My family isn't much for Halloween, but my sister's neighbor really likes my nieces and wanted them to dress up and go to her place. They did, and stayed in their outfits so we could see them when they came down to my parents' for the evening
Katie was a pilgrim
Allie was an Indian
Friday, October 30, 2009
My family isn't much for Halloween, but my sister's neighbor really likes my nieces and wanted them to dress up and go to her place. They did, and stayed in their outfits so we could see them when they came down to my parents' for the evening
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
This blog post comes with a warning. If you do not personally know me, you may want to skip reading this - I don't want to scare off anyone who reads my book reviews. :-)
I had a couple people at church tonight commenting that they miss my blog posts, that all I do is book reviews now - and here I didn't think anyone read what I write. :-)
Anyway, I thought I'd give what I hope is a brief explanation - knowing me and my gift of gab, it probably will not be brief.
Sixteen months ago, I moved back to Ohio, after living in Indiana for two years. I did have a part-time job for several months, but had to quit that. Since early July, I have not had a job, and try without success to get one. Thankfully, my dad lays carpet as a side job, and has needed my help enough over the past few months that I have been able to pay my bills - car payment, car insurance, cell phone, and storage unit, where 99% of my possessions rest.
For the last sixteen months, I have been living in my parents' basement, with not much privacy, though I am thankful they have allowed me to stay.
Now that is my circumstances. Over the course of this time, I have steadily become more and more discouraged and depressed - and am actually suffering from depression - self-diagnosed, and also by friends, have not made it to a doctor yet, but my symptoms line right up with depression.
Some of the reasons:
Since I moved back, I have really felt disconnected from everyone was very close to before - as in friends - and feel disconnected from my church.
I turned 40 in May, and as stupid as it may sound, it has really affected me negatively. I hate it - I guess it is such a big milestone, and my life is so far from where I want it to be - and good grief, I'm living with my parents!
Due to financial problems over the past 5 years or so, I had to file for bankruptcy - another nail in the coffin of failure.
Uh, the living with my parents - that is depressing at my age.
Largely in part to the depression, I am sure, my relationship with God is a mess. I struggle more than ever with trusting God, and believing He cares - I daily wonder if He has a plan for my life, or if have I messed it up too badly. I have a hard time praying, and it seems like nothing I pray for happens.
Life-long battles I have had, which were much abated in the two years I lived in Indiana, have come back with a vengeance.
The future scares me. For reasons I can't go into here, I will most likely never marry, yet the idea of being alone for the rest of my life terrifies me.
Filing bankruptcy may play a big part in this, but I even fear living by myself again - will I be able to afford a place of my own, pay all my bills, without getting into debt again? The last time I lived by myself is when my financial issues started snowballing.
I find myself doubting myself constantly - I wonder if I can do anything right. I really don't want to go anywhere - even church. I'd rather just stay home and not be around people. I feel like a mess.
Anyway, all of this has a major effect on my blogging - the more depressed I am, the less I blog - if it were not for the book reviews, I wouldn't be blogging at all.
So my apologies to my friends who actually want to read about what I'm thinking - and my apologies to anyone else who actually read through this. I would ask an interest in anyone's prayers who might read this. Thanks.
Posted by Mark at 10:07 PM
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Allison is a published author who lives in a small Texas town with her husband and three young sons. She is the co-author of Daddy Do You Love Me: a Daughter’s Journey of Faith and Restoration (New Leaf Press, 2006). Justin Case, the first of three children’s books will be published by Harvest House in June 2009. Ariel is a weekly contributor to http://www.christiandevotions.us/ and on her thoughts as a redeemed dreamer at http://www.arielallison.blogspot.com/.
I am the daughter of an acclaimed and eccentric artist, and given my “unconventional” childhood, had ample time to explore the intricacies of story telling. I was raised at the top of the Rocky Mountains with no running water or electricity (think Laura Ingles meets the Hippie Movement), and lived out the books I read while running barefoot through the sagebrush. My mother read to me by the light of a kerosene lantern for well over a decade, long after I could devour an entire novel in the course of a day. Authors such as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, George MacDonald, and L.M. Montgomery were the first to capture my heart and I have
grown to love many others since.
ABOUT THE BOOK
eye of the god takes the fascinating history surrounding the Hope Diamond and weaves it together with a present-day plot to steal the jewel from the Smithsonian Institute.
We follow Alex and Isaac Weld, the most lucrative jewel thieves in the world, in their quest to steal the gem, which according to legend was once the eye of a Hindu idol named Rama Sita. When it was stolen in the 17th century, it is said that the idol cursed all those who would possess it. That won’t stop the brilliant and ruthless Weld brothers.
However, they are not prepared for Dr. Abigail Mitchell, the beautiful Smithsonian Director, who has her own connection to the Hope Diamond and a deadly secret to keep. Abby committed long ago that she would not serve a god made with human hands, and the “eye of the god” is no exception. Her desire is not for wealth, but for wisdom. She seeks not power, but restoration.
When the dust settles over the last great adventure of the Hope Diamond, readers will understand the “curse” that has haunted its legacy is nothing more than the greed of evil men who bring destruction upon themselves. No god chiseled from stone can direct the fates of humankind, nor can it change the course of God’s story.
