Amy Scott's Thoughts

Sharing the thoughts that bounce around in my brain!

It’s here! November 21, 2011

Filed under: One Thousand Gifts Challenge — Amy Scott @ 3:16 pm

I can’t believe it’s the week of Thanksgiving! I feel a bit like a school kid – really excited for a break and lots of good food! It’s hard to not be jazzed about a little less work and more time with family and friends. My week is full of fun baking, meals with some awesome students, family time and then the highlight of the after thanksgiving season – decorating the house for Christmas. I’ve done a good job of keeping Christmas tucked away in my back closet, but come Friday, it will be pulled out and on display! My Christmas shopping is 85% done and my Christmas cards are 100% done and waiting to mailed in December! I am ready for this week and I’m ready for the Christmas season.

As we come up on Thanksgiving, my mind keeps contemplating what I am thankful are. I am so blessed and when I really think about it, I’m overwhelmed by the Lord’s goodness in my life.  I am thankful for my husband and our marriage. I am thankful for our home and the sanctuary it is to me. I am thankful for my family who I am blessed be friends with and enjoy their company. I am thankful for the ministry I’m a part of at Bethel Church – for each child and family I get to interact with. I’m blessed by the students who have grown up out of my classes, but are still a part of my life. I am thankful for so many things… these are just a few that resonate with me today.

I’m still keeping my 1000 gifts journal. I’m over halfway there to my second 1000. It’s been important for me to stop each day and write down the blessings and gifts I see in my life. Even in the small things God is there and very active. I can see it as I go throughout my everyday, ordinary life. The to-do lists might pile up, my phone might be ringing off the hook, I might have too much on my plate, but throughout the craziness I can see ways that the Lord is speaking to me through His gifts. Life doesn’t get easier when you’re searching for gifts, but it does get richer. I am thankful and that is really all I can say!


Give Thanks November 10, 2011

Filed under: Children's Ministry,One Thousand Gifts Challenge — Amy Scott @ 1:47 pm

There is a craft that I love to do every year around this time.  November is the perfect time to focus on thankfulness and I love crafts that really highlight being thankful. Oriental Trading offers a great craft called Tree of Thanks. I just call them Thankful Trees. The tree is easy to construct and then the leaves are attached with glue dots. The glue dots make the craft mess free and make sure that the leaves don’t fall off – which will happen with regular glue or glue sticks.

I encourage the girls to use all their leaves and write one item they are thankful for on each leaf. Some of them moan like this is an impossible task, but I think it’s good to push them to think hard about what they are thankful for. For me, I feel like I could have used double the leaves I was given. Obviously this foam tree can’t hold all that I am thankful for. The one thing that I learned from doing the One Thousand Gifts Challenge is that there are so many gifts in each day. Yes, there are things like my home, family, and friends that are constant things in my life, but each day the good gifts of the Lord abound. The things I wrote on my tree are some of my top blessings and some just random ones- like pajamas.  My heart always feels so light as write down each gift the Lord has given to me. I look forward to this craft night every year. It’s a great visual reminder of how blessed we are and it’s a call to thankfulness.

Last night overall was a great night! We started of with part two of our Whoonu tournament. It’s a game all about your favorite things and we are taking turns to make sure that everyone in class gets to pick her favorite things. This game is great for getting to know what the girls like and don’t like. Our lesson time focused on prayer and what it is. I want the girls to come away with the idea that prayer is talking to God just like they would talk to their friends. Nothing fancy, but simple, honest communication with God. We celebrated Audrey’s birthday by singing “Happy Birthday” and each blowing out a candle. They loved it just as much as I thought they would! We closed the night by working on our Thankful Trees. As I left the church last night, I could help but smile as I thought about how blessed I am by my class and by the youth helpers that share it with me.


