Today I asked someone to guest blog for me. I happen to have more than a few AMAZING women in my life and Ivy Barnes is one of them. She and her husband Stephen have 5 beautiful children with number 6 on the way. I'm amazed by her beauty that comes from deep within and radiates through her eyes and smile. I hope her words speak to your heart the way they spoke to mine.
Gratitude is always my connection to God. When I need to feel His presence and His love, gratitude is always a place I know I can go to find it.
I have had such a blessed life. But, I can spend my days full of complaining and nothing is good enough—my house, my kids, my husband, and most of all myself. So, this is where I’m coming from—A woman that is blessed beyond words but can let the simplest things blind me to my life stuffed with joy and gifts.
There is a book that is helping me change my perspective. It’s called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It’s an invitation to open your eyes to God’s everyday blessings. In contrast to a bucket list full of once-in-a-lifetime events, this list is made up of everyday blessings—things that your eyes might miss if you don’t stop in the middle of the mess and exhaustion to see them.
I struggle with always being in a hurry, rushing to get here and there, to scratch off the to-do list, moving through my days in a blur. This list helps me to slow down.
So much is missed and so much pain caused in the rushing. We can slow down time with the weight of our attention, being all there in the seemingly ordinary moments of our lives. In this way, we can see the life we long for is right in front of us.
Turning gratitude into a daily action. Stopping to notice my life full of gifts.
This is what I’ve been doing: leaving this little book on my counter and searching, on a hunt for all of the gifts right here in my messy beautiful life. Here are some of mine so far:
- Reading a good book
- Extra hot coffee
- Sunny’s fur under my feet
- Bliss telling me, “Mom, the moon lives in our backyard!”
- Conversations with Stephen that put my mind at ease
- Grandmother babysitters that I can trust so fully
- Jeans that fit
- Joyfully anticipating my baby’s movements
- Gus singing abc’s—getting all jumbled up but trying so hard
- Stella holding my hand for a minute at the middle school open house
- Rayna’s teacher’s heart: always reading to her sisters
- Farrah’s laugh
- Bliss’ freckles
- Gus’ eyelashes
And, then the ones that help me to look deeper for the beauty:
- Stephen coming back to talk it out after a fight
- The girls finally working out their frustrations and finding a game they all want to play
- Floors that I don’t love but cover up dirt so well
- Sunshine outside on a day that feels gloomy in my heart
- Reminders that God is always in control even when we don’t understand
This list helps me to keep my hands open to all of God’s gifts: the ones that make me rejoice with excitement, the ones I would so easily miss, and even the ones that don’t feel like gifts in the moment.
Another blessing that has come out of this is conversations about it with my girls. I leave this little book on my counter and my two oldest daughters read them every day and it even inspired them to start their own list. It was amazing for me to see how easily they understood the concept and wanted to jump in too—maybe even easier to see through the eyes of a child. In a way this list is going back, back to when I didn’t see everything as another job to do or mess to clean up. This is it…my one beautiful life. This list helps me to be all here, not to always ask for more, but to see how much I already have.
Every day, all day, thank you Jesus.