I knew I was onto something when I started my little Joy Notes book . . .
There was just something about taking stock of the things that make me smile -- it made me more aware of them . . .
Of course, the idea of keeping a gratitude journal is not a new one. It has actually become quite trendy, I suppose. And I grew up with the song, "Count your blessings, name them one by one -- Count your blessings, see what God has done. . . ."
But it wasn't until I began reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts that I really began to understand how important it is to take detailed stock of God's gifts -- the Presence of Grace in our lives.
We all know the verses about giving thanks for all things (Ephesians 5:20) and being content in all circumstances (Philippians 4:12) -- but sometimes it's just a little too easy to cast a broad sweeping brush over "all things" and miss out on the important details. We look at the forest with general gratitude for its beauty, but don't see the minute moss that feels like velvet, the bud of blue periwinkle peeking out of a sea of green, or the texture of the birch bark -- and all too quickly we don't think that forest is so grand because it blocks our view of the lake or harbours night-time pests. We thank God for "this day," but grumble about its string of interruptions, rainy weather, and tedious tasks.
But as Ann points out in her book, what was the first task given to Adam and Eve? What did the Creator of the world ask them to do? Wasn't it to name all of the things God had given them in Eden?
Think of it -- this Monday Musing on the Creator in Me -- does He not still ask us to do that? The Giver of Great Gifts that abides in us still asks us to name each gift -- because isn't it in the naming that we recognize the abundance He gives?
Naming our blessings gives them weight -- significance. Attaching a name to anything demonstrates its value to us. (Ha! DH and I used to name all our major purchases -- cars, special pieces of furniture, homes!)
And when we start to give value to all the little things that delight us, somehow it becomes easier to give value to the gifts that don't delight us. We begin to see the world differently. We start to truly recognize that we are loved by a Good God -- and a Good God only gives good gifts. So, when we hear that dreaded diagnosis, or when we confront that catastrophe, we can see past the pain to a glimmer of glory. We can know that even though we would never have asked God for such a gift, it is a gift of Grace nonetheless.
It's not easy -- but it's simple. Like any good habit, it takes practice -- to consciously look for and at the daily gifts God gives -- and give thanks by naming them as blessings. And counting them. And knowing that they are all good -- even if we can't see the goodness in the moment.
So, if you haven't already clicked on the "Count your blessings" link above, do so now and get that little ditty running through your head . . . and I challenge you to start actually counting your blessings! You'll be amazed at the difference it makes in your life!
Have you found a creative way to document your blessings? Do tell! (You can read about the journal I altered here.) And if you have a story to tell about how it has affected your life, please share it in a comment below.