One Thousand Gifts: Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp is my favorite book of the year so far. It is artfully written, spiritually deep, and vibrantly engaging. Ms. Voskamp walks us through her darkest valleys, where she struggles to understand why God allows pain and suffering. Frankly, I’m tired of authors who pose the question and just leave us there. Voskamp, on the other hand, wrestles with God and ends up knowing him more intimately and worshiping him more fully. Her spiritual journey is inspiring, insightful, and uplifting.

The title of the book comes from a friend who dared the author to make a list of a thousands things she loved, to name a thousand blessings or gifts. As a result, joy rises transcendentally and triumphantly above the fray. “Joy is the realest reality, the fullest life, and joy is always given, never grasped,” writes Voskamp. “God gives gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given: joy.” She goes on to explain:

I, too, had read it often, the oft-quoted verse: “And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). And I, too, would nod and say straight-faced, “I’m thankful for everything.” But in this counting gifts, to one thousand, more, I discover that slapping a sloppy brush of thanksgiving over everything in my life leaves me deeply thankful for very few things in my life.

I love the way the author digs deep into Scripture, unpacks the meaning, and challenges herself (and us) to live it.

Amidst her busy and demanding life working a farm and raising and homeschooling six kids, Voskamp discovers the connection between a life of gratitude and living in the moment:

This is where God is.

In the present. I AM—His very name. I want to take shoes off. I AM, so full of the weight of the present, that time’s river slows to a still…and God Himself is timeless…This is supreme gift, time, God Himself framed in moment. I hardly breathe…and time is only of the essence, because time is the essence of God, I AM. This I need to consecrate: time.

I may never wear shoes again.

One Thousand Gifts is ultimately about grace—the outpouring of goodness from a good God:

If God didn’t withhold from us His very own Son, will God withhold anything we need?

If trust must be earned, hasn’t God unequivocally earned our trust with the bark on the raw wounds, the thorns pressed into the brow, your name on the cracked lips? How will He not also graciously give us all things He deems best and right? He’s already given the incomprehensible.

Christ our Crossbeam.

The counting of all blessings is ultimately summed up in One.

Men, please don’t shy away from this book because the cover appears a bit feminine. This is not a chick book by any means. Ann Voskamp raises questions that every human being is asking. She tackles issues that we all struggle with. And she writes about life in a way that’ll draw you in and keep you riveted to every word. This is simply the most well written book I’ve read in a long time.