A Book and A Hope …

“How do I fully live when life is full of hurt?”

 

Are you down today? Perhaps grief and loss have derailed you and you are finding it hard to get back to a standing position, let alone getting any forward motion. Maybe some other disappointment has temporarily sucked the air out of you and you are trying to find some way to come back.

I can say with certainty “I have been there.” I am still right there some days. Having lost my soul mate and life partner 16 months ago, I still find I must make my way through my days often in dark places. This book has helped me more than any other, outside of scripture, to see the way to a better place, and yes, to find joy!

bookThe book is the New York Times Bestseller: One Thousand Gifts by Anne Voskamp (click here to view her website). Anne had dealt with unresolved grief and pain since childhood. She vowed to try to come to healing and understanding, to find what was missing. What was missing was joy.

In simple terms, she discovered “eucharisteo“. What, pray tell is THAT?!? It is simply gratitude or giving thanks. The term came originally from the “Last Supper” when the Lord gave thanks, then blessed and served his disciples, knowing within hours what He was facing.

Over weeks and months, Ann committed, after a challenge from a friend, to find 1,000 gifts to be thankful for. Like what, you ask? …a butterfly that lights on the kitchen window sill, …the shimmering rainbow in a droplet of water on a washed glass in the drain board, …a son’s hand that still existed after a horrific accident and months of therapy.

The first words that grabbed my heart and made me pay attention were these: “Gratitude precedes the miracle.”

GRATITUDE PRECEDES THE MIRACLE … let that sink in.

Could it be so basic? Could it be that simply noticing the beautiful gifts around me could bring actual joy instead of this lingering sadness? Was I willing to challenge myself? I was inspired. What, really, did I have to lose, except this frozen ball of ice around me, which I hated, anyway?

Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/viperagp

I started. Walking across the parking lot at work I saw a red-tailed hawk swoop down in front of me, close to the roof. He was magnificent! He left, then soared back close to let me see his beauty before he climbed above the slope and dive-bombed to his prey somewhere above me. #1: Red Tailed Hawk show, just for me.

Email from a friend: “My long-term soul mate has cancer. I have decided to marry him and really walk this walk with him. Seeing your strength and courage with Lou, has given me the belief I too can do this. “ #2: Thank you God for Lou’s cancer and that my open sharing gave courage to my friend.

A new friend’s son is walking a dangerous path, self-destructive, heart-breaking, with some new pain every day. Gratitude precedes the miracle, I tell her, as we pray. She focuses on that one thing for two weeks. Good things begin to happen, tiny positive changes.

A good friend’s daughter has breast cancer. We visit and talk about gratitude. She shares how she finds 5 things to be thankful for every day. She thinks she must be the happiest person with cancer ever. Could it be a result of her gratitude?

At lunch with my boss and friend, he said carefully and with great purpose at the finish, “You are finally back! I have watched your sad journey and have waited for the day when I could say this: The spark of life is back in your eyes and in your voice and in your outlook.” #76: Someone has seen life in my eyes, hope in my heart.

Is it possibly true? Can simple gratitude change a life of sorrow back to a life of light and hope and sometimes even joy? Part of mine was needing to see some good purpose, even in the pain.

I am well on my way to my own 1,000 gifts. Actually, I don’t intend to stop there. If the first 1,000 can help this much, why would I ever stop?

|| what do you think?

Can you relate?

Can an attitude actually be the start of a miracle?

Please share your thoughts.

 

By | 2014-08-20T20:00:02-07:00 August 20th, 2014|Inspiration, News, Resources & Information|31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Molly Keating August 21, 2014 at 10:38 am - Reply

    Anne,
    I love the mindset that this blog brings to grief. It’s not about trying to turn sorrow into joy, it’s looking for blessings as they come along and we often need to be more intentional about that, especially when we are sad. I so appreciate you sharing your reading experience with us and the idea of being grateful and checking our perspective during any and all stages of life, but most especially, when we are in need of hope and light.

    I love this, thank you so much!

