Back in September I filled out a online form applying to join the launch team for Ann Voskamp’s new book, The Broken Way. 1000 Gifts, Ann’s first book, had been a game-changer for me – so anything written by Ann = I’m in. I didn’t think much about it and was fairly shocked to find out I had been accepted when I got an email a couple of weeks later.
In addition to receiving a free copy of the book, the launch team members were invited to an event in Voskamp farm country – including a gathering at Ann’s house. In Canada.
We had two weeks notice to get our travel plans together. I checked my passport (thankfully, still good) and started checking flights (Toronto? Detroit? Buffalo?) for an option that wouldn’t break the bank. The cost of flight + hotel + rental car was starting to feel daunting.
Enter Angel Anne:
I connected with Angel Anne through the launch team Facebook group. Anne (with an e) lives in Rochester, NY, about a four hour drive from the Voskamp farm. She was planning to take a day trip for the event and invited me to ride along with her – plus offered to pick me up at the airport and host me for two nights in her home. See, Angel.
Also, Anne has pet donkeys.
I was out of reasons to say no, so I booked a flight to Canada. Ok, technically, it was flight to Rochester. When you are from the south, all of it feels very Great White North.
Pic of me at the airport:
Also, plane snacks:
I drink ginger ale on airplanes.
I arrived in Rochester and was greeted by Angel Anne, her copy of The Broken Way in hand. It felt like a moment from a reality show — searching the airport for the person holding the same book as you.
After Anne fed her donkeys (for real) we had tea and got to know each other. Anne is 20+ years older than me, with twice my energy. She runs her own business, travels, takes mission trips, loves her church, and generally gives her life away at every turn. I want to be Anne when I grow up. We went to dinner and caught an upstate New York sunset on the way home.
It’s pretty up there, y’all.
We left at 4:45am the next morning, which was painful, I won’t lie. It was made a bit easier by an early stop at Tim Hortons, a Canadian institution I was excited to try. It’s kind of a like Dunkin Donuts, sort of? Is there a better descriptor?
I’m not sure you are ready for this face:
It was practically the middle of the night and I was excited. Let’s go with it.
Sunrise over the Niagara River:
And another stop at a travel center. The funny thing about this photo is that I took it from my place in line at Starbucks – behind one person. Tim Hortons is a whole big thing, but I didn’t want to wait that long for coffee.
Much of the drive was along Lake Ontario on the Queen Elizabeth Highway. It was just a highway, but I was practically in an episode of Downton Abbey. Look at the signs:
The crowns! All of a sudden I feel like having tea.
After four hours on the road and multiple cups of Tim Hortons/Starbucks coffee, we were finally close to the farm.
Lots of Amish influence. It was very peaceful.
And then, we pulled up to Ann’s house. I’m not going to show all the photos I took, because that seems a little invasive to the Voskamp family. But don’t think I didn’t take a lot. #stalker
Here’s the thing about Ann Voskamp: she is who you think she is. Authentic. Real. Humble. All those words. She lives the life she writes about. So refreshing in our filtered, airbrushed, and carefully edited culture. The Voskamp family radiates authenticity – a pretty priceless quality these days.
Okay, just one photo from Ann’s house. I can’t resist:
After the gathering at Ann’s house, we headed to the afternoon event – held at this gorgeous barn:
We had hot cider, snacks, and soaked in the gorgeous views.
Then Ann read from The Broken Way:
Pictured here with her precious daughter, reading a significant story from the first chapter that sets up the content of the book.
The barn gathering was a quiet, sweet time of hearing Ann read her own words. It was Gospel-saturated and beautiful in every way. She pointed us to Christ. There was true fellowship, koinonia, in that room that day. None of us wanted it to end.
One last selfie from Canadian farm country:
After sweet goodbyes to new friends, Anne and I reluctantly tore ourselves away from the farm and began our 4+ hour trek home. We stopped for dinner at — one guess — Tim Hortons. (I was nothing if not fully committed to the Canadian experience.)
We collapsed in bed for what can only be called a nap, since we had to leave for the airport at 4am. I left Angel Anne, boarded my plane, and was back in my classroom by noon.
I’m so grateful for the experience. So grateful for Ann + Anne — and grateful for memories I will keep forever.
I will have review of The Broken Way up on the blog soon. It is so rich I cannot read it quickly, really just a couple of pages at a time. I am about halfway through and can’t recommend it enough.
Ann Voskamp has also written beautiful books for the Advent season. I’m in my second year reading her devotional for adults, The Greatest Gift. Unwrapping the Greatest Gift is her version for kids. Both are full of powerful reminders that Christ is on every page of the Old Testament.
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