Thursday, December 31, 2009

When You Lose Someone You Love

(Tricia here - It is always hard to lose someone, but especially so around the holidays.  I am looking forward to reading this one and hopefully gaining some new insights and ways I can better minister to those around me who are grieving.  Here is the official word - review to follow.)

When You Lose Someone You Love

by Richard Exley

There is nothing more devastating than the death of a loved one. And whether it comes suddenly and unexpectedly, or at the end of a long and painful illness, every death is experienced anew, a shocking loss that takes your breath away and leaves you disoriented and lost.

Grief is mysterious, misunderstood, and experienced differently from individual to individual. Yet there are certain universal elements, and in this compassionate handbook on grief, a pastor offers comfort and understanding by exchanging letters with a man suffering a profound loss, showing grief as a healthy process that God can use to mend broken hearts.

“I have chosen the ‘letter style’ because it affords me the opportunity to speak to you directly and in a very personal manner,” Exley says. “This is not a book about grief; rather, it is comfort extended to those who are even now walking through the valley of the shadow of death.”

Revised and updated, this twentieth anniversary edition features prayers and scripture meditation, as well as a new introduction and epilogue. Simple, profound, personal, compassionate … When You Lose Someone You Love tenderly guides you through sorrow to peace and, eventually, renewed joy.

Author Bio: Richard Exley is the author of twenty-nine books and has written both fiction and nonfiction. His articles have appeared in numerous magazines, including Leadership Journal, Charisma, Ministries Today, The Pentecostal Evangel, Advance, Enrichment, and New Man. He has served as senior pastor of churches in Colorado and Oklahoma, hosted several popular television and radio programs, including the nationally syndicated Straight from the Heart, and appeared on the 700 Club, Richard Roberts Live, Action Sixty, the former PTL, The New Jim Bakker Show, and The Harvest Show. Richard and his wife, Brenda Starr, spend their time in a secluded cabin overlooking picturesque Beaver Lake in Northwest Arkansas.

When You Lose Someone You Love by Richard Exley
David C Cook/October 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6480-5/128 pages/softcover/$9.99

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

More Quotes from Kaylie

If you know Kaylie, you know she comes up with some great one-liners (and two and three liners).  She cracks me up all the time, and the best part is when I totally crack up she says "What?!?" - she has no clue how funny she is and isn't usually saying things to get a laugh, she just has a unique way of looking at life.  Here are some recent gems:  (not as funny if you don't know Kaylie and can't read them in her voice, but I found them entertaining)

• Walking up to my grandparent’s wreath decorated door –
   Me: Oh, look at Nana and Papa’s cute wreath
   K: Yes, it adds such a charming touch

• In the car –
  Hannah: What was I about to say to you [Mom]?
  Me: I love you Mom, you are the best mom ever and I am so lucky to have you as a mom?
 K: I was about to say that! (pause) Not really.

• On the way home from school –
  K: Mom, Allen said my mouse [her new KinzClip] is a rat. I said, “No, it’s not, it’s a mouse. M-O-U-S-E, mouse. And he said R-A-T, rat! [more talking about rat v. mouse]…and it has a furless pink tail, which I am kind of creeped out by the furless part….[and on and on…much more than one ever needed to know about stuffed mini-mice - this one was just funny because she kept going and the tone of voice she had]

• In her book report – (please don’t think this is mean)
  Then Old Nimrod died on the altar steps. (He was on an altar then when he died.)  [This is a direct quote from the report.]

• When I was sick recently –

   I think you are getting pregnant again

• Explaining to me why she wanted a book on “dog language” for Christmas –
   Well, I just wanted to be able to understand Archie and Marvin [our dogs].

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Church of Facebook

Apparently, except for the video I posted earlier this month, I did not mention The Church of Facebook by Jesse Rice.  Oy.  Big lapse on my part.  So here's the scoop:

Facebook: Where the Future Church Hangs Out

How the Hyperconnected Are Redefining Community

The Official Word:

A revolution is taking place, one profile at a time. Online social networks like Facebook and MySpace are connecting people like never before. With hundreds of millions of users, they’re creating almost limitless potential to redefine our personal worlds. It’s a movement that’s changing how we form relationships, perceive others, and shape our identity.

In his new book, The Church of Facebook (David C Cook, October 2009) author Jesse Rice takes a deeper look at the movement which, at its core, reflects our need for community. “Our longing for intimacy, connection, and a place to belong has never been a secret, but social networking offers us a new perspective on the way we engage our community,” Rice states. This new perspective raises new questions: How do these networks impact our relationships? In what ways are they shaping the way we think of ourselves? And how might this phenomenon subtly reflect a God who longs to connect with each one of us?

The Church of Facebook explores these ideas and much more, offering a revealing look at the wildly popular world of online social networking. “The new landscape of social networking tells us two basic things: One, we have a deep desire to be known. And, two, we are faced with a technology that both enables and hinders the intimacy we’re looking for,” Rice says. From personal profiles to status updates, author Jesse Rice takes a thoroughly entertaining and insightful look into what Facebook reveals about us, and what it may mean for the future of “community.”

Social networking is no fad; it has become a fact of life, especially for teens and twenty-somethings. The Church of Facebook is essential reading for parents and pastors who want to understand this trend and its impact on their children and congregations. Rice’s discussions will engage social networkers of all ages and stages who are wrestling with the very real issues of identity, meaning, purpose, and friendship within the context of virtual communities.

In the end, The Church of Facebook moves readers toward understanding God’s work in the body of Christ, the church. Driven by Rice’s thought-provoking questions, observations, humor, and heartfelt storytelling, The Church of Facebook challenges readers to consider new perspectives regarding their social networking habits and how those habits may point to deeper heart issues and, ultimately, our hunger for Jesus.

Author Bio: Jesse Rice is a writer and musician and served for eight years as the Contemporary Worship Arts Director at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, a large and thriving congregation in the heart of Silicon Valley. Jesse has a Master’s in Counseling Psychology and is an authority on the search for meaning in a fast-paced, hyper-connected world. He is a sought-after worship leader and speaker with more than fifteen years of experience working with college students and young adults. Jesse and his wife, Katie, live in Palo Alto, California.

