Sunday, May 31, 2009

Global Day of Prayer

Today, Pentecost Sunday, has been identified as the Global Day of Prayer. Begun in July of 2000 by a South African Christian businessman, this effort has expanded to 220 countries participating this year. As explained on the GDOP website, "United by a Prayer for the World, Christians from different cultures and denominations gather in many different venues each year to cry out to God for the healing and blessing of our nations."

Here is the Prayer for the World that our interim pastor led us in this morning as he prayed the main parts and we responded with the parts in green. How cool to know that "Wherever you gather on Pentecost Sunday, there will be one thing uniting Christians from all nations: a Prayer for the World that will be prayed by millions from where the sun rises in the East to where it sets in the West." The prayer is available in more than 50 translations on the GDOP website.

Almighty God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
Together with believers all over the world,
We gather today to glorify Your Name.
You are the Creator of heaven and earth.
There is no one like You, holy and righteous in all Your ways.
We submit to Your authority as the King of the universe.
We pray with one voice to enthrone You in our hearts
and to honour You before the world.

Lord God, You alone are worthy of our praise and adoration.

Our Father in heaven,
Thank You for loving the world so greatly.
You gave Your only Son, Jesus Christ,
to die on the cross for our sins
so that we could be reconciled to You.
We are grateful to call You Father and to be called Your children.
Nothing can separate us from Your love.

Thank You Father, for adopting us into Your family
because of Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Lord Jesus Christ,
You alone are worthy to open the scrolls of history,
for You were slain and have redeemed us to the Father by Your blood.
We confess that You are Head of the Church
and Lord of all heaven and earth.
May people from every tribe and language become Your followers
so that Your blessing brings transformation among all peoples.
Let Your kingdom be established in every nation of the world
so that governments will rule with righteousness and justice.
And may Your Name be great, from the rising of the sun to its setting.

Jesus Christ, You are the Saviour of the world and the Lord of all.

Father of mercy and grace,
We acknowledge that we have sinned
and that our world is gripped by the power of sin.
Our hearts are grieved by injustice, hatred and violence.
We are shamed by oppression, racism and bloodshed in our land.
We mourn all loss of life in murder, war and terrorism.
Our homes are broken and our churches are divided by rebellion and pride.
Our lives are polluted by selfishness, greed, idolatry and sexual sin.
We have grieved Your heart and brought shame to Your Name.
Have mercy on us as we repent with all our hearts.

God of mercy, forgive our sins.
Pour out Your grace and heal our land.

Spirit of the living God,
Apart from You, we can do nothing.
Transform Your Church into the image of Jesus Christ.
Release Your power to bring healing to the sick,
freedom to the oppressed and comfort to those who mourn.
Pour Your love into our hearts and fill us with compassion
to answer the call of the homeless and the hungry
and to enfold orphans, widows and the elderly in Your care.
Give us wisdom and insight for the complex problems we face today.
Help us to use the resources of the earth for the well-being of all.

Holy Spirit, we need Your comfort
and guidance. Transform our hearts.

Lord Jesus Christ,
Because You were dead, but are now risen,
and the Father has given You a Name above all names,
You will defeat all powers of evil.
Tear down strongholds and ideologies that resist the knowledge of God.
Remove the veil of darkness that covers the peoples.
Restrain the evil that promotes violence and death.
Bring deliverance from demonic oppression.
Break the hold of slavery, tyranny and disease.
Fill us with courage to preach Your word fearlessly,
and to intercede for the lost faithfully.

Almighty God, deliver us from evil.

King of Glory,
Come and finish Your work in our cities, our peoples and our nations.
We lift our voices in unison with believers from Africa and Asia,
from the Middle East and Europe, from North and South America,
and from Australia and the Pacific Islands—together we cry:

Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Be lifted up ancient doors
so that the King of glory may come in!

As Your deeds increase throughout the earth,
and as Your blessings abound to all the nations,
they will seek You, asking, “Who is this King of glory?”
Together we will answer:

He is the Lord Almighty!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

Come fill the earth with Your glory as the waters cover the sea.
The Spirit and the Bride say:

Amen! Come Lord Jesus!

The following 90 days, June 1 through August 29, are marked as 90 Days of Blessing, which is "an opportunity for Christians to not only continue in persistent prayer, but to actually become the answers to their prayers." The 90 Days of Blessing Prayer Guide "will challenge you to continue your prayer efforts, but also to become physically involved in the places that we normally pray for. This is our opportunity to become vessels of blessing through prayer and action" and can be downloaded here.

Did your church participate?


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Saturday, May 30, 2009

TSMSS - Redeemed!

This hymn by Fanny Crosby has always made me smile. The words and truth found within are fantastic, and I've always loved both tunes of this song.

You see, there are two versions in the Baptist Hymnal; the words are the same but the melodies are different. I'm always happy to find a great arrangement of an old hymn on to share with you, and this one by the sibling group The Martins is especially fun because they combine the two melodies. They sing one verse with each melody, then they split and sing the 3rd verse simultaneously, with Joyce (the blonde sister) singing melody 1 and the Judy (the brunette) singing melody 2, while their brother, Jonathan, harmonizes with both. That's difficult to do any time, but the fact that they sing it acapella astounds me. Finally, they weave the two melodies together, alternating with each line. You can tell they do indeed love to proclaim that they are Redeemed!


