Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A dedication to my friends

Not in a sentimental or mushy way, but I dedicate
this song to my friends. You know who you are.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Traditions and such - what's yours?

After having gone over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house on Christmas, I have some questions and comments.

My mother, her brother and sister were a bit peeved that Grandmother didn't pull out their stockings like she has every year of their life this year. We also got to discussing what is tradition to put in a stocking.

For the last, I don't know, 10 years, maybe... My dad has put a scratch-off ticket in the stockings. Everyone gets one. I NEVER win ANYTHING. This year, my mom made sure she put a Hershey bar (because her dad always did that) and a pair of socks (because my grandmother on the other side of the family always gave us socks).

My aunt always put toothbrushes in my cousins' stockings and still does, actually. Of course, she was walking around with a very mini toothbrush after lunch while talking to people. We all looked at her funny and asked what she was doing.

What was/is always in your stocking?

My 27 year old cousin told me that the two of us had to sit at the kids' table at which I refused and sat elsewhere. On that side of my family, the grandchildren came in two sets of four. I was 16 when the younger set started and 24 when the youngest came along. No offense to them, but they weren't going to talk if I sat there, only seeing them once a year, needless to say, we aren't close. I did get accused of being anti-social. I admitted it. I'm 35 and anti-social.

Do you still have to sit at the kids' table? 
How old are you?

When grandmother wanted to tell stories about Christmases past, we all groaned out a "NOO!!!", but my 19 year old cousin played along and replied "remember the year I fell out of the high chair?" All of the cousins that were at the kids' table laughed because we were there and annually mentioned it for the longest time. 

Any mishaps you have to bring up every year?

Friday, December 23, 2011

My excuse of the day

Everytime I go to post pictures of Christmas decorations, etc., I run into some reason why I can't. I don't have the pictures on the computer yet. The pictures are on the other computer.

Well, today, I booted up my home computer, but it wouldn't boot. I did some scan as recommended the other day, and it would not boot. I tried Safe Mode. I tried last successful mode. I tried normal mode. I finally had to do a system restore. Usually I thought it could be restored to a certain point. The only way I could get the computer on is to do a "from the beginning.". That wiped out all my files. I didn't have any of my 2011 pictures backed-up. I do have through August on Shutterfly, and can get a Archive DVD from them for a price.

However, I didn't have my Maroon 5/Train concert, trip to Branson, my Ranger playoff game, or any Christmas pictures thus far saved.

I was able to get 3 pictures from the Ranger game off my blog. One good picture of the Oak Ridge Boys (and I had a number of good ones). That's about it. Earlier this week, I had saved everything to my computer and deleted all the pictures that had been on there for months off the chip.

All the concert pictures were blurry. The rest of the Ranger game pictures looked like most any other game. And most of the Branson pictures weren't of any importance and my mom still has some pictures saved or I've taken the pictures before.

So, in order to post any pictures of my trees and such, I have to take more pictures.

I think most of the files I am missing I can get from somewhere. I'm hoping iTunes syncs back to my iPod ok. Cross your fingers. I've messed with fixing my computer most of the afternoon instead of anything else I needed to do. What a pain!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

One's definition of urgent

I was going to do a post about all things Christmas and post pictures of my trees and stuff, but I'm on my work computer and deleted my photos off of my chip once I saved them to my home computer the other day. My work computer is up because I was tending to "urgent" requests earlier in the day.

Just a commentary on how people can be too connected, I guess people in general are not able to have days off. Because of one interview in particular - well, it would have been up like this regardless - my away message gives my cell number for if something is urgent. The one interview with Fox News coming up tomorrow would fall under urgent, but some of the calls I got would not fall under that category really. Procrastination, perhaps. Urgent, not so much...

Not necessarily related to phone calls, but many of the people I work with were either on the laptop at the airport trying to get back home for the holidays. Others were trying to feel a taping schedule for next week for programs that wouldn't air until mid-January. How much can be taken care of even though every one's schedules are sketchy this week and next?

The sad part of being so technologically savvy is that few people can - or more realistically chose - to have a day off. The only way to do that is if all smart phone reception and all Internet went down. Ironically, I was trying to reach someone about something today and the power was down so they couldn't get calls and emails.

