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Entries from December 2011

Johnny’s 2011 Reading List

This year I attempted to read mostly fiction. I think I needed a break from all the heavy theological/philosophical tomes. Though I still read plenty of that stuff online, in newsletters, and magazines.

So here is what I read in 2011 (In reverse order):

  • The Book of Lost Tales 1 by J.R.R. Tolkien (edited by his son Christopher Tolkien)
    • A must read for any Tolkien fan. I loved seeing the evolution of the mythology, and the commentaries by Christopher Tolkien were an added bonus.
  • Every Which Way but Dead by Kim Harrison
    • This was an audio book downloaded from It’s the 3rd in the series, but so far my least favorite. Too much romance and not enough vampire ripping out hearts action for me. I’ll still give the next book a chance as I have grown to appreciate a few of the characters, and am curious as to how they continue to develop.
  • Thirst by Claire Farrell
    • I got this book for free on for my Kindle. Not bad for a free book. I enjoy vampire stories with day walkers, which this one is.
  • Wizard at Large by Terry Brooks
    • Another audio book. I love Terry Brooks, no relation. I’m working my way through his books. This one is part of the Landover series, and is a great fantasy. It’s light, humorous, and easy to read/listen to.
  • The Friend Request by Alex Ford
    • Another free book from on my Kindle. I hated it. The characters drove me crazy, they simply were not people I could relate to. Plus the whole idea that someone could completely wreck your life just by using Facebook, is just silly. I hope that most of us have enough fortitude to stand up to a bully, or at least know someone that can stand up to him/her for us.
  • Seeing the Unseen by T.W. Hunt
    • Another freebie for my Kindle. Crammed full of religious obligation. Instead of pointing one in the direction of freedom the author seeks to trap you with chain after chain of obligations. If you removed all the scripture quotes and references, the whole book would come to about one chapter. Seems like that's cheating, just filling up your book with the Bible.
  • The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation by Mark Sisson
    • I’m trying to lose some weight and this was my leap in that direction. Great diet. So far I’ve lost almost 25 pounds doing nothing other than changing what I eat. The book is designed to be followed for 21 days with the idea that you will break bad habits. It’s working for me so far.
  • Snake Skin by C.J. Lyons
    • This one was free from for my kindle. I thought it was only a so so thriller. The story follows a F.B.I. agent who hunts down pedophiles. Unfortunately the thrill is quickly lost as I could predict almost every turn.
  • The Walking Dead Volume 10 by Charlie Adlard and Robert Kirkman
    • I love the show, and so have delved into the world of comic books for the first time. Actually I mostly get these for my son, but I have to admit to enjoying them as well. It’s about zombies, so if violence and gore freak you out don’t pick it up.
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
    • Another freebie for my kindle. I can't believe it took me this long to read Frankenstein. Beautiful. Absolutely wonderful. Shelley truly created a masterpiece with this work.
  • The Black Unicorn by Terry Brooks
    • Another Terry Brooks offering from This is also part of the Magic Kingdom of Landover series, and so far one of my favorites. The characters are well defined and have plenty of space to be themselves in this story. A bit more dark and heavy than the others in this series I have read, but not too dark.
  • Stick It to the Man by Greg Lewis
    • Freebie for my kindle. Reads like a blog that has been stitched together to make a book. Each chapter is supposedly a way to get what you want from corporations, governments, life, or whatever. It’s dated and not all that helpful, most of the suggestions just seem like common sense to me.
  • Dark Wraith of Shannara by Terry Brooks
    • In addition to the Magic Kingdom of Landover series by Terry Brooks, I’m reading books from the Shannara universe. In fact I’m reading them in order. This particular one is a graphic novel, and only so so. I guess I’m not a huge fan of the graphic novel format, but I also felt this story was just not necessary. Felt like they contrived it just to make the comic book and earn a few bucks.
  • Pumpkin Jack Skull and Other Tales of Terror by Jacob M. Drake
    • I’m a fan of the horror genre and especially short stories in that genre. Yet this free book for my kindle just didn’t cut it for me. A short story has to accomplish so much in a few words. It’s not easy. These stories focused on gore or shock value, which for me is just not enough.
  • A Little “Bit” by Robert DeCoteau
    • A fun and fresh look at the zombie story. I downloaded this one for free for my kindle and am glad I did so.
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
    • One of my favorite fantasy novels. I re-read it this year for the kids. (I would love the annotated edition if anyone has an extra laying around.)
  • Serial by Blake Crouch and Jack Kilborn
    • Another freebie from I’m glad this was a short story, as I couldn’t what for it to be over with. Pretty much this story is a description of torture. That’s it. No point, no characters, just torture.
