Wedding Day

Wedding Day
Enjoy EVERY moment in your wedding gown. You can't stay in it forever...SO UNFAIR!!!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Pure Double Cross - By John Knoerle - BOOK ONE of the American Spy Trilogy



Summary (Back Cover): Cleveland, 1945. OSS spy Hal Schroeder returns from two harrowing years behind German lines. The horrors of war have left him bitter and cynical.

He is recruited by the FBI to infiltrate the Cleveland mob, to conduct a series of escalating sting operations that target elusive crime boss Teddy Briggslavski, a.k.a. Mr. Big.

Hal signs on, planning to double cross the feds, pocket their front monmey and disappear. He strugglews to walk the double cross tightrope between the G-men and the mobsters until the FBI gives him the final sting, a huge payroll heist.

Hal Schroeder goes to his long-sought meet with Mr. Big, confident he can turn the heist plan to his advantage and make off with a bundle. but he gets a very unpleasant surprise. Three very unpleasant surprises.

My Review: I am a huge lover of spy stories. Combine a spy with organized crime, and my brain fills with images of deception and shady forms of adventure. I have also always been fond of 40s era books and film. John Knoerle definitely captures that era with his story.

It was nice walking the streets along with Schroeder and clearly visualizing every sound and almost feeling the chill in the air of Cleveland near Christmas time. Each locale whether a deli or a jazz lounge and dance parlor. These details really bring the reader into the story.

Schroeder is a man who has seen the dark side of the war and lost so much while serving his country as a spy. There are no accolades for spies and he has experienced loss that has pushed him to a decision to look out for number one. He is recruited by the FBI to infiltrate a mob, and he is going to do just that, but he is going to get his as well.

This story had so many ups and downs for Hal. I never knew myself what side he was on and what side the FBI was on. Where they really there to even support him in what they hired him to do? This definitely helped you move along the story with some knowledge of what Hal Schroeder was going through. I was kept wondering if he would follow through on his plan or would he be caught by the mob, FBI or both.

Pros - Great, solid characters, excellent plot, fabulous locations, and a good laugh here and there. I enjoyed the story very much.

Cons - It did take me a while to read, and that is not usually the case. At times there were some details that seemed to extend scenes longer than necessary.

All in all, I enjoyed reading A Pure Double Cross. It was a nice escape from the mysteries that I have read lately that have had a romantic component to them. Sometimes I just want to focus on the suspense.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hurry Up and Enter!!!!

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I have scoped out a few more giveaways. I found a few that I couldn't resist. Some are books and some are not. They are all from great blogs so you may want to browse a bit when you get where you are going. :)

A Bookish Mom is hosting a giveaway for The Unexpected Gift by Michelle Blumer Atha and Meaghan Gonzales Wagar. Want to know if this is a book you will enjoy? Click on this link to Jennie's review: Review of The Unexpected Gift. She loved it. :) This giveaway runs until August 1st.

I filled you in on several great giveaways at Bookin' With Bingo, and I simply HAVE to fill you in on a few more. First, I would love, love, love to win Ravens by George Dawes Green! To win, put on your thinking caps and check out the fabulous blog tour stop at Bookin' With Bingo. You have until 6pm EST on August 4th.

Check out other great giveaways at Bookin' With Bingo such as :
The Spies of Warsaw (8/2),
The Devil's Company (8/3),

American Lion (8/3)

I am crazy about Neil Gaiman. One of my favorite books is Neverwhere which I have hoped would one day be put to life on film. For now...I wait. I have been hoping to get my hands on a copy of The Graveyard Book, and I know it is a high priority on my husband's Christmas list for me, but an autographed copy trumps that wish! The chance is at Maw Book Blog! Can you imagine?!! You have until July 31st so really MOVE IT!!!!


I am a huge fan of graphic novels. This all began when I was dating a guy who was VERY into comics. I went along with him to comic book shows in New York, Boston, New Hampshire, Maine and Rhode Island. At first, I hated it. I was bored beyond belief. Then I thought about how much I enjoyed comics when I was a kid. I figured I might as well browse a bit. My love affair with the graphic novel began. First I became enamored with Tomb Rader, Witchblade, Knights of the Dinner Table, Aria, BVS, Xena, and Sandman. I became really good at going through boxes and boxes of comics to find my gold. I had quite a collection after a few years, and sadly, when I moved from Rhode Island, I sold most of what I had at a yard sale and sold it quickly. I still kept a box of my favorites. The love never faded. I still pick up a new one here and there, but I don't have the great access I once did when picking up these treats. Which is probably good, because I spent a heck of a lot of money on comics back in the day. When I read that Literary Escapism had an interview with Jerry Gonzales and the opportunity to win Dusk, I practically had palpitations! Yep...the very idea made me write an entire HUGE paragraph for this giveaway. Go check out the interview. Get in on this chance. If you like graphic novels or if you are at the very least intrigued by this literary genre, you should really check this out. Giveaway ends July 28th!!!!


Yep...really rambled there. This is definitely a hurry up and enter day!


Blue Like Play Dough by Tricia Goyer - Blog Tour and Giveaway


Category: Religion - Christian Life - Women's Issues
Format: Trade Paperback, 208 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books
On Sale: July 2009
Price: $13.99
ISBN: 978-1-60142-152-4 (1-60142-152-4)

Where to Buy: Want to pick up this gem? Go to Random House's website by following this link: Blue Like Play Dough by Tricia Goyer



Summary (from the publisher):


In the everyday stretch and squeeze of motherhood, Tricia Goyer often feels smooshed by the demands of life. In Blue Like Play Dough, she shares her unlikely journey from rebellious, pregnant teen to busy wife and mom with big dreams of her own. As her story unfolds, Tricia realizes that God has more in store for her than she has ever imagined possible.

Sure, life is messy and beset by doubts. But God keeps showing up in the most unlikely places–in a bowl of carrot soup, the umpteenth reading of Goodnight Moon, a woe-is me teen drama, or play dough in the hands of a child.

In Tricia’s transparent account, you’ll find understanding, laughter, and strength for your own story. And in the daily push and pull, you’ll learn to recognizes the loving hands of God at work in your life… and know He has something beautiful in mind.

About Tricia Goyer (from the publisher):



Tricia Goyer is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including Generation NeXt Parenting and the Gold Medallion finalist Life Interrupted. Goyer writes for publications such as Today’s Christian Woman and Focus on the Family, speaks to women’s groups nationwide and has been a presenter at the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) national convention. She and her husband, John, live with their family in Montana .


FROM ME: YOU MUST CHECK OUT TRICIA'S WEBSITE! I capped that for a reason! First of all go to www.triciagoyer.com, but don't stop there go to this section: On Writing - My Writing Journey. I cannot begin to tell you, how much Tricia's story has impressed me and inspired me to start my own life's journey. She is truly inspiring. Also be sure to go to The Blue Like Play Dough Go-Go campaign! Why? Because in this world there are young women out there who are pregnant, who have lived some rough lives and who need to know that they are blessings and they are precious. Tricia is going to donate a copy of My Life Unscripted or Generation NeXt Parenting to a a pregnancy, teen or family support ministry. This is while supplies last. Follow the link or click on this cute lil button to get more details.

Tricia Goyer's Go-Go Campaign!



