Thursday, March 12, 2015

1000 Gifts


It has been nearly a year since I began keeping my "gift journal," in response to Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts." I confess I haven't reached the 1000, but I'm close and I still have four weeks to go, so I may get there.  It's not that I don't recognize God's gifts all around, it's just that I don't always get them written down.

   Now that the exercise of noting God's abundance is nearly over, I'm thinking about the next step.  Will I keep going, try for another thousand?  I won't.  The habit of noticing is now deeply ingrained in my routine and the novelty of keeping a journal has passed.  What I have done is re-read some of my entries, hoping they would reveal more about my relationship with God.

     One thing I discovered is the importance of our five senses.  As writers, we always reminded to use the five senses but reading over my journal entries underlines that precept.
   Here's a sample.  
    Sense of touch.  "Warm tiles beneath bare feet," "warm sun on 
                                  my back, soft dirt under my fingers," "a cool                                                   pillow," "silky, black cat fur."                                    

   Taste:  "Strawberries and ice cream."                          "Coffee." "Fresh  raspberries." 

      Smell:  "A thousand hyacinths scent the air." "The scent of lilacs."                            "A cedar chest full of memories."

   Hearing:  "Newly washed towels snapping                      in the wind." "Wild geese                                    honking overhead." "A tinkling                            stream." 

    Sight:  "Blue sea - white sail, beauty like a shard to the heart."
                " Butchart Gardens wearing a tulip dress."  "Ebony sky    
edged in silver." " Pink jet-trails in an azure sky."

   Of course some gifts meet all the senses "Freshly tilled earth," is a gift to the eyes, the nose, and the fingers.  It also invokes memories of the taste of fresh lettuce.

     One thing that struck me as I read my list is the importance of colour.  Over and over I remark on the astounding reds, greens, and blues of this earth.  Then I'm amazed all over again at the subtleties of silver and grey and sepia and steel.
 What a marvellous gift God has given in the ability to see colour.  If you want to read about the science behind that,click here.  Or just offer a prayer of gratitude.

    My "Year of 1000 Gifts" has revealed much to me.  I'm a singer, so music has always been important in my life, but since I've recorded the gifts of music, listening or performing,  I realize what an astounding blessing God has given me with a voice to sing and ears to hear.
       I've learned that the natural world speaks to me of God in every way.   I cannot see a spider web, or a sunny dandelion or a snow-capped mountain without exclaiming, "My God is an Awesome God!"

  There are also many notations thanking God for my relationships with family, friends, church . . . I have been blessed with wonderful people in my life.  However, I tend to see people as people, rather than God's creation.  For the next stage of my gratitude journal, I plan to focus on people and how they reflect God to me. 

    Of course, one of my greatest gratitudes is to Ann Voskamp for motivating me to find 1000 gifts.
    So, what about you, dear readers?  Are you inspired to record your blessings?  Will you share?

Alice Valdal lives in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, where it is spring and she has her hands in the dirt again. Visit her at or at!/alice.valdal.5

Published Books.


  1. Thanks for a lovely post Alice. I love the way you use your gratitude journal to list your gifts!

  2. Thanks so much for your beautiful post, Alice. I've never kept a journal but every day I thank the Lord for those surprising blessings that come my way!.

  3. Alice, great post! In recent months I've been watching and listening to the native birds who visit our yard. The magpies, in particular, are friendly and my kids and I have enjoyed getting to know them and their unique personalities. This morning the magpies and crows were fighting in the air, chasing each other, diving and swooping between trees. The crows were invading the magpie's territory. Nature is a lovely reminder of God's handiwork and blessings.

  4. Thanks for your comments, ladies. Narelle, I can find only one reference to bird song in my gratitude journal. Thanks for pointing out another blessing.
    Keeping the journal has been soul-inspiring. I heartily recommend it as a way to tune our minds to notice our world, in the micro as well as the macro sense.

  5. Alice, one of the many blessings I could record would be the connections of the electronic world. I would be so much poorer without my being able to read the thoughts my writer friends share here. Thank you for your obedience and your discernment.

  6. I've got that one, Judith, along with electric lights, hot and cold running water and a warm bed. So many things we take for granted. Thanks for reading.

  7. I love all the sounds and sights and tastes etc you have conjured up for me via your post, Alice, as I sit at my desk here in Australia! Well done to you for almost completing that 'gratitude journey'--sounds like it has been a very fruitful experience for you all round. I do keep a journal, but it is not really a record of blessings. Instead, I just put snippets of Scripture in there that have impacted me or a quote from a book or a record of some event that has touched me. A blessings journal sounds like a wonderful idea though.

    1. Thanks for commenting Jo-Anne. I admit, this is the first time I've stuck with a journal for a whole year; :-)

  8. It's taken me a while to get to read this but I am glad I did. Thanks for sharing your words and pictures,Alice.

  9. Lovely post! I do write down the blessings I see in my daily journal. And it always makes me smile!