Tag Archives: Books

Borrowed Angel by Erica Keifer

April 11, 2014

Borrowed Angel Book Review

I have a little bit of a personal story to tell you.  I have shared my story of my cute little four year old son and how he had a stroke at 9 days old.  Well, I had a neighbor and friend, Erica, who had a cute little boy just about a month before I had my little boy.  I soon heard some devastating news about Erica’s son.  Little Ty had passed away from SIDS.  I was shocked.  It was unbelievable.  My heart was still so tender at times from our own close call and days filled with miracles that I couldn’t hold back the tears.

Borrowed Angel Book Review 

I felt over and over that I needed to stop by her house and give her a particular CD that had a couple songs that I’d heard recently that just seemed to fit perfectly into her situation.  I actually have no idea what songs/CD it is any more.  We made a quick stop at their house when we knew they’d be home (they were actually moving), and went to the door step alone.  I talked with her for a moment and let her know I was thinking of her.  She asked if my kids were with me, and I told her they were and she asked to see my baby.  I told her of course, I just didn’t want to bring him to the door in case she wasn’t up for that.  I still remember her talking to him, and tears came to her eyes.  I felt so bad and so helpless in that moment,  but I was also happy that she could see my baby for a moment.  Maybe it eased her ache for a moment, maybe it made it worse.  I’m not sure.  

Borrowed Angel Book Review

Erica is a writer.  She wrote about the heartache she went through with losing Ty, and how she and her husband have learned over the years to continue on with life without Ty by their side (at least physically).  Soon I learned that Erica’s book was published and I seriously could not wait to read it.  I was even more excited when I asked Erica if I could review her book for her and she said yes!  

Borrowed Angel Book Review

Erica truly brings your heart into her story.  She starts the book off by telling you in the rawest moments about what had happened with her son Ty.  How she found him, and how she tried to save him.  What is was like to have police and other responders coming into her home, trying to help her baby.  

You’re taken into her experience as you go through the book.  How she had to learn to cope, and deal with life after her son has left them physically.  How her and her husband had to learn how the other one was grieving, and how they could help each other through that process.  

One of my favorite things about Borrowed Angle, is that Erica is able to write in a way that is relatable, understandable, and with so much true and raw feelings.  I haven’t lost a child before, but I still felt that pain and sorrow.  However, I was also able to feel her joy and peace and she talks about her healing process.  

I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to read this book.  It is wonderfully written, and so touching.  I truly feel that there are so many wonderful things we can learn from each other, and this book has touched me in a way I wasn’t expecting.  

I’m really excited to share this great giveaway for a $20 gift card to Amazon.com.  I hope you’ll take the time to enter.  If you don’t win, you can always find Erica’s book here and here.

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Changing Gears: Book Review

September 4, 2013
I had the awesome opportunity to review an amazing book recently.  It was so inspiring, and I had to share it with you!
Changing Gears ReviewWith kids now in school, this is the perfect time to sit down and start a book.  Changing Gears: A Family Odyssey to the End of the World is a great book to remind you of the importance of spending time as a family, and to chase after your dreams.  They have an ebook or paperback book for sale.  I love ebooks (can I just say).  It’s so great to just quickly bookmark them on my tablet, and not have to worry that my kids will rip the bookmark out and I’ll have to search for my place again.  🙂
Changing Gears is about a family of 4 (the parents and their twin boys) who bikes from Alaska to Argentina — literally from one end of the world to the other!  Crazy right?  It really is an incredible read.  Nancy takes you on their adventure with her and her family.  She is able to capture the essence of the hardships, but also of the victories as they happen.  You can feel the rain coming down, the hills that were horrible to climb (seriously, the Andes on a bike?!), and all the bugs they encounter.  However, you are also reminded of the sweetness that family really is and the bonds that are most important at the end of the day.
I had the awesome opportunity to interview Nancy and ask her some questions I had while I read the book.

