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Hausvater: /HAUS-fah-ter/
noun (German)
1. Housefather.
2. Spiritually responsible head of household, including the housefather as assisted by the housemother.
>> Example: "As the Hausvater should teach it [Christian doctrine] to the entire family ..."
(Martin Luther, Small Catechism, 1529)

Ann VosKamp’s best-selling book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, draws attention to an often overlooked aspect of Christian sanctification: thanksgiving. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “In everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). The Bible is replete with commands to thank God and examples of believers who have done so, no matter the situation. Many Christian women have received great comfort and encouragement from VosKamp’s book, which teaches by example how to “count your blessings” even on the most dreary of days. One Thousand Gifts chronicles VosKamp’s spiritual growth, including her deep emotions, difficult memories and “aha” moments when God’s Word finally “clicks” for her, in order that we, too, can share the spiritual joys of thanksgiving and have peace when we “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4).

Some Christians have expressed concern that VosKamp is advocating excess emotion leading to a mystical “higher spirituality,” or turning thanksgiving into a work by which we merit God’s favor. In several places, however, her book explicitly steers clear of such pitfalls. One Thousand Gifts in fact draws much insight from Scripture. In times of hardship, giving thanks does not come easily, but as we learn to view our lives through the eyes of faith we recognize and appreciate God’s blessings in the small things, in the difficult things, in the tragic things, in all things! She is not a Lutheran. Her book is not a Lutheran book. Even so, she offers insights that Lutherans can appreciate so long as the reader cross-checks her writing against Holy Scripture—which, of course, is the “Barean” method that ought to be applied to any book concerning theology, no matter who the author is.

This study guide comes in two parts. The first section contains only study questions for each chapter. No answers are given. These questions can be printed off for small groups and distributed all at once, or section by section as needed for discussion. The second part is the leader’s guide that includes answers for the questions. If the leader so chooses, he or she may also print off the answers for all participants. If you plan to use this guide without a group, feel free to print off of the first section and record your answers, and then read the second section when you are ready to compare your answers to the suggested responses.

Click for a free download of the study guide.


Mrs. Marie K. MacPherson lives in Mankato, Minnesota, with her husband Ryan and their children, whom she homeschools. She is a certified Classical Lutheran Educator (Consortium for Classical Lutheran Educators), author of Meditations on the Vocation of Motherhood (2018), and editor of Mothering Many: Sanity-Saving Strategies from Moms of Four or More (2016).

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