Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Book Recommendations

I love to read. I particularly love to read books that are entertaining and based on history as it sparks my interest to learn more about the subject. I also tend to read books that are lesser-known, or at least when I read them they are. I'm excited to know many of the books I've read years ago (such as Sarah's Key) are now popular best sellers! I also tend to pass books along to others. I know one set of books I read a few summers ago have since made it through at least five people, maybe more. Love.

Anyway, I thought I'd share a few that I particularly enjoyed over the past few years. Be warned; some cover difficult subject matters, but they are all based in history and cover fictionalized stories of actual events.
1. Trudy's Promise by Marcia Preston
Takes place during the Cold War. A woman is separated from her son after the Berlin wall is erected as he is trapped in East Berlin.

2. Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
Split novel focusing on the "present" day and World War II, unfolding the story of a German woman's life as she strives to protect her daughter from the Nazis.

3. The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff
Another World War II novel about a Polish Jew who escapes the ghetto and lives as the girlfriend of a Nazi Kommandant to save her life.

4. The Diplomat's Wife by Pam Jenoff
This is the sequel to The Kommandant's Girl, except it is told from the perspective of a minor character from the first novel. It takes place during the Cold War. I can't say much more without giving away too much from the first book. I'll just say I read both of these in the span of about a week. :)
5. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
I just read this one and found it very thought-provoking as well as entertaining. It is told from the perspective of a Chinese American boy during World War II who lives in Seattle and befriends a Japanese American girl. The Japanese family is sent to an internment camp. It really made me think a lot about racial prejudice that is still widely prevalent today.
6. The True Story of Hansel and Gretel
Another World War II one! Two Jewish children are sent to live with an elderly woman living in the woods of Poland as Gentiles. I loved how it tied the old fairytale to a fictionalized account of real events.
7. Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosney
Another split story taking place in "present" day Paris and World War II France. Just trust me on this one, it's good.
8. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
Ancient China following the lives of two young girls as they progress through foot-binding and arranged marriages. I learned a lot about practices during that day that I was not familiar with.
9. Slave by Mende Nazer
Memoir of a girl who is about the same age as me. She was kidnapped from her village in Africa at the age of 11-ish and taken to be a slave for an Arab family in the city until she escaped in her twenties. Incredibly powerful, particularly as I reflected on my life while she was in captivity.

10. The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer
Takes place in Iran during the Iranian revolution as a man is imprisioned for being too "westernized." While not the same at all, it has a similar feel to Khalid Housseni's books The Kite Runner and Thousand Splendid Suns in that it shows a different era in Iran and how it shifted to more closely align with what we know now.
11. A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
Another memoir of a young boy from Sierra Leone who is captured and forced to live as a boy soldier. Very hard to read, but incredibly powerful since it is a true story. Like Mende, Ishmael is about the same age as me. I cannot imagine.

12. The Poet of Bagdad by Jo Tatchell
I'm reading this now, but so far am captivated. It's based on the life of Nabeel Yasin, a poet from Bagdad who writes against the oppression in Iraq during Saddam Hussain's rein. Nabeel eventually has to escape the company to avoid harsh punishment. I feel like it'll be a good one, so wanted to include it. :)
That's it for now. Happy reading!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Author and Perfector

Faith
Dictionary: confidence or trust in a person or thing
Scripture: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1


I’ve been thinking lately about faith and how it works. Sometimes when I’m really battling a particular thing or just simply trying to be patient, I think “man, if only I had more faith then this wouldn’t be so hard!” This line of thought recently brought up a question in my mind, where do we get faith and how do we get more of it?

This week I’ve been reading through Hosea and Amos. Not your average and seemingly uncheery books in the bible, yet I disagree. There is great hope within their prophecies (even if I don’t understand it all)! Again and again in both books, we see the Israelites called out on their disobedience and the punishment deserved laid-out clearly. And again and again, this is followed-up with the Lord’s compassion and love for them, in spite of their continual idol-worship. It all foreshadows the coming of Jesus, God’s ultimate portrayal and gift of compassion, love, forgiveness, and every-other-good-word-you-can-muster.

Yesterday as I drove to work, I was thinking about waiting, specifically waiting on the provision and direction of the Lord. I was thinking about how long the Israelites waited for Jesus, continuing to live within the cycle of crying out to God, obeying, getting bored, worshipping idols, being disciplined/experiencing consequences, and crying out to God again. I thought about how easily I enter into this cycle as well, which sickens my heart since I KNOW God is infinitely better than all the other hoopla I fill my head/heart/time with. I thought about waiting on his provision right now in my anxiousness and how much easier it’d be if I had more faith. Then it hit me. Softly a verse came to mind: let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith…

The author and perfector of our faith. I cannot increase my faith on my own. That’d be about as worthless as me sitting there wishing I had red hair, it won’t happen. Why? Because my faith does not originate from me nor is it improved, or perfected by me, only Jesus. The only way my faith may increase is if I fix my eyes on him.

This may sound like the world’s simplest truth to you, and in reality, it is me, too. I just needed a reminder. And once again, it confirmed the deep need I have to spend time with him, reading and knowing his word, which is where he reveals himself. It amazes me sometimes, to the point of extreme excitement, how truly powerful the word of God is.

