About the Author

Ann Voskamp is a farmer's wife, the home-educating mama to a half-dozen exuberant kids, and author of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, a New York Times 60 week bestseller. Named by Christianity Today as one of 50 women most shaping culture and the...

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  1. Ann, this is beauiful. I have always love your wriitng.

    You know I wanted so bad to give generously, help and share but our financial situation is so bad that I really don’t have nothing to share. And it is making me feel bad, sad… but I know God understands and He knows. I blog like you do and this is my way of glorifying Him and sharing to others how Great He Is, in my own little way.

    Thank you and God Bless You Always 🙂

    • Thank you for reaching out in prayer, Charina…

      To simply love those around us with a listening ear, a gentle word, daily grace.

      You give exactly what the world needs, friend… Just love.

      Love comes down.

      Merry Christmas, Charina!

      All’s grace,
      Ann

      • Thank you so much Ann for taking the time to reply. Your words have touched me more than you know.

        Merry Christmas to you and yours!

        All good things,
        Charina

      • Jim, thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words. Know that it is very much appreciated.

        Merry Christmas!

        All good things,
        Charina

        • Beautiful! “The longing to give is a gift to God.” SO true! God looks at the heart. Intangible gifts(love, mercy, forgiveness, intercessory prayer, words, compassion, etc.) shared from a heart held captive to Christ, one that lives by the Spirit, are supernatural and of eternal purpose.

  2. Ann,
    This touched my heart in so many ways. It humbles me and begs me to each out to others this Christmas. Your words are gentle, yet convicting ,asking us to open up, stretch ourselves, be Jesus to someone this Christmas. So now, in the rush of all that goes on, I will look for an opportunity to be Jesus to someone show God’s love and tenderness to a stranger, or even someone I know. Many hurt at this time of year and my prayer request would be that they may find peace at the manger.
    Thank you Ann, you are, as always, an inspiration to me and I love you for that. May God richly bless you and your family this coming year. Christine

    • Dearest Christine…

      And your words, your life — they touch me in deep places — to look for an opportunity not to turn from God here with us, but to reach out to the people in our homes, our families, our communities.

      Christine? Thank you. You are a bright light this morning — Merry Christmas, Christine! You are a blessing, you living for Jesus…

  3. “He let’s us say it in a thousand ways– that there is no room at the inn.”

    so thankful for you at christmas, ann.

    do you know that you’ve changed our family with your words? they’ve gotten all swirled up into the mix of our christmas – and though it’s not a carbon copy (it doesn’t have to be) – it’s better.

    merry christmas,
    zena

    • Ah, dear Zena — thank you. Just for grace. I am so grateful for you, how you’ve opened your lives, made room for Christ, this season.

      Always…

      You are a gift to me, Zena.

      Merry Christmas!

    • Silver sandals in Decemeber rain — may this be the Christmas I don’t forget. Where God comes, why He comes.

      Thank you, Jody — for this story. For being a dwelling place for God…

  4. those ornaments. that whisper, oh. i teach public school, and for a week, these 12 year olds came bearing gifts. chocolate. coffee. nutella (they know i love it), candles, mugs, lotion….my favorite? a recipe torn from a magazine. because that’s all he could do. and he wanted to. precious, precious, these child hearts.

    • Ah, Kendal? Your words here — brought tears. A ripped out recipe? My! May be one of the most beautiful gifts I have heard of this Christmas.

      To tenderly tear just a bit out of our lives, whatever we have, and offer it with love?

      Yes, yes, yes. Thank you, Kendal, for the gift of these words! Merry, Merry Christmas!

    • Kendal, That brought tears to my eyes and your comment below, Ann, brought more. Why do I forget so often about the little gifts that really matter? Small acts of love and kindness, rather than things that money can buy.

  5. Your Jesse tree devotions have been such a blessing to us this Christmas, Ann!! …and we delivered baking to our neighbours this Christmas and gave gifts to those in need. ….and those will be the gifts that remain in my heart!

    • Just that, Natasha: “and those will be the gifts that remain in my heart!”

      You encapsulated it all, just with that.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours, Natasha!

  6. As always your words bring tears! Beautiful, challenging words! Your book (along with a journal) is wrapped and under the tree for my daughter and daughter-in-law this Christmas and I’m praying it will bless them as it has me and set them on the journey of recording the blessings that are right there close by all the time! God bless you as you continue to bless us with your words! Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    • Please let your daughter, daughter-in-law know how it comes with my love wound in with yours? And I pray — that Jesus meets them in the pages. Walking right there with you, Jo-Ann…

      Just — Keep shining the love and grace and truth of Christ, Jo-Ann! Every blessing in our Lord this Christmas, sister!

  7. This year has been different. Be it our circumstances or that God had heard my cries enough for a slower, more Christ-centered year; this year we have begun our less of this for more of Him. Christmas time has been quieter; fewer parties and requirements. It’s the quiet and calm of this Christmas that Christ is stretching me to see the real Him. The night He was born was not filled with artificial trees and lights and decorations or feasts and family celebrations. Most people were tired and ill at the reason for their latest journey. There was one celebration going on, though, and it was among the least of these. This year He is meeting me in the midst of our few gifts, as we are trying to keep our faith in Him and not fear the drowning debts. He is meeting me in the tree that has two big sections of lights that have burnt out- what would typically annoy, I am choosing to enjoy. He is meeting me in the daily chores, the falling snow, the warmth of fire, the smile of a little boy, and the songs of my daughter, as I count them all as grace.
    I would ask for prayer as I try to lean into His strength and take His courage; I want to extend His love to our neighbors…those we live beside and those God brings us beside.

