The Art of War by Sun Tzu

What to do when you have a toddler sleeping on you at midnight?  Read on your iPhone, naturally.  Thanks to a toddler tummy ache, I finished The Art of War by Sun Tzu around 1 A.M.  I can honestly say I was impressed with this book, even if it took me a while to finish it.  Granted, anything I read on my phone is going to take me a while in general, as it is my backup time filler reading (i.e. between  appointments, when my iPad is dead, etc.), so that is no slight on the book.

First and foremost, I feel I should tell you history isn’t my thing.  I should care, and I do, but honestly most just doesn’t sink in long-term.  My brain tends to automatically go to la-la land when people start discussing history.  It just isn’t something I get excited about, which is odd since this is a history book of sorts.  Nonetheless, I thought it was one of those books I should have read at some point so I did.

Secondly, I should admit I remembered some of the names/people from a video game, one of the Dynasty Warrior games for the PlayStation.  I think that makes me part Geek.  As sad as it is, it helped me visualize what was going on in the examples more clearly.

Because my brain was making however weird connections between the game and book already, it made further connections to other points in history I’ve lived through: presidential campaigns, U.S. turmoil, wars, etc.  I found myself even applying it to every day drama, which was interesting.

As my final point, I should tell you I hate trying to make connections in books and decipher meaning.  That’s why I’m not an English major.  I think some stretch it a little TOO far (OMG, why is he wearing maroon instead of teal?  What’s the meaning of maroon in the book?  Is it is theme?  blah blah blah).  I like to just read and enjoy the book as it.  If I think about it further, most excellent.  Thus, if I start making connections and thinking about it to find more connections and implications, that is a major feat accomplished.

So read it.

 

I saved a few quotes for myself.  I’ll end with my two favorites here.

All warfare is based on deception.”

[The meaning is: If two enemies will help each other in a time of common peril, how much more should two parts of the same army, bound together as they are by every tie of interest and fellow-feeling. Yet it is notorious that many a campaign has been ruined through lack of cooperation, especially in the case of allied armies.]”

The Pillowcase

The other evening, I was folding sheets as I had a thought: Jesus is like a pillowcase.

I know, I know.  WEIRD.  But let me explain.

As I stood there, folding out of habit, I don’t even think I was conscious of my brain thinking.  Everything I had just done and was still doing was instinct from years of washing, drying, folding.  I stood feeling the softness of the navy blue pillowcase as it slide between my thumb and index finger.  I saw the beauty of the clean pillowcase and its newness, still 2 months young of wear.  At that point, it occurred to me Jesus is like that beautiful, soft pillowcase.

That pillowcase covers up the old, stained pillow that’s been tossed, folded, squished, fluffed, etc.  That pillow is NOT pretty.  It’s a pillow that serves its purposes nightly.  The pillowcase covers up that dingy pillow and turns the ugliness into beauty that you don’t care if others see.  The pillowcase was washed clean and covered the pillow, wrapping it in beauty.

You don’t want people to see you at your worst, your ugliness.  We all try to hide our ugliness from others, but let’s be honest, we all see through it too.  If you allow God to change you and wash you clean, Jesus “covers” you in his blood, turning you into a thing of beauty.  Your sin forgiven, but some scars still remain on you, the pillow, as reminders of where you came from.  These battle wounds are a part of you, even the new you, especially the new you.  You can’t tell your story without them.  God will use them to help you connect with Him, with others, with life.  All the while, you are wrapped in the pillowcase of God’s love, in His forgiveness.  His love takes your brokenness and turns you into a thing of beauty, much like the relationship of the pillow and the pillowcase.

 

© Jessica Lee Wheeler, all rights reserved

A troubled soul and her Christmas insights

This past 2015 Christmas has been hell.  Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy, of hope, of family, of love.  From Thanksgiving on, we had sickness, ER visits, hospitalizations, and a death.  That death has rocked my world as I lost my rock, my earthly world.  I haven’t been able to grieve and deal, so I’m living day by day in an ever-turning abyss of hell.  Despite the overwhelming waves that come crashing down, there have been moments of calm in the storm however brief.  Through this storm, I’ve been able to see Christmas with a different view.  I feel like I should have made some of these connections before, but honestly I never put thought into it.  Christmas was about presents after all.

