Monday, April 15, 2013

A Phone, a List, a Book, and a Blog

When your phone quits working to start the day, that is usually not a good sign.  When your phone is also your planner, your notebook, your music player, your photo album collection, and your basic access to the outside world, it makes you feel pretty lost.  (Yes, I know these things can be backed up. . .  but then my phone is my only home internet connection as well, so I can only do some of that when I have access to wi-fi.)

Anyway, that was pretty much my Saturday. While I will spare you the long story of getting to the point where I do have my phone mostly functional now, the prompting of this blog post was really from thinking of one of the things I was most relieved to have saved. Now, those of you who know me well know that I really like to keep everything (and for all of our sakes, I will pretend to ignore the eye-rolling that is surely going on at this point), but one thing I keep on my phone along with many other items on my "notes" app is a list where each day I thank God for things I specifically notice as gifts from Him and ways He is providing for me. I keep it on my phone rather than in a journal because I always have my phone with me, and that specific note is a place where I only write things I am thanking God for, not other prayers and requests, etc.  That makes it easy to stay focused, and then it is so nice to be able to read back through and see those listings all in one place at one time.

The idea of a gratitude journal or thank-you list is nothing new and is something I had actually started doing before I came across the book I am about to share with you. God has taught me over the years that praising and thanking Him are essential to getting through difficult times (and are most appropriate in good times, of course, too!), so when my sweetheart received a difficult diagnosis this past summer, it wasn't long before I realized I better start being intentional about recounting and recording thanksgiving to protect my heart, my faith, and my sanity. So I started just writing one or more items each day in a note on my phone because it seemed the easiest to access and be able to keep up with at any time or place.

But even as God was already leading my heart in that direction, it was about to be taken so much deeper thanks to the writing of Ann Voskamp. With as much reading as I do, I'm not really sure how I had missed coming across her book up to this point, but I guess it was a good thing for just the perfect timing this past fall. With the exception of the Bible itself and a few Beth Moore Bible studies, I would say that Ann's book, "One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are," has definitely been one of the most life-changing, heart-transforming books I have ever read. Even though I finished it several months back, the truths Ann shared still affect my daily thought life. And I am thankful. Her writing is almost like poetry in a prose format and just exudes grace and compassion on every page. With heartbreaking times in her own life, she does not gloss over or undermine difficulties, but rather shares how we can still give thanks in their midst and see the grace of God that is there for us at every step. And she does the same on her blog (, so I would highly recommend that you check it out often and/or follow her on Facebook or Twitter as she shares the links there as well.

Anyway, her writing has so deeply affected my heart as I continue to keep up with my list, even as more difficult diagnoses have followed. I think in the past I had always thought of giving thanks in hard times of a way of survival and not much more, but Ann reminds us that it can be the way to joy in Christ in any season as well. Without sorrow or tears? Of course not. But with the peace that comes from knowing God's presence and working in all things at all times.

So, although I know it would have been OK if my list had been lost from my phone, as the process and the remembering are treasures in themselves, it was such a sweet thing to be able to have it back and read through so many of the ways God has shown Himself and His provision for me day by day, especially with the extra difficulties over the past couple of weeks. And yes, now my pictures are all saved to my computer and my phone is backed up (hopefully) to be able to save everything while transitioning to the replacement phone. But I did e-mail that list to myself so I would definitely have it to keep :) Thanking God for extra blessings and grace. . .

What are you especially thankful for today?