  • I Witch: The Powers of the Blood and the Heart by Erin Munday
    • Run! Run! Run away from this free book I downloaded from
  • Allies and Enemies: How the World Depends on Bacteria by Anne E. Maczulak
    • Occasionally I like to read a subject completely out of the norm for me. Bacteria is just one of those topics. This book, which I got for free online, is full of information on bacteria. In fact it is so full that I quickly became overwhelmed. I’m sure biology themed folks would appreciate it, but I might actually know less about bacteria now due to information overload.
  • Fruit Happens! by Michael Christopher
    • I purposed to read more fiction this year and did not want to leave out “Christian” fiction. I wish I would have left it alone. Why? Why did I have to pick up this book. I actually fell asleep reading this. One good thing about it; it’s short.
  • Indomitable by Terry Brooks
    • This is a novella in the Shannara series. It’s an epilogue to the Wishsong of Shannara and a worthy read.
  • Invisible Justice by Kim Jewell
    • Another free one from The first in a series about young folks who develop super powers. Decent story and well developed characters. I wouldn’t mind continuing the series, unfortunately there are many books in front of it.
  • The American Book of the Dead by Henry Baum
    • This freebie for my kindle actually surprised me. That is such a rarity nowadays that I’m still thinking of this book months later.
  • The Walking Dead Volume 9 by Charlie Adlard and Robert Kirkman
    • I mentioned how I enjoyed the television show, and the comic book is decent as well. Who knew that comic books could be so good?
  • Einstein’s Refrigerator by Steve Silverman
    • Bizarre true life stories.
  • Lord Demons Delight by Gia Dawn
    • Apparently I went download crazy on with all the free books for the kindle. This one should not have made the cut, but at least I didn’t pay for it. It’s basically porn without pictures.
  • The Gateway by Glenn G. Thater
    • This book read like a video game, not a very good one either.
  • The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
    • Part of the Percy Jackson series and recommended to my by my son Andrew. Didn’t really like it all that much. It is full of new characters, none of whom I appreciated nor cared much about. Andrew liked it, but says the next is better. I’m not so sure I’ll be continuing this journey.
  • Devil Walk: A True Story by Clint Byars
    • Clint Byars claims to have met the devil, yes Lucifer himself, and gone to hell. He makes repeated claims in this book that what he experienced was not a hallucination nor vision, but reality.  I don’t buy that. I mean obviously something profound happened to the guy, but I think he is stuck on this whole real vs. vision thing, and perhaps can’t see what God really was saying to him. Not to mention the fact that there is no such thing as a literal Hell of eternal torment.
  • Elisha’s Bones by Don Hoesel
    • Another free one for the kindle, plus it’s “Christian.” Thankfully the book never gets preachy, nor does the writer allow his agenda to get in the way of the story. It’s an archeological thriller with a bit of supernatural thrown in. Decent story and worth a read.
  • Memoirs of William T. Sherman, Volume 1 by William T. Sherman
    • He may have been a great general but he was one terrible writer.
  • Origins by Randolph Lalonde
    • I’ve not read many science fiction novels before, so perhaps I just don’t know what to expect. This story was boring. Just when you think it gets going and is all exciting and ready to thrill, the author hits the breaks. I did enjoy the a.i. and the suits the Freeport folks wore. Thankfully it was a free download for my kindle.
  • Light of Eidon by Karen Hancock
    • Another free book for my kindle. Decent fantasy. I went into it a bit skeptical, seeing as to how it is marketed as a "Christian" fantasy, but thankfully the book does not attempt to convert. I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series.
  • Shatter by Elizabeth C. Mock
    • Great book. Was caught up almost from page one. Looking forward to the next installation.
  • The Branding by Micaela Wendell
    • Horrible. Thank god it was a free download.
  • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
    • I waited so long to read this book. Not really sure why, but nonetheless it took me some time to get around to reading it. Now I wish I would have waited longer. I don't know maybe I hyped it too much for myself, but the story just didn't seem to be all that fun or enjoyable. I didn't really like Alice, in fact I would have been perfectly happy for more terrible things to have come her way. Really I couldn't find any character to enjoy. I so wanted to like the Cheshire cat, but alas even he/she was annoying. Perhaps things will improve in the sequel?
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
    • After reading Gulliver's Travels recently I was a bit skeptical coming into another "older" novel. Dracula surprised me. I loved it! Great story. Presenting it using journal entries and newspaper articles was great. (Though I would like for the journals to have skipped larger pieces of time. That away my imagination would have had a better workout.) I'm looking forward to reading more from Bram Stoker, and I might even dare another "older" novel.
