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Thoughts from Michelle… April 2, 2012

Filed under: Chapter 9 — 1thousandgifts @ 1:18 pm
As I was reading this chapter I thought about the difference between “feeling low” and choosing to “go lower.” There are so many moments when I fall down and feel low. Depressed. Sad. Disappointed. In these moments finding eucharisteo is such a challenge. When I choose to take moments on my knees before Christ, taking these same emotions and placing them at His throne, I feel empowered, hopeful, grateful. This is eucharisteo. The quote, “How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it?” impacted me. So many times I feel like I have failed, not lived up to expectations, or simply misused my time. Yet what if in these moments instead of focusing on myself I was focusing on my Lord. How much more could God use this life, the steps I take each day to bring Him glory.  
 
“Lord, blind my eyes so I can see only Your perspective on this life. Give me the innocence of a child where each and every breath brings me to gratefulness because it is a gift.”
 
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Thoughts From Hannah… March 22, 2012

Filed under: Chapter 8 — 1thousandgifts @ 2:52 pm

How will He not also?

Sometimes fears can overwhelm us and we forget to trust and obey, obey and do not worry. This chapter was a good reminder to keep my fretful spirit in check because it can easily turn into sin when I do not bring my worries to God in faith. How do you get to that point though when cares are surrounding you and your fears, however irrational, are overwhelming you. How do you open your hands and trust when the future looks bleak? This book has been like opening up a treasure chest of Ann’s thoughts. Her thoughts on thanksgiving have been so refreshing and helpful to me. She says that “Thanks is what builds trust”. God, the bridge builder, how many times has he proven himself trustworthy. We can trust God with the future by recounting the past in thankfulness. Our past as believers is all the same. We were dead in our sins and our transgressions BUT GOD in his unfathomable love towards us interceded and gave us life in himself. God has given us everything to be thankful for in Jesus. And he will redeem if he hasn’t already the broken areas of our lives. What a faithful redeemer we have in Jesus. We can remember what he has done for us in the past and know that “how will he not also” be faithful now and in the days to come.

“He who did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also graciously give us all thing?” Romans 8:32

There were some very convicting points in this chapter; one of them was when she was talking about how the opposite of faith is not doubt but fear. “Anything less than gratitude and trust is practical atheism.” This statement was very convicting for me. What are your thoughts?

 

Spirit or flesh? March 16, 2012

Filed under: Chapter 6 — 1thousandgifts @ 1:05 pm

“Every moment I live I live bowed to something. And if I don’t see God, I’ll bow before something else” (pg. 110). As reborn creatures we are no longer enslaved to sin, but we are certainly not home free. Paul mentioned that it is by our minds that we are transformed (Romans 12:2). Our life is built of moments of submitting to either flesh or Spirit. “I am beset by chronic soul amnesia. I empty of truth and need the refilling. I need come again every day—bend, clutch, and remember—for who can gather the manna but once, hoarding, and store away sustenance in the mind for all of the living” (pg. 106). Intentional living is a must for the Christ follower. What are we doing to eat the manna over and over again?

 

Thoughts From Margie… March 8, 2012

Filed under: Chapter 5 — 1thousandgifts @ 6:48 pm

“…eucharisteo is how Jesus, at the Last Supper, showed us to transfigure all things—take the pain that is given, give thanks for it, and transform it into a joy that fulfills all emptiness. I have glimpsed it: This, the hard eucharisteo. The hard discipline to lean into the ugly and whisper thanks to transfigure it into beauty. The hard discipline to give thanks for all things all all times because He is all good. The hard discipline to number the griefs as grace because as the surgeon would open my son’s finger to heal him, so God chooses to cut into my ungrateful heart to make me whole” p. 101.

Perhaps you have dealt with great pain–a loss of a dream, a coveted job, a loved one to accident or cancer. What have you learned about giving thanks for it all? Or, to be honest, are your struggling with giving thanks in all things?

Most recently, many of us prayed for a dear young woman (wife, mother and teacher) who fought the cancer battle. We begged God to heal her and looked forward to how she would glorify Him with the healing of her body; however, God chose to take her Home for the ultimate healing.

After struggling with her homegoing for some time, we have learned to thank Him for her life and testimony during her short time on this earth which has made an eternal impact. Do we still miss her? Yes. Do we understand? No. But we have learned that God is good even when we don’t understand. We are still learning to “lean into the ugly” and give thanks for all things at all times as we number the griefs as grace.

