Ann Voskamp
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...

(in)side DaySpring: things we love
& you will too!
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(in)side DaySpring:
things we love
& you will too!
Find more at
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Reader Interactions


  1. Okay 🙂 I’m a complete, awkward wallflower at get-togethers and a lurker when it comes to comments … but if I’m clearing my throat and plunging in, anyone can jump in here! 🙂

    Best recipe: Herb Roasted Pork Mmmmm 🙂

    Best book: Hmmm. Hard one. Okay — what book in 2012 did I carry around everywhere with me? This one spent the year with me: Sermon on the Mount, The: A Verse-by-Verse Look at the Greatest Teachings of Jesus

    and best song? Ooooh…. let me think. Will be back.

    Pouring the warm cuppa for you now 🙂 — your turn! 🙂 (And the best jeans? best link? joke? movie?) 🙂

    • Sweet Ann, I love that you moved out from the hidden place to comment here! Makes me smile!

      One of my best of moments was a hug I got from my sweet Canadian friend in the hallway at Allume. Pure joy!

      Happy New Year!

      • I. just. love. you.
        Thank you, braveheart Stacey, for making this corner of the internet a safe place to be real and honest and a place for the Body of Christ to grow and *be* community for one another.

        One of 2012’s special graces was your tender washing the feet of sisters here, sweet friend! 🙂

        Blessed New Year!

        • agreed! Stacey is a gem! And yes, thanks Ann for stepping out first and sharing your bests.
          One of my bests was Stacey’s encouragement to go with God’s crazy idea for an (in)courager group. What He’s done because of it has been amazing!

    • I would have to say your book! Read through twice and have now given a coy away to at least nine other friends who have been equally blessed!

      • Love you, friend! I’m forever grateful for your friendship, and your kind and loving heart. Thank you AGAIN … For everything! 🙂

    • Ann, just so you know… God put your book in my hands at a time when I needed it. I am not lying or exaggerating when I say it changed my life. God bless you. I want to come sit on your porch (and you’re always welcome on mine!) <3

      BEST BOOK: "Happier At Home" by Gretchen Rubin and "Searching for God Knows What" by Donald Miller (which I was prepared to dislike going into and came away with my brain having tons to munch on.

      BEST SONG: Maybe not the best (that would probably be "10,000 Reasons" by Matt Redman – I can't sing it without bawling and raising my hands), but I listened to "A Thousand Years" over and over by Christina Perri – it became my undeclared birth song for my second son (born his past May) and was in my head as I labored.

      JEANS: Skinny jeans! Who knew I would love them?!

      THE BEST RISK: Encouraging my husband to follow his dream, leave his job and find a new one (all while I was pregnant) and us moving 4.5 hours from all I had ever known to return to his old stomping ground (his life-long dream).

      THE BEST GIFT: My son, Travis Luke who was born all fast and furious on May 6th. I cried tears of joy, looked at him, laughed and said, "We did it again!" (We have a two year old son as well.)

      WHAT WAS THE BEST HABIT: Oh, come on, Ann. Duh. GRATITUDE. 🙂

      <3 <3 <3

      Happy and grateful to be looking forward to 2013!

    • The best dinner in 2012 was Cheeseburger Soup. We regularly have neighbours and friends in for dinner and I make two huge pots of soup. The day I made the Cheeseburger Soup it was emptied to the bottom. One guy even tipped the pot up to get the very last of it. It was a recipe from Taste of Home and is available on their web site.

      • Sabrina,
        We’ve been making that soup for years from a Taste of Home recipe magazine. It’s my boys absolute favorite!!!

      • Sabrina,
        I googled Taste of Home for the soup recipe and found several different ones. Please share link for yours. Would so like to start inviting people over for simple meals.

    • Best Book-One Thousand Gifts-your transparency is an amazing witness! Love it! Life changing for me!
      Best recipe-Cranberry upside down cake
      Best Jeans-Levi Curvy Girl Skinnies-the hidden elastic waist band keeps them from riding down in back 🙂

      • Paige – would love to have the recipe for the Cranberry Upside Down Cake!

        My best recipe was found recently: Cranberry Cornbread Casserole! YUMMMYYY!

        Can we swap recipes?

    • Ann!
      I feel so blessed! I don’t know if you’ll see this but I am grateful to have a chance to tell you personally. God has changed my life through your words! I am so grateful for your honest example. You have helped me see life through God’s eyes. Thank you with all my heart for blessing and influencing the life of a farm family in ID. The power and truth of your words has shaped the mind and heart of me, my husband,my five little children, our 2 year old homeschool, our Christmas, our Thanksgiving and our everyday as we count all the gifts that God has already given. These moments of trusting God have been my BEST moments.
      I am thanking God for the way you have sanctified womanhood, helped me get to know myself and find God in all things! Thank you Ann!
      May you and your family be blessed for sharing your hearts with us!

        • I read So Long Insecurity too and it was very timely. I cried and cried and got healed! 🙂 Thank you Jesus. Love that book!

      • Dh and I celebrated 24 years in Bethany Beach. Ate arugula salad with roasted beets, whipped goat cheese and maple pecans. Remade this recipe for Christmas-fresh arugula, place whole fresh beets in tin foil packets with olive oil and salt-roast in oven 45-55 minutes at 375 degrees. Whip goat cheese with a little milk. Candy pecans by adding maple syrup and pecans in skillet and cooking until all liquid is gone. Assemble salad-put arugula on plate, place 3or4slices of roast beet, a dollop of goat cheese and sprinkle with pecans. Yum!

        • Amy Patton, my family goes to Bethany Beach every year and now we have a beach house there. What a great place to spend your anniversary, we love it there so much! And your recipe sounds delicious!

        • Sigh…we LOVE Bethany Beach (Delaware? correct?) We used to go there every summer and rent a beach house. Then my husband lost his job and was unemployed and we haven’t been able to go back in 4 years. Oh how my children long to return and the memories , oh the memories.
          Thank you for sharing! Going to dig out my albums and look at the pictures. But I fear they will make me cry.

    • I have to say, no book holds a candle to the Bible, every time I read it I learn something new, even from things I have read hundreds of times! And God speaks volumes in just a phrase!

      • Yes! Antoinette thanks for saying so. I love to read and have many favorites but the best is definitely the Bible and the Author whispers to me while I read!
        Just found a book about hymns with a CD of Joni, John MacArthur and others singing called “What Wondrous Love it this”.
        Chris Tomlin’s Christmas CD “Glory in the Highest”
        My husband’s surprise to me: chef’s mat for the kitchen.
        This has probably been my favorite year yet ~ everyday with Jesus is sweeter than the day before.
        Favorite blog: Ann’s

    • Best book: 1000 Gifts & Dinner A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach (recipe book & a good read in one)

      Which brings me to best recipe : Pork Ragu with Pappardelle & chicken pot pie (from recipe book mentioned above)

      Best jeans: Loft Modern Boot cut

      Have a blessed New year!

    • Best recipe I couldn’t not make again: sweet n spicy chicken
      Best book I couldn’t put down: Gospel Revolution
      Best song I couldn’t get out of my head: I Lift My Hands and 10000 Reasons
      Best jeans: ANA straight
      Best risk: moving from a place I’ve known all my life to somewhere new and far from family and friends

    • Best recipe I couldn’t not make again: sweet n spicy chicken
      Best book I couldn’t put down: So Long Insecurity
      Best song I couldn’t get out of my head: I Lift My Hands and 10000 Reasons
      Best jeans: ANA straight
      Best risk: moving from a place I’ve known all my life to somewhere new and far from family and friends

    • Okay, I have no idea if I jumped in at the right spot, but I am so trying to Live Imperfectly with Great Delight, so here I go…

      Best book: Streams in the Desert, in the original printing, old English style verbage and all..been my companion for 7 years, never disappoints, always challenges me, but this year, with this “old” style book, it made me ponder. The language made me stop, made me think, it was beautiful. Given to me by a dear friend who collects them, it was from an estate sale and it had been a gift to the woman who first owned it, given by her Sunday School class, all their names written in shaky script…precious…then given to me by a friend, who just 2 weeks later found out that her husband, our dear precious friend of 17 years had a brain tumor..he passed 3 months later. It is now my treasure in every sense of the word.

      BEST Make up tool: Maybelline (Revlon?) makes an eraser pen that erases mascara mistakes and honey….with the hurry I’m often in, it is the most used think in my bathroom!

      BEST Challenge: When God called us to adopt again from China….we adopted 2 years ago and we have bio sons 18 and 15. Abraham and Sarah have been challenged a lot these past 2 years, but through His Word He wooed me, He called me and He called my man too. So here we grow again! The challenge came in the form of “pick up your cross and follow Me.” You must “die in order to really live.” Put away my list of reasons not to do hard in this life and just trust Him…again and again again.

      BEST Starbucks: Chai latte with a splash of coconut syrup….heaven in a cup!

      BEST Food: this amazing sandwich in Boulder, Colorado with mozz cheese, sundried tomatoes, pesto sauce, grilled chicken, feta…oh my word!!!! Delish! I think about it …a lot…LOL!

      BEST jeans, cheap jeans: Bought some Jordache jeans (oh my word, so 80’s!) at Wal-Mart and you know what? I like them!

      BEST song: oh cannot pick just one.I Lift My Hands by Christ Tomlin; Wedding Day by Casting Crowns; Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing by Matthew Smith and I love LeCrae…go figure.

      BEST cooking gadget I absolutely cannot live without: Crockpot

      BEST Risk: besides plunging into another China adoption? putting my Christmas devotional on Kindle for free! It was exhilarating! Over 3700 downloads in 48 hours. I was astonished! Thrilled.

      This is so fun! I love looking over the past year at the JOY! All grace….all underserved…but all lavishly given! Thank you sweet Jesus…

      • I also have an old, old, old copy of Streams in the Desert. I bought it at an estate sale of an old woman whom my mother-in-law knew. A treasure with her writing in it and a lovely book!

        • My Streams in the Dessert is from a garage sale 30 years ago. I love it. All the underlining and notes are a treasure.

        • My Streams was my Grandmother’s who died in 1975. Given to her by her Sunday school class inscribed in 1935. 6 years before I was born. She was the most godly woman I ever met and gave me so many gifts. But most of all my love of all things homemaking. Cooking,sewing,cleaning,ironing….all of it! Even though I had college, career,children.. . Doing and being around my home and husband of 53 years.. That was my pure joy in 2012 !

          • I have journaling lines in my Streams in the Desert copy. Love looking back over the years to see how God has answered prayers, or to recall how the daily passage spoke to me in a given year.

      • “Live Imperfectly with Great Delight.” I love that! I’m going to remember those words. Thank you.

    • Best song- I Won’t Let Go by Rascal Flatts since my husband passed away 2 years ago
      Best decision-country girl going cityafter 61 years – God revealed his beauty is good, but his people are Very Good
      Best vacation- all kids & grandkids on Oregon coast for a week
      Best recipe of the year – avocado, mango, black bean salad

    • All for Good by Thomas Watson. Carried me thru most difficult year of my life. I am 54. Best song Sara Groves – Great is thy faithfulness – best I-touch app – Treasury of David – the psalms. Loving this app.

    • Best vacation? Entire family went on an Alaskan Cruise. It had been on my Bucket List
      Best book- Hands Down- One Thousand gifts! It’s a Heart changer…
      Best gift – My new iPhone-lol, keep untouched w/family & re-connect w/friends
      Best recipe – Sweet potato fries
      Best drink – Iced Coffee From Pioneer Woman
      It was a year of tear,grief, heartache, love, learning, and laughter – A year of Spiritual Growth- thank you GOD

    • Hi, I just stumbled on this site today. For sure, the best book for me this year is Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts! It has been life-changing for me. I have given it to each of my close friends. It has been such an encouragement to us in this dark world. Thanks Ann for your beautifully penned words!

    • The best year end gathering right now.

      Best book, the Mark of the Lion series “the Echo in the Darkness” classic and pure life!

      Best recipe, caramel chocolate brownies

      Best once in a lifetime encounter: besides meeting Jesus in an even bigger way due to One thousand gifts. It would be meeting Ann herself in 2012

      Best movie, Lincoln a story that lingers long after the movie ends

      Best moment of the year would be the birth of Benjamin to my sister, which now makes nine.

      Best co worker, experiencing work along side a faithful, friend, sissy in Christ who reminded me daily how special I am.

      Best song, hhhhhmmmmmm so many good ones no one favorite.

    • Best book was yours Ann. Truthfully, finding it and your blog and learning how to be thankful changed me. Best recipe, my new daughter in law teaching me how to make homemade spicy chicken alfredo – we vow to never eat jarred alfredo sauce again! best jeans – I sure love my Lee Premiums, but Im eagerly waiting others wisdom on this! :). Im ruminating on the other questions…. looking forward to reading what others share

      • Best Gift: Counting 1000 gifts of gratefulness with my children and seeing all the different ways their little hands created their gratitude journal..such a blessing!
        Best Music: Everything Mandissa
        Best thing for cleaning: The Shark (mop)
        Best Book for the last two years: 1000 Gifts and planning to read it again this year.
        Best recipe: Tabbouleh salad from Food Network

    • What a wild flashback! RT was a preacher at my parents little country church while he was attending seminary many years ago! Thanks for the Recommended read!!

    • The best adventure. Taking my 70 year old mom to Disney world. It was our first family vacation and first visit for my daughters and to Disney . It was my moms firt time there also.

      Best book…….hmmmmmm
      I enjoyed the happiness project and breaking dawn part I and II

      Best recipe……..I made homemade pierogies for the first time and they can out awesome

      Best jeans…..I don’t know I do not do jeans lol

      Best journey……..the one I am currently on………revisiting religion and finding where I belong in the grand scheme of it all

      Best decision…….starting yoga

      Best time……any time spent with my girls

      Best movie…….ok I admit the twilight saga love all of them!

      Beat song……all of them!

      • I have never been able to wear skinny jeans, thinking that they made my thighs look too big. However, the skinny jeans this year at Ann Taylor Loft are amazing. They are a very dark denim, slimming color, and the fit is perfect for us older women (50 this year). I have even been able to wear them with a short sweater and boots. I love them and now feel like a modern girt!

    • My best link from from Andrea at which led me to you and brought Jesus close again at the busiest time of the year. That led me to your book, which I cherise.

    • Oh, I wish I had seen this wonderful recipe! My pork roast yesterday was okay but lacked something. Next time! I will remember your recommendation for this. Thank you.

    • best recipe: Turkish Delight (aka) saltine cracker toffe candy My family cant refuse it!

      best jeans: Mek

      best book: my Bible then 1000 gifts of course!

      best and hardest decesion: to home school my four beautiful children even when its hard:)

    • I’m late to this party…love, love, love reading through the comments! My book list for 2013 is now pages and pages long!

      Best Book-over and over and over again-One Thousand Gifts. Life changing each and every time I sink into the pages! This will be my “best book” until the Lord brings me Home.

      Best Memory-so many come to mind but my most precious might just be my son’s home birth. If you like birth stories you can read his here:

      More “best memories” include: my “birthday wish” coming true:


      My husband baptizing our 6 year old and how she insisted on wearing her goggles:


      “Tattoos for clean water” night. Yes. Ann, will it upset you to know that your phrase “all is grace” is so delicately and wonderfully tattooed onto my collarbone in typewriter font. I love it. AND…it was a benefit for clean water. Win, win, yes? 😉

      Best jeans??! I am not a fashionista but I sure do love my “Seven” jeans I purchased at Marshall’s a few years back. (After a couple more children they are not quite as, well, comfortable as they used to be…but they are wonderful!)

      Best song? How do you pick one song? Probably this one, though: I just have to get on my face before the Lord every single time I play it.

      Best risk? this, thank you Jesus for letting me be part of this: The 12×12 Project is an awakening in our community, to care about the things that God cares about…and I’m just so excited to see Him work! Humbled and excited!

      Best laugh? Every single day with Eleanor, our “little middle”. She recently asked for a glass of “hedgehog” (egg nog). Thankful for that spunky one who has graced my face with many, many laugh lines and many, many “worry wrinkles”. Sigh. She is her mother.

      How uplifting this has been. To think back on the graciousness and goodness and GOOD of God over our life for the last year. I can’t even remember “the bad” because I’m smiling so big over the wonderful.

      🙂 Thank you.

      • The baptism with goggles brought to mind one of my favorite memories of all time. When my oldest daughter (now 14) was little, we were sitting in church during a very solemn and quiet part of the service which included the baptisms. She leaned over to me and whispered, “Can I wear my goggles to do that?” The image of my tiny red-head with her hair askew from the goggles on her face and wrapped in the white robe immediately came to mind, and I had to bite my lip hard to keep from laughing out loud…love that God Himself probably chuckled over that one too.

      • and I have the word “Eucharisteo” tattooed on the inner aspect of my left wrist so that when I see it while I’m using my hands all day, I will remember to live thankfully first, and then seek the blessing.

  2. My favorite time this year was spent in a small group at church studying 40 Days of Purrpose. I confess i didn’t read it all.i started following Rick Warren on Twitter and he seems very fun but very much like Jesus.

  3. My favorite time this year was spent in a small group at church studying a book. I confess i didn’t read it all. But the conversation and prayer was precious.

  4. My most meaningful song was”Enough” a lot of artists sing it but my favorite are at my church. When i feel empty or when i feel full He becomes my more than enough.

    • A song that has carried my heart many times this year is: ‘Blessing’ Looking forward to checking out some of the others suggested.
      Best husband: mine of 54 years tomorrow!

  5. A blog was suggested to me to help learn to write my blog. The Blog was A Holy Experience by Ann. I’m learning to write more personally. Ann, your blog is very warm, honest. It’s helped me a lot.

    • Dear heart — just… thanks for grace. Thanks for taking me anyways? It’s good to trust one another to be real and do life together…

      And keep writing, sister! It matters eternally!

      • Thank you for your response.i’ve been back and forth about where to head with my writing.thank you for the encouragement.

  6. The best gift … that I got to spent the summer months with my hubby, without him needing to study for his exams. (Yeahh for an unexpected break)

    The best idea: An interview of Wendy Hart and her ProcastinationCure. Love it.

    The second best gift: My DaySpring coffee mug. I use it every day and it always reminds me of HIM.

  7. Best book this year Kisses for Katie very inspiring. BEST JEANS are from Tractor Supply. BEST SONG Kari Job I wanna sit at your feet. My favorite blogs A Holy Experience and Incourage I read them in my quiet time every morning.

    • My husband will love to hear that your favorite jeans are from Tractor Supply….his favorite joke lately is that he doesn’t want any clothes from places that don’t also sell animal feed and ammo! And we live a stones throw from Detroit! We’re farmer wanna-bees!

  8. Something I cannot do again…make two FB pages, do not know how & can’t get rid of new one. Driving me crazy.
    Something brave..2010-2011 Took 48 wks treatment for chronic liver disease,relapsed. Recovery all of 2012. If dr says strong enough health wise we do a new Triple drug therapy. I do not want to do it, after prayer about it , I must.
    January of 2013 I prayed about it, discussed with family and I am going to do a new treatment! It is grueling and left me disabled for my job of 28 years. But The Lord gave me life & I must respect that life and use the resources The Lord gave to our doctors to get well!
    May we all have a HOPEFUL New Year. Thank you for this opportunity to get the books that I gave others for Christmas. Excited!

    • Sweet Margaret, this chokes me up. Tears. God just shining through you, beautiful soul. Quietly praying with and for you just now, friend…remembering with you that He holds.

    • Margaret Polino Nicholas,
      It is possible. I was still mad at God when I was introduced to program unwillingly, i may add. Lost all material and marriage after I chose this path. I’ve been clean and sober for over 10 years now. Love God more than ever and have a new outlook on life. Today I realize how important it is to embrace our path. For god has a plan for us and knows how it helps us and others in the future!

    • Margaret,

      Praying for complete healing from the ultimate Healer-God! May you feel him close to you and surrounding you with His loving/healing touch!

      God Bless!

  9. Oh the bests of 2012….they are many! 🙂

    The first best I have to mention is that through prayer (God’s giving of motivation and strength) and lots of hard work I have lost over 50 lbs since June! It is the *best* feeling to be healthy and fit. I am continuing on this journey but I praise God for the energy He has given me to do this!
    My children insist I have gotten taller since I have lost weight…but alas, I am still only 5’2″….I think I must just appear taller since my waist is trimmer! :o)

  10. The best rolls I have made this year were whole wheat ones…delicious and soft…from the Homestead Blessings cookbook! :o) They are called Feather Rolls! If you have *or get* that cookbook, try that recipe! They are wonderful!

