Monday 29 February 2016

Poems for You & Your Neighbour: Health Disorders Simplified - Amanda Jones

Poems for You & Your Neighbour:
Health Disorders Simplified
Amanda Jones
Amazel Enterprise
ISBN 9780692479070

The description for this book is: "A collection of poems which relate information on health disorders plus a few extra bonuses. They also 1)Help commit information to memory. 2)Educate encourage and empower. 3)Are a source of reference Please Read and Share" And it does a really good job of that. I could see this being a learning tool for Nurses studying for exams, or for patience with specific conditions or for an aging population susceptible to many of the conditions outlined in the poems. The Poems found in this volume are:

Poem I - Vacancy: Nurse Wanted
Poem II - Five Hand Hygiene Moments
Poem III - Vision
Poem IV - Cataract
Poem V - Glaucoma
Poem VI - A Threat To Our Future
Poem VII - My Encounter with Diabetes
Poem VIII - Diabetic Footcare
Poem IX - Diabetic Retinopathy
Poem X - Diet Tips for Diabetics
Poem XI - Hypertension
Poem XII - I am a Nurse

Yes it is a light easy read. But the poems are well written, they were enjoyable. It was easy to read the book but I gleamed a lot of information. Mrs Jones has done a wonderful job conveying information in an easy to use format. The inspiration for the book is that Mrs Jones works as a nurse and her department has an increasing number of patients with visual impairments and blindness. The poems were created as an easy way for them to learn and remember information about their conditions and possible complications. And it does a great job of that.

It is an excellent little read. My only regret is the brevity of the volume. But Maybe Mrs Jones will grace us with more volumes to continue the learning and spread of knowledge.

Friday 26 February 2016

The Wishbone Wish - Megan McDonald and Peter H Reynolds - Judy Moody and Stink Book 4

Judy Moody & Stink: The Wishbone Wish
Judy Moody and Stink Moody Book 4
Megan McDonald (Author)
Peter H Reynolds (Illustrator)
ISBN 9780763672065
AISN B01496K546

I am surprised that after 30 books Stink and Judy Moody still entertain!  I found these books a few years back and now read them with all three of my children. They entertain and surprise. Now there are over 35 books between the different series that include Judy Moody and Stink Moody. Some of the books that focus more on one or the other of them the best books are the four series are when they are featured together. My kids love the full colour illustrations by Peter H Reynolds and in part because Jody and Stink are just seem better when together. The first two cross over book The Holly Joliday focused on the holiday of Christmas, the second cross over book focused on family vacation and The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Mad Treasure Hunt. The third is on the event of The Big Bad Black.  And now this one focuses back on a holiday, the holiday of Thanksgiving! The chapters in this book are:

Wishbone Wishes
Bossy McBossy
Peace Treaty
Flying Turkey Gizzards
Mary Had a Little Piggy
Freaky Frozen Football
The First Thanksgiving

Judy and Stink plan on winning a number of events at the Turkey day challenges. Judy is so confident she will win she tells her Grandmother not to buy a backup turkey. They train, they practice and they compete. 

So come and join the Moody's in a Thanksgiving like you have never experienced before! 

Books by Megan McDonald and Peter H Reynolds:
Judy Moody books:
1. Judy Moody
2. Judy Moody Gets Famous!
3. Judy Moody Saves the World!
4. Judy Moody Predicts the Future
5. Judy Moody, M.D. The Doctor Is In
6. Judy Moody Declares Independence
7. Judy Moody Around the World in 8½ Days
8. Judy Moody Goes to College
9. Judy Moody: Girl Detective
10. Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer
10a. Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer (Movie Tie-In Edition)

11. Judy Moody and the Bad Luck Charm
12. Judy Moody Mood Martian

Judy Moody Activity Books:
Judy Moody's Double Rare Way Not Boring Book of Fun Stuff to Do
Judy Moody's Way Wacky Uber Awesome Book of MORE Fun Stuff to Do
Judy Moody's Mini-Mysteries and Other Sneaky Stuff for Super-Sleuths

Stink Moody Books:
1. Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid
2. Stink and the Incredible Super-Galactic Jawbreaker
3. Stink and the World's Worst Super-Stinky Sneakers
4. Stink and the Great Guinea Pig Express
5. Stink: Solar System Superhero'
6. Stink and The Ultimate Thumb-Wrestling Smackdown
7. Stink and the Midnight Zombie Walk

8. Stink and the Freaky Frog Freakout
9. Stink and the Shark Sleepover 

Stink-O-Pedia Volume 1: 
Super Stink-y Stuff from A to Z
Stink-O-Pedia Volume 2: More Stink-y Stuff from A to Z

Judy and Stink Books:
Judy Moody & Stink: The Holly Joliday
Judy Moody and Stink: The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Treasure Hunt

Judy Moody & Stink: The Big Bad Blackout
Judy Moody & Stink: The Wishbone Wish

Judy Moody and Friends:
Stink Moody in the Master of Disaster
Jessica Finch in Pig Trouble
Rocky Zang in The Amazing Mr. Magic
Frank Pearl in The Awful Waffle Kerfuffle
Amy Namey in Ace Reporter
Triple Pet Trouble

