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The Happiness Project

What I’m Reading this Summer

My 2015 Summer Reading List

I’ve finally finalized the list of books I want to read this summer.

A couple of them are light, quick reading books, two are so-called “children’s books,” some are thought provoking and a bit “serious,” and one is just fluff.  Hopefully each of them, in their own way, will help me grow as a person and understand my life and the world around me better.  Last summer I read these books.  I enjoyed them and learned so much about the Bible, Jesus, and God and His laws and eternal plan for us, but this year I’m planning to have a carefree summer (is that possible?) with my nose in books that I can read in just a few days each.  I just want to spend my days doing a little bit of yard work, a little bit of house work, a little bit of cooking, and a whole lot of playing and reading.

Cold Tangerines Image Dandelion Cottage Image The True Story of Hansel and Gretel Image
Half Broke Horses Image Heaven is Here Image The Kitchen House Image
A Week in Winter Image Sparkly Green Earrings, catching the light at every turn. The Jungle Book Image

Cold Tangerines; Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life by Shauna Niequist ~ A collection of stories that celebrate the extraordinary moments hidden in everyday life.  It is about God, and about life, and about the thousands of daily ways in which an awareness of God changes and infuses everything.  Cold Tangerines offers bright and varied glimpses of hope and redemption, in and among the heartbreak and boredom and broken glass.

Dandelion Cottage by Carroll Watson Rankin ~ This childhood classic was first published in 1904, and tells the simple, charming story of four young girls and their adventures in the pioneer town of Marquette, MI.  The story begins when the girls pull all of the dandelions from the lawn of the cottage behind the local church and thereby obtain the right to use the cottage as their playhouse for the summer.  This is a very wholesome and charming tale that has withstood the test of time.  The real-life Dandelion Cottage that the story is based upon still exists in Marquette.

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel: A Novel of War and Survival by Louise Murphy ~ In the last months of the Nazi occupation of Poland, two children are left by their father and stepmother to find safety in a dense forest. Because their real names will reveal their Jewishness, they are renamed “Hansel” and “Gretel.”  They wander in the woods until they are taken in by Magda, an eccentric and stubborn old woman called “witch” by the nearby villagers.

Magda is determined to save them, even as a German officer arrives in the village with his own plans for the children.  Combining classic themes of fairy tales and war literature, Louise Murphy’s haunting novel of journey and survival, of redemption and memory, powerfully depicts how war is experienced by families and especially by children.

*UPDATE 9-14-15* I started this book and only read to page 68.  It might have been a good book but it has several f-words so I didn’t finish it.

Half Broke Horses; A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls ~ By age six, Lily was helping her father break horses. At fifteen, she left home to teach in a frontier town – riding five hundred miles on her pony, alone, to get to her job.  She learned to drive a car and fly a plane.  And, with her husband, Jim, she ran a vast each in Arizona.

Lily survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great Depression, and the most heartbreaking personal tragedy. Half Broke Horses is Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults.

*UPDATE 9-14-15* I liked this book but didn’t love it.

Heaven is Here: An Incredible Story of Hope, Triumph, and Everyday Joy by Stephanie Nielson ~ Stephanie Nielson began sharing her life in 2005 on nieniedialogues.com, drawing readers in with her warmth and candor. She quickly attracted a loyal following that was captivated by the upbeat mother happily raising her young children, madly in love with her husband, and filled with gratitude for her blessed life.

However, everything changed in an instant on a sunny day in August 2008, when Stephanie and her husband were in a horrific plane crash.  Stephanie was on the brink of death, with burns over 80 percent of her body. She would remain in a coma for four months.

In the aftermath of this harrowing tragedy, Stephanie maintained a stunning sense of humor, optimism, and resilience. In this moving memoir, Stephanie tells the full, extraordinary story of her unlikely recovery and the incredible love behind it – from a riveting account of the crash to all that followed in its wake.  With vivid detail, Stephanie recounts her emotional and physical journey, from her first painful days after awakening from the coma to the first time she saw her face in the mirror, the first kiss she shared with her husband after the accident, and the first time she talked to her children after their long separation.

What emerges from the wreckage of a tragic accident is a unique perspective on joy, beauty, and overcoming adversity that is as gripping as it is inspirational.

