Eat, Read, Pray: Ann VosKamp’s One Thousand Gifts Final

For the final discussion over Ann VosKamp’s One Thousand Gifts, a Friendly Final Exam over the entirety of the book will be distributed in order to be completed with a partner.  

Friendly Final Exam
Ann VosKamp’s One Thousand Gifts
  1. What was the title of the book you were supposed to have read?
  1. Who is the author of the above book?
  1. Why were you asked to record your thanksgivings in a journal?
  1. Define eucharisteo.
  1. Give an example of ugly/beautiful.
  1. List the names of the other people in the room.
  1. Humility comes from the Latin root humus– the kind of earth that grows ____________ crops.
  1. . . . God asks me to give thanks in all things, because He knows that the ______________ of joy begins in the _______________ of thanksgiving.”
  1. Only _____________ can kill joy.”
  1. I slept and dreamt life was joy, I awoke and saw life was service, I acted and, behold, ___________ was __________.”
  1. Enter into his gates with ____________________ , and into his courts with _______________: be ________________ unto him, and _____________ his name.” (Psalm 100:4 KJV)
Extra Credit: What was thanksgiving #362?
While working on the “exam,”  members may snack on “Nests Filled with Eggs,” which are simply peanut butter chews scooped into cupcake tins and then shaped into nests.  Once cool, fill the nests with eggs, candy-coated almonds.
For the intentional activity of joy, make use of your local prayer labyrinth if possible.  Walking the circular path while giving thanks at each stone will not only nourish the soul, but also burn those extra calories from the “Nests Filled with Eggs” snack.

Learn More about Humorous Author J.W. Bull

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .
The Notebook…The combination of that poignant love story with one’s own fears of developing Altheimer’s, is enough to reduce anyone to a blubbering mess. I cried the whole movie. At the end, I turned to my husband on the couch, hugged him tightly and sobbed,”Wasn’t that the saddest, most beautiful movie you’ve ever seen?” I pulled away, gazing into his soft brown eyes. Here was my my lover, my best friend, my soul mate… How could anyone cope with a disease that makes you forget your soul mate? And my husband’s comment was, “What an emotionally manipulative movie. I can’t believe you made me watch that.”


There lies the difference between men and women.

Describe your first kiss.
When I was 16, I went to an all girls boarding school. During one of the dances with a neighbouring boy’s school (boarding and day students) I met a tall, blond boy. We danced a few dances together, and then went outside and leaned against a wooden fence. I remember the moonlight, the feel of his lips brushing against mine, and then, the sudden, explosive honking of his mother’s car…
Your favorite children’s book, and why . . .
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien. Although some would say it’s not a children’s book, I read it when I was probably 11 or twelve and to this day, I read it every year. Something about the magic, the characters, the epic story of good and evil fascinates me. In fact, when I can’t sleep at night, I go through the story in my mind word by word, and I always drop off to sleep. For some reason, it calms me. Go figure.
A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why . . .
Animals and pet shelters. I have two rescue mixed breeds (Chocolate Chip and Hershey – yes, we love sweets in my house) and they’re like family members. It breaks my heart to think of all the homeless pets in the world and if I could, I’d adopt every single one and bring them home with me. My sons would love that but something tells me my husband would not…

So save my marriage and go out and adopt a pet from a shelter!

If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be and why?
When I was little, I wanted to be Shirley Temple and live in the mountains with her grandfather. A little older, I wanted to be Lucy in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. And as a teenager I wanted to be Arwen from The Lord of the Rings. Now? I have no desire to be Arwen any more (despite the fact I read the series annually, and go to sleep reading the book in my head).

Most days, I just want to be me and am grateful for my full life. And on the occasional days when I get fed up with being Jennifer Bull, I look at my rock of a husband who’s my better half, my two huge, but sweet teenage sons, my two spoiled but loveable dogs and think . . . “I would rather spend one lifetime with you than face all the Ages of this world alone.”

Guess I can relate to being Arwen. Now, if I could only have her jewelry and her clothes. Her castle would be nice too. And maybe, a little alone time with Arago…

Nope, got to draw the line somewhere.

Explain the worst job that you’ve held.
In my early twenties, I worked in an accounting department of a real estate office. Now, anyone who knows me, knows numbers, money and business just do not have a place in my head. I can barely remember how to add and subtract. How I survived a year and a half at that job is a miracle to me…

I’m a musician by trade (I teach violin and play in The Georgia Symphony). I love to write, paint, cook – basically create. It doesn’t really matter the platform. The creative right side of my brain is so dominant and thriving that I imagine the logical left side of my brain is this puny, shrivelled up nub.

Isn’t that special…

A quote that motivates you . . .
“When you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for so long in the first place.” *Unknown Author

You’ve got to have determination in life. Hold on tight to your goals, your dreams, your blessings. If you don’t, the trials of life can steamroll you and flatten you out like a pancake. This quote reminds me to be strong despite adversity and to remember one important goal: I refuse to go through life like a pancake.

The title of the one song you would take with you on that deserted island . . .
The song from the Fellowship of The Rings, “Concerning Hobbit.”

Just love that song – full of hope, playfulness, epic adventure and magic. Okay, a therapist would probably love me. Definitely, have an obsession with The Lord of the Rings…There’s even a character in my next book, Musical Chairs, whose nickname is Strider.

Three Wishes
That my family would be safe, healthy and happy. I pray for that most nights.

I would love gobs of money but money doesn’t make you safe, healthy and happy.

Favorite game you played as a child . . .
Monopoly. Although it’s not my favourite game now or actually even then, it’s a game I remember playing one special time with my older brother, Chris. He was home from college and randomly decided to play Monopoly with me. Just kind of sticks in my mind because he died a few years later in the Navy. I was thirteen when he died. Any memories of him, I have always clutched closely to my heart.

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?
Laughter and entertainment. My writing is not literary fiction – it’s not thought provoking and intellectually stimulating. It’s just fun, wacky fun entertainment. And I think there’s a place for that in this world.

J.W. Bull

A Life in Parts Book Club

Waiting in the dentist’s office for my name to be called, I decided to flip through Dr. Oller’s reading materials.  Usually I reach for a magazine since the wait time is next-to-nothing if any at all, but this time a work of fiction titled A Life in Parts written by Vicki Bennington and Daniel Brannan caught my eye.  Flipping to the back cover, a picture of a striking woman intrigued me especially after I read her legs and portions of her hands had been amputated.  My vision, corrected with contacts, still made me question what I was seeing so I pulled the book closer to my face.  What I saw was a beautiful, joyous woman with no trace of any suffering, scarring, or self-pity.  Soon my name was called, so I begged Monica, my dental hygienist and fellow author groupie, if I might be able to borrow this book.
A quick-read, the fact that this work of non-fiction revolved around the life of a local Midwesterner made it even more engaging.  Abruptly faced with toxic shock syndrome after a freak occurrence in her home,  Loretta Goebel faces life as an amputee.  A wife, mother of two, devoted friend, and volunteer, A Life in Parts relives Goebel’s journey to a new normalcy with fierce determination and continued faith despite the obstacles and eventual losses which accrue along the way.
For a book club’s convenience, study questions have been included in the back of A Life in Parts for discussion.  Since the ideal of familial traditions and gatherings proves motivating for Goebel throughout her healing, a meal filled with comfort food- chicken, mashed potatoes, and corn- which greeted her at her arrival home from the hospital would be appropriate for the menu.

A Life in Parts