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HIDDEN INHERITANCE: Family Secrets, Memory, and Faith ~Heidi B. Neumark

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

I was drawn into this story on the very first page of reading.  I agreed with Lillian Daniel, who wrote on the cover of the book, “This is a family tree worth climbing.”

Part Memoir and part detective novel this book is full of beautiful words and exegesis work, which is then perfectly meshed into current social justice issues which confront our daily lives.   There is an element where the book is also a great sermon playing out in one life and the extended family system; the examples are all personal stories of discovery and secrets explored.  How and why Neumark was called to become a pastor and work on human and justice issues within the confines of her family structures and shared experiences, was it just her environment or her genetics that allowed her to hear the call?

Neumark is called late at night by her daughter who is working on a graduate school project and discovers that her family is Jewish and is referenced on Wikipedia.  Neumark’s life had been centered on being a German Lutheran and not a Jew.  She knew her father was emigrated from Germany and now discovers that her Grandfather died in a Concentration Camp and that her Grandmother did not.  There were some of her family members still Jewish and still alive and that her Father had kept his secret even from her Mother and held on in silence to the whole story.

The book is Pastor Neumark’s journey to discover the truth and integrate the why and how her father became Lutheran and how that saved his life and his sisters lives also.  The beauty of scripture and poetry and theological concepts are penned into the story as she goes to the various sites of her family’s life in Germany and the layers of family are revealed and exposed – the silent conspiracy is broken and spoken into the pages with depth and caring.

“Hidden Inheritance will appeal to a wide gamut of readers; Christians with an interest in social justice, Jews and others interested in stories of the Shoah and its ongoing impact, those interested in issues of Jewish/Christian identity and dual identities, the impact of trauma and secrecy, readers of memoirs, and anyone interested in pursuing family genealogy. “ (From Media release)

The Meryl Zegarek PR firm sent me a copy of this book for review and I give it high marks for intelligent writing and interesting story and history.  History is well integrated into social justice and human needs and is explored on a personal level and as a well -researched understanding.

Twitter @MZPR

I have mentioned this book to nearly everyone I have encountered and now I share it with you.  It was a pleasure to read and contemplate.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: (From book cover)

“Heidi B. Neumark is a speaker and Lutheran pastor in New York City.  She is the author of the highly acclaimed book BREATHING SPACE: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx, has published numerous chapters and sermons in other books, and is a regular contributor to THE CHRISTIAN CENTURY and other journals.”

Life From Scratch
When Women Were Birds
My Stroke of Insight

MY SISTER’S GRAVE: A Legal Thriller ~Robert Dugoni

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

“’There is nothing so dangerous as a maxim’. –C.J.May   Some Rules of Evidence: Reasonable Doubt in Civil and Criminal Cases (1876)” (Location 49% of uncorrected proof)

The most important part of MY SISTER’S GRAVE for me was the story about how a disappearance and murder affects a family and a whole community.  The relationship between sisters and the after affects upon the remaining child, are examined from a different perspective and demonstrate that manipulations do not produce the loving truth or freedom from danger.  Those secrets drive a good story and often produce an even scarier scenario – the melodramatic conclusion of the story just kept me glued to the very last drop in the bucket.

I do not have a book cover for this book, so I will share MY SISTER’S GRAVE description from Amazon:
Tracy Crosswhite has spent twenty years questioning the facts surrounding her sister Sarah’s disappearance and the murder trial that followed. She doesn’t believe that Edmund House—a convicted rapist and the man condemned for Sarah’s murder—is the guilty party. Motivated by the opportunity to obtain real justice, Tracy became a homicide detective with the Seattle PD and dedicated her life to tracking down killers.

When Sarah’s remains are finally discovered near their hometown in the northern Cascade Mountains of Washington State, Tracy is determined to get the answers she’s been seeking. As she searches for the real killer, she unearths dark, long-kept secrets that will forever change her relationship to her past—and open the door to deadly danger.