Maybe I'm just waxing reminiscent about how Christmas just isn't want it was when I was younger. I can't remember if I told you, my faithful readers, about the other day when I got a card in the mail from the youth group. One Sunday, the youth minister announced that the older members (over 65) that did not get fruit may have gotten a card instead because they didn't know every one's birth year. A couple of days letter I got a card. I later found out it was sent to the single people who evidently needed encouragement - another rant I could go on altogether. The fact that I can't remember if I told this story proves my age is catching up with me.

Back to my train of thought again... Why can't we all for a few days, just disconnect, not work and enjoy the holiday season. Or heck, I could have just enjoyed a nap today after I took some cold medicine. Hold that thought... I meant to take cold pills when I came home a few minutes ago. Another sign of my old age - forgetting again.

OK. Cold medicine taken. Guess I have to stay up until mid-night to take my night time dose since I just took the day medicine. I don't know why I didn't take the night now. Oh, well!

Anyway... God bless the fireman who have to work on Christmas Day to aid the people who decided to try to be Santa Claus and forgot there was a fire in the chimney when they went down it or caught their shed on fire with the fried turkey. Thank goodness for the police offers to aid travelers on the road.

But seriously, if you procrastinated on your shopping, does the poor college student working minimum wage at the mall really have to work until whatever time on Christmas Eve because you forgot to get something for your mom? (Been there, done that when I had to close on Christmas Eve and drive an hour and a half home.) Does anyone really need to buy anything on sale at 6 AM the next morning? Can't we just sleep late?

Why can't we all just take the few days given to us to enjoy family (or the couch and a good book) and disconnect? As serious as I take my job, my away message can suffice for the person who decided they wanted to do a book giveaway on their blog next week since no one is at the office to mail out a book until Tuesday anyway.

So, after you finish reading this non-earth shattering blog post, I challenge you to turn off your computer. If you are reading it on your phone, go plug your phone in to recharge and ignore it for a while. I promise you, no one is posting anything earth shattering on Facebook. You don't have to turn on the TV, all that is on are bad Lifetime or Hallmark Christmas movies, but I'll probably go sleep through one anyway. I'm going to get a book I've been trying to read for weeks, but haven't allowed myself the time to read. I might get through a couple of pages before the non-drowsy formula makes me sleepy.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A sure sign of Christmas

Growing up, a sure sign of Christmas was I would get a cold or sinus infection or something a week before Christmas. So many of the holiday traditions of my youth have gone away. Unfortunately, this one remains.

I've been gifted with the Christmas cold.


I blame this on the fact that I practically waded through ice water barefoot last week. Peyton's school Christmas program was Thursday night, and it was raining. And raining. And raining.

By the time I got to the school, I had to park in front, walk through the cold rain to the back, and it was inches of water in some places. Without rain boots, you might as well be barefoot. I had to take my shoes off and put my feet in my coat to dry them off and keep them warm when I got in.

Afterwards, it was back through the standing rain in the parking lot, then in and out at Applebee's. When I got home, I have no sidewalk, so I had to trudge through more rain to get to my back door. Not only did I have to shed my shoes at the door, the bottom of my pants legs were soaked.

So therefore, I'm blaming my sore throat, sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, and congestion on my outing to the Christmas program because I was attempting to be a good aunt.

Peyton needs to come take care of me now.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Do you think it's edible?

Back this spring, I told the tale of the minuscule pineapple plant that arrived in the mail and how I doubted I would ever have pineapple. (Or at least I think I did.) That plant is doing quite well, amazingly, though I don't plan to be able to harvest fruit from it anytime soon, if ever. (Below I included a picture of it the day I got it. I'll have to get a picture of it now.)

After that, I bought a pineapple plant from Home Depot. It has thrived over the past several months, but the pineapple itself hasn't really grown. It's had monstrous foliage from the top, so I figured, OK, it's just ornamental and I've got a cool, funky plant.

I walk by it daily on my back porch, and pay little attention to it. Tonight, when I got home from the grocery store, I notice that the pineapple had fallen over from being top heavy. Seriously. I went ahead and took it off the plant, but I'm not sure if I removed it properly so that another one can grow in its place. I guess I need to Google that in a minute.

Regardless, the pineapple turned from green to somewhat golden, and smells wonderfully ripe. The girls are supposed to hang out with me after church tomorrow, and I plan to cut it to see if it's edible.

What do you think?

