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This is one of those children books that I wasn’t sure if I read when I was in my college children’s lit class or not.  Since it is written by Shel Silverstein, I would be surprised that I didn’t read it, but I just couldn’t remember it.  I have always heard people talk about the book, but it just wasn’t jogging my memory.  So it found its way onto my list!  December 30, 2010…it’s about time I became acquainted with The Giving Tree!

A very simple story about a boy who grows up with a tree.   You get to follow the relationship between the boy and the tree through out the years and see just how much the boy asks of the tree (either verbally or just assuming it) and just how far the tree is willing to go in the giving.

I read some info about it after I read the book and I guess there are 2 camps of thought about the book.  I’ll let you do the research, but for the blog, I will just share my own thoughts. Okay?  Great!

My first thought was this story was about the sacrificial mom syndrome.  I had a very good friend many years ago who brought this idea up to me.  As stay at home moms, we gave and gave and gave to our children and never took the time to take care of ourselves.  In the end, that kind of giving  (even to those beautiful children whom we love so much) is harmful.  There comes a time, when we as parents need to say, “Honey, I just need a moment.”  or “No, Honey, I can’t get that for you because its jut not in the budget.”  There is no harm in saying “no” and it is certainly a lesson I have had to learn as a parent.

Honestly, I’m not certain if I like this book or not.  It is kind of sad..to me.  But to others, it may be like a warm hug.  It really is about perception, and you would have to read it for yourself to understand.  If you have read this book, I would love to hear your thoughts on the story.  It is just bitter-sweet for me.  I want to like it. I want to love it.  But I just can’t get that warm and fuzzy feeling about it.

This book has been on my list for quite some time.  I guess I am finishing up this year and this blog with the wonderment of a child!  I kinda like it!

This is the 3rd book of Wayne Dyer’s that I am blogging about, and I have YET to read one he wrote for adults!  Too funny!

Who wouldn’t want their child to feel unstoppable..like the sky’s the limit?  This book gives “10 ways to soar through life”.  I love the rhyming and the rhythm in this book.  The pictures are beautiful and bright.  It’s just a fun book to read.  And at the end of this book are little discussion questions to ask your child (or maybe even for YOU) to think about.

One of my favorite quotes in this book is “Take a breath and slow it down a hair; it’s not just the goal that brings you joy–it’s the path you take to get there.”  It reminded me of this journey and this blog.  I had no idea what the journey would be like, but I did have a very specific goal: 52 books in 52 weeks.  Of course, I assumed, they would be grown up books with grown up messages.  In my intellectual mind, I figured they would be deep and profound and oh so very serious!  And yet, here I am finishing this journey with 4 children’s books all with very deep and profound messages, but with a FUN flair!  If there’s one thing I have learned this year it has been to let go and in joy NOW!

So what are the 10 ways to soar through life?????  I guess I will share that secret with you, but you really should pick up the book and read it for yourself….since I won’t be sharing with you all the fun stuff that comes along with it!

1) You’re Great–No Matter What!

2) Persistence Pays Off!

3) Welcome the Unknown

4) You Have a Choice

5) Farewell to Worry

6) Peace Begins with You

7) Enjoy the Here-and-Now

8 ) Healthy Me!

9) Creativity is the Key!

10) What can you Give?

There you have it..now rush out to the store and pick up your own personal copy and give yourself a warm hug and smile!

“We all have a spiritual purpose, a mission, that we have been pursuing without being fully aware of it, and once we bring it completely into consciousness, our lives can  take off.”  This sentence found in the last 3rd of the book just about sums it all up for me.  We have a spiritual purpose for this life.  I know I do. I know I was called to, or whatever you want to call it, at a very young age.  I know that I have spent my entire life “chasing it” trying to figure out “where to go from here”…”what I want to be when I grow up”.  I know that I have spent a great deal of my life trying to “control” it instead of letting it flow to me.  Living in the flow, instead of forcing the issue.  That is the only way to have it come to me.  But I guess I wasn’t exactly ready for it, that is, until this year.  Not until doing this 52 books in 52 weeks project.

This book has been on my “to read list” for YEARS!  I have seen the movie, but never got around to reading it.  As a matter of fact, it was on my list to read this year way early on in the year, but it has taken me to number 48 at week number 52 to actually get it read.  But ya know what?  It came at the perfect time!

This book reinforces much of what I believe spiritually.  It talks about energy, personal conflicts and why we have them, about coincidences and how we pay attention to them we realize they are not coincidences rather our intuition talking to us!  The idea (in this book) is that there are 9 insights left to us by the Mayans, and these 9 insights show us the way to evolve and become more spiritually connected and in tune people.  The insights give us a better way to live..a better way to understand what the Christ was teaching us through is life…..  It is so beautiful!

