Friday, July 31, 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday at Truth 4 the Journey

Five Things I'm Thankful For:
1. Vacation
2. Relaxation
3. Vacation
4. Anticipation
5. Vacation


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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Justice Game - My Verdict (of the Book) and Giveaway!

UPDATE: Wednesday, 9:30 p.m.

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2009-07-30 02:17:57 UTC

Congrats to A Stone Gatherer! Email me your address, Kim, and I'll send the gift certificate your way!

* * * * *

I've never served on jury duty. In fact, I've only received a summons once, and I was able to be excused from even showing up due to having young kids. I did attend one day of a trial years ago and found it fascinating. And while I'm not a fan of most legal thrillers, Randy Singer's books are the exception. His previous book, By Reason of Insanity, was excellent and was nominated for a Christy Award.

So it was with great interest that I read his newest book The Justice Game (Tyndale Publishers). And wow! My verdict is that he is guilty of writing a fascinating and eye-opening book! Gun control is a hot topic in today's world, as is the subject of lawsuits and corporate vs. personal responsibility. And contrary to many authors who use their writing as a bully pulpit or soapbox for their own agenda, Randy Singer has approached this in a thoughtful and thorough manner, putting faces and personalities to both sides of this issue and adding complexities that caused me to reflect on my initial dogmatic opinion. In fact, as he was writing the book, Randy Singer impaneled a shadow jury and allowed readers to vote for the verdict online, matching the end of the story to readers' outcome. And although I participated in that online vote, I vacillated throughout the book as the story was so well-balanced and expertly written that I found myself agreeing with statements that both lawyers made.

And throwing a monkey wrench in the works, as we like to say down here, the issues of integrity and blackmail add even more complexity. Several subtle spiritual lessons can be drawn from the story as well. This is a brilliantly written book, and I heartily recommend it.

About The Justice Game

After the target of an investigative report storms a Virginia Beach news studio, he executes one of the anchors on live television before the SWAT team is able to take him down. Following the victim’s funeral, her family files a lawsuit against the gun company who manufactured the killer’s weapon of choice.

The lawyers for the plaintiff and defendant—-Kelly Starling and Jason Noble-—are young, charismatic, and highly successful. They’re also easy blackmail targets, each harboring a personal secret so devastating it could destroy their careers.

Millions of dollars-—and more than a few lives-—are at stake. But as Kelly and Jason battle each other, they discover that the real fight is with unseen forces intent on controlling them both.

About Randy’s Approach to this Book

The Justice Game asks whether justice can be bought and sold in America and focuses specifically on the national gun debate. Randy’s goal in this book was not to make converts to either side but to present both perspectives of the debate and let readers draw their own conclusion. In fact, Randy’s book has been endorsed by people from both sides of the aisle.

Randy took a unique approach to determining the verdict in this story—he had his readers decide. Readers were invited to watch a special online video of the closing arguments and then vote on the verdict. People took this very seriously, and from feedback we received, it was a difficult decision for many. While the jury has made its decision, you can still view the video at his website.

Randy wrote this book out of a very personal experience. He discusses that experience, the spiritual message of the book, and the issues addressed within it in this brief video:

Randy Singer is a man of many talents. He "believes it’s important to simultaneously hold a number of different jobs so that if he gets fired by two employers the same day, he can still avoid the unemployment line. He splits his time and divides his personality between Randy Singer, critically acclaimed author, Randy Singer, veteran trial lawyer, and Randy Singer, ministry leader and preacher. When he grows up, he will decide what he really wants to do." He served as Executive Vice-President and General Counsel of the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention (NAMB) and then as President of FamilyNet television. In addition to his law practice, he continues in ministry as an interim pastor, pointing out that he is "a preaching lawyer: proof positive that God can use anybody to do anything." He has a great sense of humor, too: his website even has a section of lawyer jokes!

(On a personal note, he preached a Sunday AM service in our church a few years ago and was phenomenal.)

I have a gift certificate for this book and an autographed bookplate for one of you! The gift certificate is good at Christian bookstores in the United States; if there isn't one in your area you can redeem it directly with Tyndale. To enter, leave a comment on this post by 8:00 pm CDT Wednesday (7/29) and I will draw a winner. US residents only, please.

If you don't win, purchase The Justice Game at Amazon, Lifeway, or Parable.


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Monday, July 27, 2009

VBS Memories

VBS starts today at our church. And while I enjoy the various themes each year (this year we're headed to the Outback on the Boomerang Express!), they can't hold a candle to the VBS-es I remember from my childhood.

Memory verses. Decoupages. Crafts made with macaroni, unpopped popcorn, dry beans, and seeds. Bookends with pasta letters. Wastebaskets and lampshades made from magazine pages. Flannelboard stories. Cookies and red punch. Friday night Commencement when your work was displayed and you got your certificate.

