Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve Reflection

InCourage posted "20 Questions for a New Year’s Eve Reflection".    I thought it would be a great way to wind down my blogging for the year.... OK, I am really just procrastinating on taking down the tree!

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?    Seeing both of my boys baptized

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?      All of the sickness we faced

3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?    Our 20th anniversary trip to Asheville.      Such a cherished time!

4. What was an unexpected obstacle?    Big Guy's sickness and being unable to find answers

5. Pick three words to describe 2010.   Leaning.  Loving.  Laughing.

6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2010 (don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you).      Lots.  Of.   Doctors. 

7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2010 (again, without asking).    Work.  Work.   Work.  

8. What were the best books you read this year?     I read almost 275 books this year so trying to narrow it down to just a few would seem tough, but there really are a few that stick out to me.    Each one is unique from the other, but left me thinking for a LONG time!

9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?     Hubs, Big Guy and Little Guy are obviously my most valuable relationships.     However, outside of this core I am so thankful for my cousin/brother, Randy, who has literally jumped in at literally a second's notice this year to come and stay with the boys while I was in the hospital or had to go to the hospital.    He has literally been a gift from God.   

10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?     I have grown more comfortable in my own skin this year.     I am an odd duck.... even my extended family has accused me of such.     I don't watch the same movies, television shows, listen to the same music, or read the same books that others do.    I subscribe to the idea of "garbage in... garbage out."     It used to bother me when people looked at me or called me weird, but this past year has taught me that the only person I have to worry about looking at me weird is God.

11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?    I was finally able to bring some closure to some anger and hurt that I had been carrying around for a long time regarding some personal issues with a family member.    The relationship with this person hasn't changed, but I have.

12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?     Scriptures I have read over and over have begun to take on new meanings for me.    I feel like I have stepped up on another rung of my spiritual ladder.   

13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?     I am trying not to grow any more physically.   Ha!

14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?     We have enjoyed having people over more this year.    We used to do that ALL the time, but somehow got out of the habit.     We made more of an effort to invite people over after church for lunch and just over in general this year.     It has been wonderful getting to know people more.

15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?    I love being able to spend so much time with my boys.     Seeing them learn, laugh, grow and mature is so rewarding to me.    I am glad that God gave us this time together.

16. What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?   Finding balance and the fine line between being mom and teacher.    

17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?    electronics

18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?    Any and all the  time spent with my Lord

19. What was biggest thing you learned this past year?    I don't think I learned this, but simply reaffirmed it:   My God will never leave me or forsake me.  

20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2010 for you.      Whether the cup is 1/2 full or 1/2 empty doesn't matter... it only matters what is in the cup.     Fill my cup, Lord!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Shadowed Mind

A suspense-filled mystery which answers an ominous question:
Who will be found worthy to live; who is the next victim?
After the deadly investigation into the Smithsonian murders, Dinah Harris is now facing a daily battle to keep her sobriety while struggling to form a new career from the ashes of her former job as an FBI agent. From the shadows will emerge a cunning and terrifying killer, who carefully and methodically will decide whose life has value to society and whose does not.
Using her profiling and security skills as a private consultant based in Washington, DC, Dinah uncovers a connection to the shadowy world of neo-eugenics, and those who publicly denounce the killings but privately support a much different view.
Against this backdrop, Dinah must come to terms with her own past, as those associated with the deepening mystery face their own personal demons, and struggle with the concept of God's inexhaustible grace and forgiveness. Old secrets are revealed, tragedies unearthed, and the devastating legacy of science without compassion is finally brought to light.

The second in a powerful new fiction trilogy!

Check out Julie's Website! 

Book Review

Julie Cave once again center her second book in this trilogy around Dinah Harris just as she did in the first book, Deadly Disclosure.     Dinah is still struggling with her demon, alcohol, and trying to reestablish herself after losing her career as a FBI agent.      Fortunate for her, even though she lost her career she didn't lose her skills.    They serve her well with the challenges that face her.    

A serial killer with a "god complex" starts murdering people whom he/she feels is not worthy to live.    The moral issue of euthanasia and the value of human life is looked at in this book.     It is challenged on every level:    age, race, sex, mental capacity, social standing, addictions.... no stone is left unturned.    

In addition to Dinah, you get to know Ella and her father who is struggling with Alzheimers.    As you can guess, this ultimately plays a role in the main story line.

So well written that you have a hard time discerning who the murderer is before Dinah does, Julie Cave writes a mystery you will love to read.

Disclaimer:  As part of the New Leaf Publishing Review Group, I did receive this book for free from Creation Converations.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.