  • The Naked Gospel: The Truth You May Never Hear in Church by Andrew Farley
    • Andrew Farley seems like a nice guy, and I really wanted to like his book. Unfortunately I found it to be boring. Nothing exciting, he just rambles on and on and on and on. I had some theological disagreements, but honestly can’t remember them now. So they must have not been that big a deal.
  • A World I Never Made by James LePore
    • A so so thriller set in Europe somewhere.
  • Deadworld by J.N. Duncan
    • Good vampire/detective/ghost novel. Took awhile to get going, but once it did I was with the author all the way to the end.
  • Hope Beyond Hell by Gerard Beauchemin
    • My initial reaction was to give this book two stars(out of five), but after reflecting a bit it really deserves three. I was thinking two mostly because the author went to great links to present the case against eternal damnation utilizing the Bible. However since that was his goal, it seems he did a good job. Personally I'm not all that interested in arguments made that way, but if you are then you should check out this book. Most of my life I feared hell. Sure I was safe, or at least felt myself to be safe, but what about the majority of humanity? What about my family members who did not profess Jesus as lord? I was unable to reconcile the doctrine of eternal damnation with a loving God. This book makes the case against an eternal hell. It makes a good case. In fact I don't see how you can read this book and come away still believing that Jesus failed to save the whole world. Plus the best thing is this is a free book. Just visit this site and download it. I put the pdf on my Kindle and was able to read it comfortably.
  • A Chunk of Hell by Steven Sidor
    • Didn’t like it.
  • The Wishsong of Shannara by Terry Brooks
    • This is my favorite Shannara book so far.
  • Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
    • This book would have been so much better had Gulliver only visited two places. I got rather bored after awhile, especially during his stay with the horses. At least it was free, the book that is.
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Undead by Kim Harrison
    • I got the first book of this series free on my kindle and liked it. This is the second installment and if you like urban fantasy you should check it out.
  • The Jesus Style by Gayle D. Erwin
    • I head Gayle on The God Journey podcast and was impresses. Decided to check out his book and enjoyed it. Inspiring and worth the read.
  • The Remarkable Replacement Army by Stan Firth
    • Ultimately I ended up disagreeing with Stan’s prophecy/analogy, however I loved reading about the Replacement Army. In fact it inspired me to add a few historical books on, if I remember correctly Norway, to my wish list. (I heard about this book on The God Journey podcast.)
  • The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks
    • Another good Shannara novel.
  • Sentinel by John Jackson Miller
    • A short story based in the Star Wars universe.
  • Aftershock by T. Christian Miller and Daniel Zwerdling
    • Tells the stories of five U.S. soldiers injured in the same bomb blast. Opened my mind to the reality that war has longer term consequences for the soldiers fighting than just what happens to them on the front.
  • The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks
    • This was my first foray into the world of Shannara, and while I didn’t love it, it was good enough to convince me to continue on.
  • Reimagining Church: Pursuing the Dream of Organic Christianity by Frank Viola
    • This is meant to be read with Frank’s other books, such as Pagan Christianity. When taken as a whole it’s a good work, even though he does seem a bit arrogant from time to time. Like it’s his way or the highway type of attitude, yet he does make a good point. Church life is meant to be more organic and less institutional.
  • Purgatory by John Jackson Miller
    • A short story set in the Star Wars universe.
  • Savior by John Jackson Miller
    • A short story set in the Star Wars universe.
  • Paragon by John Jackson Miller
    • A short story set in the Star Wars universe.
  • The Force is Middling in this One by Robert Kroese
    • This could be the funniest book I've read since that other funny book I read. Seriously, for a book compiled from blog articles it holds it's own. Not really sure what exactly it's holding, but that just adds to the hilarity. Rarely do I come away from a humor book actually wanting to read more of the author's work, but I'm putting Mercury Falls on my wishlist. Not to mention that any book with a Star Wars theme is automatically awesome.The Force is Middling in this One is lol. :)
  • Jerome and the Seraph by Robina Willams
    • Yawn, another boring download for my kindle.
  • Precipice by John Jackson Miller
    • A short story set in the Star Wars universe.
  • Travellers’ Rest by James Enge
    • A short story from some fantasy series, can’t remember which. I haven’t read any of the other novels in the series, yet this story stood on it own just fine.
  • The Blood that Bonds by Christopher Buecheler
    • An uninspiring vampire novel.
  • Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