Redeemed--how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child, and forever, I am.

Redeemed, redeemed,
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed, redeemed,
His child, and forever, I am.

Redeemed and so happy in Jesus,
No language my rapture can tell;
I know that the light of His presence
With me doth continually dwell.

I think of my blessed Redeemer,
I think of Him all the day long;
I sing, for I cannot be silent;
His love is the theme of my song.

I know I shall see in His beauty
The King in whose law I delight;
Who lovingly guardeth my footsteps,
And giveth me songs in the night.

WORDS: Fanny Crosby, 1882
MUSIC: William Kirkpatrick, 1882 (Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It)
A. L. Butler, 1967 (Redeemed)

*This title is the original melody composed and is the tune sung in the first verse
**This is the title given to the newer tune sung in the second verse.

Join us at Amy's for more great songs for your weekend!


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Friday, May 29, 2009

Summer Flavor to Savor!

You Are a Coconut Flavored Popsicle

You are easygoing. For you, summer is definitely a time to kick back.

You are a peaceful soul. You shy away from drama and stress.

You are a warm and compassionate. You give everyone a fair chance.

Your tastes tend to be simple. You rather have a few high quality items than a bunch of junk.


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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Winners of This Week's Book Giveaways

Winner of Mark Mynheir's The Night Watchman:
#5 - "Rachel" at Musings of a Future Pastor's Wife

Winner of Chet Galaska's Finding Faith in a Skeptical World:
#1 - Renee G

Congratulations, ladies! Please email me your address and I'll get your book in the mail!

Thanks to all for your comments and entries.


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A New Entry For My Dictionary

Words are a delight. Mostly. There are some, however, which I think need altered or additional definitions and/or spellings. One such word is the following:

ra·con·teur: a person who excels in telling anecdotes
Pronunciation: \ˌra-ˌkän-ˈtər, \
Function: noun
Etymology: French, from Middle French, from raconter to tell, from Old French, from re- + aconter, acompter to tell, count —
Date: 1828

This seems like an innocent enough word, and it certainly fits many of you blogging friends. In fact, I may start adding it to my comments!

But after today, I've got a new form of the word and it describes my man, the Hero of the Day.

He is a raccoonteur.

Because we can breathe easily once again, now that he successfully located and removed a dead baby raccoon from our attic.

And its THREE siblings.

Apparently mama decided the attic was too hot once she gave birth, and she abandoned them.

You may only use the phrase poor things in your comment if you are referring to us -- the humans who live in this house -- not the critters! Raccoons are only cute in cartoons. (And even then, only if you've never dealt with them in your attic or yard.) I've seen raccoons as big as large dogs and they are a major pain.

And. They. STINK REEK!

I'm keeping that man of mine. But I am not getting him this for Father's Day, with or without eyes.


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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Another Book Giveaway!

Finding Faith in a Skeptical World

Chet Galaska was an atheist who thought he had it all figured out.
But when he opened his mind and learned about Christ he came to faith.
Finding Faith explains what he discovered.

This book is written by a former atheist who became a Christian after several years of questioning our society's common perceptions regarding Christianity. Some chapters deal with matters of faith such as prayer, redemption, salvation and sin. Others address issues like Christian hypocrisy, why bad things happen, miracles, and the Christian view of war. Some are about the seemingly contradictory relationship between science and religion that are discussed in chapters on scientific peception, creation and evolution. Other subjects, like the sometimes cruel and violent history of Christianity, "Born Agains" and the Christian view of the Jewish people don't fit neatly into any category. The common denominator is that each addresses an issue that can be misunderstood and create a distorted, unfair and negative view of the faith. Finding Faith in a Skeptical World is written in an understandable, interesting and down to earth way in brief chapters.

C. William "Chet" Galaska was born in 1951. He began his college career at Drew University in Madison, NJ and graduated from the University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration. In 1979 he co-founded a company that casts stainless steel for use in corrosive industrial applications that grew into a multi-million dollar enterprise and was its president for 24 years before changing careers and becoming a real estate investor.

His credentials are defined by what he is not. He isn't a theologian, pastor, Ph.D. or a philosopher but is a typical person who was an unbeliever, influenced by the same things as other skeptics, who became a Christian after several years of investigating the faith with an open mind.

He served as Chairman of the New England Chapter of the American Foundry Society, played rugby, earned a Private Pilot's License, is a Certified Scuba Diver, has skydived, is a roller coaster aficionado, likes traveling and enjoys having new experiences. He lives with his wife, Lisa, in Massachusetts. They have two grown sons, Jon and Drew.

You can find out more at his website and blog.

