Book and Movie Review: The Shack

Book and Movie Review:  The Shack

by William Paul Young

My Rating:  ***** (5 out of 5)

Why Did I Read/Watch?

This book and movie was recommended to me by a friend.  It had a great impact on her and her family, and she thought I would like it, too (she was right).

Summary (from Goodreads)

Mackenzie Allen Philips’ youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his “Great Sadness,” Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.

Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever.

In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant The Shack wrestles with the timeless question, “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?” The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You’ll want everyone you know to read this book!

* book description from the back cover

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I LOVED this book!  It is filled with so much insight.  I love the author’s understanding of God, as it is very similar to my own.  This book helped me to become more confident and comfortable in my own beliefs.  For several years, I had been struggling with an understanding I had come to realize that differed from my Catholic upbringing and the teachings of the Christian church(es) I have attended, but The Shack put me at peace with my beliefs.  I believe I was led to this book/movie to help me confirm that although my beliefs may differ from what everyone else around me in the churches are trying to teach, my beliefs are not “wrong,” and I need to be at peace with them and stand strong in them.  God really does send us the answers to all of our questions and concerns in some of the most amazing ways!

I enjoyed both the book and the movie, but I would definitely recommend the book over the movie if you would like to get the full understanding of all the messages the author is trying to send.

Movie Trailer:

Favorite Quotes:

I have so many favorite quotes from the book, there are way too many to add them all here.  Here are a few:

“Love always leaves a mark.” ~Papa

“Don’t ever discount the wonder of your tears. They can be healing waters and a stream of joy. Sometimes they are the best words the heart can speak.”

“Just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn’t mean I orchestrate the tragedies. Don’t ever assume that my using something means I caused it or that I need it to accomplish my purposes. That will only lead you to false notions about me. Grace doesn’t depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors.”

“All I want from you is to trust me with what little you can, and grow in loving people around you with the same love I share with you.  It’s not your job to change them, or to convince them.  You are free to love without an agenda.”

“Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about letting go of another person’s throat……Forgiveness does not create a relationship…Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive.”

“The people who know me are the ones who are free to live and love without any agenda.”

“You will grow in the freedom to be inside or outside all kinds of systems, and to move freely between and among them.  Together, you and I can be in it, and not of it.  Those who love me come from every system that exists.  They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims, Democrats or Republicans, and many who don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions…I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into Sons and Daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, into my beloved.”

“So no, I’m not too big on religion…and not very fond of politics or economics either…And why should I be? They are the man-created trinity of terrors that ravages the earth and deceives those I care about. What mental turmoil and anxiety does any human face that is not related to one of those three?”

“It’s extremely hard to rescue someone unless they are willing to trust you.”

“It’s not the work, but the purpose that makes it special.”

“True love never forces.”

“So many believe that it is love that grows, but it is the knowing that grows and love simply expands to contain it.”

View more quotes from the book here.

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Book Review: I Can See Clearly Now

Book Review:  I Can See Clearly Now

by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

My Rating:  ***** (5 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

I read this book because I really love Wayne Dyer’s teachings.  I recently finished listening to his 6-CD Live Lecture of The Secrets of an Inspirational Life, and that inspired me to read more of his books.  I Can See Clearly Now is Wayne Dyer’s memoir.  It had been on my list of books that I wanted to read for a long time, so I felt called to read that one next.  I’m glad I did!

Summary (from Goodreads)

For many years, Dr. Wayne W. Dyer’s fans have wondered when he would write a memoir. Well, after four decades as a teacher of self-empowerment and the best-selling author of more than 40 books, Wayne has finally done just that!

However, he has written it in a way that only he can—with a remarkable take-home message for his longtime followers and new readers alike—and the result is an exciting new twist on the old format. Rather than a plain old memoir, Wayne has gathered together quantum-moment recollections. In this revealing and engaging book, Wayne shares dozens of events from his life, from the time he was a little boy in Detroit up to present day. In unflinching detail, he relates his vivid impressions of encountering many forks in the road, taking readers with him into these formative experiences. Yet then he views the events from his current perspective, noting what lessons he ultimately learned, as well as how he has made the resulting wisdom available to millions via his lifelong dedication to service.

