Ann Voskamp

One Thousand Gifts is a wonderful book. Some of Ann’s teaching videos are now being carried on Right Media. In the afterword of her book Ann wrote:

“My gratitude journal is lying open on its permanent home on the counter, enumerating moments, making a ledger of His love. It is Chesterton who encapsulated the truth of my numbering life: “The greatest of poems is an inventory.” I grin happy in the midst. No, I’ll never stop the counting, never cease transcribing the ballad of the world, the rhyme of His heart. He and I, a couplet. Count one thousand gifts, bless the Holy One one hundred times a day, commune with His presence filling the laundry room, the kitchen, the hospital, the graveyard, the highways and byways and workways and all the blazing starways, His presence filling me.

This is what is means to fully live.

I have not made a permanent place on the counter for my gratitude journal. Part of me feels as if, “Oh! but I must!” I did once fill a journal with more that a thousand gifts. And now I have begun again.

Begin right now with me. Lord I thank You for the power of WordPress to reach people all over the globe. Be glorified in this blog I pray.

Lord, I thank You for the sun this morning though is only about 32 outside. I thank You for this lovely candle from Lori that Mara chose for me. Thank You for my new neighbor and friend being home for a few days.

Now you start ….. “Hey Mikey!

1990 Retreat

Here is another way the Lord communicates with me.

April 27, 1990 Friday, Milford Jesuit Center Walking along Little Miami river bank. During a retreat I took a prayerful walk. Quieting myself I was walking slowly and trying to just see what the Lord wanted me to see.

The first stone I was led to pick up looked like a bone. I  seemed to hear this Transient life is passing away and in time will cease to exist. Transient: passing through or by a place with only a brief stay or sojourn.

Porous stone that represents words – air vibrating through vocal chords Transubstantiates words to stone. Change in another substance. Cannot be recalled once spoken.

A caramel stone that lets light in translucent – light shines or glows through it … admitting and diffusing light. Help me to be translucent with Your light.

Gold glitter in pink stone. The serendipities of life. Life as a serendipitist – one who finds valuable or agreeable things not sought for. Show me Your joys Lord.

Hard brown stone of unforgiveness. Impervious to light, not permitting penetration by light or passage. Incapable of being influenced or affected. Impenetrable – inaccessible to knowledge, reason, sympathy. NOT to be moved by logic or persuasion.

And then I saw one more. A stone that had angles on it. I bent to pick it up and it was actually buried in the soil. As I dug around the stone to unearth it discovered it was very large, like the stone the angel rolled away. Indeed, it represented to me the resurrected Christ who makes all the other stones pure and good and holy. This transient life will be transformed into eternal life with Him. The words transubstantiated into rock  that cannot be taken back can be forgiven. The translucent light He shines through my life will one day become the light of heaven, where we do not need sun or moon or stars for light, (REV 21:23-24) The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. The serendipities of life will become everlasting joy (ISA 35:10, 55:11, 60:15 and 61:7). Unforgiveness is changed by forgiveness in Christ. As He has forgiven so should we. (EPH 4:32)

Yes, the large stone, the resurrection of Jesus and His triumph over the grave, death and sin are ours. We must remember and celebrate that! I eventually found a plastic statue of Jesus with His arms raised in victory to put with the large stone.

Several times over the years I have misplaced the small stones. April 19, 2011 I searched the house for the plastic resurrected Jesus and placed it on the mantel with the stone. “I put Him on the mantel once again with the stone the angel rolled away. I need to find the journal where I wrote about the discovery of that stone – at Milford, near the river, and the impact on me as the Lord sent me picking stones one by one, as He used them to teach me. Yes, Lord, I am Yours.”

I keep that large stone as a reminder to me of His amazing work on our behalf. And yes, I keep the plastic statue to remind me His work is ongoing, even in me.

David had 5 stones in his bag as he faced Goliath.

In 1 Samuel 17:40 it says, “Then he {David} took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.”

I believe with these six stones {David did not have the benefit of the resurrected Christ} I can conquer challenges in my life, and so can you!

Grocery Parking Lot

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

Hebrews 13:2

21-20-21 Journal Entry

At the store I departed with my mask still on. As I headed towards my car I noticed a man in the handicapped parking slowly getting out of his van. A motorized wheelchair cart was close by, but not lined up with his door. As he put both of his metal crutches outside the van I asked him if he was aiming for the cart? He said yes and I offered to get it closer to him. He said sure. Those things are difficult to drive. I got it close, though not close enough in my estimation. I decided to stay with him while he got situated.

This man was morbidly obese, wearing a tractor company ball cap, suspenders over his t-shirt and very old, torn jeans. Theses jeans were so old they had barely any blue color left to them. The top of the pockets were torn as was the waistband. As he very slowly stood I encouraged him to take his time until he could get his legs under him. His van windows were open. There was change all over the console.

