Monthly Archives: November 2011

Precisely Terminated

Precisely Terminated by Amanda L. Davis tells the captivating story of Monica, a sixteen-year-old slave who must constantly follow orders from an underground council. She must often put herself in terrible danger just to accomplish small missions here and there. Does she always feeling like carrying out their commands? No, of course not, but she has no choice. You see, she’s not just any slave; she is the only hope for her oppressed people.

This book started out a little slow for me, but perhaps that is because I had researched the story thoroughly already. (I tried to find out as much as I could last month, when I interviewed Ms. Davis.) Here’s a tip: read and enjoy the book before you try to find out any plot points. Once I broke into some fresh territory, the plot really picked up. So while I read the beginning chapters bits at a time, I read the last third or so in one fell swoop! Ms. Davis very subtly drops hints about God’s existence, but Monica doesn’t really know who He is. She sets up the sequel very nicely, and I am already looking forward to reading it! The sequel promises to offer Monica more information regarding her Creator, along with the danger and intrigue that we have come to expect.

If you want to find out more, check out the product page for this book. Or you can preview it here. For more fun, watch the book trailer!

Note: In exchange for an honest review, the publisher provided a complimentary copy of this book through Glass Road Public Relations.

A prompt disguised as forgetfulness

(Or, didn’t I do this already?): Choose any creative writing prompt (there are some on my resources page), and write a scene. When finished, put it away. Tomorrow (or next week), get out a clean sheet of paper (or open an empty word processing file), and write the exact same scene. Same plot, same conflict, same outcome. But don’t peek at yesterday’s until you’re all finished. Do this for as many days as you like, then compile your work to come up with your best possible scene! If you like the results, try this prompt with your WIP.

My First Thanksgiving

I was nine months old. My parents had been brought up in church, but had not attended since they were teens. They both knew that they wanted to raise their new little girl (me) in church. So they prayed. They were too shy to go from church to church looking for just the right one, even though they still lived in the same town in which they grew up. Maybe because of that reason, who knows? So they prayed. They prayed for God to send someone to them. I know that’s not a very active way to seek an answer to prayer, but it’s all they were willing to do at that time in their lives.

Then, Thanksgiving Day, 1979 rolled around. They were sitting at the dinner table chowing down on turkey when someone knocked on the door. It was two women. Two church women, Sharon and Annie. They invited Mom and Dad to church, and my parents went.

I was raised in that church, saved in that church, and baptized in that church (well, really it was Indian Creek, but I was with my church family). I called my mom tonight to get the details. She said that all four of her kids grew up gnawing on the backs of those wooden benches.

I love God with all of my heart, and I am working to pass that on to as many people as possible. Where would I be today if Sharon and Annie had not responded to the prompting of the Holy Spirit 32 years ago? They had the guts to knock on someone’s door on a holiday, no less! Did they knock on a lot of doors that night, or only one? I can’t help but wonder. Anyway, I thank God for them, and for the domino effect they caused in my life!

I said all that to say this: your associates, acquaintances, friends, etc. might be praying right now for God to send someone to them. Deep down inside, I think that every person desires a relationship with Him, and some are just on the verge of accepting Him. We don’t know which ones. Please do everything you can to reach out to them. Be brave! You never know how a word from you may affect generations to come! Eternity is at stake.

The Sound of Silence

The only time I ever experienced true silence was the night I spent with my friends in the country. I guess I was about ten years old because it made quite an impression on me. I was laying there awake, straining my ear for any sound at all, finding none. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed at the nothingness. It seemed to be screaming at me! I don’t know whether my mind was inventing an ominous sound because it didn’t know what else to do, or whether my ears actually started ringing. But my silence-sound wasn’t high pitched, it was low and buzz-like. And it wouldn’t go away! The silence was so loud that I couldn’t go to sleep…

After the Fact

Today’s post was submitted by Stephanie Nickel. Be sure to stop by her blog and say hi! She homeschooled all of her children, and now they are grown and doing their own things. We just though you might like to see homeschooling from the perspective of one who’s “been there, done that…”

“Is that legal?” was the most common response when I told people I was homeschooling. That was over twenty years ago.

I now have three grown children. Nathanial, the eldest, was homeschooled through high school. The other two, Joshua and Sarah, were educated at home until the end of Grade 8.

Why did I decide to keep my firstborn home when all the other little ones in our housing complex were toddling off to JK? To be honest, I’m not even sure where I first heard about the concept. I’m just glad I was independent enough to do what I believed to be best for our family – even though I didn’t personally know anyone else who was homeschooling.

