Thursday, December 31, 2009

My dear blogging friend, Caroline asked me which book of all those I reviewed in 2009 touched me the most.

Good question!  Since Caroline doesn't have a blog and I don't have her email address I thought I would respond to her question here.

I looked back over all the books I reviewed. I picked out the ones I considered the best of the best and I couldn't come up with just one title. I couldn't narrow it down to two, three or even four.

I was touched in different ways by them all. I didn't read a bad book last year.

I think the value of a book to you will depend on where you are in life at the time you are reading the book.

As we come to the end of the year and move into a new year I do not have a single book laying around waiting to be reviewed. I do not have any books coming in to be reviewed. I planned it this way. In 2010 I plan to only accept for review books that I personally want to read or that I feel will be of value to the readers of my blog.

In the past I reviewed some books simply because they were offered. And it's true I discovered some great books and great authors this way. But now I want to read slower and meditate more on what I am reading.
I want to be more thoughtful!

What will be my first review for 2010? I can't wait to find out!


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

MY PAPER CHASE--True Stories of Vanished Times by Harold Evans

OVERVIEW: Andrew Marr calls this "A jaw-dropping social history...the best education possible in what true journalism's all about." In My Paper Chase, Harold Evans recounts the wild and wonderful tale of his newspapering and publishing odyssey, which would take him from Manchester to London and finally to America. In England, he would become the editor of two of the most famous newspapers in the world, The Sunday Times and The Times of London. Along the way, Evans would crack England's biggest spy scandal; expose the cause of the world's deadliest DC-10 air crash; reveal shocking truths about what was happening in Northern Ireland; and uncover one of the greatest health scandals of the century. In New York he began all over again as a book publisher, acquiring the memoirs of Colin Powell, Marlon Brando, Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon--and a then-unknown law school graduate by the name of Barack Obama. He also became a bestselling writer. In an age when newspapers everywhere are under threat, My Paper Chase is a poignant reminder of all that they have been, and all that they can be again.

MY REVIEW: This is my last book review for 2009. There was a time when I thought that I would not be able to complete the review this year. It is a big book of five hundred and eighty pages. My schedule during the holidays, like yours, was full.

If you are interested in journalism and enjoy reading exciting and interesting memoirs, you will love this book. The generous folks at Hachette Books are allowing me to give away five copies of this big, hard cover edition. But if you are not into reading about journalism and stories of vanished times then you will not want to request a copy of this book. In fact, I ask you, please do not request a copy if you know you will not read it. Sure it will look good on your book shelf but that is not what it's for.

I enjoyed My Paper Chase and I know that many others will also. I just do not know if the readers of my blog are among those people. Leave a comment and an e-mail address if you want to be entered in the drawing. I will close this giveaway January 12, 2010.


Monday, December 28, 2009

It's not that I can't. I just shouldn't.

The list of things I shouldn't do is long and growing longer every day.

No more climbing on the roof, lifting large objects, bending over pulling weeds and picking up "stuff."

Yes, I still do these things and many more like them--but I shouldn't.

I continue to do these things and then regret it for days. Why then, do I do them?

I have asked myself that question many times. Am I just silly or stupid? Is it that I just never learn? Am I too proud to admit that I've grown old?

I saw a friend of mine, who is a Doctor, a few weeks ago with his arm in a sling. He said he fell off his roof and broke it. He certainly could have afforded to hire someone to go upon his roof for him. He said he would next time!

My back has been "killing" me for days because I trimmed our palm trees. Everybody on our cul-de-sac has a gardener except us. We have never had a gardener and we never hire a repair man if I think I can do the job. That plan has worked well over the years.

It worked well because a young man once lived here. He had a large S on his chest. The S has started to fade badly.

Oh flip, I might as well admit it--there is no S on the chest. SUPERMAN IS GONE!


Saturday, December 26, 2009


God hath not promised
     Skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways
     All our lives through;
God hath not promised
     Sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow,
     Peace without pain.

But God hath promised
     Strength for the day,
Rest for the labor,
     light for the way,
Grace for the trials,
     Help from above,
Unfailing sympathy,
     Undying love.

(Annie Johnson Flint, quoted in The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart by Charles R. Swindoll)

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Cheryl works the breakfast shift at Coco's restaurant.

She moves quickly from table to table--never stopping to rest. She smiles, speaks kindly and does everything efficiently. She doesn't snap gum in her mouth or call you "Sweetie," or "Darlin."  She just sees you and respects you.


I admire and respect people who know their job and do it.

We live in the age of the "goof-off" but Cheryl refuses to participate in that.

I heard her say she has to work Christmas day. She wasn't complaining she just responded to a question.

Orchids to all our hard workers!

