What I’m Reading, October 2017

Whew!  What a month.

Since September 15th, I went to Tribe Conference and my youngest turned 18.

Soccer season wrapped up with a heart break game.

We’ve had unusually warm weather, which is good for me.

On to the books:

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Fearless by Eric Blehm

I’m fascinated by the story of Adam Brown’s life.  He had some high highs and low lows.

The whole narrative around NAVY seals is interesting, but Adam Brown stood out, even it that elite group.

His journey to becoming a highly decorated SEAL is certainly not conventional.

What can I tell you that will let you know what a great book this is?  I don’t know how to describe it without spoilers.

I don’t know how to tell you what I was impressed with, what I was surprised by, how it all played out, because I want you to read it.

Okay, the interesting thing to me about Fearless is the addictive personality and the success as a Navy Seal.

He was a good kid. He did good when he was focused on the football team. But, when he got sucked into drugs he fell hard.

He got so many commendations for his work in the military.

He was able to deal pretty well with transitioning from his work to family life. He had lots of determination and drive.

He slipped up once after a few years of service and lots of commendations. He should have lost his job.

It was the recommendation of the father of one of his childhood friends that actually got him into the military service. Without that person sticking his neck out on the line, he couldn’t have done it.

 

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This Undeserved Life
by Natalie Brenner

It’s the pinnacle of compassion to see life through someone else’s eyes.

Natalie Brenner gives us a chance to do that: to walk her road with her, to feel her pain and know her sorrows.

She teaches us that everyone’s story matters, not just celebrities and newsmakers.

Transparency about our stories destroys the glittery facebook highlight reel that we imagine everyone else is living. Perceptions are not reality.

Her story isn’t just about fertility, adoption and parenthood. It’s also about relationships, calling and identity.

Natalie has given us the gift of her story.

 

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Reading People

by Anne Bogel

Reading People is a good way to get a quick overview of some of the personality frameworks. Some I was familiar with, some I wasn’t. I find personality fascinating.

It’s easy to see the practical applications and helpfulness of the different frameworks when Anne shares personal stories of how they have helped her.

I’m recommending this book to young people because it’s so important to know yourself. Having a vocabulary and reference points is so helpful for teams, co-workers, spouses and family members.

Highly recommended.

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Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday

Writers want to write best sellers.  Lots of books don’t sell well.  I’m a bookseller, I know.

The premise of this book is that it’s a better goal to write a book that will be enduring, that has good enough content to sell over a long period of time, not just spike to a best seller list and disappear.

He has a good point.

We often don’t look to the long view.

This is a challenge to consider what your body of work will be long term and not strive for long term wins.

Of course, the majority of the population can’t write a best seller or a perennial seller, but every author in the history of the world started unpublished, so there’s that.

 

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If I Perish by Esther Ahn Kim

Esther was a Korean imprisoned for her faith by the Japanese in the thirties and forties.

Quite a story. I learned history that I didn’t know before.

She endured quite a bit of physical hardship. Songs, scripture and prayer was the lifeline for the Christians in the prison.

God answered some prayers in miraculous ways, but other times the prisoners suffered a lot.

Many believers today are persecuted for their faith, but we’re not hearing their stories much.

What are you reading this month?

 

Five Minute Friday: Invite

Our youngest turned 18 this week.  So, the running joke is that we’re officially done with parenting.  Life is full of transitions.  Sometimes navigating them can be tricky.

Linking up with Kate Motaung and the Five Minute Friday gang.

Today’s prompt is invite.

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When was the last time you were invited to rest?

Isn’t that a lovely word? Rest.

It conjures images of cozy fires and comfortable chairs. A rug on the floor and a lap blanket.

When we are weary and heavy laden, we are invited to rest.

To put down the burdens and put our feet up.

Wrap our hands around something hot and sweet and exhale.

To sit still in His presence and breathe peace.

What a great invitation.

Why do we insist on striving and worrying when He invites us to rest?

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Five Minute Friday: Story

This has been a good week, in spite of soccer season wrapping up with a heart break game on Wednesday.

I love, love, love this week’s word.

