Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"the witness" by josh mcdowell

Josh McDowell is a renowned Christian apologist. I read his More Than a Carpenter as a teenager, and I heard him speak at a Christian conference. I knew he could make a convincing argument for the claims of Christ. But I wasn't sure if he could write convincing fiction.

The answer is yes, he can. The Witness starts out with a bang, literally, as security expert Marwan Accad's client is killed in front of him. Marwan soon realizes that not only is he a target, but he's also the prime suspect in his client's murder. As he travels Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East trying to uncover the truth, he endangers everyone he cares about.

The Witness's plot is engaging, and the story is well-written. I did figure out who the bad guy was fairly quickly, and that's the only complaint I have about the book. What I appreciated most was how seamlessly McDowell weaved apologetics into the plot. In some Christian fiction I've read, it feels like the author felt obligated to present the gospel but didn't really know where or how to put it. This results in a clunky and awkward story, and I (and I'm sure many other readers) tend to skim those parts. Perhaps because McDowell is so used to defending the faith he was able to easily integrate the Truth into this story without compromising the entertainment value.

Who should read it? Anyone who enjoys suspense.

I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

find us on facebook!

I spent the majority of my workday doing something that just a few years ago I would have found unfathomable ... I created a facebook page for my workplace! I had lots of fun adding old pictures and getting things set up. There's still a lot to do--as of now, we have virtually no pictures from the '80s and '90s because I still need to scan them in--but I'm looking forward to spending more time on it. Check it out!

Nebraska Christian Schools

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

insomnia musings

For the past three weeks, I've consumed very little caffeine. In the past--back when I downed three or four diet colas a day, often topped off with a cup or two of coffee--I never had to worry about being kept up by caffeine. It didn't matter if I drank a cup of coffee 20 minutes before bed; I'd be asleep within 30 minutes. Not so today. My sister came over to watch the NBA Finals game, and she brought iced coffee with her. I drank two glasses--the last at 10 p.m. I went to bed at 11:40, tossed and turned until 1:20, and then finally gave up. It's now 2:10, and I'm as wide awake as I was at 11. Lesson learned.

Some thoughts from my time not sleeping:
  • My air conditioner makes swallowing noises. I'm not kidding.
  • Airbrushed makeup looks really interesting. It also looks insanely expensive.
  • The Jeopardy! episode of Cheers is a classic. "Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?"
  • I have no idea how I'll be functional in the morning.
  • Never Been Kissed is more enjoyable than usual in the middle of the night. Michael Vartan is a beautiful man. I really should read As You Like It--or maybe just get the Kenneth Branagh version from Netflix.
  • I'm so glad I'm using vacation days on Thursday and Friday ... but why oh why didn't I take Wednesday, too?
  • I can't remember the last time I was awake at 2:30 a.m. I must be old.
  • How soon should I try to sleep again? 
  • I'm actually going to do one of those stupid facebook notes about what's on your iTunes. If you're my facebook friend, you should check it out.
  • It's 3:01. My alarm goes off in 4 hours. I should probably try to sleep again!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Three men in a tub ... I had to look up the rest of the nursery rhyme, and I find I didn't really know it at all. No matter, though! I think it was in one of my childhood books; at least I have a picture in my head of a drawing that had three guys in a bathtub on the ocean.

Crazy as it sounds, that picture describes what I did last weekend! No, I didn't get lost at sea in a bathtub ... I went tanking!

Seven friends and I went up to the Calamus River, rented two plastic cow tanks, and floated down the river! We had a blast--except for the hour when the sun went behind the clouds and the wind came up--and I didn't even get sunburned, thanks to my new Aveeno SPF 100. (SPF 100--a product created just for pasty white people like me!)

