FIRST Wildcard Tour 40 Days to Better Living

FIRST Wildcard Tour 40 Days to Better Living

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:
Dr. Scott Morris

and the book:

40 Days to Better Living–Optimal Health

Barbour Books (July 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

From the time Scott Morris was just a teenager, he knew he would do two things with his future—serve God and work with people. Growing up in Atlanta, he felt drawn to the Church and at the same time drawn to help others, even from a very young age. It was naturally intrinsic, then, that after completing his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Virginia he went on to receive his M.Div. from Yale University and finally his M.D. at Emory University in 1983.

After completing his residency in family practice, Morris arrived in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1986 without knowing a soul, but determined to begin a health care ministry for the working poor. He promptly knocked on the doors of St. John’s Methodist Church and Methodist Hospital in Memphis inviting them to help, and then found an old house to refurbish and renovate. By the next year, the Church Health Center opened with one doctor—Dr. Scott Morris—and one nurse. They saw twelve patients the first day and Morris began living his mission to reclaim the Church’s biblical commitment to care for our bodies and spirits.

From the beginning, Morris saw each and every patient as a whole person, knowing that without giving careful attention to both the body and soul the person would not be truly well.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Many of us would admit to being a little out of balance these days. We all want to feel happier, healthier, and more vibrantly alive. What if in just 40 days we could reach a new level of wellness and balance that we’ve never experienced before? In 40 Days to Better Living: Optimal Health (Barbour Publishing, July 2011), Dr. Scott Morris, founder of Church Health Center, the largest faith-based clinic of its type in the United States, offers a straightforward and successful plan to get there.

The first in a series of striking full color health and wellness books by Dr. Morris and the Church Health Center staff, 40 Days to Better Living: Optimal Health confirms and clarifies what many of us already suspect: living the life we’ve always wanted must go deeper than a diet and exercise program and an occasional attempt to “do better.” Morris is convinced that to achieve the highest degree of wellness requires a multi-dimensional approach and a concentrated effort to be healthy in both body and spirit. He believes, “True health is grounded in the spiritual life that embraces the physical bodies God gives us.” Morris adds, “Instead of the absence of disease, I see health as the presence of those elements that lead us to joy and love, and that drive us closer to God. Finding balance by nurturing our spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical needs is essential to the real health of the whole person.”

40 Days to Better Living: Optimal Health offers clear, manageable steps to life-changing attitudes and actions in a context of understanding and grace for all people at all points on the journey to optimal health. With plenty of practical advice, spiritual encouragement, and real stories of those who have found a better life, this simple and skillfully crafted book inspires readers to customize their own path to wellness by using the 7-Step Model for Healthy Living as a guide:

· Nutrition: pursuing smarter food choices and eating habits

· Friends and family: giving and receiving support through relationships

· Emotional life: understanding feelings and managing stress to better care for yourself

· Work: appreciating your skills, talents, and gifts

· Movement: discovering ways to enjoy physical activity

· Medical care: partnering with health care providers to optimize medical care

· Faith life: building a relationship with God, neighbors, and self

Product Details:

List Price: $7.99
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (July 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616262648
ISBN-13: 978-1616262648

AND NOW…THE FIRST PAGES (CLICK ON PAGES TO SEE THEM BETTER):

My Review

 

At first I wasn’t sure about this book, but as I really got into reading it, I found I like it very much. Each section, or week begins with a different person’s story, and each day of that week the book gives you things to do and think about throughout the day. Each day you have a Morning Reflection with subjects like Faith Life, Medical, Movement, Emotions, Nutrition and then there is an evening wrap up. Its complied together like a daily devotional making it easy to do what is necessary for each day. Following the book for forty days will be an eye opener about your health and ways you can help have optimal health.

I enjoyed this book very much. It is so chunked full of information yet breaking it down into 40 days makes it much easier and doesn’t take a lot of time each day. It is full of helpful pictures as well, which helps to enlighten what you read.

I recommend this book to anyone wanting to improve your health. And if you always say you never have time, then this is the book for you! Only a short time a day for forty days will teach you enough to start you off right!

I rec’d this book from the publisher through B&B Media. I was not required or expected to write a positive review.

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FIRST Wild Card Tour…..Mirror Ball…by Matt Redman

FIRST Wild Card Tour…..Mirror Ball…by Matt Redman

a href=”http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/TA3PbPpKjHI/AAAAAAAAEFE/e9Dq6nSnpCA/s1600/FIRSTWildCardTours2.jpg”>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:
Matthew Redman

and the book:

Mirror Ball

David C. Cook (July 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, The B&B Media Group, for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Matt Redman has been leading worship full-time since the age of 20. His journey has taken him to countries such as South Africa, Japan, India, Australia, Germany, Uganda, Croatia and the Czech Republic. He has worked with many church plants and is currently involved with St Peters, a new church planted out of HTB in London. His early compositions include “The Heart of Worship,” “Better Is One Day” and “Once Again.” More recent songs have included “Blessed Be Your Name” and “You Never Let Go” (both written with his wife, Beth). Redman is also the author of three books which all center on the theme of worship: The Unquenchable Worshipper, Facedown and Blessed Be Your Name (co-authored with Beth). Plus he has compiled two other books: The Heart of Worship Files and Inside-Out Worship. Redman and his wife currently live on the south coast of England with their five children.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

God’s Light Shines Through the Smallest Prism

Matt Redman invites readers to reflect God’s dazzling radiance.

When God shines upon His church, we become a dazzling testimony to His awesome radiance. You may feel ineffective. You might have lost confidence in your ability to shine. You may think you are too small or inconsequential to ever be of any value in the kingdom of God. But no matter at all—for, in the end, it is all a matter of light. His light. The life of worship never begins with you. It starts and ends with Jesus. In his newest book, Mirror Ball: Living a Life that Reflects God’s Radiance, worship leader and songwriter Matt Redman reminds us that even when we feel insufficient to reflect God’s glory, God can show through us as light radiates through a prism. Living in this truth will transform how we view our words, our relationships and our daily lives.

Passion is not only that which gets us up in the morning; it helps us see it through to the end of the day. And for anyone who has truly encountered the wonder of the cross, it soon becomes a way of life. If you’re looking for a heightened way to tell God you love Him, the very best way has little to do with stringing poetic sentences together. It involves a life laid down in service and adoration. The concrete evidence of whether worship has lived or died in us will always be our lives. We sing our songs with good intent, but in the end our lives must become the evidence.

In and of ourselves we have no light. But in His bright and shining light we are transformed and begin to radiate the glories of our God to the world around us. You may be feeling totally inadequate for that task. But if so, you have simply forgotten the most important part of the equation. It is not about you and your best efforts. It is the light, power and love of Christ illuminating our fragile lives.

Through story, Scripture and practical inspiration, Redman encourages his readers to remember that, however inadequate they may feel to live out this passion, God will work in and through them. After all, the same God who said “let there be light” has made His light to shine in their hearts, illuminating their lives and the lives of those around them.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (July 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781405785
ISBN-13: 978-0781405782

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

1

The Passion of the Christian

It’s New Year’s Eve in downtown Nashville, and things are getting crazy. There’s a mood of fun and festivity everywhere you look. And inside the biggest arena of all, two of the most popular country acts in the nation lead thousands of fans in a celebration of the end of one year and the beginning of the next. The music cranks up loud and the shouts of the audience respond in kind. The truth is, people love to party.

That night in Tennessee, we arrived to prepare for the Passion college gathering. Over the next few evenings the same arena would fill again, and we’d start a party of a different kind. No less volume

or excitement—hopefully more—but a whole different reason for letting out those shouts of joy. If people can get that excited over December becoming January, what on earth does it look like when over twenty thousand college students get their hearts and heads around the glory and grace of God? What does it sound like when we find ourselves caught up in the epic story of the One who came to this earth, endured the cross, and made a way home for us—all in the name of love and rescue? As loud and as fun as those New Year celebrations might be, shouldn’t they become just the faintest whisper when compared with the thunderous shouts and applause that accompany the praise of the King of all heaven? In the words of the old worship hymn, “Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.”
I once met a man who’d survived a shark attack by screaming so loudly that he burst blood vessels in his neck. His ear-piercing cries gave the shark so much of a headache that it gave up the attack and swam away. Where did such a loud scream come from? It came from deep inside him—from the very depths of who he was, crying out for mercy and survival.
So on the last night of the Passion student gathering that year, my good friend Louie Giglio, the founder of Passion, decided we were going to throw the party to end all parties. No low-key affair with some semiloud music and a halfhearted whoop or two—but a full-on, turn-it-up-loud celebration of the Son of God. The point being that if we truly live in the light of Christ and all that He has accomplished, there’s a time to be a little bit outrageous in our gathered response to Him.
The day of the worship-fueled party arrived, and things were beginning to happen inside the arena. People hung extra lights and prepared song lists, and everything looked good for some extreme celebration. Apart from one thing, that is. Louie had been excitedly talking about a mirror-ball moment, which he’d planned for a while. At just the right time, during a joyful worship song, he planned to lower this thing, shine some lights on it, and give a little extra visually creative expression to these full-on celebrations. The first time I heard about the mirror ball, it sounded like a good idea—until I entered the arena, that is. Hanging above the center of the stage was a tiny spherical object, and as I strained my eyes to see it, I thought the object certainly looked like a mirror ball. But I was sure this couldn’t be Louie’s mirror ball: It was tiny—the kind of thing I’d seen every year from the age of seven at my school disco. Yet—I looked around—there didn’t seem to be any other mirror balls hanging up there. And so I had to conclude that this must be the one he was talking about. Quite frankly, I was worried. I decided that we were headed for the biggest anticlimax in the history of Christian worship gatherings. Louie had told everyone on the team about this great disco-ball moment that would help lead us in our joyful worship celebrations—when, as far as I could tell, it was going to be a moment of laughter for all the wrong reasons. I wanted to be a good friend and warn him—but he was so pumped about his little mirror ball, I just didn’t have the heart.
As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. The evening was wonderful. The thousands of students assembling that night to worship Jesus arrived in silence—as we’d been encouraged to do to prepare our hearts for gathered worship. Through songs and sounds and moments of ancient liturgy, we went to the cross. There we recalled the most amazing act of obedience and sacrifice this world has ever seen. We paused for a while, and I was reminded once again that God makes worshippers out of wonderers. As our hearts breathed in afresh the mystery of grace, we exhaled reverent awe and thanksgiving in response. The soul-gripping mystery of Calvary fueled the fires of our praise, and remembrance led us to rejoicing. Next, we began to turn up the volume a notch or two, with heartfelt songs of devotion resounding intensely around the room. In Scripture, Jesus Himself said that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks—and as we stood there in amazement at the grace and glory of God, sounds of joyful thanksgiving tried to find a way out of our hearts.
And then the moment arrived. Mirror ball time. Down from the ceiling came the world’s smallest disco ball. I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry … or get my binoculars out to actually see the thing.
However, in one bright, shining moment, all of my fears died. Powerful beams of light hit the face of the ball, and suddenly, in every corner of that massive arena, radiance shone all around. Light filled the room. It seemed to glow on every face and shine on every inch of floor, wall, and ceiling. A huge arena filled with light—by way of a tiny little mirror ball. And people partied. In that moment, focusing on the glory of the Savior and celebrating His victories, we shouted for joy and danced with abandon.

It turns out that in all my doubting and questioning of Louie’s mirror ball, I’d seriously underestimated the most important factor—the power and brilliance of the beams of light that shone upon it.
In the end, it was all a matter of light.

When it comes to a life of worship and mission, the very same rules apply. In and of ourselves we have no light. But in His bright and shining light we are transformed—and begin to radiate the glories of our God to the world around us. You may be feeling totally inadequate, far from ready for that task. But if so, you have forgotten the most important part of the equation. It is not about you and your best efforts. It is about the light, power, and love of Christ illuminating our fragile lives. As Scripture reminds us, the same God who said, “Let there be light,” has made His light to shine in our hearts.

When God shines upon His church, we become a dazzling testimony to His awesome radiance. You may feel ineffective. You might have lost confidence in your ability to shine. You may think you are too small or inconsequential to ever be of any value in the kingdom of God. But no matter at all—for, in the end, it’s all a matter of light. His light. The life of worship never begins with you. It starts and ends with Jesus.
Back to Nashville for a moment. I left the arena that night inspired by the shouts and the songs that had been poured out in that place. But the mirror ball left a really big impression. It reminded me of our ultimate call as we live on this earth—to shine all around for the glory of God.

Then another thought hit me: So often we equate passion with volume and energy, and surely that can play an important part. But when it comes to true passion, ultimately those things are just the tip of the iceberg—the part most on display. However, God looks beneath the surface, searching our hearts. Yes, God does call us to sing. He calls us to sing loudly, boldly, joyfully, and reverently before Him. Just check out the exhortations in so many of the psalms for evidence. God loves a shout of praise or a joyful noise brought in His name. These things are great and important ways of expressing the explosive celebrations happening in our hearts. But to complete the integrity of these offerings, God is looking for a people who will take their passion to the next level and begin to shine His light in their everyday lives. A people who will stand in the light of who He is and reflect His wonders for all the world to see. We see the light. We celebrate the light. And we send the light.

Lives Laid Down

Lives of passion step outside the normal and rational and give all they have gladly and generously. I love this definition of passion being made popular by Louie: “Passion is the degree of difficulty we are willing to endure to achieve the goal.” Defined in this way, passion becomes a life laid down in extravagant surrender—thoughts, words, and deeds thrown wholeheartedly into the mix even when it costs us something. Or indeed, costs us everything.

This definition also brings us right back to the cross. The passion of Jesus shows us the most heightened example we will ever see of “the degree of difficulty we are willing to endure to achieve the goal.” At Calvary we encounter the Savior of the world—who, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross and scorned all of its shame. He underwent agonies we could never imagine. If we were to look at the cross simply through the lens of physical torture it would be grueling enough in and of itself. The cross was one of the most gruesome and painful forms of capital punishment this world has ever seen.

Yet this was no ordinary crucifixion. For here was the Son of God—He who was pure and faultless—becoming stained by our sin and shame. The One so accustomed to the peace and joy of heaven encountered the depths of earthly shame, suffering, and pain. He had no sin and instead became sin for us. He who existed in close communion with the Father felt the cruelty and dark loneliness of Gethsemane and Calvary. Add all of these factors together, and you are left with a cross that is not only physically heavy to carry—but one that is unfathomably heavy to bear in spiritual, emotional, and psychological terms. Yet Christ did so. And, astonishingly, He chose to do so. That is the ultimate display of passion.
Be assured, Jesus was not eager to face the agonies of that place. We do not find Him bubbling over with anticipation—completely the opposite. On the eve of His death, the Savior cries out:

“Abba, Father … everything is possible for you. Take

this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you

will.” (Mark 14:36)

A passionate obedience to the Father and an unwavering commitment to His mission see Jesus through the loneliness of Gethsemane and to the cross. This really is the passion of the Christ. And the passion of the worshipper must take on the very same characteristics.

The Scriptures are full of worship songs and devotional music—and in the right place, music can play such a wonderful and unique role in our worship. It’s part of how we’ve been made and a wonderful way to express our devotion to God together. Eugene Peterson writes:
Song and dance are the result of an excess energy.

When we are normal we talk, when we are dying we

whisper, but when there is more in us than we contain

we sing. When we are healthy we walk, when

we are decrepit we shuffle, but when we are beyond

ourselves with vitality we dance.

But passionate worship is never a matter of merely getting the words and tune right or raising a loud shout. The true test of our passion for God will always be our lives. If I’m looking for a heightened way to tell God I love Him, the very best way has very little to do with stringing poetic sentences together. It involves a life laid down in service and adoration. The concrete evidence of whether our worship has lived or died in us will always be our lives. We may sing our songs with good intentions, but in the end our lives must become the evidence.
Singing is easy. The proof is always in the living. Or even the dying. Will the music in our hearts subside when the going gets tough? Will we be distracted or discouraged from our cause when the conditions aren’t favorable? Will the fireworks of our excited hearts come to nothing more than a momentary spark that fizzles out, never to be seen again? Or could we prove the flames of our passion even in the furnace of difficulty, inconvenience, and endurance?

Passion is not only that which gets us up in the morning—it helps us see it through to the end of the day. Passion finishes what it begins and makes good on its promise of running the race with perseverance and turning good intentions into fulfilled dreams. Passion is always more than a party. It’s a story of guts and glory, pain and purpose. And for anyone who has truly encountered the wonder of the cross, it soon becomes a way of life.

Copyright 2011 Matt Redman. Mirror Ball published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce in any way. All rights reserved.

 

 
MY REVIEW
In Mirror Ball, Matt Redman encourages us that we should be reflecting God in everything we do. Our daily lives should reflect God in our actions, dealing with circumstances in our lives and our interactions with others. Just as his songs teach us how important it is to worship God, the author does the same in this book. One verse he uses is a favorite of mine; “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you” (Matt.6:23). And throughout the book Matt quotes scripture or songs to remind us what he is teaching.
I’ve like Matt Redman every since I read the reason behind writing the praise and worship song, “Heart of Worship”. I like his emphasis on how and why we should worship. From everything he writes he seem so real and so in love with the Lord. We need more people like him to have a heart for God and for leading others to Christ and our worship in Him.
I encourage everyone to pick up a copy of this book, read it, and follow the study questions that’s in the back. You will find a very nice Bible study as well as.\
I rec’d this book from the publisher through FIRST WildCard Tours. I was not required to give a positive review.

