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Tag Archives: autobiography

Non-Fiction Books I’m Liking (Fall 2017)

I just realized I have not posted my favorite non-fiction books for this fall yet!  So I will squeak them in the tail end here before December.  My dashboard has not been cooperating with me the last few weeks, so pictures and links are not as I would like but I’m trying to work with it.  So read on for some books about spiritual journeys that I’m sure will be inspiring!

Until We All Come Home, by Kim de Blecourt~  I am finishing up this book (about 90% of the way through it), but am blown away by the incredible journey this ordinary woman of faith endured while she and her husband were in an international battle to adopt their Ukrainian-born son.  I feel it is easy to connect with this woman because A) she does not live too far from my corner of the world; B) she works in voice over; C) it seemed that almost everything imagineable was determined to block her path.  If you find yourself easily frustrated by myriad details, this book might not be for you.  Still waiting to see how this ends, but it is wonderful seeing how God worked in the middle of her long waiting period, during which she battled depression and severe spiritual oppression in a dark part of the world.  I often find myself praising and thanking God for how He answered her prayers, even if her story wasn’t easy.  I hope to meet Mrs. de Blecourt one day.  I highly recommend this read! 

The Ragamuffin Gospel, by Brennan Manning~  Do you find yourself running on fumes spiritually?  Need a cup of refreshing water in the middle of your desert?  I had heard a lot things about this author, Brennan Manning.  I’ve heard good; I’ve heard bad.  I know people I respect that that admire his work, and others view it with fear.  I determined to read at least one book by him and find out for myself what I thought.  I started with this particular book because it is his most famous.  To be honest, my opinion of it alone is an elevated one.  I found such encouragement in his word pictures, his simple eloquence.  It is imaginative, well-written, and a classic in it’s own right.  It seemed I’d read a passage in a chapter right when I needed it at that time.  The major theme it dwells on is the grace of God.  Manning reflects the easy yoke and light burden God offers to us “ragamuffins”.  I could quote my favorite parts, but would much rather you tried it for yourself.  Does this mean I would agree on everything with Brennan Manning?  No, I will not commit to that; I believe it is always wise to test instead of blindly accept anything we come across.  There were one or two things I’m not sure I would completely agree on even in this book.  And yet, I found the good far, far outweighed those areas.  My advice is to be prayerfully engaged while reading.   

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2017 in Non-Fiction Books I'm Liking

 

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Used Book Shopping at Thrift Stores

Ah!  🙂  Time to grab a chai and a blanket and for a little ‘random book shopping’ post!  There aren’t a ton this time around, but I can tell you I was pretty excited over these:

*This was the best find out of all of them!  Have you heard of the story of Diet Eman?  This brave young Dutch woman defied the Nazis along with her fiancé in hiding Jews during WWII.  About ten years ago, I listened to a recorded speech she gave that aired on Focus on the Family.  It was split into two parts and I remember being so engrossed in the Part 1 and not wanting to miss the next day’s continuation.  But I was unable to at that time (didn’t have the benefit of looking up past programs on the internet), and was so sorry to have missed it.  A short time later after moving to another state, I saw a flyer announcing a small community theater performing a play based on Diet Eman’s biography.  It was said that Diet herself may be there to meet and greet afterward!  I was so excited and we all bought tickets.  The play (named after the book, “Things We Couldn’t Say”) was riveting.  Unfortunately, Ms. Eman (who is now quite elderly) couldn’t make it that night and we never got to meet her.  But.  I was looking through the wealth of books at a local Salvation Army store and came across her autobiography in great condition.  And when I opened it up… I saw she had autographed it!  !!!!!  How COOL is that?!  I am so thrilled and honored to have a book signed by her own hand to keep for my own and pass on.  It is my hope that I get to meet her one day in person.

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You never know what you might find at a thrift store!  Do you have any special book finds?  Please share!

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2017 in Book Shopping

 

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Edgar Harrell’s Story

d0514d0abee471e4c05a881c3932ed31Not one weekend newspaper goes by that I don’t see at least one -if not several- World War II veteran obituaries.  It is estimated that 430 of the ‘greatest generation’ vets pass away each day.  So with Independence Day approaching, I thought I’d post a link to the story of a noble WWII vet with a remarkable survival story.  I remember listening to Edgar Harrell being interviewed years ago by Charles Morris on Haven Today.  It was such an edge-of-your-seat true tale that we didn’t dare miss the next day’s episode!  I wasn’t able to find that same interview unfortunately, but you can listen to Harrell’s interview on In the Market with Janet Parshall by clicking here.  You can also watch him tell his story on a video posted below.  Edgar wrote an autobiography about his experiences called “Out of the Depths.”  I highly recommend this to you!  And don’t forget to say thank you to the veterans who fought for your freedom (regardless of which war) in your life!