The Church of Facebook by Jesse Rice
David C Cook/October 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6534-5/192 pages/softcover/$12.99

Tricia's Take:
If you are online (which you are since you are reading this), then you should read this book.  It wasn't what I was expecting, but it was still very good.  It really made me stop and take account of how I am using my time and how social networking can be handled properly and for good, not just a waste of time.  I learned alot of interesting things about human behavior and really enjoyed the stories/examples Jesse shared in order to flesh out his main points.  Plus the book has some great little bits of humor, and that is a rare (and welcome) thing in a genre that can get a little dry.  This book was very easy to read, but that doesn't mean there was no substance.  I really dug this book.
Here is why Jesse is my current favorite author.  An excerpt from the footnote page 147:
I feel the need to point out that a Bluetooth device is not a fashion accessory... Yes, I can see the value of hands-free communication while driving.  I drive "hands free" all the time - it's why God gave me no time, and not under any circumstance, should you be caught wearing such a device.
It's like he crawled inside my head.
Another example of the sense of humor displayed in the book is this video promo for the book.  You need to take a couple minutes and watch it.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Three Days of Christmas

As the astute reader will notice, it has been awhile since I have blogged.  Lots has happened, where to start?  Since it will take more than a few minutes to catch you up and I have to get the girls packed for the trip to my mom and step-dad's, I leave you with this fun plug for Jesse Rice's book The Church of Facebook (which I am in the process of reading and will review for you soon).

Monday, November 16, 2009

More on Coach Bill (already!)

Lest you think that I am just some clueless chick with my theories on arrogance and disrespect, allow me to present the following from folks who actually play the game (and must be wicked smart because they agree with me!)

I pulled this from the Pats blog on ESPN Boston
November 16, 2009, 2:47 AM
By: Chris Forsberg

INDIANAPOLIS -- If the Patriots showed confidence in their offense going for a fourth-down conversion at their own 28-yard line late in the fourth quarter of Sunday night's 35-34 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, what did it say to the Colts' defense?

"Total disrespect," said linebacker Clint Session. "They disrespected us and got what they deserved. They fought hard throughout the game, but they disrespected us at the end and they got what they deserved."

The Colts leaned hard on the disrespect card after the win as their prideful defense, which gave up a season-high 34 points despite entering the game as the best scoring defense in the league, came up with a critical stop. Defensive back Melvin Bullitt tackled Kevin Faulk a yard shy of the first-down marker, forcing a turnover on downs at the two-minute warning.

Reggie Wayne hauled in a 1-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Manning with 13 seconds remaining as the Colts prevailed. Here's a collection of the Colts' reaction to Bill Belichick's fourth-down call.

DE Dwight Freeney: "To be honest with you, that's how we take it. Any defense should take it the same way. Whenever you go for it on fourth down in that situation, we've got to make a play. It even happens in video games. You go for it on fourth down when you're not supposed to and something bad happens. We're happy. We got to continue the streak. We won another game."

QB Peyton Manning: "Not much surprises me with New England. You kind of expect the unexpected. … When you see them going for it on fourth down, I can't lie to you, obviously you certainly get a little nervous because you realize you might get a shorter field, but the game might be over."

WR Reggie Wayne: "Coach Belichick has never shied away from confidence. He really feels like his team can get the job done. He made a call and they had to execute it, and our defense did a good job of holding them short and giving us an opportunity to go out there and take a lead."

DB Melvin Bullitt: "Not with the New England Patriots. You never know what you're going to get with them. You can expect anything and you always have to be ready. They have that die-hard type of attitude."

DE Jerraud Powers: "I was surprised. I thought maybe he was going to try to get us to jump offside or something. I didn't think he'd actually try to run a play. That's the confidence Belichick has in his players and his quarterback. But we just stepped up to the challenge and made plays when we had to."

DE Robert Mathis: "Wow. All you can say is wow. They were going to do it like that, so we had to step up and fortunately we did. That's a lot of disrespect. I know they're trying to win the game just like we are, but we were fortunate to get a stop on that play."

DB Antoine Bethea: "We were like, 'Look, man, they don't respect us.' Like a reporter said, they might want to convert because our offense was clicking at the time and they wanted to keep our offense off the field. But as a defense, that's kind of disrespectful, and that's how we took it."

'nuf said, man

So close and yet...

Everyone is talking today about Bill Belichick, so allow me to join the conversation.  (It is my blog, so I can do what I want.)

First, if you have missed the discourse, here is a nice summary from people who think they know.

(Actually first, first: if you missed the discourse - HOW?)

So, he is gutsy or he's an idiot.  He is dissing his defense or showing confidence in his Brady-led offense.  He is one hoodie short of a full closet.  And so on and so on.  You can listen to former Patriot defender Tedy Bruschi claim it is a rip on the current Patriot defense.  You can watch Merrill Hoge defend coach Belichick (in a nice little chat with a rather annoyed ESPN acnhor).  You can read what former Patriot Rodney Harrison says about it.  This is just a taste, but you get the idea.

I am kind of shocked this is so shocking.  As a Colts fan, I can attest that going for it on 4th down is pretty standard operating procedure for the Patriots when playing the Colts (and, on an unrelated note, for the Jeff Fisher Titans when they play the Colts too).  Why it is so shocking now and such a slam on the D is beyond me.  Was it a slam on Tedy, et al, when the Coach went for it when they were on the team?

They cruised up and down the field all night with the hallowed Tom Brady at the helm.  Why WOULDN'T they assume they could get two more yards on top of the hundreds they had already amassed??

Here it is:  it isn't a rip on the Patriots' D.  It is a rip on the Colts D.  He (Belichick) was convinced the Colts couldn't stop his team/prevent them from gaining two little yards, so he went for it.  It isn't about his precious little D.  It is about them continuing to disrespect the Colts and being convinced in their minds that they are and continue to be the much better team/personnel/coach etc.  Disrespect for the Colts and uber-confidence in his peeps.

Bottom line: it was arrogance.  The concept that Peyton was "in Belichick's head" is totally laughable.

And now you have my two-cents to add to this ridiculously loud discourse.  Can we move on now?

Friday, November 13, 2009

None But Jesus

A couple weeks ago I was blessed with an opportunity I never thought I would have: to participate in an interpretive dance of this beautiful song. 

Was psyched to also find a video from Hillsong with Darlene Zschech singing and some groovy dancers dancing.  Different choreography, same concept.  Way cool.  Wish they showed more of the dance, but still awesome.

(Sorry I am not tech-y enough to put the video here for you to see, but take 4 seconds and go to the link.  Good stuff.)

London Calling...

I love the newsboys – a rock group made up of some cool Christian dudes. The ringtone on my cell phone is from their song, “Something Beautiful”. Perhaps you have heard it (if not, catch a glimpse and a listen here or on I thought this would be great, as I like the song and would get a burst of happiness every time my cell phone rings.

