Monday, November 23, 2009

No pain, no gain

Last month I attended a women's health conference at the local university. I attended because as a part of my job, I coach women about healthy eating and making good food choices. I also attended because good health is something I often take for granted.

While I was there, I talked to a woman at a booth where they were recruiting volunteers for a number of medical studies for the prevention of breast cancer. The lady seemed quite interested in me. You see, I do not have any breast cancer in my family for at least three generations. None. In fact, the only cancer at all in my family has been of the skin variety--all small, all treatable.

I made it through several screenings and ended up going in last week for blood tests. Then on Thursday I went in for two painful procedures. They mentioned "moderate discomfort," but to be honest? If I'd known it would hurt so much and for so long afterward, I don't know if I'd have continued. (I'm a pain wimp.) I still have bruising, too.

I am taking 2 pills a day for a month. I don't know what I'm taking, but the study is studying the effects of Vitamin D and Celebrex. So I am either taking Vitamin D and Celebrex, Vitamin D and a placebo, or 2 placebos. I will never know.

In a month, I'll be repeating the above, and the only advantage I'll have is that I should be able to take ibuprofen then. I can't now, because it will interfere with the study . . . which is too bad, because it always works for me.

So, the first question people ask me is "How much are you getting paid for this?" The answer is nothing. I am doing this just because I want to help people. It's what I do. It's who I am, really. Who God made me to be.

Would I do it again? I'm not sure, knowing what I know now, and how much I still ache four days later. But I'm in now. "In for a penny, in for a pound." I will continue taking my two mysterious white capsules each day, and next month go through it all again, hopeful that it won't be quite as painful the second time around. Then it's over, other than a phone call each year for life (it's a longitudinal study).

Which brings me to my title: No pain, no gain. Without some pain, there would be no bio-markers for the scientists to study. No concrete data from which to determine which course of treatment might, in fact, prevent breast cancer. Yes, it's invasive. Yes, it hurts. But the potential gain? Priceless.

Isn't that also how God works sometimes? He prunes the branches, He puts us through the fires of purification, He disciplines those He loves. But it all turns out for His good, for His purpose, for such a time as this. And in the end, what we gain is so worth it.

No pain, no gain.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Faith and Fangs Blog Tour

Faith and Fangs

Welcome to the blog tour for two books that are absolutely apropos for this time of year, particularly with the release of "New Moon" today.

Thirsty was an engrossing, thought-provoking read. Tracey Bateman really branches out with this one, away from her usual chick-lit and mom-lit and prairie-romance-lit, and she does a superb job. I follow her online, and it is interesting to me that she wrote a lot of this book in the late night hours. I think I ended up reading a lot of this during the late night hours, and it spoke to me during that time. The book prompted me to think about addiction, and whether or not a person is born to her addiction, or if the tendency is impossible to ignore. Nina's journey is so understandable, even if you've never touched a drop of alcohol.

The book about the Twilight series is a good resource for parents and those who like the books. It gave me much food for thought.

From Multnomah:

What do you need to know about vampires? You may think that you don’t need to be educated about the vampire trends in media—especially the Twilight Saga—but your family is being bombarded with messages from books (Twilight, Wuthering Bites) to television (Vampire Diaries, True Blood) to movies (New Moon releases TODAY, November 20).

One of the most popular vampire outlets is the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer. The second book New Moon is being made into a movie that hits theaters in November, so we want to make sure that you and your family are prepared to make the decision if you’ll go see it, and if you do see it to have thoughtful discussion about some hidden themes it holds.

Book: Touched by a Vampire

Author: Beth Felker Jones



People around the world are asking the same question, enraptured with Edward and Bella’s forbidden romance in the Twilight Saga, a four-book serial phenomenon written by Stephenie Meyer. The bestsellers tell the story of a regular girl’s relationship with a vampire who has chosen to follow his “good” side. But the Saga isn’t just another fantasy–it’s teaching girls about love, sex, and purpose. With 48 million copies in print and a succession of upcoming blockbuster films, now is the time to ask the important question: Can vampires teach us about God’s plan for love?

Touched by a Vampire is the first book to investigate the themes of the Twilight Saga from a Biblical perspective. Some Christian readers have praised moral principles illustrated in the story, such as premarital sexual abstinence, which align with Meyer’s Mormon beliefs. But ultimately, Beth Felker Jones examines whether the story’s redemptive qualities outshine its darkness.

