Saturday, September 29, 2007

Family Game Night...with Joel Olsteen!

From the department of "I'm not making this up."

Your Best Life Now, The Game: based off the book by Joel Osteen.

In just 30 minutes, you can live life to your full potential! Play through exciting levels of enlarging your vision or finding strength through adversity! Found at quality establishments offering overstocked merchandise that wouldn't sell anywhere else (I saw it at Tuesday Morning).


Friday, September 28, 2007

CFBA Tour - Remembered

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
(Fountain Creek Chronicles, Book 3)
(Bethany House, 2007)


Tamera Alexander is a bestselling novelist whose deeply drawn characters, thought provoking plots, and poignant prose resonate with readers. Alexander’s books have won multiple awards, including Romance Writers of America’s 2007 RITA® for Best Inspirational Romance, the 2007 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, 2007 Bookseller’s Best, and Library Journal’s Top Christian Fiction of 2006.

Her books have received acclaim from Library Journal, True West Magazine and Historical Novels Review, and Rekindled debuted on the CBA fiction bestseller list. She has a professional background in business management and conference coordination. A leader of women's ministries for over twelve years, she is currently active in music ministry, facilitating small groups, and mentoring other women. A graduate of Harding University, Tamera lives with her husband and their two teenagers in Greeley, Colorado.

Her other two books in the Fountain Creek Chronicles are Rekindled (Book 1) and Revealed (Book 2)

To celebrate the release of Remembered, as well as the 3-volume boxed set of Fountain Creek Chronicles (Rekindled, Revealed, and Remembered), Tamera is currently giving away boxed sets in a contest on her website. Check out the contest at .

From a Distance, the first book in Tamera’s next historical series (Timber Ridge Reflections) releases in spring 2008.


Though loss is often marked
in a single moment,
letting go of someone you love
can take a lifetime...

The threat of war--and a final request--send Véronique Girard from France to a distant and uninviting country. In the Colorado Territory, she searches for the man who has held her heart since childhood--her father. Pierre Girard left Paris for the Americas to seek his fortune in fur trading, vowing to send for his wife and daughter. But twenty-five years have passed and his vow remains unfulfilled. Sifting through shards of broken promises, Véronique embarks on a dangerous search for a man she scarcely remembers.

His grief finally healed, Jack Brennan is moving on with life. After years of guiding families west, he is now working as a freighter to the mining towns surrounding Willow Springs. What he doesn't count on is an unexpected traveling companion on his trips up into the mountains, and how one woman's search will cause havoc with his plans... and his life.

"Alexander again delivers a most amazing story. The characters are more than words on the page; they become real people. Though there are French words sprinkled throughout the story, they enhance the emotions rather than distract the reader." --Romantic Times

"...a rich historical romance by possibly the best new writer in this subgenre." --Library Journal

"Alexander has done it again with Remembered, third in the FOUNTAIN CREEK CHRONICLES. She's fashioned characters that are as rich and deep as the mountains and valleys they explore throughout the pages, coloring the story as adeptly as the heroine does her canvas. I was drawn immediately into the ages-old heartaches of both of the main characters, understanding at once Veronique's reticence to make a place for herself in the unknown wilds of America and Jack's uncompromising love for this land that he’s cut a swath through time and again. They both have a series of mountains to overcome in the search for Veronique’s father, but I enjoyed watching their faith and appreciation grow with each turn of the page. And woven adeptly through it all is the encompassing truth of the Lord's sovereignty—that sometimes He takes away, and sometimes He gives us what we need, not what we're looking for.

