Thursday, September 25, 2014

Journal to Myself.....life

 
 
 

September 25, 2014


• isaiah. i am loving his new teacher. truly. i am guarded though. hoping this isn't the parent/teacher honeymoon phase. i bet it's not because, seriously, this teacher seems to be getting him.


• more isaiah. his developmental pediatrician, love her. the guidance she is giving us with medications and beyond is something we've been in desperate need of for years. the education she gives us for his medication and other developmental needs is priceless. she listens with concern and compassion. she is awesome with isaiah too. i am so hoping that our insurance - which the plans are changing for 2015 - will not financially impede us from continuing to use this fabulous doctor for isaiah. i fear that it will as the open enrollment info doesn't look promising. believe me, i will be calling that handy open enrollment information number which i've not ever done in the past; many questions to ask. and, i am thinking of ways to budget in this huge increase to our out of pocket expenses in order to keep isaiah under this doctor's care. health insurance is not improving, it's only get worse....the out of pocket expenses, the financial burden just continues to increase every year, and this year it is huge...for us.


• oh my, summer is gone. tough time letting go of this summer. it's been a great one: after i actually made the transition into summer.


 
 

• things learned through parenting isaiah. generally speaking, we as a society are quick to judge children and parents based on overt behavior. it saddens me because i've learned that these are snapshot moments. a snapshot doesn't give the full panoramic picture of life. compassion and listening goes a long way. educating: discussing and explaining are hugely important. i've learned - as a parent of a special needs child who deals with the medical and educational professionals - the importance of discussing and educating. i put these things (taking time to discuss and educate) into practice when i work far more than i use to. having a good friend or two or three but at least one is hugely important. networking is important too, but i am not so good at that one. big one....don't do this alone, parenting a special needs child...have another person with you, at least, to attend meetings and doctor appointments. if married, like i am, your spouse is incredibly important ...he/she needs to be involved in all areas; school, medical, life. without that involvement, it would be easy for a couple to separate because raising a special needs child has all kinds of stressors unique from neuro-typical children.


• fall time means new bible study sessions. so far, i am totally liking the "pharaoh" study. the cbs study on 1 corinthians is good, for some, but i am thinking it's not for me. robert and i have decided to study together the book of john; I am excited. dropping the cbs study will be tough because I can see benefits, but yeah, i need to drop it.



• well, it happened today. finally. actually, i am surprised it didn't happen sooner. i cried...sobbed, really. not because of sadness, but because of frustration over the situation. utter frustration. what drives me nuts about crying is how pathetic and weak i must look. frustration brings on tears....incredible frustration...almost a despair kind of frustration. thing is, after a bit, i realized that while it is okay to cry, it is not okay to do it of my own will and strength. i prayed. i turned to Him, and didn't really ask for anything but rather i just poured my frustrations out to Him.....comfort surrounded me. i am still very frustrated and feel tears well up, but i have hope.


• so, bike riding. i'm learning all sorts of things that are specific for female cyclists. things i'd rather not learn as it causes discomfort. i cannot figure out for the life of me why i am experiencing some of these female discomforts now...my riding hasn't changed. yes, i am riding more this summer than ever but it's no where near the amount for when these discomforts can occur according to most articles that discuss these issues. besides, i am not riding anymore now than i have over the last few months. while searching for some answers, i (really, it was robert) found a cool site and here is the helpful post, Female Anatomy and Saddle Discomfort , anyway...yeah...gotta figure this out. not gonna stop riding, no way.


 

 

 

 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Psychotropic Medications; a process

 
 
 

"Let’s begin this discussion by placing the question in the correct category – whether an individual chooses to use psychotropic medication in their struggle with mental illness is a wisdom decision, not a moral decision."


This is a most excellent and informative article; 6 steps to making wise decisions about psychotropic medications. I strongly encourage you to read the article whether or not you or someone you know are on these medications. We all can benefit from the information.


My quick thoughts: This is a well balanced article; helps the patient to take ownership of the process. It represented and explained well the ways for determining psychotropic medication use. The six steps presented in the article are very thorough, in depth, and insightful. There were excellent questions for the patient to ask with every step of the medication process. These questions can be of incredible help with discerning medication use or non-use.


I was also incredibly pleased that the article was not entirely focused on medication itself. We as parents and/or as patients should be making non-medical changes such as choices made "to reduce the intesisity of your struggle", and assessing sleep, diet, and exercise for areas needing to be changed. Often, unfortunately, this is not discussed with the patient or the parents of the pediatric patient. Or, more unfortunately, it is discussed with the patient and/or parents but they do not implement necessary changes. I believe this is a vital component. This article does an amazing job discussing Step Two - Make Needed Non-Medical Changes. These changes could help achieve the "mental health potential".


