Monday, November 24, 2008

Laughter is the Best Medicine

The best thing about being home from work with my knee propped up, popping Aleve, and watching it sleet outside? Catching up on Joshilyn Jackson's blog.

Later today I'll make a valiant attempt to go grocery shopping, but I think I'm going to need one of those motorized carts. Someone should warn Krogers.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Back in the Saddle Again

I'm trying to get back into the rhythm of writing again. I've never had to write while working a 40-hour week before, and it's a struggle. There just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day. If you click over to the right on my Nano progress, you'll see the lack thereof.

However, I believe that if God wants me to do this, He will make a way. I've been trying to write while the kids are doing homework at night. Also, once things settle down a bit at my job and I have my lunches free, I'm hoping to write during lunch when I can too.

I wanted to use Nano as a reminder to try and write each day. I haven't been successful at that but I can try again each day. And this weekend I went to the ACFW Indiana chapter meeting and heard Dennis Hensley speak. Being around other writers and listening to a terrific speaker really helped me feel motivated to write again.

On a sort-of related note, I finished reading Courting Miss Adelaide, a LI Historical, by Janet Dean. It was thoroughly delightful and on top of it, I got to meet Janet at the ACFW Indiana meeting. She is such a sweet lady. So if you love historicals, this is one to get.

So is anyone else out there struggling or is it just me? (Please say it's not just me!) Anyone have any great ideas they want to share?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cute Things Kids Say

We were driving to church the other night while it was snowing. I don't like to drive in the snow at night because no matter what direction the snow is actually blowing, it looks like it's coming right at you while you're driving. I find this distracting.

My son, known on this blog as Calvin, said it looks like we're driving through hyperspace. Which is pretty close to what it looks like. My problem is that I want to follow each one of those streams with my eyes, which is really bad while you're driving.

My daughter, known on this blog as Sissy, said it looked like stars were falling when we walked through the parking lot and the light caught the flakes. I thought that was a really cool description.

Walking through falling stars, driving through hyperspace. . . there are worse ways to spend your time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Godly Love

I was supposed to post about this book on the 15th and somehow overlooked/forgot it! Which is a shame because it's a rather surprising little book. It looks like a gift book but it talks about a powerful message. In fact, I think the small packaging makes it easier to take the message in small bites and ruminate on it.

A good example is the subtitle: a rose planted in the desert of our hearts. It sounds a little cheesy but if you think about it, God's love is amazing, unnatural to us humans as a rose in the desert, and incredibly transforming. This is definitely a little book worth picking up.

It's the 15th, time for the Non~FIRST blog tour!(Non~FIRST will be merging with FIRST Wild Card Tours on January 1, 2009...if interested in joining, click HERE!)

The feature author is:

and his book:

Templeton Foundation Press (September 26, 2008)


Stephen G. Post has spent a lifetime studying love in its theological, scientific, and practical dimensions. He is president of the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love (IRUL) and professor of bioethics and family medicine in the School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Post has published one hundred thirty articles in peerreviewed journals and has written or edited fifteen scholarly books on subjects relating to the dynamic of love in our lives. His most recent book is Why Good Things Happen to Good People, coauthored with Jill Neimark. Dr. Post has chaired nine national conferences in his field and has received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Board of the Alzheimers Association. He lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio, with his wife, Mitsuko, and their two children, Emma and Andrew.

Product Details

List Price: $12.95
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Templeton Foundation Press (September 26, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599471515
ISBN-13: 978-1599471518


Godly Love and Human Hatreds

In March 2007 I had the honor of spending several days north of Paris with the great Jean Vanier, then in his early eighties. Jean had founded L’Arche (“The Ark”) some four decades earlier, when he was inspired by an experience of Godly love to invite two men with cognitive developmental disabilities into his home. Over the years, L’Arche homes have flourished worldwide as volunteers dwell with the disabled in communities of faith, prayer, and Godly love. I had attended meals in L’Arche homes in Cleveland on a number of occasions, and I had heard the grace said before eating, the hymns sung, and the energy of love that was palpable in the lives of those caregivers and in the experience of those they cared for and lived with.