Anyone's who's read the other Fountain Creek books won't want to miss this one, but it easily stands alone. The characters will take you by the hand and lead you heart-first into their stories, and by the time they release you at the end, you'll feel as though you've taken up residence just across the Creek from them, as surely as they have in your heart." --Roseanna White,

"Remembered, the third book in the FOUNTAIN CREEK CHRONICLES, takes us back to Willow Creek and revisits beloved characters from the previous two books in the series, Rekindled and Revealed. Tamera Alexander has the remarkable ability to create places, and characters who endear themselves to us, even those just briefly mentioned. If I had lived in the late 1800s, I would love to have met these people and would surely have been inspired by the way they lived out their faith.
Remembered is a delightful read, well-researched and well-written. I expect to see great things from this author in the future." --Lindsey Freitas,

"Remembered is an absolutely wonderful continuation of the FOUNTAIN CREEK CHRONICLES." --Amanda Schafer,

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pray for Burma (Myanmar)

Events in the news can and should push us as Christians to pray for events unfolding. One event in the news right now concerning a country most people know nothing about (and can't even pronounce!) is the country of Myanmar. It is known by the name Burma, but the ruling junta renamed it Myanmar in 1989, even though the US and UK do not recognize the name change.

The last couple of weeks has seen a lot of peaceful protests by Buddhist monks, who are highly revered in Burma, against the military rulers. It was sparked by a harsh doubling of gas prices in this poor country, but it has taken on familiar democratic cries for freedom and elections. The junta behaved initially, but with the protests increasing in scope, they have initiated curfews and there are reports of deaths.

This country has a very small minority of Christians, mainly in the hill people known as the Karen. There is a lot of persecution for Christians in particular, even though people from all backgrounds suffer greatly in Burma. There was a report earlier this year that told of a government plan to wipe Christianity out of the country altogether.

Let's all pray for peace for the country, and that justice would come to pass for those poor people under oppression there. We need to especially pray for the Christians for protection, and strive to see the country opened up for freedom for all.

Remember to use whatever comes your way through the day as opportunities to pray and inject the Kingdom of God into our world.

Edited on 9/27/07
For more information:
An insightful article about Burma and its last revolt.
Updates from the BBC.
A Q&A about the situation.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Weekend of Worship

We had a wonderful time with Noel and Tricia Richards with us over the weekend. They are a remarkable couple with humility and a heart for reaching out with the love of Christ. So often contemporary worship can foster a "Bless me Lord" mentality with the lyrics and individual focus. However, "worship without mission is self-indulgent, and mission without worship is self-defeating."

The Richards certainly follow through with that statement. As Noel taught in a seminar and again at our Sunday worship service, it is important not only to worship God vertically with songs and praise, but that we worship Him horizontally by showing His love to the least, the last, and the lost. This has been in my heart for a while now, so Noel's words just confirmed what we've been working through in our church.

One thing I've never seen are worship songs that speak of helping the poor and downtrodden in the lyrics. Yet this is one of Noel's new songs that we sang over the weekend:
We Thank You God

We thank you God for our daily bread
In every way our lives have been blessed
And by your hands we're fed

Why do we pray, bless us O Lord
You meet our needs, still we want more

What is Your blessing for
If not to feed the poor

To love justice, show mercy
This is the Kingdom of God

Open our eyes we need to care
Move in our hearts teach us to share

Your riches everywhere
Love beyond compare

To love justice, show mercy
This is the Kingdom of God

We thank you God for our daily bread
In every way our lives have been blessed
And by your hands we're fed

That is a powerful statement. It is a challenge for us as the church to be out being the church, instead of just holding church. If you get a chance to see Noel Richards, I would highly recommend it. If you haven't checked his music out, he should be getting his albums available through iTunes USA (they're on the UK iTunes, but Americans can't use it unfortunately).


How do you like the new digs? Pretty snazzy, huh? I had been thinking for a while that I needed to do something other than a standard Blogger template. Because...well, no pressing reason, but looking cool is a good reason, right?

I had thought I would try my hand at some graphic design, but I haven't done much of anything with it before. Finally I realized if it was going to get done, I would need some help.

I found wonderful help.