Often, I feel that parents make decisions to NOT medicate on fear of the meds and/or as a moral decision OR to medicate because it seems like a quick fix for a symptom. (not to downgrade symptoms but medications are NOT a quick fix and have side effects to be weighed)


As parents, Robert and I have been confronted with determining if we should medicate Isaiah with psychotropic medications. We fought the instinctive fear and moral decision of medicatiing him. But his needs where hard to ignore. About 5 years ago, we made the decision to medicate him. We have had to trial different medications to find one suitable. And several times, the trial was quickly determined ineffective, and other times it seemed fine for many months only to discover side effects were more of a con than the medication a benefit, or it lost its efficacy. Even though he is now on a maintence level with three medications, we continue to reassess our decision frequently.


I am glad to have read this article, it has reinforced our decision and encouraged us as we continue down this medication path. It has helped me to have a clearer sense with our continue assessment of his needs and ways to better articulate our questions and/or thoughts. It is not an easy task; making wise psychotropic medication decisions for our son. But with a fabulous developmental pediatrician that we hooked up with almost a year ago, and now this tool in hand (various questions for us to keep in mind in a way for us to better articulate our thoughts), the process has become a bit easier and with more assurance.


The article, 6 steps to making wise decisions about psychotropic medications, is a powerful tool to help armor oneself with a process to gain knowledge and understanding in order to wisely make important psychotropic medication decisions.

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Side note: Even though this article is a fantastic tool, I cannot emphasis enough how important the medical provider is for the process as well. We've been through many, so we know. We feel very grateful for the current doctor caring for Isaiah's medication needs. She truly is a good fit for him...for us. Now praying that the health insurance changes that will take place for us in 2015 will not financially impede us from continuing Isaiah's care under his current developmental pediatrician.

 

 

 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bummer! A Reading Bummer!



Once We Were Brothers

by Ronald H. Balson
pages: 378
format: hardcover
source: library

Description: Elliot Rosenzweig, a respected civic leader and wealthy philanthropist, is attending a fundraiser when he is suddenly accosted and accused of being a former Nazi SS officer named Otto Piatek. Although the charges are denounced as preposterous, his accuser, Ben Solomon, is convinced he is right. Solomon urges attorney Catherine Lockhart to take his case, revealing that Otto Piatek was abandoned as a child and raised by Solomon's family only to betray them during the Nazi occupation. But has he accused the right man? Once We Were Brothers is the compelling tale of two boys and a family that struggles to survive in war-torn Poland. It is also the story of a young lawyer who must face not only a powerful adversary, but her own self-doubts.


My Thoughts: Bummer! Serious bummer. This book just didn't do it for me. I had such high hopes. True, it was very powerful, in the beginning. But I started to lose interest. I've asked myself, "Why? Surely, I will like this. Everyone that I know whose read this book cannot say enough good things about it."


The truth is, I think I would have stayed engaged with the story a whole lot more if it did not toggle between present-day events and Ben's narration of his past in war-torn Poland. Ben's past was highly engaging to me. However, the female attorney annoyed me; her questions were a bit pathetic almost as if I - the reader - needed to be spoon fed details of history. But the thing is, I do not like to be spoon fed. And, it was hard for me to believe that she really did not know much about this period in time. Besides that, I really did not care about her storyline at all. Seriously, Ben's narration I truly liked. His history was compelling. The present-day events, I did not like so much.


There were other books begging for attention; books that were more inline with my current reading mood. So, I have set this book down. I gave up around page 100. Returned it to the library. I will pick it back up again, at a later date. At a time where I may be in a greater mood for a holocaust story of this writing style. Generally, I love reading historical-fiction set during the time of World War II which is another reason why I expected to really fall into this story. With that in mind, I did not put this book on my "Did Not Finish" electronic GoodReads shelf even though technically it belongs there. Instead, Once We Are Brothers is being placed on my Hold shelf (the shelf of books that I will go back to and read; it consists mostly of non-fiction because, you know, non-fiction can be paused and picked up again months down the road). So, yes, I stopped at page 100 so I cannot say for certain if I would have grown more accustomed to this author's toggling approach and/or started to get into the female attorney's storyline. Hopefully, when I pick it back up again, I will fall into the story and not come back out until I've read the last page.


In the meantime, I am going to continue to gorge myself with the likes of Victorian era stories and Susanna Kearsley historical time-slip type novels. Those books are totally feeding my current reading mood.


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Monday, September 8, 2014

The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley

 
 

"Sometimes, the scales of justice find a level of their own, without our help... And sometimes, in seeking justice, we don't always serve it."


The Splendour Falls
by Susanna Kearsley
copyright: 1995
pages: 380
format: ebook
source: library

Finished reading.....August 19, 2015


Description: Chinon-chateau of legend, steeped in the history of France and England. It is to Chinon that Emily goes on a long-awaited holiday, to meet her charming but unreliable cousin, Harry. Harry wanted to explore the old town and the castle, where Queen Isabelle, child bride of King John, had withstood the siege of Chinon many centuries ago, and where, according to legend, she hid her casket of jewels. But when Emily arrives at her hotel she finds that Harry has disappeared, and as she tries to find him she becomes involved with some of the other guests and learns of a mystery dating from the German occupation during the Second World War. Another Isabelle, a chambermaid at the hotel, fell in love with a German soldier, with tragic results.


First sentence: The first night had been the worst.


My Thoughts: There is something clearly about Susanna Kearsley's writing that appeals to me greatly. I am drawn to her stories. I cannot put any of her books down. The Splendour Falls is no exception. I could not put this down. But, this was not my favorite book of Kearsley's. It actually disappointed me.


I did not connect with Emily all that well. Her interactions with the other hotel guests seemed unreal to me. The bond that she formed with the other guests in a span of a couple days just was not believable. And the love interest, while a good match, I guess, did not simmer...hardly....and then it boiled over rather quickly. The history was not all that exciting; it didn't pull me in as it normally does with Kearsley's books. That rush...that pull....that flow between past and present just was not felt. Still, there were some good moments, intriguing moments, a-ha moments, and swoon moments but ultimately, it just lacked.


While The Splendour Falls is not my favorite, it certainly maintained that special flair Kearsley has in her writing which kept me reading page after page until the end. I couldn't peel my eyes away from the story. I blame that on the way Kearsley writes even though the story itself fell flat.


Bottom line: This book definitely had the suspense factor, historical aspects, past and present, and a budding relationship. Albeit, they were not executed in the fashion that I've grown accustomed to with Kearsley's books. But, soon after finishing this book, I readily, and eagerly grabbed another book by Kearsely and gobbled it down. That is a testament to the fact that even though this story did not work for me, the writing itself still had a hold on me.


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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Journal to Myself.....good things

 

September 7, 2014


• i have read the book of hosea several times. It didn't sink in much. last week, i've started reading it again, and with fresh eyes. i am 9 chapters in out of 14; it's gripping. Why is it gripping me so? because, i see...i see the redeeming love of God and it's huge. love and mercy. i am humbled. this book is tough to read - the prophecy - but the little bit that i am getting makes this book worth the time spent.


• bibles. i have two. my niv which was gifted to me on Christmas 1999 from my sister. i love this bible. while it's somewhat old in years, my serious use of it has only been over the course of the last 4 years or so. i love marking this bible. it feels like home, to me. but, the books of genesis - numbers fall out and that hampers it's use. a new bible was given to me for christmas 2013 from my husband. i really like that bible too, but apparently it's having a very hard time becoming my go-to "feels like home" bible. i just cannot seem to give up my niv. i want to keep marking in my niv -- keep recording my thoughts, what stands out to me, my questions, insights gained. it's my spiritual history keeper, of sorts. i do desire to start marking up my new bible: to start making it my history keeper. but marking my inductive esv bible is not coming easy to me. it's very easy for me to mark in my niv Bible. so what do i do? i decided to continue using my niv during my studying and my inductive bible for church and for my current plan to read through the bible. one day, my niv will retire and my esv will be called into serious action. For now, my niv does not want to retire and i will not give it a pink slip.



• currently reading --- mariana by susanna kearsley. just started this book, on page 5, and wow...kearsely's writing works so well for me. i already am tremendously pulled into this story. she creates suspense so well,and suspense is what I am feeling. i sure do hope these first 5 pages is indicative as to how much i will like this story. the divine code by rabbi moshe weiner. a gift from my brother, doane. i have read the preface; interesting. i am excited to enter dialogue with my brother regarding this book.



• my brother, doane, was able to visit us this past week. he is here in the u.s. on business from israel. i had an excellent time with him at something's brewing in grayslake this past friday; eating,drinking coffee, and chatting. our discussions always challenge me to think deeper especially in the area of faith. i do hope i give him pause to think deeper too. (although, he thinks pretty deep already, so not so sure i stretch him much)


• this song...this song...it's catchy, i like it a whole lot. "greater is the one living inside of me"

mercy me | greater

 

• and this song...beautiful


hillsong united | oceans



• isaiah...school...so far, i am really liking his teacher. she is giving the impression that she is getting him.i hope that impression is true. she communicates, fabulously, and that we greatly appreciate. iep meeting coming up this week. i hope it proves to be beneficial. praying.


• why at the age of 45 do I still battle acne? i think, i suffered enough during the teenage years,truly. acne does not need to invade my forties.


• fall bible study sessions started this past week. i am uncertain where my time should be spent in God's word. i am feeling a strong desire to have a firmer understanding of His word in order to have the ability to express my faith intelligently. i am thinking that one class is not a fit, and the other will be good. i am thinking, i should choose one book of the bible to dig deeper into with the help of commentaries, and other sources...but, which book? (i am finishing up romans). today's class at church was nourishing; reinforced my desire to choose a book to dig into.



