Thursday, April 16, 2015

It has been a PLUMB kind of music day

 
 

I go through phases with the music I listen to; my playlist usually contains 5 songs or so that I'll play over and over again for a period of time before I move onto a different artist or songs.


Plumb is currently my playlist, and there were far more than 5 songs in rotation. Plumb's sound appeals to me. The lyrics speak loudly. I am a lyric kind of person. I typically do not like a song just because of how it sounds, I listen to the words. It's the words - the lyrics - that usually will make or break a song for me. They tell a story of some sort; like a book but far more concise. Many times the lyrics are mysterious.


Apparently, I have been in an angsty mood. Several of the songs I gravitated towards speak towards pain, and sorrow. BUT, even amongst the sorrow, I found hope and redemption. So, I am thinking that my mood was a mixed bag: angsty, and hope filled. You know, the hope filled feeling is pretty amazing, because even when I am feeling sorrow, or that deep seeded gut-wrenching feeling of some sort of loss, well, that hope filled mindset over takes and makes that journey down the path of sadness not so overwhelming. That hope gives strength, and empowers. It says, "Hey, no matter what, the sorrow will decrease and maybe even go away completely. And, guess what? Wait on the Lord, and keep your hope in Him because that is the anchor. Not only that, God is using it for good." Knowing that brings peace. And oh, that redemption, well, that too is amazingly powerful. It doesn't allow room for hope to not brightly shine.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Need You Now | Plumb

My anchor in life.

 

 

Don't Deserve You | Plumb

This song has a double meaning to me; relationship with God, and spouse.



I Want You Here | Plumb

Beautifully expresses how one feels during the heavy weight of grief and sorrow. Beautiful song even though there's sadness.



Sleep | Plumb

This song fills me with peace and comfort and hope. I don't know if that was the song's intent but that's what it does for me.



Beautiful | Plumb

This song...this one...brings my husband to mind every single time I listen to it.



Better | Plumb

There is definitely something about this song that I like. It makes me move, that's for sure.



Lord, I'm Ready Now | Plumb

This song...this song is the one that I listen to over and over again. Grace, mercy, hope, forgivness, redemption...amazing stuff and I am so thankful for all of it.



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Which Plumb song is your favorite? What songs are on your playlist?

 

 

 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

What a day...book and music

 
 

Oh wow! What a day yesterday was, amazing and full - Bible study in the morning (encouraging, as always), Author event at Warren Newport Library (Erik Larson), and a concert with the husband held at Logan Square Auditorium (All Sons & Daughters).


Yet again, I have seen God's provisions to me in my life. I give thanks to Him. I give thanks for all the small provisions I saw yesterday as I work through the life He has given me. I will put my trust in Him (which is not an easy task as my pride and fears get in the way). He is my Help, my God.


Instead of getting all wordy with new words not already written, I am going to let this post to speak through photos and the comments underneath that I've already written within the photo college and/or most likely shared on my Instagram.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


 

Morning Bible study at my church is such a good way to start my Wednesdays. A lovely group of compassionate women who desire to dig deeper into God's Word, unafraid to ask questions and are insightful. This group of women are open with their life concerns and joys. They encourage me every Wednesday in different ways. I am grateful for each one of these ladies.



 

AUTHOR EVENT - ERIK LARSON

At Warren Newport Library

April 8, 2015


What a fabulous author event. Erik Larson was very engaging during his talk which lasted 30 minutes or so. He spoke about his passion for maritime history, and archives (maritime history fascinates me too). We learned a bit about how he writes; researches and choosing a subject matter. We also learned a few tidbits regarding the Lusitania which is the subject of Dead Wake.


I must say, I walked into the event already impressed with Erik Larson's writing ability - he writes historical non-fiction and weaves the information in such a way that the text reads like a narrative (a story). It's not dry. I am forever fascinated with authors who do research and then can take that information and weave it into words that paint pictures for the reader to imagine and understand. Erik Larson is one of those fascinating authors.


I walked away from the event even more excited to read Dead Wake than I was before he started to speak.


A fabulous author event.

 

 

 

ALL SONS & DAUGHTERS

presents a night of Worship & Conversation

with Sandra McCracken and Jamie George

Logan Square Auditorium, Chicago

April 8, 2015


It was just as they said -- a night of worship & conversation. An amazing night, really. Great music and conversation with not only the band but also their pastor (Jamie George). The conversation was at ease, flowed, and felt like we were all in it together. The pastor spoke words of truth and humor. Sandra McCracken sang songs that were rich and beautiful. All Sons & Daughters sing words of truth with such beauty and feeling - I absolutely love their music and their heart for worship. These people were not set apart from us, they were amongst us as they led the fellowship with words and music.


It truly was a room full of people worshipping the Lord with communion and praise. I really cannot say enough good about this evening with All Sons & Daughters. Beautiful.


 
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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Journal to Myself.....when?

 
 
April 7, 2015


How did life become so full? The days go by with such speed, it amazes me. My mental to-do list is constant and never ending. But yet, I feel unproductive. Well, I am unproductive. On many days, I go from one task to another without actually finishing any tasks. On other days, I accomplish a couple of things but ultimately not very much. Once upon a time, I use to be very organized and my time management skills were good. Now, I cannot claim organization and I lack time management skills. When did this happen? How did I go from organized, orderly, accomplishing tasks in a timely manner, and creating to the complete opposite? When?

 

I woke up today at 2:30 AM with a quick and sudden start. I literally popped up in bed with a thought of "oh my gosh! I didn't complete and turn in Isaiah's Camp Scholarship application!!" Then I said to myself, "it's not due until April 8, go back to sleep and fill the form out tonight after work." Fortunately, I was restless, uneasy and couldn't go back to sleep for fear I lost the form. I got out of bed, looked for the form. It took me a good 5-10 minutes of shuffling through papers to find the form. I found it and noticed that the application was due today, April 7th. I did not go back to sleep. I filled the form out and then proceeded with my day- I normally wake up by 4:15 AM when I work. It boggles me how I woke up from a deep sleep with the application immediately in thought. It boggles me how that was the only thing I accomplished in 3+ hours - besides getting ready for work.


I'm forgetful and I'm not remembering the important stuff. As I was driving to work, I realized that there were three more important tasks at hand just waiting to be accomplished. I need to go back to writing my to-do lists. I need to increase my discipline for time management.


How did life get so full? How did I go from being organized with good time management skills to the complete opposite? When did this happen? When will I gain back some order?


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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Happy Easter! Sing to Jesus...music for the day (for all days)

 
 
 
 
 
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 (NIV)





Buried in the Grave - All Sons & Daughters



Because He Lives - Matt Maher



True Love - Phil Wickham



Garden - Needtobreathe



Sing to Jesus - Fernando Ortega



Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;

and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:25-26 (NIV)


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Friday, April 3, 2015

Today.....

 
 

April 2, 2015


Today is my birthday, 46 years old.


I could sugar coat this day and say it has been absolutely wonderful. But, it has not.


I could only write about good things here on my blog. But, I do not want to. I want my writing here to be as open and as transparent as reasonably possible. Truly, I do not desire to only show the "Christmas card" side of life. I can put on a happy face, and for the most part, I am happy, but life is not perfect and there is more behind a smile than one sees.




Life is full. It's full of wondrous and beautiful stuff. But it also has it's fill of pain, sorrow, tears, disagreements...you know, the stuff that doesn't make life smooth or give you a feeling of being put together. The difficult stuff of life can either grow you or stunt you. If I allow God to work in my life, the good and bad stuff of life can be used to refine and build character and more importantly it can be used for good.


With God's hand in my life (His love, guidance, wisdom, justice, strength, comfort and encouragement), the good and the bad that comes my way will work out. I strongly believe, good will come from life's circumstances no matter what they may be...good that glorifies Him. The details of that good? I don't know and may never fully know and that's ok by me.


This week, most especially today (why today of all days?) has not been my best. I have been overwhelmed by the pain of a wound that a few people in my life know about but most do not.



I thought the wound was healing. I thought a scar was starting to form. Apparently, that is not completely the case. Seemingly, it's only reached the scabbed phase and somehow I've disturbed the scab because it's seeping...seeping pain. And why? I'm not sure. I don't recall aggravating it. But it's real, this pain.


The Lord is my strength, "He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me besides sill waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake" (Psalm 23: 2-3) Truly, He does. I know this. Only because of Him do I feel peace and comfort even when the wound starts throbbing with pain. But I do wonder, "why Lord? Why are you still allowing me to feel pain? What am I to do with this? What are you trying to work in my life through this pain? Is it my pride? Is it that you're trying to work humility deeper into me? Is it compassion, love and grace your trying to refine even further within me? What Lord? What is it?"


