What I’m Reading, April 2017

Wow.  What a month.

I stepped into my sister’s shoes and cared for her four daughters (ages 2 to 12) while she and her husband led a team to Israel.

I explored why I’m directionally challenged and what helps.

I went to Peru to catch up with my hubby who had already been in South America for a week.  It was a ministry trip that didn’t go as planned.  Our laptop got stolen, I missed my plane in Miami, massive flooding in Peru meant changes in itinerary and an unplanned visit in LA became one of the highlights of the trip.

Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy’s Quick Lit.

(Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. At no extra cost to you a percentage of your purchase will go to support this site.)

  Buy now from Amazon

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay

I loved Katherine Reay’s first book, Lizzy and Jane.  Her second and third ones not so much.  I found this one to be slow moving.  By the end, I came to appreciate the setting and the plot was satisfying.  I can’t say I identified strongly with the characters or it was one of my all-time favorite books.

Emily Price is a professional restorer of art on assignment in Atlanta.  She meets Joseph and his brother, Ben, Italian natives that have family in Atlanta.  Emily discovers Ben and Joseph’s family differs quite a bit from her own and long buried family secrets are revealed.

  Buy now from Amazon

The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts

Kara’s bravery in the face of her own mortality is inspiring.

It’s hard for young children to lose their mother to cancer.  It feels unjust.  But, Kara’s acceptance of God’s will for her life showed the world what it means to believe that God is good, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

She faced the reality that her marriage wasn’t eternal.

I highly recommend this book to anyone struggling with God’s sovereignty.

 Buy now from Amazon

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

The only thing I didn’t like about this book was gratuitous language.  Sometimes language in a dialogue can prove a point, but there’s no good reason for it to be in the narrative.

That being said, I love the social analysis wrapped around a boot-strapping overcomer’s story. J.D. Vance emerged from an impoverished childhood to graduated from Harvard and become a successful lawyer.

It has some similarities to Ben Carson’s story in Gifted Hands.

I love the positive impact and stability the author’s grandparents brought to his life.

My heart breaks for the young people in this country, especially for the homes that so many grow up in–for the poverty–not of money so much as love, stability, education and faith.

One thing that struck me is that the author wasn’t able to find much help in counseling, but research, learning and understanding about himself and his formative years brought a measure of peace.

 Buy now from Amazon

An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski

“The true story of an 11-year-old panhandler, a busy sales executive, and an unlikely meeting with destiny.”

An inspiring story, well told.

An Invisible Thread is a story that I’ve been wanting to read for a long time.   This is another book that made me get philosophical.  The culture of poverty at work again.  And, once again, it’s not so much about the money.  It’s the opportunities, the education, even the relationships that are poor.  And that plays out into material lack.  The whole mindset has to change.  The way you believe about yourself has to change.  The way you believe about your destiny has to change:  are you a victim of your circumstances or do you control your fate?

Laura Schroff reached out to Maurice in a gesture of friendship and began a relationship that endured three decades.  She nurtured her unexpressed maternal instinct.  He grabbed a lifeline out of a culture of poverty. It’s interesting that one thing read more

  Buy now from Amazon

The Girl with No Name by Diney Costeloe

Lisa Becker was a German Jew escaping Hitler’s regime seeming sanctuary in England.  Torn from her family at age 14, the struggle to love trust and suffer loss follows her.  She faces the uncertainty of life during war time.

I liked this book.  It made me wonder about how we deal with loss, especially how children deal with loss.  Although a work of fiction, it highlighted the heroism and sacrifice of the British people during World War II.

Strangers giving homes to children is a beautiful thing.  What makes a community?  What makes a family? My mind always strays to the philosophical.

Highly recommended.

   Buy now from Amazon

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis by Izabella Wentz

This is a very through tome.  And although it ‘s written conversationally for laymen, there are parts that made my eyes glaze over.

Have read a lot of Izabella’s articles on the internet and implementing her advice, based on my experience and her recommendations, I suggest these first steps:

  1. Eliminate gluten.  This has been found to benefit a high percentage of Hashimoto’s sufferers.  It has certainly helped me.
  2. Take selenium supplements.  Start with 200 mpg and work up to 400 mpg.  Take on an empty stomach paired with Vitamin E for best absorption. I’m taking quite a few supplements and I’m convinced that this one is helping the most.
  3. Buy the book.  Yes, this is a shameless plug.  Brain fog, short term memory loss and difficulty focusing and concentrating are symptoms of Hashimoto’s, so you might need to read more                                                                                                                                                  What are you reading this month?

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis by Izabella Wentz

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis by Izabella Wentz

This is a very through tome.  And although it ‘s written conversationally for laymen, there are parts that made my eyes glaze over.

