Kate's Reviews > One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
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's review
Dec 28, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: memoir-autobiography, spiritual-formation, margin-notes
Read in November, 2011

"When we find ourselves groping along, famished for more, we can choose. When we are despairing, we can choose to live as Israelites gathering manna. For forty long years, God's people daily eat manna--a substance whose name literally means 'What is it?' Hungry, they choose to gather up that which is baffling. . . . MOre than 14,600 days they take their daily nourishment from that which they don't comprehend. They find soul-filling in the inexplicable. They eat the mystery. They eat the mystery. And the mystery, that which made no sense, is 'like wafers of honey' on the lips (21-22).

"On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces . . . ." (1 Corinthians 11:23-24).

"Jesus offers thanksgiving for even that which will break Him and crush Him and wound Him and yield a bounty of joy (chara)" (36).

“Now in the Bible a name . . . reveals the very essence of a thing, or rather its essence as God’s gift. . . . To name a thing is to manifest the meaning and value God gave it, to know it as coming from God and to know its place and function within the cosmos created by God. To name a thing, in other words, is to bless God for it and in it” (Schmemann, For the Life of the World, 15, quoted on page 53).

“. . . I discover that slapping a sloppy brush of thanksgiving over everything in my life leaves me deeply thankful for very few things in my life. A lifetime of sermons on ‘thanks in all things’ and the shelves sagging with books on these things and I testify: life-changing gratitude does not fasten to a life unless nailed through with one very specific nail at a time. Little nails and a steady hammer can rebuild a life—eucharisteo precedes the miracle” (57).

“I know there is poor and hideous suffering, and I’ve seen the hungry and the guns that 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] 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 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 the fullest Light to all the world” (58).

“This thanks for the minute, this is to say the prayer of the most blessed of women about to participate in one of the most transformative events the world has ever known. Mary, with embryonic God Himself filling her womb, exalts in quiet ways: ‘My soul doth magnify the Lord’” (59).

“This act of naming grace moments, this list of God’s gifts, moves beyond . . . into the other side of prayer, the interior of His throne room, the inner walls of His powerful, love-beating heart. The list is God’s list, the pulse of His love—the love that thrums on the other side of our prayers. And I see it now for what this really is, this dare to write down one thousand things I love. It really is a dare to name all the ways that God loves me” (59).

“On every level of life, from housework to heights of prayer, in all judgment and efforts to get things done, hurry and impatience are sure marks of the amateur” (Evelyn Underhill, 66).

“Hurry always empties a soul” (67).

“Time is a relentless river. It rages on, a respecter of no one. And this, this is the only way to slow time: When I fully enter time’s swift current, enter into the current moment with the weight of all my attention, I slow the torrent with the weight of me all here” (68).

“Weigh down this moment in time with attention full” (68).

“I am attentive, aware, accepting the whole of the moment, weighing it down with me all here” (69).

The weight of glory is ‘I AM” the heavy center that pulls everything to Himself.

“Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand” (NASB, Isaiah 14:24).

“See that I am God. See that I am in everything. See that I do everything. See that I have never stopped ordering my works, nor ever shall, eternally. See that I lead everything on to the conclusion I ordained for it before time began, the same power, wisdom and love with which I made it. How can anything be amiss?” (Julian of Norwich, 89).

“Can you believe that I tenderly, tirelessly work all for the best good of the whole world—because my flame of love for you can never, ever be quenched? (89).

“See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal” (Deuteronomy 32:39 NASB).

“Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is bad, you whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!” (Matthew 6:22-23).

“Without God’s Word as a lens, the world warps” (91).

“I’m amputated. I have hacked my life into grace moments and curse moments” (100).

God is always good and I am always loved. Everything is eucharisteo. Because eucharisteo is how Jesus, at the Last Supper, showed us to transfigure all things—take the pain that is given, give thanks for it, and transform it into a joy that fulfills all emptiness. I have glimpsed it: This, is the hard eucharisteo. The hard discipline to lean into the ugly and whisper thanks to transfigure it all to beauty. . . . All is grace only because all can transfigure” (100-101).

“I’ve got to get this thing, what it means to trust, to gut-believe in the good touch of God toward me, because it’s true” (146).

“How can I trust when a troubled, joy-shriveled heart has pumped fear through the stiff veins of all my years?” (146).

“How would eucharisteo help me trust?” (147).

“This living a lifestyle of intentional gratitude became an unintentional test in the the trustworthiness of God—and in counting blessings I stumbled upon the way out of fear” (151).

“The sun sets and He has provided and you’ve ate. Tomorrow the sun will rise and again He will provide. You will eat bread again” (quoted on page 157-158).

Eucharisteo is “trusting what is received to be grace. Taking it as bread” (158).

“He knew I’d only trust, rest, when I lived with bread in hand. When I eat manna” (158).

Eucharisteo, remembering with thanks, this is the bread. We take the moments as bread and give thanks and the thanks itself becomes bread. The thanks itself nourishes. Thanks feeds our trust” (158).

“this glorious laugh, the laugh of the unafraid and the bold, the giddy hope of the bread carriers, the manna eaters” (158).

“For really, as long as I live, travel, is there ever anything else to eat? I either take the ‘what is it’ manna with thanks, eat the mystery of the moment with trust, and am nourished another day—or refuse it . . . and die” (158).

“We can trust . . . in the manna nourishment even when we don’t know what it is” (159).

“ . . . that lyrical laugh, heaven’s echo that entirely undoes me” (160).

“Eucharisteo always precedes the miracle, child” (160).

“ . . . what I feel for this daughter He feels for me, and the gifts, all these gifts I keep counting, they are His love gifts and they’re slowly waking me up to the tenderest, fiercest Love of all” (161).

“Well, theories and theology stillbirth unless they can take on some skin, breathe in the polluted air of this world, and make it happen” (174).

“Lament is a cry of belief in a good God, a God who has His ear to our hearts, a God who transfigures the ugly into beauty. Complaint is the bitter howl of unbelief in any benevolent God in this moment, a distrust in the love-beat of the Father’s heart” (175).

“God’s anger kindles hot when the essence of the complaint implies doubt in His love . . . . Lament is this long learning, hard like eucharisteo” (175).

Lament is “complaint that trusts his heart” unlike “Israelite complaint” which doubts His love (175).

“Eucharist is the state of the perfect man. Eucharist is the life of paradise. Eucharist is the only full and real response of man to God’s creation, redemption, and gift of heaven” Alexander Schmemann

“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation” (C.S. Lewis quoted on 201).

These are the paraphrases that Alexis sent my way after she read it in Spring 2013:

Gratitude is a memory of God’s heart and to thank is to remember God. (One day I will share my story of “Put Him in your memory”. )

He kissed us into being.

I cannot think of a single advantage I’ve ever gained from being in a hurry.

Hurry, impatience are sure marks of the amateur.

Hurry always empties a soul, makes us hurt.

Giving thanks is ultimately an invitation to slow down with the weight of full attention.

Where ever you are… Be All There.”

Thanks makes NOW a sanctuary, an architecture of holiness.

Thanksgiving makes time.

The real problem of life is never a lack of time, but a lack of thanksgiving.

Life is not an emergency!

…..Thanksgiving creates abundance and the miracle of multiplying happens when I give thanks.

Gratitude is the most fruitful way of deepening your consciousness that you are a Divine choice.

Iraneus, a disciple of St. John

“The glory of God is the human being being fully alive and the life of the human consists in beholding God.”
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