    • Oh, Anastasia… read your words twice. All the letters kept blurring.
      I meet God in your life here — –

      I am praying with you right now, Anastasia…

      Thank you, thank you for the ways you’ve ministered here — *thank you*.

      Merry Christmas!

  8. It’s just a few days before Christmas and while the world is busy preparing for that day, many of our countrymen are busy burying their dead, mourning and lining up for food and water. (Typhoon Sendong in the Philippines).

    A photo of a lifeless baby still in his diaper, the arm of his equally lifeless father wrapped around him…and many more photos that tell of the horror and of lives that were abruptly ended…

    Hearts have been broken. God wants us so much to remember Him. To remember Him, serve and worship Him in spirit and in truth.

    Rina @ Healing Moments

  9. We are sending my husband back to Haiti! Our finances are short, our girls and boys hearts are full and they took a stand and gave up their wants to help their dad get back there in March. He was there in November. We are just so full of wonder when he returns with stories and pictures ( a lot like yours!) It makes us see HIM so much clearer and we are so grateful for a new vision as a family. Grace!

    • Now, this! Will you give your children a big hug from us all here?
      Their lives give us a vision too — of what ours could be!

      Thank you, Stacie and family!

      Celebrating Christ with you… Him so worth it all…
      *Merry* Christmas!

  10. Is there a way to purchase the those beautiful ornaments, hopefully supporting the folks Ecuador at the same time (financially)?

  11. We were blessed to be by my husbands.Aunts side yesterday as she slipped from earth to heavan right before our eyes! She celebrated her 61 st anniversary only minutes before, as she slept away to meet Jesus.. We ate ice cream and talked about the memories of their life here amongst us. But what a shock when in a blink she was gone. We didn’t expect it so fast. Are we expecting Jesus to come so fast. Lets be prepared like Lula was yesterday.

  12. I’ve been blessed by your blog and writing…this year has been quite different as I choose to notice marks of God’s grace in the unlikely…thanks to a friend who shared your posts on her blog. Though I don’t have a copy of your book but God has used your words and reflections during this difficult year for us.

    We planned for a “quiet” Christmas, started advent devotions using your free ebook…planned to seek more, rest more, be present for each other…Until last weekend when a devastating storm and flash flood happened in two cities about 8 hours bus-ride away from our place here in the Philippines…and my husband who works with Compassion had to rush to help facilitate the rescue and relief operations there…Oh, the photos of dead children (9 of whom are from Compassion projects and many still missing:-( )has been so heartbreaking.

    So, yes, we had to forego all our plans as a family for some quiet rest. Though my husband is home for this weekend yet he needs to go back immediately on Monday for the need is still great…yes, this is another “unlikely”, unplanned detours…But God will continue to meet us here. We may not be able to go with my husband (how we love to!) to help in packing and distributing relief goods (blankets, water, ready-to-eat food) to those who lost everything however we rest content in knowing God is near…God is with us and with everyone who are hurting because of this calamity.

    Please pray with us for all families who are affected….Thanks and I’m so grateful to God for this post…God bless you and your family.

    • Oh Mimosa…

      Thank you — for the way you are making yourself bread for the soul hungry, right where you are.

      Oh, friend… Singing that Advent hymn with you:

      “Come divine Messiah,
      Save our ill-fated days;
      You are our life,
      Come, come, come!

      Oh! Come down, hasten your step:
      Save men from death;
      Help us, don’t be late!
      See our tears run;
      Great God, if you forgive us,
      We will have no more fear:
      Come, come, come!”

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcCW5Js0DpU&feature=related

      We all hold you in our prayers, beautiful Mimosa… your sisters in Christ uphold you and yours as you are the fragrance of Christ there… Thank you for your testimony — of being the gift.

      Every blessing,
      Ann

  13. God is the Great Initiator.
    He took the first step . . . even when hearts, like those inns of Bethlehem, were full. Of sin. . . He came anyway. Knowing we had no room. No vacancy.
    And, I like what you said, we *can* turn away, but we can also choose to make room. For Him. In whatever form He comes to us.
    How do we get tricked into thinking this is so HARD??!!
    It is in this opening of our selfish lives, this choosing generosity over stinginess in ways much bigger than just finances, that carves out room for Him. The giver becomes the one truly blessed . . . the one with space to receive.
    Thank you for your beautiful post. May we do more than speak, indeed, may we *live* that it is more blessed to give than receive.

    • This: “May we do more than speak, indeed, may we *live* that it is more blessed to give than receive”

      Amen — a thousand times over…

      Thank you, Kelli — and Merry Christmas…

  14. such a beautiful post. Thank you so much. My spirit needed this today. We have been dealing with a lay-off and praying I told God that all I wanted was a job for my husband. But through it all He has reminded me that He is my provider and He will provide a job for Him. 🙂 Thank you again for today’s post.

