Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy 2010

After a different-than-planned but special Christmas we have continued our celebration with our Minnesota friends.

Our New Year/post-Christmas fun has included shopping. Oy! Construction. YAY! Lots of food. And even more laughter.

We ended the old year and ushered in the new one laughing like crazy folks.

Hope your 2010 is blessed with much laughter and great peop

Serials and Scenarios ~ Mennonite in a Little Black Dress

Product Description

A hilarious and moving memoir—in the spirit of Anne Lamott and Nora Ephron—about a woman who returns home to her close-knit Mennonite family after a personal crisis

Not long after Rhoda Janzen turned forty, her world turned upside down. It was bad enough that her brilliant husband of fifteen years left her for Bob, a guy he met on, but that same week a car accident left her with serious injuries. What was a gal to do? Rhoda packed her bags and went home. This wasn’t just any home, though. This was a Mennonite home. While Rhoda had long ventured out on her own spiritual path, the conservative community welcomed her back with open arms and offbeat advice. (Rhoda’s good-natured mother suggested she date her first cousin—he owned a tractor, see.) It is in this safe place that Rhoda can come to terms with her failed marriage; her desire, as a young woman, to leave her sheltered world behind; and the choices that both freed and entrapped her.

Written with wry humor and huge personality—and tackling faith, love, family, and aging—Mennonite in a Little Black Dress is an immensely moving memoir of healing, certain to touch anyone who has ever had to look homeward in order to move ahead.

My Review:

After seeing People Magazine's write-up on this little memoir I thought it would be right up my alley. When, a few days later, I was offered an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) for review I jumped at the chance.

I love quirky writing. I am also intrigued by a simpler life. Not simple as easy, but simple as less complicated. I also thought I was a fan of memoirs written by quirky and interesting women. But I've read a handful of memoirs this year and I've been disappointed more than not.

Rhoda is a talented lady. I wish I had the grammatic grasp that she does, that I was capable of her wordsmithery. But...I tend to like to get lost in a story, not be reminded of who is writing it. And I couldn't help feeling a bit intimidated by her word talents, and her PhD, and her advanced knowledge. Her chapters were bits of memory woven through near and distant past and near and distant present and sometimes those memories didn't always flow easily. I often had to stop and rewind to get the timing established.

Rhoda has my sympathy for the life she has had to endure, a debilitating car accident within a week of being abandoned by her husband, followed by financial difficulties and the need to go "home" to heal. I appreciate that she attempted to keep a sense of humor about the whole thing.

I also understand fleeing from the religious persecution and suffocation that she felt growing up in her tight-knit community. I, too, ran far away from my Baptist upbringing and invited a bunch of natural consequences into my life. I, too, considered my parents, my church, my white-haired, lightning-flinging, angry God, and my peers as life-hinderers or fun-haters. But there came a time when I had to own up to the fact that I chose to see those people, that God, in the light of being life-ruiners. After all, I was the one who was either too afraid to take what I wanted or too greedy, grabbing more than what I should have. I actually, in all the gusto I grabbed, became my own life-ruiner and God was merciful enough to help me put the pieces back together again. I'm not saying Rhoda is laying all the blame on those folks for much of her own bents, quirks and life struggles, but I detected the scent of victimization coming from her story and it tested my patience.

I recently read another "humorous" memoir about growing up in the church and felt the same struggle with the other story I felt throughout Rhoda's journey, the concern that some well-meaning, very misunderstood people may have been wounded by the women who wrote about their perception of facts. I hope her words haven't caused more problems.

Did I laugh at some scenes? Absolutely. There were some truly charming, quirky moments. Did I enjoy the few little bits and pieces I learned about the Mennonite culture? You bet and would have loved to share more of those moments. Content warning...if you think this is about the Mennonite culture, it's not. It's about the Mennonite upbringing of one woman. And there is very little day-to-day detail of that type of life. There are also some f-bombs and interesting discussions about hairy women and sexual situations that may make for squirmy reading for some of you.

I hope Rhoda finds the spiritual north that she's looking for. I hope she puts her well-educated intellect to work digging for the truth beyond the misshaping and mishandling of imperfect humanity.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Serials and Scenarios ~ Silver Birches by Adrian Plass

Book Description:

When David Herrick receives an invitation to a reunion from a long-forgotten acquaintance, his first reaction is to refuse. He isn't feeling very sociable since his wife, Jessica, died six months ago. But the invitation comes from Angela, one of his wife's oldest friends—and mysteriously, she has something for him from his beloved Jessica. Reluctant but curious, he visits Headly Manor. When the friends gather, they no longer resemble the fresh-faced group of twenty years ago. One has been deserted by her husband, another has lost his faith, and another is filled with anger and Bitterness. As they have less than forty-eight hours with each other, they decide to be vulnerable and bear their souls. This poignant and moving story blends Adrian Plass's rich style of writing with his knack for addressing the deep issues we all face, such as faith, grief, love … and fear.

Book Review:

I can't believe that this book sat in a to-be-read pile for months. I don't know if it was the bland cover in the monochromatic silvers and grays. Or if it was the subject matter, a well-known Christian speaker loses his wife and the story begins in the midst of his depression and struggles. Whatever it was, don't make the same mistake I did.

If you love prose that often reads like poetry (the good kind), thought-provoking, faith-tweaking, realistic fiction, or love British authors, then pick up this book.

Rich, rich, rich details and storytelling poke at sensitive spots in Christ followers. The scenario of half a dozen youth group friends meeting for a weekend twenty years or so after last seeing each other sounds like it might be a bit like a Christianized/sanitized version of The Big Chill. There are moments it feels like that. But that might be because real Christians also have personalities and issues that don't look a whole lot different from unbelievers. And though similar to the storyline of The Big Chill, it's not actually sanitized a whole lot. A big theme is the Christian and his or her sexuality. Then toss in the waves that nearly drown followers when God does not do as He is expected and instead bad, awful, inexplicably hideous things happen that leave us gasping for air and a break. An even bigger one...what if a person, a good person prays and asks to be delivered from something yet still struggles with it twenty years later? Oh yeah. This book, tiny though it is -- less than 200 pages -- is heavy and deep.

I am so glad I read this book. I'll be investigating other Plass offerings. Powerful.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Scribbles and Scrambles - Yay! I Actually Won a Round....

I have to brag. It's kind of lame because I'm talking about a board game.

