Friday, October 30, 2009

Scared (and CHANGED)

A while back I posted a press review about the book Scared before I even chanced to read it. The passion in the press review was enough for me to promote a book I hadn't even read by an author I know nothing about. (And then I ordered the book from B&B Media to review.)

Let me tell you, this book is a kick in the teeth, gut, and heart. If you chance to read it and are unchanged, I will question your sensibilities. Unless, of course, you are passionate about the people, particularly the orphans, of Africa. See, I thought I was passionate about orphans, particularly African orphans, but it turns out there are whole new levels of passion that one can mine if they cultivate the passion.

I will, Lord willing, never be the same. In the three days since I finished the book, the urgency has waned, but not the passion. Three days ago I could almost not allow myself to eat. I'm eating now, but I'm still thinking about the food. And the waste. And the children.

(Oh, Lord, the children. Help the children. Make me your instrument.)

I still don't know WHAT I'm going to do, but I'm going to do something. Something MORE. Because the little I do isn't enough.

Pray for me that I may know what it is I am supposed to do.

And, in case you care about such little things as this, the book is a "good read" also. If you can muscle past the horror reflex. (And he's pretty compassionate to his readers in that regard also.)

Here's an interview with the author, first posted by Nicole Wick.

The orphan epidemic that you write about in Scared is a world wide crisis. What lead you to choose Swaziland as the setting for this novel?

Swaziland has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world. UN Statistics estimate between 42-46 percent. If something doesn’t change in the lives of Swazi’s, they will be practically extinct by the year 2050. I felt like that kind of need, right under our noses, was worth writing about.

I’ve also been to Swaziland a number of times so I know the culture and the people well. It’s a beautiful country surrounded by mountains and aesthetic beauty. The people are generous and kind, literally giving you the shirt off of their back as a sign of friendship. I felt like writing a novel like this would motivate others to get involved in this crisis and do something to make a difference.

The heroine of Scared, 12 year old Adanna, is a richly developed character. How important was it for you to portray her as a real, multi-dimensional person not just a portrait of a starving child?

The idea of Adanna does stem from a real girl I met in Swaziland who was twelve years old. Here was this gorgeous little girl who was so filled with life. She was happy, playful and just loved being around our group, hugging me and playing games. The only issue she struggled with besides being shy, was one of incontinence. They thought the poor thing had never been potty trained. They took her to the doctor to find out what was wrong. The director then told me the story about how she arrived at the orphanage. Both of her parents died from AIDS. She was taken in by her uncle. She was made a slave for him and his family. The uncle then began to rape her almost every night. She was incontinent because of the sexual abuse she suffered. I walk around the rest of that day in tears. I couldn’t believe someone would treat a child is such an evil way. Then those kinds of stories became more of the norm. The Adanna’s in Africa are real kids, with dreams and hopes of a good future. One that won’t exist unless the body of Christ gets involved in their lives.

Scared leaves readers wanting to learn more about its main character, Stuart. What can you tell me about your next novel?

Stuart is also based off of a real character named Kevin Carter who took a picture of a Sudanese girl who had fallen down from hunger in the dirt. A plump, healthy vulture landed next to her waiting for her to die. Carter snapped that photo and won the Pulitzer prize. He couldn’t deal with the guilt of becoming famous for something like that and committed suicide fourteen months later.

Stuart is Kevin, if Kevin could have had more to live for. What might his life have looked like if he became a crusader for the vulnerable? That’s Stuart’s life.

The next novel is called, SACRED. It takes place in Russia around the issue of the child sex-slave industry. Much of this billion dollar industry is controlled by the Russian mafia. They steal girls right out of the orphanage because nobody will miss them. This is the next crisis Stuart finds himself in the middle of.

The pastor in the book describes a transformational moment in his life when he realizes he should become the hands and feet of Christ not just His mouthpiece. What lesson do you think Christians can learn from Pastor Walter’s experience?