Litefuse Tour……Safe From The Past….By Patricia Miller Mauro

Welcome to the blog tour for Patricia Miller Mauro’s powerful memoir of struggle and perseverance. We’re honored to help her spread her message of hope and possibility. Join us 7/22 through 8/4 as bloggers and reviewers post their reveiws of this a truly inspiring, deeply personal tale of perseverance in the face of unimaginable hardships.

About the book:

A kidnapping, the divorce of her parents, the loss of her father, temporary abandonment and extreme poverty are just some of the issues the author dealt with as a young child. Her mother finally tells her she must go to college so she can break out of this cycle of poverty and hopelessness. But how can she when she has no money and absolutely no confidence or self esteem?

Read this true story to discover what hope, faith and determination can do to change a life. A truly inspiring, deeply personal tale of perseverance in the face of unimaginable hardships, Safe from the Past makes clear the restorative power of an education.

Told in an open, honest voice with the deepest sincerity, the author’s life story serves as a rousing inspiration to those with the desire to create a better life than the one they are currently living. No matter how helpless you feel, everyone has the power to shape their own life.

Link to buy the book: http://www.amazon.com/Safe-Past-Story-Faith-Determination/dp/1933651849/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1310054112&sr=sprightly-20

Meet Patricia Miller Mauro:

Patricia worked in New York City’s financial district for thirteen years in the field of securities operations. At that time, she went on to obtain an MBA from New York University. She and her husband moved to Dallas, TX in 2001 where they are raising their two children.During her time in NY, Patricia wrote an article entitled “A Tribute To My Mother” which was published in “The Recovery Journal” in 1999. Her book is a continuation of that tribute and serves to spread the message to those in similar situations that good news is on its way to children considering a higher education but who are afraid to dream. For more information please visit, www.patriciamaurobooks.com.

Help spread the word and be entered to win $30 to Amazon.com!

To enter all you have to do is send a tweet (using #litfuse) about Safe From the Past or share about it on Facebook!

If you tweet we’ll capture your entry when you use @litfuse. If you share it on Facebook or your blog, just email us and let us know (info@litfusegroup.com). Easy. (All Litfuse bloggers who post a review are automatically entered and do NOT need to email us.)

Not sure what to tweet/post? Here’s an idea.

TWEET THIS: Safe From the Past by Patricia Mauro – inspiring tale of perseverance in the face of unimaginable hardships. http://ow.ly/5FQHA @litfuse

FACEBOOK THIS: Don’t miss Patricia Mauro’s Safe From the Past  – inspiring, deeply personal tale of perseverance in the face of unimaginable hardships. http://ow.ly/5FQHA. Told in an open, honest voice with the deepest sincerity, the author’s life story serves as a rousing inspiration to those with the desire to create a better life than the one they are currently living.

My Review

Everyone has a past. Everyone has a story to tell about their past, but some have very horrible stories like the author that makes you wonder how they made it through the things they endured. Patty and her sister were kidnapped by their Amish father but their mother used the court system to get them back. This was worse than ever for them because of their mother’s lifestyle. And when the mom met Bill, instead of things getting better, they got worse. Bill and their mom focused on drinking and didn’t give the girls a safe of comfortable place to live. This kept leading to even a more horrible time for the two girls.

This was a pretty fast but yet difficult book to read because of the things the author went through. I was amazed at her story and how she was determined to make something of her life no matter what. I was blessed with Christian parents that loved and cared for us, but there are many people out there that needs to hear Patricia’s story and how it made her be the woman she is today, because their life was much the same.

I would encourage anyone growing up exposed to tough situations such as Patty and her sister were to get a copy of this book and see how they managed to have a happy and fulfilled life despite their upbringing.

I was given a copy of this book to read and review by the publisher through Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to give a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine alone.

Blog Tour Schedule: http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13380085)

PUYB Tour with Greg Messel and Expiation


Greg Messel has spent much of his life in the Pacific Northwest living in Portland, Oregon and in the Seattle area since 2008.  He has been married to his wife, Carol, for 40 years.  Greg and Carol were high school sweethearts just like the couple in “Expiation.”  He has lived in Washington, Oregon, California, Utah and Wyoming.  Greg grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated from high school there and also attended a year of junior college.  Greg went to Brigham Young University with Carol and then began a newspaper career in rough and tumble Wyoming town of Rock Springs.  Greg and Carol have three married children and nine grandchildren.

Greg has always loved writing.   He worked as the news editor and sports editors of the Daily Rocket-Miner newspaper.  He won a Wyoming Press Association award for his column.  He also submitted and had published articles in various sports magazines.  He left the newspaper business in 1981 and began a 27 year career with Pacific Power.  Greg retired in 2008 and moved to Seattle.

It was there that he returned to his first love of writing.   He has written two unpublished memoirs and published his first novel with Trafford in September 2009.   His first novel was called “Sunbreaks.”   The second novel “Expiation” was published in the spring of 2010 with Trafford.  A third novel is in the works.

Currently, Greg and Carol live on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, just north of downtown Seattle. They have three adult children who are all married and have nine grandchildren.  He also enjoys running, he has been in several races and half marathons.

Visit his website at www.gregmessel.com.

Connect with him at Twitter at www.twitter.com/gregmessel and Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.messel.

About Expiation

In 1968, Dan and Katie are one of the hottest couples at Ballard High School in Seattle. He is the hero football player, and she is the beautiful cheerleader. These high school sweethearts believe theirs is a love that will never die.

Life changes when Dan leaves Washington to start college at the University of California Berkeley and pursue his dream of working for a big time newspaper in the glamorous city of San Francisco. The quest for his dream occurs against the turbulent background of Berkeley and San Francisco in the 1970s as Dan and Katie go their separate ways.

Now, thirty years later, Dan is back in his hometown of Seattle attending his mother’s funeral. He’s never stopped thinking about Katie, his long-lost love. But the two former high school sweethearts reconnect in a most unexpected way as the rest of the world grows more fearful of Y2K and the dawn of the twenty-first century. They are hoping that their love, once lost, can now be reclaimed.

 

My Review

When Dan goes back home to Seattle for his mom’s funeral, he meets up with his highschool sweetheart after 30 years of not seeing each other. It just happens that both are now single, and they find that they still have feelings for each other. Join Dan and Katie as they reunite again and find the love they lost so many years ago. But with each settled in a life of their own, will they be able to make a go of it, or will it be another goodbye, and this time forever.

I have always been fond of books about second chances and that is why I chose this one to read. The story of Dan and Katie is a wonderful story of a couple getting a second chance at being together. Since they hadn’t seen each other in 30 years, Katie decided to go to Dan’s mom’s funeral to see Dan again. As they tell the stories of their lives spent apart for the past 30 years, you will feel the joys and hurts each feel as they spend many hours catching up.

I liked Katie from the beginning. Her past had caused a lot of sadness and loneliness and she had been alone for many years after a marriage gone bad. I was happy for her that she would finally find the love and happiness she deserved. Dan was a different story for me. He had a sad past, losing his wife to cancer and having to raise his daughter alone, he buried himself into his work to cover the loss in his life. But still its seemed that he was the one that lost interest after moving to Washington. He didn’t come home or keep in contact with Katie like he promised he would. And after coming home and not finding her, he left a letter she never rec’d. Why didn’t he let her know he was coming in to see her? You would think he would, right? And the fact that he didn’t seem disappointed that he never heard from Katie after leaving the letter didn’t go well with me either. And that was mainly because he had another girlfriend back in Washington, and was glad Katie got him off the hook by not contacting him. And then there was the all too goodie goodie with Katie, he was almost too good to be true. I know, I know a bit of man bashing, but not meaning too!  Just what I feel!

But it did have a happy ending for both of them. So that part is good..

Pitch Black……by Melody Carlson

Pitch Black……by Melody Carlson

 

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: NavPress (October 25, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1576835324
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576835326
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches

Book Blurb:

Description: If Morgan thought her life was tough before–what with a drug-addicted, klepto brother and a cradle-robbing mother–it just got worse: Her friend Jason took his own life.

Morgan copes–or tries to–by attempting to piece together vague clues that might explain Jason’s suicide. Making matters worse, she can’t help but feel responsible somehow. Sometimes she thinks maybe Jason had the right idea all along.

This fourth book in the teen fiction series TrueColors deals with the important topics of grief, suicide, self-worth, identity, and handling tragedy.

My Review

Teen Suicide is not a subject we like to read or talk about but it is real folks. And Melody Carlson has created a cast of characters telling a heartbreaking story that will stay with you for a long time. My heart ached for these teens as they tried to decide whether or not they would be better off copying what their friend Jason did. After all, if Jason didn’t want to live, being a Christian and living a seemingly good life, should they want to live when their lives, and their family lives were so dysfunctional?

This is a book every teen should have the opportunity to read. With the exceptional writing by the author making readers feel like we are living the story with these teens, maybe this book could save the life of someone thinking the same thoughts as Jason and these teens. I very highly recommend this book to teens and parents of teens to read and discuss with each other. Pitch Black should be in every library, everywhere!

I received this book free from NavPress to read and review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55

About the Author

Melody Carlson

Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from preschool teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past eleven years, she has published more than 150 books for children, teens, and adults, with sales close to three million and many titles appearing on best sellers lists.

Several of her books have been finalists and winners of various writing awards, including The Gold Medallion and The Rita Award. And most recently, she is in the process of optioning some of her books for film rights.

Carlson’s passion for writing has been greatly focused on teens. Informed and aware of the challenges and struggles teens face today, she writes young adult novels that she hopes will change lives. Her popular series Diary of a Teenage Girl (Multnomah) has sold more than 300,000 copies. Her TrueColors series (Nav Press) focuses on hard-hitting issues such as suicide, addiction, and cutting. Her series The Secret Life of Samantha McGregor explores the paranormal from a godly perspective. And her latest series, The Carter House Girls, offers readers a cleaned-up alternative to the popular Gossip Girl books.

She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains. http://www.melodycarlson.com

Purchase at Amazon   and at  CBD

Trusting God for Everything–Psalm 23 A Personal Retreat Guide by Jan Johnson

Trusting God for Everything–Psalm 23 A Personal Retreat Guide by Jan Johnson

ISBN-13: 9781600066610

Trim Size: 5 1/2 x 8 1/4

Cover: Paperback

112 Pages

 
Read first chapter HERE

My Review

This book is designed for a ladies retreat study with seven sessions taking you through Psalm 23. In this study, you don’t just read the verses and read a little bit about each verse, you read, and re-read over and over again. After you read the verses, you meditate on what you have read, you immerse yourself into Gods message to you. You read and understand the meaning of the words, the theme of the scriptures you read, and you picture the passage you have read. Then you respond to God’s message to you and you rest in the message God has given you. Throughout each lesson there are lots of questions to answer which I love, because I seem to understand so much more when there are questions about what I’ve read to answer.

I thoroughly enjoyed this study, though I didn’t do the study in a retreat setting, I studied through the book on my own. This is one great thing about this book. It can be used many ways, not just the retreat setting it was designed for. The author so wonderfully designed this book breaking down each chapter and each section in the chapters to make the study more profitable to those using it. She did the planning work for us, we just need the book, along with our Bibles and start studying. This book is a valuable resource for any library as well. I encourage ladies to seriously check out this book for themselves, and request it for your next Bible study.

I received this book free from NavPress to read and review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55

About the Author

Jan Johnson

JAN JOHNSON enjoys speaking at retreats and conferences, hoping to ignite within listeners a burning desire to know God in an authentic way and to live out a kingdom life in the daily companionship of Jesus. Unwilling to minimize the mystery of God or the human struggle, Jan presents biblical principles and characters in down-to-earth ways so that people can connect with God and become more thirsty for God. Her observations about life’s dilemmas give listeners a lot to study, ponder, and laugh about.

As an author and spiritual director, Jan holds degrees in Christian education and spiritual direction (D.Min.), which along with many years of Bible teaching, have equipped her to write hundreds of published Bible study sessions. She is also the author of sixteen books and more than a thousand newspaper and magazine articles. Jan is the author of 13 books and more than 1000 Bible studies. You can find out more information at http://www.janjohnson.org.

Purchase at Amazon       Purchase at CBD

CFBA Tour of Canary Island Song by Robin Jones Gunn

This week, theChristian Fiction Blog Allianceis introducingCanary Island SongHoward Books; Original edition (July 5, 2011)byRobin Jones Gunn
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Robin Jones Gunn was born in Wisconsin and lived on a dairy farm until her family moved to southern California when she was five years old. She grew up in Orange County and spent her summers at Newport Beach with friends from her church youth group. After attending Biola University and Capernwray Bible School in Austria, Robin and Ross were married and spent the next two decades working together in youth ministry.

It was the young teens at Robin’s church who challenged her to write stories for them. She hadn’t thought much about being a writer, but took their request to heart and set her alarm for 3am, three days a week. With two small children it was the only time she could find to write the first story about Christy Miller. After two years and ten rejections the novel Summer Promise was accepted for publication in 1988. Robin hasn’t stopped writing since. Over 4 million copies of her 75 books have sold and can be found in a dozen translations all over the world.

Robin and her husband now live in Hawai’i where Ross is a counselor and Robin continues to write to the sound of tropical birds chattering in the palm trees outside her window. Their children are grown but manage to come to the islands with their families every chance they get. Robin’s awards include: three Christy awards for excellence in fiction, a Gold Medallion finalist, Mt. Hermon Pacesetter and the Mt. Hermon Writer of the Year award. Robin travels extensively and is a frequent key-note speaker at various events around the world. She serves on the Board of Directors for Media Associates International and Jerry Jenkin’s Christian Writer’s Guild.
ABOUT THE BOOK

When Carolyn’s grown daughter tells her she needs to “get a life,” Carolyn decides it’s time to step out of her familiar routine as a single woman in San Francisco and escape to her mother’s home in the Canary Islands. Since Carolyn’s mother is celebrating her seventieth birthday, the timing of Carolyn’s visit makes for a perfect surprise.

The surprise, however, is on Carolyn when she sees Bryan Spencer, her high school summer love. It’s been seven years since Carolyn lost her husband, but ever since that tragic day, her life has grown smaller and closed in. The time has come for Carolyn to get her heart back. It takes the gentle affection of her mother and aunts, as well as the ministering beauty and song of the islands to draw Carolyn into the fullness of life. She is nudged along by a Flamenco dance lesson, a defining camel ride and the steady gaze of Bryan’s intense blue-gray eyes.

Is it too late for Carolyn to trust Bryan? Can Carolyn believe that Bryan has turned into something more than the wild beach boy who stole her kisses so many years ago on a balmy Canary night?

Carolyn is reminded that Christopher Columbus set sail from the Canary Islands in 1492 on his voyage to discover the New World. Is she ready to set sail from these same islands to discover her new life?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Canary Island Song, go HERE.

My Thoughts…
Though I don’t have this book, I wanted to blog the Book Tour for others to read about it. I hope to have it on my list very soon!!

Making It In Hollywood…By: Bryan Hidalgo and Gail O’Donnell

Making It In Hollywood  Book Review

 



About Making It In Hollywood

LEARN the secrets of how to become a successful actor, screenwriter, director, or producer from the people who’ve made it—and are continuing to make it! Authors Bryan Hidalgo and Gail O’Donnell have interviewed more than 100 of today’s top actors, screenwriters, directors, and producers—including Oscar and Emmy winners—who reveal, in their own words, how they started, how they work, how they got where they are today, and how you can get there too.

The result is a truly inspirational compilation of interviews, with answers, encouragement and guidance straight from the horse’s mouth. Discover where to start, what training to pursue, when to get an agent, how to be your best at auditions, and much more.

In-depth interviews were conducted with stars, creators, writers, directors, or producers of such hit TV shows as Lost, 24, House, The Shield, Sex and the City, Breaking Bad, Desperate Housewives, Hawaii Five-O, How I Met Your Mother, Grey’s Anatomy, Criminal Minds, Southland, Law and Order: SVU, Medium, Castle, One Tree Hill, Boston Legal, Without a Trace, Sons of Anarchy, Dexter, Nip/Tuck, Moonlighting, X-Files, and Oz, and motion pictures such as Twilight, Marley & Me, Hairspray, Pulp Fiction, When Harry Met Sally, Mission: Impossible, Star Trek, X-Men, Serpico, Back to the Future, Spider-Man, Jurassic Park, Mrs. Doubtfire, Catch Me If You Can, The Devil Wears Prada, Forrest Gump, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, True Lies, The Phantom of the Opera, Harold & Kumar, Austin Powers, Eat Pray Love, American Beauty, The Proposal, and Face/Off, among many others.

Sit down with Hollywood’s finest and let them help you start “Making It In Hollywood”!

