ann voskamp one thousand gifts “You are worthless.” “All you do is disappoint people.” “You will never be enough.”

These are the demons in my head. And in the minds of the children we serve. Rich or poor, Satan wants to entrap us. For the children we serve, Satan wants to convince them that the absence of material wealth equals the absence of love from a Heavenly Father. For those of us in the developed world, that negative voice might be just as loud, but for different reasons.

Years ago, I began making agreements with evil. I listened to these voices spouting hatred at me, these voices saying there was nothing special about me. Believing the lies led to crippling despair.

All I could think about was how bad I am. Shame overwhelmed. I felt trapped inside of myself.

Paralyzed.

All I could do was lie on the couch, watching the beautiful and exciting people on TV. Criticizing myself that my life wasn’t as interesting as the characters I saw, or that I could never fit into an actress’s tiny dress.

“What if I opened the clenched hands wide to receive all that is? A life that receives all of God in this moment?

How do you do that when the terror tears up your throat and you wear the burn scars of a razed past?” ~Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts

As I read Ann’s book, I feel like I’m sitting with a dear friend. Her words intrigue and encourage. She has discovered the key to joy and contentment: the discipline of thanksgiving.

By giving thanks for all that God offers, I am able to see beyond myself. Small things that might otherwise go unnoticed. But through gratitude, I have fresh eyes to see God’s generous heart.

Through my new, open eyes, I see fear loosen its grip. Self-hate has no room to speak. I see Christ everywhere! He is in these big and small things, whispering His love. I write in my gratitude journal:

  • Pale pinks in a morning sky
  • The utter silence of falling snow
  • Gold ribbon
  • Forehead kisses
  • A cozy, old sweatshirt

My chains begin to fall away. The key of thanksgiving has unlocked my inner prison of self-hatred. Feelings of fear and self-doubt are replaced with hope and expectancy.

Instead of feeling trapped by personal inadequacy, I learn to believe in the promise that God is for me and with me.

I pray our Compassion kids feel this same wellspring of hope when the cycle of poverty is broken in their families.

Through One Thousand Gifts, the Lord is taking me on a journey to experience more of all He has wants to offer. To not settle for a life of complaint but to jump into a life of joy.

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  1. Dec 31, 2011
    at 1:36 pm

    Love this :) Thankfulness has been a BIG lesson for me this year. I haven’t read Ann’s book yet, but I read her blog regularly and it has been a huge encouragement–especially when it comes to being thankful! It really does make all the difference.

  2. Laurie
    Dec 31, 2011
    at 10:24 pm

    I read Ann’s book, and she gave me much food for thought. It does make a difference to be thankful in the midst of circumstances that don’t always seem “good.” I pray to be ‘mindful’ of all the GOOD that God provides, even in the midst of troubles. Why do we Christians, who have the Bible, insist on a life of ease and no problems? That is a perversion of the Gospel! Take up your cross and follow me, said the Lord! The cross is HEAVY and a Burden! NOT easy! Americans are so spoiled, however we are also generous. Perhaps that is why God has been so very, very good to us?

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  4. Jan 1, 2012
    at 9:23 am

    Came here via Ann’s blog. I have been where you were too (I think we might be at about the same point in journeying out of that place and toward God). I didn’t have Ann’s book, but a mountaintop experience (literally!) that gave me the knowledge that God had never deserted me. Ever. Thank you for sharing ….

  5. Lynda
    Jan 1, 2012
    at 1:29 pm

    I read Ann’s book last year and kept a “List of 1000 Gifts” all this past year. It has been life-changing. Gratitude is powerful, and Ann has done an incredible job of bringing that truth home to so many.

  6. AS
    Jan 1, 2012
    at 1:56 pm

    Many times I feel the same way. I have read Ann’s book. It is so encouraging and deep. Thank you for sharing. Sometimes I feel like I am the only one who hears those voices and listens to them. I truly want to see myself through the eyes of a heavenly father that loves me.