• robert and i are in conversation as to how we can further help our children grow closer to God. praying. i would like us to start nightly (or even three times/week) scripture readings; john is the book i would choose.


• life is busy.


• love is.....kind, rejoices with truth.


• without love you cannot keep God's commands.


• bike riding. not too many rides, but enough for me to still meet my 50-mile per week goal; twenty-miles on sunday helps.


{photo taken august 8, 2014}

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Mark of Distinction by Jessica Dotta

 

"It's bad enough my men wonder why I must kidnap my own wife to hold a conversation with her."

 

Mark of Distinction
Price of Privilege Trilogy, book 2
by Jessica Dotta
copyright: 2014
pages: 432
format: paperback
source: library

Finished reading..... August 16, 2014


Description: London is said to be the glittering jewel of society, a world unto itself—but to Julia Elliston it is a city of shadows. Her life is swiftly dissolving into scandal. And in Victorian society, even a whisper of scandal—substantiated or not—can be the death of a young woman’s reputation. Thrust into society as the Emerald Heiress, Julia is the toast of London, a celebrated curiosity. But in reality she’s trapped between the clutches of two powerful men. Aided only by a gentleman whose intentions she prays she can trust, Julia must finally take control of her own fate—but outwitting one’s foe rarely goes according to plan.


First Sentence: The eight months following my arrival at Maplecroft have been called one of the greatest cozenages of our age.


My Thoughts: This book did not hold me quite as strongly as the first book did. While I found myself very much liking the story, it did not have the same quickness and alarm and "oh my, what's going on?" feeling as the first book gave. But that is very ok because truly, Mark of Distinction was still a fabulous read. Julia is in another predicament while still trying to work out all that happened before she wound up living in her father's home.


Here is what I liked.....


• Julia's narration still grabs my attention as she continued to unfold her story. I truly like her pace and style. And, I am very curious about her story....I want to know more.


• The story was engaging, that is for sure. I could hardly put this book down. The mystery. The suspense. The haunting aspects. The need for Julia to discern who to trust and what decisions she should make. The relationships. The discoveries. The need for acceptance and love. The faith that is subtly woven into few of the characters' lives. I really need to know how her story develops...where was she taking us? What was going to happen? What was going on? Who could Julia trust? I needed to know.


• I like Julia. I feel for her. She is definitely not a weak character, but she certainly has not quite found stable footing in order to make solid decisions. But I cannot blame her, she was thrust into a situation and was truly unprepared. I also was very much drawn to Isaac. I am not 100% sure how I should feel about him. He won me over, but I still am hesitant. I do like him a whole lot better than Edward....tons better.


• Mr Macy. I should not like him at all. So, why do I find him so very intriguing? Truly. It's maddening, really. The atmosphere surrounding this character only served to enhance the intrigue I feel. I am intrigued.


• The setting. The Victorian era appeals greatly to me, and with the haunting twists added, well, Jessica Dotta did a fine, fine job creating this Victorian setting which rang true, and consistent with what I know of that time. (Which really isn't much, only what I have gleaned from other well written era books such as ones by Austen or Gaskell)


Here is what I did not like.....


• I am certain the writing will not suit every reader; whose writing does? But for me, I really cannot name one thing that I did not like except for.....


• ...the ending. Yeah, I didn't care for the ending all that much. The pace picked up, and the outcome of a twist and turn was not totally to my liking. It seemed rushed. Frankly, I am a bit uncertain how I feel about the outcome. On one hand, I feel I should be cheering, but the other hand says, "Noooooo!!!!!!"


Please, book three, hurry along. I am very eager to read you. I am soooo hoping that Mark of Distinction's ending becomes more to my liking by way of the next book's story, or that this ending doesn't last.


Bottom Line: The suspense...the mystery...the relationships...the faith naturally and subtly written....the haunting aura.....oh my, it all appealed to me, greatly. Jessica Dotta has a gift for storytelling and that gift worked very well for my reading tastes and mood. Favorites, these two books have become, and so much so that I feel the need to have all three books reside on my bookshelves. Yes, these books have potential for re-reading....that's no easy feat. And the covers? I do love admiring them. Sigh...the wait for book three has commenced.


