“The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning “grace.” Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks. He took the bread and knew it to be a gift and gave thanks. But there is more…Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word chara, meaning “joy”…I whisper [eucharisteo] out loud, let the tongue feel these sounds, the ear hear their truth. Charis. Grace. Eucharisteo. Thanksgiving. Chara. Joy. A triplet of stars, a constellation in the black. A threefold cord that might hold a life? Offer a way up into the fullest life? Grace, thanksgiving, joy. Eucharisteo. A Greek word…that might make meaning of everything?”
– Ann Voskamp, “One Thousand Gifts”
There are not a lot of books that I would say have “changed” my life. Certainly, there are ones that have influenced me personally and spiritually. I sat wide-eyed and holding my breath before my Mom when she read “A Wrinkle in Time” out loud to us when we were all kids. I cried reading a book for the very first time at age 13 when Katie of “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” captured my heart with her tragic story. I ate up every single rich word of Puritan author Jeremiah Burroughs in his commentary, “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment” when I was laid up in bed for weeks after my ACL surgery at age 17. I couldn’t put down “Don’t Waste Your Life” by John Piper on a plane ride back from the south of France after graduating high-school. The themes of justice and mercy and redemption and glory gripped me when I delved into books like “The Count of Monte Cristo” and “Til We Have Faces” by C.S. Lewis in my college years. And these are only some of the books that have had a significant impact on my life.
Well, I suppose I got lucky here in 2011. It is only March 3, and I’ve already dubbed “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp as my favorite and most influential read of this year. The quote above about Eucharisteo essentially captures her entire purpose for writing this book. It is a beautiful, poetic narrative of her aim to write down things she was grateful for until she reached 1,000. However, as Voskamp takes you into her thoughts, her fears, her pain, her joys, her sorrows, her conversations with God…she invites you to not simply admire her for her self-dare, but make it yourself.
It sounds a bit cheesy I suppose. Like, the Kevin Spacey film, “Pay It Forward.” But, this book is like any other I have ever read in terms of opening up your mind and heart to confront self, its ugly doubts of God’s goodness and faithfulness, and attempts to control life and love and happiness. I am being changed AS I read this book. And, it’s not so much Ann’s compelling example that is changing me, or inspiring me. We can all be inspired by someone, and then walk away without doing anything about it. No…it is the fact that her vulnerability to shine a light into the actual corners of her soul is challenging me to expose the doubtful corners of my own heart.
With that being said, this book has produced a fresh desire in my heart to practice giving thanks more and more. I am beginning to see God’s many gifts – small and large – but also the Giver himself. And, as I am learning the discipline and joy of giving thanks in ALL circumstances, my trust in God is deepening and taking root.
Blessings are never earned. They are never deserved. But, they are always overflowing to us.
Here are some of the amazing blessings I have seen in my life most recently.
This Beginning of a Job.
.The Britt McKenna.
.This Bounty of God to my Dad.
My Dad starts his new job tomorrow morning! This was a sudden and unexpected blessing and surprise. After a 1st round interview last week, he then had a 2nd round interview today for four hours, and will be serving as Senior Director, Finance in his new position.
.This Breach of Faith that the LORD patiently forgave of the Israelites (and us).
Just read Joshua 22 – 24. It’s amazing.
“And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you,
that not one word has failed of all the good things  that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed.”