Embracing Eucharisteo: Interview and Giveaway With Ann Voskamp

Early this year, a book’s cover caught my eye. While I know better than to judge a book solely by its cover, this one made me want to stop, be still and drink in its words.

It was the new release (and now New York Times bestseller) One Thousand Gifts; A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by blogger Ann Voskamp of www.aholyexperience.com

A few of my friends  (her & her) had either endorsed her book or were mentioned in the acknowledgments section. I picked it up, began to read and its words penetrated my soul.

As I said here last week, learning to live in the moment and be grateful and fully engaged does not come easily to me. It is work. But the work is worth the effort.

I soon shot a Facebook message off to the author asking if she might be willing to grace us with an interview, even though I was certain she didn’t know me from Eve.

Weeks went by. I waited patiently but knew this busy farmer’s wife & mom of six might have too full a plate to respond to little ol’ me.

Then, on my birthday in March, I received a gift; an answer.

Not only was she willing to join us here, but she also blessed me by saying how she’d followed my ministry for years.

It was then that is dawned on me. Her website– a holy experience. Her name–Ann V. The light went on.

I searched back through my archives to when I first began blogging late in 2007.  The days when I wondered if anyone was out there reading.

My first entry got one comment. (it was spam advertising)

My second? None.

My third drew two.

My fourth post got three.

I scrolled to my 5th ever entry. It was on promoting family prayer. There were 5 comments. (one from the friend who started me blogging really didn’t count)

The commenters names stuck with me from those early days: kimberlee, Caroline, Vicki. I wondered who these women were.

Then, I saw it. There, dated a month after the post was up, was a comment from a mother who’d been pondering my idea in that post for days.

“Ann V. from A Holy Experience”

It makes me smile.

And I will smile even more when this summer Ann & I talk face to face when she brings the keynote message at our Proverbs 31 She Speaks conference in July.

Today you all get the chance to meet her here, if you’ve not already read her book or experienced her life-changing blog.

I do hope you’ll discover them both. Her blog is beautiful and both thought and thankfulness-provoking.

And her book?  As my friend Lysa, who endorsed it asserts, it is, “a book that will challenge you and mess with you in the most beautiful of ways”

Friends, meet Ann Voskamp:

Ann, tell us what life is like at the Voskamp home this spring.

Spring on the farm is my favorite time of the year! The smell of earthy warmth and the possibility of life and seed bags opening and us touching the dark soil again, us but dust too, these things move me deep.
Putting in a crop is family undertaking and our whole year’s livelihood depends on our faithfulness in these Spring weeks together.

This spring has been wet and we’re anxious for a window of grace to slip seeds into the earth again. This life keeps us on our knees!

You have always loved writing, when did you begin to see it as a ministry and means to encourage others?

Oh, I wonder if I am still in process on this, Karen? For me, it’s still about writing for an audience of One, of needing to write so that God can do deep, necessary work in me, and posting it is just a laying it out on the altar for God to use wherever, however, for whomever, He alone chooses.

If He uses it to encourage one other heart on this journey, to Him be all the glory alone …  I’m just a mess He’s faithfully washing in grace! I am so grateful to walk with other faithful Jesus-sojourners.

What prompted you to write One Thousand Gifts?

Well, I was just journaling the work God was doing in me as I struggled to find joy right where I was, when, through a string of grace appointments, an agent found me just blogging in a quiet corner and contacted me and quietly asked if he could help the farmer’s wife work out the things I was blogging into a larger framework, a place to go far deeper than the blog and invite folks to too go deep with God in pages they could actually hold.

I am so grateful for the work He did in me as the story of the dare to live fully was scratched down.

What is your utmost desire for those who read your book?

That God will free them from being bound to joy that is bound to circumstances. That they can experience wholesale joy, anywhere, anytime.

One man wrote:  “My doctor discussed last week how my processing of gratitude—Eucharisteo—as described in One Thousand Gifts, has effectively replaced my prescription for Prozac.”

And another woman wrote: I lost my daughter tragically three years ago…I have been through many books, many pills and many nights on the floor in tears, many clinched fists days turned nights, many Bible studies, many sermons…many come to Jesus talks, fought through ptsd and panic attacks fought bitterness and anger, envy and jealousy of others with baby girls…

Nothing tangible has helped with my grief heart as much as your words and your God journey in gratitude daily living…

Your words found me crying and laughing and cheering, championing and underlining, rereading and rereading sentences because they were so magnificent and full of truth and peace, just letters put together in such a way that screamed Joy and Peace to me.

I found a new calm, in just keeping my gratitude journal…in cultivating a heart of thanks, I noticed how the fear and anxiety and anger seemed to melt away….I noticed for the first time it was about Him loving me, the focus was on His love and grace to me, instead of trying to figure Him out, love Him and try and fail in a revolving door of grief….

I have shared your book with as many as I can, because I have seen the fruit in my own heart, in my own life….

That is all. For people in deep, dark pain to find real, lasting Joy. In His presence is fullness of Joy — and wherever we are, whatever we’re facing, there’s a way to come into His presence. This book is just about that….

You are a homeschool mom of six. What guidance can you give to women who want to love and serve God by using their gifts and talents and yet not neglect their duties (or miss their joys) as a wife and mom?

Ah, what to say? Perhaps just  use those fringe hours, early and late, all the margins of the day, the hours that everyone sleeps.

Our six crazy exuberant kids head to the barn every morning for 2-3 hours of work with my Farmer Husband, and I have those quiet hours to write and pray and just meet Jesus.

And then the full hours of light and lovely loudness and children, be all there, because yes, yes, yes, Karen, every moment as a gift, these blink years with children,  a calling to holy amazing grace.

Thank you Ann, for stopping by today and inspiring us to thankful, in-the-moment living!

Sweet blog readers, Ann is giving away a personalized copy of her book One Thousand Gifts to one of you who comments. All you must do is share with us one simple gift you are thankful for. The winner will be announced Wednesday.

Now, tell us…..for what are you grateful?

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  • I am particularly grateful that no matter how many times I ‘start over’ with my “Eucho List” (as my sisters and I call it!), the joy-return is the same. He never penalizes for the starting over–He is always there fully, more than I can imagine or hope for; the same yesterday, today and forever!

  • I am thankful that I read your book “One Thousand Gifts”. I am ready to start my journal of my 1,000 gifts and can’t wait. I have so much to be thankful for I don’t even know where to start, I guess #1 should be I am thankful for God’s love for me. I hope that starting my journal changes me as much as it did you.