Wednesday, February 12, 2014

No Check Box for Joy

I'm the kind of girl who likes feeling accomplished.

Even though I vowed almost four years ago to take productivity off her pedestal, checking boxes off a to-do list still may be one of my favorite things. (And I still may be in the practice of adding already completed tasks to a list just for the satisfaction of marking another big X. Maybe.)

So you can imagine my pleasure in counting one thousand gifts! Yes, the daily delight of tangible progress toward a lofty goal. But, oh the joy of actually finishing the task! I never inked a big open box on a folded piece of computer paper or on a long skinny notepad with a black magnet glued to its backside. No, this beautiful box was only written on my heart, seared in my mind.

Choose joy.

Count gifts.

Name God's grace.



Last month I opened my spiral bound journal to record a milestone. For weeks I had wondered what this final gift would be. What could be worthy to hold such a significant marker?  Would it be beautiful enough, poetic enough? Demonstrate that my life had been changed enough?

I didn't want it to be creatively conjured or self made. I didn't want to manipulate my own mind or finagle my own words to make this thousandth gift seem perfect, picturesque, even productive.

As I reached 700, 800, 999 gifts I kept thinking, would the anticipation of this capstone leave me disappointed?

No, not at all disappointed.

For the 1,000th gift was not a premeditated word-picture, but an honest outpouring of praise.

My heart whispered, my hand wrote:
#1,000. Wanting more of Jesus.
I never saw it coming.

But...then I saw.

The counting of each gift was itself the gift. The gift of seeing more of Jesus. The gift of wanting more of Him.

And of course Ann Voskamp knew it. Saw it. Wrote it.

 "I don't need more time to breathe so that I may experience more locales, possess more, accomplish more. Because wonder really could be here--for the seeing eyes."

Every time I scribbled a gift: spring blossom in afternoon sun. nuzzling kisses in my Noah's little warm neck. the perfect cup of coffee. friends who pray for my heart. the best bite of tiramisu. breath... Each gift I scrawled was a God-grace I saw. A moment that didn't slip through time's fingers because it was truly savored.

I completed her joy dare. Do I feel accomplished? Yes.

But more than that. I feel more ALIVE!

Half way through the journey to joy I wondered if once I reached one thousand if that would be enough. If I would have my tidy little journal filled and my dare box checked with a finished red X.

But now I wonder, how could I stop?

The more gifts I see, the more I see my need. My need for more of Jesus. Because I know God is not done with me. My heart is still messy. So messy. My life, my attitude, my actions...far from being His holy perfect.

But I say in one heart with Ann,

"I look for the ugly beautiful, count it as grace, transfigure the mess into joy with thanks and eucharisteo leaves the paper, finds way to the eyes, the lips."


Kathryn Ross said...

Beautiful! Congrats on your 1000th! Now - for 1001!! I'm running for my spiral journal now to count this post. Lovely to share our journeys in this way. Be ye blessed!

Miranda Meek said...

Well said!

Bruce Barone said...


Brings tears to my eyes.

Asta Baskauskaite said...

beautiful. God's Light shines more brightly each day as we open our hearts to him

Jacqui Hodges said...

Becky-Tears, and I've never even been to your space of the World Wide Web until this moment. Isn't that just like the Lord to perfectly orchestrate your 1000th gift. What a beautiful gift he gave you. Keep counting sister! It changes everything!

Elaine James said...

I echo Jacqui. Blessed to find this and celebrate with you. Do continue, to count, to find. Bless you sweet sister!

Becky L. said...

Isn't it amazing how much better one feels when writing down our joys/blessings every day? It's made me happier, easier day at work. So happy that you have reached the end...1000 gifts. I'm working on mine this year. Keep on counting joys and wanting more of Jesus. I need him more as well! Thanks for sharing!

jenni ho-huan said...

Hi! found my way here via Ann V. I'm so glad for you! i do mine slow over at
and it's a daily shaving, chiseling, strengthening of my soul sinews. More Jesus indeed!

Loralee said...

"My heart whispered, my hand wrote:
#1,000. Wanting more of Jesus."

So beautiful.