May 292013
 

As I was thinking and praying about what to write this week, I had a strong desire to write about something positive and uplifting.

Many of my posts have dealt with some hard stuff but today I want to focus on hope.

There are many books that have left a lasting impression on me but two of the most significant are The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith and One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.

Both of these books literally changed my life. They helped me change my thinking and how I see the world.

The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith walks you through the journey of discovering who God truly is by looking to the person who knows Him best, Jesus Christ.

Smith suggests that we all have ideas (narratives) about who we think God is and how He works in our

imgreslives. However, many of our ideas about God are incorrect even though we may not be aware they are faulty.

For example, I held a belief that I would never be good enough for God. That He held high expectations for me and I would never live up to His expectations.

Smith helped this false truth come to light. He helped me to understand God’s unconditional love.

One of the most amazing things about Smith’s book is that at the end of each chapter he shares a “soul training” exercise. An activity or concept to work through to help you develop true narratives.

For the first time, as I read a book I experienced the hope of actually adopting the new information to my life. So often books share wonderful ideas but leave you hanging as to how to make lasting change.

The second special book is Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. It opened my eyes to all the blessing around me.

For years I had been wandering around wondering where my joy was. I felt lost and guilty that as a Christian I was not more joyous. I had met joyous Christians and read about joy in Scripture, but I was at a loss for truly experiencing a lasting joy.

When I started reading Voskamp’s book I felt like I was reading my own journal! Her words, her feelings, fears, where just like mine. For the first time I did not feel alone.

In her amazingly poetic voice, Voskamp shares how thanksgiving comes before the blessing. That is, to experience joy we must give thanks and recognize all the blessings around us. Even give thanks for the tough seasons in life, for the little things and the not so fun things like dirty dishes and laundry.

Voskamp points to many places in Scripture where the key to being joyful in all circumstances is to give thanks. Naturally I would like to think I am a person that is thankful but I was blown away to see Scriptures that I had read several times, jump off the page. I had missed it. To be joyous is to be thankful.

I followed Voskamp’s leading and started a blessing journal, writing down each thing I was thankful for. Not only did it help shift my focus but it also encouraged me to take time throughout the day to notice. The birds, flowers, the little things that often go unseen.

Am I forever in a happy go lucky mood?  No!  Even though I wish I was. That it is not me. I am however, better equipped to experience joy. I give thanks more often and I pay closer attention to the little things.

What books have impacted your life?

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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