Moments of thankfulness often pass us by without acknowledgment. But what might happen if we create a habit of noticing and capturing them. From one thousand gifts to three thousand gifts and counting.
This is a Guest Post from Pauline Turnbull.
It all began on the 24th of October 2020 when I took up the challenge of writing down one thousand gifts I could thank God for.
To date, it is precisely one year from the day I wrote my first GIFT.
Barry’s invitation to write this post is listed in my book as Gift# 3,001, after naming Gift# 3,000 as a thank you to God for each of those 3,000 gifts.
So today, I opened my notebook and went back to where my gift counting began.
As I scan the pages, I am reliving the gifts I’ve numbered. These are sacred moments of grace and love that God has given to me.
A thousand gifts begin
Some of the things I wrote that first day.
1. The gift of life
And so, my journey began.
33. My family, children, and grandchildren
37. My veggie patch
38. Daily provision
Often I struggle with lack of sleep. This has been a long and painful situation for me.
It may only have been a couple of hours, but what a difference those couple of hours make. I was so grateful for the tiniest amount of sleep.
Instead of bemoaning my lack, I was able to count whatever amount of sleep I had as a gift from God.
This began to change my whole outlook concerning my sleeping issues. As I rejoice in the little I have and thank God for it, it stirs in me joy and changes my view as I begin my day.
A miracle takes place. New life begins. I now start on a positive note and not a negative one.
Already I am off to a better start in my day. That in itself lifts my whole outlook on whatever the day will bring.
It affects how I relate to those around me. I begin on an upward spiral of life and love, compared to how it would have been if I lamented my lack of sleep.
When I connect with others from that perspective, I negatively influence them, for it is out of the bank of my heart that my responses overflow to others.
Is my heart filled with peace and joy or negativity and misery?
Eucharisto – thanksgiving – Always precedes the Miracle. Ann Voskamp
Joy bank or Misery bank
As I go through my day, I can either build my joy bank or my misery bank.
We are all given choices in life, regardless of how life hits us. We have all taken some pretty heavy knocks, been wronged by others, or hit by circumstances.
I note, that I have also wronged others. I have had two broken marriages, suffered in abusive relationships for years, been suicidal, suffered depression and oppression, had months of grey days when it was hard to put one foot in front of the other, but praise God He has changed my life.
This has been over many years now, but that is not to say that I haven’t had and still don’t have grey days.
But as I began to write down and number the gift’s I am given each day, I began to look for and treasure moments in a new light.
Moments have become precious, intimate times with God when I rejoice in the wonder and recognition of His love for me.
This is God watching over me, showering me with love, giving me hope, joy, and life that has deepened greatly.
My outlook brightens, my interactions with others and the circumstances of each day, whatever they are, have improved. I am better able to respond to others from my joy bank because that is filling and my negativity bank is decreasing!
The more I number my gifts, the more gifts I recognize, for my eyes have been opened to identify blessings as they come.
I write them all down. Some days there are many entries. Some days just one or two. But each day there is something that I recognize as God’s gift of love and life to me.
It’s exciting today to look back through my list. Wow! How blessed am I.
There was a time I didn’t even know it. All the beautiful gifts all around me, and all I felt was emptiness and pain. But what a glorious change God has wrought.
Often circumstances do not change, but the change comes first in me, and then, my whole life seems to change because I become a new creature.
Life is perspective
Life is perspective, how I view it. When I look from a ‘Glass Half Full’ perspective, life is far richer than when I look from a ‘Glass Half Empty’ view.
We all want to be happy, but what is happiness? Is it dependent upon circumstances? Is it dependent upon how others relate to me?
I’ve discovered over the years that happiness is a passing thing. I’ve found joy in learning that regardless of circumstances, life can be good.
When I try to control life, I am quickly brought undone.
When I accept life as it is, then life itself becomes a gift, and joy wells up in my inner being.