I learned I truly, deeply enjoy simplicity at Christmas in my home.  I love tress with no ornaments and just white lights.  I find it calming and serene.  What started as my refusal to constantly put ornaments back on the tree from wandering twin toddler hands, and mischievous cat, and a hyper dog led to the realization a simple tree with white lights calms me.  I find it more beautiful than a decorated tree.  There’s power in calmness, especially when your heart screams for it.

Christmas is about family, despite the cliché response.  Jesus calls us His brothers and sisters, not “ye peasants of mine”.  His half-brother James became one of his most well-known disciplines.  His older cousin, John the Baptist, was sent to prepare the way for Jesus.

Why are the “primary” colors of Christmas red, green, and gold?  After my other realizations, I put thought into this one, with a little research on green to verify I wasn’t off based.  Here’s what I came up with.

  • Red represents the blood of Christ. It was the blood that gives us life.  It was through His birth, blood flowing through His veins, that He became mortal, paving the way to God through Him.
  • Green, in particular green trees, represent life. Trees survive the darkest storm, the roughest winter.  In their life, they produce seeds which produces other life, so that when they do die, their life continues on.
  • As mentions previously, gold represents kingship, but I think it also refers to the gold light of the star showing you the way to God.

While our tree didn’t have a topper, it finally dawned on me why angels and stars are used as tree toppers.  The angel represents the angel that appeared to the wise men, proclaiming Jesus’s birth.  A choir of angel also appeared, singing praises to God on the highest, our savior had been born.  The star represents the star that appeared over the stable when Jesus was born.  The three wise men used this star as a guide as they journeyed to see the baby Jesus, the new born savior.

Where does Santa come into the picture?  The historical St. Nicholas was known for helping those in need.  In one story, he gave a dowry, bags of gold, to three sisters, so they could wed and not be sold in slavery.  These bags of gold were found in their stockings, hence the stocking connection.  This “St. Nick” gave gifts to the needy; Jesus also helped the needy and poor throughout his life, but through His death, He gave the ultimate gift: the gift of eternal life.

He give gifts to symbolize the gifts in the story of Jesus’s birth.  The ultimate gift was the gift from God in the form of Jesus, His Son, being born in the flesh as a mortal so that He could die a physical death for our sins, thus enabling us to have eternal life through Christ our Savior.  This I mainly got, mainly, but what really hit me was the three gifts from the wise men: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Why these three?

  • Gold represents kingship, which isn’t hard to believe. Any historical king (other than Jesus) or fairy tale king seems to have more riches than he knows what to do with, making us peasants jealous and envious (another topic for another time).  How would it have been useful to Mary and Joseph at that time?  Baby supplies, right?  Maybe a decent room?  How about ON THEIR TRAVEL TO EGYPT, thus escaping Herold (again thanks to an ANGEL)?  HOLY CRAP, YA’LL.  When I scanned that in an email subscription, that fact jumped out and hit me in the face.  It was then I realized the three gifts had a purpose, not just random gifts the wise men had on them.
  • Frankincense represents the priestly role of Christ. It is an incense specifically mentioned in the Old Testament.  A mixture of fragrant spices was burned in front of the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the Ten Commandments as well as the tent and utensils used for the high priest to meet God.  In Exodus 30:34 KJV, God told Moses to combine “sweet spices (stacte, onycha, and galbanum) with pure frankincense.”  Pure frankincense, used in perfumes, represents priests, was used to greet GOD.
  • In Jesus’s time, myrrh was used as an embalming oil. On long treks, people weren’t able to take the dead with them.  They had to bury them where they died.  Myrrh was used as an embalming oil in this ritual.  Extending this to the Christmas Story, Jesus was born to die for us.  At his birth, Mary and Joseph received old used for/representing death in the celebration of life.

The myrrh wasn’t the only connection to death in the Christmas Story.  When Jesus was born, he was wrapped in swaddling clothing.  What exactly is swaddling clothing?  I just assumed it was some sort of blanket Mary had made.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Swaddling clothing was used to bury the dead on long treks.  At birth, He was WRAPPED in material used to WRAP THE DEAD before burial.

