I recently finished reading One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp.
The book came out in 2011 and I’m quite far behind on the bandwagon.
I found out about this book through the hashtag “#1000gifts” on Instagram. I kept seeing it pop up on people’s photographs and I was curious. Eventually, I was led to the book.
This is a book about gratitude.
But, it is so much more.
The interesting, artful and masterful thing about this book is that Ann never says:
“Hey, everyone I figured out the way to live the best Christian life possible. In chapter one I’m going to tell you how my life changed and in Chapter 2 I’ll start telling you why you need to write your list of 1,000 gifts. And, then in the rest of the book I talk about what I learned in my writing of 1,000 gifts.”
Ann is too much of a poet for that type of easy, gimmie writing.
Instead, she doesn’t even mention the gift list for at least two dozen pages. Never in the entire book does she tell her readers to write down their 1,000 gifts.
Is anyone else amazed? That’s skill.
This book is 100% memoir, 0% self-help.
And, yet, the effect…was thousands and thousand of people across the US writing out lists of 1,000 blessings and gifts in their lives.
I’ve finished the book and I haven’t even started my gift list yet. She’s so gentle with the concept that I don’t even feel pressured to start right away. It is, after all, a huge undertaking.
At the same time, her writing and personal narrative are so captivating that it would be almost impossible for me to not start a 1,000 gift list.
In one portion of the book she writes about how photography can be the same effect – freezing the moment – as pausing to write down a gift. If forces the photographer into the present: into the joy God has placed for you to enjoy, right now.
I grabbed my camera one quiet lazy winter morning shortly after Christmas and took these photos. By the time I finished snapping pictures my heart was about to burst from the gratitude and joy of that regular day.
Spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove with summer’s garden tomatoes.
That pony tail.
Chubby fingers, sticky hands stealing the cell phone. Again.
Tiny toddler resting, for a second.
Short visits between morning chores from Daddy.
Reading books to babies.
My very own kitchen.
Freshly baked bread on Christmas dishes.
Dishes from Honey (Great-Grandma Louise Angell), Mamoo (Grandma Joan Angell), Grandma Hazel Blachford and a pin from Grandma Georgia (Diederich).
You see? This book is good. To top it all off, Ann and her family donated all of the proceeds from the book to charity!
The Description from Amazon
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!
Quotes from the Book
“I want to see beauty. In the ugly, in the sink, in the suffering, in the daily, in all the days before I die, the moments before I sleep.”
“Eucharisteo—thanksgiving—always precedes the miracle.”
“Just that maybe … maybe you don’t want to change the story, because you don’t know what a different ending holds.”
“A life contemplating the blessings of Christ becomes a life acting the love of Christ.”
“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 early light dappled through leaves and the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July and the song of crickets on humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that a good God gives.”
“I don’t really want more time; I just want enough time. Time to breathe deep and time to see real and time to laugh long, time to give You glory and rest deep and sing joy and just enough time in a day not to feel hounded, pressed, driven, or wild to get it all done-yesterday.”
“Stress isn’t only a joy stealer. The way we respond to it can be sin.”
“The whole of the life — even the hard — is made up of the minute parts, and if I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole. These are new language lessons, and I live them out. There is a way to live the big of giving thanks in all things. It is this: to give thanks in this one small thing. The moments will add up.”
“I know the theological answers, but do my blood and my pulse?”