When You’re Looking October 26, 2011

Filed under: One Thousand Gifts Challenge — Amy Scott @ 2:49 pm

It seems to me that I have enjoyed the autumn colors a lot more this year. I normally love this season and look forward to it every year. However, this year seems more intense to me. Maybe it’s because I’m being more intentional. I’m looking around me more. I’m keeping my eyes open. Everyday I’m looking for new gifts. I’m constantly scanning the horizon and keeping myself alert to God’s blessings. With this kind of mindset, every time I hop in the car, I’m looking at the autumn colors and thanking God for His beautiful creation. Because I’m looking more, I’m seeing more. It makes sense, doesn’t it? It seems so simple. I started to ponder why this autumn meant so much to me. I’m pretty sure the trees aren’t the most beautiful they have ever been… I’m pretty sure the weather hasn’t been the most stellar it’s ever been. It’s all in the outlook. Things I would look at once and think “nice” are now something that I admire everyday. Each drive through dancing leaves or each tree is a blessing to me. My eyes are open to all the beauty around me and I’m not taking it for granted or tuning it out. Normally by October I’m already itching to listen to Christmas music and I get excited to see Christmas popping up in the stores. This year, I have been so content with fall that I have not yet moved on to craving winter and Christmas. Being content where I am has led me to not “needing” the next thing. I know I’ll be ready to move on to the next season and the joys that come with it soon, but for now I’m just looking around and finding the daily blessings in all I’m seeing. No need to pine for tomorrow – today is full!


Life After 1000 October 17, 2011

Filed under: One Thousand Gifts Challenge — Amy Scott @ 1:31 pm

I haven’t lived 1000 years, but I have experienced 1000 gifts. I started this gift counting challenge on August 21st and completed it on October 10th. 50 days of intentional looking, of writing notes, of blessings. Only 50 days… it went by quickly. 1000 gifts seems like a lot, like it would take forever. I’m learning that with eyes-wide open I would probably see 1000 gifts in one day. But I’m not there. I still struggle with seeing the good in bad. I still like it when things go my way. I have a harder time counting gifts when I am out of control. However, I have learned that my desire for control is what kills the joy in the day to day moments. To experience joy is to let go and let God do His thing. I feel like I’ve learned so much in a short period of time, but I always feel like I have barely scratched the surface of what there is to learn in gift counting.

I’m still counting. I’m at 1091 as I type this blog. I have made a few changes to my gift list challenge. While counting 1000 gifts, I didn’t allow myself to use the same gift twice. I really wanted to find 1000 distinct gifts.  It was hard to do this because so many things bless me continually… like soda or Scentsy or sunshine. Now that I have reached 1000, I have decided that I will allow duplicates in my gift list. If the sunshine really moves me today, I will write it down. If they sunshine next Thursday really moves me, I will write it down. Each day the simple blessings of life are before me. Do I see them? Am I taking note? Am I grateful for my toothbrush or modern appliances? Did I notice that smile? Did that friendly word really sink in? Like I said, if my eyes were really open I would see 1000 gifts in a day, but I know that I am not that aware. I strive to be. I know that  by living my life through the lens of finding blessings, I will see them more and more. It’s a muscle that grows with discipline.

I still tend to look to the negative. This process hasn’t broken my pessimistic outlook. I wish it would. I desperately seek to see more good than bad. My only hope is that I can see all the good and remember that there is good even in bad. This last week, I’ve had some very stressful situations playing over and over in my mind. Every time I would start to worry about a person or the outcome of a situation, I would just go to prayer and bless. Instead of worry, I chose to bless. Instead of fear, I chose to bless. I’m still learning to make this a habit. It amazed me how much peace it brought me. Look for the blessings, look for opportunities to bless. This is my new outlook, this is my hope!


Almost finished and yet just begun October 7, 2011

Filed under: One Thousand Gifts Challenge — Amy Scott @ 11:03 am

A week ago I finished reading One Thousand Gifts for the second time. I’m positive it impacted me just as much reading it the second time around. I realize that I still have so much growth and change I want to see in my attitude and heart. My gift journal sits tallied at 960 gifts. Soon my 1000 gifts goal will be reached. Now that I’m nearing the end of the challenge, I’ve decided that I am not finished. I will not stop counting. The journal is long and I will fill it. I will keep counting the blessings of the Lord and daily remind myself how active the Creator is in my life.  Gift counting has opened my eyes in a lot of ways, but I know that I’m not there yet. Not where I want to be. I will keep counting until I get there or until I die… I guess I’ll be counting for a while in that case!

A certain portion of the book stood out to me this time as I read it. I think it was the key to why I still struggle to find joy while counting gifts. The counting of the gifts is supposed to bring joy to life and it does, but I wanted more joy. I want deeper joy. Something else had to be the issue. Ann’s words hit me hard as  I read, “My own wild desire to protect my joy at all costs is the exact force that kills my joy.” Wow, that is me.  I try to protect my joy. I don’t want it to be tainted or stolen so I hold on to it so tightly that I kill it with my force.

