Grateful

My life, so far, summarized in a thanksgiving list..

well-provided-for childhood

having gone to the sea several times

studied in the best schools

restoration and healing each time I run away or get sick

godly, loving and supportive parents

sisters who are also friends

intact family

a job even before I graduated

finishing my (undergrad) thesis

being a member and leader of the youth worship team

camps and other events

meeting interesting people and friends for life

learning from life

discovering and knowing myself

learning how to deal with different people

gadgets (the ones I need)

food on the table everyday

place to call home in each place I move into

laughter

love

pain

loss

courage and hope

dreams

books

still small voice and learning to listen to it

music and poetry

a world to discover

people to love

God to love, to worship and to treasure

new chapter I’m facing

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a journey to the first thousand

online courses

1000. night classes online

I’ve recently been spending time after work on two online classes. Writing and poetry. As I was writing on my list that night on November 21, I realized these classes sure are gifts. And so I wrote the 1oooth entry in my gift list.

It all started three years ago when I was reading a blog. I clicked on a link which led me to a place called A Holy Experience where I first met Ann Voskamp who I would later consider one of the biggest influences in my life (though I don’t know her personally, nor she me). She had this practice of listing down gifts, blessings. Not necessarily surprises that occasionally come along, although those are included, but primarily the seemingly ordinary, everyday things in her life. She said this was how she’s learning gratitude.

After reading two or three more posts from her, I started my own One Thousand Gifts list on January 2011 on a notebook I received for my birthday the month before. The pages were unlined, plain white paper, full of possibilities. Perfect reminder for listing down gifts as it was a gift itself. Thus started my journey in counting one thousand gifts.

You may think this practice simplistic and can only work for the sentimental but you couldn’t be more wrong. I also thought the same at first. But as I started writing down the very first items on the list, I felt something different. Joy, so simple and pure you’d think you are a child receiving something for the first time. Receiving something, recognizing that you wouldn’t have had it any other way if it were not given to you.

I began to notice. I saw things which would otherwise escape me as I rushed through life, things I would have totally taken for granted had I not taken the time to sit down and write, marvel and give thanks. This listing down of blessings trains the eyes to see. Really see. Discover. Recognize.

But there are days when I could hardly write anything. And there were times when I stopped entirely. Things happen which manage to capture all of you and send you into a dark corner and you forget about giving thanks.

But somehow, when you start anew, take up the pen again and write even just one thing, you are reminded of God, of who He really is. Not just Provider or Gift Giver but the Sovereign One who is in control of everything. And you begin to learn gratitude even in the hardest of times. You are changed to be more like your Savior. Each testing or trial or problem that you write down, having recognized it as a  blessing, is offered at His feet. And from them can spring up beautiful things. Gungor said (sang) it right.

So you go on writing down each blessing and there will be times when you’ll be surprised to see you already are a third or halfway down the journey. When you go back and read, you give thanks all over again and it feels like receiving the gifts anew. And you would see the many specific ways God has shown His goodness and His might. His heart. His face. So this is the abundant life He has promised.

New eyes, open hands, changed heart. To help you trust Him more fully. To help you listen to Him more closely. And so you come to discover more gifts in the everyday living, whether a day be sunny or gray. And you continue to give thanks.

Saying yes to this adventure has surely been one of the things I am really grateful for. Receiving the first one thousand gifts brought me somewhere I didn’t think I would be. A place of contentment where you learn to dream big because God has given you a grateful heart that trusts Him fully. And so I go on each day, on this path of thanksgiving. Counting, naming to a thousand and more.