So why only three wise men and three gifts?  Shouldn’t the King of Kings have a lot of people celebrating his birth, worshipping him, bringing him present upon present?  The symbol of three is used to represent the Father (God), the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit.  I find it ironic that the story of St. Nicholas has him helping three sisters.

References:

 

  1. Biblical Archaeology Society Staff. “Why Did the Magi Bring Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh?” Bible History Daily. Biblical Archaeology Review, 1 Dec. 2012. Web. 28 Dec. 2015. http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/jesus-historical-jesus/why-did-the-magi-bring-gold-frankincense-and-myrrh/
  1. “Bibical Magi.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia. Web. 28 Dec. 2015. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_Magi
  1. “Frankincense.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia. Web. 28 Dec. 2015. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankincense
  1. “Myrrh.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia. Web. 28 Dec. 2015. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myrrh
  1. “Who Is St. Nicholas?” Nicholas Center. St. Nicholas Center. Web. 28 Dec. 2015. http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas/
  1. Cooper, James. “The Colors of Christmas.” com. Whychristmas.com. Web. 28 Dec. 2015. http://www.whychristmas.com/customs/colors-of-christmas.shtml
  1. Tait, Edwin, and Jennifer Woodruff Tait. “Why Do We Have Christmas Trees? The History behind Evergreens, Ornaments, and Holiday Gift Giving.” net. Christianity Today, 11 Dec. 2008. Web. 28 Dec. 2015. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/thepastinthepresent/storybehind/whychristmastrees.html

 

© Jessica Lee Wheeler, all rights reserved

 

 

 

 

New worst book ever: Derpy Dirk

Derpy Dirk and the Fight With the School Bully by the Flagpole at Lunch — A (NOT FOR KIDS) Derp Sandwich Chapter Book by Derp Sandwich


I’m going to be honest.  I did not read this book because it stirred any interest in me.  I downloaded this book because I thought my eldest step-daughter had mentioned it.  I thought it could be a bonding moment discussing the book with her, a book that only she and I had read.  Well, she did know of the series, but she had read The Dork Diaries series, not this “stuff”.

I’ve read a lot of books in my life, and my to-read list is ever growing.  Books are my crack.  Want me to be happy?  Take me to a book store.  Let me read in peace if I am just completely enthralled with a book.  Let me introvert, book-nerd in.  That said, I’ve also read some books I just don’t like: Dracula, Great Expectations, 1984, etc.  I know others really enjoy these books, and I encourage everyone to find their reading niche.  I must draw the line at this book.

DO NOT READ THIS BOOK.

I know this is not meant to be a serious book.  Even knowing that, this is the worst book I’ve ever read period.  The fact that someone got PAID to write this astounds me.  I can write better and have decided to.  If that crap can be published, then I will be one day too.  I might not ever be able to make a living from it, but I will have contributed something worthwhile to the literary world.

DO.NOT.READ.THIS.BOOK.  You will regret wasting your time on it.


Derpy Dirk and the Fight With the School Bully by the Flagpole at Lunch — A (NOT FOR KIDS) Derp Sandwich Chapter Book by Derp Sandwich

Barnes & Noble link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/derpy-dirk-and-the-fight-with-the-school-bully-by-the-flagpole-at-lunch-a-derp-sandwich/1114680535?ean=2940011408267

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21601937-the-quirky-nerdy-and-entirely-original-elementary-school-adventures-of?from_search=true

I’d hate to see her PMSing

“Should your naughty new neighbors resist your suggestions, invite them over to see your new media room. The fact that it doubles as a torture chamber should encourage them to toe the line!”

-Josie Brown, The Housewife Assassin’s Handbook


Killer quote, don’t you think?

Each chapter starts out with a lovely assassin tidbit.  It fit the book perfectly.

The first chapter had me questioning if I was going to enjoy the book.  It didn’t flow right to me, so I had trouble focusing on it.  Once past the first chapter, I was enjoying the book and trying to figure out the twists and turns.  It got kind of stressful when I realized I didn’t know who was actually on what team, despite my thinking ahead, but that was quickly resolved.  From there on out, it was an enjoyable read once more.

