Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Today's Forecast: Missing My Dad

My dad loved the weather. Growing up in a poor sharecropper family, keeping an eye on the weather was crucial. But his interest went far beyond that. After he died in 1996, we unearthed a 5-year diary he had kept during his days as a WWII Navy Seabee and the surrounding years. Each day probably had 4-6 sentences about what happened that day.

Every single day he recorded the weather for that day.

He was the first of his family to go to college, a privilege only made possible by the Navy. As a Seabee, it makes sense that he became a mechanical engineer, but I always wondered if he secretly wished to be a meteorologist.

Each year he cut the Hurricane Tracking Chart out of the paper and plotted whatever storms threatened or came into the Gulf. One of his all-time favorite gifts was the cross-stitched tracking chart I made and framed for him.

We have old 8mm home movies of the early stages of Hurricane Carla moving into Galveston in September 1961. I was barely a month old, but he drove with the rest of the kids the hour to Galveston to watch it. He was so utterly cautious and conservative in every other aspect of his life that it still amazes me that he did that.

And last September, I joked that he was on the front row of heaven (and probably asked God to time it as such) when my mom died the morning Hurricane Ike hit the Texas coast!

(The first Thanksgiving and Christmas after he died didn't bother me too much. The first hurricane season? Caught me totally off-guard and blew me away! Pun intended!)

And while I'm not as avid as my dad, I do like weather. The extremes are fascinating, and it's an incredible display of God's power.

So of course I had to document the last half of this scorching, sweltering, searing month that is finally coming to a close.

Austin High Temperatures, June 2009

June 13 - 100
June 14 - 100
June 15 - 101
June 16 - 101
June 17 - 100
June 18 - 100
June 19 - 97
June 20 - 102
June 21 - 101
June 22 - 101
June 23 - 103
June 24 - 105
June 25 - 106
June 26 - 105
June 27 - 105
June 28 - 103
June 29 - 106

I don't know what caused the "cold front" on the 19th; it's not like we got a single drop of rain the entire month! Although I do hear some rumbles off in the distance this morning. One can only hope. I better check the radar.

I am my daddy's girl!


View blog reactions

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Must-Read! She Still Calls Me Daddy

She Still Calls Me Daddy
Building a New Relationship with Your Daughter
After You Walk Her Down the Aisle

Robert Wolgemuth
(Thomas Nelson)

Dads and daughters. Daddy's girl. The phrases bring to mind sweet images of one of the most precious relationships. Even men who long for a bevy of little boys find themselves unexpectedly smitten from the moment the tiny pink bundle is placed in their arms in the delivery room. Much as been written about the impact that a daughter's relationship with her dad has on her future relationship with her husband. Healthy father/daughter relationships beget stronger marriages.

But how should the relationship between Dad & his girl change once he walks her down the aisle? A wonderful "engagement" gift for the father of the bride, She Still Calls Me Daddy addresses this very issue. With the wisdom, counsel, and experience attained from his own years spent raising and relinquishing his two daughters, Robert Wolgemuth offers practical advice to dads on navigating this unfamiliar - and uncomfortable - territory. He gently yet firmly reminds fathers of the Biblical admonition for couples to "leave and cleave" and provides advice on how to support this process, coupled with examples of things he learned the hard way.

After years spent building a relationship, it's time for a little remodeling. This book provides the tools dads need to do the job correctly and ensure that the end result is beautiful and helps to preserve the new addition. I highly recommend this book - it should be required reading for all future in-laws!

Grab a copy of this book for your daughter's dad and a couple more for gifts. You can get it directly from the publisher or here.

A guidebook for fathers to help them create a new adventure with their married daughters.

Standing at the altar giving their little girl away begins a new day and the need for a new way for fathers to relate to their daughters. Robert Wolgemuth, author of the best-selling She Calls Me Daddy, reminds fathers of the important role they still play while offering insight as to how it must change in the next chapter of their girls' lives. Topics cover seven relational issues:

* Protection
* Conversation
* Affection
* Discipline
* Laughter
* Faith
* Conduct

Includes thoughts on an ongoing relationship as well as on becoming a granddaddy. Discussion questions provide a great opportunity for personal or group study.

Robert Wolgemuth is known as a champion for biblical truth, a biblical worldview, the family, effective communication, leadership, listening skills, relationship building, and traditional values. He is a bestselling author whose titles include She Calls Me Daddy, the notes to the Devotional Bible for Dads, and The Most Important Place on Earth. Five of his books have received Silver Medallion Awards from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.

A 1969 graduate of Taylor University from which he received an honorary doctorate-Doctor of Humane Letters, Dr. Wolgemuth is the father of two grown daughters, two sons-in-law, and five grandchildren. He and Bobbie, his wife of over 35 years, live in Central Florida. He enjoys golf, versa-climbing, reading, teaching, and The Home Depot.