    • I’m pretty sure this was the first book I read on my kindle. I downloaded this from the Amazon store because it was free, but this was far from a cheap story. Kim Harrison has created an alternate universe full of witches, vampires, werewolf, and deadly tomatoes. A fun story to read. The characters were developed nicely. The environment was believable, and familiar.
  • The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
    • The creation myth of Tolkien’s Middle Earth. I reread this for the first time in maybe twenty years.
  • Buddhism, the Religion of No-Religion by Alan Watts
    • Great introduction to Buddhism. This book was created from a lecture series, and the transition was made with grace. Actually I would think the lecture would be a great place to learn about Buddhism, this book could be the next best thing to actually have been at the lectures.
  • The Walking Dead Compendium Volume 1 by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard
    • This was my first real delve into the graphic novel. I could be hooked. At least I'm hooked on The Walking Dead. Superb art, great story, and conveniently compiled into one big book. Actually that would be my biggest complaint about this book as well, it's huge. Heavy. Hard to hold.
  • The Misunderstood God by Darrin Hufford
    • I cannot say enough good things about this book. If one allows it to speak to one's heart, what this book is saying, can lead you into magnificent places in your life. It can help you get on the path to knowing the heart of God. For that is what this book is about, the heart of God. Darin has not written a book of theology or doctrine. He has not written us a method or formula for knowing the heart of God. He has simply pulled back the curtain on religion and shown us the man manipulating the levers. I highly recommend this book, and would hope that all my friends would buy a copy and read it.
  • Out of Egypt by Anne Rice
    • This book does an excellent job of humanizing Jesus. He is a real person, and not just a god. He experiences life in a way one would imagine a little boy going through life. Great job. I would recommend this book to all seminary students and those wishing to go into Christian ministry. Because without fully understanding that Jesus was a man, one cannot understand his mission. I was disappointed in the lack of action in the story. Not much actually happens, and what does just doesn't seem all that exciting. Which I get was not really the point, but a story without much excitement is difficult to read. Perhaps it is a better story for not having all the action?  Either way it is well worth the read.
  • Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen: Easy, Delectable Living Foods Recipes by Ani Phyo
    • Food should be cooked. We cannot digest certain enzymes unless they are cooked, so the whole raw food thing just doesn’t work for me. Plus I hate fake food. If you want to change your diet make up new dishes, don’t try to make a raw spaghetti. This cook book is full of beautiful images and easy to follow. I made a smoothie that was pretty nice.
  • The Demigod Files by Rick Riordan
    • This is a companion book for the Percy Jackson series. I got it for Andrew.
  • The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King
    • Fantasy from Stephen King, who knew? Not bad.
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
    • Good story, and especially good for younger readers. 
  • Guinness World Records 2011
    • This was my first time to actually read a Guinness World Records book all the way through. (O.K. I'll admit to skimming the sports records.) I enjoyed it. Sure lots of inane records, like the first redneck games. I liked the featured stories, such as the tallest man and the Dr. Who feature. I also particularly enjoyed the section on comic books, which was written in a comic book style. This is one of the rare books on my shelf being enjoyed by the whole family, including the Kenyans.
  • The Trouble with Islam: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith by Irshad Manji
    • Insightful read. As someone who does not practice the Muslim faith I found this book to be full of great info on the faith. I believe that Irshad in her call to her fellow Muslims for reform, has shown me a more human side to Islam. I appreciate that. Not that I agree with her optimism about reform. In Christianity we have been screaming for reform almost since the beginning, yet we still have just a religion today. No matter how much you change the veneer, it's what is underneath that makes something what it is. I would like to see a call for Muslims to leave religion behind, and to experience Allah for themselves. I have the same desire for Christians. I appreciate Irshad's honesty and can see that God is using her voice. Though God does seem found of choosing voices that people will find hard to believe. Irshad's sexual orientation I am sure makes it difficult for her fellow Muslims to take her seriously, but hopefully a few can see past that issue. Overall a decent book. I am sure a challenge to Muslims but being challenged is a good thing. For non-Muslims such as myself, this book is informative and encouraging.
  • Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt
    • Terrible. I feel sorry for children who have this book read to them, or who have to read it for themselves.