Major kudos to Hanna Sandvig for the design. I blogged about her art before and enjoy her work. She used a picture of mine that I took of a fresco in Salzburg, Austria, last summer. I had a vague idea of what I would like, but I didn't imagine how nice it would turn out. So if you want to give your blog a face-lift, Hanna has a great deal for you.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Change Is in the Air

You might notice some changes around here for a couple days. Let me know what you think!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Finishing Strong

I recently finished a Christian fiction series that I've been working through for the last several months (in between blog tours, ya know). The author overall did a wonderful job with these books. It seemed for a little while that a pattern was developing and the story was becoming predictable, but the author managed to zag instead of zig and made the final book that much more interesting. Kudos on that one!

The individual books always managed to finish off in a satisfying manner, although you knew that there was more to come. I'd been waiting a while to see what happened in the end. When I came to the very end though, I stopped and wondered to myself, "Is that it?" I found the denoument to be quite unsatisfying as a reader. I didn't want all to be "happily ever after" for the heroes, with every situation neatly resolved, but all the build-up seemed to drop. I can't recall if that was the reaction of others who read this series, but I had a little disappointment from that.

I would still recommend the series to people, but there is a little tarnish on what was an excellent series. Now, I'm not naming the series because I don't want to debate what happened there. I'm just using it as an example of not finishing strong in your writing.

I say this because I think I really have to work at finishing strong. The way I write is usually that I have a scene pictured mentally, and I see the setting, actions, emotions, and have a sense of the dialogue, as well as knowing where I'm going with it. But I suffer from a bad habit from high school days, which was never taking time to write a rough draft. My writing was strong enough I could get by with my first effort. Mind you, I would edit as I went, but it doesn't help my attempts at writing now.

This is pertinent because I have an internal editor that won't shut up. I really try to get into a groove with writing, putting words on the page, but I get hung up frequently by trying to word things just right the first time. It becomes a battle to get much production done in my limited writing time. I wrestle with my keyboard (not literally), trying to balance my editing with actually getting somewhere!

Finally I reach the end of a passage or story. I've battled, flailed, and otherwise made myself push through to this point. There is light at the end of the tunnel! Unfortunately, this is where I override that nagging in my head and rush to the finish. Phew! I did it...except I didn't. By hurrying the end, I lose the emotional/suspense/build up I've been doing, and the story suffers.

This is my particular struggle, and how it typically plays out. I don't think the author of the series had this type of problem - it may just be me that feels that the ending was a little flat. I know there are a lot of ways for the ending to suffer. However, this is one of the worst things an author can do! If we've managed to hook the reader, given them something interesting and entertaining to spend their valuable time, only to rob them from the pay out they were expecting - boy, I can't imagine a bigger way to lose people. A book I can't get into is one thing; a book that burns me after that investment of time will cause me to forget the author forever.

I don't know of any magic solution to this dilemna, except for being disciplined and realizing that we need to finish strong. To use a football metaphor (just for you Mark), the best teams are the ones who can put the game away and hold on until the end. Those who struggle with letting their opponent back in will win some, but lose too many to be the best. I have to learn not to give up with the goal line in sight - sometimes the last few yards are the hardest to get.

Here's to the study and work we put in as writers - may we learn the skills we need to stay strong from start to finish! If anyone has any thoughts on this - tips or tricks to avoid this pitfall, please leave a comment. Maybe we can revisit this topic if there are good suggestions.

CFBA Tour - The Ex-Files

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Ex Files
(Touchstone June 19, 2007)


Victoria Christopher Murray always knew she would become an author, even as she was taking quite an unlikely path to that destination. A native of Queens, New York, Victoria first left New York to attend Hampton Institute in Virginia where she majored in Communication Disorders. After graduating from Hampton, Victoria attended New York University where she received her MBA.

Victoria spent ten years in Corporate America before she decided to test her entrepreneurial spirit. She opened a Financial Services Agency for Aegon, USA where she managed the number one division for nine consecutive years. However, Victoria never lost the dream to write and when the “bug” hit her again in 1997, she answered the call.