*UPDATE 9-14-15* I thought this book had potential for being a really great book but found it lacking in inspiration.  I didn’t think it was well written and there are body and sexual references that I considered to be in poor taste.  I know her survival and recovery were miraculous but the book just wasn’t uplifting in the way I had hoped it would be.  I read about 2/3 of the book before I gave up on it.

The Kitchen House: A Novel by Kathleen Grissom ~ In this gripping New York Times bestseller, Kathleen Grissom brings to life a thriving plantation in Virginia in the decades before the Civil War, where a dark secret threatens to expose the best and worst in everyone tied to the estate.

Orphaned during her passage from Ireland, young, white Lavinia arrives on the steps of the kitchen house and is placed, as an indentured servant, under the care of Belle, the master’s illegitimate slave daughter.  Lavinia learns to cook, clean, and serve food, while guided by the quiet strength and love of her new family.

*UPDATE 9-14-15* This book started out OK for me but then got very boring so I gave it up.

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy ~ Stoneybridge is a small town on the west coast of Ireland where all the families know each other.  When Chicky Starr decided to take an old, decaying mansion set high on the cliffs overlooking the windswept Atlantic Ocean and turn it into a restful place for a holiday by the sea, everyone thinks she is crazy.  Helped by Rigger (a bad boy turned good who is handy around the house) and Orla, her niece (a whiz at business), Stone House is finally ready to welcome its first guests to the big warm kitchen, log fires, and understated elegant bedrooms.  Laugh and cry with this unlikely group as they share their secrets and (maybe) even see some of their dreams come true.

*UPDATE 9-14-15* I read this book and liked it but probably wouldn’t read books by this author again.  The story line was engaging enough to keep me reading but then the ending was predictable and a bit slow.

Sparkly Green Earrings; Catching the Light at Every Turn by Melanie Shankle ~ This is a quirky, but fun memoir of motherhood.  I read this book a couple of weeks ago and LOVED it.  You can read my review of it here.

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling ~ I love the movie but haven’t ever read the book so I pulled it off the shelf a few days ago and started reading it.  It’s a bit different than the movie but I’m enjoying it.  It’s written as a collection of stories, which were first published in magazines in 1893-94.  The best known of them are stories revolving around the adventures of an abandoned “man cub” Mowgli who is raised by wolves in the Indian jungle.

Are you reading any good books this summer?  I would love to add to my list.

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Sparkly Green Earrings

 

so many great books

Sparkly Green Earrings: catching the light at every turn.

 

 

 

 

 

Sparkly Green Earrings:
catching the light at every turn
by Melanie Shankle

 

 

 

 

 

I checked out of life for about 6 hours last week to read this fun book.

Last summer I read a review for Sparkly Green Earrings and thought it sounded like a fun read but I already had my list of books for summer reading so I just jotted down the title onto my long list of books to read sometime. When I was looking through that particular list a couple of weeks ago I was reminded of this book so I went to the library and and checked it out.

It was perfect timing for me because I’ve been reading some “heavier” books lately and so this light, easy read was quite welcomed into my life.

Melanie Shankle, author of The Big Mama blog, (which I’ve never heard of until now but feel like we would be good friends if we were next door neighbors) is a very funny, lighthearted, insightful writer that shares her experiences of pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood in this book.  She has a great gift of taking the ordinary daily events and weaving them with the lessons learned about what’s really important in life and how God uses each of us and our circumstances to mold us and our children to become what He’s created us to be.  She also captures what I think every mother feels about being a mother ~  that it’s overwhelming at times, that we often doubt ourselves and focus on our weaknesses when we make mistakes, that we may take ourselves too seriously, and that we sometimes do things because “that’s what everyone else is doing.”  But she also captures how fulfilling it is to be a mother, that a mother loves her children more than she ever knew she could love someone ~ that it’s the “first true glimpse of how God loves us,” and a mother realizes the importance of loving and leading, protecting, preparing and letting go.  And that God is always there ~ for us and and our children.

This book has some of laugh-out-loud stories and a few that made me teary and a whole lot of tender moments that made me want to re-live the younger years of my children because I don’t think I cherished them as much as I should have.

I’m really glad I read this book and I’m already looking forward to reading The Antelope in the Living Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life.

