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One Thousand Gifts: Chapter One from Bloom (in)courage on Vimeo.

In so many ways this chapter set the stage for all we are going to experience together during the course of this book study. As Ann mentions, it begins for her in a dark piece of her memories but this ache has given way to beautiful growth and a love for the Lord that transcends circumstance. In my own life I can think of many of these times, where I was pressed up against the fact that what I thought would be best wasn’t what God had in mind. There are so many questions that arise in this place; Who is He, really? Is He good? Does He really love me? Can I trust Him?

All questions that fork the road we long to be straight, and yet we know from experience that beautiful things await us in the distance. For me, at least, it doesn’t change the next turn, when I am wind-whipped and breathless from life. I am learning every day that this choice which Ann discusses in this Chapter is a disciplined lifestyle. It’s far less dependent on the road than I have long considered it to be, and I want to cultivate the seed that grows into a life of gratitude over resentment.

And so, we begin with the seed.

A small girl who watches her sister die in her front yard. Needlessly. Carelessly.

Who is He?

Where were you when the seed dropped deep into the ground and the questions swirled about God and His goodness? In your own life, what was the time period or circumstance that prompted the beginning of your “story” with God? I think for most of us it was a dark period, because as Ann said, this is when we really understand the light.

As we journey together throughout the coming weeks I want this to be not only a safe place to come, but also a place that can put “handles” on what we are reading. If we don’t encourage *(in)courage?* you to live it out, we are missing a fundamental aspect of Christian community. As a part of Bloom, this is our heart behind the books. We want women to feel inspired to take what we put in their hands and transform it into the fruit God has for their lives.

To that end, we are going to have a few key questions that we hit on in our posts, and I think it would be appropriate to stay in theme, don’t you?

Seed: What has been planted as you read this chapter? What has it stirred in you?

Water: How are you nurturing what God desires in you? Be intentional and obedient to what your responsibility is in growth.

Bloom: What is the fruit you are seeing from what you have learned?

For me, the seed for chapter 1 was the feeling that no matter how much I say yes, I often live the “no” as Ann says on pg. 16. It’s the thought that jumped out and asked me to grow it. So how do I nurture this? I need to be more conscientious of the times my words don’t match my actions and I am going to pray that that they will grow more aligned. I hope the fruit of that will be that I start to see my circumstances as opportunities and my knee-jerk reaction to something unexpected will develop into a time of trust instead of fear. The fruit I am seeing now is that I have claimed it as an obstacle, so I feel freed up from the lie that I’m the only one who doesn’t have dissonance in this area.

How about you? Did any parts of the chapter stand out as far as a seed you want to grow?

We are praying for you in love, asking the Lord to bless you as you go…

Jessica, Angie and the bloom (in)courage girls

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  • Amber

    Wow… its like I read chapter one but I did not truly digest it until this video. Thank you- the experience reading this book will be like none other.
    So many “ah-ha” moments in such a short video. I will be sure to have my book handy to make notes in the margins while watching these videos.

    Thank you again…

  • MelissaG

    I am thankful to be reading this book along with the videos. And thankful to have been blessed by receiving this book as a gift. This chapter really makes me think of many things, one of them being that my Dad lost his 5 year old little brother when he was about 7. He was hit by a car in front of their house as well. I’ve asked questions but I know I don’t have a full understanding of it. When Eddie was killed nobody in the family discussed it, nobody assured my aunt that although she felt responsible it wasn’t her fault. Thinking of this from Ann’s 4 year old point of view (and the 7 year old version of my Dad) really makes my heart break. How difficult this was for everyone involved. I can’t imagine going through life not knowing the love of Christ, trying to get through these tragedies. I’m thankful that Ann has shared this story and look forward to reading/seeing more.

  • http://www.madabella.typepad.com Melissa

    Ann, This. This is the gift you have given. The courage to tell…

    “What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops” Matthew 10:27

    Thank you. It stirs my heart to tell my own stories.

    This has been a week of empty. Being emptied out for His fullness to enter in. Part of God’s renewal and replenishment was in reading the first chapter. The seed being planted in me is simply hearing God ask: “Do you believe I am more?”

    • http://www.tjsmhanesfamily.blogspot.com Stephanie Hanes

      I love the verse you shared – so true. Only in the darkness can we really see the light and really grow into who He wants us to be. I love your question to – “Do you believe I am more?” That is what He is telling me too…to believe that He is better than life no matter what. Thanks for sharing, Melissa!

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  • http://ambocullum.blogspot.com Amber Cullum

    I can not wait to watch the video. Chapter One was fantastic and I am sure the video will add so much to it.

    Thank you so much for inviting us to be a part of this.

  • http://itwasbroughtonbylove.blogspot.com Southern Gal

    I’m digesting this slowly. Thank you, Ann, for doing the videos for this. It adds another dimension to be able to hear you speak of the things of the Lord. The hard questions.

  • http://mistysmornings.blogspot.com/ Misty

    This powerful first chapter wasted no time, nor words, getting to the heart and hardest question about God – how can a loving God allow such profound pain in our lives? Ann writes, “They eat the mystery. And the mystery, that which made no sense, is ‘like wafers of honey’ on the lips.” (p.22) Allowing life to be a mystery, allowing God to remain mysterious is the beauty in the midst of all our pain. Suffering is truly a pathway to deeper communion with God.

    • http://www.madabella.typepad.com Melissa

      The parallel to the manna was exquisite. I think I almost jumped out of my chair when I read that. What a renewed way to look the things we don’t understand… I’m so glad you pointed that out, Misty.

  • http://www.asgoodadayasany.wordpress.com Marilyn

    Ann’s story has blessed me richly, stirred thoughts of the ‘shutting down’ events in my life and life of those I care about. The raw honesty in the asking where God is in it all is the best starting place, all the time. God can take our questions and our hands. Thank you, Ann. Thank you, Book Club organizers!

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  • http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com Courtney (WomenLivingWell)

    Just wow! The book, this video, the things God is doing in my heart – wow!
    Angie – watching you reflect and think about your girls *gulp* so full of hope. That’s what this book is to me – allowing the holes to becoming see through to God places…rather than where joy seeps out.

    Thanks to all three of you! Can’t wait for the next video! I’ll be here :-)!!!
    Courtney

  • http://julie-randomthoughts.blogspot.com/ Julie

    Oh how I love the begininning chapter of this book (ok well…I love the whole book) bt as this is my second time through…I have picked up so many more things.

    For me: I was brought up in a Christian home all of my life. It wasn’t until I got older and I saw things all around were not always turning out the way I thought they should be. learning that God had different plans was a hard thing to accept (and still is at times). This became truly apparent when hubby and I had a miscarriage on Thanksgiving day 7 years ago. Although I know in my heart of hearts that there is a reason…it is stil hard to accept at times and the fact that I held on to fear as a reason for not trying again has truly limited God. I was never able to step out of the fear to see let Him work. I have learned many other things that have brought me closer to Him through these bad times but we are only human and doubts and questions do sometimes linger.

    Ann’s open and honest struggle in this chapter has really shown me (and I know many other women) that this is something we all struggle with and that He is willing to wait patiently and wrestle it out with Him.

    Praying for everyone that is traveling this journey….

    • http://www.encouragingheartsathome.com Misty Krasawski

      Dear Julie, so sorry to hear of your loss. It’s one I share with you, and I know how difficult it is and hard to understand. I pray you are continuing to count gifts and trust God’s heart! Hugs to you today!

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      {I am whispering a prayer with you, with all of you, right now. Jesus holds you, Julie..}

  • http://jellodoesntnail.blogspot.com Semalee

    My book is in the mail, so I have only read the part that is published online, and I went ahead and ordered the book, but I think it’s going to be a difficult read. We lost our niece in a car accident when she was just shy of 3 years old and the pain of burying a child just never goes away. I’ve never fully dealt with it either, just done my best to move on for the sake of my own kids. I’m hoping this book will bring me to a place of full communion with God on this matter.

    Semalee @ Nailing Jello to a Tree

    • Carrie

      You won’t be sorry you ordered it. The first chapter is difficult and a couple others make you really look at yourself, but overall it may just help in the way you are hoping. The book really helps you look at the gratitude side even while dealing with the hurt. God bless you and I’ll be praying for you.

    • http://www.tjsmhanesfamily.blogspot.com Stephanie Hanes

      Oh Semalee – I can’t imagine your pain. But we all have our own pain, stories that define us and this study is really reminding me that even in my deepest pain, He is there. I’m praying for you – to find the true peace that surpasses understanding and allow God to work in your heart through your deep, deep pain.

  • http://shineliketheson-mymotherhoodtrail.blogspot.com/ ShineliketheSon

    God has reavled who needs my extra copy of this book! Just minutes into watching this video, He showed me. II knew He would! I can’t wait to give it to this new friend today. I hope it will help bring her closer to Him as she holds her 2 mo girl while grieving the loss of her two babies: her 25week stillborn daughter and her too soon to be named baby. I pray she will join us in this online journey. Please pray for her with me.

    • http://www.madabella.typepad.com Melissa

      I love it when God does that! I’ll be praying, too…and praying for Semalee and Julie in the commenters above, that God heals the darks corridors of doubt and hallways of pain….

      • Diane

        For me too…God has revealed that I should send the last copy of 6 I bought to my mom. She is 82 years old and has been in and out of church all her life. The dark place for her–seeing her father fall off a ladder and die when she was 16 years old. She didn’t even speak of it until I was in my 40’s and she was in her 70’s. Please pray for her (Carol) and for my dad (Richard) that they might be truly saved. And for me…that I will receive the grace for the conversations that will likely come from this.

  • http://beverly-brandon.blogspot.com Bev Brandon @ The Fray

    I don’t read books twice but I have this one. It’s just that good. Yes, traumas have jolted awake my memory but so has your chapter one. I heard someone say once: “You put words to my wounds.”

    “Can losses become places to see through to God?”
    Faith looks at loss and sees through to a Waiting Savior not better circumstances. A seed stirred for my place in this chapter of my life. I’m watching way too many of my dreams go up in flames. Never expected this as we enter an empty nest. But, I want to finish well & be the kind of lover who lets my Lord turn my loss into longing. So these words nurture me to long for Him, the Messiah of all My Dreams. I long to be intimately involved in Kingdom Living. Acquainted and Alive. Here with Hope. My flesh might flail, but I’ll still take another breath to really live, another risk to really love just because it delights Him so. Zeph 3:17.

    “Where is God? Seeds stir. When babies die, when my dreams blow away, when the cancer keeps gnawing at me, I Cor 2:7 He is still bringing me and you to our full glory.” I love that you said that! He has never refused to be good to me or you, no matter the loss. Jer 33:20. But as you say, I “profane the moment when I won’t stay in it” and I want to change the story. There’s a Greater Story than my little one.

    A lifeless humpty dumpty quilt laying on a gravel road.
    An unconscious prom queen lying on concrete pavement…left to die.
    Where was God? He was right there. I know now but didn’t know then.
    “He has graced you with a disaster that your soul requires to find its way back home.” (Don’t remember who wrote that quote.)
    “Snapped shut to Grace.” No More! I didn’t live a Pollyanna life, I became a Shirley Temple. All is good—no, it’s not. I’m back at Home. And will keep on wrestling to find what it means to be at home in this body, comfortable in my own skin, but waiting for my Author in chapter two.
    A Thousand Thanks, Bev

    • http://www.encouragingheartsathome.com Misty Krasawski

      Beautiful writing, Bev! Thank you!

    • http://www.writepraylove.com Lisa Easterling

      You touched the depths of my heart with your words, Bev. (((hug))) Thank you.

  • Janel

    I’ve always been someone who could see God moving in the midst of life. I’ve been ok with it and even been able to point it out to others who struggle. But I’ve had some deep, deep faith shaking events happen in the last several years. I’ve cried, struggled, wondered what God was up to, hoped, doubted, watched for God and again come to a place that I know God is using my struggles and will continue to use them for his glory. And yet there are some days I still find myself in a puddle, overwhelmed, consumed, doubting.

    It does my heart good to know that there is a human side to Ann (written lovingly) who has those kind of days too. Faith is messy. God is bigger.

    Many thanks and much love. {hugs}

    • http://www.tjsmhanesfamily.blogspot.com Stephanie Hanes

      Yes, yes, Janel…”Faith is messy. God is bigger.” I am learning more and more each day that His mercies are always new and that He never gives up on me. I’m so thankful that He can take the mess I am and make something beautiful – only He can do that!

      • kate

        I agree, Janel… I am so thankful for Ann’s vulnerability in sharing that her anger with God over those seemingly-senseless deaths caused her to distance herself from Him. I am glad, too, that she obviously has found a way to close that distance, because I need someone to show me how.

        I have loved Jesus for as long as I can remember, but since this summer, I’ve struggled to figure out how to trust in His goodness and His motives as implicitly as I used to. I find myself holding back in the secret places of my heart–not even intentionally, but more out of a subconcious need to try to control life myself since He seems to have failed.

        My “dark place” comes from the loss of two friends who were brutally tortured before their murderer finally killed them this last summer, a man and wife who wholly loved Jesus… when if any number of small circumstances had been altered, their deaths would have been prevented. I know that Jesus was there with them…

        But I can’t help asking, how do I continue to believe that the life we’re offered here on earth is good — is a gift — in the face of such evil? I want to see grace. But I find that in order to see God’s goodness, I have to shut out the thoughts of pain. I don’t know how to take it all in at once and still give thanks.

        • Wendy

          Kate – I am so sorry for the loss of your freinds. The mysteries of God and our faith are just that – mystery. Why do bad things happen to good people, especially people of God? I too hate the evil that is all around us and which touches the ones we love. I find my hope in the fact that as a believer I carry Jesus around with me. That the Light that He is, in some way, will bring light to the darkness around me. My prayer for you, dear Kate, is that God will reveal Himself to you even more than He already has. That He will work mightily in you and through you, to bring light in this dark, fallen world.

  • http://thepleatedpolkadot.blogspot.com melissa

    love the book and the video. your hearts are beautiful.

    the part that stuck out most to me in the video when ann said you can see the light BECAUSE of the darkness. this invokes gratitude in my heart. if there were no darkness would i know Light? so for now i will be thankful for my story. the darkness of it. because of it…i know amazing, unending, beautiful Light.

    thanks girls
    {hugs}
    melissa

  • http://thesandlins.blogspot.com Alyson

    Thank you for being honest about your real hurts and asking the big, hard questions. God is using this book to change the way I choose to live, moment by moment. I woke up this morning grumpy and short with my kids. When I choose to go to my list it changes everything. Thank you!

  • http://corgitales.blogspot.com Beth

    I woke up so excited this morning – the first day of the book club was being launched and I couldn’t wait to watch the video for chapter 1. I have been reading the book for 3 weeks now, but keep going back to re-read previous chapters so it’s been a slow, methodical digestion, to say the least! Just before I got this book, I had finished reading Mary Beth Chapman’s book “Choosing to See” which tells the story of THEIR painful loss …. so many of the same questions that Ann (and others) have struggled with, watching a young child/sibling die and wondering WHY? The two books tie in so beautifully with one another, and no where is that more apparent than at the end of Chapter 1 where Ann talks about SEEING THROUGH TO GOD (same concept as CHOOSING TO SEE) …” that which tears open our souls, the holes that splatter our sight may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. …. and then the quesion HOW do we choose to allow the holes to become seeing-through-to-God-places? …. To fully live – full of grace and joy …. I now see, and testify .” It is all about SEEING … about CHOOSING to see …. Thank you for reinforcing this idea that has recently been seared into my consciousness and is coloring the way I look at God, at the world, at my trials, at my life. Thank you!

    • http://livelifeartfully.blogspot.com Jennifer LeBlanc

      Yes, I just read Choosing to SEE also, just a couple months ago. Tragic stories of little lives gone too soon, and they both touch my deepest, darkest hurt — losing our second baby to a missed miscarriage at 10 weeks, and then a journey of multiple surgeries and chronic pain. It’s been over 5 years and it still hurts so badly at times.

      Choosing to SEE & One Thousand Gifts are such gifts. Thank you to Ann (and Mary Beth Chapman) for asking the tough questions, showing the raw and the hurt, and not shying away from it.

      • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

        {Whispering your name in prayer right now, Jennifer}

        • http://livelifeartfully.blogspot.com Jennifer LeBlanc

          Thank you, sweet Ann.

  • http://beingtransformedbyhim.blogspot.com Cheri

    God is using “One Thousand Gifts” to transform my resentment and pain…into…beauty. For years the Lord has spoke to my heart, “trust my goodness”…..I have not……may my eyes open…and behold HIS beauty…..HIS light ….in the dark places.

  • Deena

    This book is powerful and makes you face the fact that the seed that God has planted in your heart and life MUST endure immense pressure before it cracks open for growth. I cannot say that I am at the point of growth….yet. I am holding on to what should be, could be, hasn’t been, instead of really allowing God to be God in my life. It really IS a life discipline, a change of attitude to understand God’s real intents and attributes.

    • http://wildnotion.blogspot.com/ Vicki

      Deena,

      I’m behind on this so am just now reading comments here. For some reason I can identify with your comment. I”m so aware that God is speaking to me, but I’ve sort of put Him “on the shelf” for a time, not really wanting to grow. It’s almost like I’m asking Him to prove to me that He is indeed Good. I think the topic of this book is perfect for right now. I’m open to what God has to do to break through this tough outer layer of the seed of my heart.

      Lord, Open our eyes to see You, our ears to hear you, our hearts to love You!

      Blessings, Vicki

  • http://setyourhearttoseekgod.blogspot.com Robin @ Set Your Heart To Seek God

    Each chapter has been full.
    I am re-reading once more as we visit together before computer screens.
    That my ingratitude sides with Satan (pg 15)
    Seeing the world as a means to fill my emptiness instead of commune with God (pg 16)
    Saying yes to God, but living no! (pg 16)
    The holes as views to God, not drains of joy (pg 17)
    How many times I’ve willed to believe He is only good longing to capture knowing by experience without doubt that He truly is! (pg 19)
    All the mysteries I have refused to let nourish me–become places to see through to God (pg 22)
    I grew up with such a twisted view of God.
    Such dark places and dark people speaking dark words.
    Removing the twists tears at my very essence at times.
    Because the known is my safety rope.
    I never thought of gratitude to relax the grip–forgiveness, yes…but not gratitude.
    I am so very grateful for this book…and for the author who penned it!
    Thank you!

  • Abbi

    The choice of resentment or gratitude is always there, and depending on which one we choose it can deepen or accept the pain. We can, and do, learn so much from our hurts; if not during the pain, most definitely after.
    We should be grateful for the pain, the opportunity to come closer to God, the opportunity to show God through us, to show His power of healing.
    By accepting the pain God faces us with within our lives, we can begin to grow in relationship with Him, we can learn to share our learnt lessons with others and we can grow in wisdom.

  • http://www.shelookethwell.blogspot.com Michelle

    Re-reading this chapter and watching this video really brought clarity to probably the biggest, tramatic, defining moment that set up the following ten years of one huge struggle after another. Praise God, He has set me free. But the realization that that moment is when the real mess began. There was much pain during those ten year, much loss, much brokenness. I had always thought that moment was, as I would often say, ‘when our world came crashing down’, but I don’t think I realized how deeply that affected my view of my Father!

    It has since been restored, but I now have some clarity of those ten years. Thank you, Ann! Thank you, Father, You do all things well!

    Relentlessly Pursuing,

    Michelle

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      {Praying with you, pursuing with you, Michelle… He restores what the locusts devoured… }

  • http://extravagantpurse.blogspot.com/ Paula

    I nearly stopped reading the book in this chapter, except for the gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit. Now I cannot put it down. The tears ran down my face as I came to the close of Chapter 1. “To See through to God” This is my seed.