Stink and Judy Moody a Visual Bibliography

Books by Megan McDonald:
Sisters Club:

Sisters Club 1
Sisters Club 2 
Rule of Three 
Sisters Club 3 Cloudy With a Chance of Boys

Books by Peter H Reynolds: 
The North Star
The Dot
Rose's Garden
I'm Here

Wednesday 24 February 2016

Saving the Sun Dragon - Tracey West and Graham Howells - Dragon Masters #2

Saving the Sun Dragon
Dragon Masters #2
Tracey West (Author)
Graham Howells (Illustrator)
ISBN 9780545646253

This was the second book in this series my children and I have read together. My youngest two love the series. And for this book the oldest child and I took turns reading to the younger two. Making this series great for the whole family. As my children grow it is harder to find books that all three, girl, boy, girl like and will read together. It is wonderful that the oldest can help read to the younger two and that this book entertains all three. This series showed up in my recommended books because of reading some Dragon books by Chris d'Lacey and we gave them a try and there has been no looking back.

This second book in this series opens with fun and adventure, the dragons go out to fly. But things soon turn dark when Kepri the sun dragon becomes sick and almost falls from the sky. Soon the 4 dragon masters and their teacher Griffith are poring over books and scrolls trying to find a cure. Soon Worm the earth dragon reveals another of his abilities and the group is off to an adventure in Egypt. This is a story filled with spells, magic, a mysterious twin and more. A great tale. 

The illustrations by Graham are wonderful, the help support the story without being too scary. The embellishments on almost every page add to the stunning presentation. And combine that with well written stories and the book and series is a big hit. 

I cannot say enough how much my children love these books. They ask to read each night, and turn off the TV and devices in order to read earlier. They always ask for extra chapters. They even ask often when book 4 will be out and to see the cover of it. And what higher praise could be given to a book or series than children clamouring to read more, or read again. Another book that kids love. 

Dragon Master Books:
1. Rise of the Earth Dragon
2. Saving the Sun Dragon
3. Secret of the Water Dragon
4. Power of the Fire Dragon
5. Song of the Poison Dragon

6. Flight of the Moon Dragon
7. Search for the Lightning Dragon

Sunday 21 February 2016

Updated 2016-04-13

This post has been redacted because of personal conviction. I would appreciate if you say a prayer for me. 

Our Father, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Saturday 20 February 2016

50 Days In A Fitness Update

50 Days In A Fitness Update

Over the years I have done a lot of different things to work at being healthier and fit. Now on the closer side of 50 than 40 and with three young kids it is even more important. And I have learned a lot over the years. Almost anyone can lose weight in the short term and there are dozens and dozens of programs out there to help you if that is your goal, but for myself the changes often did not last more than a year or two or through an injury or two.

Now speaking of injuries, when doing programs like P90X, BodyBeast, Body 4 Life I found that by around day 200-250 I was injured, pulled muscles, tears, major pain and setbacks. Especially after the 40th year. I do not know anyone my age who does these soft of programs of CrossFit who has not ended up injured and sidelined, often for long stretches. I am not saying these programs or styles of workouts don't work, but as you try and push heavier weights, more reps or more sets on an aging body injuries seem inevitable. Even Tony Horton, Mr. Fitness himself wore a compression cuff for his elbow for almost 2 years during the Tony Horton 1 on 1 phase.

At my kids school they always have a big celebration on the 100th day of School. Today February 19th 2016 is the 50th day of the year, and the 50th day of my having similar workouts and I am feeling awesome. But even with all that daily stretching and body weight exercises for the better part of the last year I had nearly daily pain, either my shoulders, an old injury, or knees. This past fall my Mother in law read a book called The Miracles of Rebound Exercise by Albert E. Carter, and suggested I read it. I was fascinated by the science of rebounding and stimulating the lymphatic system for health and healing.

So since the new years and a Christmas gift of a rebounder my current routine is as follows. Most days I get up and workout starting at 5am:

5 Minutes Rebounding Health
5 Minutes Rebounding Fitness
Plank Challenge
7 Minute Workout HIIT
25-60 minutes Stretching and Body Weight Exercises

And then I teach 4 body weight exercise classes a week outside of that at lunch or morning before work.

This past week I added in:

Bench Dips

Now I use the Perigee 7 App and because of doing plank challenges use a custom workout.

And between the stretching, and body weight exercises I am feeling great and looking forward to the next 50 days.

You can see my work out's by day tracking here. And to help keep me on track and tracking not just physical but other goals I use and also certified as a coach to help others set goals and make changes. 