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Great Books [#3]

BooksILove

The Mitford Years Collage3

The Mitford Years
by Jan Karon

Have you read the books in this series?  I absolutely love them ~ all nine.  Everyone I know that’s read them has loved them, too.  Even my husband!  That’s saying a lot ~ he’s a reader but for him to read books such as these means they aren’t too girly, just great stories with well-worked plots and engaging characters.

The Mitford Years is a fictional series set in the quaint town of Mitford, North Carolina ~ a nice, quiet town with characters that include the well-loved 60 year old bachelor Father Tim, who is an Episcopalian priest, the main character of the books, and the spiritual and moral compass of the town, a dog the size of a Buick that only responds to Bible verses, a lovely and spunky new neighbor that catches Father Tim’s eye, and all of the other people that cross paths and impact Father Tim’s life in some way.  Jan Karon gives us genuine characters that are not easily forgotten. They’re a unique combination of fun, witty and interesting, quirky, heart-warming, and lively, and humorous, annoying and simple, which kept me smiling and provided many laugh-out-loud moments.

There’s nothing immoral or inappropriate in them ~ they’re just good, wholesome, deeply nourishing books. Books to savor.  Books that are so good I can hardly wait to read the next one.  Books to recommend.  Books to re-read.  Books that will make you wish you lived in Mitford.  Books that have strong Christian values with spiritual truths and life lessons taught without being preachy at all.

After you read The Mitford Years series you’ll surely have friends for life.  The characters are that good.  You’ll probably want to make an Orange Marmalade Cake, too, which is what my sweet hubby did many years ago for my book club when we discussed At Home in Mitford, the first book in the series.

These would make a great summer read.  In fact, writing this review is making me want to pull mine off the shelf and check out of life for a week or two so I can read them again.

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Great Books [#2]

BooksILove
TheAllianceImage
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Even though this isn’t the type of book I normally like to read, The Alliance is one of my favorite books.   Gerald Lund wrote this fast-paced, futuristic story that takes place eighteen years after the majority of civilization ended due to a nuclear holocaust.  Survivors from small scattered villages are gathered and relocated to a larger central society known as the Alliance, which at first glance seems like a utopian society.  But Eric Lloyd and some of the other newly relocated survivors immediately recognize the evils that are taking place to maintain the power structure and control the citizens.  This book is full of great moral lessons and good action and suspense, and is perfect for teenagers on up.
 

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For seventeen years Martin and Gracia Burnham were American Christian missionaries living and working in the Philippines.  They had three children and were very happy and content with the life they lived.  Although they lived on a tight missionary budget, in May 2001, Martin and Gracia took a wedding anniversary vacation to the island of Palawan for some much needed relaxation.  While there, their perfect getaway turned into a horrific ordeal that most of us cannot even imagine.  They were kidnapped by an islamic terrorist group and held for ransom.  The situation they found themselves in seemed tolerable if it only lasted a few weeks, but as the months dragged on their life on the run in the jungles of the Philippines proved to be almost more than they could handle.  They missed and wondered how their children and other family members and friends were, they endured near starvation, extreme exhaustion, gun battles between their captors and rescue teams, and coldhearted murder.  Their faith was tested and strengthened, which in the end was the only thing that sustained them, sometimes at the same time and sometimes at different times when they needed it to uplift the other in times of physical and mental despair.  Together they got through it.  Their story, written by Gracia, is one of hope and survival.

I love the very last paragraph of the book:

“The special people God gives us along the way make us stronger to face the trials of an ugly world.  Obviously, I never expected to face something of this magnitude.  But I thank the Lord for helping me to endure it.  I honor the legacy of a wise and godly man who kept me going, trail after trail, gun battle after gun battle.  I value the efforts of all who worked so hard to get me out alive.  And I resolve to keep living in the embrace of God’s gladness and love for as long as he gives me breath.”

This book helped me understand better that now is the time to prepare for trials.  Committing scriptures and hymns to memory, building and strengthening my relationship with God, and understanding my role as a daughter of God will help me in times of darkness, whenever and however it presents itself.

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Great Books [#1]

BooksILove

 

HoneyForAWomansHeartImage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About ten years ago I was browsing in a book store and stumbled upon this book, which thrilled me completely because I had Gladys Hunt’s book Honey for a Child’s Heart and loved it and used it all the time.  I especially love the cover of this book because that woman without a face lounging on the sofa could be you or me or anyone.

