A Word To Live By, And Die By // One Thousand Gifts // Chapter Two Reflections

 It's about giving thanks, finding grace and learning to experience true joy.

Ann Voskamp's words from chapter two gave me much to mull over and ponder in my mind and heart this week. In fact, this chapter gave me so much to mull over that I'm not even so sure that I have my bearings yet. As in, I don't really know what to say this week. 

Here are a few things I do know though...

This one small word, eucharisteo, encompasses and holds so very much. Eucharisteo itself is made up of blessed fragments of grace and joy and thanksgiving

Yes, I want to live. I want to live a life that is thankful. A life that seeks out grace in every moment. A life that experiences true joy on a daily basis out of a heart that is thankful, not because I got everything I ever desired, but because I find myself truly thankful for every gift that has been so graciously given to me.

Speaking of gifts... I've recently come to the realization that gifts don't always come in pretty packages (like when Ann found out she had cancer) and they don't always bring joy with them either. No. Sometimes the gifts that God gives to us are meant to try us, to test us, to strengthen us. They are the unexpected and the unwanted often times. But these are the same gifts that give to us so greatly. These are the gifts that shape us into who we will become, into who we are becoming every day.

God is the Ultimate Giver. 

For He alone brings us joy and grace and salvation.

Through Salvation we find Grace. 

And through Giving Thanks we find True Joy.

And that is where I am at right now. I have been given unwanted and wanted and hoped for gifts throughout the last twenty-three years of my life, and I know that while they've all been given to me to shape my perspectives on life and to better myself and my future I am not always thankful for them when I should be. 

"The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live....He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything." - Albert Schweitzer

And so I am going to decide this week to thank Him for all the gifts He so greatly gives, wanted and unwanted and hoped for. Because I want to live that thankful life, full of grace and salvation and joy...at work, at home, everywhere. Because I want to bring Him glory. Because I want to live that emptier, fuller life, a life that is driven by one single small word that means this world and the next. 

Ann Voskamp so lovingly penned the words you see pictured below in the front of my book when I first met her. I did not truly and fully begin to understand what those three simple words met until just right this very moment... 

"Eucharisteo, the Greek word with the hard meaning and the harder meaning to live...this is the only way from empty to full." 
{ OTG pg. 40/41 }

// / // 

 I'm reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp for the next little while alongside Annie & Margaret. Would you like to join The Book Club too?

And He Would Walk 500 Miles...

*that's my guy right  ^^ up there*

Okay, so Jared's  not really gonna walk 500 miles to see me, but he is going to drive nearly 5 hours today to come visit me for the weekend. We're planning on having our "date day" tomorrow up in Asheville.
*paint me uber excited!*  

...because this song makes us both insanely happy...
Jared, this song goes out to you, love!

Alright, alright. I'll explain what this song means to me and Jared just so you lovely ORB readers don't feel left out! *wink* Honestly, I'd hate myself for it if I left ya'll out of the loop! Really, I would.

Jared and I both love this song, but both for very different reasons. Jared loves this song because it's an ongoing joke on How I Met Your Mother...something about this song getting stuck in the tape player in a car on a road trip...which is one of his favorite tv shows of all time.  I'm not exactly sure why he loves this show so so so much, but he does.

And I adore this song not only because it is just so darn catchy and gets stuck in my head for days on end after every single time I listen to it, but also because this song opens up the movie Benny & Joon which is a (CLASSIC!) favorite of mine AND the song is by The Proclaimers which is a Scottish Rock 'N' Roll band. And who can hate a Scottish Band, right!? Because I sure can't.

/ / /

So what do you think of the song I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)? Is it stuck in your head yet?

I hope you all have an amazingly blessed weekend that is full of love and joy and peace!

the somewhat-restless-for-her-man-to-get-here-gal

An Emptier, Fuller Life // One Thousand Gifts // Chapter One Reflections

{ Q's } 
 How do we continue to live full lives even in the pain and confusion? 
What promises of God have truly satisfied your soul? 
Is it his peace, joy, comfort? 

How can I live an emptier, fuller life? 

{ A's }
I have lived through so many painful and confusing moments over the last twenty-three years. Honestly, I'm not so sure I could list them all for you here, nor would I want to. But I do know that the one thing that has constantly held me together in the midst of losing loved ones, losing friendships, being hurt by church family and being faced with many other of life's greatest challenges is God. Even when I feel like I don't want to deal with facing life or death or loss or work or anything else God is still there. Yes, I know it sounds like I just gave the right answer to the Sunday School Pop Quiz waving around the instantly winning "God flag," but it's true. 