About halfway through this list I realized just how terrible an idea this was for a blog post. Yet I was halfway there and couldn’t stop myself. If you made it thus far, congratulations.

I’m on Shelfari if anyone is interested in connecting there:

Also on Goodreads:

Happy reading!


Our year started off here at A Future and a Hope pretty much like everyone else’s, with January. (I’ll let you in on a little secret, it will end the same as yours as well.)

One of our big accomplishments this year was constructing a nursery school. I say our because we are one big happy family here, but really it was mostly Lonnie and Patty along with Ali who got the job done. Lonnie raised the money and came with the vision of starting kids off on the right foot in the educational system. (Not to mention giving them nutrition and love.) Ali gave us the space and lots of foreman type of help. The school is built and now awaits furnishings and decor.

Who knows, in the future we may open a primary school (elementary) as well. Whatever it takes to give kids a hope in their futures.

We got a visit from a graduate of Youth with a Mission (YWAM.) I know. Who would have thought we were YWAM compatible? I’m sure Josh is not so sure we are, but nonetheless he came. Besides refreshing us with his faith and energy, he brought a Wii to replace ours. Our original one (thanks Matthews) had it’s disc drive go bad. Guess Andrew played a little too much Super Mario Brothers.

The children had a safe loving place to live throughout the year. A major deal for them. They also went to school, and hopefully learned at least one or two things.

We added a new boy to our family. He lost his mother to H.I.V. this year and now stays with Ali, Virginia, and the other boys. It’s been a rough year for him, losing your mom can do that to you.

There’s more, but if my posts become too long I get a lecture from Kate.

I will mention that we are grateful to all of you who donated and continue to donate to our work. Without you we could not even have cared for ourselves, let alone all these children and families in the community. The finances this year were o.k., even with all the craziness going on in the world economy. I’m not saying we were rolling in dough, in fact we can always use more. But only a handful of times, well maybe two or three handfuls, did we actually completely run out of money. You know those times when you have to figure out how to feed everyone, pay the rent, and all of the other demands life makes of you?

Thanks again. Many blessings on the New Year.


2011 has been one of those years. You know where many good things have taken place, but they are sometimes hard to see through the mists of all the bad things that have gone down.

I'm looking forward to 2012. Not ,that I think nothing negative will happen, but at least it's a fresh start.

We will continue to care for the children God has brought us. We will continue the work in the community with the poor, sick, and oppressed. That alone is a full time job, yet I feel some new opportunities are on the horizon.