Saturday, December 25, 2010



Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

Written by David Platt

Waterbrook Multnomah


It's easy for American Christians to forget how Jesus said his followers would actually live, what their new lifestyle would actually look like. They would, he said, leave behind security, money, convenience, even family for him. They would abandon everything for the gospel. They would take up their crosses daily...


In Radical, David Platt challenges you to consider with an open heart how we have manipulated the gospel to fit our cultural preferences. He shows what Jesus actually said about being his disciple--then invites you to believe and obey what you have heard. And he tells the dramatic story of what is happening as a "successful" suburban church decides to get serious about the gospel according to Jesus.

Finally, he urges you to join in The Radical Experiment --a one-year journey in authentic discipleship that will transform how you live in a world that desperately needs the Good News Jesus came to bring.

Read Chapter 1

Book Review

I am very skeptical about books that run away as best sellers in the Christian community.      In general, I never buy or read them because my skepticism runs so deep.     However, this book keeps popping up all around me so I decided that I wanted to read it and form my own opinion.

You can't help but feel Platt's passion for Christ just pouring off the pages.    It is contagious.    There are some things in this book on which Platt and I definitely agree:
1.   We are way too busy pursing the "American dream" instead of Jesus.
2.    Churches have conformed to the world and tried to make the world more comfortable in the church instead of making the church a lighthouse.    
3.   Megachurches aren't impressive.  People don't flock to do hard things and following Jesus is definitely not the easy path to take in life.  
4.    Churches worry too much about their building programs and not enough about building the kingdom.    One of his examples is a church who had a new multi-million dollar sanctuary, but could only raise $5,000 for starving orphans in Ethiopia.    

However, there are some areas in Platt's book that I am not sure if I would say I disagree or just raised some concerns for me.     But here they are:
1.    Guilt is one of my least favorite methods of convincing someone to do or not do something.     I don't remember Jesus trying to guilt people into following Him either.      Platt's endless stories meant to guilt readers into be more "radical" was a turn off for me.  
2.    Platt's book is full of things we are to do.    There are a lot of do's.    Almost checklist like.    I wish Platt would have spent more time pointing out all God has done for us.    His everlasting mercy and we actually can do nothing  to deserve his grace and mercy.    God doesn't need us at all.    We need Him!

In the end, one of the best lessons of Radical is that our treasures are to be laid up in heaven, not here on earth where they can rot, be destroyed or stolen. 

Disclaimer:  I did receive this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.


Illegals The Unacceptable Cost of America's Failure to Control Its Borders
By Darrell Ankarlo
Published by Thomas Nelson

Not since the Civil War has America been so divided over such a seemingly unsolvable issue as U.S. immigration policy.

Phoenix has become the number 2 kidnap capital of the world, ranchers and police officers in border states are being killed by drug runners from Mexico, and the federal government refuses to enforce its own immigration law. Why are 20 million people disregarding America’s sovereign borders and laws to come to this country? Darrell Ankarlo follows the lives of several Mexican citizens as they contemplate their existence south of the border, their temptation to sneak into America, and what waits for them here. To understand the issue first-hand, Ankarlo stared down gun barrels, was caught in the middle of a drug-lord showdown, and then wandered the Arizona desert after illegally sneaking back into America. Illegals explores issues raised by these personal stories and offers perspectives—often contradictory—from U.S. citizens.

Book Review

Want a big dose of reality that you want find on any television news network or newspaper?      Ankarlo has peeled away the politics and shown you what is really going on America's borders.     The issues that are affecting every person, citizen or non, of every age in our Country.    

Ankarlo has a lot of credibility in his writing as he lives in one of the border state and works as a radio personality.    However, he was willing to go outside his radio studio to walk the streets and interview anyone and everyone who was willing to talk to him.     He didn't just talk to people here in the United States, but also in Mexico.  

There is no doubt that Ankarlo is passionate about this topic.      He is so passionate that about two-thirds of the way through the way through the book I wanted to ask him to take a breath, get a drink and just slow down a little.      I could just envision him standing there talking really, really fast.

It is rare to have such an insider's look at such a volatile current event in our Country.

Disclaimer:  As part of the BookSneeze Review, I did receive this book for free from Thomas Nelson.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.

Friday, December 24, 2010

From My Family to Yours

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register.

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Luke 2: 1-20

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Scenes from "Joy To The World"

Our church choir had our Christmas worship service this past Sunday.     It was such an amazing time that I still feel like I am floating.     The Mississippi Symphony Orchestra as well as the Ballet Magnificat came as special guests for our Christmas service.     

We have two talented college students who took photos during rehearsal and the service.  I thought I would share some with you.

