Live Like a King

Archive for July 2009

Well today my plan was to just highlight some of the other talented blog tour participants. My writing is not nearly as good and interesting as some of my fellow posters. That is until I read Becky Miller’s Day 2 post. Becky discussed how the protagonists’ faith is really a block to getting the things they want…a successful career in science, prestige, and honor instead of being the crutch that critics of Christianity try to make it out to be. She also reminds us that non-Christians, of course, do not run into this problem.

I’ve often thought that non-Christians must have a boring inner life. I know that’s not true, but I do know the wars that occur in my mind. God is always working on something in me and I’ve often had a difficult struggle. Maybe that’s something that only happens here in NJ. 🙂

There are times I want to tell off someone who is treating me wrong or want to act as nasty as they are acting towards me. But God is telling me to “Love your enemies, pray for those who spitefully use you.”

There are times I want to give in the the fear and despair of my circumstances but God says to fear not, do not worry, seek first His kingdom. Totally opposite of what my flesh and the world and the devil are telling me to do.

No, I haven’t been faced with a career killing choice of following God like Lacey and  Cam have. But I have been faced with the same choice Joshua and the Israelites faced.

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.” Deut. 30:19-20

…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Josh. 25:15

And now back to my regularly scheduled blog post…

Today I want to highlight a few of the great blog posts on the tour for The Enclave by Karen Hancock.

Beth Goddard has a nice chatty review. I wish mine were as easy to write as she makes it look!

Elizabeth Williams has a detailed analysis of the book with both pros and cons. I think some of her criticisms have merit.

Karen Hancock has answers to some publicity questions, plus links to other excellent posts and an interview.

I’d like to highlight these other blogs out of the list because I think their posts are noteworthy:

Keanan Brand

Canadianladybug

Todd Michael Greene

Fred Warren

Krystine Kercher ***spoiler warning***

Rebecca Luella Miller

Steve Rice

Stephanie

Rachel Starr Thomson

The entire CSFF Blog Tour crew:

Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Canadianladybug
Melissa Carswell
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
Emmalyn Edwards
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Beth Goddard
Todd Michael Greene
Heather R. Hunt
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Mike Lynch
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika
Eve Nielsen
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Stephanie
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Elizabeth Williams

I want to mention some other things in particular about The Enclave in this post.

The first line, “Cameron Reinhardt is an idiot!” and the rest of the first chapter are the perfect hook. The action in this book does not take pages to find. It starts right at the beginning and keeps on going. There’s never a dull moment or a scene that you kind of skip because it’s boring. I’ve never wanted to skim Karen’s books because each and every word is necessary to get what is going on.

Secondly, I just had gotten used to the setting in the first two chapters, then suddenly I’m thrown into another world. It was jarring, to be mentally sent to New Eden, the new “ark” of mankind after being in the present for so long.  If the first chapter was the perfect hook that caught me, this one was the tug on the line that embedded the hook for good. Karen does an amazing job of only giving you a tiny bit of information at a time. I was almost frustrated I did not know the whole story, so I kept reading and reading and reading. It’s a good two thirds of the book before we get enough information to really figure out what is going on.

Unlike Jennifer Bogart, another blog participant, I felt the ending was believable except for one point I’ll discuss in a minute. Karen laid out the signs pointing to the ending all along…the little black cubes that could change your thought patterns and influence your actions and Cam’s flashbacks.

****spoiler warning****

I had no problem with the Nephillim, how they were revived, or the destruction they wrought on the Institute. I guess I’ve listened to enough Chuck Missler that those things don’t seem so far out to me. In fact, I’ll go one step farther and believe that in reality, I think Nephillim, fallen angels and demons (which are not necessarily all the same) are fed by negative emotions and even blood. If you think about it, almost all the alien abduction stories contain sights and sounds that are terrifying to people. Demons are constantly trying to influence us to meditate on the dark side of things. And many of the religions of the world involved some sort of human sacrifice.