I think it’s the message for every single person who says they are a Christ follower. I fully believe the biblical understanding of “incarnational ministry.” We are the hands, feet and voice of Jesus. His will occurs through the activity of his people. I realized this traveling to many orphanages in Russia. Everywhere I looked, there were thousands and thousands of fatherless boys and girls. Yet, Psalm 68:5-6 says that God is a Father to the fatherless. I kept asking the question, “Lord, if you are a Father to the fatherless, why to the fatherless suffer so much?” After many prayers and nights of wrestling with God over this issue, the answer came clearly: God is a Father to the fatherless through his people: Me and you. That’s how the kingdom of God comes to earth, how justice comes to situations of injustice, and how people’s lives are changed.

Your organization, Children’s HopeChest, works tirelessly to bring hope to orphans by being His hands and feet. What is the mission of Children’s HopeChest and what is your vision for this important organization in the coming years?

We ‘incarnate’ James 1:27 to the best of our ability. “Pure and undefiled religion is taking care of widows and orphans in their distress.” That’s what we do. Connect people, churches, Christian schools, businesses, and online communities with orphans and orphanages in places like Russia and Africa. We don’t want to just drill wells and provide food, we also want to provide long-term strategies to help them out of poverty. One of the ways we do this by paying for their education all the way through college and university and by providing spiritual mentors who can walk beside them through life and help them navigate the difficult waters.

We’re planning on expanding ministry in India and South Africa sometime in 2010.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Which reminds me of a book I need to tell you about.

I will never be the same.

Lord willing.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Well, That Was Interesting

I just corrected my hunny about who played in the Superbowl last year. And then followed that by filling in the blanks of who played the year before that.

I was feeling rather pleased with myself.

And then he said, "Helps when you only watch one game a year, huh?"

Oh, well, that.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Well-Behaved Child

The well-behaved child; is it a fantasy? A concoction of some sadist's mind to torment mothers while we sleep?

Several years ago, when I was still striving the be a perfect parent and raise perfect, genius type offspring, (read: before I gave up hope), I stumbled across John Rosemond's Six Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children. I remember it being very good if not nearly impossible to implement. But every now and then, in my exasperation, I would bring it out again and consider getting rid of most, if not all, the toys. (This was, apparently, my area of fixation because he said much more than that.) I believe he is also the same newspaper columnist that suggested that rotten to the core children would be cured by losing the TV. We gave it up and our kids grew remarkably tolerable again. (Following his advice also gave me fodder for my first parenting vignette sale.)

The years have gone by. I've quit fighting the TV battle quite so forcefully. I've allowed video games into my home. I've laxed on discipline and allowed "polite" argument. My kids are getting bigger and testing their boundaries, you know, and are generally well(ish) behaved. At school at least.

I was beginning the think that was the best I could hope for, as discouraging as that seemed to be. I mean, who wants to argue, politely or otherwise, all the time? Who wants every directive they give to be a discussion? Who wants to break up fights between the sibs with every waking hour? Who wants to fall into bed every night feeling guilty for not enjoying their kids like they meant to?

So when they opportunity presented itself to review John Rosemond's latest book, The Well-Behaved Child, I jumped at it. And, OK, I admit it, I expected a dry treatise on everything I had done wrong and how if I was consistent and spanked more and for everything my children would magically grow halos.

Obviously, it has been a while since I last read one of his books.

I laughed. And laughed. And LAUGHED. And read excerpts to my husband and LAUGHED.

At least he's funny when he's pointing out your failures. And once you acknowledge that, yes, your child is a normal naughty son of Adam, just like all the rest of us, and it isn't ALL your fault, you can really listen to his thought on correcting the problem.

He gave me permission to say "because I said so." Can you imagine? Ah, enlightenment.

Some things, like authoritative speech, you can implement right off the bat and others will take some processing time. (How, specifically, should we deal with THIS problem?)

We did warn our kids that things, they were a changin'. We didn't come at 'em cold. It was only fair. We've spent, oh, three or four years failing them with inconsistency.

(They aren't liking the new life as they know it, BTW.)

