"Thanksgiving always precedes the miracle." That quote, by Ann Voskamp, is one of my favorites from her book One Thousand Gifts. Really, I could sit here and write hundreds of quotes from her book that became beautiful and living words to my soul this spring. Like, for instance, her quote that I used for this month's installation of Heart Art: "God is always good and I am always loved."
Last Thursday, the boys and I began our usual bible study morning routine-- piling into the car after hurriedly swallowing bites of breakfast and throwing on our clothes. (It's the downside of having really good sleepers on your hands, early appointments that is. Wait, is there really any downside to having good sleepers? I stand corrected.) Last Thursday, I also brought along a tray of banana bread, a dish of nectarines and blueberries, bright yellow and white striped napkins, and a box filled with calligraphed words. It was our last bible study meet-up before breaking for the summer. It was also my turn to bring in refreshments and I was very excited that I, number one, actually remembered, and, number two, didn't burn the banana bread!
I was pulling a squirmy Jobie out of the car when I turned to see Ann walking in with a flat of fruit to share, her two grandbabies following behind. As I walked into our room, I realized that I was interrupting Margaret and Darlene as they prayed together. If I close my eyes, Margaret is my grandma. The same Pennsylvanian accent spills from her mouth. Her purple sweater makes her eyes shine bright and her enthusiasm at the news of my husband taking a pastorate makes me smile-- a thank-you-for-sharing-this-moment-with-me smile. My friend Zondra walks in amid the smiles and laughs and I think about how much I will miss this gal. On Sunday, I fought back tears as I watched her sing so freely and openly, just as her friendship to me has been over these last short months. Graeme calls her son, Bear, his best friend. Pam and Karen join in and we talk about the week, our prayer requests, our families, our joys, our sorrows, our lives. And, after all of that, we pray. Someone opens and then we chime in with popcorn prayers as God brings different things to our minds. Sometimes twice or three times. And after we pray, we talk more. We sit long and talk about the gift of giving thanks and how it's changing our lives! How this giving thanks to God is changing our view of every day moments-- the good, the bad, the ugly-beautiful-- and how when we give thanks to God, at all times, he will take all of it and turn it into joy for our souls. That's the miracle!
If you've never read Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts, here is an opportunity for you to do so. Through the kindness and generosity of both Ann Voskamp and Zondervan, I'm able to give away a copy of One Thousand Gifts. (Also, I'd like to include a copy of the calligraphed quote-- God is always good and I am always loved.)
To enter the giveaway for One Thousand Gifts and the calligraphed quote, please tell me, in the comment section below, something that you are thankful for today. That's it! (Giveaway will be open until next Thursday, June 13th.) Also, if you'd like additional entries, feel free to share this via facebook or twitter!