Have you read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp yet? You totally should. This post is about the book, and the thoughts it is triggering in me. It's "part 1" because I'm only halfway through the book, and a review-ish will be happening on my other blog when I'm done. But for now, I want to write these things here.
I love this book. It makes me think. She writes in a way that I can not. She uses words beautifully. But she uses more than I would. The descriptions are distinct and it makes me feel like I am entering her world, which is very different from my own. I had a hard time getting through the first chapter. I really had to get used to the way she writes, because it is so different, but once I wrapped my brain around her writing, I really have enjoyed the book.
I told my mom, who has read it, twice, that I am torn between scarfing it down, or forcing myself to slow down and savor the writing and ideas. Now, perhaps what someone else takes from this book will be slightly different from my reading, but for me, her decision to look for gifts and a focus on thankfulness translates in my brain and life to focusing on joy.
I have started to look for gifts, started my own list. I'm not very far, and it's a hard discipline to develop, but it's good. The gifts I'm finding are truly the thins that make me pause and smile. And sometimes that make me smile in my heart, not just my face. Things like midnight cuddles. I'm not so happy about it in the moment, but the joy that I get from snuggling and comforting a sleepy, frightened child... that's joy.
Somethings are simple, lightening bugs on summer nights, children laughing together, the kids "reading" to each other. Those are the easier ones to see.
I have learned that when you choose to focus on joy you have joy. This intentionality, it makes the difference. I am, by nature, an optimist, a romantic, I am always looking for the silver lining. But when I intentionally focus on joy, it's different.
My senior year of college I was a Resident Assistant. My partner and I chose Joy to be our hall's theme for the year. I believe that was the best decision we made that year. By all accounts it should have been a very difficult year. We had some theft problems, a "flood" on the 3rd floor out of a clogged toilet (YUCK!), and several other things that were going on that should have made us both frantic, stressed out maniacs who were sorry we had ever signed up for this job. But we were focusing on joy. That was probably the best year of my college experience. I was not focused on the problems surrounding me, but the God who was big enough to handle them. I wasn't worried about the things that should not have been happening, but on the joy of living aware that these are not defining incidents in my life.
All that to say that choosing joy, and thankfulness, and peace, which are all tied up together in my mind, makes life different. It is this choosing joy that makes us stand out in a crowd. Is it choosing joy that makes us holy?
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