Why You Really Need to Think About Losing (Because This is how You Win)

In the middle of a stiff winter wind, she asks to go to the beach.

That’s where she says she wants to celebrate the turning of her calendar year.

To stand on the frozen snow and turn her face directly into whatever is coming this way.

We’re the only ones there.

Nothing can mean nothing, and everything means something. Yes — everything.




We walk the long boardwalk, our footsteps echoing hollow. She will be 61 this year.

We stand on iced sand hemmed with white snow and she says nothing, just gazes out at bared waters. I don’t ask her what she’s thinking.

The sunlight seems paled, hardly there in the numbing cold.

I do watch the way her hair moves in the wind, white waves of their own.

We wander down to where the waves crashes on the stones. The water breaking its way on the unwavering.

Does her silence say this, that this was the way to live? The water lets go again and again on the granite, this oceanic surge of song, this symphonic crescendo. Is there anything more beautiful than the wild surrender to the rock?

The song is always found in the surrender.

Mama knew there’d be days like these, when I’d see. How many more years do I have Mama to walk the winter shore?

Her hair is whiter than winter and is this the season we’re already in? I want spring again. I feel like the child, our shoulders touching here at the sea.

There’s a whole lifetime of memories here at the lake and how many Sunday picnics of fried chicken have we had right up there at the lighthouse? She’d serve extra helpings of green coleslaw and I’d pump the swing high and I could see how we might soar straight out over the lake. There’s a time when you think nothing will end.

I lean into her and she leans into me, and we’re warmer like this, close. Doesn’t there have to be more than a decade left of this? And there doesn’t have to be anything. The waves keep breaking. Couldn’t she stay until she’s 117?

When you wake to losing someone, you win love.

When you realize that what you have, you will lose —  you win real eyes. You win grateful joy.

It comes across the water and I turn to face it directly: It’s only when you realize everyone you love will one day leave you— that you really begin to love. I reach over for Mama’s hand and she does that, she squeezes mine softly and that says more… most.

Someday, it is possible, I could stand here on my own 61st. I can close my eyes and almost see that.

How then she will be the memory already flown across the waters. How the song will sing on and I will hear notes that were long hers.

And it comes, a wave over me: How I will miss her.

That may be it: The way to experience a moment of unlimited elation — is to take a moment to imagine unexpected limitation.

Close your eyes long and imagine days without sight. And you open them to a brighter light. Imagine no water. And the next cold glass quenches like desert rain. Envision life without the loveliness of those you love — and you see how much you love.

Her half smile there in the wind, it makes me half hurt, her pure worn beauty.

There’s a way to wake up and not to live numb.

The way to love life is to imagine losing it.

He who loses his life finds it.

The water keeps giving away to the shore.

One day, all this will be gone.

The sun, it seems so strong now, bright across water.

Mama, she lets the wind blow her hood right back and I don’t feel numb and there is a theological term for this– all this:


Fullblown grace.


Standing there, her and I,  we watch as it comes straight across the waters–

as it comes directly this way.

Us here and and alive and in awe that any of this is at all …

This wind awaking everything.




~Ann Voskamp, (One Thousand Gifts)

Continuing to count 1000 Gifts in 2012, counting more of the endless, One Thousand Gifts…

Taking The JOY DARE to Fully Live:(gifts #3057-#3069 )

a gift found in kitchen & in weather: grapefruits at all, winter rain just coming wet and and not as ice

and a startling grace that might never have been:Screen shot 2012-01-22 at 11.17.27 PM

3 gifts saw when only close up:

the wiggling of her tooth, their whispering under quilts, the scent of the roses he brought home

a gift in the sky, from memory, an ugly-beautiful:

his flight coming in, memory of one of our babies wearing that same fleece-line sleeper, and the washing machine swishing away all our sickness

a grace wrinkled, smoothed, unfolded:

mama’s wrinkled hand in mine, the smoothing of a life into something as simple as this,

and the unfolding, humbling surprise of this for One Thousand Gifts: #9, 23 weeks on the New York Times

3 gifts found in Christthe incomprehensible wonder:

Colossians 1:13-14 I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.
Ephesians 1:3-8 I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child.

Romans 8:31-39 I am free from any condemnation brought against me and I cannot be separated from the love of God.

Unspeakable, unending thanks be to God…

the book button

Take The JOY DARE — and Count 1000 Gifts in 2012 (maybe winning the NikonD90 camera would be a gift too?)

Thank-you is a word that can change you, your world — the whole world! Share the joy?

onethousandgifts-januaryportrait{Download to print here}

{P.S.: Some were wondering where/how to chronicle their #1000gifts in 2012? Any way that works best for you:

in a private journal, with the free app, on your blog and join us in linking up here on the blog every Monday, on the free Year of Graces calendar, or on facebook or twitter (#1000gifts). I’ll be sharing thanks to God each day, Lord willing, on my personal facebook page and on the One Thousand Gifts facebook page — the community there is profoundly encouraging. You are more than welcome to join us! And yes, we will post a new Joy Dare Calendar here on the blog, the first of every month, Lord willing — you can use the Joy Dare Calendar for each month — or not at all.

The point is? Just count any 3 gifts a day — to count 1000 gifts in a year. That’s all. Any way that works for you! Just count your blessings!

And yes — we’ll be updating the blog with more information about the draw for the Nikond90 camera for those who complete the dare and count 1000 gifts in 2012! Open our eyes, Lord, Open our eyes! The Whole Earth is fully of Your Glory! }


Free Printables : 3 Ways to Find Joy this week

1. A Year of Graces {A Free 12 Month Gratitude Calendar} Click to print here
Picnik collagePicnik collage


2. Count all His Gifts Wherever You Are: {One Thousand Gifts Free App}:

Click here for the free #1000gifts app : The gift of joy for a friend? Print this card about the free app for a friend Picnik collage

3. 1 Paper = 1 Week of Joy
Tuck 1 sheet of paper in a pocket & jot down 7 gifts for 7 days:
(perfect booklet to cultivate the habit of the joy hunt for kids)

(folding instructions for booklet here)

Picnik collage


Join us? And happily change everything by keeping your own crazy list of One Thousand Gifts?

Please, jump in, make your life about giving thanks to God! — 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 in our refrain of thanks by sharing the community’s graphic within your post.

Give thanks to the Lord! His Love Endures Forever!