Saturday, July 31, 2010

TSMSS - VBS Joint Worship Pledges

Our church had Vacation Bible School (VBS) this week, and it prompted me to recall the VBS experiences from my childhood, as well as other church memories, in yesterday's Friday Flashback.

One part of VBS that I did not mention is Joint Worship, which is what the daily time when all the classes came together was called in the 1960's and early 1970's.

The VBS classes all lined up outside the sanctuary and then walked in to sit together, with the youngest classes going in first. Then the ones chosen that day to be the bearers of the flags and Bible proceeded to the front. (It was a HUGE deal to be chosen to carry the flags or Bible! Or to be the leader for the day!) Then came the pledges, followed by a song, and the songs were the same every year. Before each pledge, the leader would say, "Attention, Salute, Pledge."

First up was the Pledge of Allegiance:

I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America,
one nation under God, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all.

My country, 'tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty
Of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died
Land of the pilgrims' pride
From every mountainside
let freedom ring.

Then the pledge to 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.

Fairest Lord Jesus
Ruler of all nature
O, Thou of God and man, the Son
Thee will I cherish
Thee will I honor
Thou, my soul's glory, joy, and crown.

And finally, 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.

Holy Bible, book divine,
Precious treasure, thou art mine
Mine to tell me whence I came
Mine to teach me what I am.

Raise your hand if you have ever heard of those last two pledges before! They are deeply ingrained in my memory!

VBS has changed a lot since I was a kid, and while I don't think we necessarily need to bring back the pledges, I think it's important to recognize and appreciate our heavenly citizenship and the written Word of God. Here's a newer song that I just love which expresses so well the precious treasure the Bible is.

Don't forget to visit Amy's for more songs!

Flags: stock.xchng
Bible: Google Images


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Friday, July 30, 2010

Flashback Friday - Growing Up in Church


Since my church is in the middle of VBS this week, it has brought back some memories of my childhood experiences with VBS and other church-related activities.
Did your family attend church when you were growing up? What are your earliest memories of church? Did you attend VBS (Vacation Bible School) when you were young? Sunday School? Other church activities? Was faith a Sunday-only thing or did it impact your life and the things you did? If faith and church were not a part of your growing-up years, when and how did you begin and what drew you to God?

A couple of cautionary notes. . . As far as I can tell, the overwhelming majority of my blog readers are Christian believers. This flashback is not intended to bring judgment on anyone's past or present experiences, nor is it meant to prompt theological debates or discussions of denominational differences.

* * * * *

Sometimes I say I cut my teeth on a church pew. I think somewhere I have my little pink New Testament given to me by the Cradle Roll department when I was born. I am grateful to have been born into a family whose strong beliefs gave me a firm foundation. Church was never an option - we were there Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesday nights. My dad was the church treasurer, my mom taught Sunday School and WMU (Women's Missionary Union), etc. etc.

I had a great foundation but it wasn't perfect. My folks were genuine believers, but they did have a pretty strong thread of legalism, as did a lot of folks back then. As a result, I've never had a problem seeing God as a Judge, but grace has been a bit more of a struggle, although I've come a loooong way, especially in the past six years as we have been in a very authentic church. Thinking about my upbringing always brings to mind Paul's words in Philippians 3:4-7.
If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

All of the "things" are meaningless and just "playing church" without Christ.

So many memories drift through my mind as I think of my years growing up in the Baptist church:
  • Being baptized. I was 8 when I accepted Christ and was baptized, although my commitment solidified when I went to college. But I remember how excited I was. Except I didn't like all the old ladies hugging me and their hair spray smearing on my glasses!
  • Missions: My sisters were both in GA's when it was called Girls' Auxiliary, and I think they both reached the level of Queen with a Scepter (which will be meaningless to most of you!). By the time I got into GA's, they had updated and modernized it, and the initials stood for Girls in Action. I never thought the newer program was as good as the old one, though. But we learned lots about missions and early missionaries - Hudson Taylor, Adoniram Judson, and of course, Lottie Moon (for whom the annual foreign missions emphasis each Christmas is named) and Annie Armstrong. (The Easter offering emphasis for home missions is named for her.) Oh, and then there were the occasional visiting missionaries (usually in the Sunday evening service) and their never-ending slide shows!
  • Speaking of missions, when I was in 4th grade, there was a missionary family on furlough from Tanzania (in Africa) in our area. They attended a different church than ours (when the parents weren't traveling and speaking in churches), but one of the daughters, Belinda, was my age and we were in the same class at school. She was one of my best friends and we wrote each other for about 5 years. I remember writing on those blue tissue-thin airmail pages that folded up into its own envelope.
  • Christmas in August: Mailing packages was a whole 'nother experience when I was a kid; You had to mail your Christmas packages by September if they were going overseas, so the churches collected donations for missionaries during the month of August.
  • Vacation Bible School (VBS): Way back when I was really little, it lasted two weeks; then they changed it to M-F and the following M-W, and finally shortened it to a week. VBS brings back memories of Kool-Aid and cookies, memorizing the books of the Bible, decopages (you hacked on a piece of wood to distress it, then glued a picture (after you singed the picture edges with a lit match), and put a million several coats of "shellack" (varnish). I think I finally got rid of mine about 10 years ago; who knew I'd have a blog one day and want to post a picture! Mine had a picture of William Tyndale and his printing press.
  • Weekly offering: How's this for legalism? Back in the 1960s and early 1970s, the Baptist weekly offering envelopes had little boxes you would check off: Present (in Sunday School), On Time, Bible (did you bring it?), Worship Service another attendance check), Bible Read Daily, Offering. There may have been another one or two. Each box counted 10-15%, and the goal was to have 100. I have no idea what they did with that information or if it was even recorded anywhere! They finally realized that your name and the amount was all that was needed!
  • Revivals: These lasted a week and there was a guest evangelist and a guest musician. I always loved the music in revivals. And I always hated the Saturday night service - that was the traditional night for the 2nd Coming/Hell sermon and it would scare me to death!
  • Choir: I always loved children's choir and later, Youth Choir. I remember when churches began doing youth musicals; my dad was horrified at them, especially the fact that they used drums in the church! He eventually mellowed a teeny bit. I think my favorite musical was Celebrate Life, which we did when I was in high school.
  • The incredible youth group of which I was a part my last two years in high school; I've mentioned them on past flashbacks. I've enjoyed connecting with a lot of them recently on Facebook.
  • Miscellaneous things: (1) going with my dad to the church on Saturday evenings and helping him set out the attendance boxes for the Sunday School classes. And in the summer I thought it was beyond neat to walk around in the church barefooted! Oh, yeah, I was living on the edge pushing the envelope on that one! LOL (2) Friday nights in the spring when my dad coached and pitched for the church slo-pitch softball team.
    (3) "Dinner on the Grounds" - the annual church picnic. And there was always, always, always Five Cup Salad. (4) Being teased by my friends in high school because I knew what page many of the hymns were on and also knew multiple verses of most of them, a side effect of playing piano!

