CFBA Tour Dangerous Mercy by Kathy Herman

CFBA Tour  Dangerous Mercy by  Kathy Herman

This week, theChristian Fiction Blog Allianceis introducingDangerous MercyDavid C. Cook (October 1, 2011)byKathy HermanABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Suspense novelist Kathy Herman is very much at home in the Christian book industry, having worked five years on staff at the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and eleven years at Better Books Christian Center in Tyler, Texas, as product buyer/manager for the children’s department, and eventually as director of human resources.

She has conducted numerous educational seminars on children’s books at CBA Conventions in the U.S. and Canada, served a preliminary judge for the Gold Medallion Book Awards of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association , and worked as an independent product/marketing consultant to the CBA market.

Since her first novel, Tested by Fire, debuted in 2001 as a CBA national bestseller, she’s added sixteen more titles to her credit, including four bestsellers: All Things Hidden, The Real Enemy, The Last Word, and The Right Call.

Kathy’s husband Paul is her manager and most ardent supporter, and the former manager of the LifeWay Christian Store in Tyler, Texas. They have three grown children, five almost-perfect grandchildren, a cat named Samantha. They enjoy cruising, deep sea fishing, and birdwatching—sometimes incorporating these hobbies into one big adventure.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. —Matthew 5:7

When eighty-five-year-old Adele Woodmore moves to Les Barbes to be near the Broussards—and her namesake, their daughter—she wants nothing more than a comfortable, quiet life. Employing men from Father Vince’s halfway house for the homeless to do odd jobs and landscaping, she delights in the casual conversation she has with them, the fledgling friendships, and the idea that she is helping them get back on their feet.

A series of murders in Les Barbes has cast a pall over the town and, in fact, one of Adele’s handymen becomes a person of interest to the police. But Adele cares for these young men, she knows them, and continues to show them kindness in spite of her friends’ concern. And then one day a murderer walks through Adele’s defenses, sits down at her kitchen table…and they begin to talk…

If you would like to read the first chapter of Dangerous Mercy, go HERE

My Thoughts..
Will write review tomorrow…didn’t have time tonight

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Kregel Blog Tour THE LIBERATING TRUTH….How Jesus Empowers Women By …Danielle Strickland

THE LIBERATING TRUTH….How Jesus Empowers Women

By …Danielle Strickland

First of all, this book was nothing like I was expecting. I thought it would be like other books I have read teaching women to how to better live for the Lord. This is not the case with this book. The Liberating Truth is showing women through scripture that the author uses that a woman can be a pastor and run a church just as any man can. And what I understand she is saying is that Jesus meant for it to be the same with women and men when it comes to church leadership and pastoring a church.

The author just doesn’t convince me why she is writing this book. Is she really wanting to do God’s will, or is it leaning more toward the feminist thing she is going with. There hundreds and hundreds of Bible believing men that differ with her, and I am sorry, I believe as these men do. I can’t say that she is correct here. And Jesus being a feminist? I think she has taken this just a little too far her for me.

I’m not saying I don’t agree with women teachers such as Kay Author, Beth Moore and many others. I love hearing them teach and I feel God is really using them in their ministry but that is different than pasturing a church.

As for reading this book, that is up to you. It could be an interesting book for you to read, and if its one you like, go for it!

This book was provided by Kregel Publishers for me to read and review. I was not expected or required to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine alone.

FIRST WildCard Tour..Raising a Daughter After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George

FIRST WildCard Tour..Raising a Daughter After God’s Own Heart by Elizabeth George
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:

 

Elizabeth George

 

and the book:

 

Raising a Daughter After God’s Own Heart

Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karri | Marketing Assistant of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Elizabeth George, whose books have sold more than 6.5 million copies, is the author of A Woman After God’s Own Heart® (more than 1 million copies sold) and Breaking the Worry Habit Forever! She’s also a popular speaker at Christian women’s events. Elizabeth and her husband, Jim, are parents and grandparents, and have been active in ministry for more than 30 years.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Elizabeth George, bestselling author and mother of two daughters, provides biblical insight and guidance for every mom who wants to lead their daughter to a godly life through example, study, and prayer. Elizabeth includes questions to draw moms and daughter closer as together they pursue spiritual priorities and God’s heart.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736917721
ISBN-13: 978-0736917728

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

The Bell Sheep

Part 1  —  Earning Your Bell

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
And these words which I command you today
shall be in your heart.

—  Deuteronomy 6:5

On a recent Christmas Sunday, my husband, Jim, and I and our family of 14 arrived at a church service extra early to make sure we didn’t end up in the “Standing Room Only” section for this special occasion. With my bulletin in hand and several minutes to spare before the service started, I opened my Bible and looked up the Scripture passage the pastor would focus on during his message. Then I read through some additional teaching notes and commentary in the margin of my Bible. One article was entitled “The Bell Sheep.”

The bell sheep? What in the world is that? I wondered. I read on. The article explained that when a shepherd noticed a sheep who willingly followed him and stayed near him, he hung a bell around the neck of that sheep so the flock would follow the bell sheep…who, in turn, was following the shepherd.

Knowing I would begin writing Raising a Daughter After God’s Own Heart as soon as the Christmas holiday was over, I almost jumped out of my seat when I read this. I was shouting out in my mind, “That’s it! That’s it! A mom should be the bell sheep for her daughter!”

And it’s true! When we as mothers stay close to Jesus—as close as close can be, and when we love Him with all our heart just the way Jesus said to, and when we willingly follow Him and His Word, guess what? We become His bell sheep for our daughters to follow. Our girls observe—and copy—our behavior. They can—and will—follow our example. We become their very own personal walking, living, real flesh and blood, visual example of what it means to be a child, girl, tween, teen, and woman after God’s own heart.

How to Be a Bell Sheep…in Three Verses

Finally Christmas was over, meaning it was D-Day for me—or more accurately, W-Day as in Writing Day. So I sat down to begin and wondered and prayed, “Where does Christian childrearing really begin? And what is Thing 1, Goal 1 for a mom?”

In a few seconds I had the answer! And it came from God’s Word. It was packaged in three verses I had discovered as a young mom, and also as a baby Christian. I flashed back on those early new-believer days of excitement, of newness, of need as I hungered to find out for the first time what God teaches about…everything! And especially “What in the world am I supposed to do with two little toddling girls?”

I’m so glad a wise woman had advised me to read in my new Bible every day. Well, the day arrived when I made it to the book of Deuteronomy. And there I hit gold when my eyes landed on Deuteronomy 6:5-7. I was stunned. Amazed. Thrilled! God was actually showing me His guidelines for raising my own little daughters, then only one-and-a-half and two-and-a-half years old. And in only three verses! How practical is that? Here’s what I read over and over again and finally memorized:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

I adore these verses because they are packed with clear communication to moms. God goes straight to the heart of the matter—the parent’s heart, the mom’s heart. He knows we become what we love. So He is utterly straightforward about where we are to place our love: We are to love Him supremely.

Two Questions to Ask Yourself

Believe me, I thought through this powerful passage—a lot! Then I took it apart word by word and thought by thought. And I came up with two questions I constantly asked my heart during those days with little girls, and still ask even today with two married daughters who are now raising their daughters. (After all, a mom is always a mom!)

Heart Question #1: What—and whom—do I love?

We “love” a lot of things for a lot of different reasons. But God prescribes perimeters and scope for our love. He tells us what not to love: “Do not love the world or the things in the world” (1 John 2:15). And He tells us what we are to love and where our love is to be focused—we are to “love the Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

But hold on. The Lord goes a step further and demands all of our love. He wants us to love Him with every fiber of our being—every breath, every ounce of energy, every thought, every emotion and passion, every choice. He wants us to love Him. He wants us to think first of Him and to desire above all else to please Him. And He wants that love to be intense and total, “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” As writer Matthew Henry summarizes, “He that is our all demands our all.”

Matthew Henry continues on to point out that our love for God is to be a strong one that is lived out with great enthusiasm and fervency of affection. It is to be a love that burns like a sacred fire, a love that causes our every affection to flow toward Him.

Now, apply this information about the strength of this kind of love for God and think about the love you have for your daughter, for your children. I’m sure you’ve heard others say, “There is no love like a mother’s love.” And it’s true! From the split second we know a baby is on the way, all our thoughts, dreams, prayers, and goals are channeled toward that little one. We are completely consumed and preoccupied by this tiny being. As the baby grows within us, our love blossoms and our commitment to it grows right along with our expanding body.

Immediately we begin to prepare physically for his or her arrival by meticulously taking care of our health. Healthy mom equals healthy baby, we’re told. We also prepare physically by setting up a nursery area for the new little addition. A bassinet or crib. A blanket. A mobile. Clothes. Supplies. Loads of diapers! Sometimes we even paint or remodel a room.

Then we moms get to work preparing our schedule. Maybe we have to quit a job or arrange for a leave of absence. Oh, and we have to find a pediatrician, as well as make time for our own doctor appointments. And, if we’re smart, we begin to prepare by gathering wisdom and information from our own moms, other moms, and from classes, books, and the Internet.

But as much as we obsess and focus on an approaching child, God wants us to obsess and focus even more on Him. That’s because the more we love Him, the more we will know about love. And the more we know about love, the more we will know about how to love. And the more we know about how to love, the more we will love our baby, our child, our daughter. I like what C.S. Lewis wrote about his love for God and how it affected his relationship with his wife: “When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now.” Mom, your love for God will prepare you to love your child. The more you love the Lord, the better you shall love your earthly dearest daughter.

So…God’s first assignment to any and every mother is to love Him above all else. If you are a sold-out, on-fire, hot-hearted, committed-to-God woman, you will be infinitely further down the road to being the kind of mom who, by His grace, can raise a daughter after God’s own heart. Because all your love centers upon God, and because you follow Him with all your heart, you will qualify to lead your daughter to follow God too—to be…well…God’s bell sheep for her.

Heart Question #2: What’s in my heart?

I don’t know what’s in your heart, and I’m working on what’s in mine! But God tells both of us what is supposed to be there, what He wants to be there. Here it is: He says, “These words which I command you today shall be in your heart” (verse 6).

And here’s the scene surrounding these words: In Deuteronomy 6, Moses is in the final weeks of his life. It has been 40 years since God’s people left Egypt, 40 years of homeless wanderings in the desert. At last a new generation was poised to enter into the Promised Land. But before they move out, Moses restates the Law one more time to this new generation that had been born in the wilderness. Because this next generation had married and now had—and would have—children, he addresses their spiritual responsibility as parents. As Moses speaks, he doesn’t want these moms and dads to merely hear the words of the Law and the Ten Commandments. No, he wants more, way more! He wants the words of the Law to go beyond their ears and reside in their hearts.

You may want to look again at Deuteronomy 6:6, but it tells us that God’s Word, the Bible, is to be in our hearts. Other passages in the Bible send us this same message:

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night (Joshua 1:8).

Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:11).

My son, keep my words, and treasure my commands within you…bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart (Proverbs 7:1,3).

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly (Colossians 3:16).

The message is repeated…and loud, isn’t it? And clear! God’s Word is to be in our heart. He asks this of you and me as moms. Why? Because when truth resides in your heart, then you have something to pass on to your daughter. She benefits! And you benefit too: As a mother you have something to guide you when you need help, strength, wisdom, and perseverance in your role as a mom, as a bell sheep. Don’t get me wrong—having and raising a child is perhaps the greatest earthly blessing you will ever enjoy. But, at the same time, it is the greatest challenge. But take heart, mom! God’s Word will always be there in you, with you, and for you as you guide your daughter in the ways of the Lord.

So…God’s second assignment for you as a mom is to be committed to His Word. You are to do whatever it takes to embed the teachings of the Bible in your heart, soul, and mind. As the saying goes, “You cannot impart what you do not possess.” The same is true of moms. To teach and guide, lead and raise a daughter after God’s own heart presupposes and requires that God’s truth be in your heart first. Then you possess something to impart. Then you have the most important thing to pass on to your precious daughter—the truth about God and the grace He extends through His Son, Jesus.

Becoming the Bell Sheep

I hope your heart is responding fervently to our initial glimpse at this primary role in the life of a mom after God’s own heart—that of being your daughter’s very own bell sheep. But maybe you are feeling like you need a little help. Well, read on to find out how to become the bell sheep. Practical help is on the way!

Part 2  —  Ringing Your Bell

You shall teach them diligently to your children,

and shall talk of them when you sit in your house,

when you walk by the way, when you lie down,

and when you rise up.

—  Deuteronomy 6:6-7

When my girls were young, I didn’t know about the bell sheep. But if I had, I would have wanted with all my heart to be one. And I would have been praying, “Oh, dear Father! You know how much I desire to be a bell sheep for my daughters. My greatest goal in life is to lead them to Jesus and teach them His ways.” I’m imagining this same heart-cry is being lifted heavenward from your soul’s core too.

As you’ve probably learned, knowing there is something God wants you to do is crucial. And wanting to do what God wants you to do is vital. But if you don’t know how to do what it is God wants you to do, you can become extremely frustrated.

So now we come to the big issue of how do I do this thing God wants—and expects—me to do? Well, here we go!

Yes, but How?

How does a mom help her daughter develop a heart for God? Deuteronomy 6:7 comes to the rescue and answers this question for you and me. God says, “You shall teach them diligently to your children” (verse 7). A mom who wholeheartedly loves the Lord and holds God’s words in her heart is to teach them to her sons and daughters.

—  “To teach”   There are two key ways to teach—by model and by mouth. And there are some basic practices you can follow for teaching effectively. I have a degree in education and have taught preschoolers, students from grades seven through twelve, and adults taking night school classes. Teaching was a job and I took it seriously. I developed my lesson plans for each day, week, month, semester, and school year. And I studied and prepared in advance for each day’s classes.

I also have a daughter who homeschools. I am in constant awe of her commitment. She plans out each year. She searches for materials for five children and their respective grade levels. She orders curriculum to arrive well before back-to-school day so she can preview it. Then she plans in advance the best way to teach, lead, and guide the five of them through each day of study.

Now picture this: I taught subjects that had nothing to do with God or with being a Christian, and so does my daughter. Imagine the effort we both put into teaching information and facts. And here in Deuteronomy 6:7, God is telling both of us—and all moms—to teach our children His Word, His ways, His truth. Now, this is life-changing stuff! The Bible is wisdom that will guide their lives and their choices. It is truth that will pierce a heart and bring a daughter to Christ. So be aware that every time you teach God’s Word you, the bell sheep, are ringing your bell! You are signaling to your daughter the priceless value of the treasure of the Scriptures.

This is exactly what happened in the New Testament to Timothy. As the apostle Paul said of Timothy, his trusted associate in ministry, “from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). God’s Word is dynamite! And Timothy’s mom and grandmom, a mother/daughter tag team after God’s own heart, were faithful to ring their bells! They were faithful to teach him the sacred truths of the Bible, which paved the way for Timothy’s salvation. Mom and grandmom did their part—they fulfilled their mission to teach God’s saving truth. And God certainly did His part!

Time out for a second. I’m thinking as we pause here, shouldn’t a mom after God’s own heart who wants to raise a daughter after God’s own heart take her teaching of Scripture seriously? If you are in this position, shouldn’t you be committed to…

…instructing your daughter in God’s ways?

…planning to some extent how you will accomplish this goal?

…scheduling a time each day for some kind of formal Bible time with her?

…encouraging her to have some time alone with God, a quiet time?

…coaching her in ways to have daily devotions?

…searching for age-appropriate materials and talking with other moms about how they teach their children biblical truth?

…praying daily about this mission from God, this teacher role He has personally given you?

—  “To teach diligently”   Next God tells us in verse 7 to “teach them diligently to your children.” The “them” is what you are to teach—God’s Word and His commands. And “diligently” is how you are to teach—being purposeful and conscientious in a task or duty.

Think about this for a minute: What are you diligent about? Some women diligently floss their teeth. Others are so diligent they would never miss their daily exercise or walk, or be late to work, or fail to pay a bill on time. I know women who are so serious about every bite of food they put into their mouths that they diligently record what they eat in a daily log. On and on goes the list of life instances in which women choose to be diligent instead of careless, or lazy, or negligent.

Now switch your thoughts to doing what God says, to being diligent to teach spiritual truth to your daughter…versus leaving this all-important assignment to someone else, such as a church leader or a Christian school or a grandparent. Don’t get me wrong! These are wonderful and needed resources. But they are to be your partners in imparting truth, not your substitutes. You as a mother are to be the bell sheep who rings the bell of truth like crazy! You, mom, are to be the primary model and teacher of truth to your daughter.

Well, thank the Lord He doesn’t leave moms on their own. This isn’t mission impossible. No, it’s mission possible. God knows most moms don’t have a degree in education or training in teaching. And, whew, God doesn’t expect this or demand it! Aren’t you glad? Instead, He tells us how to teach and what this teaching involves. He says, “You…shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (verse 7).

No matter who you are, or what you do or don’t know about teaching—or how busy you are!—God expects you to pour God’s Word out of your heart and into your daughter’s heart. All you have to do is:

Step 1, love the Lord with all your heart;

Step 2, have God’s Word in your heart; and now

Step 3, teach His truths diligently.

By…what? Talking?! You mean that’s all? That’s it? Yes, that’s it—by talking.

Now I ask you, you’re a woman. How hard can talking be? Why, we girls are the world’s experts when it comes to talking!

And note where all our mother-to-daughter talking and teaching is to take place—at home. Nothing could be easier or more natural or more convenient than home sweet home! You don’t need elaborate plans. You don’t need to dress up or go anywhere. You don’t need to start the car. And you don’t need to spend any money. No. God simply says that “when you sit in your house,” you are to talk about Him.

Whew again—this one’s easy! You sit to relax. You sit to eat. You sit to visit. You sit to read. You sit to work on a craft together. And you sit whenever you’re in the car together. No matter what your daughter’s age is, these natural, low-key, sitting instances provide prime opportunities to talk about the Lord and His love and His promises…and His Son.

And “when you walk by the way” you are to talk about the Lord. From babyhood, to toddler times, to little girl, to schoolgirl, you’ll be walking with your daughter. That’s your special time for talking about the Lord. So…

Got a newborn? You will walk…and walk…and walk each time you calm your crying, ill, or restless baby. And you’ll put in miles pushing her stroller. And you’ll find yourself talking baby talk to her. I laughed out loud when I read this true-to-motherhood quip: “Being a mom means talking to your baby all the time.” So go ahead and talk all you want. It will develop the habit in you—and tune your baby girl’s heart to your voice.

How about a school-age daughter? If you walk your young daughter to school or to and from the school bus stop, you get to talk about the Lord. Tell her how He will help her through her time at school, with her test or report, with making friends. If you walk to the mailbox down the road, take your daughter along and chat about the wonders of the Lord and what it means to know Him. Let her know how she can trust Him and talk to Him anytime, anywhere, and ask for His help. When you walk together through the grocery store or the mall, again, make that an opportunity to talk about God and His provision and blessings. If there’s a breathtaking sunrise, sunset, rainbow, or wonder of nature—a bird’s nest, blooming flowers, even something as small as a dandelion, go outside and marvel at God’s handiwork together. And while you’re at it, do as the psalmist did and “talk” of His doings. “Praise” the Lord for His mighty acts and His greatness. “Declare” His faithfulness.

And then come the teen years. Hopefully you and your daughter have developed the habit of talking to each other about any and every thing, and especially about the Lord. So during her teen years, when things can get a little weird, and she may even see you as a little weird, you can still talk because of your history of talking. Believe me, if you are available, and care, and give her your love and attention, she will spill all!

And if you haven’t developed this early habit of talking, don’t worry and don’t give up. Just be sure you start now. Start talking, even if your daughter doesn’t seem to be listening. She is hearing, and what you say in loving wisdom will be filed away in her mind and heart. And it won’t go away. She won’t be able to shake it or forget it. Draw your strength from the Lord and speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). And if your daughter won’t talk to you, that’s okay. Just know before God that you talked, just like He asked you to do. You faithfully rang your bell. You shared truth from His Word. And take comfort in the fact that God promises His Word will not go forth in vain but will accomplish His purposes (Isaiah 55:11).

And to end each day and start the next, God tells you what to do in Deuteronomy 6:7: “When you lie down, and when you rise up,” talk! Talk about the Lord, and keep on talking about Him. You can help even your tiny young daughter start her days and end them with thoughts of God in her mind. You can greet your waking girl with, “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). Or you can call out, “There you are, my precious blessing from the Lord! Good morning!” And at night, prayer is the perfect way to put a little—and big!—girl to bed. It puts her day and all that happened to rest. It calms all sorrows and soothes every hurt from the day. And it quells her fears. Like David testified, “I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me,” and “I will both lie down in peace and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 3:5 and 4:8).

So…another of God’s assignments to any and every mom is to constantly be teaching and talking to your daughter about the Lord you love. Teaching and talking. And talking and teaching. Or put another way, ringing your bell! I hope you are grasping that being a Christian mom is more than taking your children to church. Home is a sort of church too. Home is the natural 24/7, morning-to-evening place to impress truth upon your daughter. Home is where she gets to see and hear every day how important the Lord is to you. Wherever and whenever the two of you are together is God’s opportunity for you to tell her about Him. So take advantage of the gift of such times. And if they are too few and far between, make it happen. Create the times together. In his book Shepherding a Child’s Heart, author Tedd Tripp gives this challenge to parents:

You shepherd your child in God’s behalf. The task God has given you is not one that can be conveniently scheduled. It is a pervasive task. Training and shepherding are going on whenever you are with your children. Whether waking, walking, talking or resting, you must be involved in helping your child to understand life, himself and his needs from a biblical perspective.