Ann uses the example of a flame. When I try to protect my joy from life’s trials, I’m keeping God’s oxygen away from my flame. In order to let the flame breathe, I need to let go. I need to understand that I will be emptied. When my hands are open to God and His will then joy will be fanned into flame. Ann puts it best when she says, “The secret of joy’s flame: Humbly let go. Let go of trying to do, let go of trying to control… let go of my own way, let go of my own fears.” Again, I just sit here dumbfounded! I need to let go. I can never do enough or control enough to keep my own joy. All the doing and the trying and the holding is what is extinguishing joy’s light in my life.

Ann goes on to say, “I can empty because counting His graces has awakened me to how He cherishes me, holds me, passionately values me. I can empty because I am full of His love. I can trust.” It all comes down to trust. I know from counting gifts that God is good and He loves me. I know that trust is truly believing and living my faith. To not trust God says that I don’t really believe what I say. Can I trust? Can let go and be empty? These are the questions that I wrestle with and desperately want to say YES to…

In one short sentence Ann sums it up, “Only self can kill joy.” Here I’ve been blaming this and that. I’ve been pointing my fingers at external sources. I didn’t realize it, but now I see it clearly. I’ve been killing my joy. I’ve been self-sabotaging living life to the fullest. It’s me! I’m to blame. Not my circumstances. Joy is found in letting go… dying to myself… accepting the hard along with the good.

Like I said before, I am not there yet. Light bulb moments don’t bring instant change to life. They shed light, but it’s up to me to do something with that I find. I know that this change of heart and mind will take practice and will be a repetition of getting it right and getting it wrong. More than ever, I am determined! I will keep counting. I will keep my eyes open. I will let go. I desperately want joy!


Counting chickens… October 1, 2011

Filed under: One Thousand Gifts Challenge — Amy Scott @ 2:35 pm

Okay, you know the saying “don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched.” Well, I did it… I started to count the chickens and not all of them hatched like I thought they would. No – not real chickens… my gift chickens! Strange way of putting this, I know! Let me explain!

It happened for the first time with gifts 852 and 853. I was jazzed on Thursday. I thought something really good was coming my way and in my excitement I listed it as a gift. My joy was there and it was a blessing in that moment so I wrote it down. However, these gift hadn’t really appeared yet, I just knew it was coming… Well, it didn’t come. By Friday, the gifts that I had written down were just a disappointment. I took it pretty hard.

What do I do now? Is the total on my gift journal off? Do I scratch them from the list and renumber? I’m so puzzled as to what to do. Is it good enough that it was a gift in the moment even if it never became a reality? I don’t know! I’m at a total loss. It might seem like a small thing to some, but to me it’s big. I’m really wrestling with it. Can I count these as gifts on one day when they are disappointment on the next? I’ve certainly learned my lesson though, don’t write down a gift until it really appears. Is the hope of a gift enough to make a gift? What happens if it doesn’t pan out?


Rushing the Gift September 16, 2011

Filed under: One Thousand Gifts Challenge — Amy Scott @ 5:07 pm

My week in Chicago afforded me another light bulb moment through this One Thousand Gift challenge. I was really looking forward to this trip because I knew that the gifts would abound. I was very excited for the amount of gifts I would rack up in a short period of time. Now the joy wasn’t in the fact that I was going to do it quickly, the joy was knowing I was entering a highly gifted season. I was ready for it… or so I thought.

I am now over half way through my gift list and I was sadden to realize that when you live life at a fast pace, you can’t enjoy the gifts as much. I just had a great week in Chicago with my family. There were so many moments that I enjoyed with them. I kept notes on my phone throughout the day so I wouldn’t forget gifts when I tried to write them down in my journal. Moving through life so quickly meant I couldn’t savor the gifts. I acknowledge them and enjoyed them, but I didn’t let them sink in because I was quickly moving on to the next thing.

It was surprising to me that things turned out this way. Each gift that I wrote down in Chicago was truly unique and I am thankful for each one of them. I have always learned that gifts are best enjoyed when you have to drink them in. This gift challenge isn’t like McDonald’s where you are in and out in 5 minutes. This gift challenge is 5 star dining with multiple courses. It takes time to enjoy a gift to it’s fullest. It’s not about the quantity of the gifts (which I know sounds deceptive based on the 1000 gift goal), it’s about what you really get out of the gift – the quality of your thankfulness and gratitude.

I know that in the moment it can be hard to contemplate all the goodness of each gift. Sometimes you are thankful for the moment and move on to the next thing in front of you. The great bonus of a gift journal is I can now go over those hurried gifts and relive them. I can lengthen those moments of reflection and gratitude. What you get out of the gift is what you put into seeing it and appreciating it. It’s not really a numbers thing.