Jean struck me as one of the most loving, Godly, and humble men I had ever met. He spoke quietly and brilliantly, and he exuded an infectious sense of fun. On one Sunday evening there was a Catholic Mass in an old renovated chapel from the fourteenth century. About one hundred people had gathered there, mostly L’Arche volunteers and people with disabilities. I saw a volunteer wheel one older man named David up to the priest for communion. That night, at dinner, I asked Jean what he thought David had gotten from receiving communion, for David was probably the most severely disabled and agitated person I had encountered there. Jean said, “Whenever David receives communion, he becomes more peaceful, and that is the power of God’s love. Remember, Stephen, we do not know much about the mystery of God’s love and presence.” Jean’s pure, enduring, and expansive love clearly encompassed such a severely disabled man, and counted him among God’s blessed.

Evil in God’s Name

When I encounter a man like Jean Vanier, I feel that we must all stop thinking of God as the epitome of awesome power and strength in the conventional sense. This convention may be partly true, but we need to set it aside; otherwise, we begin to think of God primarily in terms of might, and human arrogance propels us into thinking that because my God is stronger than your God, violence is justified in God’s name. If we think about God in terms of power, then religions become tainted with human arrogance. Far too many prayerful people are carrying rifles in the spirit of pure hatred and pretending that their hatred is somehow divinely sanctioned. This amounts to shallow religiosity, which only causes pain and undermines Godly love. The Lord of power and might is first and foremost the author and giver of all good things, the Divine Entity who nourishes us in love and brings forth from us good works.

We need to stop thinking that our definitions of God are finite and that our knowledge of God’s will is total. Our definitions, even if divinely inspired, are still products of the human mind, and we can never fully understand the Divine. Religious doctrines, if adhered to arrogantly, tend to separate us from one another and shatter the unifying spirit of Godly love that all spirituality seeks to cultivate. When religions place doctrine and force above love, they foment massive evil—from torture to terror, from coercion to conflict. Religious wars exemplify human tribalism and arrogance, both of which bring out the worst in us.

Hatred, hostility, and revenge are such strong emotions that they can crush our fragile sense of Godly love. The pseudospirituality of hatred runs counter to all genuine spirituality, which is always an adventure in love, an expression of love’s deepest desires.

Countering Hatred with Godly Love

The love of power can sometimes overwhelm the power of love, so we must remain humble and guard against this. No matter how little we know about God, we can still experience Godly love. Only by taking Godly love much more seriously than we do now—even inculcating a profound love for one another among ancient, sworn enemies—can we expect to head off a spiral of widespread destruction.

Most of religion and spirituality is rooted in healing emotions, grounded in love. We will never achieve sustained peace in the twenty-first century unless all religions live up to those intrinsic ideals of Godly love, applying those ideals to all of humankind without exception.

The world shows no signs of becoming any less religious; we as humans will always have a passion for Ultimate Truth that provides safe haven and emotional security in times of distress. Yet we will only have a human future if we infuse universal Godly love into the rituals that religions create, and express through our actions spiritual emotions such as forgiveness and compassion. If our religions fail to promote universal Godly love, violence will sweep us all away in a cataclysmic firestorm.

Promoting Harmony and Peace

Godly love alone can realign the world in harmony and peace. Too many kill in God’s name, claiming that they alone know the destiny God intends for humankind. Our limited human knowledge of any divinely inspired destiny to be played out on the human stage belies this specious—and dangerous—claim.

Love is the source of our greatest happiness and security; therefore love is the Ultimate Good, the Supreme Good. Nothing else comes close, for love underlies the creative energy that propels us from birth to death. The withholding of love drives to destruction those deprived of love’s nurturing, its compassion, and its life-giving blessings. This occurs most notably in critical developmental periods during childhood. And it holds just as true for a child in a nursery as it does for an older adult in a hospice.

