I just finished reading Ann Voskamp’s book 1000 Gifts. Occasionally, I just get a sense that I am supposed to read a book and that’s how it was for me with this one. I kept hearing about it again and again. And now that I’m done, I can say that I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I read it at just the right time.
I won’t kid you; it’s not an easy read. Ann has a more poetic style of writing, so if you like poetry you’ll probably love this book. If you’re more like me and get confused when poems don’t rhyme, it’ll be a little more challenging read. Case in point. At one part of the book Ann writes, “The maples all down the lane blush and silently disrobe.” Seriously! I don’t even think like that! Had I tried to convey that message it would probably have read, “The maples were ablaze in bright red and their leaves were quickly falling to the ground.” It just would never even enter my mind to think of leaves blushing. But, I have to say, my mind has been expanded a bit in the reading of this book.
1000 Gifts is all about giving thanks for the everyday gifts of grace that we receive from God: a glorious sunset, a baby’s smile, the sweet smell of pumpkin pie – the little things that we so often take for granted. But it’s about more than just that. It’s about living in that attitude of gratefulness, which Ann refers to as eucharisteo. Eucharisteo is actually a Greek word that means, “giving thanks” and when you embrace it as a lifestyle it will actually change your life. Literally. Change.
Ann’s book was born out of a discussion with a friend who challenged her to write down 1000 “gifts” for which she could give thanks. She calls it the “Joy Dare.” And it turns out that there is scientific data proving that people who write down a gratitude list are happier people, 25% happier actually. Who wouldn’t want that? There are other benefits to keeping a gratitude list, too. I’d encourage you to go to her website and read them in the Joy Dare section.
And, oh, her website. It is not to be missed! It’s a treat to the senses. Her thoughtful words and gorgeous photos all mix with the music playing in the background and create a calm from the moment the page loads. I’m even listening to the background music as I write this. Don’t I sound calm?
As I read Ann’s words it is clear to me that she and I are complete opposites in personality. She seems to be the calm, introverted, serious, quiet personality type and well, I’m the excited, extroverted, funny, and somewhat loud personality. But I know we could be the best of friends because of one thing. We both love to take pictures and NOTICE the beauty that God has placed in our midst; the fog hanging over the marsh, the explosion of fall colors, the wrinkles that signify life and wisdom on an older woman’s face. And we both love God.
The greatest thing I learned from this book is about giving thanks IN ALL THINGS – even in the toughest of moments. Ann refers to it as the hard eucharisteo. We are walking through some hard eucharisteo at our house right now. But, in God’s amazing faithfulness to me I was able to see Him put some of the pieces of the puzzle together right before my eyes. The reading of this book, the hard news that we received, and a Bible study lesson at church about giving thanks, all fell into place within a 24-hour time frame. And I learned this very important lesson. We are to give thanks IN ALL THINGS not FOR all things.
We don’t have to thank God for the storms of life, but we do need to thank Him for His protection, care, and faithfulness while the rain falls and the wind blows. And in the moments when we find ourselves searching for something to give thanks for, there is always the redeeming power of the cross. And that is enough. It’s always enough.
Right now, this month, as we celebrate Thanksgiving, is the perfect time to read 1000 Gifts. It’s a perfect time to take the joy dare. And it’s always a perfect time to give thanks.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Nancy loves to laugh and considers laughter a critical part of human survival. If you were to ask, most days she would say her glass is half full but when it starts reaching the half-empty level, she reaches for a funny book or movie knowing that indeed “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” Nancy has three married sons and five grandchildren. To read more from Nancy find her at www.nancyholte.com.