(This 2018 Gratitude Challenge is based loosely on guides that Ann Voskamp has shared over the years in relation to “One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are”)
- Gifts heard – “I Can Only Imagine” (always seems to play at just the right moment), Chris Stapleton’s new album, Turnpike Troubadours radio on Pandora
- Gifts to treasure – The generosity of photographers from horse shows assisting me in gathering the last of Brooke’s show pics
- Gifts that are sour, sweet, and perfectly tasty – A tie between dill pickles and the fresh squeeze of citrus (especially lime); Sweet is my jam!! (unintentional pun) But I’ve been trying make a break from the sugar addiction. Danielle Walker’s Mint Chocolate Milkshake is the perfect answer to my sweet tooth; I’m hooked on a copycat recipe for Starbucks Egg Sous Vide bites that can be made in the Instant Pot (or even in the oven)
- 3 Yellow Gifts of Fresh Mercy – (Admission upfront – this one is a stretch for me, but here goes.) My bowl of fake lemons. They add a punch of color to an otherwise neutral apartment and they’ve come to grow on me even though I don’t like the color yellow too much. Added bonus, they remind me of Brooke because she thought the bowl of fake lemons was ridiculous. The yellow sun! I’ve grown to have a whole new appreciation for the sun living in MN. It is in short supply here. #LovePurpleLiveGold – Yesterday marked 300 days since Brooke’s accident and we received a beautiful gift from LSU. On September 27, 2017, LSU flew a flag in Brooke’s memory. Yesterday it arrived in a case with a marker that included the last line of the Alma Mater – “…and may thy spirit live in us, FOREVER LSU!” So, those are some yellow things, but how do they relate to “mercy?” The way all things relate – I am undeserving of such gifts, but God provides them anyway. (In hindsight, it was easier than it first appeared)
- Gifts Above, Beneath, Beside – As you know, the transition from 2017 to 2018 was a difficult one. Ironically, I can see all three of these gifts in those moments as we bid farewell to 2017 and stepped bravely into 2018. On the beach in the Dominican Republic, there were fireworks in the sky above me. There was warm sand beneath my feet. Most importantly, I didn’t face the New Year alone – I had my family beside.
- 3 Things about Me that I’m grateful for – My physical health; without it daily life would be a struggle. My ability to adapt. My talent for cooking.
- 3 Ways You Glimpsed the Startling Grace of God – An orchid that bloomed even when I was convinced that it had succumb to my murderous, green thumb. The friends and family who have spearheaded efforts to raise donations for charities in Brooke’s memory. The friends, family, and strangers who wrapped their arms and hearts around us in our darkest hour.
- A Thing Worn, Given Away, Shared – A good, heavy coat when the temps are below zero. Extra furniture for which we had no room but were able to pass along to a wonderful charity. Inspirational books shared amongst friends.
- A Saving Grace – Tamiflu!
- 3 Things Red- Cardinals appearing when a sign is desperately needed; The beautiful red, white, and gold of the Delta Biscoff cookie package; and the deep smoky red of Tabasco Chipotle hot sauce
- 3 Gifts on Paper – an acceptance letter from Dallas Theological Seminary; a map of the Minneapolis Skyway and schedule of #SB52 (SuperBowl LVII) activities on Nicollet Mall; and a prescription for Tamiflu (yes, it is worth mentioning twice)
- A gift stitched, hammered, and woven: Stitched: I am blessed to have not one, but two, “t-shirt” quilts that so beautifully display different chapters of Brooke’s life. Hammered: The thin band on the “I Love You” bracelet that my daughters gave me for the first Mother’s Day after losing their sister, Brooke. Woven: The matching #LoveYourMelon hats in the “Welcome to Minneapolis” swag bags that I put together for the family arriving for Super Bowl LVII Weekend!
- 3 Gifts found outside: Footprints across the snowy, frozen Mississippi River; Sweet Olive plants; Warm sand, salty air, crashing waves