Friday, February 24, 2012

NetGalley: How to be a Best Friend Forever

How to be a Best Friend Forever by Dr. John Townsend

In this book, Dr. John Townsend explores how we can be better friends to our peers as well as what qualities in others makes a good friend for us.  He talks about how friends should share our core values, but for our context values, the more minor things in life, it's actually good to disagree.  We need someone whose opinion differs from ours to keep us grounded.  He also explores the pros and cons of having family as our best friends.  Townsend does highly stress that we should not only have family as friends but have those outside our family as friends too.  

I did agree with most of the concepts of this book.  There were some good points that Townsend made.  

"Best friends are the first place your brain should land when something important happens.  We are not designed to go through landmark events and difficult times alone..."

"Do your best friends have to know all your flaws and wounds?  Ideally, yes, the more a person knows your real self at a deep level, the more whole you become."

"Be a person who cares about many people, but has invested deeply in a few..."

Despite the few points that I highlighted, overall I thought the book was a little too sterile.  I enjoy reading non-fiction but I was a little bored while reading this.  I got a few good pointers to use in my friendships, but most of the time I felt like I was reading a psychology textbook that was dissecting friendship.  If you have trouble making or keeping friends, this book would definitely be one you might explore.  For me, it was just OK.

I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

I was provided the Kindle version of this book by NetGalley for review.  All opinions are my own.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Tale of Inefficiency: Today's Math Problem

Names were removed from this post because the writer is still in shock of the vast inefficiency described.

There once were 2 pain specialists in a town.
There once were ONLY 2 pain specialists in a town, at least ones with MDs.
There once were no other choices for patients to visit in said town.

Pain specialist #1 takes 3 weeks to get you in the computer system, then 2 more weeks to make you wait for your appointment.

Pain specialist #2 doesn't get your referral...because they require it to be faxed...and they are closed on Fridays...and the fax machine fills up and stops accepting information...and doesn't tell the sender that their information wasn't accepted.
Pain specialist #2 also sends you to voice mail when you call to ask specifically if they received your referral...then doesn't return your phone call.

Patient X really doesn't like either pain specialist option right now but surgeon Y will not consider patient X's pain to be adhesions until pain specialist #1 or #2 rules out nerve pain as an option.

Now patient X knows that 2 different nerve pills and a nerve cream made no difference to the pain and is highly skeptical that pain specialist #1 or #2 can actually help (especially since pain specialist #2 never even received her referral).  Yet patient X also knows she will have to go through the appointment and pay her insurance's specialist copay regardless of said pain specialist's ability to help if she wants surgeon Y to consider adhesions as an option.

Using the information given as well as your own personal experience, how many days will it take for patient X to finally be given a diagnosis and for a doctor to be willing to act on it?
(Remember your answer must take into account only working business days and time off for holidays, as well as golf excursions for the doctor.  We wouldn't want them to miss out on those.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Do I matter to my doctor?

(I wrote this post last week and didn't publish it.  But then I after getting an encouraging email from an online friend, I decided to put myself out there and publish it.)

I don't usually get really personal on here.  I guess I have a thing for my personal business being all over the internet for the whole world to read but I really just needed to rant somewhere.

I am in pain.
Yes, when you see me, I will probably have a smile on my face.  But I'm good at wearing a mask - good at seeming like I'm OK when I'm not.

The truth is I am in pain almost all day every day.  I have been to see my primary doctor three times (if you count the first time when I saw the nurse practitioner, which I still paid a whole co-pay for, so I count it).

I've been to my gynecologist, a GI doctor and a surgeon.

I've had 2 ultrasounds, a CT scan, a colonoscopy and countless pokes and prods in my belly.

I've been on antibiotics that caused me to throw up for 12 hours. I've starved myself and took boatloads of laxatives for a colonoscopy prep.  I've been on gabapentin and Lyrica for nerve pain as well as some vastly expensive cream junk that's supposed to help nerve pain.  I've lived on Advil and Demerol and sleep only with Ambien.

I have been made to be spacey, tired, dizzy and emotional.

And guess what?


Not one iota!

But do you care, all you medical professionals out there?
No, you don't.
You toss me around like a hot potato that no one wants.
You prescribe me countless medicines that don't work and cost me lots of money.
Then you refer me to someone else and forget about me.

