Posts Tagged ‘book’


Criticism Wanted…

I have asked several people to critique my book. Unfortunately, only one person has accepted that challenge and done so. Most authors/writers would pay someone for this critique, but since I make no income from my writing, I hate to make the hubby pay for yet another one of my writing adventures.

I have pretty much exhausted the free types of services. Then I thought, “Why not allow my blog fans to have a whack at it?”

So, if you’re game, I will put out the introduction to my book in this post and then one brief chapter of the book in another post. What I need most is to know whether or not it makes any sense to you. If not, please be specific about what wasn’t clear, so that I can work on correcting that.

Also, would you even pay a couple of bucks to download such a book on your e-reader? If not, I need to either scrap this writing idea or work really hard to make it worth such an expenditure.


Your Body May Need to Diet, But Your Soul May Need a Feast…


We Americans tend to overeat and under-exercise.

Duh, right? But, while we spend an abundance of time trying to quell these tendencies of ours, how much time do we devote to making sure our souls and spirits are nurtured well???

Did you just take a big gulp? Yep, me too.

I hope, as you read my Wednesday posts, you will feel like you are addressing your soul just as much as you are exercising and eating right. Honestly? If your soul and spirit aren’t headed in the right direction, what makes you think you can conquer a weight or physical health issue???

Did you just gulp again? It’s okay. I have a plan.

As part of MIP’s Slow Reader posts, I’m going to bring to your attention some books and online readings that you can peruse to understand more of my spiritual journey and hopefully, chart a path for your own journey. Again, your journey may be quite different from mine because you and I are unique little snowflakes! But I am going to trust that God can bring to your attention the parts of these books that will inform your journey. 


Slow Reader Friday: The ONE Thing


The September Book Club Selection is up! It’s a NOVEL! Go here to learn the details!

Good morning, Book Club Fans! This month’s book, by Gary Keller (Yes, one of the founders of that huge realty company named Keller-Williams!), first made it onto my “radar screen” when I was making out my Christmas wish list last year. I am a sucker for intriguing titles and thus, I put it on my wish list. Thankfully, my brother gave it to me for Christmas! But, true to nature, I just got around to reading it this summer.

I wish I had read it sooner.

If you’re not sure what you’re supposed to be doing with yourself while on this planet or you’re incredibly dissatisfied with your current life, this book will crystallize what you should be doing and help you figure out how to do it.

Not only that, it will also help you figure out how to do it better than anyone else. And yet, the concepts in this book are remarkably simple to adopt into your everyday life.


Slow Reader Friday: Songs in the Key of Solomon…

Grapes for Two

Grapes for Two

Top Mommy Blogs Update: As I write this, MIP is now # 250 out of 921 blogs on That’s ALL due to you, my dear readers! Thanks so much! While you’re here, would you mind clicking on that Top Mommy Blog button over there to the right of this post??? Thanks again!

Book Club Readers: The August MIP Book Club Selection is out, along with the suggested reading plan! This one is a MUST READ! Go here for all the details!

Do you know Anita Renfroe? Not ringing any bells for some of you? Well, watch this video and I think you’ll remember her just fine. She and her husband, John, are the authors for this month’s MIP Book Club Selection, Songs in the Key of SolomonThe book is a collection of couples devotionals.

Now, before you get ready to click on another blog somewhere or check your FB page, John and Anita are quick to point out that they, too, don’t like most couples devotional books because they are exceedingly boring. They never stuck with any they tried. And so, they decided to author one where you might actually be able to get your spouse to enjoy them and read them.

I floated the first few past the hubby’s very impatient eyes and he actually consented to doing one a week. We’d do it more often, but the man is on a plane 90% of the time and it’s a little tough to communicate in any way, shape or form when the FAA frowns upon such communication. So, we have to cram such activities in on the weekends and they are often so busy with us just catching up on home repairs and what admonitions we need to issue to the youngest collectively that we seldom get more than 1 night each weekend for a date.

If you think I’m lying about the fun of this book, then here are a few excerpts of just where these little “dates” take place from the Renfroes’ book:

1. “Wash some plump, juicy grapes in a colander and bring them bathtub-side. Run a nice bubble bath, light some candles, and set them around the edge of the tub. After you’ve climbed in together, read on.”

