Thursday, September 30, 2010

Flashback Friday Prompt - Let's Play!

Would you believe this is Week #30 for Flashback Friday? We started way back in mid-March. I wasn't sure I could come up with enough ideas to last three months, and here we are over six months and counting! I have a blast each week reading all about your memories of growing up.
What toys do you remember from your childhood? What did you like to do to entertain yourself? Did you mostly play inside or outside? Did you ride a bike all over the neighborhood? Play baseball in the backyard? Basketball in the driveway? Did you have to "get permission" to play at a friend's house, or were you and your friends back and forth between houses all the time? If you had siblings, was there a distinction between your toys and theirs? Did you "inherit" any toys from older siblings? What were the "fad" or "must-have" toys of your generation? Did you parents buy them? Was there a toy you always wanted and never got to have?

Just to help you plan, this week is Part 1 - Toys. Next week in Part 2, we'll look back at Games and Puzzles. Because hopefully, our childhoods involved lots of playtime!

Share your playtime memories tomorrow and link up here!


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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

This Week's R.D. is Out of this World!

Before I jump into this week's random, I want to wish a Happy Birthday to my husband!

Lidna tapped the brains of the gals in her Girls' Group, and they have a plethora of questions for us this week.

1. Do you believe, somewhere deep inside, that blondes do indeed have more fun? That they are "dumber" than brunettes or redheads? Be honest!

Genetically, I do not think there is a difference. Culturally, I would say yes. In regards to the "fun" part, I think many times blondes are favored. I have teased a friend for years after she was quoted in a college magazine about an event she attended and the quote was prefaced by describing her as "a young, pretty, blonde mom." Now tell many how many sentences you've seen that talk about "a young, pretty, brunette mom." I'm just sayin'.

As for the intelligence factor, I think that people tend to live down to others' expectations. Plus, I think we more readily notice when a blonde does something dumb.

2. Which animal would you most like to observe in its wild habitat?

Does this mean I have to be in its wild habitat as well, or can I watch it on Discovery Channel? That's what TVs and IMAX are for!

3. This week the U.N. announced that Dr. Mazlan Othman has been appointed the official "Alien Ambassador," should any extraterrestrials contact us. Have you, or has anyone you know, ever seen a UFO?

Seriously? An "Alien Ambassador"? No.

4. Name your favorite Hitchcock film.

I have never seen a Hitchcock film.

5. Would you rather spend time at the library, the mall, a craft store or home?

Probably home.

6. Which Disney princess is your favorite? (Or Disney character, if you are a guy)

Belle, from Beauty and the Beast, because she was able to look beyond the outward appearance to the heart inside.

And because she's a bookworm!

7. What kind of art is your favorite?

Art that doesn't look like a 2-year-old threw some paint at a canvas. I like realistic stuff, such as a pretty landscape, like this:
(Courtesy Google Images)
8. How do you feel about viral videos, that is, videos made by amateurs that end up on Youtube receiving thousands of hits?

I don't go out of my way to find them, but some of them are pretty funny. Especially ones with laughing babies.

9. Where do you buy your jeans?

Kohl's. Lee Jeans fit me the best.

10. Tell me about your first automobile accident.

Hmmmpff. "First" assumes there has been more than one. I did get hit trying to come out of a parking lot when I was in college. All the lanes stopped except one. I did get barely rear-ended once but there wasn't any damage so I don't really count that. And fortunately, that is all!

On our way to Houston one Christmas we stopped to eat at a Whataburger, and someone hit our parked car and left the scene.

11. Have you ever been honest when you knew you would benefit more if you would be dishonest?


12. If you were appointed "Ambassador to Aliens," what would you show and tell first about life on Earth? What would be the most difficult thing to explain?

Show & Tell? The Alien exit.

Difficult to explain? Why I spend so much time mulling over these questions!


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The Pursuit of the Holy: A Divine Invitation

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 Pursuit of the Holy: A Divine Invitation

David C. Cook (September 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Simon Ponsonby is Pastor of Theology at St. Aldates Church in Oxford. He received his BA in Theology and M Litt from Trinity College Bristol and was ordained in the Church of England. He previously served as Evangelical Pastorate Chaplain at Oxford University and has recently become the Dean of Studies for a new initiative, “European Church Planting Centre,” being established in Oxford. The author of four books and an active evangelist and preacher, Ponsonby is married to Tiffany and they have two sons.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (September 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781403669
ISBN-13: 978-0781403665


Althought I haven't completely finished this book, I can say that it is an excellent and much-needed call to today's Christians, especially those of us in the USA. Pendulums swing from one extreme to the other as time marches on, and the beat-on-the-pulpit-fire-and-brimstone style of preaching from bygone days has been replaced in many churches by God-is-love-feel-good-prosperity-me-centered sermonette. Ponsonby says that
Since Augustine, love has been treated as God's primary attribute, defining the intertrinitarian relations and relationship with creation. While not diminishing that all God is and all God does is loving, nevertheless at his throne the seraphim do not declare the thrice-loving God but the thrice-holy God. (p. 32)
Not only is God Himself Holy, He has called us to be holy. Sadly, many of us misunderstand what holiness means, both as it pertains to God or what it would mean for our lives. One of my favorite parts is the chapter "Unholy Religion," in which the author differentiates between the legalistic "holiness" of the Pharisees and the holiness that results from following Jesus. Just a few of the distinctions are
  • The Pharisees' holiness made much of rules--Jesus' holiness made much of God.
  • The Pharisees' holiness made much of themselves--Jesus' holiness made much of others.
  • The Pharisees' holiness was quick to judge whatever differed from it--Jesus' holiness sought to forgive.
    (pp. 108-109)
Holiness for the believer is not just another "thing" on our spiritual To Do List. This book is "no abstract theological study, not a simple push for personal pietism, for that would be to set our sights too low. No, my longing is to see the church transformed so that we might transform society." (p. 11) May we take the truths laid out in this book to heart.


The Longing to Be Holy

May the God of peace make you holy all the way through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thess. 5:23)1

We are about to take a journey. This will be no abstract theological study, nor a simple push for personal pietism, for that would be to set our sights too low. No, my longing is to see the church transformed, so that we might transform society. I have written this book to offer pointers to the way and the what of that transformation.

