I don’t know where I was in January 2012 when this book, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, came out to the public world; I guess I was in my own little world. I stumbled across this gem while reading the top blog posts of 2012 on TheHighCalling.org. So I’m exactly a year behind. Anyway, Ann Voskamp writes in beautiful prose as she unlocks the mystery of living the full life. The sub-title of the book is A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. The Dare? To write down (the key is writing it down) 1,000 things she is thankful for – gifts from God.
If you don’t care to read prose, then you might get bogged down in the writing. It’s beautiful, yet a little overwhelming. I could only read it in small doses. But some phrases really grabbed me: “Look for the next glimpse of glory. Giving thanks for one thousand gifts is ultimately an invitation to slow time down with weight of full attention;” “Our salvation in Christ is real, yet the completeness of that salvation is not fully realized in a life until the life realizes the need to give thanks.” And this one, the essence of the book, “Life change comes when we receive life with thanks and ask for nothing to change.” I’m framing those words above my desk.
And yes, I’ve started my own list of One Thousand Gifts.
Gordon MacDonald spoke at Cheyenne Hills church for the Rocky Mountain Converge Conference in March of 2011. In one of his sessions, he spoke from this book and, of course, I had to purchase it to read for myself.
Life is not a sprint, it’s a long endurance race and Gordon explains the resilient spirit “to weather adversity, to finish what you start, and to never be satisfied with anything short of God’s best for you.”
One of the enlightening moments in the book was the section on the “Happy Few.” In order to endure, we need to have a few close friends in our circle that we will “want to die with.” No, this is a good thing, it just sounds a little morbid! Don’t you want special people around you at the end of your life? Those people we share everything with? It made me wonder who my Happy Few are and whether or not I need to cultivate that part of my life.
A very thought provoking book – especially for those of us heading into the second journey of life (45+ years).
Okay, so my name begins with Mary, but I have Martha tendencies. Especially when I was in my 20′s and 30′s raising small children, carrying a full-time job and full-time ministry, managing a household, spending “quiet time with the Lord,” fitting in exercise (because I wasn’t getting enough!), reading books, etc. etc. Perhaps I’m too tired now, but I’ve come to realize that really, really it’s not that important to get “all those things” done. To have intimacy with Christ throughout my day is what’s really important (to quote Christ). “Martha, Martha……Mary has chosen what is better….” Wouldn’t you just hate to be scolded by Christ – in person?!
I haven’t really told you much about the book except what I’ve learned from the awesome scripture it teaches from – and thank you, Joanna Weaver, for an excellent read and challenge! This is a book that you can pick up and read again and again and get something new out of it. Kind of depends on where you are in the “Martha World” at the time.
I probably wouldn’t have picked this up because I’ve “read that, done that” with numerous spiritual formation books. But this book was sent to us after attending Sonscape, a retreat center for pastors/wives. For a year after we attended, they kept in contact and sent us books to read – kind of nice of them, don’t you think? Now for several years, I’ve picked this book up, re-read, and even studied it with others.
M. Robert Mulholland compacts the definition and application of spiritual formation: ”The process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others.” He then divides the first section of the book into:
- The process
- of being conformed
- to the image of Christ
- for the sake of others
This brings spiritual formation a new look – one that doesn’t help us learn the discipline for our little world so that we can feel spiritual. It’s all about others – it really is isn’t it? Remember the first line of Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life? “It’s not about me.”
I like picking this book up every spring before Easter. Sometimes I just miss the writings and teachings of Jesus, and this book immerses me into it as I prepare for the way of the cross. It reminds me that Jesus was totally man and totally God. Beth Moore takes you through the entire Gospel of Luke as she romances you to Jesus – the One and Only, as she puts it.
I like what she writes on the back cover of the book:
To know Him is to love Him.
To love Him is to long for Him.
To long for Him is to finally reach soul hands into the
One true thing we need never get enough of.
The subtitle of One Simple Act states, “Discovering the Power of Generosity.” Debbie Macomber tells story after empowering story of this generosity that brings peace to others. From giving gloves to a card-holding homeless man outside a shopping mall to receiving a Starbucks latte from a complete stranger at the airport gate, these stories will encourage as well as challenge you. Well, they did me – and I had our book club read it as well. One story in this book from Corrie ten Boom led to our book club reading The Hiding Place.
You never know how you can help someone – even a simple smile may be the only one some people get all day! This book is a delight to read, loaded with scripture, and it even has resources and a study guide in the back.
Jane Rubietta spoke at a women’s retreat several years ago and her Quiet Places, A Woman’s Guide to Personal Retreat, was the featured book. It was such a treat to hear her speak, meet her personally, and then go through this book. It goes with me on each personal retreat I take.
Each chapter is a different topic but uses the same format:
- Reading for Reflection
- Quotes for Contemplation
- Scriptures for Meditation
- Prayers of Confession, Praise, Petition
- Moments for Creation
- Questions for Reflection
- Hymns of Praise
Resting Place is Jane Rubiett’a second book and more of the same format of Quiet Places. She deals with soul matters such as: dealing with our fear of abandonment, wrestling with discontent, overcoming our attempts to control others, fulfilling our deep desire to be loved, as well as others.
You will experience true rest after spending some solitude time with God by the suggestions she has laid out for you. Do you have an hour, half a day OR even an entire weekend? I challenge you to go for it – take your Bible, journal, and one of Jane’s books.
This is not one of those “methods to organizing your life” books. Gordon MacDonald talks about the importance of your inner world, or private world. Proverbs 4:23 – “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
MacDonald takes five sectors of your private world and discusses them in the book:
- Use of Time
- Wisdom and Knowledge
- Spiritual Strength
This book is rich in wisdom and application. Our private world must be nurtured like a garden. Gordon writes about his years of counseling, “I see a startling number of exhausted, mentally empty people who have stopped growing and are spending their lives in the pursuit of little more than amusement – function without thought.”
This book has been updated (the original was a national bestseller in the 1980′s) and is available with a study guide in the back.