Thursday, August 4, 2011

Count 1000 ways

Martha handed me a wonderful book, one thousand gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, for my birthday in March. Every few days, I read more of it. The poetry swings me into the pages and leaves me gasping with wonder. The power and enthusiasm, the bold life and creativity wrap around me. I can't read more than a few pages before I am engulfed and have to surface for blank air.

Some people's words help, encourage, and affirm. The language of others wounds and destroys. But this poet unfolds pleasure and pain, beauty and wonder using ordinary words, words used in conversation or correspondence.

After recognizing her negativity, Ann Voskamp began to write 1000 phrases of gratefulness. It was transforming. Liberating. Joyful. Her written gratitude unwound the strangulation of everyday blues, freeing her to live again.

"What could I lose," I asked myself as I felt like I was unraveling in the darkness of a seemingly endless grey Seattle spring?

I began to write my own 1000 ways, charting: things that made my heart sing; people who were life-givers; things that made me grateful. Sometimes, even, I just wrote down things that made me feel ok with not being dead and gone. (Yes, some days were that bad.)

Some mornings I couldn't wait to touch the pieces of the day and 25 items flowed freely: "glorious sunshine!," "birds chirping outside my window," "crisp white cotton duvet and pillowcases," or "soft breath flowing between W and me in the waking dawn." Some evenings I merely recorded 25 measures of relief for reaching the end of the day: "glad for the inky nightfall," "still breathing after the meeting," or "had to leave the party early, but am still barely intact."

Words. Words. Words. They bring life or death, says scripture.

How grateful I am for Psalms that affirm that God is good in this life. That people can be kind and generous. That our future and our hope is in God not our feelings. That circumstances change and better days come. That the cloud lifts and joy comes in the morning.

Today the sun streams in the office window, the dogs and I have walked, the fish swim in a cleaned aquarium, our daughter sleeps late, my husband tiles the new shower, the day stretches warm and welcoming into noon and beyond. (19 more, and I'm done for the day.) Thank God for Martha and her gift! (18 more...)

Try it! Write 25 things for which you are grateful, up to 1000 ways. See if deliberate, ongoing thankfulness transforms you and brings a smile to your face, as it does to mine.

Read more:
*The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. Exodus 15:2 NIV


  1. Love reading your posts, Rosemee! Thank you for sharing your life this way - you inspire me! Hugs from Debbie Walker-Petersik

  2. You'll love the book, Debbie! Tell me what you think - nice thing is you can stop and start and not lose momentum in this one. Each chapter is a jewel.