Thursday, February 25, 2016

Book Review: The Power of a Godly Grandparent: Leaving a Spiritual Legacy

If you’re a grandparent or plan to become one, read this book. Quoting Deuteronomy 6:1-2, which refers to parents and grandparents, authors Stephen and Janet Bly write: “The Bible doesn’t tell us that the Church is to be the primary teacher of faith to the next generation. Rather, it exhorts parents and grandparents to be primary instructors of spiritual education.”

Blys’ book helps grandparents become such “instructors.” Fourteen chapters open with interesting stories about grandparents and include titles such as: “The Power of Loving Long Distance,” “The Power of Your Family History,” The Power of Sharing Spiritual Truth” and “The Power of Praying for Your Grandchildren.”

The authors go so far as to address how to manage interaction if you have one to five grandchildren or anywhere up to 26 or more. They suggest spending a week with each grandchild each year as the ideal. But that depends on the distance between grandparents and grandchildren, the ages of each and other factors. All in all, Blys offer sensible, helpful hints to create lasting family ties with lots of options depending on personal situations.

To help communication across the generations, Blys suggest topics to talk about including your own history. They suggest ways to draw out/pass on talents and skills within a family. They also address special situations, such as requests for babysitting and the strains created by divorce.

The chapter on prayer alone is worth the price of this book, which is $14.99 from the publisher, Beacon Hill Press. Blys suggest a monthly prayer calendar and offer pages of topics to pray about. They also share scripture verses that encourage us in prayer. Parents or anyone nurturing a younger person would benefit from the suggestions found in this book.

Although I’ve been grandparenting for almost 21 years, I gained new ideas and fresh motivation from this book, and I know you will too.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Book Review: The Deer on a Bicycle: Excursions into the Writing of Humor

If you have any interest in writing humor articles or just adding bits of humor to your writing, this is the book to read. I laughed my way through it because McManus offers his own articles as examples. And the stories come with quite insightful commentary on how he developed the pieces. Along the way, McManus explains the kind of things writers want to know, such as how to get your byline in magazines, your name on a book cover and how to include a “recognition factor” with which readers can identify.

Chapters open with questions from Newton, an imaginary character who thinks like the students McManus taught during his tenure as a university professor of English and Journalism. McManus answers Newt’s questions directly or with illustrations from his writing.

Published in 2000 by Eastern Washington University Press, the book’s back matter includes “Humorists I’ve Liked and Learned From,” a list of authors admired by McManus. And McManus is now definitely on my "most admired authors" list!

In The Deer on a Bicycle you’ll learn how to take small inane snapshots of life and blow them up to make people laugh so hard they cry. You’ll observe artful exaggeration and how a bit of humor goes a long way to attract editors. But even if you’re not interested in writing humor, this book is a winner just for the fun of it.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Seven Reasons to Read

From My Attic

In 2015 I read 29 books. That’s taking in a lot of print. I learned a lot, BUT I don’t remember half of what I read. I look at some titles and can’t even remember the plot. So why do I read?

Reading enlarges my view of the world. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee took me south to a time of racism and injustice. I read this in preparation of reading the author’s second book, Go Set a Watchman. Did not enjoy the second book as much. Wonder by R. J. Palasio helped me understand the world of those with disabilities in a most engaging way.

Reading offers new ideas. Because I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, I now roll my knee socks and place turtlenecks in a drawer on their side. This way I can see at a glance every color instead of digging through stacks of sweaters or socks. The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson expanded my idea of prayer. The Hour That Changes the World by Dick Eastman changed the structure of my prayer life.

Reading sharpens your mind. You’ve always thought one way; perhaps there’s another perspective. In It’s Not What You Think, Jeffrey Belke offers a biblical perspective, taking into consideration biblical times rather than how we think in this time and culture. Interesting.

Reading informs and educates. Although it’s a novel, The Orphan Train exposes a little known time in American history when trains carried children west to adoptive families. In Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of Troubled America, Bob Herbert offers political analysis of how we’ve come to the current state of affairs in our nation. Heretic by Ayaan Hirsi Ali helped me understand how ISIS and other terrorist organizations relate and share the same horrific goals.

Reading encourages and motivates. Last year I reread one of my all-time favorites: No Graven Image by Elisabeth Elliot. It’s fiction, but when I get discouraged because I fail to achieve something in spite of giving it my all, I remember this story and gain hope. When God Doesn’t Fix tells the life story of Laura Story, writer of the song “Blessings.” This book offers great insight to those of us who struggle with the complexities and seeming unfairness of life.

Reading builds perseverance. I did not especially enjoy Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Wolfe. But I was determined to finish it. J

Reading is fun. I love getting lost in a novel such as The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I love losing myself in a good mystery. I love books I can’t put down. Just started reading The Copper Scroll by Joel Rosenberg, and it’s a real page turner. This is fourth in a series, and I will definitely check out the others.

One book that does all of the above is the Bible. I have been reading through it annually for many many years and plan to do so once again this year because there is always more to learn and understand. Plus I need the daily encouragement and strength God offers through its pages. Just Google a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plan if you need one. Never too late to get started, and I guarantee you’ll be blessed.

I would love to hear your recommendations about books to read in 2016. If you receive this by email, just go to the bottom of the page and click on the link to my blog to comment.

See you at the library.


Upcoming Engagements:

March 18-20 – Friends of the Heart Women’s Retreat with Chapel Church of Red Lion at Camp Hebron in Halifax. The retreat is open to all women. Message me if you would like a link for more information and registration. The theme is: “If Our Closets Could Talk.” Lots of fun and inspiration!