Sunday, August 5, 2012

book review: one thousand gifts by ann voskamp

The book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp was given to me as a Christmas gift from my sis-in-law Jen.  {not sure if she had read it but told me various friends had highly recommended it.}
The very night I was given the book I read about ten pages and, after several bouts of tears,  I had to put it down.   It started slow...and it was depressing, particularly for a new mama.  {spoiler alert: stories of children dying tragically.}  I didn't like it.

Six months later I picked it up again.   This time I gave it more than ten pages.  I gave it fifty - and that was all it took to get me hooked.  To move me.  She is a mother of six, on a farm, present day, homeschooling, tired, searching for meaning.

She finds it - in thankfulness.  The secret to a full life?  Being thank-full.

She writes a lot about the 'hurry' of life.  Rushing through and missing the little things that God wants us to notice and praise Him for.

The gifts.  Not the big ones - health, home, loved ones, car...

...the little things like the iridescent rainbow on a soap bubble while doing dishes.

So she is challenged to slow down.  To notice these little things and write them down in a notebook.

I have started lists like this several times - inspired by my dad, who has kept a list for years of things he is thankful for.  He calls it his arranain list.  {Sorry if I spelled that wrong, Dad!}

However, I always get frustrated while writing the list, because I always want to start with the "big things," and then get so caught up in describing why I am thankful for them that I tend to abandon because it seems so overwhelming.

The list Voskamp shares in One Thousand Gifts sets up a different kind of arranain.  It is the simple things that you would only notice if you slowed down long enough to see and truly appreciate them.   The way she writes them is beautiful.  In fact, the way she writes the entire book is beautiful.  You can hear the joy in her words.   She is poetic without being pretentious.

Following her example made it easy to start my list, not worrying about the obvious "big blessings" but focusing rather on the little, lovely things that make up every single day.

Here are a few from my list:

- warm, sweaty snuggles with arms wrapped around my neck, breathing steady and even.
- the vibrance of the center of a coneflower, orange quills reaching towards the sun
- an extra fifteen minutes of quiet in the morning with a steaming cup of coffee.

I could write for hours, but, like Voskamp, it is easier just to keep a notebook nearby and write them down as I notice them.  Reading over my list, especially when feeling particularly "ungrateful," fills my heart and makes me remember.

I recommend One Thousand Gifts, and making your own list.  You'll be amazed at how easily the words will flow from your pen...or fingertips. :)

PS - Another on my sold!


  1. Congrats on the house, Greta!!!! :) Oh my gosh! So what are the plans now?! Move right into the dream home?

  2. Congrats on selling the house! I read this book too and liked it alot. She definitely gives you pause to look at those things that we do take for granted. It taught me to look at the beauty in the small things. however small they are.


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