 

Living the No February 6, 2012

Filed under: Chapter 1 — 1thousandgifts @ 1:36 pm

Yesterday Andrew and I were having a “discussion.” These times are never very fun, but filled with growth. He had previously made a sarcastic remark about my cooking and it hurt my feelings. This comment made me angry and hurt. Out of anguish I retorted that I never felt encouraged by him. After apologizing he said, “Chels, I was wrong in making that comment. But you are placing more weight upon one negative remark than all the good.” He is right. When something imperfect takes place I tend to forget all of the good, all I can see is the wrong. I often do the same with God. Although he has richly blessed me, provided, and demonstrated faithfulness I forget these graces in times of trial. I assume in these moments that God is not good (pg. 14).

“If I’m ruthlessly honest, I may have said yes to God, yes to Christianity, but really I have lived the no” (pg. 16).

 

Clenched Fist’s

Filed under: Chapter 1 — 1thousandgifts @ 1:14 pm

In reference to the battle Ann’s family has faced with Aimee’s death she says (pg.12),

“…we all silently ask these questions. For years, we come up empty. And over the years, we fill again—with estrangement. We live with our hands clenched tight. What God once gave us on a day in November slashed deep. Who risks again?”

Yesterday at church, prior to the Lord’s Supper, I prayed, “Lord, please reveal to me what is keeping me from whole heartedly following you.” I opened my eyes and looked forward at the child’s bowed head in front of me. It was a wave of clarity. Immediately I began to sob. I have been so anxious about what the future holds, living with fists clenched tight, that I have crippled myself from experiencing the many blessings that are all around me now. Have you ever experienced “clenched fist” living?

 

The Journey Begins! January 31, 2012

Filed under: How does this blog work? — 1thousandgifts @ 9:07 pm

The one thing we all have in common is life. We were all born and we will one day all die. How we live in the between is our decision. Jesus declared that not only are His ways true (John 14:6), but his burdens light (Matthew 11:28-30). Is that not what we want? Rest? Contentment? We only think we want money. Success. Beauty. No. We crave meaning. Significance. The hope that at the end of our life we will have not lived in vain. But the caveat is this, “Learn from me,” He says. Scripture is not for the dumb. Truth will set man free if he will seek to understand. We hold the key to life. Reading for the sake of reading is like admiring the key from a distance. It does you no good until you are serious about picking it up and using it to unlock the door. Jesus firmly notes that those who find this life are few because the journey is hard (Matthew 7:14). Our struggle will not be finding truth; it will be whether we choose to live by it.

I am excited for you to join me on this journey. My prayer is that Ann’s words will drive you to deeply seek truth, foundationally found in God’s Word, the book that truly gives abundant life. May One Thousand Gifts be a reminder of this. That said, I hope you will dive into this book head over heels with me. Doing this will require work. But the effort is well worth it. My prayer is also that over the next eleven weeks the discipline of thankfulness in all circumstances will begin to transform our lives (1Thessalonians 5:18). I hope that we can be vulnerable and open to hear one another’s struggles and victories.

(Begin reading here for blog information and structure) The structure over the next eleven weeks is fairly straightforward. Each week we will read another chapter of the book. The first day of that week’s reading I will post a few questions/thoughts to begin the discussion. My hope is that as the week unfolds you will be able to add to those questions/thoughts creating a rich conversation. You can either search for the discussion by clicking on the Posts tab. Or, you can navigate by using the scroll menu on the sidebar that says Chapters. The posts I add each week will be categorized by that weeks chapter reading.

There are two other pages I hope you will also make use of: Quotes and One Thousand Gifts. The Quotes page gives you the opportunity to share a particular portion of the weeks reading you really enjoyed. You may also do this on the discussion page. It is completely up to you.

I encourage you over the next eleven weeks to begin a One Thousand Gifts journal. The journal can look however you like. Be Creative! This gives you the opportunity to practice the discipline of thankfulness in a very practical way. Ann will allude to this in the book. You may find something that works better for you and that is great! The One Thousand Gifts page gives us a place to share parts of that journal or areas of our lives we are thankful for. I am excited to see what comes from this page! I am finding small things I have never thought to be thankful for. It is amazing how this discipline is contagious!

Please suggest anything you would like to see from this online reading/discussion. I have taken action in creating this blog in a leap of faith. I believe in the power of God’s truth. And deeply desire for women to find contentment in their present circumstances in order to fully live.

Love, Chelsea

Please e-mail me if you have suggestions: chelsea.zimmerman1@gmail