Book Review: The Perfect You

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I received a copy of Dr. Caroline Leaf’s book The Perfect You: A Blueprint for Identity in exchange for an honest review.

This selection reads like an easily accessible textbook. While that may conjure an image of a boring book, it provides a lot of insight. The idea of understanding how your thoughts work and how you can shape them to improve your life gives you not only knowledge but hope. As Leaf explains, a lot of people feel stuck in their negative thought patterns, and she shares understanding and guidance to alter those for the better.

Leaf divides the book into sections, separating the parts that explain how the thought processes work and the biblical bases she uses with the assessment tool and explanations on how to apply it. The flow generally made sense as it gave a foundation for the information so you could have a strong base to use the assessment rather than simply take the assessment and have no background for it. I preferred the first two sections most as they provided all the information. However, the assessment could be used as a workbook for further reflection. I would like to spend more time on nit to use it as an ongoing source of encouragement and growth. The assessment has a lot of questions and depth to it, so it seems like this can be used over a lengthy time for best results.

I enjoyed the book overall, both for its insight as well as its tools for improvement. Leaf knows her brain as well as her bible. I particularly liked how she ties them together. She makes the information accessible and relatable to real life by pointing out how people feel when they do good and how we tend to steer our thoughts. Then she anchors the hope for improvement using biblical principles on how God created us and continues to shape us.

 

“But, as I have emphasized throughout this book, you do not have to let your thoughts control you. You are not a victim of your thoughts and their biology; you are a victor over them. This means you can change these thoughts! You may have been nursing these negative mindsets for so long that they are so familiar to you that you think they are normal. This mistake is often made. However, only the thoughts formed when you are in your Perfect You, from God’s perspective, are normal, while the rest need redesigning or, to use the scientific term, reconceptualization. You can analyze your thoughts and, because of the neuroplasticity of the brain, redesign and rewire them. This is ‘renewing the mind’ in action, and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit it is an essential part of a healthy, good life. Indeed, it is grace meeting science, since research shows that conscious awareness of thoughts makes the thoughts amenable to change because they are physically weakened!” (page 257)

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Our Time, Our Days

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just as I was leaving

you found me again

now we’re right back

onto that same track

 

you make me want to stay

you make me want to go

wherever you decide now

I’ll figure out how

 

each with a foot out the door

we found an anchor of hope

like a welcoming homecoming

a reminder of becoming

 

when we lost touch then

we lost our way to stay

yet here at a crossroads now

we have place to share our odes

 

you kept in my time

feelings ticking on your wrist

a subtle reminder of me

and what we may not see to be

 

while I tucked away mine

let the hands fall still

waiting for a chance to tick

yet on your day it’d stick

 

 

 

 

because once we reached

our time coincided

the days the same

despite what the calendar said

 

 

July 20, 2017

 

Craving Higher Hopes

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no money, no rent

no way to meet ends

yet you daydream away

hoping somebody else tends

 

a day laid in bed

a blanket blocking out

no light streaming in

inspiration to move about

 

until I’m invited again

a smile lift lips

as you start to arise

head resting on my hips

 

my lap brings comfort

the presence you need

to embrace the real you

as that desire you feed

 

a connecting you bring

to go deeper you crave

what you hold dearly

you still can save

 

 

July 20, 2017

Chester Bennington

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listening back now

seems so hard to miss

that deep felt desire

for life more than this

 

so how did we not

see that darkness filling

what light was left

as hope went spilling

 

radio plays nonstop

an endless tribute stream

what now seems proof

in that musical scream

 

let us not forget

the reality of those songs

as hopelessness expresses

it feels it belongs

 

success matters not

when the mind does miss

a light, a hope, a faith

to make life worth this

Gaining Independence and Staying In Dependence on God

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Yesterday we celebrated Independence Day. Since my situation encountered another change recently, I found myself contemplating my own independence. Specifically, I considered how much independence fits a healthy lifestyle. I saw a blurb from a Christian resource pointing readers to remain in dependence on God. That reminder got me thinking about leaning on God, my family, friends and community.

I tend to isolate myself. That stems from a way I’ve coped with difficulties that started in childhood, and I’ve had to work on rerouting that habit. While good results arise from me wanting to take care of myself and my physical needs, I can take care of my spiritual and mental needs only to a point. Well, even my physical needs require me to seek help. I just have a hard time asking for help. Yet it’s there. I do not need to isolate myself; that only tends to worsen the situation. Somehow I forget I truly do have a team of people who care about me and whose relationships have proven fruitful for me (and them). God created us to depend on Him as well as live in community.

As I contemplate my next step for my career and my focus on my physical, mental and spiritual health, I seek to regain more of my independence again in terms of taking care of myself. Yet I also want to remind myself that part of that responsibility involves asking for help and seeking resources. Wherever I end up, I can lean on God and my community near and far.

