Monday, February 27, 2017

Proverbs: the book of wisdom

Proverbs. The book of wisdom. There are so many wise sayings in this book which cover every aspect of life. From moral behavior to life values to correct conduct. The proverbs are instructions to live a godly and wisdom filled life. Many of them we are very familiar with like “spare the rod, spoil the child” (Proverbs 13:24) and “pride goes before the destruction” (Proverbs 16:18). The Hebrew word for proverbs is mashal which translates as a parable with a moral lesson. The proverbs are often written in couplets and constructed in three ways: contrasting, comparison, and complementary.

First, contrasting proverbs use the keyword “but,” to give meaning and an application between the different statements. For examples, Proverbs 12:4 says “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.” The word “but” gives distinction to a wife of noble character versus a disgraceful wife. To be noble is to have or show fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals. To be virtuous, strong, and diligent is bring honor to her husband. Thus, to be a crown is to be an honor and beautify her husband. The contrast or opposite of a noble wife is a disgraceful wife who essentially poisons his life. She deprives him of his strength, honor and by not being a helpmate, his life. Another example of a contrasting proverb is Proverb 15:28 “The heart of the righteous man weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.” This proverb speaks of the important of thinking about what you want to say before actually saying it. A righteous man will think about the impact of his words while a wicked man would just say them without regard to the damage it may cause.

Second, comparison proverbs express the meaning and application of two similar statements. The keywords to look for here is “as/so” and “better/than.” For example, Proverbs 15:17 states “Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred.” Having a meal with meat was a symbol of your wealth and social standing. Here God is saying it is better to eat a simple meal and be surrounded by love than eating a complex meal and be surrounded by not so loving feelings. A meal surrounded by love also sits better in the stomach and digests well. Imagine eating a complex meal surrounded by negative feelings, the body will react and the food doesn’t sit well in the body as it digests. Another example, Proverbs 27:19, “As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.” When I read this proverb, I see it as just like water, a nature’s mirror, reflects, a man’s heart is reflected in his face. So if the heart is loving and caring, you will be able to see it in the face. If the heart is cold and cruel, the face will reflect such a heart.

Third, complementing proverbs is when the meaning and application comes from the way the second statement complements the first. The keyword to look for is “and.” For example, Proverbs 19:20 “Listen to advice and accept instructions, and in the end you will be wise.” This proverb tells us to be willing and open to advice and instruction and the lessons learned will be wisdom for later in life. Even if you don’t follow the advice, being open to listening to advice allows you to hear different aspects and avenues you can take. Of course, when you trust the person giving the advice helps with being open to the advice. Another example, Proverbs 17:27, “A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered.” This proverb highlights benefits of keeping quiet. Sometimes it is the best policy to keep quiet when you really don’t have anything to say. Keeping silent allows you to listen and learn. Pausing to listen and learn, before speaking, can lead to something important to say. Pausing before speaking can also help saying words you may regret in the future.

In conclusion, the book of Proverbs is a book filled with wisdom for life. Quick lessons to heed and follow. Once you understand the structure of a particular proverb, you can understand the advice it offers. Remember that contrasting proverbs use the word “but” and contrasts two opposing behaviors. Comparison proverbs use the word combinations of “as/so” and “better/than” and compare two opposing behaviors or situations. And Complementary proverbs use the word “and” and applies two behaviors or situations which are compatible. 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Meet me Halfway: what will you do for love?

Meet Me Halfway by Kim Carmody is Book 2 in the Off Field Series. It is the story of a young woman, Olivia Callahan, an ambitious journalist and Nate Sullivan, the newest recruit for the New York Warriors as a tight end. Olivia is persisted to get the story behind Nate and his rise to the NFL and Nate will do anything to keep it secret. While they go to battle for his privacy and her determination to get the story which will make her career, the sparks fly. As they fall in love, Olivia and Nate both must decide what they will do, and won’t do, in order to be together. Will Nate open up about his past? Will Olivia choose love over career?