He began to tell me that he lives on a farm, but is no longer able to farm the land. He asked if I would mind checking one of his suspender clamps in the back. Said his van seat often knocks the clip undone when he gets in. I told him that would be fine, as my husband sometimes wears suspenders, too. His were intact.

As he maneuvered to the wheelchair cart, I noticed there was a checkbook on the console of his van. I asked if he would like me to hand that to him. He said yes. I responded we don’t want to just leave that out here. He had difficulty getting the checkbook into his pocket. Turns out his pocket was full of bank envelopes that looked as if they might contain cash. Through the tears in his jeans I could see the bands for an adult diaper. He seemed so frail that I decided to remain with him until fully seated.

I had passed a tremendously long line at the pharmacy. I made certain he was not headed there, as the drive through window might be a better choice for him. He was not going there. He assured me he had his mask with him..

He has always lived on a farm he said. I asked his favorite part of farming. He used to farm tobacco, though he never used it and never drank either. But tobacco was his money crop. He also used to help his dad milk golden guernseys. He is no longer able to farm. I asked if he leased out the land for others to farm. He said yes.

A group of Guernsey cows in pasture photographed at close quarters

.Finally on the seat,  it took him a few motions to get situated firmly.  He put his crutches in the basket. I wished him well. Told him to stay safe. Saying, “This Covid is nasty stuff and killing people.” He replied, “I know.” He thanked me for my help. Placing my hand on his shoulder I asked God to bless him

This was certainly a God appointment. My timing at the store, my departure from the store, his arrival at the parking lot in a space nearby mine.. none of that was coincidence. Stay with us both Lord Jesus, I pray.

This might just be “Paying it forward.” I too have had crutches at times and drove one of those carts in stores. It is no fun. But thank God for those luxuries when one is frail!

As I walked to my car I wondered if indeed I had entertained an angel unaware of Who he was?

Happy Birthday to Me!

Wow. Turning 71 years old … actually that means I will be in year 72! I still like gifts. And coconut cake is the best! Either Lyn’s homemade recipe or Sam’s Club. Sam’s is huge and yummy. Seems parts of me will never grow up. Though most parts have grown out!

The story goes that when I was born the cord was around my neck. I was known as a ‘blue baby’. When I pinked up my Dad wanted to call me Cherry. My mother let him choose the middle name Cheryl.

I have been clinging to this verse for several years.

O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to all the generations to come. Your power and your righteousness, O God, reach the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you?

Psalm 71:17-19 NRSV

Today I was directed to this one!

Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, even when you turn gray I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.

Isaiah 46:3-4 NRSV

Repeatedly EVEN TO …. old age and gray hairs! Seems like a happy birthday wish to me!

In 2009 I wrote this story about a turtle at the pond. The photos were taken in July, but I think the story is perennial. This is how some of my prayers and insights evolve.


I came upon a turtle at the pond today. I missed her completely the first time I walked past. She was totally camouflaged by duck weed. The lily leaves were withering and the ones left standing placed shadows around her similar to the shape of her shell. I took one photo and drew closer to the water’s edge for another, hoping she would not slip into the water and vanish completely from my sight.

I posed no threat as she remained in her position on the log. I began to realize that she must be a very old turtle by her size. As I changed my position along the shore, I could see her more clearly.

I noticed the lily leaves, first as obstacles to my photographic efforts, and then as tattered, themselves old from a hot summer of sun and storms and wind. I was reminded of the poem I wrote at the Cincinnati Nature Center 19 years ago about the lily pads, and the subsequent admonition from the Lord to me, “Perhaps I could ask you just to be a lily leaf. Fill up with mercurial spheres and overflow. Stand and tip. Ponder this My lily shield.”

(To read entire poem see https://wordpress.com/post/treasures-in-plain-sight.org/6669 )

Here I am at the same location these many years later, seeking solace and direction at my current age in my current state.

The next photo attempt brought the lovely lily bloom into my photographic range. I had seen a dropped petal in the weeds along the shoreline. It was fresh and somewhat velvety as I placed it between folds of paper in my journal. When I tried to frame the next photo, the blossom made for good composition. Tired leaves, old turtle, flower blooming, though fading.  Suddenly I was looking at a mini portrait of my life in the very frog pond that inspired me so many years ago. I have been wrestling with the topic of aging with the pain and distress that seem to be increasing in my body as I age. 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18 came to mind: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  

I had recently mentioned to my husband that I do not like to grow white roses as the petals begin to darken with the slightest bruising. Here I see a creamy lily flower bearing the beating of sun wind and storms and barely showing the effects in her waxy petals. The aging turtle remained on the log, still enjoying her sunbath, unperturbed by one woman on the shore taking digital photos. The lily leaves though tattered, yet most still erect on their flexible stalks, able to gather a summer shower and tip when the pad is full.