    • Lord God, we all reach over and squeeze Dianna’s hand — and thank you that You are our Jehovah Jireh. That You draw Dianna and her family safe under Your wing — that You have made room for them. Thank You for all your plans for them, Lord. To give them a future and a hope in You. In the name of our Saviour… Amen.

      Praying with you, Dianna — Merry, merry Christmas to you and yours, leaning all back into Him.

  15. Thank you for this beautiful post. There is so much of Christ’s love in every word. I am facing Christmas without my wonderful husband, who deployed to Afghanistan two weeks ago. My children and I wanted a slow Christmas as well.. one devoid of happy family moments we couldn’t share with Daddy. However, after reading this post, I feel challenged to let God provide joy this year, and to reach out to those who could benefit from our love and attention. Thank you for touching my heart this morning.

    • Oh, Tabitha! Ahhh, your beautiful heart! Seriously, this community!

      Thank you for giving your love and attention to someone around you, Tabitha — when you’d love to be loving on your good man. We all celebrate you, your kids, your husband — as you live like Jesus!

      Thank you — your life challenges ours.

      Merry, merry Christmas, Tabitha…

  16. Thank you so much for this message. I will pay it and pray it forward.

    This Christmas, God met me in the waiting room of an auto repair shop. Go figure. All I can say is that His glory was manifested so profoundly that both myself and a stranger engaged in a chorus of praise. I will not forget my Father’s touch of grace. It is my prayer that others will open their eyes and see the glory of the LORD in their personal “waiting rooms.”

  17. So beautiful.

    This Advent, God met us with unexpected in the hospital, where I gave birth to our first child, dead. She died shortly before Thanksgiving at 31 weeks of pregnancy of unknown causes. Although the loss was devastating, His peace and love and gifts were everywhere. We — I — could not escape them, or Him, even when I wanted to. I hate that we live in a broken world where babies die and children starve and parents hurt . . . but I am so glad that we have a God who carries us, who is big enough, who won’t let us go. Tearful, sorrowing gratitude — that is the season that God is guiding me through today.

  18. Merry Christmas, Ann. Thank you for always pointing us to the Christ Child – how he came for us then, how he comes for us now, every single day. And more often than not, in the most unexpected ways. Looking for him with you, starting with the faces of children and all those on the edges of life.

    • Yes, Diana… on the edges. Christmas on the edges.

      Thank you for the way you minister and mentor, friend. Every blessing in the Christ Child Who comes…

  19. Ann,
    I thank God for His work in you. He is growing me and stretching me and undoing me while focusing me more and more on Him through your words. Less of Christmas hastle and more of Christ’s love and grace changes lives. Thank You for listening to Him and being obedient.

  20. Dearest Ann, It is more than the gift of your words; it is the gift of your heart giving life to the words. You walk where we walk and give our feelings a voice.
    I have been parched – lost in the burdens that seem to fall on us daily here, but time spent in His word or listening to the story told through beautiful music and I feel Him drawing me close.
    We have given the Grandchildren the gift of giving to children through World Vision this year. A baby goat – such delight.
    Love to you my dearest of friends and joyous Christmas.

  21. Thank you for the heart stirring post…you have captured the spirit of God with your words. He is always about others, giving totally of Himself, leaving not even his breathe for Himself.

    For years we have minstered over seas, now we find ourselves walking among those with the same cry as Lidia here in the US. One does not have to go overseas to find need. It has overwhelmed me often knowing I cannot meet all the needs out there. it’s easy to allow being overwhelmed a reason not to help EVEN ONE. In explaining the gospel many times we have used the phrase, ‘if you were the only one on earth, God would sent His Son to die for YOU. That is what we do when we at least chose ONE to help. Precious reminder Ann.
    Merry Christmas

  22. Making room in whatever way He comes to us… oh that let the tears out as I read. this Christmas, we’ll gather the few presents, the freshly baked breakfast, the rest of our kids… ans spend the morning with my daughter in the hospital unit. Her mind is fighting to see the world the way it really is. Her sister even asked, “Mom? Does she even know how to love?” It’s crazy what breaks in a child when they lived years in foster care before our homes.We’ll be in a hospital on Christmas morning, with mentally broken children, loving our girl, hoping for His healing, redemption in her young life. Oh that He would give me eyes to see Him in the heartache. In the stubborn hoping for her life to mend. I want Him so badly to come to her with healing. I want so much to bring her home. Grateful for your words, once again, that in His grace open the tears I hold back so often. I don’t have to be strong when I’m here reading. Blessings over your precious family this Christmas, Ann.

  23. What a joy to meet your sponsored child. My hubby and I now sponsor a little girl from Mexico in the Ninos de Mexico missions. Her letters to us brighten our days. It hit me when she wrote about being overjoyed at a pair of purple boots for her birthday. That’s all nothing else! Wow! How we complain so much about the little things in life!

    I have also been blessed this Christmas to sponsor, along with my church, a cancer family. They have 4 kids 2, 5, 19 and 11. The grandfather, father and 11 year old all have cancer. Mother works for Housing authority in our small town when she can. Our small church gave almost $1,000.00 in gifts & money.

    What a joy it is to see others face light up & to know that what God has given you can be used to help the less fortunate!