In the late nineteenth century, there was a groundswell of longing for a deeper and more effective Christian life in the churches. In 1874, the Oxford Conference was organized by Canon Christopher, the famous rector of St Aldates, around the theme of “The Promotion of Scriptural Holiness,” with an emphasis on the Spirit-filled life. One thousand five hundred Christian leaders and theologians attended. The following year, another conference, the Keswick Convention, was held to teach further on the themes of the Spirit-filled life and sanctification. This became the great boiler house for evangelicalism in the twentieth century—influencing the Welsh Revival and Pentecostal beginnings in America as well as revivals in East Africa. Sparks that were fanned into a blaze began with a commitment to holiness. J. C. Ryle was caught up in this movement and produced his famous book Holiness in 1877.

Now, as we look to the future, we will also need to look into the past. Just as Isaac re-dug the wells of Abraham, which the Philistines had blocked up (Gen. 26:18), so we must explore wells of holiness that have been dug and then filled throughout the church’s history. Here in the twenty-first century, it is time to open up those deep, old wells of holiness.


“The darkness is deepening.” So said Gandalf in Tolkien’s classic The Lord of the Rings. And so it is for us. Faced with an unconvincing church, society is looking to alternatives.

Secularism has sold us a society without God, where material things are worshipped. We are also seeing the advance of fundamentalist atheism bent on the exorcism of theism. How can this be? Because the church has often lived as if God were dead. Yet concurrent with this, we are witnessing the rapid rise of a radical Islam that appeals to many who long for religious certainties and conviction, especially after finding in the church little more than a divided house or pious platitudes.

After years of greed on greed, the money markets have destabilized and banks themselves are bankrupt, while fat-cat bankers have retired early and buried their heads in their fat pay pensions. We have experienced an acute loss of confidence in the democratic political office, where spin has replaced conviction and pragmatism has eviscerated idealism. And we are seeing a moral meltdown, with prisons at breaking point, crime uncontrollable, families fatherless, morality a myth, and many of our streets filled with terror at feral gangs ready to knife to death innocents who do no more than look at them the wrong way.

And yet, while sinners are certainly responsible for their own sin, I don’t entirely blame the world. They merely do what is in line with their natures: They sin. You cannot be surprised when sinners act sinfully—they have no power to purify themselves. Can a godless society be expected to be godly without seeing what godliness is? While the church may speak prophetically to the world about justice and righteousness, I don’t think we can entirely blame the world for its unrighteousness. The church has all too often blended in with the world rather than revealed Christ and his ways to the world. We have failed to be that shining light, that salting influence. And so, as we fail to conform to Christ and the gospel we profess, the church has at times hindered, rather than helped, the world come to Christ. In fact, in some areas, the world appears to be ahead of the church, provoking her to action, especially in issues relating to social justice and the poor.


So if the world is in a mess, the church must shoulder some blame. Darkness cannot dispel itself. The demonic won’t exorcise itself—Jesus said Satan cannot cast out Satan (Matt. 12:26). The darkness flees when a light is lit. But the church has often hidden the light by failing to preach the gospel, or through pietistically pursuing holiness by withdrawing from society. Sometimes it has even failed to have a light to lift, by not truly believing the gospel. Somewhere along the line we have forgotten our vocation—to be a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9). Jesus said it is part of the church’s role, through conforming to him and conveying him to the world, to be a sanctifying, salting influence in society (Matt. 5:13–16).

No one will listen to our gospel if we aren’t living it. We cannot influence or infect society with something that has not yet infected us. A saltless salt cannot savor and flavor. The church cannot light a fire if she is not on fire. And so, faced with a society in crisis, in wickedness, it is time for judgment, repentance, holiness to begin in the family of God (1 Peter 4:17). We need a reformation, a revival—and holiness will be at the heart of it. The church must again find and follow Jesus—not as a doctrine to be believed but as a Lord to be served and a life to be lived. Only then can we speak with integrity and expect to be heard.

A holy church can influence an unholy world. Where Christ is seen, he is attractive, wooing and winning people to himself. I am not saying that everyone would turn to Christ if the church attained a great level of holiness, for the demonic and self-willed will always resist God. In fact, a holy church is more likely to be a persecuted church. But as the church lives for God, she will undoubtedly attract others to him. That is why C. S. Lewis can say,

How little people know who think that holiness is dull. When one meets the real thing … it is irresistible.2

And as Paul says, “Through us [God] spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him” (2 Cor. 2:14).


Many years ago, when I arrived in the city of Oxford as a chaplain, I asked a graduate how I should best conduct myself. He replied, “Oxford hates the pseudo,” implying that the university can spot a fake quickly. Well, my experience has since challenged that graduate’s belief … but one thing is for sure: The church cannot afford to be pseudo. There must be no pretense at piety, because people can quite quickly distinguish the authentic from the imitation. They know a holy Christian when they see one, and they know a hollow one too. Old Testament theologian John Oswalt offers this stinging observation:

The world looks on hateful, self-serving, undisciplined, greedy, impure people who nevertheless claim to be the people of God and says, “You lie.”3

It is not as if we are addressing a marginal issue here—it is central. In the latest celebrated “revival” in the West, a feted evangelist suddenly walked off the stage and walked out on his wife. Claims of numerous extraordinary miracles could not be substantiated—not even one. I attended churches and watched ministers manipulate money out of church members for the promise of miracles. Pretense, fabrication, and nonsense were rife. Nothing new here, of course, but I groaned along with many others in the church: Where was the bride of Christ, making herself ready for Christ (Rev. 21:2)?


Recently I had my porch rebuilt and repainted. It was about a decade overdue, so I apologized to the painters and carpenters for the state it was in—including the mature cobwebs large enough to function as a windbreak. One of the builders replied, “No worries—I clean other people’s gutters, but you should see the mess in my own house.”

He is not the only one to neglect his own house, of course. The prophet Isaiah found himself in a similar position, metaphorically. Isaiah spoke more about holiness than any other prophet. It was part of his ministry to call the nations to holiness. Assuming the chapters of his book are in chronological order, it would appear that, although he was already established in his ministry of exposing wickedness and preaching warning and rebuke to God’s people (chapters 1—5), he subsequently had a vision of God in the temple (chapter 6) that left him completely undone. In his vision, he saw angels crying, “Holy, holy, holy.” As he stood before God, he knew it was not the nation of Judah that he must first target—but himself, Isaiah the prophet: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips” (Isa. 6:5 ESV). The prophet had preached the nations’ guilt only to see his own.

When we see God, we see the superlative of holy. When we see the Holy One, we see ourselves as we are—sinful. We ought not preach against the sinfulness of society if we aren’t also preaching against the sinfulness of the church. And lest we be hypocrites, we ought not to do that before we have applied the message to the sinfulness of our own hearts (Matt. 7:1–5).

