One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
Ann Voskamp

Megan told me to read this as soon as it came out…she’s an avid follower of Voskamp’s blog A Holy Experience which we have linked in the margin under “In Good Company” (before you click over there, know that there’s music playing on her blog!). At any rate, my Bible study teachers gave each one in my small group this book for Christmas this past year. I plunged right in–taking a sharp deviation from all the children’s literature I had been reading (children’s literature is like a drug… I confess…) and enjoying my first real school break since May.

So, I plunged right in and got swept along in the current of Voskamp’s stream-of-consciousness, lyrical writing. She’s very poetic and reminds me a little of Annie Dillard (a favorite of mine). I got bogged down in the middle when she began chasing the moon…the rest of the book felt a bit slower to me than that first, magical half, but I was also caught up in the maelstrom of Christmas activities at that point. It may simply have been that I didn’t have enough time to continue reading at the same rate.

Voskamp spends the entire book reminding her readers to give thanks–in all situations, for everything. She keeps a journal of gratitude, initially intending to recount 1000 gifts from the Lord within its pages. She meets that goal and continues on, convinced that in giving thanks, we learn how to praise the Lord, enjoy our lives, live more fully. This thankfulness will slow us down, begin training us to notice the moments, and spill over onto our families. She writes from her perspective as a farmer’s wife and mother of six children; she also writes out of her grief over the tragic childhood loss of her sister and the witnessing of grief in the lives of those close to her.

Some favorite quotations:
(in the context of mulling over how fast/busy our lives have become and our desire to rush to the next thing) “The fast have spiritually slow hearts…. It takes a full twenty minutes after your stomach is full for your brain to register satiation. How long does it take your soul to realize that your life is full? The slower the living, the greater the sense of fullness and satisfaction. The body and soul can synchronize.” (p. 76)

“I am beset by chronic soul amnesia. I empty of truth and need the refilling. I need come again every day–bend, clutch, and remember–for who can gather the manna but once, hoarding, and store away sustenance in the mind for all of the living?” (p. 106)

“Anxiety has been my natural posture, my default stiffness….Always control–pseudopower from the pit. How I refuse to relinquish worry, babe a mother won’t forsake, an identity. Do I hold worry close as this ruse of control, this pretense that I’m the one who will determine the course of events as I stir and churn and ruminate? Worry is the facade of taking action when prayer really is. And stressed, this pitched word that punctuates every conversation, is it really my attempt to prove how indispensable I am? Or is it more? Maybe disguising my deepest fears as stress seems braver somehow.” (p. 143)

“Pride, mine–that beast that pulls on the mask of anger–this is what snaps this hand shut, crushes joy.” (p. 177)

“Every breath’s a battle between grudgery and gratitude and we must keep thanks on the lips so we can sip from the holy grail of joy.” (p. 224)

What are your favorite quotations?