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It’s a new day! It’s a New Year!  It’s a new beginning. 

This morning Dan and I awoke later than usual on this Sabbath day…the first day of the New Year.  We had travelled in the car for eleven hours yesterday and were travel-weary and glad to be in the comfort of our own beds, in our own home. 

 Sundays are very special to us. It is a day of Sabbath; of rest and recuperation from the busyness of our week.  We read and talk and rest on Sunday mornings.  We take the Sabbath seriously and find that, in doing so, our weeks go more smoothly than if we made that special day just like any other. 

 Right now I am reading an incredible book that my long-time friend, Vickie, gave me a week ago for my birthday. I wasn’t familiar with it but she said she knows I will love it.  And she is so right.  The book, by Ann Voskamp, is titled One Thousand Gifts….A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.    

I am so blessed to have been given this book right at the beginning of a New Year.  Reading its pages has helped me to formulate something I want to do this coming year.  The writer talks about her struggles to see God in her life.  She has weathered some terrible storms and has faced the doubts and fears and anger and grief that most of us have faced or will face at some point in our lives.

The book speaks of understanding true joy by being more aware of the gifts inherent in our lives every day.  And in the turning of pages I am thinking of all the many gifts I am given that I simply take for granted……and often don’t even think of as a blessing or a gift. 

 I am challenged by reading this book to see more gifts in my every day.   And not just to see them but to actually write them down in a journal.  In doing so I know I will find more joy and comfort in knowing that God is with me in every moment of my day…….. 

1.     Savoring the holiday flavor of a cup of fresh-brewed tea.  A gift from my sister, Margie.

2.     Sitting in my armchair discussing what we are reading with the love of my life.

3.     Napping in the afternoon.

4.      Listening to instrumental praise music on Pandora on-line.

5.     The warmth of the sun on a cool winter day.

6.     A friend (Vickie) who knows me well enough to know what I would love to read.

 This is the beginning of my list. I will carry a little notebook in my purse and in my car to jot down incidents that are my gift of the moment. I don’t think it will be hard to fill the year with a thousand gifts.  This is a challenge I feel privileged to embark upon. 

 Voskamp writes as she begins her list, “That is the beginning and I smile. I can’t believe how I smile.  I mean, they are just the common things and maybe I don’t even know they are gifts really until I write them down and that is really what they look like. Gifts He bestows. This writing it down—it is sort of like….unwrapping love.” 

 Unwrapping love…..I love that concept…….because I know God loves me and that in the essence of each day He provides so many gifts I miss………buried in activity, obligations, appointments and……………busyness.

What gifts are you missing each day? Perhaps you could start your own list and continue it all year.  By keeping track in this physical way, I believe I will not only become more aware but I will also gain the blessing of saying “Thanks!” to God in a tangible way that is in line with living my life as a prayer. 


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Comment by Kate Stalter on March 19, 2012 at 8:07pm

Joanne, I read this when you first sent it out-- and just re-read it. What an amazing gift - I have just been journaling about gratitude, and how it's an area I want to pay more attention to. Thanks for writing this -- it's not only meaningful and valuable on New Year's Day, but at any time of year!

Peace and thank you,


Comment by Erin Casey on January 13, 2012 at 10:45am

We started a new semester at church this week, and our Wednesday night ladies' class is using this book for our study. It's funny that I hadn't heard of it until your post, and now here we are spending a semester reading it. Looking forward to it! Have a blessed day, Joanne.

Comment by Erin Casey on January 9, 2012 at 5:31pm

Thanks for sharing this, Joanne. What a great perspective to take as we start 2012.

The book reminds me a little of God's Guest List by Debbie Macomber which takes a similar approach to how we view the people who come into our lives. And I have to say, I'm very glad my path has crossed with yours.


Erin Casey

Comment by Kevin Miller - Free Agent on January 7, 2012 at 11:27pm

That book has been a favorite of Teri's for a year or more. I think she bought a case and gave them away. She reads to us as a family from it now and then. And I think she's nearing 1,000 on her grateful list!

Comment by Joanne Miller on January 6, 2012 at 7:37am

I am awed by the comments from all of you.  I have been told my blog is out on Facebook too (although who has time for Facebook??!!)  So glad many are picking up this attitude of gratitude!  It's what we need to turn this world around from pessimism and anger and frustration.  I find I am writing more and more about being grateful. It makes me more aware.  I am GRATEFUL for all of you!  :)  

Comment by Teri Miller on January 3, 2012 at 9:47pm

Joanne -
This is one of my absolute favorite books.  I got ahold of it last year, within the first week it was published, right from Ann's site, where I'm one of her biggest blog fans (aholyexperience.com).  It was our family summer reading this past year...and yes, we've been working thru our own 'thousand gifts' notebook...about halfway to 1000. 

Ann's writing has deeply influenced me, and our family.  God has spoken thru her lyrical, honest, compassionate words, to convict us about the reverence of Holy Week, the simplicity of Christmas, the sanctity of relational presence.  She was the inspiration for my 2011 memorization of the book of James...which has been perhaps the most impacting spiritual discipline of my life.

All that to say...

Amen; alleluia!  A beautiful, life-changing book.  And a life-changing practice - to recognize the thousand gifts unfolding before me, the divine in the mundane, glorious beauty & wonder, when I take the time to perceive it!

Group Leader
Comment by Ashley Logsdon on January 3, 2012 at 7:42am

Love this, Mama...and of course have so, so many things to be thankful for.  Thank YOU for reminding  me of that!

Comment by Robert Clinton on January 2, 2012 at 3:10pm


Beautiful… It’s so easy to lose sight, and often we do, of what joys and gifts are present at each moment. There is an ego of busyness that works hard at keeping us from thinking about those things that really matter. I think there can be a gift found in almost everything around us, but we have to stop, breathe, and take notice with a simple appreciation. Off the top of my head, I’ll give thanks to these 6 moments…

  1. You, Dan, the entire Miller family and this entire community have been an incredible blessing to me and my family.
  2. Through thick and thin, my wife and I still walk forward strong together.
  3. My daughter Alena (she’s 3) likes to make me get up and dance or play silly games with her while I’m working.
  4. Nicholas just lost is tooth, and it’s precious to me that he’s holding onto the $5 bill all day that the tooth fairy gave him.
  5. My dog hates our hardwood floor, and I laugh when you get her to run across it chasing a ball.
  6. It’s incredible to go outside and ponder the size this universe, and the unknown possibilities.

Thanks Joanne, you are amazing to say the least…

Comment by Theresa on January 2, 2012 at 1:02pm

Hey girl-  This is getting spread around on FB!  (Yeah, I know...you're never there; you may wanna take a peek and see how famous you've become. ;) )  

Joanne, you have such a gift with words.  How often do I read something that your wrote to find that it gently lingers in my mind loooooong after I read it.  (I still reference your piece about the tapestry of life when I encourage someone going through a difficult time.)  And just this morning, as I poured myself a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice (well as fresh as Costco anyway,) your post came back to my mind....and I celebrated that glass of orange juice.  (It really was yummy!)  

Sending you love...

Group Leader
Comment by Michael Galvan on January 2, 2012 at 11:55am

Happy New Year Joanne and thanks for posting.  What a great reminder to be grateful and conscious of our gifts and blessings.  Something I needed in my life right now.  I will put it into practice for 2012 and will expect great things this year.  Kim and I thought of you and Dan this past Christmas season and wondered if you made your annual visit to Chicago for your birthday.  Either way Happy Belated Birthday and my best to Dan.  You and Dan are a gift to me and my family.

With Great Expectations..........


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