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counting gifts, author urges Christians to be the gift
By Emily McFarlan Miller, Religion
best-selling Christian author Ann
Voskamp, it's not about writing
books. It's about living the stories
God has given her.
Those include stories of heartache: Voskamp's first book, "One
Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully
Right Where You Are," opens as
she witnesses her little sister's
death in an accident on her family's
Her best selling book, "The Broken Way: A Daring Path Into the
Abundant Life," is about
slashing her own wrists as a
teenager. It made it to #10 on the
Christian bookseller's Top 50 list.
she has another bestseller, "Be
The Gift," which entered the
Christian Booksellers' Top 50 list
Christian Books and other Charts
are also stories of hope: Earlier
last year, she and her husband,
known to her readers as "The
Farmer," welcomed their seventh
child, a baby girl they adopted from
China who has an incurable heart
defect. They also welcomed a Syrian
refugee family they are sponsoring
for a year in their town in rural
Canada. After she shared on her blog
the stories of women she met in Iraq
who had fled from ISIS, her readers
donated more than a half-million
dollars in several days to an
organization called Preemptive Love.
And many of those readers have accepted the dare of "One Thousand
Gifts," filling gratitude
journals with lists of God's gifts.
"What I did was I just lived out of 'One Thousand Gifts,' and then
this just sort of organically
unfolded from that, and then I wrote
about the stories that happened out
of the living," Voskamp said of
"The Broken Way."
"It wasn't an intentional, 'Here, this is a good idea to market a book.'
It was, 'This is what I'm living and
wrestling out of after I had thought
about what does it mean to live a
grateful life, after I contemplated
all of these gifts, counted all the
ways God had loved me and
relentlessly pursued me.' What do
you do with all those gifts?"
Voskamp talked to RNS before an event on her 10-city book tour at the
Family Christian bookstore in
Lombard, Ill. The interview has been
edited for length and clarity.
Way" seems to pick up where
"One Thousand Gifts" left off.
How did that book lead you here?
people that I'd met who read "One
Thousand Gifts," who had written
out their own gratitude lists, they
were giving thanks for hard things
in broken places. So what is the
answer to pain and suffering in the
world? How do you live with your one
broken heart, and what does it mean
to live an abundant life?
Those are sort of things that I just naturally began to wrestle out of
the process of writing "One
Thousand Gifts." So "The
Broken Way" really is the other
half of the heart of "One
You open the
book with that question:
"How in the world do you live with
your one broken heart?" What did you
lots of times we're high-functioning
people - "Well, I'm not really
broken" - but underneath there are
layers where there is brokenness,
and someday we're going to wake up
to a deep loss that we didn't
expect, to turn a corner and you run
into a diagnosis, so it is the
question that we can't afford not to
answer. In "The Broken Way,"
I discovered the most paradoxical,
unexpected answer: You give it away.
You write very
openly about the brokenness you've
experienced. Why do you feel like it
was important to share these
the shortest distance between two
hearts is brokenness. Stepping into
a life that embodies the broken way
really is to live a life of
humility, a life of vulnerability
and a life of generosity.
I hope it
gives the gift of telling people
they're not alone in their
brokenness. I think we give each
other the gift of saying, "I'm
broken," and it allows other people
to come with their own brokenness
and to encounter Christ - a kind of
communion. We want to be connected
to people, and we can really only be
connected to people when we share
What are some
practical examples of how you've
lived out this broken way?
I think of
the ministry of presence to people,
the ministry of listening, the
ministry of paying attention to
people. These are small ways that we
live broken and given. I woke up on
my 40th birthday and felt
heartbroken in a million ways and
decided just to go gift-blitz our
little town with a million
intentional acts of kindness,
intentional acts of being broken and
given: leaving dollars at dollar
stores for kids, paying for coffee
behind us, going to the police
station with a dozen doughnuts.
But then, there were all the big things we were called to. I went and sat
in a shipping container in Iraq with
women who had fled from ISIS, had
family members who were killed by
ISIS, had to decide which children
they could grab in their hands and
run with - and the children they had
after "One Thousand Gifts,"
after I had counted all of these
blessings, all of these gifts that
we'd been given, that we're all like
Esther in the palace. We've all been
given so much. Our position wasn't
for us. Our position is to be used
for those outside the gate, those
who are oppressed, those who are
voiceless, those who are
marginalized, and you're called to
risk everything you have for those
outside the gate.
