Saturday, March 19, 2011

52 Books in 52 Weeks --- Week 12 --- One Thousand Gifts

This week for the 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge, I'm reading One Thousand Gifts - A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp. 

Ann Voskamp's desire is to live her one life well. She's not interested in escaping her everyday life for exotic experiences. “How,” Ann wondered, “do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties?”

The author invites readers to slow down, and learn how to live the full life of eucharisteo (with grace, thanksgiving, and joy) regardless of circumstances. She writes about her struggle to live joyfully amid sorrow and suffering.

Throughout the first half of the book, Ann Voskamp includes some of her 1,000 gifts - beautiful "word pictures" inspired by everyday life in her family and on her farm.  It essentially is an invitation to begin your own list of 1,000 blessings - both ordinary and extraordinary - that mark your life. 
It’s only in the expression of gratitude for the life we already have, that we can discover the life we've always wanted.
I found out about this book after seeing it mentioned on several blogs.  A brief introduction to the book was always followed by a person's list-in-progress of 1,000 gifts.  I was intrigued about the book and was happy when I received a copy from the library. 
There are many inspiring quotes and ideas in One Thousand Gifts.  It is, though, a religious and spiritual growth book, so there are numerous references to the Bible and scripture.  This was something that I wasn't quite expecting in the book.  I was hoping to read more of Ann Voskamp's experiences leading up to and while keeping the list; more of the items on her 1,000 gifts list; and how keeping the list changed her life.
Despite the fact that the book was different than I thought it would be, it still left me motivated to begin my own year-long 1,000 gifts list.  A few things that Ann Voskamp mentions in her book that are worth noting:
Give thanks in this one small thing.  The moments will add up.
...Slapping a sloppy brush of thanksgiving over everything in my life leaves me thankful for very few things in my life.
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.  (J.R.R. Tolkien)
Being in a hurry. Getting to the next thing without full entering the thing in front of me.  I cannot think of a single advantage I've ever gained from being in a hurry.  But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing....Through all that haste I thought I was making up time.  I turns out I was throwing it away. (The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Your Sabbath by Mark Buchanan)
On every level of life, from housework to heights of prayer, in all judgment and efforts to get things done, hurry and impatience are sure marks of the amateur. (The Westminster Collection of Christian Quotations by Evelyn Underhill)
The art of deep seeing makes gratitude possible.  And it is the art of gratitude that makes joy possible.

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