Right now, Molly looked over and me and said, "Mom, I think we should get more Veggie Tales movies from the library. Because the vegetables always talk about God and Jesus. So, we should get more of those movies." So sweet!
decathlon - noun, An athletic event taking place over two days, in which each competitor takes part in the same prescribed ten events (100-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400-meter dash, 110-meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, and 1,500-meter run)
Decathletes stress their bodies often just short of their breaking points. Just to finish the decathlon is a feat to be lauded, and it is the only event in which all finishers take a victory lap together. Decathletes face frequent heartache. Training for the decathlon is arguably the most demanding of any sport. And in competition, there are so many variables involved in the ten different events that make it somewhat common for superstars to have poor outcomes.
Defending Olympic Champion Bryan Clay missed his opportunity to compete in the 2012 London Games after failing in the 110 meter hurdles race at the 2012 Olympic Trials. Although this failing performance surely brought tremendous heartache, more importantly Bryan is a winner at life.
In his memoir, Redemption: A Rebellious Spirit, A Praying Mother, and the Unlikely Path to Olympic Gold, with Joel Kilpatrick, Bryan tells of his tumultuous upbringing wrought with pain, strife, and poor choices. Along the way, Bryan is exposed to God’s truth and to mentors that point him to success. However, it isn’t until Bryan is a few years into college that he decides to clean up his life style and pursue excellence in all areas of his life by putting God first. This book had me cheering for Bryan as he trained, competed, and fell in love. I’ve been a long time track and field fan, but I learned a lot about the decathlon and Bryan’s career that culminated in his victory at the 2008 Olympic Games. This is a great read in anticipation of the 2012 London Games.
I received a free copy of this book as part of my participation in Thomas Nelson Publishers booksneeze.com program.
This is God’s story, and He wants it told: Lopez Lomong qualified for the 2012 London Olympics tonight by placing third in the 5000 meter race at the U.S. track and field trials. He will be proudly wearing the uniform for the United States, the country that gave him a second chance at life. When Lopez was six years-old, he was kidnapped by rebel soldiers in his native South Sudan and imprisoned. Miraculously, he escaped to Kenya where he spent the next ten years as an orphan (he had no idea if his parents were alive) in a refugee camp where the conditions in which he lived seemed hopeless and desperate. By contrast, Lopez remained filled with hope and the pragmatism necessary to thrive in this environment. Drawing upon the faithfulness of a loving God taught to him by his parents, he was certain that God had important plans for him. Running for My Life is Lopez’s story of his journey to America and eventual trip to the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a 1500 meter runner. His sharing his story with the world is truly a gift. This book is not only nearly impossible to put down, I believe it will be life-changing for many that read it. My spirit was encouraged, and I have been challenged by the abundance in my life compared to what refugees around the world live without. I am eager to help those hurting in South Sudan; you’ll likely be, too, after you read this book. Lopez also has a blog at LopezLomong.com. There, you’ll learn about opportunities to help this cause.
I was given a copy of Running for My Life by Thomas Nelson publishers in exchange for an honest review.
One Call Away is the memoir of Brenda Warner, wife of NFL football player Kurt Warner. Brenda’s story is gripping. Throughout her journey are tragedies and triumphs. In addition to the stress of being a public figure and the ups and downs of Kurt’s career in professional football, Brenda experiences a child being handicapped as a result of an accident, the devastating end to a marriage and the loss of her parents to a tornado While her story contains many trying experiences, the descriptions of the sad moments are neither overwhelmingly dark nor emotional. In the tragic moments, Brenda relies on her always faithful God. It is apparent that she has faith, but none of her intimate times with God are described in depth. She talks about the role God plays in her life, but she often relies on her own strength and principles. Brenda is mostly likeable; she is completely accepting of herself and her many uniquenesses. She is fiercely committed to her family and is strong in the face of public scrutiny. It is an entertaining read that feels like a conversation with a friend. Apparently she felt like she was having a conversation with a friend when she wrote it because she reveals details that are shockingly personal.
