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Michelle Warner

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Choosing Gratefulness

Posted on January 30th, 2012

I am sitting in my new chaise lounge chair in our bedroom with the sun warming my legs. Ah, it’s almost like I was still in the Bahamas–except that I am overlooking bare trees on a snow-covered ground instead of the sparkling ocean. But I am learning to be grateful. Oh, so grateful. Grateful for what I have instead of what I don’t. Grateful for time time Jared and I had to get away. For the uninterrupted time together to talk and connect. For the gorgeous scenery and calming ocean waves. For time time to pause and reflect on life. What a gift it is to take the time to think about life and what God is specifically doing in mine –whether it be on a beach chair in the Bahamas or a chaise lounge chair in Illinois.

I recently have been enjoying Ann Voskamp’s thoughts on her blog and book, One Thousand Gifts. God opened my eyes to her material at a season of my life where I am learning much about the choice of gratefulness. I love when God intersects my life with truth when I need it most. I ran across Ann’s challenge of pausing and capturing gifts of life and thought I would write out my responses. (For those of you interested, she is inviting her readers to count 1000 gifts in 2012 by writing down three things a day. I came to this challenge late but plan to print off her February Joy Dare and keep it by my journal to record my daily gratitude. I would love for you to join me!)

JANUARY JOY DARE: Capture these gifts

1. 3 things about yourself you are grateful for: my good health today, my love of words, my intentionality
2. A gift outside, inside, on a plate: mild temperatures in January, a newly rearranged bedroom, left-over sushi from Whole Foods
3. 3 lines you overheard that were graces: “I like your coat” from a homeless man downtown, “Feel better” from my mom, “I miss you,” from a friend out of town
4. One gift old, new,¬† and blue: my Grandma’s glass displayed around my house, a new necklace from my in-laws, a pillow sham from my mom to match our new paint color in our living room
5. Something you’re reading, you’re making, you’re seeing:
Invitations from God by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, pillows to fit the scale of our couch, the orchid sitting on the step stretching to the sun
6. One thing in your bag, your fridge, your heart:
coupons in my Vera Bradley pouch inside my purse, a newly-made smoothie, a desire to be a mom
7. 3 graces from people you love: Jared’s weekly Friday notes to communicate his love, a friend’s calls while driving home from school, my mom’s prayers
8. Light that caught you, a reflection that surprised you, a shadow that fell lovely: watching the sunset reflect off the ocean’s waters, how God has met each of my needs in very specific, tangible ways, watching the sun disappear from my hotel window
9. A gift in your hand, a gift you walked by, a gift you sat with: my engagement and wedding ring that I adore from my husband and my birthstone ring from my aunt for graduation, a homeless man begging for money at the street corner, feeling known and noticed by my husband
10. A gift that’s sour, a gift that’s sweet, a gift that’s Just. Right.: waiting for an anticipated phone call, playing with my nieces and nephew, chicken noodle soup and a mint crinkle cookie delivered by my husband to help me feel better
11. 3 yellow things that strike you as fresh mercy: beach towels at our hotel, a lemon wedge in my water, a clean, laundered shirt
12. Something above you, something below you, something beside you: a roof over my head, ample space in our house to live life, a bookcase of beloved books
13. 3 sounds you hear: soothing instrumental music from my laptop, the train whizzing past me on the way to the city, the dryer’s timer telling me it’s time for a new load of wash
14. 3 ways you glimpsed the startling grace of God: seeing God’s unconditional, pursuing love in a friend’s life, watching God use our current circumstances to mold Jared and me, time to unplug on vacation with no phone service or internet
15. One thing you wore, one thing you gave away, one thing you shared: a scarf around my neck originally given to me to wear on my bald head, old coats I have replaced with new ones, a meal for friends with a new baby
16. 3 ways you witnessed happiness today: hearing that a friend felt her baby kick for the first time, skyping with my niece and nephew, Jared finally having a weekend to enjoy without work
17. One gift that made you laugh, one gift that made you pray, one gift that made you quiet: my husband’s witty sense of humor, future plans, surrendering my desires to the Lord
18. 3 gifts¬† from God’s Word: wisdom, peace, comfort
19. a grace in the kitchen, a grace in the weather, a grace that might never have been: my Vita-mix blender to make my daily smoothies, the sunshine pouring through my window, blogging
20. 3 gifts you only saw when you got close up: the dust on the furniture as a stamp to prove we’ve lived life, the sand in our newly found shells, the plant outside on my deck that still bears green leaves
21. one thing in the sky, one thing from your memory, one thing that’s ugly-beautiful: planes constantly making their trek to the airport, loud, fun games played with my cousins, the trees outside, though brown and lifeless-looking, will eventually bud with life-giving leaves
22. one grace wrinkled, one grace smooth, one grace unfolded: the heritage from my grandparents, babysitting my nephew and him smiling back at me, the friendship I have with my sister-in-laws
23. 3 gifts found in Christ: identity, worth, truth
24: 3 things blue: the new painting my sister-in-law made for me, the Stabucks Bahama mug to remember our vacation memories, Jared’s work shirt hanging on the closet door
25: one grace borrowed, one grace found, one grace inherited: my nieces and nephews as my own children, a desire to write, a love of people
26: a gift before nine am, a gift before noon, a gift after dark: a hard-working husband already in the office, steaming-hot green tea, candlelight from our newly hung sconces
27: 3 gifts that might never have been: this blog, my marriage, a healthier lifestyle
28: 3 graces found in your friends: the ability to pick up where we leave off, tears cried while listening to my thoughts, laughter at the silliest things
29: a song heard, a soft word, where you saw light: Our God Is For Us by Chris Tomlin, my husband telling me “I love you,” the sun’s reflection through my curtains this morning while I was still in bed
30: 3 old things seen new: my thrift store plant stand holding my rose plant, my grandma’s necklace in my jewelry box, the conch shell found in the ocean waiting to be cleaned and displayed
31: a gift found on a paper, in person, in picture: a thank you note written by my niece sent in the mail, my husband’s willingness to help hang pictures in our house, a photo remembering a week in Florida celebrating my mom’s birthday

Ah, I already feel lighter. I encourage you to take the time to recount the many gifts God has given you. I know one of my gifts is your encouragement and friendship as I’ve taken the step of courage to put my thoughts into words.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:34

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