Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Understood Betsy

"Understood Betsy" by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
By the reviews many woman read this book as little girls. I didn't read it when I was little but after reading it I can't wait to let my girls read it when they get a little older. It is about a little 9 year old girl who is an orphan and three old aunts take her in. She lives with them in the city. They are always worried about her yet are very loving. Due to all the attention and all the worry she is a very frightened girl. She is skinny and thinks she is going to die. She is afraid of everything. Her aunt becomes sick and she has to go live with other family. This aunt lives on a farm with her elder parents. Here the girl is made to take care of herself, something she has never done. It is a story about how she finds out all the things she can do and how she isn't fearful of the world around her but finds it all so exciting. I really enjoyed this book for its simplicity. It was also quite humorous. "YOU aren't any grade at all, no matter where you are in school. You're yourself, aren't' you? What difference does it make what grade you're in!" "She had always thought she was there to pass from one grade to another, and she was ever so startled to get a little glimpse of the fact that she was there to learn how to read and write and cipher and generally use her mind, so she could take care of herself when she came to be grown up." This is what school should be, learning to use our minds so that we can take care of ourselves when we are grown up but I think it is often of just getting work done to move on to the next thing to pass and get to the next grade.

The Heart of Rachael

"The Heart of Rachael" by Kathleen Thompson Norris
This book is about a woman who finds herself married for all the wrong reasons. She has stuck it out for 7 years and decides to get a divorce. She then falls in love again and realizes that marriage is what you put into it and it is never easy. She ends up risking it all to save her second marriage and comes to terms with her part for the first marriage failing. It took a few chapters to get into this book but once it got going it was good. "She had not expected to be happy in this house, she had expected to be rich and envied, and secure, and she was all of these things. That they were not worth attaining, no one knew better than Rachael now." Rachael married for all these things and came to find out the hard way how much they were really worth, nothing at all. "We are not perfect ourselves,' said the clergyman benevolently, 'yet we expect perfection in others. Before we will even change our own lives we look around and see what other people are doing." Isn't this so true? So easy to judge others rather than look at what we might change in ourselves. "But she said to herself that she knew now the worst evil of divorce. She knew that it coarsened whomever it touched, that it irresistibly degraded, that it lowered all the human standard of goodness and endurance, and self-sacrifice. However justified, it was an evil; however properly consummated, it soiled the little group it affected." I can't think of a better way to describe divorce or its affects. "It's the one vow we take with God as witness; and no blessing ever follows a broken vow!" "It cannot be reconciled to law; it defies law. Right on the face of it, it is breaking a contract. Are any other contracts to be broken with public approval?" I thought it was an interesting explanation of divorce and how are society does it so easily. "Life is mistakes, after all, and paying for them, and doing better next time." Yes, there are consequences for our mistakes but there is always a next time to do better. "The wonder of marriage came to her, the miracle of love rooted too deep for disturbance, of love fed on faults as well as virtues; so light a tie in the beginning, so powerful a bond as the years go by." I remember thinking I couldn't love Matthew more than when I did on the day we married but as you go through life together, all the ups and downs, good things and disappointments the bond grows deeper and the love stronger.

Daughter of Joy

"Daughter of Joy" by Kathleen Morgan
This is the first in a four book series. I got this for free on Amazon for my Kindle but now that they got me hooked I am going to have to buy the rest of the series. It is a very easy quick read. I enjoyed this book very much and look forward to the others. It is about a woman whose husband and young son have died. She is looking to move on with her life and find God's will. She takes a job as a housekeeper for a man who has lost two wives and a son. He has a young daughter whose heart is also hardened. It is a story of second chances and how helping others can heal your own hurts. "I cannot hope to know God's will until I begin to search and listen." So often we wonder what God's will is but we do not take the time to listen. "Everything that happened in life-whether for good or bad, joyous or tragic reasons-held the potential to sanctify and bring one closer to the Lord." I wish that I always looked at life this way and hope that I allow all circumstances to bring me closer to the Lord. "God always has a reason. It's just so hard sometimes for us to accept it. Fear gets in the way, doesn't it? Fear of that great unknown, fear that God will require something that we cannot, or don't want, to do. But we can. God never asks anything of us that He doesn't give us sufficient strength to do. And He never, ever asks it unless it's for our greater good." Oooo, I love that quote. Most times I feel as if God is asking too much of me and I forget He is my strength and everything is for my good. "Faith isn't grounded on emotions. It's grounded on the will. It's grounded in the act of taking up your cross and following the Lord wherever He leads, through good times and bad, through dark days and happy ones. We're not tested and tempered in good times. Our true test lies in the dark night of our despair." Such good words to live by. I often feel like I am running on my emotions and I don't want to do that. All in all a good book with some good lessons for all of us.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Form of Godliness