    This morning I read in Ecclesiates 3 that God “has made everything beautiful in its time. He has set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

    Lord, help me to see through to You. You have placed eternity in my heart yet I become earthbound by illness, worry, circumstances beyond my control. You are the lifter of my head. Give me eyes eternal to see through to You. And thank you for the gift of this book which you have placed in my hands.

    • http://www.tjsmhanesfamily.blogspot.com Stephanie Hanes

      Oh that verse is so beautiful and one I needed to be reminded of…that I cannot fathom the whole picture of God’s plan…and, you know, I’m kind of glad that He can see through it all…because I wouldn’t want to be in control like that. And seeing through to Him is exactly what He’s been speaking to my heart lately – this study is so, so perfect for my life right now.

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      {Praying with you, Paula… So.}

  • http://www.flintriversoapfactory.blogspot.com PajamaMama

    Sitting in my sunny kitchen on a Sunday morning in South Georgia…I find myself in a rare, quiet house. When I see this video has been posted, I realize that Father has set this time aside just for this moment to watch the video. Thank you, girls.
    Jeannie

  • http://quixoticantics.wordpress.com Anna

    Such beautiful hearts you ladies have – Ann, Angie and Jessica. And all of the beautiful souls who have commented before me. I too was named “full of grace” – and that constant moment-to-moment struggle over choosing resentment instead of gratitude rages wild in my world each day. I pray that countless lives will be touched, and so many hearts and heart-attitudes will be forever changed by this piece of God-inspired Grace. Thank you, Ann!

  • Amy

    Good morning! Happy Sunday to everyone!
    I’ve been so excited to begin this series of videos and chats discussing Ann’s “One Thousand Gifts”! I kept reminding myself last night, in my mind, not to forget that tomorrow before church…I needed to watch the video and participate in the learning.
    As I read the first chapter, something that was of main focus to me was about the sin of ingratitude. Isn’t this really not trusting that what God has for us is best? We desire, struggle, rage against God when we are angry about how things have gone. When dreams seemingly are unfulfilled and life isn’t working out like we had hoped or planned…being ungrateful and selfish is about not trusting Him. Which really shows me how much I have not known this God that I claim to have a relationship with. My distrust of Him and my selfish focus of what I think needs to happen next…even if it’s something I REALLY do think that God has in store for us…is my lack of focus on the things and lessons that God has for me to learn. What’s for my best in His eyes.
    There’s been so much peace that has entered my soul since reading Ann’s blogs and reading “One Thousand Gifts”. A surrender of what I think is important. Issues that I’ve allowed to become more important than Him have faded away. Or put into a different perspective. I recognize myself in how Ann talks about how she has not been that woman of grace that her name means. I’m guilty of the same thing. I haven’t handled life’s difficulties with the grace that I should have. God’s opened my eyes to alot of things lately. Sin that I didn’t know was there. Sin that I did know was there but I’ve ignored. But the change in my heart came when I was finally able to let God in there to dig around and shine light on the dark spots. I like how Ann talks about the holes in our lives…the things that wound us and cause those terrible dark holes. How we can use those holes to see through to God and let those holes become, not just dark holes…but chances to use those holes to let God’s light in. To trust Him.
    I look forward to learning how to daily walk in gratitude. I don’t want to live my life in ingratitude. I look forward to living this life God’s given me fully, with my eyes wide open to His beauty and His gifts – Thank you, Ann, for being God’s vessel so that He might pour His life and healing into many more vessels.

    • Brindusa

      So then ingratitude and worry are two sides of the same coin, two facets of the same sin of lack of trust? Not trusting He’s given the best and not trusting He will give the best? I’ve never seen this. Is it so? I’m a great ‘worrier’. :-( Would working on the ingratitude side then also help with the future-oriented worry?

      • http://familyfaithcompanion.org Carol H.

        It appears so.

        (Says another worrier.)

  • http://nothingnewunderthesun Ruth in London UK

    Dear Ann, Thank you for sharing from your heart. You have given us a glimpse of the dark background against which the many faceted diamond of our Saviour’s love is shown, and indeed shines brighter. I have tended to have a negative attitude to life but You have inspired me to start to Grow a Gratitude Attitude and I praise Him for bringing you through your book into my life. – In fact that has to be one of His gifts to me!

  • http://wordkeeperinja.blogspot.com Ruth

    I am ruminating, digesting slowly, processing the hard questions… learning to choose gratitude over resentment. I look over my life – in retrospect – and how very different it looks to me now! Perspective…

    Truly… as Ann always says… all’s grace.

    Thank you!

  • Sara S.

    I have lived in expectation of “what next”, what else will go wrong, what next… Fear has been my constant companion too. My fists have been clenched my whole life as well. And the seed planted from the first chapter was, I’m not sure… There is sooo much… So much I learned, so much that spoke to me.
    But one thing that stood out was “eating the mysterious”, believing, choosing to trust God, even when we don’t understand… and choosing gratitude. That can be so hard!

  • http://www.adailyportion.wordpress.com Missy K

    I have clung to all that I saw was not provided in my early years, and, swung from there to the same grasping fear of losing the rich blessings of home and family that I know now. This book helps me see that both the resentment of what I’ve seen as lack and the fear of losing are birthed in the same struggle– can God be trusted with my heart?

    Only trust in His nature will allow me to choose gratitude over resentment and fear in this life. And gratitude can be a daily choice, an act of discipline, a muscle I train until it becomes more reflexive. There is an amazing freedom in that– I could get off the pendulum swing I’ve known for so long.

  • http://www.lessonsonlongview.blogspot.com Becky

    The seed – to choose gratitude every day over resentment
    Water – Accepting the gifts I’ve been given
    Bloom – Seeing grace where before I only saw questions

    http://lessonsonlongview.blogspot.com/2011/02/choosing-grace.html

    • Crystal

      Love this. Thank you.

    • all shall be weel

      I love this too, and wrote it down in my little notebook to remind me often, than you!
      :)

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  • all shall be well

    “They eat the mystery.” I have always loved the story about God providing the manna, but I had never ever thought about it that way, I had even loved how manna means “what is it?” but had never thought of it as them eating what they did not understand as us going through the stuff of life that we do not understand. I must say this is profound for me.

    See you Wednesday, sending you each a hug. :)
    karen

  • http://www.reflectionsofaprincess.com Jessica

    So much to say…Ann I love this…your story, the truth of what its awaken you too. There’s so much I’m learning about my past and responses to the way life happened.

    I’ve lost a child in miscarriage, I had my childhood dictated by the military leaving me feeling voiceless, I’ve been beaten down my words telling me how stupid and worthless I was marring a relationship…each of these pull their own darkness.

    In many ways I’m seeing now how I closed myself off to God in the pain. If I couldn’t feel, if I was already numb, then I couldn’t hurt, right? Why allow one more? I walked numb to Him, present but never really seeing or hearing.

    “How do we choose to allow the holes to become seeing-through-to-God places?” This I am still learning. I wonder, what have I missed of him in the darkness?

    And this too is sticking with me: ingratitude truly is the beginning of all sin. The lie that what I have been given is not enough.

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      {Jessica… just whispering your name in prayer right now… }

  • http://lindaspatchworkquilt.blogspot.com/ Linda

    Ann, you know our story. It brought me to the place of, after having known the Lord for nearly the entirety of my then 54 years of life, I had to decide whether or not He was who I had believed He was. It was more pain than I thought I could possibly live with, and He had disappointed me more than I could take in.
    It is as you have so beautifully said and lived Ann, we must come to the place where we are willing to trust Him absolutely and believe that no matter what He allows to come into our lives that He is good.
    The part about changing the story…….oh if left to me it would be such a different story for our family. But I cannot see what He can see. Believing that He is all He has promised He is – I must trust that He is writing the story of our lives in the best possible way – despite what the circumstances are saying right now.
    I began a Gratitude List years ago when I first began reading your blog, and it numbers in the hundreds now. I feel the Father asking me to begin a new Gratitude List, one seen through the prism of the deeper things you have taught me through this book. I began yesterday – a brand new book, a brand new list, a brand new heart attitude.
    Thank you sweet girl. I love you dearly.

    • Karen Anita

      Linda, this post moved me. I think I’ve been where you are. Holding you in my heart as Jesus holds us together.

      • http://lindaspatchworkquilt.blogspot.com/ Linda

        Thank you Karen. I will hold you in my heart and whisper your name to the Father. He knows and loves and deeply cares.

  • http://talesofasojourner.wordpress.com Abby

    I am reminded of this quote by Oswald Chambers:
    “…if I obey Jesus Christ in the seemingly random circumstances of life, they become pinholes through which I see the face of God.” The obedience is gratitude. I am going to dig in, and wrestle this through and let God birth this in me so I can learn to live up to my name, her Father’s joy.

    • http://www.tammiesprings.com/blog/ Tammie

      Thank you for that quote. Such a good one.

      • http://talesofasojourner.wordpress.com Abby

        Thanks Tammie! It helps me a lot

        • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

          {Beautiful, this. *Thank you*}

  • Sharon O

    I am reading this book slowly. In the quiet of the room letting each word sift into my heart and soul. God is using the obediance of Ann to minister to many. She is gifted by the Holy Spirit to write words on paper that bring life to a spirit and refreshment to questioning hearts. I personally have purchased six and will purchase more for gifts throughout the year. This will be the main gift I give to everyone I know. It is a gift of hope and life and breathed and written by God through the blessing and humbleness of ‘Ann’. Press on we encourage you.

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      {~brimming~ *Thank you* I press on with trembling knees, trusting that when we are weak, He is strong. He holds. *Thank you*}

  • http://facebook Theresa Low Oliva

    Thank you ladies for having this book club. In telling our stories over and over again we heal. With God present in our lives we see our life’s experiences as coming thick and fast and are the souls appointed means of growth. We have just a brief time to figure this out. So happy to read your book. I love you Ann. You are a year younger than my daughter and living so different lives and yet I see God has put each of you where you are meant to be. Have read your blog for years.

  • http://www.oursimplekitchen.blogspot.com Lindsey W.

    I really think there would have been no other way to start this book. Each chapter builds because of that first experience Ann describes. I keep wanting to read portions out loud to my husband as I read but stop myself because it just won’t have the same effect without having started from the beginning. I will read this over and over. Next time will be out loud with him. I also want to share this book with my friends but also know that this is one they’ll want to have a copy of to enjoy, take notes in, re-read.
    Thanks Ann and Bloom for putting this together. I have been blessed and can already see the fruit of the book in my life. My eyes have been opened to the gifts of everyday and I can’t believe I lived so long without acknowledging them.

  • http://www.callmemal.blogspot.com Mallory

    Wow. I knew this chapter was big, but I didn’t understand how big it is till I heard Ann speak. It really hit me when she said how our first memories are often of trauma. My first memory is two days after my seventh birthday when I woke up to find out my dad was dead from cancer. I always thought that was a late first memory, but now it makes sense. For four years after his death, the only times that I spoke to God was when I was yelling at Him, trying to wrap my immature mind around how a loving God could take away my daddy.

    Thank you, Angie and Jess for choosing this book and thank you, thank you, thank you, Ann, for answering God’s call to write this book.

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      {Oh, Mallory — I reach out to the seven-year-old you… and just whisper prayers for peace and grace… You are so loved.}

  • http://pausleylandadventures.blogspot.com/ Mandi P

    This book {and especially chapter 1} is tugging at a spot in my heart that I feel I keep closed so often. As a pastors wife and momma to a 2 year old and another on the way… do I take the time to stop, think, act? I was thankful for tears that freely fell as I read – a sign that God was allowing my heart to soften up so I could really soak in truth and responsibility. It IS in the dark times that the light is made so much more clear… yearning and wanting to learn that more and more, plant that truth in my heart and grow it!

  • http://robbin-twiceadopted.blogspot.com Robbin

    Just saw this on a friend’s blog and came over to listen. Looks like I need to get involved in the book club. :) I don’t read much like I used to. Today our pastor spoke on Psalm 145 – Praise to the King! One of the questions he asked was, “Anything impossible you’re facing now? Are your eyes fixed on Him, the author and perfecter of your faith? Can you praise Him anyway, when things are bad, because He’s good?” YES!!! Then he gave us Habakkuk 3:17-18: Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” We do make the choice. I hope I choose the right response when I’m hit with hard times. Gotta buy a new book. Bye…

  • http://sgirl79.blogspot.com Stacy

    When I saw Angie post about this book on her blog a while ago, I ordered it. Two weeks ago I read it cover to cover over a period of a few days, and am now re-reading along with the videos.

    This first chapter resonated so deeply with me. We lost our first baby to miscarriage at 13 weeks. I will never forget going in for that ultrasound, thinking I would get to see my baby wiggle all over the screen, only to see the look on the nurse’s face, followed by the words: “I am so sorry. There isn’t a heartbeat.” I just couldn’t believe it.

    A few months later, we found out I was pregnant again, only to find out through an ultraound at 12 weeks that our son had multiple congenital birth defects. We were told that he wouldn’t survive after birth, and that the chances of him making it to term alive were slim. At 20 weeks, this diagnosis was confirmed. We carried our son, Isaac, to term, and he was born on October 7, 2008. He lived for 16 minutes. Genetically, he was perfect. The domino effect, though, of Isaac’s issues caused him to not develop any lung tissue.

    Over the last 2 1/2 years, I have been greatly, greatly challenged to believe that God is who He says He is, not because of His activity, but because of His character. His constant, unchanging character that we see all through scripture.

    It has been a struggle. Some days, a huge struggle.

    Ann, it helps to know that others have been there… others who have experienced trauma and grief and who have wrestled with God through it, and who have grown to a place of intentional gratitude because of His grace and who He is. Thank you for so authentically sharing your story, and in doing so, touching and challenging the hearts of many… including mine :)

    • http://www.encouragingheartsathome.com Misty Krasawski

      Stacy, thank you.

      For daring. For loving Isaac. And for sharing this story. You are a good mom, and that’s the truth of the matter.

      Praying so much grace comes your way today, that you’re overwhelmed!

      • margaret williamson

        Stacy,

        Your story is humbling, it touched my heart. I have had to hear the same words that there wasnt a heartbeat. It is devestating and I think that is when I pushed away from God. Not on the surface but deep down I just couldnt understand what good would come from this. Its been something I shoved aside and decided not to dwell on it.

        Then I started reading Ann’s book and I realize its time to deal with the issue. Time to live life instead of existing.

        God Bless you!

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      {“Because of His character.” ~heart in my throat~ Yes, Stacy… yes. Without His Word, the world warps. Praying with you tonight… }

  • Becky

    Your honest and transparent discussion on the video added so much to the chapter. Ann, you literally walked off the page. Such a joy. Thank you, girls, for doing this. I didn’t want you to stop talking.

    Angie, you asked about seeds. If I had to pick one seed I think it would be this, in Ann’s words: “It is one thing to choose to take the grace offered at the cross. But to choose to live as one filling with His grace? Choosing to fill with all that He freely gives and fully live…?” (p18)

    Yes, that’s it. To intentionally choose to receive His ongoing grace. Intentionally receive it. His forgiveness. His love. His life. An endless list.

    These three things: the seeing, the receiving, the thanking…will be the water that will, in turn, bear fruit. The fruit of Abundant, Overflowing Life. Jesus-Life that will splash onto all those around me.

    I see my need for Him more today than the day He came to live in me as a tiny little girl. Thank you Jesus for opening my eyes wider and wider to my need for you. That’s going on my List today.

    And Ann? Thank you for pointing us all back to Him. In the darkest of nights, His light in you shines so brightly. (Dan 12:3)

  • http://www.simplyme.typepad.com Joy (Wingnut)

    I think this book may finally be the one. The one that helps me figure out why I can’t build the relationship with God the way I see that others have. I believe in God. I have faith in a higher power who is all knowing and all loving and knows specifically my needs, hopes and desires. I believe that to a point would be a better statement. Because when push comes to shove, I’m always turning around asking Him: Really? Again? I have to go through another crisis? I haven’t already paid my dues? Done my share? The traumatic childhood of verbal, emotional, physical and sexual abuse weren’t enough? The loss of family, first through my purposeful pulling away from my parents who proved too toxic to continue to include in my life, then the loss of my sister to cancer. Watching her suffer and wither away for 5 years. Through two traumatic pregnancies. A difficult marriage that has evolved but leaves me wanting more days than not? Now, in the present day….the financial nightmare that having the loss of one job in our dual income family but now facing the loss of the other? Really? I have to go through more?

    I need to find away beyond this. And just based on the first chapter, I may have found my first step to getting there.

    • Becky

      Oh Joy.
      As I read your comments, my heart contracted for you and for all you’ve gone through and are going through. I stopped just now and prayed for you. And I will keep praying because I know that He hears; He hears and He loves you.
      With you in this journey,
      Becky

      • http://www.simplyme.typepad.com Joy (Wingnut)

        Thanks Becky :) It felt good to put it out there. I want to acknowledge these are my roadblocks to my faith growing the way I want it to. The way I need it to. Putting it “out there” means I’m facing it, maybe for the first time.

        • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

          {Thank you, Lord, for Joy and her brave courage, and how you are gently leading her. And for Becky, loving so well. Thank you, Lord, that we can all share the journey *together* Thank you for Jesus and You as our Wounded Healer… Praying with you, sisters.}

    • Becky S

      Joy I am praying for you right now. So thankful that He is enough!

  • http://www.peculiarkind.blogspot.om Jennifer

    As I read chapter one I gasped …. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to watch your baby sister die, your daughter. As her body was crushed so were the dreams of those left behind? I was thinking — why God? Then you asked the question? Where does your story start? That is hard for me to tell. Maybe after reading this book I will be able to take a hurtful moment and turn it into joy. Could the darkness really be what I needed to jolt me awake? Especially at such a young age. I was abused and it hurt and I didn’t even know how bad until I started experiencing extreme panic attacks when I was 9. That is were my story begins… where the trauma jolted my memory awake and where I first remember searching for my way back to a seemingly indifferent God.

    “Where hides this joy of the Lord, this God who fills the earth with good things, and how do I fully live when life is full of hurt?”

    I have asked myself this questions so many times I cannot count. Where is the joy?

    I think I may have found where to find it… and it comes out of another’s darkness that turned into light.

    Thank you Ann

    Now my new hope lies in the words given by my gracious Father to His beautiful daughter, Ann.

    “To fully live—to live full of grace and joy and all that is beauty eternal. It is possible, wildly.”

    I find myself saying “It is possible, It is possible” and I’m going to say YES.

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      {Thank you, Lord, for tenderly drawing beautiful Jennifer to Yourself… Thank you for holding her close…For whispering Yes to her heart.}

  • http://www.sonshinensmiles.com KrisDot

    I’ve only finished Chapter 1 of the book, and has already moved my spirit. I have been walking through a valley the last 5 years or so – nothing like the pains and tragedies in the Chapter – but difficult and challenging none the less. One of the hardest periods of my 40yr-old life thus far. I was finding myself in this same cycle of questioning God’s motives and comparing myself to others who had been ‘blessed’ and I/we had not been. So I thought. But I’ve slowly been learning that God has a different story and journey for all of us, and as my pastor said this morning -comparing only brings resentment and pride, and too often “We resent God’s GOODNESS in others’ lives and ignore God’s BLESSINGS in our own!” And this book is already teaching me about choosing gratitude. I love Ann’s word at the end of the video about “in every moment there’s a choice between resentment and gratitude.” And I too, hope that this book will help me begin to default to gratitude! Thanks, gilrs for doing this video series, it helps solidify the words in the book!

