Ann Voskamp and the myth of perfection

I admit it. I was one of the few people, it seemed at the time, who didn’t quite love, love, love the New York Times bestselling book by Canada’s best known farmer’s wife: One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I loved the concept (and the cover!) but I couldn’t quite relax with Voskamp’s unusual, and to me, too highly poetic, writing style. broken-way_72716

When her new book The Broken Way: A Daring Path Into the Abundant Life came out, I was eager to see if I could dive into this one a little easier. I could. I truly enjoyed the book and I jumped at the opportunity to interview Voskamp on her media tour that recently ended in Toronto. When I met her in the lobby of the Park Hyatt downtown, she had just landed back on Canadian soil and was relieved and happy to be heading home later that night after her final event.

We had a wonderful interview, which I taped, and we hope to make into one of our first ever podcasts (stay tuned for details in the near future!). The printed interview will appear in the Jan/Feb issue of Faith Today. If you are a Voskamp fan, I think you will enjoy hearing the heart behind The Broken Way.

I did grab a moment during the interview to talk about a funny incident that had occurred in my women’s Bible study group a few years ago.

Back then, we were doing a DVD study of One Thousand Gifts. The footage that accompanied Voskamp’s teaching on the DVD was sumptuous, beautiful, gorgeous footage of her home, property and what seemed an ordered, lovely lifestyle (with lots of clean, white paint if I recall). In one scene, Voskamp, a home-schooling, very busy mom was kneading bread in her kitchen, and added olive oil poured in the sunlight from a picturesque mason jar.

Finally, someone in our group snapped. The local Presbyterian minister’s wife actually. “Who keeps their olive oil in a mason jar??” she blurted out.  We all laughed, and sighed with relief. Her question opened up a discussion about how perfect it all looked, and how our kitchens were really messy and how no one there could find the time to bake bread, even though we all secretly wanted to.

I told Voskamp about it, because I wanted her to respond and probably in some way, reassure us all that she is human and real and messy sometimes. And, actually, you can’t read The Broken Way without learning that the same beautiful, light-filled, bread-baking kitchen gets very messy indeed. This is how our exchange went:

Me: “This one moment in the Bible study, you were kneading bread, and there was olive oil..”

Her: “And they make the light look beautiful.”

Then I told her what my friend said.  This is how Voskamp responded:  “Actually we really do [keep olive oil in a mason jar], but it was grimy and oily and it had fingerprints all over it. And it would have been because …  you need to tell her this, the reason it was in the mason jar is because I had lost the lid to the actual olive oil bottle.”

Thank you, Ann Voskamp!

Karen Stiller is a senior editor of Faith Today. Now is a great time to subscribe (three for the price of one!) so you don’t miss the Voskamp interview in Jan/Feb Faith Today.


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