But this is a board game I've won only one other time and that was, like, 4 years ago and was purely beginner's luck. Last night I played against the family Master's of Catan and I whupped them. Wah, ha, ha, ha.

My weeping and beaten cousin/nephew was kind enough to send pictorial proof via his I-Phone. He then went on to soundly beat me senseless in the next round.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Can't Stop Christmas an Odd Ode

oh the snow we did get.

the powder did fly.

the icicles grew

and the cars they did try.

Christmas still came

with windy whispers,

snow plumes and

great gusty gasps

and a whole lot less folks

than we normally have.

the turkey fed fewer

and the pickings were slim.

the glittery snow blanket

cosseted the usual din,

the last-minute rushin, the one-more-thing trip to the mall,

and those problems didn't change

one thing at all.

Christmas, whether you know the real meaning of Christ and His gift,

is about loving, and giving and sharing yourself, as He did.

Traditional not,

skinnier and sparse

Christmas still happened and I consider myself blessed.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Toad-Boy's Adventure in the Snow

I mentioned Toad-Boy's early driving skills, or lack thereof, and I believe X-ta made some remark that reminded me of yet another little incident, which triggered another flash of remembrance regarding the other grandparents' vehicle. Yes. Yes, it's true. My son made his mark in two states and on quite a few vehicles.

But this story is about his hidden skills as a driver.

This particular winter was snowy. One day he came home all cherry-cheeked and snow-covered. Seems he did a little cookie and somehow got high-centered on a median and had to shovel himself off/out.

So you'd think I wouldn't hand over the keys to my van.

You'd think. But you likely know me a bit better than that by now and are completely not surprised that I did.

This trip he arrived home with no incidents to report. However, the next morning I went out to the van. Now, the van appeared to be fine. No dents, dings, all tires inflated. Then I decided to stick something in the backseat and discovered that there was no outside door handle. None.

Now this handle HAD been a flat piece of metal matching the color of the van, not a large sticking out handle. This particular handle had been resting flush with the surface of the van. You had to stick your fingers in a little hollowed out hidey hole and pull out to open the van door.

Now the handle was gone. The only evidence of it ever having been there was the empty socket, of course, and a teeny-tiny knick at the very edge of said socket.

Perplexed but pretty sure I knew who was responsible I reentered the house. "Toad-Boy...Dear...What happened to Mommy's van door handle?"

"Huh?!?" This grunt was accompanied by a deer in the headlights stare and slight pinking of his cheeks.

"My door handle is missing. Gone. Back door, passenger side. What happened?"

Toad-Boy jumped up and rushed out of the house and inspected the scene of the crime. Then I watched as he bent over double, laughing hysterically.

Finally, he came back in. "I thought I heard a clicking sound."

Too make the interrogation process that followed a little easier on all of us. He had gone the snow emergency route that is infamous for residents who don't get the concept of snow emergency route and they all part willy-nilly around the carved-out snow banks made by the snow plows. He had gone the speed limit in a cruddy situation thinking that not only should you not exceed the speed limit, but that you mustn't go below it either.

To this day I just hope it was a large mirror that clipped off my handle and not a person. And I don't know how it was even possible for this little driving miracle to occur, but I'm pretty sure Toad-Boy has skills that defy the laws of nature and science. Somewhere, buried in someone's house gutter is a lonely maroon metal rectangle that used to be the handle upon my van. I hope. I really would hate to think I might encounter some poor person with a permanent maroon eye-patch.

Merry Christmas from Toad-Boy and me. Hope your New Year is happy and blessed. And I hope you don't have any snowy mysteries to solve this holiday season. If you have a Toad-Boy, don't give him your keys til Spring.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Serials and Scenarios~ Green and Emotions....

Green,The Beginning & the End, Circle Series #0
By: Ted Dekker
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 432
Vendor: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 2009

Product Description
At Last . . . The Circle Reborn The story of how Thomas Hunter first entered the Black
Forest and forever changed our history began at a time when armies were gathered for a final battle in the valley of Migdon. Green is a story of love, betrayal, and sweeping reversals set within the apocalypse. It is the beginning: the truth behind a saga that has captured the imagination of more than a million readers with the Books of History Chronicles.But even more, Green brings full meaning to the Circle Series as a whole, reading as both prequel to Black and sequel to White, completing a full circle. This is Book Zero, the Circle Reborn, both the beginning and the end. The preferred starting point for new readers . . . and the perfect climax for the countless fans who've experienced Black, Red, and White.

My Review:

It's been a long time since I read the books in this series though I considered them page-turning and fascinating. But, Dekker was one of only a few Christian authors I'd read and I wasn't quite sure what Christian fiction was. The fact that Sci-Fi/Fantasy wasn't exactly a favorite genre eith
er made it all the more surprising that I liked them.

Since then I've read most of Dekker's books and a load of other Christian authors.

Dekker's prose weaving isn't the compelling part of his writing -- his strength lies in this tale that he has crafted and woven through several books and more than one series. And it's quite a tale. Very simplistic really, basically good vs evil and the cosmic wars that come from that. Green ties the stories together into a satisfying conclusion...or beginning...or continuation of the story of Thomas Hunter and the Books of History.

There is very little Christian jargon, however, the books are very religious and allegorical. Those who don't want to be preached at shouldn't find preaching. Parents who want their kids to read wholesome and uplifting books might have some trouble with the themes in this o
ne. There is quite a bit of darkness with blood drinking and intense battle scenes and hints of sexuality. I'd say this is a heavy read for a kid and might be too much for a sensitive adult.

If you read the rest of the series you need to get your hands on a copy. If you tried to read it and were left cold, you probably won't find salvation for the whole series in Green.

Why Did God Give Us Emotions?

Understanding and managing the feelings that shape your life

Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX—Emotions are such a mysterious gift. They take us to heights of ecstasy. They dash us on the rocks of despair. They can bind us together and tear us apart. They can move some to noble acts of courage and self-sacrifice, and in others, they are the force behind terrible acts of evil and destruction.

Why did God make us this way? How are we supposed to manage this wonderful and mystifying gift we call emotions? In his new book Why Did God Give Us Emotions?, author Reneau Peurifoy takes a detailed look at the many sources of our emotional responses and the roles our emotions play in our thoughts, actions, relationships with others and relationship with God. Why Did God Give Us Emotions? is a book twenty years in the making, based on Peurifoy’s focused study, counseling experiences, and growing maturity in the faith.

