Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Kids Corner: Review and Giveaway – Jesus Today: Devotions For Kids by Sarah Young

A Wonderfully Accessible Devotional Tool For All Ages

Jesus Today: Devotions For Kids
by Sarah Young
(adapted by Tama Fortner)


Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Tommy Nelson
Length: 368pp
Age Range: 6 – 10 years
ISBN-13: 978-0718038052

Related Links:
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About Sarah Young

Sarah Young’s devotional writings are personal reflections from her daily quiet time of Bible reading, praying and writing in prayer journals. With sales of more than 14 million books worldwide, Jesus Calling has appeared on all major bestseller lists. Sarah’s writings include Jesus Calling, Jesus Today, Jesus Lives, Dear Jesus, Jesus Calling for Little Ones, Jesus Calling Bible Storybook, Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids, and Peace in His Presence — each encouraging readers in their journey toward intimacy with Christ. Sarah and her husband were missionaries in Japan and Australia for many years. They currently live in the United States.


Publisher Synopsis

Jesus is the Friend who is always with you. Jesus Today: Devotions for Kids will pour this powerful truth into your children’s hearts as they learn that He knows everything about them and loves them more than they can imagine. Each devotion is based on Scripture and is written as though Jesus is speaking, assuring that He is in control, that He is good, and that an amazing future awaits all who put their hope in Him. Adapted from ECPA Gold Medallion–winner Jesus Today, this devotional has the same themes as the adult version, as well as written-out scriptures. It is a great choice for families to read and discuss during devotional time together.

Spend time with Jesus today . . .


My Review

A friend gifted me a copy of Jesus Calling for Christmas. I’ve much enjoyed and benefited from my daily readings of the book. So, naturally, when I had the chance to check out the children’s version of Sarah Young’s sequel to Jesus Calling — Jesus Today: Devotions For Kids — I was excited.

Though it’s not a strict day-by-day devotional (which can be good, as not everyone starts a new book on January 1st), Jesus Today, like its prequel, is presented in such a way as to make the reader feel like he/she is having a quiet heart-to-heart chat with Jesus. One difference in the sequel, which I find extremely helpful, is that rather than just referencing scripture by listing the book, chapter, and verse, Jesus Today prints the quotations on the facing page, so you don’t need to flip through your Bible or use your Bible app to look up the related verses to each day’s devotion.

Tama Fortner has expertly adapted Sarah Young’s words and design to make Jesus Today more accessible to children (suggested ages 6-10). Though the language is simple, the content is neither dumbed down nor diminished. In fact, the integrity of the content is so well maintained that I’d venture to say that, in addition to being a useful tool for moms and dads to guide their young ones toward spending time with Jesus and studying scripture, this could serve as a wonderful guidebook for new or “young” Christians of all ages — even adults! That’s why it makes such good sense to include the printed scriptures rather than just providing reference, because new believers or explorers may not yet have taken the leap of buying a Bible.

This is a book that all ages may use without trepidation. Rather than being daunting or intimidating, it speaks plainly and directly, with most of the translations (unless otherwise noted) being taken from the International Children’s Bible. The design, color, and format help underscore the hopefulness that the entries inspire. Sarah Young wrote Jesus Today during a tumultuous time of illness, so the book particularly speaks to and encourages readers in times of struggle, darkness, despair, and doubt, reminding us that Jesus is ever-present, ever ready to help, and always in control.

– Dawn Teresa

Verdict

5 of 5 Hearts. A Wonderfully Accessible Devotional Tool For All Ages.

Easy enough for kids, yet robust and meaningful enough for teens, or even adults, Jesus Today: Devotions For Kids is a special text that takes the struggle out of growing closer to Jesus and will likely make quiet time something kids not only enjoy but look forward to.


 

** GIVEAWAY **

One lucky winner will receive a copy of

Jesus Today: Devotions For Kids

Clicking on the cover below will take you to Rafflecopter

where you can enter the Giveaway!!

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on February 10, 2016.

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Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 

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Teen Zone: Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T. Anderson

A Brilliant Biography That’s Required Reading for Both Teens and Adults

Symphony for the City of the Dead
by M.T. Anderson


Publication Date: September 22, 2015
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Length: 464pp
ISBN-13: 978-0763668181

Starred Reviews:
Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal

Related Links:
M.T. Anderson’s Website
M.T. Anderson at Wikipedia
Candlewick Press Website (includes bio, downloads, etc.)


