Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gonna keep the list going...

In the spring of this year, I discovered this book, along with about 5 million other people. At the time, it was almost like every single woman I knew was reading it. One of my BFFs began a book club at her house for some friends to get together & discuss the book weekly. I joined in because I love to read & I love her.
But, I will be honest. It was hard to read. Not because the topic was 'hard to swallow' but because the author's writing style was very, very difficult for me. It was sort of like asking a 1st grader to read Shakespeare. In the dark. Written in Latin. While doing jumping jacks. On a bed of nails. While dodging flaming arrows. While blindfolded.

Ok, so maybe it wasn't that bad, but it was very hard for me. Her fancy writing style made it hard for me to enjoy reading the book. After about 4 or 5 chapters, I gave up on reading the book because it became a chore. To sit down & do mental gymnastics to get through each chapter about the beauty of the soap bubbles in her sink and photography of plates full of grated cheese just wasn't on my agenda at the time. It was a very busy season of the year and I just couldn't stick with it.

But somehow, I loved the book anyway.

Although her style was hard for me, there are so many gems throughout the book. Amazing quotes, deep thoughts, heart-pounding visions of what a life filled with thankfulness really looks like. There are so many things I underlined & highlighted in those first several chapters that even now, all these months later, I'm still digesting them.

The point of the entire book is living a life of gratitude. Seeking out things that you can thank God for, looking for reasons to be grateful even in the most awful circumstances in life. The author encourages readers to get a little pad of paper, a small notebook, a blank journal... whatever....and begin making a list of the blessings in life. When you know that your goal is to reach 1000 items on your list, you start seeing things in a different light. All the sudden, you realize how amazing the lightbulbs that haven't burnt out fascinating the sunbeams coming through the windows can happy you are to have electricity & running water & a roof over your head. Every little thing becomes an object of beauty.

While reading the book, I bought a little spiral notebook & began my list. I reached #307 before I lost the notebook in the piles of crap on my desk filed it away to pick up & work on later.

Over the course of the past month, most of the Facebook world has participated in an annual ritual where we post once a day about something we're thankful for. And then I recently re-discovered a friend's blog where she has kept a running list of things she's grateful for since reading this book. She's long past 1000 items on her list.

I've realized how much joy it brings me to find those little things to be thankful for because, let's just be honest, I've had a lot to cry & whine about in the past year of very hard financial times. I could gripe about having to hold down 5 jobs right now, or I could thank God for providing the opportunities to work & provide for my family when so many are without work. It's all in how you look at things, ya know. Intentionally refocusing my heart & mind on things I can be thankful for has been a chore at times, but when I get my eyes in the right place (on Him!) the peace & comfort He gives astounds me.

Today I cleaned off my desk for the first time in months removed the little notebook from where I had filed it and flipped through the pages. It warms my heart to see all the things I thanked God for a few months ago -- things that I have since taken forgranted. I am anxious to get back to keeping my list. My hope is to go far beyond 1000 items like my friend has.

Just a random sampling of items from my list:

#2 ice cold Coke
#17 air conditioning & heat
#18 ceiling fans for my hot-natured family members
#20 dancing--watching with amazement
#24 the scent of Gain laundry detergent
#40 the scent baking apple bread
#46 bookshelves full of books
#53 a free TV that has lasted for years
#60 bubble baths
#66 quilts falling apart from years of wear
#88 the USPS
#91 honesty in our LIFE group
#103 soft pillows on my bed
#110 rain
#116 singing along with the radio & messing up the lyrics
#121 lifelong friends
#133 open conversations with my kids
#147 footrubs from the kids
#156 workout buddy that keeps me accountable
#161 watching friends fall in love & grow
#166 Sarah sitting on the porch, watching the rain
#186 Tim Hawkins comedy
#201 "sticky" babies in our family
#207 Immodium A.D. (ha ha....I wonder if anyone's gotten this far on reading my list)
#219 Larry's chances to fill the pulpit again
#245 clean dishes
#253 Sudoku
#267 school provided band instruments
#273 wheelchairs & happy smiles from the little boy riding in it
#299 pictures (memories!)
#302 watching Tara take pictures -- such a sweet blessing
#304 Activia yogurt

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