View blog reactions

Saturday, June 27, 2009

TSMSS - One Life to Love

I posted yesterday that this week has been a reminder that popularity and prosperity don't make one immune to death. In the wake (no pun intended) of this week's celebrity deaths, particularly that of MJ, the world seems at a loss to explain how so successful a life could end up in such ruin; it apparently hasn't figured out that you can "have it all" and still have nothing.

The media keep asking, regarding the music icon, "What happened? How did he end up like this?" On Fox News Friday night, Sean Hannity interviewed a prominent reverend who was close to MJ, and Hannity repeatedly tried to open the door to a spiritual conversation. Sadly, Rev. A. S. wouldn't even acknowledge his own beliefs, much less say anything about MJ other than laud his musical genius and dismiss his shortcomings.

But as Proverbs 15:16 puts it, Better a little with the fear of the LORD than great wealth with turmoil.

And while there are certainly godly wealthy people, the recent news brings to mind the parable of the Rich Man and the Beggar and the sobering peek into eternity given.

I had this song on my mind all day Friday. What a great reminder this is for all of us.

You only get just one time around,
You only get one shot at this
One chance to find out
The one thing that you don’t wanna miss
One day when it’s all said and done
I hope you see that it was enough
This one ride, one try,
One life to love

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

Find more songs for your weekend at Amy's!


View blog reactions

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Great Equalizer

The world's obsession with celebrity and fame has been evident this week as tributes have been paid to three icons of the entertainment industry whose earthly lives have come to an end: Ed McMahon. Farrah Fawcett. Michael Jackson.

Matthew 7 reminds us not to judge them or the condition of their hearts at the time of their deaths, yet the same chapter says that by their fruit you will recognize them.

One thing always strikes me in situations such as this. And that is the fact that for all of the fame, fortune, and frenzy surrounding them, they were incapable of stopping death. They took nothing with them. And if the pleasures of this world were all they lived for, then their life was for naught and their deaths are heartbreaking tragedies far beyond what those who worship our American idols even begin to comprehend.

10 For all can see that wise men die;
the foolish and the senseless alike perish
and leave their wealth to others.

11 Their tombs will remain their houses forever,
their dwellings for endless generations,
though they had named lands after themselves.

12 But man, despite his riches, does not endure;
he is like the beasts that perish.

* * * * *

16 Do not be overawed when a man grows rich,
when the splendor of his house increases;

17 for he will take nothing with him when he dies,
his splendor will not descend with him.

18 Though while he lived he counted himself blessed—
and men praise you when you prosper-

19 he will join the generation of his fathers,
who will never see the light of life .

20 A man who has riches without understanding
is like the beasts that perish.

Psalm 49:10-12, 16-20

I was not a fan of any of these three icons. Yet I have grieved for them. And I have grieved for our world that blithely states "He/she is in a better place" and "Rest in peace" as their accomplishments are lauded, ignoring the Truth of the Gospel and disregarding the state of the eternal soul.

Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of Your Name; deliver us and forgive our sins for Your Name's sake. Psalm 79:9


View blog reactions

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Giveaway & Melting Away

I've given up on trying to figure out how to repost something so it shows up again in the readers. So I'll just add this new post to say be sure to read this post for a giveaway before noon Friday!

I was desperate to look at these pictures. . .

. . .to remind myself why I don't live in Minnesota. Because right now it's awfully tempting.

Yesterday it was 105 here. Forecast for today is the same. Today will be the 11th day in a row of triple-digit temperatures.

It's only June, people. Can we just skip July and August?

In fact, the paper today says this is the 5th hottest June since 1854. At least we aren't wearing hoop skirts and petticoats. Especially when getting in a van that's been parked for an hour in full sun at 3:30 in the afternoon.

Even a hailstorm sounds appealing.

Makes me feel like I'm in the old song from the Sons of the Pioneers record we had when I was a kid. I was going to post their classic version, but this version cracks me up. The second half made me laugh out loud.

Stay cool!

(And don't forget the giveaway!)

Snow pictures courtesy of Kelly at Love Well.
Sun picture courtesy of stock xchng.


View blog reactions

The Short List - Review & Giveaway! - Extended

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2009-06-27 00:23:10 UTC

Congrats to Sara! The book will be on its way to you soon, blog friend!

* * * * *

UPDATE: Well, I have such a short list of commenters (as in 0!) for this post, I'm reposting it. That's what happens when I post two at once, I guess! And I'm extending the deadline to noon tomorrow (Friday).

Bill Butterworth


Have you ever found yourself doing the important things, the big things to serve God, only to discover you were missing the boat on the things that really make all the difference? As a successful counselor, author, and speaker in demand across the nation, Bill Butterworth was enjoying his life, his calling, and his bank account. Until one night at the dinner table, the youngest of his five children began talking for the first time. And called him Bob. And later, Bill. Not Dad. And he realized he had become a "Flashlight Father," one who only saw his children late at night when they were asleep. Convicted, he realized he must rearrange his priorities and his life, subsequently asking himself "How will my children remember me?"

