Thursday, October 29, 2015

One More Step

One More Step by Bonner Paddock

This is a courageous book about Bonner who has CP and is willing to push past his limits to show the world that we should not limit people with disabilities.  He finds meaning in helping others after living a life that left him empty.  A life where he never showed his weaknesses, never spoke of his CP until one day he met a little boy fighting a much harder fight with the same disease.  Bonner's perspective changed and he bagan to be a face for CP, helping children with this disease here and overseas.  This book tells the tale of his climb of Kilimanjaro and becoming an Ironman.  "We have a choice in our lives.  We can be content with where we are, or we can set goals and continue to push ourselves beyond our limits."  When we push ourselves we truly find out what we are made of, what we can really accomplish.  "Sometimes knowing too much of what lies ahead makes a challenge doubly difficult."  Just one foot in front of the other, look straight ahead, don't be distracted by others, run your race.  "My ability to fight my own fight was the only thing that owuld separate defeat from triumph."  We get caught up in comparison and competing with others when we really just need to be able to beat ourselves and run our own race.  This was an inspirational book with a great message of helping others and not limiting people.  

Ashley's War

Ashley's War by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

This was such a good book.  I am facinated by the pride that our armed forces have in our country, so much so they are willing to die serving.  I believe it takes a special person, one whom I greatly admire.  This book talks about a team of women who joined our special forces in Afghanistan.  Women are not allowed to serve in face to face combat positions but the special forces needed women to help them when they did raids as the men were not allowed to talk to or even be in the same room as the Afghan women.  A team of American women signed up and did special training to be a part of helping our special forces.  The risk that was involved, the dedication, strength, bravery it took to do this missioin was like no other.  This was an elite group of women who had been waiting for this their whole lives.  All of the felt like they were made for this mission.  It is a group of women who were not in the news, not talked about despite their bravery.  I am so thankful I found this book, so privileged to have read about these brave women, so indebted to their sacrifice.  "At a time when the divide between those who volunteer to fight America's wars and those who never served is wide and growing, it is more important than ever to know who these soldiers are and why they sign up to fight for the sake of the rest of us."  My sentiments exactly.  "If you do that, if you hold someone back, they will eventually end up carrying a grudge."  Let's let our spouses, our children, our friends and family soar.  Let's be the wind that lets them take flight, not the ones holding them back.  "Everybody has something that the other girl doesn't.  This is what makes us a team."  Everyone brings their own thing to the table and together we can do great things.  "Going out to get bad men who were killing innocents and fellow soldiers and then living to tell the tale-well, making it to the other side of all that was a drug in itself, and Amber was sure that nothing else, ever, could match it."  These women were given an opportunity of a lifetime and they rose to the occasion, believing that this is exactly what they had trained and wanted to do.  "I put you into His hands.  Now more than ever, when I get scared or concerned about you, I think back to that moment.  I think of God holding and keeping you safe because I can't.  It gives me a sense of peace and calm."  There was a real danger where these women were and their families were rightly concerned but all that they could do was pray that God would keep them safe as they did the job they were called to do.  "There is a difference between Rangers and the people who support them...  If women are out on the front lines marching with the Rangers every night, what is the difference?  If they go out on missions and wear uniforms and carry weapons, and put themselves in danger to help the American military achieve its strategic goals, what is the difference?  If they are getting killed out there, what in the hell is the difference?"  Women could not be a part of Rangers because they could not fight face to face combat so they were enablers.  But in reality they were right alongside the Rangers, right in the face of danger, risking their lives.  "I brought my daughter today because I wanted her to know what a hero was.  And I wanted her to know girls could be heroes, too."    "How much better would this world be if every person, at the happiest, most fulfilled point in their life, thought not of themsleves, but of the good they could do for things bigger than themselves?"  A much better world indeed.  Read this book.  Open you eyes and heart to some of the women serving our county and dying for our freedoms. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Lucky Life Interrupted

"A Lucky Life Interrupted" by Tom Brokaw

 Tom Brokaw is a famous news reporter.  He has lead a life of many blessings, worked hard to accomplish his goals and been able to meet and be at many famous history making events.  He writes about his diagnosis and journey with cancer.  His lucky life interrupted by cancer, something that he didn't expect, no one does.  He writes with honesty and with positiveness about this journey that so many are on.  "The emotional and financial turmoil, the complete immersion of the family in the struggle to find relief, the utter unfairness of it all, adds up to a price no one should have to pay."   The price of cancer is high, it's a battle so many face.  And as in every strugle there is a lesson to be learned, things  and people to be thankful for, and gratefulness to find.  "These are the cycles of life.  We lose a member of a family and another comes along to renew the continuity, a chain of death and birth that has been under way since the arrival of upright man."  

