One Thousand Gifts: A dare to live fully right where you are
By Ann Voskamp
What are you thankful for? We have recently experienced Thanksgiving and Christmas and I believe that most people in America do pause to give thanks for the blessings in their lives…their family, the food, the material possessions, health, happiness. What if I asked you to make a list of one thousand things that you were thankful for? Could you make a list that long? Could we find that many things that we appreciate? Ann Voskamp took that challenge and surpassed it. In her book, One Thousand Gifts, she writes of the way her life was changed because of her list.
Ann is a lot like me—and maybe a lot like you, too. She finds herself at a place in her life where some things just haven’t worked out like she thought. She is a busy wife and mom and struggles with wanting something more. She is challenged one day by a friend to make a list of one thousand things she loves—one thousand gifts she already has. This process of thankfulness begins a journey of growth and maturity in her life.
Ann’s key word for the book is the Greek word, Eucharisteo, which means thanksgiving. This word also contains the root words charis and chara which mean grace and joy. It becomes her life word—she relates everything back to giving thanks. She notices while studying the Bible the important thread of thanksgiving. Jesus gave thanks. Daniel prayed three times a day, giving thanks. We are called in the New Testament to give thanks for all things at all times.
It’s relatively easy to give thanks for the things in our lives we consider blessings—our family, food, jobs, houses, stuff. It is completely different to give thanks in ALL circumstances. How do we give thanks through the death of a baby? How do we give thanks through cancer, economic downturns, and depression? Or even the normal occurrences: kids fighting, laundry piles, work that never ends. In One Thousand Gifts, Ann takes us through these life experiences and shows us how she is learning to give thanks.
Ann, who is also a writer for DaySpring (a division of Hallmark), has a unique style of writing. It is very descriptive and if I’m honest, I would say that sometimes it required a lot of concentration to read In fact, I almost stopped reading after the first several chapters because I was having to re-read sections in order to grasp her meaning. But, I am very glad that I continued reading. Ann has a way of speaking truth—maybe not in the same words that I would have chosen, but truth that spoke to my soul. I really appreciated her honesty in the statement:
“I know how monstrously inhumane I can be. Raging at children for minor wrongdoings while I’m the one defiling the moment with sinful anger. Hoarding possessions while others die of starvation. Entertaining the mind with trivial pretties when I haven’t bowed the head and heart in a prayer longer than five minutes in a week. My tongue has had a razor edge and my eyes have rolled haughty and my neck has been stiff and graceless and I have lived the filth ugly, and idolater, a glutton, and a grace thief who hasn’t had time for the thanks” (p. 116).
I don’t know about you, but that statement is true about me some days. It was good to know, as I read the book, that I am not alone. I loved her transparency and willingness to invite us into her life and show us what God has been teaching her.
I consider this book to be another stepping stone in my life as I journey toward becoming more like Jesus. Making the decision to give thanks, embrace grace, and choose joy is a daily one—maybe even an hourly or minute-by-minute one. Hopefully today, I am making the right choice more often. One Thousand Gifts would definitely be on my list of one thousand things that I am thankful for.
Review by Christy Carmean
Published by Zondervan