But What If…

I realize this ideal scenario does not happen in every mother/daughter relationship. Maybe the family you grew up in was not a Christian family. God knows that. He knows all about it—all about what you missed, and all about what you know and don’t know about being a Christian family and mom. So know that your mission is to begin where you are to follow the Lord. It’s never too late to receive Christ as Savior, to begin loving the Lord and growing in grace and in the knowledge of Him and His Word. You can choose any day—today, if you haven’t already—to begin diligently teaching the daughter you love, and talking to her about the God you love and who loves her. Point her to God. Encourage her in the Lord. Teach her what you know about Him from experience and from study. Pray for her with your every heartbeat. See her spiritual growth into a daughter after God’s own heart as your calling, your mission assignment from God. Commit to doing your part, and trust God to do His.

Perhaps you are thinking, This woman is crazy! Well, I wouldn’t blame you. But I will tell you I am crazy about God, crazy about my two daughters, and crazy about my four granddaughters. I will also tell you that I am passionate and passionately sold out to my role as a woman, mom, and grandmom after God’s own heart. It’s just so clear what God wants His moms to be and do. Your daughter has no other mother. You are the one He has chosen to teach her. And if you don’t, what if no one does?

Here’s a powerful description of what an all-out, all-or-nothing love for God and our daughters looks like. Let it encourage you today and in the decades of mothering to come:

…my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity…I won’t give up, shut up, let up, or slow up.

You Can Do It!

Each of the following suggestions is something you can do to contribute toward becoming the mom you dream of being. And each one betters your life…and your daughter’s too. Here we go:

Analyze your day.

Think through the rhythm of your day and pinpoint your discretionary time, the time when you have a choice about how it is used, when you can choose how it’s spent. There is always time to do what’s important to you. You’ll need to find the time to get to know God—to put first things first.

Design a quiet time.

Once you’ve carved out a special time to be with God, begin reading your Bible—even for just ten minutes. It’s been calculated that if you simply read your Bible for ten minutes a day, you will read through all of it in one year. That’s a doable task for you as a bell sheep whose life goal is leading your daughter to Jesus. There are scores of activities that fill your day. So steal ten minutes from a nonimportant activity like time on the Internet, time talking on the phone, time watching TV. Make a daily appointment with God and allow Him to speak to your heart from His Word.

Memorize Scripture.

Here’s a statistic for you: People remember about 40 percent of what they read. Wouldn’t it be nice to remember 100 percent? Well, you can if you memorize verses from the Bible. That’s what someone told me as a new Christian, and I followed their advice. As I shared earlier, as soon as I read Deuteronomy 6:5-7, I learned it by heart. I also picked out some verses that would help me with my daily life, including the daily challenge of being a mom after God’s own heart. Like “I can do all things [including be a mom!] through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Once you store up some verses in your heart, you’ll find that wherever you are and whatever is happening, you can remember God’s words to you. And just think—as a bell sheep, you can draw your daughter to Jesus as you speak His words to her.

Read about parenting.

In my mentoring ministry, one of my assignments for the women I meet with and give my time to is that they read five minutes a day on a variety of topics. They can pick the topics and the books. They can buy them, borrow them, or check them out of the church library. I do this because I’ve been reading on my own topics for five minutes a day for decades! For instance, I’ve been reading five minutes a day on marriage and family for what seems like forever. The same goes for time and life management. And health.

If you do this too, you will amaze yourself as you become an expert on your subjects by merely reading five minutes a day on them. You will also be super motivated because the topic and your new knowledge is fresh in your mind. Instead of dreading something, you’ll look forward to approaching it differently and trying some new techniques or methods. Your reading will serve as a reminder and an instructor to pay attention to the areas of your life you targeted for growth. Pray, and then choose your subjects. Just be sure as a mom that childrearing is one of them.

Write a letter to God about your daughter.

Then read the letter to Him as a prayer. Prayer involves God. So now there are two of you taking on the challenge of raising a daughter after God’s own heart. It will seal your commitment to becoming God’s kind of mom so, Lord willing and by His grace, your daughter grows to be God’s kind of girl. File your “My Prayer to Be a Mom After God’s Own Heart” away where it is handy and can be prayed often, even daily. Your prayer is another good reminder each day to keep on keeping on in your goals as a mom and your goals for your daughter. And here’s an idea: Each year on your daughter’s birthday, slip a copy of your prayer into her birthday card. Be sure to tell her where you were and what you were feeling when you wrote it. What a gift!

Mom’s Think Pad

Before you move on to your next Mom Mission, take a minute or two to think about what you can do to track with God as a mom. Make some plans of your own to take a few small steps that make a big difference.

I’m awfully busy, but I want to be the mom God wants me to be! What are several things I can do—or not do—to create some time to get into God’s Word? I want to be a mom after God’s own heart!
I want to set a goal to memorize Deuteronomy 6:5-7. Here’s my checklist:
Write these verses on an index card and carry it with me.

Pick a daily five-minute time slot that works for my schedule, during which I can memorize these verses.

Write out each verse ten times.

Copy these verses on several more index cards and post them on the refrigerator door, bathroom mirror, computer, car dashboard.

Ask my daughter to help me memorize these verses, to listen to me recite them, to be my audience, my checker, my best helper!

What are some ways I can “teach” my daughter about God and His Word by “talking” about Him…
…when we are sitting together?

…when we are walking together?

…when she is going to bed or going down for her nap?

…when she gets up?

What are some ways I can be more faithful and “diligent” in passing on God’s truth to my daughter?
Do I need to be mentored in my own spiritual growth? Who could help me? Or is there a class I can take? A group I can join? A book I can read?

Tribute Book Tour Telling Lies by Cathi Stoler

Tribute Book Tour Telling Lies by Cathi Stoler
Telling Lies Description:

How many lies does it take to get away with murder?

When a chance encounter in Florence’s Uffizi Museum plunges Women Now editor Laurel Imperiole and private investigator Helen McCorkendale into an investigation of missing persons and stolen Nazi art, the women find themselves ensnared in a deadly maze of greed and deceit.

Could the man Laurel bumped into have been Jeff Sargasso, an art dealer and friend who perished in the World Trade Center on 9/11? Was it possible he was still alive and had disappeared without a trace?

Laurel, who was vacationing in Italy with her boyfriend, Aaron Gerrad, a New York City detective, is thoroughly shaken by the experience of seemingly meeting a dead man. Sargasso was supposedly killed that day during a meeting regarding the sale of a 150 million dollar painting between a Japanese billionaire and a Wall Street tycoon. Determined to get to the bottom of things, she and Helen investigate in Italy and in New York.

As she delves deeper, Laurel leaves the truth behind, telling lies to Aaron about her actions and the liaison she’s formed with Lior Stern, an Israeli Mossad agent with an agenda of his own. One lie leads to another, entangling everyone and everything the women encounter, including murder and the painting at the heart of the affair.

Searching for answers, Laurel and Helen thread their way through a sinister skein of lies that take them on a whirlwind journey that could end in death.

My Thoughts

When Laurel Imperiole and Aaron Gerrard go on a vacation to Florence, Italy, imagine the shock when Laurel bumps into Jess Sargasso who died in the 9/11 tragedy. Well, everyone including his wife thought he died then. How could someone do this to their wife and family? Laurel was determined to find out what was going on because Jeff’s wife was one of her good friends and she was there during the grieving of Jeff’s loss.  Aaron finally believes Laurel really does see Sargasso and joins in with the search, since he is a NYPD Identity Theft Chief along with private investigator Helen McCorkendale from NY.

This fast-pace thriller starts at the beginning when Laurel accidentally bumps into Jeff at an art gallery in Italy. Jeff Sargasso was an art dealer owning an art gallery in NYC. Laurel remembers Sargasso working on an extremely large money deal between MMJapan Corporation CEO Miayamu Moto, a billionaire wanting his hands on a piece of art lost during WWII and Alfred Hammersmith,CEO. Hammersmith was also killed in the 9/11 tragedy. Moto was only one of many people wanting his hands on this masterpiece.

I was captured from the very beginning of this story. There are so many different twist and turns in the story the reader is kept guessing throughout the book, and you really don’t know who to believe. And the very idea of Sargasso faking his death just for his own greedy satisfaction.

A couple of things about Sargasso that left me wondering was, he mentioned several times about things he had to do to get where he was in Italy. He had to change his identity and appearance but mentioning these things was after killing his supposed girlfriend, so it sounded like he was talking about other horrible things such as this. The book leaves you hanging on these things. Also, I really thought Sargasso deserved more than what he got at the end. Like maybe having to face the people he lied to and faking his death. This jerk deserved the humiliation of at least that. I was disappointed in this.

Overall this was a really good suspense thriller, and anyone liking this genre of books will enjoy this. There is some language that could have been left out as far as I’m concerned though. I hope there is a Book 2 to the series to tie up some loose ends left in this book. The masterpiece is still a mystery so maybe it will be!

I rec’d this book from Kregel publishers for an honest review.

Cathi Stoler’s Bio:

Cathi Stoler was an award-winning advertising copywriter. Telling Lies is her first mystery/suspense novel. Other novels in this series will include Keeping Secrets, which delves into the subject of hidden identity, and, The Hard Way, a story about the international diamond smuggling. She has also written several short stories including Fatal Flaw, which was published online this April at Beat To A Pulp and Out of Luck, which will be included in the upcoming New York Sisters in Crime anthology, Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices. In addition to Sisters in Crime, Cathi is also a member of Mystery Writers of America and Women of Mystery.
Paperback
Price: $17.95
ISBN: 9781603818438
Pages: 270
Release: April 11, 2011

Paperback buy links:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Ebook buy links:
Kindle – $4.95
Nook – $4.95
Smashwords – $4.95

Blog Tour web site:
http://telling-lies-blog-tour.blogspot.com/

Cathi Stoler’s website:

http://cathistoler.com/
 

Cathi Stoler’s Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cathi-Stoler-Author/199001446788836
Cathi Stoler’s Twitter:
http://twitter.com/Cathicopy


Cathi Stoler’s blog:
http://www.womenofmystery.net/search/label/*Cathi

 

Web Site: www.tribute-books.com
          

LINKS TO LATEST RELEASES

          

 

PUYB Blog Tour The Queen’s Gamble

PUYB

 

The Queen’s Gamble Virtual Book Tour

The Queen's Gamble

Join Barbara Kyle, author of the historical novel, The Queen’s Gamble (Kensington Books, August 30, 2011) as she virtually tours the blogosphere in September on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!

About Barbara KyleBarbara

Barbara Kyle is the author of the Tudor-era “Thornleigh” series of novels, which have been published internationally: The Queen’s Captive, The Queen’s Lady, and The King’s Daughter, praised by Publishers Weekly as “a complex and fast-paced plot, mixing history with vibrant characters.” Her new novel, The Queen’s Gamble, will be released on 30 August 2011.

