Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:5-7
Every year around this time I like to read through journals that I've had over the last year. I'm not one to write a journal everyday, nor am I one to write a lot. In the spring, my friend Aunt Jackie recommended that I read the book "One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are." It's a celebration of grace and a recognition of the power of gratitude. The author, Ann Voskamp, has a way of weaving faith and gratitude into a beautiful poetry of words. So, I started a gratitude journal. I can honestly say that this book as well as the process of daily writing down ways God has blessed me has truly been a life changer.
So here is 2011 in a short recap and a few highlights from the gratitude journal:
1. A visit to see my niece, sister and brother-in-law and a half marathon for my World Vision sponsor child Santiaguito
2. Acquire the Fire Youth Rally with the 6th through 11th graders from Hope, stories of lives changed
3. A visit to the DR to see the kiddos I taught (all in high school now), stay with the Abreu family, visit my friend Shelley's school, and a trip to the beach.
4. Girls night with my 5th grade girls to the Macy's flower show
5. Easter--my favorite holiday. I got to help lead worship which made it even more meaningful this year.
6. Planting my garden
7. Basketball at recess with my 5th grade boys
8. Eager 5th grade prayer warriors
9. Track and Field Day (one of my all time favorite days of the year)
10. Spring retreat for church which included a huge thunderstorm and tornado warnings which meant hanging out in the bathroom awhile..
11. Amen and Praise God from my 5th graders when prayers are answered at school
12. Friday morning Bible Studies with the Hope ladies
13. Mom and Dad coming to school, acting in Bible skits and Dad teaching a Bible lesson
14. A new classroom with more windows!
15. End of year class party
16. A trip to Atlanta to be part of Proskuneo Worship Institute with Aunt Jackie, Heidi, Josh, Becky, Karen, and many others--A worship time filled with the Spirit
17. Time and space to write music and worship through others' gifts
18. Multilingual concerts and people excited to sing in their own language
19. Summer school--Teaching a book kids love, and teaching about the countries of the world
20. Great Minnesota Sendoff for several friends
21. Summertime in Minneapolis which included sand volleyball, bike rides, long runs, and swims at the lakes
22. Boundary Waters trip with 5 other ladies
23. Bittersweet goodbye to my roomie of 4 years Lindsey
24. Visiting high school and college friends
25. New church, new friends, new fellowship
26. Lake Okoboji with the family
27. Rachel and Tessa visiting Minneapolis
28. A new roommate Megan
29. School year beginnings
30. My kiddos--15 little gentlemen, and 5 young ladies
31. Nikki Lerner and Josh Davis visit Minneapolis
32. Saturday morning long runs with Kari
33. 'Your Great Name' by Natalie Grant
34. Twin Cities Marathon--I finished my second marathon!
35. Encouragers and cheerleaders in the marathon, and in life.
36. Birthday celebrations
37. Meeting Mykah De Jong
38. Home visits for my kids
39. New York City Marathon with Kari Holmes
4o. Adventures in New York City
41. Evening of Hope Banquet--Stories of lives changed
42. Gift of life, gift of health each day
43. Christmas at Thanksgiving with the Wielenga and Van Hofwegen family
45. Theological discussions in 5th grade
46. Ugly sweater parties
47. Christmas traditions
48. Ethan Daniel Wright
49. Christmas celebrations with family
50. Glorious, amazing Christmas night sunset
I've only skimmed the surface of my journal. Most of these listed above are events or people, but there are also many little things as well as truths that the Lord has taught me or reminded me this year.
51. Fill your life, fill your cup with the Lord. Let your satisfaction come from Him.
52. Be vulnerable with the gifts that God has given you.
53. Psalm 107: Let the steadfast love of the Lord be your strength.
54. Psalm 143: Remember the Lord and take heart.
55. "God doesn't do nothing. God is always doing something. He is doing thousands of things behind the scenes.." John Piper
56. Let us run this race with perseverance, fixing our eyes on JESUS!
57. Jesus has authority over everything. There is nothing He cannot do.
58. The Lord reproves and corrects those He loves.
59. The enemy has to flee at the sound of Jesus' name.
60. The Lord's love for me and His plans for my life are far greater than I could ever plan or imagine.
And the list goes on. I am nearing 600. I don't think the number matters, but the act of remembering what the LORD has done and his mercies each day does. This sums it up:
"This moment of my life has a root deep into time--I, my culture, and experiences shape this day and time and the beauty of all of it together is Christ. Let heaven intrude into my earthly affairs to rip my attention from the world to Christ over and over again."
So many names are in my journal, so many people that the Lord has blessed my life with. I am grateful.
And the gifts keep coming...