Friday, January 29, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Sweet Sounds and a Lazy Dog

After spending a few hours with an adorable nine-month-old, I just gotta ask. "Is there anything sweeter than a baby cooing happy songs?"

Definitely not Lily using her tummy as a ch
in rest!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Muse-i-cal Stylings of Oxymoronica

I've spent a few hours pondering relationships today.

Ha. Actually, I've spent much of the past few years pondering relationships.

I'm struggling a little bit with boundaries. I've found that the older I get, the more I need to set.

I'm also feeling overwhelmed with a ministry that I'm feeling like I need to jump into with both feet.

Guess that's why I need God. And I'm very glad He is available to help, lead, guide and supply all my needs for anything He calls me to do, including dealing with relationships.

Okay. So there you go.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ 4 Seasons in Ioway...

Not enjoying the fact that today was warm at 20ish...

The rest of the week will hover around 0...Z-E-R-O.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Serials and Scenarios ~ The Knight ~ Steven James

The Knight
Steven James
Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Revell
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800732707

Product Description:

In The Knight, the third installment in the bestselling series of thrillers featuring FBI criminologist Patrick Bowers, the stakes have never been higher. Agent Bowers is used to tracking the country's most dangerous killers, but now it looks like a killer is tracking him. When he realizes the murderer is using clues from an ancient manuscript as a blueprint for his crimes, Bowers faces a race against time to decipher who the next victim will be and to stop the final shocking murder--which he's beginning to believe might be his own. Gritty, chilling, and intense, this psychological thriller is guaranteed to keep readers up all night.


A wild ride. This is a police procedural that not only delivers the details, some of which makes it a novel the nightmare prone might not want to read right before bed, it delivers strong characters and great writing.

The idea, a serial killer with a tricky scenario/agenda, isn't unique, but the story is compelling and suspenseful and kept me wondering to the end. I had three or four folks picked out as the cold-blooded killer, but I didn't pick correctly. James creates fleshed out characters who pulled at my heartstrings. Some moments of introspection slowed the plot enough to add a different kind of tension, and surprising poignancy. The evil characters might rival some of worst-of-the-worst literary baddies.

Though a Christian publisher, this novel is very light in faith elements, so if you love cat and mouse games full of forensic and investigative detail but think that it may throw Bible verses at you, I'm pretty sure you won't even notice the subtle faith elements once the story starts rolling. This is a great read and it guarantees that I'll pick up any book with Steven James name on the cover.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Sunday Sushi Adventure

I do not care for fish. I'm not sure what my issue is. I like shrimp, crab, lobster, and will even order those over a nice chicken breast. I'll occasionally eat salmon, but have to psych myself up for it. I'll even, every once in awhile, think that tuna sounds good. But. I am not one of those people who asks for the catch of the night at the restaurant. The last thing I'd eat on the McDonald's menu is filet o'fish and there's a whole lot of things on the Mickey D's menu that I'm not fond of. Actually, I kind of get a little flustered around other meat such as venison, beef with wiggly veins and gristle, chicken with purple stringy things...etc.

23 is going on a mission trip in a month. She'll be heading down to Chile. Fish is apparently often on the menu in Chile. Cow udder is available as well, but fish may be a step up from cow udder...even filet o'fish. 23 caught her fish/meat squeamishness from me and fears that this may manifest during her stay in Chile. You don't want to start off a mission trip by hurting the host family's feelings after all. So a sushi knowledgeable friend told 23 she'd get her acclimated to different tastes and textures by visiting a sushi happy hour.

Somehow I got roped into this little adventure as well.

My favorite part of the afternoon was the fresh ginger. I've never had ginger either. Weird, kind of like thin slices of cucumbery texture with a hint of cucumber taste and an almost citrusy/minty blend. A little goes a long way. But good. Now, I know what ginger will add to a recipe that calls for it. Then there were the steamed/roasted sea salt covered edamae pods. Yum.

Next. Calamari. Battered and fried tentacle parts, I believe. Chewy, not much taste beyond the fried crunch. Okay. Not my first choice in appetizers but I'd be willing to eat a few again sometime. 23 had eaten this before, so she was feeling strong.