  7. Sherrie
    Jan 1, 2012
    at 2:28 pm

    As I read your words I am in the middle of a two-week intensive treatment (1,400 miles from home) to deal with childhood trauma: incestuous sexual abuse and neglect . These caused me to agree with Satan’s lies about me. God’s subsequent refusal to heal me these past 41 years has left me agreeing with Satan’s lies about God too.

    I’m not ready to open my hands yet but at least I’m aware that they are clenched.

    Today, I decided to get honest with God. And I have to believe that He can handle that.

    I have Ann’s book….and I have 2 beautiful compassion children!

    • Katy Causey
      Jan 3, 2012
      at 1:13 pm

      Sherrie,

      Thank you for your honesty. I’m heartbroken for you but excited for the journey that you’re on with the Lord. I too believes He can handle our questions, pain, and anger. Keep wrestling!

  8. Jan 1, 2012
    at 3:52 pm

    Thank you for sharing~

  9. Jan 1, 2012
    at 5:53 pm

    Loved this book! Just posted about it…

  10. Dawn Kerkhoff
    Jan 1, 2012
    at 6:13 pm

    Our Bible study at my church read “1,000 Gifts” this fall. I loved Ann’s book!!! She writes with much wisdom and honesty. I have loaned the book out twice now and will reread it when I get it back!

  11. Jan 1, 2012
    at 6:13 pm

    I read your words and am awed and am amazed how this concept of eucharisteo just keeps coming up all over and around me… what the lie tries so hard to conceal, the truth so much more rips us wide open …revealed. God with us, indeed! I know I will never look at life the same way again.. eyes wide open… and ears leaning hard to hear that still small voice that thunders like a thousand waters if only I am still enough to listen. Thank you!

  12. Katy
    Jan 1, 2012
    at 6:23 pm

    Hey Brittany! Agreed. Ann’s blog is great and as you might know she’s a friend of compassion. Read her book! It’ll change you and push you further in your gratitude journey.

  13. Jan 1, 2012
    at 6:50 pm

    I subscribe to Ann’s blog and love the encouragement too. I’m so glad she linked up to your post! Just this very day, New Year’s Day, I was having a quiet time pouring out my heart to the Lord and one of my cries to Him was that I just didn’t feel that anyone thought I was special. I seem to be forgotten by my friends and was lamenting about it when I felt the Lord’s prompting. I was filled with the reminder that HE thinks I’m special – He formed me, He created me and has good works that He’s planned out in advance for me to do (Ephesians). The tears streamed down my face as I accepted His love for me, His affirming love that calls me out as His special child. Thank you for sharing your heart in this post, it has encouraged me!

    • Katy Causey
      Jan 3, 2012
      at 1:12 pm

      Thanks, Tracey, for sharing your heart as well! I’m so encouraged to see how God showed Himself to you during your devotions.

  14. Miriam
    Jan 1, 2012
    at 9:33 pm

    Thank you Katy for this post. I was directed here through Holy Experience, Ann’s blog. I have read the book and it is wonderful.
    Just tonight I was doing some bible study on the origin of Satan. How fitting that I would read such a practical application. Thank you.
    This is what I get from Ann’s book. Application, Application, Application

    • Katy Causey
      Jan 3, 2012
      at 9:26 am

      Hi Miriam,

      Thanks for coming over to the Compassion blog! It’s great to hear from you. I couldn’t agree more… I find myself finding ways to apply Ann’s book to every aspect of my life!

  15. Mary
    Jan 2, 2012
    at 2:02 pm

    I first read Ann’s book last spring and have since reread it twice! It has truly been life changing for me! Ann’s blog encourages me every day to let go and allow God to do His work in me. I, like so many, constantly find myself wondering how He could possibly care for me, a broken sinner. Praise and glory to our Father whose thoughts are not our thoughts! Thanks so much for your post!

    • Katy Causey
      Jan 3, 2012
      at 9:25 am

      Amen, Mary! We serve a God who loves the broken. Thanks for sharing!

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