I am prone to anxiety and depression. It's a fact. This week, I've been feeling an underlying sense of anxiety that has been poking at me, daily. Actually, that poking started last week. I firmly believe that there a medical reasons for anxiety and depression for many people. So clearly hear me, for me....for me...in the here and now of my life....I really think it's the work of satan that is trying to mess with my mind. To move my mindset away from God in the grips of anxiety and now this pain. He's a trickster. He has deceived me in the past. I think he is using my pride to accomplish the task of keeping my mind set in deception rather than truth.



It's easy to find myself sitting in the pain...tears. And I have allowed tears to stream down my face today. It's also easy to find myself snapping at people instead of maintaining calmness. The tears are ok, to a degree. The snapping at people is not ok.


What I noticed, last week and clearly this morning, reaching out and going to God with my troubles has a calming effect. I don't need to sit in pain. I recognize the pain and am not disregarding it, but sitting in it is at a whole other level...a negative level. I KNOW that I am under the sovereignty of God and NOT under the circumstances of my life. God uses the circumstances for good. So, this isn't really about the wound I helped to create, it's about God. It's about relying and trusting in Him no matter the circumstances.


So, what do I do with this pain?


As the day went on, I realized, even after all these months, the pain has not fully gone away. I guess I adapted to the dull throbbing. Maybe the wound is still too fresh. I do believe the Lord is teaching me to take my pain and troubles to Him. He is teaching me to wait and hope in Him.

 

 
 
 

Here is the VERY cool thing about today. Yes, pain has been seeping out of the wound but God has used it for GOOD today. He has shown me His goodness in so many ways.


• birthday wishes that have been sent my way have been a tremendous gift to me. I am thankful for each and every one of my family, friends and acquaintances who have sent me wishes via phone calls, cards, texts and Facebook messaging.


• my children, in each of their various ways, have blessed me by remembering my birthday. I do love their indivualities. I also, truth be told, am quite pleased with one child's coupon book gift, and find humor in the restrictions. My husband, God bless his soul, is forever patient with me and also greets me with a smile no matter what my mood during the day may have been.



• I recognized God's provisions in my life via my relationships with my husband, children, parents, siblings, nieces/nephews, and friends.


• I recognize God's provision by using a dear friend to write words to me today that spoke compassion and wisdom as she pointed me to God and His Word. Her words blessed me as she highlighted the truths found in the book of Obadiah. Today, I needed the teachings contained in Obadiah and I didn't even know it, but God knew.


• God has also provided me stable finances which has given me the ability to save cash in order to pamper myself. Today, it dawned on me that I now have enough cash in hand. I made an appointment and had my hair done. That always perks me up.


• I see God's provision and love through my brother -- he gifted me his Blackhawk tickets that he was not going to use tonight. His generosity helped me to shift my focus and perspective. The Blackhawks tickets/game provided my husband and I some much needed time together away from life responsibilities. The game was awesome! Such fun!


 
 


It all comes down to a mindset. Will I allow my mind to amplify the pain, struggles and stressors of this beautiful life of mine? Or, will I allow God to use these life difficulties for good? I chose God. That choice doesn't wipe this pain away, but that choice definitely strengthens me.


I see God's provisions of friendships and family and love of others. And now after a full day and evening, I also see God's provision and love in the pain.



Today is my birthday. I turned 46. It was a day full of goodness.


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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Rabbit Trails....

 
 
 

The Internet world provides so many rabbit trails. These trails are incredibly easy to go down, and before you know it the time has been sucked away without accomplishing the original internet search. These rabbit trails are often interesting to me. Last night's trail was no exception, and it wasn't too far off from my original search, but it certainly wasn't my first intent.


Over the last few months, I have been studying the meaning and seriousness of covenants. Yes, the seriousness. I am not too certain that these days we are taking the word 'covenant' as serious as we should. I am not too certain that we understand the breadth and depth, most especially when we actually enter into a covenant when we say our marriage vows. Yes, we enter a covenant when we take vows. When you took your marriage vows, did you pause to consider the incredible seriousness of making a covenant? It's not a contract, it's a covenant. It's not just between you and another person, but between you, another person, AND God.