  • http://www.mamaworkinprogress.blogspot.com Courtney

    Thank you for the work you are doing here. The book is fantastic; reading it “together” this way, with the vlog and discussion with Ann is even better.

  • http://www.engravedeuniques.com Kaye

    Wonderful, just REALLY wish my book would get here so I could read along:)
    Blessings and thanks,
    Kaye
    Isaiah 58:9

  • Jaime

    Wow! We’re off to a great start! There’s no question that this book is touching people on many different levels, and I really feel that God is speaking to us through this book club … through Ann, through Angie and Jess, and through each one of us sharing comments here.
    Like many of you, I also want to learn to always trust God in any circumstance, and to see the gratitude rather than resentment in any situation. As a result, my faith will grow. In doing this, I hope and pray that others will notice my new-found peace and I can lead them to the Lord by my example. This is what stood out to me the most in this first chapter. I can’t wait to see what chapter two has in store!

  • http://bitsandpieces-dianna.blogspot.com Dianna McBride

    Experiencing the dark makes me so much more aware of the light! I was diagnosed with a chronic illness seven years ago and for the first two years after the diagnosis I was one very bitter person. I can honestly say that life was DARK,..very dark. Through a series of events, which I now understand that God orchestrated, I began to see that it was for HIS glory that I was suffering. Just as Ann pointed out…every day there was a choice. I could live for His glory and accept it as a gift…even a sacrifice I could lift up to Him, or I could continue to be bitter. I don’t succeed every day…or some days even every hour, but seeing the suffering of pain from His perspective has opened doors for me to share HIM with people I would never had the opportunity to do so otherwise.

  • http://parchmentgirl.com Kate {The Parchment Girl}

    What Ann said about allowing the holes in life to become see-through-to-God-places resonates with me, especially when I consider that I was never able to see God or understand Him or know Him until I lost everything and was completely helpless to fix my own pain–and even then I had to make a choice to see. And once I made the first step toward that choice God completely took over and dazzled me. The pain never went away, and the acute awareness of His radiance faded out with added traumas, I’m learning that just because the clouds block the sun, it doesn’t mean the sun ceased to exist or shine as brightly as it ever did. I think that’s where faith comes in.

    Angie, what you said in the text below the video: “Be intentional and obedient to what your responsibility is in growth.” – That convicts me. I know that I have shirked my growth-responsibility because of my own deep doubts and fears that if I do my part and seek His face, he may still not reveal Himself to me, even though Scripture promises that HE WILL.

    This was a wonderful video! I’m so glad you’ll be posting 2x a week!

  • http://melinrn.blogspot.com/ Melinda

    This book. It’s kinda revolutionary. I’m loving it. reading it slow, taking in all of it. I keeping coming back to the concept that if I’m question why God has me here than I’m actually saying “I know what I need more than You”. Big stuff. I’m praying hard.

    • http://sgirl79.blogspot.com Stacy

      It IS revolutionary. What a great word to describe it! :)

  • Tracy

    My brother died of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at the age of 16 the day before my 20th birthday.

    My 12 yr old son was diagnosed with DMD when he was 15 months.

    I know these events have put a wall between God and I. I long to be able to work through this to have a closer relationship with him so I can be more effective in sharing my testimony as my ministry.

    I thought this book would be a quick read, one I could read just before bed. Ann’s writing is so beautiful and poetic and so raw it really makes you think and really devour it and take it in fully.

    I look forward to the coming weeks.

    ~Tracy~

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      {Father, thank You for carrying Tracy through black days. Thank you for all the ways You are never going to let her go… Praying with you tonight, Tracy.}

  • Krissie

    The book is a gift to the body, and I am thankful for the videos to go along with it. This book has laid me out and opened up something that i hadnt fully realized. Thank you for pushing me, with God’s truths, into a place of growth. However painful it may be, I will be working at counting it as gift.
    I am undone.

  • http://dipsydoodle-dipsydoodle.blogspot.com Peggy

    I love this book and the simple truths that Ann has shared. This first chapter reinforced what I have learned again and again through life’s circumstances – that honest thankfulness is the only way to live joy. I think sometimes Happiness and Joy are confused. For me, happiness is a surface reaction whereas joy is way to live. I don’t believe that God “allows” bad things to happen to those He loves. I believe that sometimes bad things are results of accidents, circumstances, choices and just living through this uncertain and crazy life. I believe that God grieves with us and His heart breaks with our pain. However, the joy comes from the assurance that He is faithful to us and walks through those valleys with us, as well. That’s how we make it through.

    It’s hard to be thankful for the moments in our lives that bring the darkest pain. Maybe we are just supposed to be thankful to God for holding us in HIs love.

    Thank you, Ann, for your courage in writing this book and sharing these truths. Your heart is beautiful. And thank you, Angie and Jessica for this format. It’s wonderful to share God’s heart with all of you.

  • Heather

    I appreciate your starting with your story–as that is where all of our relationships with God start–in our stories–in the real life events that don’t square with our notions of how a good, loving, powerful, all-knowing God ought to run this place. I have no trouble believing that God is all-powerful or that God is all-knowing. Like the disciples asked in Mark 4:38, I’ve cried: “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” “Do You CARE?”

    And yet, both because I’ve wrestled (and continue to wrestle) through these times, I know you are right. These times have been the “seeing through to God” places, when the chasm between knowing about God and really knowing Him has been bridged. My story is different, but the result is the same. My heart feels worn and tired…. I prayed, but circumstances didn’t change. How was I supposed to count this as joy? How am I supposed to give thanks in THIS thing? How will THIS work out for good? How will THIS thing bring glory to God? So, I join you in asking “Where hides this joy of the Lord, this God who fills the earth with good things, and how do I fully live when life is full of hurt? How do I wake up to joy and grace and beauty and all that is the fullest life when I must stay numb to losses and crushed dreams and all that empties me out?”

    Blessings as we pursue together the choice “to fully live,” to “give up resentment for gratitude, gnawing anger for smilling joy… Self-focus for God-communion” and “to fully live–to live full of grace and joy and all that is beauty eternal.”

  • corinne

    I must begin with a thank you. This first chapter speaks to me in so many ways. Maybe we “don’t want to change the story because [we] don’t know what a different ending holds.”. I meditate and pray over those words, searching for gratitude in my ingratitude and it brings me such comfort and opens my mind to possibilities to know that I am not the storyteller…never was and never will be. And the One writing the story is good and is perfect and knows the way the story should end. And I really do believe that it is out of darkness that we are able to see the light and appreciate its splendor.

  • Allison Zehnder

    I’ve been so looking forward to today! I just sat down with my book, a cup of tea, and a lit candle to watch the first video. Thank you all. I loved it. And the message on my Yogi tea bag was “Truth is everlasting”. :)
    Bless you all for using your stories and your lives to the glory of God.

  • http://insideout-blog.com,vbgallery.com Laurie Ashbach

    The moment my daughter died I was changed forever. That was Sept 22, 1981. She was born Sept 2, 1981 prematurely & weighed only 2 # 7 oz. I had her for three weeks. I had no belief system. My family did not go to church. For ten years I fought with God, asking every question, every why. I began my journey dry-eyed for 6 months, then the dam broke and I experienced brokenness in ways that still send shivers through me. I sought God. I fought God. God waited for me to finish and be still. My every thought tested, listened to, my heart broken through and through to the very end of my horizon. Grief, anger, distrust, ridicule, blame, hypocrisy. I did not spare Him one ounce of my humanness. But God in his gentleness and patience can break through our toughest, loudest cries of pain and grief. He allows us to feel it all, and when my last sobs heaved quiet, He came to me in silence. My fight was over and He was there to hold me, teach me and love me back into fullness of heart. That was 1992. I can look back now and know I could not understand the depth of His riches, if I hadn’t been broken. I was so in the dark and death was so final, but his breath, his pneuma brought me new life and healing. I am now resting in his green pastures, listening to his teachings. What if we lived as if our time was borrowed and we were delighted in the simple, the ordinary? We would be thankful. I count it an absurd blessing to be a part of this community and to have “happened upon” Ann’s blog and in(courage). God is good. May God bless this journey together as an open window of fresh air so we may breathe deep.

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      {Oh Lord God…. Thank you for Laurie and the wisdom You have grown in her heart: “What if we lived as if our time was borrowed and we were delighted in the simple, the ordinary?” Thank you, Lord, for carrying her. And tending her into a soul so beautiful…}

  • http://holley.dayspring.com Holley Gerth

    This book, these words, are a life-changing dare and invitation. I stood behind the camera for these videos and it was a holy place of grace. I love this quote from chapter one: ” ‘His secret purpose framed from the very beginning [is] to bring us to our full glory (1 Corinthians 2:7 NEB). He means to rename us–to returns us to our true names, our truest selves. He means to heal our soul holes.” Ann, thank you for your part in the healing–for birthing this book into the world. YOU are a gift.

  • patty morwood

    Girls,

    I think this would make a good Bible study … there are so many passages and verses that could augment the author’s search so well-told in chapter one.

    I’m ready for next week’s discussion!

    pattym

    • http://talesofasojourner.wordpress.com Abby

      I agree Patty!

  • http://txmomx6.blogspot.com Janine

    I couldn’t wait for this to start today and now can’t wait until next week (though I’m learning to live in each moment!). My husband died suddenly 3 years ago, leaving my 6 children and me totally destroyed … for a while. So I thank you, Ann, for this book and I thank you, Angie and Jessica, for listening to God and choosing it as a Bloom book.
    My seed? Starting my own gratitude list.
    The water: Spending time with God and in His word every day so that I continue to grow closer to him and learn to choose gratitude easier.
    The bloom? I really am starting to see more in each moment and have felt time slowing down …. as well a myself. I’m also getting better at hearing God, in spite of my post-widow ADD tendencies!
    Again, thank you ladies and I look forward to next week’s video.
    Have a great week, Everyone!!
    :)

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      {Thank you, Lord, for Janine, and out of ashes, You make beauty and hers touches me deep… Thank you for all the ways you continue to carry her and her six children… and for the seeds You are growing up for great yield…}

  • http://livinglearningandlovingsimply.blogspot.com/ Aimee

    I cried many times throughout watching the video and thought, “I am SO glad these women can’t see what an ugly crier I am right now!!” And then the laughter at the end about the very same thing…ahhhh, authentic women in community :)

    The Seed: “Living with losses, I may choose to still say Yes. Choose to say yes to what He freely gives. Could I live that–the choice to open the hands to freely receive whatever God gives?”

    Water: saying Yes daily by practicing gratitude and prayer in the Happy and the Hard, and recognizing that every breath of every day is pure Gift. Every day I tell my husband, “wow, I just feel humbled and happy to be here today!”

    Fruit: less fear, more acceptance. less anxiety, more trust.

  • cindy nelson

    May God have HIS way in all of our lives as HE uses iron to sharpen iron,
    as HE draws us to Himself and we choose to respond in gratitude,
    and may HE be honored, glorified, and HIS kingdom futhered.
    Amen……..

  • http://www.jeannedamoff.com Jeanne Damoff

    As Jessica points out in the video, everyone has a story. Some of the chapters in my life story read like a fairy tale frolic in flowery meadows, and some are like walking barefoot over shards of glass. If it had been up to me, I would have left those painful chapters out, but as I look back over my life, I realize they truly are gifts. Good gifts from a good God who never calls us to suffer without purpose.

    When our son Jacob was fifteen he nearly drowned. He was under water for at least ten minutes and it took another twenty minutes of CPR before he breathed. Doctors told us he would either die or remain vegetative for the rest of his life. Thus began our family’s journey of finding beauty in brokenness, or as Ann puts it, seeing God through the holes torn open in our soul.

    I’ve had almost fifteen years now to see God working in the ripples that were set in motion the day Jacob sank below the murky water, and by His grace, I understand a bit more about the mysteries of redemption. I wish I could say I always go straight to “thank you” in times of pain or trial without any squirming, but I can say that the seeds God planted through Jacob have taken root, and the roots gone deep. We’ve learned to trust God’s purposes and kindness, and in that trust we find peace. He is good.

    Thank you so much, Angie and Jessica, for hosting this discussion. Obviously there will be way too many people involved for everyone to connect with each other, but what a joy to hear Ann’s thoughts. Her exquisite book is part of my journey now, a beautiful ripple among many. My life is enriched by the deliberate counting of God’s mercies, and I thank you, Ann, for giving me that gift.

    Love, Jeanne

    • http://bootsieandbull.blogspot.com molly howsden

      I was thinking the same thing as you that there are just too many comments and people involved for everyone to connect to each other BUT I believe God directs us to those that we need to be connected to.
      Reading your comment here I went to you blog and after just reading a bit over there I have been blessed.
      molly

  • Laurel

    For me the seed is pg 18 – “that choice, saying yes or no to God’s graces, is the linchpin of it all, of everything”. I do believe things happen the way God plans, and those things are for my good….but saying “yes” and thanking Him for all the gifts, both hard and light, has not always been my way. I want to, as Ann said, have gratitude be my default mode, instead of first feeling resentment and only slowly and painfully working my way around to the thanks. I believe as I continue to count His gifts and choose to see all as a gift, the fruit will be a joy-filled life in which others see more of Jesus in me.

  • December Rose

    So many of life’s disappointments come from our expectations not being met. As Ann said in the video, “God, you were not there when I thought you would be.”

    (Excerpts from One Thousand Gifts, page 20-21)
    Anne: “If it were up to me… I’d write this story differently.”
    John: “Just that maybe… maybe you don’t want to change the story, because you don’t know what a different ending holds. Maybe… I guess… it’s accepting there are things we simply don’t understand. But He does.”

    I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior, and three days later my husband and son also accepted Jesus… three weeks later our son died in an accident. That was 20 years ago; and in that time, I’ve drawn closer to my Savior, maturing in my Christian walk… yet I still don’t understand. But He does.

    Seed: This is God’s story, not mine.

    Water: I have been on a sabbatical of sorts this past year or so… when I try to write, the words are not there. Perhaps the pen needs to be emptied out before it can be filled with His story… His words?

    Bloom: Ann’s book (and blog!) has encouraged me to prepare myself with open hands… to receive the grace and live fully… to take up the pen… and give thanks

  • Susan

    The Seed: In trying to stay numb to loss and in focusing on the hole, I’ve missed joy, grace, beauty, all that is the fullest life.
    Water: I need continual communion with God through thanksgiving and His Word ever before me so that I can consistently live the fullest life rather than only in snatches.
    Fruit: I have the hope that this is God’s way to abundant, full life.

  • Marilyn

    I purchase One Thousand Gifts to read on kindle on my iPad. It is such an amazing book that I had to purchase it to hold it in my hands….to feel the words in my actual hands. Thank you so much Ann for sharing this.

  • http://hikingtowardhome.blogspot.com/ Sharon@HikingTowardHome

    Where to begin? Gratitude would be an appropriate place, no? Thank you God for blessing Ann with an ability to put into words what helps to heal so many. Thank you Ann for the writing of it and sharing your deep darkness to show how brilliant the LIGHT is. Thank you Angie and Jessica for Bloom. And thank you for the video, it is a delicious dessert added to an already filling feast.
    Something that jumped off the page in Chapter One is John’s response on page 21, “Just that maybe … maybe you don’t want to change the story, because you don’t know what a different ending holds.” as he finishes retelling the story of Hezekiah and Manasseh.
    And the ingratitude in the garden equal to the unacceptance of what is God’s will in our here and now when it gets dark. Gratitude brings light to that darkness and changes our/my perspective.
    Thank you for sharing this truth, Ann.
    SEED: acceptance of God’s will, the way he uses difficult places to move us and change us, even geographically
    WATER: practicing the moment to moment discipline of gratitude
    BLOOM: hopefully, watching bitterness be rooted out and vanish with the practice of giving thanks, even through the Hard Eucharisteo.

  • http://findingtheinspiring.blogspot.com Angel

    Thank you Ann for sharing your story. Clearly, we are all walking around in various states of woundedness. No one comes through life unscathed. But it helps to hear the testimony of those who have been and are being healed. It births hope in us when we are reminded that we are not alone, that God really does love us and that he has filled our life with gifts too numerous to count. Blessings!

  • susan

    This book certainly isn’t a quick read – so much to think about . .pray about. I am trying to submit to God, through heartache and pain . . .I’m so glad to be on this journey with all of you.

  • http://pursuingheart.blogspot.com Cherry

    My copy of the book arrived less than a week ago, and I have now read the first chapter … not once, but twice. There is so much Truth wrapped up in Ann’s words … and I want to let each chapter soak down into my soul. My husband and I have experienced a good share of hard things in our almost-40 years of marriage. Not as hard of things as many all over the world live with, but still, they have been things that came unexpectedly, and gave us so much pain as we went through them. But as we look back, it has been those hard times of life that have led us to a deep place of joy and intimacy with God. And although we wouldn’t choose to go through the pain again, we can be grateful for those times … for they have led us to a good place. And that, I think, is why God allows these times … to bring us to the best place. Thanks, Ann, for being so vulnerable and for sharing from your heart … and for speaking God’s truth and love into the heartaches of life.

  • http://thereedfeed.wordpress.com Melissa

    Thank you for the video, and for the book.

    After reading chapter 1, the part that spoke to me the most is using our “holes” from pain to see through to God. I could so identify with the doubt and the struggle that Ann experienced, but then longed for the faith and grace that her brother in law and wife exhibited.

    I am so looking forward to the growth in faith that I will experience through this book!

  • http://www.nikandcarladavis.blogspot.com Carla

    There were many things in this 1st chapter that ‘stirred’ me. The sentences on pg. 11 that states “We accept the day of her death as an accident. But an act allowed by God?” Thank you, Ann for your honest transperancy. In my own life and situations I have pondered this thought. It hasn’t always been easy, but I have had to make the choice to say YES to whatever He gives (and takes away). There have been many days when I think that I could write my life story differently (in the small and big things) but I am really challenged through this first chapter to fully let God write my story. And praise Him for the way He is writing it. Each day.

  • http://mysimpleyetchaoticlife.blogspot Kristi

    I read the first chapter and just cried! I went straight to my kids and smelled their hair and just hugged them. Getting this book as a gift was a blessing!

  • http://www.jenniferfordberry.com Jennifer Ford Berry

    Thank you for sharing this book! I can not wait to order it and read it! Exactly what I need at this chapter in my own life!

  • http://captivatedjourney.blogspot.com/ Ginger

    The discription or comparison with Manna hit me spirit head on, I think about the Israelites and how they ate of the Manna, the what is it for 40 years… How I have lived as if He has stole what I thought was rightfully mine…. grumbling over the manna that He provided rather than see it as a provision…I want these places to become the see through to God places, I want to enjoy the manna because He provided it. Thank you…

  • http://Facebook.com Melissa in Mississauga ON Canada

    I am really excited to participate in this online book study. What a challenge to live fully right where you are in the day to day things, especially if you have gone through some significant suffering as I have over the last while. But God is faithful and loves us so.

  • http://gibsongirl247.wordpress.com Dawn

    I was so touched by the trailer video for this book…that I just knew I needed to order it!
    I read the first chapter and watched the video. I am so challenged by what Ann has written! I look at my own life….my first husband diagnosed with a terminal illness, me widowed at 32–a single parent to our then 5 yr. old son. A little over a year later, my father took his own life. A dark place…a dark time in my life. I had been a Christian for many, many years by the time these things happened. Still……it changes a person. I am since remarried and my current husband had lost his job of 22 yrs. He was unemployed for 16 months. He has a new job, making 1/2 of what he did….and we struggle. Even though God has provided, I am afraid. I grip tighter to what we have. It hurts. I often find myself questioning God. I know His character is loving and just…….but, still I struggle.
    Ann’s words challenge me. pg.15–“Our fall was, has been, and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.” I am broken by her words. They are painful to me. They are so true….tears spill from my eyes. God speaks to me, through her. I long to live my life with gratitude. I MUST learn to live my life with gratitude.