The story is told from Donna’s POV.  Donna, housewife turned assassin, wife turned lover turned wife turned lover turned lover?  Just go with it.  She’s complicated and human, but that just makes the book come alive more to the reader.

This is book one of the series.  I’m not sucked in the series, but if I happen to chance upon more in the series, I’d read them.


The Housewife Assassin’s Handbook by Josie Brown

BN link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/housewife-assassins-handbook-josie-brown/1101133270?ean=2940012412539

Goodread link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11393698-the-housewife-assassin-s-handbook

Hide yo nickels! Hide yo dimes!

“It’s not how much money you make, it’s how much money you spend, that matters.”

-Anna Florin, Living on a Shoestring (Common Sense Ways to Save Money)


This was a filler I read on my phone when I would have a few minutes here and there.  Enough to read, not something I’d get sucked into and keep reading when I couldn’t keep reading.  I want to budget better, so why not take advantage of this free book?

That being said, I was completely with the book for the first 3/4 of it.  There were some valid points indeed.  This did get me thinking budget-wise on some things.  Not to be a spoiler, but that quote above is the best thought in the book.

Originally I was going to keep this filler book to reread to help with budgeting, but once it got to the end, I was disturbed.  I’m still disturbed, which is part of the reason this has been delayed.  And I will not be keeping this book, free or not.

The last 1/4 of the book or so goes into areas some people are ok with but I’m not.  We’ll start with the second, as I find it more gross and creepy: dumpster diving.  I’ve watched Taboo specials on it, I’ve heard about it, but unless the world goes nuts and zombies are around or flying monkeys, etc. I’m not doing it.  You have no idea what is in there and what you could get from being in said dumpster.  I don’t even dig through my own dern trash unless it is for a very valid cause, I am not about to dig through others’ unless my families’ lives are on the line.  We all have our lines.  My husband and children starving, you are damn right I’ll be in that dumpster.  To save money, that would be a big ole resounding HECK NO.  I will pass.

What really got me though is still creeping me out days later.  I called my grandmother who gets my quirky sense of humor and made her promise this wouldn’t happen if I died before her.  Under no circumstances is anyone in my family TO MAKE MY COFFIN.  I don’t care how pretty they can engrave it.  NO, JUST NO.  I realize they used to make them in the old days.  The earth hugger in me realizes some coffins are better for Mother Earth than others.  The unreasonable part of me absolutely cannot handle the thought of my family making my coffin nor me any of theirs.  I would rather just be buried without a coffin than that (I already pointed out this was my unreasonable side).  The dumpster diving would have grossed me out but not ruined the book.  This section creeped me and and is still creeping me out.  I will give it that much credit–it’s still got me thinking, just not about a budget.

Read it if you want.  Overall, it isn’t bad and it is a quick, easy read.  It’s the ending that got me.

And now I’m quickly getting that book off my phone.


Barnes & Noble link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/living-on-a-shoestring-anna-florin/1021181555?ean=2940011419126

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21719115-living-on-a-shoestring

Life’s little echoes

“Everything that’s worth having is some trouble…”

-L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea


Could truer words be spoken?  The story might be fictional, but the words are true.

After the catastrophe of Dracula, I needed more mental fun fluff.  I enjoyed the first book in this series, Anne of Green Gables, that I had already downloads several more books in the series when I found them for free.  Anne of Avonlea is the second book in the series.  It is a delightfully written as the first.

It’s an easy read.  Some stuff is predictable, other stuff leaves you wondering what is going to happen next.  It’s interesting to see Anne growing up, still getting into some mischief, but also witnessing Davy getting into his own.  She understands but doesn’t.  Her eyes are slowly opening to adulthood, but she is still a child, whimiscal and fun.  You see love developing through Anne’s eyes, though her mind isn’t consciously aware of romance for herself yet.

I love this book.  I kept this on my iPad mini to reread when the mood strikes.  It’s fun, lighthearted, entertaining.  I hope my children discover this series while they are young instead of in their 30s such as myself.  This is on my favorites shelf permanently.


Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery

(Book 2 of Anne of Green Gables series)

Barnes & Noble link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/anne-of-avonlea?store=allproducts&keyword=anne+of+avonlea

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/77390.Anne_of_Avonlea