  11. The best books I have read this year would definitely be:

    The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented by Steele, Thomas and Quinn

    The Ever-Loving Truth: Can Faith Thrive in a Post-Christian Culture? by Voddie Baucham

    Free to Stay at Home: A Woman’s Alternative by Marilee Horton

    The Potter’s Freedom by Dr. James White

    Our Sufficiency in Christ by John MacArthur

    What is Reformed Theology? by R.C. Sproul

    Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot

    **Sorry….there were just too many to name one….!!! :o)

  12. The jeans that fit best are definitely the ones that you haven’t been able to wear in years but are now loose on you!!! :o)

    I am more of a skirt-wearer…but when doing projects such as stacking wood and things outside, I will wear jeans and my used-to-be-too-small jeans are not the pair-that-is-almost-too-big!!! 🙂 That is the BEST feeling! :o)

    • Isn’t it a wonderful grace to go “closet shopping”, Katy? Blessings of continued health as you find your best weight.

  13. One of the best things for me this year as a French Christian writer and blogger, like you Ann, was finishing up my second book and having it published and out before the end of the year by GOD’S grace only!!! I am so filled with gratitude and awe as I know you so fully understand….this is All His doing.

  14. I also was quite delighted to meet you Ann through your writings, and most especially since you are Canadian. That really pleases me, plus we spell our name the same! Nice. Your writing is a great inspiration to me and unique in it’s style. So your definitely one of the best motivational persons that I have read for my writing if I could say it that way!

  15. The best French book I have read is Jésus + Rien = Tout , which in English is, Jesus + Nothing = Everthing from Tulliantichividjian Tchividjian. A must read for all Christian!

  16. The risk with the best return? Saying yes when my friend Ryan showed up at my house and asked if he could pursue me. A few months later he proposed to me on air (total surprise) during the radio show I produce. And two months after that, we were married at sunset on Siesta Key Beach. God BLEW MY MIND this year because I let go and let Him lead. Here’s our love story if anyone is a love story junkie:

    • I heard his proposal on air and sat in my car and weeped! What a beautiful amazing speech and what a beautiful love story. Love you and Lynn:)

  17. Best recipe: bread with chocolate inside! I make it pretty much any time I have all the ingredients and time I need…

  18. Best book in English that I read this year was by Elyse Fitzpatrick, Because He loves me; How Christ transformers our daily lives. It was the best book ever…it frees one of so many burdens of doing for God with love, receiving and being loved because of Christ who already has done All and fully wants to give us by pure grace. Excellent book, my best!!!!

    • Oh, Ann, I love that book! A friend gave it to me last year, and I devoured it. Thanks for the reminder.

    • I am a huge Elyse Fitzpatrick fan. Her books are truly food for your soul. So let me give my two cents and also recommend her 30 day devotional “Comforts From the Cross”. 30 days of reminders about the finished work Jesus did on the cross and how we are now free from all of God’s wrath and punishment. When God looks at us, He sees His Son-not our failures and imperfections. What an awesome Savior!!!! I’ve been serving the Lord for decades, but I still need a constant reminder of His grace. It’s just more than my little mind can wrap around. Love you Ann Voskamp. May the Lord continue to strengthen you for the precious work He’s put before you.

  19. Best holiday: Thanksgiving. Someone I barely knew offered me a ride home from church one day in October when it was really cold out. She found out that I didn’t have anywhere to go for Thanksgiving and offered to pick me up to go to her house for Thanksgiving. I did and made friends with her nine-year-old daughter. It was a lot of fun.

  20. Best ever year also in learning once again to live with my chronic illness and suffering despite all my pain. God is showing me His joy through these very painful days and learning my limitations is part of the Best…

  21. Hmm, the best of this year–musically speaking, it would have to be Christa Wells album, Image of God, and the one that includes her song, “weightless”. I don’t know how many times I listened to that song on repeat. Her music continues to carry me through the hard seasons.

    And please, someone suggest the best jeans–I am in need!!

        • Eddie Bauer jeans at the outlet mall. On sale. Just right and I’d dropped 2 sizes from my last pair.

          Best book: One Thousand Gifts

          Best Blog: A Holy Experience

          Best recipe? I have Chronic Lyme Disease and have to eat gluten free so I’m still working on that one.

          Best lesson learned over and over this year: Humility. Chronic illness can do that to you, esp. If you look fine some of the time. Having to leave my job with a horrible teacher evaluation due to the effects of Lyme on my neuro-cognitive part of my brain and having my disability denied 2 times and I’m waiting to hear on my last and final appeal. I have felt humiliated so many times this year but the feeling is temporary. The truth is that God is taking away props that I didn’t know I even had. Giving thanks for my gifts was truly a habit that I’d been working on since college days and I’m 53 now!

  22. The best thing I didn’t want to do but did anyway: Going to the Cru Christmas Party. I am a leader with Cru on my college campus, so I feel obligated to go to at least the more important parties, but I am quite socially anxious and really struggle at these events–definitely not realy enjoying it. I decided Christmas was important enough that I had to be there, so I did go. As predicted, it was a challenging experience, but when we did a white elephant gift exchange I got a gift that has proved useful. There was a t-shirt for a Cru event that has way too many people for me to even consider going to which is great because I didn’t have any Cru t-shirts, and there were 10 ibuprofen tablets (we’re pharmacy students…we do strange things like put OTC meds in gifts…). Because of that gift I had ibuprofen in my lunch box when I was working on Christmas Eve and was able to take it when I was in so much pain and felt like I couldn’t breathe but was too busy to stop until directly asked if I needed a break.

    • Go do all of the CRU events! CRU, back in my college days, gave me lifelong tools for my walk with Christ. But the Christian friends I made really allowed me to watch others walking in faith live out their joys and obstacles. You never will know whose life you could impact if you just show up. Just ask God to use you just before walking into an event. Pray more beforehand if you need to. Those under your leadership need to see you at the events so o out there and be bold enough to ask God to do something wonderful!

  23. The best thing this year was that I got to meet my mentor which is a writer also. A Christian, Canadian and to top it off at the Gospel Coallition in Florida!!! Wow I was overwhelmed. We talked and I was so touched by her… She is a wonderful and all I expected. God blessed my heart so dearly.

  24. the risk that returned best: I kind of took a risk and started working on making friends with someone my own age/year in school. I had not had a friend like that since sixth grade. She pursued me as a friend long before I risked doing the same, but as I became somewhat comfortable with her, she has been wonderful for me. She would text me when she was awake to let me know I could come study in her room. She helped reason with me when I hadn’t had anything to drink in three days because I was so germophobic. She would come with me and help me talk to people or help me write emails when I couldn’t do it myself. She supported me to the best of her ability.

  25. the best sacrifice: I give up an hour of every week for counseling because I know it makes my best friend at home happy and it makes the young adult pastor at my home church happy. I don’t feel like it does a whole lot for me most of the time, but I do know that this (school year) I have someone who I do sometimes see eye-to-eye with, and when that happens we do connect enough that I feel hope. That is something that never happened last year, so I am glad I stuck with this sacrifice.

      • thanks 🙂 my major goal this semester was to gain enough social skill to pass the interview into third year at school…being told last year that I had no chance of passing by the Dean of students didn’t exactly do a whole lot to bolster my confidence…

      • Love Renee Swope and love her new book, but I must admit the book I have read over and over and have given about 20 of them to family and friends is “One Thousand Gifts”. I always have a pad and pen so I can constantly write my gifts! Thank you Ann for changing my life. Finally, I appreciate what I have and know the meaning of less is better!

  26. One of my best days of the year was on the day when a young women that I have been mentoring invited me along with other young girls to a picnic and she handed us invitations to be maids of honor at her wedding. I was stunned, me, but I am OLD, I said! These other 5 young gals where all in their 20’s and I in my 50’s … I told her for sure she had made a mistake or something with the cards. I was older than her mom!!! Nope, she wanted me among them for I was very much a significant part of her life it seemed. I was her mentor she told me and I had impacted her life and choices…wow, what a blessing God was giving me. A friend made me realize later just how grand an honor I had received in that invitation on her part, I was completely unaware at that moment which is fine, God knows me, it was better that way. That was a most beautiful and memorable day to reap the joys of labor you loving invest in someone and have them share with you their joys.

    • Best Lesson: learning to lean into the waiting process…waiting fror hubby’s third kidney transplant…a year and counting…God is good!

      Best Book(s): 1000 Gifts, and Love Does by Bob Goff

      Best Decision: sponsoring a beautiful student in Uganda through Restore International. Her picture melts my hard heart every day!

  27. Best recipe-my husband’s grandmother’s chocolate pies. They’ve become our tradition now that she’s in Heaven.

    Best Song-“Great I am” We sang it at our son’s funeral. This has been the hardest six months of our lives, but we are thankful for a sustaining God, a family, friends, and a church family who have held us up. God is good.

    • Your courage…I don’t have the words. I think I’ll always think of you, Kristin, when I hear “The Great I Am” from now on. Bless you.

  28. Best Book: the walk by richard paul evans
    Best recipe: pinterest pins from friends that led me to be “a cook!
    Best jeans: ann taylor.

  29. Oh… I am loving this!!! I get to count the best… for the first time in a long time – I have spent so much of my life counting the firsts that it is pure joy doing this list!!! So here goes…
    1. Best Recipe – Macroni & Cheese made with butternut squash… so delicious – it’s a bowl of coming home!

    2. I know a lot of people are going to choose this book but —> One Thousand Gifts- Ann Voskamp – I read the last chapter as slow as I possible could because I didn’t want it to be over – That book and what God has done in my life are the reasons why I am participating in this list!
    3. Best song – The Revelation Song as sung by Kari Jobe – oh my every single time I hear it I get shivers and tears
    4. We have a store in Canada callied Rietman’s – comfort jeans – yes that’s right folks – comfort and they are true to their word – especially after all of that good Christmas eating!
    5. My silicone egg poachers – so easy, so fast – I LOVE poached eggs on toast in the mornings
    6. The Risk – taking the Joy Dare – ’nuff said
    7. Best Link: This one —–> – such beautiful heartfelt, vulnerable writing
    8. Best thing I didn’t want to do but did anyway —-> Well that hasn’t happened yet – but God is showing me a path for things to come later in the year
    9. Best habit – 5:30 AM wake up calls – love my time with God – rejeuvenating
    10. The Best holiday – spending 10 days in Los Angles with a dear friend – God began a work in me there…
    11. The best gift – A slow unhurried Cross-focused Christmas
    12. The best sacrifice – althought it wasn’t much of one because we had so much fun choosing -picking gifts out the compassion catalogue – we bought chickens!!!

    This is so much fun… join in ladies – let’s spread the joy around!!!!

  30. hmm…

    ♥ best gift :: husband’s long awaited, much prayed for job after 3 years unemployment
    ♥ best recipe :: PW’s White Chicken Enchiladas
    ♥ best song :: 10,000 Reasons (Matt Redmon)
    ♥ fave Bible verse :: “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 95:12)
    ♥ fave book :: I’ve read too many, have to think about it
    ♥ biggest thing in our family :: my brother & his wife bringing home TRIPLETS
    ♥ bittersweet end to the year :: my 94 year old grandmother meeting her sweet Jesus on Christmas Day

    Happy New Year, friends! May 2013 be the best year EVER!

  31. The absolute best of 2012 was the long-awaited birth of our son in March. The best and most perfect gift. 🙂

  32. On a day like this – when my kids are sick and I’m feeling overwhelmed….all these ‘bests’ bless me. Cool post.

    BEST ALBUMS: Bethel Music’s ‘Loft Sessions’ and Matt Redman’s ‘10,000 Reasons’

    BEST FICTION: Pride and Prejudice (Didn’t read fiction until this year – crazy how it can get the creative juices flowing.)

    BEST MUFFINS: Orange Mini- Muffins with Brown Sugar Glaze by Ree Drummond – Pioneer Woman (Not exactly clean and healthy. But a treat now and then? Yes.)

    May the Lord reveal Himself to us all – in new and unexpected and refreshing ways in 2013 🙂


    • Kate, my favorite fiction book of all time is Pride and Prejudice! 2013 is the 200th anniversary of its publication so Jane Austen fans are gearing up for a whole year’s fun in that world. Read all the other 5 of her books. Splendid writing from one smart and cheeky lady!

  33. Best jeans: Zara skinnies. These don’t make me feel like I’m a sausage stuffed in casing, a modern day miracle.
    Best recipe: Anything I didn’t have to cook myself;)
    Best trip: Egypt. Fascinating, exotic, and warm!
    Best risk: Writing a book proposal and pitching it at a writer’s conference.
    Best word: Bloom.
    Best book: Tinkers by Paul Harding.
    Best find on the web:

    • Must check out that book, Tinkers.
      Okay, Zara skinnies — because while we are pig farmers, I’m not predisposed to liking any sausage feeling 🙂
      And you taking that risk with pitch and writer’s conference? Standing ovation, sister!
      Can’t wait to see what God has for your surrendered life in 2013!!

  34. Sweet Ann… the best thing I didn’t want to do but did anyway? Hands down… saying “YES!” to putting together “Eucharisteo: A Celebration of Joy”… and I am so glad I did!

    Oh. The. Joy! And I got to meet you in person, friend! And hear you tell Jonathan’s and Sarah’s stories in person, and sit beside you and hold your hand. What a gift! Thank you for your servant heart, friend! You are loved!

    And the best gift… seeing God come through for us, seeing Him raise enough money and seeing that Compassion CDC in Masbate, Philippines become a reality right before my eyes via photos on Facebook. Joy, so much joy!

    Happy New Year to you and your family, Ann!

    • Now *that* brought happy tears!

      That one night, that concert you pulled together, “Eucharisteo” — and co-laboring with you and Compassion and God to build a Compassion CDC in Masabte, Philippines? Yes, ma’am — the best gift is to *become* the gift — our thanksgiving becoming thanksliving!

      Thank you for stepping WAY out of your comfort zone, Aimee, and obeying God’s call to go do what He alone could make a way to happen — I can’t WAIT to see what He does with our surrendered lives in 2013!

      So much love to you and yours Aimee, His Beloved….
      All’s grace,

      • Yes, a surrendered life in 2013! I want that… by God’s grace… might that just be my *one word* for 2013??? Love you, Ann!

  35. Best thing I’ve heard this week, “Are you coming, Mom? We won’t start the movie without you! ”
    Best song “10,000 Reasons ” My soul has been blessed!!

  36. The Best thing about 2012 is that I let go of others expectations and fear and gave my whole life to God! I have changed so much this year and I am looking forward to 2013. I am part of the God-sized Dream Team and can’t wait to see what God has in store for me and my family.

  37. Best thing I didn’t want to do but did anyway–hiking in the Alps with my best friend, my husband of 28 years. I’m not really a hiker or wilderness girl, but the glory of God was everywhere evident as we journeyed together through his creation.

    Best book: The Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison. Not sure she’s writing from a biblical perspective, but she keeps coming back to truth anyway–all of life is gift!

    Best music: WaterSky by Phil Keaggy and Jeff Johnson, inspired by the loveliness of Laity Lodge, one of the best places on earth. If ever you hear I’ve gone missing, you might try looking for me there 🙂

    • That was my favorite book, too (Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison). I just finished a second reading of it! Our oldest son (almost 18) has had a very rough few years, and our second son is . . . 13, LOL. This book by a mom working through her own emotions as her teen sons grow up and her role changes and evolves, has just resonated with me.

    • LOVED The Gift of an Ordinary Day! It too resonated with me, as I am a mom to three grown up children. I also think that when trouble comes, we all long for ordinary! One of my all- time favorite books has to be The Life You’ve Always Wanted. If not for the sleeping pug on my lap I would grab the book and tell you the name of the author!

  38. OH! And how could I have left this out? Best news of 2012: I’m going to be a grandma! Hands in the air! Woot! Woot!

    Children’s children are a crown to the aged . . . Proverbs 17:6 (Even though I look way too young to be a grandma, right?

  39. Best Recipe: I made “chicken” and dumplings using the juices from the Thanksgiving turkey and some of the leftover turkey. It was amazing!!! Hubby just asked me to make it again with the Christmas turkey leftovers. 🙂

  40. Best thing Gos has worked in my life personally this year I believe is in showing me how I was so easy and fast on being preconceived or prejudice on my ideas or judgements on things or people, I have had to confess and ask forgiveness often this past year on this … But OH how glad I am that Christ is All doing has done and will continue to do the work in me! Praise His holy name.

  41. hmmm… i’ve made a particular pumpkin spice bread recipe about 30 times this fall/winter, so i think that ranks as best recipe of 2012 for me! that or PW Chicken Spaghetti (the one with no canned soup- it’s SO worth the extra steps)!

  42. i got a pair of J Crew pencil fit jeans that i loved this year (and i’m not a pencil shaped person). definitely worth checking out! : )

    • I got J Crew jeans this year, too. I died when I saw the price … but they were a gift from my aunt. I absolutely love them.

  43. Bebo Norman’s ‘God of My Everything’ just may be my favorite song of this year- it covers a multitude of prayers, emotions, and phases of life.

  44. best heartwarming moment….when my 3 year old son joined me in prayer and said “Thank You Jesus”

    best books….yours, Ann, and Passport to Darkness by Kimberly L Smith.

  45. My best was an unexpected surprise. We got custody of 6 year old twins just 4 days before Christmas. They are beautiful kids and in March or April of 2013, our adoption should be final! Sooo blessed!

    Other bests that were a close second and third…finding a specialist who was able to cure 8 months of debilitating vertigo.

    Sharing money saving Christmas tips on my favorite radio talk show.

    • Dear Lisa– could you please share what you found that helped the vertigo? My dear friend has suffered terribly with debilitating vertigo (violent vomiting and ER trips.. lots of tests..). I was excited to see you mention this, as I have been in constant prayer for her! Praising and praying for your adoptions as well!

  46. I buried my baby boy on Saturday.

    God’s grace has been sufficient.

    And I can’t keep Away in a Manger out of my head.

    “Bless all the dear children in thy tender care…”

    • Kim! I know the grief and I know the Grace you experience. My baby son was buried 12 years ago. He will carry you on and on

    • Kim! I know the grief and I know the Grace you experience. My baby son was buried 12 years ago. He will carry you on and on.

    • Best song of the year:
      10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman
      Best gift: traveling to Germany for Mom and Dad’s 50th anniversary with my sisters and our husbands.
      Best idea: let my hubby and kids tickle me after 20 years of saying:”no tickling” 🙂
      I’ll come up with more 🙂 what fun!

    • Best song of the year:
      10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman
      Best gift: traveling to Germany for Mom and Dad’s 50th anniversary with my sisters and our husbands.
      Best idea: let my hubby and kids tickle me after 20 years of saying:”no tickling” 🙂
      I’ll come up with more 🙂 what fun.

    • Best song of the year:
      10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman
      Best gift: traveling to Germany for Mom and Dad’s 50th anniversary with my sisters and our husbands.
      Best idea: let my hubby and kids tickle me after 20 years of saying:”no tickling” 🙂
      I’ll come up with more, what fun.

    • Oh, Kim… Kim.
      When grief is deepest…. words are fewest.

      We are here with you. Just here. Reaching over and squeezing your hand. Pulling you into all of us and holding you close and circling around… and whispering prayer:

      Lord Jesus — thank You for comforting our cherished Kim with more of You and deep Truth and the knowing that You bless all the dear children in Thy tender care… Comfort her, dear Lord… a cupping close that won’t ever, ever let go…

      Bowed and whispering prayers with you, beautiful Kim, and circling close…

      • Thank you – from the deepest part of my heart – from where I still feel hope when I know others pray.

        (And my favorite jeans the last 6 months have been maternity ones – hee hee. 😉

      • Thank you – from the deepest part of my heart – from where I still feel hope when I know others pray.

        And hearing from you, personally, Ann, was my gift of today.

        (And my favorite jeans the last 6 months have been maternity ones – hee hee. 😉

        • Sweet Kim, feeling your grief with you and praying for your heart. Zephaniah 3:17, psalm 73:26. <33

        • Keep laughing to keep yourself sifted of the weight, hurts and challenges of days… I keep a laugh journal, things that get me rolling or lighter-hearted on my hardest days… I giggled with you… been there. 🙂 Hug from Italy…

    • Dear Kim, your hurting heart has touched my heart. May God speak comfort to your hearts, fill in the missings and voids with His hope, and restore you as only He knows how. May He draw the hearts of you and your family into His safe caring, and may you see the Lord’s goodness, and hope in Him. May He fill your hearts with peace that passes all understanding, and help you to trust Him even when it hurts or doesn’t make sense to do so. Your sister in Jesus, Celita ((HUG))

    • Kim,
      burried my baby girl 15yrs ago tomorrow. Praying for you & your family this moment.
      And treasuring your comment about Away in a Manger, thank you for that.