If you would like to read the prologue and first chapter of eye of the god, go HERE
I loved this book. It contains a lot of history about the Hope Diamond, which I found fascinating. The plot was intriguing - I was never sure until the end who the bad guys really were. The author had a way of writing the story so I was totally surprised by a couple of things at the end.
I do feel that there wasn't much of a Christian element in the book. There was no language, but I do like a Christian fiction book where God is more central to the book. I was left wondering for most of the book if the main character was a Christian or not. Other than that, I thought the book was excellent. Not only a great suspense novel, but I did learn a lot about the Hope Diamond.
Monday, October 26, 2009
It is a beautiful day in Ohio, so I decided to head out for the covered bridge and bike/walking trail near me. Armed with my Ipod, camera, and cell phone, I set out mainly to take some pictures, and get a little walk in. I took pictures previously and posted, but it all looks different in the fall.
Below, a hillside off Route 45 close to the covered bridge
Another view of the trail
Not sure what kind of tree this is, but the leaves are fairly large
Some pretty leaves I spotted from the trail
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Author Mike Dellosso, whose book Scream was reviewed by me on my blog (http://thoughtsofasojourner.blogspot.com/2009/10/scream.html) - has been discussing some interesting topics about Christian books. His latest, "Living on the edge" talks about authors who try to be "edgy" by pushing the envelope with what they write. Check out his blog post, and give your thoughts - he has some great thoughts on the subject: wide-eyed fiction.
I want to wish my niece, Stephanie, a happy 14th birthday. Fourteen years ago today, I sat in the waiting room waiting to become an uncle for the first time. I was so badly hoping for a nephew, but I got two more nieces before my other sister married and finally had three boys, but I love them all equally.
Stephanie is no longer a little girl - they do grow up so fast. I am proud of you sweetie, and love you a lot. Happy birthday.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
My nieces are spending the night at my parents' house, so my mom took the three of them and myself out to eat at a pizza buffet we like. The waitress went beyond the call of duty, and was tipped well for her efforts.
First off: she gave a discount on my youngest niece, even though she was a year too old for it.
Secondly, my mom was going to order a small pizza to take to my dad, and the waitress gave her a box and told her to get a couple of pieces from the buffet instead - I think she knew my nieces didn't eat their share.
And thirdly, she really made my day: I asked if she could have a cherry dessert pizza made, and when it came out of the oven, she brought a pan with at least 8 pieces straight to our table, so I'd be sure to get some of it - since the pan was on our table, that meant we had to eat it all. What an awesome waitress!
In the Arms of Immortals travels a richly imagined journey into a key moment of history...the arrival of the Black Death in Europe. Tautly suspenseful and deeply moving, this novel will deftly lift readers into its fascinating narrative of angels and demons, mortality and immortality.
This is probably one of the most different books I have ever read. It is historical fiction about the forces of evil verses the forces of good. It is a little bit medieval. If you enjoy books
about spiritual warfare, this is a book - and series - you should read.
About the author:
Ginger Garrett is the critically acclaimed author of Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther, which was recognized as one of the top five novels of 2006 by the ECPA, and Dark Hour. An expert in ancient women's history, Ginger creates novels and nonfiction resources that explore the lives of historical women. A frequent media guest and television host, Ginger has been interviewed by The New York Times, NPR, Billy Graham's The Hour of Decision," The Harvest Show, Fox News, and many other outlets.
Review by Vicki.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
In light of what some Christian publishers are allowing in their books, I thought I'd post these guidelines that Barbour Books has set forth. I am not saying I agree with everything, and maybe they do go too far, but is it not better to err on the side of caution? Is it not better to be too careful about offending people, than to not care?
THINGS TO AVOID: Avoid the truly controversial. Although conflict is important for any storyline, certain matters should be avoided at all costs.
LANGUAGE—Stay away from any language that could be considered foul. Avoid euphemistic words and phrases like heck, darn, golly, gosh, good heavens, good grief, for Pete’s or heaven’s sake, and so on. To many of our readers these words are substitutes for curses, and in their minds as bad, or worse.
DIVORCE—We don’t want to see our heroes or heroines divorced, no matter what the circumstances. Divorce can be acceptable for secondary and non-Christian characters if handled with care.
DOCTRINE—Avoid denominations and their doctrinal issues. We will not list all these (there are too many). Keep in mind that we are appealing to a broad range of Christian evangelical readers. For example, church-sponsored activities should be proper. In a Heartsong Presents title, activities like dancing (including square dancing) and betting (including bingo) should not take place on church property or with the support of respected church leaders. See also the “Sticky Topics” area.
LIFESTYLES AND ACTIVITIES—The following activities are unacceptable for heroes and heroines in Heartsong Presents. However, for non-Christian characters, these conflicts can be explored, so long as the consequences for such actions are given in a realistic manner:
Dancing—this is generally acceptable in Historicals, but should be appropriate to the time period. Dancing in Contemporary novels is generally unacceptable and will be reviewed on a case by case basis.
Immodest Dress—characters should never appear outside their bedrooms in nightgowns. They should never appear in underwear or other private garments. Scenes within a private room, like a bedroom or bathroom, should be handled with care, keeping our guidelines in mind.
PASSION—Physical tension between characters should not be overdone. Do not be overly descriptive when describing how characters feel in a particular romantic moment, for example, kissing, embracing, and so on. It has been our belief from day one that we can tell a great love story without going into excessive physical detail. People can easily imagine the desires and tensions between a couple who are blossoming into love. Kisses are fine (no tongues or heights of arousal, please). There will be no sex between the hero and heroine in a Heartsong Presents romance, and any details of the hero and/or heroine’s past sexual experience should be handled very delicately.