Merry Christmas and may God bless you richly.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

There are several Apple computer stores in the greater Phoenix area.

We have been blessed to have one only about fifteen or twenty minutes away at the Biltmore Shopping Center.

But recently they built a new one that is only about three minutes from our home in the Scottsdale Quarter.

We went there twice yesterday. Once to deliver Charlotte's beloved Mac to have the DVD burner repaired and then again to pick it up. It was a snap. And since the computer was under warranty there was no charge. O happy day!!

The store is new, beautiful, well stocked and the staff is trained and efficient.

The place was packed out both times we were there.

Somebody's got money to spend.

I did notice however, that some of the cars were the Mercedes and Jaguar type.

I make do with my PC but Charlotte loves her Mac.

I love Big Macs!


Monday, December 21, 2009

Some people have no problem knowing what's next, staying on schedule, keeping appointments, being on time.

I am a fairly well organized person by nature but for years I have used a system sold by Franklin Covey to help me.

Some people don't need any help. Others of you don't want any help. And some of you can't be helped.

I keep my "organizer" on my desk now. Before I retired I carried it with me. I needed to know where I needed to be at all times and what was coming up next. Now I don't have those kind of concerns. I could get along without an "organizer" but I don't want to.

Most of the time now I make notes on the daily pages and use the "organizer" almost like a diary. I file the pages away at the end of the year and have found them amazingly helpful in looking back for information long forgotten.

What about you? Are you organized? Do you want to be? Are you happier by not bothering yourself with this kind of thing? Do you keep dates on your computer or some other way?

I would really like to know.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tyndale House Publishers and Christian recording artist Matthew West have joined in an effort to reach l million downloads for a download of the Christmas Story from Luke. It is read by Matthew who does an excellent job.

Please participate and help share the Christmas Story as told by Luke with the world. It's not enough to keep saying over and over, "Keep Christ in Christmas." Let's help do it!

Please place this link on your blog and encourage your readers to stop by and listen to Matthew read from Luke. They can also get a free download of the Gospel of John.

Here is the link to the reading.



Thursday, December 17, 2009

My wife loves shoes.

I'm tempted to say she has never seen a pair of shoes that she didn't think is cute.

But that's not true. She sees many pairs that she thinks are ridiculous.

Generally speaking--she loves shoes!

Yesterday we strolled into Clarks, one of her favorite stores where she has bought shoes before.

The salesman asked her if she was the one shopping for shoes or if her husband was the one.

To my surprise she said she wasn't shopping for shoes she was just looking but that I was the one.

A week or two ago while looking at a pair of shoes I said, "Some day I might like to have a pair of these when I get ready to buy a new pair of shoes." That's all!

A few minutes later I heard her ask, "Do you have this in an eight and a half?"


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

PRIMAL--A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity
By Mark Batterson

OVERVIEW: Our generation needs a REFORMATION. But a single person won't lead it. A single event won't define it. Our reformation will be a movement of reformers living compassionately, creatively, courageously for the cause of Christ. This reformation will not be born of a new discovery. It will be the rediscovery of something old, something ancient. Something PRIMAL. This book is an invitation to become part of a reformation movement. It is an invitation to rediscover the compassion, wonder, curiosity and energy that turned the world upside down two thousand years ago. It is an invitation to be astonished again.

AUTHOR: Mark Batterson is the author of Wild Goose Chase and In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. He serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington DC, which is focused on reaching emerging generations. Mark has two master's degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago.

MY REVIEW: It was just after lunch when I picked up Primal, a 179 page book and started to read. Immediately following lunch is a dangerous time for me to try to read. I say, "Try" because I usually cannot stay awake after a full meal no matter how good the book is. However, my experience with Primal was different. I couldn't put it down. I didn't go to sleep or even nod off.

Primal is one of the most challenging books I have read this year. My wife's Uncle Emmett says after every meal, "That's the best meal I have ever eaten." Other members of the family roll their eyes and wonder how many times they have heard that before. I fear some of you may begin to feel the same way about my book reviews. Regardless, I recommend this book without reservation. I realize you will not agree with everything Mark says. But I wish every Christian would read his book."This book will help you live in light of what matters most and discover what it means to love God." It will help you love God will all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Mark calls you to be a part of God's reformation, starting in your own life.


Monday, December 14, 2009

A few years back I didn't even know what a blogger was. I didn't know and I didn't care.

Now I care!

I care because now blogger is not just a word. No, it's much more than that. Now when I think of bloggers I think of men and women,human beings--FRIENDS. Men and women who laugh, cry, hurt, bleed, dream, live life large--and sometimes die.

I have blogging friends all over the world.