Each morning's Joint Worship, when one might be chosen for a coveted turn to carry the American flag, the Christian flag, or the Bible in the daily processional.

The pledge to each flag. I assume you know the Pledge of Allegiance to the US flag. What about the Christian flag?
I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag and to the Savior for Whose kingdom it stands. One brotherhood, uniting all Christians in service and love.
And the pledge to the Bible?
I pledge allegiance to the Bible, God's Holy Word, and will make it a Lamp unto my feet, a Light unto my path, and will hide its Word in my heart, that I may not sin against God.
(I probably haven't said those in more than 30 years, but they are as familiar as my name!)

And while VBS was lots of fun, we also learned a lot. (Soapbox insert: sometimes I think churches are so busy with themes and gimmicks and entertaining kids that the whole point of VBS is minimized or missed entirely.)

I never dreamed I would find the song that we sang to learn the books of the Old Testament "way back when". I have always loved this song because it taught the divisions of the Old Testment as well as the books and their order. (Another thing that doesn't seem to be taught much any more. Sigh.)

Oh, and when I was really young? VBS was TWO WEEKS! Then they cut it to 8 days (M-F plus the following M-W) and eventually to just 5 days.

BTW, did you know the first VBS was held more than a hundred years ago in a saloon?! Check out this brief and interesting article on the origins of VBS!

What VBS memories do you have from your childhood?


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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pefectly Late

Oh, the irony!

I would normally be completely aghast and horrified that I got busy and forgot the giveaway yesterday and am a day late with the drawing. But since it's a book on letting go of perfectionistic expectations, I guess I'll just have to chill out about it! And whaddaya know, the world is still spinning in spite of my lapse!

So, a day late, but not a book short, here's the winner:

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2009-07-27 00:04:58 UTC

Congrats to Katherine! Please email me your address and I'll pop it in the mail as soon as I can.


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Saturday, July 25, 2009

TSMSS - A Heart-Warming Hymn!

This is one of the old hymns that I loved singing as a child. I can't help smiling and tapping my foot when I hear it! The video intro makes it sound like it's a new song, but it was written in 1881 - that's only new compared with some other hymns that go back to the 18th century or earlier!


I have found a friend in Jesus, He’s everything to me,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul;
The Lily of the Valley, in Him alone I see
All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole.
In sorrow He’s my comfort, in trouble He’s my stay;
He tells me every care on Him to roll.

He’s the Lily of the Valley, the Bright and Morning Star,
He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.

He all my grief has taken, and all my sorrows borne;
In temptation He’s my strong and mighty tower;
I have all for Him forsaken, and all my idols torn
From my heart and now He keeps me by His power.
Though all the world forsake me, and Satan tempt me sore,
Through Jesus I shall safely reach the goal.


He will never, never leave me, nor yet forsake me here,
While I live by faith and do His blessèd will;
A wall of fire about me, I’ve nothing now to fear,
From His manna He my hungry soul shall fill.
Then sweeping up to glory to see His blessèd face,
Where the rivers of delight shall ever roll.


WORDS: Charles W. Fry, 1881 (Salvation Army Hymnal)
MUSIC: William Shakespeare Hays, 1881

Be sure to visit Amy's for more songs!


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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Perfect People Need Not Comment!

One of my all-time favorite movies is Mary Poppins. In the scene following her arrival at the Banks home, she is unpacking her bottomless (and seemingly empty) carpetbag while Jane & Michael watch. She rummages around and pulls out a measuring tape to see how they measure up. Michael is "Extremely Stubborn and Suspicious." Jane is "Rather Inclined to Giggle. Doesn't Put Things Away." They demand that she take a turn, but her result is "Mary Poppins. Practically Perfect in Every Way." (You can watch this darling clip here if you aren't familiar with it.)

How often we as women think we need to be like Mary Poppins. (Although I'd settle for being able to snap my fingers to clean the house!) We try so hard to be perfect (or at least supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!) so that we can convince everyone, including God, that we measure up. Only the result is that, like Michael, reaching for something beyond our abilities only results in our being frustrated, out of control, and in a never-ending cycle trying to escape.

This is something I have particularly struggled with for years. Growing up in a home where the expectations were high and deficiencies were always pointed out, I have wrestled with this for much of my life. (Lest you think my folks were abusive, let me clarify that this was not the case and the motivation was to help us improve and be our best. Unfortunately, the result was the sense of never doing/being enough.)