Telling a story about a married couple doesn’t give the author license to tell too many details of their intimacy. An author can easily leave these details to the reader’s imagination with a simple whisper, glance, blush, or closed door. Sometimes what is alluded to is more romantic than details.
Avid readers of inspirational romance believe that true passion goes beyond the basic desire for sexual pleasure and touches a person in the depths of the soul. When the triangle (man, woman, and God) is complete, there can be true satisfaction and lasting love in a relationship.
CONTROVERSIAL ITEMS TO STEER CLEAR OF:
1. Spirit baptism
2. Water baptism (meaning of)
3. Time of Spirit baptism (at conversion vs. second experience of grace)
4. Time of water baptism (children or adults)
5. Gifts of the Spirit (e.g., are tongues still around?)
6. End times (setting dates and other specifics)
7. Lord’s Supper (ordinance vs. sacrament)
8. Women’s ordination
9. Christian perfection
10. Transferring qualities of Jesus—or passages in the Bible that refer to Jesus—to heroes in books. This also applies to Mary, Jesus’ earthly mother.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Samantha of Samaria is a fictional story of the woman at the well and chronicles her struggle to find peace through five husbands. David, husband number six, turns out to be the prodigal son from Jesus’ parable. The six men in Samantha’s life each make a different contribution to how she sees the world. Each relationship is an attempt to find what all of us long for: love. But Samantha's life has developed a pattern that looks for marriage to fail. Unfortunately, as with most things, practice makes perfect. Samantha finds she is not getting better at marriage, but instead is getting better at divorce. She has become an expert at letting go. Samantha is a master of rejection.
Eventually, Samantha learns the greatest lesson in life: we all need Christ to give our life purpose and meaning. Without Jesus as our cornerstone, our spiritual compass is untrue. Through a series of hard life lessons, Samantha comes to Christ and learns to be true to herself. She also learns that even when you’re alone, you do not have to be lonely.
Sometimes I like Biblical fiction, and sometimes I don't. The story of the woman at the well has always stood out to me. We don't know a lot about her, other than she had been married five times, and was living with a man not married to her, and that she was obviously looked down on.
The author uses his imagination and weaves a story about what this woman's life was like before she met Jesus. Intertwined with it, is the story of the prodigal son. Though not a very long book, 152 pages, I really enjoyed the book, and it made the Biblical story fresh and new. In addition to a new look at the woman at the well, I gained a new perspective on the prodigal son, and the book views a few parables through his eyes.
About the author:
John R. Ramsey is the founding Pastor of Harvest Worship Center, a non-denominational church in Panama City, Florida. Pastor Ramsey has been in full-time ministry for twenty-four years and has spent the past eighteen years serving as a pastor. His knowledge of God’s Word as well as his own journey allows him to tell stories with a unique perspective.
Pastor Ramsey and his wife live in Panama City, Florida with their three daughters where he continues to dedicate himself to leading people into new levels of spiritual maturity.
Monday, October 19, 2009
I think Scripture memorization is great. I think the Bible even affirms the idea. Lately though, I have been wondering can we require too much of kids?
Five out of six of my nephews & nieces are in a Christian school - the sixth is not quite 3 years old. They all have to memorize Scripture as part of their schooling - and I think that's great. I had to, but I worry about forcing too much on them at a time. I am not singling out any certain teacher, but it sounds sometimes like there is too much piled on kids at a time. Would it not be better to have them memorize a couple of verses a week that will more likely stick with them, than a dozen or more at a time?
And is there a danger of kids disliking the Bible, if they have to learn a lot of it? Especially if they are not good at memorizing. For often, what we are not good at, becomes something we dislike.
I remember when I was a junior in high school, I had to memorize John 3:1-35. And say it in front of everyone. It took me forever, and more than one trip up in front of the class. Rather humiliating, actually. I can remember one verse out of all thirty-five that I memorized - ok, maybe one or two others, but really, what good did it do forcing me to memorize those thirty-five verses? I resented it, and was very upset, but I had to do it.
I personally feel that there shouldn't be a lot of Scripture at a time required of kids. Maybe a few verses here and there, and if more is desired by the teacher/school, that it be extra credit.
We have a kid in my family who does not do too well in school. I fear what the grades will be like for this kid if memorizing a lot of Scripture hinges on the grade in the end.
So, any thoughts? Is there a danger of requiring kids to learn a lot of Scripture? Should they be required to learn any at all? Just some random thoughts brought on my my experiences in memorizing, and now my nieces & nephews.