Victoria originally self published Temptation. “I wanted to write a book as entertaining and compelling as any of the books on the market, put God in the middle, and have the book still be a page-turner. I wasn’t writing to any particular genre – I didn’t even know Christian fiction existed. I just wanted to write about people I knew and characters I could relate to.”

In 2000, Time Warner published Temptation. Temptation made numerous best sellers list across the nation and remained on the Essence bestsellers list for nine consecutive months. In 2001, Temptation was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in Outstanding Literature.

Since Temptation, Victoria has written four other novels: JOY, Truth Be Told, Grown Folks Business, and A Sin and a Shame. All of her novels have continued to be Essence bestsellers; her last three each reaching #1. In addition, Victoria has received numerous awards including the Golden Pen Award for Best Inspirational Fiction and in 2006, she was awarded the Phyllis Wheatley Trailblazer Award for being the pioneer in African American Christian Fiction.


The Ex Files:

A Novel About Four Women and Faith...

There are four ways a woman can handle heartbreak. She can fall apart, seek revenge, turn cold, or move on. The Ex Files is the story of these four women:

When Kendall Stewart finds her husband and her sister in bed together, she vows to never let anyone get that close again. But when she is faced with saving the life of the woman who destroyed hers, will she be able to forgive?

When an NBA superstar tells his mistress, Asia Ingrum, that he's decided to honor his marriage vows, her shock quickly gives way to revenge...but her decision may come back to haunt their five-year-old daughter.

Every night Vanessa Martin wonders why her husband committed suicide. Even worse, she contemplates joining him in eternity. Will Vanessa be able to gather the strength to live again?

Sheridan Hart is finally finding her way after a lie destroyed her seventeen-year marriage. Her new love is ready to get married, but will she commit to this younger man or is her ex-husband taking up too much space in her heart?

When their pastor asks Kendall, Asia, Vanessa, and Sheridan to meet weekly for prayer, they can't imagine they will have anything in common. But then a devastating tragedy strikes and these strangers are forced to reexamine their choices. Will they find true friendship, or will prayer -- and their union -- fail them?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Cap'n

Cap'n Caleb was not in the mood fer havin' his picture taken by a landlubber. His temper was fierce, n' there was not peace to be found after he left the poopdeck for his quarters.

Thankfully, the swashbuckler was later appeased with milk and a graham cracker. This pirate cap'n's treasure ere not measured in gold n' jewels, but in tasty carbohydrates. Arrrrrr!

CSFF Tour - Posts on The Return

Ok, those pesky pirates from earlier today (ARRRR) have finally left me alone to catch up with all the action for this month's CSFF blog tour. It seems several of us didn't read and review The Return because it is the third of a series and we hadn't started it. This is always a bummer with a blog tour. But the buzz from those who have read the series seem to consistently give the book high marks. For true science fiction, it seems to really nail things. So I have poured through my tourmates to discover the best posts to read. Some have posted the back cover or author info, which helps support the books, but these following have put a little more out there for you. Of course, don't miss out on Austin Boyd's personal site.

Grace Bridges gives a good review.

Valerie Comer has some interesting discussion regarding the series.

Marcus Goodyear is applying his editorial kung-fu on the book - see if it holds its own!

Christopher Hopper is a fellow author who gives praise to Mr. Boyd.

Karen managed to read this book in one night - see how she did it.

Rebecca LuElla Miller discusses book 2 (The Proof) and book 3 (The Return).

John W. Otte has hands down the deepest discussion of the Mars Hill Classified trilogy, from 9/17-9/19.

Deena Peterson has an interview with Austin Boyd and further discussion of the books.

Chawna Schroeder does an in-depth review on all 3 books, from 9/7, 9/14, and 9/18.

James Somers has a nice in-a-nutshell review.

Speculative Faith promotes these books as must read sci-fi.


