Ghost Heart, by Lisa Harris and Lynne Gentry

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Meet an American mom who will do anything to save her daughter’s life; a US transplant surgeon working in Africa, whose patients are rejecting organs at an alarming rate; a young mom in Africa, whose albino child is both feared and hunted by her people; and a bush pilot who delivers organs and doesn’t ask questions.

Medical science, superstition, and ethics all collide in Ghost Heart. Between the authentic characters and the relentless suspense, I couldn’t put it down. Harris and Gentry’s gritty, riveting story may be fictional, but it sheds light on some very real problems.

Not for the delicate, Ghost Heart is nevertheless a Great Weekend Read. Available through Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Thanks for reading!

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I’ve Been Pounded!

This time, I can’t even blame the appliances. Just my choice, perhaps, of recipe… or utensil.

Brent’s mom, Jeannine, had bravely invited all the Johnson clan to her house for a mini-reunion.

“What can I bring?” I asked, innocently.

“Your barbecue beans. And a pound cake. And could you make another dessert?”

“Suuuuuure,” I said. Never made a pound cake before, but how hard can it be?

I found a few thousand recipes online, and chose one with lots of comments like “foolproof,” “easy and delicious,” and “can’t go wrong!”

I rummaged my Mom’s old Bundt pan from the cabinet, hosed it down with cooking spray, and dusted it with flour.

Several minutes and half a dozen eggs later, I was ready to pour batter into a 10-inch tube pan. Hm. I’m sure this pan will be fine…

Into the oven, set the timer for an hour-plus, and go about my business.

Cool for ten minutes in pan, then remove and cool completely on wire rack.

To be safe, I used a narrow silicon spatula to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan.


4th and long… I’d better Bundt

At least the pumpkin-chocolate chip cookies turned out well.

Oh, and lookie what I later found in the box that the Bundt pan had come in. Teflon, apparently, was the latest thing… when the pan was new and I was in, like, first grade.

It won’t happen again, though. I’ve purged the pound cake recipe from my files.

Next time: Oreos.

Thanks for reading,

Posted in I Remember When... (my OWN stories) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

More “Spamples”

Back in 2012, I shared some comments from my Spam folder. Some were crafted to sound almost like they were from a real person. Others were hilariously obvious robot comments. I notice a pattern: they use flattery and offers of help (or promises to subscribe) to entice me to click on their websites.

It’s not all that “glorious”

No, thanks.

Here, then, is a sampling of recent spam comments… or, as I like to call them, “Spamples.” I have not edited these in any way. Enjoy!

1. From the “Look Who’s Talking” Department:

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to check tһе spelling оn uite a fеw of your posts.
Mɑny of themm are rife wіth spelling issues аnd I in finding іt vеry bothersome tо tell
the truth however Ӏ’ll certainly cօme back again.

2. This one wins the “Word Salad” award:

I loved аs much as you will receive carried oսt right
here. The sketch iis tasteful, ypur authored matrrial stylish.
nonetһeless, yоu command geet got an edginess ߋvеr tһat you ᴡish bе delivering
the follоwing. unwell unqquestionably сome further formerlү agaiin since
exactⅼy tһе same neaгly vеry ᧐ften inside case yοu shield this increase.

3. Random, irrelevant mention of “brussels”:

Hello there, ϳust became alеrt tօ yoսr blog tһrough Google, and found that it’s reɑⅼly informative.
I’m gonna wаtch out for brussels. I’ll appreciate
if you continue this in future. A lot of peoⲣle will bе benefited from
your writing. Cheers!

3A. Then, on a completely different post, from a completely unrelated commenter (wink, wink):

Hi there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found
that it is truly informative. I am gonna watch out for brussels.
I’ll be grateful if you continue this in future. A lot of people will be benefited
from your writing. Cheers!

4. Speaking of irrelevance, this comment on a post about my dad’s WWII service (and note, I’ve never used AOL):

hi!,I ⅼike your writing so much! share we keеp uρ
a correѕpondence extra abօut your article on AOL? I require an expert on this house
to unravel my problem. MayЬe that’s you! Having a
look ahead to peer you.

As near as I can figure, the robots don’t use keywords…..

Thanks for reading!

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In My Defense….

…. I’m no hockey expert. I leave that to my younger son, Greg.

So you can’t make fun of me for my bewildered response to this item about Dallas Stars player John Klingberg. It appeared in the Dallas Morning News before the season began:

First I re-read the last part. Yes, it says he wants to “become a great defensive defenseman.”

