Graces, gifts and gratitude


Barrack Building 225, Fort Worden State Park, Port Townsend, Washington

For those who have just joined me in this experience of seeing gifts in every moment, along the way, as we wait, as we struggle suddenly overcome with blind eyes, I thought it might be helpful to share what began with a single step. It was a book. Ann Voskamp’s book, “One Thousand Gifts” that I picked up one day at Chapters, and then a confirmed thought process, a prompting, a nudging of the spirit, and then the journey beginning and spreading out before me this eucharisteo, this thankfulness for what is set before me when I have eyes to see.

So please consider how the naming of life’s gifts might be something worthy of time and space in each of our lives, and might carry within it the potential to change us from beggars into those overwhelmed by a feast of grace. Here is the blog post where it all began for me… my naming one thousand gifts. That was my start, and although I can’t always document each gift as it happens, I’ve chosen to name many of the gifts here on this blog as a reminder… mostly to me. I hope you join me… and if you do, please let me know… share your list. You are most welcome to do that.

And, if you have the opportunity to pick up and read Ann’s extraordinary book, please do it!

Journeying,

Lesley-Anne

So my list continues:

263. a long journey with a new friend

264. finding your tribe

265. expressing what is risky and beautiful

266. healing through creative expression of a thought, or two, or three

267. fog over sea, first light

268. the long call of a fog horn for safe passage

269. being on the water

270. historic buildings and used book stores

271. a phonecall home, the sound of voices you love

272. scars

273. a bench of your own in a quiet place

274. patriotism

275. listening and learning

276. new ideas

277. new people

278. the sense of place unique to every place

279 – 294. gifts captured in photographs

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Naming one thousands gifts that God gives… day 16


226. talking about details of family history and finding reasons why

227. sketch plan for the garden

228. finding a retro button collection that my son might like

229. the woman of his dreams on his childhood pinboard

230. night sky, full moon shining me awake

231. promises of fruit in the flowers on the vine

232. digging in black earth, tucking in new ideas

233. Dad pat on my shoulder

234. Zephaniah 3 verse 17

235. no shame, no entitlement, “all is grace” (Ann Voskamp)

236. contrast of greens, hydrangea leaf over wild violets

237. robin evensong

… so many gifts… so many opportunities to give thanks…

Night Sky Over Joshua Trees

Night Sky Over Joshua Trees (Photo credit: nate2b)

Naming one thousand gifts… day 5


68. sounds of new construction hammering the distance

69. Emmy dog curled up by warm rocks in watery sunlight

70. blueberry pancakes griddle brown

71. fixers… vets and docs and dentists and car mechanics

72. tired beauty of tattered curtains in empty farmhouse window

73. Eames designed lime green chair

74. God provided window of opportunity

75. amped up guitar practice next room over

76. reading on the back porch

77. leftovers

78. working out the details, making it work

79. email

80. the millisecond it took for the cyclist going the wrong way on the sidewalk to safely pass my car

Corn Griddle Cakes

Corn Griddle Cakes (Photo credit: ulterior epicure)

Naming one thousand gifts*… day 4


50. vine lines roll over vineyards, sweet tendrils reaching

51. sun pulling steam from wet tarmac

52. moving through the landscape… by foot, by bike, by car

53. knowing God hears me

54. red hawk passing overhead

55. the smell of clean laundry

56. family

57. new words

58 last words and prayer wish of a friend, that we would all… “Be there”

59. time together, time alone

60. Emmy dog greetings

61. second, third, fourth… chances

62. writing poems

63. reading poems written by others

64. connecting with friends and friends in waiting because of the internet

65. soft rain deep soaking mountains heavy in trees

66. two guitars waiting against the music room wall

67. silence

* The concept of naming one thousand gifts is not mine, it is one that I learned in the pages of Ann Voskamp’s book “One Thousand Gifts”. The website of the same name can be found here. When I spoke of her book here on my blog post “Soon and very soon we are going to see”, I implored you to run out and buy a copy of Ann’s book. If you haven’t done that yet… PLEASE DO! I have since bought a couple more copies, given them away, continued to read and re-read my copy, and realized a deep call on my heart to begin to write down and name and own a thankfulness around the things that God fills my eyes and heart with each moment of every day.