 

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Journaling Our Journey: Doing the Dishes

Sometimes, journaling can be like doing the dishes. You know it needs done.  You know you’ll regret it and get overwhelmed if you don’t, but… you just don’t wanna.  So you put it off.  And before you know it a few months have gone by, but it’s not like anything really super exciting happened, so you’re getting away with it, right?  You’ll wait until some big moment in life arrives and then you’ll journal, you promise yourself.  Except that when that time happens, you’re so swamped with the details of life that it’s nearly impossible to chronicle your internal state of affairs.  Eventually, you give up.  And your life is passing without your inner thoughts, feelings, observations, hopes, dreams, decisions, the life-changing events, and the little moments that really make up the reality of life being set down to last.

The Bible tells us:

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It’s a sobering thought, but true nonetheless. We don’t really know what tomorrow will bring.  It seems to be that most of life is lived in the ordinary, slow, waiting mode, and then BOOM! the dramatic, life-changing events happen all of a sudden.  Not just the scary, traumatizing stuff of life, but also the good, happy things full of love and joy.

Who will capture our lives to set down to be remembered if we don’t? Most of us don’t have biographers or will write a published autobiography.  It’s up to us to record things so they didn’t happen in vain.  Why does this matter so much?  It matters for those coming after us (relatives or even non-relatives who maybe never knew us) because they can learn or identify from our lives.  It’s like a snapshot of what people in our day and generation thought about the world going on around us.  It also matters to us because someday we will hopefully be able to look back and see how far we’ve grown and matured.  Or for us to remember things better.  It gives a sense that our lives do matter.

Remembering the importance of journaling can help motivate us to ‘do those journaling dishes’ even when we don’t feel like it. I get in this slump lots of times.  In fact, right now I’m going through a phase where I find it hard to do anything I should do and easy to do everything I shouldn’t!  But I find it helpful to keep journaling by setting aside one day a week and making it a priority.  First, I write about landmark events.  Who had a baby?  Who’s running for president?  Then, I write about what stood out to me during the course of the last week.  Maybe an argument I had with someone, or an achievement I earned.  If nothing comes to my mind for either of these prompts, I come up with some sort of opinion or thought I’ve been holding in my mind lately.  What are my favorite colors currently and why?  What annoys me about certain people?  I don’t just write about the flowery things of life.  I try to be real.

Here’s a tip: It’s much, much easier to journal when you don’t have a boatload of important things to write about. Slowly processing through the last seven days can become more of a contemplative activity than a chore.  And if something big happens (like someone ending up in the hospital), seven days are hard enough to document without having to play catch-up first.

What are some ways that you overcome procrastination in journaling?

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2016 in Journaling Our Journey

 

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Book Review: “Inclined to Escape,” by Yuri Vetokhin

untitledGenre: non fiction; autobiography; survival; memoir

Plot Summary: Yuri Vetohkhin, native born Russian, tells the story of his life in the Soviet Union and his three attempts to escape to freedom.

My Book Review: My mom has had this book ever since I could remember. The dust jacket is worn and torn, but one day I opened up the cover and discovered that the author signed his autograph on the inside page. Hmm… we owned a book signed by a person who had endured unspeakable torture. That peaked my interest! How could I not read it?

This wasn’t a cheery book, obviously. Yuri’s life under Communist rule is told in extreme (sometimes monotonous) detail, including his 9 year internment at a psychiatric concentration camp, which takes up a good portion of the book. At times I got very depressed reading about his horrific tortures and the hopelessness he experienced as a result of communism. I had to break up my reading it, alternating between it and other books, which is why it took me about a year to finish it. There were a lot of typos and the English translation of Russian conversations was awkward and didn’t flow very well. I usually forgot who most of the people he mentioned were, and Russian names are hard to pronounce for English speakers.

But I pushed myself to keep reading and I’m glad I did. Even though the story isn’t pleasant, I think it’s important to be informed about how totalitarian governments control people. How do people survive concentration camps? I’ve always wondered what I would do should I ever be sent to one. The only way to know is read about the testimonies of others who have been there.

Yuri speaks often about God and claims to be a Catholic. I won’t dispute that, but be aware that there are several points in his story where he unabashedly admits to being the lover of more than one woman, and to having an affair with a married woman.

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The author, Yuri Vetokhin

The book’s pace picks up somewhat after he is released from prison and he schemes his third escape attempt. I can’t even imagine how lonely he must have been spending 20 years keeping his plans entirely to himself and working alone. That he was able to swim for such great distances at age 50 was amazing!

After finishing the book, I tried to learn more about Yuri Vetokhin. There is little information out there, but to the best of my knowledge, he is still alive (now in his 80’s) and living at his San Diego home in CA. That is also amazing, considering all of the poisionous drugs his heart and body took while in the internment camp.