That was the precise moment I decided I wanted to leave a legacy of lasting significance for my children and everyone who knew me.

I began a personal search for what I considered to be the most important things in life. After all, they were the things I wanted to be remembered for. And in order to be remembered for these things, I needed to actually live them out while I had days left here on earth. (From the Introduction)
Peppered with humorous anecdotes, poignant memories, and scriptures, this book offers a practical and down-to-earth list of the four character qualities that matter most. Qualities that are in all-too-short supply in the world today. And, sadly, in the lives of too many believers as well. One is love. Another is honesty. To find out the other two, you have to read the book! If your to-do list is too long, put The Short List at the top. It just might change the rest of your list!

If you like The Purpose Driven Life or Your Best Life Now, you’ll like The Short List. Endorsed by Lee Strobel and John Townsend, The Short List teaches four lessons (through storytelling and Biblical examples) that will help readers to slow down and focus on what really matters in life. It will inspire readers to leave a legacy of lasting significance. It offers big, life-changing ideas presented in a way that’s relatable and not overwhelming.

When you’re working too hard, seeing your family too little, talking to God almost never . . . you’re living a life that has gotten out of sync with what’s really important. The good news? There are four choices you can make today that will have an overwhelmingly positive impact on you, your loved ones, and the legacy you will leave behind. Popular author and speaker Bill Butterworth uses his trademark blend of humorous stories and Scriptural examples to remind you of God’s plan for you . . . and to challenge you to make the four most important choices of your life.

One of the most sought-after communicators in the country today, Bill Butterworth combines a Mark Twain–like knack of storytelling with powerful biblical knowledge. He has inspired such clients as Disney, Microsoft, American Express, Citibank, and Verizon, as well as teams in the National Football League and Major League Baseball. Bill holds graduate degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary and Florida Atlantic University. He is the author of nearly two dozen books, including When Life Doesn't Turn Out Like You Planned, The Promise of the Second Wind, On-the-Fly Guide to Balancing Work and Life, and On-the-Fly Guide to Building Successful Teams. In 2004, Bill and his wife, Kathi, launched the Butterworth Communicators Institute. They make their home in Southern California.

I am giving away a copy of this book to one of you. Just leave a comment on this post by 6:00 p.m. Thursday 12:00 noon CDT Friday (6/26) and I will draw a winner. (Continental US residents only) Be sure to include a way for me to contact you if you don't have a blog.

You may also purchase the book here.


View blog reactions

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

In Search of . . .

Do you remember this book? A few years back I bought my girl one of the books I had enjoyed as a child, All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor. This award-winning book is the story of 5 Jewish immigrant sisters growing up in New York during World War I. My girl never commented about the book that I recall, but this week as we were sorting through some of her books, she declared that it was one of her very favorites and that she has probably read it at least ten times!

She had no idea that it was part of a series. Until I opened my big mouth! And although she's a tad on the old side (they're for ages 9-12), she is dying for these books! (Insert 13-year-old girl dramatic angst!)

Unfortunately, they are no longer in print and the ones I find online seem to range anywhere from $20-80 per book. Just a bit steep for a chapter book!

So I thought I'd put the word out to my blogger friends to see if any of you have them in your attics. Or if you could keep your eyes peeled for them. We'll certainly reimburse you for them.

The books we are looking for are:

More All-of-a-Kind Family

All-of-a-Kind Family Uptown

All-of-a-Kind Family Downtown

Ella of All-of-a-Kind Family

Thanks! If you find them, you are one-of-a-kind!!


View blog reactions

Tuesday's Trivial Tidbits

  • The kids came back (at 2:00 a.m. Saturday!) exhausted but had a great time at our church youth camp in Taos, New Mexico.
  • The new washer and dryer which were supposed to be delivered Saturday just in time to wash all their dirty clothes? Delayed - the dryer arrived at the store damaged. Hopefully, just a couple more days. . . .
  • The good thing about a washateria is you can wash everything at once - 4 machines going simultaneously makes for quick work.
  • The bad thing about a washateria is that no matter how low you set the dryer, the clothes still come out so hot you can hardly handle them to fold them.
  • Summertime, and the livin' doctor's appointments are easy. At least they are easy to schedule! Today it was the oral surgeon for a consult and to set up wisdom teeth removal for my boy. Tomorrow we head to the eye doctor for my girl and see about trading glasses for contacts.
  • Why is it always the case that when you send off for something, they manage to immediately deposit your check, but take their sweet time about sending you what you requested? Still waiting on the Texas Department of Public Safety paperwork to arrive to start driver's ed with my boy. But the check cleared the bank two weeks ago, barely 4 business days after I mailed it.
  • In the midst of all my fun reading for pleasure and reviews, I just realized I have to do my continuing education for my nursing license renewal before my birthday in early August. Which I can fortunately do through a home study/online course. But somehow, reading about H1N1/Swine Flu isn't nearly as exciting as the books in my stack!
  • The quiz below made me laugh. It's nice to know I'm the kind of cookie I like best. (And doubly nice to know it's been around longer than I have!)