My review:

I was pleasantly surprised by Tricia's open and honest take on her life. To be honest, I have not known many imperfect Christians. I know myself, and I have been rather candid here on my own struggles, but to read a book by a well-known Christian author who is so open with the ups and downs of her life was something that I didn't expect. I almost laughed with glee over the fact that I had found a book that I could relate to. YAY Tricia! What a joy it was to read a book from a woman who understands the way I have felt in my life as I struggled as a single mom, being the wrong girl, filling the love void completely the wrong way, and being totally and often painfully aware of my own imperfections. Tricia's walk in life has not been identical to mine, but so many of her struggles and triumphs rang true to me. With REAL stories, Tricia communicates to the reader how God is present in all things. You see how God works and is working in her life. How God brought her husband John into her life and how John absolutely was Tricia's perfect fit.

Not one of us is perfect, but we are perfect in the eyes of God and as our father, he is going to provide people and experiences to us to help us understand His love and purpose better. We will go through experiences that aren't pleasant, but each thing we move through we GROW through.

This fabulous book goes through many points of Tricia and her family's life. You are going to jump around a bit, but that really is its beauty. I think many people will see themselves in Tricia's story from childhood and beyond. I could see Tricia as a little girl wanting so desperately to feel loved. Who couldn't relate to the frazzled state that many of us fall into as the day-to-day life demands keep pounding on the door and pretty much shove that door right onto us?

Reading what Tricia went through and what she has learned, and reading how she tackles life's events now, has inspired me. God loves me just as he loves her. What an exciting thing to know that God has his own plans for my life! He has set me apart for His purpose! Isn't that amazing. Because truly God loves us, you, me, our families, and our neighbors. Each and every one. We all can reach out to him at any time during our day, and He is reaching out to us. How cool is this?

I certainly recommend this fabulous read! This book will finally give you the permission to stop worrying about how you look to everyone else and start seeing yourself for the fabulous child you are. The ups and downs in your life are taking you somewhere sweet. Listen and learn what God has in store for you!

Thank you to Liz at Random House for sending me Blue Like Play Dough for review and for giving me a copy to give away on my blog to one lucky reader! This giveaway is open to the US or Canada. Please leave an email address properly disguised if one isn't attached to your blog or if you are not a blogger so I can contact you if you win. The winner will have a week to get back to me. This giveaway will run until August 8th.

MAIN ENTRY: To enter leave a comment simply stating why you would like to win this book. Not just enter me. Open up! :)

ADDITIONAL ENTRIES (Please leave a separate comment for each):
+5 Go to Tricia's website www.triciagoyer.com and come back and tell me something you learned there (a book she wrote, a ministry she is involved with...just gooooo!)
+1 Become a follower of this blog. If you are a follower let me know.
+1 Tweet this giveaway and come back with the link.
+5 Blog about this giveaway and come back with the link.

That is it. Pretty simple. Do one, do two, do as many as you like, but don't forget to do the MAIN ENTRY first. Honestly, this book is a treat!

The Woman Who Named God by Charlotte Gordon

This book just looks amazing. I don't have it yet, but I plan to get it. :)

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


The Woman Who Named God: Abraham's Dilemma and the Birth of Three Faiths

Little, Brown and Company (July 28, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Charlotte Gordon graduated from Harvard College and received a Master’s in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in History and Literature from Boston University. She has published two books of poetry and, most recently, the biography Mistress Bradstreet, which was a Massachusetts Book Award Honor Book. From 1999-2001, she taught at Boston University’s School of Theology. Currently, she is an assistant professor of English at Endicott College.


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $27.99
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (July 28, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 031611474X
ISBN-13: 978-0316114745

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Drumming Up Some Giveaways

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I haven't posted a giveaway post in at least a week so I thought about that and realized that I might be missing something MAD cool, and in turn you might be missing something MAD cool too! So let's take a peek at what is up for grabs?

First of all, I was trolling along the internet and reading up on some of my favorite blogs. I had a slow reading week because it was just crazy busy at work. Sorry...I totally digress here. Anyway, I found a fabulous review at A Sea of Books for a book called Ravens by George Dawes. I also found out MUCH to my pleasure that A Sea of Books was also hosting a giveaway! Oh the shear glee I felt! So check out the review of Ravens at A Sea of Books and see if you too would like to enter the giveaway for Ravens by George Dawes. Seriously check out the review. Gwendolyn does a top notch job on this. Giveaway ends on August 8th.

Now onto another sizzling story. I don't mean erotic sizzle by the way. I am kind of thinking about my verbage ever since my husband and I watched a program on the History Channel about vampires. It seems that everyone immediately jumped to how erotic it all is. I have to say that I just loved the shear terror of it all, but again...I am totally digressing! How disturbing is that. What I want to say is that The Eclectic Book Lover has an extra ARC of Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink, and I am dying to get my grubby hands on it! Check out her review too while you are there and don't forget to read the interview with author Michelle Zink as well. Not only will you get another entry, but my friends, it simply ROCKS. :) Giveaway ends on July 29th!

Ahhhh Summer. Nothing better than settling down with a good read. Summer is almost over here in Arizona. Well, technically it isn't over that soon, but the kids go back to school in August. That kind of seals it up no matter what. :) I'm Booking It is hosting a giveaway for A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand. Now this is definitely subject matter that is touchy, but I am still quite interested in winning it. Sometimes reading a character's struggles and choices is just the right escape for me. I have to say that the subject can drive me a little batty. I can be downright angry when I see the subject in a movie. Check out the great review while you are there! This giveaway ends on July 31st.

One Person's Journey Through A World of Books has an amazing batch of giveaways. The one I find really appealing is Stand The Storm by Breena Clarke. This looks like an extremely fascinating and touching story about a family's struggle to keep the freedom they dearly paid for. This giveaway ends on August 10.

Here is something really cool. My Guilty Pleasures is having a 100th post giveaway! Hitting 100 posts is no small feat, and I am sure you will want to celebrate as well! Here is what is up for a win: Hollywood Is Like High School With Money by Zoey Dean, How Perfect Is That by Sarah Bird, and Made In The U.S.A. by Billie Letts! Go get involved in this fabulous giveaway celebration! Giveaway ends on August 13th!

You might also want to check out My Guilty Pleasures other great giveaways including:
Julie & Julia (7/29)
Knight Of Desire (07/27)
Tamed By A Laird (7/31)
I Can See You (ends 08/05)

Sweeps4Bloggers has mounds of great giveaways, and it would take me days to post them all, but here is one that just fits my desires! Jewelry is one of my biggest downfalls, and I especially love something original. Well Sweeps4Bloggers is hosting a giveaway for Wear Your Music guitar string bracelets! They are adorable and made out of guitar stings. What a great way to recycle! There are many more details on the Sweeps4Bloggers blog so be sure to go and enter. This great giveaway ends on August 1st.

Sweeps4Bloggers
is also hosting quite a few book giveaways. Check out the one for Mortal Friends by Jane Stanton Hitchcock. I have a feeling you will want in on this one! The cover itself makes me want to pick it up. And Amazon has four reviews up with none less than four stars. :) This giveaway ends on August 3rd!

How about clothing? I have been back-to-school shopping for the little guy (okay not so little he is about 5 ft 11 now), and I have looked at mad t-shirts. Well, Sweeps4Bloggers is hosting a cool freaking T-shirt contest thanks to Howard's House of Fine Art. With a name like that, I had to check it out. There are some awesome graphics on these tees, and the cool thing is that they aren't your everyday graphic or tee. I really would love to win one of these! Check it out. Giveaway ends on August 2nd!

Also be sure to check out My Red Apron who is hosting a wonderful giveaway for one of my favorite product lines...Burt's Bees! What is up for grabs? The Apricot Baby Oil and Beeswax Lipbalm. Wouldn't that be a nice way to pamper yourself? Well, if you agree...HURRY because this giveaway ends on July 30th!