"...the LORD is between you and me forever." 1 Samuel 20:23

"...May the LORD watch between you and me." Genesis 31:49


I did not have any understanding of what it truly meant by covenant. It's a nice word, and yes it was related to marriage and vows. But, the word-view is more inline of a contract not a covenant. There's a huge difference....significantly huge. Covenants are not only made in marriage, they can be made between friends, but the most important one is the covenant between God and us.


The breadth and depth and seriousness of covenants has captured me. I am awed. I hunger to know more and understand better. I desire for my children (and others) to know and take to heart the beauty (and seriousness) of covenants.


In search of more understanding regarding covenants, my internet rabbit trail took me to an area that discussed divorce. While that was not my intent when I was trying to dig deeper into covenants, it did prove to be interesting reading. The following articles are about the marriage covenant, but also about how covenants break. To not address that reality is like putting on blinders which can be dangerous. To understand the seriousness of covenants is to also understand the tragedy of when a covenant is broken. And it's to also understand grace, because in brokenness there is grace.


The Covenant of Marriage - This is a rather long article, and packed. I've read most of it, and skimmed through it in its entirety. It's definitely an article worth reading, and using as a springboard for further studying of covenants.

"One of the words of Scripture, which is almost going out of fashion, is the word Covenant."

"Covenant as defined by the Scriptures is a solemn and binding relationship which is meant to last a lifetime."

"I have a growing concern that the Christian community has passively watched the "dumbing down" of the marriage covenant. Marriage has become little more than an upgraded social contract between two people- not a holy covenant between a man and a woman and their God for a lifetime."


What God Teaches Us About Broken Marriage Vows - I never before thought about God's faithfulness, and the hardened-heart of those He loves in the context of those hardened-hearts leaving Him, and in essence divorcing.

"I had often noted God's patient forgiveness and covenant renewal in Hosea, but God's description of his own divorce with the northern kingdom of Israel shocked me."

"Marriage covenants are meant to be permanent, and sin is always to blame when a marriage ends in divorce. The sin in divorce lies in the braking of marriage vows, not necessarily in the divorce itself. We are called to consider covenant faithfulness long before we consider divorce, and we are called to grace in the tragic event that divorce does happen."


The Breaking of a Tie - This was a rather interesting article. I am not entirely sure about all that's written here but I do believe there is truth to a 'soul-tie'.

"A soul-tie is a connection of the heart. There are good soul-ties, and bad soul-ties. There are soul-ties that produce life in us,and there are soul-ties that produce death in us."


A Renewal of Covenant Marriage Vows - Simply beautiful.


God Doesn't Care About Shells - while reading the above articles and afterwards as well, my mind kept turning to the words written in this article by Gary Thomas. "I believe God cares about the people in the marriage even more than He cares about preserving a marriage." Please read the article to have a fuller understanding and context for the quote.


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Friday, March 20, 2015

He's 25!

 
 

 

Happy 25th Birthday, Benjamin!


Oh my! You're 25! Amazing! Where has the time gone? Words will never be able to adequately express how blessed your dad and I are to have you as our son. We are proud of your accomplishments, but truly it's the person that you are that makes us the most proud. We love you, always, to the moon and back again.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Journal to Myself.....going on record

 
 

March 5, 2015


The last 3-plus years have been full of stress, ups and downs and emotions. Maybe more downs than ups? We do not sit and dwell on it all. That does no good. But it was there, and it's still there, the stress.


Marriage is hard, and it's not pretty. It's stressful. It takes comittment to push through the deep valleys. That's where the convenant aspect takes over. The covenant is so important, not sure how many people truly understand the covenant that takes place in marriage. I didn't, but I have been learning. And now, that I have learned about what covenants (not just in marriage) really mean via a Bible study, my eyes and understanding have opened greatly. Parenting is also hard, and it's not pretty all the time, and sometimes it is flat out exhausting. Both parenting and marriage are worth the exhaustion, and stress and deep valleys. But wow, when your in those deep valley type moments, we can certainly flub up. I did. These phases are rough to walk through especially when I am relying on my own strength, and human desires and efforts. I learned that lesson in a very hard way.