Meet Me Halfway started out strong. Olivia is given a chance to jumpstart her career with a new idea for a series of in-depth stories about football players. With Nate’s first round draft pick, the media and the football world is going nuts and all Nate wants to do is hide. However, I could not finish this book. I enjoyed the Prologue which feature Olivia but the opening chapter featuring Nate sealed this book for me. Nate and his friend, Jake, are talking as guys do. Nate’s girlfriend comes up and Nate makes a comment that she “fucks like a porn star,” I had it. I don’t like that language. I understand that men will talk like that but I don’t want to read it. If you are already a fan of Ms. Carmody, you may enjoy this book.

Meet Me Halfway
is available in paperback and eBook

on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Thursday, February 23, 2017

All the Breaking Waves: a story of the healing going home can bring

All the Breaking Waves by Kerry Lonsdale is the story of one woman’s struggles with her past as she tries to help her troubled daughter. Molly Brennan wakes up to one of her daughter’s night terrors. Cassie has dreams and visions of terrible accidents. After two of her visions come true, her school principal places her on suspension. Cassie then has a vision involving Molly and her own death. Molly, at a loss about what to do next, goes to the one place she feared: home. She arrives at her grandmother’s Pacific Grove, California home. A house which holds many terrible memories for Molly. When she arrives, she runs into her childhood friend and sweetheart, Owen Torres. A man whose heart she broke many years ago. As Molly and Cassie try to rebuild their lives and avoid circumstances in which her visions depict, Molly confronts the past and the reasons she left home, vowing never to return. Will she be able to face the past? Will she comes to terms with who she is? Will she be able to let Owen back in and accept his support and love?

This is the second book I’ve read by Ms. Lonsdale. All the Breaking Waves did not disappoint! It is a great book filled with drama and family secrets, long lost love and moving forward. I loved every character even the secondary characters, the grandmother’s friends, who were only in one scene but gave the book a dose of humor that lightened the mood before diving deeper in the family secrets. I loved the love story between Owen and Molly. Every character seemed very real to me and could even be people I know. I especially loved the description of Pacific Grove. Ms. Lonsdale’s descriptions made it feel as if I were really there. I highly, highly recommend All the Breaking Waves!

All the Breaking Waves
is available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon

and in paperback with Barnes and Noble

Friday, February 17, 2017

Toxic People: who are they and how to deal with them

We’ve all dealt with them. Toxic people. These are people who derive satisfaction at the chaos around them and usually unaware of the negative impact they have on others. They usually create unnecessarily complex, stressful lives. They are masters of manipulation. Manipulation of people and situations to their advantage. They can be anyone in our lives: coworkers, bosses, family members, spouses, our children and even ourselves! What is toxic behavior? How do we recognize it? How do you deal with a toxic person who is a non-family member? How do we deal with a toxic person who is a family member? What do to if you are the toxic person?

Toxic behavior is “any word, deed or action which detracts from you being your best self or hinders others from becoming their best selves” (Lund). The difference between a toxic person and a non-toxic person is the approach, the how and manner they treat people. A toxic person will rarely accept responsibility for their actions or their own feelings. They will place blame on others. A toxic person tends to hold grudges and will withhold love as punishment for any wrongdoing in their eyes. They are emotional blackmailers who use fear or guilt to accomplish their purpose. Toxic people will often keep themselves or others from succeeding and they want the freedom to criticize anyone at any time. Toxic people often see themselves as having “special insights” because their “superior position, wisdom, knowledge, power or authority” (Lund). Toxicity in manner of degrees in magnitude and frequency. Toxic behaviors are seen in the daily lives of a toxic person.

There are three types of toxic behavior:
  • ·         Situational toxicity in which when the person is faced with stress or an uncomfortable situation, he or she will be toxic.
  • ·         Universal toxicity is when a person is toxic to everyone in all circumstances and lives in a world of constantly strained relationships. This type is that is most commonly thought of when discussing toxic people.
  • ·         Selective toxicity is when a person is toxic toward certain people in certain situations. This type is more difficult to recognize due to the varied conditions.

