Tag Archives: Ann Voskamp

NOW is the time


Joining the Five Minute Friday community with a one word prompt. We write for five minutes (I confess, I’m not so good at the time limit), post it, and then link up over at Kate’s blog.

Disclaimer:  due to Internet issues last night I had to give up on publishing this on Friday. This took way longer than 5 minutes!

My dad rolled a clean sheet of paper into the manual typewriter. I leaned over to see what he typed.

“Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.” 

If any of us kids wanted to “type”, that is the sentence we started with. Many of my early years found us in rental houses with one of the bedrooms assigned as Daddy’s office. He preached for small churches in Michigan, so small that they met in schools or American Legion Halls. From his home office he created and printed a church bulletin, his weekly sermons and Bible studies.

Daddy’s brand new office in Rainbow City, Alabama

This phrase popped into my head when I saw today’s word, NOW. Is this such a time for all good men and women to rise to aid our country. Aren’t we all weary of politics, accusing and name-calling?

Ann Voskamp’s wrote America a beautiful love letter in October, reminding us why we are great. (She lives in Canada). Read this to be reminded that even though NOW seems all-consumed by politics and leaders we don’t believe or trust, we are a great country who know:

No matter who takes the White House in January, there are people in God’s House who will keep taking hope into the streets.

Read this NOW!

Ann’s blog in the past few weeks has been gut-wrenching, highlighting the crisis in Aleppo. Her little country church sponsors a family from Aleppo, found them a place to live, gave them everything they needed.

Read these blog posts:

Ann’s writing always moves me, but these stories share how a broken world impacts her family and prompts them to invest personally.

I thank God for aid workers and medical people in the middle of Aleppo, struggling to take care of more people every day.

I thank God for lessons learned about NOW, the most important time.




New Beginnings

January always feels like a new beginning for me . When I was teaching it was a new semester full of new units, new plans, maybe more mature 8th graders? My optimistic nature hoped for the best.

My resolution for the past two years has been one word: Mercy and Lean. Ann Voskamp’s SOULutions plan for 2016 gives me a totally different process to improve myself in several ways. You can find her original post and a free printable here.

She uses verbs and blanks for you to complete however you see fit. Look at this list:

  • Embrace
  • Engage
  • Be
  • Believe
  • Break
  • Do
  • Let
  • Learn
  • Live
  • Give
  • Grow

She also provides her own choices with some explanation in typical Ann-poetic phrases.

I left out one of the essential words because I’ve developed her Daily 3 for 10 into my own plan. She suggests the Daily 3 as Word In, Work out, and Work plan for ten minutes each. Since our church is reading the New Testament this year, my Word In Plan begins with Matthew using the 1st Five app from Proverbs31 Ministry. First5LogoPng

My Daily Plan of Quiet Moments (my favorite time is morning) includes several different practices but with the 10 minute time limit. When I become engrossed in one of the practices on my list, I lose track of time and neglect something else. I’m using the timer on my phone to remind me when to stop.

My Daily Plan 

  1. Give thanks: journal
  2. Word In: Matthew, 1st Five website
  3. Prayer and Meditation: using the 31 Days of Prayer
  4. Becoming a Better Writer: Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg 

I’ve framed my plan and put in my bathroom – a place I will look everyday. I’ll change its location since anything can become “wallpaper” after awhile.2016Okab

My writing goals this year include blogging more regularly (at least twice a week) and complete the book I’m writing. I’m near the end of the first draft and will soon begin the huge task of revising and editing. In case you don’t remember, this book begins with the death of our daughter in 2002 and follows my journey of grief.

Ann’s plan inspired me to reach beyond my typical goals and stretch myself. Have you found a plan that works for you?


Today I am thankful for 

  • resources online for Bible study and encouragement
  • new beginnings



Five-Minute-Friday.1Joining the Five Minute Friday community of bloggers today with a one word prompt. With a one word prompt we write for five minutes, unedited. Today’s word is one I choose. 


I’m reading Ann Voskamp’s book, The Greatest Gift, at my own pace which means I’m way behind on the correct day of Advent. This book illuminates God’s plan from the very Beginning of time – the plan to send His Son to earth.TheGreatestGif

When God called Abraham to a new country, He promised to bless Abraham. Here’s the simple idea from Ann’s unique writing: the order of grace . . .

  • The personal blessings envelop you first. Then you are the blessing sent to the world.
  • You must feel the fullness of your own pitcher before you trust the pouring out of yourself.

I must first be aware of God’s blessings for me – all of them, even when I have to search them out. Last week I wrote in my “Thanks Journal” that I’m thankful for:

  • a bed to sleep on – even if it is uncomfortable
  • legs and hips that can feel the bed – even if my knees are hurting

I have a dear mentor and friend, Nila, who is dying from cancer. But she has blessed her Bible class by continuing to teach every Sunday with the help of oxygen, a wheelchair, and a small team to get her to church. Each of us are blessed by her strength, courage, and faith in God.

I was blessed to sit with her a few hours one afternoon. Blessed to share conversation with her sister, catching up with each others’ lives.

