A Warm Shout of Thanks And Love To Ann! {A Testimony of 1,000 Gifts}

In cold February when I first heard of Ann, it was through the trailer to her book–they showed the video at my little church. I only heard her voice and her poetry, and that was all I needed to hear. I was floored by her words, them digging up my soul from the grave and screaming, “Awaken!” They moved me, the think, muddy waters of me, and they soaked the parched ground of my spirit. And something else began to trickle–love.

My heart began to bleed and I began to weep tears and it began to stream into rivers of life.

At the time I was in school full-time online, while being a mommy to four and a wife to one amazing man. I had suffered with post-partum depression, anxiety and migraines after the birth of my fourth child. Being in school compounded this, and stress took over my body.

I began having fibromyalgia symptoms (a stress disorder) and the illness took an ugly turn, getting worse and worse. The insomnia worsened and I began to have paranoia. The anxiety episodes came to the point I could no longer attend church.

I was not able to take care of my children the way I desperately wanted to mother them, just desperately wanting to cradle them, to read to them, bake with them, to read devotions to them. The illness has at times had me isolated and closed off to my family–even to my sweet baby, for which I felt awfully guilty. I had to quit school because the stress and the illness came to the point that I was having severe pain and could not continue.

This was around the time I began reading Ann’s blog, A Holy ExperienceI was on a path of my own and God showed me I was headed the wrong direction. He showed me that my desires to raise my girls were placed there by Him, and that I did not have to give that up in order to pursue school and a career so that my family would not starve. He showed me that I was pursuing things out of fear and that I had to trust Him for His will for me and my family–even though I thought that I was pursuing these things for the love of my family and to help my husband.

My heart had hardened to my family and all the dreams of motherhood I really longed for–I had to bury all of these hopes and dreams in pursuit of a career–it is not so easy to switch paths–it takes a softening and pounding of the heart, a tenderizing of tough, calloused meat. So now, here I am. I began reading One Thousand Gifts and bathed myself in and drank in the words of deep communion and gratefulness to God.

This book changed my heart and life forever!

I continued reading the words on her blog. The first post I ever read was about a horn she hung on a wall to remind herself to be happy and to share joy with others.

Her joy intrigued me–I wanted to know more–the Farmer she called him, outside in the yard and her in the house, him laughing and her smiling, him honking at her from the truck. Yes, I wanted this joy.

I also read the one about when the Farmer came to put gas in her van on the snow-packed country road, and it impacted me, the way she didn’t expect him to do these things, but she humbly recognized them as gifts. I needed this.

And she wrote this: “…he’s drawn it all close, and smiled when she’s created and nodded for her to go and said no to any performing and yes to just being.” I knew this was the way my Husband loved me too, and I knew we were headed down this Christ-love marriage road and I saw hope on the horizon.

I read the post called How To Fall In Love All Over Again In 4 Minutes A Day–a profound post–the intimacy between them–the way he tells her to believe him when he tells her she is beautiful–like Christ and the church–I had to know more.

These posts touched me deeply. There have been times that Husband and I have read together, tears streaming down faces. It is because of Ann’s writing–because of her family and the way they live–that we now read the bible at supper each night. This is a remarkable, sweet, sweet change for our family–oh the mercies and grace of God!

As these writings began to bring not only lasting change to my heart, but to my family’s as well, I also began counting my own gifts. I began naming them. You can see my first list here.

This naming, there was a mystery to it–a naming of gifts given that otherwise would go completely unnoticed, unaccounted for, and without having given thanks for.

It was in this continual giving of thanks everyday–not only in counting the beautiful gifts, but in counting the hard eucharisteos–eucharisteo meaning hard thanks, the kind of thanks to God that comes in hard trials and circumstances that we didn’t want to come our way–that my heart really began to change.

The book opened up new doors for me to go through that I had never thought of before, never known they existed. But the habit of writing down my thanks to God for gifts made the walking through doors possible. And the more I write it down, the easier it is to walk through the doors of freedom into joy.

This has been healing to me, has brought me through and I can finally see the other side–all this light to dance in like crazy!

Starting today, I will be tweeting my three gifts a day as a part of the Joy Dare. I have been taking part in the Joy Dare, but am behind in doing it everyday, so I would like to tweet it everyday to keep me accountable to keeping up with it. I believe this will be another turning point for me. To follow my Joy-Dare tweets, just click on the little link in the side-bar!

Would you like to take part in the JOY DARE? Click HERE to read about it with gorgeous free printable from Ann!