Oh, and no, he isn't a spank-at-all-times-for-all-reasons guy. Maybe that's why I like him. I've been parenting long enough to know that kids need consequences as unique as they are. Outside of the box thinking suits me well. But take my advice, and his, and focus on chapters 1, 2, and 6 instead of caving to the temptations of skipping to the middle pages. Without the foundation, the rest just sounds like the same old solution.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Swiss Courier

Want to know what I stayed up half the night to read? Here's a hint: WWII. Need another? Suspense. Another? Multiple seemingly unconnected characters that converge in the final chapter.

You got it. Tricia Goyer & Mike Yorkey's latest, The Swiss Courier. It is classic Goyer (Maybe classic Yorkey, too, but I'm not familiar...) in that you can't put it down because you just HAVE TO KNOW how they will converge and survive.

I'm a sucker for WWII. Why I revel in that atrocity, I do not know. I think it is the survivor stories that keep me coming back for more. I blame Corrie Ten Boom. And my mother for putting The Hiding Place in my hand in the first place. And I love how Tricia writes it. I'll say it again and again.

This one had me, too. It starts with this bit of history and then ... the story that follows. And, yes, I googled Joseph Engel physicist, just to make sure it wasn't. His name sounds familiar enough to have been involved, you know? You don't? Whatever.

The book was good, man. Good.

It is August 1944 and the Gestapo is mercilessly rounding up suspected enemies of the Third Reich. When Joseph Engel, a German physicist working on the atomic bomb, finds that he is actually a Jew, adopted by Christian parents, he must flee for his life to neutral Switzerland. Gabi Mueller is a young Swiss-American woman working for the newly formed American Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner to the CIA) close to Nazi Germany. When she is asked to risk her life to safely "courier" Engel out of Germany, the fate of the world rests in her hands. If she can lead him to safety, she can keep the Germans from developing nuclear capabilities. But in a time of traitors and uncertainty, whom can she trust along the way? This fast-paced, suspenseful novel takes readers along treacherous twists and turns during a fascinating--and deadly--time in history.

About the authors:
Tricia Goyer is the author of several books, including Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights, both past winners of the ACFW's Book of the Year Award for Long Historical Romance. Goyer lives with her family in Montana. To find out more visit her website:
Mike Yorkey is the author or coauthor of dozens of books, including the bestselling Every Man's Battle series. Married to a Swiss native, Yorkey lived in Switzerland for 18 months. He and his family currently reside in California.To find out more visit his website:

CONTEST (and this includes CHOCOLATE!)
Pst...pass it on! Help Spread the word about #SwissCourier on Twitter and enter to win a signed copy & Swiss Chocolate!
Just tweet this: The Swiss Courier by @triciagoyer fast paced and suspenseful! Don't miss out! RT #swisscourier and we'll enter you into a drawing for 1 of 5 SIGNED copies of The Swiss Courier!

The Swiss Courier and blog tour materials were provided by LitFuse Publicity Group. See other tour stops here.

In the Arms of Immortals

The Black Death—Revisited

In Book Two of the Chronicles of the Scribe series, popular author Ginger Garrett

takes readers back in time to “the greatest natural disaster to ever strike humanity”

IN THE ARMS OF IMMORTALS 3D COVER for printingIn another heart-stopping historical fiction thriller from the author of In the Shadow of the Lions, critically acclaimed author Ginger Garrett paints a captivating portrait of a time when terror ruled and faith was hard to come by. In the Arms of Immortals (David C Cook, September 2009) travels a richly imagined journey into a key moment of history…the arrival of the Black Death in Europe.

This story of unseen battle, loving presence, and eventual redemption begins when a strange ship docks in a medieval Sicilian harbor. That night an old man falls ill… then the baker’s wife… then a street urchin. By morning half the townspeople are dead and more are dying—horribly. And no one has a clue what is happening or how to stop it. Not the local priest. Not the rich baron or his powerful knight. And not the three women at the heart of this book: the baron’s proud daughter, Panthea, the outcast healer, Gio, and Mariskka, an unwilling visitor from another time.