So I continue to look and see that God is good in the hundreds of millions of intricate details of my life. I caught a glimpse of my face today in the rearview mirror of my car, after seeing items 50, 51 and 54 and I was smiling… that Mona Lisaesque smile that says so much… hmmm… perhaps the fullness was showing…

On the path, looking,

Lesley-Anne

Naming one thousand gifts… my beginning.


1. the sound of still evening… the lingering of light.

2. sharing some takeout with my two teen sons… and talking.

3. their the last day of school… again. Tears and smiles, another year closer to graduation.

4. nose in a fresh picked peony, breathing a memory.

5. full on hugs… an arm around a shoulder.

6. the sky light glow behind blue grey muted mountains.

7. magpies final calls across the dusk.

8. a beginning of noting gratitude.

English: White peony flower Русский: Цветок бе...

English: White peony flower Русский: Цветок белого пиона (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tuned out or turned on?


I was reminded (again) yesterday of the need to make a choice. That the outcome of my life is overseen (yes ordained too… how’s that for a mind stretch) by a God who is crazy about me, but the daily choices are mine to make.

So, here’s some choices for you and me to consider,

1. How tuned in are you? Are you willing to unplug so you can listen? Yes, I mean unplug… remember those e-free plans where you literally unplugged the TV for, say a week, or two… could we still do that with our computers… really? I mean, how could we do business, blog, communicate… :)

2. How networked are you socially? I mean, I’m a big facebook fan, but a couple of weeks ago I chose to log off until I found a better balance. I want to honour face to face time with people more. And I think I’m beginning to see some change for the good in this area. Cause really, life in the ‘pack’ is more fun than life as a lone wolf! (note to self…)Image

3. How busy are you? Are you leaving enough white margin in your life to respond to the unforeseen?

4. How grateful are you? I’m still reading and re-reading that book I told you about… “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp and it appears that gratitude is just the beginning of a mind shift toward living a life of fullness and joy. Hmmm… maybe it’s time for me (us) to start our own list of 1000…just saying…

5. How present are you? When you sit at the table with your family or your friends… are you really listening? When your child climbs into the car after school… are you willing to let them be silent and join them in that? (oh boy, this is hard for me!) When you husband/wife/room-mate arrives home from work and you re-enter family life… are you willing to let go of the pot, keyboard, text plan long enough to find out how their day really was?

6. Do you take time to say thanks to people for little things? You know, like the cashier folding your clothes rather than stuffing them in the bag at the checkout, like the guy who delivered the flyer to your door, like your husband for phoning every day from his business trip?

7. Do you tell people how you feel… in words, in deeds, in prioritizing them, in putting yourself and your needs after theirs? Time’s fleeting people… all can change in an instant and we’re left trying to figure out how to pack meaning into the time we have left.

8. Do you reach out for help when you need it… or are you too scared/proud/capable to ask?

9. Do you actually see the world around you? I just met a writer/educator who’s starting a movement… it’s called ‘Connect Kids 2 Nature’… and I’m sorry, but I think I can see why. How many kids do you know who live eyes down… eyes on the cell phone… texting… while they are walking on the side of the road, riding their bikes/long boards, walking with their friends, and all they have to do is look up and PRESTO… there’s NATURE… BEAUTY… GLORIOUS WORLD all around them. So, now they need to be taught how to see again… and I guess I do too! And you can experience the world in so many ways… read it, taste it, hear it, touch it… you can even… wait for it… ImageROLL IN IT!!! Oh yeah… her life as a dog… that’s our Emmy!