I hope the book is calling people to dare to take the broken way, to be
the Esther generation. You're called
to where you are for such a time as
now. Where's the brokenness in your
own community (where) you can go
ahead and give your one broken heart
from desertnews.com ~
Hi, I like you already!
Yeah... wondrous, amazing
you, just looking around for Deep Peace and True
I get it. Me too - hunting
for a corner of joy and grace and God.
A gift to meet you!
I'm Ann Voskamp, a plain
Ann without even the fanciful "e", wife to The
Farmer, mama to six, and honestly, I'm a bit of a
mess. It's okay, really.
Grace is the most amazing
I had a full-tuition
scholarship to university and never finished.
I married a farmer
instead & came home to gravel road & cornfields.
I had babies. Half a dozen
beautiful babies. My laundry basket is never empty.
I lose library books. I homeschool our six exuberant
kids and most days I feel just a tad bit overwhelmed
When the kids and the
washing machine sleep, I wash my real dirt down with
words and The Word.
stayed up late for too long and wrote a book, One
Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You
God's put it on the New York Time's Bestseller's
list for something like 59 weeks now. It's proof
that God really does use broken, messed up, and
fallible lives anyways.
Christianity Today slipped my
mug on it's cover, as one of the leading 50 women
most shaping culture and the church today
- and I got down on my knees and prayed real hard,
God being strongest when we are absolute weakest.
scratch out words for DaySpring's
speak with the amazing Women
of Faith team, am a
contributing editor for
The High Calling,
and I'm not going to lie, my knees knocked hard when
I was on the
Today Show with Kathie Lee Gifford.
Grace, the articles in ChristianityToday.com, WORLD
but I feel ridiculously alive as an advocate
traveling and speaking on behalf of the needy. The
poor have made me rich and
telling the stories
of those who need a voice -
has changed mine.
honestly? the only words that really matter?
Are the ones I
This convicts me.
I keep writing it out here
everyday, the words I am seeking to live - about
this wondrously messy, everyday-holy life---
finding the beauty and quiet,
about slowing to see
the sacred in the chaos,
the Cross in the
the flame in
- laundry, liturgy, life, - all of life, holy
ground. A holy experience - because God has
flaming bushes everywhere.
It'd be pure grace to walk a bit,
you and I - to live
the words together...
What I Believe:
in Jehovah God who created the whirling galaxies,
the birds soaring in the sky overhead, the endless
crashing waves and all that dances within them. I
believe in Father of all who knits together life,
made in His very own image, in the secret quiet of
in Jesus Christ, the One with no earthly Father,
with the dust of this earth between His toes, and
with our names etched onto the palm of His hands,
right beneath the nail scars...Who now sits at the
Father.s right hand making endless intercession on
our behalf. I believe in the stone rolled away, in
the Body being raised, in the first fruits of the
dead...and us all following soon, very soon.
in the Cross as our only Hope, our only Claim, our
only Savior, and our only Foundation. I believe that
in the pounding surf of life we have only one thing
to cling to: the feet of our Lord Jesus, hanging on
that tree, His lifeblood flowing down, washing us
whiter than snow. It.s all by His staggering grace,
lest any man should boast.
in the Holy Spirit, moving, whispering, indwelling
our very being. I believe in living by the Spirit,
walking in the Spirit, and producing fruit in the
Spirit...in the Spirit who helps us in our weakness
with groanings that can.t be expressed in words.
in the infallibility of the Bible, God's Word - a
sure Word, a pure Word, the only secure Word. I
believe the words on those pages are breathed from
the very throne room of heaven, are the love letter
penned from the heart of God; a beacon of light for
stumbling feet to find sure footing on a dark path.
there is more than believing. There is
living what I believe.
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"The Way of Abundance"
Journey into a Deeply Meaningful Life - In 60 vulnerably soulful stories, The Way of Abundance moves from self-weary brokenness to Christ-focused givenness. Drawing from her bestseller The Broken Way and Ann's online essays, this devotional dares us to embrace brokenness as a way to draw closer to the heart of God.
