Friday, February 20, 2009

Book Tour - Surviving Financial Meltdown

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 authors are:

Jeremy White

and the book:

Surviving Financial Meltdown

Tyndale House Publishers (January 20, 2009)


Ron Blue has been a financial planner and consultant for over 30 years. He currently leads an international effort to equip and motivate Christian financial professionals to serve the body of Christ by implementing biblical wisdom in their lives and practices, resulting in financial freedom. Ron has appeared on national radio and television programs and has authored 13 books on personal finance, including the best-seller Master Your Money.

Visit the author's

Jeremy Whitehas been a Certified Public Accountant since 1988 with financial experience in public accounting and industry. He’s currently practicing as a partner with Blythe, White & Associates, a certified public accounting and consulting firm in Paducah, KY. Jeremy is a qualified member of Kingdom Advisors. He has coauthored or assisted with four other best-selling financial books including The New Master Your Money, Splitting Heirs, and Your Kids Can Master Their Money.

Visit the author's

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (January 20, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414329954
ISBN-13: 978-1414329956


Riding Out Financial Storms

How to Prepare for Economic Uncertainty

Plunging home values. Declining stock market. Vanishing credit. Rising gas prices. Ongoing war against terrorism. Failing banks. Soaring food costs. Falling value of the dollar. Swelling budget deficits. (Suggested cover story for the next Money magazine—Best Investment Now: Antacids!)

If you’re worried, you’re not alone. You’re not the only one feeling the uncertainty. Consumer confidence measurements have reached their lowest level in decades.

Most of the world would still leap at the chance to trade economic situations with you. You realize that. But you’re still nervous and searching for answers.

It’s easy enough to present our case that economic times are challenging. The daily headlines back us up on that. Our challenge in this book is to prepare you so you have less fear and more financial peace.

We want to help you develop a common-sense financial strategy to weather the economic storms of today as well as those in the far-off financial future. In times of economic uncertainty, the strength of your strategy will determine whether you thrive or survive.

Let’s get started with a reminder of how you prepare for tough times: Prepare in advance.

Don’t Let Your Dreams Be Washed Away
The aerial photo is startling: An attractively designed yellow two-story home stands alone on highly sought-after real estate along the Texas Gulf Coast. Just a few days before, that house was part of a thriving community. Now, it is surrounded on every side by the wreckage of about 200 other homes and buildings. A private helicopter pilot, flying over the area after it had been slammed by Hurricane Ike, had taken the photo.

Not long after he posted the image on CNN’s iReport site, the buzz started. Viewers began debating whether the photo was a fake. After all, how could one home withstand 110 mph winds and a storm surge while every other building around it had been pulverized? The speculation ended when the sister of the home’s owners identified it and provided another photo of the house taken just a few months earlier.

Reporters quickly located the home’s owners, Warren and Pam Adams. Just three years before, the Adams’ home had been destroyed by Hurricane Rita. Because they loved the beach, the couple wanted to rebuild rather than leave the coast. So they did—but with the knowledge that their new home might also be in the path of a hurricane some day.

The couple hired an engineering firm to oversee the contractor as their new residence was built. The builder put the house’s bottom floor on wooden columns that raised it above the surrounding houses. The foundation was made with reinforced concrete, and builders followed the latest hurricane building codes to the letter.

Despite its solid construction, the home did sustain some damage in Hurricane Ike. The first-floor garage and a wooden staircase on the home’s exterior were destroyed. The interior suffered some water and mud damage. Yet unlike their neighbors, who returned to their former home sites hoping to find a few personal belongings among the rubble, the Adams can repair their home.

The precautions the couple took when rebuilding their home after Hurricane Rita may have seemed extreme to some. Yet their foresight appears brilliant now after the town sustained a direct hit by a hurricane. In fact, after Aaron Reed, a spokesman with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, confirmed that the Adams’ home was the only surviving home on that side of the beach, he added, “I thought, if I were ever to build a house on the coast, I’m going to contact the guy who built this.”1

In fact, the couple simply displayed common sense. They knew that their home had been destroyed once by a hurricane and that it could happen again. Of course, others along the Gulf Coast knew they faced that threat as well. The difference was in how they responded to that risk.

Like some Gulf Coast residents, many of today’s investors build their financial houses without much of a strategy. When you build something you want to keep, common sense dictates that you build it according to a plan and with materials that will last. This strategy works for all types of construction, from putting together a financial portfolio to building a house.