Though the Church fights to stand between the plague and the people, the sickness is too powerful for a Church that will not allow medicine to be studied outside its walls. The Church holds a monopoly on healing and on God, but when neither rescues the people, the people lose hope in both, and the conflict between Science and Faith begins its long burn. In a time when the faithful have no answers and the faithless terrorize the countryside, only the bravest will dare hold on to a silent God.

The Chronicles of the Scribe Series are thrilling tales of an angelic presence called “the Scribe, the first writer”—dictated to a series of twentieth-century strugglers, but lived out in the pages of history. Each of Garrett’s novels in the series targets a different significant moment of the past—both its mundane reality and supernatural significance—with a special emphasis on women’s experience. Tautly suspenseful and deeply moving, In the Arms of Immortals will deftly lift readers into its fascinating narrative of angels and demons, mortality and immortality.

Chaos here: This book is absolutely captivating from page one. It also borders on the very freaky. Think Peretti where you see both the mortal and the "powers" and add in some Garrett flair. It is beyond disturbing and yet the disturbing nature really sounded like a wake up call.

I didn't read book one, but it's now on my TBR list. (I did, however, read Dark Hour which was also disturbing and excellent.) I confess I got sucked in by the Black Plague (the ole Microbiology fascination kicking in) and was disappointed that the book opened up in present day, had to go through a mental check-your-concept-of-reality-at-the-door and spent several chapters mixing characters up in my mind, but eventually the story won me over. (And just because it opened and closed in present day, you mostly get Black Plague, in case that is what draws you in also.)

Very Good Read.

This book was provided for review by The B&B Media Group.

In the Arms of Immortals (Chronicles of the Scribe, Book Two) by Ginger Garrett

David C Cook/September 2009

ISBN: 978-0-7814-4888-8/softcover/304 pages/$14.99

Monday, October 19, 2009

The End of Procrastination

Today (and over the weekend) marks the end of several months (or years in one case) of procrastination.

Desk out of garage: Check!
Sort paint: check!
Sort cleaning chemicals: Check!
Library books and movies returned. Check!
Change picked up from church: Check!
Change dumped: Check!
Change taken to bank. Check!
Bath mats returned: Check!
Curtains returned: Check!
Post office: Check!
Paper to paper retriever: Check!
Deposit tiddly check: Check!
Two loads of laundry: Check!


Monday, October 12, 2009

The Sound of Sleigh Bells

I was going to start off this review with the opener, "don't be put off by the cover and title, this isn't just a Christmas book (in October)," but when I skipped over to amazon to get the linky box for below, I realized that with such a high ranking, no one was being put off in the least. Man, how would it be to have everything of yours that hits print to shoot to the top of the rankings? (Yes, she's at 1200 something, but out of how many million books, that is the top!)

So, instead, let me say Congrats Cindy for another terrific book!

Anyway, I have been a lover of Amish novels ever since I discovered Beverly Lewis' The Shunning and I haven't been able to resist them since. I've hit a couple duds (neither by either of the mentioned authors), but for the most part, I'm a lover of the genre. But when Cindy was still an unknown and I got the chance to read her first book (and frankly expecting that it could be a dud), she screamed to the top of my favorite authors (not just Amish writing authors) list. So one must wonder why I was hesitant to read The Sound of Sleigh Bells. Could it be that it sounded Christmassy and it was October? Could it be that I expected a simple romance and I like the way Cindy writes strife? I don't know. But let me just tell you now, I should never have doubted her. It is fantastic. Not quite so much drama as When the Heart Cries, but frankly, I didn't need that this week anyway. Excellently written. Excellently compelling. Excellent.

