Please Buy My Movies

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This picture on your left, these are the movies we’re keeping.

[A link to the ones we're selling is at the bottom of this page. There are plenty to go around.]

Let me rewind.

I’ve always taken pride in my movie collections. This dates all the way back to VHS tapes when the Disney movies were more special because they’re the only ones that came in those cool rubber-smelling white cases, setting them apart from the cardboard sleeves every other movie came in.

Remember those? Yeah, they were so cool!

And alphabetizing! I love alphabetizing! When Boo knocks down Mike Wazowski’s CD’s in Monster’s Inc., I  always feel his pain because “Those were alphabetized!”

Well, as the title of my blog suggests, we’re trying to adopt a kid. We’ve got our first case study scheduled for early next month (Yeah! Progress!) and our front bedroom – soon to be our kid’s room – is a complete disaster. Check out Sarabeth’s blog post for more gruesome details on that.

One thing that’s taken up most space in our loft is movies. I was a much bigger movie buff as a bachelor than I am now – so a whopping collection of unneeded movies was part of the baggage I carried into our marriage. There are just too many that I wouldn’t care for our kids to ever come across (like The Punisher or Austin Powers in Goldmemberremember, folks: baggage), or that we just will never be bored enough to watch again (Look Who’s Talking and What About Bob?).

Well, to help create more space, we decided to get rid of the cases and just put the discs in CD holders.

Gasp!

Sarabeth’s only been suggesting this for months.

You might as well get rid of the movies, then, right? I mean, half the fun is displaying them for everyone to see, if not for a change of interior color, then they can serve as a great conversation starter for guests.

But ultimately, Sarabeth’s approach made the most sense. I mean, adoption requires some sacrifice, right?

So yesterday, I supressed my pain and just went at it without thinking. I alphabetized over 400 DVD discs and tossed their beautiful, colorful cases in the dumpster.

And I got to thinking.

The Christian life is like that a little, isn’t it? I mean, we’re all DVD discs in a way. Certainly we’re all well-rounded, right? Not to mention maybe a few scratches on us and a big God-shaped hole in the middle. (Okay, no more jokes.)

But really, we’re full of so much information. We have good moments and bad that we’ll all account for in the end. Our built-in menus are like our mood-changers, and some of us are even fluent in other languages! Some need subtitles to be understood, and others have so many special features and complexities that some therapists don’t even know where to start!

And sometimes we like the way we’ve been packaged. We’re glittery and shiny and colorful on the outside for the world to look at and be drawn to. But there’s no way for us to connect with others but to just stand up next to them, shoulder-to-shoulder.

Not much community going on there.

Until you toss the glittery exterior and make yourself – your true self – vulnerable enough to be packed in a CD case with others. Or packed into a house, or a church, or a community.

Who knows? Maybe a little of the integrity and honor of Saving Private Ryan will rub off on the sometimes sappy Titanic. (I’m not selling those, so don’t bother checking.)

Either way, because I went through the task of stripping down my DVD cases, there’s now more room for toys and a crib in our child’s room.

What will there be more room of when you decide to strip down your own fancy exterior? Who knows? Give it a try, and see what happens.

Help us make room for our child and get rid of some of this stuff by buying our unwanted movies here. (My seller user name is atoy1.) And keep checking back. I’ll be updating it for the next couple of days!

(For some reason, Amazon isn’t letting me sell a few products. I’ve got Full House seasons 1-7 – don’t ask, don’t tell – which I can sell for $15.00 each or $100 for the whole set, and Everybody Loves Raymond seasons 1-5 for $25 each or $110 for the set. Email me at andrewtoy1208@aol.com to talk business.)

It’s Finally Here!

“Andrew Toy has created a unique and interesting story that spans several genres from mystery and adventure to fantasy … Toy’s debut novel will leave readers talking and will make them instant fans of his storytelling abilities. This will surely be a must-read for every adult that once created a world of their own when they were young, just by using their imaginations.”

-Nicole McManus, reviewer and blogger

My publisher handed me several copies of my book, The Man in the Box, yesterday in a … well, box. To many, it may seem like I’ve accomplished my dream of publishing a book. But that wasn’t my dream. As elated as I was to finally see my book in print, I still can’t ignore the ultimate goal. My occupational dream is to become a full-time author, and there’s still miles to go before I get there.

