Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Book Review - 'Coming Back Stronger' by Drew Brees and Chris Fabry

'Coming Back Stronger' by Drew Brees and Chris Fabry

"On February 7, 2010, Drew Brees led the New Orleans Saints to their first-in-franchise-history Super Bowl win. That single concise sentence sums up a football season; it can’t sum up a life. It can’t express the joy felt by longsuffering fans. It can’t describe the boost that win provided to a scarred city.

To look at those additional aspects, you need a book. The book should be thorough and thoughtful and lets people see the importance of keeping after a goal and looking to God for the right goal. 'Coming Back Stronger' is such a book."

Chris Fabry

For more on this outstanding New York Times bestseller, click here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Opinion - Paging Diogenes...Where is Truth?

The election process degenerates with each passing election season. The 2010 California general election only proves my point.

Once upon a time, candidates came before us stating what they believed, what they wanted to accomplish, what they planned to do to get there. Now, I have no idea of what most candidates believe, except what they believe about the other candidates.

Lay Off the Layoffs
I’ve heard business leader-candidates chastised for layoffs in the past, as though he or she woke up one morning and decided to see how many lives could be ruined. To the best of my knowledge, layoffs are not a unilateral decision. The Board of Directors and department heads mandate or at the very least agree with the action. The CEO is more visible, but not solely responsible.

At no time have I heard anyone point out that layoffs and outsourcing come in the name of profits and profits benefit stockholders. Stockholders like me. I own a few shares in a mutual fund. And I’ve been the subject of a layoff. You might say I can see both sides of the issue. 

I’m not wealthy. I’m not even ‘employed’ anymore. I do a little independent contracting, but I’m not making anywhere near what I was making before the layoff. And those mutual funds form an important part of my retirement strategy, since my income is reduced and that wreaks havoc with my future SSN benefits (if there are any SSN benefits to get when I get there). 

Eliminate the Edits
File videos edited to make a candidate look foolish make me crazy. Multiple repetitions of a split-second clip should be illegal as a form of torture. We’ve got one commercial featuring a variety of citizens in Hawaiian shirts – the thing is poorly written and poorly filmed. Besides that, it’s plain annoying! 

I’ve heard all my life that you can use the Bible to prove anything if you take the verses out of context. Obviously the editors of political spots heard the same thing and adapted it to video clips and news stories. 

Stop, already! Give us the whole clip or leave us alone. With the presence of the Internet, any campaign has the ability to offer a complete clip at minimal cost. But how can I believe you when I can tell you’ve edited the tape to an unknown degree?

Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are
When a candidate spends an entire ad bad mouthing the opposition, I learn nothing about his position. Candidate A may plan to encourage 25,000 new businesses by leasing unused government office throughout the state at bargain basement rates to start-up firms and offer tax cuts for documented volunteer hours, but if she spends her air time maligning Candidate B, I’ll never know.

Exposing weaknesses in the opposition is important, but no more so than displaying your own strengths. Come out of the shadows with what you stand for so I can make an active and informed decision.

The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, I am so thoroughly disgusted by the candidates and their trash campaigns that I almost want to pass on voting. I would guess that a lot of so-called “voter apathy” is really voter repulsion caused by the negative campaign styles so rampant today. 

I’ve made a personal decision to not allow my vote to be silenced. I will cast my vote in a thoughtful manner and pray that the next crop of political aspirants will be more civilized in their methods.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Book Review - "Too Rich for a Bride" by Mona Hodgson

Readers first met the Sinclair sisters in “Two Bride Too Many,” which recounted the adventures of Kat and Nell Sinclair as they headed to Cripple Creek, Colorado as mail order brides. Ida Sinclair, the eldest of the four sisters, takes her turn center stage in “Too Rich for a Bride.” 

Ida finished business school back east. She received a rude awakening in a crude proposition from a trusted professor. Her disillusionment with the business world of the east coast leads her to join Kat and Nell in Cripple Creek. Unlike her sisters, Ida isn’t looking for marriage – she’s wants an opportunity to practice the business skills she learned and make her fortune. She aligns herself with maverick businesswoman Mollie O’Bryan and begins the process of acquiring wealth and influence in the booming mining town.

Some people in Cripple Creek questions Mollie’s business practices. Is it jealousy of her success or something more? Will Ida’s future be colored by her association with Mollie?

One of the townspeople Ida meets is an itinerant preacher-turned-iceman, Tucker Raines. He is everything Ida doesn’t want. He fights to save his family’s business as his father’s ill health creates more debt. He befriends ordinary people, rather than cultivating those who could benefit him. His sense of style leaves much to be desired. Handsome, well-dressed attorney Colin Wagner seems a more suitable companion for an up-and-coming business woman. 

Ida has as much to learn about life as she does about business, and Hodgson doesn’t hide the lessons in fancy clothes. We see Ida’s faults as well as her virtues and dreams. Through the pages of “Too Rich for a Bride,” we see sinfulness, redemption, restitution, forgiveness and hope. Hodgson reminds us of the boundless love of God in a framework of historic romance.

The reader will find actual historic figures scattered in the story, adding to the richness of the tale. The locale experiences its own growing pains even as the characters grow. Hodgson provides a delightful look at a raucous period in American history and shows us the people who lived through it. The book is fun to read and quite addictive. Set an alarm clock if you have an appointment to keep - you easily could lose all track of time once you begin reading.

You’ll find “Too Rich for a Bride” at Wal-Mart stores in its limited initial release. General release will come in 2011. If you love historic romance fiction, you won’t want to wait!

“Too Rich for A Bride” by Mona Hodgson
Published by WaterBrook Press
ISBN 978-0-307-72988-0

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Book Review - 'Almost Heaven' by Chris Fabry

Chris Fabry brings a flair for description to his writings. Some might call it luck that he has such a talent. Perhaps this skill results from his experience as a radio personality and the necessity to create word pictures for his listeners. I prefer to think of it as a God-given gift that he has nurtured. Whatever the source, he employs it well in “Almost Heaven,” the third volume in the Dogwood series.

Like the previous books, “Dogwood” and “June Bug,” the stories revolve around life in the small town of Dogwood, West Virginia. Fabry’s protagonist, Billy Allman, has suffered loss and pain, while surviving through the bounty of the hills and kindness of neighbors. He works toward his dream of a building and operating a local Christian radio station. Unknown to Billy, his efforts come under the scrutiny of Malachi, a messenger from Heaven and chronicler of events.

Between Billy’s reminiscences and Malachi’s observations, the reader sees a life rich in spiritual meaning even as it seems impoverished by worldly standards. Familiar characters from the earlier books weave through the fabric of the story, although a first-time visitor to Dogwood won’t suffer. (It may, however, make you want to go back and read the first two books – you won’t regret acting on the impulse.)

An elegance of language adorns the book. Billy opens his story by noting “My life has been filled with my share of dirges and plainsongs.” Billy describes a period of turmoil as “…my soul hydroplaning on the back roads of memory…” (p. 299) and the glories of autumn as like an explosion in a paint factory “…and all of that paint fell on the trees…” (p. 33). The beautiful words are delightfully appropriate for a character who lives so close to nature and music. 

Malachi notes “I serve this God of details. This God of commas and exclamation points. A God of questions…” (p. 364). We see the hand of this God throughout “Almost Heaven,” from the deep faith of Billy Allman to the way God uses him to touch the people around him. 

“Almost Heaven” offers a deceptively easy reading experience. Although it delivers a well-told story, it also carries deep truth within its pages. Fabry has written another winner.

Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry
Published 2010 by Tyndale Fiction (
ISBN 978-1-4143-1957-5