Still counting…

WHEN IT BEGAN...

WHEN IT BEGAN…

1000 Gifts-

that’s what she called it.

It all started with a dare, a challenge by a friend, via that last shred of uninterrupted, un-rushed communication for those Mamas home with babies: her email.

Out of that was birthed the book.

We all know the one.

Three things you can be grateful for, you can choose to view as gifts from The Father, every day, for an entire year, will balance out to about 1,000 gifts by the end of the year.

That’s how the story goes.

That is what put a pig farmer’s wife and homeschooling mom of six children from Canada on the New York Times Bestsellers List for about two years now.

My story began on February 1, 2012.

I read, underlined, re-read, highlighted, and tacked up quotes from her book One Thousands Gifts in January of 2012.

People sure did react differently to Ann’s book-

Some liked it well enough, but just couldn’t finish.

Some thought it was immoral.

Some could not stop talking about it.

Guess which one I was?

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Two journals worth and a little over nineteen months.

That is how much and how long it took this lady to count to 1,000.

My gift #1 listed on February 1st, 2012:

Tim’s arm extending towards me every time the alarm rings out

My gift #1,000 listed on September 11th, 2013:

Tim and I talking in bed for two hours and laughing, instead of falling immediately asleep- the gift of joy in trials.

It was just a little cool that it started with the first moments of the day and ended with the last.

In bed!

Ha.

But that is just what this Eucharisteo  thing is all about.

This hybrid of grace, thanksgiving, joy-

the unexpected, the overlooked,because it is so plain, so repetitive.

You say “in bed” for instance, and you think of sleep or sex.

The arm in the morning, the talking till someone drifts off-

it passes by, day after predictable, day.

But all these little occurrences-

the same sun that comes through your same cream curtains that hang crookedly because you never could sew a straight line, each morning,

your same butterfly bush that erupts perfectly purple each July and lasts til the end of August

those silly little things she says,

when you seek them out, some days desperate in nature, to find something that has not been annoying, stressful or hideous,

but rather makes you smile and breath a little easier.

“It’s not that bad” whispered in my ear, is good enough for me

to keep me going instead of reading all day.

And I will be honest, part of the reason why it took me nineteen months to get to one-thousand is because I stopped. Several times.

Certain days, certain months, this whole listing thing was starting to feel a little hokey, a little stupid.

But then something else started to creep up.

Look at this entry here on March 14th, 2013:

Been struggling with a complaining, grumbling, negative, tongue again.

Once again I take note that I have not been practicing my

Eucharisteo, need to make time each morning

Again on June 10th, 2013:

I have gone one week without listing gratitudes

and I have been unusually discouraged…

its not a magical formula but there always

appears, when I look back, a connection

At first I would journal at night, looking back on the day, hunting my memories for tiny little gifts.

But that proved too hard because I was too tired.

I really prefer not thinking when I climb in bed. I want to escape and slink away in clean sheets and feather pillows with a book or my husband.

So I switched to mornings; a much better time of day for reflection.  On many, many days, I was hard pressed to pull up sparkling threads of good things, beautiful things from the previous twenty-four hours. All I could recall was kid noise, kids mess, yelling, crying (from daughters, or me, or both) and work, work, work.

Sometimes I would just write in something generic.

List three things in pen on paper lines like a good girl taking her multivitamin.

“Why I am doing this?”

I would ask into a semi lit room, my coffee with half and half cooling besides my journal.

I noticed something else too.

The redundancy.

My life varies very little.

My lists reflected this.

It was this fact, I believe, that nudged me into abandoning my journal so many times.

I mean, how many times could I sit there in the morning, combing my memory bank of good things that I observed or experienced  yesterday, to scribble out:

coffee on the front porch in the morning

cloudless skies saturated deep blue

hot crispy pizza made by Tim

wine on the deck

bright yellow daffodils poking through piles of dead brown leaves

burnt orange and red Autumn leaves

shafts of sunshine on familiar and loved objects

The Babes mischievous smile

Her creativity

Her humor

Her freckles and missing teeth

Books that inspire

Conversations with friends

God’s Spirit moving

That pretty much sums up the flavoring of my listing.

When we went somewhere different or something slightly different from the norm occurred that would pop up to make an appearance in my journal.

So I would quit.

My happiness level would decrease.

Every time.

There has been a whole lotta crap and stress in my life these last nineteen months, like I am guessing, there has been in yours.

The very clear, or rather intuitive knowing, I came to see as I flipped through my horrible handwriting that filled my journals was this:

Yes, it is all the same:

what makes me smile.

what makes me breath deep and just keep going.

Simple things that release the pressure of life stress and tension like a skilled chiropractor working on a bum vertebrae.

Nineteen months is all four seasons experienced twice (since I started mid winter)

I’ve come to rather like this redundancy.

It’s likes therapy.

Your shrink slowly, session, after session, after session, starts to draw out the real you, right?  Starts to allow you, for yourself, to connect the dots in regards to what to keep, what to cut out, what to run from, what to run towards.

My Eucharisteo journal also became my family memories recorder.

the Cape May beaches and sunsets

the Christmas dinners,

the pre-dawn Easter candy hunts

the birthday cakes with a pound of sprinkles and trick candles…

It’s all there too.

Just waiting to remind me:

Like I said before, the whisper of:

“it’s not as bad as you think it is”

is good enough for me.

And so I am still counting…one by one…

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Linking up with A Holy Experiences, Multitudes on Mondays

A day late, because it now takes me two days to write one post.

Cheers.

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5 thoughts on “Still counting…

  1. Dear Leah, lovely post (and pics). I think your lists are perfectly fine, if I was a journally person, mine would always start with gratitude for morning coffee! I think there is so much self-inflicted pressure out there to “keep up with the Joneses” or that striving for perfection that just can’t exist in this world, our focus has shifted from those simple God given delights to expecting much more. I’m sure those journals will be an interesting read in years to come. Ps Tried to leave a comment a week ago, but the computer ate it and I was too tired to retype, really like what you have been writing lately.

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  2. What can I say — another beautiful, inspiring post. You have discovered what life is: day after day the routine and the specialness at the same time. The routine is stability. The special gives life its spark. Both are to be treasured.

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  3. Leah, I’ve quit writing my list so many times for the same reason – redundancy. Feeling like so much that I’m thankful for continues to be the same. But I also relate to how it really makes a difference in my perspective, and then there’s the recording of memories – esp. the ones my children will love to look back on when they grow up. Anyway, been thinking of you, but haven’t gotten over or emailed (though I’ve started to email a few times, but never finished).

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  4. Congratulations on finishing your 1,000 joy entries, Leah! That is, in my opinion, quite an accomplishment. To finish a task is better than to start one. Keep on finding joy – it’s all around us!

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  5. That’s so great, Leah…1,000! I, too, have noticed the difference when I stop to notice the gifts and when I just let them pass me by. Also how much repetition in these things I stop to see — small gestures of family, creativity, nature, coffee in the morning….It is good to be reminded again and again as we live these lives again and again. Everywhere, such gift.

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