Hunt loves great stories and is very well read and shares her own recommendations (along with a short description) as well as recommendations by trusted friends.  The book is organized into sections which makes it easy to browse through or zero in on certain topics of interest.

The topics include: For the Love of Books, What Makes a Good Story?, The Brightest and the Best: Literature and the Classics, Something for Everyone: Genre Fiction, The World and People Around Us: Nonfiction, Piping Down the Valleys Wild: Poetry, Honey from the Rock: Reading the Bible, Growing Up on the Inside: Spiritual Growth Books, and The Company of Others: Sharing Books.

In my copy of the book, I’ve highlighted books/authors that interest me and then after I read them I write a short little note to remind me whether I liked it or not.  While I haven’t enjoyed every book Hunt has recommended, I’ve discovered plenty that I would probably never know about if it wasn’t for this book.

In addition to this being a fun book just to read through, I love having a trusted source for book recommendations.

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Dave Ramsey is one of my heroes.  Several years ago my husband got me hooked on listening to his radio program and I just loved how kind and compassionate he was to his callers, no matter what their financial circumstances were.  I especially loved listening on Friday when different people that had followed his financial freedom plan would call in to tell their personal story of getting out of debt and then giving the famous, “I’M DEBT-FREE!!!” shout.  I loved it.  Then one day at Costco I saw this book and purchased it.  Just like with the radio program, I really loved reading the personal stories that are in the book.

It’s funny though, because even though I love Dave Ramsey and this book we didn’t really ever follow his plan ~ until a little over two years ago.  My husband is very good with money and numbers and has a GREAT mind for keeping track of money matters in his brain, and has us on a great plan for retirement.  Me ~ not so much. The whole thing causes my brain to fog and my eyes to glaze over.    Although we’ve never really used credit cards or been in serious debt we weren’t always in total control of our money; we’ve always lived within our income but have never lived on a budget.  My husband had always “been in charge of our money and paying our bills” and I would use my debit card (or write checks back in the day) and expect him to tell me if I needed to stop spending our money.

But in October of 2011 I felt like I needed to be involved ~ that we needed to plan a budget ~ that we needed to make money envelopes for our monthly expenses ~ that I needed to stop using my debit card.  And the only thing I can say is that it has changed my life and I wish we had been living like this all of our married life. I love how it has empowered and educated me, and helped me to learn how to handle money as a responsible adult woman and not as a little girl.

I love Dave’s plan.  It makes so much sense.  He explains his program in everyday language and gives plenty of examples that are so easy to understand, he provides helpful worksheets, and he has broken it all down into clear steps that are completely doable.

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In His Steps is one of those “life-changing” books for me.

In this novel, Dr. Henry Maxwell, a respected pastor, had an experience that “awakened concern as to whether Christians actually experience and practice Christian faith and love in day-to-day relationships with other persons.”  Because of this experience he vowed to approach every situation in his life with the question, “What would Jesus do in this situation if He were me?”  The following Sunday he challenged his congregation to join him, and one hundred people agreed to try it for one year.  They pledged to live earnestly and honestly for an entire year, and to not do anything without first asking the question, “What would Jesus do?”  After asking that question, each would follow Jesus as exactly as he knew how, regardless of the immediate results.

This book tells the stories of Dr. Maxwell and his congregation.  It really helped me in my relationships with others, especially in circumstances that were less than pleasant for me.

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This book was truly a delight to read.  American Bee chronicles the passion and dedication of young spellers from around the country as they prepare themselves to compete in local spelling bees in hopes of earning a trip to the prestigious Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C.  I loved this book and found myself cheering on each of spellers.

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After watching The Sound of Music, have you ever wondered what happened to the von Trapp family after they left Austria?  I always did.  This book, written by Maria von Trapp, begins with her leaving the convent to go serve as governess to Captain von Trapp’s children.  She shares her experiences as governess, her marriage to Georg, their need to flee to America, and their life as new immigrants.

Except for the fact that Maria was living at the convent to become a nun, I didn’t really ever think the movie portrayed her as being religious.  I was so pleasantly surprised and deeply pleased to read her accounts of her deep faith in God which influenced every aspect of her life.  She and her family were diligent in their worship and regularly prayed to God to know His will for them and once they knew it they moved forward in faith and never looked back.

Their early years in America were often hard and challenging, yet abundant and joyful.   Their story is so endearing that I completely fell in love with Maria and her whole family as did most of the people that met them in real life.

