The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

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This book is one of my favorites.  It’s about a magical book that allows the reader to actually enter the story.  As a book lover, I find the idea intriguing.

The main character reads the magical book and enters the neverending story.  His adventures teach him several valuable life lessons.

  • Actions have consequences, regardless of the reason for those actions
  • Listen to the advice of those you trust
  • Discern who is truly your friend and who is trying to use you
  • A prideful heart is dangerous
  • Learning to love is the greatest gift

This is an excellent book and one that I have enjoyed numerous times over the years.

My Letter of Apology to a Plant

 

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Dear Household Plant,

Please don’t give up and die.  Please keep fighting for survival.  We (the Thaler family) enjoy your wonderful smell and appreciate your fly repelling capabilities.  We apologize for not taking proper care of you.  For whatever we did wrong, we are truly sorry and we promise to make amends.

Did we give you to much water or not enough water?  Did we allow you to spend to much time in the sun, or not enough time in the sun?  Did we fail to give you the appropriate plant food?  Was there something else you desperately needed from us and we failed to provide it?

Since you are unable to speak, we have called an expert to answer theses questions.  We promise to do better in the future and provide for your needs.  We desire for you to be a thriving member of the house, so please don’t die.

Love,

The Thaler Family

College Tips and Advice

Today is Gwen’s first day of class at Calhoun Community College.  I have some tips and advice that I would love to share with her.  However, I can’t just tell her my advice.  I am a blogger, so it has to go in a post.

  • If you need help with a class, don’t be ashamed to ask.
  • Stay positive, if you keep working at it you will complete your degree.
  • Attendance is important, so try to be there as much as possible.
  • Get involved in campus life.  Find a club or organization to join, attend some of the sporting events, plays, debates, and special lectures that are available at the college.
  • Learn the material.  Study it until you understand it.
  • Don’t be in a hurry and do your best.
  • Don’t procrastinate, have a plan to complete assignments ahead of schedule.
  • Pay attention during class and take notes.  If the teacher says something is important, write it down and underline it.
  • Keep your notes, assignments, and study materials organized.
  • Make some new friends and have fun during your college years.

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The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

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Screwtape is a demon and he is writing letters to his nephew, Wormwood.  The letters are meant to help Wormwood, who is fresh out of Tempter’s College, in his endeavors to prevent people from becoming Christians.  In the end Wormwood fails and is eaten by the more successful demons.

The advice given by Screwtape was potentially effective, but it was also subtle.

  • Church members can be used to keep people away from the Gospel, especially if they behave rudely or practice immorality.
  • Family discord, lack of self-examination, and critical thoughts toward others will promote a self-righteous attitude.
  • Keep people away from prayer or have them use memorized superficial prayers that can be repeated without meaning.
  • Keep people focused on themselves and their own problems to promote selfishness and prevent charitable behavior.
  • Keep people focused on personal feelings.
  • Teach people to reverence religious objects, so the object replaces God.
  • Teach people to view the past as happy and peaceful.  Teach them to view the future with dread and hopelessness, so they will believe not even God can save them from certain destruction.
  • Create anxiety to prevent people from focusing on God.
  • Promote hatred for those who are different from them and hatred for enemies.
  • Promote malice towards the people around them and keep benevolence out of their minds.
  • Increase temptation during times of struggle, so sin appears to be the best way to elevate depression and inner turmoil.
  • If people desire to attend church, help them find one that focuses solely on friendship and self-help topics.
  • Teach people to live two parallel lives.  Sunday is for church, but during the rest of the week there is no thought of God.  This will allow them to live in sin, but still feel self-righteous.
  • Lull people into the path of wickedness, “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”
  • Don’t allow people to be rooted in a church, “if a man can’t be cured of church going, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighborhood looking for the church that ‘suits’ him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches.”
  • Promote discord in the church, so the members are arguing over petty things, then they will be unable to teach the gospel with any effectiveness.
  • Encourage false spirituality among the people.

 

Biblical Advice for Dealing with Anxiety

I suffer from an anxiety disorder and panic attacks, which can be debilitating at times.  I was reading Matthew 6:25-34, and I noticed three main points that can help me deal with my anxiety.

 1.  How can you overcome an anxiety attack once it happens?  

Matthew 6:26, 28-29

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. (ESV)

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (ESV)

I reviewed these verses several times.  I realized this is practical advice, and this is advice that requires action.  When I go out to a field and look at the flowers and watch the birds or listen to them sing, I feel more at peace.  If I take the time to pray and meditate on the scriptures, I start to defeat the anxiety attack that is plaguing me.

2.  Anxiety will not help you solve any of your problems.  Anxiety only increases your problems.

Matthew 6:27,34

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? (ESV)

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (ESV)

Dealing with the root cause of my anxiety problems and learning to overcome it will help me solve the problems I face today.  It will also allow me to live a happier life, because I will not feel anxious over the past or the future.

3.  Pay attention to your priorities if you want to decrease your anxiety.  

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (ESV)

When my spiritual life becomes a priority, I am better prepared to deal with the issues I face in life.

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Matthew 6:25-34, has a lot of great advice for dealing with anxiety and I found it to be beneficial in my own life.

 

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

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I read “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch a few years ago and I loved it.  Randy Pausch was a professor at Carnage Mellon.  He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and only had a six months to live.  Before he died, Randy Pausch gave his last lecture at Carnage Mellon.  The advice he gave during the lecture struck a cord with millions of people.

Randy Pausch talked about the importance of family, humility, and working toward your dreams.  There is an abundance of good advice in the book, so I decided to read it again.

While reading the book, I found myself thinking about my own personal goals.  A few years ago, I finished a PhD program and a huge dream of mine was fulfilled.

However, since then I have floundered a bit.  I don’t have another dream or personal goal.  I started thinking about what I want to accomplish next in my life.  I have a some ideas that I am researching.  I will post an update once I get it all straight in my mind and let everyone know what I plan to achieve next in my life.

The Ancient Guide to Modern Life

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Natalie Haynes is the author of, “The Ancient Guide to Modern Life.”  In the book, she talks about ancient philosophy, modern philosophy, their similarities, and how we can apply those ideas to our own lives.

In the section covering politics, Natalie Haynes said:

“Why stand outside something with a placard when you could be changing it from within?  The Athenians should inspire us to become school governors, patient representatives, local councillors, and members of Parliament.  They should persuade us to stop shrugging and sighing when we could instead be improving our lot.”

I am guilty of complaining about social problems and then doing nothing to improve the situation.  How can I expect others to fix something, when I am not willing to do any of the work?

I know I can do better.  I know I can help change things.  It is time to stop sitting around and complaining about everything.  It is time to get up and get to work.