Two years ago I read a book that echoed deep within the God-seeking, list-making recesses of my heart. I’d been listing gifts for several years at that point, though I didn’t number them. Sunday mornings were spent journal in one hand, calendar in the other recalling the little blessings and moments of the week just passed.
I’d learned this lesson about worship: my heart is better prepared to focus on Him when I’ve already spent time focusing on Who He is and all He’s done for me. I enter the sanctuary of our church ready to encounter Him more deeply when I’d intentionally given thanks beforehand. And so my journals are filled with Sunday lists of lunches with friends, moments with my husband, unexpected accomplishments, and opportunities to give. When I started blogging I added a “Fab Five” each Friday numbering five of the joys from the week.
For almost 17 years I’ve been counting in one form or another.
I was looking through some old journals and found lists written by a newlywed … with gratitude for a husband who surprised me with dinner out and the celebration of Christmas in our first home. I found scribbled notes of gratitude scratched out by a very tired nursing mom who wanted to remember the peaceful moments of 2 am feedings and singing softly over her little girl, “Lord, prepare her to be a sanctuary …”
But sometimes habits get old and lists get forgotten. I’ve never made the listing into a discipline or attached a spiritual requirement to it … but I’ve also lost sight sometimes of how numbering changes me. It reminds me to slow and still and notice.
This year, I’ve spent November intentionally counting.
It’s 10:31 am on November 28th as I write this post and I just stopped to list gift #524, a verse I saw on Facebook yesterday and read again today:
My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master, now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed in him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7 MSG
Did you catch that last sentence?
Let your living—our living, our love and lives spilled out for Christ—let that living spill over into thanksgiving. Sometimes we neglect to let our living spill over into thanksgiving.
As we close out this month of turkeys and thankfulness listed out on Facebook and rush head-first into the chaotic Christmas season it’s going to get harder.
I love this thought from Ann’s book:
Do not disdain the small. The whole of life—even the hard—is made up of the minute parts, and if I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole.
Of course we must be thankful for those “big” gifts of salvation, our families and friends, our churches and opportunities to serve … but maybe we also need to be intentional about gratitude for those small things too—quiet moments with a good book and coffee or an unexpected email with a kind word of encouragement. My list for November includes names and places, food and movies, Scriptures and quotes from books, sermon notes and songs. These years of listing have taught me to notice … both big and small. And to remember the Giver of every gift (James 1:17)!
Will you do me the honor of sharing just one thing, something small perhaps, that you are thankful for this day? Just a leave a comment with your note of gratitude.