Warren and Kay Adams can’t prevent a hurricane from smashing into their home on the coastline. They can’t control which way the wind blows. They can, however, build their house to withstand the wind and water.

Mr. Blue Goes to Washington
Palms sweating and heart racing, I (Ron) remember climbing the granite steps of the Capitol building to testify as an expert witness before a Senate subcommittee. I entered the chamber room where the hearings took place. I had often seen it on television. It was impressive yet intimidating. The senators were seated higher than the witness table and the visitors’ gallery.

I recognized many of the senators’ names on the plaques at their table and took a deep breath. I reminded myself that I wasn’t in trouble—even though the room had the feel of a courtroom. The Senate subcommittee was holding hearings on “Solutions for the New Era: Jobs and Families.” I was one of several “experts” from various economic and social fields. Other participants on the panel pressed for more social programs.

When my turn to speak came, I was hoping my voice wouldn’t crack. Could I live up to my introduction as a financial expert? Leaning in toward the microphone on the table, I began to answer a senator’s question about what the average American family should do in the current economy to survive and thrive. I said I believed the American family could benefit from following a four-part financial plan:

1. Think long-term with goals and investing

2. Spend less than they earn

3. Maintain liquidity (or emergency savings)

4. Minimize the use of debt

The Senate chamber room fell silent for a moment. I was expecting laughter to reverberate among the marble columns and high ceiling at the simplicity of what I said. The committee chairman, Christopher Dodd, looked down at his notes. He furrowed his brow and pursed his lips. He recited the points back to me. Instead of chuckling at me, he then said, “It seems like this plan is not just for the family. It seems it would work at any income level.”

“Yes,” I replied with some relief. Now I was the one doing a bit of chuckling as I added, “including the U.S. government.” We went on to have an engaging conversation about how the senators could exercise strong leadership through wise financial practices.

Four Principles of Financial Success
I had prepared my four-part answer to the senator’s question over many years. In fact, I heard that same question over and over. After a presentation to a large audience or in response to a call-in radio program, people often ask how to get out of a financial mess—or avoid one. Often the questioners hope that I’ll provide a dramatic, one-time solution for their financial difficulties. Though they may be disappointed to hear my commonsense strategy, I know this time-tested, biblically supported answer works.

Let me briefly expand my explanation of these principles here:

Think long term. The longer term your perspective, the better financial decisions you’ll make. Set goals in writing for the future. Invest for the long term and worry less about short-term ups and downs in your 401(K) or investment portfolio.

Spend less than you earn. To accomplish this, you need to know what you’re earning and what you’re spending. Make a spending plan (or, if we dare use that loathed term: a budget). Monitor how you’re doing. Develop the self-control to avoid overspending. If you spend less than you earn consistently over a long period of time, you will do well financially.

Insert Sidebar 1 here

Maintain emergency savings. A reserve set aside will help you ride out the surprises life throws at you. You must spend less than you earn to build savings. Savings will then help you avoid debt. These principles work together.

Minimize the use of debt. Debt increases risk. It may allow you to do more or have more now, but debt will reduce your ability to have more in the future. I know of few cases of financial disaster occurring without debt. Financial problems are magnified with debt.

These four financial principles are so simple that they may easily be overlooked. Yet they have stood the test of time. They work when the economy is in a recession, depression, or boom times. They work despite inflation or deflation. They apply when gas prices or real estate values are rising or falling. They were outlined thousands of years ago in the Bible. Many rich people—and many poor ones—can attest to their truths.

Some technical professionals, such as doctors and engineers, initially think these principles are too simplistic. They want to make succeeding financially as technically challenging and sophisticated as their fields. But you can’t go wrong if you follow these steps. What kind of financial trouble would you ever get in if you spent less than you earned, minimized debt, kept savings available, and thought about the long term?

When Do I Apply These Principles?
Warren and Kay Adams prepared for possible disaster before it happened. The best time to apply these four steps is before the financial storms come.

Insert Sidebar 2

You may be thinking, Well, it’s too late for that. I’m in the midst of a financial crisis. The hurricane has already hit. Now what do I do? Here’s hope. You start with these four principles of financial success. If you haven’t done them before, then start now. You can’t lay a solid financial foundation without these four steps. They will lead you out of a crisis—and prevent many future ones.