    • http://pursuingheart.blogspot.com Cherry

      Reading through the comments here … just wanted to stop and say I was saddened by all that you have gone through. And I pray that God will lovingly guide you in your desire to live a life of gratitude … your heart is there. May this book be a comfort and help to you … and to all of us. So grateful to be reading it, as I have much to learn, as well …

  • http://www.happyandersons.com Andie @ Raising{Happy} Healthy Kids

    So Beautiful. Thank you ladies.

  • http://kevinandmel.com Melanie @The Adorkable Life

    This video discussion truly invites me into this community. Thank you for allowing me to join you all in this experience of growth.

    I share my reflections here:
    http://www.kevinandmel.com/2011/02/one-with-in-face-of-life-and-death.html

  • http://wnorwood.com Wendi

    Thank you, thank you SO much for these videos! They are truly ministering to me! Love you ladies!

  • Anita

    This chapter was very gripping for me. I am so cynical. I’ve had my hopes dashed so often; I’ve tried to change so many times and failed–would it be any different this time. I’ve compared myself to others who seemed to have such a picture-perfect life and have felt all my life that I’m always trying to catch up to people like them. I have craved their happiness and their having it all together, thinking that those things were beyond my reach despite being a Christian.

    But to start the chapter with this pain. Ann is not coming to us as someone who has her life all together, but as someone who sympathizes with our pain. She is one of us. It is so encouraging to see her look to the Lord with her questions and the Lord illuminating His Word to her as He has promised to do for all that look to Him.

    There are some traumatic areas of my life that I have accepted the Lord bringing into my life and I can see how they were worked for good. But there are other areas in my life, that I still carry with me: the betrayal of one close to me, wounds from witnessing sexual abuse, insecurity from being taunted at school–it is harder to see these and receive them as from the Lord. To do so would cause me to release the ones who wounded me from their debt to me. But isn’t that what Christ did for me to a much bigger degree?

    This chapter caused me to address my pain and see it as a seed. This is an area of my life that I haven’t fully surrendered to the Lord. It is an area I’d rather leave locked up in the closet. Maybe this is the place where my fears, distrust, and insecurity come from?

    So, I am journeying with dearest Ann. I look to the Lord expectantly to see how even all this is grace.

  • http://www.theelizabethhighsmith.blogspot.com Elizabeth Highsmith

    my seed is hope that a new “default” can birth itself in word yes and in life yes, watering with the filling of the word, the pouring out honestly of my flesh and growing in hope, . heart grateful for ann’s honest words unveiling truth, these bones they need it new default, fuller grace and joy. excited for the rest of the chapters

  • Jess :)

    Just incredible…to see and hear all 3 of you discussing/sharing this book. I truly cannot put this book down. It’s such a gift. Thank you, Ann, for writing and sharing your heart…your life moments with us.

    As I sat here watching, and crying right along with you, I am reminded of the dark in my life. The dark that was. And, yes, the dark that still appears at times. However, He gives us the light we need…at just the right times. His times. When you’re in those dark moments, it can be so hard to understand and to even see the light ~ even if you do love and follow Him. However, He is ALWAYS there and will deliver the light we need.

    I will never forget the day (and many, many, many days that followed) when He led me towards the light, through sweet baby Audrey Caroline. Only HE knew I needed that precious little peanut to bring me back, FULLY, to Him. It’s so hard to type out, and I don’t even think I’ve ever completely shared with Ang about how greatly her words and Audrey’s story…brought me out of a very dark time in my life, but I am forever blessed because of her. Because of Audrey. Because of HIM! Praise the Lord, for He is good.

    I know there is still so much I need to work through.

    With Him, though, I (we) can do ALL things…Philippians 4:13.

    Thank you, again, Ann, Ang, and Jess for being such amazing sisters in Christ. :)

  • http://mythoughtsaplenty.wordpress.com/ Phronsie

    One thing I got from the first chapter was only sort of related. I was reminded of Job and how he said we should take both the good and the bad from God. I was reading in another book how God doesn’t DO the bad but He allows it to happen for His eventual glory. We might not see why at first but eventually something good will come from what He allowed to happen.

    I’ve noticed that we here on earth tend to blame God for the bad but take all the credit for the good, like God didn’t have a hand in it. And that bothers me. For me this chapter kinda brought a sense of “take it all as from God” kind of thing. Do I actually thank God for the good things that come around or do I just go “YAY!” and go on with life?

    (I still have to watch the video so I might have more later, I only had time to read the post while small children napped and played.)

  • Anonymous

    Still mulling all of this over b/c there is so much here…
    the seed… (for me) maybe that life and my relationship with God and others shouldn’t be based on circumstances. I read this last night and went to bed thinking, that we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but against principalities. I woke up happy…the morning quickly turned sour. As we rode to church, I tried to nurture, by reminding myself that these are just present circumstances and are avenues, situations, etc. to get us to the important stuff. These minor tiffs and circumstances are part of life, but they aren’t the point. Fruit…I could still choose to be content and happy in spirit…if not in the flesh. lol

    I understand so much about being happy that I am not writing the story. The defining moment for me was my Dad’s death at 13yo (and being daddy’s only girl.) I learned through the years, that although God is a father to the fatherless, there were holes. I was just thinking about them the other day. But with all of that, I can clearly see, although I never would say it in front of my family (they wouldn’t understand), that maybe it was for the best. I know that so much would have been different and I may be wallowing in a mirey pit had life been different. God knew the end.

    One question, can someone clarify…I had a bit of a hard time wondering about what Mrs. Voskamp meant when talking about “our glory.” Didn’t/doesn’t God work for HIS glory and pleasure and it’s not about us/me? Maybe I just need to go back and read.

    • Celie

      That in us understanding the mystery of wisdon is to glory in it that God word open to us wisdom and truth. 1Co 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

  • http://www.terilynneu.com Teri Lynne Underwood

    A friend who is reading “One Thousand Gifts” with her in-real-life book club told me she felt the beginning was dark … and I was shocked. I hadn’t even considered this chapter “dark” at all … so when Ann mentioned that her agent suggested starting at a different “less dark” place, I went back and re-read the first chapter for the 3rd time.

    While I can see where the rawness of emotion and depth of pain can be off-putting in a culture where we all “put our best food forward,” I find myself even more convinced that as Ann said in the video (my paraphrase) you can only see light in comparison to the dark. As I read her story of grief and heartache and longing and wondering and wandering, I replayed my own messy stories of hurting and rebellion and confusion … and with every scene that flashed through my mind, I breathed out a prayer of the gratitude-joy.

    Darkness – hard, painful, deep, despairing, blackness … I have known this aloneness, this wondering if God is real and even more if He really cares about me. But oh how I praise Him for these beautiful words …

    “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it!” John 1:5

    Praise God for the darkness, of word and thought and memory and experience, is never more powerful than the Light of the World that shines in it and through it!

    • http://www.madabella.typepad.com Melissa

      Terri, I had my friend in our book club for this share the same thing. There is a depth of pain very few of us can put words to, like Ann did. My friend almost put the book down, but knew she needed to forge ahead to see the Light that would make an indelible mark. We all have deep places of grief and when we choose to face it head on, we see the overwhelming power of blinding light… eventually … in the trust and the waiting…we can have the strength to look up.

      Love that scripture you shared. :)

  • Sandi

    I know I am supposed to be taking part in the reading of this book, and the conversation that goes along with it. Living with the “no” has been central theme of my life for the past 25 years. My husband and I also buried a child that died at age 5 1/2 months of a rare genetic disorder. Trying to come to terms with God’s plan, pain in this life, and what it’s all for has been a persistent struggle.

  • http://RaisingFigureSkaters.com Deb Chitwood

    What a powerful chapter and video! That the book starts with such intensely painful experiences and woundedness makes the truth that much clearer. Who hasn’t thought at some point: “If it were up to me … I’d write this story differently.” Then to end with “To fully live – to live full of grace and joy and all that is beauty eternal. It is possible, wildly.” Wow – that’s an amazing seed.

  • Jenny

    Oh my, how I wish I could understand what you ladies talk in the video (I’m Deaf). I read the first chapter of Ann’s book this morning and really got to me but after reading some of the comments above saying the video has helped them understand better. I so much need and want this challenge. I know I’m missing so much! Any chance you could add captions to this video and future videos too please? Thank you and thank you for doing this book club!

    • Brindusa

      Jenny, I could perhaps try to transcribe it and send the text to you if you gave me your e-mail address…? I can’t promise to do it in a day or two, as I’ve got stuff I must work on these days, but would get it to you as I can…. if you think this would help you.

      • Jenny

        Yes yes yes yes!!!!! Thank you!!!! cwjdbeak (at) yahoo (dot) com God Bless!!!

  • http://hollydaycloset.blogspot.com/ Holly Days

    First I want to thank you to all you that made it possible for me to have this book. I’m so bless to have this wonderful gift.
    The part that touched me the most is on (page 21 John is speaking ” Just that maybe … maybe you don’t want to change the story, because you don’t know what a different ending holds”
    The words I choked out that dying ending day, echo. Pierce. There’s a reason I am not writing the story and God is. He knows how it all works out, where it all leads, what it all means.)
    So many times in the midst of my pain I think I could live without this or that. But could I really where would I be without it. I would have never learned anything, never known peace or joy, never known Christ or our Father in heaven. Will I still want to write my own ending, Yes of course but not without hearing those words. It reminds me so much of one of my favorite verses. Jer 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you.
    My daily walk has to start with that He knows I don’t.
    Thanks for a wonderful start I look forward to the walk with you wonderful ladies.
    Holly

  • http://brandycormier.com Brandy @Brandy’s Brood

    Ann, such a powerful first chapter. I think I read half of it to my poor husband who, though he enjoyed what I read and got a lot out of it, was trying to get some work done online.

    The manna part. Wow.

    What REALLY jumped out at my husband and I both, though? The part on page 21 where John says “Just that maybe … maybe you don’t want to change the story, because you don’t know what a different ending holds.”

    Our “why, God? Why?” moment didn’t happen until 4 or 5 years ago, but the pain of those moments still haunt us from time to time. Even after getting the answers to allow peace to flood our hearts. But … as John said … even though at that time I wanted to change that whole time in our lives … and even though I still, at times, struggle with wanting to change it … I know I really don’t want to because who knows what a different ending holds. In the aftermath, I can see the GOOD that’s come from what we went through …

    I gotta say, I read this chapter this afternoon and I almost didn’t put it down. I wanted to keep reading. But I’m trying to read just the chapter for that week. I’ll probably read each chapter a couple of times during that week, actually … I know I will this first one.

    You said, Ann, at the end of the video, something about how to we go about making our default gratitude instead of resentment. Yes. Yes. YES.

    I look forward to next week’s video!

  • Amber

    I am loving this! This story is not my story, but the words speak to my heart and situation. The seed for me was to let go of “regrets/what if’s” . There have been so many times in my life when I just wanted to change the story. When Ann said, “maybe you don’t want to change the story, because you don’t know what a different ending holds”, I stopped reading and prayed thanks to God for where He has brought me and what He has brought me through. He knew all along, though I couldn’t see it. The water is to be thankful for my story what ever it brings, and the fruit is PEACE. Peace in knowing that God is writing my story and “He knows how it all works out.”

  • Kathy Baum

    Thank you so much for sharing your hearts and your lives, for showing us how to reach toward God from the depths of darkness and feel the warmth of His love spread throughout our days. Chapter one has planted a seed of commitment: I will no longer live NO, only YES; I will smile in the shadows; and recognize that His light shines continuously, … that I am blessed! “By day the LORD directs His love; at night His song is with me–a prayer to the God of my life.” Psalm 42:8

  • http://www.garlandsofhosannas.com Debbra

    This seed: “A dare to an emptier, fuller life.”
    This, the water: Emptying self out of the pain, the struggle asking hard questions of doubt, the expectations. Giving up the “resentment for gratitude.”
    The blessed fruit: Pouring all that out by trusting in Him, His goodness, His love, and choosing to see the endless gifts, gives Him that much more room for Him. More room for His grace, His joy. Emptier of me, fuller of Him.

    Thanks for sharing the excruciating pain, the wrestle, the discovery.

  • http://www.inspired-mama.com Chelsey @ Inspired-Mama.com

    Ann’s writing is just beautiful, which, of course, anyone who read her blog prior to this book was already expecting. This first chapter was exquisite; the video so poignant. What a gift to have Ann speak to us; what a gift to be a part of this with her.

    I wrote a response on my blog, http://www.inspired-mama.com/2011/02/07/one-thousand-gifts-chapter-one-response/

    Cannot wait for more!

    -Chelsey/InspiredMama

  • http://www.lifewithkaileyrose.blogspot.com Sarah

    The part of chapter one that really hit home for me was the part where she said that ingratitude began in the Garden of Eden. I never really thought about the fact that because they wanted the tree they couldn’t have, they were being ungrateful for what they did have already. I do that so much in my own life, I think we all do, especially in tragic sitauations. We just can’t understand why babies die and things don’t go according to what we want, when in reality, we can’t see the end of the story, and we should trust the One who does. But, this is SO hard in light of tragic situations. It is something I really struggle with conquering in my own life.

  • http://www.myheartwillrejoice.blogspot.com Bree

    I love how the Lord works :) I’d been hoping to read this book for quite some time and somewhat miraculously (should we ever be surprised at what He does?) I was able to purchase this book. It was now, not before, not later, but now. And here I am, tonight finding your precious site, on chapter 1, where I’m at…where He knew I’d be :) Praising the Lord and thanking Him for the beautiful work He is doing through all of you. Forever grateful for His calling, His love and His healing. Blessed by this study! Looking forward to so much more and the plans He has for this time. Praying for you as well!
    “Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.” – Proverbs 21:21
    ~Bree

  • http://thesoutherninstitute.com Jenny @ The Southern Institute

    I must confess that I am not a “Christian Book” reader. I am not a hard hearted person. I love the Lord and I do my best to glorify Him each day… but I fall so short. This book resonates with me b/c I feel that Ann is so honest. I identified with so much in this chapter. I may not look it, but I am ungrateful. I am constantly looking ahead and trying to figure out how to get where I feel like our family wants to be. I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to be thankful for what God has given us, where God has put us, and what God wants me to do. The seed has been planted and I will do my best to keep it well watered, so that it will not wither. Because if it withers, so will I.

  • http://growingliketrees.blogspot.com Amy Davis

    I read Chapter one this afternoon (after watching the trailer yesterday), and decided to write my response while the video loads (very slowly). What stood out the most to me (and I haven’t seen it in these comments yet) was the comment from John (right? Ann’s brother-in-law) about Hezekiah, and how he asked for more life, was given 15 more years, and in that time came his son Manasseh, who made Israel worse than all the nations around it. He was saying that we just don’t know – maybe what God did was less bad than what would have happened otherwise. I had never really thought of that. I have new lenses now.

  • Claudia G

    Ann, Thank you for writting this book. Thank you for sending me a free copy. You have blessed me! I really couldn’t afford buying one! I want to live my life fully for Him no matter what my situation is!! Waiting for his light to come through!

  • http://myownsenseandsensibility.blogspot.com/ Mindy B

    Several times I have had to stop. Breathe. While in the midst of reading. I don’t ‘deal’ with pain and loss well. Resentment has often been my default. But God… You are opening a door I never thought I could go through. I am breathless and moved. The Spirit of God is moving ….. Thank you.

  • http://www.spicymagnolia.com meghan @ spicy magnolia

    I don’t have the words, but so much of my spirit resonates with what was shared in the book and in the video. So many times over the past ten years, I’ve had a picture of me holding out my hands in resistance to God. Out of fear. Out of pain. I don’t want that stance, but I will be honest and say that there are wounds. But I want to work through them. I want to understand and see the light in the midst of the darkness. I long for those holes to become ways to see God. Give us eyes, Jesus. And help us to trust that as Psalm 139 says, “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,’
    12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.”

  • Teresa C.

    Although I’ve had “bad” things happen in my life, I haven’t had tragic loss like this. Grandparents, aunts and uncles have passed but that is somewhat “normal”. I’m so sensitive that reading this story (and the comments) makes me hurt for so many. I try not to ask the question “why?” to God because it’s too hard to ask and not have answered.

    The seed for me is the gratitude for every day! It’s not so much resentment that I struggle with daily, but complacency, grumbling or discontent. I have to work to see the day-to-day positives. I’m not a negative person, but it’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day duldrums. I want to see the beauty every day!!!

  • ~Bambi

    You three sweet ladies! Thank you so much for doing this. I have already read and now am rereading the book. The video was very good and ministered to me in a few different ways. One that stood out was Ann saying that there will always be that choice to choose resentment or gratitude. I like that and it really is the ‘bottom line.”

    I never thought of it until Angie mentions the impact upon her girls in years to come, the loss of their sister and the possibilities of much good that can come out of the pain. Insightful and thoughtful.

    I also like the comment about there being no light unless there is the darkness. So very true and as others here have stated, how can one truly appreciate the light unless they have come out of the darkness and have something to compare it to?

    Thank you ladies for this. This is exciting and very inspirational and may I add… Tends to “Incourage!”

  • http://ellisheva-faithhopelove.blogspot.com/ Tina

    From the moment I opened the book I was drawn in!! Words from the heart flowed like honey!! The passion and love you write with Ann, truly a gift. I felt as if I was right there and you were sharing this personally with me. It has been sometime since I have read a book that came alive, and that too me would be one of my daily gifts…being able to be drawn into a story where you can smell and feel the character, the life portrayed!!
    I am so thankful for the gift of this book, thank you all who helped in making that happen.
    Many blessings my sweet sister’s,
    Tina

  • http://www.findingsimpleblessings.blogspot.com Erin

    What a great community of believers. In the lovely words Ann has penned, the video insights from Angie and Jessica and lastly all the comments, I have found such rich conversation.
    This first chapter rocked my socks off. I love re-looking at the story of Adam and Eve and how it really is all of ours story. My first favorite line is on page 15 “But we were lured by the deception that there was more to a full life, there was more to see. And, true, there was more to see: the ugliness we hadn’t beheld, the sinfulness we hadn’t witnessed, the loss we hadn’t known. ” Why do we get in our own way when God so clearly wants to lead us? The next line is on page 17 “And yet since we took a bite out of the fruit and tore into our own souls, that drain hole where joy seeps away, God’s had this wild secretive plan. He means to fill us with glory again. With glory and grace. ” I want to always be aware of the grace only he provides and more importantly share it with others. I can’t wait to continue this great discussion and see what it unearths in all of us.

    • http://www.emma-chezmoi.blogspot.com/ laura

      Erin,
      Those words also jolted me….i think i read them about six times. i had never thought of it like that but…

      Thank you for sharing …you also have given me pause to think.

      laura

  • http://ellisheva-faithhopelove.blogspot.com/ Tina

    This is is one of those discussion’s where transparency shows vulnerability, compassion, self awareness of all we have gone through!! What a great blessing this book will be to many!!! Lady’s well done, so thankful to be a part of this!!
    Blessings,
    Tina

  • http://www.sandeefamily.blogspot.com sandee

    I am three or four chapters into this book, I did not know you were going to do a read-along. It is so beautiful and profound and lifeschanging. I don’t know if I can hold myself back. I started by list…and am trying to be in the moment with God and see His gifts, rather than my negativity and frustrations….thats a seed.