And so in this book, I want to broadcast an encouragement to gain a vision of God in his holiness and to see ourselves truly as we are. But of course we won’t stop there. We must go on to know, as Isaiah knew, a deep cleansing from God’s fire and a commissioning for his service. I do not believe that Isaiah had been a hypocrite— he had said what he saw in the world and what he heard from God; but lest he fall, thinking he stood tall, God also showed him himself. Now his message could be tempered by self-awareness, a much-needed humility in the face of burning-coal grace for the sinner.

I have often found that the most difficult aspect of being a minister is feeling a hypocrite. Many of us are ordained and given the title Reverend—we are to be “revered” as those set apart by God to minister on his behalf, to teach and lead people to him, and in prayer to represent him to the people and the people before him. What a privilege! What a burden! The fact is that we fail consistently to live up to the standard that we preach, teach, and exhort in others. Like Paul, sometimes “I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Rom. 7:15 ESV). This made Paul feel wretched, and I know that feeling—although sometimes, I confess, I resign myself to the presence of sin and weakness rather than feeling wretched or wrestling against it.


It is instructive to think for a moment about the various terms in the English language surrounding holiness. Our word holy derives from

the Old English halig, which itself came from the German heilig, referring to “health, happiness, wholeness.”4 The English language also employs words from the Latin sanctus (holy) in words like saint, saintly, and sanctification.

In the Old Testament, words based on qds, the Hebrew word for holy, appear over 850 times.5 Holiness, then, is one of the most central concepts in biblical theology. The semantic origins of holiness relate to the word cut and have to do with distinction—standing out or being apart. It is preeminently the nature of God’s own being and is then a derived characteristic of people and things as they exist in right relation to God. In the Old Testament, the word is applied to priests and their clothing, Israelites, Nazirites, Levites, firstborn human beings, prophets, offerings, the sanctuary and its furniture, inherited land and property, dedicated money and precious objects, the avoidance of certain mixtures (there were to be no garments made of both linen and wool, no crossbreeding of animals, no plowing with both an ox and an ass), the law, oil for anointing, incense in the sanctuary, water flowing from the temple or in a laver, places where God revealed himself, the land of Israel, Jerusalem, heaven, the Sabbath and feasts, Jubilee, covenant, and even, on occasion, war.

In the New Testament, hagios, which is Greek for “holy” or “saint,” occurs over 150 times together with its associated words. Hagios means to be separate, dedicated, or consecrated to God. Originally, it was a religious concept of “the quality possessed by things and persons that could approach a divinity,” that which was reserved for God and his service. It contained the sense of “perfect, pure and worthy of God.”6 The New Testament follows the Old in applying the word first to God and secondly to things and people. The first sense is located in terms of God, his Spirit and his Son, Jesus, the Holy One of God; the second describes the people of God, the “saints” who are “holy ones.”

God is holy. Holiness is his nature and character. It is not an attribute; it is who he is. He is the one who exists in holiness—perfection, beauty, purity, otherness. People and things are said to be holy by their relation to God, as they are offered by him or to him or before him. Days of rest, days of feasting, prophets and priests, gifts to God or from him, covenants and scriptures, angels and servants, temples and land, covenants and commandments, hands lifted in worship, lips offered in kisses to the brethren, the marriage bed, and mountains of revelation—all these can be holy by association with him. Holiness is infused into things or people that come close to God or exist for him.

One useful way to approach the meaning of holiness is to see how other words are placed in relation to it, often interpreting or applying it. In Scripture, the idea of holiness is found alongside cleanliness (Isa. 35:8); purity (1 Thess. 4:7); blamelessness (1 Thess. 3:13); glory (Ezek. 28:22); righteousness (Eph. 4:24); godliness (2 Peter 3:11); honor (1 Thess. 4:4); goodness (Ps. 65:4); truthfulness (Ps. 89:35); trustworthiness (Ps. 93:5); and awe (Ps. 111:9).7 All of these help us understand what holy is and looks like. Holiness is a way of behaving that is determined by the being of God. David Peterson calls it a life “possessed by God”—a life that becomes like the God who possesses holiness.8


The famous anthropologist Émile Durkheim made the startling claim that you didn’t need to have a notion of “god” to have a notion of holiness. He suggested holiness was more about social cohesion than religious devotion. From his observations of pagan tribes, he maintained that religion was not about a deity but the distinction between the “profane” and the “sacred”—a distinction expressed in a system of beliefs and practices that make certain objects and acts sacred, while others become mundane or profane. In a similar vein, Nobel Prize-winning Swedish archbishop Nathan Söderblom asserted that “holiness is the great word in religion—it is even more essential than the notion of God,” and like Durkheim, he believed religion was all about this distinction between the sacred and the profane.9

What might this non-divine notion of holiness look like? Think about a game of soccer. There is no mention of a God, but it clearly exhibits all the signs of liturgy and sacrament for those who attend a holy event. The people gather together at their cathedral (the stadium) and, wearing their Sunday best (team colors, scarves and shirts), already feel involved in something bigger than the sum of its parts. They sit together and sing their worship (soccer chants). Then comes the moment of awe as the religious drama begins: The priests (players) gather on the Holy of Holies (field), and the liturgy of sacrifice begins at the referee’s whistle. The offering (ball) is maneuvered to the altar (net) with the anticipation of a sacrifice (goal), at which the religious ecstasy of the crowd explodes in cheers. And the opposing team and their fans would presumably be the “profane.” Clearly, for many who attend, the match follows a very religious structure between sacred and profane, and for those involved, it has the sense of being “a holy time” without any sense of the divine!

What are believers to make of this? Rather than agree that a soccer game is a sense of the holy without a need for the divine, I would suggest we are looking here at a search for the divine and the holy that has gone astray and been misplaced in the secular. While a view of a soccer game as a spiritual event may be a helpful insight into how societies structure themselves in what may be seen as religious acts, this view really doesn’t get to the heart of biblical holiness. Holiness is more likely to generate unease or even fear in people, as Rudolf Otto famously explored in his 1923 book, The Idea of the Holy.


It isn’t only the notion of the holy that makes people uneasy. Holy people do too. Holy living is countercultural. When we go beyond private piety, we adopt an alternative lifestyle that becomes a public, political, and prophetic challenge. Nevertheless, some will always rise to the challenge and be attracted to authentic holiness.

So why do we not see more people attracted to the holy? Surely many reject the notion of holiness because they can’t see any evidence of it in those who talk most about it—the church! In his major study on holiness, Stephen Barton says that

the language and practices of holiness have atrophied under the impact of modernity and secularisation.10

Certainly we live in an age when many have rejected God and have no interest in imitating his holy character or obeying his commands to be holy. Barton also suggests that some who might be interested in holiness are put off by fear of receiving the snub “holier than thou.”

