Friday, 20 October 2017

Ordering Your Private World Revised and Updated 2017 Edition - Gordon MacDonald

Ordering Your Private World
Revised and Updated Edition (2017)
Gordon MacDonald
Thomas Nelson
ISBN 9780718088002
eISBN 9780718088088

A number of years ago I was involved with student leadership development while staff with the Navigators. My boss at the time was a huge fan of Gordon’s and we used sections of a few of his books as part of our yearlong development program. So when I had the opportunity to get and review this book I was very excited. As soon as I started reading the book I became curious. For this book was originally published in 1983, republished in 1985, revisions in 2003 and now a major revised and updated version that includes a study guide. The book has 221 reviews currently on Amazon, and 2891 ratings on Goodreads and 181 reviews. The majority of the reviews on Amazon are 5/5 stars, 75% in fact. And the overall rating on Goodreads is 4.1. So my giving it an even 3 stars is about par. But realistically I could wish I could have given it 2.5. I have been able to track down information on 30 different editions of this book, 7 are foreign language, and 4 are various audio formats. So over 20 different editions of this book over the last 34 years. Even the second reprint in 1985 was called a revised edition.

The chapters in this book are:

Author’s Note
Preface: The Day I Hit the Wall
1. The Sinkhole Syndrome
2. A View from the Bridge
3. Caught in a Golden Cage
4. The Tragic Tale of a Successful Loser
5. Living as a Called Person
6. Has Anyone Seen My Time? I’ve Misplaced It!
7. Recapturing My Time
8. The Better Man Lost
9. The Sadness of a Book Never Read
10. Order in the Garden
11. No Outer Props Necessary
12. Everything Has to Be Entered
13. Seeing Through Heaven’s Eyes
14. Friends
15. Rest Beyond Leisure (Sabbathing)
Epilogue: Courage, Appreciation, Depth
Study Guide
About the Author

I really really wanted to enjoy this book. But I found it hard to get into, and even harder to keep reading. It was so easy to pick up something else. I was able to get through it. But only after a few attempts and false starts. There are numerous authors in this genre, some Christian, some just self-help guru’s. In the former category we have authors like John Maxwell, Chuck Swindoll, Max Lucado, and Tony Campolo and the list goes on. On the latter category there are authors like Dan Millman, Robin S. Sharma, Deepak Chopra, and Carlos CastaƱeda. Over the last nearly 50 years I have read books by all of the above named authors.

What I found with this book is it is good, but really seems dated. It is good but not great. And to have a new version come out almost every year and a half seems a bit excessive to me. It is a good read, and people in mainline evangelical Christianity will gravitate towards the author. But it just doesn’t do it for me any more. It is older and out of print but I would highly recommend Managing Yourself  (Out of print but worth tracking down) by Stephen B. Douglass or How to Achieve Your Potential and Enjoy Life (currently available as both print and ebook) by Douglass and Al Janssen. Or go give something by Matthew Kelly a read all of his books are amazing.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

10 Steps to Girlfriend Status - Cynthia T. Toney - Bird Face Book 2

8 Notes to a Nobody
Bird Face Book 1 
Cynthia T. Toney
Write Integrity Press
ISBN 9781938092480

This past summer author Susan Peek posted a list of Catholic Teen Fiction a day for June, I believe the list originally comes from Theresa Linden. Of the 30 books in the list I had already read and reviewed 20 of the titles and will likely read another 7 or 8 of them. It has proved to be an introduction to some great stories. I have discovered some authors that are now amongst my favourites. But the title of the first book in this series, 8 Notes to a Nobody, really grabbed my attention. And to be honest I had bought books 2 and 3 before even finishing book 1. So this book was the second by Cynthia T. Toney, that I have read, but it will not be my last. 

What I love about the books by Cynthia T. Tooney is that they are good clean reads. They are not overly preachy, but they do teach a lesson. The characters do have struggles and often make mistakes. But they are not smutty, they do not portray alternative lifestyles just for the sake of having it in the book. It is realistic fiction much along the lines of Madeleine L'Engle's Chronos books. Now in this book we do have a blended family. Or it takes place during the book. 

