Update: Daring Greatly

Me IIThe other day ago I posted a blog post about Daring Greatly by Dr. Brené Brown and I shared that most of my self-help studies and inspirational living comes from the Bible. I continued to write, “That doesn’t mean that I dismiss what others have to say about how we live, human conditions, shame, courage and understanding of oneself. What I like most about Browns work is she gives us all something to connect too.” The statement I made has weighed on my mind ever since in several ways. One being that I am a Christian and the Bible-especially in Galatians-warns us against human works. Though Brown isn’t preaching the Gospel in her message, I couldn’t help but pause after I posted my blog post. I feel I spoke unwisely and in a secular manner. I still believe she is a good motivator speaker and has studied human conditions in-depth. I do not know her religious or spiritual views so I can not judge her in that context-if you will. 


Dr. Brené Brown gives us a lot of great advice and she argues that “Vulnerability is not weakness, but rather our clearest path to courage, engagement, and meaningful connection.” She would be right but I would like to take it a step further and say that as Christians, we should put our trust in God to help us in all ways, study His word daily and pray. God gives us the tools to better ourselves in our daily walk with Him.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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Daring Greatly

I discovered Dr. Brené Brown on Netflix. As much as I love to read, I was surprised I had not heard of her work or motivational speeches before. Though I must confess most of my self-help studies and inspirational living comes from the Bible but that doesn’t mean that I dismiss what others have to say about how we live, human conditions, shame, courage, understanding of oneself and the understanding of others. What I like most about Browns work is she gives us all something to connect too. I would be surprised to hear if there was anyone out there who could not relate to her message. I would like to encourage you all to read her book and watch her talk-The Call to Courage-on Netflix.

I’ve been studying Roosevelt’s life of late and was pleasantly surprised when she quoted him. Brown went up another notch in my good opinion of her.

-Stephanie M Hopkins

Daring GreatlyAbout Daring Greatly:

Researcher and thought leader Dr. Brené Brown offers a powerful new vision that encourages us to dare greatly: to embrace vulnerability and imperfection, to live wholeheartedly, and to courageously engage in our lives.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” —Theodore Roosevelt

Every day we experience the uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure that define what it means to be vulnerable, or to dare greatly. Whether the arena is a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation, we must find the courage to walk into vulnerability and engage with our whole hearts.

In Daring Greatly, Dr. Brown challenges everything we think we know about vulnerability. Based on twelve years of research, she argues that vulnerability is not weakness, but rather our clearest path to courage, engagement, and meaningful connection. The book that Dr. Brown’s many fans have been waiting for, Daring Greatly will spark a new spirit of truth—and trust—in our organizations, families, schools, and communities.

Signs Of A Book Addict

When you have a Barnes & Noble Gift Card and you are browsing the B&N shelves trying to remember if you already have that book in your home library…. Yeah, that’s me. Or you have so many books in your NetGalley shelf, you can’t remember if you’ve reviewed the book. These are all signs of a book addict I must confess.

I decided to take a chance on three books I wasn’t sure I already had. They are down below and I’m really looking forward to reading them!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Whispering in FrenchWhispering in French by Sophia Nash

Published August 1st 2017 by William Morrow Paperbacks

Home is the last place Kate expected to find herself…

As a child, Kate Hamilton was packed off each summer to her grandfather’s ivy-covered villa in southern France. That ancestral home, named Marthe Marie, is now crumbling, and it falls to Kate—regarded as the most responsible and practical member of her family—to return to the rugged, beautiful seaside region to confront her grandfather’s debts and convince him to sell.

Kate makes her living as a psychologist and life coach, but her own life is in as much disarray as Marthe Marie. Her marriage has ended, and she’s convinced that she has failed her teen aged daughter, Lily, in unforgivable ways. While delving into colorful family history and the consequences of her own choices, Kate reluctantly agrees to provide coaching to Major Edward Soames, a British military officer suffering with post-traumatic stress. Breaking through his shell, and dealing with idiosyncratic locals intent on viewing her as an Americanized outsider, will give Kate new insight into who—and where—she wants to be. The answers will prove as surprising as the secrets that reside in the centuries-old villa.

Witty and sophisticated, rich in history and culture, Sophia Nash’s novel vividly evokes both its idyllic French setting and the universal themes of self-forgiveness and rebuilding in a story as touching as it is wise.

All Is Not ForgottenAll is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

Published July 18th 2017 by St. Martin’s Griffin

In the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut everything seems picture perfect.

Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, prefers to pretend this horrific event did not touch her perfect country club world.

As they seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town – or perhaps lives among them – drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.

A Piece of the WorldA Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline

Published February 21st 2017 by William Morrow

“Later he told me that he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden.”

To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was host and inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth, and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the twentieth century.

As she did in her beloved smash bestseller Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline interweaves fact and fiction in a powerful novel that illuminates a little-known part of America’s history. Bringing into focus the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait, she vividly imagines the life of a woman with a complicated relationship to her family and her past, and a special bond with one of our greatest modern artists.

Told in evocative and lucid prose, A Piece of the World is a story about the burdens and blessings of family history, and how artist and muse can come together to forge a new and timeless legacy.

Characters in Motion: Naamah Carter

Today I am talking with Alfred Woollacott III about his character, “Naamah Carter.” Alfred retired from KPMG after a career spanning 34 years, choosing to reside full time at his summer residence on Martha’s Vineyard. Being “45 minutes from America” and with a 50 – 60 hour per week void to fill, he began dabbling into his family history. His dabbling grew into an obsession, and he published several genealogical summaries of his ancestors. But certain ones absorbed him such that he could not leave them. So, he researched their lives and times further while evolving his writing skills from “just the facts ma’am” to a fascinating narrative style. Thus, with imagination, anchored in fact and tempered with plausibility, a remote ancestor can achieve a robust life as envisioned by a writer with a few drops of his ancestor’s blood in his veins.

Alfred, why did you choose to write about Naamah?

Naamah_Carter_Young

Naamah continues the planned trilogy, albeit chronologically out of order since her story had to be told. She and her four-greats grandfather John Law the first novel’s protagonist faced similar challenges. Both held shunned Christian beliefs, were forced from their homeland, endured tragic losses, and persevered against prejudice and hostility. In “The Believers in the Crucible Nauvoo” Naamah symbolized the pioneering women of the early LDS church, just as John Law exemplified the Scottish Prisoners of Wars struggles in the Puritan Theocracy of Colonial America. Carol Cornwell Madsen’s book “In Their Own Words” enriched my knowledge about Nauvoo’s women, a story that had to be told.

Delving further, I found some of Joseph Smith’s discourses not dissimilar to my Episcopalian beliefs and broadened my Christian foundation. However, the plural wives principle was an anathema that I had dismissed as justification to institutionalize man’s polygamous tendencies. Yet I continued wondering about Naamah’s perspective. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s book “A House Full of Females” provided further insight. Each relationship was unique and multi-faceted as was Naamah’s with Brigham.

What is the mood or tone Naamah portrays and how does this affect the story?

Naamah is a strong, resilient woman of deep faith. She is six-years-old when we first meet her placing flowers on her father’s gravesite in remembrance of his birthday. Her unique name honors her aunt, Naamah Kendall Jenkins, who had died three weeks before her birth. Early in life, Naamah connected to family residing in heaven. Her mother’s death several years later tightened those heavenly bonds. In a larger sense, the Calvinist doctrine of the First Awakening had formed her Christian beliefs and had grown stale. Something was lacking. Joseph Smith’s teachings offered refreshment and a romanticized view of principles she held dear. The Second Awakening gave an offer of hope, salvation, and glory to those who had believed their lives were pre-determined to be ‘sinners in the hand of an angry God. Many still clung to past and persecuted those who followed the teachings of these ‘false prophets’.

What are Naamah’s role in her family and some emotions triggered by it?

Naamah lost her father early and her mother several years later. Being the eldest of three sisters, she assumed a surrogate mother role for her ‘baby sister’ Susan, protecting her from the acid-tongued, narrow-minded, middle sister Betsey. Susan’s relationship with Naamah changed as she matured while Naamah’s did not. Her baby Susan still needed care; she had to stay in Peterborough and not leave with the Saints for Nauvoo. Eventually, she realized that Susan had become her crutch, which caused her to doubt the depth of her faith.

Soon after arriving in Nauvoo, she marries, only to lose her husband a few months later. A month later her beloved Aunt Susan dies and compounds her sense of loss. Now virtually alone and feeling isolated, she longed to return to Peterborough. Her emotions overwhelmed and paralyzed her until two Sisters rekindled her belief in eternal life giving her a path out of her nadir.

What is one of her beliefs as a Christian and how does this affect her life?

