Mary Roberts Rinehart is often called the American Agatha Christie. But if The After House is typical of her books, then I am not impressed. NOT Agatha Christie.

I do like Rinehart’s writing style, but the resolution to the mystery was not satisfying. She was a prolific writer, so if the library has anymore of her books, I’ll read another, just to make sure I’m not missing anything.

 

You know that feeling of coming home after a fun vacation, a let-down of being back to the usual, the mundane, back to the mess you made before you took off for vacation? I’m feeling it now, after a fun 5 days in Seattle.

Here are my reflections about that: It made me realize that I have much to learn to have my JOY anchored in Jesus, not in my circumstances. The “happiness” that I have from my great life is not always true JOY.  If it were I would not lose it. Rather it is happiness based on circumstances that I mistaken for JOY.

I have a great life, no complaints, I love my  regular ordinary life. But I am so satisfied that I don’t seek true JOY. As C.S. Lewis says, ““It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

I make a lot of mud pies.

 

Too bad my favorite authors are dead. Dorothy Sayers’ books has humor, mystery, character development, and the style that I like.

Strong Poison was fun to read though the ending was not completely satisfying. There were too many coincidences in favor of the good guys. Nevertheless, Sayers is one of my favorite mystery authors.

For the past 1 1/2 years I’ve been pondering how to help parents at my church be the faith leaders in their own home. I know most of them want to, but they don’t know how. Like me, many are first generation Christians, so they did not grow up with parents who modeled that for them.

I’ve held and continue to hold workshops and discussion groups where we open the conversation on hot topics parents face: how to talk to your kids about sex, how to help your kids succeed in school, how to get your kids to be responsible, etc.

No matter what the topic is, the central theme that I try to get across is the same – parents, you need to teach them about God.

Now that’s I’ve read Mark Holmen’s book and also attended his seminar and keynote on how to take faith into the home, my thinking on helping parents be the faith leaders at home is much more clear.

I bought this book, Church + Home because Mark Holmen was one of the speakers at a conference I was looking into attending. I figured if I read the book, I won’t go to the conference, which was several months away. However, the book was sitting on my desk, literally sitting on my desk, for a few months without getting beyond the first chapter. It seemed to be just another book about how the home is lacking with no practical solutions offered.

Then I decided to attend the conference, heard Mark, and I was excited to read the book! The book is much better after I heard Mark speak. His passion for faith at home does not come through enough in the book. He is so much better in person. Even though I could hear him in my mind as I read the book, it really doesn’t make the kind of impact that he made on me in person.

A few quotes:

“Of all the things you can do as a leader in Christ’s church, there is nothing more important than helping to bring Christ and Christlike living into the center of every home.” p.52

“Satan knows just how strong the Church can be when its members gather together around a common vision. It’s like grabbing a handful of pencils and trying to break them all at once – not very easy to do. However, if Satan can divide the family in the Church, it becomes more like breaking a single pencil – which is a lot easier for him to do.” p.81

I highly recommend the book, but if you ever get to hear Mark Holmen live, the book will read much better. I am hoping that God will open the way for him to come speak at our church one day.

P.S.  I emailed Mark with a question and he responded to me within 5 hours!

23
May
stored in: General

I love the ideas on this site.

I especially like this.

Glow in the dark stars in a hallway

Aimee Herring

Glow-in-the-Dark Stars as Nightlights

Create a well-lit path he can follow from his room to the bathroom. Line up stars near the baseboard and make sure they get plenty of light during the day. You’ll get fewer bumps (or cries for Mom) in the night.

 

As my husband and I were walking out of the library, our favorite place to hang out, I saw this book in the featured section.

Everyone loves Sherlock Holmes, however I did not like this book.

The idea that the descendants of someone who took Moriaty’s identity and  the descendants of another villain find each other and are out for revenge is intriguing and very complicated.  But I just didn’t like the writing style of little character development and too many killings.

I read half the book, read the ending, and am returning it to the library.

Just to keep track of what I’m reading, this is a Peter Wimsey mystery that was entertaining, well-written, and had a satisfying ending.

