Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Book Review: A Terrifically Insightful Look at Introverts

     I received this complimentary copy of Quiet from Crown Publishing (affiliated with WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing) in exchange for an honest review.

     Maybe you have been called quiet, geeky, bookish, shy, reserved or even snobby. There is a chance you have as estimates have it that one-third to one-half of the population is introverted. Given the American people are an extremely extroverted group, many introverts are ousted to be shy or any of the other aforementioned labels. Thanks be to Susan Cain, the author of this wonderful book Quiet:The Power of Introverts in World That Can't Stop Talking, you can now gain a deeper appreciation for all of the workings inside introverted heads.

     Cain leads the reader on a journey back in time when introversion was seen as polite and dignified and then brings us into the present age of a very gregarious culture. The first part of Quiet will hold your attention as I found it to be chock-full of information and touches of humor. Is it not fascinating to muse that historically my reservation, or yours for that matter, would be regarded in high esteem?

     Then, in the subsequent chapters, Cain delves into the physiological makeup of introversion and explores what makes introverts tick. Introverts do indeed process the outer world around them at a much different pace and way. There is actual physiological evidence for being thin-skinned (validation for this introvert). She explores a myriad of hypotheses and theories, actually interviewing  many of the leading researchers of the noted studies. I must say the research Mrs. Cain put into this project herself is astounding, impeccable really. This book is the accumulation of years of work and passion.

     Part Three, also known as Chapter 8, explores the concept of "soft power" and the Asian-American experience. I was rather taken by this chapter page by page. The final part of Quiet looks into the practical application of the astounding research. She addresses topics such as: When should introverts act like extroverts? and How can we parent quiet children in the loud din of the world?

    Susan Cain penned Quiet experientially using her own career as a corporate lawyer as her jumping off point. She found herself surrounded by loud-mouthed, fast-talking lawyers and executives wondering how she could cultivate her introversion to gain the upper hand in situations. This experience has been filtered down to the reader in a cohesive book. I appreciated that she allowed room for the various nuances each introvert possesses to be addressed. Not every introvert is shy. Not every introvert loves to read. Introversion may fuel us, but in no way can it peg us perfectly.

     My only warning is to know Quiet is a book to explore for yourself and the business talk may steer some wrong. However, I would hate to think that a potential reader would not pick this book for that very reason. The wealth of information and validation will outweigh beyond measure any hindrances you may possess.  Although we may live in an extroverted culture, maybe to a fault, being quiet can actually be perceived as a gift to yourself and the world around you. If I have learned nothing else, it is okay to be Quiet.

Take a peek into Quiet.

Purchase through Amazon here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day: No Jewels, but Lots of Love

     This year my family made Mother's Day a three-day celebration, not because I deserve the praise, but because my husband is a firefighter. He was scheduled to work Sunday. I have to admit I am a little disappointed when his schedule conflicts with my plans at first. Yes, this is selfishness in the first degree. I guess when Mother's Day is about the mom it goes to my head and some of me expects the glory. Yet, this has been our life since we were married over 12 years ago. I know better after a moment or two of selfish what-about-me-syndrome. Really, I know I am loved whether I have a day set aside or not. In fact, it is in those sweet moments with my kids that I really witness their love pouring forth out of a sincere heart, rather than a coerced "love you, Mom," because it is Mother's Day. Commercialism coerces, whereas it's in the day to day you perceive the genuine. I did not receive diamonds or anything extravagant in material goods. I did receive extravagant love in many forms from those that mean so much to me. It was a beautiful weekend. Anyway, here is a little look at what all that fun looked like.

My flowers from my love. He brought these home after work on Friday morning.

Me and my babies at Descanso Gardens. We take advantage of National Public Garden's Day. It is a wonderful time to see what your local gardens has to offer and the bounty God has created for our pleasure.

My world was all in line waiting for the train to begin.

      Jacob, never one to leave us bored, pretended to meditate on a rock near the stream. Consequently, my little guy fell into the stream feet first. I blame it on Jacob's deep relaxation and evident instability. So, we had to make a quick trip to Target to get him some dry socks and shoes. We had a nice meal out after enjoying the gardens until late afternoon.

     Saturday was not a day that surrounded around me. The reason I found it to be a part of the celebration is because it had everything to do with my kids (most of it, anyhow). That is what being a mommy is all about. We had a t-ball game, softball game and an Awana award ceremony. Then, David took the kids to the movie while I took the time to relax and give myself a pedicure. I even read a chapter of my current reading selection without being interrupted. But, it was in the midst of running around that I realized that despite the hectic pace or may be because of it, that my family and I are enjoying life. We take the time to slow down some days, so when we have those crazy days we can push through them together. My husband and I are demonstrating to our children that we do life together because we love each other so much.

      Then Sunday, with David at work, my children allowed me to sleep in a bit. The bad news was we did not make it to church. The good news was brought to me in the form of paper and pen. Gabriel, my eldest, came in and said, "Mom, this is for you." He then sped out my room. I opened my eyes to see a picture they all contributed to, sort of. Gabriel told me he drew the flowers and vase. Mary colored the sky and grass.And Jacob, well, he said, "I did nothing." Yet, sure enough his name was signed, not by his hand, but his heart was there.

 This fine piece of art will be receiving a frame shortly.
 I adore the misspelling, as it is not "from" my kids, but "form" them.