So I was particularly interested in Lisa Harper's new book, A Perfect Mess: Why You Don't Have to Worry About Being Good Enough for God. As she walks the reader through some of the Psalms, which contain "God's interactions with real people with real problems in need of His gloriously real grace," Lisa reminds us that "God's incomparable love transforms the messiness and loneliness of life into a gorgeous tapestry of grace." (Quotes from the Introduction, pages 2-3)

Chapters such as "Leaping over Legalism," "Tumbling Toward Approval," and "Frantic Isn't a Spiritual Fruit" are sprinkled with verses, truths, and examples. Each chapter concludes with questions for personal insight or discussion, making this an ideal book for a Bible Study, book club, or small group.

I especially loved the chapter "Tumbling Toward Approval" and could relate to much of what it said:

Maybe you too have exhauted yourself striving to be sweeter or thinner or a better scrapbooker. Perhaps you've crafted Bible study answers with the goal of impressing the girls in your small group. It's easy to fall prey to the feel-good addiction of other people's approval. . .I've realized tha many of us are just as prone to perform for God as for anyone else.

I used to think that, along with trying to impress others, I had to try to win God over with a "good girl" routine. . . I felt sure that the only reason I'd get to squeak into heaven's door was because Jesus felt sorry for me and talked His Father into it. Although I walked down an aisle to confess my sins and my need for Christ's love and forgiveness when I was seven, it took decades longer to believe that Jesus actually likes me, that He doesn't merely deliver me but wholeheartedly delights in me. (excerpted from pp. 43-45)

Anyone else ready to quit trying to be perfect and accept that you're A Perfect Mess? (Giveaway below!)

Caught up in the self-imposed pressure to do and be all the things they think a Christian woman ought to do and be, countless women are working desperately to convince everyone, including God, that they have it all together. Few have any idea that the Creator of the universe looks at them with delight even when they yell at the dog, drive a minivan littered with French fries, or think bad words about that rude clerk at the store.

A Perfect Mess offers hope to every woman who yearns for a vibrant relationship with God but worries she isn’t good enough or doesn’t do enough to merit His affection. With characteristic authenticity, speaker and author Lisa Harper shares poignant stories from her own imperfect life to showcase the real-life relevancy of the Bible in the lives of modern women.

As she guides readers on a story-driven journey through selected Psalms, they will be inspired to experience for themselves how God’s incomparable love transforms the messiness of life into a gorgeous work of grace.

Lisa Harper is a master storyteller whose lively approach connects the dots between the Bible era and modern life. She is a sought-after Bible teacher and speaker whose upcoming appearances include the national Women of Faith Conferences. A veteran of numerous radio and television programs and the author of several books, she also is a regular columnist for Today’s Christian Woman magazine. Lisa recently completed a master’s of theological studies from Covenant Theological Seminary. She makes her home outside Nashville. You can learn more at her website.

She talks about the fear of not being perfect here:

The publisher has provided an additional copy for me to give to one of you! Just leave a comment on this post by 6:00 p.m. CDT Saturday and I will draw a winner. (Continental US residents only, please.)

A Perfect Mess can be purchased directly from the publisher or from Amazon or other bookstores.


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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Things Left Unspoken

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Things Left Unspoken

Revell (June 1, 2009)


Eva Marie Everson


Eva Marie Everson taught Old Testament theology for six years at Life Training Center in Longwood, Florida and has written numerous articles for (including the acclaimed Falling Into The Bible series), and has had articles featured in numerous publications, including Christianity Today, Evangel, Christian Bride, Christian Retailing, The Godly BusinessWoman and Marriage Partnership magazines. Eva Marie has been interviewed by radio, television, newspaper, and Internet media outlets. In 2002Eva Marie was one of six Christian journalists sent to Israel for a special ten-day press tour.

Eva Marie’s work includes the award-winning titles Reflections of God's Holy Land; A Personal Journey Through Israel, Shadow of Dreams, Sex, Lies and the Media, and The Potluck Club series.

She is married, has four children and five grandchildren, and lives in Central Florida.


Every family--and every house--has its secrets. Jo-Lynn Hunter is at a crossroads in life when her great-aunt Stella insists that she return home to restore the old family manse in sleepy Cottonwood, Georgia. Jo-Lynn longs to get her teeth into a noteworthy and satisfying project. And it's the perfect excuse for some therapeutic time away from her self-absorbed husband and his snobby Atlanta friends.