The short chapters and down-to-earth style of writing make this an easy read. Based on the author's former experience as an atheist, it is aimed, as the title suggests, toward those who are skeptical of the claims of Christianity. I would suggest using this book as a springboard for conversation rather than just giving it to an unbeliever without follow-up. The book has many good points but its simplicity results in it being simplistic at times. There were a few places I felt could be misunderstood, as I initially disagreed with some statements but then realized upon closer reading that his choice of words simply skated precariously close to the edge of that disagreement. However, the book is not intended to be a deep theological thesis but a practical discussion of faith and its relation to a host of common questions.

Finding Faith in a Skeptical World may be purchased at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

I have been provided with a copy to give to one of you! Just leave a comment on this post by noon CDT tomorrow (5/28) and I will draw a winner. (Continental US residents only, please.)

Happy, Faith-Filled, Reading!


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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Book Review and Giveaway

I recently read The Night Watchman by Mark Mynheir (Random House), a captivating book that kept me on my toes and trying to guess "who done it" the whole time I was reading it. The fact that it is authored by a bona fide police detective lends authenticity and suspense, yet it didn't give me the creeps.

After his partner is killed and he is injured when a drug bust goes horribly wrong, Ray has learned that it's a short limp from top-notch detective to persona non grata in the police department. Unfortunately, he's also feeling like a has-been in life in general. When his quiet job as a Sudoku solver night watchman at the Coral Bay Condominiums is interrupted by the discovery of two bodies and his former colleagues show up to investigate, Ray enlists the help of his long-time buddy Jim Beam to distance himself from the memories that surge to the surface as a result. All he wants to do is put in his 8 hours per shift and go home. But then Pam, the sister of the dead man, beseeches him to take on the case and prove that her brother did not commit a murder-suicide but that a double murder was staged to appear that way. As he probes into the case, he begins to uncover disturbing information about the shooting that injured him and claimed his partner's life. Will he be next? And what is he supposed to think about all the "coincidences" in his life and in these cases? He has no use for God. . . .could God have use for him?

The struggles Ray deals with in this book are heartbreaking and yet all too real for too many people as they deal with the blows of life. I appreciated the way Pam declares and lives out her faith in her interactions with Ray without being an obnoxiously pushy "come to Jesus" type.

"And yet you still believe? Even after all this?"
Pam nodded. "God is still God, even if I don't understand everything. Even when it hurts. I trust that He has a plan."
"Sounds like a cop-out."
"It's not a cop-out, Ray. He's God. Where else am I going to go?"
(p. 128)

I also enjoyed the relationship between Ray and his young co-worker, Crevis. How many times have I viewed someone as a thorn in my side only later to realize what an blessing and important part their presence was in my life?! While the book has a satisfying conclusion to the mystery, Ray's life, like all of ours, is still a work in progress. I look forward to the next book in this series to learn more about his journey.

Ray Quinn is a tough, quick-witted homicide detective in love with his partner, Trisha Willis. She gives Ray something to live for—something to hope in. Until a barrage of bullets leaves Trisha murdered and Ray crippled.

Struggling with his new physical disability and severe depression, Quinn turns to whiskey, scorn, and a job as a night watchman to numb the pain. But when a pastor and dancer are found dead in an apparent murder-suicide, the pastor’s sister approaches Quinn for help.

Reluctantly, Quinn takes the case and is plunged into the perilous Orlando. Soon he discovers that, not only was the pastor murdered, but the case may be linked to his and Trisha’s ambush. Torn between seeking revenge or responsibility, Quinn is thrust into the case of his life.

A detective with the Criminal Investigations Unit of the Palm Bay Police Department, Mark Mynheir investigates violent crimes and writes riveting Christian fiction. A U.S. Marine with a passion for martial arts and firearms training, Mark has worked on narcotics units, SWAT teams, and myriad high-risk situations. His four novels offer a realistic glimpse into the gritty world of law enforcement and the rarely seen raw emotions behind the badge. Mark lives in Florida with his wife and three children.

Author Mark Mynheir gives readers his most profound police thriller to date with The Night Watchman (first book in The Night Watchman Private Detective Agency Series). Readers of all ages will devour this gripping murder mystery that bristles with tension and intrigue. In a taut cop-style all his own, Mynheir delivers an inside look at the thoughts, feelings, fears, and challenges police officers experience while investigating violent crimes and the lost souls who commit them.


The publisher has graciously provided a copy for me to give away to one of you! Just leave a comment on this post by noon CDT Thursday (5/28) and I will draw a winner. (Continental US residents only, please).

You can purchase The Night Watchman at Amazon; additional online and local resources which carry it may be found at the Random House website.

Happy Mystery-Solving and Reading!


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CFBA Tour - Jillian Dare

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Jillian Dare: A Novel

Revell (May 1, 2009)


Melanie M. Jeschke


Melanie Morey Jeschke (pronounced jes-key), a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and graduated from University of Virginia as a Phi Beta Kappa with an Honors degree in English Literature and a minor in European and English History.

A free-lance travel writer, Melanie contributed the Oxford chapter to the Rick Steves’ England 2006 guidebook. She is a member of the Capital Christian Writers and Christian Fiction Writers as well as three book clubs, and taught high-school English before home-schooling most of her nine children. Melanie lectures on Lewis and Tolkien, Oxford, and writing, and gives inspirational talks to all manner of groups, including university classes, women’s clubs, young professionals, teens, and school children.