As if hypocrisy or a holier-than-thou attitude in the church aren’t bad enough, I think we do even more harm when we lay down the law but fail to offer any clues about how to actually be holy—when we point the finger but don’t lift a finger to help people to be holy. Gene Edwards writes about the burdens placed on people in the name of holiness:

Dear reader, virtually all of this counsel, all of those books, and every one of those sermons, is setting you up for failure, for guilt, and for a lifetime of frustration.11

He believes church has failed to show and offer the world the way to be conformed to holiness. That way is made possible only by Christ living in me and I in him (John 15:4), as I follow him not in a bubble of personal piety but as a member of the church, where we support and encourage each other towards that goal.


We have already noted that the word holiness is related to the idea of wholeness. Holiness is not a negative word, but supremely positive. It is a concept that points to perfection. To be holy is to be like God, with whom there is no imperfection, no blemish, not the slightest attribute or action that is anything less than the best.

If holiness is a primary reflection of the being of God, then our call and invitation to be holy is a call to be with God and like God. Sinfulness, though universal, is not natural to humankind—it

entered with the fall of our first parents Adam and Eve. Ever since then, we have acted just like them: We have sinned and rejected God’s way and been expelled from God’s presence. But God’s longing for us to be holy, his longing to make us holy, is driven by his longing to restore us into his likeness, to bring us into his presence. Stephen Barton rightly says,

to attend to holiness … is to attend to a matter that lies at the very heart of what it means to be and become fully human.12

So holiness is about becoming more human, as we are restored into the image of God. Holiness is becoming like God—Peter speaks of being “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4 ESV).

God the Holy One is the source of life; sinfulness separates us from holiness and so separates us from life. Holiness is a return to Eden’s ideal and a taste of paradise. The holy life is a foretaste of heaven on earth. It is not God’s burden for us, but God’s best for us.

H. L. Mencken scorned the pious attitude of the Puritan who feared that “someone somewhere may be enjoying themselves.”13 But those who fit that so-called Puritan depiction know nothing of true holiness. Here’s an indicator to shatter one’s theological categories: The Bible tells us that the marriage bed needs to be kept holy (Heb. 13:4). Though not his main point, the writer of Hebrews shows that the marriage bed (sexual union between husband and wife) is itself holy and pure. Sex between husband and wife is holy! Somehow sex points beyond itself to the eternal, self-giving, reciprocal relations within the Godhead, where the desire of the other is served rather than the self gratified. So all that joy, pleasure, excitement, fun, release, wholeness, and fulfillment in sex between marriage partners is a holy thing. Once we acknowledge that even something so joyful and releasing as sex, within God’s ordained parameters, is holy, then we rightly challenge those assumptions that holiness is a stern and sour concept. Medieval spirituality spoke of the “three ways” in the spiritual journey: purgation, illumination, and union. Purifying and pursuing holiness through the Christian disciplines bring illumination, a revelation of God and ourselves that leads to more disciplines and a further response. But always the goal of the path to holiness is deeper union—intimate, personal, passionate languishing in love with God. The psalmist said that in God’s presence there is fullness of joy, or as Anne Lamott puts it, “Laughter is carbonated holiness.”14

Any form of holiness that leads to someone looking like they just drank a liter of vinegar is not biblical holiness; it is more likely Pharisaism. The church has lost something of this notion of holiness as happiness. We need to look at the Jews celebrating Sabbath, their holiest of times. Men gather in the streets, linking arms and dancing. Home is turned into a place of wonder, mystery, and glory as families welcome the Sabbath. How much more should the church now celebrate holiness joyfully, knowing that the Messiah Jesus has come and, in one day, by his death for us at Golgotha, taken away all our sin?

Sadly, delighting in holiness is not often the hallmark of modern Christianity. Jesus himself said that he wanted our joy to be complete and that this completion would come through “abiding in love.” Abiding in love would come through obedience to his commandments (John 15:9–11 ESV). Clearly, then, we are presented with a divine set of equations that connects holiness with joy:

obedience = abiding in love = joy

disobedience = dislocation = dissatisfaction

All this we shall explore in the pages that follow.


There is hope. Despite all the church’s failure to model holiness … despite her all too often pointing judgmental fingers or laying heavy guilt trips on the world … despite her own tendency to a holier-than-thou attitude—there is in society a wide awareness of sinfulness and a desire for holiness. Many long to be other than they are. The religious impulse can itself be a longing that is responding to the promptings of a holy God.

We all know what it is to feel dirty on the inside, and anyone can be made to feel dirty. The most unholy of places, the most God-forsaken, defiled, and profane, was that hell on earth at Auschwitz. There the demonized Nazis made every attempt to “desanitize” and dehumanize the Jews. The women had one tap for fourteen thousand worker inmates, and they were forbidden to wash. Their faces, caked in mud, baked by the sun, became covered in sores and scabs, crawling with lice and fleas. This treatment made it easier to regard the Jews as vermin and kill them as such. The Nazis worked hard to completely obliterate every trace of dignity and purity—turning the religious men’s prayer shawls into women’s underpants so that what once symbolized purity and devotion to God would be defiled by bodily discharges.

The traditional places for the Jewish woman to articulate holiness were in her home and in her diet, making a distinction between the sacred and the profane, offering her life and work as worship to God. But how could she be holy? How could she resist the literal and moral filth of Auschwitz? How could she still offer something to God? The women held on to the Jewish notion that the face is a powerful illustration of God turning to his people and the people turning to God. The face was a symbol of that sacramental communion. And so, though it was strictly forbidden, they would find precious water, even soap, and wash one another’s faces. They would wash the faces of those going to the gas chambers, or even of those who had already been murdered.15

This was an act of protest against immorality and evil, it was a no to the profane and impure. It was a small but massive act of saying to God in this apparent hellhole that we are for you, we want you, we want to be holy, the darkness will not cover us. Even here, we are for you, and we make space for you. Even in this filth, we choose to be holy, we need to be holy, we will be holy. Here, in this insane, inhuman, dehumanizing cesspit, we bear the image of God. Let our faces shine for you; and yours, O God, on us.


I was struck recently by a little incident told to me by a retired prison chaplain. She explained that when entering the prison, everyone had to take off their coats and bags, be searched, and pass through airport style scanners so that they could be checked for any drugs and other illicit things that might be smuggled to the prisoners. One day, after passing through, she got to her room and realized she had left her coat back at the check-in. She walked back only to find the guards all trying on her coat. When they saw her, they took it off and handed it back to her, looking very embarrassed. One of them apologized, explaining, “We were just seeing what it would be like to be holy.”