Like usual, I underlined and dog-eared every other page.  This book was that profound.  However, like the story itself, I think I will let you discover the insights on your own..the way you are lead to them.  That is the only way you will truly understand them.

I will tell you to pay attention to “coincidences” in your life.  For example, let’s take a look at how I became employed at Bogus Basin as a cashier in the Simplot Lodge.    I did NOT want to work in the Simplot Lodge. It is the busiest lodge and can get quite messy.  It has been my perception that it can be very loud with lots of screaming teens and children.  In the past I have been very sensitive to that many people.  It did not sound enjoyable to me.  Then as my son Nate was trying to apply for a buser’s job on-line for Simplot Lodge, I was trying to help him and accidentally clicked on it and applied for MYSELF for a busser in the Simplot Lodge.  A busser!!!!  So totally NOT what I wanted.  I tried and tried and tried very unsuccessfully to remove this from my on-line jobs profile for Bogus. Even though the button said “unclick” or whatever, it would not allow me to remove it.  Ah well.  Then, I got the call from the Simplot Manager wanting me to interview for THAT position.  I told the manager (Gary) that it was an accident and I didn’t want the job.  Instead, he asked me to come in any way just to start the process.  I agreed.  I got called for the interview, Nate did not.  I felt horrible.  I was getting a job, that I didn’t even want, and Nate wasn’t even getting called at all.

I went to the interview; as we talked the subject of Nate came up.  Gary wrote down his name and said he would call him.  He did.  Nate went to the interview and said that if I had not gotten called first, he didn’t think he would have ever gotten called.  Yay!  Then I got the job offer, and so did Nate.  I took the offer, but still hoped the other 5 jobs I applied for would come through.  I only got interviewed for ONE of the other jobs.  I didn’t get that job.  Instead I ended up with a cashier’s job in Simplot Lodge (even though I applied for busser, Gary said he wanted me as Cashier).

It turns out, it is PERFECT!!!!!!  I LOVE  my job, and miss it when I’m not there!  I love the people I work with.  I love the guests I get to serve. I love everything about it.

Great…so that is one coincidence.  It is ONE example of how following the coincidences all the way through will lead  you to wear you need to be and maybe  even help other people at the same time.  So what is my next step in following these coincidences?  On our first work newsletter there was a section about taking your own professional growth into your hands.  If there is someone at work who has the qualities or experiences you would like to learn from, then talk to them.  Well, Bogus is a non-profit recreational facility.  In my job, I get to see all the ‘big wigs” who run the mountain and talk to them on a daily basis.  My next step is getting to know them better and make a date to have lunch or dinner with them and see if I can learn how to go about getting my non-profit recreational facility (roller rink) up and running!

This is what The Celestine Prophecy talks about… one of my favorite quotes says:  “The universe is energy, energy that responds to our expectations.  People are part of that energy universe too, so when we have a question, the people show up who have the answer.”   I have followed the energy to the right place for the universe to provide me with the people I think will be able to help me!  I ask the questions, and the universe gave me the answers!

Here is another great quote.  Beside it, I wrote, “My work!”.  During this part of the book, the main character describes a dream he was having about being in this raging river and if he fights the river it would drown him, but if he didn’t fight against it…”It woudl have carried me to the key.  What are you saying?  That if i don’t fight against this situation that I  might still get the answers I want?”  His friend replied, “I’m not saying anything.  The dream is saying.”

Why do we fight against what is right, even when at first glance it looks wrong.  If we stop trying to control our lives and live in the flow and be OPEN to what the universe is sharing with us, we will wind up right where we are supposed to be and life will be bliss!  When we are filled with energy and living in the flow, all of our questions will be answered and we would feel like a fish out of water trying to gasp for our next breath!  It’s beautiful!

I will leave you with one more great quote that sums up not only this book and the lessons learned from it, but also my year…..

“I guess I’ve woken up and seen the world as a mysterious place that provides everything we need, if we get clear and get on the path.”

Blessings!

It’s interesting how and why some of these book have been read this year.  This one I already owned and it was in  my library.  It is such a beautiful little book, but I haven’t read it in years, and I didn’t remember how it even came to me.  (Though I found out on Facebook after posting about it..my Sis in Law (Misty) told  me she gave it to me *laugh*).

Anyway, 2 nights ago, my 18-year-old son, Nate, broke up with his 15-year-old girl friend who has been emotional unstable for a while now.  He has only dated her for like a month.  Really not long at all.  We were afraid that when he broke up with her, she would try to kill herself.  Well a couple of hours after he broke up with  her, that is exactly what she did.  She took 45 pills (so she thinks)….a mixture of OTC’s and prescriptions.  When she told Nate that she was doing it, we called the police and they arrived just in time.  She had already stopped breathing.  But they were able to bring her back.  It was very scary..still is, truthfully.

