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Apr 28, 2014

Dancing With The Stars and Meningitis

Amy Purdy is inspirational to me for a few reasons.  Not only is she dancing after having double amputations on her legs!  Talk about wowzers!  She is so smooth and beautiful with how she dances. 

She also is an inspiration because she also survived bacterial meningitis.  She shows me what can be accomplished if one pushes through the pain and develops strength of will.  I utilized her example today while at a concert by the Sunshine Band at the Morrison Center in Scarborough, Maine.

The concert was from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. with bingo and refreshments available too.  The various members of the band warmed up and started playing songs.  There were two guitarists, one person on a kettle drum, various people on tambourines, and all singing and having tons of fun.  Sometimes the audience sang along with the band.  

I had a migraine starting before leaving for the concert, but I wanted to attend the event to have some fun family time.  I took a migraine abortive pill when we got there and I availed myself of the free iced tea.  An half hour later the pain was still great so I took a pain pill.  By 6 p.m. I could not go any further, so we left, but we had had an hour of fun and enjoyment of the band and watching others sing and dance and have fun.  It was a really good event.  My system just didn't agree with my ideas of what I wanted to do, so we lived within the limits of my system.

I've been trying to apply the Serenity Prayer for my pain and living in my limits.  If you are unfamiliar with this prayer, here's the text of the prayer.

Give me the serenity to accept what I cannot change,
the courage to change what needs to be changed,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
In your name I pray,

I have peace about today's experience of the concert.  I cannot change how my head worked.  I took the medications as directed and did what I could.  The rest is up to the effectiveness of the medications and nature.  Sometimes the migraines last a while, and sometimes they go away with one dose of the medications.  There's no rhyme or reason for either reaction of my system.  I just live with, along side, this giant.

Anyways, I hope you have peace in your life about what is going on in your life.  Where are you in regards to accepting your limitations?

Apr 25, 2014

Holy Land Moments, A Review

In their book, The One Year Holy Land Moments Devotional, Rabbi Yeschel Eckstein and Christian theologian Dr. Tremper Longman III provide a 52 week devotional that includes both Judaic and Christian thought on various passages from the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the New Testament.  The daily passages reflect on the Jewish view of the faith and history present in each part of the Bible, while also offering Christian interpretations of the same passages, in a comparison manner meant to build up both perspectives rather than tear them apart.  At the end of each week there is space for reflection and questions to answer to aid in that reflection.  Having the reflection at the end of the week gives a Jewish feel to the progress of the book as the Jewish Sabbath starts at sundown on Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday, whereas the Christian Sabbath takes place solely on Sunday, and both Sabbaths are days of reflection for our relationship with God, however we know him to be.

I liked the format of the weeks, the give and take between the perspectives, and the chance for reflection each week.  The questions were very useful for me.  There is nothing I did not like about this book.

I gave the book 5/5 stars for the reasons enumerated above.  I received my copy of this book from Tyndale for free in exchange for my honest opinion.

Apr 24, 2014

The Power of Healing Prayer, A Review

In his book, The Power of Healing Prayer: Overcoming Emotional and Psychological Blocks, Father Richard McAlear, O.M.I., provides a Christ centered, scriptural, and holistic approach to the ministry of healing that every church and parish can initiate and develop into an ongoing charism for Christ.  

I learned about Inner Healing in Chapter Five, Getting Free of Guilt in Chapter Eight, Healing Hidden Hurts in Chapter 13, more about the Mystery of Suffering in Chapter 16, and the Prayer of Faith in Chapter 17.  These are just a few topics that were particularly important to me.  If you have read a bit of my profile, you know that I have migraines a lot and have gone through a ton of changes in the last through years.  I have a lot of misplaced guilt around that which I'm working through to get to a place of healing and I will be incorporating more prayer into the process along with the other exercises I'm doing.

I will be referring to this book again and again.  It has earned a permanent place on my bookshelf.  Thanks goes to the Catholic Company for providing the book for free in exchange for an honest opinion.  I was going to give the book a 4/5  only because some of the teachings are hard for me to put into practice in my life right now.  But, that is about me and not the book, so I gave the book 5/5 stars for readability, challenging precepts, and for Father McAlear's warm writing voice.

Harvest of Rubies, A Novel, A Review

Tessa Afshar wrote Harvest of Rubies, A Novel in 2012.  This new book tells one of the oldest stories, that of a tossed together couple afraid to trust each other and hiding their own hurts behind their idols, whether scrolls and parchments or power and social status.  Sarah, cousin to the Biblical Nehemiah, is nominated to be the queen's head scribe.  Darius must marry a suitable Jewish woman, well they would say girl.  The two are a match made in Heaven, they just don't realize it yet.

What I liked was that there was an intense amount of inner dialogue on Sarah's part as she was the narrator.  This meant that unfortunately others, including Darius, come off as flat and simple.  Unfortunately, this second characteristic made the book more of a slog than usual for me.

I gave the book 3/5 stars since the story is neat, Sarah is fully developed, but others just aren't developed enough.

I received my copy of this book through the Moody Book Review Program for free in exchange for an honest review.

Apr 12, 2014

How to be a Productivity Ninja, A Review

In his book, How to be a Productivity Ninja, Graham Allcott delivers awesome advice in easy to understand and incorporate bits.  

I'm a home-based, disabled, student, and I learned a lot of ninja skills to speed up my processing.  I really like the weekly and daily checklists.  As well as the second brain and getting inputs to zero concepts discussed in this book.  Then, again, I'm a productivity geek too.

