Thursday, December 31, 2009

What's "Wrong" with God?!

I'm re-reading Mark Batterson's book, Wild Goose Chase, and I'm finding I like it even better the second time around.

I came across a quote yesterday that really spoke to me. Mark Batterson is talking about how we take all the miraculous daily events for granted: the sun rising and setting, God keeping the planets in orbit, etc.

Keeping the planets in orbit is a perpetual miracle of unparalleled proportions. So why aren't we overwhelmed with awe over our annual orbit? Why don't we ceaselessly praise God for our spinning lobe? The reason is simple: we take constants for granted. And that is the problem with God, if I may say it that way. God is the ultimate constant. He is unconditionally loving. He is omnipotently powerful. And He is eternally faithful. God is so good at what God does that we tend to take Him for granted.

How true is that?!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Great Quote to Ponder

I recently read this quote and thought I'd pass it along to think about when considering the upcoming New Year:

Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Who you are speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you're saying."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself

I read two great articles this last week about the environment and problem of climate change. Once again, I couldn't have said it better myself!

The first is entitled "Going Cheney on Climate" by Thomas L. Friedman, best selling author of Hot, Flat and Crowded and New York Times columnist. Basically, Friedman argues that even if there were only a 1% chance that global warming is taking place, we should take heed. After all, we buy house and car insurance with a 1% chance that something catastrophic will happen . . . Green energy would revitalize the economy, create jobs, clean up the environment, and make us less dependent on foreign oil. Even if there's NO chance global warming is real (which it is people -- it's absolutely, positively real), who wouldn't want more jobs, a better economy, a cleaner world and little dependence on Arab nations for survival?! It's a no brainer!

Here's the link:

The second article is by psychologist, author and newspaper columnist, Phillip Chard, entitled "Some are Cool to the Idea that Earth is Warming". This article explains why some people are reluctant to believe climate change is happening despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It's a great peak into the human psyche -- and helpful to those who want to change the minds of those ostriches in the sand.

Here's the link:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Book Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Karin in Tenstrike, MN -- this week's winner of 40 Loaves, Breaking Bread with Our Father Each Day by C.D. Baker. Thanks to everyone who entered; please check back often for more book reviews and giveaways.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Primal -- Book Review

If you've read this blog for awhile, you know that Mark Batterson is one of my very favorite authors of all time. His knowledge is so diverse; he's one of the most well read people I "know"; and he has the rare talent of making the most complex ideas accessible to everyone and seeming to do so without any effort! His newest book, Primal, is fabulous -- as expected.

Mark takes the Shema of the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 6:5), the most important commandment according to Yeshua/Jesus (Mark 12:30), and discusses how one can truly love God "with all your heart, soul, mind and strength". In typical Batterson fashion, he explains loving God with your entire being by drawing not only on scriptures, but also psychology, science and real life analogies.

In a word, I love this book.

Having said that, I would be remiss with one tiny portion of Mark's book with which I disagree. At the beginning of the book, Mark is trying to explain why this is God's greatest commandments. He says that the Pharisees were guilty of making man-made commandments (they were) and that they created 613 commandments from the Old Testament. The fact of the matter is, GOD created 613 commandments in the Torah (and 1050 in the New Testament). The Pharisees (and priests and other leaders) then added to God's 613 commandments by creating "fences" around God's commandments. Let me give you an example. One of God's commandments was (and is) to honor the Sabbath by doing no work. That's one of the 613. The Pharisees then commanded the people not to carry a needle on the sabbath because if you didn't have a needle, you couldn't work at sewing. For the record, their intent in establishing these man-made laws was not evil; originally they created these "fences" around God's commandments so the people of Israel would not unintentionally break God's commandments.

Aside from that one point in Mark Batterson's book with which I take issue, the rest of the book was truly excellent. Primal will inspire you to go back to the heart of the matter, to what is truly important with respect to your relationship with God, and it will challenge you to serve Him better and more completely. I strongly recommend this book.

Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of Primal to give away, but it's well worth the money to order several copies (you'll want to give them away). Here's the link to purchase this great book:

Below is the summary from the publisher:


Be Astonished Again

We have a tendency to complicate Christianity. Jesus simplified it: Love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. If we are to live out the essence of Christianity, we must commit to being great at this Great Commandment.

In Primal, Mark Batterson explores the four elements of Great Commandment Christianity: compassion, wonder, curiosity, and power. Along the way, he calls you to be a part of God’s reformation, starting in your own life.

As Mark writes, “Is there a place in your past where you met God and God met you? A place where your heart broke for the things that break the heart of God? Maybe it was a sermon that became more than a sermon. Maybe it was a mission trip or retreat. Maybe it was a vow you made at an altar. In that moment, God birthed something supernatural in your spirit. You knew you’d never be the same again. My prayer is that this book would take you back to that burning bush—and reignite a primal faith.”

Primal will help you live in light of what matters most and discover what it means to love God. It will help you become great at the Great Commandment.

This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

Monday, December 14, 2009

40 Loaves -- Book Review and Giveaway

Do you have sticky questions about your walk with God? Are you afraid to ask those questions because it might make you look like a "bad" Christian? Then I have a little devotional for you! 40 Loaves, Breaking Bread with Our Father Each Day by C.D. Baker is filled with honest, real questions every believer has struggled with at one time or another. And C.D. Baker tackles each question without making you feel "condemned" for asking . . . in fact, his illustrations and real life examples are reassuring and wonderful. It's a great way to open honest discussions between yourself and God! I really enjoyed this book and am tickled to have a free copy to give away. It would be a great stocking stuffer and is available for purchase here:

GIVE AWAY: To enter the random drawing for 40 Loaves by C.D. Baker, please send your mailing address to the winner will be chosen on Friday, December 18th.

Here's the summary from the publisher:

Why don’t I have more faith?

Why am I so bored with Jesus?

Why don’t I feel connected at church?

These are the types of questions the religious establishment often makes it uncomfortable, if not impossible, to ask. And by asking them, C. David Baker, author of 40 Loaves: Breaking Bread with Our Father Each Day hopes to start a conversation in people’s hearts, then with others, and ultimately with God. Many circles of Christianity have led us to believe that certainty and confidence are the proof of true spirituality; questions are discouraged.

But Jesus offered his followers an ongoing conversation—a relationship built around a free, open-ended discussion. Questions were encouraged. They were often impertinent, sometimes alarming, and the religious establishment was distinctly uncomfortable with them … just as it is today.

“40 Loaves is something of a collection of the kinds of questions I felt finally free to ask of myself and of my relationship with Christ,” says Baker. “It’s my belief that these questions are shared by many others who long for the freedom to simply ask them out loud. I hope this book becomes a platform that frees others to search their hearts more deeply and be fed with the Bread of life.”

Each “loaf” here is a big question that stimulates discussion, investigation, and contemplation; it will take hours—or days—to digest. Conversational, inviting, disarming, and real, 40 Loaves nourishes self-examination and offers validation for those who feel discouraged, guilty, or even shamed when the realities of their lives don’t match up with the ideals of the Christian establishment.

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

Monday, December 7, 2009

Books on a Budget

How would you like to get the information to help you during these tough times and still meet a tight budget? Well, I can recommend some books that are big on advice with tiny price tags.

