806 pages?!?!

August 19, 2019

Every Friday morning, we have an all-staff meeting to talk about the weeks' successes, strategies to learn and grow and more often than not a trivia question posed to us by the always fun Jeff Schulz.   


The morning of each meeting, he usually sends us a message at 6:30 am saying something like, "Be prepared to share with the team your favorite fair food."  

75% of the time, his trivia questions are related to favorite foods.  LOL.    However, one morning, he sent a message to the team and asking what are we currently reading.

It was a fascinating discussion, and everyone enjoyed hearing what everyone else was reading.    Who doesn't love a good suggestion?    


We decided after that meeting to form our own reading challenge where once a month we draw names, and for whoever we receive, we recommend a book that he or she might enjoy.   Each person has agreed to read the book chosen for them...finishing it before the end of the month when we draw again.

The benefits of reading are so great!  Mental stimulation, stress reduction, knowledge, memory improvement, tranquility, and most of all, just the sheer joy of reading a good book.

Here is what we are all reading this month.  You might even want to join our reading challenging by picking one that inspires you!




Gina Ross thought Kelli Schulz would enjoy the book "The Glass Castle" by Jeanette Walls.

   This is a startling memoir of a successful journalist's journey from the deserted and dusty mining towns of the American Southwest, to an antique-filled apartment on Park Avenue. Jeanette Walls narrates her nomadic and adventurous childhood with her dreaming, 'brilliant' but alcoholic parents. At the age of seventeen, she escapes on a Greyhound bus to New York with her older sister; her younger siblings follow later. After pursuing the education and civilization her parents sought to escape, Jeanette eventually succeeds in her quest for the 'mundane, middle-class existence' she had always craved. In her apartment, overlooked by 'a portrait of someone else's ancestor' she recounts poignant remembered images of star watching with her father, juxtaposed with recollections of irregular meals, accidents and police-car chases and reveals her complex feelings of shame, guilt, pity and pride toward her parents.



Kelli thought Paula Reicks should read "The Celestine Prophecy " by James Redfield.




In the rain forests of Peru, an ancient manuscript has been discovered. Within its pages are nine key insights into life itself -- insights each human being is predicted to grasp sequentially; one insight, then another, as we move toward a completely spiritual culture on Earth. 

Drawing on ancient wisdom, it tells you how to make connections among the events happening in your life right now and lets you see what is going to happen to you in the years to come. The story it tells is a gripping one of adventure and discovery, but it is also a guidebook that has the power to crystallize your perceptions of why you are where you are in life and to direct your steps with new energy and optimism as you head into tomorrow.



 Paula picked an intriguing book for Lana Jones-Gould, "The Woman in Cabin 10" by Ruth Ware.


  In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong… 




Lana selected one of her favorite biographies for Jeff Schulz, "Can't Hurt Me" by David Higgins.


  For David Goggins, childhood was a nightmare — poverty, prejudice, and physical abuse colored his days and haunted his nights. But through self-discipline, mental toughness, and hard work, Goggins transformed himself from a depressed, overweight young man with no future into a U.S. Armed Forces icon and one of the world's top endurance athletes. The only man in history to complete elite training as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller, he went on to set records in numerous endurance events, inspiring Outside magazine to name him “The Fittest (Real) Man in America.”

In Can't Hurt Me, he shares his astonishing life story and reveals that most of us tap into only 40% of our capabilities. Goggins calls this The 40% Rule, and his story illuminates a path that anyone can follow to push past pain, demolish fear, and reach their full potential.



Next up, Jeff recommends the soulful book, " 90 Minutes in Heaven" by Don Piper for Susy Damon to read.

   In the ten years since 90 Minutes in Heaven was published, millions of people worldwide have read the incredible true story of Don Piper's experience with death and life--and in reading they have found their own lives changed.

After a semi-truck collided with Don Piper's car, he was pronounced dead at the scene. For the next ninety minutes, he experienced the glories of heaven. Back on earth, a passing minister felt led to stop and pray for the accident victim even though he was told Piper was dead. Miraculously, Piper came back to life, and the pleasure of heaven was replaced by a long and painful recovery.



 Susy had her own inspiration to share with me, Julie Ross, by having me read "Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope" by Mark Manson.



Manson turns his gaze from the inevitable flaws within each individual self to the endless calamities taking place in the world around us. Drawing from the pool of psychological research on these topics, as well as the timeless wisdom of philosophers such as Plato, Nietzsche, and Tom Waits, he dissects religion and politics and the uncomfortable ways they have come to resemble one another. He looks at our relationships with money, entertainment and the internet, and how too much of a good thing can psychologically eat us alive. He openly defies our definitions of faith, happiness, freedom—and even of hope itself. 

With his usual mix of erudition and humor, Manson takes us by the collar and challenges us to be more honest with ourselves and connected with the world in ways we probably haven’t considered before. It’s another counterintuitive romp through the pain in our hearts and the stress of our soul. One of the great modern writers has produced another book that will set the agenda for years to come.


I recommended books to two staff members.  

The first being Frank Vaia because he didn't happen to be a the meeting where we drew names and wanted in on the fun.     Before I picked his book, he told me that he liked books with character development.   Hmmm.    


I chose for Frank, "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett.