My main issue was with the wrap-up, the fact that Cam and Lacey left without trying to call the police and having Geri and others who knew arrested. I can’t imagine going through all that and seeing all those dead people and not calling the police. Not only should justice be served on those masterminds still alive, but Geri and the rest of the remaining crew could come after them later on. To me, that felt like the publisher wanted the author to finish the book under a certain word limit and cut out a few things or that Karen got tired of writing.

I noticed that at the end of The Return of the Guardian-King, there was a very short wrap-up, much shorter than I wanted anyway, maybe that is Karen’s style.Some authors give you a whole chapter or two wrap up, which allows me to put the characters to rest and not worry about or wonder what ever happened to them. Yes, it just may be a little kooky to puzzle over, but that’s me. 🙂

You can check out Karen Hancock’s blog. I’m sure you will be blessed as blessed by her musings as I have been. Some of her posts have helped me get through the really dark times over the past year.

Check out the other Blog Tour participants:
Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Canadianladybug
Melissa Carswell
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
Emmalyn Edwards
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Beth Goddard
Todd Michael Greene
Heather R. Hunt
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Mike Lynch
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika
Eve Nielsen
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Stephanie
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Elizabeth Williams



The first Karen Hancock book I read was Arena. Immediately I looked for others and thank the Lord I found the Guardian-King series. I was able to read the first two right away, but had to wait as each of the others were published. In the meantime, I followed Karen’s blog while I waited, and have been blessed by her spiritual insights as well as enjoying her novels.

When I opened the package from Bethany House and saw The Enclave nestled inside, I let out a squeal and did a little happy dance. Really. Since I opened it right after the mail came during one of my children’s birthday parties, I got a few puzzled looks, but I knew my mom would understand. I told her, “This is my favorite author’s newest release! I can’t wait to read it.” My husband rolled his eyes and said, “Great, now she’ll ignore me for hours.” At first I was insulted, but then I laughed because it is true. I would ignore the world around me (sort of) and read it.

One of the things I like most about Karen Hancock’s writing is that it is rich. It’s not fluff. Her description is thorough but it’s not like reading Anne of Green Gables with it’s pages of description of a meadow. Dialogue is natural. Some novels I read, I feel like the dialogue is a little hokey and forced. Another facet of the richness of Karen Hancock’s novels is that I always come away with some sort of spiritual lesson, something that drives me closer to the Lord or a motivation to look deeper into my faith. That’s not so with most novels I read (and I try to read a lot).

Another thing I’ve noticed about Karen’s books, and this one in particular is that she never does an information dump. You’re more than halfway into the book before you really start to figure out what is going on. That’s good because it kept me wondering and reading.

So on to a summary:

The Enclave is about Lacey McHenry, a scientist who recently comes on board at the quasi-Biosphere Kendall-Jakes Longevity Institute. Within days, Lacey finds herself in the middle of a cover-up and the target of Director Swain’s unknown plans.  Cameron Reinhardt, a Christian scientist there at the Institute is mocked for his faith and while Lacey is sympathetic to him, having had a strong faith at one time herself, she doesn’t stand up for him or what he believes. Both protagonists are trying to escape a messy past, hoping to start anew at the Institute. But of course, that would be boring if they were able to start anew! Their pasts come back to haunt them in unexpected ways.

If you post a comment to my blog posts during this tour, I have a copy of The Enclave to give away. I’ll put everyone’s names in a bowl and let one of my kids draw the winner. 🙂

More to come tomorrow…

Other participants:
Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Canadianladybug
Melissa Carswell
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
Emmalyn Edwards
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Beth Goddard
Todd Michael Greene
Heather R. Hunt
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Julie
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Mike Lynch
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika
Eve Nielsen
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Stephanie
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Elizabeth Williams

Well I’ve made a couple more batches of bread dough since I last posted about it. One problem I’ve often had, even years ago when I first started making bread was that I’d forget to put the salt in. And that makes bread that tastes NASTY. It’s dull, lacking any type of flavor. As Alton Brown said in one of his shows, “Salt just makes everything taste better.” That is definitely true about bread.

I was especially disappointed that my cinnamon carmel pull-aparts didn’t come out. I must have forgotten to put in the salt because although the caramel topping was tasty, the bread part was so plain it made the whole thing taste awful. I had talked it up so much at church that I was bringing these wonderful confections to the VBS brunch and here I was, too embarrassed to bring them.