  47. Best book….Authority of the Believer by Andrew Wommack….keep reading & re reading always finding some new revelation! Best recipe I cannot not make? Chicken Tandouri….mmmmm… flavorful….The best habit? My morning read through the Bible…that’s been a wonderful discipline that turned out to be a look forward to time. Oh I’ve had so many “Best” things this year!

  48. AE skinny jeans. They feel like jammies. The most uncomfortable moment was trying to decide if i’m too old for them. now i’m in love!!

  49. Best memory: When a dear lady asked God who should write the book encapsulating her amazing miracle story, and God chose me! Humbled, honored, thankful… She told me with a dozen roses in hand. Surprise! God’s full of them, isn’t He? Hugs to you, sweet Ann and friends!

  50. It has been a difficult year to see the good and enjoy what I have been given. I lost my job working as a ministry coordinator. It was a miracle that I got the job and after 2 years lost it again. The depression has been hard and heavy. But God must have had this in mind when it all came about. But I have no idea what the future holds … but I shall carry on … waiting for Him to show me what is next!

    • So sorry for your pain. May you find new employment soon and hope and life each day from a God who comforts His children. Are there others around you sharing this burden with you? Praying that the Lord gives support through His body as He guides you through these days. He does not let the waters overwhelm us – even when we walk through them (Isaiah 43).

  51. We chased down our dream of Colorado living and two weeks ago we became Colorado residents! The Lord blessed us with a cross country move with 3 little kids that could not have gone smoother.

    • Oh Tracey, isn’t living here the greatest? We too moved from Florida to Parachute/Battlement Mesa, Colorado in September. My 40th birthday present was being to wake up and look out the window to see all of God’s glory. I thank Him everyday for making this possible. It’s only because He has blessed us that we were finally able to make our dream a reality to move here.

    • Oh Tracey, isn’t living here the greatest? We too moved from Florida to Parachute/Battlement Mesa, Colorado in September. My 40th birthday present was being to wake up and look out the window to see all of God’s glory. I thank Him everyday for making this possible.

  52. Best Memory: taking our much-belated honeymoon to New Zealand & the Cook Islands with my handsome husband. Saw some of the most breathtaking sites that brought me to my knees in worship

    Best thing I didn’t expect: after a year of trying to get pregnant & being told countless times that the doctors didn’t know why it wasn’t happening, we realized that this was a call from God to live out our heart for the orphan and adopt from the Congo! Lord-willing, we will be bringing home two boys from the Congo in 2013!

    Best book: Weird by Craig Groeschel & Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis

    Best Song: your love never fails

  53. Best Risk – giving my Material-Girl sister a hand-knitted scarf & hat. She was amazed and couldn’t stop raving about it. We’ve had our differences this last year, and I really believe this somehow mended a few broken fences.

    • Thanks, Tracey! I’d never heard of this but I’m going to begin the practice in 2013. I think this will be a wonderful way to meditate on the word as well as a great legacy for my children! You’ve blessed me with your “best.”

      • You will be so blessed by this. I have been doing this for almost a year now. Just short section, even just one verse daily and then recording what the Lord speaks to my heart. Such blessing of the Living Word. The most consistant journal I have ever stayed with. Some how it just draws you in! I encourage you to try it just for fourty days and you will be drawn back for more!!!

  54. The best thing?

    David Platt’s talk at Verge on the great commission. The words keep repeating over and over in my head, “We tell them about Jesus because He alone is worthy of their worship.”

    Only Him.

    • “All Sons & Daughters” music has ministered to my soul in such profound ways this year. So blessed that God dropped them into my life at just the right time. Best reads had to be “Glorious Ruin” by Tullian Tchividjian
      and “Love Does” by Bob Goff. Best thing to happen to me was my life completely falling apart this year so that Jesus could bring His healing, restoration and JOY even in the middle of the unthinkable and on days where I thought I couldn’t go on. Favorite quote from this year “Grace grabbed the unworthy and Christ cleans the unbearable and God redeems the unlikely and we live the unexpected.” AnnVoskamp, thank you for your transformative, life-breathing words this year. God has used them mightily to open the eyes of my heart. May we live the unexpected this year, friends.

  55. Best recipes of the year: butterscotch pudding triple chip cookies and banana bread with chocolate chips!

  56. Favorite misc gift: a little wire head massager ($3) from the value bins at Target. Silly, I know, but amazing all the same 🙂

  57. It’s been a year of grieving after losing our 13 month old granddaughter in June – best book to help me through this time was Room of Marvels by James Bryan Smith. Best songs: The Hurt & the Healer and You Are I Am by Mercy Me, Sovereign Over Us by Aaron Keys, Whom Shall I Fear by Chris Tomlin.

  58. Hello Ann, thank you for such wonderful inspiration this year; so many great posts.

    <3 Best memory – Creating an international ministry with my best friend Anita from Great Britain –
    <3 Best music – Bethel Music and Jesus Culture (anything by them)
    <3 Best book – A Sudden Glory by Sharon Jaynes
    <3 Best version of the Bible – The Voice Bible
    <3 Best Bible study – James (Mercy Triumphs) by Beth Moore
    <3 Best of everything – How God has been answering me concerning my husband and prayers for his salvation. I truly see his heart changing daily before my eyes. Would love for anyone reading this to say a quick prayer for him, for us in the coming new year. Thanks

  59. The best recipe you couldn’t not make again? Apple, Pecan, and Blue Cheese Salad with Dried Cherries from Tasty Kitchen

    The best book you couldn’t put down? The UnCommon Woman (Larson) and Freedom of Self Forgiveness (Keller)

    The best song that you just couldn’t get out of your head? “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” by Apostles Church, NYC

    The jeans that fit best? CHICOS!

    The risk that returned best? Trusted God and husband and moved to NYC!

  60. Best of 2012…
    Group: #hellomornings challenge
    Healthy Habit: Workout with a friend for a year
    Decision: Bring Youngest Home to Homeschool for rest of Year
    Best Gift to Self: Continuing my Counting 1000+ gifts

  61. It’s been a year of grieving after losing our 13 month old granddaughter in June – best book to help me through this time was Room of Marvels by James Bryan Smith. Best songs-The Hurt & the Healer and You Are I Am by Mercy Me, Sovereign Over Us by Aaron Keys, Whom Shall I Fear by Chris Tomlin.

    • Vicki,
      I am so sorry you and your family have had to journey through a sea of grief in 2012. My hope is that God’s unconditional love and peace has sustained you on those difficult days.
      God bless you~b

  62. Best of the Best!

    Best event: Birth of our twin grandbabies

    Best Pay it Forward: Through a FB page, over 40 people donated at least $10 for the janitor of the building I manage to be able to get home for Christmas this year. He hasn’t been home in 7 years. Never spent Christmas with three of his grandchildren.

    Best song; Still thinking that one through. So many that I love. 🙂

    Best decision: Started back to college to finish my B.S. Degree in Psychology

    Best Book: Peaceful Passage by Kim West. Excellent book for helping loved ones through their end of life journey. MUST HAVE for every Hospice organization. Here is the link:

    Best Video of the year: An Unexpected Christmas from the children of St. Pauls Church in Auckland, New Zealand.
    Those who are looking will find Him and His mission will bring all people closer to Me. Even if they do something really wrong..When the Prince is done, nothing will get between them and My love

  63. I love bests! The best recipe would have to be a Mexican feast with new friends gathered around our table. It had little to do with food and much to do with discovering one another.

    Books…so many! How about fav’s for the year….of course there was that book about gifts that was transforming. It was made even more real when I saw its brave author hold the Word in her hand in Nashville as she blessed us with her words and I knew it was Jesus with skin on speaking just to me. Others that were life changing this year? Come Alive, Thin Places, You Are Already Amazing, and Grace for the Good Girl. There were also countless novels and childrens’ book I turned to when I needed to hide away.

    Best song? Absolutely “Image of God.” Singing it with a room packed full of sisters and coming home to sing it quietly with God.

    As for jeans…my broke in grandma jeans that just fit right even on feast days.

    Best tool? Hands down my Kindle Fire. It opened God’s Word, friends near and far, worlds to escape into and worlds to change with others. It went everywhere I did during the year.

    The biggest and best risk? Becoming an (in)courager with a dear sister and making so many new friends who are now sisters too. Our little group of (in)spired women touch my heart and soul daily as we journey together into this new world of rebounding children, grandchildren, aging parents, and learning to have almost empty nests. These women are heroes!

    and my most favorite best? In human form my sweet little granddaughter who continues to astound us as she meets adversity and makes it her friend.

  64. Best of 2012…Group: #hellomornings challenge Healthy Habit: Workout with a friend for a year Decision: Bring Youngest Home to Homeschool for rest of Year Best Gift to Self: Continuing my Counting 1000+ gifts

  65. It’s been a year of grieving after losing our 13 month old granddaughter in June – best book to help me through this time was Room of Marvels by James Bryan Smith. Best songs-The Hurt & the Healer and You Are I Am by Mercy Me, Sovereign Over Us by Aaron Keys, Whom Shall I Fear by Chris Tomlin. Best news- expecting 2 grandbabies in 2013.

  66. Best relationship: (other than my hubby) finally finding a sweet, heart friend in Tucson that I can laugh, cry, and go deep with. So thankful for Katie

    Best jeans: Gap relaxed skinny jeans (not sure what they’re really called but I could wear them 24/7 & my hubby wouldn’t complain!)

  67. I love reading such positive posts! They all make me want to hold your hand! My favorite moment was marrying my best friend. My moment I felt the most wonder was when I saw that pink line and knew I was a Mother. One of my favorite practicasl would have to be discovering Dr. Bronner’s soap which I now use for many things.

  68. Best book : Hunger Games trilogy (haven’t been that enthralled in a series in years)

    Best song : Our Father (Bethel Live feat. Jenn Johnson). Ushers in the loving presence of God every time I hear it

    Best holiday : The entire month of December was like one big holiday this year. My husband has surprised me with gifts big & small every single day this month. From flying my sister in from California to doing the grocery shopping w/I being asked…he made me feel so loved & appreciated.

    Best habit : Complaining less. Still working on it , but thank God for his grace.

  69. Oh my, so much to choose from!

    Best Book: Ok, there are two–Interrupted and 7 by Jen Hatmaker
    Best Risk: Choosing to do my best to either make or buy all our Christmas gifts from places that give money back to orhpans, widows, and those in need, spiritually and physically.

  70. Best book: The Hunger Games and the Gospel. Powerful commentary on our American culture and fabulous read for this Hunger Games trilogy lover. Thanks to the lovely Lisa-Jo for recommending it on Twitter late one night.

    Best moment: A weekend in October with my Pepa (who passed away just two weeks later). It wasn’t convenient or in the budget to make the trip … but I am holding tight to the memory of one last time to hear his raspy voice say, “I love you.”

    Best holiday: Thanksgiving. For the first time in over 15 years I spent a holiday with my parents. Well, technically, they spent the holiday with me since we were at my house. What a gift!

    Best song: “Never Once” by Matt Redmon. It’s on the same CD as “10,000 Reasons.” My favorite line, “Every breath we’ll be breathing in your grace, ever more we’ll be breathing out your praise.” Just powerful!

  71. Ann, I don’t even know where to start! I will just have to keep coming back.
    One of the most joyful yet painful times was sending our daughter off to Uganda as a missionary. What joy and awe to our great God that He has chosen this girl as His hands, feet and mouth. But you know what? I want to see my girl more than once a year! I want to sit down and have tea with her! I want to see her in front of me, curled up in a chair!
    When I hear her speak of the street boys, I see the love of Jesus and hear His words, “when you do it to the least of these, you do it to me.”
    Thank-you Oh my Father,
    For giving us your Son,
    And leaving your Spirit ’til,
    The work on earth is done.
    her blog

  72. Best recipe of 2012: Rachel Ray’s Tur-chicken club burgers! Best.burgers.ever!

    Best memory of 2012: two wayward ones making their way back to the fold. A teary church service for this mamma a few weeks ago!

    Carrying song of 2012: Desert Song…filled with heavenly encouragement!!

  73. Ahhhh, the risk, that was our year. In November of last year, we had to quit the camping ministry we were with, which left us jobless and homeless. In January we were approached by another ministry, asking us to join up. This ministry was way out of our comfort zone. We said, “yes” in May. We are now back on the deputation trail raising support as we serve at a camp for children of prisoners. This is not a ministry we would have picked for ourselves, but it is definitely the one God picked for us. The greater the risk, the greater the reward. God is surely blessing us in this risky choice that we made for our family.

    • Best song of the year? Never Once by Matt Redmon. God sent it to our worship leader to sing the Sunday after we left our ministry. Every one of our kids looked at us with their mouths open as we sang it. Afterward they all declared that this would be out theme song as God led us on.

  74. Best moment?- Holding my books in my hand, the ones with my name on the cover.
    Best memory?- My son, the youngest, sitting with me over coffee, telling me he’s planning to go to Guatemala this year, on march break, to build a playground at a children’s hospital

  75. Best song: Blessings by Laura Story. We lost our 7 month old grandson to a tragic accident, watched our 34 year old daughter battle cancer, faced an epilepsy diagnosis with our15 year old granddaughter, walked through an unplanned pregnancy with our son.

    Laura’s song ministered to me many times. In fact, I downloaded it as a ringtone for my family members calls!

    Happy New Year Ann. Thanks for sharing so much of yourself and being a blessing to so many.

    • That is my favorite song, too. Heard it this morning while cleaning the kitchen and just wept. God is good.

  76. On New Year’s Day 2012 I stepped behind the pulpit for the first time and gave my first sermon on Epiphany Sunday. It was “the best plunge”–stepping into fear with my knees knocking. But I’ll never forget that day and my life has been changed for it.

    Such a gift to hear all these beautiful voices here.

  77. Best book: So many to choose from, but I would say Undaunted by Christine Caine. It convicted and convinced me to step forward into ministry to bring God’s love to women in crisis and help shepherd them through the legal system while sharing God’s plan for their lives and healing their wounds with the balm of Gilead.

    Best Website: A Holy Experience–A breath of fresh farm air and pure grace that refreshes my soul when it is downcast, which seems to be often these days.

  78. Best Xmas Novel read this year: The Unfinished Gift by Dan Walsh
    Best Xmas song: When Hope Came Down by Kari Jobe
    A nonfiction i’m enjoying right now: Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist
    Best < book this year: 66 Love Letters by Larry Crabb
    Best secular non-fiction : The Gifts of Imperfection Brene Brown
    Best trip: leading a team to Karagoto, Kenya with the 410 Bridge
    and then getting to spend 4 days in the Cotswold's England to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary with my husband!!1

  79. Ha, it’s funny, I wouldn’t comment either, but the jeans thing is what’s making me do it!

    Best jeans: A grey pair I got for $3.75 at the Vanity Fair/Lee/Wrangler outlet in our city. If you have one, it’s worth checking out, because they have every size!

    Best books: The Wingfeather Saga books by Andrew Petersen…the last book comes out next year, though. They’re fiction, but remind me of Narnia a bit.

    Best song: Our God by Chris Tomlin. I don’t think it came out this year, but my 3 and 5 year old kiddos have learned it at church and it melts my heart every time I hear them sing it.

  80. Best words: hearing my special needs, emotionally detached son saying “I love you Mom” totally out of the blue.

  81. The best risk that returned to me blessings upon blessings: going to Haiti with my daughter, Shelby. We went on a tour with Compassion International to meet our sponsored child, Rose. Haiti is a very poor country, but we met many people who were rich because of their love of our God. God is stirring my daughter’s heart for something big—she fell in love with the people of Haiti!!!! Getting out of my comfort zone brought me blessings that changed me forever!!!!!

  82. Best recipe: White Pizza Dip found at Add a Tbsp of Evoo for better spreading. Serves up best on French bread peices.

  83. This is great! 🙂
    Recipe: Bourbon Chicken
    Book: 1000 Gifts
    Song: Jesus is Alive, Josh Wilson
    Gizmo: Keurig
    Risk: Moving our family for a job & jumping into “new relationship” waters all over again
    Habit: Thankfulness
    Holiday: Christmas Eve
    Sacrifice: Giving baby things away

    God was abundantly faithful and gracious in 2012. Looking back, it was a bumpy year but filled with joy and blessings and answers to prayer. And most amazingly, heavenly guidance through each trial and test. Praise the Lord for his faithfulness!

  84. Best moment…..driving to my grown daughter’s school to see my 2 grandchildren (3 1/2 and nearly 3) clapping when they see my car!! So blessed and counting blessings every day!

  85. The best thing in 2012 was my brother being home for Christmas. I prayed for God to restore that relationship with our family and He did!

  86. The best book this year that i could not put down is Nowhere But Up by Justin Bieber’s mom. It’s amazing what she went through and persevered.

  87. Best technological improvement here: a colour printer, which was great for school, fun for Christmas presents, and a blessing for some Ann printables.

    Second-best technological improvement: a new water heater so that we don’t have to wait so long to “reheat” between laundry, dishes, and baths.

    Favourite rediscovery: Mod Podge. It turned out to be a great tool for my husband’s hobbying, too!

    Favourite book: The Mind of the Maker. Favourite school book: Uncle Eric Talks About Personal, Career, and Financial Security, by Richard J. Maybury. Favourite book I’d still like to read: Bryana Johnson’s poems, Having Decided to Stay.

    Favourite food: Honey-Garlic Chicken from More Make it Fast, Cook It Slow. With basmati rice.

    Best wishes for 2013!

  88. Ann, Hands down, 1000 Gifts was the best book that I read. I’ve told people about it. I read your new blogs everytime they are posted on facebook. I can’t wait to read #2! You are a gifted and talented writer and you inspire me more than any Christian author has in a while. Blessing to you in 2013!

  89. Something i tried – I will start this with…I don’t have a lot of confidence. I am blessed and able to run, bike and swim. None of them done very well, trust me on this. Someone recommended I try doing a sprint triathlon (short version of a full length Tri) and I challenged myself and did it! I have never felt very proud of my accomplishments but crossing the finish line was HUGE! After finding out that my time was almost 20 minutes faster than my goal my husband and I embraced each other and shed some tears together!

    Best gift – my mother passed in October and for Christmas my three daughters gave me a James Avery heart necklace that says “you are always in my heart” on one side and on the other side it has my mothers initials! More tears here..

    Second best gift – is a small glass jar that is decorated and has a tag on it that says 2013 and I am to write small notes throughout the year for things I am thankful for or make me happy! I think I will slip in a note that says (in)courage on it!

  90. best risk…moving out of our huge family home of 15 yrs., finishing, fixing, making it perfect for year round vacation guests to Montana! this meant changes untold for our family not all of them easy or pleasant. payoffs…huge. . we’ve met people from all over the world who find so much joy in our beautiful corner of the world!

  91. Best recipe was one I found for making homemade turkey stock using the carcass after thanksgiving. It is wonderful and I have some going on the stove right now! Makes such good soup 🙂

    The best book I read this year was hands down Lysa Terkeurst’s “Unglued.” I read it twice and over and over some sections!

    Best thing I did I didn’t want to do was our family was led by God to make a move concerning my son’s school. It was a tough year for our family with lots of ups and downs and change. Although we never planned on moving him to a new school it has turned out to be the best thing we could have done. God knew this though and worked all the pain out for good as we trusted in His plan. My son loves his new school and my husband and I knew as soon as we drove on the campus it was where our family needed to be.

    Looking forward to 2013! I know God has great things planned!

  92. The best song this year for me has been ‘Our God’ by Chris Tomlin. I teach 8 4-6 year olds at our church. One little girl brought this song to school, singing it all day long. My husband then downloaded it from Itunes so that I could share it in class as we worked any time. Just the week before Christmas I had it on and this little girl says, “That’s my church! The reason your husband could download that song for you was because my church sang it!!” She has it more right than she knows. We are the church! And God is for us!

  93. Best Book: Counterfeit Gods -Tim Keller

    Best Song: How He Loves -Kim Walker Smith

    Best Memory 2012: Working with victims of human trafficking in Costa Rica.

  94. The best of 2012… this will be difficult. Experienced a lot of grief this year. Son & DIL separated; my mother went home to be with the Lord; work was a struggle…digging heels in – thinking “best”…
    Book: “Sometimes He Whispers / Sometimes He Roars” by Marilynn Chadwick
    Song: “Good to be Alive” by Jason Gray
    Moment: St Simon’s Island with my daughter and two grands
    Achievement: “A Pruned Branch” published as a Kindle (YAY!)
    Joy: Hearing my two grandchildren honoring their Great Grandma at her Memorial Celebration with words of their own. BLESSED.

  95. I forgot to include this: my second-favourite book was Crossing Unmarked Snow: Further Views on the Writer’s Vocation, by William Stafford. I think it was the big snowfall here today that reminded me of that.