I believe with every fiber that story is one of the most powerful teaching tools, and probably the most underutilized.

So, three cheers for story.

Linking up today with Kate Motaung and the FMF crew.

••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Story is the door.

The magic door that unlocks the imagination and emotion.

Through that door we embark on our personal journey. We transcend time and leave our lives behind. We walk with the hero. We follow the guide. Our hearts beat faster as we feel the fear. We feel the despair. Our cheeks are wet with sympathetic tears.

But then, we conquer the dragon. We feel the exhilaration of victory.

We come down from the mountain, we pass through the door and return to our own lives.

But we bring the courage with us.

That’s the power of story.

It creates within us a hope that we can conquer the dragons in our world.

The Master Storyteller used it to teach eternal truths.

He invites us to co-create with Him.

To touch hearts with the power of story.

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Five Minute Friday: Depend

It’s Friday.  Another week when I’ve been tempted to focus on what’s going wrong and overlook a lot of what’s going right.  I choose to be grateful for blessings.  There are many.

Linking up again with Kate Motaung and the FMF Friday gang.

Five minutes of free write on the prompt: depend

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When Pete’s teaching about faith, he often likes to use the illustration of the chair.

Do you have faith that this chair will hold you?

How do you demonstrate that faith?

By sitting in it.

It really doesn’t matter how much faith you have. What matters is what you’re placing your faith in.

Is the object of your faith up to the task?

Too many times we depend on chairs that fail us, that crack under our weight.

We depend on a bank account, a relationship, a position or a reputation, without realizing that those things can’t hold the weight of our expectations. They will fail.

The object of our faith needs to be infallible. Rock solid. Able to handle the job.

It’s critical not to choose inferior chairs.

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When you’re feeling a little wobbly. Tribe Conference 2017

You’re about to walk into a room of 270 where you don’t know a single human.

You’re feeling a little wobbly.

Nervous and excited and hopeful.

Hopeful that the people in this room are YOUR tribe.

You feel a connection with some of them because they have shared their stories online.

They were vulnerable and generous.  They showed you a piece of their heart.  You got a good look at their values.

And you wanted what they have.

A chance to share your words with a wider world.

A chance to impact at the deepest level.

A chance to make a living by sharing.

Because these people and their words have already marked you indelibly.

Take Jeff Goins’ 500 words a day challenge, for example.

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I’d been blogging about a year when I took the challenge.  I was having problems posting consistently and I thought 500 words a day would help.
So, I started and found 500 words a day was pretty easy to hit.  Sometimes I could do it in 20 minutes.
The first result I noticed was I started posting on my blog LESS often– once month down from once or twice a week.
The second result was a marked improvement in my emotional health.
In order to get 500 words a day in quickly, I was brain dumping– stream of consciousness writing.  Scattered thoughts, random rabbit trails, whatever was on my mind.  Not focused, one topic writing good for blog posts.
But I was less angry, less depressed, more grateful.
After four months, I started to wonder if I just needed to journal and not be posting to the world.
Then I started mining the ramblings to develop into blog posts.
I started using part of the 500 words directed to specific posts and the remainder to whatever was on my mind.
I started spending fifteen minutes a day on editing, picking photos and all the non-writing tasks needed for my blog.
I still have lots of tweaks to make to the creative process, but I don’t ever want to go back to a life when I’m not writing at least 500 words a day.
500 words a day changed my life.
It hit number one on my list of  What’s Saving My Life Right Now.
And that’s just one example.

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So, you step into the room.  And you fasten your badge onto your lanyard. And you ask if this seat is taken.

And it all begins.

And it’s just as exhilarating as you’d hoped.

And you knew it was okay to be where you are in the journey– stumbling, stalled, hopeful.

They had been there too.

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Interested in finding out more about Tribe Conference?  Check it out.

 

 

Five Minute Friday: Accept

It’s Friday!  What a week.  Still processing what I learned at Tribe Conference in Tennessee last weekend.  SO glad I went.

Linking up with Kate Motaung and the FMF gang.

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We have a deep need to be accepted. To feel accepted.

To have a community that knows us and loves us anyway.