Posted by Mark at 7:57 PM
Friday, October 16, 2009
Back in November, I decided to keep track of all the books I read in a year, and see if I hit 100. I am still fifteen days away from the year's end for that goal, and I have hit the 100 book mark. (And I may have missed a few- I don't always remember to add to the list when I read one, but have caught most of what I forgot). If anyone is curious, here is the list - and I had one book listed twice, so the numbers aren't right - there are 100 books listed, though it goes to 101:
1) Riven: Jerry Jenkins
2) Ransomed Dreams: Amy Wallace
3) Healing Promises: Amy Wallace
4) 13 Ways To Ruin Your Life: Jarrod Jones
5) Every Now And Then: Karen Kingsbury
6) The Backward Life: Jarrod Jones
7) The Seventh Day: Brock & Bodie Thoene
8) The Hunted: Mike Delosso
9) The Eighth Shepherd: Brock & Bodie Thoene
10) Dark Pursuit: Brandilyn Collins
11) Kiss: Ted Dekker & Erin Healy
12) Less Than Dead: Tim Downs
13) Deeper Waters: Robert Whitlow
14) The Ninth Witness: Brock & Bodie Thoene
15) The Wonder of Christmas: Derric Johnson
16) Uncle John’s Christmas Collection
17) The Black Sea Affair: Don Brown
18) This Side of Heaven: Karen Kingsbury
19) Bloodlines: Mel Odum
20) Inside Narnia: Devin Brown
21) Comes A Horseman: Robert Liparulo
22) By Reason of Insanity: Randy Singer
23) The Real Enemy: Kathy Herman
24) Double Minds: Terri Blackstock
25) Take One: Karen Kingsbury
26) Enduring Justice: Amy Wallace
27) The Rook: Steven James
28) Daniel’s Den: Brandt Dodson
29) The Heavens Before: Kacy Barnett-Gramckow
30) He Who Lifts The Skies: Kacy Banett-Gramckow
31) A Crown Among The Stars: Kacy Banett-Gramckow
32) Monday Night Jihad: Jason Elam & Steve Yohn
33) BoneMan’s Daughters: Ted Dekker
34) Losing God: Matt Rogers
35) Face of Betrayal: Lis Wehl
36) The Void: Mark Mynheir
37) House of Dark Shadows: Robert Liparulo
38) Watcher In The Woods: Robert Liparulo
39) Gatekeepers: Robert Liparulo
40) Shepherd’s Fall: Wanda Dyson
41) Fatal Illusions: Adam Blumer
42) Electric Beach: Joe Hilley
43) The Deposition: Joe Hilley
44) Deceived: James Scott Bell
45) Night Rain: Joe Hilley
46) The Missionary: Carmichael & Lambert
47) Certain Jeopardy: Strueker & Gansky
48) Night Watchman: Mark Mynheir
49) White Soul: Brandt Dodson
50) The Rose Conspiracy: Craig Parshall
51) Higher Hope: Robert Whitlow
52) The Bone Box: Bob Hostetler
53) Blown Coverage: Jason Elam & Steve Yohn
54) Expiration Date: Eric Wilson
55) Exposure: Brandilyn Collins
56) Directed Verdict: Randy Singer
57) Justice Games: Randy Singer
58) Take Two: Karen Kingsbury
59) Deadlock: Robert Liparulo
60) Timescape: Robert Liparulo
61) Fallen From Babel: T.L. Higley
62) Disappointment With God: Philip Yancey
63) The Buzzards Are Circling,…Stan Toler
64) God Has Never Failed Me…Stan Toler
65) Pirate Hunter: Tom Morrisey
66) The River Nile: Kenny Blair
67) The Knight: Steven James
68) The Last Word: Kathy Herman
69) June Bug: Chris Fabry
70) The Last Thing I Remember: Andrew Klavan
71) The Double Cousins & The Missing Watch: Miriam Jones Bradley
72) Fearless: Max Lucado
73: Danger At the Door: Michelle Sutton
74) Transformation: Terri Kraus
75) An Eye For An Eye: Irene Hannon
76) Field of Blood: Eric Wilson
77) Lethal Harvest: Cutrer & Glahn
78) Deadly Cure: Cutrer & Glahn
79) Haunt of Jackals: Eric Wilson
80) Through The Fire: Shawn Grady
81) Make Love, Make War: Brian Doersken
82) Farraday Road: Ace Collins
83) One Imperfect Christmas: Myra Johnson
84) Beyond the Reflection’s Edge: Bryan Davis
85) Conspiracy In Kiev: Noel Hynd
86) Eternity’s Edge: Bryan Davis
87) Green: Ted Dekker
88) Mohamed’s Moon: Keith Clemons
89) Intervention: Teri Blackstock
90) Shadow Government: Grant Jeffrey
91) Touching Wonder: John Blasé
92) Screwtape Letters: C.S. Lewis
93) The Sound of Sleigh Bells: Cindy Woodsmall
94) Scream: Mike Dellosso
95) Miracles: Karen Kingsbury
96) Guardian of the Flame: T.L. Higley
97) Eye Of The God: Ariel Allison
98) The War With Mr. Wizzle: Gordon Korman
99) This Can’t Be Happening At Macdonald Hall: Gordon Korman
100) If God Is Good: Randy Alcorn
101) White Picket Fences: Susan Meissner
Maybe I will shoot for 200 next year :-)
Posted by Mark at 4:13 PM
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I am a happy camper! When I moved back to Ohio almost 16 months ago, I never dreamed that my life would be in storage this long, so unfortunately, I buried my Christmas CDs in the storage unit. I have tried half-heartedly to find them a few times, but never had luck, so I went through Christmas last year without them. I decided today to perform a search and rescue and find them or be buried alive trying. I did find them, and they were hard to get to- I had already moved a ton of things, and basically had to brave a "booby trap", but managed to get them. Woo hoo! I love Christmas music! I have been going through the CDs and had totally forgotten all of the Christmas CDs I had. Here for anyone's enjoyment who might be interested, is what I found, plus the 10 or so that I did have here aleady:
