the process of becoming

a blog for twenty-somethings trying to navigate the world and follow your dreams


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thoughts on One Thousand Gifts

one-thousand-gifts

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp is a spiritual journey book about finding joy in your every day life. A mother and wife, Voskamp wanted to live her life intentionally and well, and found that a simple challenge to write down things she was thankful for transformed the way she lived. “‘How do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties? What does a life of gratitude look like when your days are gritty, long, and sometimes dark? What is God providing here and now?’” (Amazon). This book is a guide to discovering God’s blessings and learning to be present in Him.

My mentor recommended to me this last summer when I expressed a similar hunger for what Voskamp talks about. The description of the book sounded like a guarantee – a fool-proof way to have joy in your life. Maybe it would have been if I had kept up the gratitude journaling, a concept that launched Voskamp’s spiritual journey and shaped the entire book. The first chapter intrigued me so much, and I was sold! I started my journal right then and there. But as I read on, I was so turned off by her confusing and wordy writing style that the joy simply petered out.

I really want to love this book. The concept is wonderful of course, and I appreciate her fascination with small things, making our “mundane,” every-day lives full of joy. She is a breath of fresh air, and I am thankful for my mentor recommending this to me.

However, her way-over-the-top lyrical style, love of poetry, and bad metaphors started annoying me to no end. I found my inner (and outer) editor cringing and wanting to “fix” this book. It had so much potential!

I can relate to her because I love lyrical essays. But during my undergrad, I got failing grades for writing stuff like this, so I am a little frustrated that this mess was publishable. Certainly wanting to be an editor myself isn’t helping things. And maybe I am being too harsh. Maybe it did undergo a transformation before being published. But if so, it wasn’t enough to pull writers in.

I did take things away from it and I tried to read each page with an open mind and less criticism. However, it was slow-going and my own thankfulness journal didn’t kick off because of it. I didn’t study the craft of writing to ignore execution. I did a lot of underlining in my copy though, and one day I’ll go back and craft some quotes and thoughts from those great pages.

Conclusion: This book may change your life. It certainly taught me things I will carry long beyond the writing style (I hope). Some people truly adore this book, otherwise it wouldn’t be a New York Times best seller! My recommendation is that if you are writer, take this book with a grain of salt (if you attempt to read it at all).

If you are a twenty-something seeking joy, give it a try. And if you are not a writer with an inner editor, definitely go for it! Put it in the church library, gift it to friends wanting to find joy (after reading it of course), and find its gems.

Review on Goodreads

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a long, mess blog post (like me)

I am beginning to discover things about myself. Things that require a brand new bio (and I am a new creation, even if I struggle to know what that means). I am never permanent. I can’t depend on myself for anything, which is hard to comes to terms with, but it draws me ever closer to the loving embrace of my Father.

But really, without the sugar coating, who am I really?

1. Lover of chocolate, coffee, and tea.

– But I’ve expanded my horizons. Instead of getting excited over Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks, I crave a ciocolatta calda or a latte macchiato from Martin’s bar back in my little town of San Lorenzo. I miss plain espresso shots, cappuccinos, and hot brioche in the morning. I like coffee shops here in the Cities like Spyhouse, Coffee Grounds, or Common Roots.

2. An avid fan of relationship.

– Since I have been dating for almost 9 months, it has given me lots of time to realize how much I used to judge all the “Northwestern couples” and every single other reference to dating, engagement, and marriage. Now (not to brag, seriously, but), I’ve realized the beauty of a committed relationship, especially the yucky stuff. Really. It’s not easy, so I’ve found myself admiring even more the marriages that have lasted and the relationships that have persevered. And yet, I still remember the pain of being betrayed, heartbroken, and forgotten, so I do not disqualify things that are beyond one’s control. Love, in friendship form as well, is a precious thing.

3. Over-dramatic storyteller who sometimes speaks before she thinks.

– Often in ways that are not good, but it’s simply a trait about me. I can’t stop reacting in fun and silly ways to make life interesting, and I can’t stop my emotions when they want to actually react to disappointing circumstances. My mouth likes to speak faster than my formulating thoughts. I’m working on this.

4.  Struggling writer.

– I go through fruitful times and I go through dry times, sometimes questioning myself, my major, and my career. I have a problem with wanting to be perfect and hating the process of perfection. I like raw reality, because we can’t edit our real lives. Let’s write what actually happens.

5. Christ-follower.

– but if you could even call me that! Honestly, I feel like a terrible representative of Jesus pretty often. Why would someone who knows the Hope of Glory be so depressed sometimes? I sin all the time, and some days I just don’t know what I am doing for Him. Yet there are still times when His Word GLOWS and I get overly excited about the Gospel.

6. Sweater-wearer.

– Winter is important, because sweaters. And blankets. Mittens. Layers and layers, and I can wear big baggy hoodies and zip-ups without being judged.

7. A learning cook.

– I am making progress, but living in a small apartment shared with three other women often dampens my enthusiasm for cooking. Lack of fridge/storage space, FUNDS, good recipes, and time are what get me. Buuuuut it makes it all the more rewarding when I do make food (:

Really. I am a pretty big mess.

But that’s the cool part. That’s why His grace is so important to me. I love the brokenness of life and of people because it is through it that I find His beauty. I am in a theology class right now, discovering more about the character of God and discovering that I will never ever be the perfect college senior I once wanted to be. Many days I just don’t want to be responsible for anything, but He’s working on me!

Things that are on my mind with all this: 

– I want to be a balance of “okay” with a life that is not always okay.

– I don’t want people to expect me to be together all the time, because 89% of the time, I am not! I love it when people sit down at coffee shops or living room floors with blankets in our laps, make eye contact, and ask “how are you really?” and then just listen. I think everyone should write personal essays and then let me read them.

Life is an adventure whether we want it to be or not.

All for now.

In Christ,

Sarah

PS!!!!!  I promise to learn how to keep future blog posts short. Bear with me (: