Tag Archives: Education

Book Review: ““A Marked Heart”” by David George Ball

David George Ball (portrait taken 2006, copied from the author’s Facebook page)

The son of a missionary and a Baptist minister, seventeen-year-old immigrant David George Ball was following his destiny to become a pastor. He had always dreamed of making a difference in people’s lives. But when he met the then relatively unknown Martin Luther King Jr., the course of Ball’s life changed forever. In this memoir, “A Marked Heart”, Ball narrates his journey: beginning with growing up in wartime England; immigrating to the United States in 1954 to take the pastor’s course at Chicago’s Moody Bible Institute; attending Yale University as a scholarship student; and, most importantly, meeting King. Later, he worked on Wall Street as a lawyer, started a family, championed the 401(k) plan, and served as assistant secretary of labor. “A Marked Heart” describes how Ball’s encounter with King inspired the rest of his life’s work, and it provides a multifaceted look at his immigration, education, family relationships, career, and his commitment to public service. Though Ball never became a minister, his story communicates how his commitment to God and prayer guided his life. (from Goodreads) 

This book was a total surprise!  It really was!  I was deceived by the book cover; or rather I caught myself pre-judging this book, based on the three colour book cover.  Isn’t there an old saying:  “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? 

Well, when I received this book from Bostick Communications, (in exchange for an impartial review), I had second thoughts about whether or not I would enjoy reading it.  And I will admit to putting it to the side of my TBR book stack.  It just looked to be more of a reference book, than a story book.  

I could not have been more wrong. 

A short time ago, while checking my TBR books, “A Marked Heart”, caught my attention.  And after some review of the front and back covers, and recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. pictured on the front cover with the author, I decided I would begin this read. 

Unexpectedly, “A Marked Heart” by David George Ball, was soon to display so much more than its simple cover implied.  By the end of the first chapter, it was not a question of being caught up in the story; it was a matter of needing to know everything I could about the author and those around him.  David George Ball.  I would hazard a guess that most of us have never heard the name, let alone know what his life was all about.  And part of that I would suggest, was by plan – David George Ball’s plan.  In “A Marked Heart”, David George comes through the pages as a humble man, a quiet man, definitely a family man, a very intelligent man, a man filled with compassion for family and friends, and a man filled with pride of his birth country, England, and his country of residence, the United States. 

(photo credit Heather Fraser)

The author speaks of his growing up years with fond memories, and some not so fond. He brings us through his university years, as he earns multiple degrees.  David Ball’s style of storytelling is one that engages the reader, to a desire to learn more.  Ball’s meeting with Martin Luther King Jr., is a turning point in his career, and his personal creed for life.  I found it fascinating to read of M.L. King before his rise within the culture of the day, and his impact on the world.   Although King was a great influence on David Ball, this book is not about King.  We simply see how King affected individuals who became part of his life, and vice versa.  

“A Marked Heart” reaches all parts of the life of David George Ball.  We are with him through his marital happiness and struggles, his desire to serve God, the love he is given by his family, and at times the hard life he was forced to live.  I found myself on life’s journey with the author, through his highs and lows, through his two marriages, and the lives of his children, as they grew and started families of their own.   

(photo credit Heather Fraser)

To be truthful, I do not think that my words do justice to Ball’s life, to his great mind, and kind heart.   I would suggest this book be added to your library, as part of history.  Although not given real credit for this, Ball was the originator of the 401K plan, designed to secure quality of life for individuals, once they retire.  I am not an American, so do not pretend to understand the 401K plan, but in Canada we have Registered Retirement Plans, which would be comparable.  So, I do understand the need to plan for the future.  And I was quite impressed with Ball’s quiet, yet powerful, contribution to American lifestyle.  And the telling of this story was not a mundane presentation, but a story that I felt part of, a story that held joy.  Such is the style of Ball’s writing. I encourage readers of this blog to seek out this book,  “A Marked Heart”,  add it to your library,  and set aside time to read and learn, about events that impact your life, through the life of David George Ball. 

“The Joy of the Written Word” – where do we find joy in the words of my review or in the words of “A Marked Heart”?  Where I see Joy through “A Marked Heart”, is David George Ball’s unending faith in his God, his faith in knowing that, no matter what, God was with him.  He chose Joy!


Choose Joy!  




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Book Review – ‘”Be in One Peace”‘ by Dr. Joanne Messenger

“Whether you’re new to self-healing, want more powerful and easier techniques, or you’re on a committed spiritual journey, “Be In One Peace” has gifts of gold for you. This book is not just another chakra book. It is cover to cover essential knowledge and techniques based on practical experience, to get you the results you need—step by step. Learn how to Master Your Energy Budget, Reclaim Yourself from Old Relationships and Events, Repair Your Heart Strings, Integrate Your Heart and Mind, and ease pain and stress to improve your health.

This book is for everyone who wants an easy and painless way to deal with stress, release the shackles of the past and live with more peace. Say good-bye to anxiety, poverty consciousness and defensiveness. Align with the highest vision of yourself and enjoy your new life.

Be In One Peace is a progressive fusion of ancient, eastern and western philosophy with the modern understanding of energy, anatomy and physiology to support your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health”. (from amazon.com)

Dr. Joanne Messenger has practiced as a chiropractor, healer and international course facilitator for over 30 years. She lives in Woodend, Australia and is Australia’s best-known teacher of Chiron philosophies and techniques. She has a bachelor’s degree in applied science, an Excellence Award in radiology and is certified with the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (USA) and in Sacro-Occipital Technique as well as in practicing and teaching Blueprint Healing. Dr. Messenger is past principal of the Australian Energy School of Chiron and former vice president of the International Association of Chiron Healers, Inc. (Press Release)


“Be in One Peace” – what a great title! Stirred my thoughts to: Peace itself; of one Peace – as in people on common ground;  in one piece – a play on words – keeping something or someone together,  as one.

The cover captured my attention. Somehow, I felt its LIFE.

And, I do not mind admitting, that the day this book arrived from Bostwick Communications, I may have judged it by its cover!  Of course, not enough to impact an impartial review, just enough to make me feel good about the book from the beginning. This book is just approximately ½ inch thick (a little over 1 cm). Good quality paper inside, and also for the cover.  A pretty book, actually.  And one of those books that just felt good in my hand.

What was strange about all this was when I read the back cover, and started getting into the book. The book IS about LIFE – our life as individuals. Briefly, the book is about ways to discover where our pain is, where our stress is, and learn how we can ease that pain and stress to improve our health.

Are you thinking: “yet another self-help book about relieving pain and stress”? I will admit to a brief thought in that direction. But, with a cover like it has, how could it be ordinary?

The book begins by talking about why we get sick, why we have illnesses. Dr. Messenger mentions how sometimes our diseases are impacted by the “DIS—EASE” in our lives. Dr. Messenger explores the path of dis-ease being a gift. Maybe not one we are happy about, we start looking for the receipt in the box to return it!! But in fact our dis-ease is telling us that our lives are out of sync – and we need to pay attention.

Actually, I once heard an acronym for pain:

P A I N = Pay Attention Inventory Needed


Dr. Joanne Messenger

Whether we feel dis-ease, or disease, Dr. Messenger provides ways we can help ourselves recover, help ourselves feel better. And isn’t that what we want?? In “Be in One Peace”, in 18 short chapters, Dr. Messenger gives us more than 18 different ways we can help ourselves to feel better in the life we are living. One of the attributes of this book is that the chapters are brief. With that, the sentences are also brief,  and free of language that we, the general public, may  not understand. Oh, yes, there are terms we may not be familiar with, such as “Chakra” (Chapter 12), “Heart Filaments” (Chapter 14), “Energy Budget” (Chapter 10) and “Electromagnetic Field” (Chapter 7). But Dr. Messenger’s language in describing these, and other terms, is easy to read and she is clear in what she is saying.

This is not a book that you start to read at Chapter 1 right through to Chapter 18. Although you might want to do that to become familiar with the general flow and theme of the book.  Actually, that is exactly what I did.   Mainly because I wanted to get a general understanding and overview of the book.  At the end of each chapter there is an Exercise section.  In the Exercise, we are given tools to use the techniques talked about in that chapter.

Here is an example of how this, chapter information, and chapter end exercise, can work. In Chapter 5, Dr. Messenger uses an analogy of a suitcase. When we go on vacation, or on a business trip, we pack a suitcase.  We bring with us what we will need for our time away. We make decisions based on where we are going. In life we also carry a suitcase, packing personal skills inside. And we need to prepare for twists and turns, and unexpected events in life. Here is a quote from page 30: “You can prepare for life with as much diligence as a backpacker choosing what to carry or leave behind; however, there are likely to be situations where an extra pair of clean socks would be appreciated.”   We need to make decisions that will carry us through unforeseen circumstances.

So, what is one thing that will give us strength, lessen our stress, and help us be ready to face life circumstances, regardless of what we did or did not put in our (psychological) suitcase? Dr. Messenger believes that one thing, is grounding. We need to start out for a trip calm, and able to check what we need to pack. As we go through life we need to find that part of us that assures us we are grounded. We need to be assured we have the energy, the wisdom, and the strength, that will carry us through. We need them in our suitcase. When we expend energy, wisdom, or strength, to get us through a tough situation, or to help someone who is struggling with (for example) anxiety or depression; they look to us for guidance, we reach into our suitcase and bring out: energy, wisdom, and strength. And we hope we are able to bring the other person to a place of security, assurance and calm.


If you are like me, after going through something similar to the situation described in the previous paragraph, we move on to the next crisis which may draw from us more energy, and more wisdom. And, let’s say this goes on for a while. Pretty soon our suitcase is close to empty. 

To try to prevent us reaching a point of exhaustion, Dr. Messenger provides easy-to-follow instructions to once more ground ourselves.  Rather than having to draw on outside help to get ourselves re-charged, we can bring ourselves to that place where we are grounded.  Dr. Messenger’s technique proposes a series of breathing exercises and visualization techniques to centre ourselves and return to that grounded position.  We need to refill our suitcase and be ready for the next event life brings us.

“Be in One Peace” speaks a lot about energy, our need for it, how we can acquire more, how we lose energy, our negative energy, and building up our positive energy. If you would like to try more intuitive ways to work with your energy, more New Age focused, then this book is a good place to start.  It is clear, basic, and very instructional. If you are already familiar with the New Age focus for self-healing, or this is the first time you have heard the phrase, this book will have something for you. You do not have to follow any part of the New Age way of thinking to get something from its pages.

As a person who sits on the fence with New Age methods, I may have been a little biased going in. But, whether or not my views have changed,  has, in no way, prevented me from developing and increasing my skill level with respect to self-knowledge, self-awareness, and self-healing.

For example, Chakras. Chakras have always been a little bewildering to me – and they are still. However, Dr. Messenger’s straightforward, basic, and instructional techniques have wet my appetite to give some form of Chakra Therapy a try. Dr. Messenger believes that to live our life well, we need to use the Chakras, (our body’s energy fields), as a way of cleansing ourselves of negative thoughts, emotions, and beliefs. And retaining and absorbing positive thoughts, emotions, and beliefs. Did I just explain Chakras in 30 words or less? I may have, but I am sure I did not do them justice. But, I will say, that at this very basic level, Chakras do make sense to me; and after reading “Be in One Peace”, I understand Chakras better than ever before. One of the things that truly helped me, was Dr. Messenger’s way of speaking/writing. There is a light tone to her writing, which comes across in moments of humour and joy. This gives the book a special little twist!

Another point is that we do not have to give up our spiritual or non-spiritual beliefs to benefit from Chakras, or any of the other techniques for personal health and well-being, detailed for us in “Be in One Peace”. Dr. Messenger brings multiple faith traditions into her teachings.  I feel strongly that there is something for everyone in this book.

One of the chapters I enjoyed, (Chapter 9), deals with removing our ‘masks’, removing our ‘armour’ – anything we hide behind to shield us from the world, and from ourselves. The exercise at the end of the chapter is a visualization method of removing our armour. It first looked complicated to me, but was actually quite straightforward to participate in. As with all of the exercises and treatments presented in this book, this is best approached with an open-mind, regardless of our current belief tradition.

Dr. Messenger rounds out the book by dealing with the bigger issues of healing for the heart and the mind. And ends the book by bringing us back to her opening statements that all pain is actually a gift. And once we accept our pain as gift, begin to source the cause of the pain; we will begin to free ourselves from some of the darkness of physical and emotional pain.

It is very important that the reader knows that I am in NO WAY making light of anyone’s pain, and I certainly have had little experience with thinking of any pain as ‘gift’. But what I have experienced is relief, relief at finding out what is causing my pain, putting a name to it, and then beginning the road to some kind of healing. If that makes pain a gift, maybe I will not argue terminology. Neither this book nor my review of it, are in any way substitutes for professional care. And that is true whether you are under doctor’s care at this moment, or in the future when you read this book. From my point of view, I cannot stress that enough.

When I was first given this book to review, and even after I had read a couple of chapters, I began to feel some anxiety – about how I could possibly be qualified to know if “Be in One Peace” would be considered a good book in its field.  After all, what did I know about Chakras and Energy Fields? That challenge resolved itself after my first read through;  because the book is written for both a novice, and an experienced reader, to understand.

Whether you choose to accept any New Age concepts, I would like to suggest that you give yourself an opportunity to read this book. 

 A book I have no trouble recommending.