I know no amount of begging or coercing can get unwilling people to buy my book. I cannot even make promises that you will absolutely love it (though there’s little doubt that you will). But I can share facts, and throughout history facts have caused decisions to be made which might not have otherwise been made, stubborn minds to shift, and cold hearts to thaw. Here are some facts about my book, The Man in the Box, that I hope will persuade skeptics to look into purchasing a copy.

1. I spent three years writing this book, pouring over plot points, struggling with story lines, and not once being satisfied with nothing but the best possible results. I labored ruthlessly to develop something that is unique, unpredictable, and that appeals to all audiences in some way or another. I believe with this book, I have done just that. I invite you to be the judge.

2. Purchasing a copy of my book will help Sarabeth and me to get one step closer to adopting a child. That’s what this site is all about, isn’t it? Sharing our story and raising support to help bring a parentless child into our home. If you purchase The Man in the Box, not only are you investing in a good read, but you are helping us to become the foster-to-adopt parents we long to be. If you want to go an extra step for our cause, review my book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, any place that lets you.

3. I’ve selected six people with impressive platforms to read and review my book. I expected two to not ever get back to me, and at least one to not even like it. All six spoke very highly of it, and would (and do) recommend it to people. They were all breathless in suspense, and also recognized the core themes of the book, which are meant to cause readers to ponder the deeper things in life. You can read some of the reviews here.

4. Alright, I can’t help it. I’ve got to say it. You will LOVE this book! It’s truly got something in it for everyone. If you liked Jurassic Park, The Hunger Games, King Kong, zombies, jungle adventures, family sagas, inspiration, then this book is for you. I’m urging you to get it as soon as you can, because it is my goal to have it become a best seller. Wouldn’t it be fun to say you were one of the first to read it? And remember, Christmas is coming soon, so if you know of anyone who is always looking for their next favorite book, this book is it. They’ll thank you for it.

You can order your copy of The Man in the Box from any of the links below. You won’t regret it.

AmazonBarnes and NobleBlackwyrm. Or, add it to your goodreads bookshelf. And get it on your Kindle here.

“Expect dinosaurs and giant creepy-crawlies. And if that kind of thing scares you, then you’re like me, which means you’ll go ahead and read the book anyway, with no one to blame but yourself for all the flinching you’ll do … There was no going to bed until I’d reached the end. The suspense had me on the edge of my seat with worry about how everyone was going to get out of this, heart thumping out of control the whole time, except for that one minute where it almost stopped.”

-Danielle E. Shipley, author and blogger

Read Chapter Three here.

Customer Etiquette: 10 Tips on How to be a Good Customer

I  couldn’t resist sharing this. I wrote this a couple of years back when I worked in retail. Have fun, laugh at yourself, and share with your shopping-crazy friends and family members. Remember, retail workers are people too!

Customer Etiquette: 10 Tips on How to be a Good Customer

As you gear up for your holiday shopping spree, keep in mind that as soon as you step foot inside a store you cease to be an average law-abiding citizen and you instantly become a dreaded customer who is the cause of raised blood pressures amongst retail workers everywhere.

But you don’t have to be a loathsome customer. You can make the decision right now to be a customer who takes retail workers by surprise and actually walks in and out of the store with little or no lasting consequence to anyone. Below are ten tips to help you be that most coveted, invisible customer. Remember, it’s not because retail workers don’t like you as a person, they just don’t want to deal with you as a customer!

1. If someone is wearing a nametag, don’t ask if they work there.

Seriously. It just makes you look ignorant. When in question, don’t ask. Find someone else who works there.

2. Look for your product, not for a worker.

I understand you might be in a hurry, but you’d be surprised how easy things are to find in many stores.  In fact, positions are held at corporate levels specifically designed to determine in-store placement of every product to help make your shopping experience as quick and easy as possible.

3. If you have to ask, at least know what you’re asking for.

Retail workers don’t want to shop with you and you shouldn’t expect them to. Don’t ask their opinion on what toy Johnny would like best. They’ve never seen Johnny, and they don’t care what you get him as long as you buy something. If you’re looking for a book, know the title and – equally important – the author. If you simply give the description of the cover, then know that when you’re laughing with somebody at your Christmas party, someone’s laughing at you at theirs.

Helpful hint: If you can’t read your child’s wish list, don’t expect anyone else to be able to. Confirm items in question with your child or just get them a spelling workbook for their stocking.

4. Don’t interrupt someone’s work to ask a question.

If a worker’s arms are full while balancing on the top step of a ladder, be considerate; don’t bother them with your question. Instead, if you find yourself approaching that dutiful worker, stop and ask yourself three things: 1) Will I look like a jerk for interrupting this person’s work? 2) Is there anyone else I can ask? 3) Have I exercised tip 3 on this list?