A fourth generation pastor’s wife (her father Dr. Earl Morey is a retired Presbyterian minister), Melanie resides in the Greater Washington, D.C. area with her children and husband Bill Jeschke, a soccer coach and the Senior Pastor of The King’s Chapel, an non-denominational Christian church in Fairfax, Virginia.


Jillian Dare leaves her Shenandoah Valley foster home behind and strikes out on her own as a nanny at a large country estate in northern Virginia. She is delighted with the beauty of her new home, the affection of her young charge Cadence Remington, and the opportunity for frequent travel to the Remington castle in England.

She is less certain about her feelings for her handsome but moody employer, Ethan. In spite of herself, Jillian realizes she is falling for her boss. But how can a humble girl ever hope to win a wealthy man of the world? And what dark secrets from the past is he hiding? This contemporary story, inspired by the well-loved classic Jane Eyre, will capture readers' hearts.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Jillian Dare: A Novel, go HERE

Amazingly enough, I have never read Jane Eyre, so I can't really compare the two books, although I'm now curious to read the classic, especially since my girl recently read it and loved it. And that's one of the author's goals in writing this book:

This book was not written for the purists, however, but for three other types of readers. The first type--like me--is the lover of the classics who enjoys contemporary adaptations and is intrigued by finding the similarities and differences with the original story, as well as by conjecturing how the author will work things out in a modern setting. The second is the type who likes to read romantic suspense. And the third is the person who has not yet read Jane Eyre. My great hope is that this reader will enjoy my story enough to be inspired to read the original classic.
(excerpted from A Note from the Author, p. 283)

This was an enjoyable book and a quick read. A not completely unexpected plot twist resulted in a crisis of the heart for the title character -- will she follow her Christian values or rationalize different actions?

Happy Reading!


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Monday, May 25, 2009

Remembering. . . .


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae, 1915

. , , It is rather for us, the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people by the people for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
From Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

Remembering on Memorial Day all those who have paid the ultimate price while protecting and defending our nation. May God bless and comfort their families. And may we all be faithful to guard the freedoms wrought and sustained by their sacrifice.


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Saturday, May 23, 2009

TSMSS - I Want To Be Like Them When I Grow Up!

This. Is. Precious. My sweet friend Xandra sent this to me and it has made me smile ever since. I gave her "first dibs" on posting it, but she's busily preparing to desert us Texas folks for enemy Sooner territory move up to Oklahoma.

Not that I'm bitter or sad or anything.

Actually, I'm happy for Xandra and her family and how God is putting the pieces into place for them.

Especially the fact that there is Blue Bell up there! I've just been blessed to actually enjoy her friendship in person a few times, which is a rare thing among blog friends!

Anyway, this couple is just adorable. They have been married for 62 years, and he turned 90 in February. This was videotaped last fall in the atrium area of the Mayo clinic. What's really neat is when I went to download the video, I discovered the story behind it, and it's posted below as well. There's nothing cuter than two people who have been married forever and still enjoy each other and life!

What a blessing, and an increasingly rare privilege, it is to see folks that have stayed married for the long haul. Yet another reason this is the Greatest Generation. Of course, I have to feature a song that honors such tender and lasting love!

Walking Her Home - Album Version - Mark Schultz

Head on over to Amy's for more songs to make your soul sing!


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Friday, May 22, 2009

Add This To Your Reading List

I have a great book to recommend to you, written by someone who could have stepped into any of the professional roles detailed in this story.

Fox News legal correspondent and former Federal Prosecutor Lis Wiehl has created a suspense novel that's as timely as tomorrow's headlines.

While home on Christmas break, a seventeen-year-old Senate page takes her dog out for a walk and never returns. Reporter Cassidy Shaw is the first to break the story. The resulting media firestorm quickly ensnares Federal Prosecutor Allison Pierce and FBI Special Agent Nicole Hedges. The three unique women are life-long friends who call themselves The Triple Threat--a nickname derived from their favorite dessert and their uncanny ability to crack cases via their three positions of power.

Though authorities think Katie might have been kidnapped or run away, those theories shatter when Nicole uncovers Katie's blog. They reveal a girl troubled by a mysterious relationship with an older man. Possibly a U.S. Senator.

As the three women race against time to find Katie alive, their increasing emotional involvement brings out their own inner demons and external enemies. There are many faces of betrayal, but they must find one face in a crowd of growing suspects before they become the next victims.

In Face of Betrayal (Thomas Nelson), Lis Wiehl's expertise in law, politics, and criminal investigation merges with April Henry's narrative genius to create a gripping mystery filled with rich characters, real danger, and a shocking yet satisfying final twist.

Lis Wiehl is a Harvard Law School graduate and former federal prosecutor. A widely popular legal analyst and commentator for the Fox News Channel, Wiehl appears regularly on The O'Reilly Factor and was co-host with Bill O'Reilly on the widely-syndicated radio show, The Radio Factor, for the past seven years. She lives with her husband and two children in New York. You can learn more about her at her website.

