~~ This Giveaway Is Now Closed ~~
It goes without saying that this year has been less than stellar. It seems as soon as I or my loved ones get back on my/our feet from one tragedy another one happens. I've honestly lost count of the deaths of people I know this year, some of which I haven't even mentioned on this blog. If I tried to put a list together I have no doubt I would leave someone off. I was hoping against hope that the second half of the year might bring some reprieve and yet some members of my family has already experienced another death.
I say all of this as an introduction of sorts to a book I was recently asked to review and the book has really come in a year when it is very much needed. The book is One Thousand Gifts and is written by Ann Voskamp. The subtitle or short script of the book is "A dare to live fully right where you are," and if anybody needs a dare like that it's certainly me.
In this year of heartache and heartbreak, living fully right where I am is not really something I've been able to do. I'm not saying the reading the book made me jump up from the couch and automatically become happy with the current circumstances of my life, but it did cause me to think a little more deeply and even be grateful for some blessings that perhaps I had never thought about previously.
Back in the winter, our Wednesday night Praise and Prayer sessions focused on "Ten Thousand Blessings" - 'tis the season I guess. It seems that everyone tries to think about their blessings around Christmastime. One Wednesday night in particular we were given postcards which we addressed to ourselves and were asked to write down 10 things we were thankful for - 10 blessings. Then at some point in 2013, the postcards would be mailed to us. I'm ashamed to admit it but I took me a long time to think of 10 things to write down. It's not that I am ungrateful for all the things that the Lord has blessed me with because I am truly grateful; but, when it comes to putting it down on paper I guess it's just hard to think of some things. You give it a try.
Ann's book focuses not necessarily on the big blessings, but on the small ones, on things you may not even realize you are thankful for - such as a gorgeous sunset or rainy days. Ann talks about living a life based on the word Eucharisteo - a life of grace, thankgiving and joy - and she goes on to describe what that means for her throughout the course of the book.
Ann brings her personal life experiences into the book as examples of how she herself has struggled with this worldly life and what God wants from her. The book is very well written and a beautiful reflection of how Ann found the way to incorporate Eucharisteo in her own life.
On her blog, Ann has provided you a way to be thankful for a blessing from God each day of the year by putting together a calendar of sorts. It's called the Joy Dare collection and each day lists something for you to take a moment and reflect on - for example, July 3 is a "Gift in Faith, Family, and Freedom". At the end of the one year period, you should have written down a total of 1,000 gifts. Even if you start now, you can continue until July of next year. It's a positive exercise that will surely help you and me to realize that God has blessed us beyond measure, even when it seems that nothing is going your way.
There is also an accompanying devotional book which I wouldn't mind having for myself and hope to buy in the near future. I think it would be helpful in keeping me on track and assisting me in realizing all the blessings in my life.
If you are looking for a way to challenge yourself to more clearly see the thousands of blessings the Lord has given you; to help you discover joy right where you are, then I would encourage you to read Ann's book. In fact, the nice folks at Zondervan are providing one lucky reader with a copy of Ann's book One Thousand Gifts. All you have to do to enter is to leave a comment on this post. Since we're talking about blessings, tell us about a blessing in your life when you comment. The winner will be drawn Wednesday night and announced on Thursday morning.
Thanks for reading and good luck!