Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Greatest Gift -- Unwrapping The Full Love Story of Christmas (Book Review)

A few weeks ago, I entered a book giveaway that Caryn Jenkins Christensen was hosting over at her blog, State of the Heart Living. Not long after entering, I had the joy of learning I was the winner of the copy of author Ann Voskamp’s latest book, ‘The Greatest Gift – Unwrapping The Full Love Story of Christmas.’ I was so excited!

After hearing I'd won, a friend of mine suggested I consider writing a review of the book.  And so I did.

In this Advent devotional book, those familiar with Ann Voskamp's writing (from her One Thousand Gifts book, small group study and devotional and her blog, 'A Holy Experience'), will find that, as usual, she paints stunningly beautiful and breathtaking word portraits, dipping into both vibrant and muted color palettes, and using brush strokes that are as bold as they are delicate; as broad as they are intricately detailed.  All blending together perfectly to point us to and present us with the Greatest Gift:  Jesus Christ, the masterpiece of the Master Himself. God, swaddled in fragile flesh; the newborn King and Savior of the world, lying in the muck of a dirty feeding trough for barnyard animals.

Each devotional narrative is carefully woven with a sincere love for and pure awe of Jesus, and Ann writes in such a way that will touch your heart, no matter what you were or who you are now; where you’ve been or what your life’s circumstances are presently. The chapters are not so wordy that you feel they drag on endlessly, nor so short that you come away feeling empty and unsatisfied. 

For me, this book has the feel of her personally taking us, her readers, by the hand and inviting us to come walk with her to the humble foot of the manger, and to join her in gazing in childlike delight and wonder upon the sweet face of the infant Savior.

At the beginning of every chapter, you’ll find a picture of a Jesse Tree ornament (if you’ve never heard of a Jesse Tree or its ornaments, go here to learn what it's all about) with a Scripture verse underneath.  

Next comes a passage of Scripture -- Today’s Reading-- relevant to that chapter’s devotional content.

The devotional narrative follows, and then, at the end of each chapter, Ann issues a daily challenge entitled, ‘Unwrapping More of His Love In This World.’  Below are a few examples:

  • write down something for which you need to repent 
  • surprise someone with a simple gift of love – a homemade treat, a card or a handwritten letter
  • serve someone who cannot help themselves                  
After this comes an inspiring quote, and in the section called ‘A Moment For Reflection,’  Ann includes some deep questions for you to consider which will help personalize what you've just read. You can answer them in the book itself or if you’d rather, write them in a separate journal.

Ann writes in the beginning of ‘The Greatest Gift:’

“Anticipate Christ…and celebrate Christmas, His coming.”

While this book is categorized as an Advent/Christmas devotional, I'd like to suggest that the anticipation, preparation and celebration that is associated with both Advent and Christmas need not be a once-a-year event for us. 

In fact, I would go so far to say that ANY time of the year, when you believe that God is in the process of preparing you for SOMETHING new, different and necessary in your life, this devotional book will be a welcome companion to reach for and bring along for the journey.

I read A LOT of books. Whenever I’m in the midst of one that is meaningful and has a great impact on me, I tend to carry it with me wherever I go during the course of a day.

And that is exactly what I did with Ann Voskamp’s ‘The Greatest Gift.’ 

I absolutely loved this book, would highly recommend it as the very next book on your reading list, or one to buy as a gift for someone else, and I look forward to reading through it again.

Many thanks to Caryn Jenkins Christensen, for choosing this book for her giveaway, and to Ann Voskamp for writing it!

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderfully thorough book review! I am really glad you shared your thoughts on this book. It sounds like a wonderful gift to me!


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