I am indeed so grateful for such a heritage. (Although I used to sorta envy folks who had dramatic testimonies; mine seemed so boring!)

Post your memories and link up so we can enjoy them as well!


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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Flashback Friday Prompt

Since my church is in the middle of VBS this week, it has brought back some memories of my childhood experiences with VBS and other church-related activities.
Did your family attend church when you were growing up? What are your earliest memories of church? Did you attend VBS (Vacation Bible School) when you were young? Sunday School? Other church activities? Was faith a Sunday-only thing or did it impact your life and the things you did? If faith and church were not a part of your growing-up years, when and how did you begin and what drew you to God?

A couple of cautionary notes. . . As far as I can tell, the overwhelming majority of my blog readers are Christian believers. This flashback is not intended to bring judgment on anyone's past or present experiences, nor is it meant to prompt theological debates or discussions of denominational differences.

Post your memories tomorrow and come back here to link up!


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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dark in the City of Light

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Dark In The City Of Light
Bethany House (July 1, 2010)


Paul Robertson

Paul Robertson is a computer programming consultant, part-time high-school math and science teacher, and the author of The Heir. He is also a former Christian bookstore owner (for 15 years), who lives with his family in Blacksburg, Virginia.

What Evil Haunts the Shadows of 1870s Paris?
Baron Ferdinand Harsanyi — After his wife's mysterious death, this Austrian attaché holds control over mines whose coveted ore could turn the tide of war.

Therese Harsanyi — Swept up in new romance and the spectacle of Paris, the Baron's daughter is blind to the dangers stalking her family and the city she loves.

Rudolph Harsanyi — Unsure whom to trust, the Baron's son's grief over his mother's death twists into growing anger and a desire to break free.

As France and Prussia plunge toward war, one family is caught in a web of deceit, political intrigue, and murder that threatens to tear them apart.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Dark In The City Of Light, go HERE.

This book has an interesting premise, but I just couldn't get through it. It was far too choppy; the chapters were divided into sections and sometimes there were even sections within the sections! Far too much military strategizing was included and I had difficulty following the underlining story. Many scenes and events were portrayed in excruciating detail to the point of tedium, and then another scene would be cryptic and I couldn't tell exactly what happened and how it related to the story. I think this book should have been labeled "Military Fiction" rather than "Historical Suspense." It may appeal to you; check it our for yourself.


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From my psychiatric rotation during nursing school, I remember that flight of ideas is a symptom or characteristic of several mental disorders.

Personally, I think it's just a blogging technique.

  • We had some summertime goodness for dinner tonight: hamburgers and corn on the cob cooked on the grill. The only thing that could have topped that would have been homegrown tomatoes on the burgers.
  • We're in the middle of VBS at our church, doing Lifeway's Saddle Ridge Ranch. I'm doing registration/attendance, and we have more than 325 "cowpokes" registered, which I think is a record. It's a fun week, but exhausting.
  • My boy is getting really close to making Eagle Scout. All he lacks is one requirement on each of three merit badges, the okay from district on his project plan, and then doing the actual project.
  • I hate it when perfectly functional websites decide they need to be new and improved. The service (or whatever you call it) that I use for my personal email did that yesterday. And now there is so much stuff on the opening page, I can barely find my inbox. And switching the buttons around on its toolbar is completely aggravating. Everytime I try to delete an email, I end up hitting Reply. Sigh. Change can be a good thing, but sometimes it's totally unnecessary.
  • I L-O-V-E the combination of clean sheets, clean pajamas, and clean hair. Makes me sleep better. Of course, the reason could be the exhaustion from washing said sheets, pajamas, and hair. . . .
  • I'm still mentally enjoying the musical Wicked, which we saw this past weekend in Houston; we took my MIL with us. We saw it in Austin last summer, but it was the day that my FIL died, so we were a bit distracted. As a word geek lover, I especially enjoyed the clever lyrics and the nuances of the dialogue. This is one of my favorite songs, when the two very opposite girls discover that they are roommates.

    Then, as so often happens, they become close friends. . . .

Sigh. Such a fun musical.

Have a great Wednesday!


