Let me start off with some confessions:
Confession #1: As soon as I was able, I was a heavy reader. I was one of those kids that brought a book everywhere. I may not have read for pleasure as often in college (you know, because I HAD to read so much for class,) but I still enjoyed it, and when I came out on the other side of school, I continued to read.
But the confession part is, once I started getting serious about photography, the reading pretty much ceased. Last year (2011,) I started two books. I didn’t finish either of them.
Confession #2: My non-Bible reading is mostly novels. (Specifically, classic novels with British accents.) I really struggle to read non-fiction, even Christian nonfiction coming from world renowned authors. I just have a hard time focusing without a plot to keep things moving. And, let’s be honest, an author can have some wonderful points, but if you don’t care for their writing style, it’s hard to get to those points.
I feel the need to make those two confessions because I think that they make the fact that I read a NON-FICTION book in the course of about TWO WEEKS fairly significant. Not in a Kara needs a pat on the back type significance, but a hey, maybe I should check this book out, too type of significance.
The book would be One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.
This book was really trendy in Christian circles about this time last year. My mom gave me a copy for Christmas, and I added it to the shelf of books I plan to read SOMEDAY in my bedroom. I had some other books I planned to read first. A few weeks ago, Egan was going through a very rough patch of sleeping. I had just established having my quiet time in the afternoons during naptime, when Egan decided he could ONLY fall asleep with me in the room with him, and he would wake up multiple times during nap time, as well. I was standing in his room waiting for him to fall asleep for the third time, when I felt a whisper: “Read One Thousand Gifts.” He closed his eyes, I hightailed it to my shelf, and started the book.
I don’t usually tell stories like that, but I think that was a very Ann Voskamp-ish way to start a book, no?
So here is my review, I will try to keep it brief.
This is a delightful book.
What, you want my review to be a little longer?
OK, so when I started it, I was skeptical about whether I could make it through. Ann Voskamp has a very unique writing style. It really is best to approach her writing more like poetry than prose. It is fluid and descriptive and around the bush and, sometimes, I want to be like, Is she for real??? Does she really think so eloquently??? Because I, obviously, do not!
And I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of excess adjectives. But apparently it’s possible to write super descriptively and do it well, and Ann Voskamp does it well. Her writing ebbs and flows and, even though there was plenty of things she pointed out that stepped on my toes, I couldn’t get mad at her about it because, well, it was just so beautiful.
I’ll be honest, the book is super raw with emotions. Two pages in, Ann reveals something extremely tragic that happened to her family, and I was doing the ugly cry. I thought there would be no way that I could make it through if it was all going to be like that. So I’m here to assure you that it’s not all like that. But she doesn’t hold back, and there are a few places that the ugly cry is called for.
I ended up having to read this book with a pen, people. A PEN. Other than my Bible and textbooks, I don’t know that I had ever underlined in a book before!
Ann (yes, we are now on a first name basis,) basically describes what God did in her life over the course of about two years. She was in a bad place, tainted by a painful past and fearful of the future…and aren’t we all? God revealed to her, through a number of avenues, that the key to the joy she was lacking was living a life of thanksgiving. She saw, over and over in Scripture, how thankfulness proceeded miracles. She accepted a challenge from a friend to write down 1,000 gifts God had given her. They were simple “gifts” like sunsets and flowers and Tylenol. But she found that the exercise was transforming her heart.
Some points that I hope will always stick with me:
~ Every moment God gives us is grace.
~ Belief in God is the equivalent of trust in God. Fear is the opposite of trust. “Stress” is actually fear in disguise. Allowing myself to live stressed is basically practicing atheism. (Ouch!!!)
In a quote on the back cover, Lysa TerKeurst says “If you want a book that will challenge you and mess with you in the most beautiful of ways, this is it.”
And I think that about sums it up.
Oh, and I have a copy if anyone wants to borrow it.