Our religions, which offer models of righteous living, must put into practice their visions of Godly love, or they risk becoming sidelined, or, worse, irrelevant.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Everybody Disco!

I'm sitting here watching the snow fall. It's so beautiful and I'm always amazed and how those little flakes can pile up and be such a huge force. I guess I'll get a lot of time to watch since now through Tuesday is supposed to be our first big storm of the season.

I started my new job this week and I love it. Here's how I can tell the company is a good fit. My cohort in marketing crime has a Dwight Schrute bobblehead on her desk. In our department, one wall is painted with chalkboard paint.

And this is on the ceiling.

How cool is that?

Since we're in charge of making the proposals for contracts that go out look good, we get to turn the disco ball on whenever we win a project. Like we did Friday.

And given that this is a architectural, construction, and design firm who's owners are Mennonite, all I can say is, wow, they really went out of their comfort zone on that.

I'm loving it!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Purple State of Mind--a review

I've been remiss in posting a review for A Purple State of Mind, even though I posted on it back here. Part of the problem was I wanted to do the book justice and kept thinking I would have more time to write a more thorough review.

However, I've discovered that by the time I find the time (ha!) to write the review, it'll be so far past, I'll have forgetten what I read. So.

This book surprised me. I didn't expect to like it too much since it seemed to be about politics, and since I read it before the election, I'd had enough of that subject. The "purple" in the title is the merging of red state/blue state perspectives.

However, that's not really what this book is about. But it might take a little explanation. There is a companion DVD, which I haven't watched yet but really want to after reading the book. The DVD is a series of taped conversations between the author, Craig Detweiler, and his college friend. The two have taken different philosophical and religious paths since their college days and the conversations are about some hard questions that come from those different perspectives. Why did they end up on the paths they did when they seemed to hold the same beliefs at one time?

The book goes into those questions deeper, giving us Detweiler's thoughts about the questions and the conversations from the DVD, and some more challenging thoughts about why Christians seem to be known more for what they are against rather than for being known for their love. He continues to challenge us to find common ground with those we disagree with rather than jumping to separate ourselves and coming off as judgmental.

That's an oversimplification of the book, obviously. I really enjoyed the book and felt it did challenge all of us to move beyond red/blue, conservative/liberal, believer/heathen (okay, that last one was mine!) labels and change the way we think.

I'm looking forward to watching the DVD on one of these snowy days, and I would encourage you to pick up the book or the DVD and give it a try.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fantastic Fall Giveaway!

If you love to enter contests with the chance to win free books, music and DVDs, this is the contest for you. Read on for more details and be sure to enter. They are giving away a ton of stuff!

Welcome to the 1st ever Blog Tour!

This week we're chatting about:

The Fantastic Fall Giveaway Contest!

Just in time for the holidays, you could win over
$335 worth of books, cds and dvds!

Sponsored by our friends at:

The Grand Prize Winner will receive:


Whispers of the Bayou by Mindy Starns Clark
Rachel's Secret by BJ Hoff
Beach Dreams by Trish Perry
Playing God by Michelle McKinney Hammond
White Soul by Brandt Dodson
The Legend of the Firefish by George Bryan Polivka
Finding Marie by Susan Paige Davis
The Power of Praying Through the Bible by Stormie Omartian
A Man After God's Own Heart by Jim George
Evidence for Faith 101 by Bruce Bickel & Stan Jantz


Wake Up! Wake Up! by Everyday Sunday
Rock What You Got by Superchick
Sunday by Tree63
Houston We Are Go by Newsboys (Live CD/DVD)
Nothing Left To Lose by Mat Kearney
I Am Free Worship Collection
Salvation Station by Newworldson
Not Without Love by Jimmy Needham
Pages by Shane & Shane
Colors and Sounds by Article One


Love's Unfolding Dream
The Ten Commandments Animated
Between the Walls

But that's not all!
We're giving away even more!