One of the ones I am most excited about is expanding our work with local prostitutes. I'm not sure how yet, but I want us to move forward with those young ladies, especially with preventing pregnancys and staying as safe as possible. All as part of our "orphan prevention" strategies.

Not that my plans always work out, yet I gotta try.



Emma and Éowyn were pretty much born into our current family dynamic. So when the orphans no more go on holiday, they get upset.

Emma and Éowyn kept asking when the girls would return, over and over again.

In fact, it is only recently that Emma noticed she wasn't exactly the same color as the Kenyan girls, and she has asked some questions, but I don't know if she quite understands WHY the girls live with us and who they are. In her mind, they are her sisters. End of story.

Of course Éowyn is still too young to even notice certain physical differences, but I find the psychology of it all interesting.

Edith and Grace are home and the others return any day. I cannot begin to describe to you Emma and Éowyn's excitement!

I love seeing the bond between all of my kids. It is there even in the older ones, but it is more openly expressed in the more free young ones.

I have a beautiful family,


Happy Boxing Day

Just what is Boxing Day? Used to be that on the day after Christmas wealthy folks in the U.K. would give their servants gifts. These gifts would be in boxes, thus the name Boxing Day. I know, makes perfect sense right? Nowadays Boxing Day is essentially a bank holiday/shopping day in the U.K. and some of the commonwealth countries as well. Kenya being one of those countries celebrated Boxing Day today. Though I have yet to actually met a Kenyan who knows what Boxing Day is.

The girls are starting to make their way back to our house. (They have been off visiting friends and relatives for the December school holiday.) Once again the house is filling up with laughter, singing, squealing, arguing, and all the other stuff girls do.

Time to prepare for a New Year and get back into the grove of helping provide A Future and a Hope for those who can’t seem to find it on their own.

Simple Christmas

Christmas is usually such a stressful time. Gift buying and wrapping, cooking, planning, light hanging, people pleasing, gift unwrapping, messes to clean, tummy aches... It IS hectic, right?

Am I the only one who feels this way?

This year things were quite simple. We went on a trip, ate good food, and forgot about all the hustle and fuss of it all.

We watched Christmas with the Kranks last night, and I feel as if the writers of that movie had a great thing going until they decided to make Tim Allen's character selfish for not wanting to do all the Christmas stuff.

My point is, it is nice to not be stressed with performing 'Christmas' but enjoying it instead.

I got my kids one small gift and then had some guys build a sandbox for the family. They each got a second gift from grandparents.

I think we have some more care packages coming from grandparents, but having few gifts this morning meant less cleanup and more enjoyment of the gifts received. I am blessed to live in Africa this time of year, and I am thankful to my family and friends who helped us have a very sweet, simple Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

I am happy they have presents, but it is convenient they are spaced out time wise. They won't be overwhelmed at once. I hope this post comes across the way my heart is feeling it.

Simple Christmas

It’s Chapati for Christmas

A few days back I mentioned that we wanted to help around 100 families eat chapati for Christmas….


tuk tuk loaded with foodWell we purchased the ingredients!





Ben loaded up this tuk tuk (a three wheeled taxi contraption) with the food. You can see the flour on the bottom with the cooking oil on top.






stack of flour and oil






These are ingredients that many people we know simply cannot afford to buy in a big enough quantity to cook chapatis for their whole family.








Ben hauling flour



Why do we care if people have chapati for Christmas? Because we’re eating Christmas dinner. If we are eating a special meal than we want to enable as many folks as possible to do the same.





Don’t get the wrong idea and think we only feed people on Christmas. No, we do this each and everyday. Christmas is about a special meal, the rest of the time we attempt to feed as many people as possible with whatever we can afford. (We also prepare around a 100 meals a day for our homes and team.)


grandma with kids





We do it for grandmothers like this one; forced to care for her orphaned grandchildren.











I leave you with this young man. He will eat chapati for Christmas, and if we have anything to say about it, will eat his Christmas dinner wearing a new pair of pants.