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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

FIRST - The Skin You're In

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The Skin You’re In: Discovering True Beauty

Zonderkidz (April 9, 2010)

***Special thanks to Pam Mettler of Zondervan for sending me a review copy.***


Nancy Rue has written over 100 books for girls, is the editor of the Faithgirlz Bible, and is a popular speaker and radio guest with her expertise in tween and teen issues. She and husband Jim have raised a daughter of their own and now live in Tennessee.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $7.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Zonderkidz (April 9, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310719992
ISBN-13: 978-0310719991


If you and the tween girl in your life have despaired of finding a book that addresses the subject of skin and body care without the sleaze of the average magazine on the newsstand, your search is over. Nancy Rue has written a wonderful book that provides young girls with practical advice as well as Biblical truths that they are fearfully and wonderfully made and that true beauty comes from within. Chapters cover such topics as types of hair and the care and styling of each, skin care including pimples and shaving and make-up tips, and clothing and accessories, all approached from a Christian world view. Verses and examples from the Bible are discussed in an encouraging way without being preachy. My girl has the previously-released version of this book, Beauty Lab, and has referred to it frequently. I highly recommend The Skin You're In.

Press the browse button to view the first chapter:


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Nightshade - Giveaway!

UPDATE Thursday, 8:15 pm:

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2010-07-30 01:16:37 UTC

Congrats to Linda! Email me your address and I'll send the book your way.

* * * * *

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Barbour Books (July 1, 2010)


Ronie Kendig

Ronie has been married since 1990 to a man who can easily be defined in classic terms as a hero. She has four beautiful children. Her eldest daughter is 16 this year, her second daughter will be 13, and her twin boys are 10. After having four children, she finally finished her degree in December 2006. She now has a B.S. in Psychology through Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. Getting her degree is a huge triumph for both her and her family--they survived!!

This degree has also given her a fabulous perspective on her characters and how to not only make them deeper, stronger, but to make them realistic and know how they'll respond to each situation. Her debut novel, Dead Reckoning released March 2010 from Abingdon Press. And her Discarded Heroes series begins in July from Barbour with the first book entitled Nightshade.

After a tour of duty in a war-torn country, embattled former Navy SEAL Max Jacobs finds himself discarded and alienated from those he loves as he

struggles with war-related PTSD. His wife, Sydney, files a restraining order against him and a petition for divorce. Max is devastated.

Then a mysterious a man appears. He says he's organizing a group that recycles veterans like Max. It's a deep-six group known as Nightshade. With

the chance to find purpose in life once again, Max is unable to resist the call of duty and signs on.

The team handles everything with precision and lethal skill...until they're called upon to rescue a missionary family from a rebel-infested jungle and

avoid a reporter hunting their identities.

Will Max yield his anger and pride to a force greater than

If you would like to read the first chapter of Nightshade, go HERE.

Watch the trailer:

When I read Ronie Kendig's first novel, I could tell she was going to be a new favorite author of mine. Nightshade just solidified that opinion. Kendig weaves a story full of intrigue, suspense, and drama that kept me glued to the pages. The amount of research she must do for these novels is staggering! I appreciate the focus of this series, Discarded Heroes, as it sheds light on some of the difficulties our military men and women encounter once they return home. A strong yet unabrasive message of faith adds to the appeal of this book. I look forward to the next book, Digitalis.

I have an extra copy of this great book to give to one of you. Leave a comment on this post by 8:00 pm Thursday (7/29) and I will draw a winner. US Residents only, please. Be sure to include an email address if you don't have a blog.


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Monday, July 26, 2010

So Over It

So Over It
Stephanie Morrill
July, 2010/272 pages/$11.99

How can Skylar stay true to herself without losing the ones she loves most?

Senior year is over and Skylar Hoyt is ready to forgive and forget. Or at least forget. She wants a fresh start where people don't know about her past or her dysfunctional family. A place where she won't run into her ex-boyfriend every time she leaves the house. When she gets the opportunity to spend the summer in Hawaii with her grandparents, Skylar jumps at the chance to get out of town. But will she truly be able to leave her old life behind? And will she be strong enough to rise above the gossip and live the life God wants?

Stephanie Morrill is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and the Teen Lit writers' group. Morrill is the author of Me, Just Different and Out with the In Crowd, and she also serves in youth ministry. She lives in Kansas with her husband and young daughter.

This is the first book in this series that I have read. While there were references in the book to happenings from previous books, I was able to follow the story without difficulty. So Over It is a novel about a teenage girl who is a relatively new Christian and dealing with some difficult, but sadly realistic, events that occurred. Older teens will enjoy this book, but I would encourage parents of younger teens and those who have been more sheltered to read it first. It is encouraging to see quality fiction depicting Christian teens dealing with real-life issues.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell/Baker Publishing Group as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Seeker

The Seeker
Ann Gabhart
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3363-6
July, 2010/416 pages/$14.99

When well-laid plans go awry, can she still make her dreams come true?

Charlotte Vance is a young woman who knows what she wants. But when the man she planned to marry joins the Shakers—a religious group that does not allow marriage—she is left dumbfounded. And when her father brings home a new wife who is young enough to be Charlotte's sister, it is more than she can bear. With the country—and her own household—on the brink of civil war, this pampered gentlewoman hatches a plan to avoid her new stepmother and win back her man by joining the Shaker community at Harmony Hill. Little does she know that this decision will lead her down a road of unforeseen consequences.

Ann H. Gabhart brings alive the strikingly different worlds of the Southern gentry, the simple Shakers, and the ravages of war in 1860s Kentucky to weave a touching story of love, freedom, and forgiveness.

Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several novels, including The Outsider, The Believer, and The Seeker. Her latest novel was inspired in part by the many stories her mother and two aunts told her of growing up in small town Kentucky during the 1930s. She lives with her husband a mile from where she was born in Kentucky.