2. “Build a tent with some chairs and blankets like you used to do when you were kids. Get underneath, in the dark, with a flashlight.”

3. “Go to wherever the husband’s most prized material possession is kept.”

Do I have your attention now? As you can see, most of these devotions don’t require a lot of planning, lengthy readings or even a lot of cash and babysitters. Most can be done after you get those kids to bed and with ease.

The title is the title because the Song of Solomon is the one book of the Bible that says marital love (and the most intimate parts of it) is not only okay, but strongly recommended! Besides, there are references to the woman’s body that will just make you guffaw. Modern romance isn’t anything like Biblical romance. And for that.. I thank you, Jesus!!!

So go ahead, make some beautiful music with your spouse. Now, where are those grapes?!

What did you think of Songs in the Key of Solomon? Share your thoughts about it in the comment section below!

Monday’s Post: What’s bricolage?

You Might Also Like: Slow Reader Friday: Jesus, the One and Only; Slow Reader Friday: Killing Jesus; and Slow Reader Friday: And Then There Were Nuns


An Eclectic Bookshelf…

Stack of books

As many of you know, MIP has a Book Club. On Friday, May 23rd expect the Book Club to “rev up” again. The Slow Reader Friday post that day will be for our last Book Club selection and an announcement will be made for the June Book Club selection. Consider this your invitation to join those of us who already read the selections each month, if you haven’t joined us so far! We have even had an author join in on the discussion!

A lot of you also know that my operating budget for running this little blog is a big fat zero. Thus, I often rely on Amazon gift cards, gifts, hand-me-downs, and “leftovers” for book selection fodder! I’ve recently rearranged my MIP bookshelf, adding some of my brother’s books to the collection. As I surveyed the rearranged shelf, I realized, “This is one eclectic collection of craziness!”

I am about to reveal how illiterate I am and that I’m way, way behind in reading books by great writers. Do I get to plead busy wife, mom, career woman and student for this???  Also, as you can see, I will read just about anything…once!

Thus, I would appreciate hearing your thoughts and comments about such a bookshelf and which books should be an MIP Book Selection. Are there any I should avoid? For instance, I’m not into blatant Christian bashing, cussing, gratuitous sex, horror stories or over-the-top violence! As old as some of these titles are, all of them, except one (which I removed from this list) are still alive and well on Comment away!

  • Pride and Prejudice
  • The Art of the Steal
  • Raving Fans
  • The Da Vinci Code
  • To Fly Again
  • Op-Center: Acts of War
  • Op-Center: Balance of Power
  • Op-Center: Line of Control
  • Power Plays: Cold War
  • Net Force: CyberNation
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • George’s Marvelous Medicine
  • Three Guardsmen
  • Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation
  • Fields for President
  • The Final Helping of “You Might Be a Redneck If…”
  • Ocean’s 11
  • Snickers from the Front Pew
  • A Different Kind of Christmas
  • Between Sisters
  • How the Scots Invented the Modern World
  • The Journey: Forgiveness, Restorative Justice, & Reconciliation
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
  • Alex & Me
  • Presbyterians & the American Revolution: A Documentary Account
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • The Happiest People on Earth
  • One Was Johnny
  • Texas High School Football Dynasties
  • The Unlikely Spy
  • A Grace Disguised
  • Get Off Your Knees & Pray
  • Charlotte’s Web


Friday’s Post: Does Really Illumine???

You might also like: Slow Reader Friday:  And Then There Were Nuns; Slow Reader Friday: Undaunted; and Slow Reader Friday: Life Interrupted



Slow Reader Thursday: A Grace Disguised

stone cross

I have a rather large pile of books in my office waiting on me to read them for this blog post each week and I have to admit that I tend to just grab one from the pile when I’m finished with the previous book. For some odd reason (I prefer to think of it as divine.) I have managed to choose two books back-to-back that focus on loss and death. Last week I reviewed Tuesdays with Morrie which discussed the dying process of Morris Schwartz, a man with ALS. This week I turned to A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser. While Jerry Sittser did not go through the dying process himself, he probably wished he could after suffering the loss of three family members all on one night.

Jerry Sittser was forced to look after three small children on his own and to figure out what to make of the great loss he faced. While these losses attracted a great deal of attention, Sittser felt alone in his grief and the heavy responsibilities that befell him. However, rather than choosing to ignore or hide from his pain, he chose to dive head first into it and work towards making sense of it. He managed to succeed and to raise those three children successfully. He chose to ask God for help, even when he wasn’t sure He wanted to believe in a God who would take three people from him so haphazardly.