The types of toxic people:
  • ·         The Perfectionist whom you will never measure up to his or her standards.
  • ·         The Control Freak who is actually hiding his or her insecurity through the control of others.
  • ·         The Constant Criticizer who sees faults in anyone or anything.
  • ·         The Abuser Mentality: “someone else made me do it.”
  • ·         The Martyr: a person who substitutes sympathy and self-pity for happiness
  • ·         The Victim: a person who complains, bemoans, gripes about his or her circumstances

Therefore, there are signs to look for if you suspect someone you know is a toxic person. Not all toxic people will display all of these signs. However, even a few is a good sign someone is toxic. The signs are:
  • ·         He or she talks more than listens. They will often bring irrelevant details into a conversation in order to distract from the topic.
  • ·         He or she is never wrong.
  • ·         Drama seems to follow him or her everywhere
  • ·         He or she seem to force or exaggerate relationships.
  • ·         His or her experience is the standard in which everyone should live. Someone else’s actions will be judged based on his or her experience as if the situations are identical.
  • ·         He or she will often lie usually as a means to an end.
  • ·         He or she lack tact and general courtesy. Derogatory statements, brutal “honesty” and stark humor are often used.
  • ·         He or she will often lack empathy toward others and have a need to assert superiority
  • ·         He or she will control behavior by pressuring another person to act a certain way.
  • ·         He or she will make you prove yourself by regularly putting you in a position between a commitment and them in a way you feel obligated to choose them.
  • ·         He or she will be there in a crisis but will never ever share in your joy. They will also find reasons why your good news isn’t good at all.

You may read these and think “Yikes! I do some of that!” We all can behave in a toxic manner especially when we are hurt or angry. However, what makes a person toxic is constant set of behaviors. We will get to what you can do if you suspect that you are a toxic person.

Number one thing to remember when dealing with any toxic person is that no one can change a person who is unwilling to change. You cannot change or stop the toxic behavior. You can only arm and protect yourself against it. First, choose healthy responses to the toxic person. Self-preparation is the best defense against a toxic person. Focus on being your own well-being. Also realize that there is some good in the worst of us and always room for improvement in the best of us. Second, set boundaries to protect yourself. Boundaries are behavior limits that you would consider acceptable and unacceptable. It is important that you do not allow the person to cross that boundary if you deem the behavior unacceptable. If they do, follow through with the consequences of breaking a boundary. Be prepared to say enough’s enough. Third, share only to the level in which the toxic person is willing to share with you. If you feel you are the only one contributing to the relationship, you’re probably right.

When the toxic person is a family member, it can be more difficult to deal with the toxic behavior; however, it can be done. First, remember that the loved one is not a bad person; however, it doesn’t mean they are the right person to be spending a lot of time with. Second, learn to recognize cleverly hidden passive aggression. A toxic person with act with non-verbal aggression in negative ways. Instead of telling you that they are upset, they will take jabs at you until you are the one who explodes. Third, learn to recognize their bullying behavior and prepare yourself to fight back. It is sad to think but some of the biggest bullies in our lives are toxic family members. Fourth, do not pretend that the toxic behavior is ok and if the behavior becomes physical, it needs to be addressed. Fifth, try not to take the toxic behavior personally, although it can be very difficult to do so. Lastly and most importantly, do not neglect yourself. Practice self-care every day especially when you have to deal with a toxic person on a daily basis. Have a safe place you can go to be alone to pray, mediate, exercise, anything which can help you relax.

When the toxic person is you, there are four steps to change. First, recognition and becoming aware of the toxic behavior you engage in. Most often than not, admitting you are toxic and desire to change is half the battle. Second, motivation to change. Toxic behaviors will not just disappear, they need to be replaced with healthier ones. Third, the acquisition of positive communication skills. Recognize the three ways we communicate with each other: facial expression and body language, tone of voice, and your choice of words. Communication skills also is learning how to keep the three messages in congruence or matching. Mixed messages create a difficult time interpreting the meaning of your message. For example, someone asks you to do something you really don’t want to do. So you frown, sigh and says “Yes, I’ll do that.” What is the real message? Does the person pay attention to your body language or your tone of voice or your words? Lastly, application of non-toxic behaviors in replace of the old toxic ones. Work hard to avoid toxic behaviors, however, you do not beat yourself up when you slip up. Allow yourself to learn from those mistakes, take note of what to pay attention to in the future, apologize for the behavior and move forward.