    Molly

    • Anne August 21, 2014 at 12:09 pm - Reply

      Thanks for your kind words. Every day, as things happen, gratitude springs forth. Another side effect of it is that I am slower to take on someone else’s irritability or frustrations. I feel like the small joys I just experienced must be “protected” and savored. Negativity can rob it away fairly quickly.
      I think people in grief or people in general can benefit from this book. I also think the blog she writes is an easy way to re-inspire us.
      Hugs
      Anne

  2. Becky Finch Lomaka August 21, 2014 at 11:57 am - Reply

    Hi Anne,
    Oh how I love this idea of finding gratitude in our every day lives! We have so much to be thankful for and it is so easy for us to overlook these things. I do believe that simple gratitude has a huge impact on changing our world view, on helping us see the joys in life, and helping us find moments of great joy in our own lives.

    I am inspired by you and your journey to find 1000 gifts and not to stop there. You are so right, why stop at 1000! Your blog is one of my gifts today! And for that I am very grateful!

    Becky

    • Anne August 21, 2014 at 4:34 pm - Reply

      Becky,
      How I love to inspire others. We each touch the other’s life in some way…inspiration is the best. You have inspired me to keep watching for those hummingbirds in odd places. I have had a couple more since our last discussion.
      I am glad I could be your gift, on this 1 year anniversary of your brother’s home going.
      Hugs,
      Anne

  3. Kari Lyn Leslie August 21, 2014 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    Annie,
    I have expressed to you on several occasions how GRATEFUL I am for YOU!! I am going to the bookstore this weekend to pick up this book. Thank you for making it real for all of us. I talk about finding JOY with my husband and my kids all the time, not in each other, but in the Lord and all that He gives us every day. People can disappoint us, so you have to go beyond relationships and look for the evidence of blessings.
    Thank you again for your encouragement.
    I love you
    kari

    • Anne August 21, 2014 at 4:44 pm - Reply

      Kari,
      Glad I am on your list of gratitudes! As you are on mine.
      I learned to watch for the blessings from God monetarily and otherwise most in my teen years, living with my sister and her husband. He was a minister who started churches from nothing and when they were self-sustaining, would turn them over to another. Then on we would go to where he felt God wanted him to start the next one. Believe me, we needed miracles, oftentimes just for the basic necessities of life! My sister was tops for pointing out God’s hand in whatever provision came our way, or that amazing sale at the market, or some drawing she entered… She won stuff more than anyone I knew during that time. She always showed great gratitude. I learned to do the same.
      Over time, even deeply instilled lessons can be forgotten if not practiced. Grief has a way of replacing whatever joy one might have had. Gratitude produces crops of joy. I am proving it.
      Love,
      Annie

  4. Jeff Turner August 22, 2014 at 6:58 am - Reply

    Anne,
    Such a simple concept yet so hard to set my intention to. I love this freeing habit or at least the idea of it. I think there are times when I can get too comfortable with the sadness and that too is a choice. I will begin turning my intention to thankfulness more and see what happens. Thank you for this sweet remind and book to help move into the miracle.

    Jeff

    • Anne August 22, 2014 at 11:38 am - Reply

      Hi Jeff
      Easy to do, becoming comfortable with sadness.

      Pure joy is elusive, but I think tied to gratitude.
      You know how at work we try to catch others doing good? Well, I guess this journey is kind of like catching God doing good, all around you, all the time.
      Have fun with your experiment. Maybe even write some things down on scraps of nearby paper or in your phone. Maybe when you most need it, you will see them again and smile at the remembrance.
      Anne

  5. Fitz August 23, 2014 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    Anne,
    I find gratitude with your blog. Thank you! What a great concept and really a reminder to be thankful and find the good in people and situations. An attitude of gratitude is contagious. I admire you for your outlook and am proud of you for the way you have approached your life journey.
    Love,
    Fitz

    • Anne August 26, 2014 at 10:16 am - Reply

      Fitz,
      Glad I can give you reasons for gratitude! Hopefully, what I do every day always gives you more gratitude, not less! Haha. We become what we focus on. I am hoping to focus more and more on the blessings and thereby stay in a positive, happier place.
      Love
      Anne

  6. Christopher Iverson August 24, 2014 at 8:01 pm - Reply

    Anne,
    As Fitz might say, “let’s be proactively grateful.” There is oh so munch to be grateful for and just too many opportunities to make that choice. Yes,i like “Proactively Grateful.” Could be the title to a book…
    Love,
    Chris