- 4Him: The Season of Love
- 98 Degrees: This Christmas
- Alabama: Christmas
- Ray Boltz: A Christmas Album
- Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir: Christmas At the Brooklyn Tabernacle
- Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir: Light of the World
- Garth Brooks: Beyond The Season
- Garth Brooks: The Magic of Christmas
- Booth Brothers: Christmas
- Jim Brickman: Christmas Romance
- Jim Brickman: The Gift
- Jim Brickman: Homecoming
- Jim Brickman: The Hymns & Carols of Christmas
- Jim Brickman: Peace
- Caleb Collins: Christmas
- Carpenters: Christmas Portrait
- Steven Curtis Chapman: All I Really Want for Christmas
- Steven Curtis Chapman: Christmas Is All In the Heart
- Steven Curtis Chapman: The Music of Christmas
- Kenny Chesney: All I Want For Christmas Is a Real Good Tan
- Christmas Grass: Various Bluegrass
- Christmas In The Country: Heirloom, Jeff & Sheri Easter, Kelly Nelon Thompson
- Covingtons: Country Christmas
- A Currier & Ives Christmas
- Diamond Rio: The Star Still Shines
- Celine Dion: These Are Special Times
- Jeff & Sheri Easter: It Feels Like Christmas Again
- Bill Engvall: Here's Your Christmas Album
- Forester Sisters: A Christmas Card
- Kenny G: Faith
- Kenny G: The Holiday Album
- Kenny G: Wishes
- Bill & Gloria Gaither/Homecoming Friends: He Started The Whole World Singing
- Gaither Vocal Band: Christamas Gaither Vocal Band Style
- Gaither Vocal Band: Still The Greatest Story Ever Told
- Vince Gill: Let There Be Peace on Earth
- Gold City: Voices of Christmas
- Amy Grant: A Christmas Album
- Amy Grant: The Christmas Collection
- Amy Grant: A Christmas To Remember
- Amy Grant: Home For Christmas
- Amy Grant: My Best Christmas
- Greater Vision: A Greater Vision Christmas
- Greenes: A Family Christmas
- Ernie Haase & Signature Sound: Christmas With EH&SS
- Ernie Haase & Signature Sound: Every Light That Shines At Christmas
- The Heart of Christmas: Instrumental Sax
- Hoppers: Glad Tidings
- Integrity Quartet: Christmastime
- Alan Jackson: Let It Be Christmas
- Jack Jezzro: An Acoustic Christmas
- Lonestar: My Christmas List
- Lonestar: This Christmas Time
- David Klinkenberg: The Carol of Emmanuel
- Manuel Family Band: A Manuel Family Christmas
- Martina McBride: White Christmas
- Richie McDonald: If Every Day Could Be Christmas
- Reba McEntire: Merry Christmas to You
- Ronnie Milsap: Christmas With Ronnie Milsap
- Newsong: Christmas Hope
- Anne Murray: What A Wonderful Christmas
- Newsong: The Christmas Shoes
- Bebo Norman: Christmas From The Realms of Glory
- O Holy Night: Instrumental Sax
- Oak Ridge Boys: The Christmas Collection
- Paul Overstreet: Christmas, My Favorite Time of the Year
- Brad Paisley: Brad Paisley Christmas
- Sandi Patti: The Gift Goes On
- Ivan Parker: Merry Christmas From Ivan
- Squire Parsons: Christmas At Calvary/Christmas With Squire Parsons
- Dolly Parton: Home for Christmas
- Perry Sisters: The Still of the Night
- David Phelps: Joy, Joy
- David Phelps: One Wintry Night
- Plus One: Christmas
- Boots Randolph: A Christmas Holiday
- Boots Randolph: Christmas With Boots Randolph
- Colin Raye: The Gift
- Rescue: The First Christmas
- Kenny Rogers: The Gift
- Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton: Once Upon A Christmas
- Michael W Smith: Christmastime
- Songs 4 Worship: Christmas
- A Southern Christmas: Various Southern Gospel
- Spencers: Home and Christmas
- Spiritbound: Christmas Collection
- Talleys: A Family Christmas
- Talley Trio: It's Christmas
- Randy Travis: An Old Time Christmas
- Jaci Velasquez: Christmas
- Gerald Wolfe: My Kind of Christmas
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Below: all six kids from oldest to youngest: Stephanie, Allie, Katie, Josiah, Benjy, and Nathan
Nathan, trying to pick up one of the pumpkins my dad grew
I was fortunate to get a copy of If God Is Good, by Randy Alcorn to review.
The book is subtitled Faith In The Midst of Suffering And Evil, and was much more than I expected. Not only was it longer than I expected - at 510 pages, I thought the packagae contained two books! - the author goes into more detail discussing the subject of why there is so much evil and suffereing, if God is truly good and in control of this world.
I have read similar books, and I have to say - and not just because this is a book review - I try to be kind, yet honest about book reviews - this may be the best book book on this subject. Ever.
The book explores how different people and philosophies deal with the issue of suffering and evil. From putting forth a God whose knowledge is limited, to explain how God could let people like Adolph Hitler be born - surely He couldn't have known what Hitler would do, or He wouldn't have let Him be born - to a God with limited power - God is just unable to do anything about the evil and suffering that exists.
