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Life Lessons: What a Book Can Do!

Books can change lives!

Most likely, you already know that. Probably because of the beloved books in your life that have already done this for you.

Still, when you find a book that changes your life, you want to share the book with everyone. So please indulge me as I share one story of a book that changed my life.

The story begins right before the new year of 2019. I was in a bookstore, and my hand passed along the cover of a book titled The Zookeeper’s Secret. I felt a clear, strong push to purchase the book. But my “to be read” pile had grown too large. So I used self-control and dismissed the nudge, only for the nudge to grow. In the end, I purchased the book and started reading it that night.

Only a couple chapters in and I returned the next week to buy a copy for my brother…then my sister…then a cousin…then a friend…and another friend…and after I had passed out all my purchased copies, I continued to recommend this book to anyone who would listen to me.

Here is a condensed version of my brother (RBA) and my text exchange during this period.

Jan 3, 2019

RBA: Listened to your voicemail. That REALLY sounds like a book I would like to read.

TCA: “…The book takes research, professional experience, and spiritual insight and addresses the idea of finding your calling in life. It’s been a short read and a GREAT help for me. Hope it might help you too!”

Jan 14, 2019

RBA: Book arrived!

TCA: Yay!!! Glad it arrived. It may not affect you as it has for me but it helped me understand work life better. And it gave me much-needed clarity in my professional endeavors as well as my hobbies and other ambitions. Hope you at least find a few gems. If you ever find something that hits you and want to talk about it, I’m excited to talk about this book all the time.

Jan 17, 2019

RBA: I have read the first two chapters. I can’t even begin to tell you how incredibly powerful those two chapters were for me. WOW!! I am so grateful and thankful for you sharing this book with me. It has already done so much for me! THANK YOU!!!!!


It’s already made a huge difference in my approach to work and life – so much more contentment and vision. Hope it continues to be an aid to you. Excited to talk to you about it at some point…

RBA: … I can’t believe how much these first two chapters have already done for me...All this time I have been seeking the “modern version of a calling!” It…Such an exciting book. It gives me loads of hope and more importantly, I have an entirely different approach to (work) after reading it. Amazing how powerful books can be.

TCA:…That book has definitely changed my life. So glad it’s having a similar effect on you. It’s been amazing!

Feb 28, 2019

TCA: Just had the coolest experience tied in with my “calling” journey spurred by The Zookeeper’s Secret. If you have time, super excited to share!

RBA: And I’m super excited to hear about it! 😊


So, what was my cool experience? Well, first I have to share a few more things about The Zookeeper's Secret.

First, a bit from the book's description:

Perhaps your professional and other life ambitions are simply a means to an end, a way to pay the bills or pursue a lifestyle. But what if there was something more? What if you could have success and fulfillment in equal measure? In response to these fundamental questions, Professors Jeffery A. Thompson and J. Stuart Bunderson draw on research, personal experience, and gospel truths to dispel common myths that can stand in the way of seeking your true calling, the work that brings the greatest meaning and satisfaction to your life.

Second, a bit about the book’s title:

The authors, Jeffery A. Thompson and J. Stuart Bunderson, looked to zookeepers to learn about “calling”? They say they chose zookeepers because they wanted to learn from people who were passionate about their work but who aren’t in it for the money or for fame or recognition. They went on to list all the unfavorable conditions of being a zookeeper (pay, lack of recognition, dangerous and dirty job), but that zookeepers represent the happiest group of employees they surveyed. 84% of those surveyed reported that their “jobs are meaningful and make a difference.”

Then the authors shared three principles they learned from zookeepers.

  1. Your calling in life is rooted in your unique spiritual gifts.

  2. Your calling in life gives you sacred obligations to serve.

  3. Your calling in life is revealed to you rather than chosen.

After this intro, the authors use the rest of the book to list seven heresies about work and to share activities tied in with each chapter.

The activity that really stood out to me was Heresy 1: Only Lucky People Find a Calling in Life.

Activity 1: Imagine a descent left you a large fortune – enough money that you never have to work again – however the descent left this inheritance with a stipulation. You only receive the inheritance by committing to a life work that you will pursue until you die. And you only have five minutes to make that decision.

Spend five minutes generating and writing in your journal to make the decisions you would be willing to do for the rest of your life if money were no object. Be as creative and fanciful as you’d like! Nothing is too outrageous. As the five minutes draw to a close, choose your top idea as if you were about to make this commitment.

I did this assignment, and incredibly soon after, I was contacted by a representative from Author-Con who asked me to be a spokesperson for their 2019 event. You can watch the recording here, and even though I am not super eloquent, you will hear my “dream job” shared during this interview.

So that's my journey...where I feel essential...where I feel my "zookeeper" calling moments. It's an ongoing journey, with lots to learn along the way, but I'm a work in progress who finds some of my greatest joys when I'm a part of this magic.

What about you? If money was no option, but you still had to work, what would be your dream job?



Share your answer in this month's giveaway. Plus, enter to win the chance to name a character in my next novel!

Giveaway ends Mar 31.


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