So yesterday, she asked me to come visit her in the hospital.  She told me she could use the support.  As I was getting dressed in my bedroom, I felt the need to bring something to her.  I looked around, and I saw this stuffed frog holding onto a hear that said “hug me”.  It was given to me by a very dear friend of mine when I was sick.  I decided I would take that so she would have something to hold on to when she was feeling sad.  Then I heard this inner voice say I needed to take her a book. I thought it was a book that Tracy (my hubby) had given  me years ago when I was very sad and needed someone.  I thought I knew exactly where it was.  I went down to  my library and looked, but what jumped out of me was Cassandra’s Angel.  I took it off the shelf and read it.

A little girl who spent her life hearing other people tell her that she was a mess, she was different, she was incorrigible, that she didn’t matter.  She was sad and felt alone.  But these were all someone else’s stories they were projecting on to her.  The she met her angel who told her that she is a light in this world and she was beautiful and smart and not to listen to other people’s opinions but to only listen to her own heart and light.

Such a beautiful story with beautiful pictures!  And it was PERFECT to take to a teenager who had just tried to kill herself…who was feeling all of these things….

So I took the frog and the book to the hospital and read it to Katie.  I gave it to her and told her that whenever she is feeling lonely or sad or less than amazing, to pick up the book and remember she is loved and beautiful and amazing!  I just hope that one day she will really understand the meaning of the story and truly understand just how amazing she is in her own right!

My prayers continue to be with Katie………

You just never know when a book is going to jump out at you…when you least expect it, the PERFECT book will call out to you….  have you been listening?????

So there I was, walking through the book store  making a bee line to the children’s section when I saw this cute little puppy dog on the cover of a  book and it was on sale for $4.98.  Add that to my to my favorite word ever, “Bliss”, it was a MUST HAVE!!!!!

I was once told that the quickest way to feel happiness is to play with a pet.  I wasn’t sure if that was true or not.  I have never been a big animal person.  I have always had pets, but I have never really been attached to them so I really didn’t understand this.  Until I was really sad and my cat came up to me to love me and make me feel better.  Then my dog would ask me to play and I would laugh so hard at him.  And I fell in love with my animals.  They have taught me some big lessons.  So it was fun picking up this book and learning some lessons on happiness from Trixie the dog.

I also have to say that it was fun reading a book by Dean Koontz that was on the “light and fluffy” side :).

This book was written from Trixie’s point of view, and was a little odd to read at first.  But as soon as I fell into the rhythm of the writing, it all began to make sense, and I really enjoyed the book.

According to Trixie, “the road to bliss is paved with dog wisdom.” And there are 8 steps.  I will not tell you what those steps are; that is for you to read and find out!  But here are some lessons I learned while reading Trixie’s thoughts:

1) Sit still and be quiet.  Meditation is good.

2)  The rising moon at the bottom of a finger nail is beautiful.  I  never really noticed this before!

3) Life without a cookie is unthinkable!

4) “Pleasure without beauty is just empty thrill”…kinda like Sex without love…..hmmm….same thing, yes?

5) “The world is a gift to  make you happy.”

6) “Here is what real meaning is like.  Maybe you’re meant to give kindness to one special child.  Child grows up, is healer or wise leader.  then your purpose was as big as any king’s, maybe bigger.”  Being a stay at home mom….priceless and so very important!

7) “It is what it is.”  “No Kidding.  if it isn’t what it is, then what would it be?  And if it is what it isn’t, what the hell is going on here?”

8)  “Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor vexation.” ~ St. Francis

9)  If I want to remain young, I must play and laugh more!

10) Grief is cleansing.

Bonus reminder:  Be grateful!!!!!!!!

This book is filled with such heart warming and profound wisdom..straight from the dog’s mouth!  You will laugh and maybe even cry while reading this book.  One thing is for certain, you will smile!!!!!

I bought this book when it first came out (some time at the beginning of the year).  A group of my Facebook friends were going to take the class that was offered via Oprah I believe, and I was going to do it with them.  Ya.  I bought the book, but I never made it to the classes, and I didn’t read the book until now.  And as with everything else in life, there is a timing for everything and I truly believe I needed to have a few more experiences before reading the book.  It is perfect for right now!  Exactly what I need at the exactly the right time.

This book intrigued me.  As a trained storyteller, I learned a great deal about “the shadow” as it pertains to archetypes in storytelling and how to use storytelling in healing the psyche.  This book seemed like a natural fit into my life and what I have already learned; it seemed like it would be a natural extension.

C.G. Jung tells us that our shadow is the person we would rather not be.  Marianne Williamson says, “We feel if we take a deep look at ourselves, we’ll be too exposed.   We don’t want to look at our own shadow, because we’re afraid of what we might see.  But the only thing we should actually fear is not looking at it, for our denial of the shadow is exactly what fuels it.”