He wasn’t joking. They had recognized and accepted that this dear priest was a holy person. They knew she was very different—not just from the prisoners, but from themselves. And somehow, her clothing connected in their minds to the holiness they saw in her. They really did wanted to see what that holiness might feel like, and so they put on the holy chaplain’s holy jacket just in case something holy might be transmitted to them!

When a British bishop is invited to stay with the Queen, he receives a formal letter stating what clothes he must bring and wear on what occasion. First, a sports jacket and corduroys for an informal country stroll; second, a clerical outfit for more formal meetings; and third, a dinner jacket for evening supper. You have to dress right for the Queen of England!

Holiness is about having the right clothing to be with the King of Kings (Matt. 22:11–12).

Of course, whatever our best efforts, we probably won’t get it right! But we need not fear: The prophet Zechariah tells us about the time God invited Joshua the high priest, the most revered religious person in the nation of Israel, to stay (Zech. 3). The high priest was recognized by the fact that he wore the holiest of garments, designed just for his solo holy office (Ex. 28). He was regarded as the holiest of men in Israel, the one who offered sacrifices for the sins of the whole nation to God—the only one in Israel who could enter the Holy of Holies and

look upon God’s glory, on just one day of the year. The high priest was the icon of holiness to this holy people, yet Zechariah tells us that the Devil stood at his side accusing him of his sin and guilt.

Well, whatever the Devil’s accusations were, they were immediately silenced by God’s rebuke. Even so, the angel, seeing the stained clothes of the high priest, commanded them to be removed. Now, no Israelite could possibly conceive that this holy man, who wore the finest vestments symbolizing his holy office, could dress unworthily. But God sees right through us. The good news, however, is in what happened next. At God’s command, the angel removed the filthy clothes from the high priest and declared, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you” (Zech. 3:4). And they placed new, clean clothes on him and a new turban on his head.

If the holy high priest’s garments were filthy in God’s sight, what hope is there for us? Every hope! The Devil can find some sin and stain to accuse the best of us—but the good news is that God does not wish to accuse, condemn, or embarrass us. He wants to rebuke the accuser, he wants to remove our uncleanness, he wants to dress us in divine clothes so that we are fit to stand in his presence.

In the chapters that follow, we shall explore holiness in its many facets—its foundation, its absence, its beckoning, its counterfeit, its provision, its perfection, its practicalities, and its potential for the future of our world. Let the journey begin.


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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Memory Between Us - Plus Contest!

A Memory Between Us
(Wings of Glory series)
Sarah Sundin
ISBN: 978-0800734220
September, 2010/439 pages/$14.99

Can they overcome the past to find a brighter future together?

Major Jack Novak has never failed to meet a challenge--until he meets army nurse Lieutenant Ruth Doherty. When Jack lands in the army hospital after a plane crash, he makes winning Ruth's heart a top-priority mission. But he has his work cut out for him. Not only is Ruth focused on her work in order to support her orphaned siblings back home, she also is determined not to give her heart to any man.

As the danger and tension of World War II rise to a fever pitch, Jack and Ruth will need each other more than ever. Can Jack break down her defenses? Or are they destined to go their separate ways?

From the English countryside to the perilous skies over France, A Memory Between Us takes you on a journey through love, forgiveness, and sacrifice.

Although I come from a home wallpapered in books, I only briefly envisioned myself as a writer, when my sister and I co-wrote Funny Dancing Fruits and Vegetables complete with crayon illustrations.

Then I discovered science. I loved learning about the intricacies of God's creation, so I studied chemistry in college, and then got my doctorate in pharmacy—not a typical career path for a writer.
In pharmacy school, I met my husband, Dave. We settled in northern California and were blessed by three bright, funny children—Stephen, Anna, and Matthew. Then on January 6, 2000, I woke from a dream so intriguing I had to write it down. I proceeded to write a really bad 750-page contemporary Christian romance. Burn-it-when-I-die bad. But the Lord used it to call me into writing. I joined a critique group, attended writers' conferences, and joined American Christian Fiction Writers. These all taught me about the craft of writing and the publishing industry, and introduced me to writers, editors, and agents.
\I first submitted the manuscript for A Distant Melody in 2003, and over the next five years I accumulated a pile of "good" rejection letters from editors and agents. Finally in 2008, a submission at Mount Hermon Christian Writers' Conference led to my first sale.
Between writing and driving kids to soccer and karate, I work one evening a week as a hospital pharmacist, teach Sunday school to fourth- and fifth-graders, and teach women's Bible studies. I enjoy speaking to women's groups and am available to speak on several topics. To learn more and if you are a history buff, don't miss her great blog

I thoroughly enjoyed Sarah Sundin's debut novel, A Distant Melody (reviewed here), and eagerly anticipated the release of A Memory Between Us. It did not disappoint. From the moment I began reading the first page, I was transported into the story. World War II is quickly becoming a favorite setting for me as a result of books like this Wings of Glory series. The challenges faced by Ruth and Jack tugged at my heart, and they quickly became favorite characters. I can't recommend this book highly enough.

About The Memories and Movies Giveaway:

Sarah Sundin presents The Movies and Memories Giveaway in honor of book 2 in the Wings of Glory series. A Memory Between Us is available for purchase wherever fine books are sold. From the English countryside to the perilous skies over France, A Memory Between Us takes you on a journey through love, forgiveness, and sacrifice. 


To celebrate Sarah is giving one lucky winner A Movie and Memory Prize Package! One grand prize winner will receive:

* Make-your-own-photo book from (Capture your own Memories)

* Netflix Subscription (New or Nostalgic Movies delivered right to your house)

* Starbucks gift card (To keep your engine revvin’)

*Gourmet chocolate (A favorite in the 1940’s and now)

* British specialty teas in carved wooden box (Timeless tradition)

* Miniature model of a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber & C-47 cargo plane (Everyone needs a few toy planes)

*Big Band music CD (Break out your dancing shoes)

* WWII authentic poster playing cards (Cards – a perfect game for two)

* Keep Calm and Carry On (Uplifting sayings WWII, a boost for troubled times)

To enter simple click on the icons below (contest runs 9/27 - 10/17!)
Enter via E-mail Enter via Facebook Enter via Twitter

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell and LitFuse Publicity 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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Judgment Day

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Judgment Day
WaterBrook Press (September 21, 2010)


Wanda Dyson

Wanda Dyson – "a shining example of what Christian fiction is becoming..." (Christian Fiction Review). She's been called a "natural" and a "master of pacing," but her fans know that whether it's police thrillers, suspense, or bringing a true story to life, Wanda knows how to take her readers on a journey they'll never forget.

