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52 Books in 52 Weeks Reading Wrap Up for 2015

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I have participated in the "52 Books in 52 Weeks" Reading Challenge for several years now. There is always a "wrap up" for the year. My list is at the end of this post with links to all my reviews. 


How many books did you read this year and did you meet or beat your own personal goal?

I read 53. My goal was 52, and I was so busy writing my own books (until May) and studying for other things (Pilates and Personal Training Certifications) that I really thought I would not meet it, but I did! 


Share your top 5 (or more) favorite books.

1. Living in Christ's Presence by Willard

2. A Guide to Listening and Inner Healing Prayer by Rustenbach

3. You've Got Libya by Livingstone

4. National Academy of Sports Medicine Essentials of Personal Fitness Training

5. Oliver Twist by Dickens

6. A Christmas Carol by Dickens


(The above list reflects my true passions: Jesus/Spiritual Transformation/Discipleship! (1), prayer and healing (2), missions (3), fitness (4), and classical litera…

54. Anatomy of Movement by Blandine Calais-Germain

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I am adding this almost a year later because I forgot to add it to my 2015 books.
I had to read this for my Pilates certification. I didn't really care for it and found it rather dry and boring with illustration somewhat difficult to follow.

53. The Triple Agent by Joby Warrick

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This book is so gripping that I could not put it down. I love how the author weaves in personal stories about all the key players. You feel very invested in them by the end of the book. It might help you gain insight into the killers in San Bernardino too. 

This is well-researched and gives the backstory of the December 30, 2009 Camp Chapman attack in Afghanistan where seven CIA employees (or people contracted by them for security) were killed by a suicide bomber. Such a sad story!

I had originally heard this guy interviewed by Jeffrey Brown on the PBS Newshour Bookshelf segment for his current book, Black Flags: The Rise of Isis. I was so impressed by him that I got the book from my library before the rush (Often when authors are interviewed on PBS, there is a rush to hold their book. I find if I do it BEFORE the interview is over, I can usually get it!). The book became available, smack dab in the middle of my studies for my personal training certification exam and Christmas. I had it…

52. Time Assignment by N.E. Casady

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I bought this book two years and four months ago, and it has sat on my nightstand for that long!  It was always edged out by other books I had to be reading for something else. It was such a pleasure to sit down and read this great page-turner as a reward for finishing my Personal Training Certification! 

I loved it. It has fantasy and suspense. I wanted to finish it so I could find out where all the characters would end up. And the burning question that I had throughout the book was answered.

This woman was my nanny when my kids when they were two and four. We moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 1997, and I wanted someone I could trust to take care of my kids while I went out and learned the language. She was a great nanny, and she is even a better writer! I just don't see how all that could be in her head! What a creative person!

Tuesday Twelve Minute Freewrite

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You know I really should get to work on my weight training workout and straighten up the house before the Gingerbread House Decoration Party, but I think I still have lots of time, and I have enjoyed this lovely morning.

I couldn't stop doing Messiah Meditations so I finished it up yesterday. Not that I am going to stop listening to Messiah before Christmas, but I will stop reading the devotional I wrote. 

This morning I listened to The Promise by Michael Card. LOVELY, LOVELY, LOVELY! It is one of my favorite CD's. I really need to get it on my phone since I seemed to have lost all the CD's I painstakingly put on my iTunes. I am not sure what is up with all of that. In my humble opinion, iTunes gets more and more complicated. It used to be so much easier to navigate. Now, I just cannot figure it out unless I Google how to do things. Oh well, no time for that.

On top of all of that, I was updating my Linked In page to reflect that I am now a Certified Personal Trainer. WOOHOO!



51. Messiah Meditations by Carol Weaver

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I know I wrote it, but I actually went through it as a devotional this season! Of course, I found little mistakes here and there. Then I had a friend ask me about using it for her church next December, and that made me want to make sure I fixed those mistakes before they printed the books up.  

All in all, I am so pleased with how this book turned out! 