Debbie Ford asks the reader, “Are you ready to embark on this journey of reclaiming all of yourself, the light and the dark, your good self and your evil twin?  Are you ready to return to the love of your true, total, authentic self rather than stay trapped in the judgmental angst of a disjointed human ego?”  If so, “Your job is to learn from the shadow, to integrate it, and allow it to evolved your thinking and expand the boundaries of your self-created persona.  Your challenge is to find its value and to bring the light of forgiveness and compassion so that you can defuse its ability to dismantle your life.  Your job is to bring its complex characters out from the shadow, and to use their power and potency as sacred fuel to become who you were meant to be in this lifetime.”

Wow!  That is a pretty big challenge.  There is a reason it is called “the shadow”.  It can be a bit scary to take an honest look at what we are feeling and why.  Isn’t it easier to sit in judgment and blame someone else than to take 100% responsibility for our own thoughts and actions?  Ya, I think so too!  But I have realized in recent days,  months, years that I need to take 100% accountability for everything that happened or continues to happen in my life.   Whether it’s the abuse I endured as a child, the issues in  my marriage, or what I perceive to be happening within the roller derby league I was practicing with.  This book reiterates what I already believe and that is that “thoughts are things” and we create our own world based on our thoughts.  When I think, “Well they don’t like me and are ignoring me and leaving me out because they don’t like  me” then it sets that “wish” into motion and sure enough I get more of what I perceived to be true.  This just shows  me that I am feeling separate from others….separate from my self…separate from God/Love.  Where there is separation, there is fear.  Where there is fear, there is the shadow.  Where there is shadow, there is dis-ease, pain, sadness.

There are so many great thoughts in this book that really helped me look at things in different ways.  If you are struggling with addictions of any kind, fear of any kind, lack of success…if you feel as though something is holding you back, then pick up this book and give it a good read.  At the end of the book there is a test to see how the Shadow Effect is playing out in your life.  I am happy to say that the shadow is not controlling me completely, and yet there is room for growth :).  My eyes are opened now, and that is a good thing.

I will close this entry with this last statement from Marianne Williamson:

“Ultimately, the healing of the world will emerge not from our changing and correcting others, but from our willingness to change and correct ourselves.  Since all minds are joined, our ability to self-correct has a corrective influence on the entire universe.”

Blessings!

“Though I didn’t know it, I was in a dangerous place now.  Having determined that this world was the only one I had–or would ever have–here I was, in conscious mistrust of its core.  And on the other hand, it had been confirmed that the outside world, the one that I had been trying to escape into since I could walk, was not my home either.  I was a misfit in both places.  The only true home I had was inside the notes of music, inside the all-consuming world of white ivory keys and their black flat and sharp companions.”………….

The passage above comes early in this book, thoughts from a 14-year-old Adelaide.  Being raised in an  ultra-conservative home where a girl/woman’s hair was a glory to God, where dancing was not allowed, public bathing (swimming) was not allowed, as well as so many other “thou shalt nots” (as I call them).  From such an early age she wanted to run away and explore, calling herself a gypsy; yet she was stuck in a home with an overbearing mother and father who was emotionally absent most of the time. What she knew to be HER truth and what she was being raised with conflicted on a daily basis, and she found solace and place of “belonging” in her music.  I too shared this kind of confusion in my childhood faith and struggle in my home and solace in my music…..  this was just many of the similarities between Addie and I that I found between the covers of this book!

This book is such a beautiful and heart-warming journey “Walking From Religion to Spirit” (as the cover of the book says).  Isn’t this what this blog is all about?  Well kind of anyway, right?  I, too, was raised in a conservative Christian home.  Though admittedly I was allowed to wear what I want, dance, swim and certainly didn’t have any rules in my house.  The only rules in MY house were that you were to be a God-fearing, tongues speaking, baptised Christian.  Scratch that, these rules weren’t the rules of my house, but they were certainly the rules for ME.  My brothers didn’t have to live by these same rules.  I’m not sure why, but as I read this book and even typed that last sentenced, it dawned on me that possibly the reason that I was the ONLY child out of 4 that was supposed to live by these rules is because I was closest to my mother and I was expected to be a shining light for her.  (Mother daughter issues…….this book is filled with them!)

Anyway, back to the book.  I LOVED it!  I love the history behind the words.  I love the visuals created by the words.  Every time I turned a page, I felt like Addie could have been telling my own story from Religion to Spirit.  I even learned a bit bout my own father and the way he must have been raised (though Addie is nearly 20  years older than my dad would have been today).  More than just her spiritual journey, there are a plethora of insights into being what I call a “sacrificial mom” (or even wife)…of being that care taker.  I found myself self saying out loud…”Hey, Addie!  That is what I am dealing with right now!!!!  Thank you!!!”