3 gifts that were surprises…unexpected grace!…
#563 red Valentine heart full of chocolates from my Sweetheart
#564 a phone call from a very close friend and the prayer that changed everything–healing!
#565 Granny and Granddaddy bringing pizza, drinks and ice cream for everyone–such givers

3 times you heard laughter today…
#566 my older girls being silly, and the way she puts her hand to her mouth and giggles, eyes lighting up like jewels
#567 when she shared her life with me as we ran and we laughed freely
#568 Husband and I laughing together at silly things–commercials, our own antics and movie-quoting

3 gifts found in working…
#569 the beauty of the yard when it’s cleaned up and raked
#570 that home really can be a safe haven of peace and this is the reward of my efforts
#571 a breeze blowing in through kitchen window I had a hard time raising

3 hard eucharisteos…
#572 waiting so long for our vehicle, cooped up all winter, not able to attend any homeschooling outings, knowing God is working the finances out for the right timing
#573 the hard work of relationships–the beauty that unfolds in my toiling and giving and in others for me
#574 losing friendships that once had their moment of shining brilliance, lost as to why this has to be, and so thankful for the ones who are loyal to me through all of my flaws

3 gifts found behind a door today…
#575 Granny and Granddaddy driving out for a visit because they miss their great-grandbabies and watching them for just a couple hours while Daddy and Mama get out for a little breather–the bond that can’t keep family away
#576 when I’m typing, little one peeking around the door every so slowly, her inquisitive two-year old eyes
#577 a door opening for my Father in the form of a job with the state, teaching, after 30+ years of self-employment–the first time in his life he will have insurance and retirement–comfort for his aging body

3 ways I feel the love of God…
#578 Husband’s tireless taking care of me and the girls everyday. His endless giving.
#579 A friend shining beautiful for Jesus calling to tell me that God said I am to write a book–I whisper this thanks hesitantly
#580 A friend only just met online offering schooling books for us to use for free! Extravagant grace! Thanks through tears!

a gift in losing something, in finding something, in making something…
#581 losing my pride, taking a love-risk and reaching out when I’ve been hurt
#582 finding the cover to my camera lens–Praise God!–this is the way I love to record my gifts!
#583 making Valentine’s treats with the girls–oh delightful fun!

**All of us passing illness around here…using tissue like it was air and sipping hot tea. I will do my best to answer your kind comments and hopefully I will be able to write more later this week. If not, I will see you, friends, next week! Getting sick, though I never get sick, maybe God’s way of slowing me down?

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Join me at Ann’s for a Joy Dare, and counting our gifts and graces from God?

28 thoughts on “A Warm Shout of Thanks And Love To Ann! {A Testimony of 1,000 Gifts}”

  1. Beautiful. It is the hard eucharisteo that makes us recognize the blessings in everyday life. Enjoy the “downtime” even when you don't feel well. Prayers from New Orleans! Thanks for sharing

  2. oh this is just lovely. So glad to have found each other, through the joys of life. Keep counting, your words will be blessings as Ann's were to you.

  3. Sorry to hear that you are fighting sickness… praying you all feel better, quickly…

    I love this post… I love your heart… you have so much passion for your God and your family… even though the struggle has been so relentless… you have not let go! We know that God will never give-up on us, but it can be so easy to want to give-up on ourselves… NEVER… because He says NEVER…

    Blessings to you, my friend…

    P.S. I emailed you.. but reply when you are better 🙂

  4. Gratitude and her book is transforming. My journey in gratitude has been the hard thanks during the dark days of depression. But there is always light and gifts to count. Thanks for sharing from the depth of your heart!

  5. Amy,

    so good to have you here! thank you so much for taking the time to drop by. *thank you*, really, for the gentle encouragement to enjoy the “downtime”–i needed that. blessings, friend from New Orleans!

  6. Tara,

    I can't say what it means to see you here. so glad to have found you too, my friend, so very glad! i smile as i read your words–they warm the heart straight through–just the thought that my words could be a blessing to others like her's were to me? wow. blessings to you!

  7. beautiful Michele,

    i love YOUR heart, friend. so glad He brought you my way–thanking Him for that today. *thank you* so much for these sweet words of encouragement!

    i saw your email–thank you for that–i promise to reply soon! blessings!

  8. Ro!

    i'm so glad to see you here. you light up my day. this book, yes, has transformed, and God has used you to transform others through it as well. thank you for shining Him so brightly! i promise to keep dancing! i will never stop!

    i will email you soon–promise! blessings.

  9. Christina!

    wow, it's been a while. *thank you* so much for dropping, by, friend! i will have to hop on over and see you too soon, friend! i did not know you dealt with depression also–i am saying a prayer for you right now–whether you are already healed, or still seeking it, i pray God's joy over you, in Jesus name.

    yes, there is always light–His light. it is amazing how just turning on some worship music changes my outlook and atmosphere of my home. music is so healing.

    counting in gratitude with you, through all the hard and the very wonderful, dear sister!

