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.

 

27
Jul
stored in: General, Vacation

July 7, 2013 Saturday – Las Vegas & Home

We’ve come full circle and our last stop is back to Las Vegas in time for a late lunch.

Foodnetwork took us to The Egg & I featured on Rachael Ray. I had the pesto with eggs. Muffins were delicious! 4.5 stars.

Across the street we sighted our favorite store – Goodwill Thrift Store!

Two hours later with 2 bags of goods, we began our 4-hour drive home that took almost 6 hours due to traffic.

Fortunately with our Prius we don’t feel bad about idling in traffic, and it lengthens our vacation a bit longer.

It was past 9pm when we got back to Walnut, CA and we were hungry. The default in our area is Chinese food.

Usually we go to Sam Woo, but a rival for Cantonese food The Noodle opened not too long ago. We decided to try that. Got some take-out and enjoyed our last meal of our vacation in the comfort of our own home. 4 stars for the food, 5 stars for the relaxing atmosphere at home.

One last thing for the record – on our drive back from Zion, we stopped in the middle of nowhere for a bathroom stop at Dairy Queen. There was a small “Petting Zoo” next to the parking lot, and there [fenced separately] was a zebra. It’s true, my eyes did not deceive me.  My family verified that it was a real zebra. Very random indeed!

They say there is no place like home, but for me, home is where my family is. Anywhere I travel with my family, it’s home.

Next year vacation – maybe outside of the U.S.

 

 

 

 

24
Jul
stored in: General, Vacation

July 6, 2013 Saturday – Zion National Park

Walked along a couple of hiking trails while our more fit friends did Angel’s Landing. I’m content to enjoy the beautiful sceneries with a nice stroll and a relaxing lunch at the Zion Lodge Red Rock Grill.

We ended our Zion visit with the 6:30pm tour on bus with Jess the Ranger. Two memorable sights:

  • Spotted rock climbers on a “portaledge” – yes, they are crazy to spend the night hanging on the face of the mountain. If I knew how to estimate distance, I’d tell you how high they were. But I can only tell you that they were just a dot REALLY high up there. We actually saw them waving a little arm hanging out of their portaledge. Please don’t fall! 
  • Saw a family of deer – mama, daddy and baby. Then we saw a lone deer in the parking lot. They are really thin with ribs showing through. The Ranger told us there is an overpopulation of deer and not enough prey. 

It was almost 9pm by the time the tour ended. Yelp took us to the Flying Monkey in Springdale for pizza. 4 stars.

Tomorrow is our last day of our trip. Not looking forward to going home. 

July 4, 2013 Thursday – La Caille

If you think La Caille looks like a Thomas Kincaid painting, you are right. It is a beautiful venue for a wedding with swans and peacocks and everything picturesque.

The temperature cooled to 90F in the late afternoon, and though we were sitting in the sun for the outdoor ceremony, you just can’t complain when the occasion is a lovely wedding. Several of our friends flew in for the day, a few we haven’t seen for several years. Weddings [and funerals] are an occasion for a reunion.

On our drive back to the hotel, we saw a few fireworks at a distance. Happy Birthday, USA!

July 5 – Friday Hurricane, Utah

The Springhill where we stayed serves a very good full and free breakfast – biscuit and gravy, muffins, cereal, fruit, etc. Our friends came from their hotel to join us.

Then we went together to Antelope Island on the Salt Lake.

Salt Lake is indeed salty, and stinky. Lots of sea gulls come to feed (on the brine shrimp in the lake) and breed. I mean LOTS of sea gulls which make a pretty big mess, resulting in lots of flies, and stink! Nevertheless we walked into the water, and it was very warm.

We were hoping to sight a buffalo (or bison), and we did see one on the side of the road, that was pretty exciting. We were able to see a herd far away, which looked like a herd of cows, which was not very exciting. But still, now I can say I’ve seen a live bison herd, and ate a bison burger! At $10.99 a burger, this is probably the last time I’d eat one. At least it was good.

Drove to Hurricane outside of Zion National Park to prepare for a day of outdoor activities tomorrow.

 

22
Jul
stored in: General, Vacation

July 4, 2013 Thursday – Draper, Utah

Thank you for coming along with me on my vacation. These blog posts are dragging on and on…

Finally we are here in Draper, Utah, the reason why we are on this road trip.

July 4 is the date of the wedding of our good friends. I’ve known the bride since she was little, I was her college and young adult Sunday School teacher, and as she grew up we served together at church; her father has been my pastor for many years. We’ve gone through various stages of life together.