As a reader, you will feel as if you are right there with Wayne, perusing his personal photo album and hearing about his family, his time in the service, how he writes his best-selling books, and so much more. In the process, you’ll be inspired to look back at your own life to see how everything you have experienced has led you to where you are right now.

Wayne has discovered that there are no accidents. Although we may not be aware of who or what is “moving the checkers,” life has a purpose, and each step of our journey has something to teach us. As he says, “I wasn’t aware of all of the future implications that these early experiences were to offer me. Now, from a position of being able to see much more clearly, I know that every single encounter, every challenge, and every situation are all spectacular threads in the tapestry that represents and defines my life, and I am deeply grateful for all of it.”

I Can See Clearly Now is an intimate look at an amazing teacher, but it also holds the key for seekers on a personal path of enlightenment. Wayne offers up his own life as an example of how we can all recognize the hand of the Divine steering our individual courses, helping us accomplish the mission we came here to fulfill.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I really enjoyed this book a lot!  I consider Wayne Dyer to be one of my greatest mentors, so it was really exciting to me to read his memoir and learn about all of the experiences that allowed him to progress spiritually throughout his lifetime.  I enjoyed reading about the stories that he considered “quantum moments” in his life, and although I had heard many of these stories before in his lectures, I enjoyed reading about the lessons they taught him and how each of them was ultimately a gift in his life and changed him for the better.

I have read many of Dr. Wayne Dyer’s books already, but this book has inspired me to want to read ALL of his books and listen to all of his lectures to learn as much as I can from him.  His teachings bring me peace, and there is nothing I would love more than to be able to teach that peace to others, just as he did.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is already familiar with Wayne Dyer and appreciates his teachings!

Favorite Quotes in the Book

Never forget that you are one of a kind.  Never forget that if there weren’t any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn’t be here in the first place.  And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life’s challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world.  In fact, it is always because of one person that all changes that matter in the world come about.  So be that one person.

~Buckminster Fuller

 

If we stop for a moment, it is possible to perceive a pattern in our lives; the motivators that have influenced us become more obvious.  We are able to see life unfolding from both ends at once, coming into the present moment.  But until we have got to a certain point of realization, this is not possible, because everything is still seen as a series of apparent causes and effects.

~Reshad Feild

 

Now, from a position of being able to see much more clearly, I know that every single encounter, every challenge, and every situation are all spectacular threads in the tapestry that represents and defines my life, and I am deeply grateful for all of it. (p.19)

~Dr. Wayne Dyer

 

I know that this universe has a creative Source of energy supporting it that is literally the matrix of all matter.  Nothing occurs by happenstance anywhere, because this universal mind is perpetually on call, going about its miraculous ways in a myriad of infinite possibilities. (p.19)

Dr. Wayne Dyer

Book Review: What on Earth am I Here For?

Book Review:  What on Earth am I Here For?

by Rick Warren

My Rating: **** (4 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

I read this 63-page booklet because our church was giving them away.  I read The Purpose Driven Life many years ago, also by Rick Warren, and I loved that one so I thought I would read this, too.

Summary (from the back of the book)

You can live the life you were meant to live.

This small booklet answers life’s three biggest questions:

The Question of Existence:  Why am I alive?

The Question of Significance: Does my life matter?

The Question of Purpose: What on earth am I here for?

Knowing your purpose in life will:

  • Give your life meaning
  • Simplify your life
  • Focus your life
  • Increase your motivation
  • Prepare you for eternity

Discover the principles that have transformed millions of lives around the world.  Excerpted from The Purpose Driven Life: “The bestselling non-fiction hardback in history.” – Publishers Weekly

What Did I Think/Recommendation:

I loved Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life.  This booklet seemed to be a condensed version of The Purpose Driven Life.