Today's post for the blog tour will focus on...hey! What are you doing? Who are you? Lemme gooooooo

Arrr. This here blog is bein' boarded fer the celebration of "Talk Like a Pirate Day". Every September 19th we come t'gether fer great silliness - but if ye land lubbers dinna like it, ye be walkin' the plank. As always, th' pirates have scourged th' bilge rats that run this here blog until some suitable links are uncovered.

The Veggietales movie, The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything .

How to talk like a pirate. If'n ye need help, here be a translator!

Read up on yer favorite pirate.

fine fiction books for more piracy.

yer pirate name, ye scurvy dogs!

If'n ye still need help...

We be sailin' on later, and we may let this bilge rat return to his blog, if it doesn't amuse us to have him walk the plank! Aye, keep an eye out for Cap'n Caleb later on today, if ye dare.

Monday, September 17, 2007

CSFF Tour - The Return

This month's focus for the Christian Sci-fi and Fantasy blog tour is the last book in the Mars Hill Classified trilogy by Austin Boyd: The Return. The previous books in the series are The Evidence and The Proof.

As this book is the third of a trilogy, and I've been working on some other projects recently, I didn't pick up this book to read and review it. I wish I had; I hate to miss out on good stories, but maybe I can pick it up later. Unfortunately I'm not much good for the tour this month, except I will endeavor to review other members of the blog tour and highlight insightful posts from my fellow bloggers.

First off, you can always enjoy Austin Boyd's personal site. He has a fascinating story about his attempts to become an astronaut - worth checking out! Then Becky Miller is running reviews of the series, starting with The Evidence. Come back to her blog the next two days for the other books.

Below is a list of all the participants. Peruse them, as I will. I'll be back with some specific links to some posts with new information on this promising series.

Trish Anderson
Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Lisa Cromwell
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Merrie Destefano or Alien Dream
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Christopher Hopper
Becca Johnson
Dawn King
Tina Kulesa
Rachel Marks
Karen McSpadden
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
Lyn Perry
Deena Peterson
Cheryl Russel
Chawna Schroeder
Mirtika Schultz
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

Watch Your Wallet!

Here's an interesting article concerning Christian publishing. It doesn't specifically reference the fiction side of things, but if a big advance is going to certain people, then it makes sense that it would leave less money all around, including the fiction set.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Noel Richards In Blackfoot Idaho

I've been a little behind my preferred amount of blogging because I've been working on a special event my church, Harvest Foursquare Church, is hosting next weekend.

Our church is bringing in Noel Richards, a well-known worship leader from the United Kingdom. He has been to Pocatello before and is well aware of the challenges we face in this area.

Noel has been involved in leading worship since he was 15 years old. He’s worked with many other well-known worship leaders such as Matt Redman, Graham Kendrick, Reuben Morgan, and Delirious. He’s written numerous worship songs for the modern church, perhaps the best known of them being “All Heaven Declares”.

Noel has been involved the last 10 years in organizing worship events in large stadiums across Europe – believing that if people can pack these arenas for sports, why can’t we see them filled with people giving glory to the King of kings? He’s led events at Wembley Stadium in London and at Olympic Stadium in Berlin.

We are having Noel Richards come on Saturday, September 22. He will be giving a worship seminar from 1-4 pm at our church (see map here) for $10 per person. Noel will be presenting 3 separate sessions dealing with issues of leading worship and a lifestyle of worship.

Then at 7 pm we will be having a regional night of praise and worship, led by Noel and his wife Tricia. We're anticipating a great night of worship and coming together in unity for southeast Idaho. This event is free, with an offering taken for the Richards that night.

On Sunday, September 23 Noel and Tricia will be speaking at Harvest. The morning service starts at 10:30 am and usually goes to around 12:30 pm. All are welcome to come and worship with us that day.

Noel will also be speaking in Idaho Falls on Sunday night, sponsored by another fellowship. When I have more details I will update this post.

