The Memory Weaver | A Book Review


Most of the time, when I read a book and there are lines in it that really hit me, I either underline them, take pictures of the page with my phone, or stick sticky notes in the book.

This book had so many deep, thought provoking lines in it about how we weave memories together, whether the memories are real or somehow got twisted in our brains as time passed, but ….. I couldn’t write any of them down or do anything about them.

This month got away from me, and in order to finish this book by the appropriate review deadline, I downloaded an audio book version of it so I could listen to it in the 11 hours I’ve spent in my car in the last 5 days.  I could not have read the book that quickly, so I am very thankful this month for a free trial of the Amazon Audible app, which gives you one free audio book and a month’s use for no charge.  If you try it out though, you’ll want to remember to cancel your Audible membership afterward if you don’t intend to keep it, otherwise it’ll be one of those things that slips onto your credit card without your remembering it happened until you get the bill.  I’m not speaking from experience on this particular experience, but it happened to me with Amazon’s PRIME free trial, so…. off I go to cancel my membership, haha.

Disappointment aside that I didn’t get to write down and share some of the stellar quotes about weaving our memories through our consciousness with you, I can tell you that I really enjoyed listening to this book.

I’m not sure that I would have enjoyed reading it, but I guess I’ll never know, now!

Here’s the excerpt:

Eliza Spalding Warren was just a child when she was taken hostage by the Cayuse Indians during a massacre in 1847. Now a mother of two, Eliza faces a new kind of dislocation; her impulsive husband wants to make a new start in another territory, which will mean leaving her beloved home and her mother’s grave–and returning to the land of her captivity. Haunted by memories and hounded by struggle, Eliza longs to know how her mother dealt with the trauma of their ordeal. As she searches the pages of her mother’s diary, Eliza is stunned to find that her own recollections tell only part of the story.

I love that this was based on a true story — the story of a strong woman fighting to sort out which of her memories of a traumatic past actually happened, and which are the result of twisted details and some imagination.

It was really interesting to me how Jane Kirkpatrick literally wove the memories through the story of Eliza’s present, mixing her past in so well with the current plot timeline.  It was also interesting to me how well edited the book was — making sure that the diary entries from Eliza’s mother were included in just the right places, which gave me as the reader/listener insight into Eliza’s life that Eliza hadn’t gleaned yet.  It was like learning about Eliza as she learned about herself.

I highly recommend this book if you like interesting writing.  The details were vivid, truly painting a picture.  For me, if I’m going to visualize a book, I need those details because my brain will otherwise not bring out a picture.  This is the first book where I’ve been able to picture the setting and the characters in a long time!  I found, too, that the details helped me bond with the characters.

I’m sure that so much thought, research, and time went into the writing of this book, and I have a huge respect for that.

If you’re looking a deep, thought-provoking read, head on over to amazon or your nearest Christian book store and pick this up.  I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Also — can I have the dress that Eliza’s wearing on the front cover of the book?  I know it’s not a real thing…. and I know it’s not in fashion right now, but I’d wear that everywhere…. except when I missed my sweat pants or my flared, intentionally tattered and ripped jeans.  I love 2015 🙂

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I received this book as part of the Nuts About Books program with Graf Martin Communications, Inc. in conjunction with Baker Publishing Group, and was not required to give a positive review.

An Open Letter to Justin Trudeau


Dear Mr. Trudeau,

Congratulations on becoming this country’s most recent Prime Minister.  It’s a big job, and someone has to do it.  I’m thankful this week that there are people who are passionate about the position who want it, who’ve probably wanted it all their lives (especially if it literally runs in the family), and who have ideas for how they would keep this country great if given the chance.

You’ve got ideas.  You have lots of them.  Some of them make me really nervous, but some of them have me pretty excited for the future of Canada.  I think this balance is true more of your party and your leadership than it was of any other.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to find a fresh face and a new party in charge, even if this wasn’t the change I wanted.  I’m a Christian, and I’ve heard more than my fair share of “Christians only vote Conservative” throughout the course of this disastrously long election (thanks, Conservatives…), and I’m really hoping, Mr. Trudeau, that you don’t take the times I’ve defended you, your party, and the NDP along with Mr. Mulcair and throw it all away.

I want to see real change in my beautiful country, and I don’t want to see that change come at the expense of our international reputation, or our financial credit rating.  It seems the world is watching you very intently right now.  Maybe not for the right reasons, but there are people watching.  It’s not a responsibility I’d welcome, but you seem to have big shoulders (pun intended, peeps.  pun intended.), so I hope you’re sitting at 24 Sussex tonight with your family, thinking “challenge accepted.”


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As a Christian, I will pray for you, for your party, and for your cabinet.  I pray against some of the ideas you have that would make me sick, and I pray that some of the ideas that make me optimistic come to fruition.

