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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bonus Feature: An Interview With Ann Voskamp


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The story of Ann and me is one that traces back to when we were both writing for Christian Women Online. She and I were both columnists and I loved reading her column each month, which led me to reading her blog each day, which led to me becoming convinced that this woman NEEDED to write a book. After a particularly poignant column, I boldly wrote to her and asked her when she thought this book I thought she needed to write might happen.


She politely told me that she didn't think that would happen for two reasons: 1) she needed to be on the other side of motherhood before she wrote about her experiences as a mom-- just to make sure she had done it right and 2) she didn't have an agent. Well, I don't know why I had the audacity to do this, but I wrote her back and told her that I thought her writing was so compelling because she wasn't on the other side of motherhood-- she was elbow deep in it just like me and I could relate. And then I added that if an agent was all she lacked, well I could introduce her to mine! (For the record, I never do that...)

A few emails later and she was in communication with my agent, they hit it off and... 1000 Gifts came out in January. It's been so fun for me to see that a lot of people agreed with me-- that Ann V needed to write a book. I asked Ann if she'd be willing to stop by and share with us, and she said yes! So, here is bestselling author Ann Voskamp to share with us the story behind her writing...

Ann, you are a humble farmer's wife and homeschooling mom of six children who never dreamed you'd write a bestselling book! What led you to this place?

Ah, only the wildest grace of God. I, just a mess, clinging to the grace of Christ -- with this strange little quirk: I have to scratch down things to understand my life. I was that geeky kid that journaled every night under her lamp, filling shelves with journals, and when I write words I meet the Spirit of God and I can see what I couldn't before.

Over six years ago now, I just began a little online journal. A homeschooling mama of six, my life gets just a tad crazy, and I blogged about my joy-hunt and how looking for God's gifts in the daily and hard was changing the way I see, the way I live.

And an editor contacted me and then this very generous woman named Marybeth Whalen surprised and connected me with those who had experience in writing book length projects and oh, how it takes a praying, supportive community of brothers and sisters in the Lord to make a book.

And really, this book is the story of every woman trying to find holy grail of joy in the whirl of it all -- the story of facing not only some my own greatest challenges, but sharing in the age-old struggles of women everywhere. It's our collective story -- and the answer that He's whispering to each of us -- right where we are.

You celebrate the simple joys of life through your list of 1000 gifts on your blog, which grew into this book. How did you get the idea to begin sharing your list on your blog?

I began the list of 1000 gifts in the season before Christmas, that season of making lists -- but really this was a list not of gifts I wanted, but gifts I had. I wrote just a cursory post, sharing that I was beginning this list --- and a friend asked if I would keep sharing the list, that maybe others could join in also?

So every Monday, a whole community of us blog together of our gifts, "Multitudes on a Monday" --- a perfect way to begin the week -- counting blessings -- and in counting blessings, we're discovering Who we can count on!

Now folks are sharing all the time, throughout the day, every day, at www.onethouandgifts.com -- us all gathering to give God glory just like David did: "I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you.“( Psalm 35:18 )
We were made for this, to glorify God and enjoy Him forever!

What has surprised you about the response?

How many lives have been as radically changed as mine.

How women who have struggled with depression, with health issues, with heart-breaking family situations have read the book and God's met them in the pages and done what only He can do and they have discovered what they have been looking for -- what we are all looking for. The real, true joy, the abundant life that Christ promises us --- but we've been struggling to really experience.

Where is God in my pain? How can I find joy here? Isn't there more to life than the stress and racing pace of it all?

Your writing is sheer poetry. How do you find the time to write with such depth in the midst of a busy, full household?

Oh, I'm such a slow thinker, a slow scratcher... I write early and late, always in the dark, in the fringe hours. And then when the kids come in from the barn, the day rolls in this lovely loud and exuberant way!

What is your favorite time of day?