I read and reviewed The Believer last year. The Seeker is another look into the lives of a Shaker community during the early days of the Civil War. Charlotte's new stepmother is one of those characters the reader loves to hate and Charlotte's gentle spirit, compassion and love are in sharp contrast to the black heart of her stepmother. Charlotte's personal maid has been more sister than slave since they grew up together, and she and Charlotte flee to the Shaker community to avoid the stepmother's evil hand. The contrast between the gentle peace of the Shakers and the tumultuous events of the outside world is startling and the stringent rules, the separation of genders, and the unquestioning obedience practiced by the Shakers are fascinating and sad at the same time. This was an interesting novel.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Saturday, July 24, 2010

TSMSS - Our God is Greater

Saturday is one of my favorite blogging days, thanks to Amy's fun music meme!

I can't hear this song too many times. Absolutely love it! Chris Tomlin is anointed.

If God is for us,
who can be against us?

Romans 8:31


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Friday, July 23, 2010

Flashback Friday: Food for Thought & Thoughts on Food

What is food to one man may be fierce poison to others.
Lucretius (1st century BC)

What were meals like when you were growing up? Did your mom (or dad) cook (and was it from scratch or from a box?) or did your family eat out much of the time? Did you eat together as a family or was everyone on a different schedule? What did you call meals? (Dinner vs. supper, lunch, etc.) What were some of your favorite things that your parent fixed? What did you dislike and vow never to fix once you grew up? Did your family have any food traditions, things that were a must on certain occasions (such as Sunday dinners or holiday meals)? Did your parent teach you to cook or did you wing it once you were grown? How similar or different are your family's eating habits today than when you grew up?

When I was growing up, my family ate breakfast, lunch, and supper. Occasionally, Sunday lunch was called dinner. Supper was the main meal every day but Sunday. We got to buy our lunch at school once a year, for our birthday. Other than that we took our lunches (as did our dad) with a nickel to buy milk. (In elementary school, I always had a lunch kit, but usually dropped it and broke the thermos pretty early in the school year!) We always ate dinner as a family, usually around 5:45. And the TV news was almost always on during dinner. We usually only went out to eat when we were traveling - maybe one other time during the year. Although my parents generally went out on their anniversary, and they always went to Bill Bennett's Steakhouse in the Sky on the edge of downtown Houston until it closed.

My mom was a good cook and a not-so-good cook. The main problem was that she cooked things to death, especially canned vegetables. Canned English peas are already grim enough without boiling them to oblivion! And canned spinach is disgusting, especially when my mom would serve it cold out of the refrigerator. I just recently discovered how good asparagus is roasted or grilled; that was another thing my mom served refrigerator-cold from a can. Shudder. Sometimes my dad would have a garden, and we'd have fresh vegetables then; the main things he grew were tomatoes, mustard greens. My dad would be thrilled if we had a supper of cornbread, mustard greens, and butter beans; I usually begged for peanut butter on those nights!

She also liked things pretty bland. (One of her biggest frustrations when she lived at Assisted Living was that they always had a sauce and heavily seasoned food. Most other people thought it tasted fine! And when they got a chef that cooked with wine, she about came unglued! "That's just not right.") She did like Mexican food but my dad hated it, so she would make us tacos and enchiladas (they were very mild but still good!) for lunch during the summer and then spray air freshener all over the house so my dad wouldn't complain about the lingering odor when he came home from work. When I took Home Economics and came home with a recipe for taco salad, all of a sudden my dad decided he liked tacos. Go figure!

But the basic things like fried chicken, roast beef and gravy, veal cutlets etc. she did fine. Except meatloaf. I distinctly remember the first time I realized why it's called meatloaf, when I had some at my grandmother's house that was actually shaped. My mom's was waaaaay too moist.

One of the weird things she used to make before we found out that raw eggs aren't good for you was a "shake milk," as my sister called it. We drank this on summer mornings when we were immediately going to the pool because we didn't have to worry about waiting for our food to digest. (Waiting 30 minutes to swim after eating was such a big deal when I was a kid! I thought you were guaranteed to die if you jumped in the pool too soon! I don't hear people say that now; in fact, people bring food to the pool!) Anyway, our liquid breakfast was a glass of milk mixed with a bit of sugar, vanilla, and a raw egg, all beaten together with the egg jiggler. It sounds gross now, but it tasted good.

Although it's just as well that we quit making them; I don't think I would have been able to drink one after watching Sylvester Stallone drink those raw eggs in the movie Rocky!

One of our favorite things that my mom used to make was "cheese gravy" and "ham gravy." (Normal people call it Welsh Rarebit!) She would make a white sauce (making a butter and flour roux, then adding milk and stirring until thickened) and then add either cheese or cut-up bits of Carl Buddig shaved ham. We ate it for breakfast over toast. It was a big deal when my kids were little to get to stand on the stool and help grandmommy stir the gravy.

My mom made everything from scratch and that rubbed off on me. The only thing she used a mix for was angel food cake, because she couldn't stand to waste all those egg yolks. She made great desserts - chocolate chip cookies, tea cakes (which were cookies, kinda like sugar cookies only no icing or sprinkles), coconut pie, etc. And homemade cinnamon rolls.

She also made GREAT french fries. No Fry Daddy for her - she just did them in a skillet.

A huge memory for me related to food in childhood was my inability to chew due to my horrible bite. Getting braces in sixth grade wasn't vanity; it was practical, and I've been grateful ever since! I was almost always the last one left at the table, either because I couldn't chew the food or didn't like it. I do remember getting a spanking once for spitting out bites into napkins and trying to hide them in the trash so she'd think I cleaned my plate!