But most of all, I hold out hope.  I hold out a real hope that I am not of this world and that ultimately, there could not have been a perfect choice for leader of Canada because all humans are flawed sinners.  A long time ago, I gave up on the idea that I needed to vote in a leader who would perfectly espouse Christian values, because even Christian values within different sides of Christianity are dramatically different.

My hope for you in your next four years is that you stay you.  Don’t let the media, your cabinet, the opposition, or the public tell you how to be you.  You know how to do that better than anyone.  You ran a smart, respectable campaign.  You’re an intelligent man.  Do what you can with what you have, trust those closest to you, and stay true to what got you in.

You’ve been received well by a lot of Canadians — we had the highest turnout of voters in 2 decades, and you won back an unfathomable amount of seats, especially considering how far your party fell at the hands of Michael Ignatieff.

Please do well.  Fight hard for Canada, and fight hard for Canadians.  We’ve put a great deal of implied trust in you, and I urge you to please not take that for granted.

Ultimately, though, I trust in my God and my King, and so I relinquish all of the stress and mild freak outs that this election has caused, and I give it up.

Mr. Trudeau, I’m excited to see what you can do, and I hope you’ll do it well, but in the end — my place is not here.  So while I’m keeping an eye on you, I’m also trusting that God has a plan for my country.  While I respect your power as Prime Minister a great deal, I mean no offense when I tell you that you can’t hold a candle to that.  Even if my Canada doesn’t stay the same, I take refuge knowing that the Kingdom for which I’m bound will.

Sincerely,

Me.

The Car (In)decision


I’ve just started a new job.  My new job has me driving more than 10 km each direction to work (more than any distance in my entire professional career, and more than any distance ever that I’ve driven to work).  I’m doing English as a Second Language support for 8 different schools all along Lake Erie (which I don’t live that close to), and I have to drive, most days at least 45 minutes each direction.

Mind you, I love my new job.  I’m having a lot of fun, and I’m currently enjoying the drive.  Plus — I’m being paid mileage, which I didn’t know when I applied for the job, but it’s a great perk.  In my first week, I tacked 500 km on my car.  My first mileage claim, which I filed yesterday for the month of September, was for 1120 km.  Insane.  For the last 8 years, I’ve put no more than 100 km per week on my vehicle for work.

Because of this, and the fact that I drive a 10 year old car, it felt like it was time to start car shopping.  My mileage can, of course, cover the payment to buy a new one.

I found though that I couldn’t make a decision, and I didn’t know why.  See, I’ve been driving a Toyota Matrix for a long time, and before that I had a Toyota Matrix, and before that?  A Toyota Corolla.  It would make sense given my record that I’d be able to one-stop-shop by walking into a Toyota dealership.

But part of my consideration in car shopping was that I haaaaate winter driving.  Hate.  So I figured that since I had the money, I could go to something bigger.  Tougher.  Gutsier.  Something that’ll tough its way through the snow a bit better.  Something with AWD, or… even better…. 4×4.  I wanted a Jeep.  I’ve always wanted a Jeep.  And when I started shopping and I saw the new Jeep Renegade, I knew I had to drive one.

I started researching, and I fell in love with the Renegade.  I mean, look at it…

But I also test drove a Chevy Trax, a Nissan Rogue (which I also loved, and probably would have gone with…), a Toyota Rav4 (brand loyalty for the win), a Mazda CX-5, a Honda CRV, and a Honda HRV.

I had pretty much come to a decision.  I was going to buy a Nissan Rogue AWD, and the only thing I was sad about was that it didn’t come in red in the base trim level.  I wanted something flashy.

But….

But……

the niggling feeling that something wasn’t right would not go away.

A week ago, I was out with friends having an extreme brownie night (I have awesome friends!) and a few of us started talking about car accidents.  Three of us had been in pretty serious ones, and we’re all very lucky to be alive.

I don’t know if I’ve ever really laid out how mine made me feel in this location.  It’s been hard for me to talk about to pretty much anyone.  I had two car accidents in 6 months, and they left me pretty much a wreck behind the wheel — the second one in particular.

The first one was an improper left turn on my part, and while I couldn’t see properly, it’s still my fault, because I pulled into traffic making a left turn thinking that I was in the clear.  I looked, I didn’t see anything coming, but when I was promptly T-Boned it was clear that I was wrong.  A combination of factors led to that, but ultimately — my car was written off and I was very upset.  In the second one, I was merging onto the 401 at the end of December, and hit a patch of black ice as I was changing lines.  My back tires slid out from behind me, I fish tailed a few times, and then I don’t remember anything else until I was on my roof skidding to a stop, but both my passenger and the car behind me informed me that I hit the cement median and rolled back into the highway three times before skidding to a stop of the roof.  My brain has obviously censored a chunk of that experience out, and I think I’ll be delighted if I never retrieve that memory.