I recently got the opportunity to review a sample of the "budget line" from WaterBrook Press and I can tell you, they're great.

Just because the economy is suffering doesn’t mean relationships have to suffer, too. The Value Non-Fiction Line (September 15, 2009) offers insightful books on love, marriage, relationships and personal growth. At just $6.99, WaterBrook Press is offering readers on the most limited budgets, valuable resources to help them grow and succeed in their personal lives. Titles include:

More Than A Match (ISBN: 978-1-4000-7489-1) by relationship experts, Michael & Amy Smalley, marriage and family counselors who demystify the science behind compatibility tests to help singles in search of love recognize when the right relationship comes along. They also reveal the specific skills that can transform an ideal match into a lasting love.

Fool Proofing Your Life (ISNB: 978-0-307-45848-3) by Jan Silvious, Precept Ministries (Kay Arthur) radio co-host discusses how attempts at coping with difficult people often fails, because they are what the Bible refers to as “fools.” Silvious provides tools to help readers get along and conduct relationships in a way that honors God, while preserving their own sanity.

How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong (ISBN: 978-0-307-45849-0)
by Leslie Vernick, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 25 years experience, reveals how God uses the imperfections, difference and sins of a spouse to help anyone become more like Christ.

What Women Don’t Know and Men Don’t Tell You (ISBN: 978-0-307-45850-6)by Michelle McKinney Hammond, best-selling author, speaker, singer and co-host, with Joel A. Brooks, Jr., senior pastor of Christian Life Center, clears up misperceptions, providing women with the information they need to succeed in a lasting male-female relationship ─ both while waiting and after the wait is over.

The Value Non–Fiction Line provides readers with invaluable resources at a low cost, and offers priceless insights to help build meaningful relationship.

I got the chance to review More Than A Match by Michael and Amy Smalley. Their target audience is couples who meet online through a dating website, but their wisdom is appropriate for any couple, dating or married. They discuss how "compatibility" is just the beginning. What makes a successful marriage is WHAT COMES NEXT. They discuss important topics such as how to resolve conflict while still respecting your spouse, discussing the big issues such as finances and children, and they are honest about their own marital bumps in the road to illustrate their points perfectly. From More Than A Match, I can tell you the "budget line" books are anything but cheap.


In tough times discover…99 Ways (times six) to thrive!

The Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group introduces 99…times six…practical and up-to-date ways to help families flourish despite present economic challenges, priced at just $5.99 per book (WaterBrook Press, July 21, 2009). These books are not only timely, but also inexpensive enough to fit into everyone’s tightening budget.

99 Ways to Entertain Your Family for Free (ISBN-13: 978-0-307-45836-0)
by Mack Thomas, bestselling author of The First Step Bible and father of five.
Offers activities and events sure to entertain and educate family members of all ages.

99 Ways to Stretch Your Home Budget (ISBN-13:978-0-307-45841-4)
by Cheri Gillard, nurse and mother of quadruplets.
Practical ideas on how families can save money around the house.

99 Ways to Increase Your Income (ISBN-13:978-0-307-45839-1)
by Frank Martin, successful entrepreneur and author of over sixteen books.
Provides tips to generate more cash, and rebuild or supplement an income,
while hanging on to existing dollars.

99 Ways to Build Job Security (ISBN-13:978-0-307-45840-7)
by Gary Nowinski, veteran in corporate management and downsizing.
Introduces key strategies to help employees keep their jobs during economic

99 Ways to Fight Worry and Stress (ISBN-13: 978-0-307-45837-7)
by Elsa Kok Colopy, Associate Editor for Focus on the Family Publications.
Presents skills to guard rest, dream a little, and dive into truth and more.

99 Bible Promises for Tough Times (ISBN-13:978-0-307-45838-4)
by Randy Petersen, seasoned author of more than fifty books and Bible studies.
Gives encouraging and wise words found in Scripture to mediate upon.

Written for families and individuals who are hoping to not only survive but thrive, during tough times. These value-packed, applicable resources offer relevant and reliable insights to endure the current economic downturn, and are sure to appeal to families in all stages of life.

I got the chance to review 99 Ways to Increase Your Income. This book provided an all inclusive approach -- ways to increase the cash you have to spend and ways to spend less and make what you have stretch farther. The information was basic, logically presented with interesting illustrations, and very helpful for those who don't (or won't) spend a lot of time reading about money matters.

These little books are fabulous stocking stuffers! Unfortunately, I don't have any copies to give away, but at these prices, it's easy to buy several.

These books were provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

Monday, November 30, 2009

I Have Some Great Books to Recommend for the Holidays

I have some great books to recommend for the holidays; sadly, I don't have any free copies to share, but they're worth buying.

First, for the adults in your life: Treasured by Leigh McLeroy. This is a great little book which seeks to help you understand the nature of God by the "things He treasures". The author asks you to imagine opening a "treasure chest" of God. Inside the chest you find all kinds of items that give you insight into who He is and what He values. She then links each item to the Bible story where it originated and explains what each "treasured keepsake" reveals about the nature of God.

When I first read the introduction of this book, I was afraid it was going to be hokey and unoriginal. I was surprised to find it fairly insightful -- the author has a knack for looking at the most familiar Bible stories and pointing out something unique, causing you to think about something in a slightly different way than you previously did. I strongly recommend this book. Although it doesn't claim to be a devotional as that term is used, I thought it worked well as a devotional. The stories are long enough to be substantial, but short enough to get through quickly -- and they kernel of insight gave me something to think and pray about all day.

You can buy it here:

Below is the Summary from the publisher:

In Treasured, Leigh McLeroy considers tangible reminders of God’s active presence and guides readers in discovering evidence in their own lives of his attentive love.

“The idea for the book came from a cigar box filled with odds and ends of my grandfather’s life that arrived a few months after his death. Sifting through the objects in the box, I experienced him in a fresh new way. This made me wonder what treasures might be tucked away in Scripture that could frame God for me in an equally intimate, tangible way. This process also helped me uncover my own “treasures” of my walk with the Lord: objects that remind me of my history with him and his faithfulness to me,” says McLeroy.

Drawn from the pages of Scripture, the author considers twelve such treasures and personalizes their meaning for readers, such as a green olive branch that offers proof of God’s “new every morning” mercy and a scarlet cord that demonstrates his willingness to adopt “strays” of every sort.

Weaving these treasures together with scenes from her personal history, Leigh McLeroy invites readers to discover God’s heart for them and embrace their unique role in his redemptive story. Treasured offers readers a guided experience of God’s love and character and invites them to consider their own treasures that point to their part in God’s ongoing story.

Leigh McLeroy is the author of The Beautiful Ache and The Sacred Ordinary. An avid collector and recorder of everyday moments, words, and wonders, Leigh’s keen eye for God’s presence in ordinary life infuses her writing and living with a deep, insistent joy. A frequent conference and event speaker, the author makes her home in Houston, Texas, and posts often on and

For the little ones in your life, I can recommend two gems from Lisa Tawn Bergren. In God Gave Us Love, a polar bear grandfather explains to his "grandcub" the story of God's love for us and the love we are to have for others in a cute, sweet, easy to understand and non-aggressive manner. I was impressed by the sensitive way the author presented the story and the illustrations were great. It's hard to explain to kids why they should love the unlovable, but this book does it well.