Sittser is quick to say that he blew it a great deal of the time, but his willingness to explore his thoughts, foibles and grief led to the writing of this book and led to him being able to help others who were facing their own versions of horror and grief.

He explains things far better than I ever could–here are a few examples:

1.”Catastrophic loss wreaks destruction like a massive flood. It is unrelenting, unforgiving, and uncontrollable, brutally erosive to body, mind, and spirit.”

2.”It is therefore not true that we become less through loss–unless we allow the loss to make us less, grinding our soul down until there is nothing left but an external self entirely under the control of circumstances. Loss can also make us more. In the darkness we can still find the light. In death we can also find life. It depends on the choices we make.”

3. “Many people form addictions after they experience loss. Loss disrupts and destroys the orderliness and familiarity of their world. They feel such desperation and disorientation in the face of this obliteration of order that they go berserk on binges. They saturate their senses with anything that will satisfy them in the moment because they cannot bear to think about the long-term consequences of loss….So they drink too much alcohol, go on a sexual rampage, eat constantly or spend their money carelessly. In so doing, they hold suffering at a distance.”

Loss and grief are inevitable parts of living on planet Earth. We can either choose to embrace it and delve into its horrible depths and learn from it or be destroyed by it. Sittser makes a convincing, compassionate and human case for doing the former. Every one of us should read this book and embrace, yes embrace, the journey of grief and loss, for reaching the “destination” is well worth the journey.

Point to Ponder Challenge: What losses are going on in your life right now? Are you running from them? Are you diving into their darkness and letting yourself grieve fully? If not, schedule some time today to think about these losses and allow yourself to fully feel the weight of its sadness, unfairness, and waste. What can you learn from this nastiness? Do you need help from someone you trust? Do you need professional assistance? If so, take one step out of the darkness right now and find that person. Make a date with that person to talk over how you’re feeling. You’re worth it!



Slow Reader Thursday: i am not but i know I AM

Gospel of John

On My Soapbox: WARNING! If e. e. cummings had had Microsoft Word and grammar check, he would have thought twice about using all lower case letters in his poetry. How do I know this? Just try to type the title of the book I’m reviewing this week without Word wanting to correct all your lowercase i’s! And since I have always enjoyed Mr. cummings’ poetry and his innovative use of lowercase, this especially annoys me. Okay, I’m getting down (off the soapbox) now.

I’m sure today’s author, Louie Giglio, was also annoyed as he desperately tried to type this title and his entire book, littered with the lowercase i. And he was trying to do this for one very good reason: to make the point that we are very, very small people in comparison to a very big God.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I had difficulty reading this book at first. Your first clue is that I did not do this review one week ago, as scheduled. Have you ever felt that a book didn’t penetrate your soul the way it should have simply because you had finished reading a book that will never leave your soul??? That’s how I felt reading i am not but i know I AM.

Is Mr. Giglio a poor writer by comparison? No. His use of words is truly creative. Is his message to us trite and over-exposed? No. It’s rather fresh. Is it 1600 pages long, making it difficult to finish? No. Even with 3 very readable addenda, it’s a mere 166 pages long.

So, what was the problem? Me. I tried to read this book like I read every other book—in bits and pieces, around other tasks in my daily schedule and while multi-tasking. Now, this usually works for me very well. Not so with this book. This book demands serious reflective time and consuming it in rather large chunks, since the message slowly builds upon itself.

Because Mr. Giglio emphasizes that we should be servants first and think about ourselves last, I also felt that he writes quietly. No big applause or bravado with his writing (although he readily admits to succumbing to that, upon occasion), but simple, timeless truths about who we are not and who God is.

And despite my initial loathing of this book, page 134 reduced me to tears. Giglio states, “When I crumble under the pressure, I have lost the plot, declaring that the outcome of life rests squarely on my shoulders, not His.” Ouch. Yep, that would be me.

And I am taking something more (than this one quote) away from this book—the One-Word Bible Study method, in which Giglio meditates on only one word of a Bible verse each day. The first day he did this, the word to be pondered was “and.” Not exactly an exciting word to begin a Bible study, hunh? And yet, by merely thinking about “and” for one whole day, Giglio was given huge insights about God and his relationship to God. Similar things happened on subsequent days, even when the word was “the.” So, trust me, I am about to launch into some one-word Bible studying myself.