  • On Thanksgiving and Christmas, we always had fruit salad for dessert. My dad really had a sweet tooth, but my mom "didn't see the sense" or have the kitchen room to make multiple pies, etc. But our fruit salad was a production. It was comprised of oranges, apples, pineapple, and bananas. Once you got your bowl of salad, you "doctored it," as my mom used to say, which was putting the add-ins of your choice on the top: pecans, walnuts, coconut, and miniature marshmallows. Then you sent the bowl back to the end of the table where my dad would add the whipped cream. (Real whipped cream that he whipped at the table and we fought over licking the beaters.) Once your bowl looked like it contained a snow-covered mountain, it came back to you to be eaten.
  • Spiced Tea. This is one of my absolute favorite drinks for the fall and winter, and I've never known anyone to make it like we do. Forget that dry mix made with Tang; that was great when I lived in the dorm, but real spiced tea is made with cinnamon and cloves and the juice of oranges and lemons; you can see the recipe here.
  • On Sundays we always had fried chicken. Occasionally, if it was a special occasion, we would have "veal cutlets." My dad didn't want to leave our gas oven on while we were it church, so we never had roast beef on Sundays. I always had to peel the potatoes, which I hated (peeling them, not eating them!).
  • Milk. My family drank milk. My parents drank milk at dinner most of the time when we were growing up; in the summer if my dad had been sweating in the yard he'd have iced tea, but most nights it was milk. Whenever a meal had the slightest possibility of being a special occasion, I would beg to have tea instead of milk. I eventually got to where I'd just ask if I could have tea after my milk. (Drink one glass of milk and then switch.) My mom would rarely let me do that. In fact, it got to the point of embarrassment & humiliation when I was in high school and my best friend would come to dinner. My mom would give her tea and STILL make me drink milk. After drinking all that milk, why I ended up with osteoporosis before I turn 50 is beyond my comprehension!
  • Ice cream. I don't remember my mom EVER buying "real" ice cream. When it was on sale for 39 cents she would buy a carton of mellorine. It came in a rectangular carton made from flimsy cardboard. When I grew up and discovered Blue Bell ice cream I thought I'd arrived in ice cream heaven!
  • Chocolate Syrup. Speaking of ice cream, my mom always made homemade chocolate syrup. It beat Hershey's syrup by a mile. She made it with Hershey's cocoa powder. My mouth is watering just thinking about putting that on ice cream or stirring it into some milk or coffee. I haven't made it in ages but I think I need to fix some before long!

FOODS THAT GROSSED ME OUT (and still do!): (Apologies if you are reading this over breakfast. Maybe this isn't the day to have a mocha with this blog!)
  • The overly cooked (or ice cold) vegetables as mentioned above. My dad took peas to a new level of disgusting! We'd have peas one night, and then the leftovers a second night, and then when there was nothing left but the dregs of a few smashed peas and the juice, he would pour that on bread like gravy. I thought he was absolutely nuts.
  • Salmon croquettes. They looked nothing like what you see in most cookbooks or restaurants. She apparently didn't do the right type of breading before frying them. I still can't make myself eat those, even the ones that look like they would taste good.
  • Fortunately, as the youngest I missed this "delightful" era, but my siblings and dad took lunches to school/work with sandwiches made from Treet (similar to Spam), fried bologna, or tongue (cow's); I've only seen tongue one time at a grocery store since I've been an adult, thank goodness. It looks just like what you would imagine! I did find it on Google Images, but I'll spare you! Blech!
  • Cornbread and milk - my dad would sometimes crumble his cornbread in his milk and eat it with a spoon. I've learned that was a fairly common thing way back when, especially with poorer people, but I'll keep my food and milk separate, thankyouverymuch!
  • This was the worst: my mom used to occasionally fix herself some scrambled eggs and brains. Talk about a disgusting smell. It makes me cringe just typing it. Apparently it used to be a popular thing. And it might still be in some areas. I just saw a question on a cooking forum where someone in California had eaten them on a trip to Virginia and was "smitten" and wanted to know how to fix them!
  • Finally, this isn't a childhood memory but one from my college dorm days, and that's Shepherd's Pie. They usually fixed it on Saturdays at lunch, and you could see every food that had been served the previous five days mixed in there! It was pretty grim. I still won't eat anything called Shepherd's Pie. My man's college days ruined him for anything named Hungarian Ghoulash!

It is illegal to give someone food
in which has been found a dead mouse or weasel.

Ancient Irish law

Well, that was way too long. So now that I've totally grossed you out and lost all my readers, what about you?! Post your food flashback and link up here!


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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Flashback Friday Prompt - Food for Thought

The late James Beard, a well-known American chef of the twentieth century, said, "Food is our common ground, a universal experience." For some, food is simply sustenance, fuel for the body's tasks. To others, food means friendship, comfort, and happiness. Few things can evoke such polarized reactions, both positive and negative, as food.

Possibly the worst thing a husband can say to his wife is, "That's not the way my mother fixed it." Food is an integral part of many memories and just the mention or smell of certain foods can transport us back in time and place and make us smile (or gag!).

What were meals like when you were growing up? Did your mom (or dad) cook (and was it from scratch or from a box?) or did your family eat out much of the time? Did you eat together as a family or was everyone on a different schedule? What did you call meals? (Dinner vs. supper, lunch, etc.) What were some of your favorite things that your parent fixed? What did you dislike and vow never to fix once you grew up? Did your family have any food traditions, things that were a must on certain occasions (such as Sunday dinners or holiday meals)? Did your parent teach you to cook or did you wing it once you were grown? How similar or different are your family's eating habits today than when you grew up?

Share your gastronomic memories of your childhood; feel free to include recipes! Remember, the above questions are just ideas to jog your memory; you don't have to answer all of them (or any of them!). Post your flashback tomorrow on your blog and come back here to link up.


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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Stars in the Night

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Stars In The Night
Summerside Press (July 1, 2010)


Cara Putman

A Word From Cara:

I graduated from high school at sixteen, college at 20, and completed my law degree when I was 27.

My writing journey started in 2005 when I decided to write my first novel. Now I have eleven books published with more on the way.