I love how The Message puts it, “First pride, then the crash–the bigger the ego, the harder the fall.” (Prov. 16:18) LOL Thank the Lord my ego about breadmaking and baking isn’t huge or I would have been devastated. And my pull-aparts were not even missed.

At Ladies’ Bible Study on Monday night, we started what will be a long and thorough study of the Sermon on the Mount. Lori reminded me of my breadmaking disasters and Matthew 5:13 ““You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”

Again, The Message says it so well, bringing out the point into broad daylight, ““Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage” Reading that is definitely an “ouch” moment for me!

I decided to google how salt loses it’s saltiness. I found that the only way salt can lose it’s flavor is through dilution. Salt, NcCL is a chemical bond that is very stable, so it can’t just lose it’s flavor unless it becomes something else entirely.

In Jesus’ time and even in the Middle East today, salt is usually made from sea water that is evaporated off, leaving the salt and all the minerals behind. This salt can lose it’s saltiness, but again, only by dilution. If there are way more “impurities” than NaCL, then the rock “salt” will not be salty. Apparently, they would use this type of stuff on roads and paths like we use gravel.

It is so easy as a Christian for my righteousness and the Gospel message to get diluted in my life. There’s so many things on my plate right now that oftentimes Bible study and prayer get pushed aside. I’m definitely more like Martha. My testimony can get watered down when I talk too much about my problems instead of the God who is big enough to solve it. (Ouch, ouch, OUCH!). My spiritual discernment can get watered down when I allow myself to watch and listen to things that contain questionable things.

So the solution is to immerse myself in Him and His Word, so that I too can flavor the world, drawing people to Him.

(Just for the record, I am not thrilled with my ending, but since my kids are all of sudden pulling at my attention, my mind cannot come up with a good close for this. So sorry!).


After a long hiatus from breadmaking due to our fire, today I was finally able to make 6 loaves today using freshly milled flour. Let me tell you, it was very appropriate that today is Savor the Comic, Unplug the Drama (SCUD) Day according to Holidays.net.

I decided to try a recipe I used before from The Urban Homemaker but I think I put too much flour in and I think I tried to mix too many loaves at once. The dough would spin around the mixer, rise too high, and fling out of the bowl, wrapping itself around the mixer arm or landing on the counter. What should have been a 8 minute kneading cycle turned into a 20 minute ordeal as I tried to keep it from flinging out by constantly smashing it down with a spatula. I did add more water and that helped a bit, but my bread was not light and fluffy like it should have been.

You see, dough needs to be pliable, not too much flour, not too much water. And whole grain dough can be tricky because it can seem like you don’t have enough flour, so you add more water, then suddenly the grains soak up the water and you have  a very stiff dough.

So why I am writing about this? I’m sure that this is not the most riveting topic you can imagine.

Well I started thinking about my life lately…all the drama. Will I lose my house? Is my attorney really working for me? How am I going to pay the bills? Why am I not getting a job? What are we going to do for school next year?

So much drama and uncertainty in my life right now.

But I’ve been a stiff piece of dough in God’s mixer. No He’s not making me into bread, instead He’s molding me into something better,  the image of Jesus. And I’ve been stubborn, complaining, and flinging my emotions and anger everywhere instead of allowing myself to become pliable in His hands.

Some of my stubborn ways are exactly what landed me into this mess, but most of it is just the circumstanes of life kneading my character so that I become the person the God designed me to be.

Just like stiff dough needs extra water, I need extra doses of the Holy Spirit to soften me. That means seeking Him, praying more, reading the Word more, and meditating on things above, not on earthly things.

My bread turned out ok. It wasn’t light and fluffy like I wanted it to be but it tastes good. I want to turn out more than OK. I want this process that God is putting me through to make me everything He has envisioned. A lump of flour, water, honey and yeast cannot make the decision to be more pliable. It is whatever I put into it.

But me, I am capable of choosing to relax and allow myself to be molded. I can let go of my fears and surrender to my God, the Master Potter who knows the end from the beginning. Yes it hurts, but the end is worth it!