you’ve never done it (or if you’re just struggling with faith or joy), I highly recommend keeping a gratitude journal. It will bless you, because it will bring you closer to the One who gives blessing.