Sunday, March 24, 2013

Creating Room To Read

"Creating Room To Read" by John Wood

It's not often that I read a just out book but I happened to be perusing the new releases at the library and found this. It is the second book for the author, "Leaving Microsoft to Change the World", is his first book. I haven't read it but am now wanting to. The author used to work at Microsoft and left to start a non-profit. He has one of the most successful non-profits in the country. His non-profit opens schools and libraries throughout the world. It is an amazing non-profit and a much needed one that is brining about hope for many nations. "Two thirds of the illiterate people in the world are girls and women." Room to Read also has a girls education program helping to right this statistic. "Once you have an education, no one can ever take that away from you." We take for granted our education here in the states while so many children wish and hope that they could go to school and learn. "If you have a good book in your hands, you will never be lonely." I love a good book. "We are too poor to afford education. But until we have education, we will always be poor." This statement led the author to start Room to Read, something needed to be done to offer hope and he was willing to be that hope. "Our team believes that by requiring the community residents to pitch in, we are saluting their inherent dignity." Room to Read only builds in places where the local community pitches in. They are not giving a hand out but a hand up. By the community investing in the project it ensures they will take pride in it and it will be successful. "The only thing we wanted our young organization to give was an opportunity." And it has given so many opportunities. "As it turns out there is an alternative to school for these girls-prostitution. It seems unfathomable that in the modern world children of such a tender age could be relegated to this deplorable choice. But this is the reality not only here but in so many other places where abject poverty and antiquated notions of a woman's place in the world force young girls into lives of sexual slavery." For just a few dollars a day these girls can go to school, just a few dollars. "Being blunt immediately cuts through the clutter, of which the world has too much." I like bluntness, with love of course. "I think to myself that the things in my life I consider problems are so trivial that I should be ashamed of ever complaining." This is so true. "In many parts of rural Zambia, four out of five girls do not make it past seventh grade. And yet again, just as with the lack of books, people act perplexed as to why hundreds of millions of people live in poverty, generation after generation." Why are we so perplexed? They can't afford book or schools which continues the cycle of poverty they so long to get out of. Who will help them?" "The world has managed to find ways to get soft drink, beer, and chocolate bars to thousands of rural villages, but not books." This is so maddening and sad to me. "Inaction in the face of tyranny is cowardice." This book is inspirational and an achievement to what can be done when one is willing to dream big and offer hope. It has challenged me to look into what I can do to offer others the value of an education and books to read. I hope that it challenges you too.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Solo: A Memoir of Hope by Hope Solo with Ann Killion

"Solo: A Memoir of Hope" by Hope Solo with Ann Killion

I found this book at the library, just passing by a shelf. I am a soccer player, I follow the game and I remember Hope Solo from the World Cup so I picked up the book. This is a book of honesty, of one girls struggle in life on and off the field. It is a story of overcoming and surviving. It is a story of hope. Hope grew up in a home with a lot of turmoil. She may not have had the most stable family environment but she did have love from her family. That love is what brought her through many trials. That love held her together in the toughest of moments. Hope is tough and she is honest. I liked the book for it's honesty but it also paints a view of soccer and the politics that I didn't necessarily want to know. I admire Hope and the things that she overcame and her hard work as an athlete. I admire her conviction and her willingness to be who she is no matter the critics. "Hope is, by definition, defiant. It is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength." Hope is defiant. I love that because when hope is at its strongest its because everything around it is saying there is no hope. Its hard to hope, it takes strength and courage. "Some things are more important than soccer." Hope lived for the game and strived to be the best but she knew what was most important, family. "Only a daughter cries like that for her father." A stranger saw Hope in an airport crying and knew she was crying for her father. I love the picture that that statement paints, that a father and a daughter have such a bond. "Memories are for you, and nobody can take them away." People may hurt us, people may leave us but no one can take our memories. That is a beautiful thing. "You've taught me so well, Dad. You have prepared me for life. You have taught me how to fight, how to love deeply, how not to get bullied, how to reach out to others, how not to judge, how to enjoy life, how to be happy no matter where I walk. You have taught me to be me, and you are such a part of me. I will carry your spirit inside me no matter where I go." That is a legacy. "Hope, you're a strong person. You're a truth-teller. People aren't comfortable with that." It's hard to be the one telling the truth. Lots of people don't want to hear it but that is what God calls us to, truth in love. "Reality has tested us, but love has saved us." Reality is hard, but love, most of all God's love, saves us.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Heaven Is Here by Stephanie Nielson

I started following this author's blog through another blog a few years ago. It wasn't long after her accident and I was inspired by this woman. The book is about her life, she had the ideal life, handsome husband, four beautiful children and her looks. One fateful day all that changed when her and her husband were in a plane crash. She was burned over 80% of her body. She woke in the hospital months later, barely alive. The book is about her struggle to survive, the pain she had and continues to have just to move each day, her determination to be a mother to her children, her husband who stood by her side and showed her what real love looks like, her faith that she has a purpose here and God spared her. (I do want to preface the rest of this entry with saying that the author is a Mormon. I've quoted the things that she said about God and used my beliefs to explain them.) It truly is an incredible story and she is a very special woman. It is a great book to give perspective on what really matters in this life, and the way we look is certainly not one of them. "How he hoped they would feel God's love in the natural world, just as he did." Stephanie and her husband both love to be in nature and wanted to instill this love in their children. That by being in God's creation they would feel His love for them. I feel this. I look at all that He created and am in such awe. Nature makes me feel closer to Him. "I don't want being physical to get in the way of getting to know the real you." Her husband said this to her when they were dating. What a great thing for a guy to say. "I saw God in those eyes. I saw reassurance. I even saw a glimpse of triumph. I was still me. Those eyes were mine. The life I saw in them came from God, and that gave me hope for the life of my body." This was the first time that she looked at herself after the accident. Oh what a hard moment that would be. She was so disfigured. But in that moment she was given strength. Her eyes were still her. Beautiful. "Heavenly Father, are you really there? And do you hear and answer every child's prayer? Some say that heaven is far away, but I feel it close around me as I pray. Pray, He is there. Speak, He is listening. You are His child. His love now surrounds you." A child's song, a parents response. So simple yet what we all, young or old, wonder from time to time. "When lonely, cold, hard times come, we have to endure, we have to continue, we have to persist...Keep knocking on that door. Keep pleading. In the meantime, know that God hears your cries and knows your distress. He is your Father, and you are His child." And they do always come, don't they? But this life is about enduring, continuing even when it's oh so hard. And the best part is that we are heard, He does care. "We look for Christ's scars because they are evidence of what He did for us. They'll be the first things He shows us when we see Him again. Your scars tell a story, too. Although they may not make you feel attractive, they are a witness of a miracle, that God blessed you to live, and that you have accomplished very difficult things." What a beautiful sentiment. All our scars are a testament of what we have been through, how we have overcome and how God has done great things in us. We shouldn't hide them or be ashamed of them. God uses it all for His glory and our best. He loves us so. "I have accepted myself in a world that does not accept me, because I have learned-and more than any of the lessons of my accident, this is the one I wish I could teach everybody-that our hearts matter most. Your heart matters most, so be gentler and more patient with yourself, and their hearts matter most, too, so be kinder and more compassionate to others. It's a beautiful heart, not a perfect body, that leads to a beautiful life." Good wisdom to live by.