Here is a video of one of the songs that we did in our Christmas celebration. It is probably one of my favorites. This is Natalie Grant's version:

Monday, December 13, 2010

2010 INSPY Awards Announced

It was an honor to be one of the INSPY award judges this year.      I was asked to read five books in the romance/romantic suspense category.       At the appointed date, the five judges in this category met online to begin discussing the five books we had read.        It was a great week of dissecting these books.    We evaluated everything about them from literary content, faith content, and story line.   

At the end of much discussion, we all agreed that the book we believed should be chosen as the 2010 Romance/Romantic Suspence INSPY Award winner is Sons of Thunder by Susan May Warren.     With the amount of discussion that was generated by this book, I think this would make a great book club book.

Tonight the INSPY committee released the total list of winners.     Congratulations to all the authors for these excellent books!

The INSPY Award winners are:

Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes, General and Literary Fiction (Tyndale House)
Evolving in Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evans, Creative Nonfiction (Zondervan)
She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell, Historical Fiction (Bethany House)
The Knight by Steven James, Thriller/Suspense/Crime Fiction (Revell)
Green by Ted Dekker, Speculative Fiction (Thomas Nelson)
Plain Paradise by Beth Wiseman, Amish Fiction (Thomas Nelson)
Sons of Thunder by Susan May Warren, Romance/Romantic Suspense (Summerside)
Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr, Young Adult Fiction (Little, Brown)

The 2010 INSPY Awards cover books published from July 2009 through June 2010.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Traditions

I am a sucker for traditions.    I love the special comfort that the routine traditions bring to our holidays.      Here are a few things that we do during the Christmas season, what does your family do to make the season special?

Trade out all the music in the house and car stereo to Christmas CD's
Make Christmas Cookies and doorbell ditch them to the neighbors.
Get Mistletoe from Grandma and Grandpa's house to hang in our house.
Address and Mail Christmas Cards.
Buy at least one new Christmas book to read.
Read Christmas books -- even some from when the boys were little.   Shhhh!
Make Gingerbread Houses with our friends from Atlanta
Spend several days having a mini-Christmas with our friends from Atlanta
Go to Canton to see the Christmas lights
Sit in the living room with just Christmas lights and fire drinking hot chocolate.
Try a new recipe from Christmas Around the World
Read Jotham's Journey.
Put out all our nativities around the house.
Hide all the baby Jesus figures from the nativity scenes to be found on Christmas morning.
Decorate the Tree
Watch Christmas movies like Elf and Santa Clause
Drive around to see the lights.
Go caroling
Go to Nana and Papa's the weekend before Christmas
Go to the movie theater and see the latest Christmas movie (This year - Chronicles of Narnia!)
Volunteer to work the Toy Shop with the Salvation Army
Sign up for the Giving Tree and buy items for a needy family.
Watch Elf
Our Church's Christmas Concert

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Making Good Use of Insurance

Whew!   I barely made it, but yesterday I was finally able to have the surgery that my doctor recommended for me back in January.    Of course, everything had to be put on hold after I had my pulmonary embolisms.     After working through that issue I asked the doctor if we could please have this surgery before the end of the year and my insurance deductible started over.

My sweet cousin Randy came over to stay with the boys.      They were excited about getting to have time with him because he is one of our favorite people ever.    

Since my surgery wasn't scheduled for 12:30 the only complaint I had was that I was sooooo thirsty.    They said no eating or drinking after midnight.     I wasn't really hungry, but I wanted a BIG glass of water so much.     Twice I almost grabbed up a bottle of water and chug it down!  

When we walked into the surgery clinic, the admissions lady said, "Mrs. Germany, I am so glad you are here.   The pre-op nurse just came and said they are ready as soon as you get here."    Wow!   Talk about service.    

I had a sweet pre-op nurse.     She said she didn't want to hurt me when she put in my IV so she wanted to numb my hand.     I told her I wasn't scared of needles.    She said, "No, no.   Let me numb your hand."     Want to know how she numbed my hand?    She gave me a shot that felt like a bee sting!     I told hubs that was worse than any IV  that I had ever had, but I didn't say anything because I didn't want to hurt her feelings.

Following surgery, I ran into the same problem with pain relief that I always have.    There is something about taking seizure medication that absorbs the effectiveness of other medicines.     It wound up taking quite a bit more morphine to get me comfortable because of my silly seizure medicine.    

All that morphine gave me a big case of insomnia.    We came home and I haven't slept since Thursday night.    Boy, if I was a little less sore I could be tearing up some house work!    

However, it has been nice to just snuggle up in the bed with my sweet guys watching movies, playing games on the computer and talking.