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.