Under a Summer Sky Makes a Warm, Tender Summer Read

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I received a copy of Under a Summer Sky by Melody Carlson from Revell Books in exchange for an honest review.

Once again I got a third in a series, but this one also didn’t require knowledge of the previous books for me to enjoy this novel. This time I had the added pleasure of reading a sweet summer love story during the summer months. Overall, I enjoyed the story and the characters, especially the protagonist Nicole.

Nicole, a high school art teacher, moved from Seattle, Washington to Savannah, Georgia to run a family friend’s art gallery for the summer. She agreed to the arrangement with the hope of not feeling stuck in her job and relationship status. While there, she encountered new career experience, difficult co-workers, friendships, and a budding romance. She even took one of her friend’s children under her wing.

I appreciated Nicole’s character since her experiences and time of life resembled my own. She showed strength in trying a new angle to develop her career and skills, moving to gain perspective and allowing a nice gentleman to pursue her for a relationship. I too made a faraway move to gain perspective and job experience and could relate to the uncertainty. It felt hopeful to read about someone else doing it and overcoming the obstacles.

My only knocks on the book were that some of the dialogue seemed contrived. The content still made sense; they just didn’t flow as naturally as real dialogue usually would. However, the situations and characters still maintained their authenticity and relatability. In a way the story had a certain simplicity, but I enjoyed it and appreciated the positive outlook.

Wings of the Wind book review

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I received a copy of Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

This book indicated it was the third in the Out From Egypt series, but it was the first one I read and still made sense without the context of the other books as it seemed those revolved around other characters. Generally, the story gave a greater insight into the biblical time period when the Hebrews fled Egypt as they traveled to the Promised Land. This brought it to life in a greater depth in my mind. Hearing the characters discuss the manna falling from the sky and their various thoughts on it made it more real. It also gave a greater context to the interaction and culture of the Hebrews and Canaanites.

As Alanah and Tobiah got to know each other in the marriage they arranged for Alanah’s safety, despite her being an enemy discovered by Tobiah, I learned how the cultures honored their beliefs. I saw how they respected God and the Torah as well as each other. The background of war showed how tough the times must have been for all involved. Both Alanah and Tobiah lose people close to them and must grapple with the loss as they move on in their significant relationship to each other as strangers.

I enjoyed the book overall. The war descriptions didn’t excite me as I don’t particularly care for war scenes, but the war itself does give a context for the struggles in the story. It also gives the characters opportunities to show their mental and spiritual strengths in addition to their physical strengths. These characters showed a lot of all as they faced several difficulties on their hopeful road to the Promised Land.

The Ebb Tide Book Review

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I received a copy of The Ebb Tide by Beverly Lewis from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

This book introduced me to Beverly Lewis as well as Amish fiction, and I’ve enjoyed my first encounter with both. Twenty year old Sallie made a good protagonist to demonstrate a healthy curiosity for the wonders of the world around her. Her situations in the story served as good examples for people exchanging culture and living peacefully together.

Sally’s background differed from mine a lot, ranging from her having ten kids in her family while mine had two to her family living the Plain lifestyle while mine lived a pretty Christian and mainstream one. However, I could relate to her wanting to experience more than what she knew. I too spent my young adult years reading books to learn more about cultures and places. We both also got to reach our dream locations, hers being the beach and mine being London. Then it seemed like those trips led to beginnings of a greater enlightenment of the world and other cultures.

Sally lived with a family for the summer who did not live the Plain lifestyle, and she got to see more modern tools like iPhones, Google and a washing machine. She noticed how the family who hired her didn’t look at her or treat her differently because of her attire but also noticed how they had more material goods at their disposal. Later, she met a nice young man who shared a similar family background but differed. Sallie’s life really flourished in many ways through her experiences as a nanny in a beach area summer home.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. I liked learning more about Amish culture, and I appreciated how it showed a positive way to learn about other cultures through genuine interactions with others. Sallie also demonstrated a healthy yearning to learn and experience those cultures and learn about the world and its people.

The Garden of Small Beginnings book review

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I received an advance reader copy of The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman through a Goodreads giveaway.
Overall, I enjoyed this mostly light hearted and sweet story. Waxman took a heavy topic of a widow’s loss and showed her progress through grief. We see Lilian learn how to raise her young children on her own as well as glean some insight into her discovery that her loss also affected everyone else in her family, ranging from her sister to her overly critical mother. This realization seemed like a turning point for her embracing community rather than isolation in her loss as she got closer to her sister and the friends she made in her gardening class.
Having pointed out these insights, I still thought they could have had more depth. This story gave a cursory glance and kept the story at a fun, girly angle. It may seem nit picky, but I also found some of the phrases and descriptions forcefully crass. That detracted from the sweetness as well as the depth of the story.
The book kept my attention and provided a cute story with likeable characters and enough depth to gain some insight into widows and grief.