You Are a Chocolate Chip Cookie
Traditional and conservative, most people find you comforting.
You're friendly and easy to get to know. This makes you very popular - without even trying!


View blog reactions

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Spring Reading Thing 2009 Wrap It Up!

With today's official arrival of summer (according to the calendar, although our 102 temperature yesterday was certainly not spring-like!), the Spring Reading Thing 2009 hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days has come to a close. This is always a fun time to set some reading goals and then look back and see what was read over the past 3 months.

In some ways, I didn't do as well as I would have liked this time. I certainly read - that's not the problem. But I didn't get to a few of the books on the list that I made at the beginning, and being the OCD type that I am, that bugs me! I know I just need to get over it.

I also discovered that I had not posted reviews for several books which I thought I had. Some publishers give specific date ranges for reviews and others don't, and I need to come up with a better system for keeping up with the reviews that are not specified. And having my sister for several months this spring (which I didn't talk about really on my blog but which was time-consuming and a bit stressful) and dealing with the bounty I received at the Expo along with all the normal spring activities as school began to wind down, has made it a little harder to keep my head above water.

I know the world will not fall off its axis if I don't post a review, but I do feel a sense of responsibility to follow up on the books I receive. I certainly don't want to misuse the publishers' trust in supplying the books.

Being an over-achieving perfectionist has nothing to do with it!

Anyway, enough philosophical rambling. Here's how I did with my original list:

The Inheritance by Tamera Alexander - loved it; my review is here. I thought I reviewed it!
Beyond this Moment by Tamera Alexander - great book; review is here.
Yesterday's Embers by Deborah Raney - loved it; arggh - just realized I never posted my review and interview with Deborah Raney!
A Killing Frost by Hannah Alexander - another great medical mystery
Finally Alive by John Piper - this one is still in the stack.
Salty Like Blood: A Novel by Harry Kraus, MD - another incredible book by one of my favorite authors; again, I've been wanting to do an interview with him and post the review.
Plain Pursuit by Beth Wiseman - enjoyed this one; read my author interview here.
Journey by Angela Hunt - final novel in the reprinted series about the family of Joseph; fascinating story
Talking to the Dead: A Novel by Bonnie Grove - this one was recommended to me and I never managed to pick it up
Ambushed by Grace: Help & Hope on the Caregiving Journey by Shelly Beach - sigh - it's still in my stack.
The Note II; Taking a Chance on Love by Angela Hunt - read it and loved it, as expected with Angie's books.

Listed below are the rest of the books I read, most of them books that were sent to me to be reviewed. The ones not linked to reviews are ones I just picked up and read because they caught my eye.

Face of Betrayal by Lis Wiehl
A Flickering Light by Jane Kirkpatrick
Enduring Justice by Amy Wallace
According to their Deeds by Paul Robertson
Blue Heart Blessed by Susan Meissner - this is a beautiful, tender book. Susan has quickly become one of my favorite authors.
Nothing but Trouble by Susan May Warren
Ulterior Motives by Mark Andrew Olsen
Beloved Counterfeit by Kathleen Y'Barbo
Taking Tuscany by Renee Riva
A Passion Denied by Julie Lessman
The Justice Game by Randy Singer - review still to come
Finding Faith in a Skeptical World by Chet Galeska
Dear Mom by Melody Carlson
Deadlock by Robert Liparulo - I still owe a review on this one
A Promise to Believe In by Tracie Peterson
A Love to Last Forever by Tracie Peterson
A Dream to Call My Own by Tracie Peterson - review still to come
A Claim of Her Own by Stephanie Grace Whitson
Stealing Home by Allison Pittman
Saints in Limbo by River Jordan
Shadows of Lancaster County by Mindy Starns Clark - a great & suspenseful book!
Bride of Honor by Ruth Axtell Morren - I always enjoy her books and this is no exception
Critical Care by Candace Calvert
Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes by Robin Jones Gunn
A Vote of Confidence by Robin Lee Hatcher
Along Came a Cowboy by Christine Lynxwiler
Reluctant Cowgirl by Christine Lynxwiler
The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns
Night Watchman by Mark Mynheir
Jillian Dare by Melanie Jeschke
The Disappearance of God by Albert Mohler
Above All Things by Deborah Raney
Cloud of Suspicion by Patricia Davids
Her Small-Town Hero by Arlene James
His Small-Town Girl by Arlene James
Protecting Her Child by Debby Giusti
Deadly Competition by Roxanne Rustand
Shadows on the River by Linda Hall
Another Hour to Kill by Anita Higman
Held Hostage by Ken Cooper
Words Unspoken by Elizabeth Musser
Her Last Chance by Terri Reed
Tour de Force by Elizabeth White - review still to come
A Gathering of Finches by Jane Kirkpatrick - review to come
Love's Pursuit by Siri Mitchell - review to come
The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn by Liz Johnson - review to come
The Preacher's Wife by Cheryl St. John
Sometimes a Light Surprises by Jamie Langston Turner
How Sweet It Is by Alice J. Wisler
A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist - still need to post review and interview
The Veil by Diane Noble - review to come