My hand is in the picture so that you can see how small the fruit is, but how many fronds spike from it. Obviously, it's too small to use my corer on. between the core and the outside, maybe, we can get a bite out of it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Do you care about what others think of you?

Thanks to everyone who took part in today's tour!

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

New Growth Press (October 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings – The B and B Media Group – for sending me a review copy.***


Edward T. Welch, M.Div., Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). He has counseled for over twenty-five years and is the best-selling author of many books, including When People Are Big and God Is Small; Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave; Blame It on the Brain?; Depression: A Stubborn Darkness; Crossroads: A Step-by-Step Guide Away from Addiction; Running Scared: Fear, Worry and the God of Rest; and When I Am Afraid: A Step-by-Step Guide Away from Fear and Anxiety. He and his wife Sheri have two daughters, two sons-in-law and four grandchildren.

Visit the author's website.


In his latest release, author Edward T. Welch offers a way

of escape for young adults held captive by the opinions of others
In an increasingly unstable culture, being obsessed with what others think is an escalating struggle among teens and young adults, leading to more serious consequences than ever before. Although everyone—whether they’re sixteen or sixty—works hard to win someone’s approval or ward off someone’s rejection, these issues plague teenagers and young adults with particular intensity. And how teens and young adults answer the big questions of their lives now will affect the direction of their adult lives for better or worse. In his new book, What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care?: Answers to the Big Questions of Life (New Growth Press, October 2011), Edward T. Welch extends hope to those weary of hiding behind a mask of performance in order to gain love and acceptance.

Peer pressure, codependency, shame, low self-esteem—these are just some of the words used to identify how young people can be controlled by the perceived opinions of others. Stand out in the right way to the right people, and you’re on top of the world. But experience failure in front of those same people and prepare for a sinking sensation in your stomach and a night of tossing and turning.

Why do you care? Why do we all care? These are questions that can’t be answered without listening to God, the One who made us and knows us better than we know ourselves. In What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care? Welch takes the big questions of life and shows that freedom from what people think of us comes as we learn who God is and who we are in relationship to Him. Only then will we be able to let go of our masks, stop trying to fill our leaky love cups and begin to live for something bigger than ourselves.

An interactive book, What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care? includes questions throughout the text for individual or group study and is especially aimed at teenagers and young adults.

“I want to draw people to the path of becoming truly human, where you are controlled by God more than other people and where you love others more than you need them to love you,” says Welch. “The result? Genuine loving relationships and the ability to make a lasting impact on the world around us. It’s a hard process, but it’s wonderful and the results are worth it.”

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: New Growth Press (October 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935273868
ISBN-13: 978-1935273868


Somebody is Watching

“Lord, please let me be normal.”

Okay, maybe you never actually prayed that, but you do want it. You want to fit in. Who doesn’t? Imagine you are invited to a formal dinner, but you didn’t read the entire invitation and you go in shorts and flip-flops. (Yes, it wasn’t pretty. I was also wearing a Killer Dana T-shirt—it’s the name of a surf shop, but the other dinner guests thought I was going gangsta.)

We all have these stories. We spend a lot of time concerned about fitting in, which means that we spend a lot of time thinking about our hair, our body, our intelligence, and our clothes so we can be part of the larger group. None of us want to be stared at if it means that the people looking at us don’t like what they see. When they look at us that way we want to run and hide.

Oh, and there is another prayer too. “Lord, please don’t let me be normal.” “If I can’t fit in, then I’ll be a vampire,” and she did just that. She figured that both fitting in and standing out were impossible, so she made a choice. Her parents would have preferred a more traditional route such as starting on the basketball team or high SAT scores. They are hoping it is a phase, which it is—there are not many fifty-year-old vampires. But, unless she discovers something else to run her life, she will always be looking for ways to stand out, and she will be depressed.

We want to stand out from the crowd. We want to be seen, which means that we want people to notice us and be impressed with something. We want them to respect us, to like us, and to love us. Not too many people dream of being average. Take a look at your fantasies, and you will probably find a quest to be noticed.

• Have you ever imagined that you scored the winning basket in the NBA finals?
• Do you enjoy superhero movies because you like to imagine what it would be like to have such powers?
• Do you identify with a celebrity because you would like to live her life, at least for a year or two?
• Have you ever fantasized that you were famous or great?
• Or maybe you have already given up on greatness and will settle for a B+.