“From the very start I’ve had two goals: I wanted to look at what science has learned about emotions from a biblical perspective, and I wanted to do it in a way that would strengthen the reader’s walk with God,” Peurifoy states. “Over the last two decades, I’ve seen the strengths of science and psychology in helping people and making our lives more comfortable. I’ve also become acutely aware of the inability of science and psychology to address the true source of human misery: sin and our separation from God. I believe that God has helped me write a book that will be useful to many.”

Peurifoy, who holds a Master’s in counseling, stresses the importance of recognizing how the individual aspects of emotions interconnect. He focuses on four main aspects of emotions: their subjective nature, their physical side, their mental side, and their spiritual side. Why Did God Give Us Emotions? addresses topics like:

· Are some emotions “good” and others “bad”?

· The role of medications in treating emotional problems

· How our core beliefs affect our interpretation of events

· How emotions are the true window into our souls

· How to stop hiding from “taboo” emotions

· What keeps us from hearing God

· The role emotions play in becoming the person God wants us to become

There is certainly no shortage of counseling and self-help books lining the shelves of Christian bookstores today. Why Did God Give Us Emotions? is destined to distinguish itself from the rest. With simple, straightforward verbiage (no pop psychology terms here), practical steps to follow, and twenty years of wisdom and insight, Peurifoy’s book is essential reading for pastors, counselors, and those struggling with emotional issues as well as the general reader who wants to understand this wonderful, yet often mysterious gift and gain skills for managing emotions more effectively. Also included is a section of discussion questions, making Why Did God Give Us Emotions? an ideal vehicle for small group study.

My Review:

This is a book that could change your life.

If you are struggling with issues that keep you chained to your past or insecurities and you want those chains gone get a copy of this one.

Lightweight in size, less than 200 pages pre-appendix, and heavy in healing information and common-sense help, this book gives helpful self-guided exercises and wise counsel. I have not read anything more to the point and clear regarding freedom from the crud that keeps us stuck.

Though Peurifoy holds a masters in counseling and has studied theology his writing doesn't feel textbook. Carefully and simply he explains the parts and pieces of our emotions and he helps the reader who wants to be helped wade through the lies and/or misinformation about those emotions.

I recommend this one. Don't put it on a shelf or buy it for someone else who needs fixing. If it's not about you and what you need to do to become a whole person, then don't waste the shelf-space. One and specifically faith in Christ is an important aspect to his teaching. I don't know that his suggestions will work without willingness to explore Jesus.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Serials and Scenarios ~ Reading as Fast as I Can...Part 1

So. Here I am. Buried in a stack of books I want to read. Will read. But.

I can only read so fast.

Because I feel the need to mention these enticing books that stare forlornly from the dust that has settled on their covers...I'm doing so.

Here are several of the books I've yet to read that I said I wanted to read. I have chosen these books based on the cover copy and descriptions that I'm pasting alongside the cover.

I only say yes to books that I think I'll enjoy/learn from. So here you go. Books you may not have discovered yet...and ones I want to read.

Spiritual Rebirth…the Sequel

In Greg Garrett’s edgy new memoir, the critically acclaimed author of

Crossing Myself tells the next chapter of his amazing story

“Once you’ve decided that you’re going to live—no mean feat for some of us—how do you figure out what you’re supposed to do with that life?” --Greg Garrett

One thing is guaranteed: life on this earth is unpredictable—and sometimes frighteningly so. How can we as Christians live faithfully when we’re not quite sure where the path ahead is taking us? How do we find joy and purpose in the midst of the uncertain, the unfinished, the uneasy? In the stirring follow-up to his critically acclaimed spiritual autobiography Crossing Myself, author Greg Garrett explores the universal journey of life by tackling these questions with thoughtfulness, transparent honesty, and humor.

After touching thousands with his intimate memoir about faith and depression, Crossing Myself, award-winning writer and teacher Greg Garrett turns his attention to the ongoing problem of living faithfully in No Idea: Entrusting Your Journey to a God Who Knows (David C Cook, September 2009). Taking Thomas Merton’s famous prayer that begins, “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going” as his inspiration, Garrett looks back at his own journey and tells engaging stories out of that life that will speak to everyone who has ever felt lost along the way.

Greg Garrett is an author I've recently discovered. After reading Shame, his latest fiction offering, I was smitten with his writing style. Shame was very introspective and full of deep emotional streams and after reading No Idea, I see the connection between Garrett's fiction and non-fiction...deep introspective thoughts and emotional pools.

In No Idea, Garrett picks up his spiritual journey after his first acclaimed memoir, Crossing Myself, which I have not read. Garrett writes about spiritual topics that are both common to anyone who has wrestled with God or religious man and common reasons for people who grow disillusioned with the church.

Sometimes poignant, and sometimes slow-moving, this narrative follows Garrett's journey from the tail end of depression to seminary. Spiritual memoir junkies or Garrett fans will probably want to look further into this one.

Suffering from Christianish?

In his new book, author Mark Steele transforms middle-ground, Christianish faith into a passionate, authentic pursuit of Christ

Modern evangelicalism has lost its balance. A lukewarm spirituality, somewhere between cold faith and hot pursuit, has taken hold and found many believers in the median between the wide path and the narrow road of the spiritual walk. The efforts of many have become more centered on how to cope with their own dysfunctional lives, and less concentrated on what it really means to follow Jesus. It’s something not quite Christian. It’s more like…Christianish.

In his new book, Christianish: What if We’re Not Really Following Jesus at All? (David C Cook, August 2009), author Mark Steele tells the story of his own personal journey from living in the “in-between” to a life that’s centered on Christ. “Somewhere along the road, I stopped being a ‘little Christ’ and instead began filling out the application that I had labeled ‘Christian.’ It was not a definition based on the actual namesake but, rather, on those who frequent the clubhouse. I allowed Jesus to seep into my church world—but not my relational world, my romance world, my business world, my creative world, my habits, my mouth. I had become Christianish.”

Christianish may feel like authentic faith. It may even look like the real deal. Yet it’s often easy to settle for the souvenir t-shirt—the appearance of a transformed heart—instead of taking the actual trip through true life-change. We find ourselves being contented with a personal faith that’s been polluted by culture and diluted by other people’s take on spirituality.