A good idea in theory.

Except, every time my cell phone rings, this is what one hears, “it’s the voice that whispers my name, it’s a kiss without any shame – something beautiful…” It's cool in the context of the whole song, but out of context it is … hmmmm, I'm not sure.

Should I change it? I am starting to feel self-conscious when I am out and about and it rings. I am not a loud-cell phone-talker-in-public kind of chick anyway - so there will always be some awkwardness when my phone rings in the middle of a conversation - but I am starting to frantically dig for my phone to shush it ASAP when it rings for fear of what someone might think. Whaddya think? How would you respond if someone's pocket started singing that?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Jesus - No Greater Love

The Jesus Movie for

the Next Generation

Guest post by Bruce Marchiano, producer of Jesus...No Greater Love

The truth of the gospel never changes. But Christianity has many faces. They reflect the customs and cultures and the beautiful diversity of the global church. They are lined with the wisdom of age and vibrant with the passion of youth. One gospel for all the world…but how will we deliver it in a way that reaches the whole world? How will we reach the next generation?

Young Christians today are more like St. Francis of Assisi than a circuit riding preacher. “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary, use words.” This is a generation focused on being the hands and feet of Christ and meeting the physical needs of those in both the local and global community. They are building houses, planting gardens, taking food and clothes to the poor and helping the widows and orphans… and then they are sharing the gospel. And they are using technology like never before. They communicate the message through audio, film, video and the internet, and they strive for excellence within those mediums. They must. This is how they will reach their generation for Christ.

I share their passion. In the film, The Gospel According to Matthew, we were able to capture the heart of Christ that is so often missing in Christian films, but the quality of the film making was constrained by an $800,000 budget. Now we are inspiring a movement that will bring Jesus to film in a version that literally leaps off the screen and into the hearts of viewers.

Jesus…No Greater Love, the new Jesus movie, ( will be a word for word, verse by verse film adaption of the Gospel according to John. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. That’s really our concept, that the gospel would go out in the power of the film medium, unaltered by any human script writer.

The budget for a typical Hollywood production is $100-110 million. Actors’ salaries account for much of that cost. Because the new Jesus movie will be not be paying big name actors, our team believes we can produce a world class, state-of-the-art film incorporating the latest cutting-edge technology for just $45 million. The production will be shot on location in Jerusalem and shot digitally using CGI backgrounds and a green screen stage, providing unlimited potential for sharing the gospel for generations to come.

We are inviting people from all nations and all generations to join this movement to bring the gospel to all people. A movement made of 4.5 million people contributing a tax deductible donation of $10 each would fund the cost of the film. The Gospel belongs to everyone, and the new Jesus movie will be produced expressly so it can be accessed by everyone, no matter their financial situation. Our team's vision is to see the film translated into as many languages as possible and supplied to mission organizations and churches all over the world.

You can become a part of the movement to reach the next generation. Please help us spread the word to your friends and family. If you would like to make a donation, you can do so at

Also, you can keep up with our progress by visiting any of these links:


Bruce Marchiano is an actor, author, international speaker, and the founder of Marchiano Ministries, a non-profit organization reaching out to people both spiritually and practically in the USA and across the world. He is best known for his joyful, passionate portrayal of Jesus in the film, The Gospel According to Matthew.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Dr. S

Haven’t done a shout-out to Dr. S. since last summer – which was last time I was hospitalized, so HURRAH! that I made it to (and well past!) one year!!

Anyway, saw Dr. S. Wednesday and just wanted to give him some props. Especially since I was in and out of the office in 30 minutes – the bulk of which I actually spent in conference with Dr. S. (I know – you just fell off your chair, didn’t you? Yes, there is a doctor who spends more than 30 seconds with you and actually treats you like a person and doesn’t have cheap signs posted all over the office about all the fees you will be charged if you look at the nurse funny or wear a weird hat on Friday and other such nonsense!) This is one of the many reasons why he's my fave.  Including that I always get quiet time to sit and read with no distractions when I go to his office.  (Wednesday was an anomaly; I usually plan about 2 hours for a visit - plenty of time to catch up on my latest book.) 

Hooray, hurrah, huroo!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Modern Day Joseph

(Tricia here: I am a little behind on my to-be-read list, so this is another that so far all I have for you is the official word.  But I am looking forward to reading this one, so - more to come!!)

Watch Linda Weddle’s introduction to How to Raise a Modern-Day Joseph on the Awana website.

Awana has launched a national campaign to help parents and churches work together to grow spiritually strong kids.

The Modern-Day Joseph campaign is modeled after Joseph of the Old Testament, who maintained his faith in spite of challenging circumstances. It features insights for growing kids spiritually, plotting out critical milestones from the toddler years through adolescence to raising a modern-day Joseph while allowing for the uniqueness of each child.

Introducing the latest resource in the Modern Day Joseph series – How to Raise a Modern-Day Joseph: A Practical Guide for Growing Great Kids by Linda Massey Weddle:

As parents, we strive to help our kids grow into their full potential. We help them with their homework, enroll them in activities, and invest for their college education. But while we may plan for their success, we can overlook a vital part of their personal development: nurturing and encouraging a solid foundation of faith.

We can easily assume our children are growing spiritually in church youth groups and programs, but the Bible calls us to guide them in their relationship with Jesus.

The life of Joseph offers parents a biblical standard for building children of character. Drawing from his story, this book will help you do just that. Inside, you’ll find a unique guide for creating a personalized plan for your child’s spiritual growth, from preschool through high school. This practical guide will help your child:
· Respect the awesomeness of God
· Acquire wisdom from the Bible
· Understand God’s grace
· Gain a sense of destiny and purpose
· Develop a life-perspective based on God’s perfect plan

The result: Children and teenagers who know, love, and serve the Lord.

So invest in their spiritual development. And create a legacy of faith that will last a lifetime.

Author Bio: Awana Senior Designer of U.S. Programs, Linda Massey Weddle is a gifted teacher, speaker, and prolific writer. A children’s author and regular contributor to publications, she has published twelve books and more than 2,500 articles, stories, devotionals, and radio scripts. Linda also develops Bible-based curriculum for young people and has been involved in children’s and youth ministry for the past forty years. She has two grown children and six grandchildren and resides in suburban Chicago.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Let it out, PSA Edition

A series of public service announcements.  Because I care about you.  It’s how I roll.