5. Be patient. Retail workers understand you have to shop. Please understand that they have to help everybody.

Yes, yes, I know you’re a customer, but still, the world does not revolve around you. No one wants to see your impression of Scrooge. If you’re going to be pushy, impatient, or irreverent, then stay home and don’t come out until you can at least pretend to be a grown up.

Helpful hint: If you’re showing signs of aggression or odious behavior, a cunning retail worker will recognize this and deliberately take their time with the customer ahead of you. Yes, just to tick you off even more.

6. Just because someone is wearing a nametag does not give you permission to call them by their name.

Retail workers do not choose to have their name display on their shirt; it’s company policy. Do not, I repeat, do not repeatedly use their name in a conversation or to get their attention lest they think you’re going to stalk them on facebook. Despite what you’ve heard from so-called experts, it’s really the creepiest thing in the world and you will be resented for it. Only if the worker offers you their name are you permitted to address them by such.

7. Open your eyes. Read the signs. Follow the directions.

If you’re standing in the checkout line waiting to ask the cashier a customer service question, you are sorely misusing your time. But do the world of retail (and the customers behind you) a favor while you’re standing there. Look at all the large-print signs they put up just for you and consider for the next few minutes whether you should really yield to their directions. When the cashier doesn’t leave her register unattended to lead you to where you want to go, don’t throw a fit. Instead, reflect on the valuable lesson you learned about time management.

8. Cell phone usage… where do I start?

Other than advising customers to use their inside voice (no one wants to hear about your digestive disorders or how your boyfriend hates your cats), I’m just going to address one overlooked issue out of the plethora of misuses with this devise. You might be able to afford that fancy phone you’re showing off, but that retail worker you’re refusing to hang the phone up for is likely struggling through college or has been affected by the weak economy (hence, they’re working in retail). You don’t need to show your fancy gadgets off to them. Hang up the phone and speak to them as an equal human being.

Helpful Hint: Bluetooths make you look like you’re talking to yourself. Sensible people will mock you.

9. Put things back where you found them!

Retail workers are not maids. They have enough to do without cleaning up your messes (really, they do). Throw your trash away. If you can’t remember where you found an item, return to the general area, stare at the shelf and match the picture of the item in your hand with the item on the shelf. Don’t place it next to, or on top of it. Instead, place the product directly in front of the matching item. If you don’t know how to match pictures and put things back where you found them, then find a time machine, go back in time and repeat kindergarten.

10. If someone wishes you a Merry Christmas, don’t take them to court.

No one celebrates every holiday observed in December, so “happy holidays” is not an applicable greeting for anyone (plus, it just sounds like some sappy after-school special). If someone wishes you a happy Hanukkah and you don’t observe Hanukkah, don’t take offense – just feel free to wish them merriment and joy in the name of the particular festivity you represent.

Merry Christmas!

For gift recommendations for the bookworms in your life, click here.

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Christmas Wish List Part 3

I wish you all a wonderful, and delightful Thanksgiving as you gather with friends and family tomorrow.

And now the conclusion of the best books I’ve read in the last 18 months.

For theology readers

How Christianity Changed the World, by Alvin J. Schmidt – This is sort of a mixture of world history and Christian theology. A great read explaining how, indeed, Christianity changed the world.

Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis – You’d think every Christian would have read this by now, but I had only read it about a year ago. How I bypassed it all these years is beyond me. Completely mind-blowing.

For fiction lovers

The Hunger Games series, by Suzanne Collins – Great suspense, drama and action. These books are sure to go down as modern literature’s finest. No one’s too old to get into this series. Frequent violence involving teens.

The Price of Freedom, by A.C. Crispin – The prequel to Pirates of the Caribbean. Chronicles the life of young Jack Sparrow and how he chose the life of a pirate. Frequent, but mild sensuality.

The Man in the Boxby Andrew Toy – Prepare for extreme suspense, adventure, and a bit of fantasy. Great for anyone second-guessing their current life situation and seeking a way out. Released November 30th. Violence.

For history buffs

The Forgotten 500, by Gregory Freeman – Classified for over half a century, this flawless, nail-biting book depicts the OSS setting out to recover more than 500 downed airmen trapped behind enemy lines during WWII.

The Devil in the White City by Eric Larson – The subtitle says it all: “Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America.” A couple of very brief depictions of disturbing murders.

