Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday: On Reaching 1,000

I recorded my first gift -- spring song of chickadee -- on the pristine pages of a brand-new, spiral-bound notebook six months after my mother-in-law's death, 11 months before my father-in-law would follow her. I suspect God knew I would need this tool to see. I think he knew I would need it to believe he was with us, even when darkness descended.

Today I flip through a notebook full, pages crinkled and curling, spattered with dish water and coffee droplets, pencil smudged.

I notice how many of my gifts involve food...

16 Beef Bourginon in the crockpot... 19 Coffee and biscotti... 21 Buttery bagels

I glimpse the change of seasons...

36 purple crocus buds...156 giant bumble bee...184 scent of fresh mown grass... 706 autumn sunshine on sunroom walls... 767 a husband who scrapes my windshield.

I see how my eyes have been opened in the most mundane places...

82 nun wearing a backpack at the bus stop... 738 mom and little boy watching big rigs drive by... 936 elderly man with his hand on his wife's back in grocery store.

I see how my definition of gifts has broadened and grown...

60 sitting on the front stoop...177 smiling at strangers... 969 the gynecologist... 995 tornado sirens.

I spot my kids' handwriting...

6 Dad hug... 353 sweet lime popsickle... 973 butterfly landing on my shirt.

And my husband's...

121 big homecoming hugs at the airport... 349 carbs... 993 full-court basketball.

In the end, the moments are small, but strung together, one after the other, they comprise something monumental, something transformational, something much bigger than me. I see it written right there, line after penciled line:

A life of daily thanks.

And these small moments, all 1,000 of them, are why I will keep listing. The notebook will stay open on the kitchen counter. The pencil will sit sharpened and ready. The pages will absorb breakfast spatters and our living minute by minute in God's grace.

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.  1 Timothy 4:4-5

990 Maple seeds helicoptering in the wind
991 3,200 words written for my project
992 Early morning sun on dandelion seed fluffs
993 Full-court basketball
994 Laughing with friends at dinner
995 Tornado sirens
996 The scent of air after rain shower
997 A husband who remembers to bring the patio cushions indoors before it storms
998 "A dog as big as a cow!"
999 Remembering the Holocaust victims and survivors
1000 Looking for #1001

Grateful for Ann Voskamp, for setting me on this course toward 1,000 gifts...
and beyond.

And linking with Laura...because looking for God in all the small places has been
one big long playdate!

{And thank you, friends, for grace today as I depart from the Hear It, Use It theme. Sunday was a crazy day of work events and soccer games and choir concerts...leaving little time to write!}

Welcome to the "Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday" community, a place where we share what we are hearing from God and his Word.

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Shanda Oakley  – (April 16, 2012 at 12:08 AM)  

I just began my list a few weeks ago so look forward to looking back on the blessings later.
I absolutely love the photo. You have a great eye.

Dianna Kennedy  – (April 16, 2012 at 1:18 AM)  

Congratulations on your 1000 gifts! I loved seeing your updates here! 

kendalprivette –   – (April 16, 2012 at 5:07 AM)  

:) this post made me so  happy! a great way to start off a work week. thank you!

Lyli@3dLessons4Life  – (April 16, 2012 at 5:34 AM)  

Don't think I didn't notice #991.  Praying for you this morning...

Courtney Buxton  – (April 16, 2012 at 6:15 AM)  

Yay! I reached 1,000 earlier this year, and it is the best practice. It is wonderful to look back at the list and see the seasons and my perspective change. Love how you captured that. Also, love #349 - Carbs! Yum.

Wendy Paine Miller  – (April 16, 2012 at 6:45 AM)  

Love 6. 353. 973. I think God's doing a lot to remind me of the pure joy of seeing life through the eyes of a child.
~ Wendy

amanda d  – (April 16, 2012 at 7:15 AM)  

1,000 - congrats! Your list encouraged me to bring mine out again. In the busy of life, it's been tucked away, I haven't done it in awhile  (and the food ones made me giggle! but coffee and biscotti deserve an entry!) 

Shelly Miller –   – (April 16, 2012 at 7:33 AM)  

You made it, congratulations. I was thinking about the way this excercise has changed my perspective while I was walking on the beach yesterday. I find beauty in the things I would have walked by without noticing before.

Lisa notes  – (April 16, 2012 at 7:41 AM)  

I'm still counting too. You motivate me this morning to continue. Thanks, Michelle.

Michelle DeRusha  – (April 16, 2012 at 8:09 AM)  

Keep it up, Lisa! The best part so far has been looking backing and thinking, wow, look at Him everywhere!

Michelle DeRusha  – (April 16, 2012 at 8:10 AM)  

Exactly. The noticing is a gift in itself.

Michelle DeRusha  – (April 16, 2012 at 8:10 AM)  

Life does get busy - there were weeks during the year that I didn't record any gifts. And then days when I did 5 or 6 to make up for it!

Michelle DeRusha  – (April 16, 2012 at 8:11 AM)  

I hear you, Wendy - my kids see SO much more than I do.

Michelle DeRusha  – (April 16, 2012 at 8:11 AM)  

Yup, carbs - that one is my husband's entry -- but I agree 100%!

Michelle DeRusha  – (April 16, 2012 at 8:11 AM)  

Lyli, you are the best -- thank you!

Michelle DeRusha  – (April 16, 2012 at 8:12 AM)  

I always love reading your list, too, Kendal.