Beneath the dust and the peeling wallpaper, things are not what they seem, and what Jo-Lynn doesn't know about her family holds just as many surprises. Was her great-grandfather the pillar of the community she thought he was? What is Aunt Stella hiding? And will her own marriage survive the renovation? Jo-Lynn isn't sure she wants to know the truth--but sometimes the truth has a way of making itself known.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Things Left Unspoken, go HERE

Grab you some sweet tea and settle back on the porch with this great book of the South! Family roots and loyalty run deep in Cottonwood and in the South. But apparently so do secrets. And as Jo-Lynn begins restoring the old family home, more than dust is stirred up. While she tries to make sense of what she has discovered, someone else is trying to thwart her efforts, but it's not certain whether they are opposed to the renovation itself or concerned about what is being brought to light. At the same time, Jo-Lynn is trying to decide if her own marriage is worth renovating or if it is about to become ancient history. Being a bit of a Southern girl, but not having lived in the deep South or in a small town, I found this to be a fascinating tale of love, forgiveness, and doing what is right instead of what is easy or popular.


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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Those Were The Days!

I was purging the other day - papers, that is! - and ran across something I had kept when my kids were little. Apparently written by an anonymous two-year-old, it's hilariously (and frighteningly!) accurate. I'm sure you've seen it before, but I had to share it for my bloggy friends such as Natalie, Kelly, Missy, Amanda, and the rest of you still in this parenting stage!


If I want it,

If I gave it to you and I change my mind,

If I can take it away from you,

If I had it a little while ago,

If it's MINE, it will no longer belong to anyone else,
no matter what.

If we are building something together,
all the pieces are MINE.

If it looks like MINE,

(And please don't think you'll ever
change a Toddler's mind about it!)

Maybe driving lessons aren't so bad after all!


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Monday, July 20, 2009

A New Book from a New Friend

Reviewing books has resulted in my meeting some delightful new friends, some in person and some via email. One such person is Liz Johnson, a publicist for a Christian publishing company who mails me books to review. What a privilege it is for me to join in celebrating the release of her own debut novel! The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn released last week as part of the Love Inspired Suspense line, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. Don't let the small size fool you - this book is packed with adventure, suspense, a little romance, and some unexpected twists & turns.

I had the chance to interview Liz via email last week and get to know her a little better:

Congratulations on this exciting milestone, Liz! When did the writing bug "bite" you?

I was 7 when my mom assigned me (I was homeschooled) to write a short story. The assignment was a story-starter, and I was supposed to finish a page about a bear. It turned into a 6-page story. I’ve been writing ever since then. But it wasn’t until after college that I really started getting serious about writing.

As a publicist you read lots of books and interact with many authors. While I can imagine that has its advantages for a fledgling author, are there challenges as well? Is it hard to separate yourself and find your own ideas and niche?

I do read a lot. And I do interact with a lot of authors, but I’ve never had a hard time finding my own voice and ideas. I’ve always had stories to tell, characters that want me to tell their tales. I would say that the biggest challenge of working in the industry is never being able to read as many books as I’d like! :) I barely have time to read the ones that I’m working on, and there are tons more I’d like to read.

I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to use a prison setting for my first novel, were I to write one! How did you come up with the plot and research it?

I don’t think it was particularly brave to set my book in a prison. I had a friend who went to prison during my senior year of college. He had made some really bad decisions. His sister asked me to write to him, so we wrote for 5 years. It really made me curious about what life inside prison would be like and if anyone would ever willingly go to prison. I read up a little bit on the Oregon prison system, and it all became part of my story. Throw in some things that God was teaching me about relying on Him, and it became The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn.

How are you celebrating your debut novel's release?

My friends have been wonderful and have helped me celebrate several times already. Some girlfriends and I went to the Cheesecake Factory and indulged in a great meal and fabulous dessert! Then on the release day, friends from work took me out to lunch. And this week, I’m headed back to Arizona to visit my family where friends from church are throwing me a launch party. It’s been great to celebrate with friends and family.

What's next on the horizon for you?

I’m working on revisions for my next romantic suspense novel, which isn’t under contract yet, but I’m hoping we’re moving that way. It’s a follow up to The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn and has some overlapping characters. In the in-between time, I’m working on a proposal for a contemporary romance set in Arizona.

Thanks so much, Liz! I look forward to reading more of your work!

This is an engrossing book written by a promising new author. Kidnapped by Myles Parsons, one of the prison GED students she teaches, as he escapes from the Oregon State Prison Complex, Kenzie Thorn is scared, confused, and angry. She doesn't believe Myles's claim that he is an FBI Special Agent and that he kidnapped her to protect her because that is just too ludicrous. After all, her beloved grandfather is the governor! Surely that gives her a measure of safety and protection. But if Myles is right, then she is determined to help him find the person threatening her life, much to Myles's chagrin. Especially since they are now fugitives - an escaped prisoner and his hostage. Stress and tension are relieved by touches of humor and attitude to provide a well-balanced read. Seamless transitions between the viewpoints of Myles and Kenzie give a glimpse into their hearts, minds, and even their prayers. And the multi-layered resolution had at least one jaw-dropping surprise! This book is the perfect size to slip into your purse or beach bag. Grab one today at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Wal-mart.