To go through life feeling unaccepted tears at the soul, takes away our hope, blows out the candle of warmth in our heart.

We crave it like a hibernating animal looks for food in the Spring.

We wander, restless, until we find it.

And once we’re there, we flop down and rest, weary from the struggle of looking for home.

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Five Minute Friday: Support

How can it be Friday already?

Headed out this morning to Tribe Conference in Tennessee.  Yep. Nervous. Yep. Excited.

Linking up with Kate Motaung and the FMF gang.

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When Moses was too tired to lift his hands, he needed the support of his friends, Aaron and Hur.
It was critical to the mission that Moses had his hands lifted during the battle, because the troops would win as long as his hands were lifted.

But the reality remains:

He couldn’t do it alone.

We can’t do it alone.

Sometimes we’re the ones on the roof, ripping apart roof tiles, lowering our friend down into the room to have access to Jesus.

Sometimes we’re the ones on the cot being lowered down.

It’s easier on our pride to be the ones helping, to be in partnership with the Savior.

It’s hard to be the needy one. Devoid of strength, lacking even the resources to help ourselves.

We want to be the Good Samaritan, even if it means helping the unlovely.

What we don’t want to be is the one on the side of the road, beaten past the point of helping ourselves.

God help us to help others

and

give us the humility to receive help when we’re helpless.

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What I’m Reading, September 2017

September means soccer around here.

I’m feeling a little nostalgic because it’s our last season as soccer parents.  Our baby is a senior in high school, so an era is ending.

The weather’s been great for watching soccer games–not too hot, cold, rainy or windy.  You never know in Indiana.

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit for September reads.

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Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Before You Were Ours is a tragic tale with a hopeful ending.

This is not a feel good book, but it is well-written.

It touches on the trauma that children go through when their nuclear family is destroyed.

It traces the children of a riverboat family who were abducted and institutionalized in the South in the early 20th century.

Interspersed with that story is the story of a modern day teen in foster care who makes friends with a elderly widow, never dreaming that their childhoods carried similar threads.

This is the first Lisa Wingate novel that I’ve read, but I will be looking for more of her books.

It reminded me a little of Orphan Train.

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Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

What if you lived in a small kingdom where the prince chose his bride from the graduates of the Princess Academy?

What if you had the chance for an education that would never be possible otherwise?

I loved this middle grade novel for telling a tale of what could be, the power of knowledge, friendships and courage.

One of my favorite parts of Princess Academy was how they snuck in principles of Commerce and Negotiation. It was fun how that played out.

There were a few weird and whimsical twists, but every fairy tale needs a little magic.

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Unselfie by Michele Borba

Michele Borba was in town last week to speak to the teachers in our district.  She’s gaining a following in our area.

I liked the stories of all the schools that developed programs or implemented teaching that turned the school community around or changed a classroom.

It gives you hope for the kids of this generation. It certainly is a fight, though, with the phones and digital devices.

I liked the support she gave for developing empathy by reading, especially fiction.

Lots of good tips on practical ways to teach kids empathy.

Lots of stories and good examples of kids at school and home demonstrating empathy.

It gives a good breakdown of the elements of empathy and the why it is such a critical trait for our kids.

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The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Heads up for language and thematic elements.

The first half of the book was slow moving and a little confusing.

The second half was riveting.

A journalist is on assignment on a small luxury cruiser.  She notices some strange things happening, but when she looks into it, her story is called into question.

Good suspense.  Good resolution.

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday: Work

It’s Friday!  Time to link up with Kate Motaung and the FMF crew.

It’s been another busy week, after a busy holiday weekend, but it is nice to get past the stress of the August rush at work.

Speaking of work, this week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is (you guessed it):  work.

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One of our greatest needs as humans is the need for meaningful work.
We need to do work that matters, that makes a difference.

Deprived of that, we become hamsters on a wheel: working to eat and eating to work.

Whether or not it’s paid work, we have to do something that fulfills our need to contribute and leaves the world better than when we found it.

If we get paid to do meaningful work, all the better.

But, without that touch, without that feeling of accomplishment, we despair.

We can’t live without the hope that our work matters.