Next came the long list of sushi to choose from. Four types were ordered. California roll, pretty bland, but we were able to eat this one with very little posturing. A spicy tuna/crab/avocado roll was the next on the plate. Okay. A little hint of the sea but the spice was nice and the texture was not overwhelming. My favorite was almost 23's undoing. Oh my. I didn't notice her watery eyes and the forced swallowing back of a wicked gag, but the grainy rice, seaweed, crab bits, cream cheese and the crunchy cucumber just about sent her to the girl's room. The texture of soft and squish with the crunch of the cucumber and the "fibery" feel of the crab was over-stimulation apparently. I liked the blend of flavors and was not freaked at all. It had a sweet pepper drizzle over the top, too. My undoing was the final offering. Oh, the mango sauce and the sprinkling of chopped cashews was fabulous. It was the biting into a mouthful of soft and chewy and all of a sudden realizing there is a small slab of salmon plastered on the roof of my mouth. Oh my. Chew. Chew. Chew. Ewww.

But we survived. We did it. She now knows that she can will herself to chew, swallow, swallow, swallow, her way through any meal the Chileans can toss at her. Just hoping she doesn't get a milk duct if she gets to sample cow udder.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Super Cinema Saturday ~ Workouts

I've been on an exercise DVD kick lately. (Did you know Netflix and Blockbuster online actually have exercise DVDs?) I reviewed them at Amazon and decided maybe I should post them over here, too.

Last Chance Workout

Not a fitness expert, just one of those 40-somethings who wants to be healthier.

A little over a year ago I decided that my life was going to change one day at a time, one little choice at a time. Since then I have slowly lost 30 pounds and three sizes. Slowly. Our family has gone mostly organic or real foods, and though we indulge (and then regret) an occasional fast food splurge, we are all the happier for the food changes. Exercise has become part of the package. Pilates, walking, Wii workouts, different DVDs. While I'm not planning to do a marathon anytime soon I am attempting to work out more consistently looking for efficiency i.e. getting the most bang for my sweat.

I began watching Biggest Loser, the show, and find it inspires me on my journey because it goes deeper than weight loss, its change from the inside out, working toward healthier and better because we only get one shot at life.

That said, I appreciate the Biggest Loser DVDs that I have had the opportunity to view because they are encouraging, pointing toward health and better choices and movement. The participants aren't models, they are real people with real issues. Like Danny (Season 8 winner) in the midst of his transformation and with his knee/hip problems. Amanda and Liz from Season 8 still carrying extra weight, Daniel, Sione, Tara and Allen round out the "cast." Jillian leads them, and us, through the paces. A warm up, a cardio set, upper and lower body workouts and a cool down. Week one and two is the 30ish minutes of Warm up, Cardio and Cool down every other day alternating with the warm up, upper and lower body workouts, cool down. Week three and four are a 45 minute continuation of the same with the warm up, cool down and cardio and upper or lower each day. Week five and six is the whole shebang every day.

I don't want to meet Jillian in a dark alley, or in the gym. She seems so nice, so sweet, friendly on this workout video, but hints of her intentions and desire to strip the fat from the purchaser's body eeks out during some truly chilling moments. Some of the banter gets a little annoying especially when you've heard it several times. I did appreciate that the music isn't overpowering.

The workouts are challenging. Cardio bursts including jogging in place, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, boxing moves, jump rope (without the jump rope) are all flat-out, work to your potential go, go, go. In between these she adds strength moves incorporating hand weights. She takes the time to explain her reasoning and very basic form and how-to (though not on each move and not in full detail). Plank moves are abundant. Jillian explains the reason she likes different types of exercise (like boxing) because they are fat blasters. Her routines incorporate many muscle groups and she explains that the core is the focus of her sets.

I think this should challenge mid to moderate folks. The very advanced might consider it too easy, though she does say that with added weights or some small change-ups it will do what it's designed to do for all fitness levels. Beginners are able to watch two participants who keep the intensity low and modify the moves. The routines are easier to follow than crazy-fast aerobics, though Jillian keeps things moving. For the price, it's going to go into my library and I've ordered Shred because the reviews say it's a monster.

Party off the Pounds

If laughter is the best medicine, then Richard Simmon's Dance Party may be the prescription.

I just finished t
his workout for the second time. Several friends got together for a dance party, and two of us gave it a test drive last night. First, you need to know that the pace is fast. If you get crabby when you are unable to follow choreography, you may want to think twice. The second time through I was still flailing all over the place. If you are concerned about looking good/smooth, take that into consideration. The songs, Mickey, New Attitude, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, etc. are not the original artists. The participants are all sizes and act happy to be there. Richard. Well, Richard has a sequin-encrusted heart. He is the all-time cheerleader.

The Dance party we had included several ages and fitness levels. Two of the younger girls are avid athletes and they had a blast and broke a sweat. Some of the older girls appreciated the low-impact aspects. All decided they'd like to add this to their fitness routine and would like to try more of Simmon's videos. I didn't feel any after-the-moves-fatigue in my butt or abs but my arms are feeling it.