So, to read or not to read? That is the question. Yes, most definitely read it. Don’t let little me get in your way. But, do yourself a favor—read it when you have a serious chunk of time to devote to it, so that it can penetrate your soul the way God intended.


26 Tuesday: Hsu


If one attempts to be a writer, there is one inevitable problem to be faced: too many books. Yes, too many. I know some of my avid reader friends will cry “Foul!” at this one because they certainly believe that whoever has the most books at death wins, but the reality is that books take up a lot of space and I seldom read a book more than once. I am thankful that e-readers are going to make this an obsolete problem one day, but until then, MaryAnn needs to give her weighted down bookshelves a break.

In reading about Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung last Tuesday, I was struck by her busy schedule, including having just enrolled in a Ph.D. program. I “inherited” quite a number of educational leadership books while working at our local university and thought they would help me with that career. Life has taken me a different direction (duh) and thus, these poor books are just gathering dust on my shelves. It seems a shame when I know our university library (which has a Ph.D. program in educational leadership) could really use them. So, this past week I have packed them up and taken them to my favorite place to study master’s level psychology. It seems only fitting that the place that nurtured both my education and my career should benefit from these books. And over the years I have grown very fond of several of the staff members there. I like to think that Dawn would have liked this way of blessing other learners and colleagues, too.

So, the 26 Tuesday Acts of Kindness tally stands at 17. Please let me know, either privately or publicly, if you participated and how many acts of kindness you undertook this week. Kudos to you for participating!

This week’s honoree is Madeleine Hsu. The description of her is, honestly, too brief, but click on her name below, if only to see her darling face. That, alone, should inspire your Act of Kindness for this coming week:

Madeleine F. Hsu, 6

Sweet. Unique. Bright. Determined. Sparkling. Those are words Madeleine’s family used to describe their little girl.”She was an avid reader who loved running and dancing,” they said. “She was a born leader.”


Slow Reader Thursday: 20 Books…


Warning: Get your favorite beverage first. 

Since I’m such a slow reader, guess what?! I’m not done with a book about being inadequate. Yes, I’m serious. Well, sort of. So, today you’re getting an FB favorite while I spend some time with my visiting niece and the DD and DSL. Yes, it’s Spring Break at the MIP household. Perhaps next Thursday I will get my act together. Sort of.

Several years ago FB was “personal survey happy.” In other words “Answer these questions about yourself and then tag all of your friends and ask them to answer the same questions.” While many of these became quite irritating and nonsensical, there were some that actually did merit a response. One of these was, “Pick 15 books that have always and will always stay with you.” If I were to answer that prompt today, I would list the books below, in no particular order, but add five more! Please feel free to add in your 20 favorites, with or without explanation. This will allow others to add some books to their “reading to-do list.” And yes, I hope one of these “others” will be me.

1. The Bible…obviously. Right now, I’m rather partial to the version by Mr. Peterson (The Message)…it makes reading this for the 49th time much more enjoyable and “user-friendly”.

2. The Shack…My copy’s autographed…how about yours? And mine is dog-eared and underlined repeatedly! I hate crying and this book makes me cry for reasons I don’t fully comprehend.  That just doesn’t happen when I read.

3. The Purpose-Driven Life…I disagree with some of its premises, but overall…a good way to live.

4. Loving God…the best defense of why the Bible is true, written by a crook. 🙂 His boss wasn’t…at least according to his boss.

5. The Screwtape Letters…I always like when someone puts a twist on writing a book and this one is from a very different perspective. Written by someone who didn’t believe in the Bible at first.

6. Little Women…about a woman writer when it wasn’t cool to be a woman writer…’nuf said. Oh, and it’s free on Kindle. Yes, I said free.

7. This Present Darkness…and all the sequels…again…another take on things with a different twist.

8. The Mystery of the 99 Steps…my introduction to Nancy Drew…horrible writing, but fun when you’re 10 years old…I read all of them in 5th grade…I could read 4 of them a week and she never kissed Ned once. Then I read the entire collection of the Hardy Boys…then I read all the Bobbsey Twin books. Yeah…I was a nerd. And there wasn’t much else to do in Bridgeport, WV back then.