What about light? I just love the cool Ling Shoji Lamp that The Nurse Mommy is giving away thanks to bedroomfurniture.com. One of the things my husband and I are currently looking for is a new light source. I think this would go great next to my cool sea glass Zen garden. :) This giveaway is one you wont want to miss so hurry. It ends on August 2nd. :)


Here is a giveaway that is kind of silly, but trust me...I am IN on this. :) A Working Blogging Mommy is hosting a giveaway for Smelly Washer. What does it do? It keeps your smelly washer from stinking up your clothes. We have been experiencing this issue for a while now. Well not our clothes but our towels, and it drives me nuts. I saw this giveaway and it was as if angels started singing. I kid you not! Giveaway runs until August 5th. :)

Here is a fun one! I love Sonic. I love their drive up service. It kind of reminds me of being a kid again and going to the A&W. I also love their commercials. If you don't have a Sonic near you, you are missing out! If you do head on over to My Blogs 4 U, because you can get in on a giveaway for one of three $10 Sonic gift cards. Oh my mouth is already watering! This great giveaway ends on August 13th!

Starting Fresh
has a giveaway for a book with a title I couldn't pass up. Especially after I read what it was about. The book is The Year of the Cock by Alan Wieder. How can anyone pass up a person's plain truth story about what happened when they walked away from marriage to enjoy the life of a single again? This giveaway ends on August 15th

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Saturday Night DVD - Marley & Me

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I was pretty excited when I checked my mailbox this afternoon. We had a Netflix movie! I was stoked because lately there is nothing to watch on Saturday nights, and our luck with Netflix makes it where we almost always end up getting our movie on Mondays.





I didn't know what we had though, because my husband pretty much keeps track of our Netflix account. I just tell him what I want and my son tells him what he wants. We all take turns picking. This pick was my husband's pick, and it was Marley & Me.

Now I know a lot of people have seen Marley & Me and/or have read the book. I have not. Honestly, I have been avoiding it. Why? Because I can see a tear-jerking pet movie coming a mile away, and to be honest I can't handle them. I get so totally emotionally wound up when I see a movie where a pet is a main character. Heck, if animals are the main characters I am a wreck. I never read one review, I never read the book, and honestly when friends told me they were going to see it or did see it, I asked them to tell me nothing. Unfortunately you cannot avoid a movie when the love of your life brings it home, or in this case, orders it off of Netflix. Bless my husband's heart. He loves a good romantic comedy or chickish flick. ;)

So now that I HAD to watch it. I figured I might as well give my review.

As most everyone knows, Marley & Me is about a family and their relationship with the most horribly behaved dog on the planet. Marley is loveable and sweet, but Marley is also a chewing machine, bottomless pit, and not remotely well disciplined. Marley impacts his owners, in particular John Grogan.

What I liked: The actors did a great job. It was nice seeing Owen Wilson not play someone who is strung-out stupid. The characters had believable issues and worked through them and supported each other. And of course I love dogs. :) There were a lot of totally sweet and funny moments in the movie involving the family and of course Marley.

What I disliked: I honestly was not in the mood for a good cry. I knew it was going to happen. I wont go into the whys in case there is one person out there who reads this, but that is the negative for me. I did expect this though. So it isn't like I didn't see it coming. Again, I watched this because my husband wanted to. He sits through enough horror movies with me. :) Marriage is a give and take. It isn't like I didn't enjoy the movie. I did. I just didn't want to cry.

What I learned: I like if I can learn something from a film. Many times it is pure entertainment but occasionally there is a good truth. This is what I got from it. Appreciate the loved ones around you. Make sacrifices for their joy. Also, do not assume that the life someone else has is better than the life you have been blessed with.

If you haven't seen it, I would suggest it. If you have small children...you may want to watch it yourself and not make a family night out of it until you do (my husband and I do this with certain movies in case something comes up that we think may need to be discussed or clarified with my son). Check out the reviews on Amazon. There are some people who were not too pleased at the emotion of it all.

Deadly Intent by Camy Tang

This wasn't one of my reads, but I love Camy's work and I promise I'll be picking this one up. There are a lot of members who are part of this tour. Be sure to check it out!

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Deadly Intent

Steeple Hill (July 14, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Originally from
Hawaii, she worked as a biologist for 9 years, but now she writes full time. She is a staff worker for her San Jose church youth group and leads a worship team for Sunday service. She also runs the Story Sensei fiction critique service, which specializes in book doctoring.

On her blog, she gives away Christian novels, and she ponders
frivolous things like dumb dogs (namely, hers), coffee-geek husbands (no resemblance to her own...), the writing journey, Asiana, and anything else that comes to mind.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $5.50
Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Steeple Hill (July 14, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0373443471
ISBN-13: 978-0373443475

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Chapter One


The man who walked into Naomi's father's day spa was striking enough to start a female riot.


Dark eyes swept the room, which happened to be filled with the Sonoma spa's staff at that moment. She felt his gaze glance over her like a tingling breeze. Naomi recognized him instantly. Dr. Devon Knightley.


For a wild moment, she thought, He's come to see me. And her heart twirled in a riotous dance.


But only for a moment. Sure, they'd talked amiably— actually, more than amiably—at the last Zoe International fund-raising dinner, but after an entire evening sitting next to her, he hadn't asked for her phone number, hadn't asked for any contact information at all. Wasn't that a clear sign he wasn't interested?


She quashed the memory and stepped forward in her official capacity as the spa owner's daughter and acting manager. "Dr. Knightley. Welcome."


He clasped her hand with one tanned so brown that it seemed to bring the heat of the July sun into the airy, air-conditioned entranceway. "Miss Naomi Grant." His voice had more than a shot of surprise, as did his looks as he took in her pale blue linen top and capris, the same uniform as the gaggle of spa staff members gathered behind her. "It's been a few months since I've seen you."


He still held her hand. She loved the feel of his palm— cool and warm at the same time, strong the way a surgeon's should be.


No, she had to stop this. Devon and his family were hard-core atheists, and nothing good would come out of giving in to her attraction. "What brings you here?"


"I need to speak to Jessica Ortiz."


An involuntary spasm seized her throat. Of course. Glamorous client Jessica Ortiz or plain massage therapist Naomi Grant—no comparison, really.


But something in his tone didn't quite have the velvety sheen of a lover. He sounded almost… dangerous. And danger didn't belong in the spa. Their first priority was to protect the privacy of the guests.


"Er… Ms. Ortiz?" Naomi glanced at Sarah, one of the receptionists, whose brow wrinkled as she studied her computer monitor behind the receptionists' desk. Naomi knew she was stalling—she didn't need to look because she'd checked Ms. Ortiz into the elite Tamarind Lounge almost two hours before.


Naomi's aunt Becca also stood at the receptionists' desk, stepping aside from her spa hostess duties to allow Naomi to handle Dr. Knightley, but Aunt Becca's eyes had a sharp look that conveyed her message clearly to Naomi: the clients' privacy and wishes come first.


Naomi cleared her throat. "Are you her physician?"


Dr. Knightley frowned down at her, but she kept her air of calm friendliness. He grimaced and looked away. "Er… no."


Naomi blinked. He could have lied, but he hadn't. "If you'll wait here, I can see if Ms. Ortiz is available to come out here to see you." If Jessica declined to come out, Naomi didn't want to think what Devon's reaction would be.


His eyes grew stormier. "Couldn't you just let me walk in back to see her?"