Friday 19 February 2016

The Get Rich Quick Club - Dan Gutman

The Get Rich Quick Club
Dan Gutman
Harper Collins
ISBN 9780061973239

This is the seventh book by Dan Gutman that I have read, and the first I have read with my son. I love the quirky sense of humor that Dan exhibits in all of his books that I have read. What could go wrong when a group of youth form a club to get rich by the end of summer break? They for the GRQ - Get Rich Quick club. Soon they have everything a successful company needs, a list of officers, a motto and a mission statement of this ambitious group of friend is as follows:


We, the members of the Get Rich Quick Club, in order to form a more perfect summer, vow that we will figure out a way to make a 
by September. We agree that neither rain nor snow nor gloom of night will prevent us from achieving our stated goal, until death do us part. You tried the rest. Now try the best. 
Ms. Gina Tumolo, 11, CEO 
Mr. Rob Hunnicutt, 11, Vice President 
Ms. Quincy Biddle, 10, Creative Director 
Mr. Edward A. Bogle, 8, Chief Drone #1 
Mr. Theodore P. Bogle, 8, Chief Drone #2"

So one day sitting up in a tree they form a company, and work on a plan to get rich. But as we can almost all attest what seems like a good idea at the time in hindsight can be a terrible terrible idea. These friends come up with a plan to sell a photo of a UFO, unfortunately they do not have a photo of one but they devise a plan for how they can fake it. 

When their plans to sell it to an enquirer type magazine, The National Truth fall through they sell it to the local paper, the Farmington Journal. For far less than their hoped for million dollar payout. But the story gets picked up by the news feeds, who doesn't trust young kids to tell the truth and soon they are on tv, the covers of magazines and it looks like their payday might be bigger than ever expected. Until someone's conscience gets in the way.

There are some fun twists in the plot and an awesome surprise at the end. Overall a great fun read for young readers and those who read to or with them. Thanks Mr. Gutman for another great read.

Books by Dan Gutman: 
The Genius Files:
Mission Unstoppable (2011)
Never Say Genius (?)

My Weirder School: (Harper Collins)
Miss Child Has Gone Wild! (2011)
Mr. Harrison is Embarrisin'! (2012)
Mrs. Lilly is Silly! (2013)

My Weird School Daze: (HarperCollins)
Mrs. Dole is Out of Control! (2008)
Mr. Sunny is Funny! (2007)
Mr. Granite is from Another Planet! (2008)
Coach Hyatt is a Riot! (2009)
Officer Spence Makes No Sense! (2009)
Mrs. Jafee is Daffy! (2009)
Dr. Brad Has Gone Mad! (2009)
Miss Laney is Zany! (2010)
Mrs. Lizzy is Dizzy! (2010)
Miss Mary is Scary! (2010)
Mr. Tony is Full of Baloney! (2010)
Ms. Leaky is Freaky! (2011)

My Weird School: (HarperCollins)
Miss Daisy is Crazy! (2004)
Mr. Klutz is Nuts! (2004)
Mrs. Roopy is Loopy! (2004)
Ms. Hannah is Bananas! (2004)
Miss Small is Off the Wall! (2005)
Mr. Hynde is Out of His Mind! (2005)
Mrs. Cooney is Loony! (2005)
Ms. LaGrange is Strange! (2005)
Miss Lazar is Bizarre! (2005)
Mr. Docker is Off His Rocker! (2006)
Mrs. Kormel is Not Normal! (2006)
Ms. Todd is Odd! (2006)
Mrs. Patty is Batty! (2006)
Miss Holly is Too Jolly! (2006)
Mr. Macky is Wacky! (2007)
Ms. Coco is Loco! (2007)
Miss Suki is Kooky! (2007)
Mrs. Yonkers is Bonkers! (2007)
Dr. Carbles is Losing His Marbles! (2007)
Mr. Louie is Screwy! (2007)
Ms. Krup Cracks Me Up! (2008)

Funny Boy: (Hyperion)
Funny Boy Meets the Airsick Alien from Andromeda (1999)
Funny Boy Versus the Bubble Brained Barbers from the Big
Bang (2000)
Funny Boy Meets the Chit-Chatting Cheese from Chattanooga

Tales From The Sandlot: (Scholastic)
The Green Monster in Left Field (1997)
The Catcher Who Shocked the World (1997)
The Pitcher Who Went Out of His Mind (1997)
The Shortstop Who Knew Too Much (1997)

And Me Series: (Harper Collins)
Roberto & Me (2010)
Ray & Me (2009)
Jim & Me (2008)
Satch & Me (2006)
Abner & Me (2005)
Mickey & Me (2003)
Shoeless Joe & Me (2002)
Babe & Me (2000)
Jackie & Me (1999)
Honus & Me (1997)

Million Dollar:
The Million Dollar Shot (1997)
The Million Dollar Kick (2001)
The Million Dollar Goal (2003)
The Million Dollar Strike (2004)
The Million Dollar Putt (2006)

Kid Who Ran for President:
The Kid Who Ran for President (1996)
The Kid Who Became President (1999)

Qwerty Stevens Adventures:
Back in Time With Thomas Edison (2001)
Back in Time With Benjamin Franklin (2002)

Homework Machine:
The Homework Machine (2006)
Return of the Homework Machine (2009)