All the way through I kept thinking how incredibly blessed I am to have Addie as a member of my church.  This book was released on her 90th birthday…at my church.  Even though I have been attending this church since January, I had never met her until purchasing her book and having her sign it.  When I smiled and wished her a “Happy Birthday” I had no idea just how much this book would  mean to me and how it would touch my life!  Now all I can think about his how truly blessed I am to have such an amazing woman and possible friend in my church.  I can’t wait to send her a card and thank her personally!

Addie’s story is such a blessing and inspiration to all women out there searching for their spiritual path…for all moms out there who give so much to their families…for all the wives who just might  give too much of themselves to their husbands….to women who suddenly find themselves empty-nesters and wondering what the heck to do next!  For all the women out there who say, “I’m too old to do this…..”  you should read this book!

Have you heard the saying, “the only thing constant in life is change”?  Addie’s book is a perfect reminder of that.   As a matter of fact, one of my favorite quotes in the book says, “For me, the status quo, however appealing, never shone as brightly as the radiance of change.”  You get to follow her journey as she moves from parsonage (the home of a pastor) to parsonage and finally to her own homes.  You get to follow her journey that starts in New York and ends in Idaho and takes you places in between.  You get to cry at the unfairness of abuse, face fear in the face of disease, revel in the feeling of first love, feel the darkness of depression and the climb back out to light.  You get to sit with Addie at the bedside of her loved ones as she says goodbye, and you get to say goodbye too.  You get the thrill of not just becoming a mother..but of becoming a grandmother AND a great-grandmother!  This book is a fascinating and exciting read!

I find myself having a hard time sharing what I have learned from this book, but I will say that there are no coincidences in life…….and just as Addie mentions being led to our church (CSL) for a reason (this book), I feel as though I have been led to CSL for a reason…one of them being this book!

I will close with this thought.  Lately, I have been feeling “old”.  I’m only 41.  Yes, this is young.  I never felt old until I started in a sport where the women start retiring in their mid to late 30’s and I was just getting started!  Trying to get onto a Roller Derby team at the age of 41 seems kinda crazy.  And with my new schedule, I will be 42 by the time I can get drafted!  That is even crazier!  Then to add salt to the wound I was inflicting upon myself, I started to read a book on menopause.  The book is written by one of my favorite, entertaining local authors, but the idea of me going through menopause just made me feel even older!  I had to stop reading it.  The next book I picked up was this one, and towards the end of the book, there is this great quote from Addie reminding me that 41 is still very young!  “The new energy breathed into my home lifted my spirits and supported the feeling that, at the age of eighty-three, I was entering the best era of my life.”

Go, Addie, Go!!!!

THE BEST $7.95 I HAVE EVER SPENT ON A BOOK!!!!!!!

This is a short 122 page book that will have you using just about as many tissues to wipe away the tears!

Okay, to be fair, I have to say that I knew when I picked up a book with this title, that I was going to shed a tear or two.  I knew I was picking up a book that was going to be heart warming.  But seriously, I had no idea just how much this book would affect me!

Follow the story of a young journalist on a mission to have her story land on page 1A (above the fold) of her newspaper.  Like they say about every goal in life, it’s not about the destination in life, but the journey TO the destination.  So true for this book and the story of our young Heroine.

Life is filled with so many amazing lessons about being strong, following your dreams, being forgiving and forgiven, never letting go, letting go, and giving back.  This book just reiterates all of that!

More importantly, reading this book reminded me of so many lessons in my own life, and lessons that I hope I have passed on to my children.  Though, to be honest, it can be challenging to pass on some lessons to your children without the same life shattering experiences to provide the ground work.

I have shared my story with my children numerous times, and I hope they have really HEARD it.

Christmas Fire

 

Christmas in my home was always exciting!  In 1980, this statement was never more true.  I was 11 years old and I had three brothers: Matt age 21, Mark age 17, and Michael 10. With 4 children in our house, you can imagine the excitement around the Christmas tree!  The Christmas season always started the day after Thanksgiving.  Each year, my mom would take us kids out to pick out the best Christmas tree; then we would bring it home and decorate it.  Soon after the decorating was completed, the presents started appearing!  From the moment the presents started appearing under the tree, right up until the magic moment on Christmas Eve when we opened our presents, my little brother and I spent countless hours digging through the presents, reading the tags, shaking them, and counting.  One year, we counted over 120 presents under the Christmas tree!  It was absolutely magical!  In 1980, the presents were already starting to pile up and Michael and I were counting the days until we could open our gifts!  Life had different plans.

 

It was a typical busy day in my home.  My two older brothers,  were both working.  I had been invited to stay the night at my best friend Noelle’s house.  My little brother Michael was home watching TV and my parents had plans to go out for the evening.  Michael was left alone for most of the early evening.  He decided he was going to make popcorn, which back then had to be cooked over the stove.  He had done this plenty of times, so it was no big deal.  After eating his popcorn he headed out to his friend’s house to spend the night.  The house was empty, until my parents came home and went straight to bed.  Then Matt and Mark came home and went straight to their rooms to sleep.