This book is so uplifting and wholesome, and if you’ve seen the movie and loved it, please read the book.  Your life will be much richer for having done so.

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Gift from the Sea

so many great books

Gift from the Sea image 2

 

 

 

 

Gift from the Sea
by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

 

 

 

 

About thirteen years ago I went to a used homeschool curriculum sale with my friend, Lengel.  There was a booth that was selling used literature and I was drawn to this particular book, Gift from the Sea.  And even though it was only a few dollars I didn’t buy it because I had never heard of it and I’m pretty picky about the books I purchase.  I wandered around the room and went back to the booth to look at this book at least three times.  But I still didn’t buy it.  A bit later my friend and I caught up with each other and started going through the sale booths together and when we came to the booth with Gift from the Sea she picked it up, purchased it, and handed it to me and said, “here, I want you to have this book.”  She proceeded to tell me what a beautiful book it is.  That was such a great blessing in my life.

Gift from the Sea has turned out to be one of my very favorite books and I’ve read it every summer since that summer curriculum sale.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of Charles Lindbergh, wrote Gift from the Sea in 1955.  It’s a book about her insightful reflections on being a wife and mother of five children, which she so values, and the joys and challenges she encounters while performing her many daily duties.  She uses a two week vacation to the sea shore to rest from her busy life and to meditate on cutting out distractions and balancing her life and needs with those of her husband, children, and other things demanding her time and she uses the sea shells she finds to form similarities between them and her life in each of it’s stages.

She uses the Moon Shell to give us two reflections that seem so simple, yet are sometimes difficult to remember or make time for:

  • “If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others.”
  • “Only when one is connected to one’s own core is one connected to others, I am beginning to discover.  And, for me, the core, the inner spring, can best be refound through solitude.”

She goes on to reflect on this concept and writes that women are meant to give but in order to give we must be replenished, and that we as wives and mothers need to find time for that replenishment somehow because we are the only workers who do not have regular time off.  She isn’t suggesting, though, that we each take vacations alone.  She mentions that even just arranging a bowl of flowers can give a sense of quiet in a busy day ~ and that what is important is that we have a space of time to be “inwardly attentive.”

Anne compare the Oyster Shell with the middle years of marriage.  Just as the oyster fights to have a place on a rock and then clings to it tenaciously, so most couples struggle for and cling to home, children, and their place in society.

She finds symbolism for the other stages of life in other shells she finds.

Towards the end of the book she shares this thought: “Perhaps this is the most important thing for me to take back from beach-living: simply the memory that each cycle of the tide is valid; each cycle of the wave is valid; each cycle of a relationship is valid.  And my shells?  I  can sweep them all into my pocket.  They are only there to remind me that the sea recedes and returns eternally.”

Anne gives us her reflections as a seeker herself and is never preachy but is thoughtful, simple, and honest. In fact, it almost feels as though we could each be having her ocean and cottage experience and writing her reflections as our own.  This book is so relevant to our lives today because we could all probably benefit by simplifying and decluttering our lives and finding joy and validity, strength and refinement as we fulfill our roles as wives and mothers.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh has given us a gift of herself in her book Gift from the Sea.

More book reviews…
Mao’s Last Dancer
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
I Am Potential
James Herriot’s books: All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Things Wise and Wonderful, The Lord God Made Them All
Left To Tell
The Happiness Project

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James Herriot’s Books

so many great books

Have you ever read a book that you thoroughly enjoyed every single word written?  What about two books? Three? Or four?  For me, these books were a combined 1750 pages of pure joy.  There were moments that I laughed out loud, a few times I had tears in my eyes, and the entire time I had a smile on my face. If you’ve read these books, you know what I mean.

All Creatures Great and Small All Things Bright and Beautiful
All Things Wise and Wonderful The Lord God Made Them All

James Herriot was a Scottish country veterinarian who spent his entire career working in the Yorkshire Dales of England, beginning in the 1930s.  He brings to us his experiences with the farmers and village folk, the farm animals and domestic cats and dogs he treated, the other vets he worked with, his partner and his brother, and his wife. Each person and each animal has a personality that is vividly brought to life through his heartwarming stories told only in a way that he can.  We also learn quite a bit about the countryside, their way of life, and veterinary work.  Written in his true English dialect and style, the reader is completely immersed in James’ world as he interacts with the people he works and socializes with ~ whether in a field or a barn, or joining them in their pub or home for a drink or a cup of tea.  He was often called out to work in the middle of the night, so even though his life seemed a little romantic we are reminded of the hard life a country vet really has.  And though his work was hard, he was always gentle and patient, friendly and kind.