I love that this booklet is a very quick and easy read at only 63 pages.  It is filled with lots of wisdom and ideas, but I could not give this 5 stars because I was really turned off by the line on the first page, written in bold: “you won’t discover your life’s meaning by looking within yourself.” Honestly, I stopped right there and put the book away for a few weeks before I decided to continue on with it. As the author of a book about self-love and someone who did find God and my life’s purpose by looking within myself, it was hard for me to get past that line. I believe there are as many paths to God as there are people, and it is a turnoff to me when someone thinks that their way is the only right way. I’m glad I did eventually pick the book back up and continue with it because there is a lot of good content in the book. I certainly don’t agree with everything he says, but the parts that I do agree with and accept as truth are very comforting.  Regardless of your beliefs, it does make you think about life.

Book Review: The Unmistakable Touch of Grace

The Unmistakable Touch of Grace: How to Recognize and Respond to the Spiritual Signposts in Your Life

by Cheryl Richardson

My Rating: ***** (5 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

This was my second reading of this book.  I read it several years ago, but I kept it on my bookshelf and for some unknown reason, I decided it was time to read it again.  Cheryl Richardson is one of my favorite authors and one of my biggest mentors.  Her book Life Makeovers changed my life, but I think I enjoyed this one even more!

Summary (from Goodreads)

Dear Friend,

Twenty years ago, I made a decision to wake up and alter the direction of my life. This set in motion a series of events that proved to me there are no coincidences. Every event we experience and every person we meet has been put in our path for a reason. When we awaken to this fundamental truth, we begin to understand that a benevolent force of energy is available to guide and direct our lives. I call this energy the unmistakable touch of grace.

This book tells the story of how grace has transformed my life as well as the lives of others. While some stories may seem unbelievable, all of them are true. As you follow the journey, you’ll start to see the influence of grace in your life, too. And, once you’ve finished, the way you view your life (and the people in it) will be changed forever.

Many blessings,

Cheryl

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I LOVE this book so much!  I am so happy I decided to re-read it!  It is an easy read, and it is filled with a lot of interesting examples and stories from Cheryl’s life as well as stories from her clients.  At the end of each chapter, I like the fact that she provides lists of resources and books that influenced her in case the reader would like to research the topic further.

As I was reading, I realized that much of what she talks about in this book resonates with me.  I can’t help but wonder if I was introduced to all of these ideas about grace when I read the book the first time, and over the years these beliefs grew stronger as I looked for examples to support them.  I am at the point in life where I believe everything happens for a reason and always for the greatest good.  When my husband lost his job a few years ago, instead of worrying I immediately recognized it as a gift.  I fully trusted that everything was happening for the best, and I knew and assured him that it would all work out.  And of course, it did!   I seldom worry these days, and I am wondering if these beliefs began when I read this book for the first time.  This second reading brought me much peace and reinforced all of those beliefs.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants more peace in life and is interested in growing spiritually.

Check out other reviews of this book on Goodreads.

Favorite Quote

Every event we experience and every person we meet has intentionally been put in our path to help us lead more conscious and fullfilled lives. They are blessings in disguise, gifts that make you stronger, more conscious, and ultimately, more alive.

Book Review: The Art of Happiness

The Art of Happiness

by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.

the-art-of-happiness-cover

My Rating: *** (3 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

I got this book at a book sale years ago.  I was probably drawn to the title, and I was excited to learn about the wisdom that the Dalai Lama had to share.  Like many other books, this one sat on my bookshelf for several years before I saw it there about a month ago and felt called to finally read it.

Summary (from Goodreads)

Nearly every time you see him, he’s laughing, or at least smiling. And he makes everyone else around him feel like smiling. He’s the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet, a Nobel Prize winner, and an increasingly popular speaker and statesman. What’s more, he’ll tell you that happiness is the purpose of life, and that “the very motion of our life is towards happiness.” How to get there has always been the question. He’s tried to answer it before, but he’s never had the help of a psychiatrist to get the message across in a context we can easily understand. Through conversations, stories, and meditations, the Dalai Lama shows us how to defeat day-to-day anxiety, insecurity, anger, and discouragement. Together with Dr. Cutler, he explores many facets of everyday life, including relationships, loss, and the pursuit of wealth, to illustrate how to ride through life’s obstacles on a deep and abiding source of inner peace.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I was really hoping I would love this book and take away a lot from it.  Unfortunately, it was not an easy read for me.  It took me over a month to read this.  Happiness is one of my favorite topics, but unfortunately this book did not hold my interest like I had hoped.  Once I started reading, I was disappointed to find out that the Dalai Lama did not write the book.  The book was written by Howard Cutler, M.D., a psychiatrist who interviewed him.