Wanda is a multipublished suspense author, currently writing for Random House/Waterbrook. Her one attempt at a nonfiction book was picked for an exclusive release on Oprah. In addition to writing full time, she is also the appointment coordinator for the CCWC, Great Philadelphia Christian Writers, and ACFW conferences.

Wanda lives in Western Maryland on a 125 acre farm with a menagerie of animals and when she's not writing critically acclaimed suspense, or away at conferences, you can find her zipping across the fields on a 4-wheeler with Maya, her German Shepherd, or plodding along at a more leisurely pace on her horse, Nanza.

With the release of her newest hit, Judgment Day, Wanda is heading back to the keyboard to start on her next high-octane thriller, The Vigilante.

Sensational journalism has never been so deadly.

The weekly cable news show Judgment Day with Suzanne Kidwell promises to expose businessmen, religious leaders, and politicians for the lies they tell. Suzanne positions herself as a champion of ethics and morality with a backbone of steel—until a revelation of her shoddy investigation tactics and creative fact embellishing put her in hot water with her employers, putting her credibility in question and threatening her professional ambitions.

Bitter and angry, Suzanne returns home one day to find an entrepreneur she is investigating, John Edward Sterling, unconscious on her living room floor. Before the night is over, Sterling is dead, she has his blood on her hands, and the police are arresting her for murder. She needs help to prove her innocence, but her only hope, private investigator Marcus Crisp, is also her ex-fiancé–the man she betrayed in college.

Marcus and his partner Alexandria Fisher-Hawthorne reluctantly agree to take the case, but they won’t cut Suzanne any slack. Exposing her lack of ethics and the lives she’s destroyed in her fight for ratings does little to make them think Suzanne is innocent. But as Marcus digs into the mire of secrets surrounding her enemies, he unveils an alliance well-worth killing for. Now all he has to do is keep Suzanne and Alex alive long enough to prove it.

Watch the book trailer:

If you would like to read the Prologue and first chapter of Judgment Day, go HERE.

Whew! This book left me breathless! Fast-paced and full of suspense and plenty of action (and lots of bodies) the story kept me glued to the pages. If I'm ever accused of a crime, I want Alex and Marcus on my side! Suzanne is a character I loved to hate, but the lessons she learned as the book progressed made her more likeable. I can't wait to see what Wanda Dyson's next book has in store.


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Monday, September 27, 2010

The Secret of the Shroud

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Secret of The Shroud
B&H Books (September 1, 2010)


Pamela Ewen

Pamela’s first novel, Walk Back The Cat (Broadman & Holman. May, 2006) is the story of an embittered and powerful clergyman who learns an ancient secret, confronting him with truth and a choice that may destroy him.

She is also the best-selling author of the acclaimed non-fiction book Faith On Trial, published by Broadman & Holman in 1999, currently in its third printing.

Although it was written for non-lawyers, Faith On Trial was also chosen as a text for a course on law and religion at Yale Law School in the Spring of 2000, along with The Case For Christ by Lee Stroble. Continuing the apologetics begun in Faith On Trial, Pamela also appears with Gary Habermas, Josh McDowell, Darrell Bock, Lee Stroble, and others in the film Jesus: Fact or Fiction, a Campus Crusade for Christ production.

Her most recent novel, The Moon in the Mango Tree (B&H Publishing Group, May 2008) is currently available online and in bookstores everywhere. Set in the 1920’s and based on a true story, it is about a woman faced with making a choice between career and love, and her search for faith over the glittering decade. Pamela’s upcoming book, Dancing On Glass, which was recently short-listed as a finalist for the Faulkner/Wisdom creative writing novel award, will be released in the spring of 2011, and she is currently working on a sequel.

A frightened apostle in AD 33, a tragic child in the 1950s, and a slick, twenty-first century church leader are all linked by the secret of the Shroud of Turin, the purported burial cloth of Jesus-and by something more.

Wesley Bright, a corrupt, media-savvy clergyman, is out to destroy the Christian church of the God who abandoned him in his boyhood. Likable and entertaining, Bright keeps his motives well hidden. But as he seeks revenge, leading the church toward unknowing destruction, the mysterious Shroud of Turin stands in his way.

Strange characters and clues emerge like shadows limned in mist as the most recent discoveries on the Shroud connect the pieces of a fascinating puzzle. When Wesley learns the ancient secret, he’s forced to confront a terrible choice: keep the secret—and the power, wealth, and fame he’s won over the years—or expose it...and lose everything.

At stake is one thing: absolute truth.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Secret of The Shroud, go HERE.

This book just arrived in my mailbox this afternoon, so I don't have a review to offer at this time.


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Pursuit of Justice

Pursuit of Justice
(Call of Duty series)
DiAnn Mills
ISBN: 978-1-4143-2052-6
October, 2010/368 pages/$12.99

Special Agent Bella Jordan is assigned to investigate a series of murders in West Texas that are linked to the Spider Rock Treasure. Since she spent the first fifteen years of her life in this area, FBI authorities believe she can get the job done. What they don’t know is that one of their prime suspects—a man who’s been on their wanted list for years—is deeply connected to Bella’s past.

The other prime suspect is Carr Sullivan, the man who owns the ranch where the murders occurred. Carr was once one of the wealthiest businessmen in Dallas and has a shady past a mile long. But it appears he’s turned his life around. Can Bella trust him, or is he just trying to cover his tracks?

As Bella probes deeper into the case, threats on her own life convince her the killer is someone she knows. But it soon becomes clear he’s not working alone, and she’ll need to face the past she’s tried so desperately to forget in order to solve the case and prevent more murders.

Award-winning author DiAnn Mills is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed novels. DiAnn's first book was published in 1998. She currently has more than fifty books in print, which have sold more than a million and a half copies.

Six of her books have appeared on the CBA best-seller list. Six of her books have either won or placed in American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year contest, and she is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader's Choice award for 2005 and 2007. She was a Christy Award finalist for Lightning and Lace in 2008 and for Breach of Trust in 2010.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive; Romance Writers of America's Faith, Hope and Love chapter; and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also the Craftsman mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild.

Her latest releases are A Woman Called Sage and Pursuit of Justice.

