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Posts Categorized: Book Reviews

Featured book – “Man’s Search for Meaning”

What does humor or laughter have to do with concentration camps?

Could laughter and humor have any place within conditions where people were being annihilated because of their faith and race? Wouldn’t that be sacrilegious to the sacredness of life to even suggest such a thing?

Only someone who had been there, and who by the grace of God survived, could speak to such things.

As I watched a documentary on the death and unfathomable horror of those Nazi concentration camps, and saw the recorded footage of the death and torture of thousands and thousands of Jews during WWII, as recorded by the British, American and even the Nazi’s themselves, it was unimaginable that it could be real. How could any man do that to another man? And how could anyone find meaning in such circumstances.

In his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”, Viktor Frankl wrote about how he and others were able to discover meaning for life – even here. I was profoundly impact by his book during my graduate work.

It’s All in How you Look at it!

Stress is very subjective. Perception is both the creation of stress and what we will do with it. It is both personal and unique. What stresses you out may not stress me at all.

Any life event, major or minor, can become a cause of dis-stress. It can be an on-going source of irritation and even victimization. It can also be the beginning of an off-repeated humorous story. Can we take events and turn them into something we can laugh at for decades?

Years ago in a speech I gave on stress to a group of teachers in the U.K. I shared one of the stories my father-in-law told our kids about when he was a kid. Their much loved Grandpa Bert was an easy-going guy, with seemingly not a care in the world who drove my mother-in-law crazy. As a kid he attended a small, rural school.

Now Bert was not a student of academia – in fact he hated sitting in the classroom. During recess while other kids were busy jumping rope or throwing ball, he was busy exploring the tall grass around the little country school, looking for wonderful things such as bugs, worms, caterpillars, frogs – you name it.

Featured – The Healing Power of Laughter

Can you laugh when you are revisiting the trauma of your childhood – or when your only son dies? Can you laugh when your wife has just a few weeks left to live and she wants to put up a picture that both of you can laugh at so her passing will have a deeper meaning than just sorrow? Would you have the courage? Would you feel as though you were being insensitive and callous? Or could you, like the authors of the following books, see laughter as a way to help you get through an impossible time – a way to keep sane and keep from falling in the abyss.

The authors of the following books are testimony to not only our need to laugh but to find healing within its grasps.

“I’d Rather Laugh”, by Linda Richman tells a personal story of trauma and intense emotional pain and how learning to laugh through even the greatest of these pains, not only helped her survive but to heal. It is a moving story that all of us can identify with and know that there is hope and healing from any pain.

51HIxo3Z9fL__AA160_”The Healing Power of Humor” by Allen Klein, is an older book, but well worth the time to read. Not only does he share his own story, but tells us why it is so important that we learn to laugh and gives us tips on how to get through “loss, setbacks, upsets, disappointments, difficulties, trials, tribulations and all that not-so-funny stuff”.

I learned the subtle skill of humor from my husband who could find humor in all things while being sensitive to the space of another.

Book Feature – Killing Jesus

Imagine you are a reporter during the time of Jesus. What would you see? What would you report? Who would you interview? What historical events are associated with this time period that contributed to the life, trial and killing of Jesus Christ? How would you report such an event without bias during highly conflicted and explosive times?

As these authors have done with other books, the story starts at the beginning of what would eventually lead to crucifixion and death. Herod was fearful of a new “king” and upon his orders to Roman soldiers, set out to kill the baby Jesus before he could grow up. Instead, his parents and the baby flee and many other children are slaughtered instead.

As a student of the bible for many years, I am familiar with the story of Jesus as portrayed in the four gospels just as you are. But these authors, Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, have included historical information that fills out the life and times of that period.

Book Review – Undivided Heart

How do you write a review of a book so full of information that it is hard to know where to begin. Undivided Heart, Bridging my Relationship with Myself, Others and God is such a book.

Cover Front Book 2While full of information that each of us needs and can use, it is written in a simple style, easy to follow and understand.

It is a boon to those who are tactile and visual as Diana has taken complex, concrete concepts and has reduced them to an everyday language we can use and understand.

It opens up the mysteries of emotions and helps us explore our values and the conflicts we encounter when we are conflicted about them. She helps us explore the places in our life where we have gotten stuck; those moments when we struggle to believe in God and ourselves.