You can buy it here:


In God Gave Us Love, Little Cub and Grampa Bear’s fishing adventure is interrupted by mischievous otters, and the young polar bear begins to ask questions like why must we love others . . . even the seemingly unlovable? Why is it easier to love those we like? Where does love come from? And why does God love her so much?

Grampa Bear patiently addresses each one of Little Cub’s curiosities by explaining the different kinds of love we can share: the love between friends, the love between families, the love between moms and dads, and the love for God.

He also assured Little Cub that because of the love God has given her through his Son, there’s nothing she can do to make God love her any more or any less. Through Grampa Bear’s encouraging Little Cub to love others with a “God-sized love,” children will be inspired to love others and to be patient, gentle and kind, so that in every way, they too can demonstrate God’s love.

Again, in God Gave Us Christmas the author explains the meaning of Christmas through the cute polar bear family. The story flows very well, answering common questions without making it seem like a big deal. I love books that don't cram the Christian message down my throat -- or down kids' throats -- but introduce it gently and naturally. The illustrations are fabulous and "soft".

You can buy it here:


In God Gave Us Christmas, as Little Cub and her family prepare to celebrate the most special day of the year, the curious young polar bear has something on her mind: “Who invented Christmas?” she asks. “Is God more important than Santa?”

Her questions reflect the confusion of so many children during the holiday season. And this heartwarming story takes them on a wonderful journey of discovery—right to the heart of Christmas.

Through Mama’s gentle guidance, Little Cub learns that God loves her and everyone— polar bear, moose, or human—so much that he gave us Jesus, the very best gift of all.

Lisa Tawn Bergren is the award-winning author of nearly thirty titles, totaling more than 1.5 million books in print. She writes in a broad range of genres, from adult fiction to devotional. God Gave Us Love follows in Lisa’s classic tradition of the best-selling God Gave Us You. She lives in Colorado, with her husband, Tim, and their children, Olivia, Emma, and Jack.

These books were provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Little Things

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! I've been thinking of all the reasons I have to be grateful. This 15 minute exercise turned into several hours. Of course, I'm thankful for friends, family, health, finances, pets, a job . . . but then I started thinking of the little things. When was the last time you realized you were grateful for fluoride and dental floss? Kleenex? Sunshine? Clean water? Access to competant medical care? Tylenol? Good books to read and the libraries that loan them for free? Gasoline? Freedom of speech? Not being hungry, shoeless or homeless? When is the last time you were grateful for life itself?

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Blind Side

We went to see The Blind Side this weekend. Really a great movie -- it made you laugh (a lot), it made you think, it was heartwarming, and it didn't manipulate you into crying (which I appreciate since most feel good movies are also cheesy in this regard). Honestly, I think it was the best movie I've seen in years!

The best line of the movie still has me laughing: "Honey, who would think we'd have a black son before we'd know a Democrat?!"

After living in the South all these years, I can tell you that comment's not an exaggeration! Go see the movie -- it's well worth it!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Garbage -- Change the World

It's been awhile since I've passed on Reduce Footprints' weekly Change the World Challenge. This week's challenge fits nicely with a statistic I just collected last night from my co-op magazine:

Over five million tons of EXTRA garbage is generated between Thanksgiving and Christmas. EXTRA garbage! UGH

Reduce Footprints says this:

"This week's challenge is about raising our awareness. It comes from one of our newest readers, River221, a 13-year old whose Geography teacher asked the class to try this out. Here's how it goes:

This week, collect your garbage rather than toss it out. Continue to compost and recycle, but rather than take your bag of "real" garbage to the dumpster or put it out for collection ... keep it. At the end of the week, take a look at how much you've collected and consider ways to reduce it. This should truly open our eyes to the amount of waste in our lives."

I can tell you that our office only puts out one bag of trash a month. Our household does about a bag every two weeks. I'm sure we'd cut that in half if we composted, but I just can't seem to work it into my life right now with everything else going on.

So gather your garbage and see what you can do to improve -- at your home and workplace!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Scary Factoid

247 billion emails are sent each day. That’s one email every 0.00000035 seconds.

Is it any wonder our days aren't long enough?

Friday, November 13, 2009

White Picket Fences Winner

Congratulations to Wanda of Winnipeg, Manitoba, our winner of White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner. This was a fabulous book! Thanks to everyone who entered; please check back for more reviews and give aways.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Got Peace?

Bill Porter wrote a book entitled Road to Heaven concerning his search for Taoist and Buddhist hermits in the Chungnan mountains in China in 1989. In this book, Porter remembers a Chinese saying, “The small hermit lives on a mountain. The great hermit lives in a town.”

Recently I was listening to a teaching series by Graham Cooke and he was talking about finding peace in God. He said retreating into the quiet place with God is a skill learned through discipline. He further said no matter what his circumstances or where he is, he can become peaceful in under 5 seconds.

I struggle to find perfect peace, what the Bible refers to as “shalom shalom” in the most ideal circumstances!

Porter goes on to recall a conversation with a monk. The monk was asked, “Is it a good place because it’s quiet?” and the monk replied, “If people are quiet, they can be quiet anywhere.”

I also recall a book (Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbers) where the author was discussing her time in Indonesia. She said mothers of young children would take their kids to the doctor (a type of medicine man) if the kids were too hyperactive. She said by American standards, these “hyperactive” kids were practically comatose because they would sit quietly with their mothers for hours waiting to be seen. But the locals thought the inability to sit and be quiet was sign of a serious illness and disorder – to be honest, I agree.

So I pursue peace . . . peace in God, the ability to be quiet, to rest, to listen. I don’t always succeed, but I try.

REMEMBER: I have one copy of White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner I'm giving away tomorrow. To enter the random drawing, send your mailing address to The winner will be drawn tomorrow, Friday, November 13th. Good luck.

Monday, November 9, 2009

White Picket Fences -- Book Review

Susan Meissner's new book White Picket Fences is one of the better books I've read in a long time. I find myself thinking about it over a week after I finished it . . . and when I read the last chapter, it actually brought me to tears. Not the one drop falling down your cheek kind of cry, but a "good cry" that lasted several minutes.

White Picket Fences is the story of a seemingly perfect family . . . which is anything but perfect. The members of this family have to learn to trust each other with their secrets, their feelings, their fears. The secondary theme of this book is the Holocaust -- the teens of this book interview two survivors of a concentration camp as a school project and unearth yet another family secret.

Since this is the second Meissner book I've read and really enjoyed, I even bookmarked her web page to my "favorite authors" page. I strongly recommend this book.

I'm happy to announce I have one free copy of White Picket Fences to give away. To enter the random drawing, please send your name and mailing address to The winner will be drawn on Friday, November 13, 2009.

You can purchase the book here:

Below is the summary from the publisher.


Amanda Janvier’s idyllic home seems the perfect place for her niece Tally to stay while her vagabond brother is in Europe, but the white picket fence life Amanda wants to provide is a mere illusion. Amanda’s husband Neil refuses to admit their teenage son Chase, is haunted by the horrific fire he survived when he was four, and their marriage is crumbling while each looks the other way.

