One Day & One Thousand Gifts

Edmond, Oklahoma to Dallas to New Orleans to Tampa to Buffalo to a farm where pigs and wheat and soybeans and children are raised. Our few hours with the Voskamps were well-worth the twelve it took to get there.

Six kids welcomed us with handshakes, the Farmer too, and a hug from generous Ann who put us up for the night, filled our bellies with sweet corn, thick bread, and lots of pork – like candy!

The kids peppered us with questions and jokes while the Farmer finished up chores and Ann cooked – the most famous dove in the world floating nearby.

Ann Voskamp's dove

We talked children, music and books, busy schedules, spinning plates and more plates. Ann and I have a great deal in common – at this moment in life maybe more than ever.

So we took up every seat at the kitchen table – the Voskamps, Ben, Patrick and I – gave thanks and gorged ourselves on good food and conversation. Then we chased it down with the Farmer’s homemade strawberry ice cream and a reading from his bible. Genesis. Joseph and his brothers learning that regardless of our intentions God’s are always for good.

A prayer. Amen. Then rest for our morning together in the wheat field.

That next morning there was bacon as promised. And eggs and juice. Prayer and the Farmer reading about those brothers and God’s good intentions again.

Amen.

Ann carried two stools. I wagged my tattered guitar cases up the hill. Patrick set up his cameras and microphones. Then Ann – who said she always wanted to be a journalist – did her best Barbara Walters, subtly leading not-so-much an interview as a conversation about thanks, and the rain cycle of inspiration, and our God with good intentions for everything – living fully alive.

Under the biggest sky. With silos all around. Mennonites in horse-drawn buggies cruising roads in the distance.

Ann Voskamp wheat field

“This is the field I ran across to chase the moon,”she said.

Shaun Groves at Ann Voskamp's farm

We talked.

Shaun Groves with Ann Voskamp

Sang.

Shaun Groves with Ann Voskamp

Patrick catching it all on film for Ann’s August 30th stop on the Third World Symphony blog tour.

With our “work” done, then it was a walk back down the hill to the farmhouse for some play.

Shaun Groves on a zipline

And pigs and goats.

Shaun Groves feeding a goat

piglet

Shaun Groves with a piglet

Shaun Groves with a piglet

Shaun Groves with a piglet

And lots of laughter.

And some air guitar? (What on earth were we doing?)

Shaun Groves with Ann Voskamp

And then, too quickly, we hugged goodbye in the gravel driveway and set off for hours of travel home. I sat on airplanes thankful for our little time of eucharisteo with the Voskamps – the jokes of boys, the angelic face of a little girl with golden curls, her small fingers playing the piano just for me, the most creamy potatoes served up by big sister, stories of adventures past told by daredevil boys, heads bowed, prayers whispered by the Farmer, piglet tails, that big blue sky.

So good.

Thanks for this friend who is teaching me and so many to give thanks.

Amen.

One Thousand Gifts

Ann Voskamp One Thousand GiftsI’ve read Ann’s book One Thousand Gifts five times now – it is, for me, the most beautifully-crafted and profoundly challenging inspiring book written in my lifetime.

I’m dared every time I turn its pages to live fully, gratefully, and I’m shown through Ann’s masterful use of story and scripture what that kind of life might look like.

Please get it today. Shoot –ย get ten and give them to the half-living in your life this Christmas.