Monday, August 5, 2013

Stray Dogs and Toilet Paper

I love non-fiction books.  I love biographies.  When I was Ethan's age, Elvis and Me by Priscilla Presley was my favorite book. I also love encouragement books, how-to books, and devotional books of all kinds.  This summer I have read many books and hope to share some of those good book finds with you later this week.  But I am so very excited to share with you one of the best books I read this summer.  This book first came to my attention when a friend retweeted  a quote by this author on Twitter.  I became interested in finding out more about Ann Voskamp.  As I dug into some information about her, I found out she had a gorgeous book called one thousand gifts.

With school and school this past semester, I had no time to dig into it once I had purchased it from Lifeway.  But the book stayed on my mind.  I would read the book cover, inside cover, and even scan it every once in awhile.  I was really excited to dig in.  Did I mention the cover is super cute?

All during the month of May, I thought about what this book held inside it.  I knew it had to do with thankfulness.   I began to think about the gifts God gives our family.  Things we rarely appreciate anymore because we don't take the time to notice or even realize they are a gift.  That's when I got the bright idea.

The day we arrived back from our Texas trip to visit my dad, we started our 20 day project.  Every day that we were at home, for 20 days, I placed 10- 1x2 inch strips of paper on the counter for each family member.  When they climbed out of bed, their "thankful" papers would be waiting for them on the counter. They would then crumble them up and drop them in the jar sitting on the shelf in the kitchen.  At the beginning, I won't even lie, Ethan and Tyler were not so sure about this little project of mine.  Ethan was not too keen about having to think of 20 things he was thankful for and having to write them on the paper.  For at least the first 5 days it was the same dad, mom, sis, bro, dog, water, toilet paper, .........for Ethan. Tyler's tended to be a little one track minded at the beginning too.  Running and sports seemed to be his choice for "thankfuls."  Even Dick Vitale showed up on one of his "thankfuls."   Elise was a little more into it.  She was very descriptive with her "thankfuls."  I even noticed some texting lingo coming out in hers!

At the same time we started the "thankful" papers, I began the journey of reading the book with the cute cover that had stirred this idea in me.  This book was a little difficult to read.  I wasn't sure I was going to make it past the poetic and large vocabulary writing.  But as I kept reading, the more I was drawn in.  The words began to jump off the pages at me.  I could only handle the thoughts of one chapter a day.  The word Euchariesto grabbed my heart.  Thankfulness.  Throughout scripture we find the importance of thankfulness.  The gospels are full of  gratitude.  Paul learned the importance of thankfulness.  Thankfulness.

"And give thanks for everything
to God the Father
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Ephesians 5:20
"One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back,
praising God in a loud voice.
He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked Him-
and he was a Samaritan."
Luke 17:15-16
"magnify Him with thanksgiving."
Psalm 69:30
"My soul doth magnify the Lord."
Luke 1:46
"(Daniel) prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God."
Daniel 6:10
First, I tell you to pray for all people, asking God for what they need and being thankful to him."
I Timothy 2:1
Oh, how thankfulness changes our perspective.
  About halfway into writing 10 "thankfuls" a day and dropping them in the jar, I had an idea.
After the 20 days were up, I made a trip to Hobby Lobby for a very large frame.  I cut a taupe colored mat the size of the frame.  I attached a sheet of paper with a verse, quote, and date to the center of the mat.  I also printed a picture of our jar, filled to the brim with thankfulness.
At first, I was convinced I could get all 1000 thankfuls on the mat.  My family did not agree.  I worked morning and evening for 2 days straight trimming, pasting, and putting together what I envisioned to be a really neat project.
As I unwrapped each of the "thankfuls" that had been stuffed in the jar, my heart would melt.  I had no clue how special this project  would be.  I had not imagined how beautifully the heart of my family would be poured out on these small pieces of paper.  No clue what  treasure laid in that jar.

My family was right.  All 1000 gifts would not fit on my mat.  I had to cover every inch of the mat and even spill over to an 8x10 frame.  I cannot even explain to you how moving these frames are.  Thankful. 
One act of thanksgiving,
when things go wrong with us,
is worth a thousand thanks when things
are agreeable to our inclinations.
~Saint John of Avila

Last night I hung the large frame and small frame.  It's hung in a place that we pass as we are hurrying out the door everyday.  I pray that these frames will stop us at times and remind us to be thankful.  For everything.  For every circumstance.  In little and in much.  In times of contentment and in times of change. 
Thanksgiving is necessary to live the well, whole, fullest life.
~Ann Voskamp
Thankfulness helps us to believe, to forgive, to see, to heal, to fill, to be joyful, to make life full and large.
1.Rascal (the stray dog at our house for 2 days)
2.toilet paper
4.memories and dreams
5.When Tyler plays with his brother and sister
6.dying on the cross
7.calendars to schedule things
8.places we can call home and family
9.laughter of our children
12.a smokin' hot wife
13.light switches to turn the lights off and on
14.ability to forgive
15.hand sanitizer
17.Thanksgiving on the mountain
18.white swing
80.serving the Lord as a family
212.Arkansas Razorbacks
323.Hooten's magazine
433.wasp spray mom's opinion in different occasions detangler spray
744. fires in the fireplace in winter
888.years I had with my mom dinners.
998.another day to wake up
1000.summer Bible studies with my man
"Give thanks to the Lord of lords.
His faithful loves endures forever.
Give thanks to him who alone does mighty miracles.
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to him who made the heavens so skillfully.
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to him who placed the earth among the waters.
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to him who made the heavenly lights-
His faithful love endures forever."
Psalm 136:3-7

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