In Christianish, Mark revisits the words and life of Christ to find just what it means to be a Christian. Through stories and insights that are sometimes profound, often hilarious, and always honest, he delivers a compelling look at what authentic faith is all about. While carefully detailing the tell tale symptoms of being Christianish, Mark encourages readers to ditch the “ish” to become true Christ-followers.

“We have trained ourselves to cope well on a Christianish path: a path where we please the right godly people and don’t feel the guilt when our failings are seen by the world at large. But this is not the approach to Jesus that we were created to take. There is only one way for us to discover the right way to travel the right road. The way is not church. The way is not an ideology. The way is not Christian. The way is Jesus.”

Talking to the Dead

In her first novel, author Bonnie Grove offers readers a tender, quirky story about grief—and second chances

“Kevin was dead and the people in my house wouldn’t go home. They mingled after the funeral, eating sandwiches, drinking tea, and speaking in muffled tones. I didn’t feel grateful for their presence. I felt exactly nothing,” writes Bonnie Grove in Talking to the Dead (David C Cook, June 2009). “Funerals exist so we can close doors we’d rather leave open. But where did we get the idea that the best approach to facing death is to eat Bundt cake?”

In her first novel, beloved author Bonnie Grove pens a poignantly realistic and uplifting story of hope, grace, and recovery from grief. Grove’s main character, twenty-something Kate Davis, can’t seem to get the grieving widow thing right. She’s supposed to put on a brave face and get on with her life, right? Instead, she’s camped out on her living room floor, unwashed, unkempt, and unable to sleep—because her husband Kevin keeps talking to her.

Is she losing her mind? Kate’s attempts to find the source of the voice she hears are both humorous and humiliating, as she turns first to an “eclectically spiritual” counselor, then a shrink with a bad toupee, an exorcist, and finally group therapy. There she meets Jack, the warmhearted, unconventional pastor of a ramshackle church, and at last the voice subsides. But when she stumbles upon a secret Kevin was keeping, Kate’s fragile hold on the present threatens to implode under the weight of the past…and Kevin begins to shout. Will the voice ever stop?

In this tender, quirky novel about embracing life, Grove patiently walks readers through the depths and mysteries of extreme sorrow after the death of a loved one. As she takes an unflinching look at the mental health industry, Grove’s training in counseling and psychology brings realism and empathy to grief and mental breakdown. While Kate must confront her own loss to find the grace to go on, readers will be led to the God who is always willing and able to comfort hearts in pain.

Facebook: Where the Future Church Hangs Out

How the Hyperconnected Are Redefining Community

Watch the video trailer for The Church of Facebook!

CHURCH OF FACEBOOK A revolution is taking place, one profile at a time. Online social networks like Facebook and MySpace are connecting people like never before. With hundreds of millions of users, they’re creating almost limitless potential to redefine our personal worlds. It’s a movement that’s changing how we form relationships, perceive others, and shape our identity.

In his new book, The Church of Facebook (David C Cook, October 2009) author Jesse Rice takes a deeper look at the movement which, at its core, reflects our need for community. “Our longing for intimacy, connection, and a place to belong has never been a secret, but social networking offers us a new perspective on the way we engage our community,” Rice states. This new perspective raises new questions: How do these networks impact our relationships? In what ways are they shaping the way we think of ourselves? And how might this phenomenon subtly reflect a God who longs to connect with each one of us?

The Church of Facebook explores these ideas and much more, offering a revealing look at the wildly popular world of online social networking. “The new landscape of social networking tells us two basic things: One, we have a deep desire to be known. And, two, we are faced with a technology that both enables and hinders the intimacy we’re looking for,” Rice says. From personal profiles to status updates, author Jesse Rice takes a thoroughly entertaining and insightful look into what Facebook reveals about us, and what it may mean for the future of “community.”

Social networking is no fad; it has become a fact of life, especially for teens and twenty-somethings. The Church of Facebook is essential reading for parents and pastors who want to understand this trend and its impact on their children and congregations. Rice’s discussions will engage social networkers of all ages and stages who are wrestling with the very real issues of identity, meaning, purpose, and friendship within the context of virtual communities.

In the end, The Church of Facebook moves readers toward understanding God’s work in the body of Christ, the church. Driven by Rice’s thought-provoking questions, observations, humor, and heartfelt storytelling, The Church of Facebook challenges readers to consider new perspectives regarding their social networking habits and how those habits may point to deeper heart issues and, ultimately, our hunger for Jesus.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Scribbles and Scrambles~More Fresh Air...or Maybe Sucking Air...

I've blogged about the Fresh Air Fund a couple of times. This organization exists to help city kids find fresh air and respite from some pretty tough neighborhoods.

If you are planning to be in NYC in March, and you like the idea of running a half-marathon...well then, keep on reading. If you just like the idea of helping kids who don't get a lot of old-fashioned Americana moments, keep reading as well.

Every year, The Fresh Air Fund gives thousands of inner-city children the priceless gift of fun – and opens the door to a lifetime of opportunities.

Whether its a two-week trip to the country to visit a volunteer host family, or a fun-filled and educational stay at one of our camps, our programs make for unforgettable memories – and open a world of new friendships and fresh possibilities.

  • Just $10 will send one child on a bus ride to his or her Friendly Town host family.

  • $24 provides a child with a week of swimming lessons.

  • $42 provides a day of Career Awareness classes.

  • A gift of $50 can fund a camp counselor for a day.

  • If you can give as much as $91, you provide a child at camp with meals for a week.

  • We are a not-for-profit agency and depend on tax-deductible donations from people like you to keep our vital programs flourishing.

    On March 21st, the Fresh Air Fund-Racers will take to the streets at the NYC Half-Marathon! Thank you to the Fresh Air Fund-Racers and their supporters for participating in this world class event. You are making a huge difference in the lives of thousands of Fresh Air children!

    We have limited availability for this amazing race. If you would like to run, please register here right away.

    Friday, December 18, 2009

    Scribble and Scrambles ~ Snow Way 500...

    I told you that I'd share the Toad-Boy plays in the snow adventure.

    The number uno thing to know about Toad-Boy...his driving is...well, can I delicately say this?


    How's that?

    His first driving experience, in a parking lot, ended when the car high centered on a concrete barrier and the oil filter busted and shot hot oil all over. (How do you top that?) His next adventure included me in the teaching seat...that's when my hair began to turn gray. He drove from his grandparents to our house, 2 miles, little traffic, DRIVING his grandparents car. All was great until we drew closer to our driveway. Here's a bit of what I remember.

