Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Sweet Life: One Thousand Gifts Chapter Two

I would like to start this post off with a little disclaimer. I have heard from several of you, that the writing style has been difficult to get into. I agree in some ways that writing style is different than what I typically read. One recommendation I would give is that before reading, pray that God will allow the words and thoughts from your reading time to stick with you and encourage spiritual growth. Just prayers for clarity while reading can really help me to gain a deeper understanding. I just don't want anyone to feel like it is too "out there" for them because there are so many enriching words on these pages.

Without further ado... here is the link to the Chapter Two video with Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts,

I fumbled through the first pages as Ann described waking each morning after dream sequences. To be honest I was very confused! The video brought a tremendous amount of understanding to her usage of dream sequences. What is lying in our past that we allow to effect the way we start our days and control us? Are we challenged every morning to get out of bed because of our fear of failing, because someone in our lives years ago labeled us as a failure? I can recall a specific relationship in my life where I overheard someone refer to me as a failure. While that was many years ago, it continues to effect my relationship with this person and each interaction is shrouded by the weight of my fear of failure. Is living in these "nightmares" getting you anywhere? Have you made yourself "numb" to life  or do you want to fully live outside of these fears?

On page 27:
"To live either fully alive...or in empty nothingness? It's the in between that drives us mad. It's the life in between, the days of walking lifeless, the years calloused and simply going through the hollow motions, the self-protecting and self-distracting, the body never waking, that's lost all capacity to fully feel-this is the life in between that makes us the wild walking dead." 
Are we walking through life like zombies? Just making it through? We know without a doubt that this world is temporary and we aren't sent to live forever. In other words, we have already been given a terminal diagnosis. Thankfully we have put our hope in salvation and that terminal diagnosis is one of hope instead of fear and uncertainty.  Are we living these numbered days just going through the motions? When he calls us home whoever, whenever, will we have lived fully or just empty? The question Ann poses at the end of page 29, stopped me in my tracks and the silence was deafening:
"How do we live fully so we are fully ready to die?"
Ann talks about being in a beauty salon and overseeing a woman read 1000 places to see before you die. I couldn't even begin to count the times I have said to my husband or close friend: "I hope to do/see _______ someday." I don't think there is anything wrong with hopes and dreams, and I certainly don't think that Ann is finding fault in this. I do think she is making the point that we have all the wonder we need where we are. In the video she asks:
"Do we think the beauty is only “out there” or are we stopping to recognize that the beauty is right here, right now? God is here right here right now"
Are we searching, struggling and wasting hours to see the wonder that is magnificently displayed right before us? I know for me I am often so caught up in day-to-day life that stopping and seeing the beauty, the unusual, within the usual is a battle for me. I find myself, like Ann, only focused on the let-downs and disappointment. So here we have this terminal diagnosis and we know that are days are numbered. God provides us the perfect example of a life that was destined to end and whose days were numbered through Christ. What, as Ann asks, did Jesus count the most important in his last hours? She then refers to Luke 22:19:
"And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it up to them.."
This is the meat of the story: Christ gave thanks which in Greek was eucharisteo. Ann then breaks this word into "charis" meaning grace and "chara" meaning joy. Is our ability to find true joy hidden and relying on our ability to give thanks fully? Love, love, love this:
"As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible. Joy is always possible....The holy grail of joy is not some exotic location or some emotional mountain peak experience...Here in the messy, piercing ache of now, joy...might be possible"
The three things Ann wants us to hold onto are: Charis=grace, Eucharisteo=thanksgiving, and Chara=joy. In the video she says it is like a braid of our Christianity.  Ann then uses the story of Lazarus and how Christ gave thanks first and foremost before Lazarus was raised from the dead.
"Eucharisteo - thanksgiving - always precedes the miracle."
What did you think of the story of the ten lepers and how Ann used it? I loved how she broke down that the leper who returned to give thanks was "sozo" completely saved! Is salvation closely related to our gratitude? Ann pointed out that when we show thanksgiving, we show evidence of our acceptance to what He has freely given us - His grace abundantly.

I truly can't wait to see where Ann goes with the concept of eucharisteo. I have already been challenged in my faith walk so much through her words and have dug deeper into the ways God wants to see me living in gratitude to Him. I pray each day for all of us as we walk this road to eucharisteo. Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts, challenges, or even the things you might not have disagreed with. I love hearing from you guys! Look forward to discussing Chapter Three on Sunday.

with Belles and Beauxs

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