(Review) Anxious: Choosing Faith in a World of Worry by Amy Simpson

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Publisher and Publication Date: IVP Books. September 2014.
Genre: Christian nonfiction. Anxiety.
Pages: 192.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Recommend.
Audience: People who struggle with worry and anxiety. Christian topics are examined. Bible verses are given for reading and study.

Amazon

 

 

Amy Simpson’s website and Facebook

I’ve read three books by Amy Simpson. All three I’ve given 5 stars at Goodreads.
1. Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission
2. Anxious: Choosing Faith in a World of Worry
3. Blessed are the Unsatisfied: Finding Spiritual Freedom in an Imperfect World

I love the direct statements about what this book “is not” and “is” in the intro.

1. This book is not a guide to worry free living.
2. This book is not a counseling session, and it does not diagnose or fix.
3. This book is not written with the intention of “shaming people.”

1. This book is for people who worry, but think they’re not that bad.
2. This book is for people who realize they are anxious and want to make a change.
3. This book will show how worry “poisons” the mind.

We must let go of the mistaken belief that life can and should be safe. That our powers extend farther than what God has granted us. That our chief purpose in this life is to avoid danger and accumulate treasures. That we possess and must preserve that which actually belongs to God. That the future, where all our greatest hopes and worries lie, is a promise we can claim for ourselves. Pages 11-12.

Until reading this book, I thought anxiety or worry was just a bad habit. Since I only worried sometimes, and some worry is probably okay. Nevertheless, I was fooling myself. When I read, “let go of the mistaken belief that life can and should be safe,” that statement stopped me cold. Now that I’ve had time to think, I’ve decided it was immature to have ever had that thought.
To be fearful is normal and healthy. However, to allow fear to cause, “mental distress and agitation,” or to cause sleeplessness and a gnawing in the gut is wrong responses.
Another statement that stopped me cold, “worry reinforces the idea that everything is up to us.”
Chapter three touches on several results of anxiety (a few examples).
1. “Physical suffering”
2. “Control issues”
3. “Sleeplessness”
4. “Dissatisfaction”
5. “Self-abuse”
The chapter ends with “a better way.” “Sabbath” is the better way. We are to, “trust in the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf.” Page 77. We are to rest in the provision God has given us.
In chapter five, when I am tempted to worry again, “You can start by reminding yourself where you place your trust.” Page 109. Simpson encourages memorizing Scripture as a way to combat worry.
Chapter six is on perspective. Pages 116-125 is my favorite part of this book. In brief, “God’s truth” changes our minds. It also changes our habits, things of importance, and our future. Subtopics in this chapter: “God calls us to peace,” “God calls us to trust,” ” God knows where we live,” and “We aren’t in control-but God is.”
Reading Anxious has been eye-opening. I’ve been convicted and humbled. I’ve gained key insight into why I am anxious, as well as teachings that have given me a new way of thinking, and has caused growth in an area I’d neglected.

A favorite quote from Francois de Fenelon (included on page 142).

The future is not yet yours; it may never be. Live in the present moment. Tomorrow’s grace is not given to you today. The present moment is the only place where you can touch the eternal realm.”

 

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(Review) Lilli de Jong by Janet Benton

Lilli de Jong

Publisher and Publication Date: Anchor Books. Paperback published July 2018.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 352.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from Anchor Books, but I’m not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Recommend.
Audience: Historical fiction fans. Readers of books about strong women.

Amazon

It’s been a long time since a fiction book has stirred my heart with conflict and heavy emotion!

Janet Benton website

Summary:
The year is 1883. The city is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Lilli de Jong is a 23 year old woman who is unmarried and pregnant. She is a Quaker. Her mother died and life with the new step-mother is unbearable. When the pregnancy is revealed, she begins living in a place that houses unmarried pregnant women. The original plan was to give the baby up for adoption, but she changes her mind. An opportunity of employment brings a direction change, but it comes with a heart-wrenching cost.

My Thoughts:
I know what it is like to be pregnant and unmarried. I eventually did get married, but not until midway through the pregnancy. In the early 1980s, people were more judgmental and critical than now. I was 18 and had graduated from high school, but looked much younger. People judged me for looking younger too. They thought I was 13 or 14 and had a baby. It was incredibly tough. Never mind all the people who were having sex and who did not get pregnant. I did and was judged. This is a first reason why Lilli de Jong provoked strong emotion in me. I can relate to her circumstance and plight.
A second reason this book provoked strong emotion is Lilli has excruciating tough decisions to make. She is singularly alone. This is an era where women were under the control of either a father, husband, or a custodian. Independent women were rare. The decisions and consequences of Lilli’s made my hair stand on end, because I can not imagine enduring what she did.
Lilli de Jong is a story where the first line is a clincher. “Some moments set my heart on fire, and that’s when language seems the smallest.”
The book is written as a journal and the divisions are listed as notebooks.
I enjoyed reading about maternal and infant care. One example is what to do about a breast infection.
I loved the research (author’s notes) on a rarely talked about subject: women and infants in the 19th century. I also loved another storyline: a mother who cannot nurse her baby. I’d thought of this before and wondered what they did? Did they use milk from a cow or goat? A solid choice is to use a wet nurse. The conditions and direction of finding a wet nurse is described in the story, as well as how the mother of the child may have felt.
Adding Quaker as the religion of Lilli’s made the book enticing and different. In books similar to this storyline, most of the young women are Catholic.

