At one time or another, all of us have randomly opened our Bibles, blindly pointed our finger and eagerly read whatever verse we had landed on. Maybe we were searching for a sign. Maybe we didn’t have any more structured plan for our devotions that morning. Maybe we were just bored. Sometimes this experiment ends with some meaningless message like “They left Kadesh and camped at Mount Hor, on the border of Edom” (Numbers 33:37). More often than not, in a display of just how rich and diverse the scriptures are, as you can find some way to apply what you find, even if it takes some creative interpretation. But every now and then, you can open the Bible in desperate need of God’s voice and He will speak so clearly, you are tempted to look over your shoulder in order to verify that He isn’t standing behind you.

I wouldn’t put Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts on par with scripture, but this summer she has certainly been a voice of Truth in my life. I can’t remember when I first became aware of the book, but it came to my attention enough times that I finally got the hint and decided to read it. It was the perfect companion as I worked through writing my own book this summer.

Mrs. Voskamp’s unique mix of poetry, theological insight and soul-bearing honesty work together to create a book that informs and encourages. The basic assertion of One Thousand Gifts is that gratitude is at the heart of Christian life. The title refers to a challenge issued to Voskamp to list a thousand things for which she was thankful. This may seem like an easy task, but as someone who is currently in the midst of responding to this challenge, let me assure you it isn’t. Once you get past your family, material possessions and cheese, it suddenly dawns on you that practicing the discipline of gratitude is not for the faint at heart. Life is filled with blessings from the hand of God if we will only open our eyes to see them. By blessings, Voskamp doesn’t just mean the sunny day at the beach or the unexpected check in the mail. She reminds us that since all events are under God’s control, there is good to be found even in the deepest earthly sorrows. Having experienced several tragedies herself, including the accidental death of her younger sister, these words don’t come cheaply for Voskamp.

This book has greatly inspired me to look for God’s hand working in the big and small moments of my life. As Voskamp shares her own transformative journey in such intimate detail, without oversharing, I felt pulled along by her energetic reflections on joy and gratitude. Not pressured to comply with some unobtainable “law” but swept up by the current of the Spirit. I can’t recommend this book enough!

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