Cautionary, thoughtful, and challenging, Touched by a Vampire is written for Twilight fans, parents, teachers, and pop culture enthusiasts. It includes an overview of the series for those unfamiliar with the storyline and a discussion guide for small groups.

Book: Thirsty

Author: Tracey Bateman


There's no place like home, they say.

"Hello, I'm Nina Parker…and I'm an alcoholic."

For Nina, it's not the weighty admission but the first steps toward recovery that prove most difficult. She must face her ex-husband, Hunt, with little hope of making amends, and try to rebuild a relationship with her angry teenage daughter, Meagan. Hardest of all, she is forced to return to Abbey Hills, Missouri, the hometown she abruptly abandoned nearly two decades earlier–and her unexpected arrival in the sleepy Ozark town catches the attention of someone–or something–igniting a two-hundred-fifty-year-old desire that rages like a wildfire.

Unaware of the darkness stalking her, Nina is confronted with a series of events that threaten to unhinge her sobriety. Her daughter wants to spend time with the parents Nina left behind. A terrifying event that has haunted Nina for almost twenty years begins to surface. And an alluring neighbor initiates an unusual friendship with Nina, but is Markus truly a kindred spirit or a man guarding dangerous secrets?

As everything she loves hangs in the balance, will Nina's feeble grasp on her demons be broken, leaving her powerless against the thirst? The battle between redemption and obsession unfold to its startling, unforgettable end.

Here are links to these books at the WaterBrook Multnomah website. Here you will see all of the different options where you can purchase these books online.

Touched by a Vampire:


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I've gotta go back, back, back to school again!

It's true. I'm headed back to school next semester, this time as a student! I'll be taking Creative Writing at the local community college.

This accomplishes two tasks: One, I will have an additional three credit hours which will allow me to reclaim my Missouri teaching certificate. Two, I will be able to teach this class myself someday, having taken it.

This also fulfills a dream long asleep. I have always wanted to take creative writing! But as an undergrad, I wasn't able to fit it into my schedule because of all the education classes. And as a grad student, there wasn't time or energy.

So there you have it!

(PS: Did you catch the movie reference in the title? Cheesiest movie ever, but a good opening song!) (edited to add, since I only had one commentor, it's the opening song to Grease 2!)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What is it about Thursdays?

Thursdays find me more introspective, I guess. I am woefully behind on all things book review-ish, and even more behind on National Novel Writing Month.

I have reason to feel scattered, which I'm not ready to release to the blogosphere just yet; let's just say I have several good reasons!

I imagine in my mind that my 2010, my year of being forty, will be an adventurous, more tightly focused, less cluttered year.

But then again, what do I know?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Good Books, Good Coffee: A Blog Tour

Good Books and Good Coffee
A Blog Tour Designed with
Coffee Lovers in Mind

(and you KNOW that is me!)

About the Books:

(Dallas, Texas) - The coffee industry is one of the leading industries in America. Specialty coffee houses provide cozy intimate spaces to read, study and visit. That's exactly what Sandra Glahn had in mind when she wrote her Coffee Cup Series Bible studies.

There's nothing better than curling up with a good book and a cup of coffee--and there's no better book than the Bible. Sandra Glahn continues her series of Coffee Cup Bible Studies, presenting Kona with Jonah and Frappe with Philippians. Using creative teaching resources, including the Internet, art, online study groups and more, Glahn provides a special blend of bold and flavorful experiences that will bring participants back for a second cup of God's Word.

Kona with Jonah begins with a brief history of Jonah and Ninevah. Merging historical event with current modern day practicality, Glahn invites readers to take a walk in Jonah's sandals. Coffee sippers will find it hard to escape the similarities as these two worlds collide. Prayer, mercy, city revival and other strong themes will perk the interest and heart of diligent students.

Frappé with Philippians brews for five weeks of strong, powerful conversation about Paul and the heroes of the Philippian church. With detailed study time spent examining the letters of Paul to the Church, readers will come away feeling like they have met with the man himself. With sections entitled "That God Will Get me Out of Here, and Other Prayer Requests Paul Doesn't Make," Glahn keeps the tone of the study light, without disrespecting the seriousness of the study of God's Word.

These Bible studies are designed for casual gatherings and coffee shop discussions.