I was very excited to get back to this book and learn more ninja secrets from the master while I was reading this, so I give it 5 stars.

I received my copy for free from the publisher through the NetGalley Professional Reader program.  My opinion, as ever always, is my own.

52 Ways to Live a Kick-Ass Life, A Review

Andrea Owen brings us a great book, quick to read, but deep and takes a long time to soak in the lessons.  There's the usual get out of your comfort zone and get over your ex chapters.  Then there's the strange ones, the ones that make you pause and wonder if you really can do them, like telling 5 people your secret dream,  or ditching your drama addiction?  Can that really be done?  If so, how?  Read chapter 24 to find out!

Other topics are more serious but still as important.  Chapter 20, You can't "Feel Fat" or Chapter 33, Move out of victimhood.  I know I battle with those among other health and body issues.  What about you?

I think my favorite topic is Chapter 34, You are always worthy of love.  We are all there, every day and every moment.  I hope you have a lovely day.  

I received my copy of this book for free through the NetGalley Professional Reader program.  My review is my own opinion as always.

Apr 3, 2014

The Tale of the Three Brothers, from The Tales of Beedle the Bard, by J.K.Rowling

So, I'm writing a paper for a class I'm taking.  I'm looking at how the ideological messages are transmitted in a piece of writing and have chosen to use the Tale of the Three Brothers from The Tales of Beedle the Bard, by J.K. Rowling.  Now, what are ideological messages, you may ask?  They are the ideas beyond what is written, like the moral of a fable, the hidden message.  So, not only am I looking for the hidden message, but for how that hidden message is given to the reader.

A little background.  Three brothers come to a raging river.  They use their magic to make a bridge across the river.  Death gets angry because usually people die trying to cross the river.  So, Death meets the three brothers midway on the bridge and offers them each a gift of their choosing for having outwitted him.  The eldest, belligerent brother asks for a wand to beat all others in battle.  The middle brother asks for something to return those who have died.  Then, Death asks the youngest brother what he wants.  The youngest brother asks for something that would allow him to go from that place unseen by Death and avoid Death until he was ready to meet him.  Death gave the eldest brother a wand of elder, the middle a river washed stone, and the youngest received Death's own invisibility cloak.

Well, the eldest brother goes to a fellow who he's had trouble with in the past and they duel and he wins.  He goes to the local watering hole and boasts of the power of the wand Death gave him, gets drunk, passes out in a room above the pub.  A pickpocket decides to steal the wand while that brother sleeps, and for good measure, slits his throat.

The middle brother goes home, and uses the stone to bring back his dead fiancee.  She'd died just before their wedding.  They can't quite connect because of being on different dimensions of time and space, he goes mad, and kills himself to be with her.  So Death has two of the three brothers.

The youngest brother lives to an old age, gives the invisibility cloak to his son, and meets Death as a friend and they walk off into the sunset.

So that's the tale in a much abbreviated manner.  The hidden meanings in the story are: 1, you have nothing to fear from Death if you live sensibly, 2, your end will come about from the way in which you live your life, and, 3, as Dumbledore wrote in his commentary, Death is inevitable for all humans.

So, the question then becomes how did Rowling put those messages into the story?  Let's take the second meaning of the tale, that your end will come about from the way in which you live your life.  How did I get that meaning from the story?  Well, each brother died in a way related to what he asked of Death.  The eldest brother asked for a wand to best all wands.  He died in a combative situation, had he not been drunk from too much wine.  The second brother wanted the power to bring back the dead.  He was pinning for the past, and assumed that the girl wanted to be back with him rather than where ever it was she was.  He was lost in the past with his longing for her when he killed himself.  He never enjoyed living in the present after leaving Death on the bridge.  The youngest brother just asked to be allowed to go from there on his way.  He didn't ask for any special power, just for freedom to pass.  Then as his time of life grew long and full, he went to Death when it was the right time, rather than losing his life too soon.  Thus, each brother died according to what he asked of Death, and this tells us that your way of Death will come about because of how you live your life.

Ahh!  I just had an insight.  Dumbledore tells Harry "It is not what happens to us that makes us who we are, but our choices that make us who we are."  Just as our death will come from the choices we make about how we live our lives.

Pope Francis and Rabbi Skorka On Heaven and Earth, A Review

Despite viewing the Old Testament/Torah from different places, both men met to talk about various topics and shared their views on God, the Devil, Death, Euthanasia, Women, Same-Sex Marriage, Poverty and the Holocaust among other Twenty-First Century Topics.

Both view God in a similar way, though the Jewish prohibition of not referring to God by his name is handled by using G-d for when Rabbi Skorka refers to Our Heavenly Father throughout the book.  There are differences in whether we believe in the Messiah having arrived or not, yet.  But, on the whole there are far more similarities than dissimilarities.  This was borne out in a variety of other topics, none more so than the topic of Same Sex Marriage.

Both men view same-sex marriage in similar manners.  While both are respectful of all their fellow humans, both men do not believe that being made homosexual from birth grants a person to the right of marriage.  Both men also agree that adoptions should only be to families with both a mom and dad, one each.

This is to be expected coming from leaders of their respective religions, though I would have wished for more than just recognition that the humans involved deserve respect.   I am a Mainer.  We have legally recognized same sex marriage here.  Many of my friends have gone through getting married even if they'd had a commitment ceremony previously, just for the legal protections.  It is not fair that their religions do not recognize their unions with the same connection as the rest of the world.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review