Barbara previously won acclaim for her contemporary novels under pen name ‘Stephen Kyle’, including Beyond Recall (a Literary Guild Selection), After Shock and The Experiment. Over 400,000 copies of her books have been sold.

Barbara has taught courses for writers at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, and is known for her dynamic workshops for many writers organizations. Her popular series of video workshops “Writing Fiction That Sells” is available through her website. Before becoming an author, Barbara enjoyed a twenty-year acting career in television, film, and stage productions in Canada and the U.S.

Visit www.BarbaraKyle.com.

About The Queen’s Gamble

QueenYoung Queen Elizabeth I’s path to the throne has been a perilous one, and already she faces a dangerous crisis. French troops have landed in Scotland to quell a rebel Protestant army, and Elizabeth fears that once they are entrenched on the border, they will invade England.

Isabel Thornleigh has returned to London from the New World with her Spanish husband, Carlos Valverde, and their young son. Ever the queen’s loyal servant, Isabel is recruited to smuggle money to the Scottish rebels. Yet Elizabeth’s trust only goes so far—Isabel’s son will be the queen’s pampered hostage until she completes her mission. Matters grow worse when Isabel’s husband is engaged as military advisor to the French, putting the couple on opposite sides in a deadly cold war.

Set against a lush, vibrant backdrop peopled with unforgettable characters and historical figures, The Queen’s Gamble is a story of courage, greed, passion, and the high price of loyalty…

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One Isabel Valverde was coming home. The brief, terrible letter from her brother had brought her across five thousand miles of ocean, from the New World to the Old, and during the long voyage she thought she had prepared herself for the worst. But now that London lay just beyond the next bend of the River Thames, she dreaded what awaited her. The not knowing – that was the hardest. Would she find her mother still a prisoner awaiting execution? Horrifying though that was, Isabel could at least hope to see her one last time. Or had her mother already been hanged? The ship was Spanish, the San Juan Bautista, the cabin snug and warm, its elegant teak paneling a cocoon that almost muffled the brutal beat of England’s winter rain on the deck above. Isabel stood by the berth, buttoning her cloak, steeling herself. The captain had said they were less than an hour from London’s customs wharf and she would soon have to prepare to disembark. Everything was packed; three trunks sat waiting by the open door, and behind her she could hear her servant, sixteen-year-old Pedro, closing the lid of the fourth and last one. She listened to the rain’s faint drumbeat, knowing that she heard it in a way the Spanish passengers could not – heard it as a call, connecting her to her past, to her family’s roots. The Spaniards would not understand. England meant nothing to them other than a market for their goods, and she had to admit it was a backward place compared to the magnificence of their empire. The gold and silver of the New World flowed back to the Old like a river with the treasure fleets that sailed twice a year from Peru and Mexico, making Philip of Spain the richest and most powerful monarch in Europe. Isabel felt the tug of both worlds, for a part of her lived in each, her young self in the Old, her adult self in the New. She had left England at twenty with her Spanish husband and almost nothing else, but he had done well in Peru, and after five years among its wealthy Spaniards, Isabel was one of them. Money, she thought. It’s how the world turns. Can it turn Mother’s fate? She had clung to that hope for the voyage, and now, listening to the English rain, she was seized by a panicky need to have the gold in her hands. She heard her servant clicking a key into the lock of the last trunk. She whirled around. “Pedro, my gold,” she said. She grabbed his arm to stop him turning the key. “Where is it?” He looked at her, puzzled. “Señora?” “The gold I set aside. In the blue leather pouch.” She snatched the ring of keys from him and unlocked the trunk. She rummaged among her gowns, searching for the pouch. The soft silks and velvets slid through her hands. She dug down into the layers of linen smocks and stockings and night-dresses. No pouch. Abandoning the rucked-up clothes, she unlocked another trunk and pawed through her husband’s things, his doublets and breeches and capes and boots. The pouch was not here either. “Open that one,” she said, tossing the keys to Pedro. “We have to find it.” She went to the brocade satchel that lay at the foot of the berth and flipped its clasps and dug inside. “Señora, it’s not in there. Just papers.” “Look for it!” she ordered. He flinched at her tone, and she felt like a tyrant. Not for the first time. He was a Peruvian with the small build of his Indian people which made him look more like a child than a lad of sixteen. He had the placid nature of his people, too, and a deference to authority that had been bred into his ancestors by the rigid Inca culture. When the Spaniards had invaded thirty years ago they had exploited that deference, easily making the Indians their slaves and themselves rich. Isabel hated slavery. Pedro was her servant, but a free person nonetheless. English justice said so. But his docile ways sometimes sparked her impatience, goading her to take the tone of his Spanish overlords, and when she did so she hated herself. “Take out everything,” she told him, less sharply. “Look at the bottom.” “Si, Señora,” he said, obeying. His native tongue was Quechua.

The Queen's Gamble

My Thoughts

The Queen’s Gamble

The young Queen Elizabeth faces a dangerous crisis, fearing French troops will invade England since they have landed in Scotland. In the meantime, Isabel and Carlos Thornleigh have returned to England with their young son Nicolas. Isabel and her husband Carlos find themselves in a unusual situation. Isabel is a loyal servant to Queen Elizabeth and becomes really involved in the dealings of the Queen and Scotland. Then her husband Carlos is sent to join the troops as military advisor to the French. This causes circumstances beyond their control and Carlos will be against his own wife in the war. How will they handle this difficult time? Will their love stand the trials they will now be facing against each other? And how about their four year old son Nicolas, what is happening to him during all of this turmoil?

It took a while for me to get into this book, just started out very slow for me. Maybe because this is the 4th book in the series! After a while though it did get interesting and was hard to put down! The era of the story was an interesting era, and the author tells the story in a way that you feel like you are back in the times of Young Queen Elizabeth I. With the continuing drama and the twist and turns in the story, Along with a cast of characters created to play their part so well, The Queen’s Gamble is a wonderful thriller filled with so much drama you will keep reading to the very last word!!

This book was provided by the author through PUYB blog tours. I was not expected to give a positive review, only an honest one. The opinions in this review are mine only.

CFBA Tour….Captive Trail by Susan Page Davis

CFBA Tour….Captive Trail by Susan Page Davis

This week, theChristian Fiction Blog Allianceis introducingCaptive TrailMoody Publishers (September 1, 2011)bySusan Page DavisABOUT THE AUTHOR:

From Susan: I’ve always loved reading, history, and horses. These things come together in several of my historical books. My young adult novel, Sarah’s Long Ride, also spotlights horses and the rugged sport of endurance riding, as does the contemporary romance Trail to Justice. I took a vocational course in horseshoeing after earning a bachelor’s degree in history. I don’t shoe horses anymore, but the experience has come in handy in writing my books.

Another longtime hobby of mine is genealogy, which has led me down many fascinating paths. I’m proud to be a DAR member! Some of Jim’s and my quirkier ancestors have inspired fictional characters.

For many years I worked for the Central Maine Morning Sentinel as a freelancer, covering local government, school board meetings, business news, fires, auto accidents, and other local events, including a murder trial. I’ve also written many profiles and features for the newspaper and its special sections. This experience was a great help in developing fictional characters and writing realistic scenes. I also published nonfiction articles in several magazines and had several short stories appear in Woman’s World, Grit, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.

My husband, Jim, and I moved to his birth state, Oregon, for a while after we were married, but decided to move back to Maine and be near my family. We’re so glad we did. It allowed our six children to grow up feeling close to their cousins and grandparents, and some of Jim’s family have even moved to Maine!

Our children are all home-schooled. The two youngest are still learning at home. Jim recently retired from his vocation as an editor at a daily newspaper, and we’ve moved from Maine to Kentucky.
ABOUT THE BOOK

Captive Trail is second in a six-book series about four generations of the Morgan family living, fighting, and thriving amidst a turbulent Texas history spanning from 1845 to 1896. Although a series, each book can be read on its own.

Taabe Waipu has run away from her Comanche village and is fleeing south in Texas on a horse she stole from a dowry left outside her family’s teepee. The horse has an accident and she is left on foot, injured and exhausted. She staggers onto a road near Fort Chadbourne and collapses.

On one of the first runs through Texas, Butterfield Overland Mail Company driver Ned Bright carries two Ursuline nuns returning to their mission station. They come across a woman who is nearly dead from exposure and dehydration and take her to the mission.

With some detective work, Ned discovers Taabe Waipu identity. He plans to unite her with her family, but the Comanche have other ideas, and the two end up defending the mission station. Through Taabe and Ned we learn the true meaning of healing and restoration amid seemingly powerless situations.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Captive Trail, go HERE.

My Thoughts on the Book

Sorry I am at the Book Club Network tonight…so will post my review later….this book is AWESOME!!  I can tell you that!

Revell Blog Tour A Heart Revealed by Julie Lessman

Revell Blog Tour A Heart Revealed by Julie Lessman

Price: $14.99
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3416-9
ISBN-10: 0-8007-3416-5
Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5
Number of pages: 512
Carton Quantity: 32
Publication Date: Sep. 11
Formats: Paperback

Book Blurb
Her heart is tied to a youthful vow . . . but can true love set it free?

Ten years ago, Emma Malloy fled Dublin for Boston, running for her life. Her emotional wounds have finally faded, and her life is now full of purpose and free from the pain of her past. But when she falls for her friend Charity’s handsome and charming brother, Sean O’Connor, fear and shame threaten to destroy her. Could Sean and Emma ever have a future together? Or is Emma doomed to live out the rest of her life denying the only true love she’s ever known?

Filled with intense passion and longing, deception and revelation, A Heart Revealed will hold you in its grip until the very last page.

My Thoughts

A Heart Revealed….by Julie Lessman

Emma Malloy moves from Ireland to America and now away from her bad marriage and the husband that abused her. The O’Connor family was among the first people she met in America and now Emma and the O’Connor girls are just like sisters. Well, and actually Emma was like a sister to the O’Connor brothers, and brothers-in-law as well, that is until she discovers she has a crush on Sean, and that makes him now so much like a brother.

Julie deals with so many different situations in this book, the struggles with several married couples, a marriage gone bad because of abuse, a relationship gone bad and a baby lost because of a father’s interference, singles that think they are destined to stay single, abusive relationships and even more issues throughout the book. One thing I appreciate that the author brings out so strongly with these issues is that, even Christians have difficulties and struggles but God is always there to help us. This doesn’t take us off the hook, we as Christians still need to repent and ask forgiveness when we sin, and Julie so strongly brings this out as well.

There are a lot of characters in this book, and not reading the first one in the series, it took me a little while to get into the book because of learning the people. I love the O’Connor family, even though they do have their moments, they are a close family with a strong love for each other and a godly background. The characters are fun, loveable and genuine and so beautifully woven together in a romance that will take you on a journey of love and forgiveness as we read Emma and Sean’s story, and boy what a story it ends up being!! Love, Love this book!