I begin to enjoy moments when I allow life to happen and recognize a God who holds it all together, a God who loves and cares for me. A life empty of self and full of God.
To live fully – to live full of grace and joy and all that is beauty eternal. It is possible, wildly. I now see and testify to this story – my story. A dare to an emptier, fuller life. Ann Voskamp
Living in anticipation
These days I am much more excited about life and anticipate those moments when God touches me with a precious gift.
These days I look for them at every turn. I don’t want to miss any.
655. A butterfly dancing by on the breeze
2020. The quiet and comfort, the peace of a bushwalk
830. The unexpected meeting with a friend
2209. A beautiful sunset
2610. Counting gifts. A new take on life in all its wonder
2460. A friend brought me some soup when I was sick
2886. A walk along the beach with my granddaughter.
I also see blessings in the difficult times of life as I learn to place them in God’s hands and ask Him to show me the way through.
370. My failure
376. Hope in failure
391. Facing brokenness
543. Tears, joy, and sadness mixed
1478. Life’s lessons that have come out of painful times.
Gifts in the everyday ordinary
295. My breakfast smoothie
478. Dirty dishes – they prove I have eaten
1086. Ability to vacuum the floor.
Gifts I read about in the Bible
61. The Cross
343. The Body of Christ, the Church
826. Love gift from the hand of a sovereign God
2701. The gift of forgiveness.
Giving thanks shifts our lives up a gear. It lifts us out of ourselves and above the issues and problems that seek to consume us. It enlightens our hearts, awakens our spirit, shining light into our dark places.
It brings change to our perspective. It helps us to see that things are not always as they seem. We look from a limited point of view.
It enlarges our view of life and gives us hope that a God loves and cares for us. A God who is present and involved in our world and our own lives.
We are not alone but held in the palm of His sovereign hands. Suddenly we find ourselves singing where once there was nothing but heaviness.
I believe in the Sun, even when it doesn’t shine.
I believe in love, even when it isn’t shown.
I believe in God, even when He doesn’t speak.
The thousand begins with a pen.
It all begins with a pen, a notebook, and a willingness to look for the good in life. Regardless of where we start.
Can I encourage you to start today? Take small steps.
Three simple things that you can thank God for. If that’s difficult, just one.
But start! Write it down.
1. I have breath in my lungs.
2. There is food on the table
3. The sun shone today.
I promise if you persevere in giving thanks, your life will change for the better.
It may not always be easy. It may take time.
It certainly takes persistence and courage. But one tiny step at a time, the light begins to creep in, and one day, you awaken to joy flooding your soul. Miracles do happen. And they can happen for you.
Quotes to consider
- “Gratitude is the memory of the heart”, writes Jean Baptiste Massieu, but gratitude is not only the memories of our heart: gratitude is a memory of God’s heart and to thank is to remember God. Ann Voskamp
- Practice is the hardest part of learning, and training is the essence of transformation.
- This is all I know about living: Every moment is a gift with each other, and every moment we get to be a gift to each other. Source unknown
Questions to answer
- To write down a thousand gifts is a challenge. What would the first three of a thousand be for you right at this moment?
- Pauline talked about the changes within her as she took this pilgrimage of a thousand gifts? What took your attention?
- To reach a thousand it begins with one. What obstacles would you have to push through to write down a moment, a gift, an observation?
Pauline lives in Port Macquarie, on the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Only a 10-minute walk from some glorious beaches. Pauline enjoys bush walks and walking along the beach, where she paddles her toes while talking to God.
Highlights of Pauline’s life are her children and grandchildren. Since her mid-twenties, she has been part of a Christian Church and thanks God for the journey to life He has led her on.
It hasn’t always been easy. She described herself as a stubborn mule for many years, digging my heels in, especially as she faced two broken marriages and years of living in domestic turmoil.
As she came to know Jesus better, she has grown in her faith, trust, and love for Him through His word and fellowship with His people. These days she is much more content for Him to take the reins of her life and trust Him to lead the way through the wilderness.