Have read a lot of Izabella’s articles on the internet and implementing her advice, based on my experience and her recommendations, I suggest these first steps:

  1. Eliminate gluten .  This has been found to benefit a high percentage of Hashimoto’s sufferers.  It has certainly helped me.
  2. Take selenium supplements.  Start with 200 mpg and work up to 400 mpg.  Take on an empty stomach paired with Vitamin E for best absorption. I’m taking quite a few supplements and I’m convinced that this one is helping the most.
  3. Buy the book.  Yes, this is a shameless plug.  Brain fog, short term memory loss and difficulty focusing and concentrating are symptoms of Hashimoto’s, so you might need to take it slow.  Bite sized pieces of advice from her blog are helpful, too, if you can’t handle too much at once.                                                                                                                                                            I found the book especially helpful for putting things in context and for understanding how complex this disease is.

Apparently, parasites and bacteria feed on starches and sugars and starving them is one way to get rid of them.  Antibiotics are another way.

I took two tests that confirmed that I had Hashimoto’s.  My TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) fell in the normal range.  My TPO was elevated.

I highly recommend this book to anyone suffering with Hashimoto’s.

 

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay

I loved Katherine Reay’s first book, Lizzy and Jane.  Her second and third ones not so much.  I found this one to be slow moving.  By the end, I came to appreciate the setting and the plot was satisfying.  I can’t say I identified strongly with the characters or it was one of my all-time favorite books.

Emily Price is a professional restorer of art on assignment in Atlanta.  She meets Joseph and his brother, Ben, Italian natives that have family in Atlanta.  Emily discovers Ben and Joseph’s family differs quite a bit from her own and long buried family secrets are revealed.

The Girl with No Name by Diney Costeloe

Lisa Becker was a German Jew escaping Hitler’s regime seeming sanctuary in England.  Torn from her family at age 14, the struggle to love trust and suffer loss follows her.  She faces the uncertainty of life during war time.

I liked this book.  It made me wonder about how we deal with loss, especially how children deal with loss.  Although a work of fiction, it highlighted the heroism and sacrifice of the British people during World War II.

Strangers giving homes to children is a beautiful thing.  What makes a community?  What makes a family? My mind always strays to the philosophical.

 

The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts

Kara’s bravery in the face of her own mortality is inspiring.

It’s hard for young children to lose their mother to cancer.  It feels unjust.  But, Kara’s acceptance of God’s will for her life showed the world what it means to believe that God is good, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

She faced the reality that her marriage wasn’t eternal.

I highly recommend this book to anyone struggling with God’s sovereignty.

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

The only thing I didn’t like about this book was gratuitous language.  Sometimes language in a dialogue can prove a point, but there’s no good reason for it to be in the narrative.

That being said, I love the social analysis wrapped around a boot-strapping overcomer’s story. J.D. Vance emerged from an impoverished childhood to graduated from Harvard and become a successful lawyer.

It has some similarities to Ben Carson’s story in Gifted Hands.

I love the positive impact and stability the author’s grandparents brought to his life.

My heart breaks for the young people in this country, especially for the homes that so many grow up in–for the poverty–not of money so much as love, stability, education and faith.

One thing that struck me is that the author wasn’t able to find much help in counseling, but research, learning and understanding about himself and his formative years brought a measure of peace.

 

An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski

An inspiring story, well told.

An Invisible Thread is a story that I’ve been wanting to read for a long time.  “The true story of an 11-year-old panhandler, a busy sales executive, and an unlikely meeting with destiny.” This is another book that made me get philosophical.  The culture of poverty at work again.  And, once again, it’s not so much about the money.  It’s the opportunities, the education, even the relationships that are poor.  And that plays out into material lack.  The whole mindset has to change.  The way you believe about yourself has to change.  The way you believe about your destiny has to change:  are you a victim of your circumstances or do you control your fate? Now that is a good question that I’ve been wrestling with a lot.  Who’s in control of my life, me or God?

Laura Schroff reached out to Maurice in a gesture of friendship and began a relationship that endured three decades.  She nurtured her unexpressed maternal instinct.  He grabbed a lifeline out of a culture of poverty. It’s interesting that one thing he latched onto when he saw a healthy family in action was the idea of everyone sitting down at a dining room table to eat together, to talk and share life.  That was missing in his home.  It just goes to prove that building a culture—even a family culture— has to do with what you value and believe, not about money.

Everything was not idyllic in Laura and Maurice’s relationship for the next thirty years.  This is real life and when is life always smooth sailing?

Hope for the Directionally Challenged

I have a severe directional disability.

I’ve had some bad experiences lately.  On one occasion, my gas tank was empty, my bladder was full and I was lost.  Not a good combination.  I can hardly describe the relief I felt after making a pit stop to take care of the urgent needs, then turning onto a familiar road that would take me home.

It’s causing me so much stress in my life, I’ve decided to analyze it, to see if I can figure out why I have so many problems and make some improvements.