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Publisher Synopsis

In September 1941, Adolf Hitler’s Wehrmacht surrounded Leningrad in what was to become one of the longest and most destructive sieges in Western history—almost three years of bombardment and starvation that culminated in the harsh winter of 1943–1944. More than a million citizens perished. Survivors recall corpses littering the frozen streets, their relatives having neither the means nor the strength to bury them. Residents burned books, furniture, and floorboards to keep warm; they ate family pets and—eventually—one another to stay alive. Trapped between the Nazi invading force and the Soviet government itself was composer Dmitri Shostakovich, who would write a symphony that roused, rallied, eulogized, and commemorated his fellow citizens—the Leningrad Symphony, which came to occupy a surprising place of prominence in the eventual Allied victory.

This is the true story of a city under siege: the triumph of bravery and defiance in the face of terrifying odds. It is also a look at the power—and layered meaning—of music in beleaguered lives. Symphony for the City of the Dead is a masterwork thrillingly told and impeccably researched by National Book Award–winning author M. T. Anderson.


My Review

Bombs exploding in the streets, buildings crumbling to dust, fires raging like tempests through the night, nerve-shattering bursts of anti-aircraft fire, the screams of the wounded, the weeping of the bereaved, the cries of frightened children, the emaciated faces and skeletal bodies, the frozen corpses lying untended on the sidewalks…. In such an environment, how can you think of anything other than where your next meal is coming from, or who among your friends and family will be the next to die? How can you feel any emotions other than fear and hatred when your leaders arrest and torture their citizens, seemingly on a whim? How can you concentrate on living knowing that if the invading enemy that has vowed to obliterate you doesn’t, your own country could kill you for a single misspoken word or an unapproved melody? Yet Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich, under the constant threat of imprisonment, contending with starvation, sleeplessness, and all the terrors of war, death ever on his doorstep, summoned hope, love, and his talent, and wrote symphonies — symphonies! And it is his seventh, the Leningrad, written for the city he loved as it lay dying, which won the hearts of the world and the gratitude of his fellow countrymen, that is the focus of this superb book.

If the word Kafkaesque ever applied to anything, it applies to Stalinist Russia. Laws were mutable, as was justice, people fell out of favor overnight, and like a farcical What’s Hot, What’s Not list, what you did right yesterday — what you said, what you thought, the person you associated with — could get you arrested or worse the following day. For Shostakovich this meant that he and the music he created, both praised by leadership at the highest level, would later be condemned by those same leaders as Stalin dictated a nation’s tastes.

M.T. Anderson tells the story of a gifted composer under constant scrutiny and immense, unrelenting pressure, and along the way, chronicles the rise of two despicable murderers, Hitler and Stalin, the failures of Communism, and the life or death struggle of a starving population of millions. Thankfully, Anderson conveys the bloodiness of war and the atrocities of political oppression without stooping to sensationalism. Understanding that a simple statement of fact carries all the weight necessary to move his reader, he allows acts of evil to speak for themselves, unembellished by gory descriptions. His research, the depth and quality of which shows on every page, is well-supported by end notes and a comprehensive bibliography. Sifting through the data for the truth was no easy task; much of the historical record from those days was created under the watchful eye of Stalin’s secret police, and thus must be checked and cross-checked against other sources, themselves not always reliable. The author’s skills as a researcher, so essential to a work of this kind, are to be applauded.

Symphony for the City of the Dead is ostensibly a book for young adults, but in keeping with the author’s philosophy — “It’s insulting to believe that teens should have a different kind of book than an adult should,” he once told the Washington Post. — Anderson minces no words, glosses over nothing, and refuses to dumb down his vocabulary. His writing is always readable and consistently rises above the ordinary. (Describing the multi-front Nazi assault: “The three prongs of Operation Barbarossa stuck deep in Russia’s flesh like the tines of a devil’s pitchfork.”) Adults, too, will find the book absorbing and enlightening.

Anderson has written a classic biography of a man, of a city, and of a piece of music, each trapped between the crushing iron grips of two of history’s cruelest tyrants. It is a horrifying and depressing tale, but ultimately is as inspiring as the final, triumphant blast of Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony.