People say I've accomplished a lot and that I must have life by the proverbial tail. Hardly! I grew up as a home schooled kid when home schoolers were misunderstood and oddities.

I struggle with balancing my writing and law career, plus being a good mom and wife.

I often fear people won't like my books.

I've walked through the deep pain of miscarriage.

Really, I'm just like you – I don't have it all together and have gone through tough times. But in His strength, I've discovered a strength I never knew I had. A strength I want you to discover, too.

In the end I'm just an ordinary mom who has seen God do some wonderful things as I've been obedient to step into the calling He's led me into.

Stars in the Night Background

Stars in the Night was an idea that had begun to percolate in my mind. I’d written two World War II series and was actively looking for my next setting. My husband, a huge World War II history buff, and I were kicking ideas around, and I’d decided Hollywood was probably the next place for me. I’d gone to the library and gotten a stack of research books when I got the call. An editor I knew but had never worked with wanted to know if I might be interested in a new line they were starting. As we talked, I got so excited. And then she emailed me their guidelines, which listed that Hollywood was a location they were interested in setting books.

Only God could have known ahead of time. But because I followed His prompting I was ready to run with an idea. Stars in the Night is the result.

Hollywood 1942. When attorney Audra Schaeffer's sister disappears, Audra flies to Hollywood to find her.

Any day Audra might have been flattered by the friendly overtures of Robert Garfield, a real-life movie star. But on the flight from Indianapolis to Hollywood, Audra can think of little else than finding her missing sister. When Audra arrives in the city of glitz and glamour, and stars, and learns her rising starlet sister has been murdered, all thoughts of romance fly away.

Determined to bring the killer to justice, Audra takes a job with the second Hollywood Victory Caravan.

Together with Robert Garfield and other stars, she crisscrosses the southern United States in a campaign to sell war bonds. When two other women are found dead on the train, Audra knows the deaths are tied to that of her sister.

Could the killer be the man with whom she's falling in love?

If you'd like to read an excerpt of Chapter 1 of Stars In The Night, go HERE.

Contest: Lots of opportunities to win and great prizes, and the grand prize contains some of Cara's favorite classic movies as well as all of her WWII novels: Launch Contest!

World War II has become one of my favorite historical settings, and this book juxtaposes the glamor of Hollywood with the uncertainty and patriotism of the home front. Additionally, the novel contrasts the cut-throat competition & self-aggrandizement of the acting profession with faith & simple values. While the traveling caravan portrayed in this novel is fictional, Cara includes information about the real Victory Caravan which traveled from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., stopping along the way for the stars to perform and promote the sale of War Bonds. I enjoyed this story and a peek into the past.


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FIRST - The Cool Woman - Giveaway!

UPDATE, Saturday, 9:15 pm

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2010-07-25 02:12:54 UTC

Congrats to Mary Lou! Email me your address, and I'll send the book your way.

* * * * *

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The Cool Woman

Fidelis (July 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Julie Gwinn, Trade Book Marketing, B&H Publishing Group for sending me a review copy.***


When I was eight years old, I saw Flying Tigerswith John Wayne and knew I wanted to be a pilot. After graduating from Mississippi State University, I joined the Air Force. My career in the cockpit was nothing less than a thirty-five-year answer to a young boy’s unspoken prayer. With three tours in Southeast Asia behind me, I left the Air Force to work for Delta Air Lines. I flew for Delta for twenty-eight years and retired from the cockpit in 1997.

When I retired, I was a man who would rather be digging post holes with a popsickle stick than be trapped in a house. Then, in January of 2002, my wife watched God transform me into a man who hungers to hide in a room in front a computer monitor, trying to shape words into pictures.

Abiding Darkness, Wedgewood Grey and And If I Die—The Black or White Chronicles—concerned themselves with spiritual warfare and fit well in the thriller/suspense genre. The Cool Womanis an action/adventure novel with a Viet Nam War setting; the protagonist is a cool and competent fighter pilot.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Fidelis (July 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805464808
ISBN-13: 978-0805464801


The Viet Nam (I am 40-cough years old, and I just now learned that the name of that country is two words! Apparently it was combined into one word by reporters telexing the name.) War is the setting of this novel, which is not a backdrop for too many novels, at least in Christian fiction. This is an excellent book to forge the way, for it depicts the challenges and sacrifices of those who fought in an unpopular war. As if that were not difficult enough, the main character also must deal with the racism that still existed in the early 1970's. The self-sufficiency of the "Me Generation" of that time is in stark contrast to the steadfast faith of a few of the pilots in the story. The author's experience as a pilot who served three tours in Southeast Asia makes this novel, at times, heartbreaking realistic. I'll be passing this one on to my teenage son.


I inadvertently received two copies of this novel, so I'm passing one along to one of you! Leave a comment on this post by 8:00 pm Saturday (7/24) and I will draw a winner. US Residents only. Be sure to include an email address if you don't have a blog.

The rumor circulating in the snack bar Friday morning came straight from squadron operations.

Sixteen Air Force pilots, most of them in flightsuits, two or three in summer-weight tans, were clustered here and there around Orange Flight’s briefing room. They were all watching the door and V debating quietly about the accuracy of what they’d heard. The fact that their flight commander was ten minutes late for the morning briefing made the story more believable by the second.

Second Lieutenant Warren F. Masland sat alone at a table in the back of the room. Masland was the most junior instructor in the flight. If the rumor proved true, the new instructor’s career was going to end before it began.

When the commander, Captain Frank W. Steadman, finally showed up, the pilots watched him shuffle into the room and step onto the dais in much the same way a condemned man might mount the guillotine’s platform. He dropped a stack of paperwork on the lectern then flipped his notebook open and frowned at the first page while he pulled out a cigarette. The conversation groups broke up, and men drifted in Steadman’s direction and began taking seats. The two officers nearest him spoke to their leader . . . he didn’t respond. He got his cigarette going then tapped on the speaker’s stand with his lighter. “At ease, guys. Let’s get this over with.”