Save the Children, as the recipient of a portion of the authors’ royalties from the sale of Making It In Hollywood, gratefully acknowledges the efforts of authors Bryan Hidalgo and Gail O’Donnell, and participating industry professionals for their roles in the creation of this book.

Here’s what reviewers are saying about Making It In Hollywood!

Making It in Hollywood is a must read for all those taking acting classes, or aspiring to “get tape” in the industry. It’s a great gift as a graduation present to those that like to be on the receiving side of the lights, as well as those more comfortable writing or making movies. It’s a book that crosses genres from reference to philosophy, from self help to anecdotal humor. This is an invaluable book for not only people seeking work in the entrainment industry but for fans of the magic of Hollywood. This book is easy to read, filled with actual stories of those who’ve found success and is literally a blueprint on how to build your career. It can best be summed up with the song lyrics from New York, New York, “If you can make it there, you can make it … anywhere.”

MY REVIEW

Are you seeking directions that will land you to a career in Hollywood? Are you overwhelmed with everything involved on your trip to ‘Making it to Hollywood’? Then this book has the answers for you! Filled with advice, direction, suggestions, answers to questions you might have, answers to how others made the trip of their lives. In this book, you will find over 100 actors, screenwriters, producers and directors that have been interviewed by the authors and complied in this book of over 600 pages.

You will hear from actors such as:
Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander;

Screenwriters such as Carlton Cuse (Writer and Executive Producer of Lost);

Director of the movie Ex-Files Rob Bowman;
Todd Black producer of The Back-Up Plan.

You find answers to questions such as:
How did your career begin?

What advice would someone need preparing for an audition?
I
s it important for a director to have studied acting?

What are the essential skills do you think a producer should have?

Would you recommend film school for someone interested in becoming a screenwriter?

I have given you an idea of what is in this book. Believe me, it is chunked full of enough questions and answers to keep you busy for a while. The authors did an awesome job of finding the right questions for each job mentioned, as well as finding the people to best answer these questions. In the pages of this book, you will very well see that a career in Hollywood does not come quick and easy. It takes much time and patience during the time you are training for your dream job.

I really enjoyed this book, though I’m not interested in a Hollywood career! It was interesting for me to see how each person’s career begin, and what it took to land them in the job they are now doing. So I not only recommend this book to all who are interested in a Hollywood career, but anyone who is interested in the people who entertain us.

 

About Bryan Hidalgo

Bryan Hidalgo is an entertainment attorney who worked for several years in Business and Legal Affairs for Columbia Pictures, TriStar Pictures, MCA Records, and Geffen Records, before transitioning to private practice.  He is a graduate of the UCLA School of Law.  Prior to his legal career, he performed as a concert pianist, and was an Official Pianist for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics Opening Ceremonies.  In addition to serving as an industry consultant, Bryan is currently working on his next book.  He lives in Los Angeles, California.

His latest book is Making It In Hollywood.

Visit his website at www.makingitinhollywood.biz.

 

About Gail O’Donnell

Gail Gradin O’Donnell is an accomplished Hollywood makeup artist. Her artistry has graced some of the most beautiful and recognized celebrity faces in the world on all the major film and television award shows, including the Academy Awards, Emmys, Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild. She has recently launched her own line of makeup. Prior to her career as a makeup artist, Gail was employed by the prestigious Creative Artists Agency, Inc., and has been a personal assistant to Alan Alda. She resides in Los Angeles, California.

Her latest book is Making It In Hollywood.

Visit her website at www.makingitinhollywood.biz.

 

 

Interview And Giveaway with Paula Wiseman

Hello everyone, I am so happy to have Paula Wiseman on my blog today. Paula is a new author for me, and I am excited to have new books and a new author to add to my list. Paula is the author of Contingency and Indemninty and a third book that will be out this fall Precedent.
I haven’t read Paula’s books yet, but they or on my list to read in a week or so. Watch for the reviews to come.

Paula will be giving away her books Contingency to the blogger who’s name is chosen on August 1st. Be sure to leave a comment about the interview and don’t forget to leave your email!

Now lets meet Paula!

Hey Paula, it’s great to have you on my blog today. Thank you so much for being here. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Joy, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be here. Thank you so much for having me. I’m a former research chemist, turned homeschooling mom and author. I married a super terrific man, and we have three wonderful kids, a little dog, and a hateful cat.

LOL sorry about your hateful cat Paula!


How long have you been writing?

I am a total word nerd, always writing, reading or teaching something. I’ve written stories since grade school, and wrote a novel in college. That one will probably never see the light of day. My first book, Contingency was an idea that percolated for a couple of years before I started work on it in 2005.

I’m looking forward to Reading  Contingency and Indemnity . It is on my soon to read list. We are glad you are giving us more great book choices to read!


What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

 I love creating, especially working out plots and refining characters in a first draft. I have some great friends who are a tremendous help at that stage in the process. We really enjoy batting ideas around, and I’m a much better writer thanks to their help.

I also dearly love hearing from readers. Few things are as satisfying as connecting with someone over a shared story.

Ok bloggers remember this and don’t forget to contact Paula and let her know you support her, and go purchase her books and write a review on them as well!


Tell us one of your favorite Scriptures?

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

    I have called you by your name;

    You are Mine.

    When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

    And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.

    When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,

    Nor shall the flame scorch you.

    For I am the Lord your God,

    The Holy One of Israel, your Savior

(Isaiah 43:1-3)

 I love the tender reassurance and the intensity of God’s love that comes through in these verses.

If my readers pay attention to what comes out of my preacher characters’ mouths, they’ll have a good idea what my other favorites are.

I love books with a healthy Biblical content, we appreciate authors writing books like this. This is a very good scripture to be a favorite too! Thank you for sharing that with us Paula.

 How do you find characters for your books? Are the influenced by family and friends?

None of my characters are fictionalized versions of anyone I know, but I do draw heavily from real people. Bobbi is not me, but there is more of me in her than any of my characters, except for coffee drinking. I never drink coffee. Never have. Her boys are loosely based on a good friend’s sons. A lot of Gavin’s dialogue came straight from my husband when we would discuss Contingency. When I drafted my second book, Indemnity, my son was the same age as Jack, so I borrowed some things from him.

I always love this question, to me it is so interesting to find out where these people come from that we read about and love.

What are 4 things about yourself that most people wouldn’t know about ?

*I keep mug full of M&Ms and a tub of bubble gum by my computer. I don’t think I could write without them.

*My favorite season is football season.

*I love the TV show, River Monsters. My son and I rarely miss it.

*I hate spiders and driving in big cities.

This is another favorite question, and thank you for answering! Makes us feel like we know you just a little bit better.

When will your next book be out?


I am editing my third book in the Covenant of Trust Series, Precedent, which releases later this fall.

Awesome, I hope you will come back for another blog visit when this book comes out too!

What are you working on now?

I just contracted a news series, called Foundations, about a father and son trying to find their relationship after the death of the wife/mother. This series has my favorite characters.

In addition, I’m outlining a couple of new projects before the ideas get away.

Sounds like you have a lot of work in progress, which is awesome for us readers. We will do whatever we can to help you promote your new work!
Where can our readers find you?

My website is www.paulawiseman.com and I’m on Facebook. Email works too. paula@paulawiseman.com.
Anything else you want to add?

I mentioned my son twice. I better get the girls some press time. My oldest is my chief cheerleader. I usually share my good news with her first, or at least second, just so she can squeal. My youngest is headed off to school this fall, and I’m really going to miss those morning snuggles.

It’s always more difficult on moms that on the child when they start school. I remember those days. How proud you have to be of your children that they cheer you on as a writer!

And I wanted to save this one until last, Tell us a bit about your books and what Inspired you to write them.

My faith is such a huge part of who I am. I wanted to write stories about people dealing with faith issues in the midst of some of life’s most challenging circumstances. Plus, So many people question that Scripture is relevant, that it has the answers for us in this day and age, that it can speak to the deepest cries of our hearts.

I believe God’s word is relevant, it does have the answers for us even in this day and age and it absolutely can speak to the deepest cries of our hearts. I want to demonstrate that.

Thank you so much Paula for speaking God’s Word to us through books. This gives me a real hunger to read your first two books: Contingency  and Indemnity and I hope to read and review your brand new book Precedent that releases later this year.

Folks that’s all today with Paula Wiseman, and I hope you will go out and buy a copy of her books. You can find them both online. I want to thank Paula so much for taking time out of her busy schedule to be with us today. We love and appreciate you Paula!

**I will post a review on my blog when I read them, as well as post to several online bookstores. I encourage you to do the same. And don’t forget to go by Paula’s website HERE and let her know how you like her books. I didn’t know until I started reviewing books just how much time and work is put into a book from the writing thru to the publishing date. I regret that I took advantage of authors and didn’t see the need to let them know how much we appreciate them for bringing us awesome books to read! And the important thing is unsaved people will read books when they may not read their bible and go to church. Books are a wonderful tool to lead our friends and families to Christ.

You can purchase Paula’s books HERE on AMAZON

Check the trailer for Idemnity

Paula’s Covenant of Trust Series:

Ok Folks….comment time. Don’t forget to mention something in the interview, and leave your email address.
Also rating one of by reviews will get you one extra entry, rating both will get you 3 extra entries. Please tell me in your comment how many you rated. thank you!
Click on book to rate review                                                                                                         Click on book to rate review

FIRST Wild Card Tour…Tombstones and Banana Trees….By Medad Birungi

FIRST Wild Card Tour…Tombstones and Banana Trees….By Medad Birungi

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:
Medad Birungi

and the book:

Tombstones and Banana Trees

David C. Cook (July 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, The B&B Media Group, for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Medad Birungi grew up in the war-torn country of Uganda in the 1960’s. He was born to a hateful father. And, after years of abuse, his father abandoned him, along with his mother and siblings, on the side of the road when he was only six years old. His life became increasingly difficult—his poverty increased, his hope evaporated and his future was nothing but decay. For the first twenty years of his life, he lived on a staple diet of anger and bitterness.

But God had his hand on Birungi’s life, and it would change beyond all recognition. Everything that was made ugly by pain and anger was turned to beauty by one incredibly simple yet revolutionary act: forgiveness. Though he started as a boy who begged to die by the side of the road, becoming a teenager angry enough to kill then a man broken and searching, he is now a testimony to God’s transforming power.

Currently Birungi is the coordinator for missions, evangelism and church planting in the Anglican Diocese of Kampala. He also lectures at the Kyambogo University. But one of his greatest passions is the charitable organization that he founded, World Shine Ministries. He is a father of nine children (five biological and four adopted). He and his wife Connie live with their children in Uganda.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

A Revolution of Forgiveness

Medad Birungi faced pain few imagine yet speaks of forgiveness all can experience

“My story changed beyond all recognition. Everything that was made ugly by pain and anger was turned to beauty by one simple, revolutionary thing—forgiveness.” Medad Birungi was once a boy who begged to die by the side of the road, a teenager angry enough to kill, a man broken and searching, yet today he is a testimony to God’s transforming power. In his life story, Tombstones and Banana Trees: A True Story of Revolutionary Forgiveness, Birungi charts his outrageous journey through suffering, abuse, despair and revenge to unexpected forgiveness and healing.

Birungi grew up with a violent father in the war-torn country of Uganda in the 1960’s. His childhood was scarred by extreme poverty, cruel suffering and unbearable sorrow that few of us can even imagine. Yet from that trauma came the lessons that we can all appreciate: the impoverishment of life without Christ, the redemption of the cross and the revolutionary power of forgiveness. His story deals in nothing less than pure, God-given transformation. Tombstones and Banana Trees has the dual quality of being both uniquely individual yet universally relevant, holding together the grandest of themes and the most intimate of testimonies. Birungi’s life is so comprehensively renewed that any reader sharing in his journey will feel the impact.

Through his story of healing, Birungi calls readers to find healing for their own emotional scars. He reminds them that when they forgive others they are doing something truly radical—changing relationships, communities and countries. They are welcoming God into the hidden corners of the human soul, where real revolution begins, inspiring others to start again and work for reconciliation. Birungi is “fascinated by forgiveness, drawn to it, compelled by it and delighted when anyone wants to join me. That is what revolutionary forgiveness becomes after a while—a passion. It draws us in, yet it does not overrule us. We must still make the choice to overcome our reservations.”

Tombstones and Banana Trees will take readers back to their own tombs and funerals and help them ask how God might turn them into new births and celebrations. Their eyes will be opened to the revolutionary change that God Himself has in store for all.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (July 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781405025
ISBN-13: 978-0781405027

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

The Power of the Family

Life is good and I laugh a lot. You need to know that about me before we make a start. You need to know that I think of myself as being blessed with so much of God’s grace—far more than I deserve.

You need to know that as I look at my life I see there is much that is beautiful and much that is good. You need to know all this because what comes next will probably remove the smile from your eyes.

This is a book about revolutionary forgiveness. And in order to write about forgiveness, you must have something to forgive. For there to be change, you must have something to leave behind. In order to know healing, you must first have received a wound.

I did not think I would ever experience such sorrow or despair as the day my father beat me down from the pickup trucks and abandoned us—my mother, my sisters, my brothers, and me—by the side of the road at Kashumuruzi. We had no food, no possessions, and no hope of a future. All we had was the smell of diesel from the aging pickup trucks loaded with possessions, retreating down the road possessions that, just minutes previously, had been our own.

All we could hear was the sound of rejoicing that came from the hands and mouths of the rest of my father’s wives and their children as they jeered from the trucks. All we could see were the villagers

slowly peeling away from the scene and returning to their tasks, now that the drama that had entertained them was over. All I knew was that my mother, my sisters, my brothers, and I were weeping into the dirt, hoping life would end soon.

I did not think life would ever get worse than this. I did not think there was worse to come.

Yet there was. Far worse. But those are other stories for later pages. Right now I need to explain about the road and the pickup trucks, and in order to do that, I must tell you about that day.

It had started the way many mornings did. I woke up to the sound of singing carried in and out of my home on the wind, like sunlight playing in and out of the clouds. The music was coming from the church or the school on the other side of the valley. They always started early. I had never really belonged to either of them.

I was a typical six-year-old boy from a typical village in western Uganda. I had no need for shoes, was naked from the waist down, and was beginning to be aware of making the transition from infant to child. That meant I was becoming more adventurous, starting to move away from the compound where we lived, and finding out what was on offer in the land that surrounded it. Out beyond the pressed, swept earth, I was learning how to use my hands to make things out of the broad leaves of the banana trees that flooded the valley where we lived. I would use the broadest, thickest ones as mats on which I would sledge down the muddied slopes toward the stream. The rocks added the element of danger, and our scarred and bruised buttocks were the scorecards, clearly showing how often our games ended in pain. Thinner leaves I would use to make slippers for my feet. They only ever lasted a day, but I felt like a man when I wore them.

I was getting stronger. That meant I was starting to join in with the older children in the twice-daily trips down to the stream to collect water. My clay pot was small, but even five liters was heavy enough to make the task of carrying it a challenge. Especially when there were consequences to arriving back at home with a less-thankfull load.

Our home was halfway up a steep hill at the north end of a wide open valley. Two generations ago there had been nothing in the area but forest; a sprawling forest that, if you saw it from the other side of the valley, looked like an ocean churned up by a storm. Up close you could see that the sides of the steep hills had created land at the bottom that was dark, musty, and alive with insects that fed on the rotting vegetation. That is what our village is called: Rwanjogori. It means maggots.

Why would anyone want to live in a place like this? Ask my grandfather—he was the one who first settled here, clearing back the forest and building the first home halfway up the hill away from the maggots that ruled the earth at the bottom. He had discovered it when he was looking for places to hide the cattle he stole from distant farms. He was the son of Bukumuura, son of Karumuna, of Bituura, of Ruhiiga, of Ngirane, of Kasigi, of Muntu. Every one of these men was a renowned polygamist, especially Ruhiiga, who had thirty-six wives. My grandfather’s name was Kasabaraara—and it means “one who grinds people who sleep in your house.” Yes, my grandfather was given the name of a killer and became a professional thief who colonized a land in which nobody would have dreamed of living. They say it is hard to get a clean bird from a dirty nest, that true change is difficult when you come from a difficult family background. I know there have been times in my life when I have wished the maggots would return and consume me for themselves.

The day my father abandoned us had started typically. The sound of children singing, cups of millet porridge to drink, a quick trip down the hill to collect the water that flowed out of the ground

when you poked it with a stick. But after that things changed. It was moving day, and we were leaving Rwanjogori forever.Or so we thought.

My father had been friendly ever since he had returned home after his year-and-a-half disappearance—which itself is another story that we will get to in good time. Of course, his warm smiles and happy chatter could not fool us, and we remained suspicious—even six-year-old me. But my father was full of talk of great plans and big changes, all told with wide eyes and grand gestures made by hands

that commanded the air. It did not take long for him to convince us that our overcrowding was a problem for which he had the perfect solution.