  96. The best recipe you couldn’t not make again? The no knead pizza dough recipe from “Dinner a Love Story.” I made it with whole wheat flour. We now have it at least once every other week. I even made pizza for our little family Christmas dinner.

    The best book you couldn’t put down? I really loved reading “The House at Riverton” this year. I actually did make myself put it down so it could go on and on – it took me a lot longer to read it than I normally take for books because I wanted to savor every word.

    The best song that you just couldn’t get out of your head? “Home” by Phillip Phillips!

  97. Had a wonderul year in the Lord! Some lows, some highs but all Grace filled! Had insightful days, and drought days but God was in the midst! Praise the Lord!

    Best Book – (not trying to earn brownie points but…..) 1000 Gifts (Ann Voskamp). It was insightful, full of promise, hope and direction. Started me on a path that I had not taken before. Opened my eyes to the wonders around me. By taking this journey, it gave me the strength and focus to praise through the dark days! Thank you for that!

    Best Song – “Joseph” by Jason Crabb. Heard many songs about Mary and how she may have felt about being the one trusted to carry Jesus but none about Joseph. How he must have felt through it all. Wow!

    Best Text Ever – had to work on Christmas Day, received this from my middle son, writing this through tears that come after reading it even after the upteenth time…..”merry christmas mama i love you and i hope u have a good day at work…ill c u when u get home.” At 16 he has such a sensitive spirit about him. Always thinking of others.

  98. Best Study – Self-Confrontation: A manual for in-depth biblical discipleship. It has deepened my relationship with Christ and helped me see sins I didn’t even realize were destroying me. So thankful for this chance to draw close to the Savior.

    Best Suprise – Finding out we were expecting a baby girl! It was a longing I thought might never be fulfilled. Grateful for this sweet little blessing.

    Best Tea – Harney and Sons! Pricey bt so incredibly delicious!

    Which leads me to Best Grandma (giver of the tea!) – Gramms Mann! My husbands grandmother is such a blessing to me. She treats me like her own, sharing her life stories and her love for our Savior. I’m so blessed by this relationship. Even if you don’t have a great relationship with your childrens spouses….don’t give up! There might just be a grandchild/grandchild-in-law that comes along that will really cherish their relationship with you!

  99. best book….. i’m not making this up! i’m on my 4th reading of 1000 gifts! it is tattered, torn, tear stained,and marked up! during a year of finance based fear….it taught me the dicsipline of giving thanks, of finding joy, of HUNTING for gifts.

  100. The risk that turned out the best….and I fought God all the way to the podium…was sharing the testimony of His faithfulness in my life. I was broken open and His grace was poured out on me. Amazingly, that moment was the beginning….the beginning of Him using my brokenness to reach women for His glory…who would have thought my ugly would end by revealing His beauty? I would rather hide…but then God…

    Best Recipe: Hmmm…it is either Enchilada Soup or White Chicken Chili…my family could eat either for every meal…and they are cheap! 🙂

  101. The best for me was more the fact that my mother was able to come through two 14 hour heart surgeries for aortic aneurysm dissections. It is the fact that she was able to get through some of the depression that comes with heart surgery is the fact that my father who is undergoing a skin cancer surgery as I write this that he was able to recover to the strength that he is after a stroke in 2011 and three skin cancer surgeries this year.

  102. Best gift? My very very sick kitty would have died without surgery two weeks before Christmas. Our vet and the entire animal hospital staff that cared for our sweet Pemberton gave us the gift of saving his life. <3

  103. best jeans….cheap walmart jordache jeans in ONE SIZE BIGGER! oh my goodness why didn’t i do that months ago….i can breathe.

  104. Best books? One Thousand Gifts was given to me at the beginning of this tough year and was such an encouragement to me to keep going. I passed it on to two others this year in tough times. They both testify to how it has encouraged them. It has helped to transform my thinking. Dancing with my Father by Sally Clarkson. I am going to start rereading it in the next few weeks.

  105. Best Book of 2012- Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts. I buy it. I give it away. I buy it, I give it away. Repeat repeat repeat. So good I just can’t keep it to myself!

    • I gave away six copies just based on the blog before I even read it. Almost gave away my copy Christmas Day and just couldn’t do it.

  106. Best risk I took: 18 months ago, I heard the Lord say to me to clear my plate. I was in the 8th year of serving on City Council, on staff at my church, and working part-time at a pizza plate to supplement my income. I whittled my way down to just the church. It took me most of this year just to de-tox. I am living tighter but the freedom and rest my soul feels is in describable. My soul can finally breathe!!!

  107. This best part of 2012 came last February. After dealing with a chronic and undiagnosed problem for 19 months and after seeing 4 different doctors, my family traveled from Texas to South Carolina to see a specialist. Not only was he able to diagnose and treat my condition, I feel better than I ever have, completely healed. And my family had a wonderful vacation, filled with priceless memories. True healing changes things…:)

  108. The best trip ever! For many years, and I mean many, I have wanted to go to the coast of Maine. To sit on the rocks and listen to the Atlantic crush against the continent. This past summer we went! My husband surprised me with this trip after so much loss, hoping it would begin restoration.
    We stayed on Pemaquid Point, on the water’s edge. The sound of the water crashing lulled us to sleep each night and we spent hours just sitting and listening. My husband also took me to a sheep farm to buy yarn. I love to knit!

    My best read: an out of print book by Marjorie Holmes titles Two From Galilee. It is a narrative of the story of Mary and Joseph. Such a beautifully written book. I actually gave my students an entire reading day in the classroom because I could not put it down! We read all day!

  109. Best song? It wasn’t written this year, but I discovered it a few weeks ago, so I’ll count it in my 2012. “Irish Christmas Blessing” by Keith and Kristyn Getty. The words are so powerful, and speak to the only Hope we have in the midst of this messy, beautiful world. The one phrase that has constantly been in my mind for the past few weeks is “There is no Night that can steal the promises of His coming”. Standing on those promises today and always!

  110. Ok, I’ll be back for the deep and beautiful… But JEANS! After rounds of designer brands and ill fits for my (ahem) curves… I’m addicted to the Mossimo brand at Target… For a steal at $29! The fits are perfection and once you know your fit number and color you can mix and match all the graphics and florals or stay plain. LOVE! Also, I discovered Bobby Brown whipped moisturizing foundation and don’t know how I survived before. It’s as smooth as butter with great light coverage 🙂

    • Yes! The mossimo brand is my favorite too! Most comfy jeans I’ve ever owned. I love their bootcut jeans!!!

  111. Best Entertainment? We were given a gift to see the musical, Joseph, in Branson, MO this year. What an amazing portrayal of God’s love, patience and faithfulness. He is worthy!

  112. The best holiday has been the entire month of December. My husband has given me a gift every single day. From flying my sister in from California, to bringing me a 7-11 slurpee at the end of a long day, his thoughtfulness has blessed my heart deeply.
    The best book was the Hunger Games.
    Best song was Our father by Bethel Live featuring Jenn Johnson
    Best habit…complaining less, praising more.

  113. Best Book this year: “Abba’s Child” by Brennan Manning.

    Best Jeans: Levi’s 529 Curvy Cut (made for the way humans are shaped and they don’t show my fanny when I bend over!)

    Best Gift: For my birthday, my husband sent me to my favorite coffee shop for some mommy time. I went upstairs to the loft and snuggled into an oversized leather chair, sipped a hazelnut latte, and read “The Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne. When I think of it, I can still hear the jingle of the door downstairs and the hum of the blender. It was a great, great morning.

  114. Ok…here it goes…too blessed not to confess!

    Best gift: Finding out we are going to be first-time grandparents…our baby boy is due April 30th of 2013.

    Best decision: Quitting a high-paying, high-stressful job and taking a big cut in pay for a less stressful job close to home with no overtime. This was the scariest decision I ever made – especially since I DIDN’T have a job when I quit. But the Lord led me to where I needed to be and so far we have budgeted just fine. Our twins will be graduating from college in May so if we can just make it to then I think we’ll be ok. And this leads me to best memory…

    Best memory: Sitting on the front porch with my hubby of 29 years enjoying the fruits of our labor of some cedar furniture we made by hand.

    Best song: Mandisa’s Good Mornin’ song

    Best book: Lysa Terkurst’s “Unglued”….helped me so much with how to deal with a family member.

  115. The best of 2012: a “fresh” new ided layed upon my heart to take a risk into this “avenue” and jump. Purging.. hard purging of my flesh and accepting the freedom of renewal of self. Shifting my mother role with my young adult/teens and finding a new way to love. The Cure- best book for sure. Zac Brown Band- best summer concert! Black Bean Eggrolls- mmm. Grace upon grace upon grace.

  116. Thank you Ann for this Best of List, reading the comments has set my day off to a positive start.
    Best music 2012: Matt Redmond, 10,000 Reasons.
    Best trip: spending ten days back home in California, with dearest friends and family. Made my heart sing for weeks.

  117. Ok, I’ll be back for the deep and beautiful… But JEANS! After rounds of designer brands and ill fits for my (ahem) curves… I’m addicted to the Mossimo brand at Target… For a steal at $29! The fits are perfection and once you know your fit number and color you can mix and match all the graphics and florals or stick with plain denim. And, seriously, Target! Who knew?

    • Kristen! Thanks for the tip. I love Target but was just never brave enough to try the jeans! I do have the hips 😉 so I need special help! I just can’t see paying $100 for some.. Can’t wait to give them a try! Blessings

  118. Best Memory: Going to the doctor on January 30 (my little girl’s birthday), being tested for scary things like rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, cancer, MS, etc. because my symptoms were so severe it was interrupting my life. I’d met this godly doctor only once before. He listened to my “small talk” for about 5 minutes and then simply said, “Sally Anne, what do you think you have to do to please God?” I gave him my best Sunday School answer and he told me he didn’t think I believed my own answer. I began to cry. Then he lovingly told me that I had placed my parents on the throne where only God belongs, and only God the Father’s opinion of me matters–and His opinion of me is unconditional acceptance. The doctor told me when I worship only God, not people’s opinions of me, then I’ll be healed. The alternative was a lifetime of medication. I left his office and prayed in my car–healing was instantaneous. I confessed my idolatry, and my faithful God healed me instantly. {Psalm 32}

  119. Invited neighbor ladies for coffee and muffins to get to know each other, risk that was welcomed warmly and blessed me greatly!
    Not Your Daughters Jeans (at a discount), comfy and look good.
    A Book of Prayer 365 Days of Victorious Living by Stormie Omartian–answers being received!
    Best link–Nourishment for the Soul–encouraging blog from a friend.

    • Carol Ann

      Glad to hear you were blessed in stepping out of your comfort zone

      A best for me thanks to you was Best New Sewing Project: Weighted pocket quilt for my nephew ,,,,, he loved it and so did the whole family

      Thanks for all your advice!! (here’s hoping I have the right Carol Ann !! 🙂

  120. Best surprise-watching my 6 year old who has always struggled socially flourish in his small, Christian Kindergarten

    Best jeans-Jennifer Lopez boyfriend jeans from Kohl’s

    Best moment-maybe right now, all 4 of us home from work and school relaxing and unwinding together

    Best books-Harry Potter (I was a few years behind, but reading them consumed my summer)

  121. Best habit – less complaining, more praising.

    Best memory – my husband surprising me w/ a visit from my sister in California

    Best song – Our Father by Bethel Live

  122. The best site I found this year is this one, along with Hope for the Weary Mom. The best laugh was at my nieces wedding watching my husband dance. The best recipe is one my friend passed on for cabbage casserole, yummy.

  123. Best book: when I lay my Isaac down by carol kent
    Best song: blessings by Laura story
    Best moments:seeing the hands and feet of Jesus in our family and friends, who have supported us through our 19mo old daughter’s battle with cancer. And welcoming baby #5 in October!

  124. Although it’s not a new song, I heard it for the first time this year, so I’m calling it my “Best Song of 2012” – Be (His Heart His Hands His Voice) by Selah. I simply love this song!


  125. Best was in Feb. 2012 meeting you Ann & hearing you share at WOmen’s Conf. in Gettysburg, PA. Thought then that this would be my highlight of the year…it was, but God certainly blessed greatly the rest of the year!

    Best Christmas song: We Have A Savior by Hillsong

    Best decision: To enroll in Kairos School of Spiritual Formation . One wknd. a month to pull away for personal/spiritual growth…truely a gift.

    Best Christmas Gift: Testimony of my 84 yo “spritiual Papa” passing from earth to heaven last Sat. and his telling us that he was talking with Jesus and that God would be coming for him later that evening. Goosebumps! Let me NEVER forget this. This man loved others for Jesus.

  126. So many bests…2012 was such an amazing year for me.

    Best goal achieved: To find a church to call home that I could feel comfortable in so I would feel the desire to attend weekly.

    Best realization: that although my life hasn’t turned out quite as expected, God’s mission for me became clearer this year each time I was able to touch someone else’s life with my life experiences.

    On a lighter note: Best song: Strong Enough by Matthew West. In general his music was a the top of all my playlists this year, every song in one way or another affecting me deeply. And having the chance to meet him and have a conversation about how much his music has changed the way I listen to music was a best moment, no doubt.

  127. best habit….writing in my 1000 gifts journal….hunting hunting all day long for Gods gifts in the smallest of things. did you know you physiologically can NOT fear and appreciate at the same time.?

  128. on of my best moments this year was a hug from my pastors wife saying she appreciated me for all I did. then one month later she died. that hug became a good bye but a satisfaction that I had done well. priceless

  129. The best habit: starting a serious workout routine at age 50. I started P90X and it has taught me that even though I’m not in my 20s or30s, I can’t still dream and pursue those dreams!

  130. OH, and as far as best jeans, I have discovered the brand “Seven”, which can be pricey, but can be found now and again at a steep discount at T.J.Maxx or Marshall’s. I love them because they are made to fit a regular woman with curves, and have higher waists (not mom jeans, by any means, but also not those low rise jeans all the tiny little girls can get away with wearing).

  131. The bests of 2012… #1… surviving Hurricane Sandy… #2… Your Book … I have read it four times and given it away several more… would love to win the giveaway for the journal and could gift the other items !!!…#3 … best day….we are in the process of foreclosure and the constant pressure of not knowing when we might have to leave… so we decided to find a modest apartment and we moved. The night I had to drive alone to move in first so that I could prep the place to move in… as soon as I crossed into the county we moved into it was like a huge boulder was lifted from my shoulders… I felt a peace like I have never known. I knew we were doing what was right for us. We do not know what is ahead… but I trust that God will bring us through it. We have done everything we could… everything possible… but the bank would not make any reasonable offer. #4 Zappos shoes… they have sooo many choices and they really go out of their way in customer service. After Sandy, I got a bad infection and had to throw away some new shoes and they gave me a new pair !!! A woman named Samara in customer service was the generous woman who helped me. There are so many more bests… I have to ponder a bit more over my tea.

    • Hi Bonnie Jean, I can so relate to your story of foreclosure, deciding to walk away and an amazing peace about the whole experience. God worked it out for us to purchase our house back which was an added blessing. God bless you!

  132. Best Jeans: “Not Your Daughters Jeans” – Definitely the most flattering and comfortable jeans I’ve ever warn.
    Best song: “Never Once” by Matt Redman. Never once has He left us alone!

    • When searching for these Not Your Daughters Jeans I was told “they are in the juniors” department !!! I think perhaps there’s something wrong with this picture !!!

    • When searching for these “not your daughters jeans” I was told ” they are in the juniors department” — I think perhaps there is something wrong with this picture !!! …..

  133. The best of 2012 – all of those long minutes watching my children enjoy life, wonder, play, squeal, family worship on the couch, walking in the wide world…And those minutes made more precious by the harder minutes. EMBRACING the beauty and the mess.

  134. Best book ~ of course, One Thousand Gifts. Little did I know last January when I read it that God was preparing for a time when I would be lifted from the pit of fear and despair as I counted His daily blessings.
    Best gift ~ The terrible car accident (as crazy as that sounds), the life of my sweet daughter spared and the relationship, the closeness of sweet fellowship that I now have with my daughter.
    Best words spoken ~ first word my daughter spoke in days after the accident, “I love you, Mommy”.
    Despite the turmoil, I thank God for 2012! What a year! What an AMAZING God!

  135. 2012 was a year of blessings for me. I simplified my life which has resulted in an abundance of joy! My best habit of the year was to slow down, trust in God, and just breathe.

  136. Loving using lentils – Lentil Sloppy Joe recipe from The Homestead Blessings Cookbook is a favorite and a recipe from a friend for Lentil Tacos. So yummy 🙂

    Favorite memory – taking a Five Generation photo with my grandma, mom, daughter and granddaughter :). Love seeing my Grandma’s face light up around that sweet baby.

    Favorite pick was Accidental Pharisees by Larry Osborne

    I’m anxiously waiting to hear more about favorite jeans. This is not a fun one to shop for.

  137. Best Risk with good return: Releasing my 16 yo…learning to “let go” and now seeing her spreading her wings and blossoming in leadership skills/endevors with peers is just amazing. How she leads them to volunteer and relate to the elderly & disabled in our town; her desire to venture to Haiti this summer…seeing God’s gifts in her grow…only God and His Grace.

  138. Hello Ann & all the sisters from around the world, so here are my gifts shared with you all the way from Mexico…

    The best recipe you couldn’t not make again?…Oh my, Rustic European bread & all kinds of delicious desserts! 🙂

    The best book you couldn’t put down?…María, El Carpintero y el Niño (Mary, the Carpenter, & the child)… Just a lovely book!

    The best song that you just couldn’t get out of your head? This lovely children beyond music… Enjoy!

    The jeans that fit best? (It’s paramount never to wear pants that hurt…) GAP.

    The tool/gizmo/idea that worked best? (It’s true: One good idea in hand is worth two good friends knowing about it too!)…. Work less. Work better. Pray more…and pause as often as you can to breath, love & enjoy! 🙂

    The risk that returned best? (It’s why angels always say it first: “Do not be afraid.” You never start living until you stop fearing.)…Leaving a prayer group and starting a new one…so happy growing & learning with beautiful people here from Mexico! Work with children, the best miracle on Earth! 🙂

    The best link of 2102? Always: A Holy Experience…Thank you Ann Voskamp! 🙂
    The best laugh? Next to my boyfriend! 🙂
    The best living? With my family, at home, together! 🙂

    The best thing you didn’t want to do — but you did anyway? (Happiness comes to them who pursue hard things.) Finishing courses! 🙂

    What was the best habit? Prayer & exercise! 🙂
    The best holiday? Tapalpa!
    The best gift? My boyfriend!
    The best sacrifice? (The best way to have more is to give more…) To love, and talk, and communicate!

    Happy New Year to all!!!
    Blessings & Love.

    Your sister,
    Mariana LJZ.

  139. Timeless recipe, Tembleque (a yumminess coconut custard, gluten/dairy/egg free) best jeans, Gloria Vanderbilt’s amanda; ‘Til we have faces, a book to read many times; best moments of the year, visiting doctors with my son and hearing more and more ways in which my Lord’s hand worked surprisingly to save his life in minuscule ways . . . After such an almost tragic vehicle accident a year ago. Song, Blessings & Facing the Giants; habit, joy in everything; holiday, Christmas; event, mission’s trip to Cherokee Indians; miracles, observing how God changes His people with grace and patience; gift from God on this earth, our adopted little boy; everlasting gift, His merciful love for me, His gentle and slow shaping of my character flaws, His promises fulfilled . . . Best verse, Simeon holding infant Jesus and proclaiming readiness to die . . He had seen his salvation.
    a blessed year, 2013, to the multitude of saints that upholds us and to you, Anne for being a invoice in the wilderness. God bless!

      • I have a pair of GV’s Audra and couldn’t find them anymore. I just love the way they fit. Maybe they are now the styled called Amanda? I hope so. Thanks!

  140. Best habit – a gift from “A Holy Experience.” Found the Colossians memory cards, bought moleskin notebooks, cut…paste…miracle. Thank you for such an exquisite gift. My scissors are ready for the Sermon on the Mount cards and the book you recommended in Post #1 just went into my Amazon wish list. Praise God for you!

  141. P.S. Our Hope-girl was reading over my shoulder: “Why are you all talking about the best jeans?”

    Me: “We’re talking the Best of 2012 — best books, best habits, best exercises, best jeans… ”

    Me: (grinning) “So… anything you’d like to contribute, dear?”

    Hope: (….. thinking…. then smiling) “I got the best mom!”

    HA! She may be fevered 😉

    (And she can’t stop laughing here, so it may just be a serious case of the giggles! 🙂

    Thank you for the happy year end party, friends — Hope-girl and I are liking it! 🙂

    • I love your stories about your precious Hope-girl. She blesses my socks off. I honored her birthday with you by purchasing four of the Freedom bags she promoted. Raising two tiny girls of my own, sweet Hope gives me “hope” that I can raise godly young women in this world. Thank you for sharing her with us.