                                                                                                — Jennifer Michelle

Verdict


5 of 5 Hearts. A Brilliant Biography That’s Required Reading for Both Teens and Adults.

There is no better reading experience than immersing oneself in a biography or history in which the subject is vividly brought to life before one’s eyes. With an emotionally stirring and intellectually gripping story told through prose as elegant and fluid as that of a well-written novel, Symphony for the City of the Dead is a significant contribution to both genres. It should bring more accolades to National Book Award winner and multiple Printz Award honoree M.T. Anderson, and, more importantly, introduce to a new generation Dmitri Shostakovich, his Seventh Symphony, and the sufferings and courage of the people of WWII Leningrad.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Goodman Media and Candlewick Press for providing me a copy of this title. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Kids Corner: T.A. Barron – “Countdown to a Meaningful Life” – One Last Word: LOVE

Wisdom of MerlinReadLove joins T.A. Barron for a blog series to celebrate the upcoming publication of The Wisdom of Merlin: 7 Magical Words for a Meaningful Life. This campaign is based on Merlin’s answer to the question, “What is the meaning of life?” Surprisingly, the answer has only seven words…but they are the most powerful words of all.

For seven weeks, we have focused on seven magical words that took us on an inspiring journey. You might have thought that with the seventh word, the campaign was over… but think again.

There is one last word that flows through each of the seven magical words and which Merlin considers “the most magical word of all”: Love.

For more inspiration visit or Like:

www.TABarron.com

www.facebook.com/TABarronFans


THE WISDOM OF MERLIN: 7 Magical Words for a Meaningful Life

will be published on March 24, 2015.


To read about all the Magical Words, please visit these posts:

First Magical Word: Gratitude

Second Magical Word: Courage

Third Magical Word: Knowledge

Fourth Magical Word: Wonder

Fifth Magical Word: Belief

Sixth Magical Word: Generosity

Seventh Magical Word: Hope


The Last Word:

Love

Excerpts from The Wisdom of Merlin:

“Love is an invitation, not a command. But if you truly open yourself to its power, you will be swept away as if you had plunged into a mighty river.

“Love is a rope that can stretch itself infinitely. It can connect you to one person or many people. Its strength can link you forever to a place, a time, an experience, or an idea.”

“How do you express love? Through words and music and touch—really, through any kind of communication. The most powerful way, though, is simply how you live.”

One Final Quote From T.A. Barron:

“All we have—all we have—is our time and our souls. Why not make the most of both of them?”

The Impact of Love on History:

  • The Face that Launched a Thousand Ships – According to Greek mythology, the Trojan War was fought when the exquisitely beautiful Helen fell in love and ran away with Paris of Troy. To reclaim his wife, the King of Sparta went to war with Troy for ten long years, eventually winning Helen back from Paris.
  • Love and the British Monarchy – One of the greatest love stories in British history is between Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert. Having made Albert her king in all but name, the couple reigned as one for 40 years. It was a time of technological innovation and advancement in human rights for Great Britain.

Great Gifts of Love:

  • The Taj Mahal – Built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a tomb and monument to his beloved wife, the Taj Mahal took 20 years and thousands of workers to build.
  • Boldt Castle – George C. Boldt, proprietor of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, ordered the construction of a grand castle as a present to his wife, Louise. Situated on a heart-shaped island, the unfinished castle was left abandoned after Louise unexpectedly passed away.

Dawn Teresa’s Thoughts on Love:

Everyone is familiar with the widely popular Lennon/McCartney song “All You Need is Love.” However, one of my favorite songs about love touches on the Divine, and comes from the solo work of another Beatle. It is George’s Harrison’s “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)”. I think Merlin would like it, too!


I’d like to thank T.A. Barron and Chelsey Saatkamp for inviting me to take part in this  series. What a rewarding time it has been!

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Please share in the comments below!

Kids Corner: T.A. Barron – “Countdown to a Meaningful Life” Week 7: Hope

Wisdom of MerlinReadLove joins T.A. Barron for a special blog series to celebrate the upcoming publication of The Wisdom of Merlin: 7 Magical Words for a Meaningful Life. This seven-week countdown campaign will be based on Merlin’s answer to the question, “What is the meaning of life?”