Naamah believed in eternal life, and Joseph’s teachings enhanced her understanding of it. He prophesized that we reside in heaven like Jesus did until we are sent to the earthly kingdom. While there, those who believed in Joseph’s prophecy and lived the gospel daily will return to the heavenly kingdom.

Naamah accepted that God spoke through the prophets and came to believe that Joseph was his latest. She dreamed to hear directly from Joseph. She first witnessed Joseph through Brigham as he preached to the faithful in Peterborough. After Joseph’s death, she rationalized that the closest she would come to him while on earth was through Brigham. In Nauvoo, She worked daily with Brigham at the temple doing the Lord’s work. She is torn when he proposed marriage to her. She had been sealed for eternity to another who awaited her in heaven. Brigham was married, and becoming his plural wife ran violated what she held sacred. Yet, through marriage, she would be closer to him, and thus, to God.

How is she influenced by her setting?

A tight-knit Peterborough began unraveling as Joseph Smith obtained a following. Erstwhile friends and family turned from Naamah and her rapidly-growing community of Saints. Many Saints left for Nauvoo while Naamah dawdled. But as Peterborough’s animosity increased, she left, too. Tenfold larger than Peterborough and unified in a belief, Naamah saw Nauvoo as Joseph Smith had promised — God’s earthly kingdom, But over time, Nauvoo grew more hostile and threatening than Peterborough ever had been.

Did she ever have doubts about Joseph Smith’s testaments? 

As her beloved Aunt Susan oft said, “Even Jesus had doubts while in the garden of Gethsemane.” Family ridiculed her, former friends turned from her, the death of loved ones caused her to grieve, hostile surroundings threatened her peace, and the offer of a plural marriage challenged a sacred belief. With each, doubts arose that she eventually overcame when she realized God would be with her . . . always.

Please talk about the courage and strength of Naamah and possibly the isolation?

On her wedding day, Naamah felt as though she was atop an alabaster column that extended to the heavens. As the newlyweds neared Nauvoo’s temple, she said, “Once the temple is completed, we must have our marriage endowed in it.” To which her husband replied, “Once it’s completed, we’ll leave Nauvoo.” “Leave Nauvoo?” She said. “I’ve just arrived here. Why? Why?”

Chip, chip, and cracks appeared in the alabaster. Chip, chip; increasing enmity surrounded Nauvoo, her husband died, and Aunt Susan died, and within months of her marriage, Naamah lay amid the rubble of alabaster. She wallowed in her nadir until uplifted by doing the Lord’s work alongside Brigham made her realize again that God would be with her always.

What are some similarities that a modern-day woman would have with Naamah?

Naamah with sisters wives editted

Naamah with Sisters Wives

Naamah’s challenges were not dissimilar to those women have faced for eternity. But she had fewer options than today’s women. A couple of centuries ago, it was more a ‘Man’s world’ than today. As such, we are less aware of the women’s perspective than we are now. Ulrich’s book “A House Full of Females” would have been near impossible to publish in the 1800s. Roles are less defined by gender than before, giving women more options and more reasons to question.  Of course, “Even Jesus had doubts while in the Garden of Gethsemane.”, and questions will eventually be answered.

Where can readers buy your book?

Alfred with book resized to 300

Available at Amazon, my website, or directly from me at mv4al@aol.com.

Interview with Alfred about his books HERE

The Path Of Righteousness

Book Open

If you are not watchful of your heart, it is so easy to allow outside influence to direct you away from the path. For the last couple of months or so, this had really been on my mind and I’m working hard not to allow negativity and sinfulness into my heart. Influences are everywhere and how we project it is vital to our well being and in our relationship with the Lord. Being a Christian and my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the most important aspect of my life. My Faith is who I am. My focus is to do what is pleasing to God rather than what is pleasing to self.

I am not perfect and I miss that mark often. More than I really want to admit sometimes but knowing God loves me and forgives me gets me through the dark times. When I feel doubt, pain, sadness creeping in, I’ve been praying and mediating on His promise and that is really getting me through it.

Lately I have been questioning what I’ve been reading and watching on tv and I feel God is really talking to me about it. To be knowledgeable in the human condition is important I think but I feel there is a limit to how you get your knowledge in those things. You know the saying, “Garbage going in, garbage going out.” I am becoming more selective in what I watch on tv, the movies I see and the books I read.

crossThere is so much pain in the world and so much immoral actions. As a society we have turned from what is right and good and we have focused on what we want, when we want it without thought of consequences or others. We have let greed, pride, hate, envy, gluttony, lust, and anger rule our lives. Are you a believer in Christ? Do you take notice of your daily walk or has outside influences distracted you and you are straying?