    • Anne August 25, 2014 at 3:43 pm - Reply

      Chris
      That is what the 1,000 gifts entails, being proactively grateful. Gonna write it? I love being happy, more than sad. While I still have to remind myself to dwell on all the gifts around me, when I do, it is so rewarding.
      Love
      Anne

  7. Neil August 25, 2014 at 7:30 am - Reply

    Hi Anne –
    Yes & Yes! Our attitude will either lift us up or pull us down. If we are up we are open to seeing the world as it really is, free, light and full of miracles. If we are down, we cannot see anything except our two feet dragging through this world. I can totally relate to all the little miracles that are in front of our faces, the butterflies that fly in the air, a smile when you least expect it. This world can be a very dark place and at times it is very dark, when we open our hearts & minds we can create miracles for others. I am proud of you for looking inward and transforming your self beyond the flesh and blood of this life. You too are a miracle never forget that you have been given this life for a reason and a greater purpose. I am thankful that we are friends, you have created many joyful days and miracles for me over the years. XOXO

    • Anne August 25, 2014 at 3:52 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Neil. Having been both places many times, I know we belong in the positive and we can stay there far longer when we look for the beauty and miracles God provides. One of the greatest is in the gift of our children. Filled with such wonder and imagination, not much slips by them. Oh to be able to get the uncontrollable giggles like I did when I was 3 and 4. I remember chewing on long tender blades of grass and laying in meadows of 3 leafed clovers looking and looking for the one four leafed clover that just HAD to be there. Silly, wonderful things only children care about.
      I am glad we have each other, too. I will never forget at the end of all the people at Lou’s visitation and you asked, “Shall I go or stay?” I said “Stay” and when I was done with my final visit at Lou’s casket, I said, “Hold me” and you did. I will never forget.
      Love
      Anne

  8. Mark August 25, 2014 at 9:08 am - Reply

    Anne….Thank you for your reminder about having an “attitude of gratitude”…I am not sure about anyone else but I need to be constantly reminded about slowing down and being thankful…..the great old hymn encourages us to count your blessings and to name them one by one….Mark

    • Anne August 25, 2014 at 3:53 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Mark. When we do that, we really can’t possibly be sad, can we?

      I am glad you work here and are a friend. Here’s to December! It will be here before you know it!
      Anne

  9. Lori August 25, 2014 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    Annie,
    You are right…this post has blessed me….but then again, you always bless me. Conversations with you end with me feeling His love as well as yours.

    I believe that our attitudes are absolutely crucial for being ready for miracles.

    I am guilty of letting “busy” take over my mind and day. There are times I am called downstairs for a family and think – “I have this, this and this I am trying to finish!”

    Once down with the family, a story is shared, a connection is made, I slow down and I am blessed. We know someone in common. They speak to my heart and leave me with a feeling of incredible joy.

    Attitude is everything and I am a constant work in progress!

    Love you,
    Lori

    • Anne August 26, 2014 at 10:30 am - Reply

      Lori,
      Thank you! That is a gift to me. You will find countless blessings in work as you have pointed out. May I also say, if you are quiet, relax and look, you will find even more in your off time. Stop, breathe, look around you, listen to the quiet, out of doors. It is all there, just for you!
      Love,
      Anne

  10. Rosemary August 26, 2014 at 7:29 am - Reply

    Thank you, Anne. What a great reminder this post is to count our blessings and be grateful for all the good things we have! I have been exploring the website for this book and found much inspiration there too. I really love the idea of discovering 1,000 gifts to be thankful for! And I know you will reach and well exceed your goal!