This novel showcases DiAnn Mills' amazing talent for action-packed suspense. The book captured my attention on the first page and didn't let go until the final sentence. Fast-paced and full of adrenaline, the pages pulse with danger, intrigue, and greed while countering these aspects with loyalty, friendship, and a hint of romance. The spotlight on the FBI fascinated me, increasing my appreciation and respect for those who put their lives on a daily basis. DiAnn has quickly become one of my must-read authors, and I highly recommend this book and series to you!

Earlier this year I posted an interview DiAnn Mills about her writing and this series, which you can find here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale 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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Don't Kiss Him Good-bye

Don't Kiss Him Goodbye
(London Confidential series)
Sandra Byrd
ISBN: 978-1-4143-2599-6
October, 2010/256 pages/$6.99

Now established in her quirky British village, Savvy works hard to get an article with her own byline published in the school newspaper. When an attractive and mysterious boy asks her for help with his school work, Savvy is slowly pulled into his circle and soon finds out that the wrong set of friends—boys and girls—can influence her own behavior. Following her own advice to cut ties with a charming bad boy would mean abandoning her dearest wishes, and it just doesn't seem as wrong as it feels. Is it? Read on for surprise twists throughout the book!

London Confidential is a new series for young girls. In the series, British fashion, friendships, and guys collide as an all-American teen girl learns to love life and live out her faith. The series follows Savvy's entertaining attempts to fit in during her first year at a new school in a new country.

Best-selling author Sandra Byrd has published nearly three dozen books in the Christian market, including her latest series, French Twist, which includes the Christy finalist Let Them Eat Cake (2007) and its sequel, Bon Appétit (2008). Many of her acclaimed fiction and nonfiction books target the tween and young adult market. She has also published a book for new moms entitled Heartbeats. Several of Sandra's shorter works appear in periodical markets such as Relevant, Clubhouse, Pockets, Decision, and Guideposts. For the past seven years, she has shared her secrets with the many students she mentors through the Christian Writers Guild. Before turning to full-time writing, Sandra was an acquisitions editor in the ABA market. She lives in the Seattle, Washington, area with her husband and two children.

This is a delightful series for young teens and tweens. Although I didn't read the first book, I thoroughly enjoyed the second one, Asking for Trouble, which I reviewed here. Don't Kiss Him Good-bye continues the story of Savannah "Savvy" Smith as she adjusts to her new high school in the London area. Girl politics are universal, and Savvy meets her share as she tries to fit in. And then there's the issue of boys! Savvy must decide whether having a date to the May Day ball is more important than staying true to herself and her Christian beliefs. Sandra Byrd has written a wonderful novel that speaks truth in practical situations without being preachy. I highly recommend this book and this series!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale 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, September 26, 2010

Max Lucado's Outlive Your Life

Outlive Your Life
Max Lucado
(Thomas Nelson)
ISBN: 978-0849920691
September, 2010/Hardcover/240 pages/$24.99

These are difficult days in our world's history. 1.75 billion people are desperately poor, natural disasters are gouging entire nations, and economic uncertainty still reigns across the globe. But you and I have been given an opportunity to make a big difference. What if we did? What if we rocked the world with hope? Infiltrated all corners with God's love and life? We are created by a great God to do great works. He invites us to outlive our lives, not just in heaven, but here on earth. Let's live our lives in such a way that the world will be glad we did.

Max Lucado is a minister who writes and a writer who preaches. He and his wife, Denalyn, serve the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. They have three grown daughters, Jenna, Andrea, and Sara; one son-in-law, Brett; and one sweet but lazy golden retriever, Molly. Visit his website.

This book recognizes Max Lucado's 25th year as an author, and it's actually the first one of his books that I have read (excluding Redefining Beautiful which he cowrote with his daughter Jenna.) This book challenges believers to go beyond playing church to really live their lives as reflections of Christ, using the early church described in Acts as a model for what happens when the Holy Spirit transforms lives. It is highly practical and convicting.

Discussion questions in the back of the book aid in application; a Bible Study workbook and participant's guide are available.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson 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, September 25, 2010

TSMSS - Not in my Wildest Dreams. . .

I couldn't resist deviating from my usual posting for TSMSS on this landmark weekend.

It's a good thing there are no tears in heaven; my daddy would be appalled. On the other hand, my FIL would probably be making a beeline to my dad's mansion to gloat.

The reason? my boy and I are returning from a college visit to Texas A&M.

Never say never.

This is what I grew up with:

And this is that other school's song:

Even though the rivalry is fierce, UT & A&M have a lot of respect for each other, and students at both universities have many friends at the other. When the Aggie Bonfire collapsed tragically in 1999, this was the Longhorn Band's tribute at half-time of the Texas vs. A&M game:

Following Amazing Grace, the Longhorn Band played Taps, after which all of the musicians removed their hats. From what I understand, the only other time the band members have taken off their hats on the field was after JFK's assassination.

The only problem with having so many Aggie friends is the gloating they will do if my boy does choose A&M. Sigh.

Hook 'em vs. Gig 'em. . . .no place but Texas!


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Friday, September 24, 2010

Flashback Friday - Books, Books, Books!

Did you like to read when you were a child? What were your favorite genres, books or series? Did you read books because of the author or because of the title/plot? Did you own many books? Did your school distribute the Scholastic book orders (or some other type)? Did you visit the library often? Was there a summer reading program when you were young, and did you participate? Do you have any particular memories of your school libraries? What were your favorites and least favorites among the classics (the ones high school English teachers assign!)? If you didn't like reading, do you like it more today than you did then?

If you hang around this blog at all, you know that I am a total bookworm. I have loved to read for as long as I can remember. When I was in elementary school, I absolutely inhaled books. I checked out as many as the school library would let me check out, and I always finished them before they were due. During he summers, I generally finished the public library's reading program by the end of June. I remember checking out the maximum there as well--I think it was 14--and it rarely took me more than a week to finish them.

I don't remember what grade I was in, but once the library had an author visit for a special feature. He had written a book called something like Animal Frolics, which was a that had a different animal on each page, A to Z. It was more advanced and larger than your average picture book. At the end of his presentation he said he would give an autographed copy to the child that could say the alphabet backwards in less than two minutes without messing up. I think it took me around a minute, but I won! (That was something we used to do on road trips.) I decided that was a pretty good skill to have, so after winning that book I practiced and now I can say it in four or five seconds!

As many schools still do today, when I was in elementary school, we had Library Day once a week. The librarian would read a story to the class and then we got to check out books. I only remember this because of of these stands out in my mind as clearly as if I were there today. The librarian read The Golden Arm, a wonderfully creepy ghost story. (A fair rendition of it is here on YouTube, but it's better told in person.) She did a marvelous job of changing voices and making it really creepy. We were all mesmerized. When she got to the end where the ghost has made it into the bedroom where the man is quivering in his bed while the ghost asks, "Whoooo's got my golden arrrrrrm?, at the final line, YOU"VE GOT IT she grabbed the arm of one of the students sitting closest to her. We all screamed! Ghost stories in the dark always gave me the creeps, but I loved that one!