Myles Parsons is just another inmate in Kenzie Thorn’s GED course until he kidnaps her, offering only a feeble explanation–that he’s actually FBI Special Agent Myles Borden. Terrified, Kenzie doesn’t want to believe his story of being undercover to protect her. Moreover, she can’t believe that someone might really want her dead.

But just when Myles thinks he has her out of harm’s way, his plans start to fall apart. He attempts to take Kenzie to a safe house—but the stubborn woman won’t go! So together they must uncover the clues that will reveal a most shocking perpetrator. All the while Myles tries to keep his distance from Kenzie … but finds himself falling in love.

Liz Johnson grew up reading Christian fiction, and always dreamed of being part of the publishing industry. After graduating from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff with a degree in public relations, she set out to fulfill her dream. In 2006 she got her wish when she accepted a publicity position at a major trade book publisher. While working as a publicist in the industry, she decided to pursue her other dream-becoming an author. Along the way to having her novel published, she completed the Christian Writers Guild apprentice course and wrote articles for several magazines.

Liz lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she enjoys theater, ice skating, volunteering in her church's bookstore and making frequent trips to Arizona to dote on her nephew and three nieces. She loves stories of true love with happy endings. The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn is her first novel. Keep up with Liz's adventures in writing at


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Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Sizzling Read

No, you haven't landed on My ADHD Me's blog, but the subject today is a novel written by a firefighter and paramedic! Through the Fire, the debut novel from Shawn Grady, really should come with protective gear as the flames practically leap off the pages! As a third-generation firefighter, Aidan is battling fires on all fronts. The dying embers of his engagement. The mocking flames that caused his father's death on the job --flames which Aidan is determined to fan until their source is uncovered. The raging blazes of the city's serial arsonist, whose fires seem to be getting intensely personal. And the sparks flickering between him and the new fire investigator, who suddenly appears to be investigating him! In the midst of it all, Aidan fights to maintain control after his bad judgment leaves a new firefighter battling for his life and causes Aidan to lose his confidence and ability to "read" the fires. Will the fires overtake him or will he find the strength to walk through them and come out on the other side before they extinguish him?

This book grabbed my attention from page one and wouldn't let go. The pace is fast and unrelenting. The skillfully descriptive prose brings each scene to life, from picturesque settings ("The sky melded monochromatic gray, the ocean beneath mirroring its brooding brow." p. 37) to heart-pounding fire battles ("Flame edges whipped down the walls, forming a sickle in the air, swinging in a slow arc down toward my sternum." p. 77). And the suspense of wondering "Who is the arsonist?" made me suspicious of almost everyone. But the most satisfying part is the fact that this is more than just a good read. For Aidan's struggles with the physical fires are only a representation of the spiritual inferno raging within him, and the process by which he allows God to give him strength to face and quench that which would consume him is a lesson we can all take to heart. I've had the chorus of this old hymn going through my mind since reading the book:

Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.

I highly recommend this book. Just keep a glass of water nearby!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Through The Fire

Bethany House (July 1, 2009)


Shawn Grady

Shawn Grady signed with Bethany House Publishers in 2008. He was named “Most Promising New Writer” at the 39th Annual Mount Hermon Writers Conference. Through the Fire is his debut novel.

Shawn has served for over a decade as a firefighter and paramedic in northern Nevada. From fire engines and ambulances to tillered ladder trucks and helicopters, Shawn’s work environment has always been dynamic. The line of duty has carried him to a variety of locales, from high-rise fires in the city to the burning heavy timber of the eastern Sierras.

Shawn attended Point Loma Nazarene University as a Theology undergrad before shifting direction to acquire an Associate of Science degree in Fire Science Technology as well as Paramedic licensure through Truckee Meadows Community College.

Shawn currently lives in Reno, Nevada, just outside of Lake Tahoe. He enjoys spending time in the outdoors with his wife, three children and yellow Labrador. Find out more at his website.


Firefighting burns in Aidan O'Neill's blood. The son of a fireman, O'Neill has a sixth sense about fire and often takes dangerous risks. When one act of disobedience nearly gets a rookie killed, O'Neill is suspended. His weeks off are supposed to be a time to reflect but instead he escapes to Mexico, where another rash act of bravery actually kills him. But only for a few minutes.

Called back to Reno, he's now haunted by visions of hell and paralyzed in the face of fire. And at the worst time, because an arsonist is targeting Reno. With a growing love interest with one of the investigators complicating everything, Aidan must discover where his trust rests as the fires creep ever closer.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Through The Fire, go HERE


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TSMSS - In Memory and a Classic

Another American icon has passed. Although my folks watched NBC when I was growing up, I will always remember watching Walter Cronkite in these films during junior high history classes. (Yes, films! On reels threaded through the machine! They sure beat the filmstrips that beeped when it was time to advance to the next scene!) If you grew up in the 1970's, they are likely familiar to you as well, either from school or from Saturday morning TV.

