I've read a number of good books over the last few months. Dan and I have been working our way through
Our babysitter introduced us to Don Miller and I read Blue Like Jazz and
I enjoyed all three of these books. But then I came upon Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. It is no understatement when I say this book ranks in the "best books I've ever read" category.
When I read all the hoopla surrounding One Thousand Gifts, initially I was skeptical. I was expecting an Oprah-esqe gratitude journal type of book. I don't want to discount the value of keeping a gratitude journal, but I didn't feel like I needed to read 200 pages about it. It seems like one of those things that you should just put pen to paper and do.
Then I saw the promo video for the book (which is amazing and so beautiful) on a friend's blog.
I realized then that this was no ordinary book about gratitude. I was intrigued. I went to Amazon and read the reviews. 205 five star reviews out of 215. Impressive. I ordered it.
I just finished reading the book a couple of nights ago. Let me say it does not disappoint. This book is so unique and so important and I am especially excited to see this coming out of the Christian community. Two years ago, I started reading about living in the moment, about taking time for stillness, about being content, about giving your presence - fully. And it changed my life. I'm not saying I do these things perfectly, or even well, but I can say that these principles have helped me tremendously. I read several books by various authors, none of them Christian. However, I realized that all of these principles are indeed Christian in nature - not worrying about tomorrow, being content, living with joy, taking time to be still, giving our presence. How can we love our neighbor if we're too busy and hurried to even notice our neighbor? Why are some so quick to label these concepts as "new age" or Buddhist instead of Christian?
Ann's book is so beautifully crafted. Her writing style is poetic. She encourages the reader to be thankful in all things, pointing out that this is a practice, a discipline. It's not something that most of us come by naturally. She sees every moment as grace, as a gift, and encourages the reader to count to 1000, listing the grace and beauty captured in the moment. Then, when you get to a thousand, don't stop. Make it a habit to see the beauty, to see God, in the every day.
This is no Pollyanna story. It's heavy and deep and at times, dark. She discusses finding moments of grace even in the ugly. She discloses her own family's struggle of losing her sister as a toddler in a farming accident. She shares others' stories of deep sadness. She talks through how we can look for the beautiful even in the ugly, a concept some philosophers call the "ugly beautiful".
This book has so many profound insights. There is no way I can do it justice in a review. But this was definitely one of the best books I've read in a long time.