Perhaps your financial crisis has already happened. You may have lost your job. You may be getting calls from creditors. Perhaps you fear a possible foreclosure. You’re picking up the pieces and trying to rebuild. What do you do? Same answer. You start with these principles.

Perhaps you don’t currently face a financial crisis but are anxious because of all the economic bad news. The Adams’s house is a great illustration that may motivate you to prepare for storms in advance. You can take great comfort in these transcendent principles that apply before, during, and after the crisis.

In fact, some positive results can come from our country’s current economic downturn. We’ve learned that a crisis can sharpen our focus. It helps us think more rationally. When gas prices rose significantly, consumers started moving from large sports-utility vehicles and oversized trucks to more fuel-efficient vehicles. This is rational. But even when gas was less expensive, was a Hummer ever a sensible purchase for an urban dweller?

People ask us, “Now that _____________ (you fill in the blank) is happening, what should I do?” we always give the same advice: follow these four principles. If you set long-term goals and invest accordingly, if you spend less than your income, if you have available savings, and if you eliminate debt, then you’ll be as prepared as possible.

No Surprise Ending with This Book—But Keep Reading
We suppose this would make a poor novel. No mystery or suspense here. We’ve already revealed the four principles of financial success and told you the ending of the story. The punch line came before the setup of the joke.

However, we hope you haven’t missed the paradox: these principles are easy to understand but they’re often hard to do. We’ve stated the principles but not yet helped you understand how you can begin doing them. In the coming chapters, we’ll explore these principles in greater detail. You’ll discover how to approach the future—any future—with financial peace of mind.

We realize that it’s not just a matter of doing four simple steps in a vacuum. You’re part of an overall economy. You can’t avoid feeling some of the effects of our nation’s economic downturn—but it doesn’t have to be as great as you fear. You hear things that make you anxious. Money issues carry with them emotions, baggage from the past, and uncertainty about the future. You probably don’t have a degree in financial management. When it comes to handling your own money, you’re probably in unfamiliar territory. So we’re going to begin by exploring what causes financial fears in our economy. Then you’ll identify your particular fears.

You can do this. You can learn to manage your finances wisely. It’s not too late. Reading financial how-to’s is like exercising or eating healthy food. You know you’re supposed to, but will you do it? You can. People with less education, less talent, less income than you have done it. Financial peace of mind can be more than just a future hope. It can be your expectation. In the pages ahead, you will learn how to take this expectation and make it a reality in your life.


What I loved about this book was the biblical focus as it relates to finances. Plenty of scripture quoted to help support you as you walk through the steps.

I will say that much of the advice offered, I had encountered before through other financial ministries. However, if you have not read any other biblical financial information, this is a good start. It's an easy read as well.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Well alrighty then...

My oldest beauty has been in every play and musical there is since she hit middle school. She even talked her doctor into putting her on "super drugs" to get her well in time to participate in one show when she was sixth grade. This child is a hard core performer I tell you.


She is not trying out for Seussical this semester. Say it ain't so! Oh yeah. It's so.

I asked her if she just forgot to turn in her paperwork.

Her response was: "Well Ms. R wasn't there today. There was a sub."

So I responded, "Well if she was not there, I am sure she will take it first thing in the morning."

She responded: "No thanks. I'm not trying out."


"What?!?! What do you mean you're not trying out. You were so excited about it. That's all you've talked about is Seussical. What's going on?"

She said.......

"I have to focus on school stuff. I'm trying to make sure I get recommended for some honor classes for high school. And I need to F-O-C-U-S. I don't have time for after school practices and stuff. There will be more plays in high school. I'll pass on this one so I can focus on what's important to me right now - the best grades possible."

Well alrighty then...

Teenagers. They are a strange lot and mine just amaze me everyday. I think that just makes me love them more!

Be blessed y'all, especially if you have teenagers!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

First Tour: Scrapping Plans

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:

Scrapping Plans

B&H Books (February 1, 2009)


Rebeca Seitz, in addition to her own literary work, is founder and president of Glass Road Public Relations, a company dedicated solely to representing novelists who write from a Christian worldview. She has previously worked with authors including Ted Dekker, Frank Peretti, Robin Jones Gunn, and Brandilyn Collins. Seitz lives with her husband and son in Fulton, Kentucky.