 

The next morning Matt was gone as soon as the sun rose.  My parents were up pretty early as well.  They went into Mark’s room to get the car keys, and they left (leaving Mark’s bedroom door open behind them).  Mark was the only person left in the house, and he was sound asleep; that was until the smoke woke him up.  Coughing, Mark woke up dazed and confused as the smoke-filled his bedroom.  He jumped out of bed and threw the stereo through his bedroom window and then he got himself out  He called the fire department and then waited.

 

I had just spent a fun night at Noelle’s house and we were riding our roller skates back to my house when we heard sirens heading in our direction.  We turned around, “Look, Noelle!  A fire truck is heading this direction!  I think it’s going to my house!”  Noelle looked in the direction of the truck, “No it’s not, Martha.  Just watch.”  We watched the fire truck race past us and down the street.  We watched as it turned right on my street.  A sickening feeling rolled through my body.  We skated faster towards my street and reached the alley that ran behind my house.

 

I looked down the alley and saw the smoke.  “Look, Noelle, the smoke is right where my house is!”  I raced to take off my skates.  “Martha.  It’s not your house.  Everything is fine.”  “No,” I said, “It IS my house!  I have to run!”

 

I took off running down my street, racing towards my house.  I saw the 2 fire trucks, police cars, ambulance, and neighbors all around my house.  The black smoke was spiraling into the sky, and I KNEW it was my house long before I ever got there.  When I was 3 doors down from my house Mrs. Mac stopped me and held me tight.  “Mrs. Mac!  It’s my house isn’t it?  My house is on fire!”  Mrs. Mac held me tight as I sobbed in her arms, “Yes, sweetie, it is your house.  Mark was in the house, but he is safe. No one else is home now.  Everything will be alright.”

 

Right after that, my brother Mark came running up to me.  Together we stayed in each other’s arms as we watched the firemen dowse the flames out with their hoses.  After the fire was out, the firemen came up to me one by one giving me hugs.  “Excuse me, Mr. Fireman, can you  tell me what happened to my pets?”  He held my hands, “Your dogs were in the back yard, and they are fine.”  “But, Mr. Fireman, what about my bird that was in my bedroom?  What about our cat?”  The look in his face said it all, and I broke back down into tears.  He couldn’t save my bird, and there was no sign of our cat.

 

Eventually, my parents returned home.  My oldest brother was called home and my little brother, Michael had been retrieved.  The firemen told us that the fire had started in the kitchen at the stove.  “Someone left the stove on, and that’s what started the fire,” they said. The last person in the kitchen had been Michael as he cooked his popcorn over the stove.

 

Since our family was so big, we had to be separated.  Each of the kids went to a different friend’s home, and my parents went to yet another friend’s home.  We were separated for a week or so until my parents could find a house for us to rent until my childhood home was rebuilt

 

Finally my parents found a small, run down house for us to move into.  It was too small for our family, and my little brother had to sleep in the living room on the rented furniture we had until our home and our furniture was repaired.  We moved into our rental house on Christmas Eve.  When we moved in, all we had to bring to the house were a few articles of clothing, rental furniture, and a metal card table with folding chairs for a dining table.  That night, instead of making our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of Tamales and Chili, my mom and I went shopping.  Instead of buying toys and games, my mom and I shopped for plates, silverware, pots & pans, groceries and some more clothes for the family.

 

Instead of wrapping presents and putting them under the Christmas tree, my mom emptied the shopping bags and put the items we just purchased on the card table.  These necessities were our presents, and for the first time in my young life, I realized what Christmas was really about.  It had nothing to do with how many presents were under a Christmas tree.  It had nothing to do with toys and games.  It had everything to do with family and love!  And the best Christmas present I could ever receive is the gift of my family being together happy and healthy.

 

There are so many great lessons in this book and with less than 2 months till Christmas and the stores already playing Christmas carols, I high recommend reading this book to restore some sanity in your life in regards to the holidays.  And with the invention of a child’s gift registry, I highly recommend having your children read this book..or at least sharing the message with them!  It just might change yours and their lives!

“What would happen if you discovered the primary love language of your spouse and chose to speak it consistently?”  This is the question Dr. Chapman raises in his book The 5 Love Languages.

I will be honest.  I heard about The 5 Love Languages (the book and the concept) several years ago.  At the time, I did not read the book.  I thought it was a bunch of….ummm….nonsense.  However, I did take the quiz.  My husband took the quiz.  My  kids took the quiz.  But we did nothing with it.