And for a destination wedding she picks July 4 in Utah with 105F+ weather for her outdoor wedding…

Since the wedding was at 5pm, we met up with friends in the morning and went to Timpanogos Caves. If we drove all this way to Utah just to see the caves, it would be worth it. It was a beautiful walk up to the caves (a slow almost 1 hour, 1.5 miles incline) and we had the funniest and most enthusiastic ranger guide (Nancy) that made the visit even more enjoyable. She’s been doing this for 21 years and her love for the caves had not waned.

Sandwiches (french dip) for lunch at Kneaders, and for dessert, the 8 of us split ONE cannnoli – that’s the Chinese way!

We make one more stop before we go back to the hotel to change for the wedding and I must tell you about the most amazing serendipitous thing that happened…

Peppermint Place candy store, in addition to selling candy, makes personalized lollipops. In a discounted bin of lollipops for 10 cents each, we find “rejects” with random company names and pictures of couples who had personalized lollipops made for their wedding, 2012.

And in this bin, what do we find?? Hold on to your hats…

We find Walnut High School lollipops with the mustang mascot printed on it! That’s where my children went to school! It’s 1/2 a mile from my house in the sleepy suburb of Walnut, population 35,000. And it’s 700+ miles away from Utah! The person there did not know what prompted the printing of WHS lollipops, but now I’ve got 4 of them.

Next up, wedding at La Caille.

 

 

 

20
Jul

July 3, 2013 Wednesday – continued

We had planned our vacation to attend Wednesday evening worship at Calvary Chapel Salt Lake City. I always like to go to church when we’re on vacation. It’s a chance to worship in a different setting with different people. I enjoy meeting others in Christ. We carefully chose this church to attend because the time and place is right to pick up our daughter afterward from the airport to join us for the rest of the road trip.

So our faithful GPS led us to a commercial center, and it took us over 5 minutes to find the driveway to the front door. We arrived 5 minutes after the start time of 7:00pm – and there was not a single car in the parking lot…

I was so disappointed…a sign on the door says they were combining with another Calvary Chapel for a July 4 BBQ, and it started at 6pm.

Not only did we not get to worship, now we have 2 hours to kill before going to the airport.

Lesson learned – don’t rely on church websites. And don’t plan your life around a program until you call to confirm.

So we wait 2+ hours at the airport. Fortunately we always carry a book to read, and we hardly ever get bored.

Checked into Springhill Suites in Draper, Utah, where we will be for the next 2 days.

To be continued.

 

 

 

 

 

18
Jul
stored in: General, Vacation

July 3, 2013 Wednesday – Temple Square

The Temple Square is the Mecca of Mormonism. Anything you want to know about Mormonism you can find it in Temple Square, in any language you want. We saw docents in just about every major language – their name tags show the flag of the country of the language they speak.

Most memorable:

  • Life-size scenes from the Bible including the Good Samaritan with the one who was beaten by robbers. I wouldn’t want to be in the building at night when those figures could come to life! 
  • The Temple is not as big as it looks in pictures.
  • The most delicious turkey pot pie at the Cafe in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.

Don’t worry, I did not convert.

I felt sad checking out of the Plaza Hotel after 3 comfortable nights there, but it’s time to move on.

In case if you’re in SLC and wondering if it’s worthwhile to detour to Taffy Town, my advice is Yes. While we couldn’t take a tour (have to be booked in advance and only on certain days), we bought a good sample of over 40 flavors of taffy.

Dinner: Smashburger. Smash sweet potato fries were very good.

Our day has not ended…cliffhanger…

Day 8 to be continued

16
Jul
stored in: General, Vacation

July 2, 2013 Tuesday – Park City, UT

Grabbed a quick [heavy] breakfast (delicious quiche, egg croissant sandwich, and bagel sandwich, and splurged on a lemon cookie just to see what tastes like) at Paradise Bakery in Salt Lake City. Given the heat, I don’t like to waste the morning hours, so we take our breakfast to-go and ate it in the car during the 45 minutes drive to Park City, home of the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Thoughts on Park City, UT

  • Would love to live there if I can afford it.
  • Olympics museum is worth going. Got to hold a real curling stone.
  • Saw about 10 different states of license plates in the museum parking lot, more than we’ve ever seen congregated in one place.

We had passed by Noodles & Co on several occasions and decided to give it a try for dinner. I like the concept, but the food could be better – 2.5 stars.