On a personal note, this was a book that I needed to read. I gained a lot of insight from it, and I plan on going through it more later, focusing on some specific parts of the book. A couple of things that I took away from the book:
Sometimes it is good for us to lose faith, if our faith is more in tradition and in our church, than in God.
Suffering can be good for us. People who have never suffered are weak and shallow.
And God may have a purpose - most likely does - in our suffering. It could be to help us, spiritually, or otherwise; or it could be to help others.
The author does not present neat, little glib answers, but presents Biblical ideas, and tells a lot of stories about people in the past and modern day who suffered, some of them unbelievable pain or tragedy, yet clung to God and it resulted in a deeper Christian experience.
I read more Christian fiction than other types of reading, but this has got to be one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read. It is definitely worth reading. I very much recomment it, especially if you find yourself wondering why you are going through something, or how God can let certain things happen, or certain people live for doing such atrocities. I guarantee you will learn something, and Randy Alcorn just might answer that question for you - if God truly is good - and cares, then why?
Available from randomhouse.com
Friday, October 9, 2009
This CD has not the usual ten songs, but a whopping sixteen! I love it when a CD has more than ten songs - makes it seem like you get your money's worth. The song listing is:
9) God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
11) If It Doesn't Snow On Christmas
(Bill Gaither, Gloria Gaither)
From God’s heaven to a manger
From great riches to the poor
Came the Son of God to seek and save
From the azure halls of heaven
To a rough and rugged cross
Jesus came, and there His life for all He gave
From a loving, Heavenly Father
To a world that knew Him not
Came the man of sorrows, Christ the Lord
In my wanderings He found me
Bought my soul with His own blood
Gave to me a peace this world could not afford
Redeeming love, a love that knows no limit
Redeeming love, a love that shall not die
My soul shall sing throughout the endless ages
With choirs extolling this great love on high
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Award-winning and best selling author Lauraine Snelling began living her dream to be a writer with her first published book for young adult readers, Tragedy on the Toutle, in 1982. She has since continued writing more horse books for young girls, adding historical and contemporary fiction and nonfiction for adults and young readers to her repertoire. All told, she has up to sixty books published.
Shown in her contemporary romances and women’s fiction, a hallmark of Lauraine’s style is writing about real issues of forgiveness, loss, domestic violence, and cancer within a compelling story. Her work has been translated into Norwegian, Danish, and German, and she has won the Silver Angel Award for An Untamed Land and a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart for Song of Laughter.
As a most sought after speaker, Lauraine encourages others to find their gifts and live their lives with humor and joy. Her readers clamor for more books more often, and Lauraine would like to comply ... if only her paintbrushes and easel didn’t call quite so loudly.
Lauraine and her husband, Wayne, have two grown sons, and live in the Tehachapi Mountains with a cockatiel named Bidley, and a watchdog Basset named Chewy. They love to travel, most especially in their forty-foot motor coach, which they affectionately deem “a work in progress”.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Eighteen-year-old Astrid Bjorklund has always dreamed of becoming a doctor. She had intended to study medicine in Chicago or Grand Forks, but when a disaster wiped out a major portion of her family's income, Astrid stayed home instead, receiving hands-on training from Dr. Elizabeth.
Joshua Landsverk left Blessing two years ago, but he's never forgotten Astrid. Returning to town, he seeks to court her.
Astrid is attracted to him, and when the opportunity unexpectedly opens for her to go to Chicago for medical training, she finds it difficult to leave. Love blossoms through their letters, but upon arriving back home, she makes a heartbreaking discovery. She learns he's left town--again. Believing Joshua no longer loves her, Astrid makes an impetuous, heart-wrenching decision.
Will she regret the choice she's made? Will she have to give up love to pursue her dream?
If you would like to read the first chapter of A Measure of Mercy, go HERE
Monday, October 5, 2009
Isn’t it true that we long to see the extraordinary, experience the extraordinary, do the extraordinary? Yet, so often we settle for mediocrity when greatness is within our grasp.
Why are we drawn to stories of heroic triumph over seemingly impossible circumstances? In our fascination with adventure movies, superheroes, and tales of incredible human feats, do we reveal an inherent desire for something larger and greater in life? Maybe what we think is a need to escape or be entertained is actually a God inspired longing…for the extraordinary.
Best-selling author John Bevere reveals how all of us were “meant for more,” extraordinarily created and intended for a life that is anything but ordinary. Here is the roadmap for yo
Isn’t it time to pursue your extraordinary life
Though the title may sound like it, this is not a "health & wealth" book. The author does make the case that God has a plan for all of us - not just the well-known and popular Christians.
An interesting thought he brought out is that God loves us all unconditionally - that we can do nothing to make Him love us more or less, but it is up to us how much He is pleased with us. Bevere points out that even Christians will be judged some day on our works.
Also of note, the author talks about his struggle with lust and pornography, and how God can deliver us from any sin, not just the "nice sins."
I recommend this book. John Bevere does a good job of showing us that serving God is an adventure, and we don't need to lead a hum-drum life. Yes, we will still face troubles and trials, but we serve an extraordinary God, and through Him, we can live an extraordinary life.
Available from RandomHouse.com
Saturday, October 3, 2009
I love to read. Always have. I remember in my elementary school days excelling at reading so much, that I was reading books above my reading level. As my reading skills grew and changed, so did what I read. I devoured The Hardy Boys books, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Black Beauty. I read at any chance I got.