And then these words, again from Ann:

Only when you are overwhelmed with the goodness of God can you overflow with the goodness of God to others. (p. 41)

CupofTeaToday I am thankful for this season of blessings:

  • children reading or reciting verses in a Christmas program
  •  sharing food with God’s family 
  • Christmas tree finally decorated
  • a cup of hot spice tea







Five-Minute-Friday.1Joining the Five Minute Friday community of bloggers today with a one word prompt. With a one word prompt we write for five minutes, unedited.



one thousand gifts

sharing the gift I spoke twice this week at Valley View Camp, in a beautiful valley outside Nashville. A gift from church leaders with the vision decades ago, they built a camp for young and old.SignCamp

Tuesday a slow drizzle marked their second day of unusual cool temperatures and rain. I shared my story of grief with the high school girls by first telling them of Jennifer’s love for this camp. Every time I drive down that narrow country road to reach the camp I am reminded of the years of either driving Jennifer to camp or visiting her. One year I delivered a bottle of Benadryl after hers broke. Her allergies usually created sneezing fits whenever she was at camp.Camp

On Thursday I shared some tools to help overcome hard times. The greatest gift for me was Ann Voskamp’s book —— it gave me that change in perspective, finding joy by remembering the Giver. Romans 8 is filled with affirmations of the greatest gift and the role of the Spirit in our lives.

count the giftsJenCamp

accept the joy of knowing the Giver      

I thank God today for:

  • camp memories
  • the staff and volunteers at camp
  • parents who support camp
  • the beauty of God’s country






What I’ve Learned About Giving Thanks

GiveThanks.2Two women have taught me how to give thanks.

Since 2012 I’ve been practicing giving thanks in a daily journal. This practice is no accident.

Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts, opened my eyes to:

  • this “naming of the moments” as a holy work.
  • the sin of ingratitude
  • the apostle Paul learning how to be content (Phil.4:11-12)
  • hands must be open to receive joy and peace
  • joy and peace come in moments
  • giving thanks for the microscopic makes a place for God to grow within me

Sarah Young’s book, Jesus Calling,  provides daily reminders from Scripture that slowly seep into my soul each day. I find I need these daily readings to keep the practice of giving thanks a vital part of my life. I’m on my second reading of her book and continue to learn. Here are just a few nuggets I’ve underlined or written on post-its.

  • Thankfulness opens me to samples of heaven.      Nov. 22
  • Thankfulness is a language of love.
  • Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity.       Nov. 24
  • Thankfulness opens my heart to God’s presence in my life.
  • We live in a world where blessings and sorrows intermingle.     Nov. 26
  • Neglecting the practice of giving thanks darkens my thoughts and can easily defeat me.


    from Jesus Calling

I pray this day of thanksgiving is full of joy for you and those you love. 

I am thankful for each reader who chooses to spend a few minutes with me each time I write.



Created by a former 8th graderTuesday is for Teachers

(and parents, grandparents, and

anyone else interested in education)

Several years ago I heard eighth graders from a tiny Tennessee town south of Nashville describe their journey through a study of the Holocaust. They created a lasting memorial and unique experiences for many others, even outside of the United States. They set up a museum to showcase the millions of paper clips they collected to symbolize the 6 million Jews and other minorities who were killed in the Holocaust. Follow this link to learn more about the Paper Clip Museum.

One spring my teaching partners and I took our 8th graders south to Whitwell, Tennessee after we completed a study of The Diary of Anne Frank. Two chartered busloads of students who only knew inner city Nashville or large complexes of low-income housing rolled into this town without red lights. Many of our students had never been outside of Nashville, and most had never been to rural Tennessee.

The boxcar from Germany to house 6 million paper clips

The boxcar from the Holocaust houses 6 million paper clips


Poster one of our students presented to Whitewill Middle School

Poster one of our students presented to Whitwill Middle School

When we unloaded the buses, our students took a much needed restroom break in the middle school’s restrooms. Much to the chaperones dismay a few of our boys scared the fifth grade boys in the same restroom with their language and tough city-bravado. Word spread among the chaperones that we were asked to keep our students away from the restrooms.


How embarrassing!

I got a voicemail a few days ago from one of those 8th grade teachers that refreshed my memory of that incident. A parent of one of those rude boys ran into my colleague with an update on his life after 8th grade.

This young man survived high school, graduated, joined the Marines, is now a corporal, and stationed in Afghanistan. His mother says that he attributes his success to his experiences on our eighth grade team.

We just never knew with our middle schoolers. Sometimes we would privately predict success or failure, but we in a big city school system it was easy to lose track of “our kids”. But how we love to be surprised with successes still today.

When I read Ann Voskamp’s blog on “Dear You . . . “, I was reminded of this incident. Her words are true not just for teachers but anyone who strives to live a life on the principles of the Good News.

You’ve got to remember: we don’t know when and how we are leaving the greatest marks on the world. It all matters.

Believe it: Every tremor of kindness might erupt in a miracle on the other side of the world.

And the only way to ever leave beauty marks on the world is with bits of yourselfand this will hurt. Things of realest beauty don’t bring us glory — but Him glory.

Everything matters in your daily walk, in the children you touch, in your casual and important interactions. Read the rest of her post — her words always touch me deeply.

I am thankful for teachers who touch lives by their examples, their words, and their courage.

Father, bless them all, the children and the adults.


For a related post for teachers, see “A Prayer for Teachers, 2014





“gratitude is a memory of God’s heart,

to give thanks is to remember God.”    Ann Voskampcropped-give-thanks-31.jpg


if I give thanks in all things, I must search my present circumstances.


I search for the blessings of TODAY my mind and my heart are lifted from . . .

the mosquito buzz of trivial irritations

the chronic pain of arthritis (substitute your own chronic)

the fatigue of a sleepless night

the brain fog of media overload

the frustration of incomplete to-do lists

the turmoil of conflict


I give thanks for

the birth of a long-awaited baby girl (Jennifer’s best friend from childhood)

the hug of a friend

the prayers of soul sisters

a husband who drops everything to vacuum or drive me to a doctor appointment

bright leaves scattered on September’s grass of deep greenOrange Leaf

I am filled with JOY,

and I remember to TRUST the One who never leaves me.