April Henry has written seven mysteries and thrillers. Her books have been short-listed for the Agatha Award, the Anthony Award, and the Oregon Book Award. Two have been chosen for BookSense. April lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and daughter.

Wow. This is a captivating and suspenseful book that I absolutely could not put down. And sadly, I can just imagine such a story screaming from the headlines of the newspapers and becoming the latest obsession of our 24-hour, minute-by-minute news stations. The story is well-balanced as it shows each of the three friends' varying perspectives that accompany their different roles in their attempt to discover what happened to Katie. As one who is easily annoyed by the media's intrusion and efforts to "scoop" a story, I was intrigued by Cassidy's perspective as she pounded the pavement only to be faced with the possibility of the story being ripped out from under her. Allison and Nicole have their own reasons why the case becomes intensely personal for them, and their quest to find Katie and bring the person responsible for her disappearance to justice turns the three dynamic women into a formidable force.

As a side note, I am thrilled to discover this author/commentator, and I am so encouraged to see a bright, intelligent, and articulate individual living out her faith in an intense environment. The back of the book contains the transcript of an interview of Lis Wiesl by Bill O'Reilly, and I especially appreciated this interaction:

Bill O'Reilly: We're living in a society where secularism is combating traditional religion. most Americans are facing that struggle on a regular basis. This important to you, your characters?

Lis Wiehl: Absolutely critical. All three women in the book struggle with issues of what to believe and why. For Allison especially, it's difficult to reconcile a loving God with what she sees everyday at work. For me, my faith is an integral part of who I am, and my own moral compass. As a Christian writing fiction I deal with issues of faith. And I think most Americans can relate to that. (p. 289)

Here's Lis Wiehl herself with a brief peek at the book and its writing:

I highly recommend this book and urge you to grab a copy today. But hurry - it's already #24 on the NYT Bestseller List! You can purchase Face of Betrayal at Amazon, Christian Books, or Barnes & Noble. I'm already looking forward to her next book, Hand of Fate, to be released next spring!

Happy Suspenseful Reading!


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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Just Typing This Made Me Have to Go!

My dear sweet bloggy friend Lidna over at 2nd Cup of Coffee has become a heavy drinker. Of water, that is. And she's trying to get everyone else to join her. It wasn't enough that a whole slew of folks did Phase 1 of her 30 x 5 Challenge, which involved increased activity. She had to ratchet it up a notch with Phase 2 and increase the torture exclude 100 calories from her day. Of course, she started this two days after Easter. They must not have chocolate Easter eggs in Indiana.

Now just like the moon, she's going through another phase. Phase 3 involves water, water, everywhere, as much as you can drink. She read somewhere that the number of ounces of water you drink each day should be be the same number as half your weight. That seems just a wee bit much to me.

If you manage to do it, just don't go to a Mets game. Or else you might find yourself behind this woman and have to wait a l-o-n-g time for your turn.

And just in case the booming metropolis of Muncie runs out of bottled water for Lid, I'm happy to reassure her that NASA has her back.

Water is H20, hydrogen two parts, oxygen one,
but there is also a third thing that makes water
and nobody knows what that is.
- D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930), Pansies, 1929

Well, Mr. Lawrence., I guess now they do.

Mocha, anyone?


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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Here Come The Brides of Gallatin County!

Tracie Peterson is a wonderful author, and I am excited that she has several books coming out this year. I met her at the Expo, and will print most of her interview this summer before another of her books comes out.

Her current series, The Brides of Gallatin County, as she says, is "a series set in Montana, in my backyard practically, about three sassy sisters running a stage stop and dealing with the death of their father and who is his killer, It’s a lot of fun." I couldn't agree more. The first one, A Promise to Believe In, grabbed my attention and wouldn't let go, and I was thrilled to have a chance to review book #2, A Love to Last Forever.

Anyone who has a sister (or more than one) probably understands the concept reality that there are days you want to string' em up. . .but let anyone else try to mess with them, and you'll quickly close ranks in unwavering solidarity, sometimes much to the aggravation of the sister being "protected"! Such is the case of Gwen, Beth, and Lacy. Their antics in the first book to safeguard Gwen made me chuckle. Now Beth must contend with her sisters and the confusing attentions of Nick, whose behavior is nothing at all like the romance novels she devours. Will she ever find a man like the ones that reside on the pages of the books?

Tracie Peterson has penned another great story. However, as enjoyable as it is simply as a relaxing read, there are also great truths woven throughout. Such as standing up for what's right, taking time to know and love a person in spite of their cicumstances, and learning that true love is so much more than gallant deeds and poetic words.

Book 3 in the series, A Dream to Call Her Own, has a release date of June 1, but when I just linked to Amazon, I see they are already shipping it! The series will also be available as a boxed set next month.

Beth Gallatin has always wanted to settle down in one town, with one man, and raise a family. But with her father's roaming ways, she found solace in reading romances instead. The passing of her father, however, means that Beth and her sisters can, for the first time, dare to claim the rugged Montana frontier as their home.