When Julie told me she loved passion in her books, I was expecting passion between couples, but I also found passion when she speaks about Jesus, passion when she’s talking about family, and passion when she is just talking about anything. You can feel her passion about writing when reading her books. And I love that about her, that she can write with such feelings that they rub off on you while you are reading her books. Of course this is just my first Julie Lessman book, but its defiantly not the last. I can’t wait to read more.

I also enjoyed the 1931 setting of this story because that was the year my mom was born and my dad was 4 years old. It was fun thinking about them living in the era of this story. If you enjoy reading a wonderful romance filled with good clean action and fun, well and a few marriage fights added in, well this book is for you!

“Available September 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

I received this book from the publisher Revell 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 at Amazon

About the Author

Julie Lessman is the popular author of A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied, as well as A Hope Undaunted, which was one of 2010’s Booklist Top Ten Inspirational Fiction winners. Lessman has garnered several writing awards, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She lives in Missouri.

Visit Julie’s website

Revell Blog Tour Deadly Pursuit….Irene Hannon

Revell Blog Tour Deadly Pursuit….Irene Hannon

WELCOME TO A REVELL BLOG TOUR

DEADLY PURSUIT

BY: IRENE HANNON

Price: $14.99
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3457-2
ISBN-10: 0-8007-3457-2
Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5
Number of pages: 352
Carton Quantity: 40
Publication Date: Sep. 11
Formats: Paperback

Book Blurb

A stalker with deadly intent . . .
A woman who protects children . . .
An ex-Navy SEAL turned police detective.

Social worker Alison Taylor has a passion for protecting children. But now it seems she needs protecting. When her tormentor’s attentions take a violent turn, she calls in reinforcements–her police-detective brother, Cole, and his new partner, ex-Navy SEAL Mitch Morgan. As her relentless stalker turns up the heat and the danger intensifies, Mitch takes a personal interest in the case. Because protecting Alison has become more than a job; his future depends on keeping her safe.

Filled with nail-biting suspense and heart-melting romance, Deadly Pursuit is Irene Hannon’s storytelling at its very best.

My Thoughts

Deadly Pursuit by Irene Hannon

Being a social worker, Alison Taylor encounters some sticky situations and questionable people, so when usually things started showing up on her doorstep she wasn’t sure what to think or what was going on. No to worry though because she has 2 brothers and an ex-Navy SEAL to look out for her, and they will do whatever it takes to protect her.

I didn’t read the first book in this series, so I don’t know what I missed there, but I did enjoy this second one very much. I liked the fact that Alison’s brothers we so protective of her, even though it was annoying to her, though I could see her point because she was so independent. The author gives us a wonderful cast of characters that are believable and loveable and weaves a story that is full of fast pace suspense and action, and adds a little romance as well. The plot is well developed and captures the readers interest until the last page.

If you like suspense, then this is a great read for you, so grab you a copy and cup of java and start reading. You are in for a wonderful suspenseful journey.

“Available September 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

I received this book from the publisher Revell 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 at Amazon

About the Author

Irene Hannon is the author of more than 35 novels, including the CBA bestsellers Against All Odds, An Eye for an Eye, and In Harm’s Way. Her books have been honored with the coveted RITA Award from Romance Writers of America, the HOLT Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier award, and two Reviewer’s Choice Awards from Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine. She lives in Missouri.
For more information about Irene and her books, visit her website at www.irenehannon.com

CFBA Tour…..Naomi’s Gift…….by Amy Clipston

CFBA Tour…..Naomi’s Gift…….by Amy Clipston

This week, theChristian Fiction Blog Allianceis introducingNaomi’s GiftZondervan (September 12, 2011)byAmy ClipstonABOUT THE AUTHOR:

From Amy:

A native of New Jersey, I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I often joke that my fiction writing “career” began in elementary school as I wrote and shared silly stories with a close friend.

In 1991, I graduated from high school, and my parents and I moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia. My father retired, and my mother went to work full-time. I attended Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk, and I graduated with a degree in communications. I met my husband, Joe, during my senior year in college, a few days after my father had a massive stroke. Joe and I clicked instantly, and after a couple of months we started dating. We married four years later.

After graduating from VWC, I took a summer job with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District, which turned into an eleven-year career. I worked in the Public Affairs Office for four years and then moved into Planning as a writer/editor.

One day while surfing the Internet for a professional editor’s group, I accidentally found a local fiction writing group, Chesapeake Romance Writers. I attended a meeting and I met writers in all stages of their careers. The group helped me realize that I did want to be an author, and it was my dream to see my name on the cover of one of my novels. Through Chesapeake Romance Writers, I learned how to plot, write, and edit a novel, and I also learned how to pursue an agent. I signed with Mary Sue Seymour at the Seymour Agency in 2006, shortly before Joe and I moved my parents and our sons to North Carolina.

My dream came true when I sold my first book in 2007. Holding my first book, A Gift of Grace, in my hands was exhilarating and surreal.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Take a trip to Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania, where you’ll meet the women of the Kauffman Amish Bakery in Lancaster County. As each woman’s story unfolds, you will share in her heartaches, trials, joys, dreams … and secrets. You’ll discover how the simplicity of the Amish lifestyle can clash with the ‘English’ way of life—and the decisions and consequences that follow. Most importantly, you will be encouraged by the hope and faith of these women, and the importance they place on their families. Naomi’s Gift re-introduces twenty-four-year-old Naomi King, who has been burned twice by love and has all but given up on marriage and children. As Christmas approaches—a time of family, faith, and hope for many others—Naomi is more certain than ever her life will be spent as an old maid, helping with the family’s quilting business and taking care of her eight siblings. Then she meets Caleb, a young widower with a 7-year-old daughter, and her world is once again turned upside-down. Naomi’s story of romantic trial and error and youthful insecurities has universal appeal. Author Amy Clipston artfully paints a panorama of simple lives full of complex relationships, and she carefully explores cultural differences and human similarities, with inspirational results. Naomi’s Gift includes all the details of Amish life that Clipston’s fans enjoy, while delivering the compelling stories and strong characters that continue to draw legions of new readers.

If you’d like to read the first chapter of Naomi’s Gift, go HERE.

My Thoughts

Naomi’s Gift….by Amy Clipston

Though I didn’t read the other books in the Kauffman Amish Bakery series, this was still nice as a stand-a-lone book. I enjoy Christmas stories especially where there is snow, so I enjoyed this cozy short story.

On this first anniversary of the death of Caleb Schmudker’s wife, he takes a trip to Pennsylvania to spend time with his sister Sadie. While at the farmer’s market they meet Naomi King, and Caleb’s daughter Susie seems to like Naomi and enjoys discussing quilts with her. And well, since Susie likes Naomi, Caleb does too and just thinks he might try another chance on love with her. Despite what people said about her, Caleb appreciated the way she treated his daughter.

If you like Amish books, you will enjoy this short story, and a story about second chances. Caleb was a special guy and I loved his character as well as his daughters, and the author did a wonderful job of making the characters realistic and believable. This was my first book by Amy Clipston and I look forward to reading more from her. Go grab a copy of this book and read it, enjoy it, and pass it along to a friend to read!

This book was provided by Zondervan through Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. I was not required or expected to give a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.

 

CFBA Tour…..Here’s to Friends…by Melody Carlson

CFBA Tour…..Here’s to Friends…by Melody Carlson

This week, theChristian Fiction Blog Allianceis introducingHere’s to FriendsDavid C. Cook (September 1, 2011)byMelody Carlson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school 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 eight years, she has published over ninety books for children, teens, and adults–with sales totaling more than two million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List. Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards. And her “Diary of a Teenage Girl” series has received great reviews and a large box of fan mail.

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.
ABOUT THE BOOK

Once upon a time in a little town on the Oregon coast lived four Lindas—all in the same first-grade classroom. So they decided to go by their middle names. And form a club. And be friends forever.

Decades later, they’re all back home in Clifden and reinventing their lives, but the holidays bring a whole new set of challenges. Abby’s new B&B is getting bad reviews and husband Paul is acting strange. Still grieving for her mom, Caroline is remodeling the family home, but boyfriend Mitch keeps pressuring her to go away with him. Artist Marley, distracted by a friend’s family drama (and a touch of jealousy), can’t find her creative groove. And Janie’s drug-addicted daughter has just appeared up on her doorstep! When a long-planned New Year’s cruise turns into a bumpy ride, they learn once again that, in your fifties, friends aren’t just for fun—they’re a necessity!

If you would like to read the first chapter of Here’s to Friends, go HERE.

My Review
Here’s To Friends by Melody Carlson
The four Linda’s are in Clifdon, Oregon, all in their mid 50’s but they are still full of life and have new things going on in their lives.
Abby starts a new B&B and is worried because it is struggling. She’s also worried about her husband’s health.
Janie is confused about her daughter’s phone calls, has she really changed, or is she just wanting more money?
Caroline still struggles with losing her mom while boyfriend Mitch is wanting her to make decisions she’s not sure about.
Marley is struggling between her painting and helping her boyfriend Jack’s granddaughter.
I didn’t read the first 3 books in this series, but it was easy getting into this forth one. I could identity some with each of these ladies and their struggles in life. I enjoyed reading the end of their journey in this forth book. As a reader, we can see that even though we all live different lives, we all have somewhat the same struggles on our journey. It was fun reading about four ladies that’s kept a friendship since they were young, and all now living in the same neighborhood. This is something unusual and unique.
I recommend this series to anyone that likes to read just good clean fiction. You will enjoy this journey of the four Linda’s. I plan to read the first three in the series soon.
This book was provided by Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. I was not required or expected to give a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.

The Edge of Grace….PUYB Virtual Book Publicity Tour

 

Welcome to PUYB

The Edge of Grace Virtual Book Publicity Tour

 

The Edge of Grace

Join Christa Allan, author of the contemporary fiction novel, The Edge of Grace (Abingdon Press), as she virtually tours the blogosphere September 5 – 30 2011 on her second virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!

About Christa Allan

Christa AllenA true Southern woman who knows that any cook worth her gumbo always starts with a roux and who never wears white after Labor Day, The Edge of Grace is Christa’s second novel. Her debut women’s fiction, Walking on Broken Glass, released in February from Abingdon Press. She is under contract for three more novels that will release in 2012 and 2013. She has been teaching high school English for over twenty years, earning her National Board Certification in 2007. The mother of five adult children and the totally smitten Grammy of two granddaughters, Christa and her veterinarian husband, Ken, live in Abita Springs, Louisiana.

Visit her website at www.christaallan.com.

You can connect with Christa at Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ChristaAllan.Author.

