Book Review: One Thousand Gifts

Book Review: One Thousand Gifts

Book Review: One Thousand Gifts

I have wanted to read this book for a long time and now finally have. My middle sister (the one in Ohio) gave it to  me for my birthday last February and I am so glad she did. This is a book about gratitude, steeped in paying attention to the details, and giving God the total glory. It is the book that inspired my recently launched Grace Notes series of blog posts.

The author is an evangelical homeschooling mother of 6 on a farm in Ontario. Overburden by the drudgeries of life, laundry and dishes in an everlasting round, her life was turned upside down and burst open by finding gratitude to God for the slightest little gifts all around her. This practice peeled away layers of frustration and anguish, leaving her fresh and open and ready to honor God. She now writes one of the top ten Christian blogs in the world.

The prose in this book is amazingly poetic, with a disarming lyrical quality, that penetrates the heart. I loved her rich writing, while I simultaneously also found it rambling and cumbersome; it was sometimes a distraction to her overarching theme. Because of this, I give this book only four stars, although it certainly has a five star message.

Here are some of my favorite bits from the book (quotes are hers unless otherwise noted):

  • “Thanksgiving creates abundance.”
  • I preach it to the person I need to preach to the most. I preach to me.”
  • One act of thanksgiving, when things go wrong with us, is worth a thousand thanks when things are agreeable to our inclinations.” St. John of Avila
  • “Don’t numb yourself to living.”
  • “…doubt the Pharisees (especially the ones in mirrors).”
  • I pay tribute to God by paying attention. I raise one hand high. And another hand high. I bow the head down. ‘The life of true holiness is rooted in the soil of awed adoration. It does not grow elsewhere.’ J. I. Parker. I am bowed like wheat, raised like grass blades, grounded and rooted to now, and from Him and through Him and to Him are all things, and all is His and everything that has breath praises Him.”
  • “These six kids lean hard into me all day to teach and raise and lead and I fail hard and there are real souls that are at stake and how long do I really have to figure out how to live full of grace, full of joy– before these six beautiful children fly the coop and my mothering days fold up quiet? How do you open the eyes to see how to take the daily, domestic workday vortex and invert it into the dome of an everyday cathedral?”
  • “Contemplative simplicity isn’t a matter of circumstance; it is a matter of focus.”
  • “Feel thanks and it is absolutely impossible to feel angry. We can only feel one emotion at a time. And we get to choose– which emotion do you want to feel?
  • All I have seen teaches me to trust God for all I have not seen” Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “Anything less than gratitude and trust is practical atheism.”
  • “The river’s a ribbon of silver slipping under the bridge like a thread passing through the eye of a needle.”
  • “This child churns me to butter and her voice spreads me out…”
  • “Expectations kill relationships– especially with God. And that’s what a child doesn’t have: this whole edifice of expectation. Without expectations, what can topple the surprising wonder of the moment?”
  • “Receiving God’s gifts is a gentle, simple, movement of stooping lower.”
  • “The demanding of my own will is the singular force that smothers out joy–nothing else.”
  • “Pride slays thanksgiving… A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.” Henry Ward Beecher
  • “Only self can kill joy.”
  • “Autumn comes quietly to wed the countryside. The maples all down the lane blush and silently disrobe.”
  • “God is relationship and He woos us to relationship and there is nothing with God if there is no relationship.”
  • “The greatest of poems is an inventory” C.K. Chesterton

The Bible councils, “In all things give thanks.”   You may easily be blessed by reading this rich and rambling book, but you will definitely be blessed by the daily, hourly, practice of Thanksgiving, not only at this time of year, but always. 


I work to amplify good wherever I find it. I love color, texture, beauty, great ideas, nature, metaphor, deliciousness, genuine spirituality, and exploring new territory. I encourage authenticity, nurture creativity, champion sustainability, promote peace, and hope to foster a new renaissance where we all are free to be our most fulfilled, multifaceted, and terrific selves. Read more here.


  1. Mary Jo Beebe 8 years ago

    I read this beautiful book with my book group. I give it a 5. Her writing is very unique and sometimes seems so unusual that I have to really reach to understand what she is saying. Those times make me think deeply–not only about what she means but also what her words mean to me and my life.

    Like Polly, I find her poetic in her prose. She makes gratitude for even the slightest of happenings so important and meaningful. Her artistic way of expressing her feelings makes me want to reach to a more uplifting way of expressing my own.


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