About the Author:

Sandra Glahn, Th.M., is adjunct professor, Christian Education and Pastoral Ministries, at Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), her alma mater. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Aesthetic Studies (Arts and Humanities) at the University of Texas at Dallas. In addition she serves on the board of the Evangelical Press Association, the advisory board of Hannah's Prayer, and the women's executive committee for Sandra is editor in chief of Dallas Seminary's award-winning quarterly magazine, Kindred Spirit.

Her books include The Coffee Cup Bible Study series and the medical suspense thriller, Informed Consent (Cook). Ms. Glahn has also coauthored seven books and she has contributed to several additional works, including Genetic Engineering: A Christian Response (Kregel); and The Making of a Mentor (Authentic). Sandra has appeared on the 700 Club, Ivanhoe Productions' "Smart Woman" television broadcasts, Family Life Today, At Home Live television, Janet Parshall's America, and in other national media. She and her husband, Gary, have been married twenty-nine years and have a daughter who joined their family through adoption.

Pattie's Review:

Frappe with Philippians looks to be a wonderful Bible study. Its format is unique to me: the Scripture is actually printed IN the study...certainly convenient, and a version I do not own. Thoughtful questions along the way with plenty of space to write, daily assignments, and anecdotes make this a friendly-looking way to dig deep into God's word. I can't wait to get started!

A Chat Over Coffee w/ Sandra

Women who typically feel they don't have the time to do Bible Study find your studies relevant and easy to use. What's the secret to making the study inviting?

I don't know if there's one secret. Different things appeal to different people. But I do know that with my own personal Bible study time, I've been able to stay fairly consistent Monday through Friday when my daughter is at school. But on the weekends everything changes in our household. Sometimes we travel. Or we sleep later on Saturday. And we rise and go to church on Sunday. Result: my routine gets disrupted. For this reason I often have a more difficult time doing Bible study on the weekends. So I designed the series for Monday-through-Friday study with only short devotional readings on the weekends. The weekday time can require twenty minutes or more; the weekend readings take less than five minutes.

I think the studies also appeal to the right-brained person. As an artsy type, I sometimes engage more with the Bible if I can write out a prayer, draw, view a related video, compose a story, sing a song... And I wrote this series with that person in mind. The devotionals are also full of stories, which most of us love to hear.

In addition (and this is probably the main reason), when I was working full-time, I wanted a study I could stash in my purse without having to lug a Bible and a commentary. I wanted to use my lunch break for a quiet time without parading my resources in front of people. And I think it helps that the Coffee Cup series books don't look like typical Bible studies; they're all-inclusive (text, commentary, questions included); they're small enough to throw in a briefcase or diaper bag; and they're both spiral and bound--making it easier to use on a treadmill or fold in the lap and write on while sitting. In short they're designed for the multi-tasker. I heard from an ob-gyn who uses them as she's sitting in the doctors' lounge waiting for babies to arrive.

And one more thing--I also include a prayer at the end. I heard from an eighty-something man who told me how much those prayers meant. All his life he had struggled with prayer, and that guidance helped him respond to God. I'm glad that a series directed to women didn't scare him off!

In Jonah with Kona, what do you hope participants will take away and apply to their own lives?

We tend to like our own causes best; we like our own country best; we like our denomination best; we like our own families best; we prefer the schools we attended, the neighborhoods where we grew up, our own political party or cause, our gender--even our brand of peanut butter. And somewhere along the way we cross the line from preference to prejudice. We pray for our loved ones but rarely, if ever, our enemies. Mention atheists, opposing politicians, humanists, materialists, homosexuals, and radical feminists in most churches today, and the response you'll evoke will sound nothing like, "Let's pray right now for God to pour out his love."

Genesis tells us that humans are fellow creations of one maker. The qualities of God that so angered Jonah are the very qualities we most need: grace, compassion, patience, mercy, abundant love, and truth. And not just for those we love--but for those we hate. For those who have wronged us. For those who want us dead. For those with whom we strongly disagree. The only possible way we can demonstrate such remarkable goodness is through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The focus of Frappé with Philippians is the life of Paul and the early church. What kind of historical research did you do and did you learn any surprising facts as you compiled your information?

I think it's enormously important to understand the world in which Paul was writing. Let's take the view of women, for example. The Jews were the most conservative. The Greeks were better, though greatly influenced by Aristotle's low view of women. And the Roman women had the most freedom--even owning property and supervising gymnasiums. Knowing a city's predominant citizenship helps us understand Paul's letters on such issues.