 

About The Edge of Grace

The Edge of GraceWhen Caryn Becker answers the telephone on most Saturday morning, it’s generally not a prelude to disaster. Except this time, her brother David’s call shifts her universe. Her emotional reserves are already depleted being a single parent to six-year-old Ben after the unexpected death of her husband Harrison. But when David is the target of a brutal hate crime, Caryn has to decide what she’s willing to risk, including revealing her own secrets, to help her brother.  A family ultimately explores the struggle of acceptance, the grace of forgiveness, and moving from prejudice to love others as they are, not as we’d like them to be.

Here’s what critics are saying about The Edge of Grace!

Forgiveness, acceptance, and family ties ­figure prominently in Allan’s second novel. She does not avoid tough subjects (her Walking on Broken Glass deals with alcoholism). Widow Caryn Becker is having a hard time raising her young son while getting her new business off the ground. When her brother David tells her he is gay, she is unable to cope and rejects the one person she has been able to count on. When her brother is attacked, his partner, Max, asks Caryn for help standing up against the attacker. Reluctantly, she agrees. Throughout the trial, Caryn comes to accept David and finds the grace to stand up for what is right. VERDICT This sophomore effort deals with a difficult subject for many Christians with sensitivity and grace, exploring Caryn’s feelings honestly while never shirking from the issue of justice and forgiveness. It is difficult to find a comparative CF novel, but readers who believe in a more forgiving and accepting God are sure to enjoy it.

My Review

The Edge of Grace  by Christa Allan

Caryn Becker’s has enough in her life without dealing with the phone call she just answers from her brother David. He wants to be the one to tell Caryn he is leaving for vacation, with a man. The brother who was to marry his fiancée Lori. Caryn struggles with her brother’s lifestyle, rejecting him for a time. As she tells her story, she uses a lot of humor and sometimes almost too much detail!

I appreciate the author tackling the tough issue of homosexuality in the way she does. The subject is one Christians want to shy away from, but one we need to meet head on because at some point, we are all likely to face the issue in some way. One thought I had while reading this book was, should our feelings change about the person when we find out they are gay? As in Caryn’s case, if it is a brother or another love one, I would still love them just the same, I would have a difficult time turning my back on them. I liked the way one reviewer said it, that God was greater that any sin we can commit. If we look at a gay person in that way, how can we not love them as Christ does. There can still be love and forgiveness, just as this book teaches.

To me the book started off great, I was captured from the first chapter, but then it gets a little boring and I wanted to skip through those pages. But after David’s attack and his partner ask for help from Caryn, the book gets interesting again and I had to keep reading to find out how it ended!

I do recommend this book for all to read, and it would be great for a small study group or a book club because it would be helpful to talk about the book after you read it.

This book was provided by the author through PUYB blog tours. I was not expected to give a positive review, only an honest one. The opinions in this review are mine only.
The Edge of Grace

 

FIRST WildCard Tour…. Megan’s Secret by: Mike Cope

FIRST WildCard Tour…. Megan’s Secret by: Mike Cope

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:

 

Mike Cope

 

and the book:

 

Megan’s Secrets: What My Mentally Disabled Daughter Taught Me about Life

Leafwood Publishers (June 14, 2011)

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Mike Cope is an author, blogger, professor, minister and magazine editor. He has written four books, including What Would Jesus Do Today? and One Holy Hunger. He was a minister for many years at the Highland Church in Abilene and now works with Heartbeat Ministries. He and his wife, Diane, live in Abilene, Texas, and have two surviving children: Matt, a resident in internal medicine at Duke University, and Chris, a junior in high school.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Mike Cope’s best teacher was his mentally disabled daughter—Megan. In her ten years of life, she taught her father secrets more profound than anything he’d learned in college or seminary. In his moving remembrance, Megan’s Secrets: What My Mentally Disabled Daughter Taught Me about Life, Cope shares those secrets in a way that will make readers laugh, cry and find new hope.
Megan was a beautiful pint-sized girl whose only spoken words were “I’m Megan!” Although a child of few words, the best scholars in the world could not teach what she did in her brief life. Her life exposed some of the insanities of the world and revealed some life-giving secrets such as:

We are often fascinated with things that are impressive from the outside but which may not be that important to God.
What really matters has to do with the heart: keeping promises, seeking justice in a brutal world, learning to see those in greatest need and living with courage, joy and unconditional love.
God uses our brokenness to His glory.

This unique inspirational book wraps these secrets and more into stories that will restore hope to those grieving. All readers who long to see modern-day examples of the “little ones” Jesus held on his lap and loved will be inspired and moved to exult in God’s incredible wisdom. What Mike discovers is that life with Megan, who slept only three hours a night, was exhausting, challenging, and even disappointing but also filled with joy and truths.
Max Lucado, best-selling author and minister, says, “The world would look at Megan Cope and her brief little life and see limitations. Imperfections. Inabilities. Her dad, just like her heavenly Father, saw something else entirely. Joy. Big heart. Love. Wisdom. Raising a disabled daughter, and then saying goodbye after a brief ten years of life, Mike knows the struggles, triumphs, pain, everyday miracles. . . and the secrets. Secrets God shares with those who care for the least among us. In Megan’s Secrets, my friend Mike shares the wisdom he learned from loving Megan.”

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Leafwood Publishers (June 14, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0891122869
ISBN-13: 978-0891122869

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Looking for a Few Good Eggs

I gave this mite a gift I denied to all of you—eternal innocence. . . . She will never offend me, as all of you have done. She will never pervert or destroy the works of my Father’s hands. She is necessary to you. She will evoke the kindness that will keep you human. . . . This little one is my sign to you. Treasure her!1

MR. ATHA (the returned Christ) speaking of a child with Down Syndrome in Morris West’s The Clowns of God
A while back, I read an essay in Atlantic Monthly by Jessica Cohen, a Yale University student. She told about spotting a classified ad in the Yale Daily News: EGG DONOR NEEDED.
The couple placing the ad was looking for an egg from just the right donor, and they were willing to pay big bucks, to the tune of twenty-five thousand dollars. She learned that they wanted an Ivy League university student who was over 5 feet 5 inches tall, of Jewish heritage, athletic, and attractive and who had a minimum combined SAT score of 1500.

Being a bit short on cash, Cohen thought she might follow the lead. Cohen began corresponding with the anonymous couple. And as she did, she was introduced to a whole world of online ads by such desperate couples. She found one website with five hundred classifieds posted. An eBay for genetic material, she thought. Plus, there were ads like the following from young women wanting to sell their eggs:

Hi! My name is Kimberly. I am 24 years old, 5’11” with

blonde hair and green eyes. I previously donated eggs and

the couple was blessed with BIG twin boys! The doctor told

me I have perky ovaries! . . . The doctor told me I had the

most perfect eggs he had ever seen.

Cohen’s e-mails with the husband were strange. He and his wife were concerned about her scores in science and math. Then she sent a few pictures they had requested. The husband responded: “I showed the pictures to [my wife] this a.m. Personally, I think you look great. She said ho-hum.”
After that, Cohen’s correspondence with the couple abruptly ended.2
What kind of bizarre world is this? Our culture is fascinated with the “accidents” of birth: looks, athletic ability, and IQ. What if volcanic ash suddenly covered the United States, and it wasn’t until centuries later that archaeologists dug down to uncover our civilization, but the only written material they could locate were magazines from the checkout counters of grocery stores? What would those archaeologists assume about us? Maybe that we were the most shallow group of people ever?

This world of genetic engineering would favor my sons. But who—in our success-driven world—would want my daughter’s genetic makeup? She was, after all, mentally disabled. She would never take the SAT test, she wasn’t headed toward an Ivy League school, and chances were really good she wasn’t going to be over 5’5”! She couldn’t produce anything, had no fame to be proud of, and couldn’t brag of any trophies. We have classes in schools for “gifted and talented” students. By that standard, my daughter

wasn’t very successful.
And yet she was the most radical witness to the love of God I’ve ever met. She changed our world. I wonder: What if our society awarded friendliness, forgiveness, endurance, joyfulness, and unconditional love?

Megan was a quiet, loving witness to the gospel. She was an incarnation of God’s love. She received whatever gifts of service we offered to her without expecting more. She embodied the truth of 2 Corinthians 4:7: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

Let the world search for “the perfect egg.” But our eyes have been opened by the breaking through of the kingdom in Jesus Christ. We’ve heard him say, “God bless you—you who are poor in spirit. God bless you—you who mourn. And God bless you—you who are meek.”

One of Megan’s much older friends was inspired by her life and wrote the following about her:

Megan proclaimed her message in her life. She was a

walking icon of Christ’s admonition to take no thought for

tomorrow, but simply, in faith, to let each day unfold on

its own. I doubt it ever occurred to Megan to make long-range

plans or to fear what the next five minutes might

bring. Megan, like the birds of the air and the lilies of the

field, trusted in the Creator, through his human agents,

to supply whatever requirements she might have. She

knew no other way to live. And in that respect, she sits in

judgment on us all, and leads us toward a more primitive

and perfect trust.

So many people were drawn to Megan. I think many college students in particular were drawn to her because they were being constantly bombarded everywhere else with messages about who they were supposed to be in order to be successful in this life. And the powerful reminder they always received from being with Megan was that success has more to do with internal qualities of the heart than with external circumstances and accidents of birth.
A society reveals a lot about itself by what it esteems and rewards. Apparently, we tend to value accidents of birth that we chisel and hone into perfection, then put on display—and even then we airbrush out the imperfections: how you look in a swimsuit, what you score on your SAT, how fast you can run a forty-yard dash.

No wonder so many people end up feeling bad about themselves. Some express this in self-loathing, others in arrogance. We watch anorexic models on television who’ve had surgical assistance with their shape, and we start feeling bad about ourselves. We often feel we’re too short, too tall, too wide, too skinny, hips too big, hips too small, curve too much, don’t curve enough. No wonder plastic surgery is such a booming business. Convince enough people that they are a mess as they are now, and you have an endless supply of business.

Megan had a way of exposing the insanity of all this craziness. As my friend Thom Lemmons said:

Megan was a flesh-and-blood display of the topsyturvy

economy of the kingdom of heaven. She was one

of the least of us, yet she occupied the apex of our care,

absorbing all the loving service we could offer, and able

to absorb still more. Without any thank you, without any

false reticence, without even seeming to notice, she took all

that we could give her, and still we were left with the sense

that it was not enough.

And yet, to anyone who held her down for a breathing

treatment, or marched with her through the church

parking lot, singing, “I’m in the Lord’s army. Yes, sir!” or

changed her soiled undergarments, or tried in vain to

rescue some semi-edible artifact from her unbelievably

quick hands, or held her as she gasped for breath—to

anyone who ever poured a minute’s worth of love down

the bottomless pit that was Megan, the blessing that

followed beggared any other reward.

Megan taught us all the difference in value between

receiving and giving. We only wished we could have done

more: there was no question of doing less. And all the

while, we were the ones being made over—by her innocent

carelessness and her shattering need—into a closer

imitation of the One who poured out his life as a ransom

for many.

