Thursday, January 27, 2011

One Thousand Gifts

It's a gorgeous snowy day here in Maryland. Although, if you were one stuck on any of our local highways yesterday evening, you may not agree. As a household of teachers, though, we love a good snowfall... especially when it actually comes to fruition!

Other than playing with Eliana and baking, my other favorite snowy day activity is reading. A few weeks ago, Angie Smith mentioned a book on her blog entitled One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It turns out, this is also the new book Angie and Jessica Turner are using for the Bloom Book Club at (in)Courage. The tag line for the book is, "a dare to live fully right where you are."

Who doesn't want to do that?

Working full time this year has been hard, and I the subject of the book piqued my interested; so I ordered it. And between yesterday's snow day and being home again today, I am already half way through. I can't put it down. It is truly one of the best books I have read in a long time.

Ann is an incredibly artistic and gifted writer, sharing authentically about her desire to live a full life... a life of gratitude. She incorporates everyday experiences, a thoughtful analysis of scripture, and personal tragedy as she shares what it means to life fully in each moment.

You'll want to order this book. A hard copy... not the electronic version... because you'll want to mark it up. There is so much good stuff in there. So much so, that once I finish it the first time, I think I will need to go back and reread it to be sure I didn't miss anything.

A few nuggets so far...

With an expiration of less than twelve hours, what does Jesus count as all most important? 'And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them...' (Luke 22:19 NIV)... In the original language 'he gave thanks' reads 'eucharisteo...' The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning 'grace...' but it also holds its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning 'joy.' (p.31-32).

As long as thanks as possible, then joy is always possible. (p.33)

Referring to Matthew 11, Ann writes, And then what does Jesus do, in the face of apparent failure, when no one responded to His teaching and things didn't work out at all? He lives out eucharisteo. (p.36)

We only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanks. (p.39)

A question that many of us have probably asked at one point, or several...

How in the world, for the sake of my joy, do I learn to use eucharisteo to overcome my one ugly and self-destructive habit of ingratitude... with the saving habit of gratitude-- that would lead me back to deep God-communion. (p.44)

On the next page, Ann accepts a challenge from a friend...

Could I write a list of a thousand things I love? (p.45)

But in this counting of gifts, to one thousand, more, I discover that slapping a sloppy brush of thanksgiving over everything in my life leaves me deeply thankful for very few things in my gratitude does not fasten to a life unless nailed through with one very specific nail at a time. (p.57)

And so begins Ann's process, a challenge to all of us read this book really, to become people who live a live full of gratitude in all things... for all things.

I'll wrap this up by saying that in no way am I receiving any sort of compensation for mentioning Ann's book here. I simply was made aware of it, became interested, ordered it, and am now engrossed in it ant deeply challenged by it.

It's well worth a read. Several reads, really.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What's New?

I can't thank you enough for praying for Sarah, Henry, and the rest of her family. I was able to visit Sarah at the hospital last Thursday and meet her precious son. He was beautiful. I was just captivated by his tiny features... including a cute little chin and perfect little nose... and was so grateful that he had some sweet fuzzy hair. Sarah really wanted to be able to get some locks of hair, and I am thankful that the Lord provided that opportunity for her. Please continue to pray for this family as they hold Henry's funeral this Saturday. I know she has seen the prayers that have been offered on her behalf, and I know she is incredibly grateful for that.

So what else is new?

Not much :)

Eliana turned 10 months old last week, and I can't believe that I am already starting to think about her first birthday party. People aren't kidding when they say, "they grow up so fast!" Ellie is still a little peanut... rocking her 6-9 month clothes (and even some 3-6 month clothes still!), swimming in most 12 month clothes... but her huge personality is in no way deterred by her petite stature. She has developed, quite randomly, a strong affection for Elmo, and for whatever reason, excitedly growls his name whenever she says it. She loves her stuffed Elmo, pop-up book with Elmo, puppet book with Elmo, diapers with Elmo... you name it. It is quite hilarious, actually. She's as curious as can be, loves playing with Grandma's kitty cats and our neighbors and friends dogs, and is so intrigued by the simplest things, like long games of peek-a-boo. She's finally cutting her third tooth (the first two came in right at 5 months), cruising around like crazy, and I have a hunch she'll be taking her first step quite soon. She is so incredible and brings us so much joy... and many, many good laughs!