My PhD work relates a lot to the Greek pantheon and Greek and Roman history. The historical backgrounds for the Bible books are essential, and fortunately they interest me.

I also love getting a sense of the geography, if I can. I had the advantage this summer of taking a clipper to follow the journeys of Paul. Some of our stops included Corinth, Troas, Neapolis, Philippi, and Athens.

One sentence out of the mouth of a guide in Corinth really stuck with me, as she provided a key to understanding the cities we visited. She mentioned that while American visitors seem generally uninterested in talk of gods and goddesses, knowing which member of the Greek pantheon a city worshiped is essential to understanding that city's mentality. The more I thought about this, the more sense it made:

ATHENS. Athena was the goddess of wisdom, so citizens of Athens wanted their city to reflect culture, religion, and philosophy. And sure enough, in Acts 17 we find Stoic and Epicurean philosophers hanging out at the Areopagus (Mars Hill). Paul affirms them for being religious, and rather than dissing their many false gods, he zeroes in on their altar to the unknown God and tells them about this Almighty one who was not made with hands--One who is never far from any of us.

CORINTH. Corinth was the home of Aphrodite, goddess of love (and not the agape version). Behind the city ruins stands a towering hill at the top of which sat Aphrodite's temple. One could not walk down the street without being conscious of its prominence. Might that explain why the Corinthians had so many issues with sexual immorality, and why Paul tells them that it's good for a man not to touch a woman (1 Cor. 7:1)? For the sake of the kingdom, he encourages them to consider embracing sexual abstinence rather than marrying. How fitting that in a city that prides itself on being a center of love, Paul pens the beautiful definition of true love--known to us as the love chapter (1 Cor. 13).

EPHESUS. Ephesus was home to the virgin Artemis who loved her virgin status and was immune to Aphrodite's love arrows. Among other things, Artemis was the goddess of the hunt. If you take a close look at the Artemis statues from the first and second centuries, you find her legs covered with numerous animals and flanked by a couple of deer. Now, usually we think of women as gatherers and men as hunters. And the fact that Artemis was a hunter suggests she had a less-than-feminine persona. In Ephesus we find stone work with the Amazon story (these women were way independent!), and guides tell visitors that the city was founded by an Amazon queen. The Book of Ephesians was probably intended for more than one city (like Laodicea), so we don't find much that points to a specific city's mentality in that book. But we do find 1 Timothy directed to Paul's protégé in Ephesus, and in it we find an emphasis on widows, women teaching false doctrines, and the need to marry and have children.

When reading the New Testament, I think it's important to find out something of its geography and certainly what member of the Greek pantheon each book's readers were up against. How its authors approached the cities' demons can provide insight for us into engaging a culture that's in love with worldly wisdom, immorality, and a low view of family.

Special thanks to Kathy Carlton Willis Communications for a review copy of this book!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Your Intercultural Marriage Blog Tour

(Dallas, TX)─The number of intercultural relationships and marriages between people from different countries, faiths, races, and ethnicities has skyrocketed over the past several decades. But these couples face unique challenges and relational complications due to varying worldviews, values, attitudes, customs, language barriers, and more. These cultural differences can wreak havoc on a relationship unless couples learn how to work through them in a healthy way.

Some of the problems these couples face include communication challenges, religious and political conflicts, value differences, varying gender expectations, different views on child rearing, economic adjustments and legal complications.

After falling in love and deciding to marry a man from Romania, Marla Alupoaicei (pronounced ah-loo-PWI-chay) searched for effective resources on the topic of intercultural relationships and marriage, but couldn't find any. After performing extensive research and interviewing hundreds of multi-cultural couples, Alupoaicei wrote the definitive guide to intercultural marriage:
Your InterculturalMarriage: A Guide to a Healthy, Happy Relationship (Moody Publishers, September 2009). Marla and her husband, Catalin, have been married for seven years. Marla serves as the Director of Leap of Faith, an intercultural marriage support organization in Frisco, Texas.

