Category: Observations on Life

Guest Post: Books as a Catalyst to a Love of Learning and Reading!

I read this on Facebook and asked my friend Abigail Harper Christie if I could share it, because it really spoke to me about the value of reading and having access to books. As a writer, it validates my own endeavors as a way to contribute to humanity. Abigail’s story tells of the life-changing impact that books made on her:

harrypotterbookAs my trip to London and our Harry Potter Pilgrimage draws to a close, I have been thinking about the impact that Harry Potter has had on my life. I understand that it is just a book series, but for me it is a tiny bit more. Pre-HP, I had absolutely no interest in reading and was reading pretty significantly below grade level. I just didn’t care. My mom would try to force me to read to her at night and I would put up a fight every time. Then someone gave me Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in third grade. I couldn’t put it down. Within weeks I had read the first three books. Before I was done with third grade I had read Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit while waiting for the fourth one to come out. By the next time they did reading evaluations I was then reading/comprehending significantly above grade level. I remember taking my books with me everywhere and talking about them a bit too much.

Harry Potter is more than just a series of books for me, it was the catalyst to a love of learning and reading. So I know we are all busy these days with relationships, school, work, adulting, etc., but try to take the time to stop and read a book. It might just lead you to places you never imagined possible.

NancyDrewThanks, Abigail – I spent many a night in elementary school hiding under the covers with a flashlight and Nancy Drew mystery book (I am a bit older than you, okay, maybe more than a bit…and Harry Potter was still a long way off, but Nancy Drew had the same effect) so I can really identify with your experience and I wish that for everyone. Reading transports us to another world and allows us to see possibilities that we wouldn’t know existed otherwise. It empowers us with knowledge and reassures us with familiarity. It helps us cope by providing a means to take a break from our troubles. I think one of the best gifts you can give a child is to facilitate a love of reading. Thanks for sharing about the impact that books have had on you – as an author the best thing we can possibly hear is that we have made a difference in someone’s life!

A New Perspective for the New Year

mailThis year I want to have more gratitude for things we take for granted. I was talking to my neighbor, Charlie, and we got on the topic of mail. I was telling her how difficult it is to receive mail in some countries. I had mailed my friend’s parents a letter and some pictures last year. They live in Rwanda and while I can mail something to Rwanda and feel fairly confident it arrives there, getting it to the intended recipient is another matter entirely. The mail must somehow travel to some location (such as a local church) and from there, the recipient must be informed that they have a letter being held for them. Sadly, my letter never arrived. 

For those of us living in the United States, this is hard to imagine. We are blessed to have our mail arrive at our home – daily! We don’t even think about it. Charlie commented on how we need to be grateful for the things we take for granted. I think she is right. Whenever you find yourself getting frustrated at some minor inconvenience today, like waiting to be served at a restaurant, pause and reflect how blessed we really are and that the minor inconvenience you are upset about wouldn’t even be possible if you didn’t have the blessing of food and water readily available. Some people have to walk miles daily just to get water for their families (a daily occurrence in some parts of Rwanda). Be grateful for what you have and recognize the blessings you take for granted – rather than complaining about inconveniences. Thanks, Charlie – that’s a great lesson for all of us!

The Value of Entertainment

It’s been a tough year for our family. It has been a time full of challenges as I worked hard to meet the needs of my mother who suffered health issues for about a year before going on hospice in May of 2015. She went to be with our Lord in June, followed by my favorite aunt in October. A dear friend was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer almost two years ago. I shared his journey, often meeting him for breakfast at the local diner, countless phone conversations, and helping when he needed a ride to a radiation treatment.  We laughed and cried and prayed together. He joined my mom and aunt in heaven in the middle of November. Walking alongside my family and friends during this time was very hard on me emotionally, and the precious time I could grab to forget about what was going on, if only for a little bit, gave me the strength I needed to keep going.

My favorite sitcom during the nineties was Home Improvement with comedian and actor Tim Allen. During the past year, my son and I would be very intentional about watching an episode a day. It was a time of pure entertainment. I found myself laughing out loud and I was able to forget the sorrow and difficulties that I was facing – at least for the twenty three minutes (one episode on DVD with no commercials) that my son and I enjoyed together as we watched each show. That more than anything, has taught me the value of entertainment. For me during that time, it was watching a humorous family show that I could relate to, laugh with, and regarding some episodes, cry with. For someone else, it might be immersing themselves in a good book that takes them far away from their present problems, at least for a little while. Or taking two hours to watch a movie that transports them to another place, allowing them to relax and recharge after a stressful day.

When I have my engineering hat on, I am seeking effective and efficient solutions to problems. But I have found that entertainment is an effective and efficient solution as well – to the problems brought about through our humanity. It may not fix the problems, but it helps them to be easier to endure while we work through them. I am thankful for entertainers in all forms of media for their part in helping with that.

[images courtesy of naypong, digitalart and Serge Bertasius at FreeDigitalPhotos.net]