Staff Picks: One Thousand Gifts

February 10, 2017
Note: Throughout this series one of our staff members will be giving you a recommendation and/or a brief review from the world of music, movies, TV or literature. Hopefully this will serve as a way to see inside the head of our staff members and direct you towards some listening, viewing or reading material for your own personal growth and enjoyment. Today’s post is from our worship director, Dana Ott.

I had the incredible privilege of attending a worship conference this past week in Nashville, TN and came away so refreshed and reminded of the amazing power and goodness of our God! My heart was so full and aside from learning some new songs, I felt like I’d gotten a spiritual “shot in the arm” from soaking in some great teaching and intentional times of worship – He is so worthy to be praised!

So, boarding the plane to come home, I was in pretty good spirits and feeling excited about the week ahead and the opportunity to put into practice some of the ideas that were shared.  Well, we had barely gotten over the Walt Whitman Bridge that Saturday, when we got a phone call that our sweet sister-in-Christ and forever friend was unconscious and being taken to a local hospital after arriving only hours earlier in Aruba – our stomachs literally dropped and we just prayed and waited and prayed some more. That was 6 days ago…the day our precious friend woke up in Heaven….and somehow the earth is still spinning and the sun keeps rising and we all keep breathing. So many question have flooded my mind and my heart this past week and I was reminded of multiple books, devotionals, scriptures, and songs that kept pointing me back to the goodness of God and His loving kindness. In fact, some of the new songs that I sang at the conference were all of a sudden more meaningful and powerful than just a week ago!

I could recommend numerous songs with the promises of God as this week’s “Staff Picks” and be content knowing that the Spirit speaks through the lyrics and tunes and musicianship of godly song writers. However, I wanted to also suggest a book that I’ve read more than once and although it’s been a while since the last time I read it, it immediately came to mind this week. It’s called One Thousand Gifts by Ann VosKamp and I’m not gonna lie, it’s not a book you’ll fly through – it’s rich and fat and full of how God’s grace, mercy, and goodness are so obvious as we intentionally give thanks in the impossibly difficult circumstances of life. Right out the gate, the author shares a story of unexpected and heart wrenching loss that felt like it ripped me wide open…if you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one, you know that feeling. On page 14, she speaks from her broken heart and I think it probably resonates with so many of us. She writes how we respond to loss with, “No, God, we won’t take what You give. No, God, Your plans are a gutted, bleeding mess and I didn’t sign up for this and You really thought I’d go for this? No, God, this is ugly and this is a mess and can’t You get anything right and just haul all this pain out of here and I’ll take it from here, thanks. And, God? Thanks for nothing.” Wow. Even if I’m afraid to say it out loud, I’ll admit that my heart has cried out those same words and thoughts. And isn’t it amazing that He isn’t put off by our selfish, terrified, ungrateful rants? But, these cries come from a child who has forgotten that God is God and God is good…all the time.

The author digs deep into the absolute necessity of gratefulness in the life of a child of God, and how living a life that is soaked in gratitude opens up the ability to fully trust God, even in and especially in the hardest of circumstances. She shares a little further in, that the first sin of all humanity happened in the Garden of Eden when “Satan wanted more…more power, more glory” and Adam and Eve bought in and essentially lost the satisfaction they had in God and their relationship with Him. If you’re in a place of pain, loss, or just wondering “Where are you, God? How can I trust You? Are you really good?”, then I highly recommend this book. I love that the author of this book is so genuinely open and while the book is sometimes hard to read, it is so worth it – be prepared to go through a full box of tissues as you open your heart and soul to her story and to God’s Spirit. I just started it over again tonight.