The two pilots Steadman snubbed kept their faces expressionless and cut their eyes at each other; the rumor was going to be true.

“Okay,” Steadman had yet to look at his troops, “we’ll divvy up the students first. After that, we’ll play catch-up on paperwork and take a long weekend.”

Orange Flight’s briefing room was one of four almost identical rooms in the nondescript, concrete block building that housed the 3525th Pilot Training Squadron. The speaker’s stand was backed by a large green chalkboard and an annotated map of the local flying area. A built-in bookcase on the chalkboard side would provide housing for the incoming trainees’ grade books. In keeping with the Air Force’s penchant for having its written directives weigh as much as its aircraft, an identical set of shelves on Steadman’s left was filled with an array of training manuals, binders full of obscure Air Force Regulations, and a small library of safety-related publications.

“We’ve only got one prior service troop,” Steadman spoke in a monotone, “a first lieutenant naviguesser. I’ll take him; the rest of you will start with two or three studs each.” He paused and let his gaze go to the back wall while he pursed his lips and massaged the back of his neck. “Okay.” He stepped to the side of the podium and took a few seconds to jab the unfinished cigarette out in an ashtray; his expression wasn’t a grimace, but it was close. He propped one foot on the base of the speaker’s stand and looked back at his notebook while smoothing a mustache he’d shaved off six weeks earlier. And finally, the rumor became an official fact. “We’ve got a black kid in the incoming bunch, gents.”

He let that soak in, then looked up to ask, “Any volunteers?”

There are several cardinal rules in the military; forever reigning in the number one slot is: Never volunteer for anything. Added to that, the pilots scattered around the room were well aware that an object in motion is easier for the human eye to detect, and they became military-garbed mannequins.

Except for the ceaseless sigh of air coming from the air-conditioning vents, the room was without sound.

In any group of sixteen men, some are almost certain to be racially biased, but that wasn’t the root cause behind the room’s pervading silence.

In July of the previous summer, a black lieutenant assigned to the T-37 flight down the hall washed out of pilot training. When he busted his final elimination check ride, the trainee told everyone who would listen that he was “kicked out” because of racial prejudice. Actually, the student’s early ouster from the program had nothing to do with skin color; for the instructors who worked with him, the conclusion was unanimous from the beginning . . . the man was not cut out to be a pilot; he didn’t have the “hands,” the heart, or the SA—the situational awareness.

Within hours of the student being eliminated from the program, his congressman stepped in and, without availing himself of the facts, started twisting arms. The colonel in command of the 82nd Flying Training Wing knew he would never make general if he refused to yield, so he granted the student a special dispensation, giving him additional training.

It was a colossal error on the part of all involved.

In the world of aviation, conventional wisdom says: To keep an aircraft in the air, a pilot will always need at least one of three ingredients: airspeed, altitude, or ideas. If any one or two of those ingredients is absent or in short supply, the pilot must have a proportionate abundance of whatever remains.

On his first ride after being reinstated, the young man let the aircraft get “low and slow” while turning final for a landing, thus robbing himself of a significant measure of two of the components he needed to keep his plane flying.

The student immediately—and inexplicably—compounded his problem by pulling both throttles to idle, and the aircraft shuddered—warning of an impending stall. With the aircraft still flying, the instructor took control and initiated a standard stall recovery by pushing the throttles forward and moving to take pressure off the stick—no big deal. Even as the engines were spooling up, the student panicked and used both hands to jerk the stick full back. The abrupt maneuver cost the aircraft the last of its airspeed, and the T-37 stalled. At that altitude, with no airspeed, all the ideas in the world couldn’t prevent what was coming.

People on the ground watched helplessly as the aircraft pitched up and its forward movement stopped. The plane hung motionless for one sickening instant then dropped off on one wing and pointed its nose at the ground—falling, not flying.

The instructor took precious seconds to punch the student on the arm and yell “Eject! Eject!” but the kid’s hands were welded to the stick. The IP ejected too low and was seriously injured. The student was killed on impact.

The accommodating congressman, in an often-practiced scramble to fix the blame firmly on someone else, presided over the sacrifice of everyone from the training wing commander down to the instructor.

Steadman let his eyes move across the silent group and nodded his understanding. He spied Masland and was getting ready to pronounce his sentence when a captain with dark red hair lifted a hand and murmured, “Yo.”

“You’ll take him?” Steadman’s tone said, This is a joke, isn’t it?

The other instructors were so startled they glanced involuntarily at the man with the death wish.

The object of their attention shrugged. “Sure.”

Steadman continued to stare at the volunteer—he didn’t believe what he was hearing. No one in the room believed it. The other pilots retreated to their lifeless states because the issue might not be settled. The redhead, Rusty Mattingly, was the son of the youngest general in the Air Force. The officers in Mattingly’s chain of command tried not to go overboard in showing partiality, but they didn’t assign the junior captain too many “trash details” either.

“Okeydokey,” the flight commander took a deep breath and sighed, “you got ’im.”

Frank Steadman had five years of active duty remaining before he could retire. He pictured the stars on Mattingly’s father’s shoulders and prayed, Lord, please don’t let me get blamed for this.

Masland tried to hide his relief behind his coffee cup and spilled most of the contents in his lap. No one chided him for it.


Sunday afternoon brought that week’s measured interlude of heat-soaked silence. The skies over Williams Air Force Base were clear of clouds and airplanes. Acres of jet trainers—the short, squatty little T-37s and the white, stiletto-shaped T-38s—gleamed in the sun, fueled and ready for Monday. Mann stopped his car at the main gate, handed the young Air Policeman a sheet of his crisp new orders, and asked where he could get something to eat.