  • Robin

    Like Jacob, I wrestle with God and I want to know His name…asking Him, after heartwrenching heartbrokeness, Who ARE you??

    (It reminds of the movie ‘The Family Man’ as the wife of Nicholas Cage’s character asks her husband that very question in a shopping mall after he behaves in ways so foreign to everything she knows about him…)

    “I AM I AM” is supposed to be enough of an answer… yet, like Eve I whisper deep in my heart “It’s not enough….”

    “If I don’t know You, how can I trust You?”, I challenge Him.

    I’m such a low risk-taker ( which yields spectacularly tepid faith, by the way)

    Without having read the chapter (my book hasn’t arrived yet), what is stirred up in me is this: I want to play it safe. If I know the rules, the boundaries, and the expectations…all up front…I can’t be hurt. (plus, I can ‘be prepared’… whatever that means)

    That I even attempt to navigate through this broken world with that mindset is laughable.

    But, He is calling me towards Love in Mystery.

    And that’s hard.

    • Lynsie

      Robin…your words are an exact description of my personality. I’m not a risk-taker. I am a planner who likes to be in control at all times. But with the premature birth of our first baby in June 2009 and his passing 33 days later, I can’t describe the betrayal I felt from a God who didn’t answer our prayers the way we expected. I’m still healing from the brokenness but God stuck with me in my darkest moments when the anger and questions were countless. He has turned my wailing into dancing…I am truly beginning to know Him like never before and this wouldn’t have happened had I not gone through this terrific loss.

  • J

    Wow. Did anyone else basically cry throughout the entire video?

    Thanks for sharing ladies. Thank you. Thank you.

  • http://www.emma-chezmoi.blogspot.com/ laura

    For me, the one thing that really stabbed my heart was being convicted of being ungrateful and through that, ultimately trying to be the author of my life. When i realized that, and then confessed it, i felt like i had finally grasped hold of something that was bothering me for years but yet, i did not know what it was. God has given us everything we need and to always want more….ungrateful…trying to be God…

    Thanks, so much, for bringing this book to the forefront as well as for the discussion…cannot wait to dive into the rest of the chapters with you.

  • Bethany

    So very blessed. God seems to plant things RIGHT in front of you when you need it most. This thankfulness seems to be a constant theme, and I was floored by the original sin of ingratitude, not disobedience, as I had always thought.

    My very favorite aspect of this dare is that it is very doable. Each moment that passes — there’s your chance! And if you perhaps miss it or are blind to it, it will happen again, in minutes, maybe even seconds. That is empowering.

    Thank you beautiful women! Can’t wait for the next one :)

  • http://smilingforgrandma.blogspot.com/ Tamara

    i truly feel that any pain i have felt in my life can barely compare to that of losing a child or sibling…however, 2007-2009 were difficult years for me. my marriage was crumbling and i felt as though i was on a non-stop treadmill trying to keep everything moving in the right direction for me and my daughter. one night while flipping through tv channels i came across a sunday service televised by a local church. the pastor made a statement during the sermon that i will never forget: “in the face of adversity i choose to be grateful.” honestly, i don’t remember anything else that he said that evening or even how this statement related to what he was talking about. i immediately went to my computer and typed and printed out the sentence. i kept the print-out on my nightstand so i could see it every morning and evening. i created a computer background that used the sentence. i kept it in my head constantly…my internal dialogue…no matter how bad it got i could always think of something to be grateful for. and then…gradually… there started to be light in my darkness.

    my life has since changed dramatically. i haven’t had to think much about being grateful in the face of adversity, which is wonderful, but also has allowed me to get lazy. reading this chapter stirred in me the feeling that gratefulness still needs to be something i choose daily. i need to remember what gave me comfort in the midst of difficult times…being grateful for even the simplest of things like a warm cup of tea on a cold morning, or a smile from my daughter, or a peaceful night of sleep. i can’t forget to be grateful just because things are beautiful in my life. being grateful sustained me during dark times, and it should continue to even in the shining light. i choose to be grateful not only in the face of adversity, but in the triumph over it too. thank you for guiding me to this realization.

  • http://upthesunbeam.blogspot.com Shaunie Friday

    There is something so important about the way you are dealing with this subject Ann. You are stealing away the enemy’s ability to use these experiences, or the possibility of them, as a way to drive a wedge between me and God. This is a trick he’s tried to use on me for a long time. It will probably always be a sensitive spot, but your courage in sitting right down and opening the package as a gift is incredibly disarming. Thank you so much!

  • http://ohamanda.com oh amanda

    I’m so excited about this book club. This “dare to live fully” is a refrain of my life these past 12 months…I’ve just been wanting to do more, be wilder and be excited to do hard things. This book is just one more layer of that life.

    I’m lovin’ the videos and the chance to do more than just read this book. And Angie thank you for the great Seed/Water/Bloom prompts. What a great way to get my mind and heart going.

    Thanks, ladies!

  • http://www.tjsmhanesfamily.blogspot.com Stephanie Hanes
  • Pingback: One Thousand Gifts ~ A Dare to Live Fully | Cupcakes and Crinoline()

  • http://doesthatreallymatter.blogspot.com/ Jen

    “that my knee-jerk reaction will develop into a time of trust instead of fear” – I’m living that right now.

    My sister, age 32, a single mother with 2 jobs and three small children is currently awaiting transfer to the University of Michigan Medical center. She was admitted to the hospital locally on Saturday morning where doctors discovered a softball sized cyst on her abdomen that appears to have originated at her ovary.

    So much is unknown right now. There is talk that it could be minor, at the same time, there is talk that it could be cancer. We just don’t know and won’t until surgery is done as soon as possible this week.

    Did I mention she’s 400 miles away? Trusting in the Lord is TOTALLY necessary right now and SO HARD at times.

    Thank you, Ann, for your heart.

    • http://familyfaithcompanion.org Carol H.

      Jen: Am saying a prayer right now for your sister as I read this two months later… I pray that she is ok.

  • http://twoshallbeasone.blogspot.com/ Stephanie

    Thank you all for sharing this first video. I loved it all, but what especially spoke to my heart was the question at the end. In every moment of life are you going to choose to except what God has given with grace or resentment? This is something I am struggling with right now and am so thankful to God for providing the book club at this moment in my life. Can’t wait for the rest of the videos!

  • http://www.findtheflametofan.blogspot.com Abby

    On eating the mystery…I saw something new when I heard Ann re-counting the story of Aimee’s death on the video…amidst tears and burning lump, I remembered a day that God chose very differently for my own story. When older siblings had run to my father in the barn declaring, ‘Abby is dying!’ turning blue from choking and saved by Him through a mama that kept up with her medical journals and the newly publicized Heimlich manuever…

    I don’t think I’ve really eaten that manna…thankful to be alive, but filled with fear that death was close and I was somehow luckily saved and…

    I am so glad to be doing this with the Book Club, my second reading, and watching the videos and hearing directly from Ann…there is always so much more to learn about our story and most of all, Infinite, Wondrous Grace! Him!

    Thank you Ann, Jess and Angie and Bloom friends!

  • http://lesliemartinyoung.blogspot.com Leslie

    I’ve always considered myself a “thankful” person – with much to be thankful for. I think the revelation here is to receive ALL as gift; ALL as grace. Even (as you describe later) the “ugly-beautiful.” So I started a list…learning to see.

    As much as I anticipated the first video, I had to put off watching it, because I knew it would be emotional – and it was – but so tender also. Thank you girls for doing this.

    The seed for me in this chapter – choosing to say yes to all He freely gives. I find myself literally, physically opening my hands throughout the day as a reminder to receive everything as gift. Watering with the Word – “Pray diligently. Stay alert with eyes wide open in gratitude.” Col. 4:2. And anticipating the bloom of that life lived “full in grace and joy and all that is beauty eternal. It is possible, wildly.”

  • http://www.encouragingheartsathome.com Misty Krasawski

    This book is such a gift that I almost don’t even know where to start. But as someone said earlier, gratitude would be appropriate, right? And so thank you from me, also, to Ann. If an “e” at the end would truly make it fancier, then your name should have been spelled with an “e.” :-)

    I’m so grateful that God speaks to us all. And so grateful that when that light is shared, we, too, can grow in the illumination of it. My monthly book club is reading this book and will gather at the end of the month to discuss it. I received the book on Thursday afternoon, and while it wasn’t an easy or quick read by any stretch, it was mesmerizing to me and such revelation that I did finish in a few days–going back and re-reading now, chapter by chapter, with a pen and ever-growing gifts list in hand.

    SEED: The question: “How do I fully live when life is full of hurt? How do I wake up to joy and grace and beauty and all that is the fullest life when I must stay numb to losses and crushed dreams and all that empties me out?”
    The lie: “God isn’t good.”

    I was embarrassed at seeing written out in black and white the truth I believe sometimes in my own heart, there on the bottom of page 14 . . . “The rest of the garden isn’t enough.” How ridiculous is that? He denies one thing and all of a sudden all the others don’t count. I behave like a child at DisneyWorld at the end of a long day of rides and characters and cotton candy and singing and dancing and hot dogs and fireworks who, upon being carried all the long walk out of the park, too exhausted from all the fun to walk, will cry when denied a 50 cent lollipop.

    The truth: “Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.” Something *else.*

    WATER: writing my list! Looking through new eyes. Looking for abundance instead of lack–and finding it everywhere!

    BLOOM: joy! joy! joy!

    • http://bootsieandbull.blogspot.com molly howsden

      Misty
      wow
      Your 4th paragraph. You described it perfectly what so many are living, “I want more.” “Why aren’t I happy?”
      UGH I feel this way sometimes from reading my friends status’ on facebook. My hubby is deployed to iraq and if I see a friend post about her date night with her hubby or how great her weekend was with her hubby or their husbands are getting on their nerves and I’m quick to start listing in my head all the things I don’t have right now.
      Again wow.

      • http://www.encouragingheartsathome.com Misty Krasawski

        Molly, you’re a hero. Thank you for allowing your husband to serve our country. I know it must be incredibly hard–I, who complain when my husband comes home past 6 pm! I just can’t imagine the grace you have to have . . . the grace God must be *giving* if He’s required this of you . . . and I’m sure the enemy doesn’t want you to see it! Praying for you . . . thank you again. I truly mean that!

  • Celie

    Our seed as parents, filled with pain the son of 20 year who took his last breathes. Through the deepest pain parents live, his body returns to the dust it was created from. What is the part of my man-child that’s with God I search and study? His soul the soul man his [mind, will, emotions] that is with God is the part fully alive. WOW it’s who he is/was. He is the same person/ personality looking into the face of Jesus, the last sermon he preached he said he could not wait to stand before him.

    Our water, to search for peace through God’s word assures he is the peace that overcomes the world. Knowledge of truth as the only means for us to survive as a whole family not to give satin any advantage, Draw near to the only one the I AM who is who HE says he is. To remain faithful to his word his family / church we so need. Knowing if I fall my family will fall so short of what Gods delight is for the purpose we where created.

    Bloom forward searching remaining faithful, prayer, seeking, asking for my man his father full of bitterness. Glorying in the creator of our son man child for the life given to us for 20 years to what he though to be a missionary, his field not a earthly field. Still used to the glory of God through death. Sunday service preaching on laying it at the alter Exo 20:24 I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. My man his father grabbed my hand to go to the alter, me could only give God glory. Tears of joy, peace answered prayers, never giving up hope but crying out many times to help my unbelief for what will be on March 7. fourteen years having laid his body in that dirt. The only God who hears and answers prayers in his time to heal the broken bitterness of hearts!!

  • http://www.savannah-rose.com Heidi

    I’m jumping in late here.

    So thankful for this book. I devoured it in just a couple of days and am glad to have this opportunity to go through it again more slowly.

    I think, for me, the struggle isn’t so much between resentment and thankfulness anymore, though I have certainly been there, but between trust and fear. Almost two years ago, we lost our daughter, Savannah Rose as a full term stillbirth. So many times in my subsequent pregnancy with Wilmer, I found myself wrestling with God over the what if’s. What if it happened again? What if, Lord? And God said, What if it does? Will I be enough? I could say, Yes. I know that somehow you will, but I so desperately did not *want* to experience it again – no matter how much good I saw come out of it, no matter if I knew that somehow it would be ok and God would get me through. Finally, finger by white knuckled finger, God pried my fearful hands away and reminded me that those were the thoughts that were “too hard for me” – and peace came. Yet still there is that niggling fear. I have sat myself down at the side of the road and said, Lord, I think I’ll just stay here for a while. I’ll get up and go deeper in You in a little while, when I feel a little stronger, but not just yet.

    Ann’s book is prodding me to get up and move even if it’s just baby steps – even if just re-learning the language of thanksgiving – and not just in the all encompassing – thank You for everything – way that I’ve slid into, but moment by moment specific thankfulnesses.

  • http://MoreTimeWithOurKids.blogspot.com Erika

    Already, I have been blessed incredibly by reading chapter one … and through this video.

    Amid all of the other seeds sprouting in my heart, Angie, I so, so appreciate what you said about what God births through our woundedness. How often I have clung to that promise and that hope! …and yet, though I have and continue to see it in my life, I nearly disdain it for my children…for in all of my actions and prayers and emotions, I do all that I can to protect them from pain. In all honesty, I fear it and I worry about it , and I have often been heard lamenting that I don’t ever want my children to have to go through all that I went through … AND YET, what God has done in my heart and in my life because of what He allowed, is beyond my wildest imagination.

    And so my prayers have changed. No longer “safe” prayers for my children … but surrendered prayers. And it really comes down to a simple question: Do I trust Him?

    Do I really trust Him?

    Honestly, some days it’s more of a struggle than others, and like Ann says, it often comes down to the hardest part of living in that tension of choosing resentment or choosing gratitude. Oh, to have eyes to truly see! This wounded heart still has a long journey of healing, but I KNOW that my heart is in good Hands.

    Thank you, Angie, Ann, and Jessica … for leading us and being vulnerable, honest, and real. God is using you and your stories for His glory!

    • Kay

      Erica, I love what You said about children — the prayers we pray as Mom’s… Safe prayers…… Yes…. And now surrenders prayers….beautiful.

    • http://familyfaithcompanion.org Carol H.

      Ditto about the surrendered prayers. A beautiful, trusting way to pray for our children! Thank you for sharing.

  • http://ruthjleamy.com RuthintheDesert

    I ordered this book and it should arrive today! Really looking forward to it!

  • Sallie Howell

    I have found this book to be one that engages me to think deeper about my relationship with God. I have lived a life of knowing about God from an early age. I have had bumps along the road, but I still felt God’s nearness even through those bumps. This book had jolted me to ask…”If I’m ruthlessly honest, I may have said yes to God, yes to Christianity, but really, I have lived the no”. In the video, Ann’s comment about chosing between resentment and gratitude was so powerful. I do not think of myself as a resentful person, but am I? I am not living life that resembles communion with God. I think I expect the rain to come and I forget to see the rainbow. I have begun to count my 1000 gifts. I am hoping to not just hide it in my notebook, but to share it out loud with my family. I want to live a life of open hands to recieve His grace whatever it is! I want to live out God’s story for my life…not my version of His story. Thank you ladies for the video! It is a blessing to add your thoughts to what I’ve read and thought through.

  • http://www.vintagebyhart.typepad.com Jynene

    …thank you for making the videos… being able to see you all and hear your voices makes this so much more personal and real…

  • http://iftheresonethingiknow.blogspot.com/ Kerry

    Thanks so much for this video. It gives so much insite along with reading the book alone. It truly makes me think of some change ups in my perspective. Ann Thank you. There is so much I took from your first chapter. As someone who suffered a very early loss of a sibling as well. Its a deep soul read for those of us who walked through that journey.
    I just wanted to say thanks…simply because outta our darkests hardships comes thanks and gratitude.

  • http://puttinggodfirstplace.com Ashley Wells

    Oh how this book is changing my life and my perspective!

    Thank you ladies for a great discussion on Chapter 1.

  • http://heresmycuplord.com Ginger

    How beautifully moving. How beautifully real.

  • Kay

    Ann , Thank You… For making a crack in the darkness that His Light may shine forth. So many things to ponder,to treasure that all lead to Him…. Like saying No to what God brings…we don’t know The whole Story…the struggle daily…moment by moment….choice by choice to REALLY choose Gratitude in the midst of the struggle…May His Love carry us deeper still. Blessings.

  • Emily

    Great video girls! It is so awesome to be able to put a real voice behind the words we read.

    Last week, ironically enough as I began to dig deep into Chapter 1, I had a very discouraging week. These “why” questions that Ann echos throughout the first chapter are some of the same ones that sounded loudly in the deepest part of who I am. The seed that has been planted, for me, in this first chapter is that seemingly God-less times are the exact opposite of what they appear to be. God is orchestrating something marvelous, that we may never see this side of eternity. We have to learn to be ok with that. I have been nurturing God’s desires for me by continually coming back to Him. Through His Word, prayer and even this book some- I just want to see HIM! I want to be absolutely filled, running over with Him, and even then it’s not enough! The fruit is coming slowly- in His revelation of Himself to me in the midst of myself. . kind of hard to communicate, but in easier terms- I am experiencing daily His gifts with new eyes.

    I love how Ann broke down the choice we have. We either choose to say yes to what he gives, or by default we choose not to. Lord, help me to choose yes!

  • http://timelesstravelers.blogspot.com Susan

    Thank you so much Ann and Bloom for doing this book club and the video. The video really does give another dimension to the book. Lots to digest and apply. This chapter does shed a lot of light on areas in my life that maybe I haven’t truly allowed God’s healing grace to touch. My prayer for a long time has been more of you Lord less of me, but I feel God has been showing me for quite some time that I am still too focused on me.I haven’t given Him those deep hurts, truly given them to Him.May I apply these truths Lord, thank you for everyone in the book club as well,insights are very helpful as well.

  • http://homewiththeboys.net Erin M.

    Wow…my mind is just swimming after just the first chapter. I KNOW that God is good and is full of grace but reading about such pain and loss is hard to process. We have experienced hurt, but this just made me ache. Praying to live in boldness in the moment and without fear of what COULD happen.

    Love to be going through this with all of you…

  • http://aspiretoleadaquietlife.blogspot.com/ A Simple Country Girl

    Thank you for this place of broken and beauty. Ann’s words resonate and fill gaps and shine light, but to hear and see the interaction brings such hope-filled reality to my heart. And to my story…

    http://aspiretoleadaquietlife.blogspot.com/2011/02/soul-holes.html

    Blessings.

  • http://www.writeshop.com/blog Kim K

    I’ve known my share of heartache, heartbreak, and tragedy. I know God and love him, but that love is lukewarm and my faith feels dull. I’m almost finished reading 1000 Gifts, and it’s sparking something new, fresh, and exciting. The book begs another read, and another, as I search and scour for a dropped kernel or hidden treasure. The Father whispers. Will I listen, accept, take up the challenge to live fully? That is my prayer.

  • http://4tunate.net QuatroMama

    Resentment vs. Gratitude

    How will I chose to face unexplainable circumstances, painful hurts, “tragedy”?

    This is so rich.

    What do I deserve? Certainly not the grace of God. Yet He lavishes it upon us.

    And I MUST be thankful.

  • Trish

    Thank you so much for this book club! In this first video, I felt like I could just see Jesus in the midst of you all as you shared your hearts. A friend of mine told me about Ann’s blog last October after our 16 year old son, Caleb, passed away unexpectedly. I have found so much comfort and encouragement in Ann’s words and her story. I am so thankful that she has chosen to be grateful in the midst of her pain, and in so doing, she is shining her light for us so that we may see it and give God the glory.

