Thursday, September 27, 2012

Book Review - Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day by Garry R. Morgan

I was incredibly excited to read this book as I have felt very uneducated on other religions but haven't found a resource that has a great variety in one place. This book covers so many in fairly short chapters that makes it easy to read and then understand. There were times I had to pull out a dictionary to make sure I knew what certain words meant, but that is all part of the learning & understanding process!

The first chapter works on defining religion. Since there is not really one right definition the author uses this working definition: "Religion is an organized system of beliefs that answers ultimate questions and commends certain actions or behaviors based on the answers to those questions".  In the next chapter he goes on to discuss why it is important to learn about other religions, and also some of the differences in the religions in different parts of the World.

He starts with Christianity, then continues on to Roman Catholic Christianity, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, Protestant Christianity and Evangelical Christianity.  I will be honest and say that I really didn't know the difference between some of these before reading this. These chapters really helped to clear some things up for me personally. There are also chapters on Judaism (past & present), Folk Religions, Native American  Religions and Traditional African religions. They were explained very clearly and I really got a feel for what the people believe, if only on a small scale.

There are six chapters focused on Islam, digging into their beginnings, beliefs, varieties and theology. Obviously there is a lot of discussion and fear about Islam & Muslims in our country, and much of that is based on a small part of Islam. Just because someone is a Muslim does not automatically mean they are a terrorist. Also like just because someone is a Christian does not make them like Fred Phelps (well known for picketing funerals of fallen soldiers and declaring what God hates).  This is where being educated on religions is so helpful, I am going to be less likely to form an opinion (judge) about someone due to their religion when I understand more about their religion.

There are also chapters on Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and several other religions that I was not at all familiar with such as: Jainism, Sikhism, Taoism, Shinto and Secular Humanism.  After these religions which have all been around for a very long time, he addressed Cults, "Isms", and Contemporary Religious Movements.  Under these categories you will find Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Christian Science, Scientology, Unitarian-Universalist, Unity School of Christianity, Unification Church, Neopagan religions, New Age Religions and Transcendental Meditation.

He tried to cover each one in a way that if a person from that religion read the chapter they would agree with most or all of it. It was written very thoughtfully and carefully, so that it would correctly reflect each religion. This is a book I would highly recommend to someone who is strong in their faith and wants to understand other religions and where they originated. I personally would not recommend it to someone new in their faith, as it could be very confusing and might cause them to question their own beliefs. Overall I really loved this book and plan to keep it as a great reference tool. As soon as I finished it my husband grabbed it and started reading! My oldest son who is 12 has even read some of the chapters and it has been great for discussions with him.

I was given a copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers to review honestly. A positive review was not required and all of the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Wearing a Smaller Size Feels Better Than Chocolate tastes!

That is a bold statement coming from me, because I LOVE chocolate. A lot. I have fought with my weight ever since my Sophomore year of High School (the same year I was no longer required to take P.E). Hmmmm, pretty obvious connection there. My love affair with food has also been an issue for me. It really has been more of an addiction. I have done Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, calorie counting, and at one point I had a set of "pens" that I was supposed to sniff before eating to curb my appetite. However, I have just never been able to give up my love of sweets, carb-filled foods and especially chocolate.

I have also dealt with depression for many, many years. I have been on medication for it for at least 10 years. I have reached a point where I feel like the medication is doing me more harm than good. The side effects have been in some way detrimental to my health or my relationships with others. I decided to take control of things and get off of the medication. This was not done on a whim, I have done a lot of research and have the full support of my medical doctor and a natural health professional. This is a HUGE step for me. It has involved a lot of prayer on my part and the prayer support of my awesome friends!

I am currently halfway through a 6 week cleanse. This is the first step in the process to get rid of the prescription meds. I am on a very strict diet for the whole 6 weeks, no sugar, no grains, no carbs, no vinegar, no yeast, and no processed foods. You would be amazed at how many things have those ingredients in them! The only fruit I can have is berries, and the only dairy I can have is plain yogurt. Yes, it is very limited! BUT, because I am doing this for my health and for my family I am pushing through. I have eaten lots of eggs & chicken breasts! For the first 2 weeks I also took supplements to flush out the toxins, I will do this again for the last 2 weeks. One of the things that keeps me going is the weight loss. Since starting the cleanse 3 weeks ago I have lost 9 pounds. That has been enough to put me into a smaller size of clothes! I have lost a total of 35 pounds since Spring, some of which was due to a side effect of my depression medication.

During the first week of the cleanse I had some body aches and extreme tiredness but it could have been so much worse.  I strongly believe the reason it wasn't as bad was because I had asked a lot (80 or so) of people to be praying for me through this process. Never underestimate the power of prayer!! I am also amazingly blessed to have an incredibly supportive husband who has helped make it possible for me to do this.

This past week I have really seen and felt the difference in my weight, I can look in the mirror and like what I see.  I even had someone who didn't know I was doing this notice that I had lost weight! It felt great, it felt better than any food tastes. I am working on overcoming that addiction to food and I can truly see it as possible now.

The day before I started the cleanse I went through The Steps to Freedom in Christ. I went through this with a lady who has led many people through it and if you ever do go through it I recommend finding someone who is very familiar with it and has had some training. It allowed me to let go of some past hurts that were really hindering my every day life. It also helped me to see that my love of food was an addiction, not just an innocent love of food. I have felt such a peace since then. Don't get me wrong it is not a fix all, but it really made a difference in MY life! It is something you have to be ready & willing to do.

This is all a big part of the reason I haven't been posting much here either, been focusing on making my mind & body healthy! Lots of changes going on!  I will be posting some book reviews soon, finishing up one on World Religions and it is incredibly interesting to me.

 The kids have been in school for almost a month already and G is enjoying 7th grade and Jr High life. Still hard to believe I have a Jr Higher! D is in 1st Grade and is going to give his teacher a challenge or two this year! He taught himself to read at age 4, has been doing multiplication for about a year now and this morning was figuring out division! He is his Father's son for sure!

So looking forward to Fall here, especially the leaves changing color and the cooler weather! Hoping you all have a beautiful week as we head into Fall!