Thursday, May 25, 2017

On Abandoning the World and Walking with the One who Created it




from one of my 5am flights

And he walked with God and he was not. 

How is that for abandoned to God? Living so completely in and with and for and through God that you simply walk with him until you are not. He must increase and I must decrease.

~ Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord; he was perfect in his generations; God did not take him. Instead, God directed him to build an ark.
~ Moses, to whom God talked as to a friend, a relationship unlike any other, afterward had a face that literally shone. So brightly he had to veil himself, as the temple was veiled to hide the Holy of Holies. That's how much his body reflected the Person of God with Whom he met. He was buried by God.
~ Elijah and Elisha raised the dead and called down fire and over and over and over again asked for and received the impossible. They heard His voice, saw the otherworld surrounding them...lived in that reality of the God who spoke in a still, small voice in the midst of earthquakes and fire, and who sent chariots and horses of fire to carry His servant home - or to protect them as they served Him on earth.
~ David, the man after God's own heart, of whose shattered prayers we can read pages upon pages, heard from prophets. He also up and asked God things and heard God answer him. But he was not allowed to build a temple for the God who spoke with him.
~ Paul, the passionate, difficult-to-understand missionary who traveled across the world and died for the One whose Name he proclaimed, heard a voice from heaven...and was later 'caught up to the third heaven', and that was enough.
~ Daniel, dedicated to the God who permitted the destruction of his entire life, was beloved of the Lord, visited by dreams and visions and angels throughout his life.
~ John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, not only walked with God incarnate, but in worshiping Him after, saw Him as the King among the rainbows and candles, and was given vision after vision of the future of the world.

It doesn't happen the same way twice. 

There is no perfect pattern of here is how to walk with Me and here is how I will reveal Myself to you. It's the same God working with and connecting with different people in all these different ways. It doesn't matter how you think it'll go or what specific person you want to someday be like but rather it is about with Whom you are walking.

Abide in Me and I in you.

Can any of you tell me what Abide means to you? Practical ways that you abide in Him and forsake the world in which you actually live, while still being in the world but not of it
How you walk with God

Monday, May 22, 2017

Brief May Snippets


So this month I would like to note I have finished editing Contract to Time Travel...at least for now...and if you'd like a few traumatic dramatic moments in time...read on.


~~~


For a moment Amon did not speak, and in that silence they scarcely breathed.
"And what was Rui Arries' place?" Amon's voice was no louder, and more dangerous yet for the chill calm underlying every word.
"He was leader of the patrols before he betrayed you." Ja-Il’s voice was still as death.
"Have you worked with him before?" The words were gentler yet.
"Yes, my lord." Ja-Il answered, without any hint of explanation or excuse.

"Then should you have expected this?" Amon's lip curled viciously, and Hae-Jin lowered his eyes yet further.
~~~

Oh, God, please, please—
A shadow separated itself from the mist, and suddenly there was Phoenix, hands grasping futilely at a thin reza strap about her neck. Someone was effortlessly pushing her forward, holding the reza twisted just tightly enough to cut off her breath.
It was Ja-Il. His black shirt, silver lacing looped across one shoulder, swinging with his every movement, was buttoned only partially, and she could see the edge of the brand Amon had burned into him, the scar he would carry the rest of his life. Not A for angel, but A for Amon, A to show he was wholly and completely bound to the one whose name he bore, written with fire in his very flesh.
His lips curled away from his teeth as her gaze met his, and he twisted his hand slightly. One turn of his wrist and he could break her twin’s neck. What he had forgotten only God knew, but his hand on Phoenix controlled her as surely as if it were at her own throat.

~~~

Also, I would like to introduce Inside my Mind -- a partially gender-swapped story based on/inspired by The Phantom of the Opera and set on the moon.
collage by me; pictures & lyrics not mine

It will be part of a 4-volume set which also includes stories based on Sleeping Beauty, a gender-swapped Little Mermaid, and Medusa. I am having a blast, because a science-minded ambassador's son tapped by rebel leaders to bring an ancient princess out of cryo-sleep is delightful to write, while a young policeman going deep undercover because he fell in love with the daughter of a gangster while blissfully unaware that his boss intends to bury him along with much evidence of police corruption is also great. Medusa's story is far darker, but suffice it to say that she and my opera ghost have a great deal in common, and the company that destroyed their lives and that keeps the sleeping princess asleep will have a pretty reckoning ahead when she turns her deadly gaze on them. 
Athena/Maleficient is a great combination, by the way.