By looking at the covers of these books a person might think they look like they would be for animal lovers only, but they are not. Anyone that loves great heartwarming stories will love them.

Here are some of the rave reviews given to these books:

“Warm…Graphic…Gripping…Touching…Hilarious…A Treat” ~ Publishers Weekly
“What the world needs now…is a warm, G-rated, down-home prize of a book…James Herriot’s memoirs qualify admirably!” ~ Time
“This veterinarian is the most entertaining, most thoroughly likeable, most engaging person to have come along in a long time, and the stories he has to tell are fascinating.” ~ San Francisco Examiner
“…Veterinarian James Herriot has a way, not only with animals, but with words.  And in telling us how he feels, he enables us to feel with him.” ~ Detroit Free Press
“Perhaps once in a decade a book like this comes along.  It’s a simple tale…told with such pathos, humor, and warmth.  It’s a beautiful book.” ~ George Hecht, President, Doubleday Book Shops
“…Many more famous authors could work for a lifetime and not achieve more flawless literary control than this unknown vet has in his first book…But if living well is even more difficult than writing well, his character and temperament are more miraculous than his style…The whole book, in both its funniest and most tragic episodes, expresses a joyous and affectionate acceptance of life, animal and human!” ~ Chicago Tribune Book World
“James Herriot’s books are a thing it would be hard to get too much of.” ~ Business Week

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.
Cecil Frances Alexander 1818-1895

On my reading list for this summer are three other books written by James Herriot: Dog Stories, Every Living Thing, and James Herriot’s Yorkshire.

What about you?  Have you read any of James Herriot’s books?  If you have, did you love them?  If you haven’t read them, are you going to?

More book reviews…
Mao’s Last Dancer
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
I Am Potential
Left To Tell
The Happiness Project

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I Am Potential

so many great books

I am Potential

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Am Potential: Eight Lessons on Living, Loving, and Reaching Your Dreams

by Patrick Henry Hughes
with Patrick John Hughes and Bryant Stamford

 

 

 

Patrick Henry Hughes was born with short arms and legs that couldn’t straighten out, hip deformities so he would never be able to walk, and permanent blindness because he was born without eyes.  He was also born with an amazing attitude, musical and language talent, and blessed with parents that fought for him and raised him to be the best he could be with what God had given him.

This is his inspiring and touching story.  Although Patrick Henry was born with what many would call severe disabilities, he refers to them as abilities.  He said, “You can always think of your circumstances as good or bad. I choose to see my blindness not as a disability, but as an ability.”  Have you ever thought you were ugly, fat, skinny, too short, too tall, not stylish, etc., and wondered what other people thought of you?  For Patrick Henry, not being able to see those he meets is a gift because it allows him to focus on what’s important ~ the person’s character and personality.  He is able to just love them and “see” them as God created them.

In this book, Patrick Henry and his father have teamed up to share their own insights on living, learning, and growing while embracing the rare abnormalities that Patrick Henry was born with.  They discuss eight lessons that have helped them along the way and they can help us, too, no matter what our circumstances may be.

Eight Lessons:
1. When life gives you lemons, accept them and be grateful.
2. Do all you can to change what you can.
3. Pursue your passion as if your life depends on it.
4. Be the YOU your mother would be proud of.
5. The best personal heroes can be found close to home.
6. Set your course, then burn the map.
7. Love, given freely, multiplies and returns.
8. Live each day like the last day of summer vacation.

There are two lines, written by Patrick John {father}, that bring tears to my eyes whenever I read them or think of them.  “Normal?  Thank you, God, that my son is anything but normal.” and “I’m just an average guy who’s been blessed to have a son who is anything but average.”  There are so many more wonderful passages that I have marked in this book and would love to quote here, but I’ll let you read the book and savor them yourselves.

Patrick Henry Hughes and his father remind me how wonderful it is to be alive and to make sacrifices for those I love, to focus on my own God-given talents that I can share with others, to embrace my own experiences and limitations, to reach out and see the good in others, to love others, and to not feel sorry for myself so that I, too, can say I Am Potential.