– You mention at the end of the book that John wanted to put a documentary together of the trip, is John still hoping to put a documentary film together?  I saw on your blog that there is a short film of when you reached the finish line.

It’s done! Since we aren’t in Boise for the summer, we took the sale page down. We should be back home in a few weeks and will get it back up. (Ouch! I just went over to our site to get the url for when we get back and see that its live!! If anybody orders a copy now, we won’t be able to ship it out. You can find it here: http://familyonbikes.org/store/index.htm)

– You talk about how by that third year, you and John had a special bond and how you wondered if it’d continue when you got back home.  Do you feel like you still have that?

Yes, and no. In some ways, we just go about our daily lives like before. And yet in others, we’ve shared so much I can’t even begin to imagine what life would be like without him. We don’t talk about our journey much – it comes up in conversation here and there, but it’s just a part of who we are. And that is a shared bond  in and of itself.

-When you first started out did you have sponsors?  Did you gain some along the way?  Is that how you were able to pay for various things, or was most of it from selling possessions you had before you left?

Yes, and yes. We had a few before we left home and we picked some up on the road. Still, the vast majority of the money to support ourselves on the road came from us – from investments and savings and freelance work. I wrote a detailed post outlining how we financed our travels here: http://familyonbikes.org/blog/2011/04/how-to-afford-long-term-family-travel/

-What is one or two of the overall best life lessons you learned by doing this?  What about your boys?  What do they say they learned from it all?

I think all four of us learned that we CAN reach that impossible star. It won’t be easy. It won’t be quick. But if we keep taking those itty bitty pedal strokes, we’ll get there.

The boys don’t really talk about what they learned – they don’t know any other childhood. They have heard us talk about some of the life lessons they learned, but they don’t truly understand it all yet. I believe that one day they will look back upon their childhood and understand that not every kid grows up riding a bike around the world.

-You wonder at one point in the book, how long it’d take to fall back into your old patterns once you got home.  Has that happened?  Have you had to be careful to NOT let it happen?  Has it been easier/harder to avoid than you anticipated?

We made some very conscious decisions on that front right at the beginning. For example, I used to have a whole kitchen full of pots and pans and gadgets – most of which I never used. When I went through all the crap we had in storage, I made the decision to take a skillet, a sauce pan, and a large pressure cooker to the house. That’s it. We haven’t missed all those other pots and pans at all.

For most of the house, I’ve been good about not amassing all kinds of stuff. My beads, however, have been hard. I LOVE to play with beads and, although I have enough to keep my busy for many lifetimes, my skill and style a an artist is always evolving. And I “need” beads to keep up with that…

-Do you feel like life is really fast paced now compared to your trip, or have you been able to keep life at a slower pace than it was before the trip?

We have opted not to go back to teaching and are now self-employed. That means we are bringing in a small fraction of what we did as teachers, but we’re making it. We also set our own hours and have more independence. I think it would be significantly harder if we went back to teaching.

-Do you feel like you’ve been able to pay it forward like you hoped to be able to do?  If so, does it come more naturally to want to pay it forward to those you encounter?

In some ways, yes. We’ve hosted several travelers as they pass through Boise. We’ve reached out to quite a few people in various ways. Still, the balance scale is still leaning pretty steeply that we got more than we have given. Maybe someday I will feel like it’s balanced.

-How have the numberless acts of service and kindness you received along the way changed you?

I think I am more compassionate and less quick to judge. I know that we didn’t “look” nice and clean and safe when all those people invited us into their houses. They were able to look beyond our filthy, raggedy clothes to see the people within. I try to do that as well.


I am so glad I was able to read this book, and highly recommend it!! It’s a quick read that is inspiring, and totally worth it!

You can find this incredible Family on Bikes on their website, Facebook, and Twitter. You can also find more answers to questions here.

I was given a copy of the ebook Changing Gears: A family Odyssey to the End of the World, and asked to review it on my blog.  However, all opinions are 100% my own.