Thoughts By Natalie

book review: one thousand gifts.

I touched on this book a bit earlier this month, but wanted to write an official book review now that I’m all finished reading.

Let me start by saying this is absolutely one of my new favorite books—one that touched me to the core, and that I will read over and over again through the years. Ann has such a poetic voice that comes through in her writing and has a way of captivating your imagination. She creates imagery with every word and sentence, and has a way of making every day chores sound like a beautiful song. Every time I put down the book I couldn’t wait until the next opportunity I had to read it again.

In a word, this book is about thankfulness. It’s something so simple, yet underrated and undervalued. Through each chapter and story, she digs deeper into the necessity of all Christ-followers to cultivate grateful hearts. It’s funny how God creates themes for different seasons in our lives—how he puts an idea or concept into our minds, and continues to make us aware of it everywhere. For me right now, that theme is gratitude, and it all began with this book.

As a personal challenge, my book club girlfriends and I have started keeping our own lists of one thousand gifts—recording the little bits of life that we often take for granted, like the way the sun peeks through the trees as it’s setting or the warmth of my puppy when she curls up and snuggles with me on the couch.

Here are some of my favorite excerpts of the book to entice you to start reading it ASAP (emphasis added)…

“Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives. Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our Yes! to His grace.”

“I have lived pain, and my life can tell: I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks for early light dappled through leaves and the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July and the song of crickets on humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that a good God gives. Why would the world need more anger, more outrage? How does it save the world to reject unabashed joy when it is joy that saves us?”

“Haste makes waste. Life is not an emergency. Life is brief and it is fleeting but it is not an emergency. I pick up a coat and thank God for the arms that can do it. Emergencies are sudden, unexpected events—but is anything under the sun unexpected to God?

“God is always good and I am always loved.”

“Is worship why I’ve run for the moon? Not for lunar worship, but for True Beauty worship, worship of Creator Beauty Himself. God is present in all the moments, but I do not deify the wind in the pines, the snow falling on hemlocks, the moon over harvested wheat. Pantheism, seeing the natural world as divine, is a very different thing than seeing divine God present in all things. I know it here kneeling, the twilight so still: nature is not God but God revealing the weight of Himself, all His glory, through the looking glass of nature.

All gratitude is ultimately gratitude for Christ, all remembering a remembrance of Him. For in Him all things were created, are sustained, have their being. Thus Christ is all there is to give thanks for; Christ is all there is to remember. To know how we can count on God, we count graces, but ultimately there is really only One.”

Do any of those excerpts resonate with you? What books have you read that helped you cultivate a more thankful heart?

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  • Mathilda
    April 21, 2012 at 6:03 am

    I read this book a few months ago and had to stop several times cause I felt so sorry for the author. To me her life seemed to be a constant struggel. With her kids, the household, the farm… The text didn’t uplift but made me sad.

    • Natalie Lynn Borton
      April 22, 2012 at 8:17 pm

      That’s too bad–you really should pick it up again! I felt the opposite: because of her struggles, I found her more relatable, and her message much more powerful. I’m not a fan of those super bubbly feel-good books, but rather the kind that show how beauty, joy and love can come from the ugliness and toughness of life. Life is so messy and uncomfortable, it’s good to remember that God is good in all of it.

    • Mathilda
      April 23, 2012 at 6:42 pm

      I did after your review. And it’s the same again. I find it hard to explain. But everything seems to be such a huge problem for her. Since I read the book the first time I have to think about the chapter where her sons argue about toast and her affection towards them. And it became such a depressing and subject. And than washing the dishes… Maybe I’m too bubbly feel-good for this. I feel joy about everything God gives to my family everyday. I love that he gave me a home, dishes to wash, family dinners… Maybe the way she tinks is just too strange for me. But: Since I read the book, I also write down more often what I’m grateful for.

    • Natalie Lynn Borton
      April 23, 2012 at 10:25 pm

      Well everyone likes different kinds of books, and I’m definitely more of a sad/serious book person–which is perhaps why I loved it so much! Nonetheless, I’m glad you’ve found more time to dwell on what you’re thankful for. Such a good habit to cultivate, and one I’m working on myself!

  • Madison Mayberry
    April 23, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Your blog never ceases to make me feel inspired and uplifted. Joe and I have been through seasons of life that are more difficult than others, but no matter the time in life, I think keeping a grateful, thankful mindset is so important. I haven’t read this book yet, but I have heard a lot of talk from people who have. Now that I’m finishing up my current read, I’m looking for my next book.

    • Natalie Lynn Borton
      April 23, 2012 at 10:26 pm

      Thanks Madison! I definitely recommend this one for your next book :) If you decide to read it, definitely let me know what you think when you’re finished!