Were there rough days? For sure. My eldest and I have very similar personalities, and that can be tough. We had good days…and not so good days. However, when Nathanial was about fifteen, he thanked me for homeschooling because “I wouldn’t be the kid I am if you hadn’t.” Wow!

Back then, Nathanial (who now goes by “Nate”) was a follower. No more. Now he takes leadership at work and could do so in pretty much any situation. He is also a world traveler. My “follower” now takes off to international destinations – on his own. (He went to Amsterdam, Belgium, and Germany this past summer and Utah the summer before that.)

Is this because I homeschooled? I can’t say, but he may have developed some less than beneficial habits and had an entirely different circle of friends had I sent him to school.

Our second son is finishing his fourth and final year at Bible College. The first time we put him on a plane to go somewhere he’d never been to meet people he’d never met, he looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Now, air travel is simply another way of going from Point A to Point B.

It has been very good for him in many ways. He has some very interesting ideas of what he would like to do after graduation, and he’s getting support from the Dean of Men. Joshua thanked us for teaching him to “think outside the box.” It may sound cliché, but it has worked to his advantage.

Our youngest (now 21) is taking a correspondence writing course and doing some freelance illustrating. We’re excited to see the first book she illustrated in print. She, like her brothers is a thinker and a dreamer. While we have stressed hard work – especially their dad who, though he has his Masters in Church Music, works forty plus hours per week doing manual labour to pay the bills and provide for our family – we’ve also encouraged them to pursue their dreams. Writing and illustrating books is definitely one of Sarah’s dreams.

As I said, not every day was one for the memory books, but homeschooling was one of the best decisions I ever made.

A prompt disguised as exercise

Take a walk, but pretend you are anywhere but where you are or anyone but whom you are. Try to see your town or neighborhood through fresh eyes, as your character would see it. Try to think your character’s thoughts as you go along. You might notice something you never have before, or find a fascinating new twist for your WIP.

Raised Right by Alisa Harris

Alisa Harris was raised in a very conservative family. They were politically active, and you can tell by the way she writes that Ms. Harris grew to think they were fanatically so. Sadly, I found the tone of the entire first half to be sarcastic and degrading to her family and her beliefs. As a child and teenager, she was totally wrapped up in her parents’ political activities. As she grew older though, she began to question her beliefs. By the end of the book, she has become a Christian who leans more towards believing in shades of grey than she does in black and white.

I know she believes she is right, and has carefully considered why she believes so. Perhaps she has even put more consideration into her beliefs than others who hold to strictly Republican or strictly Democratic parties. She certainly seems to think so. But perhaps she is wrong. Just because a person is wholly sold on something, doesn’t mean they haven’t carefully considered other options or why they believe what they believe.

I am mostly Republican, but I don’t agree with every single thing they stand for. I am also mostly Baptist, but my denomination doesn’t define who I am. If I have a mind of my own, I am not going to agree wholeheartedly with any other single person or organization. I know that my beliefs aren’t perfect either; what are the chances that I would be the only completely correct person on the face of the planet? But knowing that our own opinions are subject to misconceptions and preconceived ideas doesn’t give us an excuse from voting or choosing what to believe in. The fact is, anytime anyone votes for any person who is not themselves, they will be voting for someone who has differing opinions and holds to different beliefs. Yet, we must still vote, even if we are occasionally wrong. We must decide which issues are the most important and vote accordingly.

Ms. Harris grew uncomfortable with the idea of pushing her beliefs on other people. But it seems to me that politics is all about pushing your beliefs on other people. (And I realize I’m oversimplifying here, but hear me out.) We vote for those who are most like us so that they can have the authority to make laws that others must follow whether they believe in them or not. All parties work this way, whether liberal or conservative. They want things the way they want them, regardless of what the opposition believes or wants. All of this isn’t necessarily bad. Right and wrong do still exist, and if people who believe in Right stop voting, Wrong will inevitably conquer.

Ms. Harris was such a strong Republican as a child, she never stopped to consider that the party could be wrong about anything until she became an adult. She believed the Republicans would bring salvation to America. On page 72, she says, “Somewhere in there, I got my gospels crossed.” I agree with her that we shouldn’t hold to our parties as strongly as we hold to our religions. And in both cases, we should know why we believe what we do. “That’s what my parents taught me,” just isn’t going to cut it.