  142. Best Joy: Knowing our youngest child should have music training and how GOD supplied the free piano; the teacher and how our home has been blessed with Christmas songs on the piano this year!

  143. As I have read through so many of your posts. I am praying for you and praying for grace.
    There have been so many good books this year. I have also been re-reading a lot. It’s been a really hard year, but my all time best. My husband getting a job right before Christmas after being unemployed for a year. God’s plans are always perfect and His timing is never too late. Happy New Year to y’all….

  144. I don’t know if I can pinpoint specific bests and worsts for the year BUT I can say this .. this has alternately been the best and worst year of our lives (husband and I) ….. God has done and is doing some amazing things, in both the best and worst situations, and we are blessed in both sides of the circumstances! So, in short, He has given the best of everything, really … most of all, in His Son <3 God bless you all .. and no matter what, let's just praise Him for His wonderful provision and glory!

  145. favorite moments: seeing my daughters joy, conficence and voice, so beautiful.
    favoite book, 1000 gifts ( I can remember how many copies I have given to friends) amazing!!
    favorite recipe: chocolate covered cherries ( mom made these every Christmas growing up and now I make them) as my son would say we always have traditions over the holidays:)
    favorite friend: Shauna- she loves me for who I am not matter what, mess and all:)
    Hardest thing in 2012 ( always) to seek first his kingdom…. I am still learning this… getting better at it?

  146. Thank-you for suggesting this….the best to all in the upcoming year !

    *Best memory-going to pay respects to my Grandparents with my son and best friend at the Christ Church Cathedral for the first time (it was absolutely the right time).
    *Best moment(s)I have three to share -The birth of our healthy granddaughter on Easter.
    My 6 year old son receiving a positive ECG three days before Christmas after a negative one he had during a bout with Kawasaki disease .
    Being accepted into The Institute of Children’s Literacy
    *Best book -Unsaid (heartbreaking but captivating)
    *Finding this site definately ranks as one of my * bests* for 2012.

  147. Best Song: “Redeemed”, by Big Daddy Weave. I’m from a very conservative background, but not even that can stop me from raising my hands in tearful praise every time I hear that song. 😉

  148. The best jeans – are my first pair of NON-MOM jeans I was able to buy in a size 3xs smaller (a first since having kids – they are now in teens!) AND I got them super duper cheap at a resale store!
    The best book – Practical Paleo
    Recipes – Since finding out I’m allergic to TONS of stuff and my daughter is allergic to wheat, we switched to an almost completely Paleo and gluten free eating plan. My family LOVES Lettuce boats in place of sandwiches with a yummy cucumber/avocado sauce. I also made a lot recipes with almond flour for us in place of traditional holiday goodies.

  149. best gift – my cousin *gaining* weight on chemo. it has taken me longer to grow out my hair to donate to cancer charities than it has for him to kick lymphoma!

  150. one of my best moments this year was a hug from my pastors wife saying she appreciated me for all I did. A month later she died. that hug became a good bye but a satisfaction that I had done well. priceless

  151. Best risk returned warmly: I found a friend through Facebook after 20 years of not seeing each other. After 3 months of messages back and forth, she flew home so we could catch up in person. It was like no time had passed! What a blessing!

  152. I couldn’t begin with the best of this year without remembering all those precious moments of learning and growing in the Lord this year. It’s been an adventure of a year! He’s amazong, so good, and so loving – what would I ever do without Him?

    Best memory: the marvelous trip the Lord gave to my sister and I to visit with many friends in Texas! Our first ever trip on our own, first visit there, and we had such a great time of fellowship and adventure with our “sisters”.

    Best book: “Moses: A Man of Selfless Dedication” by Charles Swindoll – every word on every page has been exactly what I’ve needed for this season of my life. Fothe desert wanderer’s and God-lead people everywhere. 😀 Gave such insight into the life of a man I realized I didn’t really know.

    Best recipe: Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls (with homemade pumpkin pie spice!) –

    Hardest moment: Developing carpal tunnel and learning to rest…rest on the Lord, rest my soul, and rest my body by allowing others to do for me what I can no longer do. 🙂

    Best song: “What Faith Can Do” by Kutless

    Biggest Acheivment: Admitting I will be a writer and author because that’s what God wants for me and beginning my personal writing journey on my first book! Scary and exciting!

    Thank you so much for the chance to enter – what a fun way to do a giveaway! 😀
    Blessings in Christ & Happy New Year!
    ~Miss Rachel~

    • After years of living with advancing carpel tunnel and no hope of having the surgery,
      I was told by a friend to wear braces at night. That helped. Then I read in From Fatigued to Fantastic to take B6 for CT. Amazing and simple! My hands are 85% better!

  153. Best The best recipe you couldn’t not make again? Anything from the Pioneer Woman! Her Chicken-Fried Steak is fab!
    The best book you couldn’t put down? One Thousand Gifts~ Ann Voskamp (Seriously, I’m not just saying that! Made a huge impact on my mind set!)
    The best song that you just couldn’t get out of your head? God’s Not Dead ~ Newsboys

    The jeans that fit best? (It’s paramount never to wear pants that hurt…) After having 4 babies in under 5 years… this it tough! However, I have managed to find a pair that look and feel decent. Maurices brand Brianna fit (they have extended sizes and lengths)

    The best thing you didn’t want to do — but you did anyway? Said “I’m sorry”

  154. The best thing about this year has been learning that loving others well and making the right choices will not protect you from rejection and heartache, but that it’s worth doing anyways. I cannot live so well as to avoid pain, but I can live well through it.

  155. Best book: “One Thousand Gifts” – a friend recommended it to me at just the right time! In fact, our women’s Bible study is going to do it in January. I also read through “The Hunger Games” trilogy. Loved them. I also picked up an old leadership book at a garage sale by David Gergen called “An Eyewitness to Power”. Great book!!

  156. What a delight to read everyone’s best of everything!

    Hmmm.. Some of my bests for this year:

    – best book: One Thousand Gifts. God has used it to change my life! I continue to get copies to send to friends near and far. What a blessing it has been!
    – best habit: getting in the habit of healthy eating and exercise. Continuing to care of the body He’s given me
    – best living: Living a life of Eucharisteo!
    – best risk: after I graduated University I realized that I had lost a sense of who I was amidst the studying and schooling. This year has been a journey to figure out who God has made me to be- and find joy in that. It’s a journey and its been scary at times but definitely the best risk!
    – best gift: a job given to me the day before graduation. Incredible story of God’s plan being bigger and better than mine…and another reminder that I should trust in Him.
    -best jeans- my jeans no longer fit due to the ‘best habit’ 😉 it’s been an incredible feeling to go from having to wear dresses all of the time because my pants wouldn’t do up to having to wear dresses all of the time because my pants won’t stay up!

  157. Love you Anne.
    Best Book: Her Mother Hope by Francine rivers. A fiction book that explores the relationships in your life and how they can affect you good or bad. And how the Love is always there.
    Best Song: The new “Silent Night” by Clyde Bawden sung by Michele Moyer. A re-write of the classic takes you to another peaceful Christmas place. Love it. Felt like I was actually at the manger.
    Best Recipe: French Dip sandwiches. Roast beef cooked in Onion soup on sturdy rolls with melted Swiss cheese.
    Love reading these wonderful blogs every week it brings me back home.

  158. My best gift given was the sweater hat I knitted for the sweetheart, so it wasn’t quite finished by Christmas, and best gift gotten…sharing Christmas with the sweetheart and my girls. I had everything I could hope for together.

    Best book read…Captivating by Stasi and John Eldredge

    Hardest thing this year…trying to be kind in the face of others not being kind.

  159. I’m so excited that I just found this website last night. I’ve already found encouragement — sister souls. I love it! 2012 was a very good year for me. * I started my own blog on June 2013. It was an idea I had for over two years before I acted on it! And it’s much the same thing I’m trying to do there that you are doing so well here. Had I found you earlier, I’m sure I would have launched much earlier. You go girls! Inspiring! You are inspiring.
    * I thoroughly enjoyed a wonderful writers’ conference this year–Write to Publish and made many new friends and partners.
    * So many personal family milestones celebrated as well. Thank you God!
    *Favorite new recipe. . . fully loaded cheesy potato soup . . . nice warm comfort food. Try this one if you like potato soup or baked potatoes. You’ll love it.
    *Favorite book . . . reread from years gone by . . . The Cloud of Unknowing– originally written by an unknown mystic of the fourteenth century.
    I’m looking forward to going into the New Year with you. Come visit me too

  160. I have had some ups and downs this year. With only eek four days left of this year I am counting my blessings and not dwelling on my misfortunes.
    I took a leap of faith and took a job with 1/2 the pay I was used to to work closer to home and I am now in town and able to just zip over to the school when needed, I can drop my son off at school, he rides the bus home and he is only at my moms for five mins max before I get home (I get off at 4:30).
    My ex-passed, it was a sad time for all of us, but happy in that we know he is with our Lord and he is walking again, not more seizures, he is talking and looking down on us.
    I have been blessed with so many gifts of kindness and monetary bonus’ just when I needed them, I have see the Lord work in my life so many times this year and I am amazed at His timing and understanding of my needs.
    The best habits I have formed was when I signed up for daily emails from Proverbs 31 Ministries which led me to so many other wonderful sites and devotionals. I cannot begin to mention all the times that something came across my email from (in)Courage, Jill Savage, Proverbs 31, Jill Enham, Renee Swope, Glynnis Whitwer, to name a few that was just what I needed to get me through the day. God works in the best of ways and I am still struggling to let go and let Him lead me in His time and not in the time I think it should be done.
    Though 2012 has had it’s downs, the ups and blessing far outway the downs. Here is to 2013 being better!

  161. The best of 2012 would be spending time with my family who I haven’t spent Christmas with in years, finding love, celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus and sharing in the wonderful joys of the season with friends!

  162. This year has flown by so fast that I do not have any favorites for the year. The best book is always the Bible but I will admit that I read the 50 Shades of Grey books. My youngest son is a high school senior this year and we have been taking pictures, ordering invitations, and applying to colleges. I have made several new recipes but none that really outstanding.
    It is a blessing to have my God, family and friends around me during the year. They always make for a great year.

  163. Ok… a few more:
    Best moment – when I held my niece for the first time. My twin sister had a baby this year – a complete surprise. We both have teens and she thought she was done having kids 9 years ago. This little baby has been the biggest joy.
    Hard moments – facing the fact that I can no longer have kids. I had a hysterectomy 4 years ago and for the past two have carried a sadness that I can’t conceive, even though 8 years ago my husband had a vasectomy. Talking to my husband about adopting or fostering ends with a big NO. Praying God will change one of our hearts. I want them to beat together.

  164. Okay, I have to jump in!

    ~My favorite book I just reread is the Prodigal God by Tim Keller.
    ~My favorite recipe that we have loved forever is Spaghetti Con Tonno by James Beard. My family loves it, it is cheap and delicious!
    ~I finally found jeans that fit like a dream, which is hard with long legs and too much weight! J.Jill’s Classic Boot Cut. They also come in cords that I love!
    ~Best tool for me is “My Fitness Pal” which takes the pain out of dieting/exercising and makes it into a game (well, kinda!). There is even a phone app that makes it really usable.
    ~best habit: I have given up on “working out,” and instead work for 30/40 minutes each day possible on my yard/floors/anything that gets that heart rate up and gets a job done at the same time! I really do it instead of finding excuses to not take care of myself!
    ~best holiday: finding the holy in every day. Keeps me sane, focused and worshiping!

  165. Best book? Carolyn Webber’s Surprised by Oxford

    Best moment? Now

    Best memory? A text from my middle son, “counseling” me to view aging as God simply releasing our fingers from grasping our idols.

    Best song? As any of my boys will tell you, “It’s a happy day, and I thank God for the weather, it’s a happy day, and I’m living it for my Lord…”

    Best recipe? I don’t believe in recipes. Well, maybe one. There’s this delicious pumpkin cream pie…

    Best news? That I didn’t have breast cancer. Found out just last week.

    Best hope? Jesus. In Him is all the fullness of God. Who could ask for anything more?

  166. Best song: Two really… both written by different members of our worship team. Patiently waiting for them to lay down the tracks so I can get them on my iPod. My 6 year old is highly disappointed that they are missing from his new iPod shuffle. 🙂

  167. 2012 was filled with many “bests” at a time when I could have filled it with memories of “worsts”. I spent four months with the best nurses at my chemotherapy clinic…they loved and nurtured me when all I felt was apathy and sickness.

    I had an AHA moment late in the year where God spoke to me (no, not an audible but I heard it just the same) and told me to laugh, love and be his witness. How could that not be a “best” moment?

    I’m throwing myself into 2013 with JOY UNSPEAKABLE because the best is yet to come 🙂

  168. Best jeans: I love Silver Suki jeans. Mavi is also a good brand. And both are at a little shop on the main street in Stratford, Ontario – Gruv. They also have the best suede boots, in black and brown. So comfy I can wear them all day!
    Best recipe: Chicken Piccata from Cook’s Illustrated. Or anything from the BBC Good Food website.
    Best book: Currently reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain, which gives me new confidence.
    Best tool: A beautiful mortar and pestle made of Indian soapstone from Ten Thousand Villages.
    Best risk: Leaving a perfectly good job for a different one. Thanks for the reminder to start living and stop fearing.
    Best laugh: My British husband out clearing the first snowfall from our driveway this morning, in the pitch black of 6:30 a.m., on a day he didn’t have to go to work.

  169. The risk that returned best? (It’s why angels always say it first: “Do not be afraid.” You never start living until you stop fearing.)

    Asking, seeking and knocking for support in my faith journey.

  170. Ann’s blog is the best ! Love the background music while reading as well as the pics!
    As for the best phrase declared in times of troubles, I hear my children say “don’t freak out because the angels are not freaking out!” 🙂 Blessings

  171. The risk that returned best?

    Asking, seeking and knocking for support in my faith journey.

  172. Thank you for this wonderful blog that touches my life daily!

    The Best of 2012 for me has been the ability to heal from the disappointment and sadness of a son with addiction – by SERVING others and speaking out to help others. My son is 1 1/2 years clean and we are all getting better every day. Angels have been placed in my life to help me in my journey of forgiveness.


  173. Best recipe – Rachael Ray ‘s Roasted Mustard and Maple chicken. Oh my – easy to make and delicious. Even better the next day! Best Song – anything by Casting Crowns. Best book – yours Ann- I have read it several times and purchased many for friends. Would love to have the extras. It has been an extremely rough 3-4 years and your book helped me to remember to be grateful for what I have. Best find – Blessings home parties -they have beautiful stuff and reasonably priced. The best is yet to come!

  174. I love this… getting some good ideas here =) My best of is simple… the best thing about 2012 was learning that I”m okay just as I am, and that God loves me for me, no matter what. Your book opened my eyes in 2011, and I’ve participated in your Joy Dare this whole year. Some days I miss, but I’ve counted my 1000 gifts +, and it has really opened my eyes to the goodness of God. Combine that with You’re Already Amazing and Grace for the Good Girl, and 2012 has been a year of acceptance. I’m so excited to see what 2013 has to hold!

  175. a random comment from a neighbor on facebook – that had me belly laughing for literally MINUTES. hubby had to record it because i became the point of laughter.

  176. The best book: One Thousand Gifts–life-changer!
    The best song: Home by Phillip Phillips or Sparrow, Blessed are the Ones by Audrey Assad
    The jeans that fit best: my sister’s jeans 🙂 Just like how her food always tastes better than mine…so life is better when we share.
    The tool/gizmo/idea that worked best: taking my bored moments at work and turning them into prayer moments for those I love.
    The risk that returned best: vulnerability every day.
    The best movie: Les Miserables–a beautiful picture of Grace vs. the Law.
    The best sacrifice: time.

  177. Oh, Ann! I couldn’t wait to share this with you.. One book I have been carrying around with me besides One Thousand Gifts.. Is The Beatitudes by Thomas Watson. I know you read the Puritans and if you haven’t already read this? It’s amazing. Every line. Filled with His Spirit.. I have had it on my shelf and didn’t realize the treasure I had! A piece of handcrafted jewelry by Lisa Leonard would be my next pick. A bracelet. Mine says all is grace! Next. Jeans?! Jeans. Maybe I’ll just grab a skirt today.. I still need to find the perfect pair! 😉 Blessings!!

  178. This year has been a year of restoration and our hearts and faith was shaken and in the midst of the tremors God passed by. Thank you Ann for having the courage to bear your heart.
    Best book of 2012: my highlighted, dog eared and tattered One Thousand Gifts.
    Best risk: (I see now it was never a risk but man i felt like i was taking a leap off a dark cliff and had to trust my Daddy would catch me. Placing our lil mans health in our Daddys hands. Accepting that he may not be completely healed and yet seeing that if he had never been sick he would not have the insane passion and zeal for our Heavenly Daddy. And if i hadnt placed him in my Daddys arms i would have been too busy running him from dr to dr to really get to know this blessing of a by that i have been so graciously given.

  179. The best of 2012 for me was, as a widow and mother of now adult children… my life was beginning to get a bit “frightening”-what to do now? alone? BUT God in HIS faithfulness and such love guided me thru scriptures and his ever presence back “home” to another state.. opening up new opportunities for me… Seeking HIM first… thanking the Lord daily for his faithfulness and love!!

  180. It has been a fantastic year indeed!

    Best of all, I found InCourage this year and that made everyday sweeter and brighter! Thanks to all you wonderful girls who share so much of yourselves with us! Blessings to you all in the New Year!

    One of the best links I found was through InCourage and is Dawn’s page! —

    and one more of my best’s of the year: Tenth Avenue North’s song Losing. A.MAZE.ING. Love those boy’s music. Praise the Lord for them!

  181. I did an art-jounalling e-course on GRATITUDE – that was the highlight of my year and changed my outlook radically. I have suffered from debilitating Chronic Fatigue and Chronic Pain for the last 16 years and some days its really hard to keep looking at the bright side. I received your book ONE THOUSAND GIFTS for Christmas – I couldnt put it down- it is life-changing and I know it will be a book I refer back to very often for encouragement. thank you for giving the world the gift of this book. I want to buy copies for all my family and friends!

  182. Best book? The Daisy Chain
    Best thing-of-all-year? Surprise family reconciliation! On the official List of Things I Thought Were Past All Repair (on the “I know God can technically do anything… but at this point, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen…” list), some of my extended family now speaks kindly with each other again! After basically 8 years of continually-souring relations that had stabilized into aggressively unpleasant long-distance dislike (at least unpleasant to this one stuck in the middle!), they’re now talking again! God sometimes flabbergasts us.

  183. Best book: 1,000 gifts and Kisses from Katie

    Favorite moment: 1 week mission trip with Blue Print Ministries in San Antonio Texas surrounded by such giving Youth!

    Best Christmas gift given: 1,000 gifts (thank you for the $5.00 per book offer)

  184. Now you must know that while I am writing this tears of joy and gratitude are falling on my I cannot see my words or computer , so mistakes for sure!!! My best moment at Christmas is seeing my two wonderful nephews walk in the front door with BIG happy smiles and happy to see me. What you must know is that there father died in November 2010 and I am the executor of their will because their parents were divorced, and well let’s just says things got really bad with their mom and me because of what their father wrote in the will. He had full custody, they are both minors. I was so over joyed to have them hug me and hear I LOVE you auntie!!! I know only God can do that … They are not Christians but they know that I am!

  185. Best recipe: Southern Living Oatmeal Cookies

    Best song: Break Every Chain, by Kristene DiMarco

    Best time: A new adventure for me. I went to a women’s conference at Morningstar Fellowship in FT. Mill, SC with a 79-year old friend. The ages spanned from 16 to 80. There were women there from many states and countries, and I made several new friends. For the first time ever at a women’s conference, I felt no judgment or condemnation. We were encouraged to be originals who listen to God and follow His leading, and the Lord has continued that message for 7 weeks since, even to this morning. I got it from 3 different sources already. I’m 61 and starting new adventures in Him.

    Best new practice: a praise journal that is up to over 2200 praises and has revolutionized my attitude.