Maybe if we had done something with it, my husband and I would not go through the same cycle of disappointments that we go through every  year.  This year, that cycle hit us hard…harder than it ever has before.  We sought out a marriage counselor..thinking we (I) needed sex therapy.  (Maybe this is too personal to talk about on  my blog….but it’s the truth..and very vital in possibly helping someone who is struggling.)  Every year, my husband and I would “get into it” because he felt like he wasn’t getting enough sex.  I would take it personally and feel like I was being pressured into having sex.  With my history of sexual abuse, this did not go over so well.  But something has to give!  Something has to be changed if our marriage is to survive!  The fact is, we have been together for 27  years, and we love each other.  We do not want to separate and we want to make this work.  So we went to therapy..a sex therapist.  The only one in town, it seems.  But he was old…..VERY OLD.  So old, in fact, he couldn’t hear, couldn’t see, barely walk, and couldn’t remember what we said 2 minutes before.  I’m sure he had great things to say…back when.  But now, well, it just wasn’t working for us.  AND…he made it sound like it was *me* that was the problem.  I just had to suck it up and give it up.  That wasn’t the answer.  So we never went back.

I continued searching for something to help.  We watched the movie Fireproof that was based on the book The Love Dare.  The movie was “okay”.  It had some valid points, but it was highly Christian which was a turn off to my husband and myself.  It seemed to be more about “becoming a Christian” than saving a marriage.  So I thought that maybe the book would be a bit different…… I am currently reading through it on a day by day basis as it is a 40 day Love Dare.  I’m over half way through and will blog about that book when I am done.  At the same time, I decided to read The 5 Love Languages, and I loved it!

I’m sure you have heard about the book “Men are from Mars Women are from Venus”.  I have never read that book, but as I remember what I have  heard about it, I believe it is about the different ways men and women communicate.  5 Love Languages is about the different ways we all communicate our love.  So what are the 5 Love Language?  Words of Affirmation.  Quality Time.  Receiving Gifts.  Acts of Service.  Physical Touch.   In the back of the book, there is a “quiz” for both the husband and the wife to take (individually) to see what their Love Language is.  However, Dr. Chapman says you can also figure out what your spouse’s Love Language is by listening to their complaints.  Are they complaining you never talk to them?  Then Quality Time may be their primary Love Language.  Are they constantly asking you to do things or complaining you never help around the house?  Then consider Acts of Service.  If we listen to the complaints of our spouses, we will likely hear their Love Language. Also, I was told once as a teenager (by my mother in  law) that people do for their loved ones what they would have done for them.  Dr. Chapman says the same thing…..  Does your spouse constantly praise you verbally?  Maybe Words of Affirmation is THEIR love language.

All the way through the book, Dr. Chapman allows you to sit in on his counseling sessions and learn the ways in which he helps his clients.  You get to see how their lives and marriages change!  It’s a fascinating and eye-opening read.  I learned more about myself the way I wish my “love tank” would be filled…and more importantly, how I can help my own husband feel more loved.

Dr. Chapman explains that the “in-love” feeling we all get at the beginning of our relationships can last up to 2 years, but then what?  It might not even last a complete 2 years, and by then, you may already be married!  Then what do you do with the rest of your lives?  “That is what this book is all about.  How do we meet each other’s deep, emotional need to feel loved?  if we can  learn that and choose to do it, then the love we share will be exciting beyond anything we ever felt when we were infatuated.”

Lest you think this book is all about theory and not practice, let me set you straight.  At the end of every chapter, there is a little part called “your turn” where he asks you questions and challenges you to be better.  Do them!  Be an active participant in your life and in healing your relationship (or maybe just making it better).  It certainly won’t get better if you do nothing!  I have to say that my favorite chapter was Chapter 12 “Loving the Unlovely”.  It follows the story of a woman who felt like her marriage was done for but struggled between her faith and morals saying divorce was wrong and the feeling that she just wasn’t loved and there was nothing she could do.  Dr. Chapman gave her a 6 month challenge, and at the end……she had the marriage she had always dreamed of.

Seriously?  Can it be that easy?  Not sure “easy” is the right word.  It can be difficult to feel like you are the only one working on your relationship..and sometimes its not just a feeling; it’s the God’s honest truth!   But I found that trusting the process helps.   As I have been working through The Love Dare, even though I found myself resentful that *I* was doing it and  not Tracy (long story), I have been telling myself to trust the process.  I did my dares, and as I did them, I saw Tracy respond.  (I don’t think Tracy knows I am doing them…..at least I have made a point of not telling him.)  So, now, having finished The 5 Love Languages, I have decided to take the 6 Month Challenge.

My marriage is sacred to me.  I love my husband with all of my heart.  I always have and expect to always feel this way.  I knew the minute I saw him that I was supposed to marry him.  It was that “knowing” that has kept me strong over the last 27 years.  THAT is what I remember when I am hurting most.  I believe that when we are struggling in our marriage, it just means that its time to learn to communicate and grow again…..so here we go… more growing!!!!  Isn’t that what this blog…”The God Project” …is all about??????

So how about you?  Want to take the challenge with me?