The guard barely glanced at the orders while he let his eyes take in the car. “Best burgers in Arizona, sir,” he pointed. “Straight down there at Base Operations.”

Mann stowed the orders back in their envelope while the guard snapped a salute. “Nice car, sir.”

Mann smiled as he returned the salute. “Thanks.” The car, Mann’s college graduation present to himself, was created for an Air Force jet jockey.

He drove onto the base—his first time on a military installation as a commissioned officer—and headed for the burgers. Food first—then a place to sleep.

Forty minutes later, the lieutenant with the crisp orders and cool car had Base Ops almost to himself. He leaned on the counter in the snack bar and licked his finger before passing it across a piece of greasy wax paper—the former resting place of two hamburgers and a double order of fries. He was washing down the last crumbs with a long pull on his milkshake—chocolate—when airplane noises drew his attention to the window. A blue pickup with a yellow FOLLOW ME sign in the back was leading a camouflaged F-4 to a parking place on the ramp outside the operations building. The hulking fighter looked big enough to take off with a T-38 under each wing.

Partner, that right there is a real live jet fighter, thought Mann.

In response to the ground crewman’s gesture that the wheels were chocked, the man in the plane’s front cockpit signaled he was shutting down the left engine. The guy in the back cockpit unstrapped and clambered over the side. The passenger stopped on the ladder to fasten some loose straps in the backseat then dropped to the ground and took a hang-up bag and a well-stuffed B-4 bag from behind a panel somewhere on the plane’s belly. The passenger hefted his bags and walked past the shark’s mouth painted on the nose of the airplane, heading for Base Ops. The man in the F-4 twirled one finger to tell the crew chief he was restarting the left engine and gave a thumbs-out motion for the chocks to be pulled. The fighter was on its way back to the runway before the backseater got to the door of the building.

Mann was watching the fighter taxi out when the passenger from the F-4 stepped into the foyer by the snack bar. Mann turned as the guy stopped to drop his bags and pull off a white helmet with a bright crimson visor cover. The F-4’s passenger rubbed his hand through his hair to stir circulation back into his scalp then put the helmet in its bag. When he looked up to see Mann watching him, he left his bags in the middle of the marble tile floor and started for the snack bar while pulling off his flying gloves. From the insignia and stenciled name strip on the guy’s flightsuit, Mann identified him as a first lieutenant, last name Chance. The patch on the right side of his chest marked him as part of the Tactical Air Command—that, and the airplane he stepped out of, meant he was a member of a fighter outfit. The wings sewn above his name tag told the world he was a navigator—his face said he was tired. Not a long-day kind of tired, more of the weeks-and-weeks kind.

Lieutenant Chance was looking at a slender black guy wearing a tan, summer-weight uniform with second lieutenant insignia on the collar. The veteran airman stuck out a small hand and winked. “I’m Fat Chance. Is this Tucson?” The grip was firm.

“I reckon that’s close enough for government work, sir,” said Mann. “I’m Bill Mann.”

Both men stood relaxed while the new arrival looked over his fellow comedian. New uniform. New brown bars. New flight cap stowed correctly behind a brand-new blue belt. New plastic name tag, precisely fixed on his right pocket—white letters on a black background. MANN.

“Lemme guess.” Chance pulled his own war-weary flight cap out of a calf pocket on his G-suit and settled it over sandy red hair while he continued to run a calculating eye over the welcome committee. “You’re in the class that starts Tuesday.”

Mann’s face went blank with surprise. Good gosh, does it show that much?

“Yeah, it shows.” The navigator spoke before Mann could answer. “You ain’t got a speck of dust anywhere on you. The shoes look like you worked on ’em all morning with a fresh biscuit, the bars just came out of the box, an’ that haircut is short enough to shame a Marine.” He was grinning. “Like my granny used to say, ‘You look like you just stepped out of a bandbox.’”

Mann had to laugh. Here he was in uniform, joking around with a guy who had just climbed out of an F-4. He was definitely in the Air Force. “Guilty,” he said. “Just drove on the base. Left the bandbox in a phone booth.”

“You checked in at the Q yet?”

“No, sir. I figured I’d eat first in case they don’t give us any food for a few days.”

“Smart move . . . an’ don’t call me ‘sir.’” The drawl was straight out of lower Alabama by way of a year in Southeast Asia. “I’m gonna be in that class with you, and we’re gonna be up to our elbows in alligators for the next twelve months, so we don’t have time to play military; we’ll leave that to the Training Command weenies.” He looked at Mann to see if he understood.

“Sounds good to me.” Mann was nodding. “Do people really call you ‘Fat’?”

“Yup—that’s my call sign.” He handed Mann the helmet bag, gathered up the rest of his baggage, and headed for the door. “You got wheels?”

“Right outside the door.”


The June sun in Phoenix is expected to be harsh; it was brutal. They walked the few steps to the Vette, and Mann pointed at the chrome luggage rack. “Trunk’s full.”

“Nice wheels. ’58?”


Most pilots have a thing for speed and the Vette would be one of twenty-two sports cars in Willie’s UPT Class 72-01.

Chance rested the bags gently on the rack and took the helmet bag from Mann. He pulled a huge cigar out of it, ran it under his nose, grinned, and waved it at Mann. “Gen-u-wine Cuban.” He fired up the cigar, took off his G-suit, and slid into the passenger seat of the Vette. “Let’s go find the Q first. I’ll grab a shower and some civvies, then we’ll hunt us up a beerysoda.”

Mann got behind the wheel.

The navigator waved his cigar to take in the car. “I even like the color.”

Mann was backing out of the parking spot. “They told me red increases the horsepower by 15 percent.”

The redhead ran a hand through his hair. “Closer to twenty-five.”


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