• If you don’t show up for work until 10am and leave at 2:30pm, your work day will go much faster. Just don’t forget to check your inbox before you dash out, as there might be something important in there. (me: oops!)

• Quaker Oats Weight Management Instant Oatmeal is yucky. It has Splenda in it, so if you like Splenda, this may be nectar of the gods to you. But if you don’t like the little yellow magic sweetner, stay away from this nasty mush. (If you enjoy this divine dish: A) my apologies if I offended you and B) would you like 19 free packets?)

• Speaking of nutrition, if you have a latte for breakfast, cake for lunch and then cake again for dinner, sneak in some veggies somewhere, as there is always the chance your youngest will come up to you at 9pm and say “Mom, for my health report I need you to write down what you had for breakfast lunch and dinner today”. (At that point, do you set the bad example by lying, or by honestly admitting what you ate?  At least I had that glass of milk with cake slice #1!!)

• Dance leotards are very constricting. I don’t think I have worn one since I was 5. I have had this one on for an hour (with at least 3 more to go) and I am overheating. I, who am never hot, am suddenly having much better empathy for the hot flash ladies. (update: after 4.5 hours, I did figure out what I can now wear when I am freezing and just can’t get warm – my new leotard! This will nicely help justify the cost!)

• Don’t let your husband venture far from your sight if you are at church on a Wednesday he is not on tech duty. If you do, he will not be off duty much longer. (update: ha ha ha! Totally different ending than I expected. He found out he is coaching a basketball team of 3rd through 6th grade girls! If you know Jim, this is hilarious. First meeting: tonight. At church. At 6:30. He found out at 6:25.  Did I mention tee hee hee?)

• Burger King sells bags of ice. Not sure why or what the drive-thru demand for bagged ice is. But now, if you are desperate for ice, don’t want to get out of the car (and would love a jr whopper with cheese), your life is now bliss my friend.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

And Rain Will Make The Flowers Grow

Lately, God has been speaking to me about suffering, pride, His sovereignty, and living a life that glorifies Him, draws others closer to Him, and makes Him famous.  But it all seems to come back to learning about suffering and looking at in an atypical manner - how it is not about me, but about God.

I don't know if God is preparing me for something, encouraging me in my suffering (which is relatively minimal), or equipping me to minister to others who are suffering.  Maybe it is all of those.  I don't know.  He has yet to show me, or I have yet to listen well enough to hear what He is quietly saying.

Here are some verses I love on suffering, comfort, and hope; they have been my foundation in times of trouble.  I am sure you know them all, but humor me.
Psalms 34:18,19 - The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.
Isaiah 26:3,4 - You [God] will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord is the Rock eternal.
Psalms 139:7-12 (this is a longer one, so I will not print it here, but it is a reminder that wherever we are, God is there and will shine in the darkness of our lives)
Isaiah 40:28, 29 - Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. (all emphasis mine - I just love how it is saying "He-lo-o!  God is GOD!  Get that in your head!)
Isaiah 41:10 - So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Revelations 21:4 - He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
Psalms 31:24 - Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.
Psalms 31:7 - I will be glad and rejoice in your love for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.
II Corinthians 4:8,9 - We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
Psalms 27:14 - Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord.
Psalms 3:3-5 (again, you can look this one up on your own, as I am getting a little long-winded here - but keeping stick with me just a bit longer)
These verses, of course, are just the tip of the iceberg.

I believe good comes from suffering.  I believe Love never fails.  I believe God is in control and loves us deeply.  I believe suffering can draw us closer to Him.  I believe we are blessed when God gives us a glimpse of the joy that can rise from suffering.  I believe even if we never see the good, God fulfills His promises and He is glorified and someone (or someones) is blessed.  I believe that even if we never get that opportunity, that insight, we are still blessed and God is still glorified.

But how do you encourage someone who is suffering without sounding callous?  How do you say "Hey, there is joy in this, brother/sister!  It is a good thing"?  Do those who are suffering really want to hear: "You know, this is really great news."  I have never experienced a truly great sorrow, but I have been told the last thing people who have want to hear is comments like "it was God's will", etc.  But at the same time, it IS God's will that every knee shall bow, every tongue confess.  He gave His own Son to make that happen, so we know He is willing to sacrifice for us.  Shouldn't we try to be able to sacrifice for Him in return?

Just thinking out loud here.  (thinking through my fingers?)  I will end with this:  There is hope in suffering.  Take heart, the Lord is God.  I know my Redeemer lives.

Would love to hear your thoughts...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


(Tricia here:  Y'all, this one was really good.  The official word is below.  In the interest of length (or brevity), I will give you my two cents in a separate post.)

“There has to be more than this…”

Who among us hasn’t at least thought this in our most honest moments, even if we haven’t asked the question out loud? Though we know we should count our blessings and be thankful, we still wonder, “Is this all there is? Surely there must be more to life than what I’m experiencing.”

Regardless of the current economic situation, our current job stresses or family struggles, we would still be searching for something more. This longing for something more was placed within us by God Himself so that we would search for Him. While we try to substitute all sorts of things with the hope of satisfying our deepest longings, relatively few find true and lasting satisfaction.

Don Cousins, author of Unexplainable: Pursuing a Life Only God Can Make Possible (David C Cook, September 2009), says that this longing is something every one of us feels. Cousins gives the example of an interview that quarterback Tom Brady did with 60 Minutes a few years ago in which he talked about his successes in the NFL. Brady stated that he was making more money than he ever thought he would make playing football, but even with all of the money, all of the attention, all of the adoration, he knew that there was something missing. Brady asked the question, “Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think that there is something greater out there for me?’s got to be more than this.”

In Unexplainable, Cousins shares with readers that God created us to find life in Him, and apart from His involvement, we will never find the life He intended. “As Jesus said, ‘I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly (John 10:10)’.” Cousins explains, “God wants the only explanation for us to be Him. Most people don’t know it, but they too want God to be the only explanation for them as well. When we experience God’s influence in and through us, we enter the realm of the UNEXPLAINABLE.”

Unexplainable is broken into four parts in which Cousins takes three longings found in every human heart and shows how only God can bring satisfaction and fulfillment.

The Apostle Paul refers to it as “the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension.” It is a peace that is unexplainable because it surpasses human comprehension. It is a supernatural peace. When this peace (contentment) floods the human heart, it enables the recipient to be content regardless of their circumstances in life. This is the contentment for which we all long. Regardless of how “good” life is, such contentment is unattainable apart from God because it is the “peace of God.”