  186. Best Gift: This past August started a whirlwind of all the things I NEVER would have guessed would happen to me. Avoiding all the nitty gritty details, I can finally say out loud that my husband and I will be officially divorced sometime in Januray 2013. No matter what the circumstances are (for good or bad reasons) divorce is still a HORRIBLE process of unknowns and scary roads and accepting different lifestyles due to income loss, etc…. Well, my best friend since second grade who now lives thousands of miles away from me heard about my horrible news. She emailed 15 women whom she knows that became single mothers for various reasons and had them all write letters of encouragement to me. She took those letters and made a beautiful book out of them and mailed it to me. I cried so hard when I received it and as I read it. Knowing I had really no other options as my three young adopted special needs children need me…I have no time to crumble. I have to say that was the best and most beautiful heartfelt gift ever! Thank you to all those ladies whom I didn’t even know that took time to encourage me. Yes, definitely the best gift that God gave to me–the love of others who don’t even know me. Incredible! (well, that and the big screen tv my parents gave to me for Christmas to replace the one the husband ripped off the wall in front of the kiddos when he left…) New beginnings for our family in 2013. I have a feeling it is all for the good with the love I have felt throughout this process. It is a reminder that we can make a difference–a HUGE difference to those we don’t even know.

    • {{{{hugs}}}} jodilee. Oh. my. can I ever empathize with you. If you would have told me at the start of 2012 that I’d be in the midst of a divorce now after 26 years of marriage, I’d *never* have believed you. I’m not going to share details here, but on Nov 20 I had to flee our home with my youngest 8 children. I can’t even begin to say how broken I am. And yet still… God is good, He remains faithful and I too have been blessed by several very faithful friends. Your book sounds fabulous. I’ll be praying for you as I walk the same scary road as you.

  187. Best book: 1,000 gifts which came at the worst moment: my oldest son left our family (he already lived far away) and isolated himself and later shot himself, but this book really helped me to walk through that moment of darkness and helped me to say, “thank you” to the Lord for always being GOOD even when life seems awful. Best song: Blessings by Laura Story because it ministered to my broken heart is I embraced the too awful to contemplate reality that is now ours. Best moment? When my daughter returned from a 2 month missions trip to Japan.

    • The best part if homeschooling… really getting to know your kids! Homeschooling is a great gift! We are in our 5th year and each year gets better! My little one started kindergarten this year at 4 1/2 and she is reading! We love homeschooling!

    • I’ve homeschooled for 10 years (has it really been that long?). There are days when I ask myself why I continue to do this. Then I look at my kids, how they are growing, learning, maturing, and I am reminded why. I just can’t trade the time with them, it’s too precious, and I will continue to do this as long as I can.

    • Finishing year 13 of homeschooling for us – can’t believe it is my daughter’s last semester at home. What a journey. Hang in there, ladies, even when it is ROUGH. The rewards are incalculable.

  188. Best jeans…..Gloria Vanderbilt (they stretch and are soft!)
    Best risk….zip lining (Can I mention my fear of heights?) Loved the feeling of soaring.
    Best book…1000 Gifts (again!)
    Best recipe… deep dish pizzas
    Best song……(You can) Close your Eyes (Recorded by Mama’s Blue Dress!)

  189. I have to say…even though it may sound like the likely answer…the best for me…the most transformative….is “stumbling” upon an Holy Experience last Jan. …which led me to 1000 gifts…reading…rereading…soaking…then listening….like a sponge until I was leaking thankfulness…counting…in one year I have passed 4000 praises for all His goodness to me.
    Best healing….this blog world… I trembling stepped into just a little over a year ago.
    Best music… set free…CHrista wells…has been my anthem this year.
    Best sweet surprise…getting to see you and give you a hug in Nashville(brentwood)
    Best memories…family…the sweet bond that continues to grow…even as my children move out…move on…love that binds our hearts through distance.

  190. I turned 60 this year and my daughters gave me the most wonderful, joyful 60 birthday party a mom could ever ask for! They asked for everyone to bring 60 of somethings, which ranged from 60 mini pads, hilarious, gummy bears, yummy, and 60 cards…wowo I’m so lucky

  191. Best holiday experience was having a customer service rep personally drive my package to a drop box for delivery to me so that my son’s gift would arrive in time for Christmas. Faith renewed in humanity one person at a time. I will definitely ” pay it forward”. 🙂 Blessings !

  192. Best song : Keith and Kristen Getty’s “Before you I Kneel (a workers prayer)” I sang it in tear every work day as I drove to teach my ESOL/GED classes. Such a touching song!

    Best blessing: my husband’s increasing health and strength after his widow-maker heart attack last year.

    Best book: “The Rest of the Gospel: When the Partial Gospel Has worn you out” by Dan Stone. Led a group through and blogged it in the fall…amazing! God’s kids set free, halllelujah!
    (BTW, last year my best book was your “1000 Gifts” and “The Jesus Manifesto” by Sweet and Viloa 🙂 )

  193. Best moment of 2012: My mom waking after the emergency surgery to fix a bleed after her liver transplant. An answer to pray.
    Best Book of 2012: One Thousand Gifts. It got me through my mom’s transplant and recovery. During our weeks together Mom and I would discuss our “gifts”. A precious gift in itself!
    Best jeans!: Mark’s Work Wearhouse Contemporary Fit Jeans! Mid waist band, little bit of stretch, so comfy!
    Best recipe: Just tried Slow Cooker Pork Ribs with Brown Sugar Rub….yummy!
    Best gadget: I am a caterer so I need my Heinkel Chef knife like my hand. A good knife is essential but I also love my small ice cream scoop for cookies!
    Best song: I’m a huge country fan, so Paul Brandt, another Canadian and Christian, just came out with an album of old hymns…wonderful uplifting version of It is Well.

  194. Best Book: Hmmmm… so hard! A tie between Penelope Wilcock’s three new books in The Hawk and The Dove series, and the advent book you recommended – Silence and Other Surprising Lessons From Advent
    Best Album: Light For The Lost Boy by Andrew Peterson
    Best Christmas Album: Sweet Bells by Kate Rusby
    Best Faith Lesson: Almost adopting a baby with trisomy 13 in May, but the Lord called her home from her birthmother’s arms the morning we were supposed to bring her to our home.
    Best Quote: “It is a safe thing to trust the Lord to fulfill the desires He creates.” ~ Amy Carmichael
    Best Answered Prayer: After squeezing that quote, and about two handfulls of Bible verses for *ten years*… after two failed special needs adoptions and a miscarriage… God took the dryest desert of a womb and sowed a seed! It has taken root, and grown, and miracles of miracles I am 24 weeks along with a baby girl! She is thumping the inside of my belly as I type. We never expected this miracle, we certainly don’t deserve it, but we are wallowing in it every moment of every day.
    Best Icing on the Cake: Our faith family (including you, dear sister-friend Ann) that have walked with us, cried with us, prayed with us, and rejoiced with us on our journey to this little one. Making the sweet even sweeter. Eucharisteo – so I can stand in the middle of the river and turn on the slow motion so I can revel in every moment and not miss one single blessing. <3 I just could burst with the gratitude and joy!

  195. Best Song: Matt Redman’s ” 10,000 Reasons”. I heard this on thew radio in between trips to the hospital when my daughter was severely ill and God seemed silent. I began sobbing and singing and suddenly He was silent no more and I had peace.

    Best Gift: My daughter is with us and well.

  196. Best retreat: traveling to Charleston to hear Ann Voskamp & talking with women in our church about eucharisteo.
    Best trip: to CO to meet our first grandson & rejoice with his parents! & knowing how this child is loved & taught as a babe how much our Savior loves him.
    Best encouragement: to be thankful in all things, in the valleys, in the mundane.

  197. Best blessing: my three children, Joy-21, Bethany-19 & Jon-17;
    Best recipe: Many on Pinterest
    Best risk: Survivor Mud Run with my two daughters. Muddy but fun.
    Best discovery: Pinterest
    Best event: Picnics with my ex-boyfriend
    Best jeans: Any that fit.
    Best experience: My children throwing me a surprise 50th birthday party.
    Best book: Grace for the Good Girl, by Emily Freeman
    Best song: Casting Crowns.
    There are so many great and best things of 2012. My daughter was discharged from the hospital ICU, and life goes on.

  198. Best book – The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. I was in the middle of reading it when my mother was diagnosed with cancer. My father was in chemo at the time and I needed the words on those pages.

  199. Best Song: Fear is Easy, Love is Hard by Jason Gray –
    Best Books: Keep a Quiet Heart by Elizabeth Elliot, Joy and Strength a devotional with my mom’s markings in it and 1000 Gifts because reading that trio convinced me to take the joy dare… best risk this year.
    Best Recipe: Chicken Tortilla soup recipe from the back label of a can of black beans…Dump recipes are always wonderful, my family loves it and it is cheap and easy!
    Best Jeans- Any brand like Wrangler or Levi “carpenter” jeans nice and baggy in my book… plenty of loops and pockets for a gardener/cook to carry tools, seeds and what-not (I know, I have no style! But those skinny jeans just don’t have space for anything but one’s self! LOL)
    Best moment of 2012: Sitting with my prodigal son at our Christmas Eve service 2 brothers side by side sandwiched between mom and dad … our family together truly a great gift!!!

  200. Seeing the power of God’s healing hands on my niece, who was born prematurely on my birthday, Sept 26th. She is now almost 10 lbs and thriving! Thank you, Lord!

  201. I am SO not a social butterfly! I’m really naturally inclined and more comfortable to be in my little nest with just my husband and son. This year we took on the awesome honor (and responsibility) of co-leading a church small group. My life changed forever. We have increased our “family” size! I have new kids, new brothers and sisters and a bond that is so tight. We love each other tremendously and cannot remember not having each other. For the first time in my life, I have, what feels like, a true,strong family unit. I have been so blessed by my family! Love abounds.

    I also put my neck out and pursued a big job change within my company, not once, but twice. I prayed for clarity and confidence, and was just about to seek other options, when out of the blue, I was offered a wonderful, much-improved promotion! God kept “detaining” me, it seemed, and calming my frustrations, just until His plan was in place! Wow, He’s good!

    And a long-standing “nagging” finally was able to get my attention. I had never followed through on my Masters degree after 30 years. My son is a jr in college at this time. My dad, who is rapidly declining with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and has very few “lucid” moments, one day as we talked about my son’s college (I talked, he stared into space), turned to look at me and asked if I’d ever finished my Masters. I said I hadn’t, and he looked me directly in the eye (not through me or past me, as is his normal), and said “why don’t you go finish now and then you and Jace can graduate together.”. Then he went immediately back to wherever he goes! I took that as a real word from God, as my dad doesn’t even remember the fact, or even who I am most days. WOW, God is so amazing!

    My only child is walking a daily walk with God. My husband leads each of us to opportunities for fellowship. My husband is the head of our home, he provides for his family, and gratefully shares with anyone in need. We have neighbors that have been married almost 70 years, and my inlaws just celebrated 59. We are surrounded by role models of God’s directives. We are living, loving and learning daily.

    Everything that is the “best of” in my life of 2012, is nothing but God. In my earlier life, I would not have recognized it’s origin, much less given thanks to anyone. So my ultimate “best of” list begins each line with “God did….” , or “God made….”, “God is….”.
    Best ….. Of 2012 for this family? God.

  202. If you like Indian food, this chicken tikka masala is fabulous. Takes some time, but well worth it.

    Song I couldn’t get out of my head—“Open up the Heavens” by the Vertical Church Band. “Open up the heavens, we want to see You, open up the floodgates. A mighty river, flowing from Your heart, filling every part of our praise. Show us, show us Your glory. Show us, show us Your power. Show us, show us Your glory, Lord.”

    Book I couldn’t put down? Spurgeon’s Morning & Evening devotional. His way with words, how he speaks truth to the deepest parts. I found myself looking forward to his insights every day.

    Best moment of 2012– December 25th and looking back one year ago, when two days before Christmas the buyer of our home backed out. Hence the precious little home we thought we were moving into, near family and friends, was no longer a reality. We spent the holidays surrounded by boxes, and broken dreams, yet God was near and we felt His peace. Seven days later we had another buyer and the house we had been planning to purchase was still available (the buyers had graciously waited for us). Total Glory story. All God’s doing. Even down to the details, like getting a better mortgage rate than before. Reflecting on this a year later, the tears flowed… at the way he loves, showers us with grace gifts, and shares with lowly us a glorious glimpse of who He is.

  203. Best jeans: not quite jeans, they’re heavy canvas twill but the fit is just right for me; EMS North Country pants

    Best books (in no particular order):
    The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball
    Lectio Divina by Christine V Paintner
    The Benedictine Handbook
    Julian of Norwich by Amy Frykhom
    The Old Ways by Robert MacFarlane
    Trapeze by Simon Mawer
    Middlemarch by George Eliot (again!)
    Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (third time)

    Best recipe:
    Baked cheese grits from the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

    Best things that happened:
    – a daughter getting married on the top of Cadillac Mountain
    -my new job in a museum
    – recovery from total knee replacement


  204. The best recipe? Parmesan Tilapia
    The best book you couldn’t put down? Not sure. Liked all the books I read this year
    The best song that you just couldn’t get out of your head? Beautiful Phil Wickham
    The jeans that fit best? Our Resale shop gets 7 for all Mankind jeans. They fit wonderfully and aren’t Mom jeans. Plus I can get them at an affordable price versus what they are at retail
    The tool/gizmo/idea that worked best? I am loving crockpot meals. So easy to throw dinner into it in the morning and have something ready
    The risk that returned best? Moving away from family. We’ve been missing home and went back for a funeral and realized that where we are now is “home”
    What was the best habit? I am trying to make a habit of relaxing and saying “no”. It has worked for the most part. As a Mom of 5 I am constantly going and it is easy to get tired and to a meltdown point, so I have been trying to no do as much. It seems to have helped.
    The best holiday? Christmas
    The best gift? Getting a couple of nights in a cabin with just the family, some snow, and a fireplace
    The best sacrifice? Jesus’s sacrifice for us

  205. I had to jump off here.. Song would be Natalie Grants Alive… And the song In Christ Alone. David Crowders Holy… Recipe. Whole Wheat Cracker recipe that I made when i was 10 years old! It made it back to me via a friend 20 plus years later! Now my boys help cut them out 🙂

    • How could I forget? The whole “Image of God” cd… Its just beautiful. Soothes the soul . Speaks JoY!

  206. A song on my mind: Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave, but also Kutless–Even If.
    Best recipe: Always Kolache to remember my grandma! But a book on my mind? I tried the National Novel Writing Month in November and wrote over 50,000 (even wrote through flu). It was a freeing experience! Ann, can’t wait to get into your devo-journal book!

  207. Best risk – Three years ago, I started writing and took college classes with students younger than my children. This year I am now a monthly contributor to our local paper on their Spiritual Reflection page, my blog is growing and I had a blog accepted here on (in)courage.

    • Lynn your post may just inspire me to take that same risk! I have wanted to write for more than just myself or my 4th grade students as I am teaching them to read and write. Life has its seasons….this may just be the right season. I have been praying…

      • Three years ago I too went back to school acting on distinct conversations I had with God over how to finish well and use the life experiences of my 59 years! With prayers from my faithful and praying Bible Study and lots of late nights, I went from stay-at-home mom with lots of volunteering, and am now working two part time jobs-one as an equine assisted therapist with survivors of trauma and as a therapist at a Rape Crisis Center… Hello!!!! All is definitely grace here and that’s just what’s happened in my life-not the wild blessings that have been flowing over the rest of this household–not always the road we’d choose if we’d been in charge but definitely one of God’s constant calling us to closer relationship and to change the way we relate to this world in which we live!!

  208. Best book of the year would have to be Lloyd-Jones on The Sermon on the Mount. Best recipe: Leek & Potato Soup. Hosting a Ukrainian boy for Christmas & realizing God may have a plan for my life other than I had always thought is the most difficult valuable things we have done as a family. Learning to give all I have, like the widow & her mite, is painful, but priceless.

  209. Seeing visible expressions of God’s love/care for me that could only come from Him. Example: I went to Ohio for my mom’s 8oth birthday and had to pack her home for a move to assisted living (she has Alzheimer’s). It was a very emotional and physically exhausting time. My husband is an across the road truck driver and he called to tell me he was routed to my mom’s home town on her birthday. He has never been routed to her town in the three years he has been driving. God arranged it for him to be there for me. Such an overwhelming tangible show of His care for me. That was a wonderful gift!
    Another amazing gift: The birth of my first grandchild and that God allowed me to get there (12 hours away) so I could be there for her birth!

  210. My life blew up in March. For a person with several chronic health conditions that kind of stress can be too much and sometimes it was. But God was faithful and provided what I needed (not necessarily wanted) day by day. My anthem became “10,000 reasons” which I sing at church tears and mascara streaming down my face…same goes on when I sing in the morning at home!!! Best of 2012!

  211. Best Gift Received: a brand-new car from my father because my car was failing. I’m 47, divorced, four precious kids, struggling to make it on my own. Just when I felt possibly forgotten & left to struggle hard & worry too much, Love Arrived. Love is Never Late.

    Best Book Started in 2012: “Deep Unto Deep” by Dana Candler. All about experiencing God & His love for me more DEEPLY. Can’t always get my head around it, this book is helping.

    Best Gift Given: a Christmas Puppy to my kids. Kids need a dog & I finally did it. Puppy is laying in my bed with me presently….

    Best Pair of Jeans: KUT. And they better be the best because they were the priciest pair of jeans I’ve ever purchased 🙂

    Best Blessing-in-Disguise: My broken heart. A relationship that needed to end, ended. I’m devastated. But as I lay here, looking at the ceiling of my bedroom, I imagine it bursting open & upwards to the sky—all this heartache & deep hurt along with it—-to the vastness of His Perfect Love & His Divine Purposes & Plans… take me deeper into & with Him….to find a Love-Maybe-Finally that will touch the wounds deep within, make me WHOLE & ready to love & be loved like never before. Fearful. Doubtful. Trembling. Pray for me, sweet sisters….that I’d be willing to walk with God like never before.

  212. A Holy Experience was the best blog I read this year. It changed my way of thinking about my life. My favorite books were those written by Geraldine Brooks. My “aha!” moment was learning to be thankful in everything–still working on that one!

  213. Ah, so this is what home feels like! Here’s my few favorite’s from 2012:

    The best recipe you couldn’t not make again? Cozonac, a traditional Romanian Easter & Christmas bread…& it literally melts in your mouth!
    The best book you couldn’t put down? One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp & it literally stayed put on my nightstand, every night drinking down the Word and the words and it’s this that has given life in the dead places of 2012.
    The best song that you just couldn’t get out of your head? Come to Me, by Bethel Music & if you close your eyes to it, it’s just grace, this feeling of the God-Man cupping my face, bending low into my brokenness, whispering tender His love for me & who doesn’t need to be reminded? This on repeat all throughout 2012.

    The jeans that fit best? (It’s paramount never to wear pants that hurt…) This one’s a tough one; being 5′ tall doesn’t afford me the pleasure of wearing jeans that fit WELL. BUT, I did snag a happy pair that was marvelously on sale at the J. Crew Clearance Store…& well, I just happen to love them.

    The tool/gizmo/idea that worked best? (It’s true: One good idea in hand is worth two good friends knowing about it too!) Coconut oil lathered on the locks every few weeks did wonders to my brunette hair!

    The risk that returned best? (It’s why angels always say it first: “Do not be afraid.” You never start living until you stop fearing.)

    The best link of 2102? John Piper’s video, “The Inkeeper” & it was just startling grace this holiday.

    The best laugh? And the Romanians use the word, “chicken” as we use the word “honey” for speaking affection, but I didn’t quite know that…so um, “Did they just call me a chicken?” I was quite confused and…we’d all laughed happy about it!

    The best living? When I’m slow enough to see…& eucharisteo has awakened me to the full life. So, the best living in 2012 has come in my counting of the gifts – every gift attuning my heart to the life He intends for me to live well!

    The best thing you didn’t want to do — but you did anyway? I wrote broken. 2012 was a year of deep darkness and increasing pain and devastating loss and the confusion and the wounds and the hurt – I’d wanted to keep it hidden, veiled from the onlookers. But, His grace gripped me and I began to write of it – I wrote bare and incredibly enough, the words you write for others to read…somehow, they heal you too.

    What was the best habit? Writing the gifts, numbering all the ways He loves me.

    The best holiday? Christmas, because for the first ever, I was awakened to His coming in me, for me, with me – and it didn’t matter how dark the holiday seemed, the trueness of His heart, His suffering, His coming…well, it just changed everything.

    The best gift? A flight ticket cross the state lines to share Thanksgiving with that dear girl whose become kindred and in the messy and complicated, in the lonely and dark, she’s been there, offering perspective, giving joy, loving endlessly and it’s the gift of her presence and her listening and her crying with me, her laughing, her believing and hoping for me – it’s this I remember most of every gift received in 2012.

    The best sacrifice? The family that forsook, the man that rejected, that left – I’d sent them gifts and letters and love and baked bread anyway & it was a peeling away of my own bitterness & how to sacrifice the pieces of a heart for the ones who’ve hurt you? I didn’t like it all of the time, but as I reflect on 2012 and the desperately hard moments of loving them – the best sacrifice is always the sacrifice of self, because that is precisely WHERE and WHEN JESUS can come.