In 2007, Rebeca published her first novel,
Prints Charming , with Thomas Nelson Publishers. Two thousand eight saw the release of her next two novels, Sister’s Ink and Coming Unglued , from B&H Publishing Group, the publishing division of LifeWay. Just released from B&H is Scrapping Plans. Her next book, Perfect Piece , will release in 2009 from B&H.

Visit the author's

Product Details:

List Price: $ 14.99

Paperback: 320 pages

Publisher: B&H Books (February 1, 2009)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0805446923

ISBN-13: 978-0805446920


I’ve tried to be happy. I try so very hard. Yet the frigid granite beneath my fingertips is a blazing desert compared to the barren iceberg of my womb. What woman could be happy with a monolith of ice blocking her very female essence?

This kitchen is perfectly planned. If Martha Stewart visited, she’d be envious of my exquisite arrangement of pears and apricots, dusted with the slightest coating of glaze and balanced artfully in Mother’s old bowl. She’d gasp at the coordination of stripe to check, plaid to French country print, that draws the eye around the room. Her Tod-slippered feet can sweep across my stone floor and arrive unspecked at their destination.

And, if the Great Martha were to stop there, I would measure up. My life would hold a semblance of value, of worthiness.

Most stop there.

Thank God.

I don’t mean that irreverently. How can I be irreverent? I’m the grateful adoptee of an upright preacher man and his loving wife. I’m the epitome of grateful recipient. All of Stars Hill would tell you that.

They don’t look past my kitchen.

Thank God.

But I don’t have much time to stand here, staring at a House Beautiful workspace. Scott will be home in two hours. And duck l’orange is not an easy dish for even one so seasoned as I.

Is it odd that I love French food yet Chinese blood runs through my veins? Hmm. Perhaps if I’d been raised on the soil my mother trod, I would know more of the cuisine of the Asian world. I might even be privy to which province most suits me.

I should visit China.

Did I just think that?

I can’t visit China. Daddy, that blessed preacher man, would be hurt if I went in search of a mother who was never Momma. Of a woman who took one look at me, then left me bawling on a doorstep in the dead of night.

Then again, Daddy has Zelda these days.

Now, Zelda, there’s a woman who follows every fancy. What a strange little bird she is. Those fiery red spikes in her hair make me think of either a surprised woodpecker or the recipient of an errant lightning bolt. When she smiles, her whole face turns upward. I hear we have that in common. I wish I could remember seeing a smile on my face. But when I’m alone, with a mirror reflecting the mystery of me, it isn’t a smile that comes to bear. Besides, what kind of lady wears spurs on her cowboy boots? Honestly, spurs! Why, one of these days she will rip a gash in Daddy’s ankle while they’re do-si-doing and twirling around the Heartland dance floor.

I assume that’s what happens inside that wretched place. How Kendra and Tandy spend Friday nights there is beyond me. To each her own, I suppose. Though my own will never involve cowboy boots and a twanging fiddle.

Do fiddles twang?

Maybe I meant guitar.

No matter. I have a duck to prepare.

* * *

“Did you see her?” Kendra tripped over the uneven sidewalk and grabbed Tandy’s arm. Cold gusts of wind beat at them, bringing snatches of icy rain below the sidewalk’s covering.

“Hey, watch it, sister!”

“Sorry.” She kept walking, shooting a murderous look back at the beguiling concrete. “We need to bring up sidewalk maintenance at the next town meeting.”

Tandy patted the coffee-colored hand still crooked in her elbow. “Now, Kendra, don’t be getting all drastic on me. Can you imagine what poor Tanner would do if we dared question the maintenance of our fair Stars Hill?”

“Huh.” Kendra huffed and let go of Tandy to stuff her hands in her pockets. “Probably remind us of all he’s done to keep this town in antique replica street lights and ten o’clock curfews.”

“At least the curfews are gone.”

They pulled their hoods up and stepped down from the sidewalk to cross College Street.

“I wonder how many times Daddy would have had to bail us out if they had that curfew when we were in high school?”

Tandy tucked a curl behind her ear and took long strides toward Clay’s Diner. “I seem to recall a certain sister needing bailed out anyway.”

“There was no bail involved. Just a minor misunderstanding.”

“That the whole town talked about for months.” Tandy grinned and pulled open the door of the diner. Heated air billowed out a welcome. “After you, Con Woman.”