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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Journal to Myself..... #PreachingToMyself

 
 

August 31, 2014


i woke up in a foul mood today. it was no good. our sunday morning bike ride didn't even get me out of my funk. that's not usual; bike riding always helps. not this morning. that's not good.


work has been troubling to me lately. nothing in particular. just a bunch of small stuff combined with my own personal stressors. troubling equates to a decreasing positive attitude. that's not good.


my response to a decreasing positive attitude, and my foul mood this morning was not good. i have stressors. i will wake up in a foul mood. what i do with my stressors, and less than appealing mood can make or break my outward behavior/responses.


i may not have a choice on what happens in my environment or how i wake up, BUT i do have a choice on how i will respond. frankly, my responses have sucked.


it's not about what happens at work. it's not about what happens at home. it really is about how i deal with whatever comes my way.


this past summer has been at higher levels of stress. i've taken some positive steps. bike riding has been huge in helping to keep my body and mind healthy. reading the Scriptures, seeking God, listening....my faith in Him has kept me grounded and filled with hope AND that has been the most important aspect for how i choose to respond. Still though, i do fail, too frequently. i have realized that the days when i really bomb are the days that i did not seek the Lord.


i have started praying during my commute to work. basically, it's a prayer of praise and thankfulness for who He is, and for calm, peace, wisdom for whatever comes my way that day, and then intercession for family and friends. in the morning, a psalm 119 prayer is spoken to God. these prayers have become a source of nourishment for my soul.


still, I struggle with my responses to a foul mood, and/or stress. it can be quite ugly. this morning, during the entire 22-mike bike ride, i was ugly. my husband is a patient and calm man. i confess to feeling shame for my behavior. i am grateful that he still seeks my company today.


i went to church this morning, grudgingly. i went because i felt an inside nudge to go and sit in His presence amongst His Church. i couldn't ignore the nudge; that felt out of sorts to even think of ignoring. i am grateful that obeyed that nudge.


my foul mood started to dissipate as our pastor started preaching. his message sunk in. as a christian - one who claims faith in Jesus, and truly desires to follow Him, and obey - we are called to be the salt and light of this earth. me? I have not been obeying His call, not truly, mostly in parts. when those tough or even just busy moments come along, the whole salt and light call becomes difficult to remember in the rush of the moment. i want that difficulty to become an instant call to God for strength, help, wisdom, etc.


during the sermon, i was convicted. i desire to please God, not for salvation purposes, but because i love Him and have faith in Him and want to obey. while our pastor was speaking, i thought of my workplace and how my attitude should and can improve. i thought of my personal life and there too my attitude needs improving.


convicted......


• nehemiah --- I admire him. an incredible leader; a man of character. i want to be more like him; pray instantly to God instead of leaning on my own understanding.


"...work at it with all your (my) heart, as working for the Lord...It is the Lord Christ you are (I am) serving." -Colossians 3:23-24-


• it is not about the job or the home or whatever, it is me -->> in all that i do, it should be for Jesus, first and foremost. that focus shifts me away from myself and circumstances and shifts my responses to reflect that i am working for the Lord, serving Him.


"...whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." -1 Corinthians 10:31-


• salt and light --- those two words have convicted me.


this stuff is not easy; my human nature screams loudly, at times. i need to preach salt and light to myself,everyday.


i want to stand out for Jesus.


"You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."
-Matthew 5:13-16-


 
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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Journal to Myself.....rambling on

 
 

August 28, 2014


a bunch of stuff is on my mind; swirling around,bumping into each other, stoping on one, another blowing up into an exaggeration, truth, doubt, things to do, sadness...the list goes on. i am going to dump out - here on this blog - a few things hanging out in this my mind of mine. this will be a ramble.


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• fat Bikes --- they are very appealing to me. i want one for winter riding. robert may get one so I'll have to take it from him every now and then.


• this one has been boggling for a while. why is scripture broken into verses as they are? far too frequently, a new verse # begins in the middle of a sentence or before the sentence is completed. why is that? makes it difficult, at times, for memorizing just one verse. although, my memorization skills suck so that doesn't affect me too much. just is odd when writing out scripture.


• organized? not i. once in my life I could claim that status. no longer. i suffer from piles of papers shoved in filing boxes....lots of isaiah stuff. I am determined to be organized this year. now only to settle on a method to conquer or at least tame this madness.


• sometimes having faith and trust in god is difficult. you know, this human nature doesn't like to relinquish its will over to god's.



• bike riding has been so awesome this summer. probably my favorite season with fall of 2012 as runner up.


• this has been sitting on my mind and heart for several weeks now.....

"so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God."
-colossians 1:10-
(the fuller passage - colossians 1:9-12)


• currently reading --- bible. always, everyday, never ending. redeeming love by francine rivers. oh my, didn't think i would like this one but i am...a lot, so far. unbroken by laura hillenbrand. amazing reading. going slow but that is how read alouds go around here.


• this song....this song...love it

The Liturgists - Vapor



• pride. been thinking an awful lot about pride. it's everywhere. today, while I was studying romans 11 and reading tabletalk, i came across this - "pride is a significant sin....the gospel crushes our pride with the realization that none of us is deserving of salvation and that is not because we are smarter or more spiritually attuned than others that god choose us for himself." #truth


• school has now started for all the kids; transition time....not fun for me.


• love is.....patient -->> does not lose heart. is mild and slow in avenging, slow to anger,slow to punish {1 corinthians 13}


• my word of the year {love} has surrounded me in ways I wasn't expecting --- it's everywhere and not in how the world views the word, but in how Christ commands us to love.



