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Saturday, May 25, 2019

"From Monk to Money Manager" by Doug Lynam

Knowing how many books I read and how fast I go thru literature, a friend of mine suggested I read a finance book.  He claimed I'd likely be able to get through it faster than the average person and absorb the information well enough to improve my own finances.  So, I got this book to review.  I liked the concept of a religious monk turn money manager.  This book was fascinating and taught me a lot about finances.  I learned the difference between rich people and wealthy people.  Rich people have lots of money but blow it on stuff.  Rich people often end up poor when they are older, their businesses hit hard times, or when they retire.  On the flip side, wealthy people may not have lots of money but they invest what they do have.  Wealthy people live below their means, save like monsters, and have some sort of stock options.  Another key takeaway from this book is that there are stocks called ESG stocks that are environmentally sustainable and governable.  Index funds in ESG stocks will invest in companies that recycle, help the environment, and do good in the world.  ESG stocks exclude companies that involve drugs, weapons, cigarettes, adult entertainment, etc.  Best of all, ESG stocks perform on par, if not better, than standard stocks.  These ESG companies aren't all environmental companies.  They can be mainstream companies that simply have sustainable practices and have no bad ethics.  I will take the lessons from this book and hopefully make myself a little more wealthy.  As Lynam points out throughout the book, money is not evil.  Love of money is evil.  If everyone became a little more wealthy, the world would be a better place.  Don't shun money.  Rather, use your money for good so you don't end up having to have someone else suffer by supporting you.    

Thursday, May 9, 2019

"Sex, Purity, and the Longings of a Girl's Heart" by Kristen Clark and Bethany Beal

I am a fan of Kristen and Bethany of Girl Defined Ministries.  This is their third book and is all about sex / purity.  This book is all based on Christian theology and how sex was designed by God.  Sex within marriage is how the Creator designed it.  The authors illustrate how sex is a metaphor for a relationship with God.  Sex is meant to be intimate between two spouses who have made a covenant promise to each other...just like how God has a covenant relationship with humanity.  This does not mean God has physical relations with people--by no means.  It is all just symbolic and metaphorical.  Difficult issues such as porn, erotica, adultery, homosexuality, sexual abuse, and more are covered in a way that is transparent yet not graphic.  I should note that the book is aimed at women and can be read by young girls.  There is nothing explicit in the book and no images.  What I was surprised was how there was little to no emphasis on physical consequences for premarital sex.  There was no section on sexually transmitted disease or unplanned pregnancy.  Overall, I enjoyed the book.  No matter your past, you are loved by God and can walk in your worth as a daughter of God.  Sex is not scary or bad or cheap.  Rather, sex is meant to be cherished with the one person who has committed their life to you by putting a ring on your finger!

Friday, May 3, 2019

"Soul Survivor" by Bruce and Andrea Leininger with Ken Gross

I listened to this book as an audio book CD.  I heard about it when it was referenced in another book on cellular biology.  The story is about a young boy who has nightmares related to a past life.  As early as two years old, the boy James tells his mother about fighter aircraft, past relatives, knowledge of Japan, and so on.  James even has violent nightmares where he is trapped in a burning aircraft...the very same aircraft he died in during World War II.  James' parents are torn--his mother is a believer in reincarnation while his father is skeptical.  Through years of research and tracking down veterans, James' parents begin to be more and more convinced of their child's past life.  James even made reference to being in heaven and choosing his parents when they were honeymooning in Hawaii.  Some will say this book is a hoax or made up.  I honestly don't know if this is true or not but I choose to believe it is so.  There is so much about life after death that we do not know.  God can do anything, and if God lets people come back to life multiple times, what's the big deal?  On a side note, I would like to say that the narrator of the CD is excellent.  The voice, tone, and pacing are on point.

"Girl, Wash Your Face" by Rachel Hollis

Geared towards women, this book is all about being the best version of yourself.  Various lies are detailed and confronted with a loving reality.  Hollis shares many stories from her own life.  For example, when confronting the lie that women are defined by their weight, Hollis shares her own struggles with emotional eating.  When confronting the lie that women will be happy when they have a man, Hollis shares her own struggles with her husband.  The author is Christian and makes some religious references, but the book feels very authentic and not evangelical or otherwise pushy.  Readers turn each page and feel like they are chatting with the author over a drink.  I wouldn't say this book has any new information.  Most topics would be considered common sense, but I do think it is still a good book to read.  Far too many women let lies control their life, and it's always great to have a positive reminder that everything is going to be okay and you have the power to make it so.  Girl, wash your face!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