That second crash left me in a shaky, unsure of myself, out of control mess.  I didn’t feel like I had control of anything, and I couldn’t fall asleep without seeing the sparks of my roof against pavement for months.  I couldn’t merge onto the 401 without hyperventilating for three months after the accident, and I could hardly take care of myself.  My world felt like it was caving in around me (for more reasons than just the accident), but it’s created a marked fear of winter driving in me that I haven’t even consciously acknowledged in years.

It hasn’t occurred to me in years that the reason I hate winter driving so much is because the worst year of my existence started around the time I lost my back end on black ice.

When that thought hit me though, I immediately wondered the question that would ultimately be the undoing of my car decision — am I buying a 30,000 dollar vehicle because it’s the practical and wise decision?  Or am I buying a 30,000 dollar vehicle because I’m scared?

I knew right away that if the answer was that I was scared, I was going to spend 30 grand just to be scared the first time it snowed, and that felt like a really big waste of money.

If the reason was that a ten year old vehicle won’t withstand the piling on of kilometers and all that extra maintenance, well, then it would make sense to make the purchase while my ten year old car still has any trade in value.

But after a lot of soul searching, I came to the conclusion that I was scrambling for a new car so that I could feel in control and safe…. and a car can’t give me that level of security.  The following doubts started to creep in:  How much worse would it feel to ditch a 2015 than a 2006?  I’m spending a lot of time on country roads… what if I slide off into a ditch?  What if I damage my new car?  What if I hammer it so hard with kilometers that the life is gone out of it before I’m finished paying for it in 84 months?  How will I ever pay off my line of credit (that I’m doing pretty well at right now) if every time I make more money, I take on a new payment for something else?

Ultimately, after wrestling all those doubts to the ground and praying for direction and wisdom, I decided what to buy.

I am buying good snow tires, new windshield wipers, new headlight bulbs, and I’m getting my headlights polished.  Instead of putting my trust in a 30,000 dollar car, I’m going to put my trust in the only place it belongs, and trust that God has my back, and that maybe, just maybe… this can be the winter that I don’t panic every time I have to drive in the snow.  Maybe.

I discovered while I was car shopping that Toyota no longer makes the Matrix (what I’m driving now), and I found that I was very sad.  If they still made it, I’d likely have signed on the dotted line for an All Wheel Drive Matrix before any of the second thoughts could have set in.  So I guess… thanks, Toyota?

Today, while catching up on some TV I missed the last two days, I saw a commercial for the new Scion iM.

2016 Scion iM

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2006 Toyota Matrix
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Do you see the resemblance?  I think — when I’m finally ready for a car purchase to be the practical decision, and not one that I made out of fear and lack of control — it might be an AWD Scion iM.  Cuz…. pretty!

Or a Nissan Rogue….

Or, who knows, I did enter a contest to win a Jeep…. maybe I’ll get my Renegade after all.


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Simply Tuesday | A Book Review


Oh, how I love this book.  I do.  It’s a breath of fresh air that my soul needs.  There’s a brilliance to this book that I didn’t expect.  It’s SIMPLY refreshing (get it? :p), and it’s what my soul needs in this moment, when I’m tempted to go build a city rather than find a bench. (I know that probably doesn’t make sense to you right now, but by the end of Chapter 1, it will, and you’ll thank Emily P. Freeman for it)

I find it funny that each book I read that is not a novel, it seems that I put off reading them.  I put them off just long enough that they seem to hit me right when I need them.  It’s like my procrastination pays off in the form of soul food!

Emily P. Freeman walks her readers on a journey toward finding solace in feeling small by highlighting the life of Jesus and all kinds of personal anecdotes that can make us just stop and rest in the Spirit, even on Tuesdays, our most ordinary day — which can build habits for the rest of our weeks.

My soul is restless right now, for a great many reasons, and Emily’s book is reminding me to just take a breath.

I highly encourage you to read it, as her writing mixes a healthy stir of poignant anecdotes, humorous quips, scripture references, and deep thoughts to make you go “hmmm.”

Will you do your soul a favour?  Will you slow down long enough to pick up this book?  I’m glad I did.

From the back cover

Is your soul being held hostage by hustle?

If you’ve grown weary of do more and dream bigger, small-moment living is just what you need. Real life happens in the small moments we find on the most ordinary day of the week. Tuesday holds secrets we can’t see in a hurry–secrets not just for our schedules but for our souls. In Simply Tuesday, Emily P. Freeman shows you how to

· embrace today’s work
· find contentment in the now
· replace competition with connection
· learn to breathe in a breathless world

This review was written in exchange for the book in association with Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. and Revell Publishing.  I am not required to write positive reviews.