Beth Hertzler works alongside her beloved Aunt Lizzy in their dry goods store, and serving as contact of sorts between Amish craftsmen and Englischers who want to sell the Plain people’s wares. But remorse and loneliness still echo in her heart everyday as she still wears the dark garb, indicating mourning of her fiancĂ©. When she discovers a large, intricately carved scene of Amish children playing in the snow, something deep inside Beth’s soul responds and she wants to help the unknown artist find homes for his work–including Lizzy’s dry goods store. But she doesn’t know if her bishop will approve of the gorgeous carving or deem it idolatry.

Lizzy sees the changes in her niece when Beth shows her the woodworking, and after Lizzy hunts down Jonah, the artist, she is all the more determined that Beth meets this man with the hands that create healing art. But it’s not that simple–will Lizzy’s elaborate plan to reintroduce her niece to love work? Will Jonah be able to offer Beth the sleigh ride she’s always dreamed of and a second chance at real love–or just more heartbreak?

This book was provided for review by Waterbrook.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


Several weeks ago, I became disgruntled with "the way things were" so to say. I just couldn't believe that God would have us just put in our time, being good humans, good citizens, getting by. Naturally, people around me thought I was having a midlife crisis/clinically depressed/annoying. Yes, I've had a lot of upheaval lately and I entered my mid-thirties (which is not mid-life, Lord willing), but come on. Really? Get up early, put in the work day, watch a little TV, go to bed and start over again the next day? THIS is what we're here for? THIS glorifies God? I don't care how immaculate my house is (which it will never be), I can't imagine that's what God is after in my life. There must be more.

And in one of my particularly introspective moods, the phrase "In relentless pursuit of the extraordinary" popped into my head. Fortunately for me, Hubs has had the same feelings. We don't want to be "normal" and if that offends normal people, so be it. Normal is boring. Normal puts in time on earth in relentless pursuit of death, as far as I'm concerned.

And every since that moment when that phrase entered my mind and I've been searching for my extraordinary, God has confirmed time and time again that I'm on the right path. I'm still searching for my extraordinary, but knowing is half the battle, or so they say.

A couple weeks later, my inbox showed a book available for review from WaterBrook entitled Extraordinary. How about that?

If I described this book as extraordinary, I think I would be accused of overuseage, but if you are searching for something "more" it just might be the thing for you. We weren't meant to be normal. Normal is for the world. If we are no more than normal, what is the point of being a child of God? A believer? What purpose is there to join the ranks? He opens with my thoughts on life as normal, but leads beyond where I knew to go, scripture reference by scripture reference. (The first several scripture references were from The Message which made me rather leery, but he does mix it up with some of the more respected translations the further you get into the book.)

This isn't a book you can read through quickly and still have it sink in. In my experience you have to take small bites and chew on them a while. Or in the words of Disney's movie Aladdin, "Ruminate, whilst I illuminate the possibilities." So I'm still ruminating, but I can see extraordinary on the horizon.

Here's info:

There’s a question that troubles many believers: “Why am I not experiencing more joy, more hope, more satisfaction, more intimacy, more power, more everything in my Christian life--didn’t Jesus promise that?”

He did promise an abundant life, but too many people are trapped by the curse of “the ordinary.” They have accepted the wrong idea that following God means losing individuality, creativity, and a passion for achieving lofty goals.

Nothing could be further from the truth! John Bevere builds a convincing case, straight from Scripture, for a way of living marked by extraordinary experiences and accomplishments—the life God always intended for his children.

Here is a guide to understanding God’s incredible plans, and how to enjoy a life where he adds the “extra” to “ordinary.”

John Bevere is an internationally popular conference speaker, teacher, and author of bestsellers, including The Bait of Satan, Drawing Near, and Driven by Eternity. His award-winning curriculum and books have been translated in over sixty languages and his weekly television program, The Messenger, is broadcast around the world. John and his wife, Lisa—also a bestselling author and speaker—reside with their family in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Visit his ministry website at

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Going Green is for the Birds

Three, count 'em, three bills went green on me when I wasn't looking. I'm sure that on two of them I "agreed" to it in the four hundred pages of small print terms when I paid a bill online. At least I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt. One set me up for online billing, through Hubs, when Charming was going through his brain thing and I was busy running to doctors and the first day of school.