Molly and I smuggled popsicles to my Grandma at the nursing home again tonight. I carried my cooler in, and we found her dozing in her wheelchair. As soon as we entered the room, Molly requested her popsicle. They had held up pretty well, despite being left in the car while we shopped with an outside temperature over 100 degrees. Molly laughed a hearty, loud laugh while I offered bites to Grandma by touching the wet popsicle to her lips. Grandma's roommate sat stoically in front of her TV. Molly decided that Grandma needed to hold her (Grandma's) bear, and she retrieved it for her. I pried open Grandma's hand (she doesn't voluntarily open her hand to take objects anymore) and put the bear's neck in it. As we were finishing our treats, one of the resident wanderers found her way into the room and shut the door behind her. She nonchalantly made her way to one of the beds and curled up on it. I suggested to Molly that we sing. Not timid around my current audience, I sang "If You're Happy and You Know It" and "Be Thou My Vision". As we sit, Molly asks me when Grandma is going to wake up. Since she has awakened prior to eating the popsicle, I ask Molly if she means when is Grandma going to talk and walk again. I tell her that will happen in heaven. She smiles and seems to happily accept this tidbit of truth. I prayed for Grandma, and in addition to my typical prayers of protection and God's presence, I, following the advice of our pastor to pray boldly, asked that miraculously Grandma would be healed of her dementia. I employed all of the faith I could muster and actually believed that God might just answer my prayer on the spot. Midway through the prayer, I opened an eye to see if anything was happening. Nope. I finished praying with a nevertheless grateful heart that God is in control no matter what. I pick up Molly, show her family pictures on the wall, and ask who each person is. Like usual, she shows a particular preference for my youngest cousin, Sarah, who is a lovely vocalist and appears very princess-like as she performs. We hug Grandma. During all of this, Molly is very go-with-the-flow. Nothing seems weird to her, and she loudly tells Grandma good-bye and reminds me to tell Grandma we love her.
My favorite type of books are memoirs. I love real-life stories from the author's perspective. Love You More: The Divine Surprise of Adopting my Daughter by Jennifer Grant was my recent selection from booksneeze.com, a book review program through which I receive a free copy in exchange for my honest review.
The author allows the readers to follow the journey of adopting her daughter Mia from Guatemala. Grant and her husband already had three children when they set out to find the daughter that God wanted them to adopt. She warmly tells the history of her family pre-adoption. She seems like an easy-going, loving mother who cherishes the crazy moments of motherhood. The reader then follows her through the process of adopting Mia. Her tale is interesting, but not particularly gripping or emotional like other adoption memoirs I've read. Some of my favorite parts of the book were tales of Mia's adjusting to her new family. It was neat to get to know this little girl and her personality. I also was challenged by the needs of orphans world-wide as Grant shared statistics and anecdotes.
The story is shared chronologically with occasional flashbacks. Sometimes the author will launch into a long, detailed history of an event that seems out-of-place. At the end she ties it in, but it seems a little awkward. The author seems easy to relate to, and I enjoyed her personality as it was revealed in her writing. Overall, this was a pleasant, but not thrilling, read.
I'd been looking forward for my free copy of Thunder Dog by Michael Hingson to arrive. I received it in exchange for my honest review as part of booksneeze.com. It lived up to my expectations. While the storyline and ending of the book were fairly predictable (being based on such a newsworthy day on our history), I valued the opportunity to relive some of the memories and triumphs as Hingson, who happens to be blind, told of his escape from one of the WTC towers on September 11. He was accompanied by his guide dog, Roselle. In tandem, with humor, perseverence, great wisdom, and faith, they trekked to safety.
The book does a lot to educate the reader on the experience of being blind in our society. I also learned a lot about the training and responsibilities of a guide dog as well as the special bond that is formed with the owner. The author has a warm and positive personality, and I found him to be very endearing as I read. His determination to accomplish great things (a MS in Physics, successful business career, public speaker) without considering his blindness a handicap is inspiring.
Tragedies inspire curiosity. This book helps satisfy my curiosity of what it was really like to be on the 78th floor of the North Tower when the plane hit and what occurred in the following minutes and hours.
As I sat on the patio and finished the book, I heard military jets racing by. In part of Hingson's story, he tells of stopping at a Vietnamese restaurant for some respite during his long journey home. While there, military jets were heard flying overhead. Someone announced that it was the Air Force on patrol. He writes, "The entire restaurant bursts into applause. For the first time in hours, I feel safe." This made a personal connection to me because a month before my dad died, he was with me in my yard, and we watched some jets nearby. He told me, "I love that sound. It makes me feel safe."