    Dear sisters, may you continue to marvel in the wonder of grace and God in 2013!

    • thank you so much for sharing the joys of your pain and the healing and presence of the Beloved in your brokenness. May 2013 be a year of drawing nearer and seeing His face more clearly.
      Can’t wait to try out the bread and listen to the song!

      • Oh, Janet! You are precious & your words are joy & grace & how I wish we could share a cup of tea on this winter night! Ah, the Beloved IS with us in the broken and it’s His goodness, this knowing I’m loved of Him that heals & turns all that’s messy into miracle. So thankful for you & giving praise for YOUR heart tonight.

        And do enjoy the bread – the moment’s made best with a cup of tea, and that favorite song playing on repeat!


  214. Best Book~ the one God is writing about my life. After some rocky roads 2012 has been about Him being redemptive!!! (Why don’t I trust Him more?)
    and Francis Chan’s Multiply~ I won’t be the same when I am done reading this one.

    Best discovery~ Watching my husbands dear friend remain pure for 44yr. finding him a pure wife and knowing that, Lord willing, they will have a little blessing in July!! (why don’t I trust Him more?)
    Jeans~ A Lee brand that I and so many of my OH moms wear. Comfy, flattering but not tight.

    • I recognize this story too:). If it is the Indiana pastor, his mother in law is my neighbor in AZ. A wonderful story of God’s plan unfolding in their lives.

  215. Best Risk: Speaking at a women’s event at church. By the grace of God, someone received Jesus!
    Best words this homeschooling mom heard: Said late just last night, “One more chapter and then I’ll turn the light off. Pleeeease?”

    • Another song! I am on my third page of notes – books, songs, CD’s, youtube links, recipes, jeans, ministry ideas – and over a 1,000 more posts to go. This blessing should last well into 2013!

  216. My life changed forever this year as my mom passed away this past July. My mom was the matriach of our family. She raised us to put Faith and Family first in our lives. My two sisters and I always loved dressing her house up for the holidays. Each Christmas Eve she would open her house up for family and friends. She and my dad set up a buffett that would draw everyone in. This year my sisters, their husbands, and their kids all helped my dad dress up my moms house in splendid glory. It was absolutely beautiful. Mom was smiling down at us, I could feel her happiness and love. The big suprise was that when my dad sent out his Christmas cards this year he invited everyone over to the house. All through the evening friends and family showed up just to love on us. It was really amazing. Each time the door opened my sisters and I just looked at each other and smiled not knowing who was coming through the door but happy they came. It was not the presents under the tree that made this my best Holiday – it was the Love that Jesus gave us that night through our friends and family. God is so good! Looking forward to what 2013 will bring.

    • How beautiful! My oldest daughter always decorates the house for me. I am going to tell her to keep up the tradition no matter what!

  217. Best song: 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman-just carries me away with the joy of giving thanks now and for all of eternity
    Best trip: 10 days in Germany celebrating Mom and Dad’s 50th anniversary, with sisters and our husbands.
    Best decision: to let my hubby and kids tickle me after 20 years of saying “No tickling”, oh the laughter
    there will be more over the next few days! what a wonderful way to celebrate and end the year. I think I’ll put a paper on the wall for the family to write down their thoughts

  218. The best recipe – chicken tetrazzini – not healthy! Whole wheat oatmeal muffins- healthy!
    The best book – Interesting because I’ve been in a two year period where I could hardly read anything. The Lord just wanted me to listen to Him. This fall I was able to read Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge, I have read 1000 gifts once but know I barely scratched the surface. There are life changing, deep, beautiful truths that I am going to savor as I read again. Novel- The Orchard
    The best song – The More I Seek You, I See Heaven, I’ve Seen I Am, You Revive Me, How I Love You, I Love Your Presence – Wide Awake
    The jeans that fit best- Baccini and Amanda jeans by Gloria Vanderbilt
    The idea that worked best- not doing that “one more thing” and therefore getting places (mostly) on time.
    The risk that returned best – I took a month’s leave of absence from my job to simply hang out with the Lord, my friends, and my family
    The best link of 2102- Graham Cooke-,
    The best laugh- playing the Newlywed game with 3 other couples- lifetime friends
    The best living – being in the hammock, being with our two sons this summer while they were home from college
    The best thing you didn’t want to do — but you did anyway- helped my parents after my dad fell- to go through their home of 51 years, pack, sell the house, and get them settled in to a new place. God is so faithful and I learned so much about His sustaining power and presence.
    The best habit- gathering friends around the table

    The best holiday- I love Valentines Day- it’s just simply about love

    The best gift- I gave my husband a trip to Jackson Hole WY for his 50th birthday

The best sacrifice- being willing to go wherever Jesus asks me to go, deeper still. It is always hard but absolutely worth it.

    • The best idea…I needed that! I am so guilty of doing just “one more thing before we go.”

  219. Best Book: The Story by Max Lucado and Randy Frazee
    Worst Cooking Experience: Divinity (supposed to be no fail……was tasty but runny)
    Favorite Song:” Mary, Did you Know?”
    Favorite Moment: Christmas Eve, when my 14 month Grandson figured out opening presents!
    Best Gift: My whole family together at my in-laws, even though it wasn’t easy!

  220. Hi Ann, thanks for bringing me Jesus every day in my inbox 🙂 Blessings to you friend!

    Best recipe: Ina Garten’s company pot roast. Cooked for 35 people from our church on Maundy Thursday. Not sure if it’s the recipe or the courage to put myself out there in a church we only started attending 6 months earlier when we moved across country!

    Best book: Really. Oh my. Ummm…Beth Moore James

    and best song? My teenage sons write songs…anything they write is the bestest!

    Jeans: Ann Taylor jeans…made for normal women

    Best happenings: My son married the girl of my dreams; another son and his wife gave us our first grandchild. Will be tough to top this year! (But God will. He always does).

    Blessings to all!!

  221. Best song: 10,000 Reasons ~~LOVE IT!
    Biggest blessing: My church family and dear friends surrounding me and my children with love, prayers, support and encouragement in the midst of a very dark time.
    Oh dear, the others will have to wait. I simply must go out and shovel my car out of the driveway.

  222. So many beautiful moments to share. Watching my son, who has autism, develop an amazing imagination. He warms my heart daily. Another beautiful life growing inside me at this very moment. My amazing husband finishing his second year of talbot and becoming a regular staff and speaker in our church’s youth group. God is so good, much to be thankful for.

  223. Best recipe: Crock-pot honeyed chicken. Dear goodness that stuff is good and easy. And I found a crock-pot chicken taco soup that’s great as well…It’s been a good year in the recipe department!

    Best jeans: For me, it’s all about American Eagle. So teeny-bopper for my 33-year old self, but hey, whatever fits, right?

    Best gift: A trip to see my mom and brother for his high-school graduation. My 5-month old daughter and I traveled 48 hours and 12,000 miles, but it was so worth it.

    Best holiday: My aforementioned daughter turned one two weeks ago. After watching three friends lose newborns in the last year, every day with her (and my other daughter) is a gift that I praise God for every day.

    Best book: The Hunger Games. I don’t have much time to read for fun these days, but those books were a quick, fun read.

    It’s been a good year. I’m hoping 2013 brings good things as well!

  224. Best Book: Hope for the Weary Mom

    Best Grace Filled Experience: an unexpected conference that turned my life upside down in how I think about human trafficking and the homeless.

    Best Moment: The sweet ones with my boys where the light comes on about a new found discovery….in learning about anything especially Jesus.

  225. The best this year were the glow sticks – i had bought them last year on sale, after halloween (2011) and was saving them for emergencies, when the land hurricane hit and we were without electricity for a week, i got them out and my children played with them outside, and we had plenty to share with the neighbor children – so much fun to watch they also helped by being night lights!

    Best risk – i made that phone call i was scared to make, and well…. We will see what happens, 5 years single

  226. The best thing that has happened to me this year is, in spite of losing my dad, a very dear friend and other people in my life, God has blessed my life with grace and love.
    My husband and children have been there for me through all these losses.
    I couldn’t have made it through this year without any of them.
    God is so good even when we don’t “feel” it.
    He was and is with me through this journey of loss and grieving.

  227. Best leap of FAITH was when I finally put my faith in God in full gear and agreed to try what was called “Triple Therapy” for my Stage 4 liver disease. The side affects of this were alarming, and I understood going into this that it may not work – and – it didn’t. I was pulled from the therapy after being on it for one month with out a change. So, I redirected my FAITH in GOD that the new “drug” they are working on, which is suppose to be available in about 3-5 years will be my cure. Until then, it’s still singing praises to God, keeping the faith, and living life.

  228. My two best books this year, Bonhoeffer – preacher, prophet, spy and, 1000 gifts, both books have touch my heart deeply.

    Best recipe that it will take a long time before I make again – Gumbo – 2 day process.

    My Best Jeans? The ones I got five years ago…one day I may break down and get some new best jeans.

    Best sacrifice? This year, I gave away most of my gifts. I kept the cross necklace that Doc gave to me…I want relationships, not retail.

  229. The best book of 2012: Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman, 2nd to my all time favorite 1000 Gifts!
    Best recipe: Satay Chicken (a total experiment that turned out great!)
    The best thing this year: The ball pit we made for our 21 month old who has some delays. Since giving it to her, she has pulled herself to stand multiple times and taken a few tiny steps! This momma’ s heart is full to bursting!

  230. Best song(s) (I have a list!) : 10000 reasons by Matt Redman, Remind Me Who I Am by Jason Gray, Waiting Here for You by Christy Nockels, come to Me by Bethel Music (featuring Jenn Johnson), Rooftops by Jesus Culture.

  231. Thanks for the opportunity to chime in here with some fun things:

    Best book: Idol Lies, by Dee Brestin. This book and her blog ( have changed my life and been a lifeline for me in this very rough past year.

    Best song: This Good Day by Fernando Ortega. Just a wonderful song of praise to an older but newly discovered singer.

    Best recipe: Peanut Butter Frosting. It is simple and easy. Yummy.
    1 3/4 cup icing sugar
    1 tsp. vanilla
    2 1/2 tbsp peanut butter
    2 tbsp butter
    spec of milk
    Mix with electric beaters. (Play with amounts of peanut butter and icing sugar as desired.)

  232. Ha ha, the one thing I did that I have not risked since I was a kid was to jump in a lake, after hiking Mt St Helens with ALL of my clothes on. I had no change of clothes and no towel. Just did it. I don’t know what I was thinking?

  233. The best of 2012…
    1. Blog:. A Holy Experience -That and my sister’s blog – only ones I read daily
    2. Book – perhaps 1000 Gifts – I recommend it and I have the devotional, and I got the DVD study for Christmas – maybe I’m a touch too obsessed. 🙂
    3. Best Gift:. To my children – the ones that made them squeal with delight, their eyes glisten and evoked a hug and thank you from them!
    3B Best gift to me – an Angel Tree Daughter and son to complete my tiny collection of mother with children to represent my own dear children!
    4. Best Memory: Walking on a a little secluded piece of beach I found all by myself (family was playing at the park nearby) and listening to the waves lap against the shore… Just quiet and waves!
    5.Best Jeans… Um.. Perhaps my flannel lined from TSC – they are NOT at all flattering – just big and comfy and warm! I went out to shovel snow and the only part of me that was cold was my exposed face -all my wraps did their job and these jeans – love them!
    6. Best encourager and spurring to live up and close to God – A Holy Experience – by Ann –
    7. Best. Recipe- hmmm anything fudgy and chocolate! 🙂

    Blessings to ALL and to ALL a BLESSED NEW YEAR IN 2013!!!! May we all live grateful, thankful lives with hands lifted up and open!

  234. The one thing in the kitchen I am still mastering is my Mom’s passed down recipe to her homemade caramels. They are the best I have ever had.

  235. How fun is this?! Thanks Ann for starting this. Here are some of my “best”:

    Best gizmo/tool: handsdown it’s the 60 second pomegranate de-seeder. Used it for the:
    Best salad recipe: arugula, pomegranate seeds, pecans, goat cheese, topped with walnut-fig balsamic dressing. Served it at the Christmas brunch for my Bible study group. We are studying the:
    Best Bible study: James by Beth Moore. Where I often wear the jeans that are the:
    Best fitting jeans: NYDJ (Not Your Daughter’s Jeans).
    And the best living is thanks-living which I learned from the book and the:
    Best Blog: a Holy Experience

    hugs, Anne

  236. Great Books: “Touching Wonder” by John Blase, “The Colors of Hope” by Richard Dahlstrom and your “One Thousand Gifts”. All life changing!

    I loved sharing with our church FB page So blessed to see all those who viewed your One Thousand Gifts posts from the Ithaca UMC FB page.

    Blessings: Two family surgeries just before Christmas . . . everyone is doing well, quick recoveries . . . God is good! We are blessed. God is with us!

  237. The best of 2012—–

    1. Best book: You’re AREADY AMAZING by Holly Gerth.
    2.My best laugh was while keeping my only granddaughter, and she gets all giggley,and her laughter makes me laugh also,she is four.
    3. My best song is Brandon Heath (Give Me Your Eyes) and Newsboys (He Reigns).
    4.In August I started going to a doctor 2 and half hours from my home,he is a neurosurgeon, and after going a few times realized he always mentioned how the Lord will take care of things, I had major surgery on my elbow,and Praise GOD I am recovering, alot of prayers from my friends and family.
    5.Last June I started a diet and to date I have lost 60 pounds with God’s help.,that has made such a wonderful change in my life,I will be 62 on Jan 13.
    I have some very wonderful friends,they have helped me with those long doctor appointment trips. 6 I also have a friend doing mission work in Florida,her family doesnt talk to her very much, however I call her every night,she is so appreciative of that and that way she knows what is going on here at home and church.
    7. We have a ladies bible study at church and we usually have around 24 ladies there, we share and make new friends which is very exciting we meet every Monday morning. The last one we did was Beth Moores study of James, wonderful study!!

    For 2013. I need to pray God would help me to step out of my comfort zone to help others. Iam very friendly and smile and speak to others easyly, but still need encouragement myself
    I so enjoy all the comments here and I pray every one has a Wonderful 2013, and May God Blessings flow on all of your families!!!

    • Jan 13th, what a great day to have a birthday, Sheila! I will think of you and you can think of me as we celebrate the Best Day to have a birthday! Anne

  238. Just a short visit for me.

    The best, the very best of this year, the best of the past 28 years, was the birth of my first child, a beautiful baby girl.

    Subsequently, the best recipe was her first applesauce, the best book: 10 Little Fingers and 10 Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury, the best song: Somewhere Over the Rainbow… and sadly, my jeans still don’t fit very well. 🙂

  239. Best habit — making a gratitude list. I’m at #1683 for the year, and the year is not finished yet!
    Best investment — a little $ for a computer program to help in Scripture memorization. Working on the book of James!
    Best book — Besides One Thousand Gifts (which I read last year, and have recommended to all my friends), AD Chronicles series by B&B Thoene. Excellent historical fiction with much culture, history, prophecy, about the time of Jesus’ birth and ministry.
    Best recipe — yeast waffles! Revolutionized my waffle making.
    Best moment — hearing God whisper “come and talk with me” (Ps 27:8) when I felt so alone.
    Best gift — daughter able to come for Christmas (we live overseas) when we did not think it possible. A few extra gifts, and brothers willing to give up in order for sister to be THE gift.

  240. My youngest son asked me to sell on Craigslist a very prized, 1st edition, collector’s Monopoly game that he has had for years. I thought it was for his video game addiction… bad Mom, I know. He bought me a Ipod touch with the money from it. He knows I have wanted one for a long time. What sacrifice and unselfishness. This Mama is proud.

  241. Best Book: One Thousand Gifts – the second time in September (the first time in July was too hard to have it be my “best book” tough times and God through a life preserver in your writing – and now after 6 months to calm – I see the gift, well mostly.

    Best Purchase: A new mattress – slightly extravagant, but oh my goodness – the sleep improvement actually improved the quality of life – sometimes you get what you pay for.

    Best Discovery: James MacDonald podcasts – Pure uncluttered unapologetic digging into the Word – just what I need every time.

    Best Supernatural Blessing: A chain of events that may lead me back to Early Childhood Education after 5 years out of the field – this is where God has given me talent and $ earned can’t ever compare to where you want to work for free if you can afford it.

    Best Miracle: A new nephew from China !

    Best Opportunity: Got to share through a video testimony at church my experience with the Holy Spirit and the blessing of a prayer language (I was a big skeptic), NOW I am on itunes!

    Best Ugly Beautiful: My husband got a job offer to leave his family’s business where we have both worked for the last 5 years (him – his whole life) to work for our church as the facilities director. It released him from generational sin and revealed a stronghold of my security in our income and how I had entrusted our future to our finances – not to the Lord. Still working through the pieces, but clarity increases daily.

    Well – this is a great exercise to review the year – I’m going to keep going on my own – thank you.

    • Leslie!!! You beautiful, beautiful treasure! I just “happened” to glance down at my computer and read your entry here. All of it blessed me in so many ways but what caught my attention was “prayer language.” I re-read your entry more carefully and noticed you said, “this is where God has given me talent and $ earned can’t ever compare to where you want to work for free if you can afford it.” I am in tears—my daddy used to always tell me growing up, “Sally Anne, choose a career you enjoy so much that you’d do it for free if you had to, and you’ll never feel like you worked a day in your life.” And what you said…! You said my daddy’s words! I’m undone. I see God in this “coincidence.” And as I embarrass myself by posting this for the whole world to see because I don’t know how else to tell you…I would like to humbly ask what you mean by prayer language. If you have time, please share it with me.

  242. Best Fiction Book: “The Way of Grace” by Cathy Bryant. This book next to the Bible taught me what grace in action is. She is a wonderful Christian author!
    Best Song: An old hymn had new meaning for me…..I Come to the Garden Alone
    Bittersweet lesson I am dealing with….I so do not want to share this….my daughter is in jail and been convicted of stealing from her church and other charges….It is a hard thing to deal with but in the process I am having to understand she made these choices and I need not own it. She lost her husband and daughter. She is hurting but she needs to own what she did and not blame us all. So prayer would be appreciated. I believe this will turn into a best for next year.

    • You are not alone. My brother was/is in a similar boat. Hang in there! God will use it for His glory! You’ll be in my prayers:) Thanksgiving proceeds the miracle – 2013!

    • I have been where you are…my husband was sent to prison; locust swarm which put us both in Faith Boot Camp so to speak. God can use this to turn your daughter’s heart toward him. Sometimes we must be confronted with our wrong and stripped of everything we have trusted in till all we have left is Jesus. Our journey was a long hard 5 years but God restored to me a husband who now loves God above all else and lives in the Word. The Father also taught me in the process that I can do nothing without Him; that He can be trusted in every circumstance. Praying for your daughter and all your family…that the Lord restore to you all what the locusts have stolen… Joel 2:25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten–the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm…”

  243. Best book: Yours. Honestly. I read YA, mystery, theology, fantasy and so many more that I just couldn’t put down. But, reading One Thousand Gifts was a God filled experience. I read it slowly and savored it up.

  244. Some more of the best of 2012:

    Best Exercise: going on hour-long power walks with my husband regularly.
    Best weekend for our family: when our daughters went on the youth retreat at our church–we saw visible growth in them.
    Best weekend visitors: my brother and his sweet family. He and my s-i-l have the cutest young daughters! They provided us with non-stop fun the whole time we were with them.
    Best Concert: when we had the JJ Heller and Audrey Assad come to our church in April (the Heart Tour)

  245. My best is beginning to homeschool full time with my kids. Much more rewarding than I knew it would be.

  246. One of the best books I read this year, thought it took me awhile, was Eric Metaxes’ biography of Deitrich Bonhoeffer. It was so incredibly well-written, and being able to follow the progression of Bonhoeffer’s personal journey as a disciple of Jesus was beyond encouraging — it was truly challenging. To follow the call that God issues on one’s life — unwaveringly, and with joy — will be what I remember from this book and will likely ponder for many months.

  247. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . . ” So said Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities. This juxtaposition in life is palpable. What I found this year is that there really is no “best” here on earth, which was underscored when I read Heaven by Randy Alcorn. What hope this book gave, as I realized that the best is really yet to come and all else here pales by comparison. This sure hope of heaven mitigates disappointments on earth. I also learned that sometimes the worst of times can bring out the best in people and also, hidden blessings. We, as a family, have learned this during the devatasting divorce proceedings of my brother. While this has been the worst year for him (and us, by association), God is bringing out the best in all of us as we band together, and He is working all things together for my brother’s good. We serve a God who continually brings the best from the worst. Praise Him! (I think how He brought the best for us from the worst for Jesus–His crucifixion.
    Thank you for your encouragement, Ann, always to seek His best.
    Lynn Morrissey

  248. Best gift — one that I gave to a dear friend. It took my time and my heart, but it probably brought me more joy to give it than her to receive it.