Although this book didn’t meet my high expectations of it, there are some things that I really enjoyed about it.  I liked reading the direct quotes and the wisdom of the Dalai Lama, and this book has inspired me to read some of his books, including his autobiography, Freedom in Exile and The Good Heart: A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus.

I don’t think I would read The Art of Happiness again, but I would not discourage anyone from reading it.  The Dalai Lama shares some great wisdom and advice, and there is a lot of information to take away from it.

You can check out other reviews about this book at Goodreads.

My Favorite Quotes

A few of my favorite quotes of the Dalai Lama from The Art of Happiness:

Definition of love (p.286) – “An utter, absolute, and unqualified wish for the happiness of another individual.”

“Motivation is so important…If you develop a pure and sincere motivation, if you are motivated by a wish to help on the basis of kindness, compassion, and respect, then you can carry on any kind of work, in any field, and function more effectively with less fear or worry, not being afraid of what others think or whether you ultimately will be successful in reaching your goal.  Even if you fail to achieve your goal, you can feel good about having made the effort.  But with a bad motivation, people can praise you or you can achieve goals, but you still will not be happy.” (p.272)

“I believe that each individual should embark upon a spiritual path that is best suited to his or her mental disposition, natural inclination, temperament, belief, family, and cultural background.” (p.294)

“The variety of people calls for a variety of religions.  The purpose of religion is to benefit people, and I think that if we only had one religion, after a while it would cease to benefit many people…religions are meant to nourish the human spirit.  And I think we can learn to celebrate that diversity in religions and develop a deep appreciation of the variety of religions…we must respect and appreciate the value of all the different major world religious traditions.”

“I think prayer is, for the most part, a simple daily reminder of your deeply held principles and convictions…Prayers are actually reminders.  Reminders of how to speak to others, how to deal with other people, how to deal with problems in your daily life, things like that…my practice involves reminders — reviewing the importance of compassion, forgiveness, all these things.” – (P. 298)

Book Review: Transformed

Book Review:  Transformed

by Rick Warren

transformed cover

My Rating:  ***** (5 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

I am a member of a small group (we call it a Lifegroup) at our church.  For 7 sessions, we got together every other week to go through this book together, watch the video that went along with the weekly lesson, and discuss our thoughts and how we can apply the concepts to our own lives.

Summary (through Goodreads)

Transformed is a church-wide, 7-session campaign that will guide and grow your church by exploring what the Bible has to say about every essential area of our lives: Spiritual, Physical, Mental, Emotional, Relational, Financial, and Vocational. The world is shouting for our attention with answers to our relationship struggles, solutions to our financial trouble, and explanations to our search for meaning. But the world’s promises leave us empty and searching for more. God’s Word is the only answer that promises to transform our lives from the inside out. Unite as a church and be TRANSFORMED together.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I really liked this book a lot.  Over 7 weeks (49 days), each day I looked forward to reading, reflecting, and journaling on the lesson of the day.  In those 10 minutes of each day, I felt so at peace.  I was able to leave all of my worries behind and connect with my source and my true self.  It was a wonderful feeling.  When I was able to spend this time first thing in the morning, it inspired me and provided me with a great start to my day.

I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in becoming healthier in mind, body, or spirit.  The book covers just about every area of our lives:  spiritual health, physical health, mental health, emotional health, relational health, financial health, and vocational health.  The reading is very short, but the reflection and journaling is what I enjoyed the most.  To anyone who gets this book, I would encourage you to do the journaling if you want to get the most out of it.