If you live in southeast Idaho, I highly encourage you to come to one of these events. It is not often we have someone of Noel Richard's caliber coming to our area. I would love to have as many people as possible partake in this. If you have any questions, leave a comment here with your email address (written as yourname [at] yahoo [dot] com to prevent getting picked up by a spammer) and I will be sure to contact you.

Let's praise the name of Jesus together!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Best Band You'll Never Get to See

Perhaps there's a little hyperbole in the title, but not a lot.

Southeast Idaho is an interesting place to live. It is a very beautiful place to live, but the climate is dry, both physically and spiritually. We live in the shadow of Salt Lake City, and it makes for a daily battle.

For years I had heard glowing things about Lystra's Silence, a band from Idaho Falls. They played concerts around our area and beyond. I always meant to go see them, but life, school, work, family, etc. would get in the way. "One of these days I'll get to hear them," I'd think.

To my chagrin, I almost didn't.

After several years of plying their craft and constantly improving, the band has decided that this season is over for them. This was shocking, as I was talking to a friend just this summer who was enthusiastically describing their upcoming album, saying that they were due to break out in a big way. So when I saw a farewell concert advertised for August 31, I told my wife that we were going.

Man! I sure missed out all this time. Idaho isn't Nashville, Austin, or Seattle - we don't have a burgeoning music scene, especially not when it comes to quality Christian bands. This foursome was confident in their music and presentation. Not flashy, but the quality of the lyrics and musicianship was impressive.

They have just released a final album, Tremble Here. It starts off with a wonderful piano-driven track called "Change", which has been constantly on my iPod this month. It continues with several other insighful, worshipful songs without being in the vein of the current popular worship music. The songs aren't nice little chorus ditties maximized for CCM radio airplay. They are deep, investigating the darker side of our lives at times while always pointing to the light and grace from our glorious Lord.

Lystra's Silence's lead singer is Sherry Muchira, who reminds me at times of Michelle Tumes in her voice. This is a piano heavy band, and they don't rock out a lot. I lean more toward Switchfoot and Relient K in my usual musical preferences, but I can definitely appreciate a more meditative listening experience.

I'm posting hoping that you will check them out and see if their music is something you would like to add to your collection. They ended their run with some debt, and so if you enjoy their music, I encourage you to buy an album or two and support these great artists. You may not be able to see them, but you can partake in the fruit they've offered over the last few years.

You can hear samples from their current album on their MySpace page, and from their prior album at their band website. You can order music from either location, I believe.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Muslim Prayer Focus

This week marks the beginning of Ramadan, the month of fasting for Islam. It is one of their holiest times of the year. As such, they fast from sun-up to sunset, spending time seeking Allah during the day and breaking fast at dusk with feasting.

The last 15 years has seen a coordinated effort by Christians to pray strategically for Muslims around the world during this time. This is the 16th edition of the effort, which has a worldwide reach.

We know that the conflict between the world of Islam and the West is a huge issue with lots of complexity and challenges. I encourage everyone to look into this material and participate with the prayers of thousands of Christians during this time. It has always been an insightful time of learning and blessing for my wife and I as we treat the prayer booklet as a nightly devotion.

You can get involved in a couple of ways. World Christian Books publishes a handy prayer booklet that gives you information on Islam and daily topics to pray through. You can still get one in time to start if you order right away! They even have a kids version of the booklet to do as a family. I've ordered this for the first time to do with my boys.

If you don't want a booklet or have time to order, then there is an online reference you can use as well. It looks to have deeper information than what was put in the booklet.

Finally, in the materials I received with our booklets (our church participates in it), it had an advertisement for The Crescent Project, a ministry that strives to educate the North American church about Islam and equips us to reach our Muslim neighbors. There is a $35 online seminar that can be done through this group. I haven't done this yet, but I think I will. I will report back on this if I do. This looks like a good resource for anyone with a heart regarding this matter.

