Ann Voskamp, in her book One Thousand Gifts, takes us through her personal voyage into discovering the path to experiencing the fullness of joy and peace that only God can bring us in our lives. Having experienced a tragic childhood event that carved grooves of pain deep within her subconscious, it's aftershocks manifesting itself in adolescence and adulthood through the form of nearly deabhilitatiing anxiety and panic attacks, she decides to accept a dare from a friend that would cause her life to change forever. The dare? To write a list of one thousand blessings. One thousand gifts that she discovered through her ordinary moments of life that reveal the love of God and His glory.
She experiences the power and transformation that goes along with the process of identifying the presence and manifestation of God's glory in the details of life that are often overlooked.
"All I can see, think, is that my whim writing of one thousand gratitudes, the naming of the moments-this is a holy work...Naming is to know a thing's function in the cosmos-to name is to solve mystery. In naming that which is right before me, that which I'd otherwise miss, the invisible becomes visible. The space that spans my inner emptiness fills in the naming. I name. And I know the face I face. God's! God is in the details; God is in the moment. God is in all that blurs by in a life-even hurts in a life." p. 54
The greatest lesson that Voskamp learns in developing an awareness of the blessings that abound in life is that of thankfulness-eucharisteo. She comes to the conclusion that the dare of listing one thousand blessings is "language lessons in eucharisteo". "Thanks is what multiplies the joy and makes any life large", Voskamp writes, " Learn how to be thankful-whether empty or full." Throughout the book she is reminded of a revelation she learns early on, that "eucharisteo precedes the miracle". When we thank God for the things in our life, no matter how antithetical they may seem to be to peace and joy, an amazing thing happens; a miracle. The fruit of peace and joy are born amidst situations and circumstances where it would seem initially impossible to feel anything but darkness. We can choose joy by first becoming thankful, which in turn, conceives joy.
" While I may not always feel joy, God asks me to give thanks in all things, because He knows that the feeling of joy begins in the action of thanksgiving."p. 176
Voskamp is not afraid to tackle the deep theological questions that believers can oftentimes wrestle with: the existence of pain and suffering that is so prevalent in the world. She probes such areas with a delicate grace as she draws out the positive from the pain and misery. She finds the taste of honey that is God's glory amidst the bitterness of life.
Voskamp, being a homeschooling mother of six, certainly appeals to readers who are mothers themselves and seek to find God's voice within the pandemonium and chaos of little feet and hands continually stirring about. Her book, though, is applicable to any reader who has sought to discover the presence and reality of God through life's ordinary moments.
She displays a writing style of her own that is unique and intriguing and often flows in a stream-of-consciousness-type format. This book is a refreshing read and even if you don't decide to make your own list of "one thousand gifts" you will no doubt finish this book with a greater awareness of the blessings that surround you and a new sense of gratitude for the great love of God.
Any thoughts? I'd love to hear them! Please leave them in the comments section!