In Uganda, as in much of Africa, a home is made up of three elements: your house, the area immediately around it—often called your compound—and the land that you farm. My father owned a

large slice of land that ran down from the top of the hill, flowing through to the valley below as it flattened out. His father had planted hundreds of banana trees, some with black trunks that offered

matoke, or plantain, as you might call it—a savory type of banana high in carbohydrates, cooked and served with a groundnut sauce or red beans. The green-trunked banana trees grow smaller fruit, but

these little bananas are sweet and delicious. You have never tasted a real banana until you have pulled a handful from a tree and allowed their sugary sweetness to delight your taste buds.

Our house was made of mud that had been stuck onto a sturdy wooden frame. The walls were thick and the roof was thatched with dried grass from a nearby marsh. Because my mother was my father’s first wife, our house was the biggest, with three rooms: a bedroom for my parents, another for my sisters, and a main living area in which my brothers and I slept and where we all ate when it was too wet or cold outside.

Our compound stretched around our house, and in it could be found our goats, maybe the odd cow, a dog or two, as well as the charcoal fire where my mother would cook. The earth was hard and dark, flattened by the feet of so many people living there. A few meters along from our house was another, slightly smaller. In it were my father’s second wife and their children. Farther on still was another house and another wife and more children. And then another.

You could call our overcrowding a form of domestic congestion or an “overextended family,” but whichever words you use, the truth was simple: My father had taken too many wives. My mother was his first, but as his anger rose along with his drinking, so too did the number of wives. In one year he married five other women, and by the end of his life he had fathered a total of thirty-two children: twenty-six girls and six boys. So, yes, there were too many of us. Too many wives fighting for his attention, too many children desperate for a father, too many mouths left hungry by too little land. “I know how our poverty will be wiped clean,” said my father one day. On his travels away from us he had found a large piece of land, two hundred miles west, where we could all live in plenty. Each wife would have five acres of land, more than enough to feed us and keep hunger away.

So he had sold our home and the land we had been squeezed into. On the morning of our planned departure, every able body was loaded up with possessions and sent off down the hill, past the spring, through the banana trees, and out onto the valley bottom, passing by the unmarked boundary that signaled the edge of my father’s land. Once out on the valley floor we then carried our sleeping mats, cooking pots, animal skins, water jars, and low tables down the track for another mile to the village of Kashumuruzi.

Kashumuruzi was an exciting place. It was the link with the outside world. Where Rwanjogori was home to only a few families and nothing else, Kashumuruzi was different. Not only did it have a trading post—a shop that sold everything from home-brewed beer to pots and cloth—but its houses and compounds were all stuck on one side of a main road that, in one direction, ran to the distant local capital of Kabale, while the other way pointed to the waterfall of Kisiizi and, beyond that, the new land my father was taking us to.

At this time in my life I was not poor. True, all those extra wives and children had put a strain on our resources, so the move was something we all welcomed, even if we did so cautiously. But my father was a dealer in animal skins, and he was good at his job. He was a charismatic, attractive man. People listened when he spoke and readied themselves to follow when he led. We had status.

So there we were, sitting at the side of the road, our possessions piled high beneath the tall tree that gave a little shade in the gathering heat. It was a big day in the life of the local villages, and as the trucks arrived, so too did a small crowd of onlookers. My father spoke to the drivers as soon as they arrived, gave them instructions about where we were going and how to load the possessions. This was a side of him I had not seen much of before: commanding authority from other adults who seemed to lower their eyes and obey him quickly. I was used to seeing my siblings or my mother hurrying to obey his commands, avoiding eye contact and hoping to avoid his rage, but not other men. With the bystanders he was different: He seemed unusually happy, as if he was enjoying being the center of the show, like a magician preparing for a grand finale, smiling to himself at the knowledge that what was coming was sure to leave an impression for years to come on the minds of those watching.

We loaded everything we had onto the pickup trucks and then climbed on. We might not have been poor, but we were certainly not wealthy enough for me to have been in the back of a pickup truck before. We were certainly not that wealthy. As we prepared to drive through villages and even towns—yes, there would be towns on the journey!—I was excited beyond words, a six-year-old boy about to experience the most thrilling thing of all, on display for all to see as we made our way to our new life. To my mind this was already a very good day, what with all the excitement of carrying things down from our home and having so many people gathering to watch us. And it was about to get even better.

My mother was a kind woman, and a wise one too. She was also a woman of prayer. She knew how to pick her battles, and she had ushered my sisters and me up into the final pickup truck. Let the other wives fight for the status of riding in the first one with our father in the cab. It was probably best to keep a low profile anyway: My father had been acting strangely around my mother, my siblings, and me for months.

Before the engines started, my father got out and made his way back down the line. He stopped by our truck and looked at each of us in turn; my mother, me, my sisters, and my two brothers. Those wide eyes that had been sparkling and dancing for days were suddenly different. Darker. Narrowed. I did not want to look into them. “All of you,” he said. “Get down.”

I could not move. I had received so many beatings and scoldings from my father that panic was never far from my heart whenever he addressed me. Usually I would run or fight, but this time I remained still, frozen.

“You have been a problem to me. You fought against me, and I cannot migrate with problems.” He quickly stepped around the back of the vehicle, reached into the brush behind the tall tree, and pulled out a stick. He wielded the six-foot flexible weapon with skill, bringing it stinging through the air, lashing us across our cowed backs .I do not know whether I fell, jumped, or was pushed down from the truck, but it did not take long before we were facing the dirt, surrounding our mother, crying.

The beatings hurt, but they were nothing new. My father knew how to hurt us, and there had been plenty of occasions in the past when he had inflicted pain on us in cruel ways that left scars visible even today. But these beatings at the side of the road were not the main event; they were a warm-up to something big. He was merely tenderizing the meat so that we were truly ready for the fire to follow.

It had been six months since my father had returned from his self-imposed exile, and every day he had been back at home with us he had kept a particular bucket close by. Each morning he had filled it with ash from the fire, and my mother had always asked him, “What do you want this ash for?” He only ever gave the same reply: “One day you will see.”
As we crouched there, huddled around our mother, the tree towering above us, the hill stretching back behind, the trucks to our side, the road at our feet, and an increasingly large crowd watching from the other side, my father dropped his stick and reached down for the bucket that he had also hidden in the brush behind the tree. Suddenly he was not a raging father or a stick-wielding disciplinarian. He was an actor, playing to the crowd opposite, his body half turned so they could all see the bucket of ash swinging in his hand, hovering over our heads. His voice, loud and formal, rang across the road as he announced to everyone: “I am leaving my children with their inheritance.” With that he tipped the bucket upside down, the great cloud of ash getting caught on the wind before much of it settled on our bodies.
“My children,” he said, standing above us with an empty bucket swinging in his hand, “I am not leaving you with cows or property or anything else. This ash is your inheritance. And just as it has been blown away, may you, too, be blown away with your mother!”

I do not know precisely what happened after that. I saw my father’s feet carry him away, heard a truck door slam and three engines cough out their lungs like waking monsters that patrol a small boy’s nightmares. As the vehicles pulled away, his remaining wives and their children began to sing and drum their songs of celebration. They had our property. They had left us behind. They sounded happy.

We, meanwhile, started to weep. All of us—my mother, my three sisters, my two brothers, James and Robert, and I—wept with the pain of humiliation, of fear, of shock. But as the noise of the trucks

and the victorious wives diminished, another noise broke throughour sobs. The onlookers were laughing, cheering, and shouting their own abuses at us.
“Be careful, women: She will steal your own husbands! She’s a bad woman—she cannot be trusted.”

“Their time has come at last! She thought she was so superior all those years.”
“Typical Rwandese. Typical Tutsi: always bringing trouble with them.”
I was too young to understand all of their words, but I knew we were alone now.

My mother had fled neighboring Rwanda some years earlier, escaping the start of what would be a continuing campaign of genocide against her native Tutsi people at the hands of the Hutu. We had no family left to depend on, nowhere left to go. And now that our father had so publicly rejected us, we were utterly and completely alone. We were like dead dogs at the side of the road, devoid of rights, denied dignity, and completely worthless. The only difference was that we were still breathing. But what good was that doing us? In that moment it would have been better had we died right there and then.

Those trucks were carrying whatever was left of my own happiness. I was six years old—old enough to know that, as the oldest male in that heap of wretched bodies, it was my duty to do something to help us get out of the horror. For my father had taught me one lesson as he had brought his stick down fast upon me: When a man is consumed by anger and hatred, he can change the lives of those around him in an instant. Anger can rage like a volcanic eruption.

As our tears fell to the ground, it was as if they turned to blood. If you have ever been to Africa, you will understand what I mean when I say this. The soil in Africa is rich and red, stained by time and struggles. On this day, it was made darker by the tears of a small boy who wished he had enough anger and hatred within him to change the lives of his mother and siblings in an instant.

I wished things would change at that moment. I wished I did not have to look at the feet of the few villagers who remained nearby to watch us in our shame. Those feet seemed to taunt me, with their cracks and scars deeper and broader than my own. They had carried their owners through many struggles over many years. What hope could I have of surviving? What hope did I have of holding on to life? I could not even stay on a truck.

There is a saying that was written down by an African: “Time and bad conditions do not favor beauty.” It is true. For some of us, growing up in Africa has brought suffering and hardship, right up close, time after time. Life has been robbed of its beauty.

Yet is that really so different from the American family that is crippled by debt and held back by too many jobs that pay too little money? Or what about the child from the European inner city who grows up with his nose pressed against the window of privilege and opulence—who sees the cars and the money and the ease of living— and knows he can never achieve such wealth for himself? Africa does not have a monopoly on time and bad conditions, any more than the West has a monopoly on health and happiness. Beauty can be taken from us all.

My father had tried hard to take the beauty out of my life. As we crouched on the roadside, ash in our hair, tears leaving trails though the dust on our faces, we must have looked like the ugliest people on earth. Who would want us? Who would care for us? Who would rescue such miserable people? Surely we had been left to die. We were rejected, abandoned, disowned, and cursed. Our security, our self-worth, and our significance were crushed.

Eventually there were no more tears. We begged the ground to take us right there and then, but it did not. At that moment I wanted to die. I did not want any more of this life where one man could cause so much pain. I wanted the earth to become my tomb

If our lives are seen as stories, then this was the start of the chapter of bitterness that became my staple diet for twenty years. The poverty got worse, hope evaporated, the future was nothing but decay.

But my story did not stay that way forever. It changed beyond all recognition. Everything that was made ugly by pain and anger was turned to beauty by one incredibly simple yet unbelievably revolutionary thing: forgiveness.

These pages that you hold in your hand will show how a boy who begged to die by the side of the road grew to become a man who was able to forgive. These pages will take you and me back to our tombs

and our funerals and ask how God might turn them into maternity wards and celebrations. These pages, I hope, will open your eyes to the change that God Himself has in store for you.

Even today I remember that time at the roadside, beneath the tree, and wonder what God saw. Of course I know He saw our pain and our rejection. He saw the hatred that spilled over from our father and would continue to infect the lives of others in the village. He saw the rapid descent in our fortunes, from a family with a future to a collection of outcasts with no power, no voice, no potential.

But I also think He saw us stay with our mother. He saw us hold on tight to one another, remaining by one another, our tears and cries flowing together. It was a small step, and it did not feel as though there were any other choices on offer, but there is power in unity, power in the family. My father migrated and rejected, abandoned, disowned, and cursed us. But not Jesus. He is a caring God who stays closer than anyone else.

Our time at that tree by the side of the road did not last forever. Soon God brought a kind man to rescue us. Years later He would guide people to bring messages about His steadfast love to us in the midst of other periods of pain. And even after that, as an adult, I would one day descend from a bus at this very spot, my life having changed forever, forgiveness staging its dramatic revolution in every fiber of my body.

In time, everything would be different.

Copyright 2011 Medad Birungi. Tombstones and Banana Trees published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce in any way. All rights reserved.

My Review

Tombstones and Banana Trees………………by Rev. Medad Birungi

This is an amazing story about the life of Rev. Medad Birungi while growing up in Uganda. He tells of his father, his father’s many wives and children from each wife. Rev. Birungi was one of several children born to his father’s first wife. His father provided for all of his families but he was a very angry and violent man. Any little thing would cause him to break, beating his wife or one of the children. Finally abandoned by his father, his mom and her children lived in extreme poverty conditions for years, being laughed at and treated horrible only to survive life.

You will find in this book that later in life how Rev. Birungi found the Lord, and through Him found healing for all of the things that happened to him because of his dad.

This is a book of extreme emotional and physical abuse by this father to his family. I couldn’t even read some of the book because of the horrible poverty conditions this family had to endure during this time of survival in their lives. It is only by God’s Amazing Grace that they not only survived, they were able to live through this time and find better living conditions for themselves.

I encourage you to read this book of poverty, hate, anger, violence, but yet love and forgiveness.

This book was provided from the publisher through B & B Media Group, Inc.

 

 

 

F.I.R.S.T Wild Card Tour God Gave Us You……by Lisa Twan Bergren….Illustrated by Laura J. Bryant

God Gave Us You……by Lisa Twan Bergren….Illustrated by Laura J. Bryant

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:

 

Lisa Tawn Bergren

 

and the book:

 

God Gave Us You (Board Book)

WaterBrook Press; 1st edition (September 19, 2000

***Special thanks to Laura Tucker, WaterBrook Multnomah Publicity, for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Lisa Tawn Bergren is the best-selling author of eight novels, three novellas, and two gift books, with more than a half-million books in print. God Gave Us You is her first children’s book. As an editor during the week and a writer on weekends, she makes her very-messy-but-cozy home in Colorado with her husband, Tim, and their daughters, Olivia and Emma.

Visit the author’s website.

 

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:

Laura J. Bryant attended the Maryland Institute of Art, where she received a strong foundation in drawing, painting, and print-making. Illustrating children’s books has provided her with both a rewarding and creative career. Laura’s clients have included Simon & Schuster, McGraw Hill, and Stech-Vaughn publishers, among others. She currently lives among the tidal rivers on the eastern shore of Maryland with her loving husband and curiously cantankerous cat!

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Filled with playful, winsome illustrations by an artist who specializes in polar bear images, this four-color, read-to-me picture book will build children’s self-esteem through the tale of a mama bear who reassuringly explains where her cub came from and affirms Mama and Papa’s great love for her.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.99
Reading level: Baby-Preschool
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press; 1st edition (September 19, 2000)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1578563232
ASIN: B002PJ4LHM

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

To Liv, Emma, and Jack—
Words cannot express how glad
we are that God gave us you.
—L.T.B.

To Ron and Shirley—
Who have an endless supply of love and generosity.
—L.J.B.

“Good night, sweet child,” Mama said as she tucked Little Cub in.

But Little Cub wasn’t quite ready to go to sleep.

“Mama, where did I come from?” she asked.


“From God,” her mother answered. “Your papa and I were alone, and we wanted
a baby.”

“And you got me?” Little Cub asked, her voice muffled by the covers.

“Yes, my special child. God gave us you.”

 

 

 

MY REVIEW

I just love this sweet little book about a bear couple and their little cubbie bear, tucking the little one in the bed at night. This bear story explains to young children where they came from, that God gave them to their mommies and daddies. The book is a beautiful board book, with its blue background color blending so well with the other colors throughout the book. The illustrations are precious and adorable, telling the story through pictures as you read it to your child.

I highly recommend this book to families and couples with babies, or expecting a baby. What a perfect little book to read to your child, even before they are born!

I received this book free from the publisher, Waterbrook Press to read and review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55

CFBA Tour Shadows on the Sand

This week, theChristian Fiction Blog Allianceis introducingShadows on the SandMultnomah Books (July 19, 2011)byGayle Roper
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Gayle is the award winning author of more than forty books. She has been a Christy finalist three times for her novels Spring Rain, Summer Shadows, and Winter Winds. Her novel Autumn Dreams won the prestigious Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance. Summer Shadows was voted the Inspirational Readers Choice Contest Book of the Year (tied with fellow author Brandilyn Collins).

Gayle has won the Holt Medallion three times for The Decision, Caught in a Bind, and Autumn Dreams. The Decision won the Reviewers Choice Award, and Gayle has also won the Award of Excellence for Spring Rain and the Golden Quill for Summer Shadows and Winter Winds. Romantic Times Book Report gave Gayle the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Her Amhearst mystery series, Caught in the Middle, Caught in the Act, and Caught in a Bind, originally published by Zondervan, was reprinted in 2007 by Love Inspired Suspense with a fourth original title added, Caught Redhanded. Another original single title, See No Evil, was also released. Caught in the Middle has been optioned for film.

For her work in training Christian writers Gayle has won special recognition from Mount Hermon CWC, St. Davids CWC, Florida CWC, and Greater Philadelphia CWC. She directed St. Davids for five years and Sandy Cove CWC for six. She has taught with Christian Leaders, Authors and Speakers Services (CLASS), serving for several years as their writer in residence. She enjoys speaking at women’s events across the nation and loves sharing the powerful truths of Scripture with humor and practicality.

Gayle lives in southeastern Pennsylvania where she enjoys her family of two great sons, two lovely daughters-in-law, and the world’s five most wonderful grandchildren. When she’s not writing, or teaching at conferences, Gayle enjoys reading, gardening, and eating out.
ABOUT THE BOOK

Carrie Carter’s small café in Seaside, New Jersey, is populated with a motley crew of locals although Carrie only has eyes for Greg Barnes. He’s recovering from a vicious crime that three years ago took the lives of his wife and children—and from the year he tried to drink his reality away. While her heart does a happy Snoopy dance at the sight of him, he never seems to notice her, to Carrie’s chagrin.