When the day came that I got my own library card, I remember librarians being amazed at the stacks of books I would take out on loan. Where other people got a few books, I would get eight, ten, or even more, even as I grew onto adulthood.
Now at age forty (ugh!), I still have a love of books. My main enjoyment for pleasure reading is Christian fiction. The Christian fiction book has gotten a bad rap, in my opinion. Some people look down on people who read a lot of fiction. Even in my own church, I have heard people refer to the "novel" with distaste and a bit of pious self righteousness that they don't read books like that.
I will be the first to say the Bible should be the most important book in our reading, and should be read daily, and meditated on. And there are other good books to read that aren't fiction, but if we discount Christian fiction, and consider it a shallow pursuit, I believe we are discounting something that not only can be a pleasurable past time, but something that could help us.
Because of a good novel, I have been all over the world. The jungles of Africa, Russia, the swamps of Lousiana, China, Japan - even in the Oval office. I have learned things from reading a novel.
I am rather passionate that Christian fiction should indeed be Christian. Nowadays, there are books being published as Christian fiction that might mention God once or twice - or not at all, and is just a clean secular book marketed as Christian fiction. Worse than that, are the Christian fiction books that have curse/swear words in, or situations or discussions that do not belong in a Christian book.
Now there are a lot of Christian novels that are "fluff" - romance, and books just for fun. I am not knocking those - they have their place, and there is nothing wrong with reading a book that is just fun and clean, whether it be Christian, or not - but in the last several years, I have been discovering a wealth of Christian fiction books that not only entertain and tell a good story, but have lessons, truths - even life-changing truths.
Sound far-fetched? That God could use a story - fiction - to speak to someone? To convict, change? I don't believe so. Jesus Himself used stories to get a message across. We call them parables.
Many of Karen Kingsbury's stories carry a strong message, address a specific topic. I have told the story here, but it bears repeating: a few years back, I had loaned Karen Kingsbury's book Waiting For Morning to my pastor's wife. It is a fictional story of a woman who loses her husband and daughter because of a drunk driver, and her journey to forgiving him. Not long after she read that book, a lady in my church related a sad story to her about a co-worker. This woman's daughter had a small boy. The daughter's boyfriend seriously abused the boy - damaged his motor skills, it was so bad. He, and the boy's mother were charged, as she allowed it. The boy's grandmother was given custody of this little abused boy, and she told the woman from my church that she knew she needed to forgive them, but couldn't. My pastor's wife recommended the book by Karen Kingsbury, and the co-worker later said it did help her a lot. A fiction book - who knew?!
Karen received so many emails and letters from people influenced by her books, that she actually has a place on her website for them. Here are a few:
Hi, my name is Chris and I am a 16 year old boy with a second chance. For years now I've been struggling with pornography addiction. Looking for the answers, but only getting frustrated. Then I read Ocean's Apart and the part where Connor realizes what the preacher said about "it will start with you" and how he was to blame.
For years I blamed God for allowing it to cross my path, then I blamed the devil, then I blamed my brother (it started on his computer), then the world. But Connor (the character in your book) helped me to realize that it was all my fault.
My fault that I alone chose to look at them. Now seeing what can happen when one realizes it was their fault, it brought me to my knees and I asked God to forgive me and for a second chance, and guess what HE DID! Now I'm no longer addicted to that awful sin. Thank you so much for writing this book, I feel it was written to me from God. It helped me in more ways than just this. If you don't mind I would like to use the butterfly story as a tool for witnessing.
Keep allowing God to use you and you will never falter, I'm praying for you and your family, thank you Karen. -Chris R
My sister-in-law gave me One Tuesday Morning and it changed my life. I had turned my back on God for many years due to beliefs I had from a former religion. I believed that if I were not part of their religion I would not ever have Gods favor again.
After reading One Tuesday Morning I started questioning what I believed in my heart all those years. By the time I was done with the book I sat down and prayed to God for the first time, honestly knowing he was really with me.
She knew what your books would do for me. You have given me my faith and my love of God back and I can not thank you and my sister-in-law enough no matter how long I live. -Cheryl H
After reading A Time To Dance, I spontaneously flew to Japan, surprising my husband during his business trip, to tell him that I chose us and committed myself to saving our marriage. I suggested that he MUST read your book; you wrote it specifically for us.
We did not fly home together, however, he took the book and said he'd read it. I just got off the phone with my husband who elatedly called from the Detroit, MI Airport, choked up and near tears because he finished your entire book without stopping the whole flight, except for bathroom breaks, and realized the blessed relationship that we nearly lost.
Thanking you doesn't convey my heart's gratitude. However, I want to commend you for your obedience to the Lord for clarifying to readers that God doesn't let go even when we do.
As John and Abby nearly threw in the matrimony towel, so did my husband and I. Your characters marriage paralleled mine to a tee, except my husband is a pilot and not a football coach.
Otherwise, the coincidences of my life as a writer, having two sons and one daughter, experiencing the loss of a child, possessing a seemingly perfect marriage externally, one spouse faced with the possibility of choosing an affair, and the wounds that are inflicted through relationship neglect, stemming from the busyness of raising children and providing for a family, were utterly uncanny.
You did write this about us! Your God given gift to write impacts lives.