Here is the Word document download (I will be adding journal pages but am waiting for the church to specify how they want that done): 

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/469660/Messiah%20Meditations%20Devotional%202014.docx

Here it is on my blog:

http://3yearbiblebookclub.blogspot.com/2014/12/messiah-meditations-for-december.html




50. Rick Steves' European Christmas

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What an enjoyable read! I have had this "tabletop" book for  years. I got it for free when I donated to Oregon Public Broadcasting along with the companion DVD that has the Christmas Special TV episode of the same name. I have watched that several times, but I have never opened this wonderful book! It has much more detail than the show, and it even has recipes of the dishes they discuss!

He gives a wonderful history of Christmas along with all the holiday traditions that came out of the celebration of the birth of Christ and the pagan festivals that were already in existence. Then he goes through how different countries celebrate. The countries include: England, Norway, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland. It made me want to get on a plane and celebrate there!

I am really happy that there is a recipe for Nuremberg's famous traditional gingerbread: Lubekuchen! We were in Nuremberg on a holiday in 2014 so none of their famous gingerbread bakeries were open! We w…

49. In the Warlord's Garden by Melinda J. Lewis

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This is a lovely, poignant, and often amusing memoir of the experiences of a young American wife and mother serving in Afghanistan. I knew Rich and Melinda when they were both students at the University of Oregon. I had a letter from her once when she was homeschooling in Afghanistan during the civil war there in the mid-90's. Then, Rich stayed with us in Malaysia in 1998 when he was on his way to India. Then I talked to Melinda when the World Trade Center fell in 2001. This filled in the gaps of their life for me! It is a great read and only 3.99 on Kindle!

It is Official!

Day 86 of #100Happydays - Goal achieved! I am officially a Certified Personal Trainer!!! Doing a happy dance! A photo posted by Carol Weaver (@carolfoasia) on Dec 17, 2015 at 3:39pm PST

48. Handel's Messiah: A Devotional Commentary by Joseph McCabe

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I do not recall where I heard about this little book. It had some quotes that were real gems; but overall, I was not super impressed. He does not cite the references for the Scripture he uses in the text. If I did not know my Bible, I would not know they were Scripture. He does reference the Scripture in the references in the end though. 

Here is my favorite quote from the whole book. I have never been able to put into words what the "Hallelujah Chorus" part of the oratorio does to my soul, but I think he has captured much of what is in my heart:

Through an everlasting mercy the trumpets do sound in the soul. The goodness and the kindness and the love which once we knew arouse as if from long sleep. Our finest nature comes forward, and we behold the true self like a long-lost friend. If not seized and cherished, the moment passes, and the soul returns to sleep again, to a long sleep. Your spiritual chance is in the finest moment. Lengthen it, nourish it, say to that nobility w…

Freewrite Five Minutes

It is my last full day of studying before the big test, and I am listening to "All We Like Sheep" in Messiah. I am going through it once again, but this time I am using the devotional that I wrote. I have a couple of people "testing" it out, and I think they are enjoying it.

I am ready for this test. I am passionate about wholeness, and that includes physical well-being. Hey, that is what this blog is all about: wellness of mind, body, soul, and spirit.

Right now, my soul is being fed with this awesome music! This is a hard part of Messiah, but it is a cleansing part.  

It is WELL with my soul! :) I think I am pretty WELL physically too. I have been really diligent about stretching lately, especially those pesky neck muscles (found a new sternocleidomastoid self-myofascial release move with a lacrosse ball - how great!). I feel great as a result. SMR (along with MELT) and stretching is my new reality. I just need to be diligent, and there is no pain! 

Well, I am to &qu…

47. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

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I read it again. I could not resist after Oliver Twist. I finished it on my walk/run, and I was crying with a big smile during the last five minutes of my walk as I walked along a major street in my city. Everyone should read this book. It is only 2 hours and 45 minutes, and it is a FREE audiobook:

http://www.learnoutloud.com/Free-Audio-Video/Literature/European-Classics/A-Christmas-Carol/29311

What a wonderful opportunity he had to see his life from the outside looking in. I think many people would change if they could see like Scrooge was able to. Just a great story. It is It's a Wonderful Life only opposite. Of course, the counselor in me thinks it is because he was neglected as a child. What a lousy father he had! I am still upset about that.