~~~
The world to come will judge me. 
It is inevitable. 
Whether they will judge me more for what I did in the beginning or the thing I did in the end...I do not know. No one will understand the times we lived or the horrors we faced or the decisions we were forced to make. At least we thought we were forced, believed we had no choice but to make the decisions that we did. 
My peers see no other choices yet. I am condemned, and this decision I understand. I have betrayed my orders and the secrets that should be most sacred to my trust. I beg no mercy for what I have done. 
Nor do I repent. Should any other have seen and heard as I have done, that one could not condemn me. As to the rest...they cannot understand. 
Ah, the world to come will judge us all. Yet the world does not even know my name. 
I go now as I am ordered, obedient in this, when I have been disobedient in so much else, and the name they shall place upon my grave will simply be The Persian.


~~~

He swore unthinkingly, cursing his spiritual coordinator to a place the coordinator did not believe existed, then put his hand over his mouth. 
“Bad 'com?” 
He started, then turned to face Galiaskarov. He had forgotten she was there. “I apologize,” he said. “That was inappropriate.” 
She looked at him, holding his gaze with almost unnerving directness. “Inappropriate, perhaps, but tragically not untrue.” 

~~~

"Yes?" Even through an obvious voice modulator the question was clipped and abrupt. 
"Ah...yes..." he said. "I am...not in the habit of speaking to the disembodied voices of ancient Roman goddesses." 
"I prefer the designation of ancient Greek monster," the voice said. "And would you like to get in the habit or is this conversation over?" 


Thursday, May 18, 2017

To live boldly

I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
Peter was always a bit impulsive, always a bit of a leader...ready to jump up and follow a stranger, to go fishing, to chase after Jesus even when darkness ruled and he was terrified and everything pointed to his Leader dying and any who tried to defend him dying with Him, and that Leader had already refused the only help Peter knew how to give -- even then he followed, though he could not go all the way.

In that horrendous moment of realization and the wretched time that came after, in his repentance and his sorrow, Peter was purged. The fear the world had ingrained in him suddenly could not matter so much. Some forty days later at the beginning of Acts, Peter, having seen his Risen Lord and been charged to feed the sheep, does exactly that. He is the one to rise to speak, he is the one to explain to everyone what God hath wrought. He's also the one to speak to the lame man, and to again give a solid Repent-and-Live sermon. He's the one to respond to the High Priests when the disciples are hauled in for questioning. He's the second disciple Herod arrests -- clearly a recognized leader by that point. 

In Acts 10, God shows him the equality of the human race, and Peter, shocked though he seems, appears to understand and take the lesson to heart -- in the very next chapter he defends his position and clearly explains what he has learned. In Acts 15, Peter reaffirms what he has learned, and stands with Paul in refusing to force Gentile believers to be circumcised. 

And yet.

Paul mentions the meeting with Peter in his letter to the Galatians, and then states:
But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision...But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Peter knew this. He'd heard it straight from the mouth of God along with a heavenly vision. He was the one who'd first convinced everyone else.
So why did he need Paul, of all people, to remind him?


The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? 
As a child, Peter was one of my least favorite disciples. He said stupid things. He was always getting in trouble. He was irritating. Give me a Daniel or a Joseph, the former of whose enemies couldn't find a single fault with and even with the latter the worst than could be said of him was that he was a little too aware of how special he was. (For which you can scarcely blame him, considering how and by whom he was raised.) Growing up and realizing as I stumbled along the way how little like Daniel I was...Peter started looking a lot more interesting. 

My underlying personality is nothing like Peter's. I'm an INFP - a peace-maker with a rock-solid dedication to truth at my core. But, like Peter, being born into a fallen world changed a few things. I abhor conflict and am a people-pleaser and forget oh, so often, truths that God has already taught me. Peter, who spent ~3 years living with the Son of God and the rest of his life serving Him, forgot things that had been shouted at him three times out of heaven. No matter how frustrated I get with myself that didn't God teach this to you two years ago? WHY ARE YOU NEEDING TO HEAR IT AGAIN?!? ...this appears to be a function of living on this earth. The theory of "sin bents" and "besetting sins" and things written into our DNA that mean certain sins will tempt us more than they tempt others makes sense to me. 

This doesn't mean we get a free pass to shrug and move on. This means we pay attention when God teaches us something...and we tell everyone around us and we surround ourselves with people who, like Paul, are willing to call us out on any stupidity or sin into which we might fall. It might be different parts of the same core issue tripping us up in different ways (the fear of man caught Peter both times, though one led to denying fellowship with Christ and the other led to him denying friendship with His followers), and no matter the specific incident, that core issue might take a dozen calling-outs before we fully understand how to deal with it...so we had better use each of those calling-outs to learn as fully as we possibly can what we need to change in our life, and what lesson we need to write on our hearts.