If you like to have fun when you workout and you occasionally like to mix it up you might want to add this to your dvd library.

Jump Start

I'm not a fitness consider my thoughts through that lens.

Jump Start would be a great introduction to the nuts and bolts of workouts. In ten minute increments the participant is given a decent building block of exercises. The participant starts out with 10 minutes a day, and works up into 30 minutes a day. There is a cardio, upper and lower body workout. The same workouts are repeated during the week, however, not back-to-back day-after-day. The following weeks build on that first week's schedule.

Biggest Loser's Bob Harper shares some healthy eating and inspirational information that is building block and common sense as well. The exercises are led by Biggest Losers winners (not all THE Biggest Loser but several favorites who've personally won through changing their lives.) This in itself is inspiring because anyone who watches the show knows where those folks started. And it is encouraging to see folks who are now in great shape still talking about hating a certain exercise or breathing hard/sweating while working out.

I think Biggest Loser fans who aren't currently exercising would make a good choice in getting this DVD. It could be helpful. and a great introduction to exercising and learning the nuts and bolts of how and why certain things are done certain ways. Anyone who is looking for a killer or very difficult workout won't likely be challenged though. I rented it and won't be buying it because after a week, I found that I wanted a little more change-up. Bob's advice was freeing and encouraging and I appreciated what I learned from it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Royalties Sans Tiaras

I mentioned two different e-mails that sparked the grinding of my mental wheels. One from a novelist friend who shared the tale of two checks. Let me share a bit before telling you about the second e-mail.

In the past few years I've read hundreds of books. All kinds and all across the spectrum of literary merit. Some I couldn't review because I feel a review needs to be able to offer something good to say, or at least one type of people group to steer that direction. (If you hate selfish, whiny main characters make sure you pick up this book!) But some.


Some books are transcendent. They move me, transport me and delight me. Oh, it is a rare and delicious experience to find a book that connects with my senses and my soul. Sigh.

Then there is the middle ground. Some really nice people tell some really adequate and entertaining and even thought-provoking stories. Some folks have buckled down, studied the market and decided that they WOULD be published. And whatever road that ended up being on, they'd go for it. So with a twist to their writing they coalesce their research, their training and their talent into a book that will sell. Right now, in the Christian fiction market, Amish is big. And there are a load of Amish themed books to choose from. I don't have a single issue with any of these hardworking folks (remember my post...the likelihood that a novelist makes pathetically less than minimum wage.) Actually, I admire them. They are the true worker bees, the reliable, the hard-working, the ones who are making their dreams happen.

But. I can't find that drive within. I don't want to write just to say I have. I don't want to be published just to hold a book in my hand and see my name on the glossy cover. I don't want to spin word webs unless I have something to say, and I want to be able to say it transcendentally. If I create, I want word tapestries that make readers laugh, think, sigh or weep.

And I just don't have that story within me. I can't find that character who screams to be fleshed out. I can't feel that situation that compels me to grasp at solutions and forces me to lose sleep.

Enter the second e-mail.

Within my critique group was a woman who masterfully spun words. I walked with her characters. And she kept refining and rewriting, always working on bettering her craft. And she was the one who's praise and critiques I coveted. A "well-done" from her was rare and a cause for celebration. And I collected those comments and stuck them away for encouragement on dark days. She didn't toss out "good" lightly and she critiqued word by word, thought by thought and ruthlessly. We've both stepped away from actively critiquing. But occasionally keep in touch.

She e-mailed me out of the blue. The Subject line said. "Good book." She tossed out the title and author and simply wrote.

"You must read it. She writes fiction in a style not unlike your own."

What she was saying, was that this author's voice was similar to mine. Voice is basically who you are leeching out into your life, into all that you do, all that you touch. It's your personality, your experiences, your passions, your dreams, your very soul combined and flavoring what you do and say. We all have a voice. The thing that causes people to say. "This is so you!" or "I knew you'd love it!" It is the perfume of me that I leave behind when I step out of a room.