  24. Our family has been handing out Christmas bags filled with hats, blankets, snacks, and a Bible to those holding signs on street corners. It has been a blessing to be a blessing this Christmas : )

    Christmas Blessings to you and your family, Ann!
    Pam

  25. Last night, my husband and I drove to the county jail to join with others and pack Christmas snack bags for the inmates. Apples, pop tarts, candy bars, and more. Three hundred plain brown paper bags we packed for the inmates and another fifty for the guards. When I lose sight of what I have – such abundance – I will remember this night, packing snacks, pouring the love of Jesus into the least of these.

  26. Ann, I have been reading your blog for months now, but this is my first comment. I just want you to know what an encouragement you are to me and my family! We just learned yesterday that our daughter (recently adopted from Uganda) may have a rare and severe seizure disorder. In the midst of this devastating news, we cling to God’s promises and His grace. Thank you for continually reminding me to focus on what is important and real. All is grace

  27. Thanks so much Ann. As always your words refresh my soul. Merry Christmas to you and your blessed family.

    Anna

  28. Thank you so much Ann for your beautiful words from your heart..His heart! Our family is going on the 3rd year of doing your Jesse Tree devotions during our Advent time. Thank you so much!!!!! Because of you and your blog we sponsored a compassion child from Guatemala and the blessing is amazing. Thank you for sharing your family with all of us. I am so blessed by your words everyday. You are refreshment to the soul and you always lead me to worship Him….May He richly bless you and yours always.

    In Him,
    kent

  29. My name is Kathy and I just lost my 22yr old daughter to a car accident ..she was hit by another car crossing over into her lane 2 weeks ago…she went home to be with Jesus
    our Lord and Savior…she left behind her 2yr old son ..she was in a horrible custody battle for a year and she was going to get full custody…the father’s family does not know Jesus
    and bad mouth my daughter and our family and swear…I am trusting in God’s plan with mercy and grace,love and peace,and even joy..and that He will work all things for good to those that love Him and are called according to His purpose..thanks and Merry Christmas

    • Kathy, I am so sorry for the loss of your precious and sweet daughter. Father of Mercy, will you work your perfect plan out in this situation. Please protect Kathy’s grandson , please keep him with people who love you. Be their peace and their comfort. in Jesus name, Amen.

  30. Dear Ann, without an e,
    My name is Sheila and this is probably going to be a long note! I have recently found your blog and have been literally soaking it up…..After weeping my way through your “Who’s Birthday Is It Anyway, When Christmas Gets Radical” blog, I called my girls (Olivia 9 and Jillian 7) to my room and re-read it to them, weeping again. We decided right on the spot w/o praying, thinking it over, having a family meeting that next Christmas we are joining in the fun! We have always done 3 presents for each girl, in honor of Jesus receiving 3 presents and a few years ago Olivia decided on her own that she wanted to give one of her 3 presents through World Vision and had such fun pouring through the King’s Catalog as you call them. Love that title, it is so appropriate. So anyway, we will be giving all our presents to Jesus from next year on, including our presents to family and friends. How wonderful will that be?
    We have been married 27 years and adopted both of our girls, Olivia from South Korea and Jillian from China……prior to that we have sponsored children through Compassion Intl. our entire married lives, so the girls and I just read your post today about Lydia and I wept all through….how powerful, you both walking down the hill, hands clasped, both broken by divorce, yet both healed by God’s amazing grace. Hallulujah, what a Savior……=o)
    Our Compassion daughter, also chosen by my daughter Olivia, lives in Ethiopia, Africa. Although it is unlikely that we will ever be able to travel to meet her and her family in person, we love her like she is truly our daughter and the girl’s sister. If God wills it for us to meet her one day, we will rejoice! If not, we will hopefully meet her in heaven for eternity. After seeing your ornament of Lydia’s picture on your tree, we will be making one of Muniera for our tree!!
    I told you this would be long, sorry, still not finished…..
    Fell in love with Calebs spiral advent wreath……and that it will bless us at Easter too. Wow, how awesome…..I can’t find an order form for that….I did send him an email inquiring. The point is: THANK YOU for helping our family to enter deeper into worship of our Lord Jesus in tangible ways. This has been the best advent ever, we also found the book “Jotham’s Journey”.
    Late last night I watched about 3 hours of your interviews that are posted online about your book 1,000 gifts. I cannot wait to get it and read it. We looking forward to starting our lists….
    We are also a homeschooling family and thank God for how He leads us, one step at a time, when we follow. Leads us right to Himself. Thank you for being a part of that leading. It has blessed me beyond words!
    I am so sorry for the horrendous pain you have endure in your life, but because of your heart being soft in God’s loving hands you have brought great glory and honor to Him. I have gone through great heartache as well, and pray that I remain like soft playdough in His hands so that He can continue to mold me into the image of His Son.
    Thank you for everything, Ann, w/o the e. I know you will have a blessed Christmas because you have chosen to celebrate Jesus…..I love you.
    Sheila