Tally and Chase bond as they interview two Holocaust survivors for a sociology project, and become startlingly aware that the whole family is grappling with hidden secrets, with the echoes of the past, and with the realization that ignoring tragic situations won’t make them go away.

Readers of emotional dramas that are willing to explore the lies that families tell each other for protection and comfort will love White Picket Fences. The novel is ideal for those who appreciate exploring questions like: what type of honesty do children need from their parents, or how can one move beyond a past that isn’t acknowledged or understood? Is there hope and forgiveness for the tragedies of our past and a way to abundant grace?

Author Bio

Susan Meissner cannot remember a time when she wasn’t driven to put her thoughts down on paper. Her novel The Shape of Mercy was a Publishers Weekly pick for best religious fiction of 2008 and a Christian Book Award finalist. Susan and her husband live in Southern California, where he is a pastor and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves. They are the parents of four grown children.

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

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!

I can say, honestly and gleefully, "My husband is NOT the man I married!"

Today he called to say, "Hey! I got off work early today and just went to the bank. Now I'm going home to mow the lawn, but there's a big Red Cross trailer parked next to the bank. Do you want me to go donate blood?"

Of course, I said, "Yes! Absolutely!"

So he donated blood today for the first time. Spontaneously. Out of the blue. Just because it's the right thing to do.

He's been doing a lot of that lately. He's becoming quite the spokesperson for environmentalism and animal rights. He's donating to charity. He's giving blood.

I not only love the man my husband is becoming, I really LIKE him, too!

Friday, October 30, 2009

World Vegan Day!

World Vegan Day is Sunday, November 1st! You can read more about it here:

Why not take the extra hour you gained as a result of Daylight Savings Time ending and whip up an easy risotto? Do something good for the environment, your body and animals around the world.

Below is my favorite risotto recipe so far:

Vegetable Risotto

Classic risotto is made with an Italian short grain rice — arborio rice – simmered and constantly stirred, so it slowly absorbs the cooking liquid, resulting in a creamy, delicious dish.
2 c sliced fresh mushrooms (button, portabella, crimini — your choice)
½ c onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs olive oil
1 cup Arborio rice
3 c vegetable broth (1 c reserved)
3/4 c broccoli pieces
3/4 c fresh tomato, remove seeds and dice
1/4 c shredded carrot
3 Tbs basil
2 Tbs parsley
Cook onion, garlic and mushrooms until tender, but not brown. Bring fresh veggies to a boil in 2 cups veggie broth. Add rice and cook until liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly, add 1 cup broth and stir another 15 minutes. Stir in carrots and tomato. Cook until rice is creamy and just tender; stir in basil and parsley and serve. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Be a Hero This Halloween -- Feed Minds

Kids in America collect 3 billion pieces of candy each Halloween. Be a hero this Halloween and feed minds instead. Check out this site:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Book Reviews: Wisdom Hunter and Shadow Government

Wisdom Hunter by Randall Arthur follows the life of a “hellfire and brimstone” preacher who, eventually, comes to realize the love and grace of God and the error of his legalistic, intolerant, know-it-all ways. He undergoes a series of crushing traumas that cause him to question everything he’s ever been taught (and subsequently taught others) including the existence of God. Eventually, he is reconciled with God with a more clear and valid theology and a more loving nature and his beliefs are strong and unshakable because of the depth of his questioning. Unfortunately, I grew up with a pastor such as the “before” version of this main character so I identified well with the book.

I also had the opportunity to take the “plank” out of my own eye before worrying about my brother’s splinter. There are times that I get too judgmental over the “right” or “wrong” doctrine when, in fact, some things are non-negotiable, but a good many are unknowable. This book does a great job gently and kindly bringing you back to the truth of the Bible versus the cultural spin we put on scripture and call it the truth. I think just about everyone needs a reminder of this now and then.

Wisdom Hunter was a great, fictional story of spiritual maturity, repentance, forgiveness, mercy, grace and restoration. Also hard to miss is the theme that when we try to control our own lives, our circumstances eventually spin out control, but when we surrender to God’s ways and God’s timing, he never forsakes us.

I would strongly recommend Wisdom Hunter as an excellent read with fiction that easily translates into spiritual reality.

Unfortunately, I don't have any copies of this book to give away, but you can buy the book here:
Here't the summary from the publisher:

Pastor Jason Faircloth knows what he believes. His clear faith, in fact, is why he is one of the most prominent pastors in Atlanta. He relies on it to discipline his daughter, his wife, his church. He prays daily that others would come to see God’s ways as he does.

And it is about to cost him everything.

Groping for answers in the face of tragedy, Jason begins a search for the only family he has left: the granddaughter kept hidden from him. Soon he finds himself on an international adventure that will take him straight into the depths of his soul. He is determined not to fail again.

A fast-paced suspense novel rich in spiritual depth, Wisdom Hunter explores what it means to break free of Christian legalism—and discover why grace can mean the difference between life and death.

Shadow Government by Grant Jeffrey discusses the technological age of the 21st Century, the “flattening” of the world with the spread of globalization, changes to modern governments and politics and how this all merges with up end-times prophecy and the ability of the Antichrist to rule the world. While I do agree that Big Brother is a real threat to our personal freedoms and that modern institutions do have a number of factors in place to align with Biblical prophecy, I thought Shadow Government was a little paranoid and far fetched in some areas. The points raised by Grant Jeffrey are certainly ones we should think about, but I didn’t find the book entirely credible to take all its claims at face value.

I don't have any copies of this book to give away, but you can buy the book here:
Here's the summary from the publisher:

Security cameras, surveillance of private financial transactions, radio frequency spy chips hidden in consumer products, eavesdropping on e-mail correspondence and phone calls, and Internet tracking. No one is protected, and privacy is a thing of the past.

An ultra-secret global elite, functioning as a very real shadow government, controls technology, finance, international law, world trade, political power, and vast military capabilities. These unnamed, unrivaled leaders answer to no earthly authority, and they won’t stop until they control the world.

In Shadow Government, prophecy expert Grant Jeffrey removes the screen that, up to now, has hidden the work of these diabolical agents. Jeffrey reveals the biblical description of Satan’s global conquest and identifies the tools of technology that the Antichrist will use to rule the world.

Readers will have their eyes opened to the real power that is working behind the scenes to destroy America and merge it into the coming global government. Armed with this knowledge, readers will be equipped to face spiritual darkness with the light of prophetic truth.

These books were provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pack Your Own Bags!

I thought I'd share a piece of wisdom from Graham Cooke's A Way in the Wilderness:

There's a difference between luggage and baggage. When you go on vacation, you pack your own LUGGAGE. You are excited and happy and you look forward to the process. You fill it with your favorite things -- the things that make you look and feel good, the things that make you comfortable. And you always leave room to bring something back.

BAGGAGE is always packed by someone else and it makes you feel terrible about yourself. It's the lies other people have said about you -- the life they've given you -- that's heavy and destructive and hurtful.

We need to stop carrying around our baggage. We need to leave it at the cross (the execution stake). We don't want to just empty it out -- we want to leave the whole mess there, bags and all, and burn it!