"I'm sorry, but we can't allow nonfamily members into the back rooms. And men are not allowed in the women's lounges." Especially the secluded Tamarind Lounge, reserved only for Tamarind members who paid the exorbitant membership fee.


"Naomi, surely you can make an exception for me?" He suddenly flashed a smile more blinding than her receptionist's new engagement ring.


His switching tactics—from threatening to charming— annoyed her more than his argumentative attitude. She crossed her arms. "I'm afraid not." She had to glance away to harden herself against the power of that smile.


"You don't understand. It's important that I see her, and it won't take long." He leaned closer, using his height to intimidate.


He had picked the wrong woman to irritate. Maybe her frustrated attraction made her exceptionally determined to thwart him. Her jaw clenched and she couldn't help narrowing her eyes. "Joy Luck Life Spa has many high-profile clients. If we let anyone into our elite lounges, we'd lose our sterling reputation for privacy and discretion."


"You don't understand how important this is—"


"Dr. Knightley, so nice to see you again." Aunt Becca stepped forward and inserted herself between the good doctor and Naomi's line of vision. She held out a thin hand, which Devon automatically took. "Why don't I set you up in the Chervil Lounge while Naomi looks for Ms. Ortiz?"


Aunt Becca whirled around faster than a tornado. Her eyes promised trouble if Naomi didn't comply. "Naomi."


Aunt Becca's taking charge of the conversation seemed to drive home the point that although Dad had left Naomi in charge of the spa while he recovered from his stroke, she still had a long way to go toward learning good customer relations. Part of her wanted to be belligerent toward Devon just to prove she was in the right, but the other part of her wilted at her failure as a good manager.


She walked into the back rooms and paused outside the door to the Tamarind Lounge, consciously relaxing her face. Deep breath in. Gently open the door.


Softly pitched conversation drifted into silence. Two pairs of eyes flickered over her from the crimson silk chaise lounges in the far corner of the luxuriant room, but neither of them belonged to Jessica Ortiz. Vanilla spice wafted around her as she headed toward the two women, trying to glide calmly, as the daughter of the spa owner should.


"Good morning, ladies. I apologize for the intrusion."


"Is it already time for my facial?" The elderly woman gathered her Egyptian cotton robe around her and prepared to stand.


"No, not yet, Ms. Cormorand. I've come to ask if either of you have seen Ms. Ortiz."


An inscrutable look passed between them. What had Jessica done to offend these clients in only the couple of hours she'd been at the spa? Jessica seemed to be causing the spa more and more trouble recently.


The other woman finally answered, "No, she left about a half hour ago for her massage. I thought she was with you."


Naomi cleared her throat to hide her start. Jessica's appointment was at eleven, in fifteen minutes, not now.


"Yes, doesn't she always ask for you when she comes?" Ms. Cormorand blinked faded blue eyes at her.


Naomi shoved aside a brief frisson of unease. Jessica should be easy to find. "Which massage therapist called for her?"


"Oh, I don't know." Ms. Cormorand waved a pudgy hand beringed with rubies and diamonds. "Someone in a blue uniform."


Only one of almost a hundred staff workers at the spa.


"Thank you, ladies. Ms. Cormorand, Haley will call you for your facial in fifteen minutes." Naomi inclined her head and left the room, trying to let the sounds of running water from the fountain in the corner calm her growing sense of unease.


Where could Jessica have gone? And an even juicier question: Why did Devon Knightley need to speak to her?


She peeked into the larger Rosemary lounge, which was for the use of spa clients who were not Tamarind members. Several women chatted in small groups, but no Jessica Ortiz. Naomi hadn't really expected Jessica to forgo the more comfortable elite lounge, but the only other option was checking each of the treatment rooms individually.


She headed into the back area where the therapy rooms were located, navigating the hallway scattered with teak and bamboo furniture, each sporting East Asian cushions and throws, artfully arranged by Aunt Becca. Had Jessica switched to a different massage therapist? And had someone forgotten to tell Naomi in the excitement of Sarah's new engagement?


As she moved down the hallway, she started noticing a strange, harsh scent suffusing the mingled smells of san-dalwood and vanilla. Not quite as harsh as chemicals, but not a familiar aromatherapy fragrance, a slightly discordant counterpoint to the spa's relaxing perfume.


She knew that smell, but couldn't place it. And it didn't conjure up pleasant associations. She started to hurry.


She first looked into the women's restroom, her steps echoing against the Italian tile. No sound of running water, but she peeked into the shower area. A few women were in the rooms with the claw-foot bathtubs, and a couple more in the whirlpool room, but no Jessica. No one using the toilets.


The mirrored makeup area had a handful of women, but again no Jessica. Naomi smiled at the clients to hide her disappointment and growing anxiety as she entered. She noticed some towels on the floor, a vase of orchids a little askew, and some lotions out of place on the marble counter running the length of the room, so she tidied up as if she had intended to do so, although the staff assigned to restroom duty typically kept things spic and span.


She peeked into the sauna. A rather loud ring of laughing women, but no Jessica.


Back out in the central fountain area, the harsh smell seemed stronger, but she couldn't pinpoint where it came from. Had a sewage pipe burst? No, it wasn't that sort of smell. It didn't smell rotten, just… had an edge to it.


She entered the locker area, although the Joy Luck Life Spa "lockers" were all carved teakwood cabinets, individually locked with keys. The smell jumped tenfold. Naomi scoured the room. Maybe it came from a client's locker? No. Maybe the dirty laundry hamper?


Bingo.


She flipped open the basketweave lid.


And screamed.


***


Chapter Two


The scream pierced Devon's eardrums. Beside him, Becca Itoh started. The heavy wooden double doors she'd just opened, leading to the men's lounge, clunked closed again as she turned and headed back down the corridor they'd walked.


"Where—?" He kept up with her, but not easily—for a woman in her fifties, she could book it.


"The women's lounge area." She pointed ahead as she hustled closer. "Those mahogany double doors at the end."


Devon sprinted ahead and yanked open the doors. "Stay behind me."


Becca ignored him, thrusting ahead and shouting, "Naomi!" as they entered a large circular entry area with more corridors leading from it. "Naomi!"


A door to their right burst open and Naomi Grant spilled into the entry room. "Aunt Becca!" Her face was the same shade as the cream-colored walls. "There's blood in the women's locker room.”


“Blood?” Becca reached for her as Devon pushed past her into the room she’d just exited.


Despite the urgency, he couldn’t help but be awed by the fountain in the center of a vast chamber with a veined-tile floor. Scrollwork signs on the walls pointed to “sauna” and “whirlpool” and “locker room.” Luckily, no women appeared. He veered right.


He almost wasn’t sure he’d actually arrived in the right place, but the carpeted room lined with teakwood locking cabinets was in line with the luxurious entry hall of what he realized was the women’s bathroom.


The metallic smell of blood reached him. He followed his nose to the basket hamper in the corner, filled with bloody towels. It reminded him of the discarded gauzes from his orthopedic surgeries, bright red and a lot more than the average person saw.


This was not good.


He returned to the two women. Naomi’s hands were visibly shaking, although her voice remained low and calm. “And I couldn’t find Ms. Ortiz.”


Jessica’s name still caused the reflexive crunching of his jaw. But he’d never wanted any harm to come to her—she wasn’t a bad person, they had just clashed too much on personal matters. And now she was missing, and there was an immense amount of blood in the bathroom. Devon’s heart beat in a light staccato against his throat. She had to be okay.


“Where else have you looked?” He scanned the other corridors leading from the fountain entryway. He’d need guidance or he’d get lost in this labyrinth.