  31. Dear Ann,
    A friend of mine passed on a blog of yours in November and I’ve been hooked throughout the season.
    My husband and I are both on staff at a large church, as well as homeschooling our 4 kiddos. In His mercy, God has somehow helped me to refocus through this Advent season. We have always done all the “right” things during Advent: a Jesse Tree and family devotions, baking and delivering hundreds of cookies for the elderly and those who don’t know Jesus, organizing all the volunteers for a huge community outreach, working with the homeless, hosting a huge meal for people who are hurting on Christmas Day, looking for opportunities to share the Gospel, etc. BUT I have also always tried to have the “perfect Christmas” alongside my spiritual Christmas. Each year, I am always so thankful when Christmas Day is over and I can get back to my normal life.
    Through your blog, God has reminded me that it is not about including Him and His purposes, but excluding everything else. My personal devotions have been rich, and I feel “prepared” for His coming. I am learning that decorating gingerbread houses with teenage boys that don’t know you, and cleaning up the mess afterward, is as great a gift to Jesus as spearheading an effort to raise $15,000 for water filters for Nigeria and delivering 4600lbs of groceries to local seniors and needy families. Perhaps even greater, because of the humility and servanthood necessary. And today, I can rejoice in worshiping Him through cleaning my house, speaking gently to my children and honoring my husband.
    And lest you wonder if these are only in my own imaginings, each of my children, 9-14 has told me that it just feels more like Christmas this year and that we are so much less rushed.
    Blessings of continued fruitfulness on your family and ministry! I am grateful and looking forward to sharing 1,000Gift with me Women’s Ministry Team!

  32. as a member of a Church whose Bethlehem Marketplace … saw more than 8000 folks walk thru … this past Dec. I am reminded of the grace of the empty places … the in-between places …. the manger, the cross, the tomb … the places … where our Jesus rest HIS head … to fill the empty places in we … in me … love is a verb … sonya la

  33. Ann,
    I grew up in Ecuador as a missionary kid. I remember the bread dough town and your pictures have brought so much sweetness over the past couple of months. We have two Compassion children for each of our own, when they were born we adopted an extra. It has been so sweet to watch them become part of our morning prayers. Thank you for your blog and your willingness to travel. I still haven’t made it back to Ecuador and my daughter is ten, soon I hope. I have those same ornaments on my tree, they are precious because of where they came from, a town of dough in the middle of the Andes.
    Have a Merry Christmas,
    Beth Johnson

  34. I love this so much. So touching.

    Makes me want to immediately call someone and see if I can be a sponsor. So little means so much. Against their standards I have so much.

    Thanks for sharing this and stabbing my heart with conviction.

    Have a blessed Christmas.

  35. It has been a difficult season for me. The dreams that I had, the way I thought my life was to go have proven to not be part of God’s plan for me. Many days I feel so far from Him, from grace, so lost and adrift, forgotten. Thank you for reminding me of God’s love.

  36. I love the Lord’s creativity in persons – and you’re one of them, Ann. A gift to us. Such soul-wrenching words and insight. If I were to write a book, I would want it to be like yours. I bought seven of yours: four for my children, one to a friend, and one for me. I’m holding on to one to bless someone when the Lord points that person out. Thank you, and a Merry and Blessed Christmas.

  37. Ann,

    Yet again, your blog post has tears streaming down my face. I am touched so deeply by our incredible God when I come to visit your space. I see Christ ooze out of every word you write. You have such a remarkable and humbling ministry, and yet I know it is not you, but the words of the Holy Spirit in your heart, and from a most loving Father.

    And I thank you and my Jesus for your words to my heart today.

    We are facing a hard Christmas. I too lost my baby boy this year. Our fourth child – so wanted, so loved. But yet we live in a fallen world and bad things happen, and us as God’s children are not immune. But God takes us through. My faith has been tested and has deepened incredibly. God has taken me to a new place on my knees. In trusting my life and my loved ones entirely to Him. And He loves me unconditionally.

    We have been so very supported and blessed this Christmas as my friends and family uphold us in prayer for a gentle Christmas. On Christmas Day, we will read messages from a red box, there are about 30 now. Messages telling us of blessings others have given in honour of our sweet Sebastian Levi. And it makes the season a little easier to bear, knowing that lives are being blessed and my baby is not forgotten.

    And yet, I know my Father has felt the same pain of losing his Son. The son He gave us as such a blessing – and that we celebrate at Christmas and beyond, the most beautiful gift to a broken world. And then He had to turn His Face as His Son perished for US. How can someone love their children more. And yet in my humanity I cannot imagine having to sacrifice my son for others. What a loving Father indeed.

    And so I see that God will use Sebastian’s death for a Godly reason. I praise His name that through my testimony and God’s strength through my life, at least one precious daughter has given her heart to the King. I hope many more. And this will make my loss more bearable too. A most important commission given me from my King. In my healing, He will bring others to Heaven also. And we will all be there one day, and I will know that my Seb’s life – and the journey God has taken me on – has real eternity meaning.

    And He is good. So good.

    God bless you xx

  38. Ann,

    Yet again, your blog post has tears streaming down my face. I am touched so deeply by our incredible God when I come to visit your space. I see Christ ooze out of every word you write. You have such a remarkable and humbling ministry, and yet I know it is not you, but the words of the Holy Spirit in your heart, and from a most loving Father.

    And I thank you and my Jesus for your words to my heart today.