   The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known . . . of Tom, the mason who becomes his architect—a man divided in his soul . . . of the beautiful, elusive Lady Aliena, haunted by a secret shame . . . and of a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state and brother against brother.
A spellbinding epic tale of ambition, anarchy, and absolute power set against the sprawling medieval canvas of twelfth-century England, this is Ken Follett’s historical masterpiece.



I had to laugh as I got the text message below from Frank after he sourced his book from the Des Moines Public Library.  



I felt kinda bad, but, hey, I loved the book, and it gave me a great title for this blog!  806 pages?!?!    Frank, it's gonna be good.  I promise.

I actually drew Dana Luke, and for her, I chose one of my historical favorites,  "Memoirs of a Geisha" by Arthur Golden.


 Speaking to us with the wisdom of age and in a voice at once haunting and startlingly immediate, Nitta Sayuri tells the story of her life as a geisha. It begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old girl with unusual blue-gray eyes, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. We witness her transformation as she learns the rigorous arts of the geisha: dance and music; wearing kimono, elaborate makeup, and hair; pouring sake to reveal just a touch of inner wrist; competing with a jealous rival for men's solicitude and the money that goes with it. 

In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl's virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction—at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful—and completely unforgettable.



Dana had love on the mind when she chose "Redeeming Love" by Francine Rivers for Lisa Wood.


California’s gold country, 1850. A time when men sold their souls for a bag of gold, and women sold their bodies for a place to sleep. Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside.  
Then she meets Michael Hosea, a man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything. Michael obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation, until, despite her resistance, her frozen heart begins to thaw.  
But with her unexpected softening comes overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. And so Angel runs. Back to the darkness, away from her husband’s pursuing love, terrified of the truth she no longer can deny: Her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than Michael does…the One who will never let her go.  
A powerful retelling of the story of Gomer and Hosea, Redeeming Love is a life-changing story of God’s unconditional, redemptive, all-consuming love. 



Lisa thought Wendi Williams would enjoy a bit of a thriller, "The Woman in the Window" by A.J. Finn


For readers of Gillian Flynn and Tana French comes one of the decade's most anticipated debuts, to be published in thirty-six languages around the world and already in development as a major film from Fox: a twisty, powerful Hitchcockian thriller about an agoraphobic woman who believes she witnessed a crime in a neighboring house. It isn't paranoia if it's really happening . . . Anna Fox lives alone - a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors. Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn't, her world begins to crumble and its shocking secrets are laid bare. What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one-and nothing-is what it seems. Twisty and powerful, ingenious and moving, The Woman in the Window is a smart, sophisticated novel of psychological suspense that recalls the best of Hitchcock. 


Wendi was moved by "Life After Heaven" by Steven R. Musick and chose this for Gina Ross. 


  For years Steve Musick kept his amazing story to himself, afraid no one would believe or understand it. A major allergic reaction had stopped his heart, hurling him into a five-week coma and a powerful experience of heaven. After returning to life, he couldn’t forget the memory of that vibrant place—and, most of all, the loving words and touch of Jesus.
But that was only the beginning. An amazing series of miracles, dreams, and other supernatural events had been set in motion, showing Steve that heaven was close, even in this life. God was calling him to discover echoes of heaven in the here and now—echoes that can happen at any moment, to anyone—that bring overwhelming joy. 
At last Steve is ready to tell the story of his journey of a lifetime—two lifetimes. In it, you’ll learn the secret of bringing heaven to earth in your everyday world, and how to nurture a relationship with God so real and intimate that you’ll feel his nearness as strongly as Steven did.  



And to everyone's surprise, Travis and Stacien Schulz (our young married couple) randomly drew each other.  So they chose for each other the "Fierce Marriage''  by Ryan and Selena Frederick. 

   Marriage takes a fierce tenacity that never gives up and never gives in. Fierce Marriage is a call to put Christ at the center of your marriage, measuring everything you do and say to each other against what Christ did for you. With passionate personal stories and practical, gospel-centered advice, the Fredericks help you handle five key areas of marriage: priorities, communication, money, sex, and conflict. Their hopeful approach will help you to see marriage as not just a relationship you should try to keep healthy but also one worth fighting for—in every situation.



Whew.    We've got a lot of reading and learning to do, right?   I hope that you find a book or two that piques your interest.    Reading (or listening to books) is to the mind what exercise is for our bodies.   And it has been shown that reading can help us create, recreate, and even transform our reality.   Just another way to live life a little more beautifully.    


And while we are on the subject of stretching our minds, I wanted to share with you another event coming the way that you might want to consider.   



K. Renee works with VisionPoint for some of our financial strategy.   I don't know about you, but I always find myself asking questions like "do I have enough saved?"  Or "what are my financial risks?"     So we decided to combine a little finance to fashion by bringing in Andy Susanin,  a partner at VisionPoint to address what he thinks are 8 of the key questions that we should all be asking.   

  1. Have I saved enough?
  2.  How do I get income in retirement?
  3. What if I live longer than I anticipate today?
  4. What if the stock market crashes?
  5. What do I do about social security?
  6. Should I be worried about inflation?
  7. How can I take the key retirement risks off the table?
  8. Why are five years before and after our retirement so crucial?  


 We also believe that a great wardrobe should be full of winning investments, so we are going to have Paula Reicks, our lead stylist, do a short presentation and mini fall fashion show.   All while you sip on a great bottle of wine and a few canapes.   

 If you are interested in attending, just send us an email to info@krenee.com and let us know you are coming (and a guest or two if you would like.) 


Have a wonderful week...and read on.