It doesn't matter that it takes weeks between each referral.
It doesn't matter that I've been in pain for over 3 months.
It doesn't matter that I can no longer do anything for longer than 10 minutes without being in pain and having to rest.
It doesn't matter that sitting on bleachers to watch my son play basketball puts me in horrible pain for the rest of the day.

It doesn't matter to you because you're not the one in pain.
I am.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Digiscrap: Finishing 2009

Yay!!  I finally finished our 2009 pictures.

Now only 2 years behind.
Geez!  Still a lot to go...

Oh, well, let's celebrate the little things.
2009 done - check.

2010, I'll start you tomorrow.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Tyndale Book Review: The Devil in Pew Number Seven

The Devil in Pew Number Seven by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo

In this hard-to-believe-it's-real memoir, Rebecca Nichols remembers the terror of her childhood.  After moving to Sellerstown, NC to pastor a small church, her father begins to be terrorized when a powerful member of the community decides that the Nichols family shouldn't be there.

Mr. Watts, a non-church member, used to control the small 12 member church in Sellerstown, NC.  He sat on every committee and made all the rulings in church business.  All that changed when Robert Nichols was chosen to be the new pastor.  Nichols felt like only church members should decide church business, which means Mr. Watts was no longer in power.

With this, seemingly, obvious decision in the church, Mr. Watts decided to launch a 5-year-long war against his pastor and neighbor.  From "anonymous" death threats in the mail to threatening phone calls that were made up to 30 times a day, Mr. Watts seemed like he might just be all smoke and no fire.  That is until he set off dynamite outside the pastor's house... multiple times...with a wife, a small daughter and an infant son inside.

The next letter said the pastor's family would leave Sellerstown "crawling or walking...dead or alive."

My Thoughts:

Oh my, what a book!  As Alonzo puts in the forward, it's hard to believe this is a true story.  I could easily see this as some thriller movie that a screenwriter made up.  The thought that someone would terrorize a family just for power in a church boggles my mind.  And this wasn't some huge, multimillion dollar megachurch.  This was a tiny church in a tiny town.  It started with 12 members and went up to 100 members after Nichols came.  But still, dynamite and death threats????

The overwhelming theme of the book is forgiveness.  Rebecca's parents forgave Mr. Watts while he was still threatening her family.  Rebecca and her brother forgave him and other's even when there were HUGE injustices that they endured as a result.  To be honest, I don't know if I could forgive like they did.  It's a wonderful testament to her parents and their training that she could forgive her tormentors that way.

Looking at the book in a pure literary sense, there were a few things that seemed a little odd.  Towards the beginning of the book there was a story about a gas station owner gunning down some people who didn't pay for oil and then being acquitted for it.  I thought for sure that man would play a bigger role in the story but he doesn't show up again.  I'm left wondering why that part was put in there.  Also, after 5 years of terror, it's actually someone other than Mr. Watts that comes into their kitchen armed one night.  It's not until epilogue that those two men are even remotely connected.  I think it would have been better to connect them in the main story or mention that the two things are, strangely, not really connected.

But those are minor grievances with the story.  Overall I thought it was great.  I understand why it was a New York Times bestseller.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

A complementary copy of this book was provided to me for review by the Tyndale Blog Network.  All opinions are my own.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

January Reading List

The two books that were on my January "To Read" list were Unlocked by Karen Kingsbury and Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

In the Above the Line series, Kingsbury tells about two Christian movie producers who have landed a deal to make the number one book in America into a movie.  That book is called Unlocked.  After writing that series, Kingsbury decided to write the book, Unlocked with the same name and the same storyline as in the fictional movie.  I had read the Above the Line series which, of course, made me want to read this book.

In the book, 18 year old Holden Harris is caught in the silent world of autism.  He has not spoken to his parents or anyone else in 15 years.  Ella Reynolds, a senior at Fulton High School in Atlanta, takes it upon herself to use music to "unlock" Holden.

In true Karen Kingsbury fashion, this book was a quick read.  There were great characters and a good ending.  Was it the best Karen Kingsbury book I've ever read?  No, and I doubt it would really have the impact that the fictional Unlocked book has in the Above the Line series.  But I still enjoyed reading it.