"A Form of Godliness" by Shane Johnson
This book is about the US after 9/11 and the terrorist strikes that come after. It is about living in a world where there are no morals and there is no room for God. A massive terrorist strike forces the US to withdraw its support of Israel and war erupts. I liked this book as it had enough action and drama with a little bit of romance thrown in. It is a good look into the way this world is going and the importance of Israel to our nation.

There Is No Me Without You

"There is No Me Without You: One Women's Odyssey to Rescue Her Country's Children" by Melissa Fay Greene
This book was a great read. It is about the millions of orphans in Africa. They have been left orphans due to the AIDS epidemic. It is about how there are so many children without anyone to care for them, many that have AIDS themselves. There is no one to take these forgotten children. One woman in Africa becomes a foster mom to many, willing to take the unwanted. At first she takes in just one child then word spreads and soon she has 35 or more. "Who was going to raise twelve million children? Who will wake in the night in response to eighteen million nightmares?" "In Africa a generation of parents, teachers, principals, physicians, nurses, professors, spiritual leaders, musicians, poets, bureaucrats, coaches, farmers, bankers, and business owners are being erased." AIDS is wiping out a whole nation and it can be stopped. But, "Unfortunately for most of the world's 34 million people infected with HIV [in 2000], pharmaceutical companies impose US prices on the rest of the world." "Adoption is good, but children, naturally, would prefer not to see their parents die." "The adopted children would lose their country, people, faith, language, culture, and history. But the adopted child would gain the one thing on earth arguable worth more than a homeland: family." This book had many interesting facts about Africa, AIDS and the orphans. It was encouraging to see how many of these children have been adopted abroad and given a family and a second chance. It shows that one person who cares can really make a difference.

Song of the Gorilla Nation

"Songs of the Gorilla Nation-My Journey through Autism" by Dawn Prince-Hughes, Ph.D.
This book is about a women who doesn't get diagnosed with Autism till her 30's. It is about how she functions in the world around her by learning from the gorillas that she watches and later takes care of at the zoo. What I don't like is that the author believes in and talks a lot about evolution. But it was fascinating to learn more about the gorillas and all that they can do. I too have gone to the zoo when I was younger and just sat for hours watching these creatures (whom I know were created by God). "The gorillas don't speak human language, look the way humans look, move the way humans move. They are stupid. This is why gorillas are captive. This is why crazy people are captive. We are the animals who don't speak the language, look the looks, move in the right ways. It is easy for those who are not captive to forget that those who are remain individuals. And individual with a name, a family who needs them, a past that they stand on, and a future that they dream about." When someone is different than us we tend to isolate them and like the author said, forget that they are individuals. This book is insightful into the life of an autistic person and the daily struggles they have to adapt to the world.

Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence

"Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence" by Matthew Sanford
This book is about a boy who was in a car accident with his family. His father and sister were killed. His mother and brother were not hurt and he was left paralyzed. It is a story of overcoming and connecting to who we are and the hand we have been dealt. He started to have feelings in his legs and was told by the Dr. that these were just phantom feelings. "It's not easy to be told that what you are feeling isn't real." This book helped me to really focus on today and what was happening around me. I am a planner and always thinking about the next thing which in turn makes it so, often, I don't enjoy the moment. While I was reading this I really tried to be "in the moment". I noticed the birds chirping, how the sun felt on my skin, my girls laughter and chatter, the sound of my feet on the pavement as I was running, the green of the grass and the blue of the sky. I was overcome with gratefulness and awe at the world around me and regret that I don't do this more often. "But without these difficulties, I would not be who I am." The trials shape us, make us who we are, stronger, better and wiser. "Life presents its purpose and beauty in all sorts of ways. The trick is to stay open to one's strength, to not deny or strive to prove it, but rather to simply have it." My complaint about this book is that it turned towards the New Age as he starts yoga and becomes a yoga teacher. But beside that it was a good read and opened my eyes to embracing challenges and being thankful for all that I do have.