We pack our luggage with God. God is never past/present with us; He's always present/future with us. We pack our luggage and LEAVE ROOM TO BRING SOMETHING BACK (the future version of us we will become).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fun Fall Reading -- Book Reviews

Leaving Carolina by Tamara Leigh is "Sweet Home Alabama" all over again. Luckily, I loved the Reese Witherspoon movie so I enjoyed Leaving Carolina. In Leaving Carolina, the main character leaves her past and her hometown in the South when she runs away to the big city, changes her name and loses her accent. More than a decade later, circumstances force her to return home where she has to face the demons from her childhood . . . and possibly discovers romance while she’s at it. Leaving Carolina is a fun, light read with a theme of healing childhood wounds, forgiveness and finding your authentic self.

Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of this book to give away, but you can buy it here:


Piper Wick left her hometown of Pickwick, North Carolina, twelve years ago, shook the dust off her feet, ditched her drawl and her family name, and made a new life for herself as a high-powered public relations consultant in LA. She’s even “engaged to be engaged” to the picture-perfect U.S. Congressman Grant Spangler.

Now all of Piper’s hard-won happiness is threatened by a reclusive uncle’s bout of conscience. In the wake of a health scare, Uncle Obadiah Pickwick has decided to change his will, leaving money to make amends for four generations’ worth of family misdeeds. But that will reveal all the Pickwicks’ secrets, including Piper’s.

Though Piper arrives in Pickwick primed for battle, she is unprepared for Uncle Obe’s rugged, blue-eyed gardener. So just who is Axel Smith? Why does he think making amends is more than just making restitution? And why, oh why, can’t she stay on task? With the Lord’s help, Piper is about to discover that although good PR might smooth things over, only the truth will set her free.

Limelight by Melody Carson is the story of an 80-something lady who was rich and famous – in all the worst ways -- but must learn to live like “normal” people when her wealth disappears. In doing so, she comes to realize what’s important in life, come to peace with her past and is able to reconcile a number of her relationships. I enjoyed this book, although I have to admit the main character took a little long to “gain perspective”. I say this because her attitude set my teeth on edge so much, I wondered how long I could stand to listen to her whining before she finally “got over it.” I’ll say this for Melody Carson: she paints a very funny picture. Some of the scenarios the protagonist goes through before seeing the light are hilarious! This is a good, light read.

You can buy the book here (no giveaway copy):

Claudette Fioré used to turn heads and break hearts. She relished the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle because she had what it takes: money, youth, fame, and above all, beauty. But age has withered that beauty, and a crooked accountant has taken her wealth, leaving the proud widow penniless and alone.
Armed with stubbornness and sarcasm, Claudette returns to her shabby little hometown and her estranged sister. Slowly, she makes friends. She begins to see her old life in a new light. For the first time, Claudette Fioré questions her own values and finds herself wondering if it’s too late to change.

Melody Carson knows the heart and mind of a teenager. I recently read her book, What Matters Most (Book 3, Diary of a Teenage Girl series, Maya) and was amazed by (1) how little high school has changed since I left many moons ago; and (2) how hard it is to negotiate the emotional, social and sexual obstacle course of the teen years. I still remember every awful thing about high school and you couldn’t pay me enough to do it again. But if I had a friend like Melody Carson, I might survive a little better. I found her book to be realistic (oh so realistic) and her wholesome “advice by example of her characters” well received since it’s not preachy and offers practical guidelines for how to behave. Of course, I love the fact that Maya is an environmentalist and her "green tips" are posted throughout the book. Based on my reading of this one book, I would strongly recommend the series to anyone with a pre-teen or teenage girl.

You can buy the book here (no give away copy):

Maya’s Green Tip for the Day: Recycled fashion is one of the most fun ways to go green. A pair of jeans could be transformed into a denim skirt. A sweater into a vest. A bunch of old ties into a dress. A blanket into a poncho. Accessorize it in new way–with beads, buttons, appliqués, buckles, stencils, or ribbons…your imagination is only the limit. (65 words)

Sixteen-year-old Maya Stark has a lot to sort through. She could graduate from high school early if she wants to. She’s considering it, especially when popular cheerleader Vanessa Hartman decides to make her life miserable–and Maya’s ex-boyfriend Dominic gets the wrong idea about everything.

To complicate matters even more, Maya’s mother will be released from prison soon, and she’ll want Maya to live with her again. That’s a disaster waiting to happen. And when Maya plays her dad’s old acoustic guitar in front of an audience, she discovers talents and opportunities she never expected. Faced with new options, Maya must choose between a “normal” life and a glamorous one. Ultimately, she has to figure out what matters most.

These books were provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I've been listening to an 8 disk teaching series by Graham Cooke entitled, "A Way in the Wilderness". He talks about the lessons God teaches us as we go through "wilderness experiences". Graham teaches to love the "valleys" even more than the mountain top experiences because it's in the times of God's hiddenness that we really learn the lessons of how God thinks. If we can live by faith in the wilderness, we can do anything.

Alan Redpath once said, "There is nothing, no circumstance, no trouble, no testing that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has come past God and past Christ, right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose."

A lot of people I know and love, myself included, are going through wilderness times right now. It's hard. It's unpleasant. It's especially draining when the battles last months or years.

But I have a feeling. A teeny, tiny feeling in the bottom of my heart that a lot of these long, long wilderness times are about to be over. I think we're almost at the end of the valley and starting the climb to the mountaintop.

I hope I've learned well the lessons intended for me.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mixed Messages

Gandhi said, "My life is my message."

Think about the message you want your life to convey: your priorities, the type of person you are, what you value, the image of how you perceive yourself.

Now think about what message you send in how you live your life?

Do they match up?

Probably not. Don't take that as a scathing criticism; mine doesn't either.

The important question is, "Now what are you going to do about it?!"

To read more, visit today's post on Zen Habits entitled Life is Poetry.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Blog with a Purpose

Today is Blog Action Day, the day when bloggers all over the world blog about a common topic. The timely topic for 2009 (how's that for alliteration?!) is Climate Change. You can read more about Blog Action Day here.

So what can you as an individual do about Climate Change? The single greatest thing you can do is write your elected officials on all levels and vote for those politicians who support environmentally sound practices. There are a million little things each of us can and SHOULD do every single day to support green living, but when a global sized problem exists, global sized solutions are required and the only way to do that is on a large political scale. Read Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas L. Friedman for a detailed explanation on what can be done if only we had politicians in office willing to tackle climage change in a meaningful way.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Book Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Pam of Boulder, Colorado, our winner of John Bevere's new book Extraordinary. Thanks to everyone who entered. Please check back for more reviews and give aways.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself

If you've been reading my blog at all, you know I'm a huge fan of New York Times columnist and best selling author several times over, Thomas L. Friedman. I recently caught up on reading his column. Here's another case where I Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself!

Change the World

Here's Reduce Footprint's Wednesday Change the World Challenge:

Put on your walking shoes because this week we're going to walk ... not just idle walking ... we're going to clean as we go. Yep, this week, please go for a walk ... at least once ... and pick up litter as you go. If you're feeling ambitious, go every day. Once you've got your bag of litter, recycle what can be recycled before tossing the rest in the trash bin.

Isn't that a great challenge? Not only will we get some exercise and breathe in some fresh, fall air ... we'll be cleaning up trash as we go. We can all agree that litter is an eye-sore ... but if you're wondering why litter is bad for the environment, read about it HERE.

My mom and I do this all the time. Don't underestimate the influence you have on people. When we started walking our subdivision picking up trash, we were the only ones. Now several other neighbors do, too, and one told us we inspired her. I'd like to think that anyone who sees us, whether they're driving by or looking out their windows, might think twice the next time they litter or walk past someone else's litter. Tip: keep a set of garbage bags next to your walking shoes so you don't forgot to take them with you.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Book Review and Giveaway

Extraordinary, The Life You're Meant to Live, by John Bevere is an excellent foundations book. Unfortunately, in these times, its message probably contains foundational teaching that a lot of seasoned believers should know, but don't . . . or don't apply it to their lives. Basically, John Bevere challenges you out of your spiritual mediocrity and into a life where you are sanctified, set apart unto God, and, thus, able to move in the full power, promise, blessing and authority promised by God. We get in this rut of thinking, "I can't do great things. Only the first century giants like Paul and John could do such things." Or, "I'm just a sinner, forgiven, but warring every day without progress against the flesh." Extraordinary teaches those beliefs are false -- and shows you how to live life better -- as God intended.

I really enjoyed this book overall. Unfortunately, a few of Bevere's scriptural interpretations were off base (in my opinion), but I'm quite sure I don't have it all right either! This was a good book with a relevant message for all believers, new and seasoned alike.

I have one copy of Extraordinary to give away. To enter the random drawing, just e-mail your name and mailing address to The winner will be drawn on Friday, October 9th. Good luck!

You can purchase the book here:

Below is the summary from the publisher:


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

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

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

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

Author Bio:

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


Last night I read something in Vegetarian Times that has captured my thoughts. An actress being interviewed said that she and her husband decluttered by each choosing one item from their house every day for 30 days to get rid of. Also, if they wanted to bring a new item in, they had to dispose of one additional item. How marvelous! Imagine if everyone in your household got rid of one item every day for 30 days. Preferably, the items would be donated, sold or recycled rather than trashed. For a family of 5, that's 150 items! Think of how much stress those items would represent. Think of how much work (cleaning, storing). Think of how much SPACE you'd gain.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chop Chop

I read a statistic yesterday that I've read many times in the past, but it never ceases to blow me away:
In China alone, 25 million trees are made into chopsticks every year.

Below is the Ideal Bite article to read. Definitely check out the links. I was intrigued by the Kwytza Recycled Chopstick Art page -- great products for yourself or others!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself!

Once again, I couldn't have said it better myself. Please enjoy this New York Times article by Thomas L. Friedman, "Real Men Tax Gas":

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Yesterday was the International Day of Peace as designated by the United Nations. While this day centers around ending war and human atrocities, I'd like to remind everyone of the following wise words:

The most violent weapon on earth is the table fork. —Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, September 21, 2009

If God is Good

We have all asked the question and probably more than once, "If God is good, then why . . ." Why is there suffering? Why is there unfairness? Why is their illness? Why is there death? Job loss? Divorce? Sexual abuse? War?

Many books have tried to answer this age old question. Some authors use this question to "prove" that God doesn't exist. Some say God does exist, but he doesn't have the power to work miracles in the face of free will. Some say God has the power to do anything, but isn't entirely benevolent and, therefore, allows evil to exist. Some say God created the world, but then lets it run on its own and doesn't get involved with the day-to-day workings.

In his new book If God Is Good, Randy Alcorn attempts to answer this question in a scholarly and comprehensive manner. His book is very lengthy, detailed and attempts to leave no scriptural stone unturned or facet of the question unanswered. This book is an excellent resource for counselors, pastors, caregivers, and anyone who wants to help someone who's hurting. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it for someone in the midst of turmoil unless that person is the type who needs to process grief through intellectual undertaking. Because the book is so detailed and long, I can't imagine someone in the throes of trauma having the wherewithal to cull through it. However, since we all go through difficult times at one point or another, it's an excellent book to read so that your faith and understanding are more fleshed out when the time comes for you to undergo a situation that raises the question, "If God is good, then why . . . ?"

Unfortunately, I don't have a free copy of this book to give away. However, you can buy it here:


Every one of us will experience suffering. Many of us are experiencing it now. As we have seen in recent years, evil is real in our world, present and close to each one of us.

In such difficult times, suffering and evil beg questions about God--Why would an all-good and all-powerful God create a world full of evil and suffering? And then, how can there be a God if suffering and evil exist?

These are ancient questions, but also modern ones as well. Atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and even former believers like Bart Ehrman answer the question simply: The existence of suffering and evil proves there is no God.

In this captivating new book, best-selling author Randy Alcorn challenges the logic of disbelief, and brings a fresh, realistic, and thoroughly biblical insight to the issues these important questions raise.

Alcorn offers insights from his conversations with men and women whose lives have been torn apart by suffering, and yet whose faith in God burns brighter than ever. He reveals the big picture of who God is and what God is doing in the world–now and forever. And he equips you to share your faith more clearly and genuinely in this world of pain and fear.

As he did in his best-selling book, Heaven, Randy Alcorn delves deep into a profound subject, and through compelling stories, provocative questions and answers, and keen biblical understanding, he brings assurance and hope to all.

Book Giveaway Winners

Congratulations to Julie of Norfolk, Virginia, and Eliana of Madison, Wisconsin, our winners of Kiss Me Again by Barbara Wilson. Thanks to everyone who entered.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Book Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Wanda of Winnipeg, Manitoba, our winner of Bruce Wilkinson's new book, You Were Born for This.

Remember, there's still time to enter the drawing for Kiss Me Again by Barbara Wilson; the winner will be announced Monday.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Book Review

Kiss Me Again by Barbara Wilson is for women who have lost the intimacy in their marriage due to the baggage of their sexual history. I think this book can be very helpful to a lot of women; however, I don't believe that sexual history is the only reason women lose intimacy in marriage.

By the time most women come to marriage, they have had one or more previous romantic experience, sexual or not, and those bonds, hurts, experiences, perhaps sexual sins, etc., can have a cummulative effect on a woman's marriage and the intimacy of marriage. I admit that I've often told my husband I wish I would have met him before I was hurt multiple times -- I would have been less jaded, more giving, less protective, more hopeful, and, generally, a better wife. So I can certainly see how many women's romantic and sexual histories would have a negative effect on intimacy in their marriages.

Barbara Wilson gives step by step instructions for healing the wounds caused by sexual and romantic history and uses a lot of examples (many personal) demonstrating her points. Her book is easy to understand and engaging. I can certainly see how her book would heal a lot of marriages and would recommend it.

GIVE AWAY: I have two copies of Kiss Me Again by Barbara Wilson to give away. To enter the random drawing, e-mail your name and mailing address to The winner will be drawn Monday, September 21st. Good luck!

To buy the book, go to or your favorite bookseller.


Do you ever wonder why marriage can seem like the end of intimacy and sexual desire instead of the beginning?

