Good Reads

I have a confession to make – an especially odd one for a bibliophile like myself. We’ve lived in our little town in the middle of nowhere Montana for almost 9 years and I just got a library card last week.  It occurred to me that I was spending an enormous amount on books I never plan to read again – and could easily borrow from the library. So I finally went in, and found that I love this little library with its amazing selection of books and no crowds.  Here are a couple of great books I found and want to share with you. So here’s to libraries everywhere!

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, PhD

Sleep is essential to good health, and in the Western world, we are incredibly sleep deprived. This book offers a carefully researched look at why we sleep, the impact of sleep, or lack of sleep, on our brains, our ability to function and our overall health.

The nurse in me particularly enjoyed Walker’s research on brain chemicals and circadian rhythms that cause and interrupt good sleep. I know not everyone will find that part of the book as fascinating as I do, but it is worth reading through because it helps understand the later parts of the book.  He does discuss the role of melatonin and its impact on good sleep – and why many of the OTC melatonin products simply don’t work well.

Of particular interest are the ways sleep changes as we age and how great an impact it has on our memory and functional abilities as we move into our second half of life.  He says “Inefficient sleep is no small thing, as studies assessing tens of thousands of older adults show…The lower  an older individual’s sleep efficiency score, the higher their mortality risk, the worse their physical health, the more likely there are to suffer from depression, the less energy they report and the lower their cognitive function, typified by forgetfulness.”  Now there is good reason to get a good night’s sleep!

I especially appreciated his discussion of sleep deprivation in school aged children and its devastating impact on learning. The other chapter that resonated with me was the discussion about prescription sleeping pills, which he describes as “the bad, the bad and the ugly”. That chapter is a must read!

He does offer 12 steps to healthy sleep in the appendix, which after reading the entire book, make good sense and may offer relief for those who struggle to sleep.

This book is worth a read whether or not you have sleep issues. Understanding the incredible role sleep plays in memory, health and well being is vital. If you are one of those sleep deprived by choice people, this book may well be what wakes you up to the terrible price you are paying by skimping on sleep.


Love Walked In by Marisa De Los Santos

This story reaches out and grabs the reader with its beautiful style and use of language. I found myself hooked immediately and finished it in 2 days (no, I did not stay up late to finish it after reading the previous book but I was tempted).  The two main characters, Cornelia and Clare, are believable and easy to feel sympathetic towards.  I love a book that grabs my attention from the first page like this one did. I won’t tell you the story because you can read that on the cover, but I will say that the friendship that develops between these two is quite engaging, as well as the love story that is really secondary to the story of their friendship. Love Walked In is definitely “chick-lit” but it’s relaxing and fun to read.

The main frustration I had with it is the same as I often have with non-Christian literature like this, which is the very casual attitude toward sex outside of marriage. For example, Cornelia’s friend was amazed that she had not slept with her new boyfriend after six dates. When the protagonist tells her eleven year old friend that essentially sex is fine in any context as long as you enjoy it, I was very annoyed. This little girl walking in on her mom having sex with a random boyfriend is NOT healthy or normal.  Fortunately, that was just a tiny paragraph in an otherwise good read.  My rule is that I try to always notice where the author is anti-Biblical, and never allow it to go unchallenged in my own mind. I do not want to slip into accepting behavior that God calls sin because I read a book that shows it otherwise. That is true in all of life, discernment is always needed. Other than that, this is a good book for a little relaxation and fun.

Thoughts When Life Ends Too Soon

Talking about Your Own End of Life

Bereavement. Expired. Departed this life. Passed Away. The End. The Grim Reaper. Kick the bucket. Death. We use so many euphemisms to describe the end of life for others, and so carefully avoid talking about our own death.  

 A few weeks ago at work, the ambulance brought in a lady my age who had suffered a heart attack at home and in spite of everyone’s best efforts she did not survive, (oops there’s another one!). She was MY age. After everything was done that we could do for the patient, and her shocked, grieving family, I was left with paperwork and my thoughts about how someone MY age could die suddenly like that. The distressing thing is that people die every day, and they aren’t all old people.  Death can come for us in the prime of life or when we are crusty and ancient. The hardest deaths are those where everyone is completely unprepared, with no warning and no way to get ready in heart and mind. Those deaths will always be part of the work we do in healthcare and ministry, but it behooves us all to talk about what we want for our own end of life care and after with our loved ones while we still can. And it should happen no matter what age you are right now.

The rest of this post is a letter I recently wrote my family to help them when that day inevitably arrives and my husband or I breathe our last.  I urge you to let it help you make your own decisions and find a way to discuss them with your loved ones.

Dear Sons,

Although it is not easy to talk about death, your dad and I have a few things we would like you to know before that inevitable day arrives when one or both of us go to be with the Lord, leaving this physical body behind.

We do not want undue life support such as intubation and ventilators, CPR or drugs to try and extend life beyond reasonable hope. It is ok to let us go.

Please allow yourselves to grieve. Losing a parent is a difficult life event and you will feel the loss for a long while. I remember how strange it felt when your granddad and then your grandma passed away. It was hard and painful, yet also kind of a relief because both of them had reached that point, with the strokes that they had suffered, that there was no hope of recovery. But remember also, that you don’t need to grieve as those who have no hope, because in the Lord this body may be asleep but we are present with Jesus…1Thessalonians 4:13

So please sit with us while we die. Read Scripture, pray, talk to us as we are fading. It will help you to be there too.

A simple funeral or graveside service is enough. Just be sure the gospel is preached clearly and completely so everyone there has a chance to hear the truth of God’s grace toward sinners. You can skip the eulogies, and focus on Christ and His goodness.

As far as burial goes, we would prefer a natural burial with no embalming, no casket. There are now places where a body can be laid to rest in a wicker or pine box and shroud, simply and naturally allowed to return to dust.  Many of the old pioneer graveyards will allow it. If its winter and that is not possible, cremation is also good. If you do that, please put our ashes in an urn that can then have a tree planted in it. When the time is right, plant the tree by a river or lake or somewhere beautiful that you like.

Please do not spend much money on caskets, embalming and all the other commercial funeral preparations. Don’t let the funeral director guilt you into all that. Neither of us wants that at all.

Here are a couple of websites with more information on natural burial.

While I know this all seems a little morbid, death is part of life. I have seen too many families struggle when a loved one passes away because they haven’t thought these things through.  We hope this helps you understand our wishes, and that it makes that difficult time a little easier for you.

Let’s talk about this sometime. The one thing we want you each to know is that we love you, and we are so very proud of the fine men you have grown into.

Love – Mom and Dad