‘“Be in One Peace”’




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Book Review: “Mary Jane” – Dorothy Sterling

One of my favourite memories from elementary school is the Scholastic Book Catalogue!!! Do you remember that Catalogue? In my school we started to receive the catalogue in Grade 4. It was the first place I actually purchased books!! It was so exciting! I can remember pouring over the catalogue, reading the descriptions of all the books, and seeing how much they cost! As you can imagine, my parents had a slight cap on how much I could spend, at times bending the rules when I could not decide between titles. I filled in the order form, gave it to my teacher, and waited. Waited for the arrival of THE BOOKS!! When the day came, I would come back to my desk after recess, and there they would be – a neat little pile on my desk. Oh, my! That was thrilling!

For the most part, I still have my Scholastic books, which proudly occupy a shelf in my ‘book room’! My all time favourite Scholastic book and actually I would say it is still my all time favourite book, was and is “Mary Jane” by Dorothy Sterling. I purchased it in Grade 5. The lead character is Mary Jane Douglas, who lives in High Ridge, in the southern United States. The book is set in the early days of integration; Mary Jane is a black American – who has decided to go to what was an all white high school – Wilson High – simply because it was the best high school in town. Integration had just started and Mary Jane, and her friend Fred Jackson, were the first, and the only, black students starting at the high school, junior level.

After Mary Jane has spent the summer on her Grandfather’s farm, she returns home to find her mother talking about getting ready for high school. Mary Jane’s Mother is putting more excitement in this new year, than ever before! Mary Jane is overwhelmed by her Mother’s purchases: new clothes, shoes, school supplies, and even a new ‘big’ bed.

On the first day of school, Mary Jane and Fred are escorted by their fathers, right into the door of the school. To get to that door Mary Jane, Fred, and their fathers must go through a large crowd of white protestors – they even have a police escort. The crowd is filled with angry townspeople, neighbours, students, and parents, and is a startling experience for Mary Jane.

Mary Jane does not really understand what the problem is – she is simply starting high school! All around Mary Jane, other characters in the book, especially in the first half of the book, frequently speak about “they”: ‘they won’t like this’, ‘they have rules’, ‘what will they say’ and ‘what will they do’? This puzzles Mary Jane, who really cannot understand what the fuss is about and cannot figure out who are ‘they’?

Mary Jane faces discrimination, taunts, and physical hurts; but that does not stop her. When shunned in the lunch room, she calmly sits alone. When hurtful words and hurtful names are thrown at her – she forges ahead; learning new subjects, completing projects, she is befriended by one fellow classmate, two teachers, and eventually entering a Science Fair with trained white mice. Mary Jane even becomes part of a Junior Science Club, where she meets students who do not care about the colour of her skin – a happy experience for Mary Jane.

A typical first year high school student, Mary Jane does get mischievous, visits the science room after school is over, hides a squirrel named Furry, and hides secrets from her parents. The book ends just as the Science Fair is getting underway, and although the mice act as they were trained, whether or not Mary Jane wins a prize, is left to the reader’s imagination.


I just re-read this book about a month ago and it held my interest as much now as it did in Grade 5. I enjoy the fact that Mary Jane is a strong young girl, who accomplishes everything she puts her mind to, and my imagination sees her becoming a leader as she continues through high school, and moves forward to a career. Mary Jane’s grandfather is a retired biologist university professor, her father is a lawyer, her elder sister is a nurse, and her brother is studying to become a lawyer. Mary Jane’s great-grandmother was a slave who fought to educate herself, knew things “were better up north”, and eventually escapes the south, only returning after the Civil War. These are Mary Jane’s heros.

I love the way this book is written so easily, and flows so gently, while attacking the painful hurt of discrimination. Dorothy Sterling’s writing just draws me in – even after all these years – into Mary Jane’s life and world, and eventually I feel like I am Mary Jane, feeling all her challenges and emotions through the difficult beginning of high school, and the difficult time of forging new friendships in a world that could be peaceful, but instead is alive with racism. This book is definitely written for a grade five student back in the ‘60’s. Some of the phrases are outdated today, but the sentiments are still real. The lessons and teachings of this book contributed to the lessons and teachings I received at home from my parents. Be kind to everyone. Treat everyone the same. Treat everyone as you would like to be treated. And 45 – 50 years later the world still needs to know about Mary Jane.

It was only recently that I found out that Dorothy Sterling continued her career as a writer, completing approximately 35 books for adults, including some of the first non-fiction works about black history. The attached article was written when Dorothy Sterling died in 2008, at the age of 95. Interesting reading. I think a trip to the library is in order!

<a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/05/arts/05sterling.html” target=”_blank”></a>


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Is Cursive Obsolete?

Is Cursive Obsolete?.

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