Surprisingly, the answer has only seven words…but they are the most powerful words of all.

Join with us each week as we focus on one of these magical words with supporting content that will help us acknowledge, reflect, practice, and get inspired to embark on a new adventure or live life to its fullest.

For more inspiration visit or Like:

www.TABarron.com

www.facebook.com/TABarronFans


To read about the other Magical Words, please visit these posts:

First Magical Word: Gratitude

Second Magical Word: Courage

Third Magical Word: Knowledge

Fourth Magical Word: Wonder

Fifth Magical Word: Belief

Sixth Magical Word: Generosity

The Most Magical Word of All: Love


Seventh Magical Word:

Hope

Excerpts from The Wisdom of Merlin:

“Hope requires courage.

“Blow on the embers of hope in yourself. Strengthen them into flames. For those are the fires where new worlds are born.”

“Whenever I feel touched by despair, I think about two good sources of hope. The first is young people…the second source is nature.”

Crocuses in SnowSnow and flowers at Rugova” by Nentori

Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Quotes on Hope:

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”  Desmond Tutu

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul — and sings the tunes without the words — and never stops at all.” Emily Dickinson

“Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality.” Jonas Salk

Rainbow after storm

By Ben Njeri [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Hope In Different Languages:

  • In Chinese, to hope is xi wang.

  • In Dutch, the word for hope is hoop.

  • In French, the word for hope is espoir.

  • In German, the word hope is hoffnung.

  • In Greek, the word hope is elpida.

  • In Italian, the word for hope is sperare.

  • In Japanese, the word for hope us kibō.

  • In Spanish, the word for hope is esperanza.

  • In Swahili, the word for hope is tumaini.

  • In Turkish, the word for hope is umut.

Rebirth (6330282839)
By vastateparksstaff (Rebirth Uploaded by Albert Herring) [CC BY 2.0],

via Wikimedia Commons

Dawn Teresa’s Thoughts on Hope:

When I saw this week’s word was hope, without having read the famous quotes listed above provided by T.A. Barron, I started thinking of some examples. And as I prepared this post, I smiled, for among them I recognized my own first thought — this Emily Dickinson quote:

“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul — and sings the tunes without the words — and never stops at all.”

Like Mr. Barron, I also look to nature for sources and evidence of hope. When Ms. Dickinson writes of singing the tune “without the words,” though she’s speaking of one’s soul, her metaphor comes from nature. Sometimes after a storm, you might see a rainbow. But one thing is certain, when the natural world which had hunkered down to ride out the storm reawakens, one of the first sounds we hear is birdsong. When dread silence is broken by that first lively chirp, we know everything is going to be okay.

Elsewhere in nature, we catches glimpses of hope: A sapling growing beneath the shade of larger trees which “impossibly” manages to reach out and find sunlight; blasted trees which continue to grow, or instances like the picture above where life springs from death; crocuses triumphantly bursting through a still snow-blanketed ground announcing that spring will not be held back. Outdoors, rebirth and renewal are everywhere. The great cycle of life is perhaps the most enduring promise of all. Just as winter fades to spring, a storm retreats to leave a beautiful rainbow, or new growth pushes out from ashes, the dark days of our own lives are also temporary. After night comes dawn. When we begin to despair, we must patiently wait in hope, confident that miraculous and beautiful, the steadfast morning will come, bringing with it new beginnings.


I’d like to thank T.A. Barron and Chelsey Saatkamp for inviting me to take part in this 7-week series. What a priceless journey it has been!

Readers, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Please share in the comments below!

Kids Corner: T.A. Barron – “Countdown to a Meaningful Life” Week 6: Generosity

Wisdom of MerlinReadLove joins T.A. Barron for a special blog series to celebrate the upcoming publication of The Wisdom of Merlin: 7 Magical Words for a Meaningful Life. This seven-week countdown campaign will be based on Merlin’s answer to the question, “What is the meaning of life?”

Surprisingly, the answer has only seven words…but they are the most powerful words of all.

Join with us each week as we focus on one of these magical words with supporting content that will help us acknowledge, reflect, practice, and get inspired to embark on a new adventure or live life to its fullest.