Some relevant factors:

I don’t know which way is North and South.

I don’t know East and West if it’s night or mid-day.

I often confuse my Right and Left.

I get disoriented easily.

I have massive short term memory failure.

Brain fog.  Yes, that’s a thing.  It’s also a symptom of thyroid disease, so I’ll blame it on that.

I’m a slow learner.

I’m technically challenged.

I need to use reading glasses, which are not always close at hand.

I’m not used to my phone and don’t know how to operate it well.

I have trouble making decisions under pressure.

I drive a stick shift.

I don’t have a bird’s eye view of geography.

I don’t know which direction cities and towns are.

I don’t know where I live in relation to other cities and towns.

I don’t carry a map in the car.

I often forget to charge my phone.

When I print directions I forget to look up a return route.

I’m not used to using google maps on my phone.

After missing a turn or getting lost, turning around can be stressful.

I day dream a lot, especially in the car– riding or driving.

I’m not detail oriented.

I’m not observant.  (Maybe one reason I love Sherlock so much.)

I have trouble with focus and concentration.  My mind wanders faster than a two year old.

This is my life and it isn’t pretty.

Having broken down the components of the necessary skills, there’s some areas I can work on and improve.

Here’s what helps:

1. Doing my homework before I set out.  This is key.  Life is busy.  It’s tempting to think “I’ll figure it out on the way.”  Plus I’m preoccupied with what to wear, what snacks to throw in, what else do I need to bring, who do I need to communicate with and what’s the weather going to be like.   (I do live in Indiana, after all.)

But, if I don’t take enough time to actually study and understand the directions before I leave, I’m setting myself up for a bad experience.

Also, it helps me to take a minute to be mindful about which direction different cities lie  and which direction I’m heading.

I also need to plan a return route.  When you’re severely directionally challenged, you can’t just re-trace your steps.

2. Two sets of directions.  One printed from Maquest, plus Google Maps on my phone.

3. Make a cheat sheet. For me, this means a condensed version of the directions, with all the critical info written in large type.

4. Recharge the phone in the car.  Easy fix.

5. Focus and concentrate at the critical junctures.  During a one hour trip, for insistence, there might be only twenty minutes when concentration is necessary and 40 minutes of smooth sailing.  It’s not necessary to be on hyper alert the whole time.

If you never have a problem getting where you need to go, more power to you!

And three cheers for any analysis that makes life better.

 

What I’m Reading March 2017

Although we did have snow accumulate this week, the weather in general continues mild.

White barns figure prominently in my life lately as I’ve been pondering why I’m severely directionally challenged.  I’m happy to say I’ve made strides in my navigational ability in the past two weeks.

Still reading from the Best of 16 Lists, so lots of good reads and my life is happy.

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

(Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a portion of your purchase will go to support this site.)

The Revenge of Analog by David Sax

Sax looks at the growing interest in vinyl records, board games, paper, printed books, watches with springs and gears and retails stores.

One of the most interesting observations in the digital versus analog debate is the idea that there exists a greater need to engage all of the senses.  Digital captalizes on the visual.  Holding a book in your hand and physically turning pages is a different experience than reading on a screen.

Revenge held a special interest to me since we own a bookstore. We tried to get into ebook sales several years ago, but that didn’t pan out. Some report that ebook sales have plateaued and are possibly now declining.

I think ebooks will settle into a niche.  The great thing about ebooks is they can lower the barrier for readers.  They can be shorter.  They can be cheaper.  There’s no pressure to recoup the cost of printing.

It’s interesting to me to see the way trends develop.  The rise and fall of trains, for instance, and the disappearance of phone booths and eight tracks.

Persuasion by Jane Austen

I abandoned Persuasion after trying over and over again to get into it.  I read at least 100 pages, but  just could not get engaged.  I really wanted to like it.  I love Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility.  Even though I haven’t read Emma, I liked the story in the movie version.

So, I’m still a little puzzled why this Austen didn’t work for me. I felt the plot moved too slowly and I didn’t find the characters relatable.

If you’re a fan of Persuasion, I’d love to hear why.

Wildflowers From Winter by Katie Ganshert

I was surprised that I enjoyed this book, even though it had a somewhat predictable plot.  There was enough mystery to keep the pages turning and enough resolution to feel satisfying.

The story focuses on an architect from Chicago who is forced to confront her past in small town, Iowa.

Simple, sweet story.

Do It Well. Make It Fun. by Ronald P. Culberson

I stumbled on this book randomly at the library.  Wanting to improve the quality of my work has been on my mind for a long time, so naturally, the title caught my attention.  There’s so many things in my life I don’t do well.  There’s so many things I let slide for shear survival.  How do you do it well?

Fun tends to be an illusive element in my life, as well.