It’s complicated, isn’t it? If only we could be less controlled by the opinions of others. Maybe a deserted island could be the answer. That would be a pricey way to avoid the judgments of others, but it might work. Apart from that option, you have a creepy sense that people are watching, judging, evaluating, accepting, or rejecting you. Sometimes the eyes belong to no one in particular. Other times you know exactly who or what group you are trying to please. Either way, you are controlled by other people more than you think, and other people, of course, are controlled by how you see them.

The problem is a common one, but we don’t talk about it too often. As a way to get it out into the open, keep trying to locate this in your own life.

• Do you buy clothes because of what other people will think? Have you ever not gone somewhere because you didn’t have the right clothes or didn’t like the way you looked?
• Do you spend a lot of time in front of the mirror?
• Do you avoid people, either because you are angry with them or because you would be embarrassed if they saw you?
• Do you ever get embarrassed to be seen with your parents?
• Have you ever been embarrassed at the thought of other people knowing that you go to church?
• Have you ever been embarrassed to say you believe in God?
• Have you ever been embarrassed to say you believe in Jesus?
• Do you ever exaggerate to make yourself look better?
• Do you feel like a failure sometimes? Do you hate school because from the moment you walk in you feel like a failure?
• Are you afraid to ask questions in class because you might look stupid?
• Do you wish you were thinner, stronger, taller, shorter, smarter, faster, or better looking?
• Have you ever been jealous of someone thinner, stronger, taller, shorter, smarter, faster, or better looking?
• Have you ever wished you could shrivel up and disappear?

Agreed, these questions are too easy. You might hesitate on one or two of them, but basically the answer is yes across the board, and they are that way for everyone. They all point to how we can be too controlled by the opinions of others. Why do you think everyone struggles with it? Where does it come from?

One of the riskiest things in life is to like someone—really like someone. It all starts innocently. You find yourself attracted to another person. Happens all the time. No big deal. But then the attraction grows, and amid the glow of romantic feelings lurks a monster: what if you like the other person more than the other person likes you? What will he or she think about me? you wonder.

You send some friends out on a reconnaissance mission. Their job is to find out if the other person likes you without that person knowing your intentions. If word comes back yes, you can move toward that person safely. If the answer is no, you lick your wounds, thankful for the heads-up that saved you from total embarrassment. In your every- day life, the potential for rejection is enormous. It’s amazing that so many people actually get out of bed in the morning. Sound familiar?

Success can’t protect you. Steven King, the ridiculously prolific and famous horror writer, was told by Miss Hisler, his school principal, “What I don’t understand, Stevie, is why you write junk like this in the first place.” At the time, he was already writing scary stories that other students were willing to pay to read. “I was ashamed,” he says of the incident. “I have spent a good many years since—too many, I think—being ashamed about what I write.”* You too have probably heard words like Miss Hisler’s, and they are still etched inside your soul. Can you think of some?

Look around a little more and you will see it—it goes by many names: a desire for acceptance, the fear of rejection, painful self- consciousness, or peer pressure. You can see it when you or any of your friends take muscle-enhancing steroids or illegal drugs. You see it in anorexia, bulimia, and depression. You find it in people who are sexually active before or outside of marriage.

• What will they think of me?
• What might they think about me?
• How can I be accepted?
• How can I be loved?

The evidence is everywhere. If you can’t relate to any of this, here is a sure way to find it.

• Do you think you’re especially attractive?
• Are you supercompetitive? Do you hate to lose? (And do you usually win?)
• Would you say you are self-confident?

There it is again: a life that is always judged by others. The only difference is that, at least for the moment, the judges score you highly. Yet it is even more complicated. Deep down those who are super self-confident don’t believe the judges’ high scores. They feel like failures— frauds who are barely fooling other people. Do you think beautiful celebrities struggle with feeling judged and unaccepted by others? Count on it.

Some people seem more self-confident or at least less self-conscious than others. It’s hard to know exactly why, but everyone can easily recall times when they withered under the rejection (or possible rejection) of other people.