In memory of Walter Cronkite
11/4/1916 - 7/17/2009
You Are There!

From the more recent past (20 years ago instead of 30!) here is one of my favorite songs from Steve Green's early days. The words are so rich and a great reminder of God's sovereignty and the hope we have in Him!


God and God alone
Created all these things we call our own
From the mighty to the small
The glory in them all
Is God's and God's alone

God and God alone
Reveals the truth of all we call unknown
All the best and worst of man
Can't change the master plan
It's God's and God's alone

God and God alone
Is fit to take the universe's throne
Let everything that lives
Reserve its truest praise
For God and God alone

God and God alone
Will be the joy of our eternal home
He will be our one desire
Our hearts will never tire
Of God and God alone

Words and Music by Phill McHugh

All the best and worst of man
Can't change the master plan
It's God's and God's alone

Amen! What a wonderful truth!

Be sure to visit Amy's for more music for your weekend!


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Friday, July 17, 2009

I Scream, You Scream. . . .

Your Ice Cream Personality:

You like to think of yourself as a fairly modest person. And it's true that you don't talk yourself up... but you're also pretty happy with who you are.

You are a pretty cautious person. You look before you leap, and you don't leap often. There's a bit of a wild child within you, but it doesn't get out often.

You are a somewhat open minded person, but deep down you're fairly conservative. You don't like trying new things very much. And if you do find something new you like, you stick with it.

You are a natural multi-tasker. You feel alive when you're doing more than one thing at a time.

You are a serious and contemplative person. You definitely do your own thing in life.

These things crack me up! I guess it makes sense that my personality impacts my ice cream eating habits, but still! I hope I'm more fun than this makes me sound!


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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday at Truth 4 the Journey

Five things I'm thankful for this week:

1. My boy's wisdom tooth extraction went well and his recovery has been smooth with minimal pain and swelling.

2. Dental insurance and the means to cover the copay.

3. My kids - our area has seen two children die in the last two days, a 17-year-old in a car accident and a 5-year-old in a backyard pool. Life is fleeting.

4. The anticipation of our upcoming family vacation.

5. The reminder that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

What are you thankful for?


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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pirate Hunter

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Pirate Hunter

Bethany House (July 1, 2009)


Tom Morrisey


Tom Morrisey is a mountaineer, aviator, shipwreck diver, and explorer, who holds a Full Cave certification from the National Speleological Society - Cave Diving Section.

He has launched, edited or contributed to numerous national publications and is an award-winning adventure-travel writer. A popular speaker, he is also active in both evangelism and the arts. Morrisey earned an MFA in creative writing from Bowling Green State University, and his fiction has been featured in numerous anthologies and magazines.

His first novel, Yucatan Deep (Zondervan, 2002) was a finalist for the Christy award, and he is the author of six novels, including Wind River and In High Places. In addition Tom has also written two nonfiction books: 20 American Peaks & Crags (Contemporary Books, 1978) and Wild by Nature (Baker Books, 2001). He and his family live in Orlando, Florida.


High Seas Adventure Meets a High-Tech Quest for Pirate Gold

West Indies, 18th century: Young Ted Bascombe is rescued by notorious pirate Captain Henry Thatch, finding himself caught up in a world of crime, adventure, and a daily fight for freedom....

Key West, 21st century: Marine archaeologist Greg Rhode embarks on a treasure-hunting expedition in the turquoise waters of the Florida Keys, but he's as beguiled by a beautiful diver with different-colored eyes as by the lure of pirate gold...

The Hunt Is On! Interweaving these two stories, pro deep-sea diver Tom Morrisey spins a multilayered tale of two young men's quests to escape their past by losing themselves to adventure on the high seas. Romantic and thrilling, this unique novel explores the timeless truth that "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

If you would like to read the first chapter of Pirate Hunter, go HERE

Those of you from my generation may remember the old Certs commercial "Certs is two, two, two mints in one!" Well, Pirate Hunter is two, two, two books in one! While one story is set in the 19th century days of pirating and slave ships, the other is thoroughly modern, set in the 21st century with computers, state-of-the-art diving equipment and other technological conveniences. Yet common to every century are not only the amazing "way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a maiden," but also the troublesome tensions of heartache and family relationships. Tom Morrisey has expertly woven these two stories together as each chapter seamlessly flows from one to the other. While it is fairly evident what the final connection will be between the two, it isn't clear how this will occur. Although I would imagine this story would appeal to more men than women, I enjoyed it more than I anticipated due to the relationships portrayed. When I received this book & began reading it, I immediately knew my boy would probably like it for the adventure aspects. But my one beef was the thought process deliniated by Greg (in the modern-day story) regarding the alternative se*ual lifestyle when he is told a friend is les**ian. I thought the brief "rabbit trail" was unneccesary and just another politically correct & subtle insertion designed to dull our response to that behavior and lifestyle. My family is bombarded with that enough in the secular world; I don't expect to encounter it in Christian fiction. But other than that, this was a great tale (or two!) of adventure and a great reminder that wisdom is better than gold!