Other Books:
The Day Roy Riegels Ran the Wrong Way (2011)
The Talent Show (2010)
The Christmas Genie (2009)
Recycle This Book: 100 Top Children's Book Authors Tell You
How To Go Green (2009)
Nightmare at the Book Fair (2008)
Casey Back at Bat (2007)
Getting Air (2007))
Jackie Robinson and the Big Game (2006)
The Get Rich Quick Club (2004)
Babe Ruth and the Ice Cream Mess (2004)
Race For The Sky (2003)
The Secret Life of Dr. Demented (2001)
Johnny Hangtime (2000)
Landslide! A Kid's Guide to the U.S. Elections (2000)
Jackie Robinson (1999)
Joe DiMaggio (1999)
Cal Ripken, Jr.: My Story (1999)
Virtually Perfect (1998)
Katy's Gift (1998)
The Way Baseball Works (1996)
Gymnastics (1996)
Ice Skating (1995)
Taking Flight (1995)
They Came From Centerfield (1995)
Banana Bats & Ding-Dong Balls (1995)
World Series Classics (1994)
Baseball's Greatest Games (1994)
Baseball's Biggest Bloopers (1993)
Baseball Babylon (1992)
SuperMemory (1991)
It Ain't Cheatin' If You Don't Get Caught (1990)
I Didn't Know You Could Do THAT With A Computer (1986)
The Greatest Games (1985)

Author Profile and interview with Dan Gutman.

Thursday 18 February 2016

X-Movement - X-Fusion


Recently this organization came to my children's school for most of a week. Each child's class had two sessions and on Friday a whole school event. But one of the best things was an open house one evening where children and parents could come together and sample the program. It was awesome we had a great time at the event and now weeks later the children are still talking about it and doing some of the activities they learned. The program has three focuses:

Movement - Mindfulness - Mateship

And they teach through a threefold model of:

I Can (self) 
You Can (Others) 
We Can (World around us)

The community family event was wonderful. Two young gentlemen were the team leading the events at our school. Their Aussie accents and phrases enthrall the children. Through the games, and activities they teach children in a fun way about movement, mechanics of motion, self-awareness and self-regulation. The Circus themed events and games were engaging for children from preschool through to grade 8 and all the adults who attended were having a blast also. The mix of individual, paired and whole group activities made the event inclusive and entertaining.

The I Can, You Can, We Can affirmation that is repeated in various exercises throughout the time became central to the teaching and to the learning. Taking a breath in and bring up one are, a second breath in and the other to form an X across the chest and then a long double breath out helps balance and center. I have seen my children do this a number of times in the weeks since the event.

The exercises, games and activities will help develop balance, core strength, and strength all while teaching self-control. And with each of the three area's ends with a reflection to help take the learning deeper.

Overall our evening was awesome! And the kids found the day events at school incredible, in fact they keep asking if it can be bought on disk and done at home. All three kids and I learned a lot and are applying the lessons. The only real pity was how few people came to the community event, I think it was a highlight for my kids and some of the others we knew who were there.

If you get the chance to attend or bring them to your school or organization do so I highly recommend X-Movement's programs and the work they do.

Wednesday 17 February 2016

Empowering Young Christians Developing Bible-Based Leadership and Soft Skills - Cary J. Green PhD

Empowering Young Christians
Developing Bible-Based Leadership and Soft Skills
Cary J. Green PhD
Dog Ear Publishing
ISBN 9781457540998

I was offered a free review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The product description is "In today's competitive landscape, brains alone won't get you very far. Truly successful students and young professionals live according to God's plan, and they also exhibit skills that make them really stand out. They honor God, communicate well, dress and act professionally, solve problems, and seem to be natural leaders. If you're wondering how you can tap into God's power and acquire these important leadership and soft skills, this book is for you." And it does a good job of that. But as someone in my mid-40's I can say that this book can be used by anyone looking to make positive changes in their life. Anyone who wants to have a greater understanding of biblical leadership, and grow in their soft skills can learn and improve from taking a chance and reading this book.

Cary states: "One of the most important things to understand when you are young is that intelligence alone won't make you successful. You must develop leadership and soft skills." And I have seen this in my own life and the life of numerous co-workers over the years. Brains and knowledge alone are no guarantee of success, in fact sometimes they can be a detriment and Cary gives a number of examples of people with great knowledge and skill but who lack commitment, disciple or fail consistently to meet goals who are not successful. And the knowledge gained from this book can be applied beyond just the walls of work. Cars says: "Knowing how to listen effectively and how to have a difficult conversation can come in handy when talking with family and friends." And like most business development books, you can take the skills and habits that Cary outlines and apply them across all area's of your life. It is not enough to apply and develop these skills just in the work place. We need take those same skills and apply them in our families, with our friends and in our church and other social interactions. Cary knows that reading the book alone will not produce major or lasting chance he encourages us to "Call on God's strength, put forth effort, apply the concepts in this book, and you will grow as a Christian and as a leader." If we are open to that then we can with God's help make the changes we need and want to.