“I haven’t checked the therapy rooms yet.” Naomi nodded toward the larger central corridor, which ended at another set of double doors.


He headed toward them when Becca reached out to grab his arm in a bony but strong grip. “You can’t just barge into private sessions.”


“Why not?” He turned to face the two women. “There’s blood in your bathroom and Jessica Ortiz is missing.”


Naomi’s light brown eyes skewered him. “Do you really think it’s wise to cause a panic?”


“And I suppose you have another option?”


“Sessions don’t last more than an hour or ninety minutes. We’ll wait for those to finish—if Jessica’s just in one of those, there’s nothing to worry about. In the meantime, we’ll check all the empty session rooms,” Naomi said.


Becca turned to leave and said over her shoulder, “I’ll check on the schedule at the receptionists’ desk to find out which rooms have clients and when the sessions end. I’ll call you on your cell.”


Naomi turned down a corridor in the opposite direction, this one lined with bamboo tables draped with shimmery, lavender-colored fabric so light that it swayed as they moved past.


It reminded Devon of the papery silks he’d seen in Thailand, giving the spa a soothing and very Asian atmosphere. His heartbeat slowed. Jessica was probably fine and had accidentally taken someone else’s session in her artless, friendly way. She’d emerge from a facial or a manicure in a few minutes and wonder what all the fuss was about.


A group of three therapists turned a corner. They spied Naomi and immediately stopped chatting amongst themselves, although not fearfully—more out of respect that the boss was suddenly in front of them.


“Girls, have you seen Ms. Ortiz?” Naomi’s smile seemed perfectly natural and warm—inviting a rapport with her staff, yet not too cozy. If Devon hadn’t noticed her fingers plucking at the linen fabric of her pants, he wouldn’t have known how anxious she was.


Two of them shook their heads, but the tall blond woman to his left nodded and pointed directly across the corridor. “I saw her talking to Ms. Fischer about an hour ago before Ms. Fischer went in for her manicure.”


His heartbeat picked up. “An hour ago?”


The blonde eyed him with a hard look, but a quick glance at Naomi seemed to allay her suspicions. He had the impression that if her boss hadn’t been by his side, he’d have been thrown out, even if it took all three women to do it.


Naomi was shaking her head. “Ms. Cormorand saw her leave the Tamarind lounge only thirty minutes ago.”


His hopes popped and fizzled.


The blonde jerked her head at the nearby door. “Ms. Fischer is almost done in room thirty-five if you want to talk to her anyway.”


“That’s a good idea. Thanks, Betsy.”


Betsy nodded, and the silent trio headed down the corridor and around the corner.


Copyright © 2009 by Camy Tang

Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.

Good Golly It IS AFTER 1 AM!

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Creepy on the eyes isn't it?



Dude. I cannot even believe I am still up! I was posting a bit of a giveaway blog which will be up probably tomorrow afternoon. The time just flew by. I remembered that I have to keep track of my intake soooo disregard if you like. I wont hold it against you, but I have to keep track. :)

I posted yesterday's before I had dinner so first to add to yesterday...dinner was two spiced sausages with lots of peppers.

Okay...on to today.

Three 20 oz bottles of water before breakfast (have to keep fully hydrated)
Breakfast - Yoplait strawberry yogurt and 5 pita chips
Lunch - Sahara Hummus and 8 pita chips and half a cucumber
Snack - Large nectarine and bottle of water
Snack - Oatmeal cookie
Water
Dinner One steak fajita (homemade) with a big pile of red, green, yellow, and orange bell peppers, half a cup of black beans.
Water
One cup of french pressed coffee (oh soooooo totally good!)

Just saw a a Jenny Craig commercial. Valerie B looks really great. What is up with her skin though? She looks so orange. Maybe I need to adjust my television?

Okay...now onto the "Where have I been?" category. Okay...I don't really have a category like that, but sometimes I see something and I am amazed that I didn't know about this until now. Well today I was barely listening to the news when I heard them talking about ComicCon. OOOOH I just wish I was there! Well, they started talking about Crackle.com. My ears perked up! Another place where I can watch movies online for free?!!!! Sign me up! And I did sign up immediately. I didn't watch anything because we were getting ready to watch Mirrors, but I totally plan on hitting this site a lot. If you haven't been there, you totally got to check it out. I am looking forward to catching The Exorcism of Emily Rose.

Okay...I have to get out of here. My husband is going to lose his patience with me. Bless his heart. He worked soooo hard today.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Good Afternoon World!!!!

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Maybe I am over reaching, but I am feeling like just throwing myself into a good ole "Howdy Howdy!" kind of blog. I am feeling in a fairly proper good mood. I just wanted to post for a second before I get around to some serious blog reading once I am done. :) If you are in a hurry, give a little listen to the song attached to the video at the end. It fits my spirit today. :)

First of all, I just wanted to share a big thank you to all the wonderful ladies and gentlemen that I have met via blogs. I haven't meant any one personally, but you have all impacted my life in amazing ways. Ways that I appreciate, and I want to thank you all for that. I could run down a list, but then I would never get done. Seriously, you are all THAT great. One of these days, I'll have to see if I can make my own kind of award to give out. My niece is a killer graphic artist. Maybe she can hook me up. :)

Okay...I just realized it is freakin boiling in this house. Hello Arizona!!!!! How about a little break in the heat? I am going to go make a quick cold beverage. Check it out...WATER! How cool is that? I am still working on drinking more water. Okay...be back in one or two. :)

So catching up. I have recently started re-reading Never Say Diet by Chantel Hobbs. I read it a while back for a review, and now I decided to read it with some action. I am still working on overcoming the thyroid issue I hate. There is only so much that I can do with that. I am on moderate medication. I am hoping that maybe there will be a few things that I can do on this end to change things up a bit. I am taking it very slow. I could only get through chapter 1 because like a good girl, I am really thinking about things and I am answering the questions in the end in my journal.

I have basically just been ticked off at my current appearance. I no longer want to be a slave to my thyroid, but I can't do too much to control it. I don't know how much this book will be able to help me either, but I am going to devote myself to some time and see what comes up. The main thing is I cannot let this happen to me. I have to make whatever choices I can on my end. So even though my thyroid is the main cause of my weight issue right now, I am sure that there is something I can do for a solution. This book is step one on tackling things on the opposite side of the thyroid. I am going to try to do what I can to change physically by attacking what I can control.

I can control what I eat, but I have to be accountable. This is why I am drinking water out of my awesome SIGG bottle rather than making Koolaid, drinking some apple juice, or having a cold iced tea. I'm saving some calories, and doing all those good things for my body that water does. :)

In on that accountability is the whole write down what you eat thing. THIS is boring. Feel free to move on. My purpose with this is really just to see what I am eating and make sure that I am making good choices. Don't expect me to write down calories. For now, that is not my goal. Just seeing what I am doing on this end is my goal for now.

Breakfast
1 Yoplait peach yogurt
Water
Lunch
1 pack of hummus (this I do know the calories to 100)
8 Stacy's Pita Chips
Water
Water
Snack - bowl of Life cereal
Water

I don't know if I should be writing down the times or not so I wont.

This is why I am writing this junk down. I read that people who write down what they eat...lose more. Does that work when you are hypothyroid? I don't know, BUT I can also let my doc see what I am reading.

Okay...got to run. Time has been flying by here (my son is home and wanted to share something with me), and I really do want to read some blogs.

