A Lesson in Being Grateful ~ How God Used Ann Voskamp to Heal My Heart

Last year I picked up a book that saved my spirit. I was turning into a bitter, nasty person and God used this book to begin to heal my heart. I still can’t completely explain what happened, but God led this cynical, grieved woman into a local Christian book store kicking and screaming. It was just a few months after my father died unexpectadly, and through a series of events I was serving as Executrix for his affairs and had also become the primary caregiver for my Grandma Freda. I should also mention here that my mother had also just died two years prior to all of this as well. 2009-2011 were not stellar years for me personally.

I walked into that book store for one purpose. I was there to purchase materials for the Family Life Services waiting room. What I came out with was a lovely new book release. A new book that I purchased for sole reason that I loved the artwork on the dust jacket. I bought a book for the cover. I’m not making this up. 


Amazingly enough, I began to actually read the book One Thousand Gifts. I think I was so engulfed with grief I was looking for any kind of escape from it. What started to unfold was God used a woman who lived on a pig farm in Canada and homeschooled her brood of six children to really get to me. On the surface our day to day lives could not look any more different. But through her words, I sensed she understood my grief over loosing my brother—a grief that still haunted me ten years later. She got my sinful worring nature. Through her prose she made sense out of the reason I desire to see big beautiful spaces in order to get smaller before an awe-inspiring God. But more than anything else, the Lord used her to teach me how to be grateful.

It has almost been a year, and I still am learning this lesson. Over and over and over again.  A lifetime I’m sure will not be enough to develop a truly grateful heart. But God is wooing me towards this discipline more and more every day.

I’m usually not a joiner. Especially where groups of women are concerned. It just isn’t my style. I don’t do women’s retreats or ladies fellowships. A mommy and me play date or Mops group when my kids were younger would have just about sent me over the edge. But last year I did decide to  join a group of beautiful women willing to write down the gifts. To intentionally capture what God has blessed our ordinary everyday lives with—His grace. Everyday.

So today is my first day to share just some of those blessings that are on my list. Because by doing this, I know God will continue to heal my heart. Thank you Ann for allowing God to use you.

Jessa’s hair like sunshine.

Another day to serve those who are hurting.

The way grandma taps her fingers together.

Jacob practicing the saxophone.

The smell of the shower running.

Green grass pressing through brown.

Pikes Peak, purple mountain majesty.

Jeff willing to lead.

Newly painted toes in Chacos.

A good night’s sleep. 

Ann’s Blog A Holy Experience is one that I read consistently. Be sure to check it out. Your soul will be thankful.


  1. Thanks, Julie! I still love the book too although as I writer I had to get used to her style. It helps to think of all her writing as poetry, which it truly is. Love her blog, too. Grateful for rain today!!

    • Yes, it is for sure a different style- but my inner poet loved it. I think of how the Psalms are often read as healing for the hurting. That is almost how I approached this work. I have heard her compared to a modern day female CS Lewis. I think I would have to agree with that comparison. Blessings Nancy! Stay dry today.

  2. This makes me smile.

    And really? You? Not a joiner? I would have never known that. So glad you’re coming out! 🙂

    • You make me smile girl. No, not a joiner. Love to socialize, but the girl groups have always intimidated me. Maybe one day when I find the right one. Thanks for your encouragement Cheryl. You ROCK!!

  3. The beautiful way she woo’s us to Christ, to give thanks, takes an entire book. When people ask me what it’s about, I stop and think for a minute. Then I might say something like, “Well, it’s about the discipline of giving thanks daily for specific things, specific moments, and how that can transform our lives. But it’s about suffering, too. And family. And…oh, just read it.”


    I’m so you found the book…though it almost seems that the book found you. In truth, the Lord found you in your grief and spoke through Ann’s faithful writing. And that is a beautiful, awe-inspiring story of how He seeks us out, walks with us, directs our steps, and loves us through it all.

    So glad to meet you through Cheryl.

    • Ann that has been my response as well, finally I just started buying it for everyone I knew. Some books you just can’t explain. And yes- the book for sure found me. Thank you for connecting. I love the community at High Calling and I’m always excited to connect with friends of friends! Blessings.

  4. Julie, I’m so sorry for all the heartache you’ve experienced the last several years. I’m sure it wears you down. I know your testimony blesses Ann’s heart tremendously. That’s why we write, isn’t it? May the Lord bless you each day as you make your gratitude and blessing list.

  5. Tonight — I am whispering thanks to Jesus for you.
    Whispering thanks to Jesus with you.

    God is always good and you are always loved, beautiful sister.

    More love than thin letters can hold…
    All’s grace,


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