As the church, we all have an opportunity to do something for the gospel to shine in such dark times and regions. We may not be called to go (although be honest, when was the last time we asked?) but we can intercede for Jesus' light to be revealed and freedom proclaimed to the captives. Please take a look at this material further over the next month.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Joseph Experience?

It's really hard to complain about life. I have a steady job, working four 10-hour shifts Mon - Thurs, (even though I'm on the bus at 5:40 am to get there). I have a good house in a good neighborhood. My bills are reasonable, both cars paid for. I've graduated from college. I have a computer with DSL and a Xbox 360 (yes, I am waiting for Halo 3...).

Now the important things: I've got good friends at my church and I'm able to minister out of my giftings there. I have three wonderful boys who are a delight to me every day. My beautiful wife is my breath and my joy. I have been redeemed from my sins and walk as a new creation as a son of the Most High King.

My only reaction should be one of continual thanks to Jesus for all these blessings.

And yet...

I don't know why we have such a hard time being content. I do know that God has placed me at my church, at my job, in my town.

And yet...

I can't shake the feeling that I'm in a place of...isolation? It seems that I am far from making a difference with my life, at least the difference I think I could be making. My heart is for ministry. My heart is to actively and consistently be of service to my Lord. I have dreams of doing greater things than what I'm doing right now. My job is quite unfulfilling in the day to day grind of things. Why can't I be doing something else? Then again, last year at this time I was out of work for 4 months, so how dare I complain?

Now, I know that I am called to serve God wherever I am, that my work and my town are mission fields in and of themselves. I know that true worship is walking in the light every day and being a vessel ready to be used by Him at any time. I realize this, and I really do my best to walk in it (not that any of us nail it perfectly all the time).

I ask the Lord to help me be content where I am. I feel like the description Yoda gives about Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back, "Always looking to the stars, longing for adventure is he." (paraphrase) I try to stay focused on what is in front of me, not worrying about tomorrow for He knows my needs and His purpose for me.

Still, I can't shake the feeling that I'm in a Joseph place right now. Whether it's in the prison or Potiphar's house, I think I need to do the best I can right now, keeping faith that God will be faithful to the call and words spoken to me in the past. I've been reading some novels where the main character has their "wilderness" experience, frustrated that they're not in the Promised Land yet, but being led by their God into these trying times to test or train them. I wonder if that's where I am right now.

I'm not sure why this post bubbled out of me. I don't want to be a whiner. Sometimes we learn from others' struggles, so maybe someone out there can relate or get something out of this. If you can't get anything here, try Heather over at L'Chaim, who has a good response to this post (even though she posted first!)

CFBA Tour - Sushi for One?

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Sushi for One?
(Zondervan, September 1, 2007)


Camy Tang is a member of CFBA and is a loud Asian chick who writes loud Asian chick-lit. She grew up in Hawaii, but now lives in San Jose, California, with her engineer husband and rambunctious poi-dog. In a previous life she was a biologist researcher, but these days she is surgically attached to her computer, writing full-time. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service.

Sushi for One? (Sushi Series, Book One) is her first novel. Her second, Only Uni (Sushi Series, Book Two) comes out in February 2008!

To celebrate the launch of her debut novel, she's got a huge contest going on. Camy is giving away baskets of Christian novels and an iPod Nano! Only her newsletter YahooGroup subscribers are eligible to enter, so join today.

For more information about the contest, visit her website.

Contest ends October 31, 2007!


Lex Sakai’s family, big, nosy, and marriage-minded, is ruled by a crafty grandmother. When her cousin Mariko gets married, Lex will become the OLDEST SINGLE COUSIN in the clan, a loathed position by all single female family members.

Lex has not dated for years.

Grandma homes in on this fact and demands, bribes, and threatens Lex to bring a boyfriend (not just a date) to her cousin’s wedding.

Lex does not want to date ... not since that terrible incident a few years back ... but, Grandma doesn't give her that choice.

Lex's options are slim because she has used her Bible study class on Ephesians to compile a huge list of traits for the PERFECT man (and the more she dates, the more she adds to the list).