Although I really enjoyed doing the individual lessons from the book, the part of this course that really made the biggest impact in my life was the small group discussion and the videos that went along with the book.  Find out more about the course at http://transformedlife.com/

 

Book Review: The Afterlife of Billy Fingers

The Afterlife of Billy Fingers:  How My Bad-Boy Brother Proved to Me There’s Life After Death

by Annie Kagan

The Afterlife of Billy Fingers Cover

My Rating: ***** (5 out of 5 Stars)

Why Did I Read?

This book was recommended to me by my Reiki Master teacher.  When taking the Reiki Master class a few weeks ago, my teacher played a song called “The Swan of Tuonela” by the composer Jean Sibelius.  In the book, The Afterlife of Billy Fingers, Billy tells his sister that cosmic sound is very similar to this song.  My teacher told us briefly what the book was about, and it sounded fascinating to me, so I decided to check it out at my library.

Summary (from Goodreads)

“Annie Kagan is not a medium or a psychic, she did not die and come back to life; in fact, when she was awakened by her deceased brother, she thought perhaps she had gone a little crazy.

In “The Afterlife of Billy Fingers: How My Bad-Boy Brother Proved to Me There’s Life After Death,” Kagan shares the extraordinary story of her after death communications (ADC) with her brother Billy, who began speaking to her just weeks after his unexpected death.

One of the most detailed and profound ADC’s ever recorded, Kagan’s book takes the reader beyond the near-death experience.  Billy’s vivid, real-time account of his on-going journey through the mysteries of death will change the way you think about life, death and your place in the Universe.”

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I LOVED this book!  I thought it was fascinating!  I have a strong interest in reading books about Near-Death Experiences, but this book takes it even further.  Although some of the things described are really “out there”, especially near the end, I really believe this is true.  Just have an open mind when reading this book.

I found it to be comforting and reassuring that we are all loved unconditionally regardless of our actions, and there is something great waiting for each of us on the other side, although the experience will be different for each of us based on what our beliefs are.  This book also confirmed my belief that we are eternal souls, and our time on this earth in a physical body is just one way for us to experience new things and help our souls grow.

This book was a VERY easy read.  I read it in about 3 days, although I probably could have read it all in one sitting if I had the time.  I did not want to put it down!

As Billy gave Annie advice throughout the book, here are a few bits of wisdom that I got out of this:

See yourself Billy Fingers

What you achieve on earth is only a small part of the deal.  If there’s a secret I could whisper, and that you could keep, it would be that it’s all inside you already.  Every single thing you need.  Earth is just a stopover.  A kind of game.  Make it a star game.  If I could give you a gift, it would be to teach you how to stay free inside that game, to find the glory inside yourself, beyond the roles and the drama, so you can dance the game of life with a little more rhythm, a little more abandon, a little more shaking-those-hips.” (p.84)

“All beings on earth carry the light from this sphere within them.  That’s why spiritual philosophies say that we are one…the light from the sphere propels your soul into your body when you’re in the womb.  It then becomes the invisible force that gives you life…” (p. 94)

“Don’t overlook the riches contained in the darkness.  Life’s very temporary, so don’t let time just pass.  Let the moments fill you — the ones you judge to be good as well as bad.” (p.95)

“There are many worlds, and the afterlife has many forms.  Where you go, who you meet, and where you meet them is different for different people.” (p. 104)

“After you’re dead, you are able to be in more than one place at a time.” (p. 105)

“Beliefs are big on earth.  People collect them.  Some of these beliefs are helpful, but others just keep you running around trying to follow rules that others have laid down.  They don’t have a lot of personal meaning.  It’s a good idea to sort through your beliefs now and throw out the ones that don’t serve you.” (p. 105)

“People spend lots of time on things that make them unhappy…to cultivate joy, pay attention to what you like.” (p. 152)

“Every single life is valuable in ways you cannot imagine or figure out while you’re alive.  Every single life is a gift.” (p. 154)

Cosmic symphony

See more reviews of The Afterlife of Billy Fingers on Goodreads.