“Yeah, keep it up, sis. I can always bring up improper car racing at the next town meeting.” Kendra sailed through the entry, ignoring Tandy’s, “You wouldn’t!” and hung her dripping coat on one of the hooks by the door.

Tandy sloughed off her own navy pea coat and stamped her yellow rain boots. “Would you?”

Kendra spun on a heel and walked off toward “their” booth in the back corner. “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

“There’s my darling wife!” Clay Kelner came around the counter toward them.

Kendra rolled her eyes and snatched up a menu. “Oh, spare me. Shouldn’t the newlywed bliss have worn off by now?”

“What are you upset about?” Clay allowed a quick glance for his sister-in-law, then bent and dropped a peck on Tandy’s upturned lips. “Are you and Darin fighting?”


“Yes.” Tandy leveled a gaze at her sister. “Because Kendra is too busy spying on Joy to pay attention to her man and get their wedding planned.”

“Joy? The perfect one? Mrs. Plan-Everything-to-Death?” Clay’s eyebrows rose. “Why are you spying on Joy?”

“Because something’s wrong and I’m the only one in this family paying attention, that’s why.” Kendra slapped the menu on the table top. “And wedding plans are coming along fine, thank you very much.”

“Sure you’re not being your dramatic self?” Clay fast-stepped back before Kendra could swat him. “Lovable dramatic self, I meant!”

“Ha ha. Very funny.” Kendra pointed the menu at Clay, then Tandy. “You laugh now, but something’s up and we need to find out what before it gets so bad we can’t fix it.”

1“Well, can we at least get some food first?” Tandy snatched the menu and put it back in its holder. “I can’t think on an empty stomach.”

“The usual?”

Both girls nodded and Clay turned back toward the kitchen.

When he’d gone, Kendra studied her sister. “Tandy, I know you think I’m nuts. But did you not see her at Darnell’s? I mean, she stood over that display of oranges for at least a full minute, just staring into space!”

“Yeah, I saw her, Ken.” Tandy sighed. “But you know Joy. She’s not going to appreciate us marching up into her house and demanding to know what’s wrong.”

“She wouldn’t care if Meg did it.” Kendra sniffed.

“Yes, she would. And she’s closer to Meg because this is exactly the kind of thing Meg wouldn’t do.”

Kendra huffed and turned away. Rain sluiced down the windows, making the streetlights outside sparkle. Inside, every table was filled with Stars Hill townfolk happily spooning up chili and vegetable soup. If we don’t figure this out soon, they will. And then Joy will be the talk of the town2. She pulled out her cell phone and punched buttons.

“Who are you calling?”

“Meg.” Her faux ruby ring glinted in the light when she held up a finger to stop Tandy’s objection. “Hey, Meg, it’s Kendra. Tandy and I are at the diner and wondered if you could drop by. Call me as soon as you get this.” She snapped the phone closed and dropped it back in her giant suede bag, now splashed with raindrops.

“And what will that accomplish?”

“We’re going to have Meg talk to Joy about this.”

“Since when can we get Meg to do anything? Did you discover some magic wand I don’t know about?”

Kendra pushed her mahogany-colored spirals back into the burgundy headwrap from which they’d escaped. “She’s been wanting me to paint a mural on Hannah’s wall for a month. I think she’ll do just about anything to get it done.”

Tandy leaned back in the seat and whistled low. “Remind me never to underestimate you, sister.”

Kendra stopped fixing her hair and leveled a stare at Tandy. “You better believe it.”

My review:

Scrapping Plans is a good story. The widower story played to my heart because my mom is a widow. Some of the Jack's daughter's conversations about his relationship with Zelda made me think of conversations my siblings and close cousins had about my mom dating.

There were a couple of things I did not love. This is book three in a series. I have been spoiled by authors who give you enough detail about happenings and events in previous books that you don't feel like you're joining the conversation midway through. I did not feel like I got that in this book.

Another thing - and this is a highly personal opinion - I felt like the book was a bit schizophrenic. I read for along time before I could really see the Christian content. Suddenly, there it was . BAM! From that point it was more obvious and overt. To me it read like at some point it was decided that maybe this should be a Christian book and it simply switched gears. It was a little disconcerting to me.

Those points aside, I did like the story. I could relate to the characters because they were obviously works in progress, like we all are. I enjoyed having some characters I though I could just hang out with because they struggle with issues and life just like I do. Overall, I would recommend this book.