 In calling me and saving me, Jesus Christ has begun a good work in me which He continues to perfect - He is daily making me more like Himself, more into the person I was originally meant to be. The fact that I am not that person yet is in no way a failure of His, and it is no license for me to give up the fight. We have been redeemed by Love and created by a Master Craftsman. Sanctification is the work of a lifetime, even for the Apostle Peter. 


 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Beautiful People


PAPERFURY
click to join the link-up!
Well...in honor of editing Contract to Time Travel, I'm going with some of the main characters: Echo and Ja-Il and Ellian. Depending on the question. XD




1) Overall, how good is their relationship with their parents?
Echo Fire: As good as any child's relationship can be with people who chose martyrdom over parenting. She is not, perhaps, the charismatic leader that either of her parents was or that her sister has the potential to be, but she is as much a Fire as any of them, and if she leads by the very force of her nature, rather than by the brightness of her burning, she is nonetheless followed. She loved them, and though she was hurt by their leaving, it was a hurt that she thoroughly understands. 


2) Do they know both their biological parents? If not, how do they cope with this loss/absence and how has it affected their life?
Ja-Il: He never knew them and he never really thought about knowing them. Realizing that the youngest of Amon's Five actually missed having a mother/wanted to meet his parents did make him wonder a little bit, but he had never considered it until then. He was always too focused on the present and the future to think of the past. As to the second part, being raised by Amon and Dr. Lilith obviously gave him a very different life than had he been normally born to the people whose DNA was used in creating him.


3) How did their parents meet?
Ellian: Through mutual acquaintances in the business world. Their eventual marriage was a financially beneficial arrangement and they had similar interests and each found the other quite attractive in a diamond-bling-sort-of-way...it was a fine kind of relationship, for what it was.


4) How would they feel if they were told “you’re turning out like your parent(s)”?
Ellian: He would viscerally react in a way even he would not fully understand. The thought of becoming either his father or his mother is one he has shoved to the back of his mind as forcibly as he possibly can, but somewhere, deep down, it remains one of his horrors. It's why he talks so much, why he cares so much about his sister, why he invests in others despite his own common sense and the knowledge that it would be far wiser to keep others at an arm's length. 


5) What were your character’s parents doing when they were your character’s age?
Echo: Chafing under Amon's rule, falling in love with each other, and already preparing themselves to join the rebellion. 


6) Is there something they adamantly disagree on?
Ellian: Most things pertaining to What is Most Important in Life...general things on What Olivia Most Needs...random topics like How Responsible is Ellian...now it's mostly things like You Picked a Horrible Time to Die and I Know it's Not Your Fault But I Hate That You're Dead and I Hate That I'll Never Get a Real Relationship With You and Sometimes I Hate You and Then I Hate Myself for That Even More. {I'm assuming his parents disagree with this, though it's hard to say, considering they're dead.}


7) What did the parent(s) find hardest about raising your character?
Ja-Il: Despite naming himself a child of Amon, and answering to Amon's "My son," Ja-Il did not exactly experience raising. He was created more than he was born, and monitored and manipulated rather than ever actually raised. I don't think Amon would admit to any difficulties in the monitoring and manipulating phase of things, but creating the loyalty that melded the chimera to his creator's will for so many years and forcing one so much more vitally alive to exist only for his bidding definitely took some doing. 


8) What’s their most vivid memory with their parental figure(s)?
Echo: Her mother leaving and asking her to look out for her twin and apologizing that she and their father could not stay. It was the last time she ever saw her parents. 


9) What was your character like as a baby/toddler?
Ja-Il: *author brain malfunctions trying to picture Ja-Il as a toddler*
Um, I'm guessing he was something like Petra, who I can easily see as a toddler...but even more imaginative and more adventurous and more fond of the word "Why?" though he quickly learned to ask and answer that question silently for himself, Amon not being fond of it.