Ever wonder why it was so hard to resist sex before marriage—and so easy to resist it now? If so, you’re not alone! Many married women genuinely want to feel more desire toward their husbands…and can’t figure out what went wrong. But there’s good news. In Kiss Me Again, Barbara Wilson shows how powerful “invisible bonds” from past relationships can cause heartache, disappointment, and distance for couples in the present. Then—with sensitivity, honesty, and hope—Barbara walks you step by step toward healing…and a rekindling of the closeness and passion with your husband that you really want.

You don’t have to live any longer with confusion, disappointment, resentment, or shame. You can rediscover desire. You can say Wow! again.

With assessment tools, write-in exercises, and gentle guidance, Kiss Me Again offers a biblical plan for rekindling the closeness and passion women long for in marriage. Because no past is beyond the reach of God’s healing touch.

In Kiss Me Again, Wilson:

· Shares her own story of healing and renewed desire

· Helps women forgive themselves and their husbands for past choices

· Shows readers how to break free from “invisible bonds”

· Explains God’s plan for helping a husband and wife to re-bond

· Includes conversation helps for both wives and their husbands

· Helps couples reignite the passion that they thought was lost

Author Bio:

Barbara Wilson is the author of The Invisible Bond and former director of sexual health education for the Alternatives Pregnancy Resource Center in Sacramento. She speaks nationwide to youth and adults with her message of sexual healing, and she teaches frequently in the women’s ministry at the multi-campus Bayside Church in Northern California. Barbara and her husband, Eric, have been married for twenty-eight years.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Book Review

You Were Born for This by Bruce Wilkinson is a book most believers need to read. Many believers I know pray without expecting answers from God and actually seem shocked in the event He answers. This is not what God intends. Further, I wonder how we ever got to the point where we stopped expecting God to do miracles in our lives.

Bruce Wilkinson tackles this head on in You Were Born for This. He discusses in clear and practical terms how we can live every day ready to be God's agent for performing miracles, and expect them in our own lives as well. I found this book to be somewhat similar, in concept at least, to Henry Blackaby's Experiencing God series -- that God desires to accomplish His will and perform miracles, He chooses to use people to accomplish His will, and if we will be willing to listen and obey, God can and will habitually deliver miracles through us. If all believers would start to practice the principles taught in You Were Born for This, I think revival would come to the world because miracles would be widespread.

GIVE AWAY: I have one copy of You Were Born for This by Bruce Wilkinson to give away. To enter the random drawing, please e-mail your name and mailing address to me at The winner will be chosen Friday, September 18th.

To buy the book, click on the link below:


His New York Times phenomenon The Prayer of Jabez changed how millions pray. Now Bruce Wilkinson wants to change what they do next.

Anyone can do a good deed, but some good works can only happen by a direct intervention from God. Around the world these acts are called miracles—not that even religious people expect to see one any time soon. But what would happen if millions of ordinary people walked out each morning expecting God to deliver a miracle through them to a person in need? You Were Born for This starts with the dramatic premise that everyone at all times is in need of a miracle, and that God is ready to meet those needs supernaturally through ordinary people who are willing to learn how Heaven works.

In the straightforward, story-driven, highly motivating style for which he is known, Wilkinson describes how anyone can help others experience miracles in such universally significant arenas of life as finances, practical help, relationships, purpose, and spiritual growth.

You Were Born for This
will change how readers see their world, and what they expect God can do through them to meet real needs. They will master seven simple tools of service, and come to say with confidence, “I want to deliver a supernatural gift from God to someone in need today—and now I know how!”

Author Bios:

One of the world’s foremost Christian teachers, Bruce Wilkinson is best known as the author of the New York Times #1 bestseller The Prayer of Jabez. He is also the author of numerous other bestsellers, including A Life God Rewards, Secrets of the Vine, and The Dream Giver. Over the past three decades, Wilkinson has founded several global initiatives, including organizations that recruited and trained thousands of Americans to address hunger, AIDS, and poverty in Africa. Bruce and his wife, Darlene, have three children and six grandchildren. They live outside Atlanta.

David Kopp has collaborated with Bruce Wilkinson on over a dozen bestselling books, including The Prayer of Jabez. He is an editor and writer living in Colorado.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Book Giveaway Winners

Congratulationns to Jen of Dallas, TX, and Lori of Pensacola, FL, our winners of Charlene Ann Baumbich's new book Stray Affections. Check back Monday for more reviews and giveaways.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

There's No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

We all have limited time (24 hours a day) and limited money (even Bill Gates has a limit -- a high limit, but a limit nonetheless). In fact, I can't really think of anything that doesn't have a limit. So why -- WHY do we think the earth's resources are unlimited?! GRRRR.

To read what has me in a huff, click here:

Reminder: Book Giveaway: I have TWO copies of Stray Affections by Charlene Ann Baumbich to give away tomorrow, September 11th. To enter the random drawing, please send your mailing address to

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Burden of Communication

I think I've mentioned in the past that my husband is not originally from the United States. One of the biggest cultural differences that affect our marriages is communication. Obviously, communication is essential to a marriage!

In America, we put the burden of communication on the speaker -- it is the speaker's role to communicate his or her point well. If the audience doesn't understand, it is the speaker's job to communicate the point differently/better. In my husband's country, good communication is the burden of the listener. If you don't understand, it's your job to figure out what the speaker was trying to convey. (My obnoxious American attitude is to say, "Yeah, and how do I do that without making the speaker explain it better?!") Incidentally, these cultural differences are not just my opinion and observation, but supported by Malcolm Gladwell in his fascinating book, Blink.

Anyway, I read a quote about communication many, many weeks ago that I can't stop pondering:

"Human nature is such that if two people listen, each feels only half responsible for understanding, and if ten people are listening each feels responsible to be but one tenth." Yasutani Roshi, The Lectures from The Three Pillars of Zen.

HMMM. If that's true (and I feel it is based on careful observation), what does that say for any lecture, sermon, homily, class, etc.?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Stray Affections

This week's book is Stray Affections by Charlene Ann Baumbich. I have to confess, I didn't finish this book. Not because it wasn't good, but because I'm too soft hearted (or soft headed) to read it. The main character of the book talks in detail about her rescue dogs that were strays . . . even though there is a happy ending and it's fiction, I just could handle "stray dog" details. But, the book intrigued me and what I read of it I enjoyed (minus the dog details). I'm sure my blog readers are stronger stock and would enjoy this book immensely.

Here is a video of the author talking about her book:


In Stray Affections, the last thing that Cassandra expects out of her Sunday is to be mesmerized at a collectors’ convention by a snowglobe. She’s enjoying some shopping time, with husband Ken at home tending their brood of four young boys, when she’s utterly charmed by the one-of-a kind globe containing figures of three dogs and a little girl with hair the color of her own. She can’t resist taking the unique globe home—even if means wrestling another shopper for it!

The beautiful snowglobe sparks long-dormant memories for Cassie, of her beloved Grandpa Wonky, the stray she rescued as a child and the painful roots of her combative relationship with her mother, “Bad Betty” Kamrowski. Life in Wanonishaw, Minnesota is never dull, though, and Cassie keeps the recollections at bay, busy balancing her boys, her home daycare operation, and being a good friend to best pal Margret. But after a strange—flurrious, as Cassie deems it—moment happens with the remarkable snowglobe, Cassie and the people she loves are swirled into a tumultuous, yet grace-filled, and life-changing journey.