I Am Potential is a short book, only 222 pages, and easily read in an afternoon or two.  But the lessons taught by Patrick Henry and his father will last a lifetime.

You need to either buy this book or check it out from the library today.

More book reviews…
Mao’s Last Dancer
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
James Herriot’s books: All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Things Wise and Wonderful, The Lord God Made Them All
Left To Tell
The Happiness Project

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Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

so many great books

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
by Jean Lee Latham

 

 

 

We were first introduced to Carry On, Mr. Bowditch about seventeen years ago and read it at that time, then a short time later, then a few years later for a book club our boys participated in, and I just recently read it again.  That’s how well I like this book. There are very few books I have read four times.  This fascinating, well-written historical fiction novel has plenty of adventure, character and life lessons, navigation facts, and inspiration for us to be motivated to learn new things and not give up due to circumstances that are beyond our control.

Nathanial {Nat} Bowditch, who was born in the late 1700s, in Salem, Massachusetts, had a great love for learning and great plans, even as a young boy, to receive an advanced degree from Harvard University.  But at the age of ten he had to leave school to work for his father and at twelve he was signed to be an indentured servant for nine years as a bookkeeper in a ship chandlery.  What seemed like a dead end for him turned out to be about the greatest blessing he could have received.  By day he was required to keep the books at the chandlery, but during his free time he had access to books that helped him to school himself ~ he learned advanced mathematics, navigation, languages, and more.  He is living proof that a classroom is not necessary to gain an education.  When his apprenticeship was completed, he traveled the world on ships, discovered errors in the widely used Moore’s Practical Navigator and worked through them and made the corrections, and used his knowledge to teach and inspire others.   Nathanial Bowditch, the founder of modern maritime navigation, wrote “The New American Practical Navigator”, which was first published in 1802 and to this day is carried on board every commissioned U.S. Naval vessel.

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch received the 1956 Newbery Medal, and for good reason.  I don’t know which other books were nominated that year but I do agree that this book is a great contribution to children’s literature.  {Click here to see a list of the Newbery Medal books}

Give this book a try {it’s a great family read aloud} and see if it enriches your life like it has mine.

More book reviews…
Mao’s Last Dancer
I Am Potential
James Herriot’s books: All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Things Wise and Wonderful, The Lord God Made Them All
Left To Tell
The Happiness Project

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Mao’s Last Dancer

so many great books

Mao's Last Dancer 2

 

 

 

 

 

Mao’s Last Dancer

by Li Cunxin

 

 

Lin Cunxin was born into an extremely poor family living in a commune in China ~ communist China ~ under Chairman Mao’s rule.  Cunxin descriptively recalls their living conditions and how indoctrination instilled in him a fierce love and devotion for Chairman Mao and communism, and how propaganda instilled a fear of America and western culture ~ “we’d heard nothing but the mistreatment of black people, the violence on the streets, the misuse of firearms.”  They were taught the evils of America ~ freedom and free enterprise.  At the age of eleven he was selected to study ballet at the Madame Mao’s Beijing Dance Academy.  His teachers taught him discipline and determination and vision, and as he applied these qualities with his seven years of exceedingly hard work, he became one of China’s best dancers.  When Li was eighteen, he was awarded a scholarship to attend a summer school at the Houston Ballet Academy in Texas.  While in America, Li saw freedom for the first time.  He experienced the prosperity of Americans.  He had more food to eat than ever before.  Over the next two years he realized that everything he had been taught about communism was wrong and he desired freedom more than anything.  In 1979 he defected to America and became one of the world’s best ballet dancers.

This book taught me ~

1.  That America is an exceptional nation. {I knew this, but now I understand it from an outsider.}

2.  What a blessing it is to have been born into this country.

3.  How precious freedom is.

4.  How deplorable and oppressive communism is.

5.  How children are targeted and indoctrinated first, and then the adults, with misplaced allegiance, false hope, and promises.

6.  That I need to do everything I can to fight communism in our country because once we lose our freedoms, we may never get them back.

More book reviews…
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
I Am Potential
James Herriot’s books: All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Things Wise and Wonderful, The Lord God Made Them All
Left To Tell
The Happiness Project

HeartLoriSignature

{Click here to see where I link up.}

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Continue Reading · 5
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