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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Holly Roller Review & Giveways


Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:
4, 1
Timestamp: 2009-07-15 23:40:38 UTC

Congrats to Liz and TCKK! Email me your addresses ladies, and the book will be on its way to you!

* * * * * * *

Julie Lyons
(Random House)

Julie Lyons was working as a crime reporter when she followed a hunch into the South Dallas ghetto. She wasn’t hunting drug dealers, but drug addicts who had been supernaturally healed of their addictions. Was there a church in the most violent part of the city that prayed for addicts and got results?

At The Body of Christ Assembly, a rundown church on an out-of-the-way street, Lyons found the story she was looking for. The minister welcomed criminals, prostitutes, and street people–anyone who needed God. He prayed for the sick, the addicted, and the demon-possessed, and people were supernaturally healed.

Lyons’s story landed on the front page of the Dallas Times Herald. But she got much more than just a great story, she found an unlikely spiritual home. Though the parishioners at The Body of Christ Assembly are black and Pentecostal, and Lyons is white and from a traditional church background, she embraced their spirituality–that of “the Holy Ghost and fire.”

It’s all here in Holy Roller–the stories of people desperate for God’s help. And the actions of a God who doesn’t forget the people who need His power.

Julie Lyons is an award-winning writer, editor and investigative reporter who for more than 11 years served as editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer, an alternative weekly newspaper owned by Village Voice Media. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a B.A. in English from Seattle Pacific University. She and her husband, Larry Lyons Jr., live in Dallas with their son.

This is a thought-provoking book. While Ms. Lyons makes some excellent points, I don't agree with everything she wrote. But that is the beauty of grace - God can move in different believers' hearts in different ways. And how He moves may or may not have anything to do with the color of their skin.

I have TWO copies of this book to give away! Just leave a comment on this post by 6:00 p.m. CDT Wednesday (7/15) and I'll choose two winners. Continental US Residents only, please. Be sure to include a way for me to contact you if you don't have a blog.

You can purchase Holy Roller directly from the publisher or here.


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Monday, July 13, 2009

Who Made You a Princess?

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Who Made You a Princess

FaithWords (May 13, 2009)


Shelley Adina


Award-winning author Shelley Adina wrote her first teen novel when she was 13. It was rejected by the literary publisher to whom she sent it, but he did say she knew how to tell a story. That was enough to keep her going through the rest of her adolescence, a career, a move to another country, a B.A. in Literature, an M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction, and countless manuscript pages.

Shelley is a world traveler and pop culture junkie with an incurable addiction to designer handbags. She writes books about fun and faith--with a side of glamour. Between books, Shelley loves traveling, playing the piano and Celtic harp, watching movies, and making period costumes.

The All About Us book series has its own home over on the Hachette website. Stop by and see what the five fabulous girls at Spencer Acadenmy are up to! Series Website.

Her other books in this series includes book one, It's All About Us, oook Two, The Fruit of my Lipstick, and book three, Be Strong & Curvaceous. This present book is book four.


Shani Hanna returns to SpencerAcademy for her senior year after an amazing summer spent with her friends Lissa, Gillian, and Carly. But the best part about summer was meeting Danyel Johnstone. Danyel is cute, smart, cool, and super nice. All Shani has to do is get him to see her as more than just one of the gang.

But when the girls return to school, they find a new addition to the distinguished student body: Prince Rashid al Amir of Yasir, an oil-rich desert kingdom in the Middle East. Prince Rashid moved to California to prepare for an eventual MBA at Stanford...and to romance his future wife: Shani Hanna!