Nick Lassiter has loved Beth since she first came to town, but she's always seemed to think of him more as a brother. Just when he finally gets Beth to consider him, an unexpected arrival from Nick's complicated past threatens the affection growing between them.

As a past fraught with unwise choices and guilt invades their world, will Nick and Beth find the courage to embrace love?

Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 70 novels. She teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. Tracie and her family live in Belgrade, Montana. She has a great website where you can learn more about her.

Happy Reading!


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All That Glitters is Not Gold

This spring has seen a bumper crop of great books released. I still feel like I'm trying to get my head above water from the bounty I received both at the Expo as well as through my regular opportunities for review.

One such book is Stephanie Grace Whitson's A Claim of Her Own. This is a great tale of a twenty-year-old girl, Mattie, whose brother has gone ahead of her to the gold fields of South Dakota and written of the great success he has had. When she travels out to join him on his claim, however, she only discovers his grave. Mattie's unflinching determination to work the claim herself puts her at odds with a street preacher who speaks of laying up treasure in heaven and turning the other cheek. Unfortunately, most of Mattie's experiences with preachers involved the ones she knew back home who lectured on Sunday and then "gambled on Monday like any other low-down varmint." And yet there's something about this preacher that draws her to him. And when trouble from her past arrives, Mattie must decide whether some things are worth more than gold.

I read this book shortly after reading and reviewing Randy Alcorn's The Treasure Principle. What a delight to find an acknowledgement in A Claim of Her Own thanking Randy for allowing the street preacher's words to come from his book.

I enjoyed this book. The additional sub-stories of Mattie's new friends woven throughout the book added depth and an interesting layer. Life was tough physically and emotionally in these early years of our nation's development, but many of the issues we deal with today were the same struggles they had back then - love, trust, faith, and family.

Determined to put the unspeakable circumstances of her past behind her, twenty-year-old Mattie O'Keefe travels to Deadwood, South Dakota, in search of her brother, whose letters boast of making a fortune in the gold fields.

Once in Deadwood, Mattie is soon convinced that gold mining will be the key to her future happiness. When a handsome street preacher speaks out against storing up treasures on earth, Mattie turns a deaf ear... until circumstances force her to decide for herself where true riches lie--and what's worth dying for.

You can read an excerpt here.

Stephanie Grace Whitson, bestselling author and two time Christy Award finalist, pursues a full-time writing and speaking career from her home studio in Lincoln, Nebraska. Her husband and blended family, her church, quilting, and Kitty--her motorcycle--all rank high on her list of "favorite things". You can learn more about her at her website.

Happy Reading!


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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Roll Call

The American Idol post that I've posted 3 times this evening has yet to show up in Google Reader. Yet other folks' posts are. Is it just me? Has anyone who subscribes in a reader seen that post come across?


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Idle Idol Comparisons

Everyone's getting ready to hunker down in front of the TV, as we say here in Texas, and watch the shootout final competition between Kris Allen & Adam Lambert on American Idol tonight. I don't remember ever seeing such coverage about a finale - they even talked about it on Fox News's The O'Reilly Factor while I was waiting at piano lessons last night, discussing if Christianity is playing a factor in the voting. I was actually going to watch AI, but my girl has her school orchestra concert at the exact same time tonight, so I'll have to depend on my obsessed blogging friends for the scoop.

But to get you in the mood, my author friend Suzanne Woods Fisher had this on her blog today. Susan Boyle isn't the only surprise over in Britain this year. Watch this Adam Lambert look-alike, and I dare you to keep your mouth closed while you do. And the judges' expressions, particularly Simon's, are priceless. Be sure to watch it all the way to the end. (The embedding has been disabled so you'll have to click on the link below.)

Britain's Got Talent, Simon Got Flummoxed


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Ulterior Motives

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Mark Andrew Olsen


MARK ANDREW OLSEN whose novel The Assignment was a Christy Award finalist, also collaborated on bestsellers Hadassah (now the major motion picture: One Night With the King), The Hadassah Covenant, and Rescued. Two of his last books were the supernatural thriller The Watchers, and The Warriors.

The son of missionaries to France, Mark is a Professional Writing graduate of Baylor University. He and his wife, Connie, live in Colorado Springs with their three children.


When an al-Qaeda email is intercepted, threatening an attack on America, it leads to the capture of the group's leader. Yet even under fierce interrogation, the terrorist clings to his jihadist beliefs and refuses to divulge any information. Desperate, the Army resorts to extreme measures--a controversial protocol designed to break a subject's resistance. But the attempt must be masked as an offer of clemency and rely on an outside party, someone who is unaware of the protocol's aims.

They find that someone in Greg Cahill, a disgraced soldier who now serves in a prison ministry. Lured by the chance to restore his reputation, Greg befriends a man the entire country despises. And the result proves combustible, the two men having to flee for their lives. With both in need of redemption, they set out to prevent a major catastrophe...