    We are facing a hard Christmas. I too lost my baby boy this year. Our fourth child – so wanted, so loved. But yet we live in a fallen world and bad things happen, and us as God’s children are not immune. But God takes us through. My faith has been tested and has deepened incredibly. God has taken me to a new place on my knees. In trusting my life and my loved ones entirely to Him. And He loves me unconditionally.

    We have been so very supported and blessed this Christmas as my friends and family uphold us in prayer for a gentle Christmas. On Christmas Day, we will read messages from a red box, there are about 30 now. Messages telling us of blessings others have given in honour of our sweet Sebastian Levi. And it makes the season a little easier to bear, knowing that lives are being blessed and my baby is not forgotten.

    And yet, I know my Father has felt the same pain of losing his Son. The son He gave us as such a blessing – and that we celebrate at Christmas and beyond, the most beautiful gift to a broken world. And then He had to turn His Face as His Son perished for US. How can someone love their children more. And yet in my humanity I cannot imagine having to sacrifice my son for others. What a loving Father indeed.

    And so I see that God will use Sebastian’s death for a Godly reason. I praise His name that through my testimony and God’s strength through my life, at least one precious daughter has given her heart to the King. I hope many more. And this will make my loss more bearable too. A most important commission given me from my King. In my healing, He will bring others to Heaven also. And we will all be there one day, and I will know that my Seb’s life – and the journey God has taken me on – has real eternity meaning.

    And He is good. So good.

    God bless you xx

  39. I know of not having any extra to give, especially this year. But you know after reading Lisa Whittle’s blog about being a hoarder, I was able to give with a fresh perspective, the things in my room that I no longer use to a family that couldn’t afford to buy Christmas. Old belongings to me, very not precious, but to them, incredible blessings.

    But beyond helping others, I am looking forward to returning to church on Christmas, and worshiping and remembering the birth of Jesus, and being ever grateful for the fact that He came as a baby and changed the world, for me, because of love.

  40. Dearest Ann,

    Thank you for your beautiful blog that touches my heart and challenges me to go further with the Lord. This season has been one where I have felt so far from the Lord, and yet this blog reminds me that none of us really ever are, we have to look towards HIM in everything. My heart aches this season because in all of the Christmas madness I feel so selfish and self centered. We have lost the true meaning of Christmas and the joy has departed. How do we accept forgiveness from Him when it is difficult to forgive ourselves? There is yet time, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your heartfelt words that uplift and encourage me.

    Many Blessings to you and your family, Ann. Your words are a gift that I dearly cherish.

  41. I turn on the news- get discouraged. Watch a movie and am distracted for a time.
    The economy, the violence (Christmas) shopping, politics, I could go on.
    I end up at A holy Experience and feel my soul refreshed, like a cool drink of water.
    I am a fifty year old roofing contractor and most of your writings bring me to tears.
    Good tears.
    Thank You.
    I need this.
    Ted

  42. Ann, you. are. a. gift! You have shown me how to love Jesus more, and for this I am so deeply grateful. A blessed Chritmas to you and your sweet family. Your sister in Christ, Jenny C.

  43. Oh Ann! So beautifully said! And today….I feel forgotten as well…surrounded by a brood of beautiful children, I am blessed beyond measure! But…my heart is just longing…for the “real body of Christ”…for a filling of His Spirit that is OVERWHELMING…for a husband who is at home for more than 3 days a week…for a child I’ve yet to meet in Ethiopia…for a relationship to heal that seems impossible…to leave the “comforts” of American Christianity and be the hands and feet of Jesus to a child in an orphanage far, far away…. Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us!

  44. Ann-
    Your words have changed this girl again. When I read them it is my time to allow Him to change my typical selfish way of thought.
    578. Ann’s words
    I read your book this past summer while walking our 3 year old through a major open heart surgery and what would I have done without these words? Gratitude was the Only way I could stay continuously connected to our Source in all the fear and in all the pain.

    I have gone way too long without thanking you and have selfishly taken from your writings without given back. I owe you the biggest thank you for giving yourself to us, your readers. I am a quiet sort, but I need to let you know how you have touched this life and given a priceless resource to me and my family. I am praying for you and for your family Ann, this is what I can give back. Praying Christmas stays wonder-filled for all of you.
    Thank you, thank you, Becki

  45. Thank you so much for your words Ann – God has used you so much in my life this season 🙂

    I hope you and your family have the most wonderful time being together this Christmas! 🙂

    (Ann I feel like such a stalker whenever I post on facebook or (in)courage when you write 🙂 How is it possible to feel like the closest of friends when you have no idea who I am?? 🙂 lol Thank you again Ann! You are a blessing!

  46. We’re taking my neighbor and her son to the candlelight service at our church on Christmas Eve. They don’t have a car and he’s severely handicapped. This is her one chance in the year (because of her work hours and her son’s limitations) to go and worship with other believers. It’s a blessing and an honor that she chooses us to help and our church to worship in.

    • Dear Diane, I too had a severely disabled son, and people like you were such a blessing to me. As you take your neighbor and son to adore the most adorable one. May you and they know themselves adored. Blessings this Christmas time x

  47. Dearest Ann: Thank you for the gift you give to me every day in your Holy Experience. Your words touch my heart and my spirit and God comes alive and so very close to me. Thank you for sharing the gifts that God has given you with all who read your writings!
    May you have a Blessed Christmas and a Healthy and Holy New Year!