Wendy Robichaud's life is coming together in a way that it has never been. Her mother is remarrying and not only is she getting a step dad but one of her closest friends is about to become her sister. She has a boy she is interested in, and he is interested in her as well. But things quickly start to go sideways. He elderly friend Mrs. Villaturo is suffering from Alzheimer's. But she has let a family secret out of the bag. The Cajan side of her family, her father's side, has a secret. And throw all of that plus school and Wendy's life has become far more complicated than she ever wanted it to be.

Part of the story revolves around her 10 steps to girlfriend status;, which are:
1. Meeting before school (Check.)
2. Eating lunch together (Check.)
3. Hand holding (Check.)
4. Cheek kissing (Check.)
5. Embracing.
6. … to find out the rest you will need to read the book.

This book was an interesting read. It does a great job of capturing high school, blending families and also dealing with Alzheimer's. It was engaging and had a great pace and a few twists. One in particular caught me completely by surprise. The writing is very tight. 

There are a few way I judge really good books. First could I see myself rereading it. Second can I think of people I would recommend it to right away. And finally would I want to see my children read it when it is age appropriate. This book scores well in all three categories. This was a great read, and I am already anticipating reading book three. And the latest book by Toney that was released this fall.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2017 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Cynthia T. Toney:
The Other Side of Freedom

Bird Face Series:
8 Notes to a Nobody
10 Steps to Girlfriend Status
6 Dates to Disaster

(Original cover and title of 8 Notes to a Nobody)

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Standing Strong - Theresa Linden - The West Brothers Book 4

Standing Strong
The West Brothers Book 4
Theresa Linden
Linden Publishing

ISBN 9780997674729

I only discovered Theresa Linden’s writings earlier this year, I have now read 7 of her published novels and short stories and have loved them all. I must admit I am reading this specific series out of order. I have read book 1 Roland West Loner, which was the first book by Linden I read, and now have read book 4. Though there are indications of some of what happened in the two books I skipped, this book is more than strong enough to read on its own. In an earlier review I compared Linden's writings to Madeleine L'Engle and Lois Lowry and the more of her writings I read the more I stand by that statement. If we were to do a side by side comparison between L'Engle's main series and Linden's then the Chasing Liberty Series would be the Kairos series and the West Brothers would be the Chronos series. And this book is an amazing read. Unlike the book focused on Roland that I have read this one is based mainly on the oldest of the west brothers, Jarret and his trying to make some pretty big changes in his life. The secondary plot is about his twin brother Keefe who is trying to discern his vocation, specifically regarding the Franciscans. 

As an older guy I can really relate to each of the West brothers. I can see myself in each of them at different points in my life. I can see their struggles, their striving, their growth and think back on my own life. I wish that there had been some amazing Catholic novels like this book and this series when I was younger. Reading stories like this might have helped me not make some of the mistakes I have made along the way. And to be honest I cannot wait until my children are a little older to share these books with them. I look forward to reading these books again with my daughters and my son, and hope they will lead to discussions about following God even when it gets hard. 

In this volume in the series Jarret is making big changes in his life. But after spending a long time trying to build a specific reputation, and having made many mistakes along the way. Now he is trying to make changes. He has a planned meeting with their parish priest. But a chance encounter with a girl; and a fight at school seem to be setting him back on his old path. Can he stand strong and turn it around? Or will be slide down that slippery slope again and fall back into old habits and patterns. His twin brother Keefe on the other hand is struggling in an entirely different way. He is really feeling called to join the Franciscan Friars. He is trying to simplify his life. He has uncluttered his room. He also rearranged it so that he can have a prayer corner. And he really wasn’t to go on a discernment retreat but is not sure how to broach the subject with his father. 

This book deals with a lot of issues; including vocational discernment, making personal changes, defending your family, and family learning to trust after years of mistrust. The relationships between the brothers changes drastically over the span of the novel. It is interesting to watch each of the three as they grow and change. Now the West brothers are not exactly what you would call normal. First they live in a castle. Second they have travelled the world on digs before their mother passed away. They have had tutors, and keep horses. And each of the three has a different reputation. Combine all of that with something being up with their father and you have an amazing read.