I've realized over the last couple of years that when I have an emptier life, a life that is devoid of being stuck in the trenches of worry and doubt, or self reliance, that my life becomes fuller and filled with Him. It's those days when I count my blessings and thank Him for where I am at that I find myself feeling satisfied and peaceful.

Speaking of being peaceful...God has promised me that He would bring me peace and hope and joy, and I cling to that every single day. That is what keeps me getting up and out of bed in the morning. For I know that when I trust in Him He will become my Peace-Bringer, my Joy-Bringer and my Hope-Bringer. Those promises and His unfailing love and grace are how I face each new day emptier, ready to be filled by Him, no matter what it holds or brings.

Fave Quote from Chapter One:
"With memories of gravestones, of combing fingers through tangled hair, I wonder too...if the rent in the canvas of our life backdrop, the losses that puncture our world, our own emptiness, might actually become places to see. To see through God." { pg. 22}

 I'm reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp for the next 11 weeks alongside Annie & Margaret. Would you like to join The Book Club too?

Team Novel Teen Blog Tour: Sneak by Evan Angler

Age Range: 8+ (middle-grade readers to infinity and beyond!)

Genre: Juvenile Fiction / Action & Adventure / Dystopic
Part of A Series: SNEAK is book #2 in the Swipe Series.
Release Date: 9.4.12
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Tag Line: In a future United States under the power of a charismatic leader, everyone gets the Mark at age thirteen. The Mark lets citizen shop, go to school, and even get medical care—but without it, you are on your own. Few refuse to get the Mark. Those who do . . . disappear.
Summary: Logan Langly went in to get his Mark, but he backed out at the last minute.  Now he’s on the run from government agents who will stop at nothing to capture him. But Logan is on a mission to find and save his sister, Lily, who disappeared five years ago on her thirteenth birthday, the day she was supposed to receive her Mark.
Logan and his friends, a group of dissenters called the Dust, discover a vast network of the Unmarked, who help them travel safely to the capital city where Lily is imprisoned. Along the way, the Dust receives some startling information from the Markless community, opening their eyes to the message of Christianity and warning that humanity is now entering the End of Days.
When the Dust finally arrives in the capital, it seems that all their careful planning is useless against a government that will do anything to bend its citizens to its will. Can the gentle words Logan has found in a tattered, banned Bible really stand against the most powerful military the world has ever known? Can Logan even sacrifice his own freedom, choosing to act through faith alone?

What I Loved: Can I just say I loved everything, and then make you promise to read the Swipe Series? Okay, so I guess that won't do. Instead of coercing you into reading SNEAK I'll just try to break down bits of what I really loved into a categorical fashion below, and then you'll be able to decide if you wanna join the Dust with me or remain sided with DOME.

Writing - Evan Angler grips you with every word penned, and in SNEAK his writing only gets more gripping!

Character DevelopmentThe dichotomy between Logan Langly (an unmarked runaway) and Erin Arbitor (a marked daughter of a DOME agent) places us in a position to see the bigger picture. We then clearly see the picture from all angles when we glimpse the story through the eyes of Peck, his band of Dust and the members of the Underground River

I also loved that Hailey Phoenix actually shows up more in SNEAK than she did in SWIPE as I've really come to love her character, brave and loyal and sassy as she is. And Dane, I love Dane and his jealous, humorous, singin' self!

Honestly, I saw improvement of character and growth and maturity from all angles within every individual character, and I loved each character even more than I did when I first met them in SWIPE.

There were aso a couple of new characters that I absolutely fell in love with, namely: Bridget, Mama & Papa Hayes, Grandma Langly, Mrs. Phoenix (Hailey's mom), Shawn, Tabby and Hans

Symbolism - I loved that the Dust and the River used old radios as an "underground" form of communication to get messages back and forth between them and other unmarked individuals. The symbols (pictured above) that the River used were also really well thought out, and I loved that Evan Angler decided to use the ichthys and so many other nautical symbols in his "underground river" system.

Storytelling & Pacing -  The storytelling only got better this time around, as I was instantly drawn into the world of the AU, once again, from moment one. I did not, even once, want to put this book down. Seriously (though I had to at times to sleep.)

Worldview - The Worldview is definitely Christian as there are such strong morals and Biblical references sprinkled throughout this book (even more so than in book #1 - Swipe), but the hints and references in SNEAK weren't overly preachy or disguised, which I really liked. 

I am even more so a fan of the Swipe Series and Evan Angler than I was after having read SWIPE! I am REALLY looking forward to reading book #3 in the series...whenever that one will be released!?