My favorite movie version still remains The Muppet Christmas Carol. They really do a great job of following the story with lines quoted right out of the book! :)

46. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

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I read this in 2004 when my friend Debbie had just been let go from her job. I flew over to be with her. In between her long "core dumps" on me, she would go into her room and cry, and I would read about Oliver, and somehow, it just brought great perspective to things. I was transported back to a time in the early 1800's when life was very hard for the poor. What a picture Dickens paints, and in the midst of the tragedy, such humor too! He was brilliant! 

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed listening to Nadia May's narration of this timeless classic. If you have never read Dickens, you are missing out, and this is a perfect one to start with. His characters are so amazing.

It was hard to pull myself away from studying for my certification exam, and I was reluctant to even read it again for my Book Dames Book Club, let alone LEAD the discussion for our January meeting;  but again, going into this world of Dickens fiction gave me perspective on that too.  Go figure!

45. Pilates Anatomy by Rael Isacowitz and Karen Clippinger

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This is the preferred Pilates anatomy book over the book by Paul Massey (see my review for HERE), but I prefer the Massey book because it talks about different postural problems typical for people and how Pilates can alleviate those problems, and that is how I teach. 

This is not a bad book though, and I learned some new things. I think I would prefer the printed book over the Kindle because it is not spaced well on the Kindle version, and I like looking at the pictures in real books. I am glad I have this one, but I wish I had purchased Massey's because the cheapest used copy I can find is $51! It was only about $20 when I first was looking to buy it. I am thankful that the library has a copy that I can continue to check out though!

Saturday Seventeen Morning Freewrite

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I have been up since about 5:30 am. I woke up at 4 am, but I forced myself to stay in bed. I had a lovely time listening to Oliver Twist as I made my tea this morning. I think the last time I read this book was Memorial Day weekend in 2004 because Debbie was just let go from her job, and I went to Boise to be with her as she struggled to understand why. It was heartbreaking, but somehow Oliver Twist grounded me. I also did 2 Thessalonians as she had to go in her room and cry by herself a lot. :) 

So, it has been 11 1/2 years, and my Book Dames Book Club decided to read it for January and asked me to lead. Since I have all the notes, I said yes. I am happy to do it. 

Then, I listened to He Shall Purify - Scene 2, Movements 6-7 of Messiah. I think my absolute favorite part of the whole oratorio is when the chorus joins all together in crescendo and sings "and that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness" from Malachi 3:3. Sends chills.

After this, I took 40 minu…

Messiah Meditations

Saturday Sixteen Freewrite

It is that time again! It is MESSIAH TIME! I am listening to Part II, and I already listened to Part I twice, and it is only 7:54 am! LOL!
I never ever tire of this timeless piece of PERFECT music. It really is PERFECT! George wants to go to the Portland Baroque Orchestra performance on December 14, but I have this Personal Trainer Certification exam hanging over my head, and I am not sure if I will have it done by then, and I don't want to go TOO far into the Christmas vacation with Michael and Paul studying for it. So, I need to think about. UGH!
I love what I am learning, but I am getting tired of studying. I still have SO FAR to go before I am ready to take this exam. I have finished all the quizzes in the eTeach course, and I just have on more nutrition discussion question to complete. Then, I can study for the final. I would love to just get that out of the way so I can move on to really studying for the actual exam, but I am sure that the final will really prepare me for it. …

Freewrite for a Sunday Morning

Well, here we go on a Sunday morn freewrite. I rarely sit for long periods of time and write anymore. Too bad I did not have my treadmill desk when I was writing the Bible Book Club! I would have burned so many calories and saved my back the heartache.

