In no particular order: My wedding day. The births and adoption of my children. My dad. My son, Jonathan. My mom becoming a Christian when I was eleven, thus the family being introduced to church. Walking from our previous house in Youngsville across the street to Hillridge Farms pulling my (then preschooler, now adult) little girls in a red wagon. Being a soccer mom/drama class mom/volleyball mom/basketball mom/football mom.
“One Thousand Gifts” is author Ann Voskamp’s designation for “counting your blessings.” In her book of the same title, Ann tells of finding herself in circumstances where she must choose to be grateful when gratitude might be the furthest thought from her mind. Making this choice leads her to reflect daily on the gifts for which she is thankful. From the everyday 513. Boys jiggling blue Jell-O to the extraordinary 783. Forgiveness of a sister, she lists the gifts one by one.
Of course, reading this wondrous prose that Ann has penned prompts me to reflect (not nearly as much as I should) on the gifts that have permeated my life. One of the most precious blessings that increases in value as I increase in age (remember I’m fifty now) is that of sweet memories.
Just as Paul writes to the Roman colony of Philippi in Philippians 1.3 “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” so do I have many people and events who have permanent reservations in my memory. Well, as permanent as anything can be in a temporary earthly home. I know someday those memories I cherish will fade, but now they are vivid. And for that I am very thankful.
Remembering Sunday afternoon hikes in the mountains of West Virginia with my dad puts a smile on my face. He passed away when I was twenty-two. Just hearing the name Jonathan causes a grin to grace my face, but also a tear to well up in my eye. I remember my son who would have been giving me six-year old hugs today had he lived. I thank my God upon every remembrance.
Making (savory and delicious) mudpies with my sisters up the holler when we were little. My husband, Michael, putting his arm around my waist for the first time when we were at the mall, making me blush. My mom stitching every seam in my wedding dress, then nearly being late for my wedding because she decided at the last minute to make herself a skirt to wear. Meeting my in-laws for the first time and simultaneously being teased but immediately welcomed. Upon every remembrance, I thank God.
If gratitude has been an elusive pattern in your life, then have I got good news for you. November is a month in which our entire nation is reminded to enter into Thanksgiving, so you’ll have many reminders. And may I suggest that you start your own list of One Thousand Gifts and maybe you can begin that list by recalling sweet moments thanking God upon every remembrance.