God has given us a desire to succeed in life, and no one wants to be a failure. The world has its definition of success, and most are living according to this definition. While meeting the world’s definition of success brings a measure of satisfaction, it falls short of truly satisfying the longing of the heart for success. Our God-given desire for success can only be satisfied by Him, based on His definition of success, not the world’s. Perhaps the greatest implication of this difference is seen in the fact that worldly success comes to an end when one’s life comes to an end. Godly success lasts for all eternity, and as eternal creatures, it is this success for which we long.

Everyone wants to matter. Everyone wants to count. Everyone longs to be valued and considered worthy. However, significant in the eyes of the world is performance based. While this sort of significance brings some satisfaction, it once again, falls short. What each of us truly longs for is significance that is based upon who we are. We each want to be loved, valued and considered worthy simply for who we are. This understanding of significance is not attainable apart from God. While the world expresses love that is conditional, only God’s love is truly and completely unconditional. The fact that we are made in God’s image provides us with all the significance we will ever need

The final section of the book outlines some key ingredients if we are to move from the EXPLAINABLE to the UNEXPLAINABLE by embracing God’s truth. Cousins offers practical, biblical instruction regarding the steps each of us will need to take in order to experience the Unexplainable.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Real Men Wear Pink

I love me some pink-wearin' football players!!
I think they should keep it up even after October.  Just look at how much better the photos look with the little splashes of color.
(PS - Want to do your part to fight breast cancer?  I am still taking pledges (and walkers) for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.)
(PPS - GO COLTS!!!!!)

View this gallery at The Indianapolis Star: Colts vs. Titans: Action

Thursday, October 8, 2009

As Seen on TV


Check this out: 
You may know there is a series on ABC called Castle.  Personally, I like the show.  (Which, by the way, doesn't bode very well for the show.  Generally, if I like it, it gets cancelled.  Thus I am extra impressed this show made it to season 2.)  ANYWAY, the premise is there is an author, Richard Castle, who writes mystery novels.  They all center around his character, Derrick Storm.  Well, Castle is bored with Derek and having a very dry period creatively, so he kills off his very popular character.  Through a murder investigation (the murderer was recreating murders from Castle's novels), he begins working with NYPD - originally as part of the murder investigation and then in order to "research" his new novel (with a new character based on the no nonsense female cop he is shadowing).  It is the mystery of all the CSI such-and-such, but with a little less gore, a little more wit.

So today I found this on Amazon (it's also on Shelfari):

Yes, that is right.  A real book you can purchase "written" by "Richard Castle".  Again I ask:  Seriously?  Talk about your marketing tie-ins.  It just cracks me up.  And annoys me because it assumes we are naive enough to believe Richard Castle really exists and really writes books that people who are not fictional characters can read.  (Or maybe we are supposed to wink back to show we are in on the joke, too?)  That being said, you know now I am going to have to read it...out of curiosity if nothing else...

Monday, October 5, 2009

No Idea

Spiritual Rebirth…the Sequel

In Greg Garrett’s edgy new memoir, the critically acclaimed author of
Crossing Myself tells the next chapter of his amazing story

The official word:
“Once you’ve decided that you’re going to live—no mean feat for some of us—how do you figure out what you’re supposed to do with that life?” --Greg Garrett

One thing is guaranteed: life on this earth is unpredictable—and sometimes frighteningly so. How can we as Christians live faithfully when we’re not quite sure where the path ahead is taking us? How do we find joy and purpose in the midst of the uncertain, the unfinished, the uneasy? In the stirring follow-up to his critically acclaimed spiritual autobiography Crossing Myself, author Greg Garrett explores the universal journey of life by tackling these questions with thoughtfulness, transparent honesty, and humor.

After touching thousands with his intimate memoir about faith and depression, Crossing Myself, award-winning writer and teacher Greg Garrett turns his attention to the ongoing problem of living faithfully in No Idea: Entrusting Your Journey to a God Who Knows (David C Cook, September 2009). Taking Thomas Merton’s famous prayer that begins, “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going” as his inspiration, Garrett looks back at his own journey and tells engaging stories out of that life that will speak to everyone who has ever felt lost along the way.

While returning to faith and community, Garrett finds a motivation for living in service to the Church and to others. By examining how to learn and live with what we’re supposed to be doing, he proves himself a provocative, appealing, and truly helpful companion on the often meandering, sometimes confusing path of following Jesus. His reflections on family, relationships, faith, and vocation will encourage readers to reflect on their own experiences and discover how God might be working in their own lives.

In this spiritual memoir that’s automatically distinct, Garrett appeals to young Christians and seekers in the edgy, transparent style of Anne Lamott, Don Miller, and Cathleen Falsani. A candid and stimulating look at discipleship, discernment, and joy, No Idea is perfect for anyone who has ever wanted to walk the right path but has no idea what step to take next.

No Idea: Entrusting Your Journey to a God Who Knows by Greg Garrett
David C Cook/September 2009
ISBN-13: 978-1434767967/208 pages/softcover$12.99

Tricia's Take:
Okay, I haven't finished this one yet.  Started it, but I haven't read his other book, so I think I am a little behind.  Will give you my official word when I finish.  (Have two sick kids and am homebound, so hope to catch up on some reading in the next few days - when I am not just being Mom (which is a pretty rockin' job))

Friday, October 2, 2009

Stretch Marks

When a daughter becomes a mother, can she learn to accept her own?

In her latest novel, Stretch Marks, author Kimberly Stuart takes an unflinching look at sex, pregnancy, and divorce
The official word:
With her trademark irreverent humor and a surprising and satisfying take on romance, popular author Kimberly Stuart beckons readers to a wild ride of weird cravings, swollen feet, and a growing belly in her new book, Stretch Marks (David C Cook, September 2009). In this comic yet poignant novel about mothers and daughters, Stuart bravely tackles the issues of divorce, sex outside of marriage, and single parenthood as granola-eating, sensible shoe–wearing Mia is forced to face her estranged relationship with her mother.

Mia Rathbun is an earth-conscious, yoga-practicing twenty-something living in Chicago. She’s overworked and underpaid as a social worker, she belongs to PETA, and she recycles the tops of pizza boxes. Her boyfriend, Lars, is a free-spirited freelance writer (read: mooch) who disdains the conventions of marriage but is happy to build a life with Mia. That is until Mia becomes pregnant.