My pictures will tell the story better than I can, so follow this link to the album I posted on facebook ... enjoy!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

"a summer secret" by kathleen fuller

Mary Beth Mullet just wants to escape her annoying siblings. So, even though her parents forbade her to enter the rickety, abandoned barn near their farm, Mary Beth creates a hideout for herself inside the barn. Her twin, Johnny, soon discovers Mary Beth's secret ... and the two quickly realize they aren't the only people using the barn. When they learn who is in the barn, they are determined to help--even though that means lying to their parents.

A Summer Secret is book one in Fuller's "Mysteries of Middlefield" series, and a few of the characters from Fuller's "Hearts of Middlefield" series make an appearance, which I found enjoyable. This book is geared toward teenagers, but I would have enjoyed it most around the age of eight. The "mystery" isn't at all scary or even that mysterious. Still, it was a quick, enjoyable read (as long as I didn't get hung up on the "mystery" part of it), and I think it would be highly appropriate for preteen and teenage girls.

Who should read it? Teenagers or those who enjoyed Fuller's other books.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze book review blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

my radical experiment

A few weeks ago, I read and reviewed Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From The American Dream. In my review, I said I thought Radical would ultimately change me. It's already beginning, as I have embarked on my own version of "The Radical Experiment."

I began on May 18. Because I know how easy it would be for me to quit at some point, I want to make public what commitments I've made so you can help keep me accountable! Each commitment, which is taken directly from Radical, will be followed by what I plan to do.
  1. I will pray for the entire world. I'm using Operation World, a book Radical's author recommended. My version was last updated in 2004, so I'm sure some of the "countries" I'll be praying for no longer exist! A new version will be released this fall, but I didn't want to wait that long for the book. What I really love about the book is it lists the countries by date. Since I was starting on May 18, I just turned to the May 18 page and started there.
  2. I will read through the entire Word. I don't know that I've ever done this before. In theory, I did in high school, as we were supposed to read the New Testament in Freshman Bible and the Old Testament in Sophomore Bible. However, I'm pretty sure I quite liberally skimmed (or is it scanned?) large chunks of the OT. I'm using the Deliberate People reading plan. Each day's reading only takes 20 minutes or so ... the key is not to get behind!
  3. I will sacrifice my money for a specific purpose. I'm not sure what purpose this is yet--I know I want it to be something that I don't currently support. As a part of this (but by no means all), I'm committing to not purchasing any dvds for myself for the next year and putting the money I'd normally spend on dvds towards this purpose, whatever it ends up being. This could very well be the most difficult aspect of this experiment for me. To some ... probably most ... of you, not spending money on dvds would be no big deal. But if you've seen my movie and TV show collection, you know that I enjoy adding to my dvd library on a regular basis. My resolve has already been tested (can we say's TV week?), and it's sure to be tested again. But I'm determined to do this. And if you have any ideas of where I could give my money, let me know! (I do have one dvd I fully intend to purchase, so I'll be upfront about it: Well over a year ago, I promised myself I could buy the complete series of Sports Night once I lost 30 pounds. I'm down 20 now, so chances are the remaining 10 will come off during this year. And when that happens, I'm giving myself my reward!)
  4. I will spend time in another context. Platt recommends at least a week spent serving others and sharing Christ. Again, I don't know yet what this looks like, but I'm praying about it. This is the one area where I will probably need more than a year. Due to my job, it's difficult to get away during the school year, and as I don't yet know where I'm going, I doubt it will happen this summer (though God could surprise me!). So I'll probably have to do this after school lets out next May.
  5. I will commit my life to a multiplying community. This means getting more involved at my church. For starters, I should probably start attending Sunday School on a regular basis ... especially considering the reason I don't is I want to get more sleep! I also need to pursue church membership. I've been considering it for a long time--and by "considering" I mean thinking about it every once in a while and not taking any steps to make it happen. I like my church and have no plans to leave, so I should commit to it.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

superman, save me!

This is probably the closest I will ever come to kissing Dean ...

(We visited the Underground Salt Museum in Hutchinson, Kansas, on Memorial Day. I highly recommend it!)