This book was an amazing read. The more of Linden's writings that I read; the more I want to read.  This is an excellent book by an incredible author so check it out. Her handling of faith in her fiction is masterful. I really look forward to sharing her works with my children when they are older, which is the highest praise I can give a book. And I highly recommend this book and to be honest anything written by Linden!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2017 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Theresa Linden:
Chasing Liberty Series:

01 Chasing Liberty
02 Testing Liberty
03 Fight For Liberty
Bound to find Freedom - Short Story

West brothers Series:
Roland West Loner
Life-Changing Love
Battle for His Soul

Standing Strong

Other Books:
A Symbol of Hope - Short Story
A Battle for the Faith (with John Paul Wohlscheid)

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

A Late Supper And New Favourite Cheese!

A Late Supper And New Favourite Cheese!

I do not normally write food posts, unless I am working on new soup, smoothie or juice recipes. But I need to tell a story about cheese. Last year I drove with friends from Waterloo, Ontario to Montreal, Quebec and back in the same day. We were going to pick up a car that had broken down. While in Montreal my friends in-laws took us out for lunch. But also send us home with a packed back for eating on the way home. That bag included some dried meats, some cold cuts, pitas, and this cheese I had never had before. The cheese was amazing it was white, squeaky, peppery (at least I thought it was pepper.) This amazing cheese came back to mind recently and I went on the quest to find it. First asking an aunt and uncle who are cheese lovers. But they came up blank. I then approached the friend whom I had travelled with. Eventually I found the name Twisted cheese. I picked some up today while out with the guys at work for lunch at a Shawarma place near work. It was even better than I had remembered.

So tonight I had a late supper it consisted of:
Twisted Cheese
Gluten Free Crackers
Brew Dr. Kombucha

It was a great meal was only missing some tomato, olives and pickled turnip. But that is the story of my new favorite cheese and I look forward to trying different brands, I understand some use different seeds and quantity can vary also. If you love cheese, especially curds you owe it to yourself to try this firm unripened cheese it is amazing!

Monday, 16 October 2017

In a Kilt on a Fall Day

In a Kilt on a Fall Day

Name: Steven R. McEvoy
Age: 50ish
Roman Catholic
Heritage: Scottish/Irish
Born: South Eastern Ontario
Interest: Rugby, Reading, Writing, Poetry, Winter Sports,
               Water Sports, Working out, Hiking, Camping.

Guiding Questions:

Who are you?
What do you want?
Where are you going?
Who do you serve?
Who do you trust?

Daily Goals:

  1. To get enough sleep.
  2. To eat right & Exercise daily.
  3. To refuse to be a perfectionist.
  4. To carefully control finances.
  5. To ask for help when needed.
  6. To pray and read the Bible daily.
  7. To not pressure self into planning
        entire life today.


To live life to the full, while finding balance between
body, mind and spiritual development .


  To love and serve God, well all of my days .

"Eight Principles to Live Your Life by:
     1. I will do all things as unto the lord.
     2. I will live in the light of the judgement seat of Christ.
     3. I will consider my weaker brother in all I do.
     4. I will do nothing unless I'm sure that it's right to do.
     5. I will do all things to the glory of my God.
     6. I will avoid what may appear wrong even if I know it's not.
     7. I will abstain from things which culd enslave me.
     8. I will seek always to do what I believe Jesus would do."
-Dr. James MacDonald


3 Children
2 Brothers, Robert James & John Mitchell
Step Brother, David
Step Sister, Nichole
Adopted Sister, Mariah
I am the oldest of the 6.

"Bear and Forebear"
"Give and Forgive"
The McEvoy Clan Motto
and the MacLennan Clan from my maternal side is

"Dum Spiro Spero" In Latin
"Fhads is beo bin dochas" in Gaelic
"While I have breath I have hope"

Note: Top Photo fall of 2010. Wedding Photo March 27th 2003. Scout Leader Spring of 1989. Bottom photo fall of 1988 High School graduation (First time I wore my kilt.).