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Thursday, February 22, 2018

"Faithful Finance" by Emily G. Stroud, MBA, CFA

I was a bit skeptical about this book touting 10 secrets that could move one from fearful insecurity to confident control.  However, the more I read, the more I was impressed.  The chapters in this book are clearly written so that the novice finance person can understand yet are informative enough that no detail is lacking.  There are so many tips and tricks that I was not even aware of.  For instance, beyond home and car insurance, there is insurance for long term life care (aka - assisted living).  Beyond saving for a child's college, there are specific tax-deferred plans calls 529s.  While wills may list out who gets what in the event of one's death, they do not overwrite the beneficiaries listed on one's life insurance policy.  For investing, it is okay to see money lost since the stock market with its ups and downs historically trends up over time.  There are so many other tidbits I'd love to share, but I encourage readers to find out for themselves.  Stroud is not just some savvy person who reads finance magazines.  She has her MBA and CFA and even her own finance company.  She knows what she is talking about.  As for the "faithful" part of this book, there is no health and wealth gospel preached.  Rather, each chapter starts out with a Bible verse and Stroud talks a bit about her Judeo-Christian faith in the front and end matter of the book.   I definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting to get their finances in order.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

"Judah's Wife" by Angela Hunt

The story of the Maccabees is not in the regular Bible but is included in some Catholic Bibles as part of the  Apocrypha.  While religious scholars do not consider the books canon, they are acknowledged as historical records.  Hunt takes these stories and adds drama to it thru the eyes of Judah and his wife Leah.  Each chapter is written from the perspective of either Judah or Leah.  I've always enjoyed books that do this because it helps me get to better understand characters.  While this story is set years in the past, the family situations and emotions are common for any time period.  Generational curses are expounded as Leah's abusive father makes her scared of her husband who has never laid a hand on her.  When Judah becomes a warrior and has to be gone for long periods of time, Leah has extreme inner conflicts.  How is this different from modern-day army wives whose husbands go on deployments?  When there is marital conflict, Leah hopes that having a child will change her husband.  Women all over the world will relate in some way to Leah and her personal struggles.  What I will note is that some of the brutal history in this book are not easy to swallow.  Moments of war and bloodshed and decapitation are noted.  This book is not for squeamish readers and should not be read before bed. 

Saturday, February 3, 2018

"Unmedicated" by Madisyn Taylor

In an age full of anti-depressants, anti-anxieties, and other medications, Taylor is not the only one left wondering how we as a society got there.  This book starts out with Taylor's story of sickness--both physical and mental / emotional.  She tells of medications and how she decided she wanted to be drug-free once and for all.  What follows is her research of what she's found to work for her, along with practical tips for the average reader to incorporate into their daily lives.  There are four pillars of natural wellness, which include clearing one's mind, nurturing one's spirit, strengthening one's body, and developing friendships.  At first I was not sure if these "pillars" would be too hippy-dippy for me.  However, as I read more and more, I discovered that they really are not that "out there".  For instance, what some may call meditation, I would just call taking time to relax.  What some may call speaking with the universe, I would just call praying.  What some may call moving one's body in harmony with one's energy, I would just call yoga.  While Taylor briefly mentions some time she spent in Catholic school, the spiritual aspect of the book is not swayed heavily in any one particular religion.  Rather, Taylor encourages readers to find their own spirituality in healthy ways.  She encourages them to have objects that make them happy (could be a cross, a gemstone, a postcard with a quote, etc) and make spaces in their home where they can unwind (what she calls an altar, I would call a relaxing space).  Overall, I enjoyed this book.  I think a lot of what is written here is information that most people already know.  However, it is important to take the time to be reminded.  How many readers know they should take time to unwind but don't actually do so?  How many readers know they should exercise but don't actually do so?  After reading this book, I think it makes an excellent reference to go back to and remind oneself how to de-clutter, relax, and catch up with friends.  I should also note that Taylor very clearly states that she is not a medical doctor, encourages readers to work with their doctors, and that there are people who actually need medication to function.  Her purpose is not to have mentally ill people skip their meds.  Her purpose is to help people who need healing get to the root cause of their pain and fix it once and for all instead of just numbing it.  There is a difference between someone with a chemical imbalance who needs medication to function versus someone who is overweight and lonely who is on medication when what they really need to do is just exercise and make friends.