    Barbara

  48. Thank you Ann for always reminding us and pointing us toward the manger and the cross. My husband and I are so blessed to be serving God as cross-cultural missionaries. I am still in awe of His calling on our lives. Have a wonderful Christmas with your beautiful family.

  49. Thank you for your words Ann….

    God has met me everyday of my life….in His beauty and my brokeness…He has carried me….He is ever present!

    I wish I could tell you a story of how I helped someone….or made someone’s life better for Jesus sake….but it would feel weird to do that….I have loved the people in my life though….my husband, children, family, friends, neighbors…with the well that never runs dry….I’m incapable of helping…just one beggar telling other beggars where the bread is…I give of myself, even when it feels like I can’t…I’m learning to remember my way back to the mountain stream of his love..where I quench my thirst….

    I’m learning to love the unlovable too…the ones who hurt me…and the ones who ignore me…its all for Him and by Him and through Him…may he receive all the Glory and Honor and praise…

    Merry Christmas….or as my kids say…merry Christ-mas 🙂

  50. Thank you for your words Ann….

    God has met me everyday of my life, in His beauty and my brokeness. He has carried me, He is ever present!

    I wish I could tell you a story of how I helped someone….or made someone’s life better for Jesus sake, but it would feel weird to do that. I have loved the people in my life though, my husband, children, family, friends, neighbors, with the love that never runs dry. I’m incapable of helping, just one beggar telling other beggars where the bread is. I give of myself, even when it feels like I can’t.I’m learning to remember my way back to the mountain stream of his love,where I quench my thirst.

    I’m learning to love the unlovable too, the ones who hurt me, and the ones who ignore me. Its all for Him and by Him and through Him, may He receive all the Glory and Honor and praise.

    Merry Christmas!,or as my kids say, Merry Christ-mas 🙂

  51. Thank you for your words Ann….

    God has met me everyday of my life, in His beauty and my brokeness. He has carried me, He is ever present!

    I wish I could tell you a story of how I helped someone, or made someone’s life better for Jesus sake, but it would feel weird to do that. I have loved the people in my life though, my husband, children, family, friends, neighbors, with the love that never runs dry. I’m incapable of helping, just one beggar telling other beggars where the bread is. I give of myself, even when it feels like I can’t.I’m learning to remember my way back to the mountain stream of his love,where I quench my thirst.

    I’m learning to love the unlovable too, the ones who hurt me, and the ones who ignore me. Its all for Him and by Him and through Him, may He receive all the Glory and Honor and praise.

    Merry Christmas!,or as my kids say, Merry Christ-mas 🙂

  52. Thank you for your words Ann. God has met me everyday of my life, in His beauty and my brokeness. He has carried me, He is ever present! I wish I could tell you a story of how I helped someone, or made someone’s life better for Jesus sake, but it would feel weird to do that. I have loved the people in my life though, my husband, children, family, friends, neighbors, with the love that never runs dry. I’m incapable of helping, just one beggar telling other beggars where the bread is. I give of myself, even when it feels like I can’t.I’m learning to remember my way back to the mountain stream of his love,where I quench my thirst. I’m learning to love the unlovable too, the ones who hurt me, and the ones who ignore me. Its all for Him and by Him and through Him, may He receive all the Glory and Honor and praise. Merry Christmas!,or as my kids say, Merry Christ-mas 🙂

  53. I am (finally) learning, through a rough year, with the help of your inspired words and pictures, Jesus intends for all of life to be a holy experience. He wants me to remember that “God With Us” is More than Enough — and that Gratitude in every situation is what focuses my attention on Him. He IS near the broken hearted and SAVES those crushed in spirit…. Emanuel….. Emanuel….

    Thank you for sharing His Grace…..His Mercy….His Peace.

  54. Thank you, dear Ann, for the extraordinary challenges – and the extraordinary joy your writings have brought into my life this year. Christmas blessings to you and your family.

  55. Please pray for my sister in law. She was just diagnosed with a hole in her heart. It has caused numerous blood clots in her lungs. She knows of Jesus but I pray that she will know and understand fully the love and grace he wants to share with her and her family. God bless

  56. Your blog has truly been a blessing in my life. This season has been really hard with my family that lives away from me and I am not going home to be with them. The last two weeks have been really hard and I have felt like I would cry all day Christmas but God in His mercy spoke to me. I was listening to Joy to the World and the second verse Joy to the World the Savior Reigns spoke to me. In the midst of my sadness a Savior came. Oh what joy that He came and He will meet me in this place and I can still have Joy this Christmas morning. Thank you God.

  57. Ann,
    Your book has been an inspiration and a way of life for the past year. I found it on inCourage and God whispered in my ear to share the book with three of my close friends – my Yaya group that meets once a month for dinner, sharing and prayer. Shortly after – one friend’s 25 year old daughter went to be with Jesus after suffering with a brain tumor for months. This past July – another in our little group found out that her husband had stage 4 cancer – he has been fishing in heaven since October. We have all embraced a mindset and spirit of THANKFULNESS in the midst of grief.
    My husband and I had decided that this Christmas had to be different – with the loss around us – 5 close friends this year – we knew that we wanted for nothing – didn’t need anything. We realized that the most important gift that we could give would be to help provide clean and healing water for Miss Agnes’ orphanage in Jinja, Uganda. Through the help of Water Missions International – www. watermissions.org – when David returns to Uganda this summer, he will find healthier babies and children who have clean water – the perfect platform for sharing the “Living Water”.
    Thank YOU for sharing an attitude of thankfulness!!!!
    Kathy
    May this be a very special day and season of thankfulness for you and yours!!!