In conclusion, the way we approach our weaknesses and the weaknesses of others is at the heart of a healthy person versus an unhealthy person. The means in which you address shortcomings is what defines toxic versus nontoxic behaviors. It is important to not become a toxic person yourself in order to deal with a toxic behavior. Fighting fire with fire only causes more damage. People can change; however, sometimes all you can do is let go and protect yourself against the burbs of a toxic person. Sometimes the most loving thing to do is stay as far away as possible. The level of involvement depends on your ability to protect yourself from the toxic behavior. If it’s too difficult to do so, it’s best to stay away from that relationship on any deeper level. Toxic behavior is a big topic and I apologize if this post seems overwhelming or too simplified. I highly recommend reading How to Hug a Porcupine: Dealing with Toxic and Difficult to Love Personalities by Dr. John Lewis Lund. He provides great insights and information, many I have shared but he goes into greater detail than I can.

How to Hug a Porcupine: Dealing with Toxic and Difficult to Love Personalities

is available on Amazon in paperback and on the Kindle

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

How to be Lost: a family's recovery from the past

How to be Lost by Amanda Eyre Ward is the story of one woman’s journey to find her missing sister and repair her fractured family. The story follows Caroline as she tries to distance herself from her family as the disappearance of her baby sister, Ellie, still haunts the family gatherings after so many years. At Christmas, her mother approaches her with a request. Head to Montana and see if a woman in the photograph is Ellie and bring her home. Caroline refuses but its only after the sudden loss of her mother does Caroline decide to go. While she’s in Montana, she meets a people who are all running from something. Will she be able to find Ellie? If the woman in the picture is Ellie, can Caroline convince her to come home?

How to be Lost is a wonderful story about family past hurts and how it can still affect the present. I felt the story was very real and the pain and attitudes displayed by each character was heartfelt and realistic. The story also interjects letters from a woman named Agnes. While Caroline is on her journey, the reader is also wondering who is Agnes and how does she fit into the story? I highly recommend How to be Lost.

How to be Lost

Is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Three new children's books for any library collection

Today I have three new children’s book to review!

First, If you were me and lived in…the Ancient Mali Empire by Carole P. Roman and illustrated by Mateya Arkova is a new addition to the series in which children are introduced to the ancient empire of Mali. The book details the empire’s history which was at its height in 1332 and was a vital trade and world power. The book highlights the empire’s Muslim faith and as well as daily life of their homes, food, clothing and cultural practices such as slavery for the salt and gold mines. I enjoyed this book very much as it introduced an empire that I was not aware of and how vital it was to the famous Silk Road. I highly recommend this book for any family or school library.

Second, If you were me and lived on…Mars by Carole P. Roman and illustrated by Mateya Arkova is a fantastical journey to what life on Mars would be like. The story introduces children to the 6 month journey from Earth to Mars. The history behind the name and its place in our solar system. The book also discusses what the living conditions would be like and how the food would be grown on the planet. I enjoyed this book as an interesting approach to introduce the planet to children. I highly recommend this book for any family and school library.

Third, Ellie Camps under the Stars by mother-daughter team of Marci and Elle Fair. It is the sixth book in The Amazing Adventures of Ellie the Elephant series. In this book, Ellie and her friend, Pudgy the penguin go camping. The pitch their tents and sleep under the stars. They go on several hikes and talk about what they see like beautiful waterfalls and amazing mountain views. I enjoyed this book and especially the photos of Ellie and Pudgy on their mountain adventure. I highly recommend this book for any family or school library.

These titles are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble in paperback and in eBooks. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Selective Mutism: not just a form of shyness

Selective mutism is the inability to speak in certain situations. It usually occurs in children less than five years old; however, it is not usually noticed until a child starts school. It is often mistaken for shyness. For fans of The Big Bang Theory, selective mutism isn’t a new term. One of the main characters, Raj Koothrappali (played by Kunal Nayyar), suffered from selective mutism until he was able to overcome it at the end of season 6. My interest in selective mutism is much more personal than a character from a favorite TV show. My five year old daughter often won’t speak in social situations in which she is unfamiliar, is the center of attention or speak with adults whom are not active members of her life (i.e. my husband’s work acquaintances). So I’m curious if my daughter suffers from selective mutism and if so, what I can do to help her overcome this problem. In the course of my research, I see that selective mutism is rate. It affects less than one percent of individuals seen in mental health setting.