What I Didn't Like So Much: The last chapter seemed a little rushed, fragmented and disoriented. It was almost as if the story should have either wrapped up sooner, leaving us with more of a cliff hanger (can't believe *I* just said that!), or it should have given us more details as to what all exactly was going on. 

I’m recommending this book… If you love dystopic novels like The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins and Matched by Ally Condie or The Left Behind Series by Lahaye and Jenkins then SNEAK is definitely a book you’ll want to read over again and soon as you've finished it! Let's just say that I'm going to give SNEAK a whopping 5 stars AND confess to ya'll that I'm currently going through a serious "Book Hangover!"

* In exchange for an honest review, I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson through Team Novel Teen. *

To Read My Review of Book #1 in the Swipe Series CLICK HERE

About The Author:

Who is Evan Angler?

Evan Angler is safe, for now. He lives without the Mark, evading DOME and writing in the shadows of Beacon.

As a kid he was quiet and well-behaved, having grown up in a town not unlike Spokie, where he enjoyed music, drawing, hover-dodge, astrophysics, hiking, virtual reality . . .

None of that matters now.

Evan Angler is the author of SNEAK. But if anyone asks, you know nothing about it, and you didn’t hear anything from him. Don’t make eye contact if you see him. Don’t call his name out loud. He’s in enough trouble already.

And so are you, if you’ve read his books.

Check out these other links below…

Book Trailer for SNEAK:

Author's Website:

Purchase this Good Read on Amazon

Check out the Facebook Page for the Swipe Series 

Also, check out these other Team Novel Teen bloggers ( below ) to see what they had to say about Evan Angler's novel SNEAK.

Team Novel Teen is a group of bloggers dedicated to spreading the word about clean teen fiction. Check out other posts about Sneak by Evan Angler by clicking on the links above, and check out www.NovelTeen.com for more information about Team Novel Teen.

Evan Angler’s Infinite Playlist // Guest Post from *The Author of the Swipe Series*

Music, I think, is an important pillar of the creative mind. And as an author, it’s an equally important part of any book. It doesn’t matter what the writing is about, and it doesn’t matter what the story is; writing is music. Our words have rhythms and cadence, our sentences make melodic lines. There are fast sections, slow sections, loud paragraphs, quiet paragraphs. Good writing, for me, lights up my brain much like good music does.

This relationship, of course, goes both ways. If writing informs music, then it stands to reason that music must also inform writing. Certainly, I’ve found this in my own experience. With my first book, SWIPE, I wrote almost everything either in the dark, or on the run, in the motion of electrobuses and boxcars, with my hood up and my oversized headphones on. For some of that time, indeed, my focus demanded quiet. But for much of my writing and drafting and thinking, I was immersed in a blanket of music. Loud music. And I found that its genre dictated the writing’s tone. With SWIPE, my musical selections often gravitated toward electroclash, a genre I didn’t even know existed until I found myself craving it for the underscore of SWIPE’s scenes. Often, I’d play the music so loud that I needed to stuff my ears with tissue paper, because I liked the feel of the heavy beats hitting my brain, pushing me forward, relentless, unforgiving…. The gritty, electronic timbre of the music just seemed to belong with the tech-filled but flawed world of the American Union, and the energy conveyed by that music–both in the faster and in the more somber selections–captured for me the sense of foreboding, anxiety, excitement and, ultimately, determination that Logan feels over the course of his journey.

SNEAK, on the other hand, called for a very different sort of sound. In trying to capture the setting and mood of the Unmarked River, I often found myself gravitating toward pre-Unity bluegrass and folk music, another genre that had never captured my attention–until I the writing called for it. The acoustic guitars, the banjos, the fiddles, the harmonies…in many ways, SNEAK is about the loneliness and uncertainty of venturing out on one’s own, of a search for simplicity and truth. In a world of high-tech stakes, the Dust’s journey through much of SNEAK is practically of a different era. Horse rides, hiking, camp fires, radios…after the events of SWIPE, Logan is truly an outcast, and there’s just no place  for him in the more modern world of the American Union. What better way to capture that then with the oldest traditions of music that American history has to offer? Bluegrass and folk, there’s nothing else like it.

The third book in the Swipe Series has yet another soundtrack altogether. I can’t wait for you to hear it, and to discover all that its soundscape implies. But that is a story for another day, and that is a playlist for another time….
So if you’ll excuse me, I have some headphones I need to find…


You can find Evan Angler @ www.evanangler.com

Read my review of SWIPE (Book #1 in the Swipe Series) HERE

And stay tuned in for my review of SNEAK when it goes live on ORB tmrw!