When Carrie’s dishwasher is killed and her young waitress disappears, Greg finds himself drawn into helping Carrie solve the mysteries … and into her life. But Carrie has a painful past, too, and when the reason she once ran away shows up in town, the fragile relationship she’s built with Greg threatens to implode from the weight of the baggage they both carry. Two wounded hearts struggle to find a way to make one romance work. Failure seems guaranteed when Carrie locates her waitress but is taken hostage…

If you would like to read the first chapter of Shadows on the Sand, go HERE.

Water’s Edge By Robert Whitlow

Water’s Edge By Robert Whitlow

 

Paperback: 400 pages

  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (July 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595544518
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595544513
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1.3 inches

 

 

I was captured in the first chapter of this amazing book. Tom had lost everything, his father, his girlfriend, his job, and even his cat, everything he thought was important. As he goes back to his Georgia hometown to wrap up his father’s law business, he finds things he never expected to find and find trouble he never dreamed possible. His plans to quickly and easily close out his father’s practice was not to be. Money was found in a secret bank account and finding out the owner of the large amount was up to him. What secrets did his father have, and what would he find out as he investigated the mess he had to clean up.

I love Christian suspense and this one was especially thrilling with its legal content. The characters created by the author were so real and believable I lived the story right along with them, laughing, hurting, getting angry and all of the other emotions so perfectly written. I was on the edge of my seat throughout this entire book! I couldn’t put it down until I finished it! Robert Whitlow is a fairly new author for me and I will definitely look for his books from now on. I recommend this book to anyone liking suspense, mystery, thrillers; it is all here in Water’s Edge.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson through Booksneeze to read and review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55

Purchase this thriller at Amazon

 

Robert Whitlow is the best-selling author of legal novels set in the South and winner of the prestigious Christy Award for Contemporary Fiction. A Furman University graduate, Whitlow received his J.D. with honors from the University of Georgia School of Law where he served on the staff of the Georgia Law Review. A practicing attorney, Whitlow and his wife, Kathy, have four children. They make their home in North Carolina.

 

F.I.R.S.T Wild Card Tour When Bad Christians Happen to Good People by Dave Burchett

When Bad Christians Happen to Good People by Dave Burchett

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:
Dave Burchett

and the book:

When Bad Christians Happen to Good People:
Where We Have Failed Each Other and How to Reverse the Damage

WaterBrook Press; Reprint edition (July 19, 2011)

***Special thanks to Lynette Kittle, Senior Publicist, WaterBrook Multnomah, a Division of Random House for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dave Burchett started his career as a disc jockey in Ohio, and later moved into sports broadcasting. An Emmy Award-winning television sports director, he has directed events ranging from baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan’s sixth no-hit game to the Summer Olympics. The author of Bring ’Em Back Alive and a blogger on Crosswalk.com and theFish.com, Burchett writes honestly and authentically out of his personal experience. He and his wife, Joni, live in Texas and have three adult sons and a daughter in heaven.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


Have you been wounded by bad Christians? Author Dave Burchett experienced that kind of pain and offers authentic help and understanding. In this revised and updated edition, he states, “I am not the same guy who first wrote When Bad Christians Happen to Good People. Writing that manuscript was part of a refining process that God used to bring me to the Throne of Grace and then to begin to create a room of grace around me.”

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press; Reprint edition (July 19, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307729923
ISBN-13: 978-0307729927

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

The Unfriendliest Club in Town?

The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.

—Brennan Manning

Author Flannery O’Connor once noted in a letter to a friend, “It seems to be a fact that you have to suffer as much from the church as for it.” I believe her. The most painful experience of my marriage came courtesy of the church.

In 1985 my wife, Joni, gave birth to our daughter, Katie. We were thrilled, but our happiness dissolved into grief when we learned that Katie had a terminal neural tube birth defect. Her condition was known as anencephaly, meaning that in the womb her brain had not developed normally. She basically possessed just the brain stem and was not expected to live more than a few hours or days. The delivery-room doctor described her situation in physician-speak that I will never forget. “Her condition is not compatible with life,” he said.

Our shock and grief were immediate because Katie would have no chance to enjoy a normal life. There would be no cure, no hope for even modest improvement. I went through the painful process of calling family and friends. And I had to tell our two sons about their sister.

But Kathryn Alice Burchett confounded the doctors and lived. She was never able to open her eyes, nor could she smile. Katie also lacked the ability to regulate her body temperature, so her room temperature had to be monitored. Part of Katie’s deformity was an opening with exposed tissue at the back of her skull. It had to be covered regularly with a new dressing.

Joni loved and cared for Katie in a way I will always respect and never forget. She insisted that Katie come home with us. I worried about the effect that caring for Katie at home might have on the boys. Truthfully, I was probably more concerned about the effect bringing her home would have on me. But Joni would not have it any other way, and when she sets her mind to something she is scrappy. So I showed my spiritual wisdom by agreeing with her.

Katie found her place in our family’s routines. She could drink from a bottle. Katie responded to her mother’s touch and even grew a little. We took her on a camping trip with us, and she was a regular at the boys’ ball games and other events.

Sometimes people would make hurtful or mean remarks. A kid at school taunted our oldest son because his sister didn’t have a brain. (That was something the classmate had no doubt heard at home, and it reminds me that we should always be cautious about what we say in front of our children.) Once, when we wanted a family photo taken, we dressed up the troops and went to a photography studio. The photographer insisted that Katie needed to open her eyes. We explained patiently (for a while) that she physically could not open her eyes. He informed us that we couldn’t get our picture taken because their lab would not develop a picture if any person in the group didn’t have their eyes open. Katie totally upset their system, and they would not flex. We finally left without the photos and ended up going to a private photographer. Still, all things considered, our life with Katie went about as well as it could.

Then the church entered in.

One Sunday morning before church, a friend called to tell us that Katie would no longer be welcome in the nursery. The moms had met and decided (without any input from us) that Katie might die in their care and traumatize some volunteer worker. They worried that the opening at the back of Katie’s skull could generate a staph infection. In truth, however, the nursery workers did not have to deal with potential infection because the opening was covered with a sterile dressing and a bonnet, and it required no special attention during the brief time she was in the nursery each Sunday. And there was almost no danger of spreading infection because Katie did not interact with other babies. Clearly, a little caution would have eliminated any possible risk.

As to the possibility that she might die while in their care, we knew she was going to die. No one would have been to blame. Since we were in a church of only one hundred fifty people, I think they could have found us fairly quickly in an emergency. If they had come to us with their concerns, we might have been able to put the volunteers’ fears to rest. But the decision was made without us. Katie was no longer welcome, and our church had done what I had not thought possible: they made our pain worse.

Joni was devastated, more hurt than I have ever seen her before or since. I am sure our church didn’t intend to wound us as they did, but the hurt lingered for years. And the pain was multiplied by the method. We had no warning that there were concerns. We received no invitation to come and address concerns. Instead, a secret meeting was followed by a phone call to tell us what had already been decided. I’m not the only one with this kind of story.

I know a pastor in the Midwest who suffered the tragic loss of his wife to leukemia. Within a matter of weeks the board asked him to resign because they did not want the church to be led by an unmarried pastor! This grieving man had to change denominations in order to continue his ministry.

It is a miracle and tribute to God’s grace that he kept going at all.

In my hometown of Chillicothe, Ohio, an acquaintance finally decided it was time to get his family into a church. He loaded up the crew and visited one nearby. The church immediately showed a tremendous and heartfelt concern for his…grooming issues. You see, Roy had the audacity to show up in God’s house with a full beard, not unlike Jesus’ in the picture hanging in the foyer. A church leader met Roy on the way out.

“So are you going to start worshiping with us?” he asked.

“Why, yes,” Roy replied. “We want to start coming to church.”

The church leader looked at him and said, “Well, I hope you will have shaved by next Sunday.” Because of that comment, it took another twenty years before Roy found a regular church home.

Stuck in Legalism: The Airing of Grievances

And at the Festivus dinner, you gather your family around, and you tell them all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year!

—Frank Costanza, Seinfeld episode “The Strike”

Most of us chuckle over the invented holiday of Festivus. In the famous Seinfeld episode, Frank Costanza explains how he grew frustrated with the commercialism of Christmas:

Frank Costanza: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.

Cosmo Kramer: What happened to the doll?

Frank Costanza: It was destroyed. But out of that, a new holiday was born: a Festivus for the rest of us!
Part of the “tradition” of Festivus was the airing of grievances to all who came to dinner. Frank Costanza’s frustration with Christmas commercialism mirrors my angst over the odd brand of Christianity that we’ve too often foisted on our culture. I am borrowing Frank’s concept of the airing of grievances. Actually, churchgoers are pretty good at the airing of grievances, even without the Festivus excuse. In the Seinfeld episode, the airing of grievances is followed by the traditional “feats of strength.” The head of the household selects one person at the Festivus celebration and challenges that person to a wrestling match. Festivus is not over until the head of the household is pinned. Wouldn’t that be a fascinating addition to our church bylaws?

Section 7: Resolution of Conflict

The elders shall invite the congregation to an annual church potluck, followed by the airing of grievances. The potluck shall be followed by praise songs and then the feats of strength. The congregational meeting shall not be adjourned until an elder is pinned to the mat by a church member.
Perhaps the sight of a volunteer wrestling with an elder would be silly enough to help us understand that 98 percent of our grievances are pointless in the context of the Great Commission and the Greatest Commandment. But there is a place for the airing of grievances, especially in reference to the way we do Christianity in this culture. But I pray that I will always come around to grace and truth that enable the real feats of strength to be our focus. I hope we will learn how to trust God to demonstrate truly amazing feats of strength, such as forgiveness, selflessness, serving, and unity.

My Personal History with Legalism

My own grievances date back more than four decades (gulp) to a legalistic church in Chillicothe, Ohio. I have to start with my spiritual pedigree, since that figures prominently into my dysfunction. I was raised in a non-church going family. At the age of fifteen, I started going to church for a very spiritual reason: a cute girl I knew attended that church. Unfortunately, my first church experience was with a congregation that was so legalistic it went out of business.

Seriously.

The denomination this church was part of is not even around anymore because they couldn’t round up enough miserable people to keep it functioning. My nickname for our dysfunctional church body was “The First Church of Misery Loves Company…But We Probably Won’t Love You.” We sang “Amazing Grace” but wouldn’t have recognized grace if it had snuck up and bit us on our self-righteous backsides.

This church featured a lengthy altar call every Sunday to target the one or two unsaved folks who might have stumbled in. I was the target one memorable Sunday. They sang fifteen verses of “Just as I Am” and then the preacher told a tragic story about a man who rejected a moment like this and then was flattened by a steamroller on the way home. According to the preacher, the man was now being tormented in hell. Meanwhile, my ADD brain was wondering why a steamroller was out on a Sunday. Then we shifted to singing “Softly and Tenderly” about a dozen times. Apparently, all of this was designed to give me a little taste of what eternity would be like.

One of the pillars of the church was a matronly lady who was—how can I say this kindly?—not underfed. In a scene that would have been hilarious if it hadn’t involved me, this substantial saint tried to drag me to the altar. I was like a Labrador retriever being pulled into the vet’s office with legs splayed out and fighting every inch of the way.

This church wasn’t acquainted with the role of the Holy Spirit in salvation. Getting sinners to the altar was the goal, whether that sinner wanted to be there or not. Their philosophy of ministry was simple: “You will get saved, and you will like it!”

I resisted this church pillar’s gentle headlock to heaven that Sunday in spite of the risk of being flattened by a steamroller on the way home. But a couple of days later I did pray the sinner’s prayer, without being dragged anywhere. And that began a journey of good, bad, and ugly that has lasted for more than forty years so far. While it is true that I heard and accepted the gospel message after attending that church, my early doctrinal exposure would prove to be an ongoing problem.
Hypocrites or Healers?

The word hypocrite comes from the Greek word hyprokrites, meaning one who plays a part, an actor. Probably no word is more destructively used in describing Christians than hypocrite. André Gide once defined a true hypocrite (an oxymoron?) as the “one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.”

Inevitably, my first and natural reaction upon hearing the word is to think of people I consider guilty of hypocrisy. When it was revealed that Reverend Ted Haggard had been engaged in inappropriate relationships, my first reaction was to smite him with my hypocrite hammer. But instead I should have asked God to shine a light in my own dark places to see if a similar lack of integrity lives in my own heart.

One of the most stinging rebukes Jesus ever issued concerned the hypocrisy of the Pharisees (see Matthew 6). These religious leaders liked to be seen and heard when praying, recognized when giving money, and pitied when fasting. Had the Jerusalem Broadcasting Network been on the air, you just know that slick-haired Pharisees would have hosted the prime-time programs.

Today, the church condemns those who drink and smoke and live immoral lives, while churchgoers freely engage in gluttony and gossip and selfishness and bigotry. The un-churched stand by in amazed, bemused, cynical, or angry observance of our hypocrisy. And they lose respect for our message.

As a young man, I sat through many sermons in which the preacher condemned tobacco and “devil alcohol.” Immediately following, the congregation would enjoy a potluck dinner where apparently the demon of calories was a welcome guest. It seems to me that morbid obesity is also a desecration of the temple (our body). Is that not also wrong? Overweight churchgoers often explain their extra pounds by citing low metabolism or thyroid disorders. I acknowledge that, for many, there could be a legitimate medical reason behind the weight gain. But if church members can fall back on metabolism as an excuse, shouldn’t we allow for the possibility that someone else’s addiction to nicotine might be similarly genetically predisposed? Or that someone with a weakness for alcohol or drugs could suffer from a brain-chemistry imbalance that exacerbates the problem?

We all are broken people, whether we are gluttons, gossips, smokers, drinkers, or hypocrites. I believe with all of my being in the life-changing power of God. I know He can empower an alcoholic to become and stay dry. I have witnessed that truth. I believe God can give a smoker the strength to snuff out his last cigarette. I am convinced God can enable a person to flush pills and drugs down the drain once and for all.

Church members love to condemn addictions. But not all addictions. The uncomfortable flip side is that Christians too often overlook God’s power to help us overcome certain of the “favored” addictions. Why don’t more Christians acknowledge the truth that God can give us the power to walk away from the buffet table? That He can give me the strength to bridle my tongue when I am privy to gossip that would hurt another person? Should I not recognize that God might want me to keep driving my unsexy old car or keep watching a conventional, low-tech television instead of a giant screen 3-D HDTV in order to free up my resources to help someone in need?

I marvel at Christ’s approach to sinners. Obviously He could not have condoned the lifestyles and actions of many who surrounded Him. Yet He was drawn to the spiritually needy and they to Him. Prostitutes, lepers, and tax collectors all felt the need to hear what Jesus had to say. (Note to my IRS friends: In first-century culture, tax collectors were turncoats who unfairly extorted their own people for personal gain. Nothing at all like the honorable members of our fine government tax organization evaluating my home-office deductions on this year’s tax return.)

It seems the people who were the most uncomfortable around Jesus were the ones known to be the most religious—the churchgoers, as it were. Those who are most ill need the physician’s time, and Jesus gravitated to the ER cases. I have friends who are physicians, and probably no patient annoys them more than a hypochondriac. These unfortunate people drain the resources and time of medical personnel that could be far better used healing the truly sick. It seems to me that Jesus dealt with the hypochondriacs of His day (the Pharisees and other religious people) with that same attitude. Jesus had little patience with those who failed to recognize their true spiritual symptoms. But He was always willing to see the spiritually ill.

The church should be in the business of addressing spiritual illness. When you are deathly ill, you don’t start thinking of going to the health club: “Well, this will be a lovely time to get in shape. I feel horrible, and I think I’m going to die, but at least I’ll be a trim corpse.” Yet many churches have communicated that only the spiritually healthy are welcome there. The result is that the spiritually needy think their lives are too far gone to be accepted at church, when in fact their brokenness makes them ready to receive God’s amazing grace. But too many avoid the ER, thinking that going to church would make them uncomfortable or heighten their guilt. They sense they would be judged and treated with condescension.

Yes, some of these feelings are self-inflicted wounds. But many are not. We must face the possibility that we are doing things that make hurting people stay away from the church. Do you ever think your health is too messed up for you to go to the hospital? Does a hospital ever communicate that you are just a little too sick to come in? When did the church step away from its responsibility to heal emotional pain and meet physical, emotional, and spiritual needs? Steve Martin used to say, “Comedy isn’t pretty.” Sometimes ministry isn’t either. Sometimes it requires us to pay a price.

Most of us don’t much like to be around the truly spiritually ill because it makes us uncomfortable. Treating the spiritually ill is draining, and it comes with no guarantee of success. We would rather hire someone to clean up the mess and report back to us at a praise service. Yet how can we preach Christ’s love and not care about those with HIV/AIDS? How can we talk about God’s grace but ignore other people’s physical needs? How can we talk about the importance of giving and then spend money on things we don’t need, often to curry the approval of people we don’t really care about? How can we minister to others when we don’t first meet the spiritual needs of our own families? How can we win the respect of the world when we cruise around in luxury vehicles and turn our faces away from hurting people?