"Love, God" by Deborah J Simmons Roslak and Linda J Orber

This devotional is a must have for anyone who could use a good pick-me-up.  Each segment is two to three pages.  They start off with a quote, some food for thought, an inspirational message, and finish off with journal prompts.  This can be read one day at a time or readers can plow through it in a day or two (whatever the preference).  While the book itself is very short, I chose to take my time.  The words are short but the meaning is deep and intense.  The authors write from the perspective of God, so it feels as if God is speaking to the reader.  While there are some Bible verses, the book itself could be enjoyed by people of all faiths.  God is often referred to as the Creator and Love itself.  There are many references to putting more love in one's life, allowing oneself to be loved, remembering one is loved, remembering God is always there, and so on.  If more people thought like this, I do believe the world would be a better place.  Live in love for you were made in love.  Love, God.  

"Girl, Stop Apologizing" by Rachel Hollis

For all the women out there who have dreams they've not yet pursued, this book is for you.  Hollis goes into the lies and excuses that hold women back from being their best...most of which revolve around other people's perceptions.  If I chase my dream, I won' be a good mom, my husband will be mad, my friends will make fun of me, and so on.  These are awful reasons to live one's life in the backseat.  After the mental work is done, Hollis moves readers onto building skills and habits that will lead them to success.  These are all about consistency and hard work over time.  This book offers no quick fixes.  Hollis shares her own journey of success in this book, being candidly honest about what did and did not work for her.  She is also upfront about her own confidence in her image, especially about her extensions, hair coloring, eyelash extensions, and even plastic surgery.  Hollis' look isn't for everyone, but she does encourage women to find whatever look makes them happy and confident.  While I didn't agree with everything in this book, I found it to be overall motivating, inspiring, positive, and stock full of good intentions.  Girl, live your life, make your dreams come true, and stop apologizing for being who you are!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

"The Biology of Belief" by Bruce H. Lipton, PhD

An instructor recommended this book to class after teaching a roomful of students about the heart-brain connection.  Lipton opens the book with a story from his own life, explaining how his unusual journey to reconcile science and spirituality began.  There is fascinating information detailed about cellular biology and whether or not matter is really all that matters (spoiler alert, it isn't!).  Energy, waves, vibrations, and more are discussed, as well as the placebo effect and religious miracles.  I loved the analogy of consciousness being like a TV station.  Even if a TV breaks, the station still exists.  It merely has to be played on another device.  In this sense, the window of opportunity exists for both reincarnation, as well as immorality.   Several fascinating studies are mentioned in this book, which has prompted me to order several others to learn more.  I will say this book spends more pages discussing the science of how cells work than going into case studies of the paranormal.  Still, I found it to be enlightening.  You are not destined to be whatever your DNA and genes are.  You can influence your future and change your cells today!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

"You are the PLACEBO" by Dr. Joe Dispenza

I listened to this audio book because an instructor of mine recommended it.  This was such a fascinating book that really got me thinking.  The placebo effect is when someone is tricked into thinking they have a cure when they don't and their body heals based on that belief.  The most common experiments are people who get a sugar pill (that they think is a medical pill) and reverse signs of their illness.  More interesting studies are those where people had knee "surgery" that essentially did nothing but knee problems went away after patients were told the "surgery" was a success (they were put to sleep during the surgery).  There were people who were blind or bleeding profusely who were healed based on the placebo effect.  There are also stories of people with nacebo effects whose bodies declined when they were told they had a hex placed on them by a witch.  Dr. Dispenza discusses stories like these and more with the ultimate goal of getting to where people do not need a magic pill or surgery.  The goal is to make your beliefs so strong that you quite literally heal yourself.  This is rather difficult and meditation for extended periods of time is encouraged.  This topic is sure to get you thinking.  If you believe in the miracles of the Bible, were those really miracles or simply placebos?  Who knows!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

"Jewish and Christian View on Bodily Pleasure" by Robert Cherry

This book focuses on the history of views on bodily pleasure from a Judeo-Christian perspective.  The history of Jews and Christians is chronicled and the author goes from BC to AD and back again.  The garden of Eden had "be fruitful and multiply".  The pagan societies had sex slaves, prostitution, and degradation of women / men / children.  Modern day Catholic priests and nuns must take a vow of abstinence while Protestant preachers and rabbis of all denominations are encouraged to marry.  Where did all of these differing perspectives come from?  Cherry traces the history of sexuality in time and space and religion.  Intimacy in marriage between a man and woman was God's design from the start, but what then do we make of the celibate Jesus and the fact that our bodies are the temple of God?  Can one hear from God at all times or only when abstaining from bodily pleasures?  The questions go on and on.  I personally think both extremes are harmful--that of never marrying and that of promiscuity.  This book was very interesting.  My only complaint is the images in the book are x-rated.  I wish these were not included.  I found the book interesting from a historical perspective, but I can not in good conscious recommend it to others with the images inside.

