Posts Tagged ‘thankfulness’

Book Review: One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

April 8th, 2014

It’s not that I don’t like poetry – I just like clarity more.

And Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts is long on one and short on the other.

Having read a few of Voskamp’s blog posts, I was familiar with her style – sentence fragments, simultaneous run-ons, metaphors that carry through paragraphs and suddenly morph. I knew already that I could only handle her in rather small doses, but that when I did read a dose, I was often encouraged.

If I’d have been expecting a Christian living book, a how-to of some sort or a theology, I’d have been sorely disappointed. Because One Thousand Gifts is neither of these. It is a memoir, written in free verse, of a woman whose life was transformed as she began to practice “eucharisto” (thankfulness).

As such, it is lovely. It is a meandering book, best read slowly over the course of many weeks. I took the full three months the library allowed to read through it. I savored pretty turns of phrase and reflected not on the thoughts conveyed but on the gratitude displayed.

So long as I did that, I loved it.

The problem came in whenever I tried to think about it.

Having read One Thousand Gifts, I have no idea what Voskamp’s theology really is. I know that she quotes some people I respect greatly, theological giants – but she also quotes mystics whose connection to Biblical Christianity is questionable at best. Voskamp hints at some understanding of the cross, of God’s sovereignty – but she spends much more of her time discussing the mystical idea that eucharisto somehow makes things happen.

Yet I’m not sure if it is a mystical idea to her, or if I merely perceive it that way because of the poetical writing style. Does she really believe that eucharisto is some sort of lucky charm, that entices miracles into being (as she seems to suggest when she repeatedly references Jesus giving thanks and then feeding 5000)? I do not know.

And that’s the difficulty with reviewing this book.

It’s not that I don’t like poetry – I just like clarity more.

And Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts is long on one and short on the other.

That said, I think it is worthwhile to note that reading this book has inspired me to take more notice of the gifts God has given me throughout the day to day. For that, I am thankful.

Rating: 3 stars
Category: Spiritual Memoir
Synopsis: Ann Voskamp is transformed as she begins living a life of eucharisto, listing the gifts God has given her.
Recommendation: If you like Voskamp’s style, it’s worthwhile to read and be reminded to be thankful. If you don’t like her style or know that you’ll be frustrated by theological ambiguity, go ahead and skip it.

A Cracked Mirror

September 29th, 2010

Last week, a woman from my church shared with me how something I’d written on my blog had impacted her life.

Something I’d written had encouraged her to step back and let her husband lead.

Something I’d written had been used by God to make her a better woman, a better wife.

After reading what I’d written, she released control of an issue. She supported her husband’s decision. She experienced immediate breakthrough in the situation she’d been hanging on to.


I’m amazed. I’m humbled. I’m blessed.

That God could use me–a single woman who feels so very messed up–to minister truth to another woman.

That God could use me to bless a marriage, a family.

It’s an awesome privilege.

Thank you, dear Lord, for using me. And thank you, dear readers, for letting God speak to you through a cracked mirror like myself.

Thankful Thursday: Journeys and Jobs, Oh Joy!

August 26th, 2010

Today I’m thankful…

…for my job–I’m so glad to be back in the classroom again (as a teacher, that is!)

…for cruise control–with as much traveling as I’ve had to do lately, I don’t know what I’d do without it.

…for Chris Tomlin on my car radio, letting me “multitask” worship and driving :-)

…for a job offer–I enjoyed meeting the care team today and really think I would love working with this facility.

…for an interview–It’s probably my dream job, although it pays significantly less than the offer I’ve already had. Nevertheless, if they deem me their best applicant, they’re willing to wait until January for me. (Which means I might be able to have my cake and eat it too.)

…for lunch with Anna–We’ve been able to lunch together each time I’ve gone up to Columbus for an interview, and it’s so nice to have that informal sister time.

…for being alive despite a brief scare in the car this morning and my incredible drowsiness in the car this afternoon

…for the sermon on humility that met me just where I was at. Just about a year ago, John Piper deviated from his ongoing series in the book of John to talk about humility. It “just happened” to be the next sermon up on my mp3 player this afternoon. (Lord, help me to see the gospel in such a way that would exclude all vain boasting in the flesh.)

…for the Sovereign God, who knows every decision of today, tomorrow, and the rest of my life–and whose hand is in every circumstance that comes my way

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Thankful Thursday: Book Club

August 19th, 2010

Today I’m thankful…

…for whichever friend it was who “liked” MIQRA’s Facebook Page, making it show up on my newsfeed

…for God’s providence that had me “like” MIQRA despite my general abhorrence for “liking” things (on Facebook)

…that I saw the book club announcement and “just happened” to save it

…that Evan directed me to the videos that convinced me to go

…that the Barnes and Noble in Omaha had a copy of the book–which I drove up to buy, which then locked me in to attending even when I was tired and starting to second guess my decision the first evening.

…for Jake’s familiar face that first night

…for Chad’s affirmation of my contributions (and of my writing)

…for Brian and Emily’s concern that I get to my car safely, walking me there or giving me a ride

…for walking and talking with Julie about homeschooling

…for Randy asking me about the week I missed book club

…for Nate’s passionate articulateness–so different and so similar to my own

…for Tom’s thoughtful observations and carefully reasoned comments

…for Jason’s baby :-) and a wee bit of fellowship with a real-life blogger (I’m the only really regular blogger of my “real-life” acquaintances until Jason)

…for the comfort of knowing that I wasn’t the only one who had a hard time wrestling with Christian involvement in the military–thanks so much, Jason H, for sharing

…for the others whose names aren’t coming to mind now, but who welcomed me, engaged my mind, and didn’t roll their eyes when I opened my mouth yet one more time.

…for the book itself, The Myth of a Christian Nation, which challenged and stretched me–and expanded my vision of the kingdom of God

…for the curly headed barista who prepared my Italian Soda, no cream, every Monday night

…for the discussions that brought me from bad mood to good

…for the genuine acceptance, questions, and offers of help that so many extended when I shared about “off-topic” parts of my life

…for the amazing God who has allowed me, at least for this season, to know Him with such marvelous comrades.

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Thankful Thursday: Blue

April 1st, 2010

Today I’m thankful…

…for the blue bike that I’m loving to ride

…for the blue sky that greeted me as I rode my way on to campus

…for the blue water bottle that keeps me hydrated as I fight against the wind

…for the blue backpack that enables me to tote all my books and papers about on my bicycle

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Today, I’m blue. And when I’m blue, I’m thankful…

…for my aunt, who can relate

…for my uncle, who reminded me that I am not without hope

“We grieve, but not as those who have no hope. Grief is real and good and must not be glossed over. On the other (better) hand, there is joy in trusting in the Lord with all your heart and leaning not (at all) on your own understanding. I wonder to myself (truly, – not directed at you or anyone but myself) does God have contingency plans in case His plans don’t work out? My mind and especially my heart cannot conceive of it. — Peace”
-Uncle Nathan

…for my mom, who brought some clarity to my confusion and finally convinced me to look into some resources on grieving.

…for my dad, who tells me that God hasn’t given up on me, who asks me to consider whether my lack of interest in the jobs that have been coming across my desk might be God’s leading–that He’s holding me back from getting a job for a reason? (Dad said that while some people might experience God’s leading in a sudden interest or a kick in the pants, maybe this uncharacteristic lack of interest might be His leading for the generally go-gettum, make-things-happen me.)

…for God, who is ever-present, who is with me when I cry myself to sleep, who knows the heart I don’t know myself, who hears my every contradictory petition and works all things to accomplish His (good) will. I’m thankful that He hasn’t given up on me, that He hasn’t lost His plan for my life. I’m thankful that even when I don’t understand my own heart, my own emotions, my own will–God knows, and has a plan to work all things together for His glory and my greatest good.

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