By Ann Voskamp

The Thousand Gifts

It is the beginning of the list season: lists of menus, lists of hand-made projects, lists of addresses, lists of baking goodies…lists of gifts.

I too begin, but only, currently, one list: A List of a Thousand Things, beginning with #1. I am daily jotting down items on my Thousand Gifts List, working, one-by-one, up to a thousand gifts. Not of gifts I want. But of gifts I have.

As the moments slip down the hour glass of time, I am scratching down the gifts that He has given — just as they happen, as they arrive, as they are unwrapped. These gifts make my life grace; these daily graces that He gives in an infinite number of ways stir me.

...windmills lazying in twilight’s last breeze
soft wool sweaters with turtle neck collars
the faint smell of cattle and straw…

I am seeing things I have never seen before, attuned and aware of this constant, endless stream of gifts from His hand. I am one waking from slumber, from the stupor of indifference and ignorance. I have sight, fresh and keen. The world is new and full of His gifts.

Too often I miss Him, oblivious, blind. I don’t see all the good things that He is giving me, gracing me with, brushing my life with. True, He is everywhere, always. But maybe, before The Gift List, I thought of Him as further off, not so close. When I started to see all the things that I love bestowed upon me, I started to see Him as near, present, everywhere, showering me with good things. Seeing the things I love all around me gives me eyes to see that I am loved, that He loves me.

It is happening to me as Sarah Ban Breathnach writes in Simple Abundance: “Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”

Everyday epiphanies everywhere, indeed: gifts…Grace.

...the smell of the florist’s
the sound of kernels of harvested corn streaming
leaves floating in puddles…

I’m just writing them down as they happen.

Yet my list is different than another’s for a reason: God has made me uniquely me. The Gift List is about gratitude, but it is more than that. It is about what defines me and my own personal identity.

...cracking open a new book
pushing children on the swing
old men looking at cards in the stationery aisle…

Reflecting on The Thousand Gifts List, I am thankful for the things on it, yes, but I am also thankful that He has given the gift of me; that God made me who I am and I am one who sees and experiences the world in a way uniquely her own. The Thousand Gifts list is about the gifts Abba gives this child every day, and ultimately, about the very gift of self, life as I know it.

George MacDonald wrote, “No gift unrecognized as coming from God is at its own best…when in all gifts we find him, then in him we shall find all things.”

It is the season of lists. Care to begin a list of a Thousand Gifts? You’ll find Him in all things — the very best gift of all.

Father, You are the Giver of all Good Gifts. They are everywhere. I can hardly jot them down fast enough. How You love.

About the Author

Ann Voskamp is a writer for DaySpring’s site (in)Courage, a contributing editor to Laity Lodge’s The High Calling, and a global advocate for the poor, traveling for Compassion International. With an educational background in psychology and education from York University and the University of Waterloo, Ann and her husband are farmers in the Mennonite countryside of southwestern Ontario, raising a half dozen kids, crops of corn, and the roof in praise. Her book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are is being published by Zondervan.

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