“As a believer, I know the power of forgiveness and new beginnings, and of a God, and family and friends, who love me the way I am,” Charlene Ann Baumbich says. “The heartbeat of change flows through those wonderful gifts.”
With the quirky, close-knit Midwestern small-town feel that made Charlene Ann Baumbich’s acclaimed Dearest Dorothy novels so popular, Stray Affections invites readers to experience the laughter and the healing of second chances.

You can purchase the book here:

GIVE AWAY: I have two copies of Stray Affections to give away. To enter the random drawing, please send your name and mailing address to The winners will be drawn Friday, September 11th. Good luck!

Charlene Ann Baumbich is a popular author and speaker and an award-winning journalist. In addition to her Dearest Dorothy series of novels, she has written seven nonfiction books of humor and inspiration. A bungee-jumping, once motorcycle-owning grandma and unabashed dog lover, Charlene lives with her husband and rescued dog Kornflake in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. She loves telling stories, laughing whenever possible, and considers herself a Wild Child of God.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I'm Back . . . I Think

I know I've been absent from the blogosphere for awhile. I could try to tell you what my life's been like lately, but I wonder if anyone would believe it! Anyway, I think I'm back and, in fact, will have a book review and giveaway tomorrow.

I've been missing the Change the World Challenges, but just wanted to comment on this week's challenge from Reduce Footprints. This week's challenge is to forego all manner of styrofoam containers. This reminds me of an episode of the TV sitcom, Murphy Brown. Murphy does a story on the environment that's so moving, everyone on the show vows not to do anything "ungreen" for a week. This was a progressive message in the late '80s and early '90s. Anyway, one night Murphy works late and is starving. She orders a sandwich delivered from the local bar, Phil's, and is dismayed when it's delivered in a styrofoam box. She struggles with the decision for several minutes, before refusing delivery of the sandwich.

That episode really stuck with me (obviously). So much so that a couple of months ago, I couldn't take the guilt that accompanied my doggie bag from a restaurant. Although I don't believe in wasting food, I also couldn't "stomach" the styrofoam take out container. The solution? I keep a bag of reusable Rubbermaid containers in my car (with my cloth grocery bags). Whenever I need a "to go" box from a restaurant, I get one out of my car and scrape my food into it.

The first time I used my containers, I was a little self conscious. When the waiter saw what I was doing, he informed me he and his wife have been doing the same thing when they go out for the last year! I felt like such a Johnny-come-lately. So now I'm not even remotely self-conscious about it. It just provides me with another opportunity to be an "ambassador for environmentalism". It gives me a chance to talk to the waitstaff, my dining companions or other patrons of the restaurant about green living in a non-judgmental way. Non-judgmental? Oh yeah, did I mention the Rubbermaid containers I use are bright pink with Hello Kitty on them ($1 for 2 at Target)? This not only attracts attention and starts conversations, but allows me to use humor and make fun of myself while getting the message out! ;-)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Melt Down Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to Gina in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Tami in Des Moines, Iowa, our winners of Chuck Holton's new book, Melt Down. Thanks to everyone who entered.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Feeling Frenzied? Stressed? Overwhelmed?

I feel like someone turned a blender on in my chest and I'm so overwhelmed I don't know where to run first (quite frankly, I just want to crawl back into bed and hide). So when I ran across the prayer below in Joanna Weaver's book, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, I knew I had to share it.

And for those of you who are wondering, although the book is excellent, I still look like Martha on steroids and look little or nothing like Mary!

The Lord Is My Pace Setter

The Lord is my pace setter. I shall not rush
He makes me stop for quiet intervals
He provides me with images of stillness which restore my serenity
He leads me in the way of efficiency through calmness of mind and his guidance is peace
Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day, I will not fret, for his presence is here
His timelessness, his all importance will keep me in balance
He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity by anointing my mind with his oils of tranquility
My cup of joyous energy overflows
Truly harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruits of my hours for I shall walk in the pace of my Lord and dwell in his house forever.
(A version of the Twenty-third Psalm from Japan)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Having a Big Mouth CAN be a Plus!

Recently I was directed to an article about how to spread the "green message" -- see the link at the bottom of this page. I have been doing this for years and want you to know it works. Recently, I was in a store and delivered my standard line: "Thanks, but I don't need a bag. It's just more for me to recycle." The clerk went OFF -- talking loud and long to me, other customers and her co-workers about how we definitely have too much waste in the world, we need to save resource, the environment, etc., etc. By the time she (and I) were through, we had gathered a crowd of nodding people. Another time when I delivered that line, I had a customer come back to the counter and say, "Yeah, come to think of it, you can take my bag back, too."

I didn't even realize how much I talk about the environment in passing until one day the owner of the Pack & Mail store I frequent often for my job said, "Well, I KNOW how much you recycle and, quite frankly, you made me feel so guilty that I am much more conscientious about it now because of you." I apologized for the guilt trip, but he assured me my conversation was perfectly fine -- he just felt convicted by my words and vowed to do better as a result. By the way, take any packing peanuts and other packing materials you receive to your local Pack & Mail, UPS store, etc. They will gladly reuse your packing materials -- it saves them money, saves their customers money, and saves the environment.

If you deliver your message with a smile or a bit of humor, I promise it will get across. However, the best lessons are taught by actions, not words. I've blogged before about the fact that when I am on my way to a store, I almost always grab an errant cart and pick up garbage on the way to the store (there are always garbage cans at store entrances). One day, a man who had seen me do this followed me through the store until he got enough courage to approach me. He said I had inspired him to do an unnoticed good deed as well and he'd look for an opportunity to do just that. I had no idea I was being watched and, while I don't pick up litter for the accolades, it does my heart good to know perhaps I'm having a positive influence on people. Maybe they won't pick up litter, but perhaps they'll think twice before they toss something on the ground.

Here's the article which inspired this post:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Change The World Challenge

Here's this week's challenge from Reduce Footprints:

This week, turn your trash bin into the smallest container in the house by starting a compost bin and/or a recycle bin.

Or, if you're already a composter and recycler, write a post about it. Include information on what works for you and what doesn't, tips on how to be successful at it, and perhaps why it's preferable over sending stuff to a landfill.

I recycle every little bitty thing. In fact, the other day my husband accidentally tossed a 1 1/2 x 2 inch post it note in the garbage and then jumped a foot when he heard the blood curdling shriek that involutarily escaped from my throat. He didn't even have to ask. His arm automatically swung an arc and plucked the paper out of the garbage can and into the recycling bin! However, although I've research composting extensively -- and harvesting worm castings myself -- I canNOT add one more thing to my to do list. However, may I recommend Rising Mist Organics, for the best worm composting system on the market?! You may remember Rising Mist Organics from my post on buying vegan fertilizer -- worm castings!

Don't forget, Im giving away two copies of Chuck Holton's book, Meltdown. To enter the drawing, e-mail your name and mailing address to The winner will be drawn next Tuesday, August 25th. Good luck.