Speaking of my back. While my lower back has not had pain since November 19, 2014 (Yes, almost a whole year with NO S-I joint incident! And that one was brought on by sitting too long one morning + going for a walk in REALLY cold temps [33 degrees] + hitting a bump in the sidewalk = OUCH! Prior to that, it had been another year that I had had any incident. So, I am doing really well in that department.), my upper back and neck continued to have knots or what I call this "string of tightness" that travels from my neck down to the mid-back inside the shoulder blade. Well, I have not been to Dr. Myers for maybe 5 weeks. Last week, I canceled my appointment only to have a knot for most of the weekend, but then I employed ALL the Se…

44. NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training

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I was asked to become a Certified Personal  Trainer by a manager of a local fitness facility two years ago, and I am finally getting around to it! I have loved everything about this book. I learned so much! It is 680 pages, but I couldn't put it down! It is so much of what I learned from my B.S. in Foods and Nutrition. I am coming around full circle, and I love it! 

I will finish up the class I am taking in three weeks, and I hope to take the certification exam before Christmas. I learned SO MUCH, and it has been fun to pass on what I am learning to my Pilates students and friends. :)

43. The Prayer of Faith by J.O. Fraser

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What a gem of a book! It is short and sweet and to the point. My husband had it from years ago, and I just grabbed it off the bookshelf when I went to go on a prayer retreat. James O. Fraser was a British missionary with China Inland Mission (Now Overseas Missionary Fellowship). He ministered to the Lisu people in China in the early 1900's. So sweet! 
Here is a link to the online version:

http://omf.org/us/the-prayer-of-faith/

Tuesday Twelve Freewrite

I just got back from my six month skin cancer check, and I had just one biopsy this time (the last two times were four each with one being melanoma)! 

I have a whole day to answer my discussion questions and study for my midterm due on November 8. Other than the doctor's appointment at 8:20 am (and I got a interval training walk/run up there and back) and a Skype meeting with Elizabeth at 8 pm tonight, I have a very undisturbed day to study. I like having large chunks of time to be able to get lost in the material because I find the material so fascinating. 

For the discussion questions this week, I have to explain why plyometrics is important and beneficial for an advanced client interested in hypertrophy (muscle mass gain), explain how I would regress a plyometric training program for a deconditioned and an elder client, and design a speed, agility, and quickness drill for a weight loss client. These discussion questions take a lot of time, but I like that it forces me to practica…

Another Reason to do Pilates: Beautiful Bowel Movements

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I realized something the other day. I noticed that I have had very regular and easy bowel movements over the last few months. (Sorry if that is TMI.) I have cut down on caffeine in the mornings. I have always thought that was helpful in that cause. 
I realized this regularity was coinciding with my increase in doing Pilates. I have been doing the exercises very consistently since I decided to become certified as an instructor in late June/early July. Before, it was hit or miss, maybe once a week or twice a week. Now, I do it three times on Mondays and Wednesdays and at least once on another three days of the week. 
Could there be a connection between my regularity and Pilates? I went to Google it, and this article gave me my answer: 
http://www.livestrong.com/article/337331-exercises-to-stimulate-bowel-movement/

Here is the excerpt about Pilates from that article: Pilates
PilatesPhoto Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Pilates workouts put a huge demand on your core for the entire wor…

Wednesday Freewrite

It is 1:19 pm, and I am going to write for fifteen uninterrupted minutes. I have not written as much the past few months, and that is mainly because my Big Hairy Audacious Goal of the Bible Book Club was completed. I still love to do it though, and somehow I think there is a book somewhere in here. 

I had two great Pilates classes this morning, and I have one more to go. I did more observing and less demonstrating today. We have a few new exercises that we added that I did demonstrate because they are new, but I wanted to watch around the room, and by Jove, I think these students are really getting it. 

I think my second class really like the stability balls too. So, I will bring them back after I do a Theraband class next Monday. Some said they were sore from the class, and that is great! I like to challenge them. 

I messed up on one exercise today though, and it bugs me that I did. I also had a hard time explaining the Tick-Tock exercise because I had never explained it before! LOL! I …