The one man she keeps running into (and is completely attracted to) doesn’t seem to have a single quality on her list. It’s only when the always-in-control Lex loses control and lets God take over that all the pieces of this hilarious romance finally fall into place.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


We’re also seeing a lot of folks who are involved in the worldview side of our ministry through BreakPoint and the Centurions program seizing the day by recognizing that a biblical worldview means they need to change the way they live. They are understanding that if they are going to follow Jesus they need to live like Jesus, and that means getting involved in sacrificially serving the least, the last, and the lost among them. So that’s the kind of thing that I see that motivates me: seeing people seizing the day as Christ works through them in ways that cost them something and yet result in great benefits to those around them.

Mark Early, from The Point blog.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Review - And If I Die

As promised, I finished John Aubrey Anderson's latest book, And If I Die. I missed the last blog tour, but since I've blogged extensively about his first two books, Abiding Darkness (August, 2006), and Wedgewood Grey (February, 2007), I thought a continuation was in order. Plus, it's my blog, so I can do what I want.

Anderson continues the story of the battle between light and darkness that weaves in and out of generations in the South. The first book focused on the young white girl Missy Parker, and how she survived several encounters with demonic forces. The second book shows her black "almost daddy" Mose Washington provide protection for a young boy named Bill who loses his mother tragically and how Mose becomes his "Pap" to protect him from the same demonic forces.

The story shifts in a large part to Pilot Hill Texas, where Mose and Bill are in hiding while Bill attends college and works on his new passion of bull riding. They are only 15 miles from Missy Parker Patterson and her philosophy professor husband. This eclectic family knows that Bill has a special calling, but his resistance to all things spiritual frustrate their efforts to keep him safe from a powerful evil looking for revenge.

Missy has always been a stubborn girl, and growing into a beautiful woman has not really tempered her at all. When she hears a voice calling her to "Be ready," her stubborn refusal threatens a generation of work.

(It gets harder to write a good synopsis for a series without giving away a lot for prior books!)

And If I Die continues this touching and well-written story. Anderson has a real talent for bringing out the color of Mississippi and Texas, drawing the reader into a world that resonates with authenticity. I think my single most favorite line out of a book this year is the following exchange as a California kid tries Missy's iced tea:
When everyone had a glass, Griffin took a sip and exclaimed, "It's sweet!"
"Oops, sorry," Missy laughed. "It's a Miss'ippi thing, an' I forgot to warn you. Would you rather have something else?"
He took another sip, licked his lips, and pronounced, "Never again. I can't believe I wasted my youth on unsweetened tea."

As the series progresses, Anderson works to keep the inevitable patterns from becoming too predictable. We learn more background information of one of the major characters, still in a entertaining way that serve the story. He also continues to bring spiritual truth into the story in pretty natural ways.

Finally, the characters are attractive and draw you in to investing in what happens to them. Missy was missing to a degree in Wedgewood Grey, but she carries more of the load in the new book. She still is the most engaging character to me, although as an adult she has less of the learning curve she initially did. Anderson still has a hard time sticking to one viewpoint in a section, which can occasionally be confusing concerning who is thinking or speaking, but for the most part it is easy enough to discern.

Being third in the series, And If I Die rests on too much background to be read as a stand alone. My recommendation is to buy all three and enjoy a great read in a fascinating world. Even though his website only lists three books, my understanding is that it is a 6 book arc. I'm eagerly waiting for the next installment. I'm pretty confident he can maintain the tension and interest for that many books, but time will tell.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Sticky Hobo Spider Traps...

My wife is the local hobo spider paranoid expert. She is freaked out curious about them, and so is always looking to capture them. If you're interested in finding out more, you can check this reference.

Anyway, she had them strategically placed throughout our house and garage, making it treacherous for ANY hobo to darken our door. Why, behold what we caught just today while checking behind the sofa:

He won't be going anywhere soon...

Aw fishsticks, he got away...