Saturday, August 21, 2010

Have a Little Faith - Mitch Albom

Book club book for August. I’ll admit it…I was not thrilled about this pick. I had read The Five People You Meet in Heaven and had not been as impressed as I felt I should have been from a NYT Bestseller. And it left me feeling a little unsettled.

So I began Have a Little Faith with trepidation. When the first chapter or two didn’t really catch me, I was really worried I might not be able to get through it. Then it picked up. It got my attention. I connected. And I ended up really enjoying it and thinking about my own faith and the faith of others.

This story begins with a request. From a rabbi to a congregation member. From “the Reb” to Mitch. A request for a eulogy. That sets Mitch Albom out on a journey to discover more about Rabbi Lewis. Which becomes a discovery of faith – the rabbi’s, Mitch’s, and others in the world. And, ultimately, Mitch discovers many things about himself.

It was a very satisfying read. Short chapters. Once it got going – it was easy to breeze through…until there was a phrase that grabbed me and caused me to stop and ponder. I enjoyed the contrast between the Jewish faith and other faiths and the concept of building a community. I learned a lot about the Jewish faith (easily done since I knew next to nothing going into it). Was reaffirmed in some of my Christian beliefs. And again felt a longing for true community.

The only thing I disagreed with is the conclusion which eludes to all religious paths leading to God and whatever is good in the hereafter.

Takeaway Quote: “And it hit me, finally, that this was the whole point of my time with the Reb and Henry: not the conclusion, but the search, the study, the journey to belief. You can’t fit the Lord in a box. But you can gather stories, tradition, wisdom, and in time, you needn’t lower the shelf; God is already nearer to thee.”

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Bookshelf Challenge: An Update

Well, I am more than halfway through the year. So I figure it’s time to update my few followers on the progress I have made on reading through my bookshelves. In two words: not much. I have not yet read half as many books as I did last year AND I haven’t even read half a shelf on my bookshelf (although I’m getting close to that).

I blame the library. And friends who recommend books. And reading book blogs that recommend books. All that seem more interesting than some of the books on my shelves. I know. It makes no sense that I would buy non-interesting books and get the interesting ones from the library. I should do it the other way, I’m sure.

And while I’m blaming, let’s blame housework and kids and husbands. And going out of town and jewelry work and getting ready for the new school year and a new teaching position.

I’m just not reading as much as I used too. Or as much as I would like to. And I think I’d like to blame non-fiction as well. They take me longer to read than fiction books because I have to think about them more. They are not so much an escape as a time of reflection. I have read more non-fiction this year than I probably have any time in the past.

So I’ll keep plowing through. And no doubt need to continue into 2011.

Thanks to those who read. Huge thanks to those who comment so I know someone is reading.

Perfectly Dateless - Kristin Billerbeck

I don’t know if I just was not in a “Young Adult” fiction state of mind when I read this today or if I just have such high standards for Kristin Billerbeck because I loved her What a Girl Wants books.

Daisy Crispin is not your average teenage girls. She is smart, but that is about all she has going for her. Her mom makes her clothes, and her parents won’t let her date. But she is determined to go to prom her senior year...and with a date no less. A mix of journal entries and narrative tells the tale.

While I enjoyed the story concept, I was lost several times in this story as it seemed to jump around a lot and things came out of left field that didn’t make a lot of sense.

I think I’ll give it to a teen to read and see if their response to it is better. Maybe at 31 I just can’t get youth fiction any more. :(

At the Altar: Matrimonial Tales - L.M. Montgomery

The last of my most recent L.M. Montgomery reading phase. This is a collection of her boilerplates and short stories that involve marriage. Definite fluff. But we all need a little fluff reading sometimes. It was a nice, easy read for my day yesterday of being absolutely useless and non-productive.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Your Best Life Now - Joel Osteen

I know I’m several years behind on reading this one. But the reminders it contains came at a good time, for sure.

In this book, Pastor Joel Osteen lays out “7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential.” These seven steps are:

1. Enlarging Your vision

We need to look out of where we are right now and what current situations and circumstances our lives are in and envision more. Along with that comes having a continual awareness that the favor of God is on our lives because we are His children and to believe for that favor.

2. Develop a Healthy Self-Image

Have an understanding of who we are in Christ and be happy with where we are on the way to where we’re going.