Rising Strong

"Rising Strong" by Brene Brown

This book is all about the struggle and rising above.  We all fall, we all make mistakes, but the brave of us are willing to get back up and try again.  It takes courage to be willing to fall again, courage to try where you have failed before.  In the process of falling we can learn so much if we are just willing to be open to the lessons.  This book taught me to pay attention to what I am feeling and investigate the why behind the emotions, to remember that failling is not failure, and there are lessons to be learned while I am on the ground.  "But I am learning that the process of struggling and navigating hurt has as much to offer us as the process of being brave and showing up."  I think if we can remember that pain has something to teach us, it isn't as painful.  "The opposite of recognizing that we're feeling something is denying our emotions.  The oppostie of being curious is disengaging.  When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don't go away; instead, they own us, they define us.  Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending-to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes.  This is what happened.  This is my truth.  And I will choose how this story ends."  We have power then and are not owned by our emotions and cirucumstances.  We each have the power within us, with God's help, to choose.  We can't choose the family we were born into, or things that have happened to us, but we can choose how we will let those circumstances shape us.  "And just so we don't miss it in this long list of all the ways we can numb ourselves, there's always staying busy: living so hard and fast that the truths of our lives can't catch up with us.  We fill every ounce of white space with something so there's no room or time for emotion to make itself known."    I think so many of us are doing this very thing, keeping busy so that we don't have to deal with emotions.  "Just because someone isn't willing or able to love us, it doesn't mean that we are unloveable."  BIG truth right there.  We are all loveable, God created each and every one of us in His image, and He loves us all.  "Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them."  Practicing our values rather than just saying what we value is the hard part.  "It means that we stop respecting and evaluating people based on what we think they should accomplish, and start respecting them for who they are and holding them accountable for what they're actually doing."  "Our silence about grief serves no one.  We can't heal if we can't grieve; we can't forgive if we can't grieve.  We run from grief because loss scares us, yet our hearts reach toward grief because the broken parts want to mend."  The only way to deal with grief is to grieve, and it hurts and yet it heals.  "When you look away from a homeless person, you diminish their humanity and your own."  We think if we don't look they won't really affect us.  I have learned a gift I can give anyone is to smile and look them in the eyes.  This lets the person know that I see them, I see their suffering and am not just trying to look past it.  "Connection doesn't exist without giving and receiving.  We need to give and we need to need."  "Sometimes the most uncomfortable learning is the most powerful."  Falling down hurts and we can learn while we are down to rise strong.  

An Invisible Thread

"An Invisible Thread" by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski

This book was recommended to me by my cousin and it is a very touching book.  It is a true story about a woman who works in NY and passes by a boy begging for food.  Living in NY she has passed many homeless people without thinking twice.  This time as she walks by she stops in the middle of the street and decided to turn back to the boy.  She walks back to him and offers to take him to lunch. This begins the unlikely friendship between a woman and this 11 year old boy.  The story takes us through the years of their friendship and the gaping differences in their lives.  It is a story that could be any one of our stories if we would just take the time to stop and see the humanity before us.  "For a good part of Maurice's childhood, the greatest harm he faced came from the man who gave him life."  What a confusing place for a child to be, the people who are supposed to take care of and nurture you are the very people you are afraid of.  "What does it mean when society says you're unfit to be a mother?  Are there circumstances to be factored in before that judgment is made?  What if a mother is doing the best she can in the face of crushing adversity but still doesn't measure up to society's standards?  When does a mother lose her right to be a mother?"  As I volunteer in the foster system and have sat in on many court cases, these are the questions that must be answered.  It is not always a cut and dry answer, there are so many factors to consider.  It is not easy to make these decisions that alter lives.  "We know about stuff like Chrismas, but kids like me, we know we can never have it for  ourselves, so we don't think about it."  The harsh reality for so many children.  "But I also think about how fleeting such moments of innocence are, about how good intentions and wide-eyed optimism and even love can only protect us from the harsh, corrupting reality of life for so long."  " the things we carry with us from childhood define who we become."  I don't believe our childhood ever leaves us, the good or the bad, but we can choose what we will carry with us into adulthood.  "All of our stories, as much as they are about anything, are about loss.  And, perhaps, they are about what might have been.  But the beauty of life is that inside these disappointments are hidden the most miraculous of blessings.  What we lose and what might have been pales against what we have."  So beautifully said. "If love is the greatest gift of all-and I believe it is-then the greatest privilege of all is to be able to love someone."  And it is, it truly is.  "I consider my childhood a gift,' Maurice once told me.  'It happened to me so I could learn the right way to raise my children.  I saw what my father did, and I might have grown up thinking that was the only way to handle children, like my father handled me.  But then I met you, and that's when I realized there was another way.'"  The impact of one person on another, can in turn, reach generations.  It really is amazing what one act of kindness can do.  A little love goes a long way.