    Our Caleb loved the Lord dearly, and I know he is with Him now having the time of his life. This conviction, plus the hope of being reunited one day, keeps me going. But I have also found that grief is like a surgeon’s knife that cuts you open to the core, not just wounding you from the pain of the cut, but exposing all the nasty, toxic mess that has been stored up inside. When emotions are at their peak and always ready to spill over, that toxic mess tends to spew out at the same time. But because God loves me, He does not leave me where I am. He has been faithful to show me that I have made my own self-righteousness as my “god”, that I have depended on my goodness to justify me, and that anytime that “goodness” is questioned, my pride kicks in and rises up in anger, defensiveness, and worst of all, self-pity that disguises itself as “low self-esteem”. As my husband so gently reminds me all of the time, “it’s a matter of the heart”, not behavior. Really, it does all center on me trusting God with everything and choosing to find gratitude for it all, humbly accepting that He knows what is best. Thank you, Ann, for helping me to see just how important gratitude is and for being an example of a life laid down at His feet like the woman with the alabaster box. I know I don’t know you, but I love you for being vulnerable and available to be used by God. May we all find our satisfaction in Him and Him alone!!

  • Lauren

    Ann – Thank you for sharing your heart and your story in this beautifully written book.

    God used this first chapter to speak to some very dark places in my heart. This year has been a year of darkness for me. A year ago, I lost my baby boy to stillbirth at 8 months. Even after going through the abandonment of my father, and a prior miscarriage, nothing shattered my heart and my faith like delivering my lifeless son. As much as I tried to hold on to the God I know to be true, I ended up in a place of wondering if God really loved me and why he would let this happen. Thankfully, he is slowly mending my heart and he is using your book as a part of this healing journey.

    Again, thank you for sharing your heart!

    Lauren

  • Mary

    I recently lost a dear friend to Stage IV brest cance on Jan 3. She left behind a 6yr old son and loving husband. I put my feelings on a shelf and find myself now struggling. I know God’s word and promises in my head, but my heart feels lost. This chapter hit home with me- To realize once again that He is more, I am more, and to chose his Grace today and to be greatful for ALL he has given. I needed this reminder. Matt. 10:27 reminded me also that He speaks in the darkness – my darkness.

  • Amy

    I’m not even sure I can convey all that is in my heart at the moment but I’m trying to make it concise! I feel like the past 5 years have been filled with struggle, heartache and disappointment. Even though I have doubted God’s love and His goodness, He somehow wouldn’t let me go. In the past couple months, I suddenly feel like I am getting a glimpse of hope – of understanding how His ways are so much higher than mine. How because of His love, He wants to use this time in my life to make me into the image of Christ… if I will only surrender how I think the story should be written. God is using this book along with several others I’m currently reading to show me that He loves me so much more than I can imagine and even in the midst of heartbreak, HE brings true joy.

    Seed: God works ALL things together for good, but the “good” is that He’s working in me to conform me to the image of Christ! This is how trouble can be seen as an opportunity for joy (James 1:3), but as Ann mentioned, we have to make that choice every moment… will I choose to be grateful?

    Water: Seeking Him daily in prayer and reading His Word. Seeking the help of the Holy Spirit to take a moment when I am faced with the desire to snap at my kids or complain (or any number of actions showing ingratitude or downright ugliness!) and instead take that thought and that moment captive and do what I know is right. I also recently read (can’t remember where off the top of my head) an encouragement to pray with your hands open – ready to receive whatever God has for me & ready to give Him all I struggle to hold on to. I’m amazed at how that physical manifestation truly changes my heart as I pray.

    Bloom: Hope! And true thankfulness – when I recently was confronted with something that a year ago would have sent me reeling, God in His grace gave me peace and I was able to receive it instead of pushing it away and once again questioning His purposes and His heart. This has been A LONG time coming! I am so thankful He doesn’t give up on me! My kids were listening to a Hermie book on CD earlier today and I was so struck by a phrase repeated throughout the book, “I love you, I’m not finished with you yet – I’m giving you a heart like Mine.” God is even using my kids’ books to remind me that He loves me and that my story is really His.

  • http://www.aquietstrength.blogspot.com Kalyn

    Ann, you are so brave to share your story with the world! My “story” is one that I still feel uncomfortable telling to others, but this book has planted a seed in my heart. Maybe someone will be blessed by what I have to share? I can only pray that by putting aside my embarrassment of not “having it all together”, I can make a difference in another life.

  • http://expectinghope.blogspot.com/ Suzanne

    This is my second reading through this book – I couldn’t wait the first time. I’ve been so profoundly impacted already.

    My seed for this chapter (and it just came to me today): The section on page 22 about the holes in our souls being places where we can look through to see God. I think what I’ve been longing for, striving for, begging God for is for my holes to be fixed. I long for the redemption, the rescue, the repair of all the brokenness. When will He make it right? When will he put it back together? I’ve just been sitting in this longing place, thinking that’s what God has for me right now – just the longing….instead of seeing these holes as a means to see God, as a means to truly know my Savior. Even if all that’s wrong in my life, in this world were fixed, while that would be miraculous and lovely and I will not cease to pray for that day, what I’m longing for is not the ‘fixing’. What I’m truly longing for is God Himself. If I miss Him, if I miss knowing Him, seeing Him through the holes in my soul, what good is it if those things are repaired? For me, today, my realization is that ‘wholeness’ is not valuable if I’ve missed God in the process.

    So my water is this: Sitting in this place where God has me. Looking for the good, looking for God (counting the gifts!) in this hard, hard season that I’m living. Praying for rescue, repair, redemption, but knowing that those things aren’t what will heal me, knowing that I’m really craving God.

    Bloom? I’m eager to see the fruit of this in my life. I already feel more settled. Knowing what I’m looking for is answer enough for now.

  • http://sufficientgrace-kelly.blogspot.com Kelly @ The Beauty of Sufficient Grace

    Ann…you have given words to so much of the wrestling in my own heart. This first chapter was pure, stark, raw beauty. I often say yes…and live no. I’ve wrestled with why and moments of ingratitude. In telling my own story, I have shared that it was gratitude that unlocked the bitterness that held me captive. God brought me down a different path to form that conclusion, but it resonates with me.

    I too have hungered for filling in a world that is starved.

    I have asked why in the hospital bed and beside the grave. I was asked to walk that path twice…once when we lost our twin girls and again when our son died six hours after birth. I have seen much of the miracle of God making beauty from ashes. Those promises aren’t just words.

    I love the part about not changing the story. So many years later…and an abundant helping of daily grace later…those words ring with piercing truth.

    Thank you…for being His vessel…for telling this story…

  • http://threelittlearrows@blogspot.com Kathi Kelly

    Firstly, I am so grateful to have received One Thousand Gifts digitally and have the opportunity to read this amazing, inspiring book – Thank you. I have followed Ann’s blog for the last couple of years and it has been life changing. And this book, well it has been even more inspiring! I have been raving about the book to friends ever since I downloaded it. I have been explaining it to them as one woman’s journey through tragedy, towards God’s amazing grace, via gratitude and thanksgiving. And have also spoken of the way that it is written, so poetically, so beautifully…if it was a dance it would be lyrical. I love how it is not just a biography but there is so much knowledge and revelation of God’s word. As soon as I had read the first chapter I started making my own record of One Thousand Gifts (something I have thought about doing before but never started). By the way I have not been able to put the book (well, my iphone) down since beginning. We have been talking about the God of the small things at my church recently and this is the seed that has been sown in me. Recognising God in the small doesn’t make Him small and unable to do great things but it brings us to the realisation that God cares about the detail in all of our lives, that He is there in the good and the bad and also what we might think to be the indifferent. It increases our expectation of what He can do. I love how the Message bible puts Psalm 100 v 4: “Enter with the password: ‘Thank you!’ Make yourselves at home, talking praise. Thank him. Worship him.” That’s the kind of person I want to be!

  • http://www.furtherdowntheroad.wordpress.com Cait

    Ann,
    I have found this book to be incredibly moving. God has spoken to me through your words. I have already read it once and am re-reading again as the chapter videos get released. What a beautiful way to love God, to see God and to live a full life.

    I am so glad I took the leap, bought the book and joined the online book club…it’s been such an enriching experience.

    thank you.
    best,
    cait

  • http://ruthjleamy.com RuthintheDesert

    My book came! I read the first chapter and blogged about it.

    What stirred in me? Memories. Memories of loss. And grief. And God’s comfort within the darkness.
    How am I nurturing what God desires in me? Reading His word and asking Him to help me put it into practice in my life.
    What is the fruit I am seeing from what I have learned? When I look at Him and His gifts rather than my circumstances and my stress, I find joy and peace.

  • Karen Essary

    Hello Angie. My name is Karen Essary and like many of your commenters, you don’t know me, but I certainly feel like I know you well. I ready your book last year and stay in touch with your blog as often as possible for a working mother with 5 children. ;) I have joked with a few of my friends that we would so be good friends if we actually knew each other. ;) There were many times that I wanted to comment on your blog, but I felt compelled to write today because I began reading the book you suggested, One Thousand Gifts, during lunch. I was moved beyond words. I finally felt like I got it. The answer to what I have been searching for. Now granted I am only on chapter 3, but reading the words “Thanksgiving is always preceded by a miracle”, rang loud and true to my hearts door. I love the Lord with every ounce of my being although I don’t know that I am always the best repressentative for Him that I could be. I want so badly to make a different for Him and I believe that it really does all start with THANKSGIVING. I think most of us would say that we are thankful. We list all of the good things in our life, but when we stop and really examine our day to day living we realize we aren’t living thankful lives. So today I started my day with Thanksgiving and I wanted to pass on my thankfulness to you for introducing me to the book that with only 2 chapters has helped change my perspective. Thank You!

  • Margi

    Beginning was a little overwhelming for me. I am doing this Book Club with a friend who lost a son to SIDS. When she found this book and we agreed to walk through it together, she did not know what would be in the chapters. I have never had a trauma such as these, a life changing loss. I have been watching, waiting and praying for their family to find the fullness of life as Christ intended. I, myself, want to learn to be thankful and find joy in every moment.

  • http://crystalstine.blogspot.com Crystal

    Seed: This chapter has opened my eyes to the choice I have. In the midst of deep sorrow, when I’ve felt most out of control, I can still choose to find joy, and not resentment. To look to God and be see-through, transparent for Him.

    Water: I so deeply desire to be intentional with God’s desire for my life, but I haven’t taken the first step – to prayerfully ask Him what it is. I think I know what it is, but how much more joy-filled would my journey be if He and I were on the same path?

    Bloom: I know it might seem like common sense to most people, that you can choose how to react, but honestly – it’s kind of new to me. As sad as that might be, it’s a new concept for me to know that my emotions don’t run the show, and it is so freeing to know that I have options.

  • http://g-psalm139fourteen.blogspot.com/ Gretchen

    Wow! What a first chapter! I am truly amazed and humbled as I think of how everyone of us has a story, and in that story , is HIS story. The knowledge that we are promised that “EVERYTHING works together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose.” Rom 8:28-29 is so wonderful at times, yet so hard. I have often questioned and requestioned God’s goodness in some of the hardships in my life. I can remember, as a young girl, weeping uncontrollably with a desire for a dad who would just love me for me instead of the alcohol he consumed regularly… it was not a true death, but a living death.

    Then again weeping and mourning for the children we weren’t able to have for so many times of trying, until God said, “Yes.” not just once but three times – healthy boys (7, 4, an 4 months).

    But even still now – not necessarily in the big life shaking circumstance, but in the quiet, subtle, daily things – financial struggles, marital conflict, child rearing challenges – how are these things beneficial? Sometimes, many times, I don’t ask why. I can’t. Not because I don’t desire an answer, but know that I may not get one this side of heaven. And the only answer I can give is to be on my knees with hands raised towards heaven, tears streaming down, whispering quietly because that is as much as I can muster….”I choose to trust YOU.” “I trust You.” Over and over again as the tears flow freely like a river and wash away the fear and the pain.

    He stirs me to trust Him more.

    As for the obedience part, I know that I am not as quick to obey as I’d like. I try to do it my way first, which never does go well… praise God.. just because it steers me to obey. But my true desire is to obey as soon as I hear Him, and to hear Him as soon as He directs.

    Thank you for sharing your heart. I am so inspired, but what God is doing through this…to HIM be ALL GLORY!

  • http://beingwoven.blogspot.com ~ linda

    Such a blessing to be able to share with community the dark, the light, the hard, the sweet, the sour, and the not-to-be-understood (at least not this side of heaven, I imagine). The beauty of Christ shine through Ann and through the pages of this book. I am so grateful that (in)courage is hosting this book club and this book. I love reading and am finding that reading together with the author is so very special to me right now.
    I feel so deeply about the seeds that God has planted through the death of my Daddy when I was 12. I will be answering the three questions under the “seed”, “water”, and “bloom” on my blog. I just want to take as much room as I need and thank you each and all. It should be up at http://beingwoven.blogspot.com either later tonight or tomorrow.
    May the Lord wrap His arms around us each, ~ linda

  • http://angbaylis.blogspot.com Angie

    Seed: What has been planted as I read chapter 1? What has stirred in me?

    “One life-loss can infect the whole of a life. Like a rash that wears through our days, our sight becomes peppered with black voids. Now everywhere we look, we only see all that isn’t: holes, lack, deficiency.”

    Ann said it perfectly. What stirred in me was my focus on the losses in my life, especially the one that changed my life the most: my divorce and the loss of my intact family. It wasn’t at all how I wanted my life to turn out and I can’t even imagine the untold scars it left on the lives of my children.

    Water: How am I nurturing what God desires in me? What is my responsibility for growth?

    It is my responsibility (with God’s help) to intentionally look for what was and continues to be gained as a result of the losses. If it were up to me I could easily be a life-long victim. I’d be a bitter and angry woman. I distinctly remember where I was on a walk in my neighborhood years ago when I was in the midst of it all. The Holy Spirit nudged me to see all of the good I had when my world was falling apart. I began to name them. “Well, at least I have ____ and _____. Turns out, I had and still do have a ton of good and am Blessed beyond measure. I just have to look around!

    Bloom: What is the fruit I am seeing from what I have learned?

    He has freed me from the constant negativity and given me energy to focus on the positive. He gave me the gift of real forgiveness. It’s draining and all-consuming to focus on what is wrong instead of what is right. God has also given me compassion for others who are going through the same kind of loss. He alone allowed me to forgive the man who betrayed me and caused my broken family. I believe He wants me to share what He has taught me and to look for what I have instead of what I do not have.

    “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
    Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.(Gal 5:22-23 KJV)

  • Philippa

    Ann is speaking about the exact things that are burning on my heart right now! I lost my 7 and 1/2 month old baby girl, just 3months ago and I’m starting to notice how many holes this has left in my faith. Just this morning I wrote to a friend: “I’m really struggling to see how God can still be called “faithful” even when he allows the opposite of all that I’ve prayed for, believed for and desired in my heart to happen. How can he still be a God worth trusting when it all goes wrong, at least in my eyes? I’m torn, because I know his ultimate will is for all to be made well in heaven, no more tears, pain etc. But why is his will now different to that? Why does he still use suffering for his glory?”
    I’m waiting to get my book, takes awhile to make it to Australia, but I really hope this will help me see what God’s up to and how I can love him even now.
    Oh and Angie, thank you for your book, its helping the tears to flow!

    • http://www.solideogloria@blotspot.com Christi

      Wow Philippa,

      No words. You are bravely delving into deep mysteries only known by Heaven. May joy come in the morning.

      Blessings to you, sister.

  • Megan

    This book is stirring things in me that I didn’t know were there. I’m currently in a place where I’m feeling some of these questions about God than before. I am hoping to learn how to choose the discipline of gratitude over the default. I totally can relate to what Ann described in the video of distancing yourself from God because of your pain and dissatisfaction with how things in my life have turned. I’m back again in the place where I reliving the pain, I thought I had dealt with. How things recycle in our journey when God is not yet where he belongs? Oh the plight of being dreadfully sinful, yet there’s HOPE!

  • carla

    Thank you Ann! You are “grace!” What a gift God has given through you!
    Lovingly,
    carla

  • http://granjansjoy.blogspot.com Jan Morton

    This opening chapter stirred me at the deepest level of my heart because I too, lost a sister to a tragic accident. I wrote about it on my blog last summer and it has been read more than any other post I’ve written. “She Lived 25 Years, She’s Been Gone 25 Years.”

    http://granjansjoy.blogspot.com/2010/08/she-lived-25-yearsshes-been-gone-25.html

    I resonate with Ann in living fully because I saw my sister’s life cut down at age 25 and we must live every day as if it were our last – our vapor lives…James 4:14. What a treasure Ann Voskamp is – and so are you two young women – Angie & Jess.

    So much love,
    Jan Morton

  • Kirstin

    As my husbands father fights stage 4 cancer, I constantly wonder why him, why our family? Finding gratitude, and not falling prey to resentment, is what is resonating with me right now. I can’t wait to read more…

  • http://www.writepraylove.com Lisa Easterling

    I have too many heart-responses to this at once. I read the first chapter online while waiting for my book to arrive. When I finished, I dropped my head to my desk and wept. All the memories came flooding back, and more than once while reading I backed away from my desk as though I’d touched something hot. It hurt, this searing of scar tissue and pulling of scales from eyes.

    I don’t want to remember what it felt like to feel a baby drop from my body like something unwanted and meaningless. I named him/her Jamie in my semi-knowing in the paleness of a tiny bathroom before the tingling feeling came and it all went black.

    Eleven months later I sat in a wheelchair by the hospital curb, the previous year playing out in my head like a nightmare on the big-screen. A precious little girl. We had two beautiful sons, and the four of us couldn’t wait to hold her. Heather Rose was the delight of our lives from the moment she was born. Ten hours later she was gone, stolen by a virus she just couldn’t beat.

    I sat there holding her for a long time after her sweet little spirit floated heavenward. I remember thinking if I just loved her enough and held her close enough to me she would take a breath and turn pink and live. The questions weren’t forming yet. I was still numb. They wouldn’t come until a few days later when I calmly asked my best friend to please, please help me die. Her face contorted into an image of sadness I won’t ever forget. I choked out that I just couldn’t let my sweet baby go without me, that it had to be dark, and she had to be scared, and what mama lets her baby go into a dark hole without trying to follow her?

    The hard questions came next, the why and the how-could-this-happen and the what-sense-does-this-make and all the anger that sets in when the answers don’t come.

    But before that, I sat on the curb and watched all the families leave with their flowers and their balloons and their pink-cheeked babies fully alive and dressed in outfits they had picked out special and laid aside waiting for that moment. I’ve never felt so alone.

    I didn’t want to remember those things here at my desk reading that first chapter of a book by a woman I’d only just recently heard of. Heather Rose would be turning 21 in a couple of months. Why exhume such gut-wrenching ache after all this time?

    I am praying I find out why in the pages of this book. I am believing that I will. I’m looking for the pinholes, and one of the most overwhelming things about all of this for me is reading all these words, these responses, these hearts poured into space for us each to read and know that we are anything but alone. This is a seed that even now springs forth with pale green hope.

    Thank you rings so empty. But I do.

    • http://overflowunedited.blogspot.com/ Tami

      Lisa, yours is the comment I read last night after I posted mine but was too blur-eyed weepy to reply so late and not ramble like a fool. And to sit at the computer again for the first time today and see that you reached to me. God is sweet like that.

      What I want to share is that while I have no idea of that kind of pain you’ve been through, your story all concise right here penetrated through my bones, and I cried with you. Chapter 1 was hard. And I can share with you confidently that you will be blessed by chapter 2 and beyond. I went through 9 years of infertility, but never lost a child. I do not pretend they are the same. But that and much other grief from my past was worth the memories that were stirred in me too. I pray…and I mean that…that this book draws you that much closer to God as it has me. And that is worth anything. I hope to be able to find you on here again!