In Deuteronomy and Numbers, Moses warns the Israelites over and over to not forget the things God has done. To write them everywhere, carry it with them, bang it into their minds, and tell it to everyone. He gets awfully repetitive, but it’s so true! It is far too easy for me to slowly seep into looking for life in the things of this world, even though I know none of it is life-giving. God’s word is a gift. And I am free to read it whenever/wherever I want in this country and yet I too take advantage of it.

So, I am focused on today and the waiting/patience I need for this day alone. I’m not looking at tomorrow or the next day or the next ten years, as today, I have everything I need. Today, I am keeping my eyes on that great author and perfector of my faith, knowing he will provide and, if I keep my eyes centered on him, I can’t screw up his plan. And as I’ve seen over the last however many years, my faith will increase as I know more and more about him, and am more and more enfolded into his heart’s desire. So, I wait and will not grow weary or lose heart today as the Creator of the universe is writing my life’s story; and that’s bound to be greater than anything I could dream.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Here's Lookin' at You Kid

Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong generation and instead should have lived during the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. Why, might you ask? Because...

I heart these shoes,
And these:
And think this outfit is fabulous (shoes included!): And love to scat along with them:And croon with him:
And sing along with her:
And watch movies like this:
With classy, fabulous actors like him:
And her:
And sing along with jazzy musicals like this (who wants to be a millionaire? I don't...):
And love art deco like this:
And this (a plus since it's my favorite place I've never been!):
And this, one of my most favorite buildings (also art deco):

I'm sure if I did live during this era I would not have appreciated it's fabulousness. So instead, I appreciate the vintageness of it all and embrace the history. And will continue to find ways to incorporate this into my modern life. Yay for history.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Cutest Can-Can Dancer Ever!

McKenzie had her dance recital today and I'm pretty sure she's the cutest can-can dancer ever! She's the second from the end (they zoom-in on her a few times. Enjoy the cuteness!

Friday, June 4, 2010

No One Reads That!

I’ve talked here before about the lovely rep community in my industry focusing primarily on some of the oddballs. Well, sadly there are also some awfully rude ones, though they typically stick within the pushy realm as opposed to meanness. Yesterday’s experience was an exception. (note: I want to preface this again by stating most sales reps are perfectly nice, but these types tend to stick-out in my mind since they need some help in their sales skills…)

For the past few months, I’ve periodically received calls from an in-flight magazine rep for one of my clients. Each time she calls, she basically asks the same questions and sounds highly put-out by the conversation. Each time I also let her know our media plan is placed throughout the year, provide my email address so she can send a media kit, and direct her to the print negotiating team for further print-related specifics. Fairly obnoxious, but easy-breezy nonetheless.

Yesterday, the rep lady called me and after learning we were in the media planning process became quite irate that she was not given a request-for-proposal (RFP). I reiterated her need to reach-out to the print negotiation team as they manage the RFP process, not me, after which she questioned what I do and what my purpose was. That ticked me off considering I work a lot and most certainly am not here to eat bon bons and chat it up with reps. I responded firmly, but politely (yes, I had to confirm with my podmates to ensure I wasn’t being rude…) explaining how I am a planner, involved in the process, just not the negotiation process.

She then proceeded to critique the media plan we currently have in-place. She announced she recently saw an ad in BusinessWeek magazine and asked who reads it anyway. Well, although on the sassy-side, I said “obviously you do.” Eek. Probably not my brightest moment, but she was not listening to me nor treating me with any respect. The diatribe went on a little longer and she finally agreed to speak to the print group. End of conversation. I quickly called Melissa on the print team to give her a heads-up on our conversation so she would be aware and not be taken aback should she also be berated.

Not surprisingly, Melissa received a call from Ms. Friendly a little while ago and received the same treatment I did. The rep said no one would travel for cancer treatment (and yet she’s trying to sell her in-flight magazine?) and Southwest Airlines made the least sense since their hub is in Las Vegas. Melissa corrected her, letting her know Southwest is headquartered in Dallas and has beaucoup flights throughout Texas each day. Sheesh. She then questioned what I do again. Lovely. Melissa reexplained the structure and, to hopefully quiet her for a little while, agreed to send her an RFP.

I don’t understand what this lady’s issue is and why she thinks insults and criticism would ever give us confidence in her or her product. I was baffled that she also basically questioned what my job is, implying I was a waste of her time. Thanks. All that to say, I’m thankful my purpose and position cannot be thwarted by hers or anyone’s thoughts and opinions of me. I know my purpose and who I am and am generally sad for her. In hindsight, I probably should have pointed-out her rudeness and asked if there was a reason she felt the need to belittle others. Obviously there is something missing in her heart or some deep-seeded feelings of pride or worthlessness herself, which does make me sad.

Anyway, this story was likely boring to most of you who don’t have the lovely pleasure of speaking with reps on a daily basis, particularly those who are pushy or obnoxious. In any case, welcome to a snip-it of my world.

Have a ya ha and hey hey Friday and a fabulous weekend!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Plea

Dear stomach,

Why do you hate me so? I've tried to be nice, giving you food and water. Allowing you to rest after my lovely trip to the er and yet you continue to cause me issues. Do you want me to stop eating altogether? If not, could you at least tell me what food won't make you mad? Please listen to the doctor's solution; I'll be calling her shortly for her advice to tame you. I'd appreciate the cooperation.

Sincerely,
Desperate Sarah


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