Personally, I try to look at the individual issues when I vote. I have voted for a pro-life Democrat before. And I would choose any pro-life candidate over a pro-choice one any day. (Pro-life also seems to be the biggest issue for Ms. Harris, and for that I am thankful.) I believe that the legal murder of innocent people is the blackest mark of depravity on this culture today. It tells the world and God who we really are and what we really care about as a nation.

If you’re confused about what to believe, what to stand for, my advice is this: take God at His Word. He knows what He’s talking about. Does the situation seem too complex? Trust Him anyway: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverb 14:12

While the tone of this review seems mostly negative, I do agree with many of the things Ms. Harris had to say. Here are some of them:

“I now think that loving America is like loving my family. We have a shared identity and a common experience, a history that ties us together and past grievances that divide us. But I don’t love my family because it’s exceptional, because it can dominate everyone else or has the fastest technology and the riches members or is somehow more blessed by God than others are. I love my family, my country, because it’s mine – because this is the community where God saw fit to plunk me and I have an obligation to its rancorous, disputatious, obnoxious, and suffering members.” Pg. 90-91

“[Jesus] didn’t call us simply to oppose positions that are wrong but to embody values that are heavenly.” Pg. 108

“…politics can leave the politics-obsessed misshapen, with no deeper thought than disgust for their enemies.” Pg. 124

“Yes, our primary job as Christians is to love people, and we can’t love from behind a barricade. But we have other God-given responsibilities too – to fight against those who make unjust decrees, rob the needy, and deprive the poor of their rights. We can make political the things that are political and make spiritual the things that are spiritual.” Pg. 210

Even though this book kept me on edge, it really made me think about why I believe the way I do. It was an exercise in reevaluation, and I welcome that. That being said, I would only recommend this book to adults who are used to thinking for themselves. I wouldn’t give it to a teenager who is used to believing what Mom and Dad taught them and hasn’t fully formed their own opinions yet.

If you want to find out more, check out Alisa Harris’ blog for this book. Or you can preview it here.

Note: In exchange for an honest review, the publisher provided a complimentary copy of this book through Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers.


Second Grade Math Routine

This year, we faced our biggest math challenge yet: multiplication. My first question was, is there any way to teach multiplication tables without droning them? After receiving plenty of good advice, and doing a little research, I finally landed on a method.

Step one: cuddle up in Daddy’s big chair.

Step two: count by threes on our fingers.

Step three: recite 3×1=3, etc. in order, using our fingers.

Step four: mix up the facts, and use our fingers when we need to.

Step five: drill several times a day, mixing up the facts, and allowing him to use his fingers if he needs to. I drill him during math class, in the car, while doing dishes, while he is drawing a picture, etc. Basically, he is living, eating, and breathing the threes family right now.

It’s been a few weeks, but he has them all memorized! No fingers needed!

So, our math class currently goes something like this:

-Drill multiplication tables, 2s and 3s.

-Do about 3 pages from his Singapore math book. (He’s only got about 10 pages left in book 2A! – After which, we are taking a break from math books until January. We’re going to spend the next few weeks working on getting addition up to speed.)

-Work on addition facts for 4s, 5s, 6s, and 7s at this website: (Ian loves this game!)

-Drill 7+9, 8+8, 8+9, and 9+9 (because he won’t cover these on the math website – it only goes up to a sum of 15).

I’m really starting to feel good about this whole math thing, and Ian doesn’t complain anymore, which is an added benefit!

Prologue to Reluctant Liaison

The following is the prologue for my work in progress, Reluctant Liaison. How I wound up writing science fiction, I’ll never know. I’ve always been more attracted to fantasy myself. The premise of the story just landed on me one day, and with NaNo looming, I couldn’t not write it. I still have a very long way to go, but I hope this whets your appetite! Enjoy!

Make peace. Give gifts. Offer hope. Make friends.

Make peace. Give gifts. Offer hope. Make friends.

Zao Janeg stood on the waiting platform, checking his tie one more time and looking at the sky. It was evening, and the first star had appeared on the horizon. Its given name was Noree, but only the scientists called it that. No, to him it always was, and always would be, the Twilight Star. He checked his watch once again. 7:52. Never had the minutes ticked by so slowly. Someone in the crowd cleared his throat. Probably one of the other Ambassadors. Funny, he never expected to act as Ambassador in his hometown, or for that matter, in any town surrounded by water. He flipped his wrist over again. 7:52. Hmph. They were supposed to make Primary Contact at 7:54 and 38 seconds. Two minutes to go.