  249. Greatest Risk: Moving our family from a large church where we were comfortable in the shadows to a tiny little body full of liturgy and suppers and bright lights. The fabric of our family is changing and it’s beautiful!

  250. The best books I’ve stumbled upon this year are “Long Story Short” and “Old Story New,” which are family Bible study books. I’m using them daily in our homeschool because I thought’d they’d be good for the children…but I am learning SO MUCH! I cannot recommend them highly enough. They are companions to The Gospel Story Bible, which I also highly recommend. Finding Jesus throughout the entirety of the Bible has been a blessing in 2012 and I am confident that God will continue to reveal His blessing in 2013.

  251. This might sound weird… But the best thing that has happened to me is forgiveness. My husband of 13 yrs. had a child with another women during our marriage. I was mad… Really mad. I’m not sure at who? Her, him, the affair? I could not understand why God allowed this to happen to my family. However, this event drew me closer to God. Now, I pray to be a better wife ( yes to my husband of 13 yrs.) and an inspiration to our daughters ( yes including his little girl). Your book helped me realize that we all go through pain.

  252. Biggest risk – admitting to others that my marriage needs help.

    Best Book- Madeleine L`Engle`s Walking on Water. This book has helped me to rediscover how healing writing or any art can be. It also reminded me that I need to step out of the way and let my homeschoolers express themselves through art when they feel lead. (1000 gifts is constantly open as well to draw me closer to Echaristeo)

    Best Recipe- mixed seafood curry with coconut milk, yellow curry paste and extra fresh ginger because we like that!

    Best Grace Filled Moment – really mourning the loss of my mother. She was a drug addict and a prostitute my whole life and I lived knowing that I would get THAT call at anytime. Through the mourning God is healing me from the shame that bound me for so many years. A child of an addict is now simply a child of our great and merciful God.

    Best Song – The Overcomers – A local BC band wrote a song called Pray. You can find them on myspace…..great singer songwriters who love Jesus and HE uses their music to draw people closer to Him. Also check out their song Glory Divine….inspired a play I am writing. This is them;

  253. Best Recipe: Copycat PF Changs Chicken Lettuce Wraps

    Best Book(s): 7, an Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, by Jen Hatmaker, 1000 Gifts, 52 Lies Heard in Church Every Sunday and Why the Truth is So Much Better, and Quiet: the Power of Introverts. All books that speak of Christ’s FREEDOM to be you (I have spent YEARS feeling guilty for not being more extrovertive and trying/crashing/burning 🙂 and books that have made me see and love Jesus so much more. He is SO good, and He delights in me?!

    Best Song: Eden’s Bridge: “I will change your name”

    Best Jeans: Lost cause. 🙂

    Best Risk: Quitting Facebook! and instead … taking friendships offline. Embracing snail mail. Allowing space for lunchdates filled with weeping and laughing (no status update can contain either of these two precious friendship-occurances!)

    Best Gift: when my 6-year-old daughter wrote Isaiah 41:10 onto a Starbucks napkin she found in the backseat of our car (groan!) because she knew that I was having a hard day. As I was driving, I hear this little “here, Mommy….” and she hands me this phonetically spelled etched out rendition of this verse. A treasure.

    Best new adventure: switching homeschool curriculum! or … winging it 🙂 loosely based on Charlotte Mason/My Father’s World, but just letting go of the pressure and busywork of Abeka, and enjoying the freedom to ENJOY learning together again! It has been such a breath of fresh air for both of us!

    • So refreshing to know that someone else has chosen face to face instead of facebook. So glad you are enjoying the freedom of learning too!

  254. Special gift to me: My 17 year old son bought me a necklace that has all 3 of my boys’ names on it. We lost our youngest, stillborn in August 2008. I love that even though it affects my kids differently than me, they still will never forget Isaac.

    • I hear you, Susie C! I had a stillbirth in 2001. I will never forget my baby Reuben, and I don’t think my other kids will either. And despite the grief and pain, I would NEVER choose to erase that experience. I can’t wait to meet him in heaven. Your reunion will be sweet also as you laugh with your Isaac!

  255. The best recipe I have to make again.. Andes mint cookies from Becky Higgins website, Best cookie recipe ever!! But I will wait until next Christmas. They are too dangerous to have in the house.

  256. Best moment: watching my husband baptize our son

    Best tea: Pomegranate Pizzazz

    Best antique store find: vintage pill box hats for $5

    Best gift: a lift chair from a friend who is now in Heaven and doesn’t need it anymore

    Best adventure: moving from Georgia to Minnesota for my husband to begin work in pastoral ministry

    Best song: “Here with Us” by Joy Williams

  257. The best thing I didn’t want to do ~ write the church’s Christmas play. It takes all my discretionary time at a busy time of the year. My darling husband said, “Yes.” I was overwhelmed as the Lord gave me the play and it was completed in just two days. The message showed how much JESUS gave up, how much He deserved and what wonder angels have had at our salvation. Every practice through the final performance challenged and blessed my heart.

  258. The book I couldn’t put down was Karen Kingsbury book “Coming Home”. Even though, it was a fictional novel it really hit home because I lost my father July 1st. of this year from an unexpected heart attack. My heart has been broken and its been extremely difficult but just like the book God’s grace and mercy is getting me through.

  259. Best jeans discoveries: Jennifer Lopez and JAG Jeans. Who know someone actually made jeans to fit my body?!

  260. The song I couldn’t get out of my head was Ten Avenue North’s “Take This World and Give me Jesus”. It became my anthem!

  261. Best Recipe:No Bake Energy Bites, the kids totally love them!
    Best Book: We read Ann of Green Gables as a family read aloud this year and I fell in LOVE. I am on my second read through of 1000 Gifts and it is still my favorite. Although, I have to admit that sometimes I am not in the right frame of mind to hear the truths there and will walk past the book and let blog posts pile up in my inbox. And then after a few days, when all is quiet in the house and in my mind and my soul is hungry and willing to feel truth, I will sit down and catch up. And cry. And pray. And be ever so thankful for those words on the screen and on the page. And then, if my husband is home, I will try to relate it all to him and mangle the story and over illustrate the point and cry some more in the retelling. Still counts as a best of 2012 though! Oh wait and another best book, one I just started and love, “God in Search of Man” by Abraham Joshua Heschel. One chapter into the borrowed copy and I knew I had to buy one for myself so I could highlight and write in the margins.
    Best memory: Walking through the 9/11 memorial at the Pentagon on a quiet February evening with my soldier husband, my father and my two kids. We saw a lot of memorials on our trip to DC but this was the most personal, the most well done, the most emotional, for all of us. It is powerful to be in a place and have your emotions mirrored in the faces of everyone around you. To have 5 people resonating with the same feeling like tuning forks. From the 62 year old hippie to the ever hopeful 9 year old girl. Even if it was only a brief moment.
    Best new habit: Scheduling our gratitude journals into our homeschool day. It is fascinating to experience this with my children.
    Best Jeans: Is there a such thing? Ugg, with these hips I have given up hope to ever even find a good jean let alone a best.
    Best Song: The best worship song this year for me was “All My Fountains.” I posted it on Facebook 3 or 4 times this year. But my favorite song on the adult contemporary station right now is “Madness” by Muse. My kids are just recently at an age that I am willing to listen to a couple of the regular radio stations with them around and they are totally surprised by the songs I dig.
    Best gizmo is any gizmo we can Skype on with out of town relatives!
    Best thing I didn’t want to do but did anyway: Started making my own bread and gave up store bought! I am a reluctant housewife sometimes and occasionally rebel against this role I never dreamed I would be in. But something about kneading bread dough twice a week has been so fulfilling. And practice has indeed helped me to perfect a sandwich loaf.
    Best risk taken: Offering to make my sister’s wedding cake, finding out how many people she invited and were actually coming, adding a few tiers and making it anyway. I leaned a little to the left but otherwise was good!
    Best purchase: Day Spring Ever Grateful dishes on clearance!

  262. Best new song this Christmas: Jason Gray’s ‘Forgiveness is a Miracle’
    A Wonderful Book: Eugene Petersen’s ‘The Pastor’ – seeped with humility and the sovereign way of God’s grace
    A Favourite Recipe – root vegetables roasted with olive oil, rosemary and a little salt and cracked pepper – served at room temperature on arugula, sprinkle with feta and olive oil/balsamic vinegar dressing – easy and wonderful!
    A television series to love – BBC drama ‘Cranford’ – gentle, wise, god-fearing folk living in community (a gem)
    Favourite Jeans – oh dear! Can I confess I haven’t owned a single pair for almost two years? So, way too often I’m walking out the door in a skirt when jeans are called for! (Vanity? Denial? My past middle aged body is NOT conforming to what I want to see in the mirror)

  263. The best book I read was Ann voskamps 1000 gifts! And my best thing that happened was the birth of my beautiful Granddaughter Anastasia and marriage of their parents Holly and James. It was a tough but beautiful year!

  264. Best book: Definitely, “One Thousand Gifts” has been a life changing book for me.
    Best song: “A Thousand Little Things” by Point of Grace.

  265. The best gift – my granddaughter born on May 3, 2012

    The best risk – pursuing my teacher’s certification, going back to school and taking the Praxis 1 series of tests

    The best trip – NYC with my family for my 40th birthday

  266. Best risk taken: taking on two small foster children… in the midst of utter chaos with our adolescent son (#3 of our 6)… and two weeks before a move of our own. God has gifted us with giggles and innocence and tickling and bubble baths and bed-time stories and new perspective!

  267. The best link was Becky Higgin’s Project Life. All about taking everyday pictures and recording them. She has made it very easy!

  268. Wow, you made me think…
    Best book: One Thousand Gifts devotional, I constantly have to restrain myself to jump to the next day of grace!
    Best song: You raise me up.
    Jeans that fit best? Couldn’t find one yet…
    Risk that returned best: Trusting God when everything are falling apart.
    Best link of 2012: the posts to A Holy Experience
    Best habit: Slow down time, enjoy the moments
    Best sacrifice: being a mother
    Best of everything of 2012: My family loving me, in spite of all my mistakes and bad attitudes.
    Thank you for challenging me to be more!

  269. Best Book: One Thousand Gifts – have told everyone about this
    Best Devotional: Jesus Calling – have found so many people in various ages/stages using this this year
    Best Song: My husband says I say “Oh, that’s my song” about every one I hear. Too many mean soooo much to me.
    Best Link: the one that led me to (in)courage!

  270. best book I read this year: definitely One Thousand gifts….it has enabled me to look at hard times with a grateful heart.., and look at the positive side rather than the negative. (I’m still learning!)
    best event: my husband and I celebrated 20 yrs together
    best event for our family: moving 900+ miles closer to family…God is faithful!
    best music: Christmas music!

  271. The Best of 2012

    ♥ The best gift: our first grandchild! Can I brag here? She is adorable and smart.
    ♥ The best book: Kisses from Katie. I cried while reading the Forward.
    ♥ The best song: Brandon Heath – Jesus In Disguise.
    ♥ The best thing I didn’t want to do: Commit to take a friend to her weekly chemo treatments.
    ♥ The best risk: Leading my first Bible study with 3 other ladies…I’m not a teacher.
    ♥ The best family celebration: Planning my mother-in-laws 70th birthday party.
    ♥ The best Hot Cocoa: Stephen’s (order here
    So much to be thankful for…I’m looking forward to 2013!

  272. Best book: “The Pursuit of God,” by A.W. Tozer
    Best song: ” Live Like That,” by the Sidewalk Prophets
    Best amazing “coincidence” that God engineered: Our flight out of Port-au-Prince being delayed, so that I just “happened” to get to meet Ann and Caleb Voskamp, also on their way home from Haiti
    Best habit: Praying as a family every night, so that I am privileged to hear what is on Destine’s mind, and witness her faithfulness in prayer for those who are hurting

    • PEG! *That* was a moment … Haiti was my best memory of 2012 — and coming through security and you meeting us both — ONLY. GOD. could have two farm hicks from Canada in Haiti to donate the funds from making wooden Advent wreaths and meet a short-term missionary American there who had one of those wreath at home on her table??!!!

      The time we had together? Blessed me deep. Hope we get to serve in Haiti again, sister — you have no idea how I pray this.

      Love to you, Peg — so much, Peg!

  273. Best time: It is right now spending an extended time with family in Florida. It was a large investment to spend extended time here, but it is so worth it. We had not had Christmas with our son and his family since 1990. The sun and the walks along the ocean every day are great too.

  274. Best gift.. My baby brother getting clean from an heroin addiction. Completed a year at Teen challenge and came to stay with us. He is a born again believer and is doing amazing. I guess this would also qualify as a best risk as well:-)

  275. Oh, it is so hard for me to pick one song or one book because music and reading are two of the greatest gifts I have. in my life. 10,000 Reasons and All Things Possible are two among many. There are so many things from so many different songs, books, and people that I find thought provoking these days 🙂

  276. Ann!
    I feel so blessed!
    I don’t know if you’ll see this but I am grateful to have a chance to tell you personally. God has changed my life through your words! I am so grateful for your honest example. You have helped me see my life through God’s eyes. Thank you with all my heart for blessing and influencing the life of a farm family in ID. The power and truth of your words has shaped the mind and heart of me, my husband,my five little children, our 2 year old homeschool, our Christmas, our Thanksgiving and our everyday as we count all the gifts that God has already given. These moments of trusting God have been my BEST moments. You words gave me strength and peace even in the very BEST moment of 2012: delivering my baby at home for the first time! (My 5th! A beautiful baby girl) no one assisting but God, his angels and my amazing husband!
    I am thanking God for the way you have sanctified womanhood, helped me get to know myself and find God in all things! Thank you Ann!
    May you and your family be blessed for sharing your hearts with us!

  277. Ok so here is my break down:

    Best Book: King’s Cross by Timothy Keller, but I have put a hold on 1000 gifts at the library. I heard that it is also a fabulous book!

    Best Song: Blessings, by Laura Story (I know it’s from 2011, but for me it’s been the best song this year

    Best Jeans: My Level 99 jeans from Anthropologie. They are so comfy, and fit just right. I can wear them anywhere!!

    Best Recipe: I can’t say I have one recipe that I follow and absolutely love, but I do make soft corn turkey, tacos every Tuesday. My husband and I just love them. We use a taco seasoning from trader joe’s and put a little of their fresh salsa and sour cream on top! Amazee!!!!

    Some of my best moments from this year include: I completed my first 5k (it was actually a tough mudder as well), finally completed grad school, every last part, woohoo!, celebrated my first year of marriage, started my blog, but most importantly, my relationship with the Lord has grown in so many ways!

    I am so excited for 2013 and I look forward to the plans he has for me and for my husband! We serve and amazing God and I am so thankful for all he has blessed me with and for His amazing grace every day!

  278. Best Moment: Marrying my sweet love on July 7th!

    Best Book: Momentary Marriage by John Piper — a must read for couples of all ages & stages!

    Best Adventure: Journeying with 3 other women as we begin a new blog that offers community & encouragement to women as they pursue their passions.

    Best Recipe: Rigatoni with roasted sausage + broccoli

    Best Memory: Moving into our new apartment & experiencing all of the “firsts” together!

  279. Best moment was watching my sweet little son take his first steps!

    Best book “1000 Gifts” – loved it 🙂 also “Still Lolo” about a sweet girl who survived a horrible accident that resulted in the loss of her left hand and eye. God’s grace is so amazing!

  280. The best recipe:
    Family favorite. And great to make a huge batch of, it seems to improve with reheating.

    The best book(s), John Ploughman’s Talks by C.H. Spurgeon and Speaking The Truth in Love by David Powlison.

    The best song that you just couldn’t get out of your head?

    The jeans that fit best? A random pair given to me by a cousin =)

    The best week of 2012: This conference: Make a resolution in 2013. Go to this one. Even if you are not a counsellor.

    What was the best habit? I made a goal to make sure I read, wrote, sang, exercised, invested in a friendship and created something at least once every week.

    The best holiday? I think Good Friday. Just because it’s always my favorite. So stripped down, so simple, the heartbeat and climax of History.

    And in it all, He is faithful. In loneliness, in depression, in joy, in sorrow, in gains and loss, in blue sky dry days and crashing thunderstorms. Always He Is. And He is holding me in the palm of His hand.

  281. The best recipe:
    Family favorite. And great to make a huge batch of, it seems to improve with reheating.

    The best book(s), John Ploughman’s Talks by C.H. Spurgeon and Speaking The Truth in Love by David Powlison.

    The best song that you just couldn’t get out of your head?

    The jeans that fit best? A random pair given to me by a cousin =)

    The best week of 2012: This conference: Make a resolution in 2013. Go to this one. Even if you are not a counsellor.

    What was the best habit? I made a goal to make sure I read, wrote, sang, exercised, invested in a friendship and created something at least once every week.

    The best holiday? I think Good Friday. Just because it’s always my favorite. So stripped down, so simple, the heartbeat and climax of History.

    And in it all, He is faithful. In loneliness, in depression, in joy, in sorrow, in gains and loss, in blue sky dry days and crashing thunderstorms. Always He Is. And He is holding me in the palm of His hand.

  282. Ann, thank you for doing this. I played this “game” with my best friend today and she loved it!
    Best recipe that i couldn’t not make again:
    I’ve made this so much the page has food all over and torn– I need to print out another!!! For the tamarind, I use plum jelly, raisins, and lime juice, blended in a blender, as suggested by my lovely Asian friend.
    Best jeans– definitely Express, but I’ve worn Victoria’s Secret London jean around all year –and love the way they fit!
    Best Thing I didn’t want to do but did anyway– tutor the CLassical Conversations homeschooling community my girls were involved in. I got through it and enjoyed it.
    Best living… This summer when I was running and ran a 5k with my daughter and went back after I finished to run the last part with her til she crossed the finish!!!
    Best link– a tie between these two– a link where I bought gifts that free women from the sex trade:
    And this beautiful video that rocked my world:
    Best laugh– the one that you posted to your page, Ann–
    Best gift–Probably the trip to the mtns my hubby took me on for anniversary….
    Best holiday– the thanksgiving feast I dreamt up, decorated dining room, my family enjoying it quietly here at home… For that reason it was my favorite… We did a thanksgiving tree and wrote our thanks down and rolled it up in crescent rolls.
    Risk that returned best– the money we paid for our girls to be in CC this year! What they have learned every week is amazing!
    Best book–Educating the Whole Hearted Child
    Best habit– going to bed early and finally getting rest
    Best song–this version of Hallelujah is worth a few minutes to watch! I get chills!
    Love is not a victory march– it’s a cold and its a broken hallelujah. Blessings on your 2013, sisters!

    • And how could I forget to say that one of the best habits has most certainly been counting gifts!! Gratitude! Seeing through a different lens has made all the difference. When I’m but a speck on a tiny blue dot in a shaft of light in the great universe, all seems dim compared to his glory!! And absolutely one of best books One Thousand Gifts–reading again– and I’ve given away several. I believe in the message.
      And I will be bold and say, because Ann did, favorite lipstick of 2012? Pink spice by Clinique.

  283. Hi Ann!! I love your posts and have told a friend of mine in Florida that I want to do some of the things you do for Christmas. Like the post where your kids are putting together little angel cookies with Infant Jesus ones in a Gift envelope and tying it to a 1000 Gifts book. (Looked like the 1000 Gifts Journal in the picture). What a wonderful way to make Jesus the Gift for Christmas!!

  284. The best recipe I made this year was Pioneer Woman’s Pecan Rolls. They are now a must for any special occasion!

  285. My favorite book this year, that completely brought me out of my comfort zone, was Kisses from Katie. Katie Davis seeks to follow God wholly and her joy in ministering to the fatherless is positively contagious.

  286. The best book I read this year was Seven by Jen Hatmaker. I was challenged by her approach to excessiveness, and have continued to think about areas where excess is an issue in my own life.

  287. The very best moment of 2012 was when the Lord whispered to me that my broken-hearted son had been healed through and through and that his soul was prospering like never before… brings tears to my eyes every time I recall His kindness

  288. Best song I can’t get out of my head: 10,000 reasons!
    Best Gift: my two Grandsons, Brandon and Samuel!
    Best Book: The Bible, getting into the Word more

  289. The risk that returned best? Planting a church in my hometown with my husband and seeing God move in amazing ways. What a beautiful thing it has been to watch God draw a team of people together for His name’s sake. I stand in awe. Old relationships deepened. New ones forged. The