    "Slow down."


    "Toad-Boy! Slow down! Now. You have to turn."


    "Slow down!!!!!"

    "I am!"

    "Augh. Slow. STOP! STOP! STOP!"

    Crunch! Followed by hysterical laughter. Fortunately the car only lost a headlight. However, his dad had to beat on the walk-in garage door frame in order to get the door closed.

    Which brings me to the snow story.

    And I don't think I can do it justice here.

    So, you'll just have to wait. I promise it's worth waiting for.

    Thursday, December 17, 2009

    Serials and Scenarios ~ Princesses and Space

    Two book reviews for you. I was offered review copies of these...and they both appealed to me.

    Someday My Prince Will Come: True Adventures of a Wannabe Princess

    ~ Jerramy Fine
    Paperback: 320 pages
    Publisher: Gotham; Reprint edition (February 3, 2009)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 1592404332

    My Review:

    I'd like to gush over this clever and quirky memoir. I'd love to say that every woman needs to pick up a copy and get in touch with her inner princess. But I'm not sure all women should encourage the inner princess to think for them.

    Jerramy Fine is a charming writer. At times engaging to the point of reader risk of a Debritt's breach while attempting to eat and read at the same time. Fine's story is a sweet lesson about making your own truth, the power of positive thinking and acting, and of being the mistress of your own destiny. One does not have to be a clone or victim of one's upbringing.

    Her insider and well-studied knowledge of all things English makes the book a fast and educational read. And there were very few icky over-shares within the pages which is nice. I sometimes get very annoyed with the need to wire each page of a book with an F-Bomb.

    But the drunken exploits sometimes got a little long and I found a spots of bogginess when clear, crisp details would have made the trip easier, I wasn't always sure where she was going from snippet of thought to the next. Her humor was either bubbly and free-spirited fun or snarky, and as nice as both of those can be in a memoir, sometimes the transition felt jerky. And there were a couple of scenes that left me cold or confused as to why they were included. Very religious at times, but think mystical/spiritual vs. traditional.

    So. I can't recommend it to all women. But if you are a royal watcher, Anglophile, a princess in a former life (or future one for that matter) you could find this little jewel to be the missing stone from your tiara.

    Comfort Living: A Back-to-Basics Guide to a More Balanced Lifestyle (Paperback)
    ~ Christine Eisner
    Paperback: 84 pages
    Publisher: Lifestyle Design (November 15, 2009)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 0984228209

    Product Description

    With simple tools and do-able steps, Comfort Living will guide you in creating a home that transforms the way you experience each day. No big investment of time or money is required. Filled with exercises, ToolBoxes, photographs and planning pages, this book becomes a personalized experience for each reader, customized to individual needs and wants, much like a wedding planner or baby book. Just as comfort food does more than satisfy hunger, Comfort Living realigns your surroundings so that they support your priorities and feed your soul.

    My Thoughts:

    A very succinct guide to making a dwelling place into a life enriching environment.

    Less than 100 pages, several of which are journal pages and fill-in-the-blank forms, uncover common issues that make our homes less than havens.

    I found some valuable information going beyond the usual cutting clutter, organizing and decorating advice. It's not cookie cutter design or transformation plan, instead, Eisner helps the reader discover the inner drives and needs that will make their space uniquely satisfying.

    I recommend this for those who want their helpful hints in to-the-point bullets rather than long drawn-out detail.

    There is a companion journal. My thoughts on it:

    I recommend the Comfort Living Guide, however, I wasn't real impressed with the companion journal. It's small enough it'd get lost in my purse and not leave me enough room for scribbling. If you can get both for a great price, or love the whole idea of a matching journal with the book, then sure, go for it. But if you think you have to have it in order to use the information within the guide don't let passing on the journal keep you from purchasing the Comfort Living Guide.

    Tuesday, December 15, 2009

    Scribble and Scrambles ~ Sighlent Night

    This month is whipping by at a speed faster than light...Whoa! What was that? Another day? Seriously? It's the 15th. Christmas Eve at my house in 9 days. YIKES! And 5 days after that we have 4 house guests for 5 days. YIKES!! (Say that really fast a few times. : )

    I just, like the day before yesterday, changed my summer comforter and bed stuff for the warm, brown and flannel winter wear. My closet is clean....but Christmas presents are tucked in various and assorted crannies of two different rooms.

    Rob has plans to do some serious house projects on his break beginning late afternoon on the 23rd...the day before our Christmas Eve. I am so not going to do or say anything that gets in his way. I may serve soup by candlelight so as to hide the dust. And all those coming are near and dear ones who love us, come to see us, not necessarily the house, though they all celebrate progress.

    23 and I have decided to get rid of all the baking ingredients we have including red and green sugar. Oy.

    The snow has been falling on and off and the temperature is hovering in the teens, sometimes positive and sometimes negative. So after work, with icy shivers I exited my toasty car and rushed across the icy gray chunky parking lot and I picked up some more items to make that goal possible and hauled them home. 23 had the little ones so with the help of the 2-year-old we melted, dipped, sprinkled, baked and used up some items that needed to be outta here.

    And now. Now I sit in my cozy living room looking at things that need to be done and knowing that there will be a scramble to do it. But, the dogs are wrestling and playing near my feet and 23 is reading Christmas books out loud deciding which one she'll read to her class of 5th and 6th graders tomorrow night. And. I know that Christmas doesn't have to be stressful. I'm finishing up this post, closing my computer and then going to sigh off some stress, curl up with a now quiet dog and listen to a story.

    Monday, December 14, 2009

    Serials and Scenarios ~ Christina Berry's The Familiar Stranger

    This week, the

    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

    is introducing

    The Familiar Stranger

    Moody Publishers (September 1, 2009)


    Christina Berry


    Single mother and foster parent, Christina Berry carves time to write from her busy schedule because she must tell the stories that haunt her every waking moment. (Such is the overly dramatic description of an author's life!) She holds a BA in Literature, yet loves a good Calculus problem, as well. All that confusion must have influenced her decision to be team captain of a winning team on Family Feud.

    Her debut novel, The Familiar Stranger, released from Moody in September and deals with lies, secrets, and themes of forgiveness in a troubled marriage. A moving speaker and dynamic teacher, Christina strives to Live Transparently--Forgive Extravagantly!