     To conclude our Sunday, we drove to Tehachapi and spent the day with my mom. My three kiddos were able to play with their younger cousin, Reece, for the day. They did not slow down for a bit. Fun, fun times!  As Jacob was laying in my arms trying to fall asleep, he tells me, "That day was a great day." Simple, but true.

The kids playing in the sandbox. Apparently, sandboxes appeal to kids of many ages.

We even walked around their property and spotted some raccoon tracks.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Traversing the Uncharted

     Choppy seas and high tide cam make for some interesting, possibly scary journeys. We never know when a storm is going to come toting dark clouds that loom menacingly overhead. All it takes for those torrents to burst forth is one drop, or stressor, too many.
     Homeschooling brings with it various periods of weather to the voyage. We do not know what the forecast is calling for. Storms can sneak up on us. A family’s journey is not mapped out. We may know where we want to go, but we cannot be certain that we will hit our target. We are on course for the unknown.
     Some days are light and airy, smooth sailing, so to speak. Those are the days we can sit with our children remembering how blessed we are. Of course, every day is a blessing, some days feeling blessed seems a little easier. I sit pondering, why would God choose to bless me as He has. Sunny days are always a welcomed presence.
     Nevertheless, there are moments that I find my family is indeed traversing choppy waters. If the storm is severe enough, I may have a hard time discerning sea from sky, land from water and weakness from strength. My navigational bearings are sent asunder leaving this captain at the helm of her ship, wondering if we will make landfall by sunset. If I cannot grasp the direction I need to head, my map is of little use. Instead of relying on the North Star, I search hopelessly and mistakenly for islands or any other external tool I can come across. I am grasping at air. All that is needed is Him. (Luke 10: 41-42)
     Listen and take note of Paul’s encouragement. “and He said to me, `Sufficient for thee is My grace, for My power in infirmity is perfected;' most gladly, therefore, will I rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of the Christ may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) We are not fit to battle the storm or sail through. Only He holds the power to overcome.
     Every storm holds potential in the clouds. It is when we allow ourselves to engage with the storm, rather than against, as the cold front blows in, we will grow. We can grow in love, compassion and strength to name a few areas. There are certainly times little storms can train us to be better captains in more abrasive, painful storms. On the other hand, if we are not careful we may lead our crews to a barren island that cannot sustain life. In our own strength we will find ourselves shipwrecked at some point. We can create disasters from little storms. What was meant to be a shower becomes a deluge of our own creation.
     What direction does our scope point? We need to keep our scopes focused upon true North, our Captain Jesus Christ. When our scope goes awry, what are we to do? What are we to do when we are hanging on by a thread searching for a dinghy? Look up and out at the horizon. I guarantee you will see our Rescuer. He is more than a raft, buoy or tugboat. He is our Life Saver!
     Jesus can calm the waters and still the storms. Luke 8:24 reminds us, “The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.” May we never let our faith waver as Peter, when we reach out for His hand. God will not let us sink or leave us gasping for fresh air. He is our Life! Grab hold and rejoice when a storm blows into port or out at sea. Those are the times God shows us how far we have come in our journey with Him and how much closer we are to our destination.
     The skies will clear. The waves will cease. And our hearts will find their Captain. There are days we would be wise to remember to ask Jesus to come aboard, take the wheel and steer. Waves are not ours to fight alone, nor should we try. If you find yourself in the midst of a storm or trudging through a flood, look up! Turn over the wheel. Maybe you are basking in the Son today, may you soak in the warmth. Just remember, whenever we find our schooling off -course there is no need to fret. Our journey with Jesus will never cease. You may have to delve into the deep and unknown, but the destination will be worth it. Praise God we are being guided by the perfect Captain, no matter the forecast!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Book Review: The Walk of a Lifetime

     BookSneeze on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing graciously sent a complimentary copy of Jonathan Falwell's 1000 Days: The Ministry of Christ in exchange for an honest book review. Jesus could have come down from heaven, paid our debts on the Cross and been done with it. Instead, He came as God and as man, lived humbly, righteously, perfectly for all to see. Why did His active ministry last only three years and how can we relate to his holiness?
     Jonathan Falwell dynamically endeavors to answer these questions as he leads the reader down the path Jesus has walked before us. God did not use super men as his workmen, but uses ordinary people to do a divine job to build up His kingdom. Peering into the dimensions of Christ's ministry we can learn how to combat Satan, endure suffering, find peace, claim hope and strive to live as He.
      Each chapter is divided into three parts. The first section looks into a scenario that can either send us into crisis mode or into the arms of Christ. Then, in the second part we see how Jesus handled a situation and/or ministered to others. Finally, Falwell brings the biblical narrative full circle to how we can live in and through Christ. Will we allow ourselves to find rest in Him or scamper from the crisis as a wounded, befuddled creature?
     The reader will get a chance to read personal accounts from Falwell's life that I found refreshing, as he did not sell himself. One gets a peek into his ministerial skills as he intricately weaves personal accounts, biblical narratives and practical applicability. The 15 chapters are easy to read, yet engaging as he stresses the importance of Christ's ministry to your own life. Are you walking with Christ? Are you living as Christ? Are you radically loving as Christ?
     Any new believer or mature believer can gain from !000 Days: The Ministry of Christ. The insight one can acquire from Falwell's latest will leave the reader searching their own hearts and can lead to a more substantial walk with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His ministry can become our ministry as He called us to live out.

Click here to purchase your own copy through Amazon.