You know how I know they went green? The delinquency notices.

Excuse me? I pay my bills. What do you mean it went unpaid for three months?

OK, seriously. I get so many bills in this house it is easy to miss one NOT showing up. And then one day my brain thinks, "Hey, it seems like it's been a long time since I got a bill from X." I call in to check and they treat me like I should belong in jail.

The electric company used to always forget to send me a bill in June. It happened so many years in a row (with accompanying late payment charge) that I actually started catching it.

Dress Barn and Kohl's, however. Sigh.

When you have a card ONLY because they send you really great coupons if you use your card and you only use your card when you have a coupon and your bills don't come regularly and your life is in an uproar and you don't notice that you didn't get a bill and one day you get a notice of change in terms and it is oh, a 50% APR or something and you wonder what is up, check your balance and realize you are three months behind?


You might even go online, immediately pay the stupid bill and think you're in the clear.


And two days later you get a call from said credit group.

Let's say you immediately call them back. They want your last four digits of your social. For some reason they can't access your account. They want your account number. But you haven't received a paper bill so where is that account number? Mist. That's where it is. So you go online to get the number which they don't actually show (except for the last four digits of that). While there, though, you realize that the bill you know you paid on Sunday hasn't posted as paid yet. You pay it AGAIN, check to see if it is showing paid, it isn't, and realize you probably need to talk to customer service. You dive into the bowels of your files to find the account number (because you don't even have a card with a number on it). You call them again. Get an agent. Explain the problem. Ask what is going on with the online payment. Ask if they are having trouble with your bank. Ask if you are getting online billing (since they send you 14 emails a day that immediately are dumped in the recycle bin because who has time to read all those ads in the morning). They ask for your account number (didn't you just type that in and press pound?).

"Why is your account delinquent?"


Yes, I called you to clear something up. Please, treat me like a criminal.

I know, I know. I shouldn't have the card in the first place. But the coupons are really great and I don't use the card if I don't have the money. Yes, I know I should immediately go back to customer service and write them a check right after I pay with the phantom card. I do know this so I don't want the lectures. I'm hacked off because she kept asking me when I was going to pay and why didn't I pay and I told her seventy four times that I tried to pay and DANG IT would she please check if I was getting bills online and could she PLEASE switch me to paper and she reads me my email address as if that helps. I KNOW! MAKE IT STOP.

And yes, while I was on with her I should have canceled the card, but I like the dang coupons.

But grrrr.

I suppose I should cancel. After three months of late payments, I'm sure the stupid coupons were more than canceled out. But it isn't like I have done this AT ALL in ten years.

It seems as if that ought to count for something.

Don't you think?

Thursday, October 01, 2009


Had a convo with Princess last night about a boy she "likes." I asked her, "Like-like or just like?" She said, "I don't know what you mean, Mom." After my explanation she said, "You Otherwise I would have used the word love."


Fourth grade is TOO YOUNG.

In no particular order

I saw a man, yesterday, decked out from head to toe in bright purple and white plaid. It takes a man secure in his masculinity to pull that one off. He looked pretty secure. I still don't think he pulled it off.

I used coconut collision shampoo on my hair last night. I smell like a fruit today. I doubt it will be enough reminder for me to actually buy grown up shampoo. Some things I simply can't remember.

Speaking of plaid, I saw an ad recently wherein a teenager was wearing the same outfit I was back in 1984 when my mom declared, in no uncertain terms, "You look like an orphan." Apparently the orphan look is back in. (Black leggings, hot pink and black plaid long shirt belted at the waist)

Speaking of leggings, CARRIE, I told you you'd wear them again. (I don't think Carrie reads my blog, but hey...)

My kids slept until 8 this morning. Aside from the frantic scramble to get them out the door ten minutes later, it made for a nice morning. Considering some of them got to bed pretty late, it should also help with the afternoon.

And I guess that is it for my nonsense this morning.