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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

 


"When you argue against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on."


Mere Christianity
by C.S. Lewis
copyright: 1943
pages: 190
format: paperback
source: own
Read Aloud with the Spouse

Finished reading.....August 6, 2014


Description: Mere Christianity is C.S. Lewis's forceful and accessible doctrine of Christian belief. First heard as informal radio broadcasts and then published as three separate books - The Case for Christianity, Christian Behavior, and Beyond Personality - Mere Christianity brings together what Lewis saw as the fundamental truths of the religion. Rejecting the boundaries that divide Christianity's many denominations, C.S. Lewis finds a common ground on which all those who have Christian faith can stand together, proving that "at the centre of each there is something, or a Someone, who against all divergences of belief, all differences of temperament, all memories of mutual persecution, speaks the same voice."


My Thoughts: We completed it...finally. It only took us 3 1/2 months of reading this book aloud, but we finished. The length of time it took us to read this book is of no reflection of the book itself. It's us; our schedule is hectic and our alone time is limited....even more so for reading time which also takes, you know, eyes that will not blur words or a tongue that will slur words due to tiredness and the need to fall asleep.


So, what did we think? We absolutely liked this book. Now, it's not an easy read. Sure, it's not lengthy, the page numbers are few. But what it lacks for page numbers it makes up in depth. And let me tell you, this is not a book to read fast. Often...every chapter....when C.S.Lewis is discussing a topic at hand, he brings his point home with an almost perfect analogy and that point then made me pause and say...."oh yeah...let me think about this." Now of course, I didn't think too long while reading the book aloud, but we definitely did think about the points made. And those points didn't leave the mind quickly, they were meant to turn over in your brain. Which I did. Sometimes, Lewis would lose me a bit. He is quite the thinker and his thoughts can get quite deep. I would turn to my husband and ask...."are you following this?" (You know, I need to make sure that either he is or know if I am wasting my breath reading cause I'm thinking my brain cells are all in a jumble so surely his are too and then quite possibly he is tuning me out) Each time, he would reply, "yes (I'm following) and this is what he is saying...." Whew. Glad someone followed Lewis' line of thought and now I get it too. That didn't happen all the time but several times during our reading. The thing is, Lewis wrote a book (well, the content was originally put on the radio and then published in three parts before being put together for a book) that was meant to cause one to actually pause and think about matters. He did that quite well; explained his topics, thoughts and points which in turn demands the reader to take the time to think through the concepts and ideas.


The writing style? I must admit, it took me a bit of time to become comfortable with the words used and sentence structures and whatnot which all made this book feel very English-y to me. And while the topics are very real and current for us readers in the 21st century, the way Lewis conveys ideas would at times remind me of the era in which he was living; that appealed to me. Once I grew accustomed, I became very fond of his writing style. He has a way of explaining things like no other and a sense of humor is throughout the book. I am curious what it would be like to dine with him....oh the conversation and oh to me who would either stay quiet and just listen or flounder terribly. I am thinking the conversation would have potential to lose me; I would do my best to paddle upstream as best as I could to keep up with his depth of thought. I think conversation with Lewis could be fascinating.


The content? Pretty much what it means to be a Christian with a Christian worldview vs a secular worldview. Frankly, what Christianity should mean to one who claims to be a Christian. Let me tell you, this book fit perfectly with the the type of books I have been reading over the last several months; same line of thought (the non-fiction ones). I find it interesting how they all complemented one another. But this book, Mere Christianity, is written in a conversational style. It's a conversation, not a theological course, a lecture. It doesn't feel academic in nature. It's a conversation, not surprising since these chapters were originally aired on radio.


There were a lot of gems. One of the gems was how Lewis explained God's timeline. It helped me put into perspective how God is omnipresent and omniscient. God does not exist in time as we do. "Time and Beyond Time" is a chapter that I will for sure go back and re-read from time and time again. It is a "Christian idea" that has helped me.


Do I recommend this book? I most certainly do, to those interested in the subject matter --- Christianity. But it's not for everyone because as I am sure his writing style will not be agreeable to all. Even so, I think if one takes the book slowly, one chapter at a time, there is something to be gained from his words.


Robert's take? He was disappointed that we completed the book. He wanted another chapter or two or three, etc. That speaks volumes as to how much he liked Mere Christianity.


This was our second book that we read together, and an excellent choice.


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Note Worthy Quotes: I have a ton of quotes - passages, really - underlined. Almost every chapter has been marked. During the reading, I paused often in order to underline. I had to underline quickly though because my listener sometimes would fall asleep if the pause was too long. (That's not a reflection on the book rather a reflection on the husband's innate ability to fall asleep wherever and whenever there is too much silence. He's a tired man.)


A few highlights.....


"Progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man."


"Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go... But, of course, ceasing to be "in love" need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from "being in love" — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriage) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God... "Being in love" first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it."


"Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods."


"The promise, made when I am in love and because I am in love, to be true to the beloved as long as I live, commits me to being true even if I cease to be in love. A promise must be about things that I can do, about actions: no one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way. He might as well promise to never have a headache or always to feel hungry."


"Theology is like a map. Merely learning and thinking about the Christian doctrines, if you stop there, is less real and less exciting than the sort of thing my friend got in the desert. Doctrines are not God: they are only a kind of map. But that map is based on the experience of hundreds of people who really were in touch with God--experiences compared with which many thrills of pious feelings you and I are likely to get on our own are very elementary and very confused. And secondly, if you want to get any further you must use the map."


"Mere improvement is not redemption, though redemption always improves people"


I have a lot more quotes that I could share, but I will stop.

Mere Christianity is packed.


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Monday, August 25, 2014

Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta

 
 

“I have found that those who try to shield us from the truth, regardless of the reason, end up doing the greatest harm. Truth alone sets you free, not lies and omissions.”


Born of Persuasion
Price of Privilege Trilogy, book 1
by Jessica Dotta
copyright: 2013
pages: 435
format: ebook
source: own


Finished reading..... August 6, 2014


Description: The year is 1838, and seventeen-year-old Julia Elliston’s position has never been more fragile. Orphaned and unmarried in a time when women are legal property of their fathers, husbands, and guardians, she finds herself at the mercy of an anonymous guardian who plans to establish her as a servant in far-off Scotland.
With two months to devise a better plan, Julia’s first choice to marry her childhood sweetheart is denied. But when a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, a realm of possibilities opens. However, treachery and deception are as much a part of Victorian society as titles and decorum, and Julia quickly discovers her present is deeply entangled with her mother’s mysterious past. Before she knows what’s happening, Julia finds herself a pawn in a deadly game between two of the country’s most powerful men. With no laws to protect her, she must unravel the secrets on her own. But sometimes truth is elusive and knowledge is deadly.



First Sentence: Later, when I allowed myself to confront the memories, to dwell on the particulars, I realized my arrival at Am Meer marked the beginning.



My Thoughts: I did not know what to expect when I chose this book off of my ebook shelves. I had an idea that it was a period piece....a Victorian setting...maybe. Something along the lines of an Austen type setting....maybe. I really wasn't sure. I just knew that I wanted something to read and was having a hard time settling into every book that I've been choosing. Ever since I finished Written In My Own Heart's Blood, I was having trouble settling into any book. I know it's because I was going through withdraw symptoms (still am at time of this post being published)....withdraw from Jamie & Claire and their clan. Those withdraw symptoms were suppressed a bit with Shadowy Horses, but once I was done with that book, those withdraw symptoms were back and well....it is sooo difficult to find a book suitable every time I have completed one of Gabaldon's books. So difficult. I felt lucky with Shadowy Horses and was thinking I wouldn't make it through one chapter of Born of Persuausion. I figured, it would take another week or so before another book could be read.


But wow....seriously wow. Born of Persuasion grabbed my attention right from the start. I was completely pulled into Julia's world and sucked right into her story. Intrigue. Allure. Love. Honor. Faith. Mystery. Victorian period with unrest embedded....haunting. I had a difficult time setting this book down to attend to life tasks....a very difficult time. I wanted to know what would come next. I formed a reader's attachment to the character, I felt invested.


Julia's narration was so well written. She kept me eyes trying to rapidly and greedily eat up the words. She did not reveal her story all at once rather took me into her story and allowed revelations to occur as they occurred for her; one moment at a time. I had a sense of foreboding and my heart pounded almost every step of the way. I quickly became aware that things may not work out well for her nor neatly packaged. I felt her confusion, her trust, her needs, her questions, her unease, her vulnerability. I understood her decisions. I felt fear, anxiety, and happiness for her. And all the while, I was not able to rest. There are characters I wanted to like as I felt the lure she felt. There are characters I did not like. I felt Julia's loneliness and her overwhelming need to feel loved, safe and protected. Those needs can make one easy pray. And as such, she was. I felt her lack of faith and the utter faith another held. I do hope, the second book, will develop Julia further into her strength and character that she does indeed possess. I hope the second book will not make her regret decisions made towards the end of this last book. I want peace for her. I want her to be afforded the ability to make good decisions and calculations based on solid insight versus emotional needs. Not that I want the emotional needs to disappear.


I am very satisfied with all the characters and how their lives intertwined. They were flawed in a real life way. I am very satisfied with her love interests and the way they played into the story. I am very satisfied with the storyline. I am most satisfied with the pace and rhythm of Julia's narration. My heart is still pounding, an hour after finishing the book. (And it still pounds now, at this post's published date. Albeit, it pounds but lighter now.)