Cary also gives some advice on how to get the most out of the book; " To fully realize the benefits of this book, apply what you learn. You must have the goal to improve and work deliberately to improve your performance through practice. If you want to improve your three-point shooting ability, you can't just read a book on basketball- you have to shoot a lot of three-pointers. Developing your soft skills and leadership ability is similar; you must purposefully work to develop those skills." And it will be work but in the long run the work will be worth it both for your career and for your personal life and development. He also recommends that "By re-reading and working through this book on a regular basis, you will be on the path to continual progress." There are many books in my life that I have reread, some every year for a decade, others just for a few years. With all the skills and habits covered in this book this is another great piece of advice. One of the final pieces of advice in the introduction is "To truly experience the abundant and successful life that God has for you, embrace God's plan for your life, obey Him, and stay faithful." And to be honest that is more important than anything else. The rest of the book is a guide to help us do so.

The soft skills are taught using the three R's Readiness, Relationships, and Results. And Cary walks us through them. One of the best pieces of advice in the book for me at this point is "Producing results is not the same as being busy. You must understand the difference between doing something and doing something important." I have known many coworkers who always seemed buys but never seemed to get much done. Another great quote is "A colleague of mine has a program he calls "The I in Team." You probably have heard that there is no "I" in team. However, my colleague teaches that each individual team member must contribute to the overall success of the team; use your unique strengths to contribute to your team. Don't misinterpret this "I" in team as being the star, but use your strengths so that your team succeeds. By making strong contributions to a successful team, you set yourself up for opportunities as an individual." And further on Cary states: "Here is the point: You may be smart, an excellent communicator, and an excellent problem-solver, but your success will be limited if your attitude is bad. If you have a bad attitude, prioritize your effort to improve your attitude." And I have seen this in myself and others bad attitudes do not start overnight typically they grow slowly and creep up on people. They are something as Christians we need to be very cautious about.

Later Cary reminds us "The difference between busyness and productivity can be difficult to see. Most people realize they are wasting time if they spend a lot of time online or playing video games. However, spending time on otherwise worthwhile activities can also get in the way of your progress if those activities are not your real priorities. Please don't miss this point: Not all "important" activities are equal, and "good" activities can get in the way of your true priorities." We all need to learn and relearn this our whole lives both at work and in our families and our social lives. And a final quote to wet your appetite for this book is Cary's "A Simple Six-Step Approach to Problem Solving

1. Identify the problem.
2. Determine the underlying cause of the problem.
3. Determine possible solutions.
4. Select a solution.
5. Implement the solution.
6. Assess the solution.

Overall this was a really good read. The pace slows a bit the further I got into the book, but part of that could be my experience and similar books I have read before. In many ways this book reminded me of reading John C. Maxwell or Zig Ziglar. It is a good business book and has some great tips and tools for helping a Christian become the best version of themselves at work. Therefore I can highly recommend it.

Monday 15 February 2016

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow - Courtney Sheinmel and Jennifer A. Bell - Stella Batts Book 2

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Stella Batts Book 2
Courtney Sheinmel (Author)
Jennifer A. Bell (Illustrator)
Sleeping Bear Press

ISBN 9781585361915
eISBN 9781585368679

This is the third Stella Batts book that I have read, and the second that I have read with my oldest we alternate pages. We both love the series. And I do not know a parent who has not had to deal with this specific issue at least once with each child. But to have hair issues with both your children on the same day no wonder that Stella's parents were upset. 

But before we get to the story, I have been remiss in my other reviews on this series and a reader asked me about my lack of comments on the illustrations. Mea culpa. The illustrations by Jennifer are wonderful. They are interspersed throughout the book and add to the story. My daughter loves identifying the friends in the pictures and always hopes the pages with illustrations are hers to read. They really do add an extra element to the book and as transitions from early readers to novels they work perfectly to enhance the interest in the books. 

The more of these books I read the more I appreciate the, they are great down to earth stories. They are very realistic and yet entertaining enough to keep the attention of this mid-40's guy and his daughter. In fact my youngest has started joining us for reading these because she likes the stories also. They are very well written and as stated wonderfully illustrated.

In this volume as you can guess by the title there is a 'hair' incident or two. In some combination we have magic glow in the dark gum, wishes, scissors and paint. All in all not a great day at the Batts household. And add to that the fact that Stella's best friend is moving across the country and there are more than a few tears in this story. But as always the Batts come together and face the problems and work as a family to get through them.

These are great fun reads. My oldest brought home from the school library book 3 the day after we finished this one. Not sure we will be reading much else until the series is done. And any book that keeps kids' reading and coming back for more is a win in my opinion! 