At first glance my negative mind set cries, “Just look at her! Surrounded by decay and destruction! Duckweed hanging on her lovely shell. Leaves decaying and spoiled all around her! All alone on that log!”  Then as I ponder, I realize her wisdom caused her to cover her shell with duckweed to blend in, her courage in taking a sunbath even if the other turtles choose not to, and regardless of her surroundings she is looking up, and even now, the changes in my attitude begin. Upon closer inspection I can see the lovely colors in her neck, the awesome nails and webbing in her feet. The coloring continues around the under-edge of her shell into her legs.

Most importantly, I realize she is looking up, as I am called to do, fixing my eyes upon things eternal.  Letting go of the obvious pain and aging issues, I am able to relax on my favorite bench and simply soak in the pond activity: belching frogs, passing humans, bird song and noonday joy.

“Stand and tip. Ponder this My lily shield.”

May I too have wisdom and courage and the ability to always look up!

Journal Entry, Pony Bit

I once wrote about pony bits. You can read that post at https://wordpress.com/post/treasures-in-plain-sight.org/145 There is a photo of me in that blog entry with the pony bit in my mouth!

I came across a journal entry from March 12, 2011. At the time I was working on improving my sketching skill. You can see, not a lot of skill there. But I also did not practice much. Was also working on a Sunday School class idea.

Here is a scan of the journal entry.

There is another good Scripture that talks about us and bits. James 3:3-6

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

With all the negative uproar currently in this country I thought going back to this image was a great idea. We need the Lord to help us control our tongue. Each one of us! It seems we teeter on the edge of destruction every week with accusations both political, medical, personal. The list goes on and on.

God help us to give You control of our tongue. Help us to honor You with every word we speak, I pray.

July 1994

This is a selection from my journal. I hope it shows you one time the Lord brought healing to me. He is no respecter of persons. What was done for me can be for you also.

In 1994 I was having dental problems, extractions, etc. 1961 had been traumatic for me because I was in the Dentist’s chair when my father died. I cried out. The dentist stopped his work for a minute. I believe that was the moment my Dad passed from this earth. I was eleven years old. I want to share this entry as I think it shows how God can reach into our lives and bring healing, even 33 years later. My journal from July, 1994 reads in part as follows.

During an Inner Healing Nurturing Class that Betty led I created a composite picture of me and my dental history and tried to see Jesus in it. Nothing. I said, “OK Lord, what do You want me to see?” He said, “How did you get to the dentist on the day your dad died?”

I remembered walking from school to Doctor Pope’s office. I was terrified of the dentist office. I refused Novocain because of my fear of needles that began when I was 3. Making myself go, I was lonely, afraid, dreading with every step and suddenly – in the here and now-  the eyes of my understanding opened! I had mentioned to Bob (the previous night) that I continue to abandon myself and what the Lord wants me to do. Why?

Well there I was walking from school to the dentist. The horrible aloneness of it washed over me. When I called home after my appointment for mom to come get me daddy was dead. When I got home there was no one to ask how my dental appointment went and how I was feeling about his death. I learned and believed that I was not important, that to neglect myself was good and right. From my class notes “Hurts can set patterns we use.” The Lord broke into the scene of self-abandonment saying, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (Deut 31:6c, Hebrews 13:5b).

And His words began to flow in my spirit.

“You will hear a voice behind you saying ‘this is the way, walk in it. When you turn to the left or turn to the right.’” (Isaiah 30:21 RSV)

“See I have carved you on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16)

“It was not right that you were left alone as a child to cope with so much pain and terror from your broken leg at age 3 to dental fillings at age 11.  

“I am with you always.”(Matthew 28:20)

“Cling to me. Lean on me. Draw from me. Surround that girl- child with loving comforts. Nurture her. Do not give her up to terror. Soak Her in love and prayer. I WILL HELP YOU.”

I was blessed and amazed. Here were a few of the reasons I continually abandoned myself and the things the Lord wanted me to do. There was a song from The Haven of Rest that encouraged me during that time. Here is a version by someone else, same song though!

“I look to the shepherd. He meets all my needs, Beside the still waters He faithfully leads bringing peace to my soul as His love makes me whole, Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me, follow me all the days of my life. ” Walt Harrah

I’ve been touched deeply by the Lord’s revelation of the depth and intensity of my repeated childhood terrors. I know this is a serious call to more patience, love and gentleness with myself, more godliness in my life and activities. The Lord said, “I WILL HELP YOU.”

Giving her up to terror. I know how to do that so very well! And You gave me exact instructions how to do otherwise.

I am moved – acutely conscious – giving deep sighs of relief and almost breath sobs.

I have wanted to know for a long time why I do this and how to stop – and You are leading me out of it. I pray Psalm 28:9 to You, King Jesus, my Holy Redeemer. Teach me, show me, save me from myself. Left to myself I do not know how to soak myself in love and prayer – but I am willing to listen and try. Keep me flexible Lord. I feel as if I could write ALL DAY, for days.

Oh Jesus, I need lots of help and holiness.

Molly Lin Dutina, 1994