This morning, I was pondering the stress of our lives; our marriage and our children. Don't get me wrong, these kids of ours are incredible human beings. I am forever grateful for their presence in our lives. But you know, the true fact, parenting is a constant act of serving,and sacrifice on some level or another. It's a balancing act of not over-serving their needs and sacrificing all of our needs. It's a balancing act of serving them while also raising them to be independent. It's a balancing act of loving them in gentle ways, truthful ways, and in discipline.


When you have a child of higher need than typical, the stress-load increases ten-fold. I am told that our "normal" for daily stress is far greater than the "normal" for raising typical children. I don't know if that is true or not. What I do know is that our daily life is at a high level of stress and that's our normal. There is very little down-time from it. It's a true fact.


 
 

Our 11-year old boy requires constant daily supervision; there's a lot involved in which he requires both physical and mental energy on our part. We carefully, and intentionally carve out time to go out on our bike rides or for dinner. Creating this time adds another stress to the daily-ness of our lives with raising him, but it's a necessary stress.


While pondering this morning, I realized that I do not say this out loud nearly enough: Robert is a wonderful and an incredibly fantastic father.



The girls can count on their Dad without a question. The boys can count on him too. He loves them and has concern over their well-being. For our 11-year old boy, he is always caring for him, and is actively involved in his daily life especially when I am not around. When I am at work, and Robert is home, I have no worries over the children. He does errands for them, and runs them to places where they need to be. He knows our son's needs which includes the names and dosages of his medications amongst other details.


Far too often, especially when I am overwhelmed, I pick on the things Robert does not do or does not see. The truth is this, his weaknesses are my strengths and my weaknesses are his strengths. I could not parent these children alone. I could not parent our 11-year old boy alone. And if I had to, it would be an enormous and an incredibly hard task. A task that I do not want to take on.



We have determined that our level of stress, specifically with raising our 11-year old boy, has reached an over-saturated point. How to lower the saturation level is our question at hand. While we wait for an answer, I need to remember how fortunate I am to have a father for my children who is so active and present in their lives. I need to remember how much he does for our 11-year old son while also doing many things for our other children. I need to remember that my strengths help his weaknesses, and his strengths help my weaknesses. I need to remember we compliment each other, and that we do support each other's strengths. I am thankful.



But here is the other thing, both Robert and I put our hopes in the Lord. Without our hope in Christ, we would be having an even more difficult time with this over-saturated stress phase that we are currently living. I am so thankful that both Robert and I have this hope. As we wait on the Lord, we have hope. We have the strength of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is because of God that Robert and I are willing to compliment one another's strengths and weaknesses.


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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Journal to Myself.....many things

 
 

January 17, 2015


Many things, there are so many things running around in my mind. So many thoughts, things to accomplish, dates to remember, responsiblilities needing to be tended to, ideas, conversations, etc....all of it is swirling around.


So many things to talk about, to discuss, to come to an understanding....yet, these things I keep inside waiting for the opportunities or not.


Many things are needing to get out of my head and into writing. What is it about writing that is so incredibly therapeutic in some shape or form?


I have several blog posts sitting in my mind needing to be put into written words. Several posts will remain unpublished; too intimate for the blog. For those writings I am finding it beneficial to "publish" them into my journal. Yet, while it's beneficial it is still lacking a bit for some of my thoughts. Conversations are needed or maybe it's the need for me to wait. For the other posts, the ones not as intimate, I do plan on actually publishing them here on the blog. Motivation for blog writing is needed. Well, not so much motivation but rather getting through those moments when I freeze up. Anyone else freeze up with writing blog drafts?


Two posts will be written and published before end of January; My Favorite Books Read 2014 and My Word of the Year 2015.


Hopefully many more blog posts will be published over the course of 2015.




 

 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Journal to Myself.....stretch marks

 

January 8, 2015



Stretch marks; I have them.


There a lot of creams and lotions on the market that promises to diminish or even get rid of them. The marketing is telling women that we should not like our stretch marks. Apparently, it seems that many women believe the marketing. I see these creams in many of my patient's bathrooms, not all.


I have not given my stretch marks much thought until this morning.


This morning, I was struck by a thought --- I like my stretch marks. I like them.


This thought came to me while I was looking at my body before my shower. Some days, it is a brief glance and other days it's a skewed inspection, and today it was a breathing in of wonder.


The wonder that my body participated in giving life to six beautiful souls. That is wondrous. My stretch marks are an outward, physical testament to these amazing events that my body participated in; the giving of life. Remarkable.


