It's been a full and busy week in our house. All the normal stuff. You know how that goes, right? Sometimes, when you’re a family of five the normal stuff can feel a little like a 5-ring circus—full, colorful, and noisy, with a little bit of chaos and mess thrown in for good measure.
I’ve had bronchitis, which has slowed me down a bit, and then Ella got sick later in the week and was home with me on Friday. I only share all of this with you to let you know that if your own life feels a little bit like a circus, well, you’re not alone. We’re eating popcorn and peanuts and wondering which end is up some days too.
As I was thinking about gratitude and what it looks like to continuously practice being grateful in the middle of IT ALL (and we all have our own IT ALL), I decided to pull one of my favorite books on thankfulness and gratitude off the bookshelf and re-read some of the underlined passages.
One Thousand Gifts has virtually become a classic in the Christian book world, and for good reason. Ann Voskamp's profound ability to explore the mundane in search of the beauty and blessings that go unseen around us every day is the poignant reminder that so many of us need. A reminder to stop, look, listen, notice and praise God for the bazillion blessings that are right in front of us, even when our days feel a little bit like…well, the circus.
I opened the book to a section in Chapter 4 where Ann talks about how fast time seems to fly when we are adulting and parenting and trying to take care of all of the things we need to take care of. She talks about her longing to slow time down. To just BE in the moment.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
“I speak it to God,” she says. “I don’t really want more time; I just want enough time. Time to breathe deep and time to see, time to read and time to laugh long, time to give You glory and rest deep and sing joy and just enough time in a day not to feel hounded, pressed, driven, or wild to get it all done—yesterday.
…I just want time to do my one life well.
A soap bubble bursts next to my skin.”
Ahh, yes. Me too, Ann. Me too.
Ann goes on to do what Ann does so well—she tells us how that gorgeous little soap bubble made her pause to ponder the wonders of the world. How a soap bubble made her stop and remember God. How it pulled her out of her hurried, cranky pace to be able to BE in the moment.
Isn’t that what we all want? Time to do our one life well. And, isn’t it so true? When we start to feel hurried, rushed, and like it’s all going too fast we get cranky and maybe a little bit ungrateful, whether we mean to or not. Not the kind of ungrateful where we’re complaining about life: Just the kind of ungrateful where we’ve gotten too busy to stop and intentionally be grateful for life. To stop and praise God for this life He’s given us.
If any of this is resonating with you, you should grab One Thousands Gifts and read Chapter 4 this week, because I wish I could share ALL of the words with you here. They’re beautiful words dripping with truth.
[As a matter of fact, if you don't have a copy, and leave a comment at the end of this post, I will pick one lovely comment leaving reader and send you a copy of One Thousand Gifts in the mail.]
Voskamp goes on to say this:
“The wonder right in the middle of the sink. Looking for it like this. I lay the palm under water and I raise my hand with the membrane of a life span of moments. In the light, the sheerness of bubble shimmers. Bands of garnet, cobalt, flowing luminous.
I see through to the pattern. I see. The way my life, vapor is shaping. I hadn’t noticed.
362. Suds…all color in sun.
That’s my answer to time.
Time is a relentless river. It rages on, a respecter of no one. And this, this is the only way to slow time: When I fully enter time’s swift current, enter into the current moment with the weight of all of my attention, I slow the torrent by being all here. I only live the full life when I Live fully in the moment…Weigh down this moment in time with attention full, and the whole of time’s river slows, slows, slows.”
As I read her words it dawned on me that as I’ve been counting my own blessings this month, and finding that the counting of the blessings brings about a kind of peace I wasn’t expecting, that that peace comes from the pause…the slowing down of time…the stopping to notice details that we so often rush by.
I guess the wise teachers that coined the phrase “stop and smell the flowers” were on to something. It’s in the stopping that the seeing begins. It’s in the seeing that the heart grows bigger with gratitude. And it’s in those moments that a much longed for peace settles into the soul, even if it's only for a few minutes before the kids come tumbling through the door, boots and hats covered in snow and we’re on to the next thing.
But, maybe there is a way to more present in that next thing too…to be thankful for their gloriously flushed faces and pink cheeks. To remember for a moment the joy of playing outside in cold snow (rather than complain out it as I enjoy doing in my old age!).
I know this is all easier said than done. Believe me, I KNOW.
But heres to trying.
Trying to slow down to notice this week.
Trying to be in the moment.
Trying to count our thousands of blessings. Blessings as small as soap bubbles and flushed pink cheeks.
I’m going to leave you with one of my favorite Psalms of Thanksgiving:
A psalm. For giving thanks.
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
Come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is He who made us, and we are his
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with Thanksgiving
And his courts with praise;
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations.
And a quote…
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” (Melody Beattie)