Books by: Courtney Sheinmel:
Stella Batts:

Stella Batts Needs A New Name
Stella Batts Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Stella Batts Pardon Me
Stella Batts A Case of the Meanies
Stella Batts Who's in Charge?
Stella Batts Something Blue
Stella Batts None of Your Beeswax
Stella Batts Superstar

Stella Batts Scaredy Cat
Stella Batts Broken Birthday

The Kindness Club:
The Kindness Club
Designed by Lucy

Agnes and Clarabelle Series :
Agnes and Clarabelle
Agnes and Clarabelle Celebrate

Other Books:
My So-Called Life
All the Things You Are

Friday 12 February 2016

Updated 2016-04-13

This post has been redacted because of personal conviction. I would appreciate if you say a prayer for me. 

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. 
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. 
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, 
O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, 
thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, 
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. 

Wednesday 10 February 2016

The Book Of Courage - Matthew Kelly

The Book Of Courage
Matthew Kelly

Wellspring Publishing
Beacon Publishing for
The Dynamic Catholic Institute
ISBN 9781929266104

This book was not quite what I was expecting. I did not read the product description and just bought it based on the title and the author. That being said even thought it was not what I expected it is a really really good book. The description of the book is: “The measure of your life will be the measure of your courage. Matthew Kelly Between 2000 and 2003, Matthew lost three people very close to him to cancer. Matthew's father died in August 2003 after a two-year struggle with cancer. During his father's illness, Matthew would jot down different inspirational quotes on note cards and send them to his father in Australia. His father would often comment on how these bit-sized portions of inspiration brought a simple focus and joy to his daily struggle. After his father's death, Matthew decided to pull all the quotes together and publish them as a book, accompanied by an essay explaining the role of courage in our lives. This is the origin of The Book of Courage.” So it is basically a collection of quotes with a very short introduction. However that being said there are some incredible quotes that Matthew Kelly has collected. As I was reading it a number of times I shared quotes with specific people, and they often asked for a copy so they could be reminded of the truth presented.

Matthew in the introduction states: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the acquired ability to move beyond fear.” He goes on to say “So much can be accomplished in one moment of courage. And so much can be lost to one moment of fear.” And the truth of that echoed as I read the book. Matthew says “Courage is acquired by practicing courage. And like most qualities of character, when practiced our courage becomes stronger and more readily accessible with each passing day.” So in reading these quotes and applying them we can learn to grow in our courage if we follow this advice. “The words that fill the pages of this book represent thousands of years of wisdom, but just like the words that fill other books, they are just words until we decide to allow them to transform our lives.” And a final piece of advice from the introduction is “Life is short and you are dead an awful long time. Live life passionately. Laugh often, love always, cultivate soul, don’t be afraid to dream the big dreams, and embrace your God.” So will you give this book a try do you have the fortitude to pick it up and see if you can find more courage?

Some of the best quotes from this books, at least for me at this point are:

“The most secret, sacred wish that lies deep down at the bottom of your heart, the wonderful thing that you hardly dare to look at, or think about – the thing that you would rather die than have anyone else know of, because it seems so far beyond anything that you are, or have at the present time, that you fear that you would be cruelly ridiculed if the mere thought of it were known – that is just the very thing that God is wishing you to do or to be for him. And the birth of that marvelous wish in your soul – the dawning of that secret dream – was the Voice of God himself telling you to arise and come up higher because he had need of you.”
– Emmet Fox –

“First do what is necessary, then do what is possible, and before long you will find yourself doing the impossible.”
– Francis of Assisi –

“Be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart. And try to love the questions themselves. Do not seek the answers that cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke –

“I believe that nothing that happens to me is meaningless, and that it is good for us all that it should be so, even if it runs counter to our own wishes. As I see it, I’m here for some purpose, and I only hope I may fulfill it. In the light of the great purpose all our privations and disappointments are trivial.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer –

“I believe that nothing that happens to me is meaningless, and that it is good for us all that it should be so, even if it runs counter to our own wishes. As I see it, I’m here for some purpose, and I only hope I may fulfill it. In the light of the great purpose all our privations and disappointments are trivial.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer –

“True silence is the rest of the mind; it is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.”
– William Penn –

“True silence is the rest of the mind; it is to the spirit what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.”
– William Penn –

“Most of the people I know who have what I want – which is to say, purpose, heart, balance, gratitude, joy – are people with a deep sense of spirituality... They follow a brighter light than the glimmer of their own candle; they are part of something beautiful. I saw something once... that said, “A human life is like a single letter of the alphabet. It can be meaningless. Or it can be a part of a great meaning.”
– Anne Lamott –

“Do or do not. There is no try.”
– Yoda –

“Most men would feel insulted if it were proposed to employ them in throwing stones over a wall, and then throwing them back merely that they might earn their wages. But many are no more worthily employed now.”
– Henry David Thoreau –

“Before you can understand, motivate, and lead others, you must first understand, motivate, and lead yourself.”
– Paul Myer –

“The measure of your life will be the measure of your courage.”
– Matthew Kelly–

And almost 100 other amazing quotes. I am interested to see what sections I highlight my next time through. Give it a try a great book to help you and to help your friends.

