One Thousand Gifts: Empty to Fill

They announce in church that our local Community Cupboard needs more donations.

“We served 42 families last Tuesday,” one of the volunteers says. “People are hurting.”

I remember.

I don’t know how my mother would have made it without help when we were kids. A single parent with five kids and no education. Armed with scant child support and food stamps. There were times it wasn’t enough. My lunch ticket at school was a different color than everyone else’s.  Its bright red color screamed to everyone that I was a “free luncher”. Pride often led me to go without. I would sit at the table with my friends, hunger pangs gnawing. Sometimes I look in wonder at the abundance of my life now. How in the world did I get here?

How can we not?

In the October mist, eucharisteo opens the eyes, the heart, to the grace that falls upon us, a drop, a river, a waterfall of blessing filling our emptiness. It falls into the open hand and makes life a paradise again. We wonder: If eucharisteo had led us to let go and open the hand to receive all His shimmering river of gifts, how can we now close the hand?

These two boys—they have never wanted for anything. I’m so grateful we can give them more than I ever dreamed as a kid. I tell them stories from my childhood and they listen with eyes wide. With hearts wide open.

How else will they know?

I turn my hand over, spread my fingers open. I receive grace. And through me, grace could flow on. Like a cycle of water in continuous movement, grace is meant to fall, a rain…again, again, again. I could share the grace, multiply the joy, extend the table of the feast, enlarge the paradise of His presence. I am blessed. I can bless. A life contemplating the blessings of Christ becomes a life acting the love of Christ…be the blessing.

But sometimes telling the stories is not enough. Sometimes, we have to wash the feet.

Eucharisteo is giving thanks for grace. But in the breaking and giving of bread, in the washing of feet, Jesus makes it clear that eucharisteois, yes, more: it is giving grace away. Eucharisteois the hand that opens to receive grace, then, with thanks, breaks the bread; that moves out into the larger circle of life and washes the feet of the world with that grace. Without the breaking and giving, without the washing of feet, eucharisteo isn’t complete. The Communion service is only complete in service. Communion, by necessity, always leads us into community.

We do this because we love. We do this because He first loved us. It’s a way to His heart, this opening of the hand. And we feel His hand in ours. We feel His pleasure.

…Eucharisteo has taught me to trust that there is always enough God. He has no end. He calls us to serve, and it is Him whom we serve, but He, very God, kneels down to serve us as we serve. The servant-hearted never serve alone. Spend the whole of your one wild and beautiful life investing in many lives, and God simply will not be outdone. God extravagantly pays back everything we give away and exactly in the currency that is not of this world but the one we yearn for: Joy in Him.

We cannot truly know all that we are given until we give away. And this is the Jesus-love; this is the love that gives—that wants to give—despite what it requires. And I don’t do everything right—I don’t do hardly anything right—but this I pray for my boys: That they’re hearts will always be tugged to help others.

Where would there mamma be if others hadn’t also?

This is the tenth in a series on Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right WhereYou Are.  Join me this time next week for a reflection on the final chapter–Chapter eleven.

One Thousand Gifts: Chapter One
One Thousand Gifts: Chapter Two 
One Thousand Gifts: Chapter Three
One Thousand Gifts: The Now Sanctuary
One Thousand Gifts: The Hard Eucharisteo 
One Thousand Gifts: The Great Beauty Hunt 
One Thousand Gifts: Seeing Through the Glass
One Thousand Gifts: Just Trust 
One Thousand Gifts: Go Lower 


  1. says

    oh Laura, this just ministers to me today on so many levels. I had both my parents, but we had very little money. I know those moments when you choose hunger over shame. And now…my life too, such wealth. I am blessed to see your boys and their hearts to serve. Wanting to continue building that in my children. Thank you for this. Thank you for the visual images as well.

  2. says

    What handsome boys! I imagine you do a lot right–raising them in Jesus-love and serving hands with the heart knowledge behind the tasks. What’s more important? Such beauty and encouragement in these pictures.

  3. says

    So cool Laura. I must say having a 22 and 25 year old I can honestly say that work like this and all their yearly mission trips transformed them. We were living a very spoiled life then and I knew they needed to walk on the other side. Oh Laura, the depth in their hearts for others…the awareness of so much more being OUT THERE around them…priceless.

  4. says

    Laura, this is the second post I’ve read in the last hour on giving back. I have so much, many of us in this country do, while others have so little. Thank you.

  5. says

    There was a time when I craved an apple and a bottle of orange juice, but could not buy either because beans and potatoes would last longer into the month…those times when the blessing was in receiving.

    But times pass and since then, the blessing has been in the giving…thank YOU JESUS that we know the joy of giving and receiving…

  6. says

    My heart aches with the school girl in you. What a shame for the school system that is supposed to shelter children.

    You have handsome boys. My son was supposed to look just like the one on the left — only I didn’t have a son. My girls tease me about it.

    Thanking God for your abundance — and mine.

    I hope your Sunday is full of joy,

  7. says

    Although I have read the book, been a part of Ann’s Monday’s counting past 1,000, this reminder brings it all up once again. Eucharisteo is “never-ending love”. It is not something we practice today but not tomorrow if we truly live in communion with God. Thank you for this beautiful moment. My gratitude overflows with the minutest piece of love that God’s sends my way. I just pray my eyes and ears are open as they arrive!
    loving you, ~ linda

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