  58. You are a blessing and you’ve really been a special part of reminding me of remembering its all about Jesus, the greatest gift to give and to receive! Merry Christmas!!

  59. Wow. Words cannot express the gut-level emotion I am feeling as I ponder your words, Ann. Our precious Savior. The Babe. God in the womb. Hard to put that into perspective, and yet it is the inability to fully understand that reminds me of GRACE. Grace, lying in a manger. Grace, turning water into wine. Grace, walking on water. Grace resurrecting a dead man. Grace, on a Cross. Grace in the tomb. Grace revealed to a woman first resurrected from the dead…Grace…Took my busted up self and gave me the ultimate gift. Salvation. It’s Grace upon Grace upon Grace.
    This year we decided we had enough “stuff” and gave one another gifts through IJM- especially gifts to help families exiting slavery. We are also collecting gift cards to give to a woman with 5 kids and no husband. She’s the only support. God will provide! God Bless YOU, Ann!
    Merry Christmas~
    Leigh Hudson

    • Merry Christmas, Kris. The “He” this post refers to is our blessed Father God, coming to save us all with love in the person of His son, Jesus. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any further questions

  60. Ann-Thank you for your posts sent right to my i-phone, via email…loving that feature…I am thriving on them. One of my prayer request this season has been to “feel” God’s presence in my life. Some days are “hard” to make it thru and praising and giving gratitude for just one small simple thing for some reason does the trick for me. He is so awesome…this is what happened, I was driving and changed the radio station from what the “child adult” had been listening to, to a secular radio station that was playing all Christmas songs, went to my appointment, came out got back into my car to go home and yes, my radio station was changed to a particuar Christian station…I know he did that for sure…I did not touch anything…the tears just streamed down my face-to think that he answered my request, he was listening and cared enough to give me this…then the crying became a little more out of control….you see this is not the first time this has happened to me, I’ve been divorced about 11 years and when I first became divorced he changed the station to a Christian radio station {at that time I never listened to them before} it was really amazing and scarry. One other time when my Dad “went home” and I was in Church praying, I cam out to my sister’s car that I happend to be driving and in answer to my pray he had a song come on by Mercy Me “Imagine”….if you’ve ever felt like he is really right there with you it can be breathtaking and scarry all at the same time. Prayer request yes in need, single mother, disabled daughter and rebellious son, financial struggles. As far as reaching out…I have sponsored for the least of these I have sponsored three beautiful girls from Compassion, and thinking of a project I would like to do to help…in some beginning stages. Definitely stepping up the blogging on “praise God posts”. A very Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  61. I thank God for you Ann, your book and blog has touched and continues to change my life. Thank for being a precious tool in His hand to change and mold my heart that I might daily see and count the many gifts He so lovingly gives.
    Words are never enough….
    Bless you!
    ~ Rhonda

  62. Dear Ann! Today was the last day of the Jesse Tree Journey. I am Dutch and decided to translate the story into Dutch every day. I wrote evrything down in a small notebook en pasted the tree ornaments beside the text each day, and made small drawings. This past Advent has been the most beatiful I have ever experienced. It is like I finally understand how truly WONDERful Christmas really is. How enormous God’s love for us and how utterly important the Bible is!
    I want to thank you for this and your graceful words on the blog. God works through you! May the Lord bless and keep you and your family. I cannot write it all so beautifully as all the other women, but I hope you understand what I mean.
    Gezegende Kerstdagen lieve Ann!!
    Love, Annette from the Netherlands

  63. Hi Ann,
    Beautiful post.

    Christmas is different this year with my mom going into hospital on the 22nd. we opened our cards from each other on Christmas day but, are waiting until mom goes back to her Seniors Residence until we open the gifts from my sister and her family. It certainly brings the true meaning of this day closer to my heart as these gifts don’t really matter. Just having mom recover is the gift i want this year.
    I have been giving Unicef or other charity gifts for several years now and it is such a wonderful feeling to help hungry people around the world or close to home. As well, this year I appreciate even more the coming of Jesus and his selfless gifts he gave to us: grace, forgiveness, hope, joy, peace and LOVE.
    Thanks for your writings and beautiful, unique photos!

    MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and your family,
    Shalom, Sandy

  64. Dearest Ann,

    Today we became Compassion International sponsors of a precious 5 year old from Kenya. We had been sponsors thru WV for over 25 years and then the earthquake. We continue to be blessed and look forward to this new relationship. You and Tsh were definitely my influences. Thank you. Now I will go to work with a full heart!

  65. Thank you Ann for sharing the spirit of Christ heart with other mothers, I have a son-in-love, who with my daughter has allowed me to be a carelover to two boys together and one who I don’t get to see that often from a previous relationship. I will save this for all the boys when they grow up or will pass it on to their mother as a keepsake for them. “You’re Approved”

    May the Spirit of Christ richly bless you,

    Frederica
    fladson8@aol.com