So, the grand total is 58 books, I think. And I wonder why we need another bookcase!

Check out what books others have read over at Callapidder Days Wrap-It-Up! And Katrina has a special site set up where the participants have shared some of their reviews of books they read. Right now there are over 400 reviews - surely a book you are wondering about is listed!

Books are not made for furniture,
but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house.
~ Henry Ward Beecher ~
Happy Reading - and home furnishing!


View blog reactions

Saturday, June 20, 2009

TSMSS - Father's Day Tribute

There are some great songs out there to post for Father's Day. Steven Curtis Chapman's Cinderella. Bob Carlisle's Butterfly Kisses. Phillips, Craig, & Dean's I Want to be Just Like You. Wayne Watson's Watercolor Ponies.

Even some great classic oldies come to mind: The Mills Brothers' Daddy's Little Girl. Bobby Goldsboro's Watching Scotty Grow. And Harry Chapin's Cat's in the Cradle. As well as a whole host of country songs.

But most of them are from the standpoint of the dad singing to/about the child. And precious though they are, they weren't exactly what I was looking for. Maybe because I'm not a dad?!

But I did have one. And although my dad died almost 13 years ago, I've been remembering him and his influence, learning to embrace the positive and forgive the mistakes. I've come to cherish many of the traits I inherited from him, from my long legs to my sense of direction to my memory for dates & minutiae, as well as my foundation of faith and other characteristics .

And then I remembered this sweet song that Wayne Watson sang almost 10 years ago. Turning Into Dad is the last song on his 2000 album (which was simply titled Wayne Watson), and it's a fitting and beautiful tribute. Wayne Watson has also just released a book this week about his dad, also called Turning Into Dad. On his website he says,

"After I recorded the song, I started writing down thoughts and memories of growing up as my father's son. The memories just came pouring and I realized that most of us have many thoughts in common about our dads. I am turning into him. Some of his more noble characteristics, I hope and pray, have taken root and are holding.

"There were some great things about my dad that I want to embrace for my lifetime. But, he and I would agree that there are things in all of us better left behind. Bridges built of less honorable characteristics that will not be missed. And I pray for the wisdom to know which is which. We all have this challenge and so I wrote this book, these very personal stories to help us sort it all out."

We may not like it, but there is no way around it. Good or bad, involved or distant, sober or drunk, they’re our dads and we need to find something about them to honor. While there are many things in Scripture that might be difficult to understand, given the abundance of opinion and commentary on more subjects than we can count, the honoring of our parents is an undeniable absolute.

(Note: I'm not sure why the imeem player says it's Bernie Herns - that is definitely Wayne Watson singing.)

(Click here for the whole song)
Turning Into Dad (LP Version) - Wayne Watson


Guess I figured he would live forever
That I'd always have a place to turn
A shoulder I could always lean on
A teacher for those lessons yet unlearned
But good fathers too are only mortal
They long to rest in Jesus' arms
They want to walk the golden streets of heaven
When the vanities of earth have lost their charm

I will treasure the high and the finer things within him
And I know as he would have it
I will lay aside the bad
Of all the things that I could still become
I could do a whole lot worse
Than turning into dad

It was early on a springtime morning
The small hours of the sixteenth day
I was shaken from my fitful sleeping
In the not so very merry month of May

I cannot explain it but I just knew it in my heart
That my hero had breathed his last and said goodbye
We are flesh and we are spirit
And it's appointed to us once to really live
And once to die

(Repeat Chorus)

Words & Music by Wayne Watson, 2000

Happy Father's Day to you. If your dad's still living, take the time to cherish and spend some time with him in person or on the phone. If he's passed on, whether your relationship with him was healthy or not, thank God for the man who gave you life.

Find more songs at Amy's to bless your weekend.


View blog reactions

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Taking Vows - Seriously

Since the kids are at youth camp this week, it seemed like a good opportunity to spend some days with my MIL in Houston. Provide her with some companionship, help her out with some odds and ends, visit my FIL in the Alzheimer's facility.