    Her work has also appeared in The Secret Place, The Oregonian, and Daily Devotions for Writers.


    Craig Littleton's decision to end his marriage would shock his wife, Denise . . . if she knew what he was up to. When an accident lands Craig in the ICU, with fuzzy memories of his own life and plans, Denise rushes to his side, ready to care for him.

    They embark on a quest to help Craig remember who he is and, in the process, they discover dark secrets. An affair? An emptied bank account? A hidden identity? An illegitimate child?

    But what will she do when she realizes he's not the man she thought he was? Is this trauma a blessing in disguise, a chance for a fresh start? Or will his secrets destroy the life they built together?

    If you would like to read the first chapter of The Familiar Stranger, go HERE

    My Review:

    The characters and the drama of a marriage-on-the brink pulled me into this story immediately. Good writing and a twisting, intriguing plot line kept me turning pages. Though not perfect this is a terrific debut novel. Some pacing issues and some slight characterization quirks caused me to pause a bit. I also didn't find the details of some aspects of the story to be completely believable, there are some "but" moments.

    Denise and Craig are in a cold war. Their marriage has degenerated to the point that polite, simple sentences are the only safe communication. The reasons that this relationship is so strained becomes apparent as the story unfolds.

    The story begins as Craig is preparing to do something permanent to take care of this situation. But there is an accident. Then Craig wakes up with amnesia. Yes. I know, very soap opera...but by this point I was invested in the story and the writing. Denise and Craig discover that the puzzle pieces don't fall into place at all. As a matter of fact there seems to be a never ending pile of puzzle pieces. The story twists and turns from there.

    There is a pretty strong faith element within the book.

    By the time the novel resolved I was satisfied. I will be eager to read the next book Berry cooks up.

    Friday, December 11, 2009

    Serials and Scenarios ~ A Pearl of an Idea

    A book full of encouragement and inspiration for the recipient and all royalties going to help others might be the thing for that hard to buy for person on your Christmas list.

    Pearl Girls from Michael J Garvey on Vimeo.

    About the book:

    With His love and grace, God covered the unexpected pain in my life of becoming an adult orphan and transformed this pain into a pearl. We are all Pearl Girls. Each of us has been touched by God's gift of love and grace, and it's a gift that I want to share with others. That's why I am launching Pearl Girls.

    Actually, my very first gift from my parents was a pearl. The gift of my name. Margaret means "precious pearl." So perhaps this is what I was always supposed to do. My heart's prayer is that Pearl Girls will be a blessing to others - to the women who contribute their literary talent to the Pearl Girls projects; to the readers who are inspired and comforted by the life experiences shared through these projects and to the women and children who will benefit from the proceeds given by Pearl Girls to various charities. This is a win-win for everyone, and each of us has a special part in making the Pearl Girls projects "blessed sellers."

    After the first Pearl Girls tea in Atlanta, I went to my brother, Claude's home to help sort through our parents' boxes in his basement. It was an emotional experience and tedious process to discover what was in each box, to decide what to do with each item and to discard those belongings which we needed to let go. After several long hours of sorting, I received an incredible hug from heaven - a confirmation that Pearl Girls is something that is meant to be. I discovered a three strand necklace of painted pearls belonging to my grandmother from the early 1900s! Isn't that amazing?

    Feel good about buying it. It’s about Connecting Hearts and Souls to Impact the World.

    100% of the royalties go directly to two charities:

    WINGS (women in need growing stronger). The proceeds will help fund a Safe House in the Chicago suburbs. It costs $50 a night to provide safe shelter for a woman and her children. During this economy, WINGS is receiving even more phone calls for a safe place to stay. Already, the Pearl Girls have provided 60 nights with the advance royalties.

    Hands of Hope. The proceeds will help build wells in Uganda for school children. Can you imagine a child at school without a water fountain in the hallway where he or she can grab a quick sip of water in between classes on a hot day? These children have to drink from puddles and other water sources which carry diseases and parasites. It costs $12,000 to build a well in Uganda. Already, the Pearl Girls have provided funds to build ¼ of a well. www.handsofhopeonline.orgFirst and foremost Margaret would like you to highlight above all else that 100% of the book’s royalties go to Charity.

    Share your own story:

    Inspired by the many women who opened their lives and shared their stories in Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, we have created sister site, Post-a-Pearl. A place to continue the connection and encouragement the book began. I hope you will take the opportunity to connect through the Post-a-Pearl site. Please post your own Pearl story and reach out to share your own story with others. Collaborating is an important purpose of Pearl Girls. We connect to make a difference in the world.

    Thursday, December 10, 2009

    Scribble and Scrambles ~ Snow Way!

    Loads of snow dumped onto unprepared people always makes for a few stories. One in particular was especially amusing today.

    And of a devotional nature.

    One of my co-workers was stranded at home. A husband unavailable, a car nestled safely inside a detached garage, no garage door opener, a stuck entrance door.

    No problem she decided -- after she panicked. She'd just get the opener from his truck. Which happened to be buried in snow up to her waist. Dressed in her professional attire, she dug, dug, dug, stopping only on occasion to attempt to reach him by cellphone. He was in an area with worthless reception, of course.

    After finally getting the door opened she launched herself onto the seat and looked, dug, and finally despaired. No opener. She called someone who told her she could give her a ride. After sweating buckets, and embarrassing herself in front of any neighbors who might have seen the unladylike contortions during her hunt, she headed back in to wait for her ride. While she waited she decided to read her daily devotional.

    Anyone want to guess the topic?

    Trusting in God. Things happening to show us His power and our weakness and need for Him. Etc. Etc. She read it twice. Said a few heartfelt prayers and laughed. Then her husband called. Told her where the garage opener was. She caught her friend before the gal even left her house. And my co-worker arrived at work on time.

    Her trip was spent thanking God for the lesson and she got to share all the details with her work buds.

    I do love God's sense of humor.

    Next week I'll share about Toad-Boy and the Indy Snow 500.

    Wednesday, December 09, 2009

    Serials and Scenarios ~ Whirlwind

    This week, the

    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

    is introducing


    Thomas Nelson (December 29, 2009)


    Robert Liparulo


    Robert Liparulo is a former journalist, with over a thousand articles and multiple writing awards to his name. His first novel, Comes a Horseman, released to critical acclaim. Each of his subsequent thrillers—Germ, Deadfall, and Deadlock—secured his place as one of today’s most popular and daring thriller writers.