TLC Booktours   sent me an unproofed, uncorrected e-copy of this book for review.  I appreciated the read very much and enjoyed reading MY SISTER’S GRAVE

Here is the Author’s Biography from Amazon:

“Robert Dugoni is the critically acclaimed and New York Times–bestselling author of the David Sloane series: The Jury Master, Wrongful Death, Bodily Harm, Murder One, and The Conviction. Murder One was a finalist for the Harper Lee Award for literary excellence. Dugoni is also the author of the bestselling standalone novel Damage Control, and his nonfiction exposé, The Cyanide Canary, was a Washington Post Best Book of the Year selection. Dugoni’s books have been likened to Scott Turow and Nelson DeMille, and he has been hailed as “the undisputed king of the legal thriller” by The Providence Journal.”

The final copy of the book has just been released and the words of praise are mounting up for this suspenseful book – just like the snow in the North Cascades on the final pages. It takes place in a fictional town in Washington State and it is always fun to know the territories and the qualities of the communities being described and experienced.

I had a bit of trouble with the story at the beginning, whereas THE FIXER took place in Washington State, it was highlighting sexual abuse particularly of foster children and our incredible Children’s Justice Center and responsibilities.  I felt this story was confusing at the start (maybe because of the spelling errors with an unproofed copy) but I could not find the life flow – the value – within the story except by the attacking the victim behavior, which was very unenlightened and protective of the sexual perpetrator.  Tracy, the family survivor, was under nearly constant attack and threat for her life, her work, and even her community. She is a scientist and needs to know and search for true answers.  I just had to stop for half a day and take a deep breath; I had to be angry about the abuse heaped on our President, upon myself, the constant jibs and jabs at the lead character and the profound loneliness of trying to survive in that environment and stay true to the self and values.   There was an element where all the female victims were to blame for their tragedy, which became overwhelming.  I had to drag myself back to reading this book and finally cheer the truth creating a real freedom and release – a moment of loving sex also benefited this tale – oh! To be believed and supported.

 Robert Dugoni Online

The Fixer
The Condor Song
The Highest Tide
The Contractors 

What are you Afraid of?

Monday, October 31st, 2011


Laurie wrote a great post at HolEssence asking the reader  What do you DO with fear.   It was an action question and I thought a very good one for Halloween.

This post provided me with the opportunity to share my action plan, which I wrote about in the comments section and have included on this post – take note, it is an action.

“I always use October to work on my “fear” and bring up new awareness and insight….I have a special (well one of my kids old spiral notebooks they did not use up) journal I use each new October. Similar to the early people who lit big bonfires and tried to clean their fields of fearful intruders, I try to shed light on what worries me or concerns me….and then study how to relieve those fears. I believe then I will be ready to advance myself to finding my better self in the dark of winter when I am not distracted by the whims of outdoors and can turn on the light to my gifts and talents.

I am currently tackling whether or not I will be able to sing again, by joining the Olympia Peace Choir with my 5 notes of sound post surgery. I am also working- building my immune system so I can go  for a visit and not get another virus that swells my joints and brings so much pain….I am truly afraid to experience this again. And I am diving deeply into what is stopping me from losing weight – what am I hanging on to?

I think this is more what Halloween is about than costumes and candy, which now the adults in my area have made bigger than the children’s celebrations….I think it is now a big cover up of what they need to address in themselves. One in 5 adults is on anti-depressants these days – we need to learn how to use our fear to help us grow…not mask and hide it”

I have also doubled my exercise time and not done so much online time these past few weeks, because as I work on pain relief, I am finding myself depressed about my status and that is fear directed at myself.   So besides talking to myself in my journal, I am talking with a professional in the healing arts – more action.  If I keep it all inside, I will be slipping down a slippery slope.