Do we think that if we ignore the problems, perhaps God will not hold us accountable?

My family had a wonderful golden retriever for fourteen adventure filled years. If Marley (of book and movie fame) was the “world’s worst dog,” then our dog, Charlie, would have been an honored runner-up. Charlie was an aficionado of used Kleenex and paper towels. He knew I disapproved of him running off with tissues, so each time he nabbed one, Charlie would dash to the family room and stick his head and front quarters under a Queen Anne chair. He didn’t realize that 75 percent of his body was sticking out, with his tail wagging wildly. He thought he was safe from retribution because his face was hidden.

Is it any less ridiculous to think that we Christians can avoid our responsibilities as Christ’s representatives on earth? Are Christians any smarter than Charlie when we avert our gaze from the needs of others and convince ourselves that God won’t notice? Somehow I don’t think

God smiles and says, “Oh, that Dave, he was just too busy to notice his friend was in pain. But that’s okay.” No. Instead, my selfishness sticks out just as noticeably as Charlie’s rear end. (There is a certain symmetry in that comparison.) Adam’s first impulse was to hide when God held him accountable in the Garden of Eden, and not much has changed since then in people’s hearts. It was just as futile for Adam as it was for Charlie and me to try to hide from our sin.

Country Club Christian

The rules and regulations at the legalistic church I attended when I was young smothered the concept of grace. No jewelry for women. No mixed bathing. (That one was a wild fantasy for my adolescent hormones, until I realized they meant swimming.) No musical instruments in the church, other than a piano or organ. I never did find the biblical basis for that one.

“And thou shalt have no stringed instruments or percussive idols.”

No long hair for men. No short hair for women. No shorts. No cussing. No makeup. No pants for women. No card playing. No movies. No dancing. No smoking. No drinking. I actually sat through a sermon in which the preacher spent sixty minutes trying to explain that the wine of the New Testament was actually grape juice. So Jesus turned the water into Welch’s? What a wedding feast that must have been, with great food and a fine vintage grape juice. “It’s a lovely little vintage…stomped just this morning.”

On and on the list went. If any activity involved an ounce of pleasure, you could be reasonably certain that it was forbidden. People in our church used to put a sheet over their television set when the preacher made a house call. As if the good reverend wouldn’t know that a “devil’s box” was hiding under the cover. Obviously God wouldn’t know either. I mean, how could the Creator of the universe possibly know that the big, box-shaped object under the oddly placed sheet was a TV set? The effect of the long list of prohibitions was predictable: We experienced no joy, no peace, no assurance of God’s forgiveness—and no interest from anyone outside our miserable little circle. And while we were told to never play cards, dance, or attend a movie, nothing was said against a long list of much more repulsive things. Things like pride, racism, and bigotry. There was not a stated policy, but you would never have seen a “colored” (our term for African Americans) in our church. Actually, only the more “open-minded” in our body called African Americans “coloreds.” The less enlightened used the term “darkies”—or worse. It was mentioned that black Christians had their own churches, and it was assumed that having separate churches was somehow God’s will. That memory still hurts my heart. Members of our church also railed against Jews. I heard it stated from the pulpit that Jews were ruining our country, while the fact that the Savior happened to be a Jew was ignored. And don’t even begin to mention “sodomites,” as we so colorfully called the gay population.

I was attending a church for people who looked like all the others, talked like all the others, dressed alike, believed the same things, and even shared the same prejudices. No wonder so many people feel excluded. If you don’t look or sound or dress like a promising candidate for club membership, of course you’ll feel alienated. Even some who are already members feel alienated.

Jesus’ church is not a highbrow country club. And believers who hang around with a homogeneous group of carbon-copy Christians limit their growth. The church should exclude no one. The church should welcome those who are unwelcome in other places. And yet most churches are not places where people feel comfortable, especially if they are found to be in open violation of any of the proscribed activities. In fact, a person could be living a completely normal life and still feel uncomfortable in church.

Passing the Test

Outsiders have good reason to be wary, but so do insiders. Christians often accept (and enforce) a hierarchy within the church. Have you ever wished that certain people would remain on the sidelines, or even completely out of sight, in your congregation? You would be more comfortable bringing un-churched friends if the slightly embarrassing brothers and sisters weren’t out in the open.

How amazing that our prideful minds can even think like that. My own family reunion—as much as I love my relatives—would look much better if attendance were by invitation only. Let’s face it, when you include the entire family, there are some embarrassing, even tense, moments.

So it is with any church family, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, consider what we are dealing with: sinners. The “acceptable” members as well as the ones who sometimes cause embarrassment—and even the ones behind the pulpit—are all sinners. And that invites problems. I recall dating a girl long before I met my beloved Joni. I asked her to go to church with me. Since she wasn’t a Christian, she was unaware of the official rules. She arrived at church wearing a dress that didn’t completely cover her shoulders. She had simply worn her best outfit; she had no idea she was doing anything wrong. (Of course, she wasn’t doing anything wrong, but you get the point.) From the moment we walked in, the two of us felt the saints’ reproachful, laser-beam stares of righteousness drilling into us. Instead of asking God to make her heart receptive to His Word, I spent the service worrying about what the pea-brained congregation thought of me. (I could almost hear their thoughts: How could Dave bring a hussy like that to church? ) There were a handful of gracious people who welcomed us, but most folks were too busy being appalled.

This would not happen in a sinner-sensitive church. The sinner sensitive church (SSC) is my proposal for a new church movement committed to making everyone feel welcomed and loved. The SSC would model nonjudgmental attitudes. Issues such as having tattoos, body piercings, weird hair, or ugly shoes would not be equated with demon possession. The SSC would pledge not to gossip, because we would realize that it’s only by the grace of God that we are not the current targets. The sinner sensitive church would value every spiritual, physical, and financial gift, no matter how big or small. This church would appreciate but not elevate the person who made possible the new multipurpose wing through his or her enormous financial gift.

The SSC would make it a practice to reach out and care for one another sacrificially because we know that we all fall down in life. At the SSC we would have corporate executives holding hands in prayer with laborers and not thinking twice about it. Blacks and whites and Hispanics and others would break bread together because we all are sinners in the eyes of a color-blind God.

The sinner-sensitive church would give freely out of profound gratitude to a God who somehow saw fit to give us an undeserved chance. The sinner-sensitive church would practice the prodigal-son ministry, running to welcome those who are returning home from mistakes and bad decisions and sin. Our members would get involved in other people’s lives. We would lovingly hold our brothers and sisters accountable to godly standards. Marriage would be cherished and taken seriously as a body of believers. Families would have a community of support during problems and trials.

Congregation members would not be so self-centered that they would demand the undivided attention of the pastor at every little crisis. Other believers would help meet many of the needs that Christians often prefer to leave to the “professionals” on staff. The people of this church would come on Sunday with hearts ready to be fed but also realizing that God has provided resources beyond any available in history to meet their spiritual hunger. Should they walk out the church doors still feeling needy, they would know they can draw from the marvelous resources of Christian books, music, radio, video, digital downloads, and studies to meet their needs.

The sinner-sensitive church would also delight in the company of other spiritual travelers and make it a priority that no one would ever feel alone. We would make each other feel valuable but, on occasion, a little uncomfortable. Being comfortable in church is not the primary goal. I am not always comfortable at the dentist’s office. I often arrive in pain because I have neglected to do what I should have done. The staff always makes me feel welcome and even cared for. Then the dentist confronts me with the truth: “You have let this go too long, and I must hurt you (a little) in order to heal you. You will have to pay a financial price and spend time recovering before you are completely well.” Those are the facts of my dental-hygiene sin.

Likewise, the sinner-sensitive church would not back off the truth, but we would seek God’s love to communicate that truth with grace so healing could take place. Decay, whether it appears in tooth enamel or the soul, must be addressed. We will tell one another the truth and explain that the process might be painful. We would participate in ongoing preventative maintenance and help one another deal with problems as soon as possible, before they become even more painful and expensive to fix.

The SSC would worship with enthusiasm, whether singing hymns or praise choruses, because God is worthy of that praise. The sinner-sensitive fellowship would have a sense of profound reverence because we have received God’s grace, the most amazing gift ever offered. The sinner sensitive church would be so excited about this grace that the incredible news of the gospel would be as much a part of who we are as our jobs and our families.

Our Lord’s ministry style was sinner sensitive. He made Himself available to people who realized their need. Merely being a seeker did not necessarily merit His time. The wealthy young man came to Jesus to find out what he still needed to do to receive eternal life. However, the jarring truth of Christ’s answer—telling the man to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor—revealed that he was not ready to follow Christ (see Matthew 19:16–22). But when sinners came with a humble confession of need and a willingness to obey God, Jesus never turned them away. The church of Acts was sinner sensitive and functioned much in the way I have described above.

Frankly, sometimes we try a little too hard to attract the un-churched. A church that functioned like the one described above would be such a societal miracle that you couldn’t keep people away if you locked the doors. And while the majority of my idealism has been beaten out of me, I still believe that such a church will be possible when we finally get tired of faking it as a church. The needed change will not come until we are willing to pay the price for a sinner-sensitive church. Receiving grace is easy, but giving grace is costly.

The harsh reality is that most of us are afraid to commit to this radical type of fellowship because we aren’t sure what it would require of us. My own natural reaction is, “Praise the Lord, but keep the Lexus!” I’ll hazard a guess that you are the same. When the rich young man in Matthew heard Jesus’ words to him, “he went away sad, because he had great wealth” (19:22).

Governed by Grace

Author Philip Yancey shared a compelling illustration about a recovering alcoholic friend who attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. His friend said, “When I’m late to church, people turn around and stare at me with frowns of disapproval. I get the clear message that I’m not as responsible as they are. When I’m late to AA, the meeting comes to a halt and everyone jumps up to hug and welcome me. They realize that my lateness may be a sign that I almost didn’t make it.”

Twelve-step support groups have become what the body of Christ could and, in fact, should be. And while the roots of Alcoholics Anonymous are firmly planted in Christian grace, why did the movement have to be launched in the first place? Shouldn’t the church be the place that welcomes hurting men and women so that they would instinctively be drawn to receive the help they need? Shouldn’t the church be a place of abundant grace where people have your back because they realize their own condition? Shouldn’t followers of Christ understand that at any moment they could need that same grace?

Even a cursory study of the life of Christ will reveal that any of us could have quite comfortably walked into His “twelve-guy” program and announced our status as sinners. In fact, that little confession would have moved us to the head of the class and could very well have made us Teacher’s pet. So why has the church repelled so many of those who have the needs Christ has equipped us to address? I realize that it is not entirely the fault of the church that the spiritually ill stay away. But it seems to me that we had better examine the part of the problem we’re responsible for.

When I was a kid, the spread of tuberculosis was a big concern. Those with the disease were isolated in a hospital-like dormitory with the scary name “sanatorium.” Whenever I’d pass the sanatorium in our town, I would look fearfully at the building. I knew the people inside had something I did not want to come into contact with. Knowing that many people today drive by a church with the resolve to avoid contact with Christians at all costs gives me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Every person should find the most level playing field of all in the church. In Jesus’ eyes, the soul of a Fortune 500 CEO is no more valuable than the soul of a meth addict. That sort of thinking is scandalous to most of us because it contradicts our culture’s values. We honor looks, money, power, and fame. Jesus cared about none of those. In Luke 16:14–15, the gospel writer talked about “the Pharisees, who loved money, [and] heard all this [Jesus talking about the parable of the shrewd manager] and were sneering at Jesus. [That is a phrase that I hope to never see next to my name.] He said to them, ‘You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.’” I am constantly amazed that the words of Jesus apply just as accurately to the stories that appear in USA Today as they did to stories in the Galilee Gazette two thousand years ago.

Through the years I have thought about what would have happened if Jesus had walked into the nursery where our daughter, Katie, was unwelcome. I am convinced of several things based on my study of His life. He likely would have been drawn straight to her. He might have chosen to heal her. He probably would have shed a tear, because the suffering of children always touched His heart. And I am absolutely sure that He would not have rejected her. I believe that He would have comforted Joni and me with the reassurance that Katie’s affliction was not the result of our sin.

The once-popular saying “What Would Jesus Do?” has the ability to confront us with an important and necessary spiritual question. Sadly, the church Joni and I used to attend never asked that question concerning little Katie Burchett. In order for our family to worship together at the same church, we had to find a different congregation. Christians, like physicians, should vow to do no harm. But forgive us, Lord, because too often we do inflict harm.

Note: In honor of the late, great Paul Harvey, I will tell you the “rest of the story” about little Katie in chapter 16.

My Review……..I Rate it a 5

Have you ever walked into a church and felt like the people were judging you before you were in the door good? Well, this is what author Dave Burchett addresses in this book. He deals with issues such as how Christians judge a person who walks in church looking different or having a different lifestyle; Christians being so dogmatic about issues that are not in the Bible such as long hair on guys, short hair on women, women wearing jewelry or pants, men with facial hair, musical instruments in the church other than piano or organ, and many other issues people so foolishly dwell on.
It broke my heart when he told about the small church he was a pastor secretly pushing him out of the church because of his ill baby daughter. How they were afraid her condition would affect the other children in the nursery, and afraid she would die while in their care in the nursery because she had a death threatened birth defect. But he also told of the blessing of finding a pastor and a church family that took them in and loved and cared for his family.
How people can be so rude and heartless is beyond me. I identify with the author in a small way because my son, who grew up in church, returned after several years of running with the wrong wild crowd. I can remember proudly introducing him to members who joined while he was away, only to have them stand with mouths open in disbelief that he was my son, and we faced many other hurtful things because you see, I played the piano/keyboard/organ and I shouldn’t have a son like that. We were blessed that most of the people loved him as they always did and welcomed him back with open arms.
Many people will be unhappy with this book but all Christians need to read it because whether we realize it or not, we sometimes hurt people. Dave Burchett was brave enough to write a book that should shake up many churches today. Christians should realize that it doesn’t matter what we think, it is not about us, it is all about Him. It is all about God. I urge you to buy a copy of this book and read it, study it, memorize it and pray until God changes your attitude to be like His.

Women of Faith coming to Chalotte N. C.

 Hi everyone, I am excited to announce that

Women of Faith is coming to Chalotte N. C

September 23 – 24, 2011

at the Time Warner Cable Arena

Join Sheila Walsh  Luci Swindoll  Lisa Harper   Ken Davis   Mary Mary   Natalie Grant   Nicole Johnson   Henry Cloud  and  Karen  Kingsbury   at this years 2011 conference.

Women of Faith Imagine

Love Finds You in Tombstone Arizona…..by Miralee Ferrell

Love Finds You in Tombstone Arizona…..by Miralee Ferrell

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher:
Summerside Press (February 1, 2011
Language: English
ISBN-10:
1609361040
ISBN-13:
978-160936104
Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.2 x 1 inches

Book Blurb: Love and second chances aren’’t easy to come by in a town named Tombstone. When Christy Grey receives an urgent summons to Tombstone, Arizona, she reluctantly leaves her new life in California. The trip goes from bad to worse when four masked men hold up Christy’s stage. She finally arrives in
Tombstone to find her mother ill and her brother trapped in a life of gambling. Desperate for money to support her family, will Christy bow to pressure from the local saloon owners and return to the life she thought she’d given up for good?

Nevada King has problems of his own. He’’s been dodging bullets for years and wants nothing more than to settle down and get married. But he’’s on the run from outlaws bent on revenge, and the one woman who captures his interest recognizes him from the stagecoach holdup. Will Christy turn Nevada in to the authorities, or will the outlaws on his trail catch him first?

My Review

Christy Grey has started her life over fresh and new in California and she never wants to go back to her old life in a dance hall again. When her brother contacts her about their mother’s illness, her California life comes to an end and Christy heads to Arizona to take care of her sick mom. Because of a stagecoach robbery, Christy arrives in Tombstone injured and with no money. To make matters worse, she finds her brother in a gambling hall and is surprised with the horror of finding the home her mom and brother living in a shack that looks like it’s about to fall down. What on earth happened to land them living in a place like this?

Nevada King seems to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. He didn’t want to be involved in the stagecoach robbery, but was he going to be involved anyway? Or was he really in the right place at the right time because a pretty lady needed help after she was shot, and he was able to play doctor and fix her arm so she could continue traveling to Tombstone? One thing he did know, he was through living his former life. He was now ready to settle down and make something good of the life he had left.

Enjoy this wonderful western as you follow the sweet romance between Nevada and Christy, Joshua and Sara in the little town of Tombstone Arizona. Experience the magnificent view of Tombstone and experience their lifestyle, meet their people and feel the personality of their community as the author so brilliantly brings to life in this book.

This was not a book I rec’d free to read for a review. I purchased this book to read for myself, and posted the review on my own. The opinions in the review are mine only.

 

About the Author

Christian fiction with a purpose—to glorify God. When my writing ceases to accomplish that, I’ll stop writing. I believe God directed me to begin this writing journey (see my bio) and I’ll continue as long as He leads.