Michelle DeRusha  – (April 16, 2012 at 8:13 AM)  

Looking back at the list yesterday from #1 to #1000 was such a wonderful, uplifting experience. You'll find the gratitude list changes your life in ways you never expected.

Connie@raise your eyes  – (April 16, 2012 at 8:44 AM)  

One of my favorite photo subjects--capturing tears on the flowers. Love, tears and laughter are gifts GOD uses to get us through the really...hard...days.

Nancy Franson  – (April 16, 2012 at 8:53 AM)  

Congratulations my friend! I kept my list on the computer, and it's been interesting for me to go back and look at the frequency of how many times certain things, certain people showed up on my list.

And, yes, like you I think God was very much present in the timing of introducing  me to this practice. It might be an exaggeration to say that the practice of giving thanks saved my life. But not by much.

Dawn Gonzalez  – (April 16, 2012 at 8:56 AM)  

Michelle, I love how you kept this counting project small and simple and involved the whole family. My counting is stalled because I made it a blog project and a beautiful journal project that fell by the wayside  from working full time agian. I may just adopt your strategy, because you make me want to count again and still.

Susan  – (April 16, 2012 at 9:10 AM)  

Just beautiful!  My first time joining you all.   Blessings to you♥

Jen Ferguson –   – (April 16, 2012 at 9:34 AM)  

a beautiful, wonderful, amazing list that just endears my heart to yours even closer.

S. Etole  – (April 16, 2012 at 9:39 AM)  

What an incredible photo to celebrate with.

Gaby  – (April 16, 2012 at 9:40 AM)  

Congratulations on reaching 1000! And praise the Lord for giving you eyes to see them, friend. 

Glenda Childers –   – (April 16, 2012 at 10:12 AM)  

What a beautiful journal of gifts.

Sandra Heska King  – (April 16, 2012 at 10:14 AM)  

Spirit-soaked and dew-drenched. Those flowers. You. I've been doing my list on the 'puter, but I'm going back to a notebook...

Kathryn Ross –   – (April 16, 2012 at 10:35 AM)  

Hi Michelle!  Love your 1000!  I feel like I cam into Blogland too late to get on that train.  Been working on a "Grace & Humility" art journal - but this journal is a nifty idea I would like to pursue for  a ladies' group I'm thinking of starting . . .


Kelli- AdventurezNchildRearing  – (April 16, 2012 at 11:24 AM)  

l love love the last one because isn't that what we are to look for each and every day? looking for Jesus - looking at the little moments He gives us - grateful for Him in our moments. 

Megan Willome  – (April 16, 2012 at 12:35 PM)  

"I suspect God knew I would need this tool to see."--yes! I started mine in grief as well and it has carried me through some other tough times. 

Ro elliott –   – (April 16, 2012 at 12:41 PM)  

Yeah...wonderful...counting does transform our hearts...because  knowing...truly knowing how Loved we are heals all and redeems all...blessings as we keep hammering out in one voice all the praise worthy of Him.

Shelly Faust  – (April 16, 2012 at 12:45 PM)  

I love this...and what a great idea to leave your notebook on the counter for everyone to share...thank you for inspiring me today, Michelle :)

Hazel Moon –   – (April 16, 2012 at 1:00 PM)  

Food is important in life, and perhaps that is why Jesus is referred to as bread of life and living water.  In heaven there will be trees bearing fruit.  God must love food too!

Laurie Collett –   – (April 16, 2012 at 1:06 PM)  

Counting our blessings really does change our perspective! Thanks so much for the lovely post and photo.
Love in Him,
Laurie Collett


Michelle DeRusha  – (April 16, 2012 at 4:09 PM)  

It's never too late - seriously, start today! Ann Voskamp's gratitude community is growing and growing - you would be the perfect addition to the mix.

I love your idea of a grace and humility art journal, by the way.

Michelle DeRusha  – (April 16, 2012 at 4:10 PM)  

I think the fact that it's front and center on the kitchen counter makes me more apt to keep looking and counting - the actual journal is a daily reminder. Plus I love when I see that one of my kids has made an entry, too.

Kirstin Cronn-Mills –   – (April 16, 2012 at 6:10 PM)  

Beautiful post.  : )  Thank you!

Deidra  – (April 16, 2012 at 7:49 PM)  

1,000! Yay for you! And here it took me all day to link up over here. Oh, brother! But I did it! 

Michelle DeRusha  – (April 16, 2012 at 8:36 PM)  

I hear you -- it took me all day yesterday to link up at your place (or maybe I even did it this morning, I can't remember!).

Michelle DeRusha  – (April 16, 2012 at 8:36 PM)  

Thanks for stopping by, Kirstin - it always makes me smile to see you here.

Laura Boggess  – (April 17, 2012 at 6:15 PM)  

And this post? It goes on my list. Ah, the beauty of a life of thanks.

Michelle Eichner  – (April 17, 2012 at 7:07 PM)  

What a great thought that all the small things are little by themselves, but strung together they make an amazing, wonderfully large tapestry! Beautiful words. Thanks.

Harriett –   – (April 17, 2012 at 8:52 PM)  

When we take the time to count them, they are infinite.

What a testimony this is....

Hmm -- is virtual friendships on the list. Just wondering....


Michelle DeRusha  – (April 17, 2012 at 9:54 PM)  

And I like the way you put that, too : "an amazing, wonderfully large tapestry." Exactly!

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