I awoke this morning with no plans and a full heart.  These last lazy days of summer seem a bit more melancholy this year because I am still trying to adjust to the departure of my sweet girl.  As of this past Saturday, one of my babies lives somewhere else; off to college and the fulfillment of years of hard work and big dreams.  My sadness at her absence is tempered by the realization that she is happy….excited about her new home and ready to take on all the challenges this new community has to offer.  We are thrilled for her and so I woke up this morning planning to nurture my slightly sad self by doing those things which feed my spirit….reading, gardening, writing, praying or maybe even singing.

A full day ahead with nothing on the calendar, so I decided to start by reading one of the books in my stack. Several people have recommended this book to me; including my mother and my pastor/sister/friend.  When your mom and your pastor both tell you to read a book, a girl really ought to listen!

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp is stunningly beautiful and was the perfect “medicine” for me today.  A reminder of what I know at my very core; that the secret to life is gratitude and thanksgiving.  Ann’s journey to intimacy and romance with her Creator began by challenging herself to notice and record one thousand of God’s gifts of grace to her.  She kept a notebook and paid attention.  She gave thanks for the sweet curl of her daughter’s hair, the multiple colors in the soapy suds and pain medicine when her son was injured.  She sniffed out God’s glory all around her and intentionally gave praise to the Giver…even in the midst of grief and despair.  Through thanksgiving or Eucharisteo, she found healing and wholeness.

After reading the first few chapters, I felt compelled to get out in my garden.  For any of you who read my blog back when I wrote regularly, you may remember that God often speaks to me there.  I know that putting fingers in the dirt is often worship for me.  With our travel this summer and our focus on preparing for Alex’s big move, my garden was in need of some tender loving care.  As I began to weed the flower beds and trim the over growth, I breathed deeply and gave thanks.  And then, I chased butterflies around with my camera!

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Here are two of my favorites.  The blue one was a bit shy.

Besides my butterfly friends, I found another delightful surprise.  Before Alex’s graduation party back in late June, I purchased a bunch of flowers to fill in holes in the garden.  I never got around to planting one flat of flowers, so I threw them back in the corner of the yard thinking maybe I would plant them later.  2 months later, I had forgotten all about them.  Until today…

IMG_4326Next to my turned over wheelbarrow and a bunch of weeds in a shady corner, there they were all ready to plant!  A joyful surprise.

After my time in the garden, I came back in and finished the book.  Later in the day, I had the privilege of meeting with a friend whose daughter didn’t just leave for college this summer; she left for Heaven.  In talking with her, I was reminded how fragile and precious this life is and how random and senseless life would feel without knowing Someone a great deal smarter than me is in charge.  I marveled as she recounted the gifts of grace she is finding even in the darkness of this deep grief.  I was humbled by her faith and hope for the future; inspired by her resolve to take care of herself and move forward as her daughter would want her to do.

Eucharisteo…an offering of thanksgiving.  Here is a quote from the book:

While I may not always feel joy, God asks me to give thanks in all things, because He knows that the feeling of joy begins in the action of thanksgiving.

Today, I chose to do the things that I know God uses to feed my spirit.  Today, I was reminded that my path to God is found in thanksgiving.  Today, I was amazed by the power of the Holy Spirit working in the lives of those who trust in Him and humbled to be witness to that power.

And today, I chose to write again because THIS is one of those things that God uses to feed my spirit.  I pray that He will use it for His glory.