For more inspiration visit or Like:

www.TABarron.com

www.facebook.com/TABarronFans


To read about the other Magical Words, please visit these posts:

First Magical Word: Gratitude

Second Magical Word: Courage

Third Magical Word: Knowledge

Fourth Magical Word: Wonder

Fifth Magical Word: Belief

Seventh Magical Word: Hope

The Most Magical Word of All: Love


Sixth Magical Word:

Generosity

Excerpt from The Wisdom of Merlin:

“Generosity is not giving others what they want. Rather, it’s giving away what you yourself want.

“Generosity multiplies. Whatever you give to someone inspires more gifts to others. And when you illuminate someone’s path, many more will walk upon it. As my good friend Buddha would say, ‘Make of your life a light.’

Quotes on Generosity:

Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

“He who gives what he would as readily throw away, gives without generosity; for the essence of generosity is in self sacrifice.”  Henry Taylor

Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” Simone Weil

“No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.” Calvin Coolidge

Photo Credit: ForestWonder.com

Background Photo Credit: ForestWonder.com

Celebrate Generosity in 2015:

  • March 13: National Good Samaritan Day

  • July 11: National Cheer Up The Lonely Day

  • October 5: National Do Something Nice Day

  • Every Day!

Be Generous:

  • Pay It Forward.

    It could be shoveling your neighbor’s driveway or paying for the person behind you at the drive thru, but paying it forward makes everyone feel great. A small, unexpected act of generosity as simple as a smile could brighten a person’s day more than you realize.

Dawn Teresa’s Thoughts on Generosity:

  • Generosity is a great way to make new friends. Sharing what you have with another person creates an instant bond.
  • I have never regretted generosity at any price. It has always been worth every penny.
  • Rather than preserving and protecting something by keeping it to yourself, selfishness robs you of the joy you might have had in sharing or giving.
  • Little is much to those in need. Even small acts of kindness can have great impact.
  • Charles Dickens’ famous tale A Christmas Carol vividly displays the emptiness of greed versus the reward that comes to the grateful heart inspired to be charitable.
  • Those who have the least (children and the poor) tend to be the most willing to give. What does this say about the dangers of extravagance and excess?

I’d like to thank T.A. Barron and Chelsey Saatkamp for inviting me to take part in this 7-week series. What a priceless journey it has been!

Readers, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Please share in the comments below!

Kids Corner: T.A. Barron – “Countdown to a Meaningful Life” Week 5: Belief

Wisdom of MerlinReadLove joins T.A. Barron for a special blog series to celebrate the upcoming publication of The Wisdom of Merlin: 7 Magical Words for a Meaningful Life. This seven-week countdown campaign will be based on Merlin’s answer to the question, “What is the meaning of life?”

Surprisingly, the answer has only seven words…but they are the most powerful words of all.

Join with us each week as we focus on one of these magical words with supporting content that will help us acknowledge, reflect, practice, and get inspired to embark on a new adventure or live life to its fullest.

For more inspiration visit or Like:

www.TABarron.com

www.facebook.com/TABarronFans


To read about the other Magical Words, please visit these posts:

First Magical Word: Gratitude

Second Magical Word: Courage

Third Magical Word: Knowledge

Fourth Magical Word: Wonder

Sixth Magical Word: Generosity

Seventh Magical Word: Hope

The Most Magical Word of All: Love


Fifth Magical Word:

Belief

 

Excerpt from The Wisdom of Merlin:

“Belief is a powerful elixir. It offers strength, renewal, and peace to those who drink it. And your cup can be forever refilled.”

“What inspires belief? The answer is different for each person…Whatever else may lie beyond in the spirit realm, we create our own heaven and hell – by the choices we make in the lives we are given.”

 

Quotes on Belief:

“Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.”  Mahatma Gandhi

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“When you believe a thing, believe in it all the way.” Walt Disney

 

Inspiring Movies about Belief:

Belief can be more than a religious faith; it can be directed towards family, friends, a greater good for humanity, on any outside force that gives us hope. Many movies focus on this power of belief and can be an inspiration for all ages.

  • It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

    George Bailey spends his entire life giving up his big dreams for the good of his town, Bedford Falls. Broken and suicidal over the misplacing of an $8000 loan, he eventually regains his belief in life and himself after being shown how his town, family, and friends would turn out if he had never been born. 