9. God is an Englishman…very obscure book with a very interesting title…for adult readers only…in other words…it wasn’t about what I thought it was about. (How many of you just looked for it online? Caught ya, didn’t I?)

10. Cheaper by the Dozen – pay special attention to the section on bathing. If Kyle takes another hot water heater draining shower, these methods will be employed at the Arnold house very soon.

11. Gone with the Wind – this is a primer on cheesy, ridiculous dialogue, but I love it.

12. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fishno surprise here, if you’ve been reading my recent posts! My very first book and my mom probably could recite it flawlessly without ever looking at a page…I requested it every night, along with Fox in Sox for 3 whole years. (My mother was a saint.)

13. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families – this ought to be required reading for anyone expecting a kid. Just tell the mom (when she’s 9 months along) she has to cross her legs until she has read it…it’ll get done…I guarantee it.

14. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – see # 5…the man has an imagination and puts it on paper well.

15. Brave New World…it’ll make you think twice about the government requesting more and more invasion into our personal lives.

16. Heaven is for Real…when a book is written by an 11 year old boy and is his eyewitness account, I tend to listen…and read…word-for-word. So reassuring for us Christian types and yet so surprising.

17. QuitterI have read numerous books on writing and pursuing your ridiculous, impractical dreams, but none have affected me the way Jon Acuff’s book has.

18. God’s Little Miracle BookThis book just reminds me why it’s still important to pray.

19. Left Behind (and the rest of the series)…Of course, it’s just two people’s take on what could happen when Planet Earth comes to an end, but it sure is interesting to envision the modern world trying to cope with the book of Revelation.

20. Born Again, Texan…This is just too hilarious for words and too true and still rather informational.

Your turn.


Slow Reader Thursday: Cross Roads

Cross Roads

A rather large Christian literary uproar was caused by the release of Wm. Paul Young‘s The Shack in 2007. Why? Because Paul Young enjoys stretching our feeble Christian minds with unusual descriptions of the Trinity and forcing us to think in uncomfortable directions. But, The Shack is sheer brilliance and Young writes the way I hope to write someday. My brilliant mother-in-law gave me The Shack (I refer to her as the “Christian Book-of-the-Month Club.”) and I was not sure I had time to read it, but again, the title intrigued me and I undertook it anyway.

I am a stoic Scot by ancestry and so, bursting into tears without explanation is not okay in my family. But, I found myself doing exactly that as I read The ShackWas that a terribly bad thing? Nope. It was something I apparently needed. Paul Young knows how to reach our deepest hurts and reassure us that God knows those hurts and plans on healing them completely. Not only does he do this with his writing, but also with his speaking. I was privileged to be in the audience to hear Paul Young speak about The Shack and he is as warm in person as he is in his writing.

Of course, his sophomore effort, Cross Roadshas been much anticipated. And fortunately, a good friend lent me Cross Roads so I wouldn’t have to budget it into the household account. Let me say, at the outset, that any writer’s sophomore effort is most likely not going to be as surprising and “brilliant” as an inaugural book. Why? Because we are already used to having our minds “bent” in that writer’s particular style. This is also true of Cross Roads

However, any time Paul Young wants to mess with my mind is fine with me. And yes, he messes with your mind once againIn Cross Roads we meet another man who is unwilling to deal with his past, but in a completely different way than in The Shack. About the time you think you cannot be surprised by Young‘s writing, he surprises yet again. And I love how Young weaves another famous writer into his storytelling in such a way that only the well-read reader will discern. It’s like an “inside joke” that only a few of us understand.

Oh, how I wish George Lucas or Steven Spielberg would undertake to make movies of his books. Of course, they would probably make a mockery of the poignancy of such writing, but it would be sure to capture the rich “textures” of Young‘s writing and the incredible imagination of his “world.”

But, until such time, I guess I will have to wait for Young‘s next book.

Or do I?

Paul Young is the featured keynote speaker at the Faith and Culture Writers Conference this coming April in Portland, OR. Guess who has her flight booked to listen to him…for the second time? Yep…that would me. I will be the knee-knocking chick in the audience who is wondering what she’s doing at a writer’s conference. Wanna join me? 🙂

Tomorrow’s Post: You might be a Naturalized Texan Woman If…