During this blog tour (November 10th - 16th) we'll be drawing 2 winners daily from the contest entries to win an additional free book or cd!

Visit the Contest page today to enter the contest and place yourself in the running to receive the Grand Prize, plus all the daily prizes! Deadline to enter is November 17th.

Founded in 2006 by Tracy & C.J. Darlington, is an interactive website spotlighting Christian books, music & movies. Updated weekly, we feature author and musician interviews, album and book reviews, music videos, movie reviews and interviews, book excerpts, surveys, polls, and fun contests. Learn more:

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Me, Myself and I AM

This is a book I actually had time to go through before its tour date! I didn't say read because it's not really a book you read. It's more like an interactive journal, with thought-provoking questions that are great for either recording your own spiritual journey or using as discussion questions in a group. It's a book you can pick up and put down (I'd recommend keeping it on your nightstand within easy reach) over time, spending whatever time you need interacting with it.

I feel very strongly that we keep a record of how God has moved in our lives so we can pass it on to the next generation (Deut. 6). Not only does God command us to do this, it is one of the most effective weapons against satan and doubts. When we can look back and see how God has worked in our lives, and we can share that with others, we rob satan of some of his most powerful tools. This book would be a great tool for recording your spiritual journey. Continue below for deals and a peak at the first chapter.

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

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

Today's Wild Card is:

Me Myself & I AM

Multnomah Books (October 7, 2008)

Created by Matthew Peters in partnership with Elisa Stanford

Product Details:

List Price: $ 13.99
Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (October 7, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601421427
ISBN-13: 978-1601421425


You are holding in your hands a unique question and answer book that helps you tell the very personal story of you and God. We take the title from the well-known passage in the Old Testament in which God tells Moses God’s name: “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO
I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:14).

You can use Me, Myself, & I AM in many ways: as a map to explore your faith, as a lens to focus on your relationship with Jesus, as a fun way to let others get to know you, or as a starting point for important conversations with family and friends. What you record becomes a spiritual time capsule you can revisit months or years from now to see how you used to think and feel, who you used to be.

Be sure to answer questions not with what you feel you should say but with what you really (like it or not) think. After all, you’re writing down the story of your life. You’ll find that some questions are fun, some are serious, and some that appear to be light turn out to be the most thought provoking of all. Answer as many questions as you can, but if a question doesn’t feel right for you, skip it and move on. If you run out of space for an answer, you might want to use the blank pages in the back of the book to continue writing.

So relax, take your time, and enjoy the experience of getting to know yourself and God in new and deeper ways.

—Matthew Peters and Elisa Stanford


My name: ____________________________________ Today’s date: _____________

The city I live in: ________________________________________________________

The city I consider to be home: _____________________________________________

My occupation: _________________________________________________________

My health: _____________________________________________________________

When and where I am writing this: __________________________________________

The weather is: _________________________________________________________

Sounds I hear right now: __________________________________________________

The one thing I’m most thankful for right now: ________________________________

The one thing I’m most concerned about right now: _____________________________

I picked up Me, Myself, & I AM because: _____________________________________

My biggest hope is that when I’m done I’ll: ____________________________________


Looks: ________________________________________________________________

Is wearing: _____________________________________________________________

Drives a: ______________________________________________________________

Has a secret: ____________________________________________________________

Shares a residence with: ___________________________________________________

Is currently reading: ______________________________________________________

Tends to watch TV shows like: _____________________________________________

Usually goes to bed at: ____________________________________________________

Usually gets up at: _______________________________________________________

Gets most annoyed at: ____________________________________________________

Gets happiest when: ______________________________________________________

Talks the most to: _______________________________________________________

Is never without: ________________________________________________________

Likes to listen to: ________________________________________________________

Prefers to eat: ___________________________________________________________

Dreams about: __________________________________________________________

Complains about: _______________________________________________________

Could easily be captured by: _______________________________________________

Has great potential to: ____________________________________________________

Is most dangerous when: __________________________________________________


My perfect day would look like this…

Morning: ______________________________________________________________

Midday: _______________________________________________________________

Afternoon: _____________________________________________________________

Evening: _______________________________________________________________

Night: ________________________________________________________________


Today my top three priorities are:

1. ____________________________________________________________________

2. ____________________________________________________________________

3. ____________________________________________________________________

Three words or phrases that describe me:

1. ____________________________________________________________________

2. ____________________________________________________________________

3. ____________________________________________________________________

Three words or phrases others would use to describe me:

1. ____________________________________________________________________

2. ____________________________________________________________________

3. ____________________________________________________________________

I like myself most when: __________________________________________________


I like myself least when:

A new invention allows me to change one thing about myself. I decide to change:

That change makes the following difference in my life:


One place I go to find peace: _______________________________________________

One activity that makes me happy: __________________________________________

One circumstance or person that consistently makes me so angry I might explode:

One train of thought that brings me serenity in the midst of stress:

Challenges I am currently experiencing that I have some control over:

Challenges I am currently experiencing that I cannot control:


If my life today were a movie, these song lyrics would be in the soundtrack:

[ ] “Have I told you lately that I love you?”

[ ] “I need thee every hour.”

[ ] “There’s bubblegum in the baby’s hair.”

[ ] “It is well with my soul.”

[ ] “On the road again…”

[ ] “Another day older and deeper in debt…”

[ ] “I feel good!”

[ ] “If I could turn back time…”

[ ] “I’m raining on the inside.”

[ ] “Loneliness is a place that I know well.”

[ ] “Joy to the world!”

[ ] “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.”

[ ] “Sunrise, sunset…”

[ ] “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”

[ ] “Send in the clowns.”

[ ] “Take a sad song and make it better.”

[ ] “Thank you, Jesus.”

[ ] “Working nine to five, what a way to make a living!”

[ ] “I wanna hold your hand.”

[ ] “Whatever will be, will be.”

[ ] “Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.”

[ ] Other: _________________________________


My biggest fear about my family today: _______________________________________

My biggest fear about the world today: _______________________________________

My biggest fear about my spiritual life today: ___________________________________

Something I fear that others might think is silly: ________________________________

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being a lot, fear influences my life: ___________________

Saturday, November 01, 2008

It's All About Me

One of the great benefits of our freedom is the responsibility that comes with it. Yes, responsibility is a benefit. It means we get to act like grown ups and make considered decisions and act on them. Which means educate yourself and vote.

In Indiana we get to vote early. In Arizona and California you could do this by mailing away for an absentee ballot and mailing it back in. But here you can go to the courthouse and use the little computerized thingies. We voted Friday (we meaning me and Sissy who was home from school sick) and waited about an hour. The computerized voting scares me a bit because the cynical part of me wonders if votes can get lost or manipulated. But then again, we don't have the hanging chad issue circa 2000. So, pick your controversy.

Regardless, get out of the house and vote. Because so few people actually vote, your vote matters and can make a difference. Be responsible for your own freedom.

I started to say sermon over but one thing has struck me recently. And that's how this election in particular seems to be run by selfishness. It's all about me and what I'm getting. Who's going to give me the biggest tax break, who's going to give me the most benefits? Nobody seems to be asking what's best for the country as a whole, or who's going to pay for all these potential benefits. Nothing's free.

Our pastor preached on something similar this weekend in relation to the church. We all want the benefit of church programs and great sermons and new buildings, but few people want to give of their time, talent, and resources.

Those two ideas collided and made me wonder how we became such a selfish people interested in what we can get for ourselves. My high school youth pastor used to call it "ingrown eyeballs."

I know we start out that way as kids--I'm constantly having to teach my children to share, look out for others, and give of themselves. It doesn't come naturally. Yet when Christ comes into our hearts our behavior needs to reflect that change of ownership.

Just something to think about.

Sermon over