Before I go I thought I would share a video from a CD I have been listening to a lot lately. This is Friend Like That by Hawk Nelson and the CD is Hawk Nelson is my friend. Hope you like it.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

An Award - THANK YOU!



Big thanks to Sheri of A Novel Menagerie for her genuine sweetness, kindness and awesomeness for sharing this award with me. What can be said about Sheri? She is sweet, kind and really an amazing blogger. I just love her blog and could seriously spend hours there reading her reviews on movies, books, some of my favorite reality shows, music, and just her day to day life. She makes everything fun. One of my favorite things is that she has a fondness for older glam photographs and ads too. I can spend a lot of time just enjoying the photos she uses with her various captions. It really is no surprise to me that Kristina's Favorites awarded her with this Queen of All Things Awe-Summm!!!

Now apparently after receiving this award, you have to share 7 Awe-Summ things about yourself and then pass it on to 7 others. So here are my seven things.

1. I bake cookies for my son to share at school at the drop of a hat. If he asks, I'll bake it. It makes him very happy to be able to share with his friends, and what makes him happy makes me happy. I always have enough on hand to bake cupcakes, brownies, magic cookie bars, or chocolate chip cookies at a moments notice. This especially comes in handy when there is an unplanned (read my son didn't hand me the paper) bake sale at Alex's school.

2. I am really good with kids. Seriously, I am not even tooting my own horn. Kids love me. When I was in my late teens and early 20s, I could not go to a wedding without enchanting the children around me. I never left a wedding without requests for my number for babysitting or job offers to be someone's nanny. It isn't that I have some crazy power, I just love children. They are fun, sweet, unique and just so sincere. I hope some day when finances get back to normal that my husband and I can foster, because I hate the thought of children out there not having a home where someone can help them feel safe.

3. I am not afraid to express my inner dork. I am completely comfortable being silly and having a great time. This came in handy when I worked in nightclubs. I was always able to make sure people had a good time. This helped me enjoy my job and it didn't hurt my wallet either. :)

4. I am a hard worker. I have made myself invaluable at every job I have ever had. Whether mopping floors when I was a teen working at McDonalds or researching for hours for show prep at the radio station, I have put my all into every job I have had. No job was too small or too insignificant. If I am doing it, I am going to do my best.

5. I love to color. One of my favorite ways to destress is to color in coloring books. I like vintage coloring books, and I have fun kind of regressing back into childhood and making a simple black and white picture look pretty. Plus I am sooooo much better at it now than when I was a kid.

6. I am an excellent untrained dancer. Silly sounding I know. It also may sound conceited, but it isn't meant to be. I just enjoy dancing and let myself totally go. I have fun when I dance and do not care for a minute about anyone around me. I think that life should be more like that.

7. Last but not least. I am great at loving my family. I throw myself into being a wife and mom with abandon. I am crazy about my husband and devoted to my son. They are so wonderful and I appreciate them so much. I do not let one day go by without telling them how much I love them and appreciate them. I truly know that it is far better to be rich in love than rich and alone.

Thank you again to Sheri for sharing this award with me. If you have not been by there yet, do check out A Novel Menagerie!

Now onto my magnificent seven!

1. A Kindred Spirit's Thoughts
2. Mystery, Suspense, and God, Oh My!
3. A Sea of Books
4. Bookin' with Bingo
5. Chick Loves Lit
6. Chick with Books
7. Wrighty's Reads

Check these blogs out. YOU will like what you see. :)

Happy Sunday!!!!

God Stories by Andrew Wilson

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


GodStories

David C. Cook; New edition edition (July 1, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Andrew Wilson holds degrees in theology from Cambridge University and London School of Theology. His passion is to communicate the extraordinary truths of God. Andrew teaches internationally and is an elder at Kings Church Eastbourne in the UK, where he leads training and development. Andrew is also the author of Incomparable: Explorations in the Character of God, and lives with his wife Rachel and their newborn baby Ezekiel in the UK.


Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition edition (July 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434765393
ISBN-13: 978-1434765390

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


PROLOGUE

Several years ago in Northern Nigeria, Emily was strung up on a tree and left for dead because she had epilepsy.1 Her tribal village had no idea what epilepsy was, let alone how to cope with it, so they tied her up and left her there, waiting for her to die from starvation or exposure. Just before she did, Daniel arrived with a small team to preach the gospel and plant a church. Horrified, he immediately cut down the young girl from the tree and put her under a doctor’s care. Then he and his team began explaining the gospel to the villagers.



Daniel has paid a price for his zeal. He, his wife, and his children have experienced pretty much every suffering you can have for preaching the good news: robbery, rape, physical beatings, death threats, the lot. But that hasn’t stopped him. In fact, from the little I have seen, his sufferings have increased his determination to establish churches and train leaders.


But as people in the village started responding to the gospel, Daniel and his team were able to plant a small church, and then build a school to educate the children. Daniel understood GodStories, you see. He had gone to the village in the first place because he knew the GodStory of world mission. He knew that he would face serious persecution for preaching the gospel, but he knew the GodStory of Christ’s suffering and was prepared to share it. When he got there, he preached GodStories about the gospel of God concerning his Son, victory over demons, and the death of death. He started bringing healthcare and education to the community because he knew GodStories about God’s kingdom, man in his image, and the renewal of creation. I’ve had the privilege of seeing the results firsthand: There is a thriving church in the village, nearly two hundred children at school every day (their English grammar is better than mine!), and Emily is still alive. Because of Daniel’s conviction that the gospel story is amazing, hope has conquered despair in that community.


And he certainly won’t stop preaching GodStories. Maybe it’s because he knows how they all end.


The Greatest Story Ever Told


The point of this book is to convince you that the gospel is amazing. It’s aimed at anyone who wants to understand the good news of what God has done: teenagers, caretakers, businesspeople, full-time mothers, artists. Knowing the gospel is the foundation for worship and mission, so the only thing we’re going to do in this book is explore the beautiful, triumphant, often-heartbreaking, and always-glorious stories that make up the gospel of God. I call them GodStories.


It’s a funny word, and you won’t find it in the dictionary. But my guess is that the idea of looking at a gospel through stories will excite lots of people. Perhaps you see theology as a rabbit warren of concepts without narratives, a series of points and principles and theories that take all the best bits (like characters and plot twists and heroism) out of the Bible, and leave behind a slightly inedible result, like eating cereal without milk or playing Scrabble without vowels. To you, the fact that this book is made up of stories—and, far more importantly, the fact that God’s gospel is made up largely of stories—should be encouraging. It will certainly increase your enjoyment of theology.


You see, just as we have one God in three persons and one church made up of many people, so in Scripture we have one gospel made up of many stories. We have one gospel, for sure: a single, unifying, big story about God and creation, man and sin, Jesus and rescue. But we also have many different ways of telling that big story because it is too large for us to grasp all at once. Even the quick summaries in the Bible itself—“your God reigns,” “the kingdom of God is near,” “God raised Jesus from the dead,” and “Christ died for our sins”—give different angles on the one big story. So seeing the many GodStories in the one gospel does not reduce that gospel in glory or splendor. Quite the opposite—it dramatically increases it.


This is true of all sorts of big stories, not just the gospel. Imagine that, instead of writing The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien decided to simplify things into a sentence: “Frodo and Sam left the Shire with the ring, faced a number of setbacks, and finally destroyed it in Mount Doom to save Middle Earth.” His summary would, in one sense, tell the same story, but it would be dramatically reduced in power and impact, and would probably not have sold millions of copies and been turned into three blockbuster films. The Lord of the Rings is about two hobbits and a ring, but it is also about the flight of the elves, the destruction of the forests, the corruption of mankind, the battles for Rohan and Gondor, the return of the king, and the influence the ring has on all of them. So when we read all those other stories, it adds to our understanding of the plot with Frodo and the ring, because it shows us the significance of the main story through its impact on all the others. The same is true of the gospel. But the process is far more important, for three reasons.