Books by Matthew Kelly:
I Know Jesus
The Long View
Decision Point: The Workbook
Decision Point: The Leader Guide
The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic
The One Thing
Off Balance: Getting Beyond the Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction
Why Am I Here?
Perfectly Yourself: 9 Lessons for Enduring Happiness
Perfectly Yourself Discovering God's Dream For You
Building Better Families: A Practical Guide to Raising Amazing Children
The Dream Manager
The Seven Levels of Intimacy: The Art of Loving and the Joy of Being Loved
The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose
Building Better Families - 5 Practical Ways to Build Family Spirituality
The Book of Courage
The Shepherd: A Modern Parable about Our Search for Happiness
Mustard Is Persecution, Matthew Kelly Foundation
A Call to Joy - Living in the Presence of God
The Rhythm of Life: An Antidote For Our Busy Age
Words from God
Resisting Happiness
The Narrow Path
Our Father
The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity
Why I Love Being Catholic
Good Night, Jesus
In a world where you can be anything ...

Beautiful ... Series:

Rediscover Books by Matthew Kelly:
Rediscover Catholicism: A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion & Purpose
Rediscover Advent
Rediscover Lent
Rediscover Jesus: An Invitation
Rediscover the Rosary: The Modern Power of an Ancient Prayer
Rediscover the Saints

Audio by Matthew Kelly from Lighthouse Media:
Becoming The Best Version Of Yourself
The Best Way To Live
Don't Just Try, Train
Faith At Work & The Holy Moment
The Four Signs Of A Dynamic Catholic - Excerpt
The Jesus Question
My Spiritual Journey
Our Lives Change When Our Habits Change
Raising Amazing Children
The Seven Levels Of Intimacy
The Seven Pillars Of Catholic Spirituality

(Note: this books is part of a series: A Year of Reading Intention - Catholic Reading!)

Tuesday 9 February 2016

Prayer of the Day - A Lenten Prayer

A Lenten Prayer

Loving God
You walk with us always
In times of joy and sorrow,
Strength and weakness,
Work and rest

As we journey through Lent,
Open our hearts to be filled with your love
Open our eyes to see Your hope for us
Open our hands to do Your work

Give us patience in our fast
Help us to set aside those things in our lives
That distract us from You
Help us to see in one another
The face of Your Son, Jesus

Give us hope in our prayers,
Help us to see Your vision for us,
Filled with love and peace
Help us to know that we are never alone,
That you are always there for us

Give us compassion in our alms giving
Help us to see that in providing for one another,
We truly provide for You
Help us to share our plenty with those who have little,
That we may ease the suffering of someone else

We ask all of these things through Your Son,
The one who walks with us always.

(Note: Lent begins tomorrow, what are your plans for preparation? Here is my reading plan for this season and for this year.)

Relates posts and links:
For other "Prayer of the Day" posts.

Monday 8 February 2016

Geekpriest - Roderick Vonhogen - Confessions of a New Media Pioneer

Geekpriest: Confessions of a New Media Pioneer
Roderick Vonhogen
Servant Books a division of
Franciscan Media
ISBN 9781616366773

Father Roderick came recommended to be by a friend who is a recent convert, but this book completely blew me away. Father Roderick's faith, his passion for new media and his commitment to living for Christ Jesus is inspiring. A few times I found myself unable to put the book down, even though I should have and saying to myself just one more section. This book is filled with stories, personal struggles, and a plethora of geekdom knowledge and experience. I highlighted over thirty passages in a book of just 164 pages. I have already recommended it to a few friends.

Going back and writing about his time in secondary school, attending an event with the pope in the Netherlands he states: "When the pope lifted the consecrated Host to show it to the crowd, it suddenly dawned on me that this had to be the secret of John Paul II's strength and calmness. It was God's own love, offered to us in the Body and Blood of Christ. Now I understood why the pope was unfazed by all the criticism around him: He was filled with God's love, even for those who attacked him so aggressively." And meeting the pope and writing about all the opposition to his visit even by Catholics Father goes on to say "John Paul II became the most influential superhero in my life. But if I truly wanted to follow his example, I would need to take a few more steps." He was changes but he knew that was not enough he knew he needed to grow he says "First of all, I thought, if God truly exists, if everything I hear in church is not just a metaphor or a fairy tale but reality, then I must get in touch with God. I knew that the best way to do that was to pray. But how on earth did that work?" And so began the journey that he is still on today. He struggles and strives to know Christ and to make him known. You could almost say that Father Roderick's motto is "With abundant grace comes great responsibility." And again later while he was a seminarian he had the opportunity to meet the pope and the man who would become pope he says "Looking back, it still feels surreal that, as a young seminarian, I had the chance to personally meet John Paul II and the man who would succeed him in 2005 as Pope Benedict XVI. We all need role models to inspire us, and these two men of God became my role models for life." And what Role models they were and how they helped to shape not only his call to the priesthood but his call to using the web as a ministry.

Father Roderick has a Superhero Checklist, this section was incredibly powerful, drawing from the comic book world he makes parallels to spiritual development and finding our personal vocation:

Superhero Checklist
Seek Solitude
Study and Read
Discover Your Strengths
Acknowledge your weaknesses.
Be Humble
Listen to your friends
Expect trouble
Do not be Afraid
Be faithful and persevere.

