39 things for 52 weeks: a 2013 challenge

So, here’s my only New Year’s resolution, and I’m inviting you to be part of it.

I’m going to make a list of 2013 things I’m grateful for. That works out to 38.71153846153846 per week, so I thought I’d go for 39.

I blogged this a month or so ago, in a letter to my boys:

In this heavy month shot through with hope, I’m reading a book called One Thousand Gifts and it’s about how the secret to joy – which is kind of what everyone wants, really – lies hidden before our very eyes in what Jesus did the night he was betrayed. He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and shared it. The Greek for ‘gave thanks’ is eucharisteo. The root word is charis – grace – which is derived from chara – joy. He received the bread as God’s grace and there was joy in that. It’s all over Scripture. The thing that precedes the miracle is always eucharisteo. So living the miracle life – the life of joy – is rooted in thanksgiving. That’s why I blog here for you, my bears. I want you to live the good life – the full life – the deeply aware life of abiding wonder. I want you to learn eucharisteo. Here and now, even in bread. Find God’s glory in the mundane and the magnificent. Celebrate life.

And now I can hear the cynics. ‘You’re so naïve. So trite. Getting all excited about Christmas lights and foam on your cappuccino and calling it God’s glory and goodness. Whatever. Where the hell is God in the tragedies of this world and how can you be so bloody cheerful?’ I know that’s what some people think. Because sometimes it’s what I think – like tonight when the News is ugly with rhinos poached and Gaza bombed and Bangladeshi slums on fire and vigilante violence on the Cape Flats.

Ann Voskamp has the exquisite, eloquent answer I’ve been looking for:

I think how God-glory in [everyday things] might seem trifling. Even offensive, to focus the lens of a heart on the minute, in a world mangled and maimed and desperately empty.

I know there is poor and hideous suffering, and I’ve seen the hungry and the guns go to war. I have lived pain, and my life can tell: I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks for early light dappled through leaves and the heavy perfume of wild roses in July and the song of crickets on humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that a good God gives. Why would the world need more anger, more outrage? How does it save the world to reject unabashed joy when it is the joy that saves us? Rejecting joy to stand in solidarity with the suffering doesn’t rescue the suffering. The converse does. The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world. When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. How can this not be the best thing for the world? For us? The clouds open when we mouth thanks. (page 58, One Thousand Gifts, 2012)

So anyway, I thought I’d write a gift list of 30 things – one for each day of November – because even in the unknowns and the challenges, I am deeply grateful. Soulfully joyful. Because to choose to be thankful – to name the gifts God gives – brings them into sharp focus and the sea of blessings is no longer a blur.

My plan is to blog my list of 39 things, once a week. 39 glimpses of God’s goodness and glory, his mercy and protection, his grace and favour. And just the little stuff that makes life the painfully exquisite, hilarious adventure that it is. Despite the tragedy and cruelty and injustice.

I really want to know what you’re saying thanks about. Please leave your lists in the comments. Facebook me.  Tweet me.  Email me (dalene.reyburn@gmail.com). Let’s start a eucharisteo conversation. Who knows? We might even change life as we know it on this beautiful, broken planet.

Happy New Year.


  1. […] And lying in bed on Friday night in the cold starlit hush of the KwaZulu-Natal midlands I scrawled out on my phone in bad predictive text all the things-of-thanks that swamped my mind like so much grace washing over the week that hadn’t been arid after all. I saw how God had met me in every weakness to break the bread and share the cup and there was always enough and always there was the miracle of eucharisteo. […]


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