Causes of selective mutism can stem from an anxiety disorder, self-esteem issues or problems with speech, language and hearing. The symptoms of selective mutism includes a consistent failure to speak in specific social situations where there is an expectations for speaking. The failure to speak interferes with school, work or with social communication. The lack of speech lasts at least a month and the failure to speak is not due to a lack of knowledge of, or comfort with, the spoken language required in the social situation. For example, a non-Spanish speaker not speaking in a situation in which Spanish is being spoken is not selective mutism. The failure to speak is also not due to a communication disorder (i.e. stuttering) and does not occur exclusively during the course of autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: Fifth (DSM-V, 2013), children with selective mutism may show anxiety disorders (i.e. social phobia), excessive shyness, fear of social embarrassment and social isolation and withdrawal. Children with selective mutism may also show signs of separation anxiety, frequent tantrums, moodiness, inflexibility, slow to warm up and sleep problems.

If selective mutism is suspected, parents are advised to first, remove all pressure and expectations for the child to speak. Pressuring a child to speak when they won’t, will only add to the anxiety the child is feeling. Second, convey to the child that the parents understand he or she is scared and it is hard to get the words out but Mommy and Daddy are there to help. Third, praise the child’s efforts and accomplishments when a child speaks when they normally wouldn’t. Also support and acknowledge the difficulties and frustrations when a child refuses to speak again. Fourth, if parents are really concerned, they need to speak with their family physician or pediatrician. Beware of doctors and “experts” who see selective mutism as controlling or manipulative behavior or the result of overprotective parents. This is not the case and seek out help from those who truly understand selective mutism.

The diagnosis of selective mutism is very detail and in depth. First, the child is examined by a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) as well as the child’s pediatrician and a psychologist or psychiatrist. A complete background is gathered starting with the child’s educational history. The educational history includes academic reports, parent/teacher comments, and any previous testing. A hearing screening is performed to rule out any hearing inability or a middle ear infection. An oral-motor examination is performed in which the coordination and strength of the muscles in the lips, jaws and tongue is tested. The parents/caregivers are interviewed for any suspected problems, environmental factors (i.e. language stimulation), and information about the child’s amount and location of verbal expression. A family history of psychiatric, personality and or physical problems could be attributed to the child’s selective mutism. The child’s speech and language development is examined to see how well the child express himself and understands others. Lastly, a speech and language evaluation will be done to determine the child’s expressive language. This is usually done with the SLP; however, if the child will not speak, a home video of the child speaking is acceptable. A language comprehension is taken in the form of standardized test as well as verbal and non-verbal communication (i.e. pretend play or artistic expressions).

If a child is diagnosed with selective mutism, what is the course of treatment? The SLP will create a behavioral treatment program which will focus on specific speech and language problems or social anxiety issues. First, stimulus fading involves the child in a relaxed situation with someone they talk to freely and a new person is gradually introduced into the room until the child is comfortable talking in front of and with each person. Second, shaping is a structured approach to reinforce all efforts by the child to communicate until audible speech is achieved. These efforts could include gestures, mouthing, or whispers. Third, self-modeling techniques have the child watch videos of himself or herself performing the desired behavior. Self-modeling is used to facilitate self-confidence and carry over behaviors into settings in which the mutism occurs.

I realize that my daughter may not have selective mutism and I have plenty I can do myself to help build her confidence to speak to those she may not be familiar with. I realize that my daughter is a chatterbox at home and in public with people within earshot but the moment she is the center of attention, she clams up. And it’s completely normal. I also realize that shyness is hereditary as I remember being unable to speak freely with people I did not know or even family members I saw often. The fear of saying the wrong thing or even saying it incorrectly, kept me from speaking. Selective mutism is a form of an anxiety disorder and with behavioral treatments, a child can overcome it. It is important to remember to not to pressure a child to speak when they are anxious.  Encourage but do not force. Help build the child’s confidence and he or she may surprise you and speak freely. If in doubt, speak with your child’s doctor for further help.