10) Why and how did the parents choose your character’s name?
Echo: They were attempting to keep the government as uninvolved as possible, which meant little-to-no prenatal care...when Phoenix was born, they named her purposefully as a fighter, a leader, a force that would rise again and again no matter how many times others attempted to destroy it...and when they realized there was a second child, they decided to double the effect and name that second child to repeat and amplify that purpose


 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

this dreadful desire


And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
Fear is a very common response throughout the Bible, whenever a mortal sees beyond the veil to the Immortal. 
and I Daniel fainted, and was sick certain days   
then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone...for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts 
then...I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days
Interestingly, none of these were God revealing Himself in a dream to a person to explain the blessings He had in store for them. What exactly did God tell Jacob?
I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; 
And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 

And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.
No judgment. Not even any requirements. Simply a statement of blessing. Yet Jacob was afraid. Not afraid enough change that much...and not afraid to promise God more than this:
If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God: And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.
He was not quite ready to serve this God of dreams and promises, not ready to accept anything other than stuff from this God {he doesn't mention "in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed"}, but despite his fear, he is ready to make a promise in return. Maybe not much of a start, but a start. And what becomes a refrain throughout the rest of the Scriptures? What is the name that this God uses to identify Himself?  
I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
So much to come from such a half-hearted start. But The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and though it was not until much later that Jacob was willing to claim that blessing and that with-ness (Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me...) not until much later that he reached the child-like state of crying out I will not let thee go, except thou bless me, ready to claim this God as His, ready to say I have seen God face to face...the beginning was here, where he was afraid and called God's house dreadful. 

I would rather say with David
One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.
yet I want to maintain a child-sense of wonder and awe at the greatness, the power, the incredible majesty of this God who has revealed Himself to me, and exactly what it means to behold His beauty, to ask of Him, and to receive His blessings. To abandon myself to fearing Him while abandoning all other fears.

To dwell in His house forever...dreadful though it may be...this is my desire.

the winter view from the Catholic hospital where
I've done most rotations this year






Monday, May 8, 2017

as I graduate...


The first patient I ever saw by myself was in an emergency room. Sweet, confused, willing to tell me about her UTI. I looked at the history and physical format the ED physician wrote out for me like it was magic, and entered the patient's room and heard her story fully conscious of the responsibility with which I had been entrusted. I hadn't even applied to medical school yet.

The first patient I ever saw in medical school was fake. A college boy, paid $20 by the medical school to sit in a room while I asked him about his health history. He was awkward. I was awkward. I don't know how the preceptor didn't burst out laughing. 

The first baby I ever saw born was an adorable boy. Born in the fall of my first year. I stood in the corner and watched life come into the outside world and nearly cried with happiness. I also promptly got lightheaded and nearly passed out as soon as the doctor and I left the room. 

The first patient I ever diagnosed was the summer between first and second year. A baby with a lacy rash and a fever. 5th disease. "It might be something else," that ED physician said, after I looked too excited over having actually figured it out. (It was sheer guesswork, which is why I was so thrilled.)

The first patient I ever properly worked up was an elder with atrial fibrillation. "Look what you found now," said my preceptor, and I stared at the EKG in amazement because look what I'd just made happen because I'd recognized something during the exam. 

The first patient I lost was another elder with fibrillation that had led to a stroke. I watched him come, watched him rally, and watched him fade, while his family stayed at his bedside and talked to me in ways I could never forget. I watched his breathing change, and I was grateful that his family was with him when he finally died. 

The first patient relationship I was proud of was with a thirteen-year-old who came in for an asthma check-up. During the next few months we worked through attitude problems, issues with school, depression, and insomnia, and over time we went from a refusal to talk to me to actual disappointment when I finally left that clinic.

The patients I see after this will be truly my patients because I now have the degree that says I am a doctor. But the patients who taught me over the past many few years, who allowed me to follow along with their doctor, who answered my awkwardly-phrased questions, who allowed me to examine them even when it took me forever and didn't benefit them, who let me catch their babies, who let me speak with their children, who let me give them shots and sew their skin, who cheered me on and told me I was going to be a good doctor when I was sure I'd never manage it...I am grateful to each and every one of them for all they taught me, and I hope to be the doctor they said I would be, and fulfill their trust that someday their efforts would be repaid by the existence of skilled doctor for them and their children.





morning view from one of the many hospitals at which I've rotated...not one where any of my first patients above were admitted. XD

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Books That Changed My Life


The Bible
In the circles in which I was raised, the question "What's your favorite book?" was always a certain conversation-starter. One very important part of that question, however, was the words the Bible. Either the answerer would start the answer with, "Well, after the Bible, my favorite book is..." or they would finish the answer with, "after the Bible, of course." Often, the asker would automatically just include, "Besides the Bible," in their question. Sometimes, if they did not ask it that way, and the answerer failed to include it, the original asker might just throw it in as their response: "You mean, after the Bible, right?" To which the answerer would respond, "Oh, of course! I just assumed you meant my second favorite book."