This may sound a bit perverse, but I was always happy when my children experienced depression in their teen years, because while they were in a safe environment – still protected by me, I was able to find ways for them to learn how to deal with depression without medication or drugs, but it always involved action and usually talking with someone.  We did not try to mask or cover up, instead we said Depression is a part of being a full human being – it is like brushing your teeth, you need to be aware and preventative, but also take care and take action when there is a problem.

Most people experience depression in their own unique way, but the outward symptoms are quite similar in most people. It is often a response to a deeply seeded fear.

So I will ask the same question as Laurie did on her blog, “What do you DO with fear?”

I will also share this link with you of Chris Brogan’s that depression is an offline activity and is very difficult to recognize in the online world.

I hope you will share this post with your friends, because I am worried about all those people feeling depressed and fearful and I hope my words might assist them in actively pursuing some relief.  They need to feel wonder full and hopeful.

Here are some more words that just might provide a real treat:
A Divine Listener
How To Be Sick
You Are Not Your Brain
Exercising the Emotions

Exercising the Emotions II

Thursday, June 9th, 2011


We are out and about and filling our lungs with fresh air and our conversations with more emotional integrity and excitement.

We are exercising our emotions and taking the challenge to better equip our fitness needs.  I started this challenge with Exercising the Emotions I and am ready to move on to the next challenge.  How about you?  How are you doing with finding more words to describe what you are feeling and using them in your writing and conversations?  Can you tell if it is making a difference yet?

Quite often we get to the point where our muscles are sore and tender when starting a new physical routine, and I am afraid that the same is true for giving our emotions a good work out. It takes about 6 weeks of regular practice to increase the flow and knowledge of your emotions.  So don’t give up because it is a bit trying or difficult.

The average college graduate only uses about 20 words in this category of emotions.  This category makes the gut, ego, mind, and heart all integrate what one is feeling to find expression.  This challenge is about Feelings experienced when our needs are being fulfilled.

Before I begin the challenge I would like to offer up a wee bit of biology; just what I know to be true. All the nerve endings in our physical bodies are sending messages to the gut and the brain all the time.  As babies we started training these messages to have certain definitions and some specialized responses.  We can retrain these responses when we need to do something differently and recode the messages.  Lots of folks know how to turn off their feelings of being ticklish.  We get 1000s of messages all the time, all day long and culturally we have trained ourselves to turn down the volume on most and we have not trained ourselves how to use the messages to enhance our journey.

As so many authors I have been reading as of late are saying, if we are going to experience a paradigm change and become a more loving and focused people, then we need to understand and use our emotions at a higher fitness level.

So let’s get going on Challenge #2

Here are the 50 words about feelings experienced when our needs are being fulfilled, I am asking you to #1 add 10 new words you can think of to the list. Please share them in the comments section.  #2 I would like you to practice using a number of these words in your daily conversation or writing and note any changes in your demeanor.

Wonderful        zestful            warm        trust
Tenderness        thankful        thrilled        tranquil
Sensitive        splendid        secure        satisfied
Radiant            quiet            rested        proud
Pleasure        peaceful        overjoyed    optimism
Overwhelmed        merry            mellow        moved
Loving            jubilant            joyous        interested
Intrigued        invigorated        inspired        inquisitive
Happy            helpful            hopeful        groovy
Gratification        grateful            glorious        glowing
Glee            glad            fulfilled        friendly
Energetic        elated            encouraged    delighted
Confident        calm            comfortable    bliss
Alive            animated        buoyant    appreciation

#3 Take a few minutes and enjoy these words and notice how they feel within your body’s frame.
You might noticed these words form an integration from at least four stimulus areas of the body to have an effect.  They will strengthen your heartfelt thinking along with other muscles in your body. Finally #4 would you take a minute and create a new word and define it for us – give us a new word and definition to describe an emotion where all four parts of the stimulus are integrated.

Oh I am so excited to read what you have to share, I am all a twittery!


If you order anything from Amazon from my site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket – Thank you.

Related Reading:
The Social Animal: the hidden source of love character and achievement
Happy Dance of Gratitude
Change Artist is Action
Inner Productivity