Stretch marks, I have them. I really like them. I find them to be beautiful. They remind me to not lose my wonder. I breathed it in this morning.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand {book & movie}



 

"The paradox of vengefulness is that it makes men dependent upon those who have harmed them, believing that their release from pain will come only when their tormentors suffer."



Unbroken

by Laura Hillenbrand
copyright: 2010
pages: 407
format: paperback
source: own
Read Aloud with the Spouse


Finished reading..... December 12, 2014


Description: On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War. The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will. Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.


First Sentence: All he could see, in every direction, was water.



My Thoughts: This book...this book...I cannot say enough good things about this book, Unbroken. It was gripping. It was engaging. It was heartbreaking. There was hope.


My husband and I read this book together; I read it aloud to him. It took us four months, and only because our scheduling and sleep interfered. But every time we picked the book back up to read, we were immediately whisked into Louie Zamperini's life. If I were reading the book by myself, it would not have taken me long to finish because I would have had a heck of time putting it down. Reading to myself is far less strenuous than reading aloud. Sometimes, I struggled with reading aloud because I was overtaken by emotion. Other times, the intensity of the story was too much that I had to scan a few lines ahead before I could speak the words. Unbroken truly was a an engaging story.


My husband and I were both mesmerized and horrified, and left the book with complete awe. We realized how little we knew about the Pacific theater of World War II; such a horrible shame our lack of knowledge. The history stunned us, especial how the POWs were treated by the Japanese. We were stunned by the "kill-all order". We were horrified to learn of the price paid by the American airmen; shoddy planes were flown, poor planning for emergencies, high death toll, many died in non-combat missions, etc. We were in admiration for those who served, for the comradere and for how the POWs worked together to maintain their dignity in any scrap of a way that they could. These men were courageous. You cannot come away from this book without admiring their courage, and determination. You cannot come away from this book unaffected.


Louie Zamperini, oh my. I greatly admire this man. All that encompassed his life leading to the end of the book truly left me in awe of his survival, resilience and redemption. And yes, those three words (survival, resilience and redemption) are part of the subtitle for the book and accurately describe Zamperini's story. I don't want to give away much of his life because I really want others to read this book. I want this book to tell the story and not me. I want this book to peel back the layers of Zamperini's life. I want this book to impact you as it did us. But let me tell you, this man - Louie Zamperini - is truly a man to admire. But let me also tell you, he is a man to admire not just because of his resilience, and ability to survive incredible horrors, but also because of his redemption story. Without the redemptive part, Louie may be just like any other POW survivor. But he was redeemed, and it was this that powerfully changed his life for the better. This powerful change had a ripple down effect of changing other people's lives. And that is the most amazing part of the story. I will leave it there because to say more would peel back the layers that this book beautifully portrayed.


The author. It would be remiss of me to not mention how impressed, amazed and in awe I am of Laura Hillenbrand. In order to write a biography in a way that engages the reader from the first page to the last requires the author to have an amazing command of her subject. The magnitude of Louie's life is felt in part due to Hillenbrand's significant indepth research and ability to craft together in written word this man's life. This biography reads like a story; a powerful one. I truly am in awe.


The Bottom Line: Unbroken --- Louie Zamperini -- made a huge impact on us in many ways. This is a must read book for society now and for generations to come. The writing is beyond superb. The story is gripping, intense, sobering, emotional and full of hope. Louie Zamperini's story is truly a story about survival, resilience and redemption. Robert and I both left the story humbled, and in awe. We both did not want it to end. And we both were extremely glad that we finished the last few chapters outdoors in the crisp air as one chapter in particular made tears stream down my face and choked up Robert. Unbroken is not a story to miss reading.



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The movie...... {release date: 12/25/14, rated PG13, runtime 137 minutes}


 

I want to make quick mention about the movie. Robert and I viewed the movie late Christmas night. It was an excellent way to end our Christmas celebrations. We invested months into reading about Louie's life. We could not pass up the movie. I was worried about being able to visually handle the intense and abusive POW camp moments. I was relieved to find that watching these scenes was easier than I thought....easier but not easy. Then again, I am very squeamish when it comes to watching anything much more than a rated G movie -- violence for the most part. We appreciated the flashbacks into Louie's life. I think that benefited the movie's storytelling. As with any book made into a movie, the movie will never be able to give all the details - we did a lot of filling in the details in our minds as we watched. And there is such a thing called creative license. With both those things in mind, I think the movie did a very good with Unbroken (the book). I liked the actor who portrayed Louie, he did a great job. I was a little taken aback by some of the scenes with Watanabe. He was an intensely cruel man, and I think some of the scenes tried to soften him to the viewer or at least that's how it came off to me. All in all, we thought the movie was good, and we are glad we saw it. BUT, do know, it is very much incomplete. That is best way to say it....incomplete. The movie tried to sum up Louie's life after the war in a few black screen shots with an epilogue type writing. I have to give it credit for that. But still....it is incomplete which in turn truly missed the mark on the redemption aspect of Louie's life which is really why the man was Unbroken. Still....I am glad the movie was made. I am glad that many others will have the chance to have an inkling of an understanding of a man full of resilience and who survived insurmountable circumstances.


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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Firebird by Susanna Kearsely

 

 

"Each choice we make has an effect for good or ill, for all we may not yet perceive it at the time."



Firebird
by Susanna Kearsley
copyright: 2013
pages: 544
format: ebook
source: library


Finished reading..... August 22, 2014



Description: Nicola Marter was born with a gift. When she touches an object, she sometimes glimpses those who have owned it before. When a woman arrives with a small wooden carving at the gallery Nicola works at, she can see the object’s history and knows that it was named after the Firebird—the mythical creature from an old Russian fable. Compelled to know more, Nicola follows a young girl named Anna into the past who leads her on a quest through the glittering backdrops of the Jacobites and Russian courts, unearthing a tale of love, courage, and redemption.



First Sentence: He sent his mind in search of me that morning.



My thoughts: This book is exactly what I love about Kearsley's writing. Two strong storylines; the past and the present which are woven believable together. The characters carry their own; believable. From the start, I became invested in the characters lives. The tensions were felt acutely. Every element in this story seriously worked for me.


The history was fascinating; not only was there Scottish history there was also Russian history and I was mesmerized by every bit of it. The way it was told made it very real and present. The history within this story was also a part of the history woven into Kearsley's The Winter Sea, which I absolutely loved. A few elements from Shadowy Horses was also mixed into this story, mainly Rob and his abilities. At first I was not sure how I would feel about characters from Shadowy Horses and Winter Sea mixed into this story, but I found that I loved it. The prior characters made sense in this story; they fit. I am sure Firebird read with more intrigue because I already knew the past characters; their roles within Firebird added depth. And while Firebird is a stand alone book, I do think a reader will gain far more from it's story if they're already familiar with the other two.


I was immediately pulled into this story, Nicola was believable and likable. Her journey rang true for me. I was definitely immersed into her world; her fears, her hesitancy, her desire....all of that. Then there is Rob. Man, at first I wasn't so sure because when I last me him he was a young boy. But wow, Kearsley matured him and the character he grew into was admirable....he endeared himself to me. An aspect that I appreciate about kearsley's storytelling is the love interests that she places within the pages. Even those love interests that fell a bit short for me where written with a tension that revealed itself but did not flaunt.


The relationship between Nicola and Rob never felt forced, or rushed....it developed with the right balance. There is nothing gratuitous about the relationship between Nicola and Rob, the author did a superb job. But it wasn't just Nicola and Rob that held my attention, it was also those from the past. The characters carried their own; they're believable. Both worlds, and those who lived in them captured my attention completely.


Seriously, the two storylines --- the present and the past --- were so well written. They flowed back & forth smoothly. I would be remiss to not mention the actual plot itself was riveting. That is another beauty of Kearsley's writing; she has this knack to keep the reader in the dark with wanting more and more regardless if the characters &/or plot captures them. Firebird totally captured me on both fronts and that intensified my wanting to know how it all played out; wanting to know the whats, whys, and hows of the characters' lives.



Bottom line: This book is exactly what I love about Kearsley's writing. The worlds, the characters and the tensions were wonderfully written. The characters were smartly written. The two strong storylines were fabulously woven together. Rob and Nicola made sense, their tension felt real and spot on. The entire story was believable. Firebird superbly fed my geek love for the elements of time-slip, history and romance. Loved this story.


I do believe this is my favorite Kearsley book to date.


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