Christ Himself broke like bread, giving Himself to us so we might have a lifelong communion with Him. Could it be that our brokenness, like Christ's, is also a gift to the world? This gentle but exquisitely profound book does nothing less than take you on an intimate journey of the soul. Each reading includes Scripture verses and thought-provoking questions.
"Be The Gift: Let Your Broken Be Turned
Be the Gift, by New York Times-bestselling author Ann Voskamp, will challenge and encourage you to listen to God and look for opportunities to be His gift to others.
The idea that even in the depths of our own brokenness God can use each of us to be a gift to someone else is powerful-that He makes each of us enough to give to someone else. Just as powerful is the realization that in becoming God's gifts to others, our lives become more abundant: "Maybe the only abundant way forward is always to give forward."
Ideas this powerful need to be put into action.
Live out the messages in Ann's bestselling books, The Broken Way and One Thousand Gifts, with Be the Gift, a practical guide that takes you through each day of the year with ways to bless those around you.
Featuring selections from The Broken Way and Ann's blog, beautifully designed quotations, inspirational verses, and her signature photography, this gorgeous book will be an incredible gift to any loved one. It also includes pages of perforated gift tags in the back to include with a meal dropped off for an ailing friend or a pie baked for a friendly neighbor or even passed to a friend with a much-loved book.
"The Wonder of the Greatest Gift: An Interactive Family Celebration of Advent"
Based on her bestseller Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, Ann Voskamp expands her presentation of the timeless Advent tradition of the Jesse Tree with this beautiful keepsake that can be handed down and enjoyed for generations. Each December, families can celebrate the coming of Jesus by opening the book to see a stunning 13-inch, three-dimensional Jesse Tree pop up from the page. At its foot are 25 doors, one for each day of Advent, which hide meaningful, beautifully detailed ornaments―including the Christmas star―that are ready to be hung on the tree. Also inside is a simple devotional book with a reading for each ornament. Create precious holiday memories with The Wonder of the Greatest Gift pop-up book and recapture the sacredness of the Advent season as you celebrate the epic pageantry of the coming of the Messiah.
"The Broken Way:
A daring path into
the abundant life"
Brokenness doesn't only find us in the big things--things like illness, hardship, or grief. It also finds us in the every day stinging moments when we feel forgotten, or under-appreciated by our loved ones, or sense the inevitable change years of living has marked on our hearts. We are fragile and we know it. Sometimes, living with Christ in a messed-up world feels less like victory and more like walking uphill. How do we walk in a way that both glorifies Jesus and bears witness to our weakness?
From the best-selling author of One Thousand Gifts comes an impassioned message: We are desperately loved by Jesus just as we are, and his love compels us to be broken open for others! You'll be deeply encouraged by Voskamp's thoughts on how God takes flawed and imperfect sinners, redeems us, and makes us useful in his kingdom.
"One Thousand Gifts:
A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are" (Hardcover)
Discover a way of
seeing that opens your eyes to everyday amazing grace, a way of living that
is fully alive, and a way of experiencing the constant presence of God that
will bring you deep and lasting joy. There is purity in simplicity and a
breathtaking beauty that can be found even in life's slightest details. Ann
Voskamp welcomes you in to explore her grace-bathed life of farming,
parenting and writing and encourages you to draw nearer to Him and
experience your own life in a deeper way, no matter where you are. Renew
your appreciation for the beauty that permeates all creation with the
wisdom-soaked pages of this Christian Living treasure.
"Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the
Full Love Story of Christmas"
Hundreds of thousands of readers
have already fallen in love with
Ann Voskamp's One Thousand
Gifts, and this Christmas, Ann
invites readers into the rich
and meaningful celebration of
Christmas we all long for --- a
celebration of the complete love
story that's been coming for you
In what is certain to become an
instant holiday classic, Voskamp
reaches back into the pages of
the Old Testament to explore the
lineage of Jesus -- the greatest
gift --- through the majestic
advent tradition of "The Jesse
Tree," each day featuring its
own exquisite ornament
highlighting the Biblical story
(free download of each of the 25
ornaments available from
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