Heart Choices: 2008-08-17 -->

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Do You Like to Read?

I love to read. My love for reading began as a young child. Because I was born with a heart defect that wasn't corrected until I was seven years old, I led a fairly sedentary life up to that point. I learned to enjoy quiet activities like reading and drawing since I wasn't physically able to run and play with other children my age.

I'm thankful that some of my earliest memories consisted of sitting on my mom's lap as she read to me. I loved to look at the pictures and often closed my eyes as I imagined myself in the scene with Alice in Wonderland. I'm so thankful that my love for reading developed in this way. What a great way to bond with a child and instill in them a love for reading. I laughed when my friend sent me this picture of her youngest daughter Karli and her attempts at reading.

Developing a love for reading has so many benefits. Research tells us that readers tend to read better, write better, have a better vocabulary, develop interests in a variety of subjects and are more open to learning and new ideas. Spending time with a child and reading to them is a wonderful way to open them up to a love for reading that will serve them well throughout their life.

As I consider the choices we make that impact our future, reading quality books is a no brainer. Last year, I subscribed to a monthly reading program that I learned about on Chuck Colson's Breakpoint website. Each month you read a different classic and you receive a CD by Dr. Ken Boa who is a wonderful teacher. He tells you about the life of the author and some relevant information about the times the books were written. He includes insights and ways to relate in the current times in which we live. I found it so helpful as many of the classics included books I've always wanted to read such as East of Eden by John Steinbeck and City of God by St. Augustine.

I enjoy reading historical fiction books by Robert Michener or sometimes a lighter book such as Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes. In a moment, I can imagine myself living in Italy. Jan Karon writes wonderful fiction books that allow this city dweller to imagine living in the small town of Mitford as I follow the lovable characters including Father Tim. Books on tape can be a perfect way to have time pass quickly and yet productively on a long road trip.

Books allow us to use our imagination. Instead of always watching television and movies, why not take the time to develop a love for reading? Start with a subject that you have an interest in.

How about you? Do you struggle to sit and read or do you love to spend hours reading? What kinds of books do you enjoy? I'd love to hear about some of your favorites.


Shutterfly Helped Organize Me

I've become a big fan of Shutterfly. The first time I heard about them was several years ago when a friend sent me an email from Shutterfly with an online album of pictures of her newborn baby. I remember thinking how clever that was. If I wanted to order any pictures, I could simply join Shutterfly.

I used to be big into scrapbooking. Whenever I was in the process of putting an album together, all of my supplies that I'd accumulated would be scattered across my guest room. Pictures would be sprawled all over as I began arranging pages in the album, always with clever sayings and borders. I bought magazines and books teaching me how to be more creative in putting my albums together. Of course, I had an assortment of scissors as I cut my pictures into unique shapes. The whole process was quite messy, took lots of time and effort and cost much money. At one point, as my husband surveyed my mess, he suggested I might consider making digital albums. At the time, I had no experience with this and I thought it just wouldn't be the same. So, my disorganization continued for some time.

Well, I've come a long way since then and now I do all of my photo albums online. Shutterfly is my site of choice. I know there are many other wonderful services online but this one has worked well for me. Once I completed my first photo album and saw the final result, I was hooked. The best part of it was there was no mess all over my guest room and I didn't have to destroy my original pictures by cutting them up. I even gave away my scrapbooking supplies to a friend who continues to scrapbook the old fashioned way. I now have extra room for storage where all of those supplies used to be. My life has become more organized because of Shutterfly.

One of my favorite albums was my summer trip to Carmel. The cover reminded me of the beach and I was able to personalize the writings beneath my chosen pictures. I organized each page online using digital pictures or after scanning and uploading my old fashioned pictures. It was quite easy to do and took much less time, expense and mess.

Since family and friends are so important to me, photographs hold such special meaning to me. Whenever I've been asked what I would grab if my house was on fire, my immediate answer is my pictures (and of course, any people). Now I don't have to worry because I have a backup online.

I've also enjoyed making cards for occasions such as birthdays and graduations. The cost is comparable to buying a Hallmark card but this is much more personal since I can choose the picture(s) and write my own saying inside. And it only costs about $3 each. Not bad!

So, if you choose to spend time making photo memories, consider going online. Believe me, it will save you time, energy, money and mess. Being more organized has been one of my goals. So thank you Shutterfly.

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