I know, I know. You were trying to manage this perfectly common experience by ignoring it, and somebody (me) comes along and makes an issue out of it. But my purpose is not to make you miserable. Stick with it, because this particular problem is actually a window into the mysteries of the universe. It takes you directly to three questions that every human being must answer: Who am I? Who is God? and Who are you? And there is no way I would invite you down this road unless the road was very good.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Shopping is not a team sport

There is a reason why I do my Christmas shopping alone most years. I was reminded of this today. I made the comment to my mother that I needed to go shopping. I'm not certain that I really intended for this to be a mother-daughter bonding activity. After all, she had been on more than one shopping excursion having been off work recently.

Nevertheless, since I had my party on Saturday, she planned that we could go after church on Sunday. Which yeah, I was on board with to an extent, but knew that would mean kissing the sacred nap goodbye.

She decided we could take her car and that she would drive though I didn't mind. I'm almost to the point that I mind either one of my parents driving. They scare me to death - we're going to get run over.

I saw something for my sister-in-law that she talked me out of getting at the Hallmark. Where mind you, we had to go first so that she could get her annual ornament. She says we can probably find something at Belk on sale. Well, Belk had nothing on sell that was a good match. She offered to go back later on, but by that time I was on a firm "no."

I did keep finding things for Paige which I had covered first. I did find a few warm clothes for me that I needed.

We wandered around Target back and forth a few million times. She asked if I found something else I was thinking of for my sister-in-law which I had already told her I saw none of the times we just walked back and forth past a certain section. This meandering around lasted until she could finally see on my face I was done.

What I really wanted was a Starbuck's peppermint mocha frappachino courtesy of a gift card I had in my wallet, but the line was way long once we finished checking out. I was too busy missing my nap to get in line. If I were by myself, I would have gone through the drive-thru at the regular Starbuck's, but did not suggest that.

I don't know what it is, but I always find more by myself than with anyone with me. I go at the pace I want to the stores I want, and without someone trying to talk me out of something.

Other than the $2 orange glitter duck Christmas ornament that I found for Peyton to prove how few orange Christmas decorations there are out there, my shopping excursion proved fruitless on the Christmas front. (My mom did happen on something else I got my dad, but it wasn't a great find.)

I still have to buy for Brian and Julie. And I'm tired and cranky from missing my nap.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Taking a moment to rant about the State of the Union

These days I honestly do wonder what our world is coming to. Or not even so much wonder, but want to bury my head in the sand and just not think about some things like how our country really is "going to hell in a hand basket." I'm not outspokenly political or an activist of any kind, but I've really just about had enough.

One of the big news stories around here is how Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wisconsin is protesting the nativity scene set up on the Henderson County Courthouse square in Athens, Texas. Athens is literally just down the road from here 40-45 miles.

Here's what I want to say to the Freedom From Religion Foundation: "Whatever happened to freedom OF religion. If you don't want a nativity scene in your yard, don't put one in your yard. If you don't want to live in a county that has it on the courthouse lawn, move. Get over it!"

I'm so tired of everyone trying to be politically correct and not wanting to offend anyone. Well, I'm offended!

No, I don't have a nativity scene in my front yard. In fact, growing up in the Church of Christ, we don't officially celebrate Christmas as Jesus' birthday, but that's a whole other topic for another time. I've heard enough "Christmas stories" on the Sunday closest to Christmas that it's kind of funny. I'm not sure where I'm going on this particular part of my rant.

Anyway, I've never owned a nativity scene, but I'm sure not offended by it. The Christmas decoration I'm offended by is the oil derrick that used to be in the middle of one of the intersections that was on the way to/from work and was a traffic hazard because no one knew whether to turn in front of it or behind it. Besides, if I had a nativity scene, I'm pretty sure my neighbors' kids would beat it up and the guy next door would put a beer bottle in the manger, but I'm still getting off the point.

Back on track... It seems like every group of people outside of Christians can complain and get their way, but what, Christians can't? I was working on a pitch for a client last week, and Gallup polls do still show that the large majority of Americans still believe in God.

I sure hope that none of the members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation get anything for Christmas. Not even coal in their stocking because that would be acknowledging a religious holiday. They better not watch a Charlie Brown Christmas special because they are going to get a lesson about Jesus. They better not have taken part in a Black Friday Sale that promotes Christmas.

Personally, I'm not fond of the 24 hour Christmas station that starts playing songs close to November 1, but I can choose to ignore it and change the station. It's not because I want freedom from religion, it's because I want freedom from George Michael singing "Last Christmas I Gave You My Heart, the Very Next Day, You Gave it Away." And that's not because George Michael is gay (and I don't agree with the group that's as random as the Wisconsin group that was praying for his death last week because he is gay). It's because that is an annoying song. I'm pretty sure I downloaded a free Melissa Etheridge Christmas song that iTunes was giving away free last year.

