Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Review: Praying For Strangers

It took a while, but I finally read the book I had heard so much about.  That book would be Praying For Strangers by River Jordan.  I heard about this book through the grapevine before I ever actually obtained a copy and read it.  It didn't disappoint.  Basically, River Jordan decides as a resolution that she will pray for a stranger each day.  This is partly to enable her to get outside of her own worries and concerns.  It begins when she encounters a situation in a public bathroom and she does not intervene; she regrets not intervening actually.  The book chronicles her year of praying for strangers.  She takes this one step farther by actually telling those strangers of her resolutions and asking their name and if they have any special prayer requests.  You would be surprised at what she learns in the process and how she is changed though this process.  The simple lessons I took away from this book as a reader and writer are as follows:

1)  As humans we are all important to one another and all interrelated.
2)  There but for the grace of God go I.
3)  Outward appearances do not necessarily tell you who needs prayer or how much prayer is needed.
4)  Caring for an unknown someone can make you a better human being.
5)  Moving out of your comfort zone can be worth the risk.
6)  Someday it is going to matter that you spent a portion of your life being selfless.
7)  Most people genuinely wish for the same basic blessings; food, shelter, love, and a good life.
8)  You may know your life's purpose; however, you will always encounter the unexpected.
9)  Never assume you know someone's story.
10)  The people you meet can teach you something via their character and their actions.
11)  Everyone appears to be unified in the wish to be blessed greatly.
12)  There are no right or wrong people to pray for.
13)  Ultimately, people cross our paths for a reason.
14)  Strangers can provide you with a hint to pray for someone you know.
15)  Sometimes people need prayer and sometimes they need take action help.
16)  Praying for others can become not just a resolution, but a lifestyle.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Review: Signs Of Life by Natalie Taylor

For the month of January 2012 I read the memoir Signs Of Life by Natalie Taylor.  This book is about a woman in her mid twenties who suddenly loses her husband of almost two years.  And what really pulls the reader in to the story is that this woman is also four and a half months pregnant.  Her husband's death is stunning.  In the beginning you can tell she is in shock because the chapters read like machine gun fire.  She has a close knit family and so did her husband.  She has the same perplexities we all have with our in-laws; they can be eccentric and sometimes overwhelming.  This story navigates through a year of grieving and recovery.  She discusses how we learn about the hard truths in life from literature as well.  She is a high school English teacher so I related to her on some many different levels regarding students and faculty.  I would not classify this as a depressing memoir; in fact, quite the opposite.  Between the birth of her child, her friends and family, her support groups, and her life as a high school teacher, there are some very real humorous moments.  The best moments comes at the end of the book which I am definitely not going to give away.  I will relate the life lessons I gained from reading Signs Of Life.

                                                            Life Lessons

1)  Grief travels at its own speed.
2)  Grief can bring about a desire to not be around all the "together" people.  Sometimes
     you learn more about life from the people whose lives have been upended.
3)  Some realities have to always be addressed after a death:  change names on checks;
     close accounts; and remove the ring tone signifying a call from the deceased.
4)  Death is much like the hour of lead.
5)  You will now be able to relate to people you thought you had absolutely nothing
      in common with and you might even become less judgemental as a result.
6)  Everything is uncertain and worry will not make it certain.
7)  Death is not the only event causing profound and tragic pain.
8)  We have no control over other people or things; but we do have control over if and
     how it gets to us.
9)  Books are places where we learn about ourselves.
10)  A parents grief over the loss of a child is on a much deeper level because he/she has raised that    
       individual and watched him/her grow.   
11)  People can become stuck or fenced in with their lives not because they do not work
       hard enough, but rather because of the circumstances within which they find themselves.
12)  Grief can be a place of visitation and not a permanent residence.