Use her washer and bring all my clothes home clean!

Anyway, we've had a great time together and it's been restful and refreshing. And eating out every night has been a Treat with a capital T.

But the best part, and the thing that never fails to touch me and teach me, is when we go see my FIL.

Since I last visited, our house has had whirlwinds of activity, with school and homework and concerts and piano lessons and viola lessons and ladies retreats and Bible Study and youth group and 8th grade graduation and summer beginning and hail storms and car repairs and so forth and so on etc.

And yet, at the Alzheimer's facility, things are basically the same as last month and three months ago and 6 months before that. Every day (unless she's sick), my MIL makes the almost 30-minute drive to be there when he wakes from his afternoon nap. She sits with him, then feeds him his dinner and stays until the aide has put him to bed about 45 minutes after dinner and he's asleep.

The wife of the man who shares Dad's room does the same thing.

Every. Single. Day.

I can't speak for the other man's wife but I know why Mom does it. Not because she has to. Not for show or accolades. Not because she thinks this will earn her a ticket to heaven. Not because Dad would always even know whether she was there.

And certainly not because it's easy or convenient or restful.

But because 57 years ago this summer she did something which few seem to grasp the meaning of anymore. She made a vow.

For better or worse.

In sickness and in health.

To love and to cherish.

Til death do us part.

It reminds me of this story. There are many versions with subtle variations; this one is from Crosswalk.

For several months sweet old Mr. Sam went to the Nursing Home each morning at 9:00. One stormy day the nurse who cared for his wife, wondered if he would come out in this awful weather. But he arrived exactly at the same time ready for his special visit. Nurse Susan commented on his faithfulness to his wife who did not even recognize him anymore. Mr. Sam smiled and replied, "She may not know who I am, but I know who she is."

With those words of love, he entered the same room, and sat in the same chair and took the same cherished and wrinkled hand he had held for almost 60 years.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (I Corinthians 13:13)


View blog reactions

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Tender Book Filled with Hope

Sometimes a Light Surprise
Jamie Langston Turner
(Bethany House)

He had drawn the curtains tightly around his soul...
could he trust that glimmer of hope quietly beckoning to him?

Ben Buckley has never gotten over the loss of his wife. More bewildering than the mystery surrounding her death is the radical change that occurred in her shortly beforehand--a "conversion," she had called it. Baffled, angry, and still feeling guilty for the way he'd withdrawn from her during those final weeks, Ben now lives behind the protective walls of severed relationships and rigid routines.

An unlikely young woman knocks on the door of his narrow world. Her simple honesty and childlike faith are incomprehensible to him, but in spite of his misgivings Ben finds himself on a journey he never would have begun on his own.

Jamie Langston Turner, author of six novels and winner of a Christy Award, has been a teacher for more than thirty years. Currently a professor of creative writing and poetry at Bob Jones University, she lives with her husband in Greenville, South Carolina. Learn more about her books at her website.

This book tugs at the heartstrings. My heart ached for Ben, who not only grieves the loss of his wife to an unexpected and unexplained death and who has essentially experienced the death of his family as a result of his inability and refusal to face his grief, but who also continues to be completely mystified and quite perturbed at the fanatical (to him) transformation his wife experienced not long before her death. What a picture of I Corinthians 1:18 he is: For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. I like how the author portrayed the tension Ben feels in wanting to steer clear of anyone remotely connected with his wife's "strange" faith yet at the same time feeling inexplicably drawn to the light he sees shining in the lives of those same believers, including his new floor designer - the same girl he was determined not to hire right up until he opened his mouth and offered her the job. For her part, Kelly, is determined to live a godly and separate life; yet she must wrestle with what it means to be a believer in the workplace and how to mingle, relate, and witness to her coworkers without compromising her beliefs -- and while coping with her own heartache. Toss in a some difficult family dynamics, a determined personal assistant whose nose is everywhere but where it belongs, and a couple of guys who are lucky they aren't being sued for harassment, and you have a portrait of corporate America today. And the juxtaposition of the lives in this story show the stark differences in how believers and non-believers react to crises.

This book is available directly from the publisher or at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.


View blog reactions

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Held Hostage

Ken Cooper
(Baker House/Chosen)

Husband. Father. Esteemed Community Man. Armed Bank Robber.

The unflinching story of one man's double life--and his ultimate transformation.

To his friends and family, Ken Cooper was the epitome of the perfect citizen: he was devoted to his wife and kids, loved by all, and had a high-profile job for a well-known Christian college.

Yet beneath this polished exterior lurked a man haunted by a broken past and fueled by a dangerous addiction. This man was known to the newspapers and public as the armed and mysterious "gentleman bank robber."

With raw authenticity, Ken bares all--from his tragic past to his time in one of Florida's most notorious prisons--in this unforgettable story of one man's miraculous redemption.