Hmmm. How could I pass up this suggestion? She was telling me that she knew me and that she saw a like-minded person out there who processed like me and sent out a similar scent. After wondering if I could get it at the library or if I should just go ahead and order it, I put the thoughts aside and started organizing the book stacks in my bedroom and realized I actually had the book in my possession. (Sometimes I get books I've not agreed to read and review and sometimes they are far outside of my interest area and I'll not ever get to it. Usually these are pre-release copies with errors and not even something I can give to someone and pretend I purchased it. : ) ) This book was one of those and it sat at the bottom of the stack. The stinking thing was Sci-Fi/Fantasy. My heart sunk. Sci-Fi/Fantasy only ranks slightly above romance in my preferences. But her suggestion, and her likening the author's voice to my style/voice was too much to ignore.
Six chapters into this book I'm floored. The story has grabbed me and the voice has wrapped around me like a cozy, old-friend sweater. I know it's going to continue to pull at me and may very well end up breaking my heart. And I see a little of myself in the Pauline sentences, the cadence, the thoughts of the hero and heroine. There is quirk and there is an underlying theme of sadness.

Now. What does this mean for me? I don't know. I guess I'll continue to process and absorb, attempt to stretch and grow, and wait for my story, the one that can only be written by me, the one that clutches me by the throat and won't let me go. I am not inspired to mediocrity or just producing for the audience. And I'm definitely not inspired by money. : ).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Help for Haiti

Three different links to help wit
h Haiti relief.

Click on the picture and be forwarded to the sites.

I personally know the CMA (Christian and Missionary Alliance - my denomination.) and Samaritan's Purse.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles - Royalty, Shouldn't that Come with a Tiara?

I've told you all how I feel and where I'm at with writing "The Novel," specifically burned-out and not that interested anymore. I'm just going to write about what I feel like writing about and read and review what I want to read and review and see what the future holds.

So. Two extreme opposite e-mails came last week. One, my very, very, very good friend from my critique group who has clawed, edited, wept, nose-to-the-grindstone worked-for-it got her first royalty check. Royalty checks are lump sums of the author's portion of the contracted percentage of book cover price. I think most companies send one out quarterly. I believe she gets 7% from each book sold. An advance comes out of the perceived royalties. My friend went with a small company with a small advance.

The day before she got her royalty check she received a check for an article she wrote. Now, an article, no matter how detailed, how fact-filled, how carefully written, probably took her 1/10,000th of what she put into her book. An article takes days, maybe weeks. The novel took years. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that I probably invested 300 hours in her novel. Me. I critiqued it, suggested, edited, led cheers, discussed the pros and cons of where to attempt to sell her novel and built her back up rejection after rejection. Once she had interest, her publisher wanted her to cut 5,000 words, I was there for that, then came the marketing push. Yep. So if I spent 300 hours with her book, I know she invested thousands. This is a woman who doesn't scan words when she reads. Trust me, she's particular about each word.

Bottom line. Her royalty check was two dollars less than her check for her article. Really. In case you actually still have a "I want to be a WEALTHY or FULL TIME novelist someday" bubble, sorry I just popped it.

Flip sided e-mail tomorrow.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Poetry and Photos by Pat

Yes. That Pat. My poet papa.

God can make the weeds in your life a magnificent testimony of His grace.

God's reminder that the canes of life's punishments and hardships are trumped by His all-atoning work. He turns the cursed into crowning glory. Amen.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Serials and Scenarios ~ Bonnie Grove's Talking to the Dead ~ Reviewed

This was one of those books. In the pile of books I wanted/needed to read. It was right up my alley. See my review below.

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.

My Review:

One of my favorite discoveries is a great book. Sometimes a great book makes me laugh, sometimes it makes me cry, sometimes it makes me jealous because of the wordsmithery of the author, and sometimes it penetrates my mind and makes me think and rethink.

When I open the cover of a book I'm not sure what I'm going to find. A rare book will grab me from the first sentence and hang onto me through to the end. But occasionally the first paragraph or even the first chapter will fool me into thinking I've got a great book, but sometimes the great fizzles into mediocre or even just entertaining. Those novels always leave me disappointed and sad over the lost potential.

I am shocked that Talking to the Dead is Bonnie Grove's first novel. From the moment I began reading, I was in the story, compelled to learn the details of Kate's spiral into the depths of grief and her attempts to claw her way out of her pain. Grove writes with a sensitivity and depth that is rare. Her background in psychology and her spiritual experiences gave a richness to this novel that is both fascinating and hopeful. Grove's lyrical voice, her humor, her descriptions added layers of reality to Kate and her friends and family.

My only complaint was that I didn't feel clarity and closure within a few of Kate's relationships. But that leaves room for a follow-up novel and I'd be very okay with that.

Upon closing the book after the last words I was able to sigh wistfully, the ultimate book experience.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ A Headache Induced Twist of a Profound Concept

I've been pondering a conversation for several hours.

Of course that contemplation has been interrupted a few dozen times by random and bizarre things so my mind is pretty much an-end-of-a-long-day-sieve right now, but I'm going to attempt to share it with you, too.

