Friday, May 20, 2011

One Thousand Gifts

Subtitled "A Dare to Live Fully Where You Are", this new book by Ann Voskamp brought me to my face in adoration, grief, worship, gratefulness, pain.  The author and her husband are farmers in the Mennonite countryside of southwestern Ontario. She home schools her six children and writes a daily blog as well as traveling for Compassion International as an advocate for the poor.

But this no ordinary wife and mother. This is a poet extraordinaire. Her voice calls "from deep unto deep". Her story is so painful to read at times that I put the book down, weep, and plunge in again. I can't NOT read.

Reaching for "something or Someone", grappling with unimaginable grief and loss, Ann chooses thanksgiving to enter into God's joy.  She allows, even invites us, total strangers, to journey with her in her quest.

Let me quote a little bit so that you can hear the cadence, taste the honey, touch the splintered roughness of her words, her life.
Fear is like this piano wire cutting round the wrists, life shackled, cutting deep, and the hands spasm, fists of control.  Fear keeps life small. The music dies and the joy drains.  I've lived the strangle.  What if I opened the clenched hands wide to receive all that is? A life that receives all of God in this moment? How do you do that when the terror tears up your throat and you wear the burn scars of a razed past?
Despairing and desperate, she grasps at one last chance to truly live, to embrace life with all its grittiness and glory. A friend dares her to write down one thousand blessings, gifts, if you will, for which she can thank God. This book recounts the writing of the list, the stories behind the gifts. From soapsuds in the sunshine to the heart-wrenching death of a child, all is sacramental, holy, grace.

Ann bares her bloodied heart to us, the reader, and we in turn can only open our hands and hearts to God and to our fellows. If you would like to know more about Ann, her life, her family, her photography, go to:



  1. Yes, this is a book to be reread, for sure. I borrowed it from our church library but I want my own copy now. Best book I've read in a long time, and I always have a few on the go. Have you started a list Becky?

  2. I have so many that I am reading, want to read, long to read, should read, will have to wait until heaven to read...But this one is a keeper. I bought 3 copies yesterday, one for me, and two to give away.


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