    He is known for investing deep research and chillingly accurate predictions of near-future scenarios into his stories. In fact, his thorough, journalistic approach to research has resulted in his becoming an expert on the various topics he explores in his fiction, and he has appeared on such media outlets as CNN and ABC Radio.

    Liparulo’s visual style of writing has caught the eye of Hollywood producers. Currently, three of his novels for adults are in various stages of development for the big screen: the film rights to Comes A Horseman. were purchased by the producer of Tom Clancy’s movies; and Liparulo is penning the screenplays for GERM and Deadfall for two top producers. He is also working with the director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, Holes) on a political thriller. Novelist Michael Palmer calls Deadfall “a brilliantly crafted thriller.” March 31st marked the publication of Deadfall’s follow-up, Deadlock, which novelist Gayle Lynds calls, “best of high-octane suspense.”

    Liparulo’s bestselling young adult series, Dreamhouse Kings, debuted last year with House of Dark Shadows and Watcher in the Woods. Book three, Gatekeepers, released in January, and number four, Timescape, in July. The series has garnered praise from readers, both young and old, as well as attracting famous fans who themselves know the genre inside and out. Of the series, Goosebumps creator R.L. Stine says, “I loved wandering around in these books. With a house of so many great, haunting stories, why would you ever want to go outside?”

    With the next two Dreamhouse books “in the can,” he is currently working on his next thriller, which for the first time injects supernatural elements into his brand of gun-blazing storytelling. The story is so compelling, two Hollywood studios are already in talks to acquire it—despite its publication date being more than a year away. After that comes a trilogy of novels, based on his acclaimed short story, which appeared in James Patterson’s Thriller anthology. New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry calls Liparulo’s writing “Inventive, suspenseful, and highly entertaining . . . Robert Liparulo is a storyteller, pure and simple.” He lives with his family in Colorado.

    Visit Robert Liparulo's Facebook Fan page:


    Which door do you go through to save the world?

    David, Xander, and Toria King never know where the mysterious portals in their house will take them: past, present, or future. They have battled gladiators and the German army, dodged soldiers on both sides of the Civil War, and jumped from the sinking Titanic. They've also seen the stark future that awaits if they can't do something to change it--a destroyed city filled with mutant creatures.

    And they've still got to find a way to bring Mom back and keep Taksidian from getting them out of the house. The dangers are hitting them like a whirlwind . . . but the answers are becoming apparent as well.

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

    My Review:

    Liparulo's Dream House Kings series continues to grab and clutch at the reader and move at breakneck pace. David and Xander find more portals, more danger, more adventure than they even thought possible. Within one day they tumble into the Civil War, a torture chamber and into an epic battle. And that's just while they are tumbling from portal to portal. Then there's home. The house. Taksidian. Jesse's injuries.

    The historical information if fascinating. One caution. There are some grisly scenes and the adventure borders on horrifying in several scenes. Sensitive readers may not be ready for the intensity.

    Read more about Liparulo's visits to the Dregs by clicking here.

    Tuesday, December 08, 2009

    Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Snow Day!

    Loads of snow in Iowa. And loads of fun, too!

    The girls are sporting their new winter collars. Rob has dubbed them Candy Cane and Snowflake. Pretty appropriate methinks.

    Monday, December 07, 2009

    Serials and Scenarios ~ Amazing Story

    Readers: I haven't received these books for review yet. But once I get em read I'll come back and add my reviews to this post. The story gives me goosebumps and though I have a stack of books to plow through and review I just had to agree to read this story.


    About Terror by Night:
    Publisher: Tyndale
    Hardcover: 288 pgs
    ISBN-10: 1414334761
    ISBN-13: 9781414334769
    Retail: $22.99

    (Greenville, TX) – A father denied his daughter dating privileges with a certain young man. Typical teenage behavior might have included pouting, a bad attitude or perhaps even a yelling match. Never in a million years would Terry Caffey have suspected it would involve murder. Yet, in the early morning hours of March 8, 2008, Terry’s whole world turned upside down. His wife and two sons where brutally murdered and burned in the house they lived and Terry was shot twelve times…by his daughter and her friends.

    Terry Caffey and James Pence reconstruct this tragic yet strangely beautiful true story of God’s sovereignty, forgiveness and grace in Terror by Night. As if the story of Caffey’s family wasn’t enough, readers will be captivated by the way God ordained the meeting between the Blind Sight author and Caffey with a burnt page from Blind Sight found at the crime scene.

    About Blind Sight:

    No one plans for bad things to happen. No one plans on losing their family. No one knows how to move on after horror strikes. No one. Not even Thomas Kent. After receiving a strange phone call from a long-ago friend requesting Kent to pick up a package at the airport, Kent begins a spine tingling, suspense filled journey in which he hopes to reunite the package (his friend’s children) with their mother, Justine, a traitor in the Fellowship for World Renewal Cult. Twists and turns in this page turning drama make Blind Sight not only a journey of extreme action and thrills, but one of discovering the sovereign plan of God.
    Paperback: 364 pages
    ISBN-10: 1601454384
    ISBN-13: 978-1601454386
    Retail: $17.95

    How I Met Terry Caffey...

    Terry Caffey and I met through my karate for homeschoolers class. Back in 2005, his wife Penny brought two of their three children and enrolled them in my class. Erin their oldest daughterand Tyler their youngest son or two of my students. Over time, Erin and my daughter Charlene became very good friends. As a matter of fact, Charlene would often stay with the Caffey's when my wife and I were traveling.

    Somewhere in there I gave Mrs. Caffey a copy of my novel Blind Sight. I don't remember if she read it, but she was a big reader so she probably did. As far as I know Terry had never read it.

    About six weeks after his family was murdered and his house burned, Terry returned to his property and stood on the ashes of his house crying out to God. His burden that day was to understand why God had taken his family and left him behind without them.

    As he was praying, he noticed about 15 feet away a brown scorched page from a book leaning up against the trunk of a tree. He went over and picked it up and read it. It just happened to be a single page from Blind Sight that had survived the fire.

    But it wasn't just any page. It was the page where my main character, a man who had lost his family in an automobile accident, came to grips with God's sovereignty in his loss. When Terry picked up that piece of paper the first lines he read were, "I couldn't understand why you would take my family and leave me to struggle along without them but I do believe you are sovereign. You are in control."

