Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Think. Learn. Pray. Plan. Dream. For soon… you will become.

Think. Learn. Pray. Plan. Dream. For soon… you will become.

“We need to get a little perspective.” Said Jones. And thus unfolds the best literary work I’ve had the privelege to read in the last 12 months. I like to think I read a lot. I read for a few different reasons. Most to educate myself and to expand my thinking on subjects usually related to my faith. For some reason this usually steers me away from picking up fiction. However, this time I reasoned I would pick up The Noticer for a quick read and promptly review it for my commitment to Thomas Nelson.

It was a typical quick-read fiction work… until it taught me more than any work I’ve read recently.

It was unexpected in every way. But around every corner author, Andy Andrews, has a little nugget of wisdom planted that, if embraced, has the ability to change a life. Andrews seemingly picks apart many of the times we broken humans can “lose perspective.” In doing so, he offers something for anyone.

A few of my favorites are as follows:

“I think it’s amazing… That a person could lose everything, chasing nothings.”

“Most people spend so much time fearing the things that are never going to happen or can’t be controlled that they have no energy to deal with the few things they can actually handle.”

“After all, the seeds of depression can’t take root in a grateful heart.”

“Your very breath provides authentic and infallible absolutes that cannot be disputed.”

I could fill the next five pages with little one-liners that were page-stoppers. Andrews is knowledgeable, biblical, well thought and extremely well presented. Page after page provide one “Ah ha moment” after another. This being the case, I found it impossible to read this book without a pen and someone to tell about it.

So, if you are going to read one book this year, let it be this one. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Put yourself in the characters shoes instead of “them”. Learn that whatever you focus on, increases. Learn to think. Learn to Pray. Learn to Plan and learn to dream. For soon… you will become.

Justin Vance

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The American Patriots Alamana: Review

Per my commitment to Thomas Nelson I’ll review “The American Patriot’s Almanac”. This work was authored by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb then released in 2008. As always I’ll attempt to be honest with my critique and provide both strengths and weaknesses of the work.

I have received much enjoyment from a book I honestly expected to be dry and boring. I had poor experiences in most of my history course through school and didn’t expect much more when I picked up The American Patriot’s Almanac. I received a finance degree and, although I have always loved history, have always underappreciated it. However, Bennett and Cribb do an excellent job of connecting the important events that have shaped our country.

I find it consistently interesting to think through what happened, sometimes long ago, on the particular day I’m reading. For example, today a reader will learn about Elizabeth Ann Seton and her incredible story as the first American-born saint. Also in bullet points listed below the selected story of the day one will see that, on this day, January 4th, Utah became the 45th state, a robotic rover named Spirit landed on Mars to explore the planet and Nancy Pelosi became the first female Speaker of the House.

Its organization and ability to transform historic fact and date into “mystic chords of memory” that connect us to our country are The American Patriot’s Almanac’s standout strength. The only weakness I would consider would be the selection of the highlighted stories. As I read through the helpful bullet points listed below I would at times find them more interesting than the selected story.

Overall, I highly recommend The American Patriots Almanac. It is vital reading for all who would consider themselves grateful for the country they were born into and/or are a part of.

The book is beautifully bound and is a perfect gift. I’ve had several comments on it as it is displayed on the coffee table in my living room. Several guests have picked it up to see what happened today in American History. It’s proved to be a really nice conversation piece.

Well written, much needed and a valuable selection.