I think we need to go back to the days when the 1st Amendment was about freedom, not about restriction.

I hate the whole Presidential Debate yeh-yeh-yeh. Yes, it would be wonderful if America was a true Christian nation, but let's be realistic here... Let's move toward at least being as tolerant of Christians as every one is ranting that we be tolerant of them. Would it make anyone happier if the City of Athens added an elephant to the scene - it already has a donkey, and we do want to treat everyone equally, right?

Rant over. At least for tonight.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Things to do > Time to do it

Of course, I've realized for a long time that I'll always have more things to do than I have time to do them. This week, it's less about work (or not, but for the sake of this...) than outside of work.

I'd like my house to not be dusty and my floors to be vacuumed before I have friends over Saturday. I have to pick up the dishes my parents washed for me at their house. They are their dishes that I'm using, but had been in the cabinet for at least a year collecting dust. I have my own dishes piled in the sink, clothes piled in the basket sitting in the kitchen. Random decorations on the dining table. Clothes needing to be hung up.

Christmas shipping that needs to be done. Some kind of idea of what to buy some people. Just over 2 weeks to make some decisions. Some people may be getting coal for Christmas.

Oh, and I need to think ahead to the Christmas party I told the kids at church we would have. That's next weekend. I can think about that next week, right?

Which reminds me, sometime I have to work on my Sunday School lesson.


Monday, December 5, 2011

A True Man is Recognized for His Character

Learning to Assess Your Value as a Man
Author Richard Simmons encourages men
to discover their true worth.

What do people think of me as a man? Do I measure up in their eyes as they see the choices I am making? What will happen to me if I fail at what I do? These are the questions with which men struggle. “Men so often define themselves by what they do, who they know or what they own. And when they do so, they unwittingly set themselves up for great confusion and failure in their personal lives, particularly when a major economic storm arises,” says businessman Richard E. Simmons III. In his book The True Measure of a Man: How Perceptions of Success, Achievement & Recognition Fail Men in Difficult Times, Simmons identifies these fears and seeks to help men find their true worth.

Of all the suicides in the United States, 80 percent are committed by men. These statistics point to the fact that, unlike any other culture, America has placed a man’s worth on his performance and possessions. Men feel good about themselves when they are performing in the workplace and achieving new goals. But what happens after a layoff or a foreclosure? Where is their value then? Simmons helps men to realize that they are worth more than an amount on their paycheck. He deals with their innermost fears, namely the fear of not measuring up. He realizes that every man wants to get to the end of his life and believe that his earthly existence made a difference. 

The True Measure of a Man presents new parameters, coupled with a surprising paradox, for assessing the worth of a man. The old measurements simply don’t work when times get tough. Its core message is that it’s more important to build personal qualities that can weather the storms of life than outward achievements which fall short when the bottom drops out. Using a variety of stories, illustrations and quotes, Simmons will provide men with hope, purpose, courage and determination as he encourages them to find their true identity.

Simmons spent 25 successful years with the insurance firm of Hilb, Rogal and Hamilton, where he was CEO for 10 years. While giving back to his community, working with youth as well as advising businessmen and professionals, he discovered that he had a gift for teaching and public speaking. So in December of 2000, he founded the Center for Executive Leadership, a nonprofit, faith-based ministry. And through his years of working with businessmen, he realized that all men struggle with the same feelings of insecurity, isolation, loneliness and fear. 

According to Claude B. Nielsen, the chairman and CEO of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company United, “The True Measure of a Man is a provocative and credible challenge to the conventional wisdom of modern man’s value system. Richard Simmons gives us a clear picture of how we deceive ourselves into a false reliance on our own accomplishments to establish our identity and our worth. And he wisely counsels that we are in treacherous territory! Thankfully, he gives explicit guidance to a liberating and transformational course for a hopeful and fulfilling life. This is an inspirational and uplifting work!”

