Thursday, May 3, 2012

Review: One Thousand Gifts

One Thousand Gifts
By Ann Voskamp
Zondervan 2010
227 pages
From my bookshelves

Ann Voskamp is a mother living with her husband on their farm in Canada. As she went about her daily routines, she noticed a lack of joy in her life and the everyday presence of fear.  She realized that the root of joy was in eucharisto, in giving thanks through all circumstances. She began a personal challenge to record 1001 gifts, carrying a small notebook with her to write down each blessing. One Thousand Gifts is Voskamp’s record of her journey and the ways in which counting blessings brought her closer to God and changed her life forever.

I received this book as a gift, but let it sit on my shelf for months. I really regret this in retrospect because as soon as I finished this incredible book, I wanted to start it all over again. Voskamp is an incredible writer – her style is distinctive and lyrical. You have to let yourself go with the words, since she does not particularly respect grammar and tends to write in stream of consciousness. But her observations of the everyday routine amid painful loss and exultant joy are stunning.

“I’m reluctant to untether from the moon. The world I live in is loud and blaring and toilets plug and I get speeding tickets and the dog gets sick all over the back step and I forget everything and these six kids lean hard into me all day to reach 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 the dome of an everyday cathedral? Could I go back to my life and pray with eyes wide open?”

Voskamp begins with the seemingly simple concept of giving thanks. She proposes a counting of gifts, noting the sunshine in the morning, her child’s smile, or an unexpected kindness. However, she realizes that making the list is not as simple as it seems. Her own stories of losing faith amid devastating loss are shared throughout the pages, along with her search for God in the minutiae of trying to keep up with six children, a house, and a farm. She confronts the deep fears that we all share - that God’s promises will fail us or that we will be unable to give thanks in times of trouble.

Ann Voskamp’s book has the potential to radically change the way you view everyday life and the ways in which you seek God’s presence. This is a book you will want to savor, but will instead find yourself racing through the pages in a search for further insight. One Thousand Gifts is a book I can see myself picking up again and again, searching for new insight and new glimpses of beauty. 

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