I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know me a little better through the pages of this site. I write inspirational women’s contemporary fiction as well as historical romance. You can find my work, along with multiple reviews, on Amazon.com and ChristianBook.com or in your local bookstore.

Be sure and check Miralee’s  Bio to read about her journey.

An Unlikely Suitor……….by Nance Moser

An Unlikely Suitor……….by Nance Moser

Publisher: Bethany House

Price: $14.99
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0752-5
ISBN-10: 0-7642-0752-0
Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5
Number of pages: 400
Carton Quantity: 32
Publication Date: May. 11
Formats: Paperback

 

 

 

MY REVIEW

Lucy Scarpelli and her family lives in NY during America’s Gilded Age. Their family lived in a poverty section of NY and struggled to survive. That is until one day Lucy run into Mr. Standish, a wealthy businessman that owns a dress shop. Mr. Standish not only hires Lucy and her sister Sofia to help sew dresses for the wealthy he hires their mom to make hats to match the dresses. He also offers to rent the mom and 2 siblings an apartment over the dress shop. This is the beginning of a new life for the Scarpelli family. Lucy becomes friends with Rowena, a crippled young lady and the daughter of a wealthy couple. Join Lucy and the Scarpelli family on an unbelievable journey to a life they never thought possible.

First of all, the beauty of the cover of this book captures your interest, making you want to see the story inside. The characters the author created were unique to the story, and blended so well it makes you feel as though you are living the story with them. The independence and determination of Lucy makes you want to strive to be like her. The Christian content was strong, which I enjoyed because it teaches us that we need to trust God with every detail of our lives and believe that he knows best.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes historical and romance Christian fiction. This is a wonderful summer read, a nice get-away from daily struggles for a while.

I was provided a copy of this book by Bethany House publishers. I was not required or expected to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.

 

NANCY MOSER lives in Kansas City and is the author of over twenty inspirational novels including Christy
Award winner Time Lottery, Masquerade, An Unlikely Suitor, Washington’s Lady, and John 3:16. She also
coauthored the bestselling Sister Circle series with Campus Crusade co-founder Vonette Bright.

Author’s Website

Purchase at   Bethany House        Amazon

F.I.R.S.T. Wild Card Tours with Gayle Roper…Shadows on the Sand

Shadows on the Sand……by Gayle Roper

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:
Gayle Roper

and the book:

Shadows on the Sand: A Seaside Mystery

Multnomah Books (July 19, 2011)

***Special thanks to Laura Tucker of WaterBrook Multnomah Publicity for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Gayle Roper, a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, is the multi-award-winning, best-selling author of Fatal Deduction and more than forty other books. She teaches and leads mentoring clinics at writers’ conferences across the country. Gayle lives in eastern Pennsylvania.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Carrie Carter’s small café in Seaside, New Jersey, is populated with a motley crew of locals … although Carrie only has eyes for Greg Barnes. He’s recovering from a vicious crime that three years ago took the lives of his wife and children—and from the year he tried to drink his reality away. While her heart does a happy Snoopy dance at the sight of him, he never seems to notice her, to Carrie’s chagrin.

When Carrie’s dishwasher is killed and her young waitress disappears, leaving only cryptic clues in her Sudoku book, Greg finds himself drawn into helping Carrie solve the mysteries … and into her life. But when Carrie’s own painful past becomes all too present, her carefully constructed world begins to sink.

Will the fragile relationship she’s built with Greg implode from the weight of the baggage they both carry?

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (July 19, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601420846
ISBN-13: 978-1601420848

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

So Bill punched him in the nose, Carrie!” Andi Mueller swung an arm to demonstrate and nearly clipped me. “He was wonderful!”

I leaned back and held up a hand for protection. “Easy, kiddo.” I smiled at the girl and her enthusiasm.

Andi giggled like the smitten sixteen-year-old she was. “Sorry.”

“Mmm.” I rested my elbows on the pink marble counter that ran along one wall of Carrie’s Café, located two blocks from the boardwalk in the center of Seaside, New Jersey. I was the Carrie of the café’s name, and Andi was one of my servers, in fact, my only server at the moment. She’d been with me almost two months now, taking up the slack when the summer kids left to go back to college or on to real jobs.

“Let me get this straight,” I said. “On Saturday night Bill, who is your true soul mate, punched Jase, our Jase, for paying too much attention to you at a party.” I didn’t think my voice was too wry, but soul mates at sixteen made me both cynical and scared, teen hormones being what they were.

Andi just grinned with delight of the even-mentioning-his-name-givesme-the-vapors kind and nodded as she sat on a stool at the counter. “Isn’t it romantic?”

I was hearing this tale today, Monday, because now that the season was over, Carrie’s was closed on Sundays. My staff and I had earned our day of rest over a very busy and marginally profitable summer. We might be able to stay open for another year if nothing awful happened, like the roof leaking or the dishwasher breaking.

Listening to Andi made me feel ancient. I was only thirty-three, but had I ever been as young as she? Given the trauma of my growing-up years, I probably hadn’t. I was glad that whatever her history, and there was a history, she could giggle.

“How do you expect to continue working with Jase after this encounter?” I was very interested in her answer. Jase was one of three part-time dishwashers at the café. All three were students at the local community college and set their schedules around classes. Jase worked Tuesdays and Saturdays from six in the morning until three, and the last thing I wanted was contention in the kitchen between Andi and him.

Andi looked confused. “Why should I have trouble with Jase? I didn’t punch him. Besides he’s an old–” She cut herself off.

I wanted to pursue her half-thought, but the door of the café opened, and Greg Barnes walked in, all scruffy good looks and shadowed eyes. His black hair was mussed as if he hadn’t combed it, and he had a two-day stubble. He should have looked grubby, but somehow he didn’t. He looked wonderful.

All thoughts of Bill and Jase fled as my heart did the little stuttery Snoopy dance it always did at the sight of Greg. Before he could read anything in my face, assuming he noticed me as someone other than the person who fed him, I looked down at the basket of fresh-from-the-oven cinnamon-swirl muffins I was arranging.

Andi glanced from me to him and, much too quick and clever, smiled with a knowing look. I held my breath. She wasn’t long on tact, and the last thing I wanted was for her to make some leading remark. I felt I could breathe again when all she did was wink at me. Safe for the moment, at least.

Greg came to the counter and slid onto his favorite stool, empty now that the receding flood of summer tourists left it high and dry this third week in October, a vinyl-covered Ararat postdeluge.

“The usual?” I asked, my voice oh-so-casual.

He gave a nod, barely glancing my way, and opened his copy of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Press of Atlantic City waited. I turned to place his order, but there was no need. Lindsay, my sister, partner, and the café’s baker, had been listening to Andi’s story through the serving window. She waved her acknowledgment before I said a word. She passed the order to Ricky, our short-order cook, who had stayed with us longer than I expected, long enough that he had become almost as much of an asset to Carrie’s as Lindsay was.

My sister gave me a sly smile, then called, “Hi, Greg.”

He looked up from his paper and gave Lindsay a very nice smile, far nicer than he ever gave me.

“The sticky buns are all gone,” he said in mild accusation, nodding toward the glass case where we kept Lindsay’s masterpieces.

She grinned. “Sorry. You’ve got to get here earlier.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Or you could make more.”

“I’ll take the suggestion under advisement,” she said agreeably.

“Haven’t you heard the adage about making your customers happy?”

“Yeah. So?”

He laughed and turned a page in the paper. I brought him a glass of OJ and a cup of my special blend.

“How’re you doing?” I asked, just as I did every morning.

He gave me a vague smile. “Fine.” Just as he said every morning.

But he wasn’t. Oh, he was better than, say, a year ago, definitely better than two years ago, but he wasn’t well. Even three years after the tragedy that had altered his life, he was far from his self-proclaimed fine. If you looked closely–as I did–you could see the strain never completely left his eyes, and the purple stains under them were too deep and dark, a sure sign that a good night’s sleep was still little more than a vague memory for him.

But he was sober. More than two years and counting.

“Keep talking, Andi,” Lindsay said as Ricky beat Greg’s eggs and inserted his wheat bread in the toaster. “This is better than reality TV. It’s really real.” She walked out of the kitchen into the café proper. “Bill bopped Jase,” she prompted.

“Our Jase,” I clarified.

Greg looked up. “Your dishwasher?”

I nodded.

“Hmm.” And he went back to his paper.

“And Jase went down for the count.” Andi’s chest swelled with pride at her beloved’s prowess.

I flinched. “Don’t you think knocking a guy out for talking to you is a bit much?”

Andi thought for almost half a second, then shook her head. “It wasn’t for just Saturday. He knows Jase and I work together, and he was staking his claim.”

I’d seen Jase and Andi talking in the kitchen, but there never seemed to be any romantic overtones. “Jase is a nice guy and a good worker. I don’t want to lose him because of your boyfriend.”

“He is, and I don’t want him to go either,” Andi agreed. “I like talking to him.”

“Me too.” Lindsay rested an elbow on the counter and propped her chin in her palm. “I think he’s sad.”

“What do you mean, sad?” But I’d sensed he was weighed down with something too.

“He’s funny and open most of the time,” Lindsay said, “but sometimes when no one’s talking to him, I see this look of sorrow on his face.”

I nodded. “All the more reason to hate that he got punched.”

“Yeah.” Lindsay got a dreamy look in her dark brown eyes. “But there’s something about a guy defending you, even if what he’s defending you from isn’t really a threat.” She sighed.

“Lindsay!” I was appalled. “Get a grip.” Though if Greg ever wanted to defend me, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t mind. Of course, that presupposed he’d notice I was in trouble. I glanced at him bent over his paper. Not likely to happen. I bit back a sigh.

“Tell me, Andi. Does Bill plan to punch out any male who talks to you?”

“Come on, Carrie,” Andi said. “Don’t be mad at Bill. You know how guys can be when they’ve had a few beers.”

I did know how guys could be, beers or no beers. “What were you doing at a party where there was drinking?”

She became all prim and prissy. “I did not drink.”

“I should hope not, but you shouldn’t have been there.” Good grief. I was sounding more and more like her mother–or how her mother would have sounded if she weren’t missing in action somewhere. Part of that history I didn’t know.

“Order up,” Ricky announced as he walked to the pass-through. “The food is never better than when I plate it.”

You’d have thought he was Emeril or Wolfgang Puck or one of Paula Deen’s sons, not a stopgap cook who couldn’t find any other job after graduating from college with a psychology degree and who stayed around because he had a crush on the baker.

I grabbed Greg’s scrambled eggs and wheat toast and served them. He accepted them with a nod and a grunt.

“So what happened to Jase?” I asked Andi. I found myself hoping Bill had bruised a knuckle or two in his violence, though I was pretty sure it meant I was a terrible person too. I didn’t wish for a broken hand or anything that extreme, just something to remind him that punching wasn’t the way to handle a perceived rival.

Andi waved her hand vaguely. “Bill and a buddy carried Jase to his car. They only dropped him once.”

I imagined the thunk of poor Jase’s head hitting the ground and flinched in sympathy. No such thought bothered Andi. She was too busy being thrilled by Bill, who rode in like her shining knight, laying waste to the enemy with knuckles instead of the more traditional lance.

“How much older than you is Bill?” Lindsay asked.

Good question, Linds.

Andi studied the cuticle of her index finger. “He’s nineteen.”

Lindsay and I exchanged a glance. Those three years from sixteen to nineteen were huge.

I couldn’t keep quiet. “So he shouldn’t have been drinking at this party either.”

Andi slid off her stool. If looks killed, Lindsay’d be sprinkling my ashes in the ocean tomorrow morning.

“What does Clooney think of you and Bill?” Lindsay asked. Clooney was Andi’s great-uncle, and she lived with him.

Andi cleared her throat. “We don’t talk about Bill.”

“Does he know about Bill?” Lindsay’s concern was obvious.

Andi stared through long bangs that hung over her hazel eyes. The silky hair sometimes caught in her lashes in a way that made me blink but didn’t seem to bother her. “Of course Clooney knows. Do you think I’d keep a secret from him?”

“I didn’t think you would.” Lindsay smiled. “I’m glad to know I was right.”

So was I. Sixteen could go in so many different directions, and I’d hate for this pixie to make wrong choices–or more wrong choices.

“Is he going to college?” I asked. “Bill?”

“He was, but not now.” Her fingernail became even more absorbing. “He dropped out of Rutgers at the end of his freshman year.”

Uh-oh. Dropped out or failed out? “Does he plan to go back? Try again?”

She shrugged. “He doesn’t know. Right now he’s happy just being. And going to parties. And taking me.” By the time she was finished, she was bouncing at the excitement of it all, her strawberry blond ponytail leaping about her shoulders.

Greg looked up from his newspaper. “So this guy took you, a very underage girl, to a party where there was lots of drinking?”

Andi looked at him, eyes wide, acting as if he’d missed the whole point of her story. “Don’t worry about me, Mr. Barnes. Or any of you.” She included Lindsay and me with a nod of her head. “I can handle any problems that might develop at a party. Believe me, I’ve dealt with far worse.”

I was intrigued. I’d stared down plenty of problems in my time too, and I wondered how her stare downs compared to mine.

She grinned and waved a hand as if she were wiping away her momentary seriousness. “But I’d rather talk about how great Bill is.”

“So how great is he?” Lindsay asked. “Tell me all.” At twenty-seven, she was an incurable romantic. I wasn’t sure how this had come to pass, since she had every reason to be as cynical as I, but there you are.

I frowned at her. “Stop encouraging the girl.”

Lindsay just grinned.

I looked at Andi’s happy face and had to smile too. “So what’s this wonderful guy doing if he’s not in school?” Besides being and partying.

“Uh, you mean like a job or something?”

“Yeah.” Lindsay and I exchanged another glance. Greg looked up again at Andi’s reluctant tone.

“Well, he was a lifeguard over the summer. He’s got this fabulous tan, and it makes him so handsome.”

Soul mate stuff if I ever heard it. I half expected her to swoon like a nineteenth-century Southern belle with her stays laced too tightly. “What about now? Postseason?”

“And he was the quarterback on the high school football team two years ago when they won the state championship.”

“Very impressive. What about now?”

“He was named Most Valuable Player.”

“Even more impressive. What about now?”

She began making sure the little stacks of sugar and sweetener packets in the holders on the counter were straight. “Right now he’s just trying to figure it all out.”

Being. Figuring. And punching guys out while he thought. “You mean he’s trying to decide what he wants to be when he grows up?”

She glared at me. In her mind he was grown up. She turned her back with a little sniff and went to clean off a dirty table.

Lindsay swallowed a laugh. “Your sarcastic streak is showing, Carrie.”

Mr. Perkins, another regular at Carrie’s Café and at eighty in better health than the rest of us put together, rapped his cup on the pink marble counter. He’d been sitting for several minutes with his eyes wide behind his glasses as he listened to Andi.

“No daughter of mine that age would ever have gone to a party where there was drinking,” he said. “It’s just flat out wrong.”

Since I agreed, I didn’t mention that he was a lifelong bachelor and had no daughters.

He rapped his cup again.

“Refill?” I asked, not because I didn’t know the answer but because the old man liked to think he was calling the shots.

He nodded. “Regular too. None of that wimpy decaf. I got to keep my blood flowing, keep it pumping.”

I smiled with affection as I topped off his cup. He gave the same line every day. “Mr. Perkins, you have more energy than people half your age.”

He pointed his dripping spoon at me. “And don’t you forget it.”

“Watch it,” I said in a mock scold. “You’re getting coffee all over my counter.”

“And a fine counter it is.” He patted the pink-veined marble slab. It was way too classy and way too pricey for a place like the café. “Did I ever tell you that I remember when it was the registration counter at Seaside’s Grand Hotel? And let me tell you, it was a grand hotel in every sense of the word. People used to come from as far as Pittsburgh, even the president of U.S. Steel. Too bad it burned down. The hotel, not U.S. Steel.”

“Too bad,” I agreed. And yes, he’d told us the story many times.

“It was in 1943,” he said with a faraway look in his eyes. “I was thirteen.” He blinked back to the present. “It was during World War II, you know, and people said it was sabotage. Not that I ever believed that. I mean, why would the Germans burn down a resort hotel? But I’ll tell you, my father, who was an air-raid warden, about had a seizure.”

“I bet he was convinced that the flames, visible for miles up and down the coast, would bring the German subs patrolling offshore right up on our beaches,” Lindsay said with a straight face. “They might have attacked us.”

I glared at her as she repeated word for word Mr. Perkins’s line from the story. She winked unrepentantly.

Mr. Perkins nodded, delighted she was listening. “People kept their curtains drawn at night, and even the boardwalk was blacked out for the duration, the lights all covered except for the tiniest slit on the land side, so the flames from the fire seemed extra bright. All that wood, you know. Voom! ” He threw his hands up in the air.

Lindsay and I shook our heads at the imagined devastation, and I thought I saw Greg’s lips twitch. He’d heard the story almost as many times as we had.

Mr. Perkins stirred his coffee. “After the war some investor bought the property.”