I mentioned on the first job flashback that I was a big fan of the Sue Barton and Cherry Ames books; both series followed a nurse through each year of nursing school and then on to various adventures in her job. The Cherry Ames books always had a mystery. I read every book that I could get my hands on in those two series and read them repeatedly.

When I was about 9 or 10, my grandmother gave me a book called Little Town on the Prairie. This was my first introduction to Laura Ingalls Wilder, and I absolutely L-O-V-E-D the book. What a delight to discover that there was a whole series! I remember telling my mom (and yes, it sounds dorky!) "Grandmother didn't know when she gave me this book that she was starting me on a whole new reading adventure." I eventually owned the whole set and read them so many times I practically had parts memorized.

Of course, Nancy Drew books were big when I was little and I read a pile of them as well. I read a couple of Hardy Boys books, but never was that fond of them. I also loved a series that my sister had called Donna Parker. And then there were The Happy Hollisters mysteries. I read a bunch of those as well; a couple of them kinda scared me with the bad guys, but I persevered!

Oh, and I can't fail to mention Anne of Green Gables! I loved that whole series and thought the story of Gilbert Blythe and her was quite romantic. I also loved the Betsy-Tacy.

Some of my favorite books that weren't series were Little Women (I read Jo's Boys and maybe one other, but Little Women was my favorite. And then there was a wonderful old book called Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney. I didn't realize until today that it was a series, as well; I never saw any of the others. You can download it for free here.

And once I saw the movie and got past the parents dying on the first page, I loved The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. A Little Princess by the same author is another favorite.

The one book that I did not like was Freaky Friday, the 1972 book. I always got completely immersed in books when I read, and that one messed with my mind and completely weirded me out. My mom remembers for years how uneasy and bothered I was after reading that. I think I finally was able to watch the recent movie a few years ago with my girl!

A big treat during school was getting to order from Scholastic. Books were maybe a quarter (this was the early 1970's!) and I ordered as many as my folks would let me. How exciting it was when the box came and the teacher handed out our brand new books! Although they were no longer a quarter, I still loved ordering books for my own kids when they brought the Scholastic leaflet home!

When I was in junior high, our school was on the "new-fangled" quarter system. We had four of our six classes at a time (80 minutes each), and we had a subject for two "quarters". So, maybe the first quarter, you'd have English, Math, History & PE; second quarter English, Math, Science, & Art; third quarter History, PE, Science & Art. When I was in ninth grade, the "accelerated" kids had English the first quarter and the third quarter. During the first quarter, we read Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. I hated that book and thought it was extremely confusing, and I couldn't figure out how the lady knitted names (of the rebels, I think) into the scarf she was constantly knitting at the tavern. When we came back and picked up the class in the third quarter, the (same) teacher had us read. . . .A Tale of Two Cities! "We already read this during the first quarter!" The teacher would not believe us and made us do it again. I hated it as much the second time around as I had the first!

When we did the Favorite Teachers Flashback, I shared about my English teacher from my junior year in high school. She was the one that made literature fun. Among my favorites that year was To Kill a Mockingbird; we read it and discussed the movie.

For as many books as I read during my school years, there are, of course, many more that I didn't read. I had not read Pride and Prejudice until a year or so ago. And I've still not read The House of the Seven Gables (Hawthorne), The Scarlet Letter (Hawthorne), Jane Eyre (Bronte), or Great Expectations (after Two Cities, I avoided anything of Dickens that I could, with the exception of A Christmas Carol!)

I could go on and on and on. There's a whole 'nother post I could write about the books I read to my kids!

What about you? Post your memories and link up here so we can all enjoy! BTW, I am taking my boy on a college visit and won't be on the internet much today and tomorrow. So please be patient with my slowness in coming to visit you!


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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Flashback Friday Prompt

Did you like to read when you were a child? What were your favorite genres, books or series? Did you read books because of the author or because of the title/plot? Did you own many books? Did your school distribute the Scholastic book orders (or some other type)? Did you visit the library often? Was there a summer reading program when you were young, and did you participate? Do you have any particular memories of your school libraries? What were your favorites and least favorites among the classics (the ones high school English teachers assign!)? If you didn't like reading, do you like it more today than you did then?

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


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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Love's First Bloom - Giveaway!

UPDATE Sunday, 9/26, at 9:10 pm

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2010-09-27 02:08:21 UTC

Congrats to karenk! Please email me your address, Karen, and I'll send the book your way.

* * * * *

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Love's First Bloom
Bethany House; Original edition (September 1, 2010)


Delia Parr

Delia Parr, pen name for Mary Lechleidner, is the author of 10 historical novels and the winner of several awards, including the Laurel Wreath Award for Historical Romance and the Aspen Gold Award for Best Inspirational Book. She is a full-time high school teacher who spends her summer vacations writing and kayaking. The mother of three grown children, she lives in Collingswood, New Jersey.

Ruth Livingstone's life changes drastically the day her father puts a young child in her arms and sends her to a small village in New Jersey under an assumed name. There Ruth pretends to be a widow and quietly secludes herself until her father is acquitted of a crime.

But with the emergence of the penny press, the imagination of the reading public is stirred, and her father's trial stands center stage. Asher Tripp is the brash newspaperman who determines that this case is the event he can use to redeem himself as a journalist.

Ruth finds solace tending a garden along the banks of the Toms River--a place where she can find a measure of peace in the midst of the sorrow that continues to build. It is also here that Asher Tripp finds a temporary residence, all in an attempt to discover if the lovely creature known as Widow Malloy is truly Ruth Livingstone, the woman every newspaper has been looking for.

Love begins to slowly bloom...but is the affection they share strong enough to withstand the secrets that separate them?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love's First Bloom, go HERE.

I got behind and almost didn't get this book read in time for the blog tour, but I'm glad I squeezed it in. The setting may have been the early 1800's, but the concepts--newspapers printing sensationalized headlines, the media swaying public opinion, and the belief that every detail of a person's life is fair game for printing--are a current as today's newspapers This is one of those stories where I wondered if the tangled mess of assumed identities would ever straighten out and if the truth would triumph over injustice. This is a relatively quick read and quite enjoyable.

I have an additional copy of this book to share with one of you! Leave a comment on this post by 8:00 pm Sunday (9/26) 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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