It turns out, Shani's family and the prince's go back for generations, entwined in tradition, obligation, and family honor. In each generation, members of the two families have expanded their business interests through arranged marriage. Will Shani put aside her feelings for Danyel to pursue her family's wishes? Or will God answer her prayers for an intervention?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Who Made You a Princess , go HERE

This is the first book in this series that I had read, and there was much I liked about it. And with one exception of a reference to an event from a previous book that carried over into this one, it was easy to jump in without having read the earlier books. The commitment of the teens to God and prayer and their desire to see Shani make a commitment to believe was heartwarming. My heart broke for the ones whose parents sent them to boarding school so that they (the parents) could be unencumbered in their own lives, seeing their children as just another investment to be managed. The aspect of the book that just didn't set well with me was the attitude and focus of these multi-millionaire teens. I got more than a little weary with the weekly trips to the spa, the exclusive label shopping purchases, and the private clubs, the attitude of entitlement, and a few instances of inappropriate language. As a mom trying to instill contentment in my girl, I was a little hesitant about her reading it. But I did ask her to read it and we discussed it. She enjoyed the storyline and dismissed the parts that were unrealistic in comparison to her life. However, the overarching message of the book as Shani feels so manipulated and unloved by her parents, and as she eventually learns that she is the very best kind of princess, loved by the King, is one we all need to take to heart.


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Catching My Breath

This afternoon I had a life-altering experience. Knowing it was coming didn't make it any less traumatic.

I walked outside, handed the keys to my boy, and got in the passenger side of my van.

I would say there's nothing like that, except I know the first time I hand the keys to him and he drives off alone will be even worse. But right now, we're just beginning the early-driving phase. My man had taken him out in a parking lot and the quietest part of our neighborhood last week while I was gone, so it wasn't his first time behind the wheel, just the first time in my van and with me. He did a great job.

I did pretty well myself. I was calm in my instructions, I only pressed "my" brake once, and I came back with all my fingernails.

Next time I might let him get all the way out of the driveway!

(Just kidding! We drove around for about 30 minutes.)

My girl and I got back last night after a l-o-n-g drive home from Lubbock. (These are the beautiful flowers my man had waiting to welcome me home.) She had a blast at Texas Tech's Orchestra Camp - nine hours of music per day was heavenly to her. She made second chair viola in the second orchestra and was one of only four students in the Advanced Theory elective (they took a placement test when they checked in Sunday afternoon) and the other three were Juniors and Seniors, so she was pretty pumped about that. She's already making plans to go back next year.

My orange-blooded Longhorn brother gave her much grief for being at Tech every day, but she can hold her own with him! They adore each other, and it was fun to watch my girl enjoy my big brother! We had a great time staying with them, playing the game they got us hooked on (known as Joker, Marble Pursuit, Cards & Marbles, & several other similar names!), eating good food, and enjoying the weather. Wow - the first 3 days I don't even think it hit 90. And even when it got over 100 at the end of the week, the low humidity made it so nice in the evenings and mornings. I had forgotten what a pleasant breeze feels light. (The low humidity did have a downside - my girl had three nosebleeds!)

Next year, though, she's staying in the dorm! Sharing a bed with her is not my idea of a restful week. One night I felt like I was playing volleyball - I'd push this hard round "ball" off of me (her head) and it would immediately come back over to my side of the net bed! It was literally by the grace of God that I didn't fall asleep driving home yesterday. Two Dr. Peppers, a coffee, and an energy bar barely phased me.

Good thing I got a nap this afternoon - this week will start off with a bang. My girl gets fitted for contacts tomorrow and my boy has his wisdom teeth removed Tuesday. We'll be taking a break from driving while he's recovering!

And if he has any pain pills left over, maybe I'll use them when we go out on the freeway!

Car key picture courtesy of stock.xchng


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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Winners of Mary Connealy Books

Winners of Calico Canyon:

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:
3, 5
Timestamp: 2009-07-12 19:35:40 UTC

Congrats to Katherine and Carole!

* * * * * * *

Winner of Gingham Mountain:

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2009-07-12 19:42:07 UTC

Congrats to Mel!

Send me your addresses, ladies, and the books will be on their way to you!

You can purchase Mary Connealy's newly released book, Montana Rose, hot off the press here! While you're at it, go ahead and pre-order Cowboy Christmas!


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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Christy Award Winners Announced!

The Christy Awards were just announced! They had a live blog going on so those of us at home could find out the winners as they were announced. The winners are listed below, but you can see the press release with details here.

Contemporary Romance
Beyond the Night by Marlo Schalesky
(WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group)

Contemporary Series, Sequels, and Novellas
You Had Me at Good-bye by Tracey Bateman

Contemporary Standalone
Dogwood by Chris Fabry
(Tyndale House Publishers)

First Novel
Blue Hole Back Home by Joy Jordan-Lake
(David C. Cook)

Until We Reach Home by Lynn Austin
(Bethany House Publishers)

Historical Romance
From a Distance by Tamera Alexander
(Bethany House Publishers)

The Rook by Steven James

Vanish by Tom Pawlik
(Tyndale House Publishers)

Young Adult
I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires by Cathy Gohlke
(Moody Publishers)

Congrats to the authors of these great books!


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