    It's A Wonderful Life

  • The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

A bright and talented salesman struggling to make ends meet finds himself and his five-year-old son evicted from their San Francisco apartment with nowhere to go. When he lands an internship at a prestigious stock brokerage firm, he and his son endure many hardships in pursuit of his dream and belief of a better life for the two of them.

  • Wall-E (2008)

In the distant future, a small waste collecting robot inadvertently discovers a new purpose in life when he meets a sleek search robot named EVE. WALL-E has inadvertently stumbled upon the key to giving hope back to the planet’s future.

  • Life of Pi (2012)

The survival story of a boy and a tiger on a lifeboat at open sea. In a struggle to survive, Pi and the tiger forge an unexpected connection that gives him daily motivation to live.

Life of Pi is a tale of faith, hope, and the fight to survive.

 

Activate, Engage, or Practice:

  • What are some things you believe in? Write a list or post in your journal about some of the things that keep you going in life.

  • Find a quiet spot to sit and meditate on your beliefs and on the values that give you strength. Ten minutes of reflection each day can uplift your spirit and help keep you motivated to stick by your principles when hard times arise.

  • Learning about other people’s beliefs can help expand your own. Talk to a friend about their beliefs and share your own as well.

 

Dawn Teresa’s Thoughts on Belief:

Inspired by the first “Action” piece above, I’m going to create an incomplete list (in no particular order of importance) of things that I believe in and that shape my life.

I Believe:

  • Humankind has equal potential to do good or harm. But my heart tells me that, through love, we are made for great things.
  • Labels and classifications should be eliminated as they are arbitrary, insufficient, and ultimately limiting.
  • Education is both a great equalizer and the best remedy for ignorance.
  • Love (and Family) comes in many shapes and sizes, none more valid or significant than the other.
  • God used various messengers at different times to reach his people. All religions have more commonalities than dissimilarities. There is always something to be learned from historical examination.
  • Anything is possible through faith. Belief in oneself is a good place to start, but belief in something or someone greater provides hope and strength that self-confidence, no matter how strong, can never provide or achieve.
  • The only limits on our growth or potential are those we place on ourselves or allow others to impose upon us.
  • No matter how messy, difficult, or painful, love and life are always worth it.

I’d like to thank T.A. Barron and Chelsey Saatkamp for inviting me to take part in this 7-week series. What a priceless journey it has been!

Readers, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Please share in the comments below!

Kids Corner: T.A. Barron – “Countdown to a Meaningful Life” Week 4: Wonder

Wisdom of MerlinReadLove joins T.A. Barron for a special blog series to celebrate the upcoming publication of The Wisdom of Merlin: 7 Magical Words for a Meaningful Life. This seven-week countdown campaign will be based on Merlin’s answer to the question, “What is the meaning of life?”

Surprisingly, the answer has only seven words…but they are the most powerful words of all.

Join with us each week as we focus on one of these magical words with supporting content that will help us acknowledge, reflect, practice, and get inspired to embark on a new adventure or live life to its fullest.

For more inspiration visit or Like:

www.TABarron.com

www.facebook.com/TABarronFans


To read about the other Magical Words, please visit these posts:

First Magical Word: Gratitude

Second Magical Word: Courage

Third Magical Word: Knowledge

Fifth Magical Word: Belief

Sixth Magical Word: Generosity

Seventh Magical Word: Hope

The Most Magical Word of All: Love


Fourth Magical Word:

Wonder

Excerpt from The Wisdom of Merlin:

Too often, alas, adults lose their sense of wonder… But I am glad to say they can all be found again.”

“If you set out on a mission seeking wonder, you won’t find it. Instead, take your shoes off, walk barefoot in the world… and allow it to happen.”

Quotes on Wonder:

“Wisdom begins in wonder.”  Socrates

“Mystery creates wonder, and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.” Neil Armstrong

It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and, in the contemplation of her beauties, to know of wonder and humility.” Rachel Carson

Man-Made Wonders That Make You “Wonder”:

  • The Great Pyramid of Giza

    Photo by  Nina Aldin Thune.

