"No matter where I am, your teachings fill me with songs." - Psalm 119:54 (CEV)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Reaching for Release

Over the past few days, I've learned about struggling to inhale the love and joy,

Fighting to exhale it back,

And seeking, stretching, reaching hard for release.

As the daily pressures constantly crush, I've tried many release valves.

Only one has ever worked completely . . .

And left me feeling completely full.

No, it's not TV,

Or books,

Or extra sleep,

Or even a loving little one's embrace.

It's something much simpler,

Much more fundamental,

Much harder

And yet also much easier.

I got the book in the Christian bookstore I love to go to.

I had been reading the author's blog every day.

I loved her poetic words and deep thoughts.

Some of the posts had lists of gifts,

Gifts she'd been given,

Little tiny everyday gifts,

Lists she'd written a book about.

This book.

I started reading, pages about discovery.

Discovery of eucharisteo.

Discovery of how to give thanks.

I started writing my own list of one thousand gifts.

1.  Mom's shoulder
2.  2 sporks in one package
. . .
11.  A tired mom's hot pudding
12.  A shower
13.  Harmony
. . .
15.  Paper and pen

I came up with 26 the first day, writing all down before going to bed.

I wrote down 63 the next day, writing in the same way.

29.  Promises
30.  Thread, needle, and pin
. . .
34.  White thread on purple-red towel
. . .
39.  Box tattered and torn
. . .
52.  Train's whistle at 2:10 (A.M.)
. . .
59.  Beautiful colors in a stir fry
. . .
63.  Chocolate chunks in vanilla ice cream
. . .
87.  Smooth ink
88.  Blank page

Simple little gifts, things I wouldn't normally notice, written down in notebook with pen.

As I continued reading the book, I realized that, to really learn eucharisteo, I would have to learn to give thanks in every moment.

Thus, the notebook began coming with me everywhere on the third day.

91.  Rain pattering on roof
. . .
94.  Waking to a storm
. . .
98.  Necklace clinking
. . .
99.  Matched socks
. . .

Some I took pictures of.

185.  Fresh strawberries

230.  A heart of tea leaves

I came up with 226 the third day.

I wondered if it was right to go so quickly, but I just couldn't stop noticing the tiny gifts, writing down as many as I could, naming, thanking.

Day four:

318.  Smell of eggs cooking
. . .
320.  Two sitting on couch reading

417.  Random hug
. . .
438.  Air to breathe
. . .
456.  Pouring out of thoughts

I kept reading, started learning about the hard eucharisteo, the giving of thanks when it's hard.

The knowledge that "He might not have" went a long way toward turning my thinking upside-down.

I hadn't found true "hard eucharisteo" yet - still haven't (though I know I will) - but I started trying to count the little hard things as gifts.

569.  Learning to find joy in so-called "annoyances"
. . .
577.  A broken blender
. . .
582.  Bags under eyes

All gifts.

"For He might not have."

266 gifts counted the fourth day.

Day five:

622.  Light reflecting on guitar
. . .
652.  Blanket, old and torn, faded and worn
. . .
705.  Slowing
. . .
766.  Air calm and still
. . .
805.  Wide open spaces
. . .
862.  Cold ice cream
. . .
923.  Singing, "Hallelujah!"
. . .
941.  Remembering that all is gift

357 gifts the fifth day.

Day six:


Little ones banging on door before alarm, yelling, singing silly songs they know I dislike.


943.  Children banging on door before alarm

Random bits of beauty and joy.


948.  Dryer sheet on floor

952.  Foam sword with broken handle
. . .
954.  Yarn falling on broken foam sword

988.  Pans empty and cleaned out (more or less)

998.  Cables neatly twist-tied

Then it came, snuck up on me, really.

Gift number one thousand:

Raindrops on the inside of the window.

One thousand simple gifts, written down in a simple old notebook.

Maybe I went too fast, maybe not, . . .

But I do feel it starting to change.

Slowly, but surely, I felt something in me becoming just a tiny bit different.

The moments I once called "boring" became gift-counting moments.

I started to become so engrossed in naming gifts that I kept writing instead of watching TV or surfing the web.

A notebook started following me around and being grabbed every few minutes to be scribbled in.

I started understanding more of what it is to be a sister and a daughter.

I started learning how to teach rather than yell.

I started to feel more willing, more loving.

I started feeling more peaceful and grateful.

I'm changing, a tiny bit at a time.

I'm learning what love is . . .

That, sometimes, maybe even often, it starts with gratitude.

The inhale, the exhale - they start with gratitude.  Then gratitude becomes the release, the pressure valve.  All connected, a never-ending circle - thank, inhale, exhale, thank, inhale, exhale, thank.


I am grateful for these precious ones.

I am grateful for what I once called annoyances.

Now I am ready to begin to love unconditionally, to be patient with wrongdoing.

Now I am ready to wholeheartedly spend my time on them.

Today, that translated into a patient drive to the library, . . .

Patiently cooking lunch and putting up with picky one, . . .

Leaving computer behind to play Monopoly, . . .

Agreeing to run around the house hiding and seeking, . . .

Putting on swimsuit and jumping into still-slightly-green pool, . . .

And loving every minute of it - and the ones I was with.

I feel my love for these precious ones deepening.

I feel my love for the Precious One growing.

I feel my own self-importance waning away,

Yet I have never felt more full.

I feel my own self-love diminishing,

Yet I have never loved so much.

I don't want it to stop -

This naming, counting, listing of gifts -

This change.

I don't want it to stop.

I want to keep becoming the person I feel my self starting to become.

Little ones I love giggle on couch, sharing the words from the books they're reading.

I pull the pen out again.

Write the numbers slow:






1001.  Voices of little ones I love sharing joy.

She comes and leans over, looking at my one thousand gifts and asks to draw.

She wants to draw a flower.

My mind thinks of how neat my pages have been, how clean.

My mind wants to say no.

No, the pages don't need that.

No, it looks better this way.

No, it's a waste of ink.


More silly excuses.

I look at her, this one I love.

How can I say no?

She's too precious.

Time is too short.

This moment will never come again.

This is a gift.

My heart defeats my mind, telling me how silly my thoughts are sometimes.

I say yes.

Little one takes pen and draws.

It's beautiful.

Not perfect, . . .

Not lifelike, . . .

But so beautiful.

Definitely gift.

#1002 . . .

. . . Little one's precious flowers.


All gift.

"For He might not have."

I learned this week of breathing love.

I learned this week that the breathing of love begins with gratitude.

So what is last should really be first and what is first should really be last.

Oh, well.

That's how life is sometimes.

I mixed up the order.

I made another mistake.

I have failed again.



The pictures of the One Thousand Gifts book in which words can be seen were added to help illustrate the meaning of eucharisteo, a word which I am still learning about.  They are the author's words, copyrighted, and so, though this is likely obvious, I feel obligated to give all credit for these words to the author of One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp.  Credit for the words "For He might not have" also goes to her.  I would highly encourage anyone to read this book in its entirety.  There is no way a few sentences could contain the many wondrous deep thoughts and life lessons found in the book.  Many thanks for this incredible, beautiful, and life-changing work.

This is the third blog in an initially unintentional three-part series.  To read all three parts of the series, use the links below:
     Struggling to Inhale
     Fighting to Exhale
     Reaching for Release

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