If you would like to read the first chapter of HERE

This was a gripping and suspenseful book. I was a little nervous about reading it, thinking it might disturb my sleep, but it was riveting and difficult to put down. And while it is hard to imagine the scenario actually happening from the standpoint of the protocol used to get information from the terrorist (although I know I can't begin to imagine many of the actual techniques used by the intelligence community as they keep our country safe!), the interaction between him and Greg Cahill was fascinating, not to mention convicting. What if we were given the opportunity to spend several days with someone with this background and history? Would we befriend him and share God's message of love and grace? Or would we consider him beyond redemption? For what individuals would we lay down our lives? Besides an interesting story, this book gives a whole new level of meaning to the commandment "Love your enemies." Read it and ponder it. I'd love to know what you think!


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Monday, May 18, 2009

Rx for a Great Read

I recently got a sneak peek at a wonderful book by a great new author, and all I can say is, Wow! And if you like shows like ER and Grey's Anatomy, you will love this new series!

I don't remember how I stumbled across Candace Calvert's blog, but we immediately bonded as kindred spirits over our love of books and our nursing backgrounds. She lives a few towns down the road toward San Antonio, but we had never met - until the Christian Book Expo. I was turning to walk away from the ACFW booth when I heard her introduce herself as she walked up to the table. I spun around and butted in told her my name - what a fun time of laughter and hugging ensued! A bit later, we found a couch and sat down to become better acquainted and I was able to ask her about her book, Critical Care, the first of her three books being released by Tyndale.

I can't believe we had to come all the way to Dallas to meet! And I'm so excited about your book.

I can't wait for it to come out. Every time I look at the cover, I'm covered in goosebumps myself. It’s a big dream for me to be writing these books. The subject is Critical Incidence Stress [or] Healing the Healers: a team of counselors that works in the medical & rescue communities to take care of the caregivers when stress and burnout happen. I’m happy to be writing something I enjoy and am so interested in, but to add that faith element that is just missing in so much of general fiction and in the popular shows like ER and Grey’s Anatomy. . .it’s so needed.

You have a background in ER nursing, so you didn't have to do much research, but you aren't still working as a nurse are you?

No, but I do still do Continuing Education, particularly in Critical Incidence Stress; I just finished a course in that. And the nurses and doctors I worked with in California are my medical experts, so they’re reading my scenes and catching me if I haven’t gotten something exactly right!

This is your first book, right?

Not my first book ever. I wrote a series of comic mysteries with a nurse heroine for the mainstream market, 3 which are still available in the ABA.

So has this always been a dream for you?

It's always been a dream and a calling. I got my start in writing in Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul. I was an ER nurse for 30 years. And then I had a series of very tough things that happened in my life. The 3rd of my “triple whammy,” as I like to call it, is that I was thrown from my young thoroughbred, and I suffered very bad injuries. I actually had a broken back, a broken neck, a punctured lung, eight broken ribs, and partial paralysis of my dominant arm. This landed me on the other side of the stethoscope in my own ER, and it was a big awakening for me, having been a woman who considered myself very strong in the face of all these things. Finally God slowed me down and I had to find out where my strength really came from, and that was my faith. And I became reacquainted with some things that I really needed to. I wrote the story up, and it was called By Accident, an inspirational story, and it was published in Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul. That was my first time to be published.

It took me a while after that. The comic mysteries just sortaa happened. But in the back of my mind, I kept hearing “You were called to write inspirational.” And I finally talked to my agent and told her I felt I was called to do something else. And she encouraged me; we thought we’d give it a shot with the medical drama because it’s so personal to me, and Tyndale loved it!

Are most of the characters in your books Christians?

Some are seekers. Some are definitely non-believers, and some are Christians. All of the books begin around some inciting event that causes critical stress. In the first book, there’s a propane explosion in a day care center with injured children, and you know the emotions that would evoke. So each person - whether a nurse, doctor, or rescue worker - is affected in some way by their own personal reaction to this trauma. The concept of healing the healers comes in with peer counseling that these medical workers do in order to help each other cope with their troubles after this incident. And faith certainly comes into play. Some people do find faith that they never knew that they needed because of this tragedy. It's encouraging. My whole message is one of hope. I feel that that's a prescription we all need, and certainly in these troubling times.

Are the books in the series sequels or stand-alones that are connected?

There are two links; one link is the concept of critical stress with the peer counseling and the event of disasters. But we are also calling this the Mercy Hospital series. All three books are set in northern California at different Mercy Hospitals. The first one is at Sierra Mercy in the gold country. The second one is on the coast at Pacific Mercy, and the third one is in San Francisco at Golden Gate Mercy. Each character is introduced in the first book and then spins off into subsequent books, so you do see the characters continue and each one again has a different inciting trauma that starts the whole drama going.

So what are you doing now and what do you see in the future?

I am working on the third book right now. As far as the future, I don’t know for sure. I have another 3-book proposal in; it depends on how well these are received. In the back of my mind I would also like to do some medical suspense as well. But right now I'm just getting these launched.