American Speech Language Hearing Association:

Selective Mutism Center:

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Waiting for Morning: life after a tragic accident

Waiting for Morning by Karen Kingsbury is book 1 of the Forever Faithful series. It’s the story of one woman’s journey after a tragic accident leaves her lost and looking for revenge. Hannah Ryan is a wife and mother with a seemingly perfect life. Until a drunk driving takes the life of her husband, Dr. Tom Ryan, and her oldest daughter, Alicia, and leaves her youngest daughter, Jenny, with life threatening injuries. She immediately flies into action to seek that the driver, Brian Wesley, pays for taking their lives. As Hannah focuses on the upcoming trial, she turns from God and ignores Jenny’s cries for help as she recovers and returns home. Everyone involved from district attorney to the MADD representative seems to be urging her to return to God. Will she listen to what God is trying to tell her? Will she let her anger consume her?

Waiting for Morning is an emotional story of grief, recovery and forgiveness. Hannah is the angry, vengeful aspect of grief. She turns from faith, convinced that God cannot exist if he took her husband and daughter away. Jenny is the survivor who is filled with guilt and depression that she is alive and her father and sister/best friend are not. I enjoyed this story very much. You feel Hannah’s anger and determination. You feel Jenny’s depression. You get angry at Hannah for ignoring Jenny’s needs as she focuses on her own need for revenge. I love the message of the book that forgiveness isn’t just for the person who wronged you, it’s for you as well. I highly recommend Waiting for Morning.

Waiting for Morning
is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle

and other major booksellers

Sunday, February 5, 2017

What does it mean to honor your parents?

What does it truly mean to “honor thy mother and thy father” as stated in Exodus 20:12? Honor is to regard in high respect or esteem. For a young child, obeying your parents is a part of honoring them. When a child listens to, heeds, and submits to his or her parents’ authority, it is honoring them. However, how do you honor your parents when you become an adult? There are some people who interpret this verse as a means that children can never disobey a parent. A child must always do what a parent says even as an adult. Many will fail to seek the out the meaning in the original language in which the command was given. I will discuss common misinterpretations of the commandment as well as the Hebrew word used in the commandment. I will also discuss how to honor parents who are less than honorable.

According to the Matthew Henry Commentary, to honor thy mother and thy father is to “esteem them, shown in our conduct; obedience to their lawful commands.” Essentially, the commentary is stating that children are to come when they are called, do what you are bidden, refrain from what they forbid you, and submit to their counsels and corrections. However, is there a situation in which a child does not need to honor their parents with obedience? Yes! If a parent ever asks a child to do something which contradicts God’s law, the child must obey God’s law first rather than his parents. Acts 5:29 states “But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” In the case of a child disobeying a parent in reverence to God is Jonathan. His father, King Saul, was determined to kill David, God’s anointed king of Israel. And Jonathan knew this was wrong and prevented his father from succeeding (1 Samuel 20:30-34).

In order to examine what God means when He commands that we honor our parents, we must first look at the Hebrew word in the text. In Hebrew, the word, kabed, is used in commandment. It is defined as be heavy, weighty, grievous, hard, rich, glorious, burdensome suggesting a sense of “giving weight to.” The nuance here is important, according to Walter Brueggemann, professor at Columbia Theological Seminary, “the command does not advocate obeying or being subordinate but treating parents with appropriate seriousness” (ProYouth Pages). According to Rabbi Nachum Amsel, honor is a poor translation of the word, kabed. The translation should be dignity. Therefore, we are commanded to dignify our parents and help them keep their dignity. Dignity is defined as the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect and a sense of pride in oneself; self-respect. To maintain a parent’s dignity is to respect them in a manner which doesn’t diminish their own sense of pride or self-respect.