This is a rare book that is hard to get ahold of nowadays, but I would recommend it for anyone interested in testimonies such as Yuri’s.

 

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2015 in Book Reviews

 

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Journaling Our Journey: For Posterity

fa07f2be9bbac8a0ee80e97a31f6217bIf you journal, do you ever envision someone reading what your write someday? It’s sort of a humbling thought. It can make one more conscious of the fact that what we choose to do today could influence another tomorrow.

Let’s take the published diaries of famous people that we may enjoy reading about. The Diary of Anne Frank; The Selected Journals of L. M. Montgomery; Diaries and Letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh(Sorry to list only female writers here: I try to write what I know.) What is it about reading someone else’s diary that interests us so much? I think in large part it is because we feel a connection to someone else. They may have lived in a different place at a totally different time, but we still can identify with universal human emotions. In Ecclesiastes we read, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Somehow, we don’t feel quite as alone when we connect with someone who has felt similarly at one time or another. We are drawn out of our isolation, out of our selves, and are exposed to new ideas and ways of looking at things.

I’m currently watching the riveting docudrama The Great War Diary,– reenactments based on real life diaries and letters of people who lived through the first modern war in history. A diary can be a snapshot in time. We get to see what a person thought or felt during a specific event. Some diaries may mention world news, others may not. Regardless, reading about how others managed through the times in which they lived can help us find strength and inspiration for our lives today. People can learn from others from both the good and the bad.

There is something quite different about reading someone’s journal as opposed to fiction. It’s not a contrived plot. The person writing a particular entry had no idea what would occur the next day. Maybe we know the ending, as unfortunately most do when reading about Anne Frank. But they didn’t, and had a choice to do the best they could with what they had at a given time. Not all things are wrapped up with a bow at the end of the story. Sometimes we see realistic periods of time where seemingly nothing happens, or maybe the entries are blank. The feelings described were real and were felt by real people, like us. In that way, we can identify and maybe be comforted by the fact that we’re not the only ones.

51a75f513e7f44619f904cf4c0c7a745So, what responsibility have we when we set to journal our journeys through life? I think being honest is the most important things we can be when pouring out ourselves, even to the pages of a book. Nobody’s perfect and in our journals– whatever else our lives may pressure us to be—we can be safe to reveal that and hopefully process through it. In so doing, we pave a way for readers who may come after us.  What else are we here for than to be a light to others?

Keeping a journal of our thoughts and feelings is also a way to not let it all be in vain. When I feel sad or happy, I don’t want those emotions to be for nothing. So I will sometimes sit down and write it all out. Then it is recorded—not lost, and I feel as though it has not been wasted.

Perhaps all this may sound scary to some. Those who felt inhibited about being vulnerable before now may feel doubly so. “That’s what I was afraid of! I’m terrified someone may read my journals one day!” I know a couple of family members who pitched their older diaries because they were embarrassed. If this is the only way one can feel better about keeping a diary, then I suppose this could be an option as opposed to living in so much dread someone may find it that it keeps you from writing at all. But I urge careful consideration before destroying all your precious thoughts. They really can be an invaluable aid for future generations, whether you think so or not.

In a digital age where text, email, posts, and twitter are thoughtlessly punched out and type quickly vanishes, a journal can be an even more precious gift for ourselves and those who come after. A journal’s voice keeps on speaking long after the writer is gone.

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2015 in Journaling Our Journey

 

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The Audie Awards 2015

5ddd47e8faf9a918b29a9c0e6741e923Arg!  Completely missed the Audie Awards at the end of May two weeks ago (May 28th)!  You know how frustrating it is when you keep on reminding yourself it’s coming up for months, and then when it’s actually time you forget?  😦

Audie Awards are exciting in that they are the biggest awards of the year for audiobooks, narrators, and audio dramas.  In fact, they are often dubbed “The Oscars” of the audio world.

This year had a few interesting finalists.  LA Theatre Works won Best AudioDrama for their version of “The Hound of the Baskervilles.”  Alan Cumming won for his narration of his autiobiography, “Not My Father’s Son.” Max Lucado’s non fiction book, “Before Amenwon in the best Inspirational non fiction audiobook category.  The exciting sounding, “The Auschwitz Escape,by Joel Rosenberg won for best Inspirational fiction.  And Simon Vance won yet another Audie!

You can look at the list of finalists and winners by clicking here, as well as listen to samples all mentioned.

Although I have not had time to watch it yet, here is the Audie Awards 2015 on video.  Now, hopefully I can remember to tune in live next year!  Arg again.

Have you heard any of these audio productions?  What did you think of them?

 

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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