Manhunt, by James L. Swanson – A second-by-second account of Lincoln’s murder and the after-effects. Incredibly difficult to put down. Very graphic descriptions of violence and its after-effects.

For biography addicts

Born Again, by Charles Colson – The life and conversion of Nixon’s right-hand man, accused and punished for heading the Watergate Scandal.

Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson – Fascinating business techniques can be learned in this book. But don’t expect any life-giving wisdom from this curious man who changed the Western world as we once knew it. Language.

For sports fans

Bottom of the 33rd, by Dan Barry – Quite simply one of my all-time favorite books, hands down. It sounds like a dry read, but the author’s brilliant use of words draws you into such a beautiful and simple story. I felt like I was sitting in the cold bleachers during all 33 innings.

The Rookie, by Jim Morris – The wonderful Disney movie is actually only based off of one or two chapters of this great auto-biography of the world’s oldest professional ballplayer.

Alright, that’s more than 20 books (rest of the list in the links below). Enjoy, and happy Thanksgiving! And happy shopping.

For Part 1 of this list, click here.

For Part 2 of this list, click here.

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Christmas Wish List Part 2

For Part 1 of this list, click here.

Clothes are great gifts for Christmas, but they get old, tattered and go out of style. Movies are great, but they generally only last 90 minutes and then it’s probably a year before you watch them again. But books… books are stories that can take as long as an hour to a year to get get through, and if you’ve made it through, then it’s likely a story that will stick with you forever and never go out of style.

Welcome to part 2 of the greatest books I’ve read in the last 18 months. Happy shopping.

For theology readers

The Truth War, by John MacArthur – A great study on why we should care about Truth in a world dominated by lies and tabloids and false religions.

For fiction lovers

Little Men, by Louise May Alcott – Sequel to the classic Little Women. Just as endearing and full of wisdom and wit.

Calico Joe, by John Grisham – A relatable story about a father and son who can’t seem to let go of the past, and the only chance of bringing them together is the baseball diamond.

For history buffs

Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand – One of the greatest personal accounts of a WWII survivor I’ve ever read in my life. From the author of Seabiscuit.

The King’s Speech, by Mark Logue – Pixar movies aside, The King’s Speech is my all-time favorite movie. The book is written by King George XI’s speech therapist’s grandson. It provides lots of background to the movie.

For biography addicts

Catch Me if You Can, by Frank W. Abagnale –  Biographies don’t get any more fun than this one, about a con-artist. Just as wonderful as Steven Spielberg’s movie, which is another favorite of mine.

Washington, a Life, by Ron Chernow – Think you know all about our first president? Think again. It’s a commitment, to say the least, but more than a worthy read. I am convinced that Washington is the greatest political figure our country will ever see.

For the conclusion of this list, click here. And please feel free to list your favorite books in the comment section bellow.

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2012 Christmas Wish List Part 1

John Adams, the second president of the United States was notorious for giving out only books as gifts. Sarabeth has learned to do the same for me.

Since April, 2011 I’ve read over 60 books. For the next three days, leading up to Black Friday, I’m going to make some of your Christmas shopping easier for the book lovers in your lives and provide you with twenty of the greatest books I’ve read in the last eighteen months.

For Theology readers

Adopted for Life, Dr. Russell Moore – A fantastic overview of what the Bible says about adoption and why every Christian is called to easing the plight of the orphan one way or another.

Radical, by David Platt – The most challenging book I’ve read on forsaking the American Dream in order to invest in greater things to come.

For fiction lovers

Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery – A nine-book series that is perfect for kids and grown ups alike, that will whisk you away to yesteryear.

Little Women,  by Louisa May Alcott – Possibly my all time favorite fictional book. A must for writers who would like to improve their character development skills.

For History buffs

America: Volume I, by William J. Bennett – An overview of American history from the eyes of the presidents. Begins with the settlement of Jamestown and ends just before the Great War (1914).

The Story of World War II, by Donald L. Miller – A moment by moment account of World War II filled with photographs and first-hand accounts from soldiers, enemies, victims, and survivors.

For Biography addicts

The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom – A haunting account of a family’s attempt to save  Dutch Jews from a Nazi roundup.

Walt Disney, by Neal Gabler – Highly fascinating, detailed, and entertaining. No one is a true Disney fan until they’ve learned who exactly Walt Disney was.

For Part 2 of this list, click here. And please feel free to list your favorite books in the comment section bellow. (Note that I have the right to delete any recommendations that I deem inappropriate.)

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