Famed Christian author Ann Voskamp’s writing career began in the most unsuspecting and unintentional of ways.
Before becoming a New York Times bestselling author, the Canadian wife and mother spent most of her days working long hours on the family farm, while also caring for her budding family. But a simple decision she made on a whim one day ended up setting the groundwork to solidify her as a prime fixture in the Christian literary world.
“(It was) the most unintentional moment of my entire life,” Voskamp said of her decision to start blogging 13 years ago. “I was standing at the kitchen sink. I had heard what a blog was (and I thought), ‘Huh, life is really a holy experience’… I thought about it for a whole five minutes, went to Blogspot (and) started a blog.”
Rather than taking this step in an effort to fulfill dreams of attracting and cultivating millions of adoring readers, Voskamp said she was focused, instead, on simply offering personal reflections about the world around her, covering elements surrounding her farm, her family and the blessings embedded in everyday life.
“It was really for an audience for one,” she said, going on to describe the blog as a sincere effort “to can up the summer of my life for the winter of our life.” In addition to Voskamp’s very personal quest to document her life, the author said she never received any comments and did everything one isn’t supposed to do when trying to launch a successful blog.
Yet, here she is, releasing “The Broken Way” — yet another one of her hit Christian books that is sure to attract even more adoring fans along the way.
Perhaps her appeal comes, in part, from her unique life circumstance and perspective. Just consider that when Voskamp’s not writing successful books, she’s at home, working on her farm, washing clothes and spending time with her husband and kids.
In many ways, she leads quite an ordinary and down-home life.
And it’s Voskamp’s keen ability to cut through the busyness of life to find the very meat and marrow of the human experience — and to carry that over to her readers — that truly differentiates her, as she openly appeals to God with thanksgiving for what she’s been blessed with along the way.
Sometimes, the finer things in life are lost on us amid the chaos, though, which is something Voskamp is keenly aware of. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons she turns to writing to share and explore her own experiences.
“For me, I have to go ahead and write and process to see, ‘Wow, look at all these pieces … God’s really creating a mosaic of grace,’” she told Faithwire.
THE BROKEN WAY
It’s with this mentality that Voskamp approaches faith, hope and life in her new book, “The Broken Way,” saying that she the project as a “bookend” to her previous book, “One Thousand Gifts.”
“Jesus takes the bread, he gives thanks, then what does he do with it? We’ve been given so much … we’ve been given grace upon grace,” she said, with her passion plainly evident. “It’s not to just say, ‘Uh, thank you so much Lord. … you’re supposed to break it and give it away in the midst of your own brokenness.”
Voskamp continued, “You’re to live cruciform, shaped like a cross.”
But sometimes there’s a disconnect between biblical intentions and faith lived out, with Voskamp saying she believes there are barriers in many of our lives — things like social media as well as a more general culture “bombarding us all the time” and “distracting” us with ideals, visions and informational tidbits that aren’t “shaped like a cross.”
“We love the things that we most pay attention to,” she said, adding that she wants to help people “break away from the bombardment of culture and noise” all of the time and, instead, help them to say, ‘Jesus, I’m most drawn and attracted to you because you’re most drawn and attracted to the broken.’”
“PASSION TO LIVE LIKE JESUS”
Voskamp is hoping to show her readers that “abundance isn’t really what media and culture” is saying it is, particularly when it comes to the focus that is sometimes placed on collecting “more stuff,” seeking “greater status” and looking for “greater affirmation from the world.”
With that in mind, the author believes “The Broken Way” can help give readers the passion to live like Jesus, juxtaposing the aforementioned values the world embraces with what Jesus has always represented.
“Jesus … never had a platform, Jesus had an altar that he came and died on,” Voskamp said. “I think culture tries to dangle shining things in front of us — that you’re supposed to strive for some elusive American dream, that’s a lie.”
Voskamp, who became emotional at moments while discussing her hopes and dreams surrounding the new book, said she’d much rather be with her family than out on a book tour, and added that she doesn’t believe the human soul is built for fame and all of its excesses — yet another stunning sign of her humility.
The author also encouraged people not to let fear overtake them.
“We try to avoid a suffering at all costs. We try to avoid suffering in the world … we get overwhelmed,” she said. “There just seems to be so much suffering, so much brokenness … What I’m begging the reader to do is not be afraid of broken things. This is where Christ is redeeming everything.”
Voskamp reminds her readers that the cross — a “symbol of suffering and brokenness” — is “the central lynchpin of Christianity,” and that, in life, transformation can come from places of incredible brokenness.
“You have been given and graced with so many gifts and so many blessings,” she continued, urging her readers to give these gifts back to a “starving world.” “They’re not for you to hoard.”
COMPASSION FOR THE MOST VULNERABLE
For her part, Voskamp has been vocal about the plight of children and families in need across the globe. She told Faithwire about her experience going to China and seeing children living inside orphanages — a scene that deeply impacted her.
“The rooms look beautiful but there are no books on the shelves … children (were) warehoused like livestock,” she said. “I’ve seen poverty, but nothing broke me like seeing children completely untethered to anybody.”
Voskamp continued, “In deep poverty there’s still love, there’s still family. That broke me in deep ways.”
In Iraq, she recalled speaking with Yazidi women who had escaped the Islamic State — women who were put in the worst of situations, forced to choose which children they would scoop up and which they had to leave behind.
“I think it’s easy to turn away from brokenness and say, ‘Thank God I wasn’t born in that country, thank God that isn’t my story,’” Voskamp said, though she implored people to recognize their blessings and, in turn, give back. “If each of us does one thing each day … that’s the answer to suffering in the world.”