One day, Thom and Cheryl Lemmons were taking care of Megan at a time when she needed oxygen to survive. Thom describes how he thought he’d figured out a secret to Megan’s care.

The trick was to keep Megan within a short enough

radius of her oxygen tank to permit the tubes to stay in

her nostrils and simultaneously remain connected to the

hose. She was also prone to seizures then, but I didn’t

know that. At one point, I remember having her in my lap

on the floor of the living room, and I may have even been

singing to her. For a few moments, the ceaseless thrashing

stopped, the grasping fingers were still, and she stared up

into my face with what appeared to me as a beatific half smile.

Then, after a minute or two, we resumed the Greco-

Roman wrestling match. “What a wonderful, peaceful,

very brief interlude,” I thought, as I put her oxygen tubes

back in place for the 5,357th time, “no doubt, made

possible by my instinctive gentleness and boundless

patience. Surely, even Megan is not immune to my gifts.”

Later, over lunch, I was relating to the Copes and

Cheryl my moment of epiphany with Megan, there on the

living room floor. Diane got a slightly embarrassed look

as I described the scene. Cheryl leaned over to me and

whispered, “Thom, she wasn’t listening to you sing; she

was having a seizure.”

Classic Megan: if ever your sense of “Christian duty”

became self-congratulatory or the least bit inflated by

a sense of its own worth, Megan would simply leave you

holding the punctured bag, and allow you to deal with

your own deflated ego. Megan, how could we ever repay

all that you taught us?

Megan’s simple-yet-profound life reminded us that God is a heart specialist who looks deeper than accidents of birth.

On the day she died, Diane and I were leaning over her praying for her, telling her we loved her, and assuring her it was all right to go. We almost forgot that anyone else was in the room. But the moment she took her last breath in the pediatric intensive care unit, my mother stood up from her chair behind us and began singing Megan’s favorite song:

I may never march in the infantry,

ride in the cavalry,

shoot the artillery.

I may never fly o’er the enemy,

but I’m in the Lord’s army.

Later it hit me: Megan had been preparing us her whole life with her simple little song. It’s like she’d been telling us that there were many things she’d never do, but we shouldn’t worry, because she’s in the Lord’s army. There’s a little grave just outside Abilene that bears her name, the dates of her abbreviated life, and then the words “I’m in the Lord’s army.”

This tiny minister taught me more than I learned in ninety hours of graduate school. She taught me that God will use my brokenness to his glory. She reminded me that the power is God’s, not mine. She made me remember we are often fascinated with things that are impressive from the outside but which may not be that important to God. She taught me that what really matters has to do with the heart: keeping promises, seeking justice in a brutal world, learning to see those in greatest need, and living with courage, joy, and unconditional love.

Now, years later, my diminutive instructor-daughter is still guiding me.

My Review
This is a heartbreaking, but beautiful and joyful story about Mike and Diane’s small daughter Megan’s journey through her short life. Although Megan could only say a few words, she had an amazing way of communicating with everyone she came in contact with. In this book, Mike talks about how Megan brought out the best in everyone she was around. It is amazing to see how God used the life of this precious child full of love and joy to.
I was so very touched with the ‘secrets’ the author shared with readers of his daughter’s life. She was truly a precious beautiful child inside and out, bringing so much joy to her family and friends in the short time she had on earth. I enjoyed reading the humorous things she did, such as drinking water from the toilet with a toothbrush, what precious memories her family has of the precious and funny things she did.
This is a book that would be an encouragement to anyone reading it. You will see how God can use the life of Megan in a way that no one could have imagined. And parents that loved their daughter enough to give her a wonderful happy life full of valuable and quality time spent with her.
I rec’d this book from the publisher Harvest House through F.I.R.S.T. WildCard Tours. I was not expected or required to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.

The Language of Flowers PUYB Virtual Book Tour

The Language of Flowers PUYB Virtual Book Tour September 2011

The Language of Flowers PUYB Virtual Book Tour September 2011

 

The Language of Flowers banner

Join Vanessa Diffenbaugh, author of the women’s fiction book, The Languauge of Flowers  (Ballantine Books, August 23, 2011), as she virtually tours the blogosphere in September on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!

About Vanessa DiffenbaughVanessa Diffenbaugh photo

Vanessa Diffenbaugh was born in San Francisco and raised in Chico, California. After studying creative writing and education at Stanford, she went on to teach art and writing to youth in low-income communities. She and her husband, PK, have three children: Tre’von, eighteen; Chela, four; and Miles, three. Tre’von, a former foster child, is attending New York University on a Gates Millennium Scholarship. Diffenbaugh and her family currently live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where her husband is studying urban school reform at Harvard.

You can visit Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s website at www.VanessaDiffenbaugh.com.

About The Language of Flowers

Language of Flowers cover artThe Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, aster for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.
Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes that she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market inspires her to question what’s been missing in her life. And when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

Read an Excerpt!

For eight years I dreamed of fire. Trees ignited as I passed them; oceans burned. The sugary smoke settled in my hair as I slept, the scent like a cloud left on my pillow as I rose. Even so, the moment my mattress started to burn, I bolted awake. The sharp, chemical smell was nothing like the hazy syrup of my dreams; the two were as different as Indian and Carolina jasmine, separation and attachment. They could not be confused.

Standing in the middle of the room, I located the source of the fire. A neat row of wooden matches lined the foot of the bed. They ignited, one after the next, a glowing picket fence across the piped edging. Watching them light, I felt a terror unequal to the size of the flickering flames, and for a paralyzing moment I was ten years old again, desperate and hopeful in a way I had never been before and would never be again.

But the bare synthetic mattress did not ignite like the thistle had in late October. It smoldered, and then the fire went out.

It was my eighteenth birthday.

In the living room, a row of fidgeting girls sat on the sagging couch. Their eyes scanned my body and settled on my bare, unburned feet. One girl looked relieved; another disappointed. If I’d been staying another week, I would have remembered each expression. I would have retaliated with rusty nails in the soles of shoes or small pebbles in bowls of chili. Once, I’d held the end of a glowing metal clothes hanger to a sleeping roommate’s shoulder, for an offense less severe than arson.

But in an hour, I’d be gone. The girls knew this, every one.

From the center of the couch, a girl stood up. She looked young—?fifteen, sixteen at most—and was pretty in a way I didn’t see much of: good posture, clear skin, new clothes. I didn’t immediately recognize her, but when she crossed the room there was something familiar about the way she walked, arms bent and aggressive. Though she’d just moved in, she was not a stranger; it struck me that I’d lived with her before, in the years after Elizabeth, when I was at my most angry and violent.

Inches from my body, she stopped, her chin jutting into the space between us.

“The fire,” she said evenly, “was from all of us. Happy birthday.”

Behind her, the row of girls on the couch squirmed. A hood was pulled up, a blanket wrapped tighter. Morning light flickered across a line of lowered eyes, and the girls looked suddenly young, trapped. The only ways out of a group home like this one were to run away, age out, or be institutionalized. Level 14 kids weren’t adopted; they rarely, if ever, went home. These girls knew their prospects. In their eyes was nothing but fear: of me, of their housemates, of the life they had earned or been given. I felt an unexpected rush of pity. I was leaving; they had no choice but to stay.

I tried to push my way toward the door, but the girl stepped to the side, blocking my path.

“Move,” I said.

A young woman working the night shift poked her head out of the kitchen. She was probably not yet twenty, and more terrified of me than any of the girls in the room.

“Please,” she said, her voice begging. “This is her last morning. Just let her go.”

I waited, ready, as the girl before me pulled her stomach in, fists clenched tight. But after a moment, she shook her head and turned away. I walked around her.

I had an hour before Meredith would come for me. Opening the front door, I stepped outside. It was a foggy San Francisco morning, the concrete porch cool on my bare feet. I paused, thinking. I’d planned to gather a response for the girls, something biting and hateful, but I felt strangely forgiving. Maybe it was because I was eighteen, because, all at once, it was over for me, that I was able to feel tenderness toward their crime. Before I left, I wanted to say something to combat the fear in their eyes.

Walking down Fell, I turned onto Market. My steps slowed as I reached a busy intersection, unsure of where to go. Any other day I would have plucked annuals from Duboce Park, scoured the overgrown lot at Page and Buchanan, or stolen herbs from the neighborhood market. For most of a decade I’d spent every spare moment memorizing the meanings and scientific descriptions of individual flowers, but the knowledge went mostly unutilized. I used the same flowers again and again: a bouquet of marigold, grief; a bucket of thistle, misanthropy; a pinch of dried basil, hate. Only occasionally did my communication vary: a pocketful of red carnations for the judge when I realized I would never go back to the vineyard, and peony for Meredith, as often as I could find it. Now, searching Market Street for a florist, I scoured my mental dictionary.

After three blocks I came to a liquor store, where paper-wrapped bouquets wilted in buckets under the barred windows. I paused in front of the store. They were mostly mixed arrangements, their messages conflicting. The selection of solid bouquets was small: standard roses in red and pink, a wilting bunch of striped carnations, and, bursting from its paper cone, a cluster of purple dahlias. Dignity. Immediately, I knew it was the message I wanted to give. Turning my back to the angled mirror above the door, I tucked the flowers inside my coat and ran.

I was out of breath by the time I returned to the house. The living room was empty, and I stepped inside to unwrap the dahlias. The flowers were perfect starbursts, layers of white-tipped purple petals unfurling from tight buds of a center. Biting off an elastic band, I detangled the stems. The girls would never understand the meaning of the dahlias (the meaning itself an ambiguous statement of encouragement); even so, I felt an unfamiliar lightness as I paced the long hall, slipping a stem under each closed bedroom door.

The remaining flowers I gave to the young woman who’d worked the night shift. She was standing by the kitchen window, waiting for her replacement.

“Thank you,” she said when I handed her the bouquet, confusion in her voice. She twirled the stiff stems between her palms.

Meredith arrived at ten o’clock, as she’d told me she would. I waited on the front porch, a cardboard box balanced on my thighs. In eighteen years I’d collected mostly books: the Dictionary of Flowers and Peterson Field Guide to Pacific States Wildflowers, both sent to me by Elizabeth a month after I left her home; botany textbooks from libraries all over the East Bay; thin paperback volumes of Victorian poetry stolen from quiet bookstores. Stacks of folded clothes covered the books, a collection of found and stolen items, some that fit, many that did not. Meredith was taking me to The Gathering House, a transitional home in the Outer Sunset. I’d been on the waiting list since I was ten.

“Happy birthday,” Meredith said as I put my box on the backseat of her county car. I didn’t say anything. We both knew that it might or might not have been my birthday. My first court report listed my age as approximately three weeks; my birth date and location were unknown, as were my biological parents. August 1 had been chosen for purposes of emancipation, not celebration.