He pulled his sportscoat closer as the first chill swept through the air. Winter. It was coming. Oh, God, let me live through this Winter. I promise to make you the Center. Of all. Of me. My life to Thee. He recited the ancient mantra without thinking about it. It had always given him hope as a boy, even though he didn’t understand a couple of the words. It was coming. But would they even live to see Winter 2699? If only the Visitors could be friendly. Or weak. But how could they be weak? They had obviously mastered interplanetary travel, maybe more. They probably had weapons of mass destruction. Maybe they were even the ones who had leveled the Inner Land, hundreds of years ago. But perhaps they were peaceful. One could only hope. Maybe they held the cure for cancer, AIDS, or Yearms. Maybe even Winter. But that was too much to hope for. No one had ever mastered the weather.

Zao felt moisture trickle down his fingertips. Annoyed, he glanced at his wrist, then shook his head. Why do things like this always happen to him at the worst possible time? This could well be the defining moment of his career – of his life. And his watch was leaking. He delved into his pocket and found a plastic bag. (At least he had finally learned not to leave home without one.) In what he hoped was a discreet manner, he swept the watch off his wrist and into the bag. In a matter of seconds, the bag was back in his pocket, heavy with its fresh content. Zao just hoped that the reporters were too focused on the sky to have noticed.

7:54. Tie: straight. Smile: plastered. Knees: ready to buckle, but what could he do about that?

Grrrhhh! His hands flew to his ears as he responded to the sudden eardrum-numbing noise, but it wasn’t enough. He couldn’t shut out the piercing scream. It was a sound he had never heard before. Nor had anyone on this planet. The shrieking reverberation of lightspeed engines slowing suddenly to a halt. Then, as quickly as the noise began, it ceased. But the throbbing pain in his head continued to remind him of the Visitors’ attention-grabbing entrance. Was that really necessary, or was it a just a tactic to put us off our guard?

The ship was not as large as he had been expecting. Maybe it was just a scout ship, and they would come swarming in later in larger numbers. If he had to die this way, at least he wouldn’t have to struggle through another Winter. Death would mean respite, and with the impending doom of Winter on its way, the prospect of an easy death was looking better by the day. The ship had settled. Any minute now the door would open, and the monsters would reveal themselves. No! Mustn’t think of them that way. That would just create negative vibes, and heaven knows, there were enough of those in the group to make up for any that he may lack. Soon the Visitors would reveal themselves. Soon the door would open. They would come face to face. Any minute now. What was taking them so long? Were they preparing weapons?

Make peace. Give gifts. Offer hope. Make friends. Make peace. Give gifts. Offer hope. Make friends. He tugged at the knot in his tie. Make peace. Give gifts. Offer hope. Make friends. Why was he here? Standing here on this platform, right at this moment? I should never have taken that call. She told me not to take the call. Could he sneak away without been seen? Without being stopped by security? He’d never work again, but would it really be all that bad? Moving to the Inner Land, away from society? They said that the Inner-Landers had to scavenge for food. It is said that they take their food in solid form. Now, he had been known to indulge a tomato every now and again himself. Nobody’s perfect. But all solid foods? Unthinkable! They were even rumored to hunt, whatever that means. He had never asked; the word was always spoken with extreme distaste, and he wanted nothing to do with hunting. So I guess I’m seeing this thing through.

The door! It’s open! A silhouette slowly emerged in the doorway. The head was perfectly spherical, reminding him of the old space comics he had read as a young teen. Make peace. Give gifts. Offer hope. Make friends. Make peace. Give gifts. Offer hope. Make friends. Zao took a step forward. Then another. Make peace. Give gi…

“Greetings!” The Visitor called to Zao with an ancient salutation. An ancient English salutation.

What could this mean? Zao panicked. I have to get away! Why am I here! How did I get here!

Joke’s on you, Satan!

I can’t get over the fact that Satan thought he won when Christ was crucified. He  had all of the prophecies, yet he didn’t have the wisdom to know what was happening. His simple answer was to kill God, and I’m sure he congratulated himself when Christ breathed his last breath on the cross. His delusions didn’t last very long however, as Jesus showed up on his doorstep and confiscated the keys of death, hell, and the grave. All of Satan’s best laid plans have only ever resulted in one thing: victory for God’s people.

So when it looks like everything is falling apart in your life, and nothing is going as planned, don’t despair. Satan may think he’s winning the battle for your life. You may even think so, but never give up hope. God is the only one with all the answers; only He can see the big picture. Place yourself in His hands, and watch the Master at work.