    • Anne August 26, 2014 at 10:33 am - Reply

      Rosemary,
      I know you love to read. I think this book would be worth your time. My problem now is saying thank you, but not writing it all down. I know I have to get back to that. The beauty around us and that exudes from each of us to the other, when we stop and actually see it, is pretty cool.
      Thanks for your comments,
      Anne

  11. Anne August 26, 2014 at 10:19 am - Reply

    Joanna,
    So much of what we have doesn’t cost much. I remember simple picnics with nothing more than sandwich supplies and chips from the market and a blanket in the park, or beach or mountains with our little April. What memories! What beauty! What laughter, as we watched the world through her little eyes. You have a lot, Joanna. You have your little one.
    Love,
    Anne

  12. Joe Lavoie August 26, 2014 at 11:04 am - Reply

    Thanks Anne for sharing , yes acts of gratitude are very important to change a look at life differently . I always look at something to be grateful for everyday and to stop and smell the roses to change my point of view. Thanks so much again for sharing I look forward to your blogs they inspire me and add to my life.

    sincerely Joe Lavoie

    • Anne August 26, 2014 at 11:54 am - Reply

      Hi Joe,
      Glad I inspire you once in awhile. I know a lot of people look to you for comfort, and a lot of family looks to you for support and care. It’s so good to stop and replenish your reservoir to draw from. Gratitude for the gifts around you is a great way to accomplish that.
      I am thankful you are in my life.
      Anne

  13. Amy August 26, 2014 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    Anne,
    What a remarkable story. I enjoy how you share this journey so freely, allowing us to walk with you and beside you. I find comfort and a new light with my own journey.
    I will have to look into purchasing this book. I believe it will be a great help for my mother and myself.
    Amy

    • Anne August 26, 2014 at 2:57 pm - Reply

      Amy,
      Thank you! I wish I could write like Ann. If you decide to devour this book, you will see, really see, why I had to do this. I am learning again to see the good even in what at first seems bad or disappointing. There are abounding blessings, or can be, in every situation, every relationship, everything we attempt.
      Hope your mom likes it, too. Give her a hug from me.
      Anne

  14. Carrie Bayer August 26, 2014 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    Dear Anne, how beautiful this is! You have an amazing way of lifting up others, even while deep in your own despair. This advice is priceless & I can see how healing it is to follow it. Thank you for sharing this with us & for being the perfect example for us to look to. I do look for the small things to be grateful for & people often say that they would have never even thought to notice or see what I do. After reading this blog, I will look for even more gratitude opportunities- even in the bad moments. Thank you so much! I love you. Carrie

    • Anne September 4, 2014 at 9:08 am - Reply

      Carrie,
      Thank you! …even in the bad moments! I find especially in the bad moments, when I spot some reason for thankfulness, it changes things very quickly. There is so-o-o-o much we have no control over. The only thing we can often control at those times is our feelings and our attitudes. Thank God for the choice that is totally ours.
      Love you,
      Anne

  15. Jenn August 26, 2014 at 4:35 pm - Reply

    Hi Anne! I miss you, I am so happy to hear of your new found outlook, it sounds amazing and I am going to have to give it a try myself. When I am in a self pitying mood I tend to think of all the bad things going on in the world and sort of shame myself out of feeling sorry for myself but I think your tactic sounds a lot healthier. Instead of finding things that are worse off I need to simply appreciate the beautiful things that my hard times are keeping me from seeing. I still love checking out the blog once in a while and I am glad I saw this. Take care <3

    • Anne September 4, 2014 at 9:11 am - Reply

      Jenn,
      How I miss you, too. Are you enjoying the new job? I am sure they are happy to have you. We are sorry we don’t.
      …Like when I wouldn’t clean my plate as a child, I was told to think of all the hungry children in the world who would gladly eat what I was thumbing my nose at. It never worked for me. Delight over the beauty of life resonated with my spirit. It was in there somewhere already and I just needed permission to let it out again.
      Come by some time when I am here.
      Hugs,
      Anne

  16. Shasta Cola August 30, 2014 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    Anne,
    What a great reminder for us that gratitude does do us good, like you said, you had nothing to lose by being grateful for these things. I know that gratitude help us to focus on the little things that brighten our day, and the more we focus on the good, the more good will come about. It is always getting to that point, though, where you can make yourself come out of that darkness by recognizing the good parts of life, that is the most difficult. Once you have that, you’re good to go, little by little the miracles start coming. Thank you for this blog!

    • Anne September 4, 2014 at 9:14 am - Reply

      Shasta,
      You said it perfectly. You already have a “knowing” of how this works. The more we look, the more we see. One of the blessings in all of our work days is your beautiful smile. Everyone is thankful for it. I know you can’t always feel it deep inside, but you always give it anyway. I love you for that.
      Anne

Leave A Comment