"Bedtime Blessings" by Bonnie Rickner Jensen and Illustrated by Julie Sawyer Phillips

This children's book is hardcover and full-color on wooden pages.  It is designed such that it can be read all at once or in segments.  Each left-and-right page is a segment.  These have one Bible verse, followed by a rhyming poem.  The illustrations all depict a lamb, bunny, and chick.  These spring-themed creatures are all the best of friends.  They play together, get ready for bed together, explore the world together, go camping together, and much more.  Each poem and Bible verse and illustration are linked so that it all makes sense and isn't just random.  I found this book to be incredibly cute and whimsical.  I wish I had a book like this when I was growing up.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

"Put on your PJs, Piggies!" by Laura Neutzling and Illustrated by Sydney Hanson

This wooden hardcover, full-color children's book is quite a delight for bedtime.  The short story follows a family of pigs that is in no hurry at all to go to bed.  The parent pig repeatedly tells the little piggies to put on their pajamas and GO TO BED.  However, the piggies are more ready for playtime and fun than they are for snoozing.  Through a colorful series of events that include counting nearby sheep friends, the piggies do eventually put on their pajamas and go to sleep.  This book was rather cute and comical.  It gave me a good laugh.  I'm sure this will help create bedtime memories with little ones for years to come.

"Placemaker" by Christie Purifoy

This book is all about the art of making a place a home.  Purifoy writes of her life experience as a married woman following her husband from town to town for his work.  There is deep internal conflict as she struggles to have children and must sacrifice her own career for her husband's career.  Much description is paid to trees and wildlife in the various places Purifoy visits.  She talks about the need to make each of her individual homes welcoming and hospitable--even if she knew she was only going to be there temporarily.  There are many existential paragraphs in this book when the author meditates on the cycle of death and rebirth in nature.  A tree may fall, but it gives new life the next season.  Are not people the same way?  There are some sad parts of the book when the author is vulnerable with her emotions, as well as when a death in the family is mentioned.  I wouldn't say this book is extraordinary in terms of telling a story, but there was some way in which Purifoy wrote that made me feel relaxed as if I was talking with a dear friend.  Read this book if you want to slow down and make your house a home, no matter how long you plan to stay there.

"Seven" by Jen Hatmaker

I listened to this audiobook while driving to and from work.  It is more of a diary / blog / journal of one woman's journey to simplify her life with radical giving / sacrifice.  There are various experiments she does around the number seven.  There is a time when she eats only seven foods.  There is another time when she wears only seven items of clothing.  There is another time where she pauses to pray seven times a day.  The aim of her trials is for her spiritual enlightenment.  Hatmaker is a Christian, so there are many references to Jesus throughout.  The author makes a claim that most people in America--even those who consider themselves poor--live like royalty when compared to third world countries.  Hatmaker even talks about adoption and her struggle to adopt Ethiopian children.  While I admire the author's drive for altruism, I do not see it as taking on widespread popularity anytime soon.  Yes, there are people starving and suffering in the world.  But does giving up one's possessions and living a lower quality lifestyle really help all that much?  Wouldn't it be far greater if the countries in need solved the root cause of poverty, abuse, and neglect?  Why should someone forego having their own children to take care of a child someone else had?  These are very deep ethical questions that the reader will have to answer.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

"Better Together" by Warren Photographic

Adorable and sweet, this hardcover full-color book is sure to bring your living room table to life.  What an excellent book to peruse while waiting for an appointment or just to add some cheer to one's day!  Each page has an inspirational quote on one side and a lively photograph on the other side.  The quotations are centered around themes of friendship, respect, diversity, love, kindness, and compassion.  The photos are of various animals--mostly dogs and cats less than one year old.  I liked the photos that paired different animals together that were colored the same.  It's fascinating how, say, a bunny and a dog can be so different but look so similar!  There are also images of very different looking creatures side-by-side.  Overall, this is a fun book that I'll enjoy for years to come.