 

BTW…..Dr. Chapman has also written a book on The 5 Love Languages for children!  Check out his website http://www.5lovelanguages.com

When I enter a book store the theme song from “Top Gun” should be playing….”Highway to the danger zone…….”  The instant I cross the threshold, my wallet finds a place to hide in the deep dark recesses of my purse, and I can almost swear that when I put my hand in my purse to find it that it moves on me and I have to chase it to capture it!  Book stores are dangerous places for me.  Sure I could go in with blinders on and walk in, get what I need, and hurry and walk out.  But with all of those books just lying around begging me to pick them up and leaf through their pages, it’s a very tempting place!

This is precisely how I ended up purchasing this book.  I went into the store to pick up a book for my daughter, and in the mean time, perused my way through books on the tables on the way back to the children’s section.  Instantly, I saw the title of this book and knew I had to have it!  I had NO IDEA what a whirligig is, but I loved the word!  And when I turned the book over to read a synopsis of the book, I was hooked!  Whenever I see the word “journey” to describe a story, I know it’s a book I have to read!

Funny thing is, I didn’t even realize there were discussion questions in the back of this book!  Crazy!  When I did some research on the book on the internet, I realized this is a book that English teachers like to teach from.  SCORE!  I LOVE these kinds of books!!!!  With all of this said, you know it had to be  great book!  And it was!!!

First of all, let me tell you what a whirligig is!  Here is what dictionary.com defines it as:

whirl·i·gig

–noun

1. something that whirls or revolves.
2. a whirling motion or course: the whirligig of fashion.
3. a giddy or flighty person.
4. Dialect. a merry-go-round or carrousel.
5. a toy for whirling or spinning, as a top.

In the book it kind of describes it as a wind toy/yard decoration that blows in the wind.  Okay, the book does a better job of describing it.  It can have wings that blow in the wind or propellers or any number of things depending on the design of the particular piece.

Got it?  Ya, I know; it’s probably as clear as mud.  It’s okay.

Anyway, the book was beautifully written and will tug at your heart-strings.  It’s a story of a high school boy named Brent who, in trying to kill himself, accidentally kills a high school girl with his car.  As “atonement”, the girl’s mother gives Brent a challenge to travel around the country and build and place whirligigs in the corners of our country.  You get to follow Brent on this journey and learn the lessons right along with  him.  You get to find the healing and watch the transformation right before your eyes!  You also get to see how these whirligigs change the lives or have a part in changing the lives of 4 different people around the country.

Fleischman does a fantastic job of capturing the different voices and moods for each of the stories within the story.  As a matter of fact, it almost feels like a completely different writer at times!  It is artfully written.  I loved it!  As a reader, it is a fantastic journey!  It seriously made me want to hop a bus with little money and go on an adventure!!!

As always I marked some amazing quotes, and there are too many to give you! I will, however, give you a few!

Two girls come upon one of the whirligigs……

“..thoughts are powerful.  that they’re the seeds of events.  That by thinking something, we can help make it happen.”  “All that is, is the result of what we have thought.”

“You can’t see the wind, but look what it can do.  It’s invisible but powerful.  Like thoughts.  One brings a bunch of junk to life.  The other brings desires to life.”  ‘If you learn to use thoughts, you can do all kinds of things.”

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Thoughts on the Afterlife…..

“After night came another day.  And after death another life.  Mornings seemed mysterious gifts.”

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Thoughts on the word “karass”…an English term for a disparate group of people linked together without their knowledge…..

“Your family and friends weren’t part of your karass.  You couldn’t choose its members, and might never know who was in it or what its purpose was.”

I particularly loved this thought.  Brent uses this word and considers the people he meets along his journey as part of this “karass”.  And it made me think of the people who have come and gone through my life…everything happens for a reason.  People come into your life for a reason and a season and sometimes you may not even meet them, but for some reason have become part of your life in such a way as to really make a difference.

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Upon reflecting on one’s actions….

“…the effects of an act traveled far beyond one’s knowledge.  He knew she’d meant harmful acts, like his.  He saw now that the same could be said of good deeds, such as a teacher’s years of inspiring.  Everything we did –good, bad, and indifferent — sent a wave rolling out of sight.”

How are YOUR actions affecting the world and those around you?

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There are so many great lessons and quotes in this book!  I absolutely LOVED this book and can’t wait to share it with my teenage son!  This is perfect for the teenager in your life.  It’s a quick read; I read it in a couple of hours!  I will leave you with my favorite quote from the book:

“The Lord doth provide.  And the dump’s where He does it.  Most folks don’t realize that.”

Seriously, some of our best lessons in life happen when we are “down and out and in the dumps”.  Right?  There is treasure there! We only have to change our perspective and EXPECT to see the good things in life!  We  just have to be open to the possibilities!

 

Happy Reading!!!!