We are even commanded to honor parents as adults as well even when parents act less than honorably. How do we do that? First, honoring your parents does not mean that you always obey or must tolerate abuse from them or maintain a close relationship with them. 2 Corinthians 6:14 states “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” In essence, if a close relationship with your parents weighs you down, you do not need to do so in order to honor them. Second, you must show them simple respect as your respect. No name calling or mockery. For instances, if you were in a discussion with your parents and you disagree on the topic. Honoring your parents would be to say, “I disagree with that statement” and explain why. Not honoring your parents would be to say “Well, you’re an uninformed moron. You didn’t go to school so what can you possible say about that.” Third, you are to still love them. Matthew 5:44-47 states “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” Loving those who are unworthy of your love, even as your parents, carries a far greater reward than loving those who love you.

Therefore, honoring your parents does not mean that you are under their authority for your entire life. To honor your parents to help maintain their dignity with respect. To treat them as you would want to be treated. It doesn’t mean you have to do as they say. You can take their advice with a little more weight than others or not. Loving someone who is unworthy of such an emotion is hard. God commands us to do use because the hate doesn’t hurt the person, it hurts you. It eats at you and hardens your heart. Honoring your parents is about respect and dignity. Honoring is not calling your parents’ names or mocking them in anyway. Does that mean you can’t disagree? No; however, do so respectfully. Parents are given high regard in the Bible and we should regard them in life too. However, that regard does not mean you have to grovel at their feet. 

Amsel, Rabbi Nachum (retrieved 2/2/2017): How to show respect for a parent: A Jewish View

ProYouth Pages (retrieved 2/2/2017): Taking the Fifth: Common Misuse of the Fifth Commandment

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Patriots: a family story of secrets and love of country

The Patriots by Sana Krasikov is a family epic spanning three generations. From Depression era Brooklyn, New York when Florence Fein leaves college to take a job in Moscow. To post-Cold War American, where her son Julian is trying to learn the truth about his mother and her patriotism toward Russia as well trying to convince his own son, Lenny, come home. Julian works for an oil company which takes him to Russia frequently. He learns that the KGB is opening files, he sees his chance to learn the secrets his mother took to her grave. He uses this trip to also plead with his son to return to America as Lenny seems to have inherited his grandmother’s devotion to Russia. Will Julian finally learn the truth about his mother? Will he understand what he learns? Will Lenny return home with Julian? Or will he remain in Russia?

The Patriots is a story told in alternating viewpoints, Florence, Julian and Lenny, as a tale of the one family, two countries and the events which lead to the beginning and end of the Cold War. The writing is beautiful, almost lyrical, with sweeping descriptions of the locations, the emotions and events. I enjoyed the family discovery as an adult child sees his parent in a new light with, possibly, a new understand of her motivations and convictions. I found the book a little hard to read at times with the alternating time line and I suggest make note of the time and location given in an illustration at the start of every chapter. However, I enjoyed it and look forward to reading it again in the future. Overall, if you enjoy historical fiction, you will enjoy The Patriots.

The Patriots
is available on Amazon in hardcover and on the Kindle

Barnes and Nobles in hardcover and NookBook

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Stars in the Grass: a story of life after a tragedy

Stars in the Grass by Ann Marie Stewart is the story of nine year old Abby McAndrews and her family. While on vacation in the summer of 1970, the family suffers a devastating loss which lives the family scrambling to learn to live in this new life. Her mother, Renee, seems determine to grieve and move on. Her father, John, seems stuck in that moment and refuses to return to his life and job as before. Her older brother, Matt, begins down a destructive path. And Abby is trying to makes sense of everything around her as well as process her own grief and sense of guilt. Told in a year’s time, the family goes through the holidays and community events trying to live life as before. With each passing day, the family tensions grow more and more until the threat of explosion is imminent. Can the family come together and heal? Or will they be torn apart by their grief?

Stars in the Grass is a story of grief and healing. Even though it takes place in 1970/1971, the story could easily happen today. The different responses to grief are very real and the pain seems to leap off the page straight to the reader’s heart. The reader will ache with the Renee, John, Matt and Abby as they try to make sense of what happen. The reader will cry tears of sadness with the family and they will laugh with them as they seem to come to grips with their new reality. I recommend Stars in the Grass as a story of grief and healing in the face of unspeakable tragedy and how those around you can help you heal.

Stars in the Grass
is available today
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on Barnes and Noble in paperback and on Nook