Crazy Love was a very convicting book.  Chan spends the whole book dealing with the premise that we should not be doing "good", "Christian" things because we feel obligated to, or because we're scared God will punish us if we don't.  We should be living each day with a crazy, wholehearted love for God.  We love God and the things we do pour out from us because of that love.

I, personally, don't spend much of my day dwelling on how much God loves me or how much I love Him.  But I should.  I do things everyday for my husband and kids because I love them.  Do I want to help with homework every day?  Or figure out, yet again, what to fix for dinner?  No, but I do love my family and these are things I do for them (usually without complaining) because I love them.  The same should be true of God.  The things He wants me to do, I should do willingly, out of love for Him.

This is not a quick read.  Crazy Love is definitely a book that will take a while to digest and think about.  I couldn't read more than half a chapter a day because I needed time to let that settle in before I could read more.  But I do think this is a book worth reading.

Now, it's on to my February books.  Stay tuned.

Monday, February 6, 2012


I just wrote a post that was a bit of a rant against the medical profession.

But I didn't post it.

Because it's personal.

And because I'm a chicken.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Planning Future Vacations

How do you plan your vacations?  Do you pick someplace to go on a whim or have you planned it out?

That was the question posed by Jill Savage in one of her books.  She has a wonderful blog and is the founder of a non-profit company, Hearts at Home, focused on encouraging stay-at-home-moms.  She tells moms to think of their job as a profession.

Part of professionalizing motherhood is to plan things out to give your children the best experiences possible.  In light of that, Jill suggests planning out your future vacations.

Ever take your 2 year old to Disney World only to have them scream the whole time and you wonder why in the world you chose that as your vacation for the year?  That choice of vacation for that time in your child's life may not be giving them the best experience possible.

So how do you go about planning your future vacations?  The thought of that may seem daunting to you, but it's really not that hard.

I love spreadsheets, so my first step was to create a new spreadsheet (I suggest Google Docs because then you can get to your spreadsheet from any computer).  We used headings of "Place," "Year," "David's age," and "Julie's age."

Next make a separate list of all the places you want to go as a family and how many times you want to go there.  Want to take your kids to Disney World 2 times while they are kids?  How about New York City, is that a place you always wanted to go?  Want to do an RV trip out west?  Put it on the list.  Be realistic about cost.  Maybe you can only afford a "big" vacation every 2-3 years.  Make sure you don't put 20 "big" vacations on the list or it will never happen.

Our list spans 13 years and we have put a "big" vacation every other year - 2 times to Disney, 2 cruises, 1 Washington, DC trip and 1 New York City trip.  In between the "big" vacations, we have planned beach trips.  For us, beach trips are less expensive and more relaxing so they are a great filler for the "off" years.

Now back to your spreadsheet...Fill in the years and your children's ages first.  Then look at your list.  At what age do you think it's best to take your children to Disney World?  Want to go once when they are little and once as teenagers?  What about Washington, DC?  Is it best to wait until they are older and have studied more US history in school?  Really think about what age your children would most enjoy each place and would get the most out of the experience.  Then start placing your future vacation spots in the list.

On our list, we planned a Disney trip for when the children were 6 and 8 and again when they are 11 and 13.  (The first age is always David's and the second is Julie's.)  The first trip (which we took last May) lets them see the wonder of Disney while they are still young enough to believe in the magic but old enough to remember it.  The second trip will be when they are older and want to ride all the faster, scarier rides.

Our cruises are planned for ages 9 and 11 and again at 14 and 16.  The 9 and 11 was strategic because we know the cruise line puts kids ages 9-11 in one group during the day and we wanted our kids to be together on the cruise.  Not everyone will feel that way and that's OK.  This plan is tailored for you and you need to put down what works for you.

Our last big vacations are Washington, DC at ages 12 and 14 - a lot of US history gets taught in middle school, so they should get more out of the trip since they know more about history - and New York City at ages 16 and 18.  I've always dreamed of taking my teenage kids to Broadway plays so that's why this trip is so late in their childhood.

That is our plan - what works for us.  Now it's time for you to make your vacation plan.

Remember this is just a plan.  It's not set in stone.  Maybe your family dynamic changes at some point - new baby, new job, etc. and you need to change the list.  That's fine.  This is just a tool to help you be more purposeful in your children's lives.

What about you?  Do you like the idea of planning vacations?  
What future vacations do you want to go on?

I wrote about this back in Oct 2010.  You can see that post here.