I snapped the photo above and texted it to Greg, along with a message: “I find this the most confusing blurb in the history of blurbs. Is it really that innovative when a defense player strives to play great defense???”

Greg kindly explained that Klingberg’s forte had been getting in on the attack. While that’s good in a way, it also left some defensive gaps.

Ooooh-kay. Apparently offense-defense roles in hockey are less compartmentalized than in football.

Just between us, though, the piece still sounds like it was written by Dr. Seuss in Opposite-Land.

It could just be me. As I said, I’m no expert.

Play ball!
Or, you know, whatever you say to start a hockey game.

Thanks for reading,

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Fake-Out Years, Part 2: God’s Sovereignty

Last time I told you how some well-meaning people in my church thought I’d accepted Christ as my savior. The pastor baptized me, not realizing I was clueless about my need for salvation.

After the worst five years of my life, I absolutely had to do something. By this time I understood the gospel. The question was, had I accepted it? Received salvation? I realized that if I hadn’t been saved back in the fourth grade, I would need to admit it to the church, and get baptized again. Everyone would know I’d been wrong. How embarrassing.

Finally… all alone in my room, I mentally reviewed God’s plan of salvation*. I still remember every word of my big, dramatic prayer for salvation:


All the weight of guilt I’d been lugging around for five years fell away. Peace and security flowed over me, through me.

The next Sunday, I marched to the front of the church as soon as the sermon ended. Later, the pastor counseled with me. I got baptized. Again.

An impostor no more.

That was ages ago, but I’ve never forgotten those wretched years.

Recently, memories of that sweet Sunday School teacher came back to me. By now, she must have been in heaven for decades. I got to thinking: From her heavenly perspective, does she know she accidentally influenced me to get fake-baptized? I hope God didn’t tell her. If he did, I hope she doesn’t feel bad about that…

But then something else occurred to me. God is in control. Everything, even the unpleasant stuff, happens for a reason.

So what good could come out of those years I spent bluffing, hiding my fear?

I don’t claim to know all of God’s mind, but I do know I needed to learn not to bluff.

So God allowed it.

And I learned my lesson.

I believe that if Mrs. C. does remember me, and if she knows I wandered around for years miserably faking faith, then that knowledge doesn’t cause her distress. Because she also understands the purpose and knows the outcome.

Thanks, Mrs. C.!

And thank you for reading.

* Earlier, I wrote a more in-depth essay about the nature of salvation. You can find it here if you’re interested.

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The Fake-Out Years, Part 1

I never intended to lie.

1. I know better, which may be the force behind…
2: I’m terrible at it. Always have been.

So one Sunday morning during my fourth-grade year, I sat in church doodling on my bulletin instead of listening to the sermon. I can’t tell you what that sermon was about–as I say, I was doodling. But I’m guessing it must have included a clear presentation of the Gospel, which says, in a nutshell:

1. Everyone sins against God and thus deserves death.
2. Jesus, who came as God incarnate, never sinned. He willingly sacrificed his own life as the final payment for the sins of the world.
3. Jesus’ sacrifice made forgiveness and eternal life available to anyone who will acknowledge their sin and trust Him.

At the end of the sermon, when the pastor invited people to come pray and receive eternal life, I found myself crying a little. My sweet, grandmotherly Sunday School teacher noticed and came over to me.

“Do you want to go forward?” she whispered. (“Going forward” is church code for acknowledging in front of the church that you have received Jesus’ forgiveness. So named because it involves, you know, walking to the front of the auditorium.)

My beloved Sunday School teacher had just invited me to go with her, so of course I hopped up and followed her to where the pastor stood. Everyone was crying. They all seemed so happy for me. This puzzled me to no end, but I assumed they all knew what they were talking about, so I played along.

Oh, I’ve become a Christian! Cool!

Yep, got baptized by immersion, as I’d seen many others do. Only… when I came up out of the water, I got this sick feeling that something was wrong. As if I’d broken something important.

What’s this? How can you mess up getting baptized? I mean, no skill is required.

Bewildered and discouraged, I threw myself into reading the Bible. That’s what Christians do, right?

I couldn’t admit I was an impostor.

Church attendance. Bible reading. Saying all the right things. Nothing eased that guilty feeling that I was not heading toward heaven.

Did I admit my fears to anyone? No, I played along even harder.
Doubts? Who, me? After all, I’ve been baptized, people!

. . .

Next time: The rest of the Fake-Out Years story.

Thanks for reading,

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