My friend mentioned that she'd had a conversation with a relative about the family tree.

We all have nuts in our family trees, or bad apples, if you'd prefer.

The person my friend chatted with complained about the way a parent behaved.

She said she understood and could see where that situation/quirk would be difficult. But then she went on to share the thought that stuck with me.

The attempts made at healthy correction were likely the best that person could do given what they had to work with.

I won't use the example she shared but I'll make one up. Great Grandma A's father was a gambler. The household was never secure, her mother scrambled to save every penny and then hide them. Great Grandma A willingly chose to never be controlled by an out-of-control husband. She married a workaholic with the tendency to throw money at problems. Great Grandma A made a better choice, in her opinion, because her life bettered from what she grew up in, insecurity.

Great Grandma A's daughter, Grandma B, considered her parents materialistic and shallow. Problems were "solved" by her money flinging father and a mother who accepted this wealth band-aid. So Grandma B would choose differently. Instead she would not marry at all. What was the point in having a shadow of a father and a marriage based on money's fleeting affections? She bought a slice of land and created a world untainted by the world. Living completely off the land, she kept money at a distance, and men as well. Except for one. But just for procreation. She and her daughter,Mom C, were just fine, the two of them living in a man-free and untainted-by-money-nirvana. However, Mom C hungered for a father figure and married young. He was charming and affectionate and met her needs. However, he was a bit of a dreamer.

Then comes the current generation with 20/20 hindsight. The here and now. The mini or major corrections that each generation made to compensate for the unmet needs they had in their home of origin has shaped the entire family tree.

My friend's profound point was that most of us do what we do with good intentions and out of our warped reality. And maybe, if we just took responsibility for our choices and let go of perfectionistic expectations of others, maybe, just maybe, we'd have better relationships.

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Serials and Scenarios ~ Blind Sight And Terror by Night Reviewed

A few weeks ago I posted this.

I finished reading both books very quickly because they are page-turners. Here are my reviews.

Blind Sight

This novel is a page-turner with a unique secondary story.

Thomas Kent made a promise to his buddies in his college Bible study. He couldn't imagine that years later, after he'd lost all he loved and his faith, he'd be called upon to keep that promise.

Kent receives the coded message to pick up a package, and the garbled answering machine plea, "save my children," and his life changes once again. Can he save the Bishop children, Justine Bishop, and the United States of America from the evil cult intent on ruling the world one person at a time? Can Thomas Kent find his lost and bruised faith?

Though not perfectly written, this is a suspenseful and compelling read. Kent's anger at
God and the struggle to forgive God are mostly realistic and thoughtful. A few timing issues or rapid mood swings slowed down the page turning every once in awhile but overall, this was a fascinating story with a strong message.

As far as the unique secondary story goes, a man found one burned, weathered Blind Sight page lying against a tree. The location of that tree was the former site of his razed home after the burning of his house and the horrific murder of his family. James Pence went on to co-author Terror by Night with Terry Caffey and Blind Sight was re-released.

Terror by Night

Terror by Night is chilling.

The author, the only survivor of a horrific triple murder and house fire, tells a story that is unimaginable.

The Caffey family was living the classic nuclear family existence. The only sign of trouble with their 16-year-old daughter was her boyfriend and some choices she was making. The events that unfolded are nauseating. Not that the author shares gory details to the point that the reader feels the need to take a shower. There was very little gore. But the horror that a seemingly well-adjuste
d young woman could make the decisions to help/plan/participate in the death of her family rocked me to the core.

As horrifying as this story is, there is a fascinating secondary story of Caffey's faith jolt/jostle and his journey to peace and forgiveness.

Not for the weak-kneed. This story is very disturbing so be warned. However, the cloud is silver-lined and a thing of beauty once the sun begins to come rise.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles~ And They Did This Without Computers.

E-mail forwards. Some days I get so many that I barely even pay attention.

But this one is cool.

In Iowa in July of 1918 two photographers organized this amazing photo. Read the story here. And the same photographers...Arthur Mole and John Thomas shot other photos on display here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Scribble and Scrambles ~Ear Wax My Eye

Last week Rob's eyes were giving him some grief since he'd been working so hard on the drywall he slapped up for his new office and my new living room. Drywall dust, lack of sleep, you know the drill.

So he thought he'd go ahead and drop some soothing eye drops into his bleary and scratchy eyes.

Who'd a thunk that the bottle of ear wax soften
er would look exactly like the bottle of eye drops?