The True Measure of a Man by Richard E. Simmons III
Evergreen Press/November 2011
ISBN: 978-1-5816-9359-1/160 pages/hardcover/$21.95

Learn more about the Center for Executive Leadership at

For review copy and interview information, contact:
Audra Jennings - 800-927-0517 x104

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I guess it sort of seems like Christmas is coming

Growing up, it was tradition for my dad to say "it just doesn't seem like Christmas," usually on Christmas Eve. The older I get, the less like Christmas it ever seems.

Even yesterday's amazingly pitiful city Christmas parade was more pathetic than usual. There wasn't even a band in the parade. The college was playing football yesterday. I think the Corsicana band was supposed to be in it because I saw a couple of band members in their letter jackets carrying instruments and the drill team in jackets and Santa hats. I guess not enough members showed up. And it started 30 minutes late. It was 70 degrees, so the weather seemed off.

I have Paige's Christmas bought, and portions of a couple of other people, but need to start thinking about that more. Maybe I can go shopping after work one night this week. While I am shopping, what I really want is a peppermint mocha frappachino from Starbucks. They say you can get them anytime of year, but you can only get tiny chocolate curls at Christmas. That's as long as the one I go to has peppermint ad is not out.

I need to clean my house and finish putting some other decorations around for my party next Saturday. I don't know when the last time I had a party was. I am ready to melt down some chocolate and make holiday candy. That's as complicated as I get with holiday candy - melt some chocolate and stick something in it.

I was going to post some pictures of my Christmas trees, but my photos are,kt uploading at the moment. The purple one really is awesome. Next year, Peyton wants me to get orange lights and decorations a least for a small one
Kurt Warner's interior decorator put one in house. I just saw it on HGTV.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Can a Bedtime Story Change a Life?

Marty Machowski’s new offering for families
transforms hearts one story at a time

Sometimes it’s easy to forget Jesus in the midst of frantic schedules, family squabbles and conflicting priorities. For many Christians, God often becomes little more than an afterthought after days absorbed and depleted by the busyness of life. But the truth is that he is the hero of every story—including the mundane, ordinary ones we experience on a regular basis. That is why Marty Machowski beckons families to take time out from the daily grind to be transformed by the message of the Good News in his latest release, The Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments (New Growth Press, November 2011).

Based on the ESV Bible, this uniquely illustrated Bible storybook uses 156 stories to present God’s plan of salvation in Christ from its opening narrative in Genesis to its finale in Revelation. This easy-to-read storybook written for children from preschool to high school introduces readers to many captivating people, places and events from the Bible’s Old and New Testaments. At the same time, Machowski skillfully connects the individual stories to the overall gospel narrative of how God redeemed a broken world through sending his son Jesus to save his people. Each story ends by connecting to Jesus and his gospel of grace. By sharing these Bible stories with each other, young and old will learn together the life-changing habit of recognizing the presence and workings of Christ in every moment of their day.

“The gospel is deep enough to keep the oldest and wisest parents learning and growing all their lives, yet simple enough to change the heart of the first grader who has just begun to read,” says Machowski. “That’s what makes The Gospel Story Bible ideal as a storybook for a preschooler, a devotional for a grade school student, a refresher for the adult believer or an introduction for the new one. Parents and children will learn together to read the whole Bible as one story, with one hero—Jesus Christ.”

Vibrant illustrations by A. E. Macha, child-friendly discussion questions and Scripture references accompany each story to help lead families in exploring the Bible. Parents and teachers will be delighted to discover how easily even a young child can understand the original text of a story that he or she has already come to love. A companion to the family devotional Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God and the soon-to-be-released Gospel Story Sunday school curriculum (February 2012), The Gospel Story Bible is also a great resource for churches, Sunday school classes, home-schoolers and Christian schools who want to teach their children to apply the gospel to every situation and make Jesus the most important part of their everyday lives.

About the Author: Marty Machowski is a Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church, a Sovereign Grace Ministries church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, where he has served on the pastoral staff for twenty-three years. Marty leads Promise Kingdom, the children’s ministry of Covenant Fellowship. He is also the author of Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God and the forthcoming Gospel Story Sunday school curriculumHe and his wife Lois and their six children reside in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

The Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments by Marty Machowski
New Growth Press/November 2011
ISBN 978-1-936768-12-7/328 pages/hardcover/$24.99

For review copy and interview information, contact:
Audra Jennings - 800-927-0517 x104

You can also request an interview by clicking here!

Bloggers may sign up for a copy by filling out the form below.