It was all, every element within these pages, written smoothly and naturally into the characters' lives and their world. Nothing felt out of place....it just all worked and worked rather brilliantly to create one intense story. Every step along the way, I was wondering, questioning and felt an incredible sense of suspense.



Bottom Line: I am wowed. The storytelling was quite perfect for my reading taste and needs. Born of Persuasion was one of those books that kept insisting to be read. I couldn't shake the need to read this book so I devoured it. I now greedily want to read the second book. My heart is still pounding.


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Side note: this is marketed as Christian Fiction. I am typically not a fan of Christian Fiction as I found these books (more so than not) to be full of drab.This book is not at all drab. It is not what I've typically experienced. It is very refreshing and greatly appreciated.


I don't think the description does the book justice. It makes it sound fluffy, and all romance-y and such. It really isn't any of that, not really.


The cover...the covers....I really like them. For me, it suits the mood of the book(s).

 

 

 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Journal to Myself.....pedaling around with thoughts

 

August 24, 2104


This morning, in the beginning of our bike ride, my husband and I started talking about when I first started to really ride my bike with any sort of desire and passion. We both agreed that it was five years ago; the year I turned forty. Actually,I started that conversation. Why? Because I've come a long way with endurance and speed. I still have a long way to go. Five years ago, or so, I thought riding four miles was incredible. And, pedaling at 10mph was superb. When I start to become a bit discouraged with where my riding currently stands, I remember that this riding hobby of mine is an ongoing progress kind of thing. And that is what I find so cool about bike riding; it doesn't stay stagnant, not for me anyway. For the most part, do know, I'm pleased with my current stats.


What we couldn't determine was which bike I used five years ago. Was that the year I received my current bike as a birthday gift? I think maybe but then I think, "I doubt it because that wouldn't be like me"...I would need to ride for a bit to prove this desire would stick. I think it was for my forty-first birthday that I received this bike. Regardless of the year (5 years or 4 years ago), I am ready for a new bike; an upgrade.


During the conversation, I said, "I can look this up to find out what bike I started riding and when I started. I am sure, in some fashion, that I blogged about bike riding." It then struck me, I need to revive my blog.



Yes, revive it. It's not dead, but it certainly has been slumbering. The thing is, my blog has served as my journal - my record keeping of life. Often, over the years, I have gone to my blog to look up an event for a detail forgotten. This blog is my go-to place to refresh memory or simply to "review" life events that ticked by.


I've attempted a paper journal for these life moments; ones of personal nature. I fail with that format. True, with the blog, I don't write deep intimate thoughts on any given subject at hand that I am not comfortable with others reading. I don't dive intimately enough into my writing to create a discomfort level for myself. Believe it or not, I do filter my thoughts before hitting the publish button. Could I write more deeply and intimately about my thoughts and feelings and ideas and beliefs if I were to utilize a private format such as journal book? Maybe, a tad. But mostly, no. I mean, one day I will die and my children could (probably would) happen upon the written paper journals. They don't need to read anything more deeply shared than what I am comfortable with sharing here. Not that I don't share deeper with them, it's just that being dead I wouldn't be able to expand or clarify or answer any questions that may come to their mind. Besides, often, it's better to keep things in one's head that one is unwilling to share with others; husband, sisters, brothers, parents, children, friends, etc. (and yes, I don't share on the same level with everyone). The point is, for deeper and more intimate thoughts, really, I choose to have a conversation with another person in my life rather than writing them down in a format only to be discovered after I am dead with no opportunity for discussion. And for deep,deep,personal thoughts -- I tend to keep those to myself.


All of that to say this, I am now at a point where I want to utilize my blog more often for my record keeping of life; journal entries, life events, etc. It has come in handy many times. It has come in handy today. I do love my Instagram and Facebook page; been record keeping in those places. But they are not the same as my blog, they're pieces of this life journal of mine whereas my blog can serve as home base...the place where the pieces reside.


Looking back over my blog, my memory was refreshed, thankfully. That bike riding with any sort of desire and passion? That didn't really start five years ago, it was four years ago. It's April....It's the 2nd...It's my Birthday!!! I also realized from that post in April 2010, that I "challenged myself to bike ride consistently and frequently throughout the year starting in April". My current bike? It's not four years old, as I thought. It's only three years old. What?!?!? Even so, I am still ready for a new upgraded bike. That info was found on my post from April 2011 - Hello! Hello! Defending my memory, please note, this is my fifth season bike riding, and that current bike of mine is in it's fourth season.


Yeah, my blog has purpose, for me. It's time to start blogging again; to journal, keep record of life - events, happenings, faith, books I've read, music I like, and random pondering thoughts, etc. Oh yeah, looking over my blog today, I realized that I also need to update it a bit; remove and refresh some side bar stuff. A new design/layout? Love to, but the time crunch of my current life will not allow for that...maybe one day.



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