Mama’s sitting at the table in the midst of the din of ten of her grandchildren when I lean across the worn oak grain and hand her my first book.
“It’s for you…” I say. My mouth feels dry…
She runs her hand across the jacket. Her’s smiling all brimming.
Like when I raced the 50 yard dash at the Brussels Fall Fair and won a silver dollar. I remember how I panted over to her and she cupped my red cheek in both hands and nodded happy. So full of emotion she had no words.
She’s holds the book to herself, stretches one hand across the table. That smile. She touches my cheek.
I close my eyes. I am seven again. I press my face into her hand.
I am tired after this race too.
“Get a pen.” She whispers. “It needs ink.”
It all needs recording and this is how I’ve made a life, come alive. She knows.
I often imagined it as a girl — how the veins of the Word God ran with a bit of ink.
I push back my chair. I miss her hand already. I find a pen.
The children and all the cousins are telling stories with full mouths and kneeling high on chairs to get a word in edge wise and laughing loud. I lean against the windowsill, open the front cover, press back the page.
And I wait for words to come. Because this is the only way any words ever come, straight down. No one has ever received anything, anything at all, unless it came straight down from above (John 3:27). And the Spirit won’t be forced — hurried. Writing, living, it is learning the art of waiting.
It’s all a gift and gifts can’t be rushed, only received.
And then the ink comes… haltingly… “Dearest Mama…” I wait…
“You have lived these words…“ The ink flows but the chin, it trembles. Where did all this spilling come from? The Word made flesh said this is how it would be: the only real words are the ones that take a pound of flesh, that take on skin, that bleed with a bit of your life.
This is the birthing, a bit of the tearing, the words going into the world with a bit of our broken selves. I can’t say it doesn’t feel scary… hurt just a bit. But joy and pain are arteries of the same heart.
“This is your story…” I scrawl the words down for Mama whose skin is the parchment of so many of the words bound between these covers, but I mean it in a thousand ways. This book is all of our stories. All of us losing and aching and wondering and wrestling…. and questing hard after that holy grail of joy!
Joy is possible now. I now see and testify… thus this book.
Everything runs happily liquid….
When Mama leaves in the dark, after dinner and the dishes and the gloriously rowdy kids have been tucked into bed, she has the book under her arm. I stand at the door, watching her carry gifts into the world. She turns at the end of the walkway, just before the lane. She blows me a kiss…
“For you…” she whispers into the still of the night…
Under stars, I can hear the wonder of it — all the universe echoing…
Will you listen to hear His echo with me too ?
(If you’re reading in a reader or an email, click on over to watch the video for One Thousand Gifts: Figuring Life Out)
What’s the book about?
It’s the whole story I have never told before.
A story of our pain, of how every moment of our lives is ultimately a battle between grudgery and gratitude and how do we really win lasting joy? Right where we are.
Read The Book Together
Isn’t it always good to read books together? If you’d like to read in community — DaySpring’s new book club, Bloom (in) Courage — might be just the thing?
Invite a friend from your day-to-day life and join an instant virtual book club. And I’ll be joining you every week in the Bloom (in) Courage Book Club, for every chapter, via videos. Check out all the details at DaySpring — they have a one week sale on the book with the lowest price anywhere. And this opportunity to share the book with someone who needs it but can’t afford it! (Oh, I’d love for you to join us , just for the support? The idea of being on video? For 12 weeks? Well — yeah — you know how I feel about that ~weak smile~ Thanks for taking the fumbling and awkward? )
and now… I keep counting the endless gifts… and give thanks to God for these people who helped me write a book about how counting gifts unlocked the riddle to living fully alive…
#2182… You! You right there reading this post! How in the world do I ever thank you for grace, and taking the messy anyways? You Jesus people, you! Thank you for sharing the dare!
For every gift you ever gave thanks for in this place and let us give thanks with you, for every thoughtful note, for every kind prayer, for every time you read, offered your friendship, passed on a post to a friend, and invited one more to the circle of friends.These pages are because of you and I will never be able to thank you enough. I love community with you.
#2183…. the very first review at GoodReads — from someone who had never heard of this farm girl or this little blog in a quiet corner
#2184… Laura Barker for pioneering and breaking ground and sending that unexpected email out of nowhere, asking if I’d ever thought about writing pages that might add up to something crazy like a book
#2185 … Laura Boggess and Marybeth Whalen who both, within twenty-four hours of each other and unbeknownst to me or each other, emailed the same literary agent to come knocking on this unlikely door. Because of your generous believing… there are no words.
#2186… Bill Jensen for calling the farm girl and saying, “But I’ll help you figure it out,” for being the best agent anyone could ask for, for surest faith and tireless championing
#2188 …. For Mick and Sheri Silva, who were the gift, who generously gave hours to the red pen and showed me how to make the words line up into a something real. You live the Gospel.
#2189 …. the Zondervan team, Mike Salisbury and Dirk Buursma who go the extra mile in their kingdom work, for Sandy Vander Zicht the consummate professional who graciously took this project under her experienced wing to make a fledgling fly. I am unspeakably indebted.
#2190… For Marlene, Sherri M., Anne P., Annette W., Megan M., Linda C., Lydia B., Shannon Woodward, L. L. Barkat, Sally Clarkson, Elizabeth Foss, Bobbie Wolgemuth, Shannon Lowe, and the fellowship of GBF, the unwavering friends who held the hands up when I was faint-weary. Life in the Love Body with you heals, gives life, multiplies joy. For Shelly K., biblical scholar, who kept true pastoral company through the early draft words. And for the Forrest family who gave generously of their gifts to make something out of nothing.
#2191…. Holley Gerth who received pages so fresh with such faith. He uses you to heal.
#2192…. Tonia Peckover, for everything, these years and the together pilgrimage.
#2193 … Linda S. who dared me to count to one thousand. You change lives. How to thank you?
#2194…. Molly, the sister who has been one, a safe, strong place; for John, the brother who has prayed and come the whole long way; for my dad who has loved through hard times, the highest of compliments; and for my mama who has shown me how to live into the God-strength with beauty, grace, and astonishing joy.
#2195… Caleb, Joshua, Hope, Levi, Malakai, Shalom, six who have swollen me, shaped me, and birthed me into love. I weep for the grace of each of you, the six crowning gifts. Mama loves you from here to eternity and back.
#2196… and The Farmer, the far better, wiser half, who daily takes my hand and tenderly leads into fully living fully for Him. I am so glad you asked for forever and I said yes. I never expected so much joy.
#2197… For God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit … who draws the whole beautiful world into communion’s embrace and the dance of the Holy Fulfilling.
Today, if you’d like to share your own celebrating, your own marking towards 1000 Gifts of thanks — (please, jump in!) — just add the direct URL to your specific 1000 gift list post… and if you join us, we humbly ask that you please help us find each other by sharing the community’s graphic within your post…