It looks like Jill Paton Walsh has taken Sayer’s Peter Wimsey to continue his detective adventures. I have not read Walsh, so maybe I’ll give her a try next time I’m in the mood for some mindless reading.

I made a resolution this year to read one book at a time. I confess I have not kept to that resolve. I am having a hard time finishing a book on family ministry and have strayed to other books.

So many books, so little time…

 

I don’t usually read Christian fiction, but was attracted to this book because it’s co-authored by Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. I did not know Bill Bright wrote fiction. As it turns out, he didn’t exactly write this book. “The story and the writing are primarily Ted’s; the heart of the message and the canvas, if you will, are primarily Bill’s.”

Blessed Child is an exciting story with a lot of action. There is an explicit spiritual message woven throughout the story. It’s a page turner. To be honest, the ending was just ok. I wouldn’t mind reading more of Ted Dekker.

A couple of good quotes:

“The real power? You think that real power is found in the miracles? God does them, of course, but other things like loving are much more powerful than healing…God can form a world and straighten a crooked hand with a whisper, but to lure a black heart – that’s the amazing thing.”

“Whoever said that a straightened hand was more dramatic than a healed heart anyway?”

I met Phil Vischer last year at the Children Pastors Conference. I wish I had read this book then to know what he’s gone through. I might’ve said something more encouraging than the typical fan blabber “Can I take a picture with you?”

I knew VeggieTales was big, but didn’t know how big until I read this book. And I knew nothing about Phil Vischer until I read this book. It was both interesting and inspiring.

I am not good at writing reviews, and since my blog is meant simply to record my thoughts, I will simply say that I couldn’t put this book down, it is a must read.

 

My friend SL gave me this book for Christmas. He remembered that I like books. That in itself made me read it and finished it within 2 weeks.

This is the first Kevin DeYoung book I’ve read. Here are a few quotes I would like to remember:

It’s okay to be busy at times. You can’t love and serve others without giving of your time. So work hard; work long; work often. Just remember it’s not supposed to be about you. Feed people, not your pride. (p.41)

We all have a cross to carry. But it’s a cross that kills our sins, smashes our idols, and teaches us the folly of self reliance. It’s a cross that says I’ll do anything to follow Jesus, not a cross that says I have to do everything for Jesus.(p.51)

We tend to assume it’s always godlier to forgo sleep for more important activity, but God made us physical beings. We can’t go without sleep very long without doing our bodies and souls great damage. That’s the way God made us – finite and fragile. He made us to spend almost a third of lives not doing anything except depending on him. Going to sleep is our way of saying, “I trust you, God. You’ll be okay without me.” (p.95)

The antidote to busyness of soul is not sloth and indifference. The antidote this rest, rhythm, death to pride, acceptance of our own finitude, and trust in the providence of God. (p.102)

He’s not glaring at us from heaven when we have a hectic day. And yet, he knows that we are missing out on “the good portion.” It is not enough to let “God-stuff” fill in the cracks during the day. Sitting at the feet of Jesus, whether corporately or individually, never just happens. We must make learning from him and taking time to be with him priority. (p.113)

 

 

Another children biography - about the most famous emperor of the great Han dynasty of ancient China.

I know very little about Chinese history. History is not my thing. But this simple introduction to Han Wu Di has given me a better understanding of the challenges of ruling the vast country of China.

Communication from one part of the country to another is a ridiculously long and dangerous journey. When Han Wu Di wanted to make an alliance with a tribe called the Yuezhi two thousand miles away, the messenger sent to deliver the message didn’t come back for 12 years! During that time he was captured twice by enemies, got married and had a son! Oh, how I appreciate the internet and FedEx.

The book also told what life was like at that time, a good resource for kids who need to write a report about ancient China. I hated writing those reports!

Harry Houdini, the greatest escape artist, was able to get out of every jail they put him in.

In order to get publicity when his show goes into a town, he would go to the town’s jail and have the police lock him up. He breaks out within minutes, without fail.

I read about Houdini in a children biography, and his life is fascinating. He named himself after Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin, then one of the most famous magicians in the world.

Houdini was married but never had children. He died on Halloween in 1926 of a bursted appendix, according to the doctors.