Lilli de Jong is a Library Journal Best Historical Fiction 2017.
National Public Radio’s Best Books of 2017

(Review) I Loved Her In The Movies: Memories of Hollywood’s Legendary Actresses by Robert Wagner and Scott Eyman

I Loved Her In The Movies

Publisher and Publication Date: November 2016. Viking.
Genre: Nonfiction. Biographies.
Pages: 251.
Source: Library. Kindle edition.
Rating: Recommend.
Audience: Fans of Hollywood actresses.

Amazon link

I counted 78 women who were written about in this book (I may have missed some). Robert Wagner remarks on those he knew well. And, he acknowledges those he had romantic relationships with.

 

On one hand, this is a tell-all type book. However, I felt it was written with respect. Wagner had real relationships with most of the women in the book, some may have been acquaintances, but he knew them. He had a chance to observe them. He knew people who had worked with them. He knew their reputations both on and off the set.
He remarked that he did not know Jean Harlow, Mae West, or Kay Francis. But he knew people who had known them.
An interesting comment from Wagner about the commonality of the actresses: they were, “strong women who married weak or inappropriate men.”
The actresses cover the years 1930s through the 1980s.
Some of the women are written about in brief. And, those women he knew more about were written about in several pages.
He is quick to praise women. For example, Janet Leigh was, “a class act all the way.”
Debbie Reynolds was, “a great show business professional.”
Lucille Ball was, “sincerely interested in other people.”
I Loved Her In The Movies is a quick read. It’s a book for entertainment and enjoyment.
The only thing I disliked about the book (Kindle edition) is not the content, but the layout of the ebook. The subtitles do not match the paragraph of actress. It became a little confusing until I began ignoring those pesky subtitles.

(Review) Hank and Jim: The Fifty-Year Friendship of Henry Fonda and James Stewart by Scott Eyman

Hank and JimPublisher and Publication Date: Simon and Schuster. October 2017.
Genre: Nonfiction. Biography.
Pages: 385.
Source: Library. Kindle edition.
Rating: Recommend.
Audience: Fans of Henry Fonda and James Stewart. Fans of Hollywood.

Amazon link

Hank and Jim is highly readable. I was immersed in the story of Hank and Jim from the first page.
I’d had this book on my TBR list since it was published last year. Not only am I a fan of old Hollywood films, but both of these actors are favorites.
Another aspect that intrigued me about this book is the men were unlike in many ways, yet they were lifelong best friends. This is a key feature of the book.
Hank and Jim starts at the beginning of their lives and follow through to the end.
The book does not solely focus on their acting careers. The book shares information about their romantic relationships and marriages. In addition: military involvement, children, organic gardening hobby, religious beliefs, and political choices.
A straining period for the lifelong friends was during the Vietnam War. Stewart’s son was killed in Vietnam, and Fonda’s daughter, Jane, made a trip to Vietnam as a political activist. It was a difficult time for both men, but their friendship endured.
Both men were in love with the same woman, actress, Margaret Sullavan. She and Henry were married and divorced in the early 1930s.

margaret sullavan
Other notable film stars are in the book: Gary Cooper, Marlene Dietrich, Olivia de Havilland, and Norma Shearer.
Hank and Jim is a “feel-good” read about celebrities. In this age of political allegiances and hateful words, it felt good to read a book about two well-known men who were unlike in many ways, yet they were best friends who deeply respected the other.

(Review) The White Album by Joan Didion

the white album

Publisher and Publication Date: Open Road Media. May 9, 2017, first published 1979.
Genre: Essays. Nonfiction.
Pages: 224.
Source: Library-Kindle edition.
Rating: Recommended.
Audience: Joan Didion fans, deep thinkers, and those who love to read essays on life.

Amazon link

I’ve read several of Joan Didion’s books. I’ve enjoyed reading all of them. Her perspective, and the ability to transpose onto paper what she sees, gives me the ability to be the extra person in the room.

 

The sections in the book are as follows:

I. The White Album
II. California Republic
III. Woman
IV. Sojourns
V. On the Morning After The Sixties

“The White Album” is the section of the book that was my favorite. It’s a mix of different stories. For example: a murder in Laurel Canyon, Linda Kasabian (former member of the Manson family and a key witness for the prosecution), The Doors, Janis Joplin, and Sybil Brand (known for improving jail conditions for women).

A quote that is a favorite among many readers:
“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”
This is a deep quote, and it’s one that causes discussion. My first question is whether the story is real or fiction? A real story has depth, meaning, and teaching for not only the person who lived that particular story, but for the audience who reads or hears the story. For example: my dad’s memories of living through the Great Depression.
A fictional story is entertaining and on some level can have depth, meaning, and teaching, but it is not the same as hearing a person tell “their story”. An example is reading a historical fiction story about the Holocaust vs. reading or hearing the memoir of the Holocaust from a survivor.
Joan Didion encountered and had conversations with people of the 1960s and 1970s who made a mark in history. Some of these people like the music group, The Doors, had stirred a curiosity in me. I enjoyed reading Didion’s perspective on them, principally Jim Morrison.
A strong benefit of reading an essay is they’re short. An excellent reading choice before bedtime or commuting by train.