Thanks so much, Candace! And now to the book. It was scheduled for a June 1 release, but it is already available and being shipped by the online sellers such as Amazon, Christian Books, and Barnes & Noble. What a treat that something related to the medical field is early rather than late! Here's the book summary:

After her brother dies in a trauma room, nurse Claire Avery can no longer face the ER. She's determined to make a fresh start--new hospital, new career in nursing education--move forward, no turning back. But her plans fall apart when she's called to offer stress counseling for medical staff after a heartbreaking day care center explosion. Worse, she's forced back to the ER, where she clashes with Logan Caldwell, a doctor who believes touchy-feely counseling is a waste of time. He demands his staff be as tough as he is. Yet he finds himself drawn to this nurse educator . . . who just might teach him the true meaning of healing.

This book quickly found its way to my shelf of favorites. Admittedly, I've loved medical fiction since I was a kid reading Cherry Ames and Sue Barton. But some books in this genre can be ridiculously and annoyingly unrealistic and need to be classified as DNR (Do Not Resuscitate). Not this one. Candace Calvert shows she has a talent for crafting a wonderful story in an accurate setting, portraying believable characters with real-life crises and issues. The medical detail was authentic without being horrific. And the personalities are spot-on. I loved how the nurses referred to Dr. Caldwell (behind his back, of course!) as McSnarly. Unfortunately, I've worked with a doctor or two like that! As the events unfold and the characters work through the circumstances of the story, the patients aren't the only ones who experience healing.

Critical Care is already receiving rave reviews. I especially liked the comments of Harry Kraus MD, who has long been my favorite author of medical fiction:

“Finally, a reason to turn off ER and Grey's Anatomy. Here is a realistic medical drama with heart. Candace Calvert gets it right with page-turning prose, a heartwarming love story, and hope. Don’t make us wait too long for the next one!” —Harry Kraus, MD,best-selling author of Salty Like Blood and Could I Have This Dance?

For an infusion of hope, get this book STAT - read it, & repeat dosage as necessary! I can't wait until the next one, Disaster Status, comes out!

Be sure to check out Candace's website as well as her blog. and tell her I referred you!

Happy Reading!


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Saturday, May 16, 2009

TSMSS - A Song of Praise!

This beautiful old hymn has been running through my mind the last day or two. Although there are generally only a few verses in our hymnal (as italicized below), the original song had anywhere from 14 to 28 stanzas, depending on the source you rely on. Not all have been translated to English, but the ones that have are beautiful. It's a shame more of them didn't make it into the hymnbook or our church repertoires.

I couldn't find a version on You Tube I liked, but here's a lovely piano version. Enjoy these simple lyrics as they declare that no matter where we are, our goal in life should be: May Jesus Christ Be Praised!

When Morning Gilds the Skies - Eric Wyse


When morning gilds the skies,
My heart awaking cries,
May Jesus Christ be praised;
Alike at work and prayer
To Jesus I repair;
May Jesus Christ be praised

When you begin the day,
O never fail to say,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
And at your work rejoice,
To sing with heart and voice,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Whene'er the sweet church bell
Peals over hill and dell,
May Jesus Christ be praised;
O hark to what it sings,
As joyously it rings,
May Jesus Christ be praised.

My tongue shall never tire
Of chanting with the choir,
May Jesus Christ be praised;
This song of sacred joy,
It never seems to cloy,
May Jesus Christ be praised.

When sleep her balm denies,
My silent spirit sighs,
May Jesus Christ be praised;
When evil thoughts molest,
With this I shield my breast,
May Jesus Christ be praised.

Does sadness fill my mind?
A solace here I find,
May Jesus Christ be praised;
Or fades my earthly bliss?
My comfort still is this,
May Jesus Christ be praised.

To God, the Word, on high,
The host of angels cry,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Let mortals, too,
Upraise their voice in hymns of praise,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Be this at meals your grace,
In every time and place;
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Be this, when day is past,
Of all your thoughts the last
May Jesus Christ be praised!

When mirth for music longs,
This is my song of songs:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
When evening shadows fall,
This rings my curfew call,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Ye nations of mankind
In this your concord find,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Let all the earth around
Ring joyous with the sound,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

The night becomes as day,
When from the heart we say,
May Jesus Christ be praised;
The powers of darkness fear,
When this sweet song they hear,
May Jesus Christ be praised.

In heaven's eternal bliss
The loveliest strain is this,
May Jesus Christ be praised;
Let earth, and sea, and sky
From depth to height reply
May Jesus Christ be praised.

No lovelier antiphon
In all high heav’n is known
Than, Jesus Christ be praised!
There to the eternal Word
The eternal psalm is heard:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Sing, suns and stars of space,
Sing, ye that see His face,
Sing, Jesus Christ be praised!
God’s whole creation o’er,
For aye and evermore
Shall Jesus Christ be praised!

Be this, while life is mine,
My canticle divine,
May Jesus Christ be praised;
Be this the eternal song
Through ages all along,
May Jesus Christ be praised

WORDS: Anonymous; Printed in Ka­thol­isch­es Ge­sang­buch in 1828
Translated to English by Edward Caswell (1854) and Robert S. Bridges (1899)
MUSIC: Joseph Barnby, 1868

There are always more great songs for your weekend to be found at Amy's!


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