One Thousand Gifts - Reading List

One Thousand Gifts

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

There are some books that are written because someone went through a life changing event and the audience is moved by the author's response.  There are others that are written to inspire an audience to strive for a better lifestyle. And often times these are pretty good books.

But when Ann Voskamp put together One Thousand Gifts she somehow allowed the life she has lived and the events that shaped her inspire the audience to try, with every breath, to live a life that is truly filled with joy. True joy.

I know many of you have read One Thousand Gifts, but in case it's still on your to-be read list, or your never even heard of it list, here's the basic summary:  This is a book were Ann shares how she has decided to live her life amidst daily responsibilities and long to-do lists of a mother of six and always accept the gift of joy even in the hard and trying moments of life. She shares parts of her life that could and did close her off from really accepting any gifts from God and that in that decision she found herself unable to enjoy life. However, after receiving a little dare from a friend to literally write down things she was grateful for, a list to 1,000, she started to find a joy in life as her perspective honestly changed.

Ann basically is extending this dare to all of us - this dare to change our perspectives from a focus on rushing to accumulate more to a perspective that is focused on being truly thankful for all the gifts that we have been given, and continue to receive every single day. 

Here's one line that jumped out to me, and truly convinced me this is a book for everyone. "Every moment I live, I live bowed to something. And if I don't see God, I'll bow down before something else." (110)  Isn't this so true? We, people, were created to serve our Creator, but when we aren't serving Him, we serve something else. In that decision to serve something else we find ourselves lacking and in need and farther down the spiral we quickly fall. I don't know about you, but this little truth seems to big to be solved by simply writing down little gifts that I am thankful for every day. 

And this issue is exactly what Ann often comes back to explain. Yes, it is a little thing, looking for things -3 a day, specifically- but that is exactly what we are called to do, over and over again. Ann goes through many scriptures where we are clearly told that after we offer thanks we will receive joy

The term Ann points out from scripture is Eucharisteo, a word that holds this secret to joy. She discusses how the root - Charis - is grace. That if we can start to see what has been given to us as gifts of grace then we will be able to be thankful for them and as a result receive joy. Even more importantly, she reminds us that Eucharisteo, to give thanks, is a verb, which of course means we have to actually do something. And that something can be a simple keeping of a list of those grace gifts every day, all day. 

One Thousand Gifts

Of course there is a little secret to such an easy action.
 "The quiet song of gratitude, eucharisteo, lures humility out of the shadows because to receive a gifts the knees must bend humble and the hand must lie vulnerably open and will must bow to accept whatever the Giver chooses to give." (172)
The goal of this practice of accepting grace gifts, is to accept all the grace gifts, even the ones we do not want when they are given. The hard, the ugly, the painful eucharisteo must be accepted with some level of thanksgiving, and that takes serious effort. How hard it is to keep your hand open the gift that will fall into it is going to hurt initially, maybe leave a scar, but what if we close our hand to these gifts and miss the best gift that is being offered right after it? No, it's not easy. And yes, even Ann admits that she is still learning how to accept these gifts. But that understanding that we keep trying, keep learning, that is sometimes enough, because in that we pray for more strength to gratefully accept the next gift, even if it brings pain.

Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

My only critique, and it is a minor one, is that Ann's writing style can be a little difficult to read at times. She writes in a more poetic, lyrical fashion, and often ignores grammatical rules, or at least pushes the boundaries greatly. However, that is part of the beauty of the book at the same time. So maybe this is more of a preparation warning, so you aren't distracted by it and can soak in the meaning. 

Now I recommend a lot of books. It's the curse of really loving books and characters and different experiences. But please hear me when I say this is a book you need to have - not just read. No this is one you buy. Because you will go back to it over and over to use as a source of encouragement and inspiration for when life is hard and accepting gifts just don't seem like it could really be enough. 

Reading List Rating:

I have been keeping my Joy Dare list right here on my blog - feel free to check it out. There is a link there to Ann's Joy Dare, are you willing to take up such a dare?

Have you read this book? Tell me in the comments what you thought - I love to hear your thoughts.

*This is an affiliate link, if you are thinking of purchasing One Thousand Gifts, I'd love to benefit from your purchase - Thank you.

Linked up with:

You Might Also Like


Like me on Facebook