Just like you, Ann Voskamp hungers to live her one life well. Forget the bucket lists that have us escaping our everyday lives for exotic experiences. How, Ann wondered, do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties? What does the Christ-life really look like when your days are gritty, long and sometimes even dark? How is God even here?
In One Thousand Gifts, Ann invites you to embrace everyday blessings and embark on the transformative spiritual discipline of chronicling God's gifts. It s only in this expressing of gratitude for the life we already have, we discover the life we've always wanted, a life we can take, give thanks for, and break for others. We come to feel and know the impossible right down in our bones: we are wildly loved by God.
Let Ann's beautiful, heart-aching stories of the everyday give you a way of seeing that opens your eyes to ordinary amazing grace, a way of being present to God that makes you deeply happy, and a way of living that is finally fully alive. Come live the best dare of all!
Ann Voskamp is a farmer's wife, the home-educating mama to a half-dozen exuberant kids, and author of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, a New York Times sixty-week bestseller.. Named by Christianity Today as one of fifty women most shaping culture and the church today, she's a global advocate for needy children with Compassion International, a loser of library books, a stirrer of soup, a loud laugher, a kid snuggler, a Jesus lover and honestly, a bit of a mess. It’s okay really. Grace is the most amazing of all. Her online journal, one of the top 10 most widely read Christian blogs online, is a relief of quiet vulnerability and an oasis of sacred, seeing God in the everyday ugly beautiful.
I wanted to like it. I really, really did. In fact, for the first two chapters, I did. But then I started getting a headache.
First things first.
Things I liked about this book:
1. I like the premise - that gratitude is essential to a Christian life, and that when we become aware of how much we have to be thankful for, our perspective on day-to-day mundane and stressful activities shifts.
2. Voskamp is a poet. Some of the sentences are beautifully crafted.
Things I did not like about this book:
1. Voskamp is a poet. But this book isn't supposed to be poetry. I started getting annoyed by the flowery prose and started yearning for her to just. Say. It. I get it. The moon is beautiful. "Eucharisteo" (repeated about a jillion times) is great. But do you ever speak in a normal vernacular? Ever?
2. She seems to hate the words "the" or "my." Seriously: "He's already hunched over keyboard..." "dishes in sink" "I am bell" "I hold the bowl in hand..."
3. She leaves "ly" off of almost every adverb: gentle, not gently careful, not carefully
4. There's a weird sentence structure: "water warm" "plate of cheese grated"
Yes, yes, yes. You're a poet. But it's still bad grammar.
5. She hyphenates everything. Everything. God-glory God-Man Word-God Love-Body
6. She can't just tell us the names of anyone in her family. Once again, weird hyphenations: Farmer Husband Boy-Man Tall-Girl Little-One
She also speaks about and to them in some weird poetic voice. Her son is "the child I ripened with, bore down and birthed from the heart..." Ew. I found myself saying, "Really? You actually asked your kid, 'can I help you find the laughter again?' after he threw a piece of toast in his brother's face instead of asking him, 'Hey, how about you don't throw toast in your brother's face?'"
7. Lastly, the final chapter was horrifying. Horrifying. This is an actual sentence: "I fly to Paris and discover how to make love to God."
I'm sorry. Please do not compare the love we feel for God to the joy of sex. She does. Repeatedly. Graphically. I got the heebie jeebies.
All in all, I felt like this book was just some self-important drivel from someone who thinks that God's plan is for everyone to bear six children (she refers to her globe-trotting cool aunt merely as "childless"), live on a farm, and have time to contemplate how gorgeous sunlight hitting suds "in sink" is. Navel gazing at its worst, and I sort of finished the book wanting to force her to watch "The Office" or something so she could speak like an actual human.
(Warning - review sent to family, not edited to protect the feelings of my friends who have read this and may like it...)
I finally, just shy of 7 full months, finished One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (actually one thousand gifts, looking more closely at the cover). And there is a peak at what I despised about the book. First, however, as Dad taught me, I will say something nice. She does have some good and interesting views on living the Christian life fully, with total gratitude for what God gives you (hence looking for 1000 things for which to be grateful). Take this: "Every moment I live, I live bowed to something. And if I don't see God, I'll bow down before something else" (p 110). Sounds reminiscent of someone else, but still good. So, you may find the book worth reading, if only for the references to other people like CS Lewis and Henri Nouwen. Plus, she married a Dutchman, so what's not to like about that.
But, for the rest - consider this my scathing pregnancy review (a la Three Cups of Tea while pregnant with Naomi). Her style of writing is so poetic, it is gagging. Her misuse of proper grammar was distracting and not inspiring. "Yet, now wisps of cheese tell me gentle that this is the first secret step into eucharsteo's miracle" (p 57). And this is mild, mild!, by comparison to some other sections. In one chapter she is leaving her family at the dinner table to run through their crops to try and catch the moon (?!?!). You can't imagine how long it took me to get through that section! Bleh bleh bleh. Some strange theological ideas mixed in too, but maybe I was misunderstanding her due to the extreme poetic license (and lack of an editor??). To you give you one last glimpse from the acknowledgments at the end, "Caleb, Joshua, Hope, Levi, Malakai, Shalom, six who have swollen me, shaped me, and birthed me into love." Pardon while I breath into a paper bag.
Anyway, feel free to chalk this up to pregnancy. But, I can't read it again later to see if it was all hormones. Someone else read it and let me know.
