Book Review – One Thousand Gifts

Thanksgiving is our annual reminder of just how blessed we are, and for how much we can be grateful.  I thought it was a good opportunity to share with you a book about gratitude that has had a huge impact on my life since I first read it three or four years ago.

Ann Voskamp is a Canadian author.  She grew up on a farm, and is now married to a farmer.  Her life has been marked by that lifestyle, as all our lives have been marked by how we were brought up and the experiences that we have gone through.

As a child, she had to endure the loss of a sibling.  Her sister was killed by a delivery truck backing up.  That experience was devastating for Ann and her parents.  It led to major depression for all of them.  For Ann, it eventually led her to attempt suicide as a Bible college student.

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One Thousand Gifts is part personal story and testimony, part encouragement, and part challenge to change your perspective on life by shifting to an attitude of gratitude.  The main thrust of the book is based on an exercise that Ann’s counselor asked her to do.  While she struggled with coping, her counselor told her to stop dwelling on what had happened in the past and on what she had lost.  Instead, she should focus on all the blessings that God had given her.  She was assigned homework – every day, list several things for which she was grateful.  She was supposed to do that until she had listed one thousand things for which she was thankful.

This took her on a fascinating journey.  The more she paid attention to the blessings God had given her, the more her way of thinking and dealing with life changed.  It transformed her entire view of God, of herself, of life, and of the world.  She realized that even in the most difficult of times, the smallest things that can reveal the riches of God’s grace.

Her conclusion at the end of her journey?  In this world, if we have eyes to see it, all is grace.

I benefited greatly from this book – I think most people would.  But if you’re dealing with loss and heartache, I would suggest that it could be a transformative read for you.

As you take time to enjoy family and feasting this Thanksgiving, take time to be thankful as well.  One thousand gifts is a lot…but maybe this weekend, you can take a few moments and write down ten things for which you are thankful.  You might be surprised at what that little exercise can do for your mind.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Oh – and if you decide you want to buy the book, the Kindle edition can be purchased here.

Giving Thanks

This week, we’ve looked at some practical ideas for ways to be sure we are spending time with Jesus and that we are reminding ourselves of His Presence with us throughout the day.  My plan was to wrap that up with a post today about a great tool that sounds legalistic and overwhelming but is actually very simple and helpful.  But as I sketched out what I wanted to say, I realized that I needed a little more time to think through what I wanted to say, and how I wanted to say it.  So, I’m going to be tackling that next week.

Which means my blog plan for today was disrupted.

Disrupted plans is becoming the theme for the Hunters’ 2016 Holiday Season!  My Mom ended up spending Thanksgiving in the hospital due to a boil beside her eye that wasn’t responding to treatment.  Our plans for Thanksgiving involved surprising her and my Dad with the fact that my brother and his family were going to be with us for Thanksgiving.  Instead, she surprised us by ending up in the hospital.

And then there’s Christmas.  Our plan was to travel to Greenville and spend Christmas Day with Dad and Mom.  But that was before we found out that Jewel is going to have surgery on her neck about a week and a half before Christmas, which makes a two-hour drive an uncomfortable endeavor and means we likely won’t be going to Greenville on Christmas Day.

As I was thinking about this, I realized that Jesus never got flustered by interruptions, distractions, or disrupted plans.  He just went with the flow.  He didn’t let people dictate his direction, but He also was compassionate when unexpected things came up.  And come up they did.  It seems like He was always being followed by crowds, pulled at by people wanting something from Him, requested by this person or that person to come and lay hands on someone and heal them.  He just took those things in stride and, rather than viewing them as unwanted intrusions, saw them as opportunities provided by His Father.

That’s a great challenge for me – learning to see interruptions as opportunities rather than interruptions or disruptions.  Remembering to give thanks for what God is doing and can do, rather than complaining about what He isn’t doing or has allowed to cross my path.

So here’s what I’m going to do this weekend.  I’m going to sit down with my journal tomorrow, or Sunday afternoon, and write down 5 things that upset me or derailed my plans or disrupted my life; and then I’m going think about what I have to be thankful for in each of those cases.  1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT) says, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”  That’s what I’m going to do this Thanksgiving weekend.

How about you?


Let me close with one unexpected blessing for which I’m very grateful this weekend.

I get to perform a wedding ceremony for two special friends of ours, Nate Shaffer and Rachel Buehler.  That’s a blessing in itself!

Wednesday night after the rehearsal, they pulled me aside and handed me a gift-wrapped package as a thank-you for officiating at their wedding.  They asked me to open it, which I was happy to do! 

What I found inside was one of the coolest and most thoughtful gifts I’ve ever received.

Here’s the backstory:  this year, I wrote my first book, a devotional on walking with Jesus.  Rachel put more work into the book than I did, creating a front cover, creating a back cover and inside flaps in case I ever wanted to print a physical copy, and formatting the actual files into an acceptable format for publishing on Kindle.  We got to publish it early this fall, and that was both a goal reached and a dream realized for me.  (Many more books to come, I’m hoping!)  I have to admit it was pretty cool to go to Amazon and see my book on the Kindle store.  (If this sounds like bragging, I apologize – it’s not.  It’s intended to be me just sharing something very personal.)

So Rachel had all the files for my Kindle book.

And for my present, she and Nate had taken those files and had a hardback copy of my book printed, and they presented me with an actual printed copy of my book.  I can’t describe how it felt to unwrap that package and find myself holding a copy of the book I had written.

As cool as it felt to publish on Kindle, there was something about holding a physical book in my hands that made it more real.

It was very moving for me.  I felt like God had used Nate and Rachel to encourage me in going for my goals and dreams, and to remind me that He has surprises for all of us on the journey.  I felt honored and appreciated.

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I am so blessed to have the opportunity to be connected with so many wonderful people.  And it’s all because God is good, so good.

It was also a reminder of how much I have for which to be thankful – thoughtful and encouraging friends and family, opportunities, freedom – and so many other blessings that God gives me every day.  Blessings that, unfortunately, I take for granted far too often.

So this Thanksgiving, despite disruptions and unplanned issues and all kinds of other things, I am so very thankful.

I hope as you take some time to think through your past few weeks that you find much for which to be grateful as well!


If you’re interested in learning more about following Jesus, check out my new devotional book, Forty Days of Walking With Jesus:  A Devotional Guide, now available on the Kindle Store.