a year’s worth of gifts

On August 24, 2012 I picked up that small teal notebook and a pen and started counting. Inspired by Ann Voskamp and her book One Thousand Gifts, I took her dare.

“on a whim, a dare, i scratch it down: Gift List. I begin the list, not of gifts I want but of gifts I already have. I mean, they are just the common things and maybe I don’t even know they are gifts really until I write them down and that is really what they look like. Gifts He bestows. This writing it down- it is sort of like… unwrapping love. Joy is the realest reality, the fullest life, and joy is always given, never grasped. God gives gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given: joy.” – Ann Voskamp

I challenged myself to write down 10 gifts every night when I climbed into bed, and once I started I couldn’t stop. I hit 1,000 gifts less than 2 months after I started, and even once I filled the first journal in February I continued counting with a brand new one. It has become a necessary way for me to end my day; no matter what the day held, it forces me to find at least 10 ways where God showed up, and how can that lead to anything except thanksgiving? Even on those days when it would seem I would barely be able to find one thing to be thankful for, much less 10, i was still reminded…

“When God moves us out of our comfort zone- into places that are way bigger than us, places that are difficult, hard, painful, places that even hurt- this is a gift. We are being given a gift. These hard places give us the gift of intimately knowing God in ways that would never be possible in our comfort zones… counting one thousand gifts means counting the hard things– otherwise I’ve miscounted.”

Otherwise I’ve miscounted. I can only imagine how many gifts I missed this past year, despite how many I’ve named. At the end of last week I counted gift #5,000, surprisingly only two days shy of the year anniversary to when I started. 5,000 gifts named in one year. It’s about paying attention to the little things, and realizing how much joy they can bring when looked at through thankful eyes.
385) texts that end with “Amen!” … 495) the first cup of hot chocolate of the season … 680) Pastor Fred hugs… 748) laughter around my dining room table … 904) praying together as a KGB team … 1037) good music to get me through a run … 1159) sweet frog dates on crappy days … 1252) tears. being raw. feeling things deeply … 1371) reading Laura Ingalls to Lauren before bed … 1393) three new pastors with a desire to shepherd the church … 1514) black nail polish … 1541) an open sunroof in my car … 1718) Grandpa standing in the rain to grill me fajitas … 1781) New Girl hilarity … 1854) that I can specifically pray for HMB by name … 1969) guys with protective instincts … 2137) running leap hugs from Shelby … 2223) peace that surpasses understanding … 2277) Les Miserables and songs that move my soul … 2355) dimples on either side of a 9 year old toothless smile … 2463) opportunities to help … 2559) full disclosure and honest conversations … 2789) acting out of obedience instead of fear… 2913) butterbeer. yum. … 3020) a trainer who gets me and turns into a friend … 3146) Miss Tammie’s heart for our small group … 3253) that my lap is still Lauren’s favorite place to be … 3339) Jonathan and how he makes me laugh … 3484) Harper’s cheeks. be still my soul. … 3589) gentlemen who offer you their coat … 3718) clients I truly adore … 3773) glimpses of my calling … 3829) ministry leaders who are easy to respect … 3938) time to talk with Laura … 3960) second shooters that constantly blow me away … 4052) watching You answer prayers … 4087) Anna and that she’s a lifelong kind of friend … 4364) a room full of kids hearing the gospel … 4431) a prayer warrior in Katie … 4558) that You are fighting for our hearts … 4669) porch swings, blankets, and a baby to rock … 4864) Dan and his baton (aka foam roller) twirling skills to make me laugh … 4956) the call to pray specifically … 5,000) a God who keeps His promises. Always.  Hallelujah, thank you Lord! Here’s to the next 5,000 :) Happy Monday!

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  1. […] at that, at spotting the little things, a year or so ago when I took the “joy dare” and counted and named 10,000 gifts. but truth be told, i haven’t been as consistent with that this year, and i’ve felt it. […]

  2. mom says:

    I am so happy you have so many blessings in your life and that you are appreciative of all the things that make up your days! I am grateful for you! Way to go Jess! Love this post and love you!

  3. What an inspiration! I am going to do this and even see if my friends wanna join in! Love this!

  4. Annie says:

    We call that a Gratitude List in our house :) Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Jessie! It was the gentle reminder I needed to focus on my blessings. God is good.

  5. Carolyn Covert says:

    #4431 is my favorite :)

  6. I just wanted you to know that inspired by you, I started a gift journal earlier this year. If you hadn’t shared your experience, I may never have started. Being in a state of constant thanksgiving has changed my outlook on EVERYTHING! Thank you! <3

  7. Sarah Bugbee says:

    Love this Jessie! I love and miss your sweet heart!

  8. Jenn says:

    I am so encouraged by your dedication and your open heart and eyes to all of the many gifts all around you. I can only hope to feel the same way that you’ve conveyed here after I start today. Thank you for being so real in this post. It truly spoke volumes to my heart.

  9. Lida Mathews says:

    So so so awesome! I’m on my way to working on 2000 gifts in 4 months! I can’t tell you how this has changed my life!

  10. Brie says:

    Jessie, I totally love this! Your heart and creativity are a force to be reckoned with!

  11. Amber says:

    Ann’s 1000 gifts challenge is awesome and I love that you’ve taken it to the next level by continuing beyond 1000 (whoa 5000 gifts!!)!! I’m less than one month into the challenge myself and already I can see a shift in my gratefulness for all that He has provided, big and small. Glory!

  12. melanie avjean says:

    Amen and Amen!

  13. Beth says:

    I admire your ability to see the good through the bad and I hope I have the courage one day to try this, I love the idea.

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