Today I'm thinking about and praying for my blogging friend LOREN. She lives in Oklahoma but she is in Florida with her father who is dying with cancer.

I'm asking all my blogging friends to pray for LOREN AND HER FAMILY as they go through this difficult time. Many of you already are praying and as a result of your prayers and hers, her father has given his life to Christ. It will never be easy to let him go but they can now smile through their tears.

Thank you for caring. Thank you for being part of the fellowship of the concerned.

Someone said: "Oh this world's a curious compound
With its honey and its gall;
Its cares and bitter crosses,
But a good world after all.
And a good God must have made it,
Leastwise that is what I say,
When a hand is on your shoulder
  in a friendly sort o' way."


Saturday, December 12, 2009

I love Eugene Peterson's paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 in THE MESSAGE

So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There's far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever.


Friday, December 11, 2009

By James N. Watkins

OVERVIEW: Martha Bolton, writer for Jeff Allen, Phyllis Dillar and Mark Lowry calls this "A book that will make you laugh, think, and start looking at those sour places in life in a whole new way."Life is filled with lemons! So here are top ten ways to squeeze the good out of those life-puckering problems. And James Watkins is a great guide since he's felt the squeeze of cancer, unemployment, family crises, and chronic nose hair. Join him in the journey. Author, Heather Gemmen wrote, "Jim Watkins is clearly a man who knows how to laugh and how to cry...and when one will be more effective than the other. Discover his godly wisdom for yourself by enjoying this important books as you make sense of life."

AUTHOR: James N. Watkins is the award-winning author of fifteen books and over two thousand articles. He serves as an editor with Wesleyan Publishing House and instructor at Taylor University, as well as popular conference speaker. His most important roles, however, are as child of God, husband, dad, and "papaw."

 MY REVIEW: James Watkins has as his purpose for writing this book the same one that Peter stated as his in l Peter 5:12b NLT "My purpose for writing is to encourage you and assure you that the grace of God is with you no matter what happens." Let that sink in! It doesn't get any better than that. James does an excellent job of fulfilling that purpose. His book is a wonderful source of encouragement for making your way through life-puckering problems.

I laughed and cried my way through this splendid little book of encouragement. I found it hard to put down and I think you will have the same problem. This is a book you won't want to part with but you will want to buy one for each of your friends.


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

We have a silly little sign in front of our house that says, "Let It Snow."

Well it is snowing in the "high country" of Arizona--up around Flagstaff. But not in Phoenix.

We decorate our houses, inside and out. The malls are decked out and Santa Claus is there.

Some people even put Christmas lights on their cacti.

It's even cooler today. It's cloudy and the high temperature is going to be around 58.

But that won't last. Most of the days in December will probably be warmer and the sun will be shining.

If you lived here would you be calling your "folks" in the Mid-West singing, "I'll Have A Blue Christmas, I know dear..."?

Well, what do you think?  Could you get into the "Christmas spirit" in a place like this?


Monday, December 07, 2009

THE KARMA OF JESUS--Do We Really Reap What We Sow
By Mark Herringshaw

OVERVIEW: Whether we call it Karma or not, life seems to be based on cause and effect. If we do something good, we expect (or hope) good will return. Do something bad, and bad will result. Indeed, the ancient idea of Karma--reaping what we sow--is recognized in almost every religion in the world. But this principle sets an inescapable trap: If "what comes around goes around," then every small mistake will haunt us to the bitter end. IS THAT IT THOUGH? IS THIS OUR DESTINY? In this provocative book, Mark Herringshaw boldly explores two mutually exclusive visions of life: Karma and grace. Prompted by a chance conversation with a spiritually curious young man, he gives us a probing look at the implications of Karma and the relevance of Christ's life.

AUTHOR: Mark Herringshaw is a pastor, sought-after teacher, and conference speaker. The coauthor of two previous books, he leverages the crafts of storytelling, biblical scholarship, and scientific research to make complex ideas simple, practical, and transformative.

MY REVIEW: This is a difficult review for me to write. I need to choose my words wisely. I do not want to praise the book too highly and thereby encourage readers to buy it thinking it is something it is not. However, at the same time I do not want to discourage  potential buyers who might profit from what Mark Herringshaw has written.

I liked this book very much. But I am coming from a background of Bible college and seminary training plus forty-seven years of practical Christian living as a full-time minister. This certainly doesn't make me any wiser than the average reader or better prepared to deal with this difficult subject. But the average person may not be as interested in the topic as I am.

Herringshaw writes in an interesting way and I learned much from reading his book. And yet when I read the last page and put the book down I didn't feel satisfied. I didn't have an "Aha, moment." I didn't say to myself, "Send the questioners in. I'm ready now. I can explain Karna to them."

