First Fifty-Five Gifts

“Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Count your blessings. See what God has done.”

So goes a little song I’ve heard. I recently read a book called One Thousand Gifts, about literally taking note of the beauty and blessings around us, and author Ann Voskamp’s challenge to all of us echoes the words of this old hymn. I am jumping in on this challenge of hers to write down my first One Thousand Gifts, as she did, as an exercise in becoming thankful. Seeing what God has done. Seeing reality. Seeing those gifts so often skipped by, unnoticed. Well, enough of my negligence: It is high time I made this change.

So, here goes. I am beginning this on January 8, 2014.

1. long afternoon shadows

2. sunlight through trees

3. the raking of dropped walnuts and blown brown oak leaves

4. that hot, hot shower I just took, definitely grace raining down my chilled body in the cold back bathroom

5. a husband who makes fire for me

6. glowing embers and flickering tongues in the firebox

7. new wool socks with delightful stripes

8. rainfall outside while warm indoors

9. a basket of knitting, ready

10. dishes, washed, all

11. hearing my son tell my daughter that he loves her, too

12. James finding things to give Selah–a white feather, a silvery rock

13. the crackly, frosty film that gets on old bottles

14. tarnished silver

15. having enough

16. hope found in a gaze held on God

17. my daughter deciding to keep me company, singing, while I wash dishes

18. her wobbling little bike-riding circles

19. the possibility of adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail

20. the penetrating, saturated color orange of an orange

21. getting to hug my son today
22. getting to see my husband in town as we ended up driving next to each other on the road; both our hearts beat faster to see each other unexpectedly
23. exchanging recommended books with friend Kate today
24. looking out the kitchen window and seeing a lot of small birds flitting in the front yard and one having very blue wings
25. the welcome sound of rain on the roof as I awaken
26. rich, moistness of pumpkin bread
27. my son sitting beside me in church, throughout the service
28. hens scurrying for scratch thrown from above to fall like manna from heaven
29. strawberry jam lovely as a ruby jewel, a gift from Valerie
30. driving on a newly paved road
31. cinnamon rolls with orange glaze, homemade and warm
32. lavender gates on an aqua blue fence
33. the ability to read well
34. the remnant of beauty God left us to see in this fallen world
35. being able to let my bees clean up a frame on a sunny winter day
36. jail inmates lifting hands in worship
37. the new fish aquarium being enjoyed so much by Selah
38. colorful bee boxes tucked in fields
39. pallets of white beehives waiting along the edges of an orchard, anticipating the nectar of many almond blossoms
40. Rachel, though 16, taking it upon herself to entertain Selah, 6
41. The Buttes, rising out of flat ground, touching the clouds, everything in muted colors
42. the silhouettes of winter trees, revealing bird nests
43. Old Glory, catching the breeze, proud atop a grain silo
44. the chimney, carrying away smoke
45. hardwood floors underfoot, gleaming
46. the floating lightness of maidenhair fern, seen growing out of a hillside along a hiking trail
47. enthusiastic children who are expressing thanks for our time hiking near Shasta Lake, all a-giggle in the backseat on the drive home
48. the gorgeous, glossy green leaves of a California bay laurel tree and their spicy scent
49. warm sun on my face on a mountain plateau with clear winter sky above
50. golden brown sugar creamed with butter in the mixing bowl
51. the joy shining on Eileen’s face though she is within another storm, though her body be damaged and failing her, to see God as her ever-present strength and to hear her relate her blessings and her willingness to serve Him through her illnesses
52. smell of apple pie in oven
53. honeybees out in January on rosemary flowers in town
54. the color and flavor of elderberry syrup taken for a cold
55. three women in a checkout line, strangers drawn together for a moment in sharing trials of taking care of elderly parents, then going their separate ways but feeling not so alone

“When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost, count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done” (from the hymn, Count Your Blessings by Johnson Oatman, Jr., 1897).

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