I enjoyed Culbertson’s humor and anecdotes.  However, looking back, there wasn’t any advice that was memorable enough to stick with me.

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham 

Good story.  In the tradition of Johnny Tremain, except based on an historical person.

Nat Bowditch was very smart, but he wasn’t able to go to Harvard because he was indentured at age 12 to work as a bookkeeper.  Because his family had fallen on hard times, it was necessary for him to work to earn his keep.

The story is inspires kids to persevere in the face of difficult circumstances.

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi

What a great book!

Every Christian should read this as well as every Muslim.  I learned so much more about the context that Muslims live, learn and think in.  Nabeel made reference to the shame-honor cultures, in contrast to the guilt-innocence culture that we live in.  So much of what he accepted to be true was in the context of the person in authority teaching him the truth.

First, he sought to understand and disprove Christianity.  He had been given a lot of coaching answers for arguments with Christians.  For those of his friends who didn’t know their faith well enough, he was able to counter their arguments.  In college, he finally had a Christian friends who had a deep enough understanding to show him where his arguments were coming up short.

What he eventually found was that the sacred writings of his religion did not match up with what he had been taught his whole life.

It was a painful conversion.  He sacrificed much to finally embrace Christianity.  The chapters on his personal dreams and visions were fascinating.

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood

I listened to the author interview on Read Aloud Revival and was intrigued enough to check out the books.

Lots of fun elements, although the characters of the children aren’t developed, like in the Penderwick series.

But, there’s some mystery.

Lots of great principles for kids to live by.

Penelope is a likable charachter.

The time period and the setting are fun.  What is it about British children’s stories that opens the door to possibilities?

Plus, I just have to say I love the word incorrigible.

Genius

Interesting movie for book lovers.  Great cast. Follows the life of Thomas Wolfe.

It’s a slow moving story, but a fascinating behind the scenes look at historical book publishing.

I conclude that editors are the unsung heroes of the industry.

What have you read this month?

 

———

3 Things I Learned, Winter 2017

 

Winter has been screwy this year.

Three years ago, the view from my kitchen window looked like Winter.

This year, not so much.

It’s been a great season for learning new things, though.  I love learning!

  1. Routine can be an idol

“Don’t make an idol of routine” has been echoing in my head since I read it in Jesus Calling a couple of days ago.  Boy, has that been a problem lately.

Today we had a breakfast meeting.  That throws all my morning routines into chaos, unless I am able to get up earlier than normal and get them all in.  Today I wasn’t able to.  So, I skipped most of them.

Even though habits help me so much, I  have a problem being consistent.  I fall off the bandwagon over and over and over.  Right now, I’m not exercising.  I’m hit and miss doing my 3 minute mail purge every morning, even though those two things are good for me.

We haven’t had family night for the past three weeks.  This sends me into a tail spin.  I didn’t realize how much I depended on having one relaxing night every week.

  Buy now from Amazon

So, have I made an idol of routine?  Even when I’m not good at keeping up with habits that are good for me?  When I’m trying to accept and deal with unforeseen circumstances? Or unavoidable scheduling issues that prevent me from following through on routines?  I don’t know.  It’s hard to let go.  It’s also hard to push myself to be consistent.  So, I don’t really know where I stand on this.  But, I do know it’s a struggle for me and one that causes me stress.

Also, just like money can be an idol, whether you have it or not, routine can be an idol whether you have it or not.  Brand new thought for me.

2. Writing 500 words a day is good for my emotional health

Last Fall, I took on the challenge to write 500 words a day.  This method of writing intersperses all my random thoughts, pre-writing and self-talk along with some deeper, more profound thoughts. You have to sort through the fluff to get to the nuggets.

Focused writing is good for blog posts.  But, getting down all the random thoughts is good for my emotional health.

Another thing I learned was the importance of separating  my writing (drafting) time from my blogging (editing, formatting, pictures and promoting) time.  I need time for both every day.

Even more of a breakdown than that.  Journaling is a different activity than drafting blog posts, though they do tend to overlap and influence each other.

Also, brainstorming is a completely different activity. I need time for that, too, but it’s not necessarily something I need every day.  It could happen once a week.

3. The definition of grit

Grit= passion + perseverance

This definition comes from Angela Duckworth’s book Grit: the Power of Passion and Perseverence .

I checked this book out as an ebook from the library.  I was maybe a third of the way through when the book came due and disappeared from my Kindle.  But, the definition of grit stay with me.

The author proposes that grit is a better predictor of success than IQ.  I see her point.  I need to check it out again and finish the book.

There’s scads of things I’m learning right now, but I’m having a harder than usual time synthesizing and articulating them.

So, I’ll leave it there for now.

Linking up with Emily Freeman and other bloggers sharing what we’ve learned.

What have you learned? 

(Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  At no extra cost to you, a percentage of your purchase goes to support this site.)