So he drops a dollop into each eye....and begins to realize his mistake when the pain. The PAIN ! kicks in. Through squinty little slits he reads the reality of his error. Then commences rinsing under the faucet for a very long time, mentally kicking himself for the bad decision. The burningly now clear bad decision.

Good news...the many minutes of rinsing coupled with the like-a-baby crying definitely got all the wax out of his eyes though. However, his first complaint worsened a bit during his unhealthy little detour.

When I got home, I noticed that his eyes looked REALLY bloodshot. But I didn't say anything. He was working with lots of dust. I didn't want to be mean. Then 23 mentioned that she'd been there when he'd grabbed the wrong bottle. A truly good wife would not have laughed. I'm obviously not a truly good wife.

And he's nice enough to let me tell the whole world. Note to all of you, before putting anything in your eyes, read the label first. Unless, of course, you have earwax in your eyes. Then go for it. But I'm planning on hiding the Q-Tips.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Serials and Scenarios ~ Two More Books on the Pile

Reviews to follow....: )

Starving for Jesus
Fasting provides healing for those experiencing the storms of life

Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX—There is perhaps no more devastating a force of nature than a severe storm. Trees are blown by high winds, homes are damaged by lightening and streets are flooded by heavy rains. When the skies are finally clear and the damage has been assessed, the hard work of restoration begins. Clearing the debris from the property is the first step toward moving forward after the storms are gone.

In this life, intense circumstances and experiences can cause internal storms of such devastating severity that recovery and restoration seem like hopeless rescue attempts. In such cases, even believers can lose heart and feel completely overwhelmed by the storms of life. The Fasting Journey, by Peter Holmes—a man for whom fasting has become a way of life—is a journal of experiences and a guide designed to help those who’ve experienced how difficult it can be to clear the debris when the devastating storms of life hit.

Holmes shows us how fasting is a death of self and an act of intercession that God uses as a spiritual weapon to clarify and unleash His purposes of healing for those trapped in bondage to sin. Because of the understanding God has given him through fasting, he has helped many find answers to their most complex and deeply entrenched problems. Holmes writes, “For me, fasting has been both a highway to the Lord and a treasure-trove of ideas of how the Lord sees things and how we need to learn, while earnestly at His feet. Having based this book on my own personal experience, my intent is to broaden it into a guide for others to learn how to fast.”

Holmes discusses the biblical aspect of fasting both in the Old Testament Scriptures and in the practices of the early church. He explains different kinds of fasts for us to consider (even non-food fasts), explores purposes for fasting and tells us how our fasting will impact those around us. In The Fasting Journey, we are called to fast as a way to find out what really controls us and to hear God’s voice with a clear, focused ear.

Dr. Peter Holmes has led a number of businesses and organizations, including a startup in the environmental biotechnology field cleansing contaminated soil with colonies of natural microorganisms. He and his wife Mary have helped plant four churches in the UK and Europe and served the Lord in ways from full-time service to local church leadership, trusteeships and foreign missions, most recently amongst genocide victims in Rwanda. Peter also runs an extensive ministry offering training in wholeness and maturity in Christ, and he has written a number of books on these topics.

The Fasting Journey by Peter R. Holmes
Authentic Publishing September 15, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60657-018-0/203 pages/softcover/$15.99

Truth Like a River
Unique new book explores assumptions about truth in creative ways.

Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX—Whether you’ve noticed or not, a war has been raging for years over the nature of truth. Many involved in this battle claim that truth is “relative” and is made up of some mixture of facts, feelings and experiences that form individual realities. Others reject this “whatever” approach in favor of “absolute” truth, a rigid and uncompromising set of morals and values that frame the foundation of existence. The end result of this battle is a stalemate of inflexible systems where each side loses and neither system is closer to a grasp of the true nature of truth.

Through the River, a new book by Jon and Mindy Hirst (with Dr. Paul Hiebert), encourages us to examine our assumptions about truth and helps define how those assumptions affect our relationship to the world at large. In so doing, the Hirsts offer a new perspective on truth that allows us not only to better understand how we view truth but how we might become better equipped to communicate truth in a combative culture. Their claim is that “our ability to struggle through the concept of truth in today’s world is crucial to determining our success in the Christian life, our relationships and our kingdom work.”

Through the River is a challenging and fascinating book that takes the reader on a poignant journey through River Town, providing a gripping view on how people can live in close proximity while having radically contrasting views. River Town’s three communities live and act so differently because each group is using a distinct set of assumptions about truth (truth lens). This journey exposes the eternal consequences of how our truth lens influences whether we tell others what we know, insist that others accept what we know or resign to keep what we know to ourselves.