"In Held Hostage Ken Cooper describes the absolute horror and despair of prison life as well as any writer I have encountered. More importantly, however, Ken points his readers to the only Light that can penetrate the darkness of prison—or the darkness of the human heart. This is an amazing testimony."--Chuck Colson, founder, Prison Fellowship

Ken Cooper, who served four years of a 99-year sentence, later worked with four others to found Prisoners of Christ, a faith-based reentry ministry for the transition of inmates plagued with addictions. Now he heads up Ken Cooper Prison Ministries, involved in prison ministry organization development, consulting work, and education on overcoming addictions. Ken has been featured in numerous media outlets including Time, The Christian Science Monitor, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the Associated Press.Ken and his wife, June, live in Jacksonville, Florida.

I wasn't sure I wanted to walk the road of reading this book, but I'm glad I did. It is much more pleasant to read of romance and flowers than to consider the hopelessness of those who do not know Christ and who live in bondage to a life of crime, sin, and its consequences. And tracing the roots and growth of a hidden double life of one who appears to be an upstanding "Christian" man was a bit unsettling, to say the least. Yet, this book is so much more than that. This is the story of a life redeemed. A picture of what happens when a man hits rock bottom and has nowhere to look but straight up into the face of Jesus. And the change that impacts in his life as a result. Prison life isn't pretty by any stretch of the imagination. Yet God's love penetrates the steel walls and the barricaded doors and brings hope to the most desperate. As Ken grapples with life inside bars, he learns that deliverance comes in many forms. And he learns that he can shine a light in the darkness so that others can find their way. For anyone who wants their heart tendered, for the one who ministers to prisoners, for the one who wants a dose of mercy and understanding and grace - this book is recommended.

Reading this book brought to mind the last part of this song:
I'll sing it out with every breath, I'll let the whole world hear it
This hallelujah anthem of the free
That iron bars and heavy chains can never hold us captive
The Son has made us free and free indeed!

Let freedom ring down through the ages from a hill called Calvary
Let freedom ring wherever hearts know pain
Let freedom echo through the lonely streets where prisons have no key
You can be free and you can sing let freedom ring.

Let Freedom Ring
Words by Gloria Gaither
Music by Bill Gaither

Held Hostage will be available in August, and you can pre-order it now directly from the publisher or from Amazon or ChristianBook.com.


View blog reactions

Monday, June 15, 2009

Father's Day Blog Tour

Here are two books for Father's Day, one for Dad (Mom, too!) and one for the kid who wants to curl up with next to dad and read a book together!

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
(Random House/Multnomah)

“Great biblical truths are meant not only for our intellectual acceptance, but for our spiritual health.” –Dr. Al Mohler

More faulty information about God swirls around us today than ever before. No wonder so many followers of Christ are unsure of what they really believe in the face of the new spiritual openness attempting to alter unchanging truth.

For centuries the church has taught and guarded the core Christian beliefs that make up the essential foundations of the faith. But in our postmodern age, sloppy teaching and outright lies create rampant confusion, and many Christians are free-falling for “feel-good” theology.

We need to know the truth to save ourselves from errors that will derail our faith.

As biblical scholar, author, and president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Albert Mohler, writes, “The entire structure of Christian truth is now under attack.” With wit and wisdom he tackles the most important aspects of these modern issues:
  • Is God changing His mind about sin?
  • Why is hell off limits for many pastors?
  • What’s good or bad about the “dangerous” emergent movement?
  • Have Christians stopped seeing God as God?
  • Is the social justice movement misguided?
  • Could the role of beauty be critical to our theology?
  • Is liberal faith any less destructive than atheism?
  • Are churches pandering to their members to survive?
In the age-old battle to preserve the foundations of faith, it's up to a new generation to confront and disarm the contemporary shams and fight for the truth. Dr. Mohler provides the scriptural answers to show you how.

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., serves as the ninth president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary-the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.

Dr. Mohler has been recognized by such influential publications as Time and Christianity Today as a leader among American evangelicals. In fact, Time.com called him the "reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S".

In addition to his presidential duties, Dr. Mohler hosts The Albert Mohler Program, a daily live nationwide radio program on the Salem Radio Network. He also writes a popular blog. More infomation and a variety of articles, sermons, and speeches are available on his website. He is married to Mary, and they have two children, Katie and Christopher.

Excellent book, but this one is not for wimps. And probably not for the beach. It is not a quick read, for it requires some serious thinking -- and probably a dictionary within reach. But it's important to give careful consideration to many of the questions he raises in order to ensure that we are indeed salt and light and not whitewashed tombs.

You can purchase this book directly from the publisher or from Amazon or Lifeway.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Chuck Black
(Random House/Multnomah)

Sir Dalton, a knight in training, seems to have everything going for him. Young, well-liked, and a natural leader, he has earned the respect and admiration of his fellow knights, and especially the beautiful Lady Brynn.

