Monday, January 31, 2011

1000 Gifts

bA book Review of 1000 Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp.

This is a hard book review to write because there are so many things I could say about this book and so many lines, paragraphs, and sections I could quote. If you aren't familiar with this book, you may be familiar with Ann Voskamp, the writer of the blog Holy Experience which is one of the blogs on my sidebar and one I know I have linked to from time to time.

I hesitate to even talk about what first drew me to this book because I don't want anyone to think you need to have gone through an experience like mine to read this book because that would be far from the truth, but I am going to tell you as a preface to the review.

I don't always read Ann's blog. She almost always has things that are good for me to hear and helpful and her words always seem to have a soothing effect on my soul, but at times I rebel from those things for whatever reason, but not long ago I started reading her blog after a hiatus and discovered she had written a book and there was a link to a review on Angie Smith's blog. I don't know Angie but I know we share a commonality in the loss of a child and I clicked over there to check it out. Angie said, "Years ago I sent her an email saying I adored her, assuming she had no idea who I was. Little did I know that she did know my story and could relate to it in a horrific way." That, of course, intrigued me and I had to follow the link to read the first chapter of the book which is here.
In that first chapter, she relates the death of her little sister, who was run over by a vehicle. Ann was 4 at the time. She gives details of the time and my heart beats fast with the knowledge of what that must have been like and I relate, not to Ann so much, but to her mother. But in Ann, I see my children and I wonder as I often do, what it is like for them, those things inside I cannot see; those things they cannot tell me because they have no words to do them justice. I wonder just what they will carry with them as they grow up, and how it will help shape them as to who they will be.
Ann talks of how her memories start at this time, but how none of her family really know how to fully live. Among other questions, Ann sets out to answer "How do I wake up to joy and grace and beauty and all that is the fullest life when I must stay numb to losses and crushed dreams and all that empties me out?" That is what drew me in.
We don't all have losses or at least not ones like mine, but most have crushed dreams and things that empty them out. Things that make us weary or discontent where we find ourselves wading through each day or rehashing those events that rob us of joy.
The title says "1000 Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully." A friend dared her to make a list of 1000 things that she was thankful for so she began a journal listing those things. She carried it around and kept it handy to write down things as she saw them, experienced, them or thought of them. What she found was a transformation was taking place in the giving of thanks in all things. In the dreariest of days, there were things to be thankful. In the days of remembering the accident, there were things to be thankful. In the days when nothing goes right, there are things to be thankful. In doing this, this giving of thanks, she discovered joy.
Ann reveals herself in this book and lets us know her. We know her sorrow, her fears, her difficulties and the day in and day out things that wear her down. She is real, authentic, a person not unlike you and me and that daily needs to be reminded of God's goodness and the need to be in communion with Him. The first item on my 1000 gifts list is "The book 1000 gifts." Read it; let me know what you think and consider all the those things for which we are thankful.

Lastly, a few(a very few of many) of my highlights of the book.

"..I wake to the discontent of life in my skin. I wake to the self-hatred. To the wrestle to get it all done, the relentless anxiety that I am failing. Always, the failing. I yell at the children, fester with bitterness, forget doctor appointments, lose library books, live selfishly, skip prayer, complain, go to bed too late, neglect cleaning the toilet.s. I live tired. Afraid. Anxious. Weary. Years, I feel it in the veins, the pulsing of ruptured hopes."

"On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it...Jesus offers thanksgiving for even that which will break him and crush Him and would Him and yield a bounty of joy."

"Until Home and Promised Land and complete clarity, I'm a wanderer crossing bridges, wanderer eating manna, eating mystery. For really, as long as I live, travel, is there ever anything else to eat? I either take the "what is it?" manna with thanks, eat the mystery of the moment with trust, and nourished another day---or refuse it...and die. Jesus calls me to surrender and there's nothing like releasing fears and falling into peace...There is no joy without trust!"


Wanting What I Have said...

My own copy of her book just arrived in the mail. I can't wait to read it! I've been listing for several months now and it is changing my heart. I appreciate you sharing!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this, Rachel.