Perhaps I exaggerate? Slightly, if at all. Twelve-year-old girls can be incredibly predictable. At this point I look back and can't help but wonder a bit if that answer was always...strictly...true. I love books and have as long as I can remember...and some of my earliest memories are of listening to the New Testament on tape every night to help me fall asleep. (I still do this. It's better than Ambien.) I loved the book of Acts even as a three-year-old...and in deciding the Bible should be my favorite book, I made it so. I read it every day and worked to memorize pieces of it all the time.


Given that, it has certainly changed my life the most. Even beyond the reality-altering Truth it contains - that the Creator of the Universe died so that we could know Him - it is a beautiful book, filled with glory and majesty that no other book can hope to match. It is my standard for life, for death, for being a doctor or a writer or a person of any kind.


Sufficient Grace 
by Jessica Greyson
This wasn't a book I expected would change my life...but how often do we know which things will? The difference it has made in my life has been incredible. Not only was I shocked to find a heroine I completely understood (this is a very rare thing :) who also inspired me to be better person, the book actually hugely helped me to write the personal statement for my medical school application. It also led to deepening several friendships, including one in particular which makes my life better every day, and is a life-changing friendship if ever there was one. We were friends years before I read this book...but when I look back, I find myself thinking of SG as the book that knit us together and that is a symbol of the friendship that is in so large part responsible for the person I am today. 


And It Was Love  

by me
If I did not expect Sufficient Grace to change my life, I expected it of AIWL even less. An unplanned prequel to a novel that ended up growing longer than the original novel, AIWL was a book I fought with for-seeming-ever, arguing with characters and wrestling with scenes and eventually finishing it more in exhaustion than triumph. But it was a snippet from that book that led another person to comment on my blog, and her reactions as she beta-read the story did not stop at just the story. Chapter by chapter we got to know each other, sharing first one thing and then another, and by the end we were well on our way to a friendship that has changed my life in ways I did not even know were possible.



Elizabeth Blackwell the First Woman Doctor


There are so many books with this title/variations on this title. I felt like I read half a dozen as a child, and I've teased my mom that she began brainwashing me in first grade to become a doctor. XD Elizabeth's pioneer thought process, her iron will, and her insistence on doing exactly what she felt called to do with absolute disregard for what rules other people tried to force on her always stuck with me. As the first female doctor in the US she remains one of my heroes, and the hodge-podge of books I read about her as a child definitely had their effect.



“I do not wish to give (women) a first place, still less a second one- but the complete freedom to take their true place, whatever it may be.”  ~ Elizabeth Blackwell




The Queen's Thief series {The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, A Conspiracy of Kings, Thick As Thieves soon-to-come}
by Megan Whalen Turner


As a child, any book I liked I read repeatedly - Johnny Tremain, Rifles for Watie, Crushed yet Conquering, The Shadow of the Bear, The Black Stallion, Moccasin Trail, Wild-Life Cameraman, Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, By Far Euphrates, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Captain Blood, and many others were devoured multiple times over the years and all left their mark. {If you want a blog post on books that helped to shape my life...XD}
Once I started college, however, my time for re-reading dropped dramatically, and since starting medical school, my time for reading at all has been very rare. The Queen's Thief series is one I discovered when I was 18, and has become one of the very, very few sets of books that I have read and reread repeatedly since that time. It's a historical fantasy series that provoked me to believe I could write whatever style I wished if only I did it well, one that showed me a multi-book salvation journey better than any I'd seen in Christian fiction, and one that did politics and relationships and life in a brilliant manner that continues to inspire me as a writer.




Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust
by Immaculee Ilibagiza

This is a book I've read only once, but it was one of the first times that current world horror hit me in a way that changed my thinking. Realizing that 500,000-1,000,000 people (what kind of span even is that?) people were killed in such a calculated and horrendous fashion while I was a baby and the world did nothing...that had to change me.
Shortly after finishing this book, I found myself talking to someone who had been a middle-aged adult when all this was going on. Still somewhat in shock from what I had read, I actually asked him if he had known this was happening. He had. Why didn't you DO SOMETHING? I asked, thinking surely people could have stopped the slaughter earlier if they'd only tried. But this person shrugged. "They're always killing each other over there," he answered, and I was left reeling.
It is so easy to turn a blind eye, to believe there is nothing I can do in the face of tremendous world tragedy. But I pray this memory always stays with me and that when those who come after me ask, about abortion, about North Korea, about refugees...I will be able to say I did something.




What books would you say have changed your life?

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