  10. Thank you so much for sharing this post. I am uplifted by reading all the links to Ann's Joy Dare. It has helped me in so many incredible ways and I'm thankful that God is using her story to touch and change so many!

  11. It is this —- this post, this testimony, this moving from darkness into light —- that brings tears down my cheeks. Nacole, perhaps it is because you are so much younger than I am, and I am so so happy that you are learning all this at this point and not when you are old and looking back on a long life of regrets like I am. The “if only's” sometimes take over, but I am so thankful that I finally learned it, too. To see you embrace the hard, the pain, the hurts, and the dark has blessed me more than you will ever know. And I found it especially smile-worthy to see a box of chocolates making the first on your list today. And I'm sure the Lord is smiling, too!!!

  12. Rebecca,

    thank YOU for stopping by! i am so happy to meet you. Ann has touched me too, through her graceful way of seeing things, and I too, am so glad when I see others transformed as well. She has been very creative in waking the treasure hunter in all of us!

    blessings to you!

  13. Cora!

    I am so happy to see you! It's been a while since we've talked. I drop by your place from time to time to see if you've written anything new–I will pop over soon to see! how are you lately, my dear friend? I miss you!

    this had me in tears, Cora, that you read this and it meant that much to you. God has a way of encouraging us, doesn't He? even if it's just through seeing someone else being blessed–that's when we know we really have His heart–and you have His heart, Cora! Thank you, thank you for your sweet words–they *encourage*. blessings!

  14. Dearest Nacole… no words can say how God uses your writing to speak to my heart. How my hearts rejoices with you, how my heart sings His praises with you… There is too much to say in response to this post and the ones before it that you've written recently, when I comment here, I always want to say so much! …All that you share through your writing, so beautiful, the depths of your very soul, your words and thoughts dripping with God's grace, spilling over onto those reading, drinking in God's blessing through you. Keep dancing…<3 Thank you for taking these moments to testify and record God's abundant, marvelous, infinite, matchless grace working in you and through you!!!
    My heart is with you. Praying for you and your beautiful family as you recover. Yes, enjoy the rest, be well! In Jesus' name! 🙂 I will write/e-mail you soon! All my love!

  15. Oh yes, how I want to share your blog with everyone because I love ALL your posts!! 🙂 I do not have tweet or pin it accounts, if I did, I would share your writing this way most definitely!! I have to keep myself from having more online profiles than I need! The limitations of my phone are perhaps God's grace to me in that it graces me with self control!! 🙂 pitiful I am! 😀 talk to you more soon!

  16. Dearest one,

    *you* are a treasure of a friend! i am so happy that my testimony has touched you so…you singing His praises with me…i can't say how much this means to me…God has used Ann to touch so many…were you ever able to finish the book?

    it blesses me so that you are here and you take the time to let me know how it has spoken to your heart. i wish we could talk in real time, face-to-face, so that we COULD share all that is on our hearts! as one of my bloggy friends said yesterday, face-to-face is best! i miss you.

    i will keep dancing, even through the dark, into the light!
    love you!

  17. I need to read that book. Although it will be much harder to find things to be thankful for. As horrible as that sounds, what I mean is that a husband and children are such obvious everyday gifts that I don't have. That is why I wish I could spend more time with them. When I am not feeling good and I am really negative I want to be around them so their smiles and laughter can soften some of that hardness.

  18. Sumer,

    oh, this made me tear up. my heart aches for you, sister. i am so glad that you feel that way about them, and i am so happy that we can be a comfort to you. you are welcome as often as you like. psst…i have the book *wink*–i will bring it to you. you really do need to read it–absolutely life-changing, no matter where you are.

    love you!

  19. also, just thought about it, but you may want to join the joy dare–look at the link above–it explains what it is and how to do it–also gives details on prizes for the winner chosen at the end of the year–don't know if you're interested–but the big prize is a very nice camera. you can tweet three gifts each day–as you begin reading the book. and camera is a small prize compared to the lasting eternal effects of heart-change. just a thought. ❤

  20. Loved, and related so much at what you had to say about Ann's Book. Its funny, I found her blog and book right about the same time you did, and I have four girls. For me, One Thousand Gifts was a type of Holy Clarity, of all those feelings, the sinfulness I battled within, and light of Christ within, and how it spills out together in the every day, and why. I don't keep up with doing such a good job with my “counting” as you do, but keep a bedtime journal, and look at everything with so much more wonder and gratitude. I think my family and friends are officially sick of hearing me talk about it; every single mother should read this book.
    Once again thanks for your truthful sharing.

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