I drove four hours through the heart of Chicago, with two traveling companions, to hear her say "Eucharisteo. His love endures forever." She who has taught me much over the past two years... standing before 2500 women giving testimony of how the hard eucharisteo changes you.
My sister and I stood in line for 25 minutes to hug her (yes, Kari, you read that right... me, this person who has personal space issues stood in line to hug Ann Voskamp). She who is more gracious in person than I ever expected said, "It is nice to meet you." and when I said, "Does anyone ever thank you? I want to say thank you for teaching me how to count gifts. Thank you for coming today." She smiled and gently laughed and in in her quiet voice said, "oh no! It is me who is blessed. It is so hard to leave my family but when I go home I overflow with God's love. I am so blessed to be here!" Grace.
We retraced our path on the way home. Four more hours back through Chicago, crossing the skyway bridge, returning to Indiana. Four hours for three women to talk and share. We shared parts of our stories. And in our stories, I heard eucharisteo... giving thanks for the hard things that we have lived... those hard things that have changed us and deepened our faith.
I wonder how many more hard eucharisteo stories I would have of God's grace in my life?
How many times have I shook my fist at God rather than open my hands wide to receive His gifts?
How many times have I fought the circumstance rather than surrender to the grace of the moment?
How much hard eucharisteo have I turned down rather than embraced?
I know that when I embrace the hard eucharisteo... the giving of thanks in the pain, in the dark... I change.
Joining with the gratitude community at Ann's and counting some more...
... friends to travel with
... incredible hospitality
... a free night's stay
... time with my sister
... conversation with Julie
... an adventurous dad
... a place to camp
... an 8 year old who biked 32 miles
... a beautiful campfire
... the beauty of the stars and moon
... travel safety
... hearing Ann
... laughing with Anita
... listening to Shari
... worshipping with sisters I have never met
... time to write
... over 12,000 words
... a chance to pursue a dream
... a quiet morning at home
... my computer that I take for granted
... life lesson conversation with the 14 year old, again
... laughing together as we partner together to rear these 3 Es
... knowing we are a team
... missing him when I'm gone
... coming home