3. Discover the Power of Your Thoughts and Words

Our thoughts and words shape our present and our future. We need to be so careful of what we think and say. I know that I have a propensity to look at the more realistic to negative end of the spectrums. So I have been trying to consciously replace those thoughts and words with more positive ones…preferably based on God’s Word and what He says for and about me.

4. Let Go of the Past

Whew. This is a tricky one for me. I’m not very good at it at all. I do tend to hold onto things, even when I don’t want to. They pop into my mind at inopportune times (see point 3). But God is my avenger, and He will do it far better than I did. But even beyond that, I need to forgive and let go for me. I find myself having a hard time with balancing forgiveness with not putting myself into the same situations to be beaten up (figuratively) again.

5. Find Strength through Adversity

Jesus promised us in the Bible that we *will* have hard times. It’s a given part of life and this world. But He follows that up with the encouragement that He has overcome the world. He’s already done it and that gives me hope.

Also, God will use any trial and adversity for the ultimate good. So, hey, at least the trouble is worthwhile. :)

6. Live to Give

I need to give more out of my needs. The whole principle of sewing and reaping. This one isn’t so hard for me though – I love to give. Sometimes to the extent of being empty myself.

7. Choose to be Happy

Happiness is a choice. Focus on the moment. Live for today. And have enthusiasm in that living.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Then Comes Marriage - Angela Hunt & Bill Myers

Bill Meyers and Angela Hunt team up on this novella exploring the true first years of marriage as two individuals are trying to mesh their lives together to produce something beautiful.

The Stones are celebrating their first anniversary. But it’s not much of a celebration as they have had a huge fight and gone their separate ways for the day. The story moves between highlights (and low points) of the past year and current day as they each try to decide where to go from here.

I enjoyed this book if simply to have affirmation that the rocky first years of marriage isn’t just me or my fault or my marriage. It’s normal and common as two individuals strive to become one. And that of course mine is exacerbated by two step-kids, and ex-wife, etc. As I read about Heather and Kurt Stone, I totally got where they were coming from (Heather more than Kurt, of course) as far as the struggles and changes and compromises they had made in that first year just to get through it and then to wonder occasionally if it was all worth it and will it ever get better. Their love for each other was there all along. But sometimes things can be bigger than that love. That’s when you need to remember the commitment…and walk it out.

Take-away Quote: When Heather’s dad is giving her advice in under the veil of what a car needs and she sums it up by saying: “And if a person makes a promise, he or she should work at keeping that promise every single day.”

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dare to Dream and Work to Win - Dr. Tom Barrett

I read this book for two reasons:

1. I am going to be training on it next Tuesday at our jeweler training

2. It was referenced multiple times at the Premier Rally a few weeks ago

And it is a good book about understanding how to be successful in your network marketing business. I did find it to be more cerebral and less practical. But good nonetheless. I think anyone in network marketing should read it (or read the first ¾ and skim the last few chapters like I did).

The New-Teacher Toolbox - Scott Mandel

While not a brand new teacher, I’ve been out of the mix for two years. So I pulled this book off the shelf and scanned it. Most of what was covered I had already read about in my First Days of School book.

I like the format of this one a lot. However, I found it lacking in the practical: Here…Do This information.

Still, got a few reminders that I added to my task list.

And was finally able to mark off reading another book on my shelf.  :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Opposite of Me - Sarah Pekkanen

This is potentially the best book I’ve read this summer…or in awhile. Not bad for Sarah Pekkanen’s new book.





Lindsey and her fraternal twin sister, Alex, have always had clearly defined roles in their family, friends, and life. Alex is the beautiful sister and has focused on being the center of attention, sculpting her life and career around her looks and appeal.

Meanwhile, Lindsey is the smart, successful sister. She has a skyrocketing career in advertising and lives for her work.

Then her whole world implodes over night. And she left not certain who she is and where to go. Returning home seems the only option. But that means returning to life in Alex’s shadow. However, Alex is about to endure life changes of her own.

The sisters learn together how to cope and to begin to discover who they truly are.

LOVED this book. It was hard to put down. The characters were engaging. The story line wasn’t completely predictable – it was at a comforting level. And, having a sister of my own (who has always been both the “pretty” and the “smart” one), I could relate. Although I’m glad my sister and I each found our own identities apart from what others said about each of us sooner than Lindsey and Alex did.

I recommend reading this one for sure.