About the Author: Marla Alupoaicei


Author and speaker Marla Alupoaicei serves as the Director for Leap of Faith Ministries, an intercultural marriage support ministry in Frisco, Texas. Marla has authored or co-authored over twenty books and Bible study guides, including Taking the Intercultural Leap, Generation Hex: Understanding the Subtle Dangers of Wicca, and In the Flow: Spiritual Insights for Living a More Creative Life, as well as numerous nonfiction articles and poems. Marla has fifteen-plus years of ministry, teaching, and speaking experience with a variety of organizations. Currently she works as a staff writer for East-West Ministries, a grace-based church planting organization in Addison, Texas.
Marla and her husband, Catalin, whom she met while on a missions trip to Romania in 1998, have been married for 7 years and currently reside in Texas.

Learn more about Marla at

Your Intercultural Marriage
By Marla Alupoaicei
Moody Publishers
ISBN - 0802418546
256 Pages
PUB DATE: July 2009

Special thanks to Tina at Blog Tour Spot for a review copy of this book.

Fun Fall Fiction Leaving Carolina by Tamera Leigh

Welcome to the Fun Fall Fiction blog tour. Today I'll be talking about Tamara Leigh's latest, the first book in a new series, Leaving Carolina.


Piper Wick left her hometown of Pickwick, North Carolina, twelve years ago, shook the dust off her feet, ditched her drawl and her family name, and made a new life for herself as a high-powered public relations consultant in LA. She’s even “engaged to be engaged” to the picture-perfect U.S. Congressman Grant Spangler.

Now all of Piper’s hard-won happiness is threatened by a reclusive uncle’s bout of conscience. In the wake of a health scare, Uncle Obadiah Pickwick has decided to change his will, leaving money to make amends for four generations’ worth of family misdeeds. But that will reveal all the Pickwicks’ secrets, including Piper’s.

Though Piper arrives in Pickwick primed for battle, she is unprepared for Uncle Obe’s rugged, blue-eyed gardener. So just who is Axel Smith? Why does he think making amends is more than just making restitution? And why, oh why, can’t she stay on task? With the Lord’s help, Piper is about to discover that although good PR might smooth things over, only the truth will set her free.

Pattie's Review:

I wasn't too sure about this book at first, mainly because I felt like it bordered on the clichéd plot of "Southern Girl leaves town in a huff and comes home again years later to prove everyone was wrong about her." However, by the time I was halfway through, I was hooked on finding out what exactly was going to happen with Piper. But Piper surprised me. And I like being surprised by literary gals. That girl wormed her way into my heart and I could not rest until all was well in her world.

I really did enjoy this book, in the end. It has just a hint of Tamara Leigh's signature snark and lots of her signature chick lit voice, and this time it comes with a bit of a Southern accent.

I am delighted that Leaving Carolina is the first book in Leigh's newest series aptly titled Southern Discomfort.

Thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah for a review copy of this novel.

Monday, November 02, 2009

CFBA Presents A Slow Burn

I reviewed this book last month, and you can read that review here. Thank you for visiting my blog today! I hope you're blessed.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

A Slow Burn

Zondervan (October 1, 2009)


Mary DeMuth


Mary E. DeMuth is an expert in Pioneer Parenting. She enables Christian parents to navigate our changing culture when their families left no good faith examples to follow.

Her parenting books include Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture (Harvest House, 2007), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), and Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005).

Mary also inspires people to face their trials through her real-to-life novels, Watching The Tree Limbs
(nominated for a Christy Award) and Wishing On Dandelions (NavPress, 2006).

Mary has spoken at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, the ACFW Conference, the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, and at various churches and church planting ministries. She's also taught in Germany, Austria, Monaco, Italy, France, and the United States. Mary and her husband, Patrick, reside in Texas with their three children. They recently returned from breaking new spiritual ground in Southern France, and planting a church.


She touched Daisy’s shoulder. So cold. So hard. So unlike Daisy.

Yet so much like herself it made Emory shudder.

Burying her grief, Emory Chance is determined to find her daughter Daisy’s murderer—a man she saw in a flicker of a vision. But when the investigation hits every dead end, her despair escalates. As questions surrounding Daisy’s death continue to mount, Emory’s safety is shattered by the pursuit of a stranger, and she can’t shake the sickening fear that her own choices contributed to Daisy’s disappearance. Will she ever experience the peace her heart longs for?

The second book in the Defiance, Texas Trilogy, this suspenseful novel is about courageous love, the burden of regret, and bonds that never break. It is about the beauty and the pain of telling the truth. Most of all, it is about the power of forgiveness and what remains when shame no longer holds us captive.

Watch the video:

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Slow Burn, go HERE