Every life story has those moments of hurt and pain and misunderstanding. In her seven step approach, Diana helps us bridge a relationship with ourselves which can then led to bridging that communication with God and others.

Book Review – Little Merchants, The Golden Era of Youth Delivering Newspapers

The clock shatters the peace of the quiet, early morning. It is 4:00 and dark. The wind is howling. You want to snuggle deeper under the blankets. But you dutifully crawl out of your warm, cozy bed onto the cold floor and quickly get dressed. Grabbing a bite, you are out the door.

No. You aren’t the milkman going to work in the wee hours of the morning. You are 8 or 9 years old. Some are as young as 4 or 5. You are newspaper boys, on your way to pick up the merchandise you will deliver. As you reach the drop off site of the bundled papers dropped off in the wee hours of the morning by delivery trucks, you don’t have time to think about how cold it is. It is your job to cut the wire or twine holding the bundles together, roll them into deliverable bundles, stuff them in your large bags, get on your bikes and start delivering. When snow and ice prohibit the use of bikes, you walk or use sleds. You are little merchants, as Sandra Walker calls them in her wonderful book, “Little Merchants, the Golden Era of Youth Delivering Newspapers”.

Book Review – It’s A God Thing

Have you ever wondered whether people actually have experienced miracles and the protection of God in life and death situations? Have you ever wondered whether prayers are answered when the answers to those prayers could only have come from the intervention by a loving God? Have you ever wondered if God is real and cares about us very much?

“It’s A God Thing”, is a collection of stories by real people who have experienced God’s protection, comfort, healing, provision, and everyday miracles. It is a collection of 42 real life events in which people have experienced the love of God – those moments in time that have no explanation for what has happened except for some intervention by a caring God.

Real people. Real Life. Real Grace. A new start after a colossal failure. Reconciliation with a son that had stormed out of the house years ago. Complete recovery when the doctors said there was nothing else they could do. A broken marriage restored. A moment of absolute joy, even when storms were raging all around. Big moments. Small Moments.

Book Review: Clara’s War – One Girl’s Story of Survival

“And you shall teach them diligently to your children, and you shall speak of them when you sit at home and when you walk along the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9

So begins the book, “Clara’s War, One Girl’s Story of Survival”, a memoir of a 81 year old survivor of the Second World War during the invasion and occupation of Poland, first by the Russians and then by the Nazi’s.

It is a riveting true story of a teenage Polish Jewish girl who with her family and two other families was forced to live in an underground basement bunker in the home of the Beck family who hid them for 18 months. Clara (Schwarz) Kramer’s original diary of this time period is on display at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, written with the stub of a pencil on bits of paper.

Book Review – Forgive For Good

Forgive for Good, by Frederick Luskin, PhD

As a therapist, I have recommended many books for clients to read. One of those books has been “Forgive for Good”, by Frederick Luskin, PhD.

I have used the well-written and easy to follow guidelines in this book in many workshops and retreats that I have given. Whether you are dealing with grief and loss, adversity, or healing the wounded child within, it is a book that touches each of us.

As a licensed mental health counselor, I was privileged to attend a day-long professional training seminar facilitated by Dr. Luskin himself. The book was an outcome of his doctoral thesis and designed to help wounded, angry and blaming clients recognize the benefit of forgiveness. He also developed course material for classes to be used by churches.

We tend to think of forgiveness as a command made by Christ – forgiving not once, but seventy times seventy. It is not only a spiritual necessity but a clinical one as well.

Book Review – Accidental Pharisees

“Accidental Pharisees: – AVOIDING PRIDE, EXCLUSIVITY AND the other dangers of overzealous faith”, by Larry Osborne

Accidental Pharisees are people like you and me who really have a desire to honor God, want to share the good news of Christ with the world, but run the risk of becoming overzealous in their faith putting a guilt trip on people.

In our desire to follow God and live a holy life, we can become so zealous that we run the risk of elevating ourselves, looking down on those who aren’t following as diligently a path as we are.

We tend to equate the Pharisees in the bible with being the bad guys who are puffed up with their own righteousness and are arrogant and contemptuous of others. Larry Osborne suggests that we too can become so zealous that we can become a full-fledged Pharisee.

We tend to equate the Pharisees in the bible with being the bad guys who are puffed up with their own righteousness and are arrogant and contemptuous of others. Larry Osborne suggests that we too can become so zealous that we can become a full-fledged Pharisee.