"Getting past anxiety" by Melissa A. Woods

This book is of the inspirational fiction / recovery genre.  It is about a woman Stella who goes on her own personal journey of healing from anxiety.  Stella comes from a broken home, had a child out of wedlock, is a divorcee, lost her brother at a young age, has a distant mother, has an inappropriate father, and more.  Needless to say, Stella's life is not easy!  She has extreme anxiety that causes her to lose relationships and even prevents her from getting on airplanes.  Stella undergoes an alternative medicine form of therapy that is very shaman-like.  She heals her childhood wounds and learns why she does what she does.  While this book is very inspirational, I must warn readers that it is very sad and tough and raw.  This is not a book to be read before one goes to sleep.  Also, due to the nature of this book, I would not recommend it for children or young readers.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

"If I'm so Wonderful, Why am I Still Single?" by Susan Page

This book's cheeky title got my attention in the library, so I gave it a go.  This book is more full of practical advice than hard statistics.  The whole premise is getting to the root of why people are single.  The author distinguishes intentional singles from unintentional singles--after all, some people do NOT want to be in a relationship.  There is a lot of psychology covered about intimacy and those who do not commit.  A laundry list of excuses that most singles use to justify their single-hood is explained and debunked.  For the singles out there, some need to resolve their emotional issues through therapy, some need to regain their self-esteem, some just need to get out of the house, some need to join a singles group / website, and so on.  Page urges readers to use equal measures patience and persistence.  Patience without persistence yields no results.  Persistence without patience lends itself to desperation.  If you are single and you do not wish to be, give this book a read to see why you are single and what you can do about it.  

"Love your Body" by Louise L. Hay

I listened to this audio book CD while driving to and from work.  Hay is like a gentle grandmother figure that aims to make listeners feel better.  There are several guided meditations that emphasize how much we should all love our bodies.  The meditations can be for men or for women.  Specific parts of the body are covered, all the way from the top of one's head to the bottom of one's toes.  Even organs are cherished in this CD, from our hearts to our lungs to our digestive parts.  Hay uplifts listeners by reminding them that they are normal, beautiful, and natural.  Our bodies should be nourished and taken care of--not reprimanded and punished.  Listen to this CD today to get more appreciation for your own body.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

"Totality of Possibilities" by Louise Hay

This audio book CD is a live recording with a studio audience.  Louise Hay speaks to the audience about how there is so much potential in the world for living our dreams.  She encourages listeners to think positively and let go of the negative voices in one's head that say we don't deserve this, we aren't good enough, we can't do this, and so on.  Hay explains that there are billions of people in the world and thus billions of opportunities for business, friendship, and love.  Near the end of the recording, there is a fun question and answer session where Hay dives deep into real people's insecurities.  At the very end, Hay leads a very peaceful meditation to the sound of piano music playing in the background.

Monday, February 25, 2019

"Make it Work" by Tony A. Gaskins Jr.

I first found out about Tony Gaskins when I listened to his videos on youtube.  He has a lot of advice about relationships.  The main premise of his platform and message is for women (and men) to not sell themselves short.  No one should settle.  No one should be with someone who makes them sad, cry, cheats on them, abuses them, is mean, is controlling, and so on.  Gaskins notes that people make mistakes and not everything is worth breaking up over.  However, he also emphasizes the power of consistency.  It's one thing to mess up and make it work moving forward.  It's another thing to repeatedly hurt someone over and over.  If you are repeatedly being hurt, heal yourself and move on.  Gaskins also talks about the importance of marriage and saving oneself for marriage.  Men who string women along for years end up wasting the women's time by making her what Gaskins calls a "hold me down".  Gaskins goes so far to say that most men know within a year if they want to marry someone...if not sooner.  Don't be the woman waiting years for a ring.  If your man is slow on commitment, get out and meet other men who will better value and appreciate you for the jewel that you are.  Aside from what to avoid, much of Gaskins' book has advice for married couples on how to strengthen the relationship and keep the flame of love burning for years to come.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

"Jelly Bean Blessings" by Maddie Frost

This full-color, hardcover book is one to be treasured for years.  There are three animal friends that enjoy the blessings of spring together.  The fox, the pig, and the alligator (or crocodile, I'm not really sure which it is!) are the best of friends.  Despite the title, this book does not just focus on jelly beans.  The trio enjoys splashing in puddles, gardening, picking wild flowers, flying kites, riding bikes, hiking in the park, doing spring cleaning chores at home, feeding birds, having picnics, and more.  I really liked the fun outfits for the animals that changed from scene to scene.  Also, I'm not sure what the media is, but many of the pages are shiny and glittery, or at least they give that impression.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and hope you will, too!  Now if only springtime would come sooner!