Friday, March 30, 2012

One Thousand Gifts - Ann Voskamp

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
Zondervan 2011

Rating: 7
Readability: 5-9
Impact: 8

Read it Again: I think I underlined most of I will definitely go back and read those portions, at least. :-)
Recommend It? Yes

What to Expect

Not a a topical study on thankfulness. That's what I thought I was starting. Instead think memoir meets freestyle poetry, theology, and ramble all generally focused on living a life of daily thanksgiving.

Ann Voskamp's prose is sometimes riveting, lyrical, soaring, but generally painful as she goes over difficult events in her life. Sometimes there is a sentence that could stand as a poem, but that becomes less frequent as the book progresses. Her constant adjectives and adverbs trailing as after thoughts in her sentences became distracting and lurching.

One Thousand Gifts is challenging, truly a dare to repent of anger, bitterness, discontent, questioning, and depression without trivializing their reality and the pain they create. Even if her flowery descriptions and personality aren't your style, we all need to hear this stuff. Ideas must take on skin and turn into vibrant action. Faith is, after all, living a life full of thankfulness. And many of us are living as practical atheists. At least I don't think I'm standing alone...

My Squib

I needed this book. So I am thankful for it. :-)

Chapter 8 was particularly convicting for me starting from the first sentence... "God and I, we've got trust issues." Trust is work. Intentional and focused. Anything else is the notion that God's love ends. Constant gratitude builds up the muscles of trust.

There were portions I wanted to take and revel in for hours while others I had to trudge through. Particularly the last chapter. I think she gets a little off with her Communion analogies near the end. I think the book would have been stronger if she'd left most of the last chapter out except for a few paragraphs. It took me almost as long to read it as the rest of the book put together.

She uses a beautiful scattering of quotes from St. Augustine, G. K. Chesterton, and C.S. Lewis, among many other more obscure writers. It gives fresh perspectives and an eager, and humble flavor. While the quotes she uses are powerful, a few of the writers are much more well known for their heretical statements.

I think because of its memoir nature she does not build on ideas as strongly as she could. Although she points out very good and different aspects, I felt like much of the book was hammering her first thoughts over and over again. Her thoughts were good enough that it worked, and I needed to hear them over and over again, but sometimes I'd set it down wanting something more.

This is one person's journey on how she came to see the need and depth and joy of thanksgiving in all of life. It is not the same for everyone. It will look different. And this story won't appeal to some. But I think we can all learn a lot from it.

I have definitely been blessed by this book.

From the Book

"...I wonder too...if the rent in the canvas of our life backdrop, the losses that puncture our world, our own emptiness, might actually become places to see.
To see through to God.
That that which tears open our souls, those holes that platter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty of beyond. To Him. To the God whom we endlessly crave." 

I believe this book has been a little controversial, so I'd love to hear your thoughts. :-)

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Struggle, Joy, Hope

These thoughts from a friend were very convicting. Very timely.

Dear Miwaza has been a wonderful blessing to me. Praise God for what He is doing in her and with her life as a witness and encouragement to others.

Check out Miwaza's website. :-)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee

This is a very unpolished and imperfect recording...and I don't know these people. :-) But if you haven't heard the song, this is a suitable introduction. I am currently obsessed with copying out several phrases and pasting them everywhere. :-)

1. If thou but suffer God to guide thee
 And hope in Him through all thy ways,
 He'll give thee strength, whate'er betide thee,
 And bear thee through the evil days.
 Who trusts in God's unchanging love
 Builds on the Rock that naught can move.
 2. What can these anxious cares avail thee,
 These never-ceasing moans and sighs?
 What can it help if thou bewail thee
 O'er each dark moment as it flies?
 Our cross and trials do but press
 The heavier for our bitterness.
 3. Be patient and await His leisure
 In cheerful hope, with heart content
 To take whate'er thy Father's pleasure
 And His discerning love hath sent,
 Nor doubt our inmost wants are known
 To Him who chose us for His own.
 4. God knows full well when times of gladness
 Shall be the needful thing for thee.
 When He has tried thy soul with sadness
 And from all guile has found thee free,
 He comes to thee all unaware
 And makes thee own His loving care.
 5. Nor think amid the fiery trial
 That God hath cast thee off unheard,
 That he whose hopes meet no denial
 Must surely be of God preferred.
 Time passes and much change doth bring
 And sets a bound to everything.
 6. All are alike before the Highest;
 'Tis easy to our God, we know,
 To raise thee up, though low thou liest,
 To make the rich man poor and low.
 True wonders still by Him are wrought
 Who setteth up and brings to naught.
 7. Sing, pray, and keep His ways unswerving,
 Perform thy duties faithfully,
 And trust His Word, though undeserving,
 Thou yet shalt find it true for thee.
 God never yet forsook in need
 The soul that trusted Him indeed.

Notes: Hymn #518 from _The Lutheran Hymnal_ Text: Ps. 55:22 Author: Georg Neumark, 1640 Translated by: Catherine Winkworth, 1863, alt. Titled: "Wer nur den lieben Gott laesst walten" Composer: Georg Neumark, 1640 Tune: "Wer nur den lieben Gott"