Left on her own, Mia just begins to accustom herself to the looming prospect of single parenthood when her mother, Babs, shows up to “help.” Babs is a cruise ship hostess who cannot abide her daughter’s affection for wheatgrass, tofu, and deep breathing. The two have an estranged relationship but are forced to connect as Mia’s belly grows and Babs is faced with the promise of a grandchild.

Mia also has a whole neighborhood of quirky characters who want to help, including her BFF Frankie, a magenta-haired librarian; Silas, the courtly gentleman of indeterminate age who lives downstairs; and Adam, proprietor of the corner grocery store where Mia shops. But it’s Adam—endearing, kind, possessed of a perfect smile and impeccable Persian manners—who ultimately charms Babs and rescues Mia from more than one mother-induced meltdown. Could it be that Mia and Babs might actually be able to get along?

In an authentic but tender novel about family, grace, and the importance of a good grocer, Stretch Marks doesn’t shy away from hard issues and unlikely hope. “Not for the weak of status-quo-heart, Stretch Marks is a relevant story of a daughter who becomes a mother and, in the process, learns to accept her own,” says Stuart. “I wrote this book because I think the characters will resonate with the not-so-average Christian reader and the more-likely-average non-Christian reader who grapples with the craziness of being a girl and then a mother in an unexpected way.”

Tricia's Take:
I liked this book.  It was different and not so formulaic as some of the books in this genre can be.  I heartily applaud the author's choice to go in a different direction.  The book did a good job of avoiding some of the stilted dialogue and manufactured situations that can happen in a "chick-lit" book with a character traveling on a path toward a relationship with Christ.  (Or maybe some people talk that way and I just don't happen to know any such people).  Although it did avoid some of the trappings, there were a few events that seemed very forced and weren't necessary for the plot, so I am not sure why the author went there.  But it was still an entertaining - and refreshing - book.  I would read something by this author again.

Fulfilling Frugality

Fulfilling Frugality

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Blue Umbrella

me here:  Haven't read this one yet, but it sounds like something the girls would dig.  I will try to get it and let you know what they think.  Check it out...

The Blue Umbrella, by Mike Mason from David C. Cook on Vimeo.

What would happen if all the world’s weather was controlled by one man with a blue umbrella? If your mother had been killed by lightning, would you trust this man? This is the decision facing 10-year-old Zac Sparks in Mike Mason’s new page-turning fantasy novel, The Blue Umbrella (David C Cook, October 2009). Probing the depths of good and evil, the first in Mason’s series for 9 to 12 year olds is a superbly written children’s story with deep spiritual resonance.

When Zac Sparks’ mother dies, he’s sent to live in Five Corners with his cruel old Aunties. It isn’t long before Zac knows something strange is going on. Five Corners is populated with weird characters—a midget butler, a girl who doesn’t speak, a blind balloon seller, and a mysterious singer who is heard but not seen. Then there’s the Aunties’ father, Dada. Zac’s first encounter with Dada is so terrifying he faints dead away.

The one bright spot is Sky Porter, the proprietor of the general store across the street, a friendly soul who encourages Zac—when the Aunties aren’t looking—and shows him a kindness that is sadly lacking from his dismal life. But Sky isn’t what he seems either, and when Zac learns Sky’s amazing secret he realizes, to his dismay, that this wonderful man may have a very dark side as well.

Discovering that Dada is an evil magician who is intent on stealing the ultimate treasure, Zac knows many lives are at stake, including his own. With time running out, he must turn to the one person who might be able to help: Sky Porter. Can Zac trust him?

In the vein of Lewis and Tolkien, Mason has crafted a fantasy that will certainly appeal to fans of Harry Potter, The Golden Compass, Lemony Snicket, and The Chronicles of Narnia. “In this era of climate change, when weather is arguably the most important issue facing the world, a story that dramatizes the human role and responsibility in creating weather is highly relevant and timely,” says Mason. “The Blue Umbrella is permeated with a sense of awe at the power and beauty of weather, and it asks the question: Who is behind all this?”

Author Bio: Mike Mason is the best-selling, award-winning author of The Mystery of Marriage, The Gospel According to Job, Practicing the Presence of People, and many others. He has an M.A. in English and has studied theology at Regent College. He lives in Langley, BC, Canada, with his wife, Karen, a family physician. They have one daughter, Heather, who is pursuing a career in dance and the arts. The Blue Umbrella is Mike’s first novel.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Moving Beyond the Kenya

Our church has a team of 23 members in Kenya right now, serving in a slum where the conditions are just unimaginable, but the people are amazing and inspiring. 

Among other things, they are participating in this really cool project called "Bring the Light" where they literally bring light into the homes of Bondeni - which are small shacks, with no windows, no electricity, no light.  The team cuts a hole in the roof and replaces it with plexiglass and - ta dum! - light.  Then the super cool part begins as they share the Light of Christ.

Read all about it on a blog the team members are posting to regularly during their tenure.  Very cool!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Red Cross Mock Disaster Drill

We actually did this back in May, but I just discovered the photos on the (greater Indy) Red Cross FBCI blog (  It was fun because we participated as a family.  I am on the TPCC shelter team and Jim and the girls were "residents".  Hannah and Kaylie even got to stage a fight.  Hannah did a great job being a surly pre-teen.  Let's chalk this up to her mother's excellent dramatic ability - as opposed to Hannah's own experiences. 

Check out all the photos here:

What is the Red Cross FBCI?  It is their Faith Based Initiative arm - the Red Cross partnering with churches and faith-based organizations to provide disaster care to people in their community.  TPCC is now ready to answer the call should a disaster hit our area -  we would operate an actual Red Cross emergency shelter if called upon.  Which is awesome because the church should be involved and active in its community and we get to partner our strengths with the Red Cross' resources.  (Try the blog - that probably explains things more)

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Yee hah!!!  So much rejoicing today as Hannah got up before her new family and dedicated herself to Christ today in baptism!  The joy in my heart is overflowing and spilling out - usually in the form of tears.  Which is appropriate, as when Hannah was born 11 years ago, I became a total sap.  So here we are and have come full circle.

For the first time ever in my life, I wrote notes out on my hand (I kid you not) because I was so worried that I was going to get into the baptistry, turn into a blubber of mush, and forget everything that was on my heart to say.  Even with that, I still missed one of my thoughts, but it is all still good.  The message was delivered.  If you weren't there, you missed a beautiful thing.  I am partial, but I am thinking it is the mostest beautifulest baptism ever.  But again, I am partial.

If you missed it, here is a quick recap:


During...(wish I could tell you what I was saying here.  I know I was crying...)

After!!!!  Hurrah!!!