GodStories and the Glory of God


The first and biggest reason we must read these stories is because the glory of God is at stake. This is vital. If the Bible is stuffed full of GodStories but we tell only one of them, we lose much of the depth and wonder of the gospel, and that diminishes our view of God, just as it would diminish my view of Gordon Ramsay’s cooking if I ate only his steamed vegetables.


If, for example, we saw the gospel simply as a story of personal salvation, we would limit its scope enormously and rob God of the praise that is due to him. Such a view would miss out on the salvation of a corporate people and would find very little place for the history of Israel, which so much of the Bible is about. It would marginalize God’s faithfulness to his covenant and his multicolored wisdom in the church. And it would ignore the fact that Scripture speaks of the whole of creation, not just human souls, being made new. So reducing the gospel to only a story of personal salvation is like playing “Bohemian Rhapsody” on the recorder. The melody might be the same, but much of the music’s power is lost, and the brilliance of the composer is missed.


Yet, as with music, God’s excellence is shown not just in creating new storylines, but in fusing them together so that they enhance one another. Queen brings two melodies together to form a harmony, but Yahweh weaves dozens of GodStories—Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, and many others—into one another so intricately that when Jesus finally arrives on the scene, you want to stand amazed and applaud with excitement. Composers frequently write notes that clash with one another to present an unusual sound, but God allows entire plotlines to clash for generations and then get explained with a twist you would never have predicted (a servant king, for instance). Queen leaves their final chord sequence unresolved for several seconds, but God leaves Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 unresolved for several centuries before uniting them at the cross with unimaginable power and beauty. So to grasp more of the glory of God, we need to appreciate the range and depth of the gospel, by studying as many of its component stories as possible. More than anything else, the reason for writing a book full of GodStories is to remind us how astonishing and faithful and glorious and worthy of worship is the God who wrote them.


This could not be more important. If God’s glory is infinite, and my concept of him is not, then I never stop needing an increased understanding of his greatness. Furthermore, that greatness is many-sided, like a massive mountain; there is nowhere in creation I could stand and see the whole of Mount Kilimanjaro at once, far less the glory of Yahweh. So I need there to be a whole host of pictures to reveal different angles of what he has done and how it fits together. Fortunately, by his grace, this is exactly the sort of Bible he has inspired.


Scripture contains something to inspire worship in everyone. To the philosopher, there are GodStories of riddles and revelation, inquiry and truth. To the historian, there is an array of events covering thousands of years and numerous civilizations. To the architect, there are descriptions of temples being established and cities being rebuilt. To the artist, there are GodStories of beauty triumphing over ugliness, order over chaos, new creation over stagnation. For the romantic, there is a tale of a complicated relationship with a wonderful man that ends happily ever after; for the action-film fanatic, a story of a hero rescuing the love of his life and saving the world against impossible odds.2 There are genealogies for the tribesman, visions for the mystics, and arguments for the intellectuals. And displaying his glory in every one of these GodStories is Yahweh, the I AM, the maker of heaven, and earth and the rescuer of all things. Reading all of these stories will give us a bigger and better view of him.


GodStories and the Rescue of People


The second reason that we need to know these GodStories is because people’s eternal destinies are at stake. After all, the gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16), and preaching the gospel remains one of the highest callings of every Christian. Without the gospel, people cannot be saved. So it is vital that we know what the gospel actually is and how to communicate it in ways people understand.


Everyone agrees with that sentence, I’m sure. But read it again, because it is more difficult than it sounds: It is vital to know what the gospel is and how to communicate it in ways people understand. Many churches are great at half of this but neglect the other half. Some churches know the gospel inside out but put a lot of religious or cultural baggage on it, and are therefore not very effective at communicating it to a pluralist and largely pagan culture. On the other hand, there are churches who have gotten very good at using culture to communicate the gospel but have in the process lost sight of what they were supposed to be communicating. To be effective missionaries to our culture, we need to have fixed theology and flexible culture—strong on what the gospel is, but communicating it without adding religious clutter to it—or, more eloquently, “reaching out without selling out.”3


Paul is a great model. No one could accuse Paul of not knowing the gospel or of being scared to preach it. The scars on his back and welts on his face from being stoned and flogged would see to that. Yet he used a wide range of GodStories to communicate the gospel, depending on his setting.


To the Jews in Damascus, he proved that Jesus was the Messiah (Acts 9:22). To the Jews in Pisidian Antioch, he preached forgiveness of sins and freedom from the law through Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 13:16–41). To the pagans in Lystra, he spoke of the creator God who showed his presence by giving them crops and good weather (Acts 14:14–17). To the pagans in Athens, he proclaimed an independent God who did not need serving and who would one day judge the world (Acts 17:22–31). To King Agrippa and Festus, he shared his personal testimony (Acts 26:1–23). So, although we know from Romans that Paul was utterly convinced of justification by faith, redemption, and being in Christ, we know from Acts that these weren’t always the GodStories he started with or stuck to when preaching to unbelievers. Others, equally true, were often more appropriate to his audience.


In none of this are we saying the gospel needs to change. That would be a terrible mistake because it puts the desires of man above the desires of God, which is idolatry. What we are saying is that there are numerous GodStories in Scripture, and it might be that the best way of saving some of God’s image-bearers is to start our preaching with a slightly different GodStory to the ones we are used to. The main planks of the gospel—a loving God, fallen humanity, rescue through the death and resurrection of Jesus, and so on—will never alter. But how we nail the planks together might.


GodStories and the Health of the Church


The third and final reason for writing GodStories is partly a product of the first two: The health of the church is on the line. At one level, this is obvious: If the church isn’t worshipping God properly or reaching the world with the gospel, then it is a waste of space and time. There is more to it than that, however. Again and again, in the pages of the New Testament, we find writers contending for the gospel because they care about the church.


To the Galatians, Paul reinforces GodStories about being justified by faith apart from the law, and about Jews and Gentiles being one in Christ.4 The Corinthians, on the other hand, seem to understand that, but need a strong reminder about Christ being crucified, their sanctification, and the bodily resurrection. First John focuses on the incarnation GodStory more than others. Hebrews tells us about the priesthood of Jesus and the superiority of Christ to the major Jewish symbols. In none of these cases is evangelism the point. Instead, a failure to understand these various GodStories leads to division and sexual immorality and false teaching and backsliding, respectively. So the health of the church depends on understanding the fullness of the gospel.


The gospel is not just for guest meetings or open airs, as you would think to hear us sometimes, but for the people of God. The outstanding explanation of the gospel in Romans, remember, was written to Christians; Paul tells Timothy to preach the word to his church until he’s blue in the face (2 Tim. 4:2); and Paul’s aim to visit the capital of the world was generated by a desire to preach the gospel amongst the church there (Rom. 1:15). If preaching the gospel to the church means simply reiterating the call to repent and be saved every week, then it is no wonder that so many preachers (and listeners) struggle. But if it means explaining to the church the full extent and scope of the GodStories in Scripture, then you could preach for a lifetime and never repeat yourself.