This whole section I read over a few times on being humble he writes "It's an attitude Jesus himself asks of his followers on multiple occasions. Life is not about honor and prestige; it is about becoming a servant to others, about humility in all you do because everything you are and the talents you have received have been given to you as a gift. Finding your calling in life ultimately comes down to finding the answer to the question: "How can I help?"" and in the section on be not afraid he says "Jesus kept saying to his friends and followers, "Fear not!" The essence of faith is abandoning fear and beginning to trust again: trusting yourself, trusting others, trusting God." Even if we can only learn to live these two we will have a much greater and better impact on our world. In summarizing this chapter Father says "Discerning your calling in life is one of the most important things you can do to find true happiness. Happiness ultimately never depends on material possessions, or even on success in life. It stems from the inner knowledge that you are who God wants you to be, that you are doing what he wants you to do." We can all learn from the examples in Father Roderick's life and the examples he draws from the stories that have shaped the world, Tolkien, Star Wars, and many more are the tools he uses to draw out the truth of the faith.

There is an amazing section in the book called The Disney examination of conscience. It was an excellent little piece of advice. I will be honest and say that I love the sacrament of reconciliation and I love the liturgy. Even when I have attended mass in languages I did not understand I have always felt the presence of God in service. Father Roderick states: "Liturgy is, in many ways, a ritualized form of storytelling as well. Every time we leave the worries of our daily lives and enter a church or a cathedral, we are transported to another world, a place where stories, songs, images, colors, and rituals all lead us to discover the hidden mystery of our world: the love of God that transcends liturgy itself and becomes something that can change the way we live in the present and give direction to the future." That is what makes mass so amazing.

Quoting from one of his teachers on using new media as a tool for the Catholic church he says "Our Church has the most beautiful message in the world, but who is going to notice it if we do such a lousy job presenting our message in the media?" I must admit I am a little late to the pod cast party. Only really having started to listen to some of them in the last 6 months. I was always the blog or book guy. But some of the Catholic podcasts I have discovered are amazing and going back and listening to old series by Father Roderick or those he mentions gives a lot of great food for the spirit and the mind.

Father Roderick has a section on his physical transformation called From Couch Potato to Marathon Runner. Highlighting how he made some changes and then started podcasting on that as well. He also found the healthier he got his body the healthier his spirit became. He says "At the same time, I had noticed how much my new running passion had started to positively affect my spiritual life and my working discipline. What if I were to record a podcast about these topics- something about the connection between body, mind, and soul, about how to get physically healthy, but also about how to maintain a healthy spiritual life? The series Health and Holiness was born." He says "The show had two overarching goals: a reflection on how to live a healthy and balanced life, and a question that was perhaps even more important: how to live a holy life." And again he has a list:

Runner's Tips for Wannabe Saints
Running a marathon begins with running the first mile.
You'll never finish if you don't set a goal.
Progress is made by training and constantly pushing your boundaries.
Be sure you have the right equipment.
Follow a training schedule.
Seek advice from other runners.
Don't overdo it.
Don't give up too quickly.
Stay hydrated and pay attention to what you eat.
Enjoy the process!

This was another section of the book that I read through a few times. There are so many gems of advice in this section! But a few of my picks are "In the same way, holiness begins with the resolution to become holy. You have to take the first step. Start reserving time in your life to live with God. Make it a firm appointment in your agenda if you are busy." And "Your spiritual progress can also benefit from good advice. Find a spiritual director, and share your journey with friends, either in your local community or perhaps even via the Internet. Sharing your spiritual struggles and progress can help others, and it will benefit you, too. And don't forget the saints! They have shown that it is possible to live a holy life. Read about their lives and take advantage of their experience!" He also declares "Your spiritual life requires a similar balance. Develop reasonable habits. Don't expect to pray for hours every day, or to be constantly, 100 percent focused on God and ready to receive the most beautiful mystical experiences. You might disappoint yourself if you can't keep it up. Take small steps first, and let the Holy Spirit guide the process." One of the most important to me is "In your spiritual life, good nutrition and hydration are just as important. Here I'm not just referring to the prayer books you take with you to the chapel. We are constantly consuming information and entertainment, but just like junk food can have nefarious consequences for our health, so can junk media. Without becoming overly scrupulous, ask yourself whether or not a book, a movie, a video game, or other forms of entertainment are really enriching your life. Good content can enrich your spiritual life; trash media can hamper it. Be picky- it's for your own good!" With advice like that how could you not give this book a try?

The final list is the book is:

Seven Things Pope Francis Taught Me
1. It's Not About You
2. Be Humble
3. Don't forget the poor.
4. Never despair.
5. Don't pursue what you don't need.
6. Protect others in friendship.
7. Reach out to the world and reach for the sky.

So to end the same was he does in the book what are you waiting for!

(Note: this books is part of a series: A Year of Reading Intention - Catholic Reading!)