I'm so in process, so learning to just give thanks for the present moment that I'm in -- that I worship the Great I AM and He is in this present moment and in His presence is fullness of joy. My word for this year is Here. I'm learning so much about living in the grace of this moment. Here is where I can love Him.

What gift are you noticing right now?

I woke up this morning and smiled -- and yes, I knew that there were bathrooms that needed some serious rescuing in this house and my fridge is growing something green and fuzzy and definitely not cute and I am so very far behind on so many things -- but I woke up here! I am so grateful for the loud and the wild and mess of us all being together. There's all this daily grace that I don't want to miss, that I want to give Him all the glory for: the beauty of sisters cutting snippets everywhere, making cards everywhere, and the pile of boots and kites and soccer balls and boy dreams at the back door, and in the midst of this chronic illness that flares, I get the gift of another day to love!

Are there plans for more books by Ann Voskamp? I hope so!

Well... John 3:27 is a life verse: "A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven..."

Nothing anyone seemingly has is theirs. Nor can we make anything apart from what He alone gives. So all glory is only His, because He is the one who gives... So we pray, watch, and wait, willing if He gives. It would truly be a humbling grace to co-labour again with Him.... Only as He leads, so we follow.


Guys, I have to say if you have not gotten hold of 1000 Gifts yet, do it today. Make it your morning quiet time to read a chapter-- or a portion of a chapter-- each morning before you start your day. Then haltingly, cautiously, begin scratching out your own gift list. I have found that doing so teaches you to pay attention, to recall the good when you reflect on your experiences-- even the tiniest glimmers of it. This is the best way to live-- intentionally seeking out the many gifts that lie in the everyday moments of life. I am so thankful to Ann for listening to God's prompting to do so years ago, and for sharing it with those of us who really needed to hear it. Thank you Ann, for stopping by today. Want to visit with her on a regular basis? You can find her scratchings at www.aholyexperience.com/


Want to meet Ann in person? She's coming to be our Saturday night speaker at She Speaks. I for one can not wait to hug her neck and hear what God is going to bring to us that night through her. She Speaks was already shaping up to be phenomenal weekend but this? This just sealed the deal! Check out www.shespeaksconference.com/ to secure your spot before we sell out!
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8 comments:

Ellen - SkoMomma said...

I've read 1000 Gifts twice now and I plan to re-read it again and again as each time I pick up something. This book has been life-changing for me - a fresh perspective on life as a daughter of the King. THANK YOU Marybeth for encouraging her to write a book for us!

Christina Parker Brown said...

I didn't realize you were her inspiration. May God bless you richly for it! She has changed my life :)

Adventures In Babywearing said...

I really wish I could be at She Speaks! I imagine it's going to be amazing!

Steph

Sheila said...

I am reading One Thousand Gifts right now! I love it and feel it working in my soul. I started my list this morning and can already see the effect that the Thankfulness to Him has on my day! I feel more at peace...Thank both for this book!

Cheri Bunch said...

Wonderful! Love One Thousand Gifts! Ann has been such an inspiration to me! I love her scratchings. She is an artist with words. I am so excited that she is going to be at She Speaks. I can hardly wait!!! See you girls there!
Blessings,
Cheri

Danielle said...

How funny... I just ordered my book this morning! I can't wait to read it. I joined with the others on blogs and began posting my 1000 a couple weeks ago. Man! How just doing that can change my whole day.

Pam said...

A powerful book with a message that is changing my life! God has used the words written on the pages to speak to my heart in beautiful ways. I've started my own list joining Ann and hundreds of others on Multitudes on Mondays and am telling all my friends about the book.

I know she will speak something special into the hearts of the women attending She Speaks.

Sweet Blessings,
Pam

Anonymous said...

I heard your interview on Chris Fabry Live on Monday, Jan. 16 and decided to order your book. I am a member of Paperback Swap - an online book club. I had to put the request on my Wish List - there were 718 others ahead of me and since I don't want to wait that long (!!!) I placed an order for it from an online source. I can't wait to get it!