      • http://www.writepraylove.com Lisa Easterling

        Your kindness touches soul-deep. Again, thank you sounds hollow but I say it with love and honesty. I have never suffered from infertility so I can’t know your pain of another kind. I am one of those who has never had trouble conceiving, from being a pregnant 16-year-old and saying hello to motherhood while still a child myself, all the way through five more births and a miscarriage. I have close friends who have battled infertility, and it is a cross I cannot say I would ever have chosen, but then I suppose our crosses are often not of our choosing.

        My heart breaks for yours, for your pain is no less than mine or any of the other precious women we see wording their anguish here. We are all in this together, this journey, this adventure, all trying to make sense out of life and keep our chins tilted heavenward in awe and reverence, and even in our pleas for reassurance from our Abba we are connected whether by suffering or exuberance in this great Cosmos.

        I’m glad to share this path with people as beautiful as you.

  • http://Www.mitzieaker.com Mitzi

    I have read the book. Wow! After re-reading the first chapter, I still have the same aching feeling in my heart as I ponder the pain of these stories. These two stories that represent the pain of so many families. And stories that represent the pain of humanity struggling to understand if God is good then why did this (whatever brings the pain) have to happen.

    I struggle too. I don’t want to eat the mystery. I want to eat the known. I want to rewrite happy endings.

    Thank you for challenging me to see the holes differently. To eat the mystery & trust the writer. To fully live.

  • http://7fitzus@gmail.com kelly

    this book–oh, it is like littmus lozenges–sweet and sorrowful.

    God is using it in my heart. i can’t hardly read more than a few pages at a time. usually i devour books. and i waited long for this one in print…pre-ordered it months ago. now i need to savor and sip it–little bits at a time. it is meaty and moving.

    “i hunger for filling in a world that is starved.”

    i want it to be easier: just read a book by a gal who has a gaggle of children like me, who teaches them at home, lives a simple live–like me. ann’s words resonate with me.

    but they are hard. because my heart has been hard.

    “i can’t look into that sadness wearing a smile anymore.”

    i do not want to give thanks for the ache. for the loss. for the infected, oozing sore that is my heart. i just want it to go away.

    but there is the tension–to chose resentment or gratitude.

    i want to bloom grateful.

    chosing to be grateful,
    kelly (waiting expectantly to be renamed–my true name!)

    • Tori

      Your words are beautifully written. Thank you for sharing. Your quote ” i can’t look into that sadness wearing a smile anymore” hits the nail on the head. I believe that is where so many of us are and I am glad we are on this journey together.

  • Christina

    I feel so amazingly blessed to have received this book as a gift, this Chapter has really struck a cord with me. The idea of not changing our story because although we may not understand it doesn’t mean that He doesn’t have a master plan for us. Its a hard thought to just accept that He knows why and sometimes we don’t need to know why, we just need to believe.

  • Courtney

    I was so blessed to watch the video and read all of the posts. My life has been so changed since reading Ann’s blog and I am so excited to learn in community with you all how to commune with the One that we were created to be in the closest communion with. Ann’s openness and all of yours is humbling and awesome to see. I cannot wait to see the fruit that the Holy Spirt bears in my life through as I am trying in this season of my Christian life to learn how to be more in tune to the Holy Spirit in my life. And yet, in trying to do this I find myself questioning things more than ever before in my faith. Things like: I truly desire to know you and REALLY experience you, so why is God not allowing me to break thru? Or feeling like my prayers are never answered. And yet, I am so blessed and have been so sheltered from the pain that some of you ladies have gone through, but still trying to see God through the holes of daily life.
    Can’t wait to see what this time together brings!

  • Tori

    Wow…such a tearful and powerful chapter. I went back and forth about getting this book. Wondering if I had time. But, after reading chapter 1 I realize that I have to make time. Time to fill this ever growing gap in my relationship with God.

    From the outside people see someone strong, but I am not. As I read the first few paragraphs I thought of my own daughter, who at the same young age of four watched her baby sister dying as I tried to breathe life back into her. She seems so strong and has such enormous faith, yet still I wonder when the questions will come.

    After a perfectly normal two month check up only the day before, my two and a half month old daughter stopped breathing due to an enlarged heart caused by a virus. We spent the entire day at the hospital surrounded by friends and family…all praying, yet no miracle came. Now, I struggle with prayer. The faith I thought was so strong, waivers. I can pray for comfort, I can pray for peace, but I can’t pray for healing.

    And yet, I want to be healed. I want to be hole. Thank you, Ann, for writing this book and thank you all for your willingness to share. After nearly five years, it is definitely time to step out of my comfort zone, open up, cry, grow, and rebuild my floundering relationship with Christ.

  • http://www.allthingsheartandhome.com/ Robin

    I read the book slowly going back through each chapter and recording in my journal those truths I wanted never to forget. Yesterday I downloaded the audio book from Audible. Listening to Ann read her journey is truly deepening my understanding of this, a brand new language for me…

    The first chapter cut me to the core but also helped me know that the things I would read going forward were birthed from pain.
    The first chapter gave weight to all the chapters that followed.

    It’s rare that I read a book then listen to it on my iPod. Only twice before, besides the Bible. (Crazy Love & A Million Miles in a Thousand Years) But I feel a bit like I’ve been blind for 49 years and just discovered that all along…there was a cure. I don’t want to lose a word of this book…

    My husband is reading it now. A moment ago, in our morning prayers, he prayed for God to help him “name his moments”.

    I’m so looking forward to all the videos. Thank you…
    xo
    Robin

  • http://overflowunedited.blogspot.com/ Tami

    I reached my 1000 today, and through it I have come over the last year to understand what Ann meant when she wrote of this world being “the means of communion with God.” It’s been a thrilling journey, and I haven’t even been fully aware of what was happening in my heart. Sweet Ann’s blog was the catalyst for His transformation in me. How is there thanks enough for that?

    Seed: I can honestly say that never before have I regarded ingratitude as sin. And while I absolutely agree that is true, I can see so much of my sin laden past rooted in that very truth…that I was rarely satisfied in God.

    Water: Being intentional about thankfulness to God over the last year has transformed my heart to delight in Him! Much has changed…I’m in the Word long before dawn most every morning, looking earnestly for what He’s going to enlighten for me next. When I leave the house now, no matter how quick the errand, I ask God to show me who He wants to bless…and He does. I am striving for more intentional communion with Him in prayer. Lord, teach me to pray.

    Bloom: As I finished the book yesterday in a doctor’s waiting room, God placed before me a profound and difficult (to me) occasion to thank Him and bless His name. A place to be grateful for the hard moment, and let His miracle manifest. He knocked my socks off as I obeyed His calling in that “now and right here” moment! To Him be the GLORY!!!

    • http://www.writepraylove.com Lisa Easterling

      Tami, your post is packed with hope and joy in the way God inhabits the details of our lives. Thank you.

      • http://overflowunedited.blogspot.com/ Tami

        Thank you, Lisa, for your visit. God does indeed inhabit the details…I didn’t really appreciate that to such a depth until this last year.

  • Gracie

    In our first five years of marriage, I had two miscarriages, a stillbirth, and lost our preemie son after 9 weeks in the NICU. This loss has taken a toll on my faith…my trust in a God that is good. I resonated with the words, “I may have said said yes to God, yes to Christianity, but really, I have lived the no.”

    When I read the excerpt from the first chapter of One Thousand Gifts on your blog, I knew it was a message for my wounded heart. Our son would have turned six last week, and since then, God has blessed with two adopted children and a full-term child by birth. Our precious treasures. Yet I’ve found that even if the story had gone according to my plan, my heart would still be lacking. The gifts in and of themselves do not fill up the holes of my heart. Satisfaction can only be found in Him…overcoming fear by trusting the God that He IS, not the God I have created in my mind. And choosing gratitude as a means to bring His character into focus, to realize all I HAVE been given, is one way to let down my defenses and truly say “Yes” to Him, allowing Him to bring HIS story to pass in my life.

    Thank you, Ann, for sharing your heart’s deep pain and the the transformation of gratitude so the rest of us might also benefit from God’s work in your life!

  • Steena

    I was nursing my two month old baby boy as I read the portion of this chapter about the couple losing two of their very young babies. Hearing these stories of loss and Ann’s story about her little sister seem like a seed of gratitude and a reminder to treasure every single moment.

    I know that God desires a grateful and *present* heart with him. I am trying to be more aware of the moments when I let this slip, let anger sneak in, and let frustration become the norm. I’m asking God to filter my words and actions and renew my spirit daily.

    When I am more grateful, self-less, and present there are great gifts of connection, love, peace, relationship, passion, and humility that await! What a blessing of fruitfulness.

  • http://thesavingmomparents.wordpress.com thesavingmom(jessica)

    As I read this chapter I struggled with the fact that I do not have a big sadness to my story so how can I relate. I mean, I struggle with THANKSGIVING and the issues I often face can seem so insignificant to your beginning Ann and also to so many of the comments I read here. Part of me feels guilty like “how dare I feel ungrateful when my life has been so ‘good'”. Reading through this though makes me see that we have each been given what we have been given. I know there have been hard things in my life, if not dramatic. I have seen pain and loss and heartache. Those holes can be small, just pinholes, but they are still the places we need to see through. I need to see God more clearly. I am being refocused as I read this book. I can feel it. Thank you Ann for sharing your story. Thank you community for being open to share yours too. ~Jessica

  • http://www.proudgrits.blogspot.com Tabitha

    I’ve been following “Holy Experience” for a while now and was thrilled to fnally get Ann’s book, and even more thrilled when I went to her web site and saw this book club!!
    Chapter 1 was amazing.
    The “seed” for me is so timely. I was encouraged to look at the two major “WHY?” moments in my own life. The first was when I was 17 and my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. The second was age 31 when I suffered a miscarriage. The experience with my mom DID teach me to trust God more but the miscarriage sent my life into a tailspin, probably because it actually happened TO ME. I felt targeted and fearful.
    I am working on a “class” thru my church about my miscarriage experience so I’ve been reflecting on that a lot right now. I saw how God was faithful to use my mom’s story for good, so why did I doubt Him when the miscarriage hit?? I look back and I know I BELIEVED He was present and I knew He would work it all out…yet there was fear there. There is obviously a disconnect. Now….I have seen His redemption after the miscarriage. Is that still not enough to convince me of His faithfulness??
    I beieve I still have a lot to learn about God’s heart toward me. I, like Ann (I think), have always had a yearning for MORE. To go deeper with God, to believe more, to FEEL and experience more. I want to use the two “why?” events in my life and get to the bottom of what isn’t functioning well in my faith. What is the disconnect?
    I am going to intentionally reflect on those events, the beliefs there, the uncertainties, the fear. I’m going to be looking to answer the question: “What is God’s heart toward me?”
    My middle name is Anne. I am becoming a grace collector, too.

  • Rose

    Dear Angie, Jessica and Ann

    Thank you for doing this. I believe that God leads us…he led me to you. I know that HE has been calling out to me for awhile now. “I hunger for filling in a world that is starved.” (p17) The seed that I have replanted is faith. I have been watering that seed with tears of joy and gratitude. The bloom will be a lighter more grateful heart.

  • http://justagirlandherjourney Valerie Johnson

    It always amazes me when God directs me to just the right place at just the right time. I will cherish the reading of this book and thank Ann so much for her words about her story in the video. I have also shared this book and the book club on my blog with my readers. Thank you so much for your faith and your words!

  • Jennifer in PA

    I was very touched by the story Ann tells of her brother in law and his losses. I think what hit me most was his reference to the story of HEzekiah and Manessah. I never realized that Manasseh would not have been born if Hezekiah had not been granted more years in his life. And then the comment that we often want to change the story but if we don’t know the end and the end follows from the pieces that come before. Hits me where I struggle with the not so nice parts of my life and wishing they were different.

  • http://thoughtsofgrace@wordpress.com Leslie

    The Seed – Accept, that huge sigh of ‘all right, it’s yours, Lord’
    The Water – Surrender, let go after holding on so tightly to my own way
    The Bloom – Commit – the sweet commitment to God’s way, whose hands are more capable to carry my needs, questions and fears than God’s. He is the only one that can do anything about my situations.
    ‘Open my eyes that I may see, glimpses of truth thou has for me. . .’
    And, Thank you, Ann, for your book and your blog. Thank you, Jessica and Angie, for choosing this book to study together.

  • Louise

    Ann–get a new haircut! how do you live every day with it falling in you face like that?!

    • http://www.writepraylove.com Lisa Easterling

      But it’s beautiful! I was thinking yesterday while watching the video about how stylish it looks. No “farmer’s wife” haircut for our Ann. *grin*

  • Elizabeth Mattson

    Lots of richness to be found in chapter one woven in-between the agonizing loss. For me personally, I recognized we have a choice. We desire control? We have it. “Choose to say yes to what he freely gives. If I don’t, I am still making a choice. The choice not to.” (p18)

    John’s profound, rhetorical question on page 21 hit me like a ton of bricks. “I don’t know why that happened, but do I have to?” Accepting the unknown frees us up to recognize what God has given us.

    There were numerous words leaping out of our Scripture readings on Sunday. Just one…
    O Lord, I have hear of your renowns and I stand in awe, o Lord, of your work. Habakkuk 3:2

    Thank you Ann for reminding us to stand in awe of the Lord’s work.

  • Glenda

    Thank you Ann for writing this book. From the very beginning, tears were streaming down my face because it echoed the memories of past times in my own life. I do not regret those dark times in my life that threatened to overwhelm…But for the darkness, I would never have seen the brightness of His Light. No darkness can keep back His Radiance . He broke through the darkness of my soul and brought new light and new life, filling my heart with a song that continues all down through the years.
    God bless you all.
    Glenda

  • Louise

    I’m sorry–I didn’t mean to post that–please remove it as soon as you can!

  • Julie Reynolds

    Seeds…so many. A desire to see his world this way, each moment as a gift, to see the good in each one. To live in gratitude. To teach this to my children both physical and spiritual, to be more intentional in living the YES!

    I have been reading Ann’s book for over a month now and I keep going back and re-reading to try to soak it in to my marrow. I am asking God to engrave this intentional slowing down and opening of my eyes to His grace on my heart and mind.

    I have begun my own list…I am on #383 and counting….is this water?

  • Shay Newland

    This book and the content is just what I need! It is easy to complain or wish things were different instead of being grateful and looking to God and what He has planned for each situation. My desire is to be more thankful, more joyful, and to overflow with grace and love. I am excited for this journey that God has me on…I want to be changed from the inside out.

    Thank you for sharing your hearts in the video.

  • Mary/Mom

    can not view the video (phone hookup) …but am reading the book, a gift from my sweet daughter. I will like reading along with all of you.

  • http://marniferous.blogspot.com Stephanie :O)

    It’s a funny thing, the way I came upon this book–almost as if the book found me. I’ve had this experience twice in the last year, and both times, the message has been transformative. Angie asks about the Seed: what it stirs in me. Chapter 1 definitely stirred in me a strong desire to stop questioning the will of God. I lost my dad to cancer 9 years ago, and the void left by his death was overwhelming. I couldn’t stop asking WHY? I ranted and raved at God, and eventually stopped caring. I’m so ashamed to admit that I purposely left Him out of my life. Two years ago, I found out I was pregnant with my second child, and soon after miscarried. The same questions resounded, and the distance between me and God increased. I can totally relate to Ann’s need to start her story with such loss and grief. Often times, they are the root, the catalyst for change.

  • Angela

    I am left undone each time I read from the book. There is so much sin in this heart of mine. I love the realness, the truth in Ann’s words. There is so much masking in life it was a refreshing, yet terrifying work in my soul. Good questions, truth questions, hard answers….
    My sister died when I was 7. And my family has never healed. I have watched my parent’s rage tear my family apart and deep into addiction for 20 years. I have long lost hope for their healing. But how my heart aches it for them, for me…. My heart lept with “yes I know” “me too” “tell me, tell me the answer” when Ann posed questions about God’s goodness or presence.
    Super new to this online thing and not sure how to participate…just a few thoughts.
    -Angela

  • Pam K

    Seed: These words are what stirred me: pg.21 “There’s a reason I am not writing the story and God is. He knows how it all works out, where it all leads, what it all means.” I keep wanting to finish the story for Him, to give Him suggestions, to be in a perfect world. My own convictions of “who do I think I am” floods me!

    Water: I feel His nudging me to do this or that and sometimes I ignore it or I am too overwhelmed to follow through. Since starting the book I have tried to be more intentional. These are baby steps but I feel Him when I make that first step.

    Bloom: I notice a calming to my anxiety.

  • Ellen

    What a great chapter- so many thoughts and seeds and things to think and pray on.

    One thing that really stuck out to me (probably because I’m guilty of this) is when Ann talks about how her parents “keep trying to breathe, keep the body moving to keep the soul from atrophying. (p. 10). In that moment Psalm 46:10 (Be still, and know that I am God) popped into my head. How often do we keep moving in hard times without focusing our prayers and thoughts to hear what we need to hear at that time? I’m really just beginning to work on memorizing scripture- and there are so many that can speak to us in our time of need. He has a plan- and we need to be still to hear it. Choosing resentment and anger and making our own way was never what was intended.

    So as I go on about my week, I will try to spend time each day- being still- to hear Him speak.

  • Lisa DeCourcey

    Seed: God has shown me that I am truly ungrateful in many ways and in essentially every area of my life. I always want more, wonder why I have what I do, wonder “what if….” I rarely am satisfied with myself and who God made me to be.

    Water: I must become grateful, content in all circumstances, content with myself. Internally I must make decisions that show that I am grateful. Gratitude cannot be simply lip-service. I must live a grateful life, trusting that God loves me and doesn’t make mistakes.

    Bloom: I will trust God to show me the fruit as I begin to be grateful and express my gratitude to Him (and to others).

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  • http://watchthegrass.blogspot.com Angela R

    What spoke to me most in this chapter was Ann’s brother-in-law’s response to his heart-wrenching pain, which basically spoke to the story of Hezekiah and his questioning of God and the great evil which was produced when God gave him life on his terms. Wow. Who am I to assume that my version of the story would always have a happy ending? I cannot even fully express in this comment how that spoke to me. Thank you so much, ladies, for sharing this opportunity to work through this book together.

    A lengthier version of my response to this chapter is found here: http://watchthegrass.blogspot.com/2011/02/of-questioning.html

  • http://thecupcakesprinklesinlife.com Rachel

    I long for gratitude to be my default as well- how easy it is to choose the other!

    Thank you, for this~ the words, the prayers, the reflections that will certainly bloom deeper love for father God in the lives and hearts of so many!

  • http://beingwoven.blogspot.com ~ linda

    Oh, how grateful I am to be a part of this Book Club and reading this beautiful, from-the-heart-to-my-heart book. I have posted a lengthy “Multitudes on Monday” over @ http://beingwoven.blogspot.com/2011/02/that-that-which-tears-open-our-souls.html

    May each day be filled more and more with our gratitude.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

  • http://seriousbethy.wordpress.com Beth

    I’ve been making my list and still having a hard time putting down the Ugly Beautiful. I’m good with the easy Eucharisteo, but when the mundane and tedious come to mind, my notebook seems to be nowhere to be found. The most wonderful thing happened yesterday though. I was letting money issues pull me down, not wanting to give thanks and I got in a terribly foul mood. My husband, asking where my heart was, received a harsh, “I’m just writing out this stupid list and it’s just . . . not . . . ” followed by wordless, childish frustration. He so patiently smiled and quietly asked me, “what’s number 13?” I glared at him, knowing exactly what he was doing. “C’mon, what’s number 13?” I reluctantly read my 13th gift-named it out loud and my heart twitched. “Number 2?” I read number two with a twinge and a slight upturn to my lips that I desperately tried to suppress. “Read me number 45.” A grin was starting to break free. And so it went for a bout five or six gifts, the thankfulness eventually welling up, spilling out, and pouring itself all over my crappy mood and in spite of my stubborn attempts and wallowing in my ingratitude, the darkness was lifted. The miracle after the thanks. It was small, and simple, and not life shattering, but it was precious to me and I have Ann to thank . . . and Father of course.

