Pick up a pen and count gifts. It keeps your eyes good. It offers you the definite gift of greater joy. It draws open the curtains right when the sun in going down. When loss threatens to bury us. ~ Ann Voskamp
The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. — Jesus in Matthew 6:22
Welcome to week two of the One Thousand Gifts Online Bible Study with our wonderful teacher, Ann Voskamp!
Life is in how we see things, the big and the small, the important and the insignificant, the crushing and the celebrating, life-defining and the mundane.
Have you ever woken up in the morning already eager for bedtime again? Like the rush of the day, the busyness, the chores, the tasks, the pressure, and the troubles, the impossible people are just too much. Bedtime, please.
What in the world, in a world of certain loss… is grace? ~ Ann
And yet, have you ever looked back at a season of life that at the time felt impossibly hard and overfull and thought, “Oh, I didn’t realize how golden those days were”?
Have you ever prayed until you had no more tears and your knees seemed permanently numb and years later praised God that He said “no” or “not yet”?
So much is in how we look at things, how we perceive them, how they play out over time.
A day that at the time is celebrated and rejoiced over can be looked back upon as the worst mistake of a lifetime. And yet, a heartbreaking loss or season of change that rips at the soul can be, in retrospect, a saving, a mercy, a phenomenal grace. We don’t really know what things are not good for us when they look like everything we’ve ever wanted and what things are good for us when they’re packaged in pain.
All new life comes out of dark places. ~ Ann
What if God’s beautiful, merciful, bountiful grace looks like loss? What if it includes failure and embarrassment? What if Grace is wrapped up in a shattering of what was held so dear?
Pain and joy are arteries of the same heart. ~ Ann
It’s why, as Christians we say in faith:
This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it. — Psalm 118:24
Because we don’t know what He knows. We don’t see what He sees. And, if our eyes are good, if they are watchful for the Grace that packages hardship and hope together, we can slow way down and say thanks in it. For the small things right in front of us. Right now.
Giving thanks for one thousand things is ultimately an invitation to slow time down with the weight of full attention. ~ Ann
Friends, let’s slow down to enjoy the beauty, even in the middle of the hard. Because we don’t know what “good” is. God does. We may someday look back on the things that break our hearts and be so grateful for the mercy that was wrapped within.
Emptiness itself can birth the fullness of grace because in the emptiness we have the opportunity to turn to God, the only begetter of Grace, and there find the fullness of joy. ~ Ann
Eucharisteo always precedes the miracle… And who doesn’t need a miracle every day? ~ Ann
Live fully. Joy is always worth the wait. And fully living, worth the believing. ~ Ann
Let’s keep our eyes open for the good He is doing. Right here. And be grateful.
I am thankful:
For the squirrels chasing each other around the neighborhood
For coffee brewing
For the pumpkin candle that fills my house with Autumn
For fresh sheets and a long Sunday nap
For Psalm 23 and that Goodness and Mercy, like Heaven’s guard dogs, follow me all the days of my life
This week in your study:
- Watch the video for session two on our study home page and join the conversation with fellow OBS participants afterward… Take notes in your study guide on pages 27-31
- Go through the study questions with your group or on your own on pages 27-35.
- Read One Thousand Gifts, Chapter 4-5.
- Grab your Bible and enjoy your personal study this week on pages 36-38.
- Join the conversations about the study and get to know fellow participants in the private Facebook group!
Scriptures this Week
Prayer for the Week
Jesus, we love You. Slow us down so we can hear You, so we can see the beauty all around us, so we can receive and give thanks. Help us to recognize the gifts in the moment, the grace in the moment, even during trials and suffering. We want to walk at Your pace and live eucharisteo lives. We love You, Lord. Amen.