    Photo © Nina Aldin Thune

  • The Great Wall of China

    Photo © Severin Stalder

    Photo © Severin Stalder

  • The Roman Colosseum

    Photo © by Cynageorge

    Photo © by Cynageorge

Great People Who “Wondered”:

  • Albert Einstein

Now considered the greatest physicist of the twentieth century, Albert Einstein began his career by wondering how he could solve many of the inadequacies in science at the time. Through hard work — and decades of experiments — he developed his groundbreaking theory of relativity, which includes the now famous equation “E=mc2”. [1]

  • Mark Twain

Mark Twain often wondered how the infamous Halley’s Comet would shape his life. Born during the first sighting of the comet in 1835, he predicted that he would pass away 74 years later, during the next sighting. Twain once said, “I came in with Halley’s Comet… It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet.” As if in sync, Twain passed away the day after Halley’s Comet returned. [2]

  • Galileo Galilei

For decades Galileo stared up at the sky and wondered about the sun. Did it circle around us? Did we circle around the sun? After years of observations, he published his findings proving that the sun was indeed the center of the solar system, not the Earth. [3]

  • Confucius

The history and culture of Eastern Asia would not be the same without Confucius and his teachings. A great thinker and philosopher, he often wondered about the potential of human beings. His beliefs introduced a culture of peace, obedience, and mutual respect to over five million Chinese citizens. [4]

  • Jane Goodall

As a young girl in England, Jane wondered about what it would be like to live in Africa. She dreamed of exploring the land and meeting the wildlife, especially chimpanzees and other primates. That curiosity drove her to do what no one had done before: She studied the chimpanzees so closely that she realized that they could make tools, communicate in their basic language, and create a complex social community. Goodall dedicated her life to the chimpanzees, so much so that she inspired millions of people, young and old, to work hard to conserve the planet we share.  [5]

Dawn Teresa’s Thoughts on Wonder:

Wonder. The word conjures images of young faces gazing in “wide-eyed wonder” at the marvelous scene greeting them on a Christmas morning. Children are encouraged to dream, to view their surroundings through inquisitive eyes as they search for meaning in the world. Whether it was Mister Rogers encouraging me to make-believe, Sesame Street inviting me out to play on a “sunny day,” or Levar Burton on Reading Rainbow, I was inspired to allow my imagination to take flight and to approach the world with zest. Wonderment was golden.

As we travel along the road to adulthood, though, we are advised to discard this sensibility and cast it aside like a pair of worn out shoes. This trait we were told to embrace is now no longer serviceable. At least that’s what some would tell you. Wonder, they’d say, is a mark of naiveté. Once you know the logic, science, or reasoning behind something, events or objects don’t inspire awe or curiosity, they just are. It’s easy to fall into this kind of thinking. For instance, when a magician performs a magic trick, to an untrained eye, it’s just that — magic! But if he or another expert explains how the feat was accomplished, what was formerly magical now feels like an elaborate con. Presto, you’ve become demystified. Our ancestors looked at the night sky and saw stories populated by heroes, kings, queens, hunters, animals, and other living beings. I’d venture to say that many today look at the sky through a different lens. Informed by science, they feel no profound amazement because they think they understand what they see. They have stripped the stars of their mystery.

The acquisition of awareness and experience should not preclude one from dreaming. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar. For if you greet the world with eyes that see only what is and not what might be, if you see only what is revealed, not what is hidden, if you take for granted the extraordinary beauty present in the ordinary or the everyday, you steal potential joy from your life. It’s this kind of numbing of the mind — nay, numbing of the heart — which we must oppose. We can live fuller, more meaningful lives if we silence the voices telling us that grown-ups should value reality over dreams, the physical over the spiritual, the mundane over the majestic. To me, there is nothing more heartbreaking than one whose “inner-child”, when he reaches maturity, stops looking for the wonder in life. If you’ve seen the film The Polar Express, you witnessed the frustration “Hero Boy” experiences as he grapples with doubt, and conversely, the elation he feels when he can finally hear the bell.

I entreat you: Keep believing. Maintain your sense of wonder. Never stop growing, but as you gain knowledge and experience, don’t lose the zeal that sparked your thirst, and take care that you don’t shed your innocence. Greet each new morning, each sunset, each moonrise, as if you’ve never seen it before. Look with more than just your eyes — stop and listen with your heart. When you do, you’ll be astonished at how many wonderful things transpire each day!

I’d like to thank T.A. Barron and Chelsey Saatkamp for inviting me to take part in this 7-week series. What a priceless journey it has been!

Readers, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Please share in the comments below!

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