But something is amiss at the training camp. Their new trainer is popular but lacks the passion to inspire them to true service to the King and the Prince. Besides this, the knights are too busy enjoying a season of good times to be concerned with a disturbing report that many of their fellow Knights have mysteriously vanished.

When Sir Dalton is sent on a mission, he encounters strange attacks, especially when he is alone. As his commitment wanes, the attacks grow in intensity until he is captured by Lord Drox, a massive Shadow Warrior. Bruised and beaten, Dalton refuses to submit to evil and initiates a daring escape with only one of two outcomes–life or death. But what will become of the hundreds of knights he’ll leave behind? In a kingdom of peril, Dalton thinks he is on his own, but two faithful friends have not abandoned him, and neither has a strange old hermit who seems to know much about the Prince. But can Dalton face the evil Shadow Warrior again and survive?

Chuck Black began writing to inspire his children to read the Bible with renewed zeal. His first series, The Kingdom Series, is a collection of Biblical allegories that are set in a medieval time period. They cover the span of time from Genesis through the book of Revelation. Chuck’s current works include The Knights of Arrethtrae series, of which Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart is the third book.

Chuck is a former F-16 fighter pilot and currently works as an engineer for a firm designing plastic consumer products. He has a degree in electrical and electronic engineering and served eight years in the United States Air Force. Chuck and his wife have six children.

It is Chuck’s desire to serve the Lord through his work and to inspire people of all ages to study the scriptures in order to discover the hope and love of a truly majestic King and His Son. More information and activities can be found at his website.

My boy has several of these books and has enjoyed them, and knowing that the author was an F-16 fighter pilot was a bonus for him. This is one of his favorite genres to read. His one complaint is just that the books are too short!

This book may also be purchased from the publisher, Amazon, or Lifeway.

Happy Reading!


View blog reactions

Sunday, June 14, 2009

All Washed Up

The kids head out to youth camp tonight. Yes, tonight. Because it's quite a distance where they are headed, so they will be leaving on a jet plane on a chartered bus around midnight.

That will actually get them to camp a little earlier tomorrow than they need to arrive, but our youth minister didn't think the parents would be too thrilled about bringing the kids to the church at 3:00 a.m.

I love our youth minister!

So about 9:00 last night everyone got in their jammies and I did one last load of laundry. Jeans, denim shorts, etc. Heavy stuff.

And right in the middle of the cycle, the washer died.

As in kaput. D-E-A-D. We couldn't even get it to drain the water. So my man lifted the sodden heavy stuff out and squeezed the bulk of the water out of them and we put them in a big trash bag. He said, "You could probably just rinse them out in the sink." Uh, no thanks. A load of dainties, maybe. Heavy jeans, no way. So I got dressed and ran to a friend's house and ran it all through her rinse cycle.

By the time I got back, my husband had bailed.

The water, that is.

So much for eating bon bons while the kids are gone. At least our newest issue of Consumer Reports that just arrived has reviews of washing machines!

Photo courtesy of stock xchng.


View blog reactions

Friday, June 12, 2009

TSMSS - For Xandra

I'm posting a bit early this week because this is a poignant and bittersweet Friday night for a blog friend who has become a dear "real life" friend. These are for Xandra, who is spending the last night in the house she grew up in (she and her husband bought it from her parents) before moving up to Oklahoma. Lots of sweet new memories will be made, but I know that tonight as she walks through her house and goes to sleep one last time within its walls, precious sacred scenes unfold.

And although we certainly intend to see each other again this side of heaven, what a comfort it is for believers to know that we'll be united one day and there will be no more good-byes!

Sweet dreams and memories tonight, my friend! See you soon! (I hope!)

(BTW, both of those songs were sung by Cynthia Clawson, about 20 years apart!)

Join us over at Amy's for more songs for your Saturday!


View blog reactions

This Seems Familiar

A little before 8:00 p.m. last night, I noticed it was darker than normal outside, and the sky had a funny tinge to it. So we turned on the TV and sure enough, the radar was lit up like Christmas. And then the local weather guy said those dreaded words.

"Tornado warning."


And we were right in the storm's path.

While the kids and I watched the TV report, my man went out and watched the sky. And found a huge padded piece of vinyl or plastic or something in the garage and covered my van. He didn't bother with his, since it is finally scheduled to go in on Monday to get the dings removed from our March storm. (Our roof hasn't been fixed yet either. This is precisely why we haven't been in a hurry.)

A couple of tornados briefly touched down about a mile or two on either side of us. And the hail was relatively short-lived and only the size of large marbles or quarters. No golfballs at our house this time.

But I bet a few folks in the neighborhood with their brand new roofs were cringing.


View blog reactions