Deeply troubling from a theological perspective. Quite often mystical, with a near wringing-out of a thesis (eucharisteo), repeated multiple times per page. Quotes pulled from all over, various denominations (and even other religions!), all mashed together in the to-her radical notion that life should be lived in thankfulness. Why is this notion so life-altering for Voskamp and the hoards of women nearly breathless in awe at this book? Is Scripture not full of God's people giving thanks in all things, no matter the circumstance? What is missing from the pulpit for these women, I wonder? Why is this so shocking in its revelation?
What, at first, I enjoyed about this book is what eventually became tedious and labor-some. There is no question that Voskamp is adept at constructing flowery and poetic prose. Unfortunately, for my taste, her style became a bit too much to digest. While I am moved and inspired by her work's powerful message on the importance of gratitude and communion with a gracious and loving heavenly father, her delivery often kept me from truly enjoying the experience of reading what she was communicating.
My favorite blogger has finally written a book! Her writing style is unusual but captivating, so full of description and passion. I devoured this book in about 12 hours the first time I read it, a child running along the beach picking up shell after shell, each one prettier than the last. Then I went back and savored it more slowly, turning over the beautiful truths one at a time to be carefully thought about and applied to my everyday living. Than also read and enjoyed it, to my suprise. Highly recommended.
I was in my local bookstore and I saw this book recommended by the staff. I bought it on a whim. I got it home and was intrigued by Ann's style and how she she had tapped into something I had been feeling in the years following a bout with cancer...a spirit of thankfulness and knowing everything is by the grace of God. Reading through this book I realize I am not alone. Having spent a lot of time reading male writers and theology books in general, Ann is full of emotion and life. I find reading her words refreshing and at the same time overwhelming. But I am inspired by what I have read thus far. Inspired by grace, inspired to be thankful. I will never fully grasp all Ann has to offer here, because I am a man and have never experienced motherhood. Having given birth to six children and is in the process of homeschooling them--Ann draws from these experience and finds God's grace in the chaos. In this process of writing and giving thanks she finds meaning and closure of her past tragic beginnings in childhood.
Butso far I am inspired by her transparency in sharing. With all of this said I'm not comfortable with everything presented in this book. In fact I find myself uncomfortable in parts because of the depth of intimacy expressed. But I can honestly say I see the same level expressed in Scripture itself (Song of Solomon) where I am also challenged. She at times approaches experiencing God with a child like faith and is at times like a young teenage girl discovering emotions for the first time...of which I can only stand back and watch with a smile.
I know there is theological issues with this book and it is widely popular. I don't think Ann is trying to change theology or introducing anything new to the arena of Christian thought. She is simply writing down her experiences and in her own way. I have read the blogs that have been critical of this book and I understand their concern. But I don't know a Christian alive who can't benefit from being more thankful, more aware of God's love and grace.
I can't do it. I just cannot finish this book. I know it's supposed to be deep and insightful and enlightening and life-changing, but Voskamp's writing style is so irritating that I simply don't have the energy to wade through it and try and pick up on the good, worthwhile things she has to say. It's boring and I have to force myself to read it.
Also, the guilt. I cannot handle the guilt ANY MORE. I feel guilty for not wanting to read it. I feel guilty for praying about anything other than prayers of thanks. I feel guilty for being irritated and in a bad mood instead of noticing the beauty of the sunlight as it reflects through my ice water. I feel guilty for having a bad attitude about this stupid book when everyone else seems to love it. I FEEL SO GUILTY ALL THE TIME!!!
I might try and read bits here and there as my friends finish going through it this summer, but I'm tired of pretending. I'm letting the truth fly free: I really hate this book.
Ann Voskamp is a professing Christian woman, Canadian pig farmer's wife and mother of 6 home-schooled kids. She has struggled for most of her life with insecurity, fears, panic attacks and deep questions about the goodness of God. A friend challenged Ann to look for and write down 1000 (that's right, one thousand) gifts from God. Gifts seen in daily life; not just the undeniable good, big, bright and happy stuff, but also what is seen of God's handiwork in the midst of the mundane, the ugly, the nerve-wracking and the painful events of daily life.
Euchristeo is the challenge of this book; learning to exprsss thanksgiving to God for ALL his gifts in all aspects of our life, To learn to live open to give thanks and to receive the miracle of joy in our lives, just as Jesus took the break, broke it and gave thanks and THEN the miracle took place. So it is in our daily life. To acknowledge God and the circumstances we face and to give thanks IN everything, to be emptied of self focus and to be filled with the hope joy and peace of life lived believing and thanking od in and through ti all. This is a learning process for sure. No overnight wonders here!
This is a book well worth reading, and maybe needs to be read more than once to really let the message sink in. Voskamp's writing style is a bit tedious at times because she is very poetic and somewhat mystical. But don't let that drag you down or keep you finding the nuggets of truth and depth of wisdom that can be fund in a life that flows with eyes ifted up, hands open to receive and a heart willing to offer thanks in all HIs gifts to HIs children; trusting that God is only and always loving, gracious, faithful, good and wise in all He does. There is much food for thought in this book for sure! I'll be thinking through this bood for a long time.
Wow...probably the MOST beautiful book I've ever read. It is a mix between poetry and memoir. It is very emotional writing, and (as another reviewer pointed out) she breaks a lot of literary rules...so that might bother some people. The writing is at times achingly poetic...I had to read so many parts to my husband just for their sheer beauty. It is written by a Christian woman and I found it so enlightening to read about faith, trial, hope, and many other gospel topics from a fresh perspective with a different vocabulary and tradition of discussion. After reading three chapters I had so many little sticky tabs marking spots, that I ordered my own copy so that I could mark up all the breathtaking passages. Here's a few of my favorites... "A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit" Erasmus said. I look down at the pen, this pen I keep wielding, one writing her way to one thousand. This pen: this IS nothing less than the driving of nails. Nails driving out my habits of discontentment and driving in my habit of eucharisteo (giving thanks). Because that habit of discontentment can only be driven out by hammering in one iron sharper. The sleek pin of gratitude.
I fill the sink with the circle of bowl, and batter floats up in suds. I wash. I see my reflection in the stainless of the tap. I know you, those seeing eyes. You're the one in dire need of time, that thing we can't buy, what we sell of ourselves to get more of what we think we want, what we sacrifice to seemingly gain. They say time is money, but that's not true. Time is life. And if I want the fullest life, I need to find the fullest time. ...God gives us time. And who has time for God?
The world I live in is loud and blurring and toilets plug and I get speeding tickets and the dog gets sick on the back step and I forget everything and these six kids lean hard into me all day to teach and raise and lead and I fail hard and there are real souls that are at stake and how long do I really have to figure out how to live full of grace, full of joy--before these six beautiful children fly the coop and my mothering days fold up quiet? How do you open the eyes to see how to take the daily, domestic, workday vortex and invert it into an everyday cathedral?
It's my own face that obscures the face of God. How can I help this son of mine see when I can't see? The parent must always self-parent first, self-preach before child-teach, because who can bring peace unless they've held their own peace?
Remembering is an act of thanksgiving...this turn of the heart over time's shoulder to see all the long way His arms have carried. (To be honest, I have to say that I am simply jealous that there are people who can write like this! I covet the ability to write so beautifully!: )
God reveals Himself in rearview mirrors. And I've an inkling that there are times when we need to drive a long, long distance, before we can look back and see God's back in the rearview mirror. Maybe sometimes about as far as Heaven--that kind of distance.
And one more...though these are only a few of the MANY things I have marked with my red pencil...
The quiet song of gratitude, eucharisteo, lures humility out of the shadows because to receive a gift the knees must bend humble and the hand must lie vulnerably open and the will must bow to accept whatever the Giver chooses to give.
I highly recommend this book...especially if these excerpts speak to you in any way. It is a book about opening up your life to the JOY that God wants you to have. About seeing everything...EVERYTHING...He gives as the gift that it is. Good, bad, happy, sad.... To remember....."God is always good, and I am always loved."
1/3rd of the book: I LOVED her poetic prose. Gorgeous language, beautifully written, holy crap she is a writing genius, etc blah blah.
2/3rd: Huh, this is starting to bug me. Her prose is kind of getting irritating. And is it just me, or is she repeating herself an awful lot? Is anything ever really getting said? How many times can we repeat "eucharisteo"?
3/3rd: Why am I still reading this? Oh my gosh, this is driving me insane. It's the same "information" as the first chapter. Yeah, it IS just toast, why can't we just have a straightforward story or example of what you are trying to say? STOP BEING SO FLOWERY. ARGH.
I finished this book out of sheer stubbornness. I wanted to see if she ever told a concrete story without having random run on sentences and "the head pounds and the blood boils" type sentences. (Side note: I really hated how it was always "the lungs ache," not "my lungs ache." Drove me crazy.)
Honestly, I don't feel like I really learned or got anything out of this book. I came away disappointed and frustrated. Maybe if the style had been severely toned down, I might have liked it better. But truly, it was like she just kept saying the same thing over and over and over again, and there was no resolution. Especially when she wrote about interactions with her kids (i.e. the toast story), how did that turn out? I will never know, and it bugs me.
In the positive: I do think Voskamp is a believer and has a genuine desire to seek after God. I do not judge her heart or motives. I think she has good intentions. I also think gratitude is definitely something we all fail to adequately put into practice. And if there is a good take away from this book, it is that we should be more aware of the blessings God has given to us and thank Him for those blessings. I don’t agree with some critics that declare her a (conscious) panentheist. I can definitely see why readers might conclude that, and I could easily see her going down that path if not careful. She definitely doesn’t make much of a distinction between special revelation and natural revelation in the book; however, there were hints that led me to think that in reality she probably does make a distinction--it just wasn’t clearly spelled out in the book. She mentions looking through the lens of the Word--but often natural and special revelation almost seem to be on par with one another in the book. I think her romanticism and stylistic writing make her come off sounding more like a panentheist than she really is. The problem is that whether she is or isn’t, when writing a book that has theological influence, being unclear or hazy is a problem.
Fairly obvious theological issues:
The last chapter was way beyond acceptable for me. I have no issues being drawn closer to God, but the moment sexual language is brought into describing our closeness to God I have some big issues. Yes, God is immanent, but he is also transcendent, and we have to tread cautiously when it comes to how we word things. Her language is very troubling. The whole part about her having communion with a group of ladies that got together was a blatant issue. It took me a little by surprise...all of sudden they went from washing feet to having a communion service with each other, and yeah, major issues--sacraments are not something we just do with a group of friends. God appointed ordained ministered are to administer sacraments. There was a point in the book when her son had an hand injury due to a barn fan incident. During this incident her mom said to her that it was God’s grace he didn’t lose fingers. She questioned that statement in her head wondering if he had lost use of his hand would God not have been gracious then? And she concludes All is Grace. Well, that’s just not true. I understand what she is hinting at: all things work together for good, and ultimately God is sovereign over the good and bad things, but concluding that ‘All is grace’ can lead to a perverted understanding of many things--judgment, sin etc. I’m not saying grace isn’t present in suffering...absolutely God makes himself and His grace known to us in special ways during suffering and difficulties and he works out all things for his glory and our good, but there’s a difference in knowing God’s grace during suffering and seeing bad things as actual grace. Death is not grace. It is the enemy. We experience God’s comfort and grace as we mourn the death of others, and we experience his love and grace as we face death ourselves, but death is still the enemy and it is still a result of the fall. It kind of goes back to the question of where did sin come from? And by trying to figure it out we can easily find ourselves coming to the conclusion: God created the world and everything in it, so therefore, God must have created sin. Before you know it we have made him the author of sin, when he has clearly said the opposite. Yes, all things work out for good, but not all is grace. And just because God is making all things work for good and using us in the process does not mean that we will always understand or be aware of how God is working out all things nor will we always be aware of how God is using us to bring about his will. There are mysteries that belong to God they must be left mysteries.
Less blatant theological issues: I think in her efforts to make her Christianity very practical, she ends up becoming impractical because it is based on a formula. In other words, she takes the task of making this huge list of things to be grateful for, but the list ends up becoming her goal more than relationship with Christ. In a twisted way it ends up being its own form of legalism. She becomes married to the list, and her hope is constantly tied to finding something to be grateful for instead of tied to Christ-who He is and the sacrifice He made for us. She often actually speaks of gratitude as redemptive...on pg 128 using the phrase: “gratitude redeems”. Gratitude doesn’t redeem us any more than doing merciful acts for someone, or going to church (yes, these are all good and commendable things that are fruits of justification, but they don’t redeem). It was telling to me that it isn’t until page 154 that she finally clearly recognizes Christ’s atonement (it is hinted at throughout, but rarely stated head on). If there’s anything that should stimulate gratitude it is Christ’s death and resurrection on our behalf. That should have been on page 1. We can’t look at natural revelation and see grace until we have first tasted grace, forgiveness and redemption in Christ’s substitutionary atonement. This ends up being a big flaw, because the average Joe (or in this case more likely Jill) reading the book will not be reading it through the lens of redeemed eyes. And to focus on just finding things in nature and life to be thankful for before grounding readers in where true grace and forgiveness come from, puts the cart in front of the horse. The decision to publish the book also gets me a little (I know this sounds weird!). The book really isn’t about 1000 Gifts, and it isn’t really about the God she serves, the book is really about her. American evangelicals have an addiction to this idea of being transparent to some degree or other--where they spill everything out in an effort to feel that we are all on this sanctification journey together. It’s almost a badge of honor to hang out your dirty underwear, and well, if you don’t it’s because you’re ‘not spiritual’. Now, there are definite times and places (ie in the pastor’s office in a counseling session) where yes, there is definitely going to be some dirty laundry that comes out, but it comes out for a definite purpose: so that a counselor can help sort, point out where repentance is needed, and move toward restoration and growth. Lots of ‘transparency’ in churches today comes out in groups, helps us all realize that we’re all the same and struggling, and often elevates intention while downplaying behavior. By this I mean for some reason it seems more ok if we sin so long as we announce our struggle and we have good intentions. So long as I didn’t mean to gossip and was really just giving a prayer request then surely I can’t be held responsible for the sin of gossip--after all my heart was good and I’ve shared my struggle with gossip. Well intention AND action matter. Premeditated murder is definitely not the same as involuntary manslaughter, but we are still responsible for our behavior AND our intent. Also, transparency in most churches today is rarely connected to pointing out where repentance is needed. I mean let’s face it, it’s not fun or easy to look at someone having their good interest at heart and genuine love and concern for them in our hearts and say, ‘You’re wrong. You’re sinning and you need to repent.’ Most of the time we hear things like, “yeah, I struggle with that too” or “It’s ok. We’re all a work in progress” or some other trite statement that does absolutely nothing for spiritual growth and development. I think there’s a push for transparency yet simultaneously a lack of true humility. The thing we long for is true, honesty and humility. In the book, I think that Voskamp attempted that, but even in the situation with her son, the sin wasn’t ever really addressed with him, instead it was all just about gratitude (her struggle; maybe not his) when that wasn’t necessarily the real sin in the situation. Furthermore, she talks to her son about fighting a feeling with another feeling not with thinking (pg 136) Her logic here is lacking. She says it’s impossible to feel thanks and feel angry. And she says we control what feelings we want to feel. Feelings are not something we control...thoughts are. And gratitude is not a ‘feeling.’ It may be accompanied by a fuzzy wuzzy, but it is the acknowledgement of blessing from God’s hand. And to say that anger and gratitude don’t ever co-exist is to say Christ was ungrateful when he overthrew the tables (she creates this same false dichotomy on page 126). She is trying to interject grace and gratitude into the situation, but because everything is so rooted in experience, emotion and feeling rather than Truth and thinking, she really swims around in some illogical and biblically unsound waters. Her goal is good and commendable, but she ends up saying wrong things because her theology is off. In reality we all say wrong things often. Let’s face it we aren’t masters of taking ‘every thought captive,’ but this would be a reason why journal type books intended to point us to Christ yet filled with a stream of consciousness probably shouldn’t be published until you’re dead and someone else decides it is of theological value, or at least until you have had a sound theologian scrutinize it for doctrinal errors. The reality is people are influenced by Ms. Voskamp--her blog has a bazillion followers. And the standard for someone that is writing about and speaking about theological matters is much higher than other writers/teachers. As I’ve said, I think her heart is in the right place, but she is just theologically sloppy. And theology is not something that we can afford to be sloppy about. One last thing...I know, I’ve been pretty brutal. There were a few hints in the book that she obviously had some serious emotional issues in her life...not just her sister’s death, but at one point she hinted at being suicidal. And I got the impression this book (and the 1000 gifts experiment) served as a type of therapy for her. Since she seemed to find some kind of happiness in the gratitude experiment she projects her issues (and solution) on everyone else. Granted most of us aren’t grateful enough, but maybe gratitude isn’t our biggest struggle. Even if I struggle with the same things she went after trying to attain an emotional experience which culminated in what she termed ‘making love to God’ (gasp!) and I just don’t agree with the goal. I think the focus and goal must be Christ and Truth. When we come face to face with solid Truth and the Lord of all there will be an emotional response (at times, even often, that emotional response is less of a fuzzy feeling and more fear of God). Sometimes it might be big; other times it may seem cold and dry, but our goal shouldn’t be the feeling, because there are times we are not going to ‘feel’ God the way we wish. There are times we will feel alone, tired, depressed, worthless, ashamed and everything else...but the answer is not to just say we should replace depression with joy, the answer is to fix our eyes on Christ, find our identity in Him, root our thoughts in His Word and meditate on His Word until it revives joy. The Truth will set us free...not the feeling or experience.
Sometimes when a book's reviews offer such polarizing takes on it, I am hesitant to pick it up. However, when a trust friend here on Goodreads read it and loved it, my curiosity peaked again. Then, it popped up as a Kindle deal, so I grabbed it. Now, I'm both glad that I did and thinking I'm crazy for waiting so long to read it.
I can see how some readers may not love the writing style. It's very lyrical and poetic in nature, which doesn't suit everyone. Even though I tend to love that type of writing, I did find some of the sentences to have too much run-on, the metaphors a bit overwhelming, when perhaps a single word would have sufficed and held just as much impact. On the whole, though, my soul craves this type of writing, this making of beauty in the mundane of life. I so tire of the "hey, girlfriend, grab yourself a latte, and let me tell you how special you are!" type of books. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with those books. I read and get a lot out of them, but there is a sameness about some of them that leave me craving authenticity and creativity.
Ann's words soaked into my parched soul, pointing me to the gospel in a refreshing, soul-stirring way. I've been prompted to start my own one thousand gifts list. So often, we focus on the negative instead of focusing on all of the ways, even the seemingly insignificant ways, that God shows Himself to us. Her admiration of God's creation always leads her back to worship of Him and communion with Him. If there's any reminder I need nearly every moment of every day, it's this one. That it's hard to hold onto joy when gratitude isn't present but resentment is. That gratitude begets joy and more gratitude, and yes, life is hard, but God is still good and joy is still there for the taking because of His goodness.
I highlighted many lines and passages in my Kindle, and I'll definitely be looking for a hard copy of this book for my shelves. I already know it's going to be one I re-read and possibly glean something different at another point in life.
Hard book to rate, even harder to describe. I appreciate the author's honesty. I enjoyed the glimpses into her everyday life. I do think I need daily to be conscious of God's blessings, both big and small. I do need to have more of an attitude of thankfulness and trust. Good points. There were parts of this that truly were beautiful and moving. But also, there were parts that I felt went on too long and I had to force myself through (the moon thing). I disagree with some of her assumptions, and I think her picture of God is a little off kilter, unbalanced. Some parts sounded almost like they could have come right out of Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul, another book that didn't always sit right with me. Volskamp is a talented writer, and I know many loved this book, but her bloggish, over the top writing style just doesn't do it for me. But I think I would like her if I met her in person.
There are many books and resources available that examine deep woundedness, but few do it with the solid Biblical foundation of Ann Voskamp. Her Mennonite heritage has served her well, even when walking very dark paths.
Sensitive readers will be both broken and inspired by Voskamp's memoir of her journey from grief-stricken witness of the death of her sister, self-mutilation, agoraphobia and deep emotional torment. Chapters are rich with pieces of her dark path and streams of light. Voskamp draws her healing from intimate situations of encouragement from the LORD, but also from the Bible itself and the wise, ancient wisdom of those who have walked the path of faith before. Her notes are carefully referenced in a section at the end and read like a who's who in esteemed Christendom: Augustine, Lewis, Elliot, Piper, de Cassaude, Heschel, Carmichael, Chesterton, Luther, and Julian of Norwich appear on the two pages I skimmed.
Apparently, there has been some hub-bub about the final chapter "The Joy of Intimacy" which begins "I fly to Paris and learn how to make love to God." The imagery of God as husband who intiates and believer as wife who responds is not original to Voskamp as her generous Scriptural references and quotes (Calvin can certainly not be dismissed!) indicate. The idea of God courting us, seeking us, leading and the mystical union of Christ with the Church are a fitting climax, a holy intimacy that earthly, physical intimacy is but a faint analogy.
Update 2023 The controversy over a Gospel Coalition article brought this chapter of Voskamp back to mind. I don't think Voskamp crossed the line, but it's been years since I read her. Nonetheless, I thought this article does a good job of clarifying the mystery of marriage and the role sex plays in that analogy: https://heidelblog.net/2023/03/nature... --- end ---
I cannot close a review of this work without commenting on Voskamp's unique poetic style. Her prose is filled with vivid pictures that sing life to the soul, and capture a deep, profound place of human experience. For me, it was best to read one chapter at a time, process what was written and then return when ready for another drink.
Highly recommended.I suspect this work will become a classic from our time. It is worthy of being read for years into the future, until the Bridegroom comes to wed us forever. Revelation 21:3-4 "3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
Can I give less than 1 star? This was a very forced attempt at turning mundane things into poetry for pages and pages and pages. Utter garbage. It reads like she's copying lists of words from a thesaurus-- get over yourself and wash the darn dishes instead of gazing at the bubble shape with drug-like fascination for forty pages. Then the last chapter when she's having mental/verbal sex with Jesus... Ummm, speechless. This lady has severe issues. How did anyone ever see this book as anything but disturbed and blasphemous? Absolutely detest.
I ran a women's summer book club in the summer of 2011 and for six weeks we studied this book.
If you're looking for a matter-of-fact book this book will drive you nuts - as it did several in our group. They just wanted a point and wanted it in a forthright manner.
If, however, you want a book that meanders, that stops mid-sentence with a point, only to have the author look at the light casting an iridescent glow in a soap bubble while the author does dishes - you will love this book.
I believe Voskamp's style of writing is intentional because she is trying to prove a point, as she writes on page 107, "For all real answers, don't they come in strata, gradations of understanding?"
Life, its purpose, the whys, does not come delivered or summed up easily. Rather, life's layers seem to unveil themselves one by one, day by day.
There are so many stunning words, so many metaphors, such deep abidings with God here, that I scarcely know where to begin. But treat yourself to understanding God in a new, fresh way with this marvelous book. You will thank me for it.
well. it is a beautiful book. and practical spirituality is always a good part of life of which to be reminded. and the daily-thanksgiving-for-all-things is both an awesome part of life and a difficult remembering in any given moment of an uber-busy life. but sometimes me-thinks she does protest too much. it's almost a form of the old-time calvinist thought: prove you are saved ... try harder. *sigh* makes me glad to be rcc where i learned all these thoughts/ideas gradually and as i grew up and also knew that we are loved even when we fall short and when we finally remember and come back to faith/gratitude that too is good enough and we are embraced again and quietly recall that even when we were "away" we were still being embraced, unawares.
sometimes i think the author concentrated soooo much on this control issue of daily thanksgiving that i just sort of wished she go to a movie, chill, and laugh a bit. maybe she could take up running as a way to relieve that strong build up of tension that she seems to carry around everywhere with her and sometimes uses as a cudgel against herself or others (her poor son!). but that's me. by the end of the book (not finding fault with the theology or the daily examples) i concluded that my best recommendation would be: read it slowly. small small bits at a time. b/c it's worth remembering or hearing for the first time. it's just not urgent. there's time enough. so relax the concentration of the entire book by staying with it but little bits at a time. like take an entire week to read half a chapter. the (true) wisdom that is contained in this book might actually work better that way. joy isn't meant to be a burden. and it is freely-given. and there are reliable ways to have it visit (often). but pressuring yourself to "keep it up" just plain exhausts the spirit. or it did for this reader engaging with this book..
another thought: taking the sacramental life of every day and working it too hard with all those words deflates the joy in True Presence, imo. that's our loss. the ideas remain strong, reliable, true. just too many words clutter up this book. first error of a writer: being in love with her own voice. best advice: slash every third word. in this case, maybe every other word.
it could also be that the book is undercut by the sheer amount of self-focus. of course the book is all about her. but it wasn't until the end that i realized that paris -- a city FULL of music in various forms -- seemed to be playing just for her. uhmmmm. okay. and then i reflected back on all the words of her book as well as some of the more special experiences that she took the trouble to describe (the one with her son, the time with the homeless man, the moment of communion and feet washing with her women's group) and it came clear to me that those were exceptions to the roll of "her moments" and, sadly, i sensed that she sets herself apart from other people. then i recalled luke 18:9-14. she is special. and she goes out of her way to impress that upon us mere beggars at the table. *yikes*
the one thing that she may not have yet figured out might be best expressed using the words of blessed teresa of calcutta: we are all the same distance from God. [saints, hard-working (grasping for good things) christians trying to prove their worthiness, AND sinners. all He needs from us is our Yes. and we don't need to repeat it. just be patient with it.]
i suppose she needs 1000 (2000, 3000, 4000, 5000 ...) gifts of awareness. she certainly didn't get it with only three examples.
Then I read that this woman who says no to "inspirational" non-fiction said yes to One Thousand Gifts.
And then I found my way to A Holy Experience.
And lastly I ended up at She Speaks, where I heard her speak, and I took notes and I laughed and I cried and at the end, I finally bought the book.
I'm oh-so-glad that I did.
There is little I feel I can write that hasn't already been written so many times it sounds cliche and worn-out. But they are all true. One Thousand Gifts is achingly real. One Thousand Gifts will change your life (if you let it). One Thousand Gifts is a classic that I will crumple and dog-ear and get water stains on.
Why I Recommend This Book
One Thousand Gifts will dare you to count. On fingers, in mental melodies, down winding roads, in blog posts, and on notepaper. Count His goodness, count His grace, count His gifts. And open your eyes to see His love.
Skaičiau mėnesį, o atrodė, kad 3. Iš pradžių knyga įtraukė, padėjo labiau mylėti gyvenimą, Dievą, ragino daugiau dėkoti, parodė kiek daug dėkojimo Biblijoje. Bet ilgainiui knyga pabosta. Kad dėkojimas yra trumpiausias kelias į laimę žinojau anksčiau, knyga tik priminė. Trūko aiškesnės siužeto linijos. Man buvo per daug nesusijusių citatų, smulkių aplinkos aprašymų ir autorės dvasinių patirčių. Pats einu „per dykumą“, tad jos toks artimas santykis su Dievu net erzino. Kodėl 4 žvaigždutės? Anna kalba apie aktualią temą, kuri dažnai užmirštama (dėkoti pamiršau jau beskaitant knygą). Radau daug išmintingų vietų, kurias pasibraukiau. Kai kurios vietos buvo tokios artimos, kad atrodė, jog tai mano žodžiai.
My dear Twitter/Bloggie/hopefully one day real life friend Michelle recommended this read for me.
What I read was the egalley/pre-published version of the book.
What follows is not so much a book review as it is my reaction to the words themselves.
From the very first words of the book I was drawn in. The beginning paragraph was captivating, engrossing, and so very poetic, I knew I wanted to read more.
By the end of the 1st chapter, I’m already in tears. But fully, completely involved in the story, in the pain, and in the questions…I want to read more.
By page 40 I can’t seem to stop reading, I lose sense of all around me and am completely immersed in her words, her beautiful, mesmerizing prose.
By page 122, I’m feeling filled up, inspired, excited to participate in my own life with the vigor the author is expressing in hers. I have all the same questions, all the same doubts, all the same struggles. I have all the same hopes, all the same desires, all the same grains of faith.
By page 141, I’m making a list. No, not a list of graces, though that will surely come soon enough, but a list of names. Names of people I will be gifting this book when it is released next year.
By page 167, I am craving that childlike wonder, and professing to live like a child. Every day. To see the world through the innocent and joyous eyes of a child.
By page 188, I’m in tears once again, and wanting to thank God for my friend, the one I call The Disciple, because she won’t hesitate to stop and hug a homeless person on the street.
By page 201 I realize I’m nearing the end, and I don’t want it to end…so I stop for the day, save the last 40 pages for another day’s grace…
By the last page, the acknowledgements, the Thank You’s…I am again in tears. Feeling blessed for having shared in these intimate moments with the author. And I am ready to begin my own list of One Thousand Gifts…and beyond.
I read this book as part of my Lent project this year. It's about living your life by giving thanks to God, and recognizing his presence/gifts in everything around you. It's about being grateful, even amidst the stress of every day life, and how that can change your perspective and bring you closer to God. It has a great message - found myself jotting certain phrases down while I was listening. Her writing is not great though, which is why this book only gets 3 stars. There were times when I thought she'd made a great point, and she'd end on that. Instead she'd go on to say the same thing again about 15 different ways, and I'd feel like the point almost gets lost in the extra 5 minutes of reading. The book could have been about 2/3 as long as it was and been a lot better. But again - great message.
Years ago, I asked for devotional recommendations on Facebook and a casual acquaintance (Caroline, for my future reference) suggested this book. Thus followed many years of it sitting on my "To-Read" shelf. I'm so glad to have finally read it.
One Thousand Gifts is Ann's journey to find joy in a life where she mostly experiences anxiety and a sense that life is passing her by. She shares past childhood traumas, personal experiences with self-harm, and so much more. Through the book, Ann makes a decision to list one thousand things that are God's gifts to her and thank Him for each one. The result is transforming. She notices beauty in places she never noticed before, and gradually her stress turns to gratitude turns to joy.
Not only did I use the study guide while I read through this with my friend, Abbie, but I also started my own gratitude journal. Guys, it is transforming. I can't stop laughing about last week. On my way to work, I finally got to drive on the smooth blacktop of a finished road (that had been slowing my trip to work due to construction for weeks). Instead of a grudging "thank God the construction is FINALLY over" attitude, I'm like, "Smooth road on my way to work now! *dance in seat* Best day EVER!" And yes, I did add it to my list of a thousand things I'm grateful for. Life changing!
Ann's writing is a bit odd. She reconstructs sentences in a way that is improper grammatically, but it adds to her poetic style. I think it works. After a few minutes, I was used to it. A lot of people don't care for it, so that's something to know going in. Maybe consider reading an excerpt before purchasing the book.
I'd rate this a mild PG-13 for recounting of trauma, self-harm, some mildly bloody images, and adult themes.
When Ann Voskamp was 5 years old, her younger sister Aimee was hit by a delivery truck in front of their farm house. Aimee was chasing a cat and ran out into the road. The driver said he never saw her in the road. Her mother witnessed the accident. Ann has vivid memories of her mother sitting on the front porch rocking her little sister while the blood seeped through the quilt she was wrapped in. The description of the accident that caused Aimee's death begins the book "One Thousand Gifts".
Ann becomes a Christian when she is 16, but is haunted by her continued grief and inability to get past the death of her sister. Images of blood soaking through quilts appear frequently. This one event in her life has scarred her family forever. Her father stopped going to church after Aimee died. Her mother was in and out of psychiatric hospitals for years. Ann herself even seems to have struggled with cutting herself. Ann eventually marries a farmer in Canada, settles down to being a farmer's wife, and rears 6 children.
Through it all, Ann struggles with wanting to live a full Christian life, not full of anger or bitterness, not focused always on the evil and wickedness in life. Her son Levi has an accident in the barn and needs surgery on his hand. While taking him to the hospital, Ann hears of a young Mennonite farmer boy who was killed in an accident on the farm. Ann also remembers the tragic illness and death of two of her nephews from an unusual genetic disease. She marvels that her brother-in-law accepts the grief and still praises God for having had the boys at all. Sorrow, death, tragedy surround all things. How do you live in the middle of this?
Ann comes up with a practice to change her heart from being angry and bitter and to focus her thoughts on being thankful to the Lord. She focuses on "eucharisteo", thanksgiving to God. She begins making a list of "1000 things that she loves" and thanking God for them. She keeps a journal and writes down any and every item that she sees that she loves. Entries are written much like William Carlos William poems. "Morning shadows across the old floors". "Jam piled high on the toast". "Cry of blue jay from high in the spruce". "Laundry flapping". "Click of a seat belt". "Book pages turning". "Boys humming hymns". The practice of being thankful for these things listed heals her heart and softens her life. Being thankful literally changes her life, and allows her to live with joy. By the end of the book she is able to go to Aimee's gravestone and be thankful for her sister, even though she doesn't understand why Aimee died.
I applaud Ann for being a farmer's wife, Lord knows we need more of them. I also applaud Ann for her 6 children, who are blessings to her at all times in the book. I am also happy that she homeschools her children, what a great education for all involved. However, I have to admit this book made me tired. Ann's style of writing is very poetic. She invents new word phrases to capture special nuances, and to me it makes the sentences stumble. It jars and does not read well either silently or aloud. I found myself scanning to the next paragraph hoping to get back to something concrete instead of wading through prose trying to be poetry.
I agree totally with Ann's habit of thanksgiving to the Lord. I agree that being thankful to Jesus for small things helps heal the horrific slashes and cuts of wickedness and evil in the world. But at the end of the book, I am left wondering, "what happened to Ann's mother?". If Ann's practice of thanksgiving helped her, I wonder if it helped her mother?
Truly a worthwhile read! This book surprised me and moved me. I am in love with Ann Voskamp's writing style ... it is poetic, deep, and rich. It reaches in and takes a hold of me at a soul-deep level. Oh, it was beautiful - pulling at deep, deep parts of me. Making me strive to understand, and also feel like maybe I could just let go and rest in God's goodness and love.
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are is bittersweet, and triumphant, and marvelously revealing. My heart wept for the tragedy endured, yet exulted for the glory, and freedom, and love discovered! Ann Voskamp is very honest and vulnerable, sharing openly from her heart. I get a glimpse into this life of a farmer's wife and a mother of six. This woman who has faced raw heartbreak and hardship, and struggles against anxiety and listlessness.
I loved reading about the day-to-day experiences and getting a look at Ann's relationship with God as she cries out, grows, wrestles, surrenders, and rests in the security of Christ. I loved the triumph, the bittersweet, the struggle, the hope, and the glorious beauty.
This is a thought-provoking book that changed me. And I pray that I live in this change. I am so thankful to my God, and to Ann Voskamp for sharing her testimony.
What a book. I just really loved it and highly recommend. Such deep content. If you struggle with fear ... depression ... ingratitude ... One Thousand Gifts will challenge you and lift your heart.
I'm going to be honest here-- I didn't really read this book. I kind of just sampled sections of it. But it convinced me to never waste my time reading it from cover to cover. I know a lot of people love this book... but it just feels so pretentious to me. First, it's written in a pseudo-poetic/pseudo-literary style. Really, it's not poetic; it's just plain fake! The writer is trying to paint is beautiful pictures with words... but it comes out as nonsensical drivel. Secondly, the whole premise of this book is emotionalism!!! That is NOT what the Christian life is about. It's not all "Life is beautiful, let's all hug and make ourselves feel good." It's not some mystical experience ( like making love to God... whatever that was about...). The Christian life is beautiful, but it's also gritty; its fulfilling, but is also hard; and sometimes, you just don't feel like God is giving you a thousand gifts as one of your friends slowly dies from a terminal heart disease, or another friend miscarried their first son. Oh, to be sure, we are to remember "in everything give thanks," and we are to, as a missionary once said "expect great things from God; attempt great things for God." But fuzzy feelings and sappy, bad poetry are not a part of that life.
I like the basic premise behind this book, but I admit I felt like the author was trying to be a little too poetic. For example:
"His brother rages red and I'm sucker punched and it's toast, yes, but isn't it his heart and I shake the head stunned, losing words, and the child I ripened with, bore down and birthed from the heart, he turns on a Tuesday, tears out a few more of the pulsing chunks and where did I go so wrong? Who cares about bring the beauty in when all the inner rooms reek? It's toast and it's not and I can't shrug it off the Image. I slam hands down on the table when I'd like to grab hold of his throat. Can I exchange the clay eyes shot red for the sacred seeing?" p. 123
The whole book is this way. I love descriptive writing but I guess I was hoping for more of a conversational piece mother to mother. I felt like it was less of a "dare" and more a lengthy monologue of flowery words. Others may like it this way however.
I also admit that I didn't finish it so I can't describe her theological beliefs.
I loved One Thousand Gifts and this was a nice way to revisit Voskamps's thoughts in a 60 day devotional format. There are some truly, deep, and touching devotionals in this read, however, I must admit, some of them were a little harder for me to follow. I don't know if I was just too distracted while I was reading, or if it was harder to find that mentality to grasp her writing style in quick, small sized bites. I read this as an ebook, and I was constantly highlighting phrases, though. So many beautifully written nuggets of wisdom and truth. A great reminder to seek and recognize the gifts and blessings in our lives.