Thank God that there are so many to go round. If you’re in an introverted community of mature Christians, you can study the mission of God. If you love seeing people saved but you aren’t quite sure what to do with them when they are, you can look at freedom from sin. Frustrated artists can look at God’s beauty; frustrated activists, his justice. If you don’t get the Old Testament, then you can look under every verse and every rock until you find Christ. If you get only the Old Testament, then see how all of God’s promises are now yes and amen. Whoever you are, wherever you’re reading this, you can find a GodStory that will expand your view of God and revel in it. Then you can experience the joy of sharing it, in a culturally appropriate way, with someone who doesn’t know it yet. The world has nothing in comparison.


So we need to know and preach and live the gospel. The good news that shines through every GodStory will bring us closer into worship, push us further into mission, and draw us closer into community—face down, flat out, all in. This book is just an introduction to a few of them. But they might change your life all the same.


GodStories usually do.


Endnotes

1. The names of the people in this story have been changed.

2. Adapted from David Murrow, Why Men Hate Going to Church (Nashville, TN: Nelson, 2005), 15.

3. This phrase is the subtitle of Mark Driscoll’s excellent book on the subject, Radical Reformission (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004).

4. If, that is, we recognize that Galatians might tell more than one GodStory at once, rather than (as sometimes happens) playing them off against each other. For an excellent explanation of how we can and should embrace both these GodStories together, see Stephen Westerholm, Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The “Lutheran” Paul and His Critics (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004).

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Haunting In Connecticut - My Review

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As I have mentioned before, I LOVE horror movies. I love good ones and bad ones. I don't mind if a plot is kind of predictable. I really don't care. I just want a good scare. I love being surprised by a horror film. I love when a movie goes into a direction that I didn't expect. This doesn't happen too often, but when it does...MAGIC! This is one of the reasons I enjoy horror films, because sometimes you are just stunned. One of the films that did that for me was Saw. The first Saw was just sooooo different. I love that. Anyway, I just wanted to explain my taste for the horror a little bit before I jump into my opinion on The Haunting In Connecticut.


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Quite the movie poster. I think one of the reasons I wanted to watch this film was I just could not figure out what on earth was coming out of this guys mouth.

Another reason is I just love a good haunting. From the moment I saw Amityville Horror, I have been fairly hooked on the haunted house genre.

Anyway... The Haunting In Connecticut takes place in...yep Connecticut. Is it just me or do more hauntings seem to take place in the East? Probably just me. The movie gives you that whole thing is based on a true story. I don't fully buy the true story stuff, because I have heard that before with things like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But here is a link for more details if you would like from one of my favorite sites Dread Central.

The story is about a family who moves to this home in Connecticut to be closer to the facility where their son is getting treatment for cancer. The family is facing the financial hardships you would expect when a child is seriously ill, and they rent the home because it is simply a wonderful deal and they really need a break.

A great deal is usually attached to something pretty bad, and this house is no exception. This home has a past as a former funeral home. Not terribly terrifying in the grand scheme of things. I mean, yeah, kind of creepy living in a place where dead bodies were prepared for burial, but it is after all, just a house in the long run.

As barely days go by, bad things start happening in the home, and the family learns there are secrets to this home that have not been revealed.

The movie definitely does its job in grabbing you and making you flinch with the typical blast of noise and the flash of something out of the corner of a character's eye. It gives good explanations as to what could be going on, so that the family may not at first be as terrified as they should, but of course the viewer knows better.

Pros - The acting is really done well. The special effects are used in just the right amount. Nothing is too over the top other than the creepy stuff coming out of the mouth of the young man in the poster. Really, that is probably the grossest thing to me. FAVORITE PRO - Elias Koteas. Ahhhh a nice blast from my John Hughes loving past. He was an artist hoodlum in one of my faves "Some Kind of Wonderful."

Cons - I am a little tired of seeing people stay in a house that is obviously haunted or at the very least dangerous. How many red flags can one home fling up before people just GET OUT?!!! Seriously. Other con...I am so tired of father's in films pretty much sucking butt. Men...you need to stand up for yourselves with the entertainment industry, because no matter what the genre is you are all portrayed very badly for the most part. Unless you are Will Smith.

This was a movie that I had no intention of seeing at the theater. There are just some that scream BIG SCREEN and some that do not. Really, I get more impacted in the privacy of my own home when I am watching a horror film. A large audience just distracts me. It was a great horror movie to watch while snuggled up on the couch enjoying a bowl of popcorn.

If I were to rate it, I would probably give it 3.5 stars. Trust me, this is NOT a bad rating. It did the job.


Clip from Some Kind Of Wonderful.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Wedding Disasters

I am half watching Dr. Phil and he is talking with people who have experienced different wedding disasters. I don't know how many guests he is going to have or how many I may have missed, but it looks to me like the guests are all women.

I guess in many ways the wedding is probably a bigger deal to most women than men, but I wonder if there are any men who have been traumatized by their wedding disaster.

The first girl I saw was so dear. This sweet girl was actually stood up on her wedding day. The poor dear hasn't dated in four years since this happened. My husband couldn't understand why she had not dated in such a long time. Maybe it is just me, but I could totally relate. Not to being stood up, but to being so hurt that I needed to take a break from dating. I mean think about it, you are supposed to be marrying the love of your life (hopefully this is how you feel), and the guy totally stands you up. You are left with his family, your family, all your guests, and you have been taking all the lovely pictures for a wedding that is not going to happen. CRIPES! Who wouldn't need a breather or go to the other extreme and do some crazy revenge dating and take as many guys out as possible.

What would you do? I would take a break. I would probably also get myself into some therapy in order to get over the pain. I would probably also take up the punching bag. THAT would feel pretty good. :)

The other woman had an allergic reaction of some sort. This poor dear looked lovely, but apparently as the reception progressed, her allergic reaction got worse and worse and eventually she had to get out of there because she was going into anaphylactic shock! Poor darling. She has been married for nine years and this is still driving her nuts.

It made me think of my own wedding. I didn't have anything fancy. I had a wonderful wedding though. My husband and I were married at the Valley of Fire state park in Nevada. We wanted to do something pretty simple and this seemed ideal for my husband and myself. We wanted to be married near Vegas, but we wanted to be married outdoors so the amount of people who came would not matter. We could have a lot of people or a few. We found a company that handled getting the minister, the limo, photographer and videographer. It was nice and simple.

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It was a little windy too. :) I had to hold my veil or it would have blown clean off of my head.

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It was seriously EXACTLY what we wanted. No muss, no fuss. A little stress here and there, but thank God no one broke out in a horrible rash and we all showed up. Of course I did get a phone call at about 2 in the morning from a friend who had just shown up the EARLY morning before. I don't know what she was thinking. ;)

After the wedding we had a very mellow reception at a condo that my brother had rented. We ate sub sandwiches, drank beers, sodas and champagne. It was laid back, casual, and it ended all too soon, but it had to end too soon, because my husband totally is EXHAUSTED by 10pm! Poor guy. He married a total night owl. At the time I was working as a cocktail server at a casino (the graveyard shift no less). I was totally an up-all-night kind of gal. However, even I was bushed! I talk in my sleep deliriously when I don't sleep right, and I was yammering that night! Again...poor guy.

Anyway, it was a pretty interesting show, and I am glad I watched it partly. It reminded me that the important thing to do when you are disappointed is to feel it and then move along. At least that is how I think it works best for me.

Okay...I just picked up Haunting in Connecticut, and I am going to be watching it after Dateline (yes...as I have been writing this, Dateline started). I am STOKED! I love a good horror movie. I also just found some pretty interesting looking horror flicks on Hulu. I don't know if my hubby will go for it, but I am going to try to talk him into it. :)

Happy Friday night!!!!!!