It saved mine
And there are many more on her website.
Just recently, I have read The Last Word by Kathy Herman. The author told a great story of suspense while driving home the point that we need to be working harder to win our loved ones to Christ. Also addressed in the book was the importance of life, and that abortion is not the answer.
In Scream, the most recent book that I reviewed, author Mike Dellosso spins a tail of kidnapping and treachery, all the while pointing out the reality of hell, and that anyone who dies without Christ will go there for all eternity.
Not so recently, A Time to Dance by Karen Kingsbury stresses the importance of marriage, and of saving a marriage, even when wrong has been done. She also addressed the issue of pornography in this book, and why it is wrong.
Not every Christian novel is going to present life-changing truths, and I am not saying they must, but I did want to address the issue of the power in a story. No, a Christian novel - or any book - should never replace the Bible, and many Christian novels are just a good, clean story, presenting God as the answer, but that in itself is something we need reminded of now and then. But I would like to tip my hat in recognition of those authors and books that not only tell a good story, but do it with a message to help someone out there that will read their story, and be encouraged, convicted, and possibly even become a Christian, because God used a Christian novel to speak to their heart.
So you aren't a reader of Christian fiction? Why not give it a try. You might learn something, and God may speak to you through it.
My oldest nephew, Josiah, is eight years old today. He is over in PA, and we won't get to see him on his birthday, but I'd like to wish him a happy birthday on here. Happy birthday Joey. Love you buddy.
Friday, October 2, 2009
This book was not sent to me to review. It is actually a book that I won, or to be more exact, that someone else won and traded me for a book I won. The book impressed me so much, I wanted to do a quick review of it.
This is a story of suspense, and a really good one. But more than that, the author, Mike Dellosso, holds no punches in presenting the truths that hell is indeed a real place, that it takes more than going to church, keeping all of the rules, being baptized - to make it to Heaven. That unless we have trusted Jesus as Savior, and gotten forgiveness for our sins, and are living for Him, we will drop straight into hell when we die.
Not many fiction books will shake you. Many are more than just a good story, and many make you think. This is one of those, but it does more than just make you think. It does indeed shake you a bit and make you more determined to avoid going to that place of torment.
This is Mike's second book, his first was "Hunted" that released last year. I would compare him to Frank Peretti. If you enjoy reading Peretti, you will most likely enjoy reading Mike Dellosso. So if you want to read some really good fiction, check his books out.
Book description (CBD)
Mark Stone hears a cacophony of disturbing screams over the phone---and seconds later his friend is dead! After experiencing this pattern again, he begins investigating the meaning behind it. But then his estranged wife is kidnapped and calls for help---and he hears those otherworldly cries. Can he find Cheryl before it's too late?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Terri Blackstock’s books have sold six million copies worldwide. Her suspense novels often debut at number one on the Christian fiction best-seller lists, and True Light, published last year, was number one of all Christian books—fiction and non-fiction. Blackstock has had twenty-five years of success as a novelist.
In 1994 Blackstock was writing for publishers such as HarperCollins, Harlequin and Silhouette, when a spiritual awakening drew her into the Christian market. Since that time, she’s written over thirty Christian titles, in addition to the thirty-two she had in the secular market. Her most recent books are the four in her acclaimed Restoration Series, which includes Last Light, Night Light, True Light and Dawn’s Light. She is also known for her popular Newpointe 911 and Cape Refuge Series.
In addition to her suspense novels, she has written a number of novels in the women’s fiction genre, including Covenant Child, which was chosen as one of the first Women of Faith novels, and her Seasons Series written with Beverly LaHaye, wife of Tim LaHaye.
Blackstock has won the Retailer’s Choice Award and has appeared on national television programs such as The 700 Club, Home Life, and At Home Live with Chuck and Jenny. She has been a guest on numerous radio programs across the country and the subject of countless articles. The story of her personal journey appears in books such as Touched By the Savior by Mike Yorkey, True Stories of Answered Prayer by Mike Nappa, Faces of Faith by John Hanna, and I Saw Him In Your Eyes by Ace Collins.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Barbara Covington has one more chance to save her daughter from a devastating addiction, by staging an intervention. But when eighteen-year-old Emily disappears on the way to drug treatment—and her interventionist is found dead at the airport—Barbara enters her darkest nightmare of all.
Barbara and her son set out to find Emily before Detective Kent Harlan arrests her for a crime he is sure she committed. Fearing for Emily’s life, Barbara maintains her daughter’s innocence. But does she really know her anymore? Meanwhile, Kent has questions of his own. His gut tells him that this is a case of an addict killing for drugs, but as he gets to know Barbara, he begins to hope he’s wrong about Emily.
The panic level rises as the mysteries intensify: Did Emily’s obsession with drugs lead her to commit murder—or is she another victim of a cold-blooded killer?
If you would like to read the first chapter of Intervention, go HERE
Great book. Not only was there a lot of suspense, but I learned a lot about how interventions work - and what they are. I really liked the characters - in spite of myself, I felt sorry for the drug addict daughter, and liked the kid brother and mother trying to save her from herself.
The author used intervention on her own daughter, so this book may be a bit of her story also. regardless, it is one of her best books she has written lately, and I recommend it highly. More than just a good story, it makes you wonder what you would do to stop a loved one from a destructive habit. Read the book. You will like it.
Watch the book Trailer: