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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Friday, August 22, 2014

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley

 



"Life moves on", she said gently, "and ye cannae go back. You've only got one chance to get it right."


The Shadowy Horses
by Susanna Kearsley
copyright: 1999
pages: 532
format: ebook
source: own


Finished reading.....August 2, 2014



Description: The invincible Ninth Roman Legion marches from York to fight the northern tribes, and then vanishes from the pages of history.
Archaeologist Verity Grey has been drawn to the dark legends of the Scottish Borderlands in search of the truth buried in a rocky field by the sea.
Her eccentric boss has spent his whole life searching for the resting place of the lost Ninth Roman Legion and is convinced he's finally found it—not because of any scientific evidence, but because a local boy has "seen" a Roman soldier walking in the fields, a ghostly sentinel who guards the bodies of his long-dead comrades.
Here on the windswept shores, Verity may find the answer to one of the great unsolved mysteries of our time. Or she may uncover secrets someone buried for a reason.



First Sentence: The bus had no business stopping where it did.



My Thoughts: I truly enjoyed this book --- so much to love about it but yet slightly disappointed...slightly. This is not my first Susanna Kearsley and it is not my favorite (Winter Sea....how I love that book) but wow, I do like the way Kearsley tells a story and The Shadowy Horses is no exception even with a bit of disappointment.


I was very much interested with the history woven into this story. The Ninth Roman Legion along with the Scottish region fascinated me as well did the Sentinal ghost. The archeologist twist was a clever way to bring the past and present together along with how discoveries were made by using the gift of "seeing". Truly, the plot line worked for me. But that sort fell a bit short for me. I just wish there was more development with the Sentinel ghost shedding more light and intrigue to the Ninth Legion; maybe weaving the past and present a bit more together. That's the key for me; the way Kearsley is able to bring the past and present together. And when she does that well, she really does it well...fabulously well. And that is also what's adds the bit of mystery and suspense to her stories. This time, it wasn't done as well as I had hoped. Still, her writing captivated me so she wasn't far off the mark.


I do love how Kearsely brings in romance; the tension, but yet it's not the main focus of the story, but certainly a strong force. And another thing, her romance threads do not seem to have sex scenes. She eludes to them, don't get me wrong, and that eluding suites her stories well, and I appreciate that fact. I have to say, the tensions and the eluding sometimes (almost all the time, for me) are far more interesting than actually reading a scene. But, with that all said, the romance in this story didn't quite achieve it's potential. It simmered and then boiled and then simmered all rather quickly. The romance just didn't wow me much. It was good, but I wish there was more building of the relationship than the story offered. Still, David and Verity made a good couple and for that I am able to overlook their romance lacking some relationship building. Besides, the story on the whole was written quite well.


The bottom line: I very much enjoyed The Shadowy Horses. It fell a bit short, for me, but it still was fun to read. And it certainly kept me reading page after page at a rapid pace. I was engaged, and do not regret one moment of my reading time spent with this book.


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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman

 
 

"In my old age, I have come to believe that love is not a noun but a verb."


The Lost Wife
by Alyson Richman
copyright: 2011
pages: 344
format: ebook
source: own


Finished reading..... July 30, 2014


Description: During the last moments of calm in prewar Prague, Lenka, a young art student, and Josef, who is studying medicine, fall in love. With the promise of a better future, they marry--only to have their dreams shattered by the imminent Nazi invasion. Like so many others, they are torn apart by the currents of war.


First Sentence: He dressed deliberately for the occasion, his suit pressed and his shoes shined.


My Thoughts: I devoured this book in one day....one day. That's huge for me since that happens rarely these days. This is a story that penetrates your thoughts and your soul. It makes you stop and weep for those who experienced the horrors of the Holocaust --- not only for those you died but for those who lived and needed to find the courage, the strength and the hope to continue life when insurmountable loss and grief was handed to them.


The Lost Wife was beautifully written and left me with a deep sense of sadness. Even amongst the sadness, hope never left and that's the beauty of this story. Every step of the way, love was felt throughout Lenka and Josef's individual narrations. From the first page to the last, I was held captive by their storytelling. Insights into their lives, the time they lived, and the choices they made kept my eyes glued to the pages.


Sadness penetrated the lives of Lenka and Joseph and even in depth of their despair it is that of love and hope which gave them strength. They each experienced hardships from living during the horrors of WWII; Josef and Lenka both experienced loss of family and starting over alone. Josef suffered and Lenka did as well. Who suffered more? The likely answer would be Lenka as she lived through the experience of concentration camps. But one could argue that Josef suffered equally albeit differently. His suffering and loss haunted him throughout life....the longing and need never left his side. Whereas Lenka seemed to move forward a tad better; she at least developed a healthier relationship - or so it seems. Those hardships never left their being. While they carved out new futures they each could not truly leave behind what was lost.


The last page read....the last word....I was struck by a sense of sadness. It sat with me for a time. I thought about the affect of this story upon my emotions. Yes, deep sadness was felt by Lenka and Josef, and their sadness and that of what people experience during the Holocaust did indeed affect my emotions. Yet, I also felt that love remained, and more importantly, hope. There are so many layers of love in this story; that of a spouse, children, family, friend, stranger. Love is woven deeply into this story. And that is what makes this story incredible beautiful; amongst the wreckage, despair, shattering loss and need to keep living --- there was always love and hope.


The bottom line: The Lost Wife is deeply heartfelt and beautifully written. While I left the book with much sadness, I also left with hope.


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Note Worthy Quotes:

“But in order to survive in this foreign world, I had to teach myself that love was very much like a painting. The negative space between people was just as important as the positive space we occupy. The air between our resting bodies, and the breath in our conversations, were all like the white of the canvas, and the rest our relationship- the laughter and the memories- were the brushstroke applied over time.”


"I often wonder if it's the curse of old age, to feel young in your heart while your body betrays you."

 

 

 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

I Read Them....my thoughts

 

Fifty Shades of Grey
Fifty Shades of Darker

by E.L. James


Summary: I am not going to summarize these books. ummm....so much hype out there, surely you've heard the summary by now. If not, look it up, google it....



My thoughts: I admit, I read them. Actually, I read them this past Sunday. Well, only 2 of the 3 books, but still....


And, reading two books in one day says this - full of redundancy and lack of story depth makes for incredibly quick reading. And yeah, while there was redundancy, there was also something about the books that kept me reading. What that is, I don't quite know because it certainly wasn't the writing and it certainly wasn't the sex and it certainly wasn't the story development. Hmmm....I am pondering.


So. Why did I finally read these books? I mean, I had absolute no interest in reading them. I knew enough to be pretty certain they were not worthy of my reading time. I also knew that I did not want my mind filled with the garbage that was within the pages. So...when these books were all ablaze with hype, I did not read them. But now, they're all ablaze with hype for the upcoming movie. The hype is everywhere. What's more, the "do not read these books" mantra is at an incredible height with the movie trailer release. Still, I didn't want to read them.


But then, I made a couple negative comments to express my desire to not read these books. I read another's reason and comments that followed. What struck me is this...How can I criticize a book that I have not read? I cannot. I could say, I will not read them because of the sex. But that wouldn't be true, not completely. I read books that do have sex within the story. My most beloved favorite book series has sex written into the characters' lives. So, that cannot be my reason. And to say, I am a Christian and so I will not read them. Ok. My Christian friends will get that....they better. My non-Christian friends? I am thinking they would get it too but to just say that is somewhat weak. I like reason, & rationale to back up an opinion --- not one based solely on emotion and opinions of others. I am not much of a follower --a blind follower. Submissive in that sense, I am not. It's a wonder that I came away from my Navy enlistment experience with a positive tone....being a reservist probably helped (I know my limits, most times). Anyway, ultimately, it comes down to this....being told to not read these books because I am a Christian woman - while, all good reasons follow that statement - rubs me wrong. I do take reasonable explanations and opinion based off of rationale and go with it to discern for myself. But, being told....and then the insinuation that if I do read them that then there will be/are all kinds of wrong things going on with me. Like I am yearning for something I don't have and all that. Not all are saying that but I've listened to one too many radio programs and read one too many articles with that tone. Well....that's a leap...not everyone is yearning for something beyond what has already been gifted to them.


Ok....there is much truth to what these "don't read" people are saying but to apply the truth in a sweeping general tone is yucky to me. You can read these books and walk away with a whacked up idea about love and sex. But you can also read these books and walk away thanking God that those whack job characters are not your reality. And thanking God that your mind and flesh does not desire these type of stories for reading material.


And then ultimately this, for me, is true too, in order for me to have a reasonable explanation as to why these books are not good...as to why I do think they are disturbing...as to why they are trash...and as to why they are not an exceptable form of reading entertainment....well, I actually need to read them for myself. A big pet peeve of mine is for people to get their panties in a wad over books and demonize them as unsafe without ever having read them for themselves. I mean, those who are flat out adamant that a friend(s) of theirs (or children -- as in the Harry Potter hoopla) should not read these books and then pass judgement if they do read them while all a long that person did not read the book. Like whoa....no judging. You can avoid the books but judging or criticizing a book without actually reading it for yourself is a big no-no to me. To say such and such is bad without knowing for sure that the "fact" wasn't twisted....there's a level of danger in that. And, that is what I started doing with these "50 Shades" of nonsense books.


You may be able to already tell that I do not think highly of these books. I think they are trash. Harsh? Sure, but rightly so. I don't say that with ease as I am not one for negative "reviews". Yes...there is an element that kept me reading at a mind blowing pace. Part of that element was the enormous amount of redundancy but the other part....hmmm...not sure and I am truly boggled by that because it was not the following......


The characters. Ummm...two books read and well...maybe a bit of character development occurred but not much. Humdrum.


The story development. Hmmmm....maybe a couple of scenes developed the storyline....maybe.


The writing. I am not a writer by any stretch of the imagination but these books were starting to make me believe that I could potentially be an author. (I couldn't write the sex scenes though, far too embarrassing. I would need a pseudo name and then where would the fun be with being an author. I couldn't tell my friends/family about something I worked hard on).


The sex. Yes, let's cut right to the chase. The sex. Ummm....like...Nothing about the sex in these books appealed. Nothing. And yes, I was hoping that there would be something appealing about the sex. Surely, there must be since everyone is talking about it. Clearly, there must be something there that would leave my mind forever altered as to what sex should be. Certainly, it would leave me hot and bothered and wanting some sort of unreality in my reality. Ummm....no. Flat out, no. There was sooo much unhealthiness going on in these books and the sex was an incredible offender. Besides that, the scenes weren't written in a fashion that engaged me with wanting the two to be getting it on.


Actually....what was the most disturbing about these books (the two that I've read) is the abuse. Oh my, so many times I cringed and said....Ana, your in a most unhealthy and abusive relationship. I thought....this relationship will forever change how this character views sex and relationships. The abuse was on many levels because it wasn't just with the sex. No. I do not agree that Christian took advantage of Ana. She consented to every step along the way. And he gave her plenty of outs. But the tangled mess of wrong thinking on her part (and his) and her willingness to be in an abusive relationship just sat all sooooo wrong with me. Why is no one (who advocates these books) pointing out the abusive nature of their relationship? Oh wait...because it's a love story? One of redemption?


Ok. Redemption? I guess. I guess....maybe...but not really....ummm....no. Maybe in book three but what....it takes three books to be redeemed while all along Ana stays in an abusive relationship?


Women read these books because they yearn for the strong male? Alright. Part of me can buy that line. Well, a big part of me buys into that line. Who doesn't want a strong man physically, emotionally and intelligently? But then wait....Christian is not strong at all. Sure, he has the ability to intimidate. Intimidate. That is not strength. And oh, by the way, he's a mess. How does Ana put it with such endearment?.... He's "fifty shades of f-ed up". Sweet (layered with sarcasm).


Back to the "it's a love story" defense. Umm. no. This is not a love story. A lust story, that I'll give the books. An abusive relationship story...yep, that too. But no where in these pages did I read any sort of love. First off, the first two books take place over the course of what....two months? And second, even Ana, while she proclaims she deeply loves Christian is also backing away from him by saying....we don't know each other and all that. They don't talk to each other, not really. They have sex and lots of it. He dazzles her with his riches. He tells her what she needs to do and cannot do because he is "worried." He creates fear in her. She makes excuses for him, and worries that she has angered him. Beyond that....where is the relationship? I did not see any sort of relationship that would equate anywhere near a "love story". Blah. A lust story, that is true. If you want a story that is truly a love story...a fictional love story....then my favorite series delivers. The Outlander series --- that's a love story.


So while the sex is of a disrespecting and disturbing nature --- that is not what bothers me most. The sex is so unrealistic and far from respect that how can anyone desire that for their own relationship is beyond me.


What disturbs me most is the abuse written all over this story. That frightens me. I never want my girls to ever find themselves in a relationship where the male is destructive to her self worth and self respect and abilities to make decisions and care for herself. I never want my girls to confuse that crap for love. Or to even be willing to be in the relationship because they can help him change and that the poor man had a rough upbringing or whatever else excuse Ana gave Christian.


So, to call this a love story is incredibly disturbing to me. And it's disturbing that there is not an incredible outcry about the abuse. During the first book, I will admit, I was hoping the abuse would resolve, but it didn't. I found myself cringing, and gagging, and screaming in my head "no...this is all sorts of wrong." I just couldn't continue reading the abusive stuff. In this day in age --- with the increase surge in feminism (the movement) --- how can women sit well with the abuse? How can this abuse be ok or glossed over?....because it's love? I am very much disturbed by the popularity of the books and the desire to see the movie in such numbers by women....not so much because of the crappy sex but truly because of the abuse.


As for the movie. No thank you. Even if I did like the books, how can this be made into a movie without it being a porn movie?....seriously.


As for my husband reading stuff like this? There is no way he would read this crap. Would I want him reading porn magazines? No way. Was I uncomfortable reading these books? Yes. I did not want him to know and nor the girls to know. That says something. BUT, while my mind was being filled with word visuals it was not being filed with photographic visuals. That is a big difference to me. Still....to have my mind feed off this stuff on a regular basis...I am sure it would have an untoward effect on my sexual life. It certainly could have that effect if my mind wasn't already set on what God says about love. His meaning of love changes everything. Changes how you view relationships and interact. Changes everything.


Bottom Line --- Once book two was complete, actually before I was done with book two, I really did not want to read book three and I have not. I was quite bored and rather disturbed. There is absolutely no depth to this trilogy. The writing is poor and so is the storyline. Lots of sex. Abusive in nature relationship. Not a love story. I am not telling you to not read these books...even if you are a Christian. I am telling you, if you do read them then do know there is no quality at all within these pages. It is a way to spend mindless time. It is not edifying in any way. It's far removed from reality of love and a healthy sexual life that I sure hope that you do not think otherwise. Use discernment for your own self and as to where you stand in reality of your own relationships and love and how you feel about abusive lifestyles. And for the life of me, I cannot figure out why these books are so popular and driving so much hype when in fact they are erotica and fit that genre to a tee and as such is nothing special at all. And, as with all erotica stories, there is no story. None at all. So why are these books being read by so many and seemed to be mainstreamed in a way that other erotica books are not? Strange. And strange that those who wouldn't be caught dead reading erotica embrace these books. Disturbing.


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Side note --- the redundancy. Not only was the sex incredibly redundant that it bored me greatly. Phrases were so very overused. At one point, I thought to myself, I will puke if I read again the phrase "my inner goddess". And so, I puked, figuratively. And puked and puked and puked and eventually started to dry heave.

Also, I am now solid on what I will say as to why these type of books are not ones for me to read regardless of the hype and the falseness of the story being redeemed or one of love and regardless if someone doesn't understand my reason beyond the simplicity of my reason....for anything close to erotica in nature my answer is this....I choose not to read these books because I choose Colossians 1:10, and Colossians 1:15-20 amongst many other Words of God. I choose to "walk in the manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruits in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God" --- my mindset, my desire conflict greatly with these books and reading them also does not help nor set an example for my girls....and boys. I will not read these type of books again and I also will not give an opinion beyond what I just stated as my choice.

And, also, I do not regret reading these books. It's clarified my thinking for me. My stance. These books are not a divide for me but maybe a talking point. Shall see.



 

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