After, after.

Me and my precious treasures!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Best Day Ever!

Did I mention that Hannah is getting baptized Sunday?  Oh, and it is her 11th birthday, so now her birthday and her re-birthday will be the same day!!  No offense to my husband or anyone else who has been part of the best days of my life, but I am thinking that this is going to pretty much be my best day ever.  If I can make it through it.  Many Kleenex will die a wet, sloppy death Sunday.  Did I also mention that I have the honor of doing the baptism?!  I cannot tell you how exciting this is for me or the joy I have at Hannah's decision to take this step in her walk with God or how much it means to me.  It is just too much.

I am sure there will be more to come, but for now, I wanted to spread the GREAT news!!!

PS - Contrary to what you may hear via heresay, I did not talk Hannah into it just so I could get one of those cool "New Creation" or "Saved" tshirts.  (but hey, since we will be doing it anyway...)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Macinainiack Bridge Walk

(explanation: Kaylie insists "Mackinac" is pronounced "Mack-i-nae-nee-ack")

For over 50 years, the good people of Michigan have closed the Mackinaw Bridge on Labor Day morning, and a bunch of folks take a little stroll across its 5 mile expanse.  Me, I have only been participating for two. 

Last year we got up before 5am to be over on the northside of the bridge for the 7am start.  This year my mother decreed that we could sleep in and not worry about starting at 7am, as (unlike some walks) you just have to start anytime before 11am and this way we'd still enjoy the walk AND a little more sleep.  Normally my mom is very wise.  This was not one of her best choices....

7:00am - in line to catch the bus that will take us over the bridge.  Hannah is doing her cow impersonation.

7:46 and 12 seconds - still in line

7:46 and 18 seconds.  Did I mention we are still in line waiting for a bus? 

7:49am - Hurrah!  Our bus!  (It has a spoiler???)

8:23am - still on the bus.  Note the scenery behind Hannah - we are still on land.  Let me explain we catch the bus a mile from the interstate, and from that exit to the bridge is another mile.  So at this rate we are going what, 2 mph?

9:06am - We have finally made it across the bridge.  This is my stepdad and Hannah waiting for my mom to get out of the portapotty line.  Hope they are comfy.

9:53a - WOOOOO HOOO!!!  We are FINALLY walking the bridge.  We have officially decided that getting there at 5:30am is worth the trouble of getting up that early, just to avoid the 3hour hassle.  :)  (I should mention some poorly timed vehicle accidents led to extra long delays that day)

Trying to get a photo of me and Hannah walking over the grates.  Our feet were too fast for me.  (That is Lake Huron below)

Do you see this?  There are two people halfway up the tower!

Even freakier, this guy all the way at the top.  I looked it up:  the height of the main towers over the water is 552 feet.  (wow)

11:12am:  FINISH LINE!!! 

Now we can go to the Big Chicken!!!  (Another post for another day....)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Same Kind of Different as Me

Okay, I don't have the official word on this one, but I wanted to make sure you know about this book I just read:  Same Kind of Different As Me.  It is an amazing book.  The story of a black man, a white man and his wife, and how the three came together from very different places in life and time, inevitably making a huge difference in the lives of so many others.

If you have read The Help (which I also recommend), the two books have many similarities, notably first person accounts of the treatment of blacks in the south in the mid to latter part of last century.  One major difference is that The Help is a work of fiction, where Same Kind of Different is a true story.  The story flows so smoothly that it is amazing to think it is not the work of someone's imagination, but real life events that happened to real people. 

This book was so eye-opening.  I have lived such a sheltered life that, while I know horrible treatment occurred (and still does) in our country, reading about it in the first person stirs feelings and emotions I can't even describe.  But, this book was also reaffirming and heartening: at the heart of the story is the fact that God uses anyone, anywhere.  He uses the unlikeliest of folks to accomplish many of His greatest works.  We are reminded that He uses ALL things for the good, that He is always with us, is always faithful.  If we are open to His call, marvelous, amazing things can (and will!) happen. 

Everyone can learn something from this book, so check it out.  Get the book ( or visit their website: .  You will dig it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Touching Wonder

Heard the Christmas Story a Few Too Many Times?

With his instant classic, Touching Wonder, author John Blase breathes new life into the story of the Nativity

The official word:
Little children understand how amazing the Nativity story is. But, sometimes, as we become men and women, we put away the childlike with the childish. The result? We lose something vital—the wonder of it all. When author John Blase went looking for the lost wonder of Christmas, he went back to the place he’d last seen it—the stories from Luke 1-2. What he found fills the pages of his new book, Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas (David C Cook, September 2009), with flesh and bone and dust and night and a baby’s cry; the intimate union of human and divine—the Incarnation.

By boldly imagining the first two chapters of the gospel of Luke, writer, editor, and former pastor John Blase has created an instant classic for Christmastime. In a tale that reads like a novel parallel parked by the record of Scripture, Blase beckons those who could use a little wonder in their lives to step onto the stage of history and witness the long awaited coming of the Messiah. With Eugene Peterson’s The Message Bible translation as his backdrop, Blase adds his own voice and commentary to the historic events, exploring the renowned drama from an array of viewpoints.

In Touching Wonder, readers will meet a cast of unruly unlikelies—a frightened teenaged girl, a worried carpenter, a collection of senior citizens, a disillusioned young shepherd, even an angel or two—moving toward the realization that the little one just born is the One. This imaginative retelling of the grand miracle will leave readers wide-eyed, slack-jawed, and heart-full. The Lord is come!

In this lovely and distinctive book to be read…and re-read…and pondered in the heart, young and old will recapture the wonder of the Christmas story by seeing through the eyes of those who lived it. The book’s graceful design and Amanda Jolman’s beautiful line drawings combine to make this a thoughtful Christmas gift as well as a wonder that families will treasure for years to come.

Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas by John Blase
David C Cook/September 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4347-6465-2/hardcover/128 pages/$12.99

Tricia's take:
This brief review of the Christmas story as told in Luke was not what I expected. I expected a deeper look into the events of Christ’s birth from an anthropological point of view, examining the customs of the time and what life was truly like at that time, in that moment. Instead it went deeper in a different way, offering first person narratives from the point of view of many of the players: Joseph, Mary, Elizabeth, Zechariah, the angel.

This personal touch did make the story more real, as it gave a humanness to these people. A sense that they were real and had real thoughts, fears, emotions, pain; they are not just porcelain figurines in pristine surroundings.

