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

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
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Jun 09, 2012

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Read in May, 2012

At first her writing style seemed over dramatic, like huge dark strokes on a white background trying to make us experience her life as if it's a stage. However, her style grew on me as she portrayed the unspeakable beauties of home life, nature, and the thousand things God gives us to enjoy each day, in what were actually delicate and tasteful terms, whether she was reveling in the swirling colors of a soap bubble or lifting up prayers of Eucharisteo with every clothespin on a piece of laundry. Eucharisteo - joy-thanks - is the theme of the entire book, which gradually develops after she explains how she accepted a challenge from a friend to write down "one thousand gifts" from God, in a notebook. These "gifts" were macro-lens notes on her life, in three or so words, describing what it is that God gave her. "Geese in the sky" "Handprints on the door" "Joyful smiles and chocolate brownies". It's written in a memoir-like style, with lapses into didactic, as she learns the things she teaches.

Her message is not foreign to any Christian. It would fit well into the nutshell: "be grateful and you will be happy." But I think the whole power of this book is in the fact that she doesn't nut-shell anything. She brings every exhortation to her readers as if it's a new flavor that she's discovered--or better yet-- that God has given her. She had to do it this way, or we might not have listened... unless she were a Puritan.

The book was a bit long in the middle stretches, with themes not really uniquely growing in depth any longer until almost the very end, when all of a sudden we realize she's famous and traveling and teaching and serving communion to four other women at her kitchen table (?!).

Overall, several of her insights have stuck with me. We often feel that there is a great big hole in the universe, and that hole extends to pierce our own heart and cause us to feel like there is something lacking. Like there is negative-space instead of positive, or a loss instead of a gain (in a more personal sense). But in reality, all of creation is great, big, positive gain, mass, fullness! There is no emptiness when we see things as they really are, with the spiritual sight that God gives. Rather than focusing on what is not, or what is bad, focus on what IS, and what is good. Not to put on happy-go-lucky blinders to the world, but to grasp trials and splinters with gratefulness for the gifts of God in them.

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