10. Are you turned on? I mean, in this busy, crazy, plugged in, uploaded and networked world, are you turned on to real life all around you? Are you passionate about… something? What gets you up in the morning? What really ticks you off? What makes you frustrated? What breaks your heart? I mean I want to live turned on! Don’t you? So, if you haven’t figured out what that means for you, take some time to work through the W5 of what that might be. Then go do THAT. It will make a difference… to you and to this world.

One of my new favourite quotes is this one… you might remember it from the movie ‘Chariots of Fire’,

“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” Eric Liddell

May you be able to say and experience that about whatever God made you to do… that kind of life is possible!

OK, well I’m off now… managed to write and post this in under 30 min. And that gives me time to get out there and take on the remains of this glorious day.

With you all the way,

Lesley-Anne

Soon and very soon… we are going to see!


I’m reading a book, actually devouring it between gulps and sighs and head nods because, although I have only just begun to touch the tip of what the author describes, I know in my life what the author knows to be true… and to borrow the words of a design icon Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886– 1969) “God is in the details”.

I imagine my eyes having scales on them, you know like the ‘Don’t Drink and Drive’ commercial where they give you an object lesson by letting you see through an increasing number of glasses, beer filled, to what it is like to be intoxicated while driving? Do you know the one I mean? Well, I imagine I am going through this life with scales or a level of dullness over my eyes and yet sometimes, like this morning when I was driving home from dropping off the kids at school, the scales peel back, just for a little while, and allow me to see things more clearly, more thankfully, more full of glory than ever before. And I have to wonder if you saw me right now, at this very moment, would my face be glowing because of it. Like my heart is? I wonder?Image

Anyway, you must walk, run, or google the nearest (online) bookseller and buy this book, read it, soak in it, in the possibility of living a full life because of how you live it and what you see in it and your response to that seeing. Knowing we don’t have long here, knowing there is more than meets the eye, yet our eyes (yes, and all of our senses, physical and spiritual) just might be what point us to the astounding glory of earth and it’s inhabitants (yes, us), and the very real possibility of a God who has designed/packed/put his fingerprints all over this planet so that EVERYTHING reflects/contains/points to a profound and utter glory of who he is… so that we will FIND HIM. Gosh, does this sound so crazy it just might be work? (blatant reference to one of our fav. family movies, The Masters of Disguise)

Here’s what happened as I drove home… and once I arrived…

I saw…with eyelids peeled back… a sign that said thank you, horses grazing on new spring grasses, a hawk reflecting the morning sun, flowers… pushing out their brightest and best show, a beautiful blue truck, a volkswagon camper… retro style one… so cool, my neighbour’s friendly hello, the garbage trucks with their new and updated (very much like the Canada Arm!) technology Imageand capacity to lift the cans off the ground rather than using back breaking manpower, classical music wafting from my neighbours piano, the softness of my dog’s ears… ALL THIS… and MORE! The tone of blue of the sky, the stacked poofs of cotton clouds resting softly in that low spot on the rolling tops of the Okanagan Highlands… YES, and MORE…

Thing is, I believe what I saw is such a minute portion of what is always all around me, yet had such an impact on me… my heart raced, the corners of my mouth turned up into a smile, my chest expanded, I breathed deeper, I felt thankfulness, gratitude, perspective, a desire to come home and take up close photos of the breathtaking beauty of a pine cone splashed by yellow light and laying on my concrete driveway… and other tiny and precious things in my garden.The minutia of this world filled with the glory of God! YES!!! And might I suggest I am still feeling the joy of that encounter… the author of that book I mentioned would agree. It is her experience too!

I believe it is true. God is in the details. There’s a text that says God’s glory is the fullness of the whole earth… WOW! When we slow down enough to look, He is there. He will speak. He is always speaking. And when I hear him (with my eyes, ears, heart…), I am undone.

Oh, the book… One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. Buy it. Read it. It might just peel back your eyelids…let me know what you see!

Love you,

Lesley-Anne