I do think things happen for a reason. But after saying that, where do we go from there? If you are interested, maybe you should read this book.


The generous folks at Bethany House are allowing me to host this book giveaway for two (2) copies!
  • Winners are restricted to the US and Canada. No PO Box mailing address please.
  • You do not have to be a blogger to win. You can win more than once on my blog.
  • I MUST have a way of contacting you, so be sure to leave your email address in your comment.
  • Some choose to omit the @ sign and the . dot by writing it in "code" like this: you (at) your email (dot)com.
  • I'll close the comments December 21 and pick the two winners. I will contact the winners via email to get their mailing information. The winners will have three days to respond. If I do not hear from them within three days, I will select another winner(s).


Saturday, December 05, 2009

Somehow, not only for christmas
But all the long year through,
The joy that you give to others
Is the joy that comes back to you.
And the more you spend in blessing
The poor and the lonely and sad,
The more of your heart's possessions
Return to make you glad.
                                          John Greenleaf Whittier


Friday, December 04, 2009

The real Santa Claus was at the Paradise Valley Mall this morning.

I can't tell you how excited I was to see him.

Every year--for many years, I have been disappointed to see impostors sitting in Santa's place.

They were anemic, frail, little guys who looked like they had just drug in from skid row.

Not this year. The jolly ol fellow himself showed up. And I'm glad.

Don't worry. I can't explain Santa's magic. But he will be at your mall too.

If one of those impostors should show up. Go directly to the mall manager and tell him you want the Santa Clif saw at the Paradise Valley Mall.


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Do you like hot pastrami sandwiches?

Probably not! Most of my readers are women. My daughter tells me she thinks pastrami is a "man thing." My wife agrees.

They are probably right. I don't know. What do you think?

I have always enjoyed going to the Miracle Mile Deli. But until recently we have not had one in Scottsdale. Now we do. It's only a few minutes from our home.

Every time I go there I am interested in all the good things they offer.

I stand on one foot and then the other and then I always say, "hot pastrami sandwich."

Is it a "man thing"?

What do you think?


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Christmas Glass

GuidepostsBooks (October 1, 2009)


Marci Alborghetti


Marci Alborghetti has been writing only slightly longer than she's been reading. In seventh grade she received her first writing prize for a zany Halloween story. The prize? A five dollar gift certificate to a local bookstore. She was hooked. The Christmas Glass is her fourteenth book, and she is currently at work on a sequel as well as a non-fiction book about service. Some of her other books include: Prayer Power: How to Pray When You Think You Can’t, A Season in the South and Twelve Strong Women of God.

She and her husband, Charlie Duffy, live in New London, Connecticut and the San Francisco Bay area. While in New London she facilitates the Saint James Literary Club.


In the tradition of The Christmas Shoes and A Christmas on Jane Street, the heartwarming story of The Christmas Glass shows how, today as always, the Christmas miracle works its wonders in the human heart.

In the early days of World War II in Italy, Anna, a young widow who runs a small orphanage, carefully wraps her most cherished possessions -- a dozen hand-blown, German-made, Christmas ornaments, handed down by her mother -- and sends them to a cousin she hasn't seen in years.

Anna is distressed to part with her only tangible reminder of her mother, but she worries that the ornaments will be lost or destroyed in the war, especially now that her orphanage has begun to secretly shelter Jewish children. Anna's young cousin Filomena is married with two-year-old twins when she receives the box of precious Christmas glass.

After the war, Filomena emigrates to America, where the precious ornaments are passed down through the generations. After more than forty years, twelve people come to possess a piece of Christmas glass, some intimately connected by family bonds, some connected only through the history of the ornaments.

As Christmas Day approaches, readers join each character in a journey of laughter and tears, fractures and healings, as Filomena, now an eighty-four-year-old great-grandmother, brings them all to what will be either a wondrous reunion or a disaster that may shatter them all like the precious glass they cherish.

If you would like to read the first chapter of  The Christmas Glass, go HERE

MY REVIEW:  The Christmas Glass, a Novel is a splendid book for adults. I have recently reviewed two Christmas books that are for the family and that children will enjoy. This book is a novel that will not only hold the attention of adults but it is one they will thoroughly enjoy. I started reading it one afternoon and read until my wife called me to dinner. Immediately after dinner I went back to the book and finished reading it that evening.

Marci Alborghetti is an excellent writer. I have read many books this year and this is one of the best written books I have held in my hand. She writes about many people in many places and the names of these people are hard to remember. A page in the front of the book called, The People of The Christmas Glass is very helpful in keeping these people straight.

This book is filled with faith, passion and tenderness. If you read it you will discover how today, as always, the Christmas miracle works its wonders in the human heart.