You have not read anything about Houdini, pick up the children biography. You will enjoy getting to know the man behind the great escapes.

 

27
Dec
stored in: Book review

I like to read biographies written for children. They give me a quick overview about famous people.

The latest one I read is about Johann Gutenberg. He changed the world with the movable type, the father of modern printing. He gave the masses access to books.

Did you know that Gutenberg is not his real last name? His parents are Friele and Else Gensfleisch, and the family were aristocrats who lived in a great house called Gutenberg Hof, or “Good Mountain House.” Johann might have been called Johann of Gutenberg to distinguish him from relatives who were also named Johann.

Not unlike entrepreneurs and inventors today, he had trouble getting funding and problems with partners. Yet he was committed to the enterprise of printing.

When you read a book, thank Johann Gutenberg :)

13
Nov

I want to remember this for myself in my Bible devotional reading.

Matthew 17:1-13 Don’t be so quick to do things for God. The first response is to listen to God. Enjoy the glory and majesty of Jesus.

 

 

 

I, along with a few from my church, went to a family conference at Calvary Chapel Chino Hills a couple of weeks ago. I learned a lot plus got this free book!

The book is not theological and it’s not theoretical. It’s meant to be very practical by laying out some very specifics things parents can do to pass on a spiritual legacy. And because it is so specific with check off lists, this can be very useful or it might not be useful at all, depending on your family situation.

I did find it helpful that they linked social and emotional growth with spiritual. While the primary focus is passing on a spiritual legacy, the three are intertwined in the development of a person’s faith. It is also interesting to get to know Jack and Lisa’s background that they shared openly in the book.

I remember reading Joni’s life story when I was in high school. She was an inspiration to me to be more committed in pursuing God.

I saw Joni & Ken live in person last year when she spoke at Mandarin Baptist Church. She was amazing and continues to inspire.

After reading the new book about her marriage, I am once again inspired. Marriage is not about what I want out of it but it’s a gift from God and a stewardship to care for one another: in sickness and in health. That’s true love.

22
Sep

Writing is a discipline, and I haven’t had any recently.

I have things I want to blog about but it takes effort to get words down into a coherent form.

So as with anything, just take a step and put one foot in front of the other.

Here’s my one step:

My head is beginning to explode with too much information. Reading several books at the same time, can’t remember a kid’s name at church even though I know her well. I don’t feel tired, but I think I need some rest.

24
Aug
stored in: Book review

I like to read biographies of famous people from the children section of the library. The easy reading highlights interesting facts about well-known people that are not so well-known to me.

At dinner one day, while my family was talking about games to play in the swimming pool, we asked the question, “Why is that game called ‘Marco Polo’?” Then I wonder why he is so well-known. I know he’s an explorer to China, but didn’t know much beyond that.

So I checked out Marco Polo, To China and Back by Steven Otfinoski from the children section of the library.

I now know why he’s so famous.

But the book did not explain about the pool game.

A quick Google search gave a couple of explanations which are probably just guesses. My guess is that some kid learned about Marco Polo at school, thought the name has a nice ring to it and started blabbing that while playing in the pool one day. Next thing you know, it became a game.

Anyway, now I want to read Marco Polo’s own book, The Travels of Marco Polo, that made him famous.

 

I read this somewhere. Just want to post it here so I can remember it and look it up whenever I need to be reminded.

Prayer is our greatest privilege and our most lasting legacy as parents. You’ll never be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent. Prayer turns ordinary parents into prophets who shape the destinies of their children, grandchildren,and every generation that follows.

 

Whenever we go to the library, I look for a mystery book. I picked up Mistletoe and Mayhem because the setting is the 1800s in the UK. The cover drew my attention; it says, “Never Before Published!” Aren’t most books never before published? Is it a good thing to be never before published?

The book had a couple of romantic subplots, the murders were unexpected, the resolution was intriguing, but the motive for the murders was lacking. A good mystery has to make sense, the crimes cannot be random, and the character must be consistent. I give it 2.5 stars for entertainment, 1.5 stars for mystery. I don’t think I’ll read this author again.