In short, Through the River offers a view of truth that seeks to solve the compatibility issues between worldviews and capitalizes on their strengths in such a way that each becomes better without becoming the same.

Jon and Mindy Hirst are the co-founders of Generous Mind, a think tank designed to help people make their thoughts count. The late Paul G. Hiebert (1932–2007) was Distinguished Professor of Mission and Anthropology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and previously taught at Fuller Theological Seminary. Through the River is Jon and Mindy’s unique approach to Dr. Hiebert’s important and groundbreaking studies in truth.

Through the River by Jon and Mindy Hirst with Dr. Paul Hiebert
Authentic Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-93406-803-8/201 pages/softcover/$14.99

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Serials and Scenarios~ More Books I'm Going to/Want to Read

Discover the Spirit-Driven Life

In his new book Unexplainable, Don Cousins (co-creator of the bestselling Network curriculum)teaches readers how to experience what only God can make possible in our lives.

What’s the real reason behind whatever we’ve accomplished in life—whatever we’ve been able to become and achieve and fulfill? Is it our own hard work, our own talents and abilities, our own perseverance? Or have things happened in and through our lives for which none of those factors can account? In Unexplainable: Pursuing a Life Only God Can Make Possible (David C Cook, September 2009), trusted author Don Cousins guides readers in how to experience lives of such remarkable quality and impact that people who watch them have to shake their heads and honestly say, “There’s really no explanation for it—except God!”

Cousins, co-creator of the Network curriculum, believes that this kind of living is impossible—until we bring God into the equation and “lifeshift” our values away from worldly standards to be more in sync with God’s initiatives. “We must discover and cultivate lives that can be explained only by God’s participation…so that He’s the only explanation for our lives,” says Cousins. “In Unexplainable I explore how we can attain the kind of lives where God Himself becomes the all-fulfilling dynamic behind our unshakable contentment, our profound significance and our abiding success.”

In Unexplainable, Cousins offers readers a systematic approach to changing the way they live as he guides them through “lifeshifts” for experiencing contentment, success and significance to a degree that’s beyond anything the world offers. Readers will learn the five secrets for finding contentment in life, regardless of their circumstances, and discover God’s criteria for measuring the success of their lives. They’ll also come to see that God has already given them all they need to make a difference in the world.

Intended to create a new movement among all those who call upon God to lead their lives, Unexplainable is a strong complement to Cousins’ previously released Experiencing LeaderShift products. The individual life-change encouraged by Unexplainable will fit hand-in-glove with the organizational change encouraged in Experiencing LeaderShift.

A small-group curriculum DVD for Unexplainable: Pursuing a Life Only God Can Make Possible has also been created to further explore the profound themes and insights found in Unexplainable. Giving the reader and small-group participant a great start in making strategic adjustments in their lives, each of the eight sessions focuses on a section of Unexplainable and offers practical ways to pursue the kind of life made possible only by God.

Unexplainable: Pursuing a Life Only God Can Make Possible
by Don Cousins

David C Cook/September 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6805-6/softcover/256 pages/$16.99

Legendary Clarity
Acclaimed Pastor Brings Experience, Wisdom to Transformation Study Bible

Dallas/Fort Worth, TX—As pastors seek to make the Word of God more understandable in an age that is unfamiliar with the Bible, and as growing disciples seek to discover the truth of Scripture in a skeptical culture, there is a great need for guidance in both the preaching and study of God’s Word. Whether you’re a pastor, a seminary student, or a truth-seeking disciple, an understanding of the Bible can be made clear to you with the help of one of the most influential, in-depth, and practical Bible scholars in modern history.

For over thirty years, millions have come to rely on the timeless wisdom of Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe’s “Be” Commentary series. Dr. Wiersbe’s commentary and insights on Scripture have helped readers understand and apply God’s Word with the goal of life transformation. According to Dr. Wiersbe, “It isn’t enough for us simply to read assigned portions of the Bible each day, as helpful as that is. A truly transforming experience involves meditating on what we read (Ps. 1:2), studying it carefully in the light of other verses, and then obeying what God tells us to do (Josh. 1:8).” Now available for the first time, The Transformation Study Bible offers the full text of the highly readable New Living Translation with accompanying notes and commentary from the 50 books in Dr. Wiersbe’s “Be” series.

“The Transformation Study Bible will better enable readers to appreciate, appropriate, and apply the Word of God, which will result in ‘purity, joy, right values, hope, comfort, freedom, new life, peace, guidance, wisdom, integrity, encouragement, and effective prayer,’” states Wiersbe. In other words, if you want to be a new person, knowing and obeying the will of God and becoming more like Jesus Christ, there is perhaps no finer tool to encourage that process than The Transformation Study Bible.

