My mom recommended that I read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. My mom is an avid reader and her reading recommendations are always excellent. So, I borrowed her copy and started reading…
Ann Voskamp is truly an artist and her framework for finding joy in every moment of our lives stirs my heart. She paints these beautiful word pictures of life on their farm and raising her children. Ann also writes about feeling disappointment, suffering, anger and sadness. These are feelings that are familiar to me and she describes them in a way that fits with my experience of them. But, right when she has me hooked by those shared feelings, she starts writing about emptying ourselves so that God can fill us and how joy is always available to us through Jesus if we have eyes to see it in our circumstances. Ann writes about practicing thanksgiving by looking for points of joy in everyday life and how our hearts naturally shift as we teach our eyes to see differently and our hearts to receive everything that God has to give.
Ann Voskamp also has a blog, www.aholyexperience.com, and it's fantastic. I try to make time to read it at least once a week because it is full of beautiful images from her farm and words that move me into action. I want to be overflowing with thankfulness and it makes sense that this is a skill that I need to practice. I understand that joyfulness is a state of being, rather than a feeling, and that I have to choose to live in that place by actively looking for the joy that God has put all around me. I have to surrender my hurt and uncomfortable feelings to Him and empty my hands of them so that He can fill them up with all of Him.
I am practicing gratefulness and I have already started to feel my heart shifting and softening. I have noticed things like purple wild flowers growing in green grass as I run through the forest preserve. I have praised God for my 97 Saturn station wagon that keeps running in defiance of people's low expectations for its life expectancy. I have enjoyed simple things like cooking a meal and sipping a cup of hot coffee. I rejoice that I had 20 appointments this week and no one canceled. I am proud to stand and celebrate two graduations and one wedding in my family this month. I relish the sun warming my face and experience it like God's affection for me.
Truly, God is good to me all the time. Truly, He always loves me. How do I let difficult circumstances convince me that this is not true? Why am I so easily persuaded that He has forgotten me and the desires of my heart that remain unfulfilled? It is clear that I am not seeing Him in the moments and seasons where I believe these lies about God. Lord, please give me eyes to see you rightly. Help me to really see you and not my circumstances. Help me to fix my eyes on your gaze and not my unanswered prayers. Train my eyes to look for points of joy all around me. Train me to recognize you at work all around me, in every situation. Teach me to believe that connecting with you is the richest blessing that I can ever receive and that You offer it to me every second of every minute of every day of my life.
I have been greatly encouraged by Ann Voskamp, her book and her blog. I share this information with you in the hopes that it may encourage you too. Maybe you will want to start searching for points of joy too.