She loves watching the snow (even though she doesn't love playing in it...)

She loves rooting for the Jets with Daddy! I'm sure this will be the scene this coming Sunday!

Such a big (little) girl at 10 months old! Walking with Mommy...

... and cuddling with Mommy, too! Sort of. This may be the moment where she decided she wanted get down and keep walking!

Reading is still one of Eliana's favorites! She's really into interactive books, like pop-up books, peek-a-boo books, booke that have puzzle-like pieces that come out. She's a great little page turner, too!
In other "news," my sleep issue has improved a little bit, but is still fairly unresolved. Medication wise, not a lot really seems to do the trick. I am still working with a neurologist at a center that specializes in sleep issues to try to find something that works well for me. Many of the medications help you get to sleep which, as Spencer will attest to, isn't my problem. Staying asleep is, and none of the medications have really helped with that aspect of it. Hopefully, as I continue to meet with them for follow up, we'll eventually figure out something that works. Until then, my one trusty cup of coffee, and more importantly, the confidence in knowing that God really will enable me and strengthen me to still function in the day-to-day, are getting me through.

This weekend I will be flying to Atlanta for the wedding of my dear friend, Kim. Kim and I met when she was in high school, and I was her Young Life leader. We have so many great memories together... from Bible study and breakfast before school, to trips to Ocean City, NJ. I love this girl's heart, and her fiance, Andrew, is one very lucky guy! I am so excited to celebrate with her this weekend. At the same time, I am incredibly nervous to hop on a plane and leave Eliana. She will do great, I know, at home with Spencer. I would appreciate prayers, though, for safe, quick, and uneventful flights. I am normally not scared to fly; this time, well... I'm slightly nervous.

Things with Isaac's playground are still moving along. The equipment has been ordered, and I am so excited for the community install that is going to take place this spring. More on that as details roll in.

I wish we were more exciting... this is such a boring, and random, update for the most part! So maybe it's better to ask... what do YOU want to know? Anything you're wondering about? Something I've blogged about previously you're curious to hear an update on that maybe I forgot about? I hope that 2011 is off to a great year for each of you. I know we are looking forward to what this year holds in store!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Another Update

I received a text from Sarah that Henry passed away at 8:00 this morning. My heart is so heavy.

Please continue to pray for them, particularly now as the grief of losing their son really begins to set in.

I am planning to visit Sarah this afternoon. Please be praying for that time. Please pray that God would equip me with the words, or the lack of words, that would be of the greatest comfort to Sarah. Please pray that my ministering to them would draw them to Christ. That is my deepest desire... that they would find the peace and comfort that comes from knowing Him. I cannot imagine going through this without my faith in God.

When Steven Curtis Chapman lost his daughter, he said, "The only thing scarier than going through this with my faith, is going through it alone, cursing God." That resonates with me so deeply.

Thank you for continuing to pray for this precious family, especially now...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Thank you all so much for praying for my friend, Sarah. With her permission, I am posting the update that I received in an email from her this morning...

Henry was born yesterday at 8:38am, weighed 2.4 pounds and is almost 15 inches. He has made it through his first night and has been doing so well. He's been eating formula by dropper, talking to us, and even opened his eyes the tiniest little bit. Everyone is surprised by what a fighter our little guy has been. I'm loving every moment, bittersweet that it may be.

I am so thankful for the time this family has had together. I am so thankful that God graciously has provided time for their family member to meet Henry while he is still alive.

Please continue to pray for this family. I know that they are grateful for your prayers.