Aside from relationship, it’s our most critical need.

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6 True Adventure Stories that are Page Turners

What is it about adventure stories that draws you in?

It’s facing and overcoming adversity. The choices made. The sacrifices made. What the human body can endure. Giving up versus pressing on.

The thing about true stories is you know, generally, how they’re going to turn out. But, the draw is finding out how they got there.

True adventure stories are inspiring.

Reading or hearing someone’s story creates hope within us that we can also survive, endure and triumph.

(Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you.)

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The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

The pathos of the story draws you in.  Joe Rantz is an almost Dickensonian hero.

Tracing the background of some others on the champion rowing team puts you in the boat with the rowers and has you cheering with the crowds on the shore.

I love the real life lessons of leadership and teamwork, and wonder how to transfer these lessons to other teams.

The up close and behind the scenes glimpses of history are instructive and sobering.  So much to glean from this book.

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Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

It’s little hard to put my finger on what I like about the book so much.

It’s a good study in leadership and teamwork. It’s an amazing triumph over the elements, even though the primary mission wasn’t accomplished. The feat was bringing back everyone home alive.

The decisions that had to be made; the feats of survival; the human interaction; the challenges that they faced. These are the elements of the story that draw you in and keep you turning pages.

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Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken tells the story of Louis Zamperini, Olympic runner World War II soldier.

Zamperini faces so many incredible circumstances in his life before he turns 30.  The perseverance and resilience he displayed in the face the multiple titanic challenges is an inspiration.

Knowing his background and family intensifies the story.

The final resolution is satisfying and heart warming.

Aside from the story, the writing is a work of art.

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Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

In 1996, eight mountain climbers lost their lives while attempting to summit Everest.  Jon Krakauer is a journalist and climber who survived and wrote about it.

To me, one of the most interesting dynamics is the role of leadership and teamwork in summiting as well as personal, individual responsibility.

One of the critical factors in the deaths of those on the mountain in 1996 was the enforcement of the turn around time.

Hall, the team leader, had been so strict about that for other teams, but with this one, he wasn’t.  He didn’t communicate clearly whether the turn around time was one o clock or  two clock.  On the actual summit day, people were summiting at 4 and 5 o clock.

No one seemed to know that there was a storm blowing in.

There’s a lot of competing forces at play:  people who spent a lot of money to summit, the commercialization of summiting, magazines that would pay a lot for the story, advertisers looking for heroes.

There’s also different teams that were summiting and the different philosophies of the team leaders.

Should a leader be making decisions that are unquestioned?  Does that actually put his team at greater risk because they don’t follow their own wisdom?  Actually, the genius of Hall’s leadership was to make the decisions ahead of time, not in the heat of the moment.  And the actual breakdown came in not following through with those wise decisions.

The safety net wasn’t there when it needed to be.

The bottom line is, it impossible to erase all the risk.  That’s one factor that makes the challenge so attractive:  there is an element of risk involved.  Defying death is part of the victory.

“The true story of one man’s miraculous survival after a mountaineering mishap high in the Andes of South America.”

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Touching the Void by Joe Simpson

I’ve been on the prowl for another great family read aloud, along the lines of Endurance and Unbroken.  Even though Touching the Void and Into Thin Air are incredible true life accounts, I didn’t think the writing was of the same caliber as those two.

There’s a lot of climbing terms and concepts that I didn’t understand and it took a while before the story became compelling.  If I hadn’t known what was coming, I’m not sure I would have stuck with it.  The account is a testimony to the human will to survive.  Although it was only given a passing reference, it’s also a testimony to the prayers of Joe’s mother.

It’s fascinating to me to analyze the decisions you make in the face of death.  What motivates you to keep going when it’s hopeless and what motivates you to give up?

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The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston

It took 100 pages for this story to really get good. But, when it did, I was hooked.

Who can resist the search for a lost city? There’s quite an appeal to explore virgin territory, untouched by human hands for centuries, but yet once a thriving civilization.

The book took a left turn for the last fourth and covered tropical diseases, almost leaving archeology in the dust. I found the information interesting, but it certainly wasn’t where I was expecting the book to go.