This little book is worth taking the time to read as it leaves one thinking more about Jesus’ birth. Even if you have heard the story more times than you can count.  It gives us another way to look at the glory that is Christ’s coming to earth as a baby to save us. A deeper look at a handful of people who, like us, are living, breathing, thinking, feeling children of God.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Boyd Williams

This post is dedicated to Boyd Williams.  Boyd was the pastor at the first church I can remember going to, Franklin Church of Christ.  Boyd modeled for us true, authentic worship for an audience of One with no inhibitions.  Boyd was not gifted with a beautiful voice, but that didn't get keep him from throwing his head back and praising God to the rafters.  He loved Jesus.  He loved to sing.  And sing he did.  This I will always remember.

Now, if you know me, you know how much I love to Jam for Jesus and that I could do it all day.  But whenever I am back in the Church of Christ, singing the hymns I grew up singing - no instruments, just voices lifted in song - it takes me back to a very special place.  My soul is at peace, drinking in the harmonies and the melodies and the simplicity.

And so today, as I sat in my momma's church and we sang "Farther Along" and others of my favorite hymns, I was back in Franklin, a young girl with childlike faith, learning how to praise Jesus humbly and simply.  And I think of Boyd and I am grateful for the love of worship he passed on.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Tyranny of the Urgent

When I was in college, one of the required reading books was The Tyranny of the Urgent.  What a great book.  So true then, so true now.  I have so many things pulling on my time and energy, and some seem important, some not so much (but "need" attention anyway).  Where, then, is the time to be still?  To let my brain be silent?  To just enjoy God and wonder at His creation?  I think I need to get the book out and re-read it (even if it does add one more thing to my to-do list).  Why?  Because I am on vacation and I still have a running list in my head.  Some things dopey, some a little less so.  What's on my mind this long weekend? 

  • The stack of 6 books I brought to read, two of which are due at the library in a few days, so I "must" get them read
  • I "have to" update my daily nutrition and fitness log online
  • Which reminds me, I "need" to go exercise
  • Can't believe I am admitting this, but I "need" to harvest my crop on FarmTown in Facebook (how sad is that one?)
  • I "have got to get around to" finishing my knitting and crochet projects I brought
  • I "really should" do something outside, as it is such a lovely day
  • The sermons I "need" to download and listen to that I have missed this summer
  • I am so far behind in my Bible reading (this one is truly abhorrent, but actually legitimate)
  • My contact is fuzzy and I need to clean it
  • Have I updated my Shelfari list?  I "need" to make sure it is current
  • My email in box has 726 unread messages (no joke).  I "really should" get that cleaned up.
  • There is a video I "have" to watch for work that I "should have" watched weeks ago.
  • Hannah's birthday is in 16 days and I "have to" figure out what to get her, what kind of party she can have, and (oy vey) I "have to" clean the house!
  • I "need" to make my pics for the NFL pick 'em league at work (week one is days away!)
This is just a partial list.  If I sat here long enough I could fill the page.  And, like I said, I am on vacation - so this doesn't even include the truckload of things waiting for me at home.

Be still.  Be quiet.  Wait.  Peace be with you. Breathe in.  Breathe out.  Be still.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Three Weddings and a Bar Mitzvah

Three Weddings and a Bar Mitzvah

In the final installment of the 86 Bloomberg Place series, a crazed competition for bridesmaids, wedding locations, and showers takes center stage

The official word:
In a wild combination of Desperate Housewives, Sex and the City, and Gilmore Girls—with all of the drama but none of the taboo—beloved author Melody Carlson offers readers her final installment in the 86 Bloomberg Place series, Three Weddings and a Bar Mitzvah (David C Cook, September 2009). Written in her well-known conversational, colloquial style, Carlson’s latest novel continues to follow four diverse young women, with varying levels of faith, differing interests, and unique personal issues, through the high dramas of their romantic lives.

The four-book 86 Bloomberg Place series offers an emotionally engaging look at the individual dilemmas of four unlikely female friends—Kendall, Lelani, Anna, and Megan—who share a small bungalow while launching their careers and maturing through difficult family situations and romantic relationships. Carlson’s unique ability to capture young women’s attitudes, voices, and heartfelt desires with meaningful storytelling keeps pace with the lives of her readers as she weaves varying perspectives and voices together with both humorous and poignant threads.

In Three Weddings and a Bar Mitzvah, Lelani has returned from Maui to Bloomberg Place with her toddler Emma and is trying to book her wedding date. Unfortunately, there are scheduling conflicts for that same weekend. For starters, Megan and Marcus have a family wedding commitment. Anna and Edmond have promised to attend his stepbrother’s Bar Mitzvah and, to everyone’s surprise, Kendall has just accepted her “Maui Man’s” proposal of marriage and also wants to be wed on that same weekend in June. Let the games begin!

To complicate matters, Lelani wants to keep her wedding simple, but Gil (the groom) has a Latina mama with other ideas. Meanwhile Kendall (the pregnant bride) wants to pull out all the stops on her wedding—and suddenly her absentee parents are on the scene. A crazed competition for bridesmaids, wedding locations, showers, attention, and a little peace and quiet takes over 86 Bloomberg Place. Yet at the same time, friendships are being forged that will last a lifetime.

With only two months to pull off both weddings (on the same day), the pressure is on, and the stress just might kill all promise of happily ever after. Are their friendships strong enough to weather the hassles and heartaches?

Tricia's Take:
Ok, so first off, true confessions: I’ve read a number of melody Carlson’s books and some I’ve liked, some not so much. I was excited, though, to read Three Weddings and a Bar Mitzvah as it is the fourth and final installment of Ms. Carlson’s 86 Bloomberg Place series and I enjoyed the other three books in the series.

Can I just tell you: this book made me cry. At the end, I was truly crying – not one little tear in the corner of my eye, but actual tears streaming down my face. This tells you two things: A) I am a sap, and B) I really got to know and care about Lelani, Megan, Kendall, and Anna: the girls of 86 Bloomberg Place.

 If you have the time and enjoy a book that doesn’t save the world but takes you away from it for a little bit, read this book. I am not going to tell you what happens because you need to discover for yourself. If you do read it, read the series in order as the author doesn’t waste your time rehashing in later novels the events of the earlier ones; it will help you have a better understanding of where these ladies come from.

If you have no time and are looking for the one awesome, life changing book you will read this year, this book isn’t it. But, despite some faults, I did enjoy it and it moved me in the end, so I am not regretful for taking a little time to spend with the girls of 86 Bloomberg Place as they find their way.