“I bet all that remained of the Grand was the little corner where the pink marble registration counter sat.” Lindsay pointed where I leaned. “That counter.”

Again she spoke his line with a straight face, and this time Greg definitely bit back a grin.

Mr. Perkins added another pink packet to his coffee. “That’s right. The buyer decided to open a restaurant around the counter and build a smaller, more practical hotel on the rest of the property.”

Even that hotel was gone now, replaced many years ago by private homes rented each summer to pay the exorbitant taxes on resort property.

I walked to Greg with my coffeepot. “Refill?”

He slid his mug in my direction, eyes never leaving his paper.

Be still my heart.

2

The café door opened again, and Clooney sauntered in. In my opinion Clooney sauntered through life, doing as little as possible and appearing content that way. I, on the other hand, was a bona fide overachiever, always trying to prove myself, though I wasn’t sure to whom. If Clooney weren’t so charming, I’d have disliked him on principle. As it was, I liked him a lot.

Today he wore a Phillies cap, one celebrating the 2008 World Series victory. His gray ponytail was pulled through the back of the cap and hung to his shoulder blades.

“You work too hard, Carrie,” he told me frequently. “You’ll give yourself indigestion or reflux or a heart attack or something. You need to take time off.”

“If I didn’t want to pay the rent or have insurance or eat, I’d do that very thing,” I always countered.

“What you need is a rich husband.” And he’d grin.

“A solution to which I’m not averse. There just seems to be a shortage of candidates in Seaside.”

“Hey, Clooney,” Andi called from booth four, where she was clearing. She gave him a little finger wave. Clooney might be her great-uncle, but try as I might, I couldn’t get her to call him Uncle Clooney. Just “Clooney” sounded disrespectful to me, but he didn’t seem to mind.

“Hey, darlin’.” Clooney walked over to Andi and gave her a hug. Then he came to the counter and slid onto the stool next to Greg. He did not take off his cap, something that drove me crazy. I’ve developed this manners thing, probably because my childhood was so devoid of anything resembling pattern or politeness. I know people thought me prissy and old-fashioned, but I am what I am, a poor man’s Miss Manners.

Clooney pointed at a muffin, and I placed one on a dish for him. He broke off a chunk, then glanced back at Andi. “She tell you about that fool Bill?”

I grinned at his disgruntled expression. “She did.”

“What is it with girl children?” he demanded. “I swear she’s texted the news around the world.”

“She thinks it’s a compliment–her knight defending her.”

Clooney and Greg snorted at the same time.

“Slaying a dragon who’s threatening the life of the fair damsel’s one thing,” Greg said, actually looking at me. “Decking a kid for saying hi to a pretty girl is another.”

“Your past life as a cop is showing,” I teased.

He shrugged as he turned another page of the paper. “Old habits die hard.”

The door opened again, and in strutted the object of our conversation. I knew it had to be him because, aside from the fact that he looked like a very tanned football player, he and Andi gazed at each other with love-struck goofy grins. I thought I heard Lindsay sigh.

Andi hurried toward the kitchen with an armful of dirty dishes from booth four. She squeaked in delight as Bill swatted her on the rump as she passed. Clooney stiffened at this unseemly familiarity with his baby. Mr. Perkins tsk-tsked his disapproval.

“Can I have breakfast now?” Andi asked when she reappeared empty- handed.

The wait staff usually ate around ten thirty at a back booth, and it was ten fifteen. We were in the off-season weekday lull between breakfast and lunch, and the three men on their stools were the only customers present. I nodded.

Bill looked toward the kitchen. He appeared overwhelmed at the prospect of food, unable to make a selection. He draped an arm over Andi’s shoulder as he considered the possibilities, and she snuggled against him. Clooney’s frown intensified.

Bill was a big guy, and it was clear by the way he carried himself that he still thought of himself as the big man on campus in spite of the fact that he was now campusless and unemployed. As I studied him, I wondered if high school football would end up being the high point of his life. How sad that would be. Clooney drifted through life by choice. I hoped Bill wouldn’t drift for lack of a better plan or enough ability to achieve.

Careful, Carrie. I was being hard on this kid. Nineteen and undecided wasn’t that unusual. Just because at his age I’d already been on my own for three years, responsible for Lindsay, who was six years my junior…

Bill gave Clooney, who was watching him with a rather sour look, a sharp elbow in the upper arm and asked, one guy to another, “What do you suggest, Clooney? What’s really good here?”

Clooney’s relaxed slouch disappeared. I saw the long-ago medal-winning soldier of his Vietnam days. “You will call me ‘sir’ until I give you permission to call me by name. Do you understand, boy?”

Bill blinked. So did I. Everyone in Seaside, no matter their age, called him Clooney.

“Stop that, Clooney!” Andi was appalled at her uncle’s tone of voice.

“Play nice,” I said softly as I realized for the first time that I didn’t know whether Clooney was his first name or last. I made a mental note to ask Greg. As a former Seaside cop, he might know. “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, darlin’.” Clooney gave Andi an easy smile. He gave Bill a hard stare. “Right, Bill?”

Bill blinked again. “Y-yes, sir.”

Andi took her beloved’s hand and dragged him toward the back booth. “Ignore my uncle. He’s having a bad day.” She glared over her shoulder at Clooney, who grinned back at her.

“She’s got spunk, that one,” he said with pride.

“How’d she end up living with you?” I’d been longing to ask ever since Clooney showed up with Andi just before Labor Day and asked me to give her a job. I did, and I guess I thought that gave me the right to ask my question.

Clooney disagreed because he said, “I think I’ll have one of your amazing Belgian waffles with a side of sausage.”

“I’m on it.” Lindsay headed back to the kitchen before I said a word. “Got it, Ricky?”

“Got it.” Ricky tested the waffle iron with a flick of water. He smiled as the water jumped and evaporated. He was a handsome kid with dark Latino looks of the smoldering kind, a young Antonio Banderas. Unfortunately for him, his smoldering looks appeared to have no effect on Linds.

Another victim of unrequited love.

Andi came to the counter and placed an order for Bill and herself. I blinked. We could have served the whole dining room on less.

Mr. Perkins eyed me. “Are you going to make him pay for all that? You should, you know.”

True, but I shook my head. “Job perk. He’s cheaper than providing health benefits and not nearly as frustrating.”

“So say you.” Clooney settled to his waffle and sausage.

I watched the parade of laden plates emerge from the kitchen and make their way to the back booth, making me reconsider the “cheaper” bit. Andi took her seat and stared at Bill as if he could do no wrong in spite of the fact that he leaned on the table like he couldn’t support his own weight. Didn’t anyone ever tell the kid that his noneating hand was supposed to rest in his lap, not circle his plate as if protecting it from famished marauders or little girls with ponytails?

“Look at him,” Clooney said. “He’s what? Six-two and over two hundred pounds? Jase Peoples is about five-eight and one-forty if he’s wearing everything in his closet.”

“Let’s forget about Jase, shall we?” Andi’s voice was sharp as she came to the counter and reached for more muffins. “The subject is closed.”

I grabbed her wrist. “No more muffins. We need them for paying customers. If Bill’s still hungry, he can have toast.”

“Or he could pay.” To Mr. Perkins a good idea was worth repeating.

Andi laughed at the absurdity of such a thought.

Ricky had left his stove and was leaning on the pass-through beside Lindsay. “Four slices coming up for Billingsley.”

“Billingsley?” I looked at the big guy as he downed the last of his four-egg ham-and-cheese omelet. With a name like that, it was a good thing he was big enough to protect himself.

“Billingsley Morton Lindemuth III,” Ricky said.

“I should never have told you.” Andi clearly felt betrayed.

“But you did. And you got to love it.” Laughing, Ricky turned to make toast.

“He hates it,” Andi said.

I wasn’t surprised.

Greg drew in a breath like you do when something terrible happens. We all turned to stare at him.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

He was looking at the front page of The Press of Atlantic City. “Jase Peoples.”

“What?” I demanded.

Clooney grabbed the paper and followed Greg’s pointing finger.

I could see the picture and the headline above it: “Have You Seen This Man?”

 

 

Shadows on the Sand by Gayle Roper
MY REVIEW
Shadows on the Sand is a wonderful suspense, full of romance between Carrie and Greg. Carrie was owner of a small restaurant in Seaside, New Jersey while Greg was a property manager for an apartment building in the same little community. Both Carrie and Greg had a sad past but even though Greg had frequented her restaurant every day for about 3 years, they knew nothing about each other. You will enjoy their story as they struggle with the difficulties of everyday life and learning to love again in this small community of Seaside.
Shadows on the Sand is my first Gayle Roper book and I loved it!! I will sure be reading her books from now on. The suspense kept me reading this book until the end. I didn’t put it down unless I really had too…which wasn’t often. I just had to find out what happened next. I didn’t figure out the killer, I would think I had him, and then read something that had me doubting. This is what makes it an amazing and wonderful book to read! And the part about the cult added even more suspense and drama to the book, well informing readers the dangers of falling for cults.
The romance between Greg and Carrie was just sweet romance! Carrie worked hard for what she ad, and was so very caring. She needed a man in her life to take care of her. Greg was so sweet and loveable you have to love him. I was heartbroken about the loss of his family and wanted so much for he and Carrie to find love they both so needed.
The Biblical content was well written into the story, teaching the reader grief, forgiveness and love. Grab a copy of this book and read it! You will not be disappointed; it is well worth your read. Shadows in the Sand is at the top of my list of summer reads.
I received this book free from the publisher Waterbrook Multnomah through F.I.R.S.T. Wild Card Tour to read and review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55

Join us today for an interview with Missy Tippens and giveaway


Glad you could join us today with Missy Tippens!

Hi everyone, Welcome to by blog and today’s interview with Missy Tippens. I am really glad to have Missy here with us today. I’ve read all of her books except the one she is giving away this week, “A Family For Faith” and I am sure this on is just as awesome as the others. And if you haven’t read her Christmas book “A Forever Christmas” you need to purchase a copy to read this Christmas. I read it every Christmas! Ok enough of me, now on to our interview with Missy

Hi Missy, it’s great to have you on my blog today. Thank you so much for being here. Tell us a bit about yourself.

 Thank you for having me, Joy! I’m a pastor’s wife and mother of three—ages 21, 16 and 14. I’m a former microbiologist-turned-stay-at-home mom. I’ve also been an adjunct instructor at our local technical college. Now I spend my days writing.

We are glad you take time to write wonderful books for us to read Missy!

How long have you been writing?

I started my first book in 1995 (when I got my first computer!). It took about 12 years before I sold my first novel.

I didn’t realize the patience of a writer until I started interviewing. I can only imagine how extremely happy you were selling your first book.

 What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

I love working at home (sometimes in my p.j.’s!). I love brainstorming ideas. I love creating new characters. I love…well, writing in general! Oh, and I’d have to say the wonderful letters from readers are my very favorite part. They’re very touching and give me encouragement.

Yes working at home in PJs would be a blessing! And bloggers, contact Missy when you read her books and let her know how you feel about them.

What is your favorite Scripture?

It’s hard to pick just one. 🙂 But here’s one of them:

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

 I need to review this question, it is hard to pick just one, but I do love this one you chose.

How do you find characters for your books? Are the influenced by family and friends?

 I usually try to think up characters who are opposites in some way. I often envision one character to fit my story idea and then try to come up with the match. I’d have to say that no, they’re not usually influenced by family or friends. Although I do sometimes borrow certain traits or experiences. One character I wrote in my last manuscript (coming from Love Inspired in February 2012) has the voice and eyes of an elderly friend of mine. And in A Family for Faith, the experience of the heroine with her son is based on the experience of a friend.

I always want to know how characters are chosen, it’s just interesting to see where the people we read about comes from.

 What are 4 things about yourself that most people wouldn’t know about ?

Well, I would answer that I’m a former microbiologist, but I just told that in your first question. 🙂 I’ll still count it, though.

–I was a majorette in high school.

–I play the oboe. (Or playED, as in past tense! It’s been years.)

–I recently started taking a Zumba class at our church and am having way too much fun with it! 🙂

 And thanks for answering this question…..I think everyone gets a kick out of finding out these little things. Zumba classes sound interesting!

When will your next book be out?

 A House Full of Hope, from Love Inspired, will be out in February. It takes place in the same town as A Family for Faith, and you’ll see some of the same characters again.

I think you just told us this earlier….and I can’t wait for another Missy book to come out. I always like reading several books about the same characters. Sometimes I just don’t want to let the characters go.

What are you working on now?

I recently sent in a new proposal that I hope to sell and am already working on another proposal idea.

It seems kinda strange that when we are celebrating a new book coming out, you already have several others in the making. But that is how we get the books so close together.

Where can our readers find you?

www.missytippens.com

www.seekerville.blogspot.com

www.lifewithmissy.blogspot.com

www.thefaithgirls.com

Oh, and I’m on Twitter, Goodreads and Facebook!

 Anything else you want to add?

 Thanks for having me!

And thank you for being here Missy. I know you have a busy schedule and I appreciate you taking the time to be here for us. And since you are one of my favorite authors, so I am especially excited that you were willing to do an interview with me!

And I wanted to save this one until last, Tell us a bit about A Family for Faith and what Inspired you to write this wonderful book.

A Family for Faith was inspired while I was flying home from a writers’ conference. Across the aisle, and up one row, a dad sat by himself with a young daughter. He was trying to fix the bow in her hair and was not having any luck at all. I just ached for him and his daughter, wondering if there was a mom in the picture. But I was also touched at how gentle and persistent he was, and that he tried so very hard with that silly bow. Right then and there, I knew I had to write a story about a single dad with a daughter who was hitting an age where she really needed a mother figure.

But who on earth would I match this character with? Well, if his daughter really needed a mother, then how about a heroine who didn’t want children? Or, even better, what if she had a child but for some reason thought she wasn’t a good mother? As I started brainstorming ideas, I remembered a close friend of mine who, many years ago, was devastated when she had to give up custody of her children when they chose to live with their dad. I asked her to share with me how she felt at the time and knew I’d found my heroine.  So the story was born!

Here’s the back cover blurb:

When Faith Hagin sees widower cop Gabe Reynolds every day in her coffee shop, she can’t help but feel for the struggling single dad. She’s raised a teenager of her own—and sadly, knows what not to do. But thanks to his matchmaking preteen daughter, Chelsea, the whole town’s praying for Gabe to find a wife!

Even though Faith thinks she’s content being just friends, spending time with him and Chelsea starts to feel like a fresh start at having a family. And their love may be the answer to everyone’s prayers.

Gives me chills girl! I have Family of Faith on my list to read, but think I’m gonna have to move it up a bit!! We look forward to your new book in February 2o11 and I hope you will be here again to tell us about it!

And I want to thank you again Missy on behalf of my bloggers as well for being here today. and bloggers, go out and buy Missy’s new book A Family for Faith” and while your at it, look for A Forever Christmas” too!

As a matter of fact….you can find all of Missy’s books HERE ON AMAZON

And if you would like to enter to win Missy’s book “A Family for Faith”  just leave a comment about the interview. And leave your email address as well!  PLEASE.,…IF YOU DO NOT LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW…YOU WILL NOT BE ENTERED INTO THE DRAWING.

If you want an extra entry in the drawing, go here or click on link below and rate my review of
Judgement Day.
http://www.waterbrookmultnomah.com/bloggingforbooks/reviews/view/10455/blogr:5784

I will draw for a winner Wed. July 27th

Now for the last thing….check out this interview with Missy about her writing
and her last book.

 

The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camden

The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camden

Price $14.99
ISBN: 978-0-7642-0894-2
ISBN-10: 0-7642-0894-2
Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5
Number of pages: 336
Carton Quantity: 32
Publication Date: Jun. 11
Formats: Paperback

Publisher:  Bethany House

This book is just simply beautiful inside and out! The romance between Clara and Daniel is enough to make you want to drool. Elizabeth Camden’s debut book is one of the best debut books I have read in a while. Daniel was the poor guy, making friends with rich daddy’s girl Clara Endicott because of the type of music they shared. As the years go by and the couple gets older, daddy sends his girl across the ocean to be raised by her aunt because he can see the chemistry growing between them. As they meet again twelve years later they realize that they were still not only best friends but sparks begin to sky rocket as the two of them start spending time together. But Daniel is so bitter about the way his parents died will he be able to put all of that behind him? And will Clara marry him if he doesn’t mend relationships and changed his heart, or let God change his heart?

Clara’s dad really irritated me because of his attitude and I am really glad that Clara was independent enough to stand up for herself. I enjoyed the determination of Clara and Daniel to be together even against the odds. The author created a cast of unique and believable characters that you grow to love, some as your own family, and some that you shy away from. This book captured me from the first pages to the very end! I just couldn’t put it down! And oh, by the way, I LOVE the book cover. The model so beautifully wears the gorgeous blue dress and the colors are so soft and inviting. And this is one book that you can judge by its cover! And check this out over on the LifeWay blog, its post for this day is the making of the cover of The Lady of Bolton Hill at Bethany House. Wonderful post and very interesting!

And also go here on the LifeWay blog  Q & A With Elisabeth Camden about this debut book.

I received this book free from Bethany House book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 55.

 Purchase this book at AMAZON

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