One Thousand Gifts Challenge Update 3 September 4, 2011

Filed under: One Thousand Gifts Challenge — Amy Scott @ 4:28 pm

Just last night I started to reread One Thousand Gifts. I’m very serious about making the most out of this book and out this challenge to see and document 1,000 gifts.  As I’ve been making my gift list, I can see patterns and I’m noticing my personality really shows up in the things I tend to view as gifts. So far there a lot of food items, things that smell good and things related to cleaning on my list. Its makes me chuckle. I do realize that each new day brings new gifts, but at some point, I’m going to have to see beyond all the fluffy gifts and start seeing the gifts in the not so fun parts of life. It’s harder to claim those gifts. I know they are there, but do I want to see them? I hope I do. I’m challenging myself to look for them with my eyes wide open.

As I was reading One Thousand Gifts today, Ann was writing about thankfulness and how it really is at the core of truly living. The focus on thankfulness brought an interesting insight to my mind. I can write out 1,000 gifts and not be thankful for them. Isn’t that crazy? I can make this giant list of things I view as gifts and not truly thank God for giving me these gifts. I view it much like a young child at a birthday party. I can get caught up raving about the gifts that I forget to thank the Gift Giver. This challenge isn’t for me to see 1,000 that make me happy or 1,000 things that I like. This is about changing the perspective of my heart to see God in all things. It’s about opening my eyes and seeing His activity in every element of my life. Today I am reminded that I still need to say thank you even if I am writing down these good gifts. I don’t want to assume that God knows I’m thankful. For my own soul, I need to verbalize my thanks and say it out loud. I can see the gifts, but I need to remember the whole purpose of this is the see the Gift Giver, not the gifts.


One Thousand Gifts Challenge Update 2 August 26, 2011

Filed under: One Thousand Gifts Challenge — Amy Scott @ 8:54 pm

I broke 100 gifts! Only 900 gifts more to go! It took me about a week to come up to 100 gifts. I wonder if the pace will pick up as my eyes are opened or if this will be a 10 week project. I’m not sure… It’s a good exercise, but the perfectionist in me wonders if I’m doing it wrong. Yes, I wonder about such things. I’m finding that the things I’m writing down seem so material. They almost seem shallow to view as gifts. I wish there was more depth to the gifts I am seeing. I think that this is just me projecting what I read in the book on to myself. Ann Voskamp has a way with words and she made everything sound magical and sacred. My list doesn’t sound that way and for some reason I wonder if that means I’m doing it right. Maybe it will develop over time, maybe it’s a personality difference, and maybe I’m weird for even pondering these things. This week has been good. As I mentioned earlier, week one has already delivered me a light bulb moment. I hope many more are in store for this journey. More than anything I want to grow, I want to be changed by this project. I don’t want to read something and just leave it to thoughts. I want these thoughts to become actions. I want these actions to be stirred from the depths of my heart. I’m looking forward to what the next 900 gifts have in store for me.


One Thousand Gifts Challenge Update August 25, 2011

Filed under: One Thousand Gifts Challenge — Amy Scott @ 3:11 pm

On Sunday evening, I started my one thousand gifts challenge. It was very exciting and I thought from how easily the gifts seemed to flow that this challenge might not be as hard as I thought it was going to be. In fact, the first two days were quite blissful! I was able to see God’s gifts in so many things and I was able to write down gift after gift. It seemed to be flowing…

Well, the first two days of the challenge were days that I had a lot of freedom. I made my own schedule and decided what tasks I wanted to do. They were days sheltered for the real world and I was in vacation mode. I wasn’t really living my normal day to day life. I was living the fun, vacation lifestyle. Now that I’m back in the real world I have found the recognition of gifts isn’t flowing from me like it did those first two days.

This has sparked an interesting realization in me. I like things when I get my way. I know that is a “duh” statement, but it’s true. I’m happy has a clam and I see good gifts around me if my life is going the way I want it to, when I’m calling the shots. However, most of life isn’t like this. I am going to have to work harder to see God in the everyday, ordinary moments. I’m going to have to look harder for gifts on days where I slept funny and my back hurts in the morning. I’m going to have to work harder to see gifts when my computer is running slow and it’s keeping me from getting my work done. I’m going to have to work harder to see gifts when things don’t go according to my plan.

During this one thousand gift challenge, I’m going to have to open my eyes further and look harder. I’m praying to see the gifts in everyday, whether I think it’s a good day or a bad day or a just so-so day. I’m already amazed to see how truly documenting my gifts gives an accurate perspective to the condition of my heart. It’s not about God being good when I’m in control, it’s about God being good – period, end of discussion!