If there every was a time to get right with God, it is now. My prayer today is that for those who are loss will find God and accept the Lord Jesus Christ in their hearts. I pray for Christians everywhere to stay the path of righteousness, to not allow bad influences in their life, to be kind, loving and to give to others. There is hope through Christ.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

A Stranger Here Below (Gideon Stoltz #1) by Charles Fergus

astrangerherebelow

A Stranger Here Below (Gideon Stoltz #1)

by Charles Fergus

Hardcover, 304 pages

Expected publication: March 19th 2019

I just added this to my wish-list. I love the simplicity of the book cover and yet at the same time there is so much more to image. The scenery in the image draws me in…  It gives you an atmospheric feel of a mysterious primitive time in the past. I hope this story delivers because it sounds utterly fantastic and it take place in one of my all-time favorite periods. -Stephanie M Hopkins

About the book:

 

For fans of C.J. Box’s Joe Pickett series, a fabulous historical mystery series set in early America. 

Set in 1835 in the Pennsylvania town of Adamant, Fergus’s first novel in a new mystery series introduces Sheriff Gideon Stoltz, who, as a young deputy, is thrust into his position by the death of the previous sheriff. Gideon faces his first real challenge as death rocks the small town again when the respected judge Hiram Biddle commits suicide. No one is more distraught than Gideon, whom the old judge had befriended as a mentor and hunting partner. Gideon is regarded with suspicion as an outsider: he’s new to town, and Pennsylvania Dutch in the back-country Scotch-Irish settlement. And he found the judge’s body.

Making things even tougher is the way the judge’s death stirs up vivid memories of Gideon’s mother’s murder, the trauma that drove him west from his home in the settled Dutch country of eastern Pennsylvania. He had also discovered her body.

At first Gideon simply wants to learn why Judge Biddle killed himself. But as he finds out more about the judge’s past, he realizes that his friend’s suicide was spurred by much more than the man’s despair. Gideon’s quest soon becomes more complex as it takes him down a dangerous path into the past.

Brief Review: The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell

Dr. T. Colin Campbell is a pioneer in the medical and food industry. His book The China Study and the documentary, Forks Over Knives on Netflix exposes the dirty truth about S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) and the harm that it is causing the American People and people around the world. We know that there are many diseases in this country and it is an epidemic and Campbell has studied this problem for decades. You’ll also be surprised to know that he grew up on a dairy farm. Not only can changing your diet reduce your chances of these diseases but it can also reverse many of the symptoms you have from them. We must stop listening to the main-stream food industry, pharmaceutical companies and the government on this issue. It is not about prevention. They want to keep us ignorant. For them, it is all about power and money in my opinion. Also, many of our Doctors have not been educated on nutrition and the importance of it. If you already have a disease or you are in constant pain, why wouldn’t you want to try to change your eating habits and learn what foods to eat and what foods to avoid so you can feel better? When I discovered the truth about meat and dairy, I changed my diet immediately! This book has really opened my eyes about the truth of what we eat and why our country has so many diseases and an obesity epidemic. It really isn’t hard and the benefits are worth it. I can’t even stomach the thought of eating meat or dairy anymore. Please consider reading The China Study. Your health starts in the Kitchen.

Check out why I drink Lemon Water every day. I get personal! Read article here

Stephanie M. Hopkins

the china studyAbout the Book:
The science is clear. The results are unmistakable.

You can dramatically reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes just by changing your diet.

More than thirty years ago, nutrition researcher T. Colin Campbell and his team at Cornell, in partnership with teams in China and England, embarked upon the China Study, the most comprehensive study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease. What they found when combined with findings in Colin’s laboratory, opened their eyes to the dangers of a diet high in animal protein and the unparalleled health benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet.

In 2005, Colin and his son Tom, now a physician, shared those findings with the world in The China Study, hailed as one of the most important books about diet and health ever written.

Featuring brand new content, this heavily expanded edition of Colin and Tom’s groundbreaking book includes the latest undeniable evidence of the power of a plant-based diet, plus updated information about the changing medical system and how patients stand to benefit from a surging interest in plant-based nutrition.

The China Study – Updated and Expanded Edition presents a clear and concise message of hope as it dispels a multitude of health myths and misinformation. The basic message is clear. The key to a long, healthy life lies in three things: breakfast, lunch and dinner.