One of the most anticipated and comprehensive study Bibles of the year, The Transformation Study Bible has been a lifetime in the making by a man who is widely known as a prolific and trusted writer and theologian. The former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago, an internationally known Bible teacher, and someone who has given his life to a deep examination of the Word of God, Dr. Wiersbe lends his vast experience and scholarly insight to the most beloved and revered book of all time. This effort is to encourage believers of all levels to know and love the Bible and to experience the same transformation that has radically changed his life. The result is a Bible that is clear, understandable, and applicable to the lives of its readers.

Dr. Wiersbe writes, “The remedy for discouragement is the Word of God. When you feed your heart and mind with its truth, you regain your perspective and find renewed strength.” By providing a new set of tools for Bible students of all levels, David C Cook and Warren Wiersbe have partnered to provide an essential tool to help bring the “perspective” and “renewed strength” that comes from a life transforming study of God’s Word. This fantastic and long awaited resource will bring more clarity than ever before to the study of God’s Word.

The Transformation Study Bible with General Editor Warren Wiersbe
David C Cook September 1, 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1434765307/2100 pages/$24.99

The review for The Transformation Bible Study will be a bit. I plan to read through it this year. For starters I love the New Living Translation which makes the Bible easy to understand in common and modern language. Secondly, I have most of the BE books and Rob and I use them often. We appreciate Wiersbe's insight and simple to understand writing. More later.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ONE STEP CLOSER

So the Construction (very amazingly manly, super-powered) Fairy visited between Christmas and today.

Picture one and two are BEFORE

Pictures three, four and five are AFTER....


Next: Final Kitchen Wall goes DOWN, Baby...then there's no stopping the progress to the new and improved living/kitchen/entry/dining suite!

Thanks, Rob!!! And Mom and Dad and Mark and Jordan and Grandma....

Monday, January 04, 2010

Serials and Scenarios ~ The One-Day Way Chantel Hobbs

Book Summary:

The One-Day Way produces lasting results by taking you back to basics. No more complicated weight-loss strategies. No more expensive diet plans that achieve only temporary results. Instead, you will lose weight and get fit with Chantel Hobbs’s simple, high-energy meal plans and her at-home program for cardio exercise and strength training. She will teach you how to change the way you think, which leads to new actions. Before you know it you will be strong, fit, and healthy. All it takes is doing things differently for twenty-four hours—and then repeating it.

The One-Day Way gives you everything you need to lose weight and get fit in body, mind, and spirit:

* Break free from past dieting defeats
* Learn a realistic, life-changing way to measure success
* Change the way you think so you can change your life
* Translate your dreams into goals, and your goals into lasting achievements
* Get strong with thirty-one simple exercises, no fancy equipment required
* Take advantage of ten ways to eat better while you lose weight

By focusing on food, faith, and fitness, Chantel shows you not only how to lose weight, but how to build the new life you were designed to live. You don’t have to wait any longer. The One-Day Way gives you all the tools for success, starting right now.

Author Bio:

The author of Never Say Diet and The Never Say Diet Personal Fitness Trainer, Chantel Hobbs is a motivational speaker, life coach, personal trainer, marathon runner, wife, and mother of four whose story has been featured on Oprah, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fox & Friends, the 700 Club, and the covers of People and First magazines. She appears weekly on two fitness-themed radio programs and promotes her One-Day Way Learning System on television. Visit Chantel at for fitness updates and coaching tips.

My Review:

Common sense and helpful advice for anybody who is ready to make life changes.

In her follow-up to Never Say Diet, Chantel Hobbs makes her plan even easier to follow. With very few rules, some unconventional, she manages to make her plan an easy to follow life change.

Hobbs is part expert, as she has lost and kept over 200 pounds, and part cheerleader. Her rules are so simple they could be easily summed up in a magazine article, really. But without the helps, encouragement, examples and stories that are included in the book, it would just be the same old, same old common sense guidelines. Included, also, are 31 exercises and some basic nutritional guidelines/suggestions. The exercise pictures are small and black and white and there are no recipes, so if you're looking for big glossy pictures and/or recipes or weekly diet plans with recipes you won't find them here.

Her plan is basically making small choices, one choice at a time. And that's magical when they are all added up and result in big changes. But as in all things regarding life changes, the proof is in the pudding....or maybe I should say organic yogurt.

The bottom line on this book - if you are looking for magic wands, this isn't it. But if you like the idea of one small step toward health becoming one giant step toward the body you want, well, then here you go.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.