    • Becky S

      Beth I LOVE this! What an awesome way for your husband to encourage you!

  • http://gitzengirl.blogspot.com gitz

    i have definitely come to that truth in my life… that i really believe my light comes from the dark. it was my learning that He is good ALL the time, not just in the happy but also in the grip of darkness that leaves us without the air in our lungs to scream out. i learned i don’t have to know the why or understand the reason to still believe He is good. to thank Him for loving me in those times I am sure I have left Him simply by being human.

    in later chapters [i know i shouldn’t talk ahead] you talk about it being an action. that’s the truth i found in joy. if i wanted it i had to choose it. and the only way i found it was to say thank you. i see so much of my journey here, and i am so grateful you were able to articulate what i so often can’t.

  • http://www.naturallychicmama.blogspot.com Amanda

    This book couldn’t have come at a more perfect time in my life. My dad was electrocuted on the job this past July, and the sudden and tragic loss of his life has been the hardest thing I have ever gone through. I wept as I read Chapter 1. I share so many of the same questions and feelings that Ann shared in her own experiences with tragic loss. I have not allowed myself to truly grieve the loss of my father, but I feel that this book is the beginning of my journey to being returned to my full glory and choosing to say YES.

    The seed that was planted for me in Chapter 1 is that God is the author of my story. I will water that seed by choosing daily to see that I am not in control. The fruit is freedom from the need to be in control of my life and the lives of my loved ones.

    Thank you Ann and Bloom for this amazing opportunity to grow and heal in the midst of this powerful community of faith. Blessings!

  • Dena

    I cannot tell you how amazing it is to me that whenever Ann was writing these words (however long ago), that God planned that they would speak perfectly into my circumstances and struggles now, today. For most of my life I have been defined by my losses, identified myself as the victim. And it has been sad bondage. These balmy words have begun to teach me in all new ways about grace, gratitude, really living.

    It is amazing insight about how our memories are jarred awake by trauma. My father was killed in a work related accident when I was 8 years old, and I’ve always thought it strange that I could remember so little before that. It was like nothing in my memory was in color until then. Because of more recent tragedies, two miscarriages, a marriage that was broken and destroyed by addiction but then resurrected through reconciliation, I have begun to walk the road of healing from the losses of my childhood as well. But is has been a wearying battle for me. This book has found me at just the right time. I am giving thanks. And I’m eager for more.

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  • Becky S

    I was totally unaware when I bought this book of the impact it would have….be having…on my life. I ordered it on my Kindle and have literally “frozen” my underline feature countless times because I underline so much on each page. It seems each one has a word for “just me”. Although of course I know from the meat contained in this text that it is really true for all of us. We are all on this journey to live the fullness of our Salvation.
    This first chapter stopped me dead in my tracks. I found myself crying out loud as I read the ache of Ann’s past. Although my ache does not include physical death…my father left when I was a senior in high school, turning his back not only on us, but on his faith and so in many ways it seemed like death to me…maybe worse than death because his death would at least have not been a pre meditated leaving…It would not have called unconditional love into question for me. Here I sit as a 35 year old woman and the wounds of his decision still cut me like a knife. I have forgiven him and had thought I had worked through so many of the strangling emotions of rejection that he passed on to me but this chapter has opened my eyes to see that I have let that loss shape some of my views of myself and also how I relate to God. “One life-loss can infect the whole of a life. ” I am taking the dare that you took Ann…to an emptier, fuller life. I am so thankful for the message in this book and for the timing in which I am reading it. I have two boys under 3 and how much fuller their lives will be if their mother can fully live our her Salvation with Eurcharisteo!

  • http://www.excellentthoughts.blogspot.com Mary Harshbarger

    I have so appreciated the way you started this story. I think that in the midst of a crisis we do have that opportunity to either turn away from Him or to draw closer to Him. We lost two babies through miscarriage. In the first situation, there were complications from the beginning and it was not altogether surprising that we lost our baby. However, after the loss I could not understand why God would start such a miracle and not see it through to completion and I did experience a lot of resentment and anger. I knew He was there, I knew I was the one who had turned away. But it took a lot of wrestling with my grief before I was fully able to turn back to Him. In the second situation, we were in complete and utter shock when we lost our baby. The heartbeat had been strong and steady, everything looked good, I felt good. I kept believing that the doctors were wrong and that the baby was going to survive. In that situation, I choose to keep my faith and focus on God. There was grief, but I kept filling my head and my heart with His Word and with songs of praise rather than let the enemy’s whisperings take root like they had before. I have been so convicted through your story to keep my focus on those little moments and not let life and circumstance get in the way of my communion with God. It’s been a blessing!

  • http://reenybean.wordpress.com Reen

    I just finished chapter 1 and am digesting it slowly.

    The video is really making the emotions on the page so raw / real for me. The moment in the video where Ann, you were saying that to start with this pain was for you the only way because you want to show that loving God and being in communion with him is not all PollyAnna hit me like a brick. I often look at the relationships that others have with God, and am so jealous of the seeming ease they have while I fight daily.

    I LOVE the idea of “making Gratitude my default”. Wow! It sounds so simplistic and yet as someone who often goes straight for the resentment and the questioning of God, this is such a struggle!!

    Really looking forward to reading this book and growing my relationship with God.

  • Nancy

    Thank you so much Ann for writing this book. You have such a gift of language. As others have said, I am drinking it in and loving it. It will certainly change the way I look at things in my life. Thank you for the gift. I will be buying more books for friends and family.

  • chris

    hi all, and especially Angie and Jessica,

    Angie and Jessica, thanks so much for hosting the book club, and doing Ann’s book, and persuading her to take part! It’s great juxtaposing the videos with the chapters.

    i’m also getting a lot out of the comments. i think intense suffering is so often isolating: cruelly enough, just when there seems to be so little joy in one’s own life, it’s difficult or impossibile for one to deeply share the joys of others, and thus make those joys one’s own. many of the comments give witness to real suffering. even so, i have the sense that all of us–even those who have known darkness most, and are most best by trials–are sharing Ann and each other’s battle to open up to grace, and joy, and God, through eucharisteo. It’s all very “enspiriting” (to coin a word for the opposite of “dispiriting”).

    Up until quite recently, I took a pretty dim view of the web, regarding it as an encouragment to spend one’s time in trivial pursuits, or worse. But after having stumbled on the “a holy experience” site, and gotten from there to A Thousand Gifts and this book club, i’ve come to see there’s a whole other side to the web. It’s kind of amazing when you think about it: all those uncountably many electrons, whizzing across continents and under oceans, conveying all those unimaginably long strings of 1s and 0s that encode the words of Ann, and Angie and Jessica, and the rest of us, that knit us together into the body of Christ…

  • http://www.sandeefamily.blogspot.com sandee

    a soul/heart revolution is happening…. it is…. in so many. in me too

    for many many (too many_ years, days, moments, I have kicked myself (wanting to kick God)…and then told myself…this is my bed, I made it, now lay down in it and shut up. You have NO RIGHT TO WHINE. …which may be true..but….

    I am seeing, with my list, and understanding what my eucharisteo list is….what it is for. and experiencing it…. I am now learning, I have NO NEED TO WHINE.

    i want to keep unwrapping his foil wrapped kisses… and teach my children eucharisteo too…

    thank you Ann. Thank you Lord for using Ann and her words and her heart and her discovery.

    do you remember that older song….maybe from 30 years ago – your kiss is on my list of the best things in life? As I read this book, I keep thinking of that…of God’s moment by moment kisses…putting them on my list…the best things in life….

    thank you for awakening eucharisteo

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  • http://www.threeyearsdown.blogspot.com Brittany

    This chapter really opened my eyes to my distrust of God in the ways of my career. I have been holding so tightly to the reins of this decision that I stopped even pretending to give control to God. Ingratitude…. what a concept, and what a truth. This book has already hit home more than I ever imagined.

  • Julie

    As I read this first chapter, I really felt like I was uncovering buried treasure. When Ann shares her brother-in-law’s words of “…I don’t know why that all happened. He shrugs again. But do I have to?” Then he proceeds to recall the story of King Hezekiah and Manasseh. This was a profound moment for me where I stopped and started to do my own self-reflection. Five years ago my husband of a little over a year left me to go be with another woman. Since that time I have found myself desperately trying to figure out all the why’s to that. How could G-d let something like this happen? Why didn’t He stop it from happening, and other questions that seem endless. As a result I find myself today distanced from Him, not trusting in His benevolence, in Him. Instead I suffer from panic attacks with agoraphobia, yet as I read Ann’s account of that painful experience and time in her life, I found my questions changing from why didn’t G-d__________ to instead what did G-d spare me from? What did He know, that He was preventing in my life? Was He really protecting me from something that had the potential to be more devastating? I found great comfort in that. For the first time in five years I felt okay with not knowing the answers, and as I read how many here are sharing their struggles, their painful experiences, I find comfort in knowing that I’m truly not alone. I hope as this study progresses that my fears will begin to dissipate and that the resentment will turn into gratitude. I am excited to see where this journey will take me and I am hoping that it will dispel the that prevents me from taking that first step of faith in walking towards the One who is all knowing. The One who is love.

  • Elizabeth

    How long will each of these videos be available? Will they be available in the coming year(s?) if one might wish to use them in a study with other women?

  • http://www.traditionalsimplicity Michelle

    Thank you so much for sending me the book so I could join in! Such a blessing and at such a time – watching pain in so many lives around me. I can not wait to continue the book and see how it transforms my life one step further – closer to God. It will definitely be passed on to many others in my life, I can already tell from Chapter one. I am with Ann – I say yes, but how often do my action say no?

  • Cheri McNeal

    I am deeply touched by your book, Ann. I really want to be an involved participant in the book club, but I haven’t been able to watch the video. I can’t figure it out! Help!

  • http://simplycreatedbycole.blogspot.com Nicole

    Thank you Ann for you words your journey. For inspiring us to choose gratitude and not resentment. These past 5 years have been difficult w/ many battles. But, God in His Glory and Grace is working in me, in my heart, to show me He has a hope for the future. A hope in choosing gratitude for what is and what will be.

  • http://www.irbyroad.com Taylor

    Thank you so much for posting!!! I am listening to the audio book until I can get my hands on the hard copy! (we live in a foreign country, so waiting for the arrival of the book). It really helps solidify what I have heard and helps me think further. Thank you!

  • http://purplemoose.wordpress.com purple moose

    my “seed” is on page 22:

    “I wonder too. . . if the rent in the canvas of our life backdrop, the losses that puncture our world, our own emptiness, might actually become places to see.

    “To see through to God.

    “That that which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, might actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To Him. To the God whom we endlessly crave.”

    Not sure about water, but the “bloom” is to look beyond the pain, beyond the hand of God,to see His heart in my life events. To see Him through the gut wrenching pain of life.

    Thank you Ann for the book. . . Thank you Angie and Jessica and Bloom for the gentle nudge to read it!

  • Joan

    I read the first chapter and as you speak of the death of your sister and two nephews the familiar welling of tears and ache in the heart comes…I too have suffered losses, the death inside of me of my 22 week old son, followed by three years of infertility, then topped off with the death of my mom, hit by a car. I loved the Lord, but when he took my son I said no, God; and lived no God. It took me about a year to speak to him again…then I journaled through three long years of infertility..the rise of hope each month, to be dashed again each month…but it drove me to Jesus. It was hard to find support in my prayer group except with those who had lost a child or were struggling to have a child too…but I found my support in the word of God, the truth he pours out in the psalms or Isaiah, my favorites…I eventually came to a point where each morning I would kneel prostrate, face on the carpet, cheek resting on the nail-scarred feet..and there I found true rest, true peace, sweet communion…the rent in the canvas of my life, the deaths that punctured my world, did indeed become the places to see through to God. But that is precisely what scares me now, because the Lord did go on to bless me with 4 beautiful children and a wonderful husband, and life is not tragic now, but will it take another tragedy to “wake” me up? The pain of death I don’t want, the resting my cheek on his nail scarred feet I do. So on to chapter two and learning to live in the present, in the moment with gratitude, thanksgiving. “He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me”, not just who “gives” thank offerings, but “sacrifices” them…Do I sacrifice (give what I can’t afford-emotionally, physically, spiritually) in thanksgiving to him in everything? No, I don’t. All these years, as you say, thinking I was saved and had said my yes to God, but was living the no.. Thank you for putting into words so clearly the importance of eucharisteo.

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  • http://www.mommakristi.com Kristi

    I’m a little late to the party…I do hop you’ll keep these videos up for some time. I want to take the book slow and chew on all of it and not move too fast!!

    What Ann said about the darkness preceding the sunshine makes me stop and look at some of my own dark moments and to try to see where the sunshine followed. THank you for sharing these videos girls!!!

  • http://building68.blogspot.com Karen

    I’m also late to the party! I like how the video ended – in the situations of life, do we choose resentment or gratitude? It’s very easy for my default to be resentment! How many blessings do I miss because I am not grateful to God, even in the midst of pain and grief?

  • Emily Rowe

    Oh girls, I just wept with you! I am late getting started, but I need to tell you how truly moved I am by this first chapter. There really are no words.

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  • Tracy

    OH GOD! NO! NO! NO!

    It was a very cold February morning. I was a 19 yr old with a 7 wk old baby, I was estranged from My Family at the time, and had nowhere to live so I was spending the night with my BIL and his family. The baby and I had gone to sleep on the couch around 1 am. I awoke to my BIL trying to quietly tiptoe past us and ask him the time…He said 7 am. An eerie, odd feeling came over me…I jolted off the couch, went to grab the baby, but I KNEW I KNEW! I ignored the fact that his face was puffy on one side and bluish on the other side. I jerked him up, I flipped him over, I popped him on the back, and I flipped him back up and blew hard in his face close to his nose and mouth like I had done several times before. This time he did NOT take in that breath! H did NOT let out that WAIL! That’s when I think I really knew but did not want to accept it! My BIL took him from me, took him outside as if the extreme cold air would shock him and came back in with him and started CPR on him….I was going between its going to work like before and Oh God! No! No! PLEASE NO! DON’T TAKE MY BABY! He’s all I have! My 18 month old had been taken by my mother by her tricking me into signing temporary custody papers for insurance for my sick daughter. My husband was in jail for “being stupid” and stealing. I wasn’t speaking with most of my family because of the issue with my daughter and some misunderstandings. I had lost my job while I was pregnant and lost my residence when the baby was a couple weeks old. SOOOO, HE REALLY WAS ALLLLL I HAD!!!

    Wow! I never really shared this with many people, I don’t even think my grown daughters have ever heard this. But this chapter in this book just FLOODED those memories back over and over! And I just so happen to be reading in February, the month God took my baby home. (BTW: they said it was SIDS! THAT’s A LOOONGG story I won’t get into but…it WASN’T SIDS, it was doctors and hospital covering their behinds) I am EVER SO THANKFUL that God Chose this EXACT moment to REALLY SPEAK TO ME LIKE NEVER BEFORE! I had been in and out of churches with other people but I was not raised in a Christian house…so far from it. I had come through so much in life by then, I was pretty darn strong on my own but GOD KNEW I would not be able to handle this one ALONE! This is when He showed me how precious every MOMENT in life is and NEVER SAY OR DO ANYTHING YOU WILL REGRET! I RAISED My GIRLS that way: With knowledge of God, I tried to not only talk it but walk it and to always show your LOVE for people no matter what was happening because you NEVER KNOW WHEN THAT WILL BE THE LAST OPPORTUNITY YOU GET A MOMENT WITH THAT PERSON!

    Sorry this was so long and so late….I’m always late but I get there!

  • http://fromsnowflakestohotcakes.blogspot.com snowflakes2hotcakes

    I know I’m a little late jumping into the party, but better late than never. Like a few other readers, this chapter didn’t really hit home until I watched the video. (I’m a visual learner, so this tends to be the case with a lot of things I do.) Having gone through 2 miscarriages in the course of the last year, I cried along with Angie and Ann as I remembered thinking, ‘Why? Why again? What am I supposed to learn from this? To be bitter and angry?” God was so good to me in those times, to walk me through and let me know that it was OK to be angry. I think the Sweet Father understands that He made us human, with a limited field of vision and almost unlimited emotions – the combination of those things is what causes us to question in those times, I think. Elisabeth Elliot once pointed out that if the Israelites had not gone through the wilderness, but rather had gone the “easy” way when leaving Egypt, we wouldn’t have the glorious parting of the Red Sea story to demonstrate God’s power and His provision for His people. But because they, and we, couldn’t/can’t see the big picture, and we are full of emotions, we are left to question. And that’s okay. God knew what He was doing when He created us, and He knew we would be this way. The key is to not sit in the despair and the rebellion and the darkness, but to grab hold of the light and keep asking questions til God shines the flashlight on the next step. My seed: I say, and want to believe, that I am living “yes” and “Here I am” and “Thy will be done,” but when the stuff hits the fan, do I live that? More often than not, I’m a worrier, and I come up with other alternatives for God to consider, and pray for THOSE instead. Am I missing out on a Red Sea experience because I try to plan my own way and not just be thankful that God has it under control, have my emotions, and leave them in God’s hands? My water: What other areas, besides my miscarriages, am I hanging onto the “Why”s and the “Wouldn’t this be betters”s and the “God, did you ever think of”s? I am seeking my heart and determining in what areas this lies in wait, and determining to learn a new default. My bloom: I have acknowledged and claimed this area. I am actively working to change it. I think the first thing is creating visual reminders for myself in the places I spend most of my time. My work computer, my home computer, my bookshelf, my bedroom and my kitchen. Reminders that I don’t want to miss out on the Red Sea and the soft whispers in my attempt to control my “plan,” but to rest and know that God’s got a reason and a purpose that I may never know, and that’s okay.

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  • Lindsay

    I’ve read through One Thousand Gifts once and am going back for seconds. While I simply soaked in the words the first time around, I would like to go farther in bringing the truths home by making clear applications to my life. Thus, comments!

    One seed from the chapter was the recognition that I, in both the past and present, have essentially said, “No, God.” I am praying that the seed of this recognition would be watered by intentionally switching my response to “Yes, God. Yes, I trust You with the story that has been mine so far. Yes, I trust Your goodness in the circumstances I currently find myself in.” I want to bear a harvest of faith that testifies to Who He Is and brings glory to His Name.

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  • http://encouragement-is-contagious.blogspot.com/ Lee Ann G.

    Through my friend Becky at Farmgirl Paints blog, who won Anne’s book and who is now blogging her thousand gifts blessings list under each post, I decided to begin reading the book for myself. I just started it and am on chapter 3. Started my thousand gifts list today and am going to blog about it.

    My mother was mentally ill most of my growing up years and although I feel God’s done some miracle work inside of me already, I realize that I still carry some of that pain with me as I go about my life. Some of the fearful and stinkin thinkin habitual thoughts (lies that were not from my Heavenly Father) still pop through and keep me captive. I do believe from what I’ve read so far in this book, that I am going to be on the road to more healing and I thank Y♥U Ann.

    You are one of my gifts today!
    ♥Lee Ann

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