    It was as if God had saved or preserved that piece of paper to remind Terry that he still cared.

    Some time ago, when I was struggling with my own depression over the fact that Blind Sight hadn't sold very well, I gave my book back to God. And I told the Lord that he would just use it in someone's life I would be happy. And boy did he use it in someone's life. From the standpoint of a writer I can think of no greater honor than for God to use my words to change someone's heart.

    A few weeks after I learned of the connection between Terry and my book, we got together and began to discuss the possibility of telling this amazing story in book form.

    Special Gift Basket Opportunity!

    Each blog tour host has the opportunity to send in the name of one of their commenters for a chance to win a gift basket from the author. Dregs readers. Leave a comment by 11:59 p.m. CST on Friday the 11th to be eligible for this drawing.

    This special one of a kind basket includes:

    Angel- James Pence
    Bind Sight- James Pence
    Terror By Night- James Pence
    Quality 8.5 X 11 in printing of the scorched page
    DVD of Chalk Art Illustrations from James Pence

    An Interview with James Pence:

    1. You've dabbled in a little bit of everything career-wise. Give us a brief summary of your journey so far.

    I have definitely had a colorful background as you've already mentioned. I guess the one unifying thread that has run through everything I do is the service of God. I knew when I was 14 years old that God had called me into the ministry, and I've never wavered from that. And even though that ministry now includes such things as teaching karate to homeschoolersI consider that as much a part of my calling as anything else.

    Since finishing Bible College back in 1978 I have been a youth pastor, a camp director, a pastor, a prison evangelist, a gospel chalk artist, a speaker, a singer, a Web designer, a writer, a karate teacher, an art teacher, and a writing teacher. Amazingly, I'm still active in most of those things. I'm not pastoring anymore, and I've long since left directing summer camps behind me, but everything else I still do.

    It would be a book in and of itself if I were to try to go into the details of all of those different things and how I got started doing each of them. Suffice it to say that I've always believed that the talents that we have are stewardships. Thus I've always felt that if I have a talent in an area I have a responsibility to develop and use it for God's glory. And that's why do so many different things. I wouldn't have it any other way.

    2. There was a tight deadline for Terror by Night. Tell us a little bit about how you interviewed Terry Caffey and the timeline you had to submit your book.

    There was definitely a tight deadline for Terror by Night. I had a total of 12 weeks in which to write it and that included doing all the interviewing with Terry. I'm very happy to say that I was able to meet that challenge, but there were times when I wondered if I could get it all done.

    Terry and I got together every Wednesday for several hours and I would interview him. Our first few interviews were just for getting the layout of the book planned. I had to get an idea of the different aspects of the story that needed to be pulled together, sort of like a plot outline. And then I actually had a plan the storyline based on my discussions with Terry.

    It was sort of a cumulative thing, because as we talked each week more questions would come up and I would make notes on those and we would discuss them in subsequent weeks.

    I recorded all of the interviews with a digital voice recorder and then transferred them all to my computer. After that I edited the interviews down into soundbites of two to three minutes all according to topics. Then I put them all on my iPod and would listen to them at every spare moment. My goal was to be familiar enough with Terry's voice so that the book would sound natural and that it would sound like Terry was doing the speaking or writing.

    3. Because of the intensity of this book, how did you deal with the emotional side of writing? Did it ever become more than you or Terry could deal with at one sitting?

    This was a very difficult story to write and it was very stressful for both of us, but in different ways. As we went through the interview process Terry began to struggle with depression and had some rough moments. Once or twice we had changed the topic of our discussion because it was just getting to be too hard on him.

    For me the stress came from the deadline more than the storyline. The fastest I'd written a book before was 20 weeks, and writing this one in 12 weeks was like running a marathon. Near the end I was exhausted, but still had to get that word count out every day. There were times when I would just become overwhelmed with the size of the task. But there was nothing to do but keep moving forward.

    So we were both very happy when this project was complete.

    4. You enjoy some great ministry opportunities outside of your writing. Share how God is using your other gifts to reach others for Christ.

    As I mentioned earlier, in addition to being a writer I am a gospel chalk artist and a vocalist. I've been doing that for over 30 years now and really enjoy being able to use art and music to bring a message to people. For about the last 15 years I've been going into prisons with my art and music and sharing the gospel with inmates. That's been a huge blessing to me. In fact, I often say that after a prison service I've been far more blessed than the inmates. And recently God has begun to open up more doors both in prison and out. Over a six-week period, I'll be drawing in Florida, Iowa, and Alabama.

    One of the great things about chalk art is that even if the people who see a drawing don't remember everything I say, they will remember the picture and the scripture that the picture represented. I've had people write me who saw my pictures 20 years ago and came to Christ through them, and now they are serving Christ in churches and other ministries. That's one of the great joys of this ministry.

    5. With the re-release of Blind Sight, it's almost like two books releasing at once. What message do you hope readers will take away from reading both books?

    I was so excited when Tyndale decided to release Blind Sight a second time. It's rare that a novel gets a second chance at life. And it's especially satisfying that both books were released simultaneously. And even though one is a novel and the other a nonfiction book, the message that people can take away from the books is really the same. God is sovereign.

    So often we are confused when difficult circumstances come into our lives and we wonder why God would allow that. Sometimes we even get angry with him and demand an explanation like Terry did. But the message of both Blind Sight and Terror by Night is that while God doesn't explain himself to us, we can trust in his goodness and sovereign grace. We know that he is working all things together for our good and we can trust him in that. Blind Sight communicates that message by way of a novel; Terror by Night communicates the same message by way of a true story.

    James H. Pence is a full-time professional writer and editor living near Dallas, Texas. James is a multi-talented writer who has been published in both fiction and nonfiction. His publishers include Tyndale House, Kregel, and Osborne/McGraw-Hill. James holds a master’s degree in Biblical Studies with an emphasis in creative writing and journalism from Dallas Theological Seminary. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in theology from Dallas Bible College.

    James is also a vocalist and gospel chalk artist, and he regularly uses his talents to share the gospel in prisons. James is the author of Blind Sight, a gripping novel about mind-control cults and coauthor (along with Terry Caffey) of the new book: Terror by Night: The True Story of the Brutal Texas Murder that Destroyed a Family, Restored One Man’s Faith, and Shocked a Nation.