I slunk into the front seat next to Meredith and closed the door, waiting for her to pull away from the curb. Her acrylic fingernails tapped against the steering wheel. I buckled my seat belt. Still, the car did not move. I turned to face Meredith. I had not changed out of my pajamas, and I pulled my flannel-covered knees up to my chest and wrapped my jacket around my legs. My eyes scanned the roof of Meredith’s car as I waited for her to speak.

“Well, are you ready?” she asked.

I shrugged.

“This is it, you know,” she said. “Your life starts here. No one to blame but yourself from here on out.”

Meredith Combs, the social worker responsible for selecting the stream of adoptive families that gave me back, wanted to talk to me about blame.

Read the Reviews!

“A deftly powerful story of finding your way home, even after you’ve burned every bridge behind you, The Language of Flowers took my heart apart, chapter by chapter, then reassembled the broken pieces in better working condition. I loved this book.

My Review

As this book tells the story of Victoria’s journey, it uses flowers to communicate her story further. Victoria spends most of her young life in foster care and at 18 years old leaves the home to start her new life. Victoria’s life was not an easy one, being an orphan she faced a lot of sadness, loneliness, and many difficulties while in foster care as well as when she was sent out into the world on her own. Her story is heartbreaking to read because of all she had to endure. But then some of the things in her adult life she brought on herself. But I still felt for her because of the difficulty of being dropped in the world alone. Only those who have been there know what that is like.

One thing interesting with learning the meaning of flowers, you should watch what flowers you give people. Of course not many would give a thistle which is good because it means hatred, or mistrust of humankind. Red rose is love, where baby’s breath is Everlasting Love so we can understand why these are used for weddings, Valentine’s Day and such. In enjoyed the knowledge of flowers and their meanings, and it was interesting and fitting as Victoria opens her own florist. And the dictionary in the back of the book of flowers and their meaning is very nice, I love knowing their meanings. This book will be an encouragement to read, and for those who like flowers, you will enjoy how the author links the flowers and their meanings to Victoria’s story.

This book was provided by PUYB blog tours. I was not expected to give a positive. The opinions in this review are mine only.

The Queen by: Steven James……A Revell Blog Tour

The Queen…A Patrick Bowers Thriller, by: Steven James……A Revell Blog Tour

Price: $14.99
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3303-2
ISBN-10: 0-8007-3303-7
Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5
Number of pages: 528
Carton Quantity: 32
Publication Date: Sep. 11
Formats: Paperback | Hardcover

Book Blurb

While investigating a mysterious double homicide in an isolated northern Wisconsin town, FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers uncovers a high-tech conspiracy that ties together long-buried Cold War secrets with present-day tensions in the Middle East.

In his most explosive thriller yet, bestselling author Steven James delivers a pulse-pounding, multilayered storytelling tour de force that will keep you guessing.

The Queen is the latest Patrick Bowers thriller from the author Publishers Weekly calls a “master storyteller at the peak of his game.”

My Review

I love thrillers and was happy to be able to read and review The Queen, but since this is my first book by Steven James I wasn’t sure what to expect and I didn’t know about starting out with the fifth book in the series. Well, all I can say is WOW. Patrick is in Wisconsin on a case of finding out who murdered a woman and her young daughter, with the father a suspect and missing. Why did Margaret pull him off the long going case he was working on to put him on this murder case? Well, that’s just a long story that you will need to read the book to find out. You will not be disappointed!

The plot is so complex and with all of the twists and turns that you can’t let your mind wander when reading because will miss something, and then be out of the loop. Just when you think you have something figured out, another major twist and you start all over again! I loved it though! And who on earth is this mysterious Valkyrie man, or is it a woman? Well more twist and turns and I begin to think maybe James wasn’t gonna reveal the identity, but he just makes you wait until the end, and of course I didn’t figure it out. I loved the cast of characters he created and the way he gives you a look into their personal lives in such detail. And I loved seeing how Pat’s mind worked throughout the book as he tried to put the puzzles together about the case. It was amazing. And I will be reading the first four books in this series. Steven James is a great new author for me!

If you like thrillers this one is a must for you! It is over 500 pages long, so grab you a copy of the book, a cup of coffee and sit down for a thriller ride of your life. Just hang on to your seat because once you start reading, you will be glued to the pages until the very end!

“Available September 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

I received this book from the publisher Revell 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 book at Amazon    or the Publisher

 

Revell Book Tour…Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman

Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman

Book Blirb

You’re strong. You’re responsible. You’re good. But . . .

. . . as day fades to dusk, you begin to feel the familiar fog of anxiety, the weight and pressure of holding it together and of longing left unmet. Good girls sometimes feel that the Christian life means doing hard work with a sweet disposition. We tend to focus only on the things we can handle, our disciplined lives, and our unshakable good moods.

But what would happen if we let grace pour out boundless acceptance into our worn-out hearts and undo us? If we dared to talk about the ways we hide, our longing to be known, and the fear in the knowing?

In Grace for the Good Girl, Emily Freeman invites you to release your tight hold on that familiar, try-hard life and lean your weight heavy into the love of Jesus. With an open hand, a whimsical style, and a heart bent brave toward adventure, Emily encourages you to move from your own impossible expectations toward the God who has graciously, miraculously, and lovingly found you.

My review

Grace for the Good Girl….by Emily P. Freeman

Wow this book is much more than I expected. The author deals with several issues women face in their lives with examples from her own life as well as examples from other ladies. The book is broken down in three parts; The Hiding; The Finding; and The Freedom of Being Found. And in each section she has chapters such as: Are You a Good Girl in Hiding; Martha and My Many Things; Receive and Safe Even When It Hurts.

The chapter on Martha and Mary spoke to me a lot because when I think about my ‘many things’ I have more than I want to admit. How much time do I really spend with those things instead of spending it with Jesus? His words to Martha are an encouragement to us all, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things, but only one thing is necessary.” (Luke 10:41-42, NASB)

Safe Even When It Hurts was a great chapter for me as well. In the chapter the author speaks of closure and healing when difficult things happen in our lives. A couple of verses she quoted that helps us realize that God is always there to help us is Psalm 94: 18 & 19 “When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.”

I’ve mentioned just a few things in this book, but when you read it, you will find so much here that will help you draw closer to the Lord. It talks much about its title ‘Grace’ so will learn to find grace for things in your life that you are dealing with and going through. I encourage ladies to get a copy and read it! I would love to review this book with a small study group or a Sunday school class.

“Available September 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

I received this book from the publisher Revell 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 at Amazon

In Loving Memory of our precious mom…..Rachael Chattin

In Loving Memory of our precious mama

Rachael Chattin

To Our Mom

This has been a day of mixed feeling for all of us, sad but yet joyous because a year ago today you stepped from this life into the loving arms of Jesus. Where has the time gone? It seems only yesterday that we would answer the phone and it would be you with news of someone we knew, news of another one of us because you always so lovingly kept us all up to date on each other, or maybe you just wanted to say Hi and talk a little while. You always knew what was going on with each child, grandchild and great-grandchild, and even aunts, uncles and cousins and you filled each one of us in on each other’s lives. You made sure we all knew what was going on.

 It seems that only yesterday we were calling you to find out how to cook or fix something, or maybe just to talk to you about something. You were always there for us, no matter what, you always had time for us, or if you were busy you took the time for us. You were our mom, but you were also our best friend. We never had to worry about this or that needing sewing up or altered because you would always say ‘Bring it up here and I will fix it for you,” and you did. And even though you were limited at what you could eat, you loved to cook and would cook whatever you knew we loved to eat, which was just about anything you fixed. And I could go on and on and on about the wonderful mama, grandma, great-grandma, sister, aunt and friend you were to all of us. You lived your life giving to others, expecting nothing in return. When someone gave to you, you didn’t think you deserved it, but you were the one who deserved more than anyone could have ever given you. But in saying all of this you know and we know, you wasn’t perfect, we are not perfect, we had our ups and downs and our struggles just as any family does, but we still had the love and closeness of a family you and daddy so instilled in us, and that makes us miss you all the more.

As we went through yesterday and today we thought about that horrible shocking moment when we were told you wouldn’t make it through the night, and the few hours we had with you before you left this life. You were so amazing. As you spoke with each of us, you were our encouragement as you told us what to do with this and that, encouraged us to go on with our lives because you were going to meet your Lord. What a wonderful testimony it was to be in your hospital room that night and see the power of God in your life. You were so amazing. You were doing what you had always done in your life, you were trying to help each of us deal with this difficult time. You were the strong one, You held us together, You were one amazing woman and your testimony was shinning throughout that hospital because everyone could feel your perfect peace, everyone could see that you had no fear at all of dying, not even a trace. You talked about seeing Jesus; you talked about seeing daddy, and many others already in Heaven waiting for you. You were truly amazing. What an honor it was to sit by your side as your life here on earth ended. So quiet, so peaceful.

But Praise the Lord you did not leave us forever in the early hours of September 16, 2010, for we will see you again. Those of us who have accepted Christ as our Savior will be reunited with you, with daddy and with all of the many friends and family already there. But more importantly we will walk into the loving arms of Jesus just as you did one year ago today, just a little after 4am.

We rejoice that you are no longer suffering but our hearts are breaking because we love and miss you so very much. Our mama. Our grandma. Our great-grandma. Our sister. Our aunt. Our friend.
Until we meet again.

Love Finds You in Sundance …..By: Miralee Ferrell

Miralee Ferrell’s

Love Finds You in Sundance Wyoming

Book Blurb

Angel Ramirez is tired of living a lie. But can she live like a lady?

On the run from a dangerous outlaw, Angel works her way across several states disguised as a boy and working as a varmint tracker and horse wrangler. After taking a job on a Wyoming ranch owned by a bachelor and his widowed sister, she finally reveals her true identity and must fight to prove her worth as a ranch hand while somehow discovering her role as woman.

Hiring a woman doesn’t sit well with Travis Morgan, and the dark-haired beauty is causing a ruckus among his cowboys. Just as Angel decides she’ll never be able to please her boss, an unexpected surprise arrives from across the ocean and makes trouble on the ranch. Will Angel leave with the person who’s come so far to claim her?

Buy the book on Amazon.com

My Review

Angel Ramirez was raised by her uncle in an outlaw band, and because of difficult circumstances she is on the run from one of the dangerous outlaws, so she has been dressing and working as a man on ranches for several years. Because of her outstanding job as a marksman and tracker, ranch owner Travis Morgan decides he needs her on his ranch and sends her word with an offer she couldn’t refuse. This time though, Angel decides she is tired of posing as a guy and will reveal herself as the woman she is to her new employer. Imagine the rage on the ranch when Travis and his ranch help finds out the new guy is a woman, and beautiful one at that. How will Travis feel about Angel working among the men ranchers? And can Angel prove she can handle the man’s job she was hired to do? And not to mention that the guys have their eye on Angel, including owner Travis. Will the ranch owner win Angels heart, or will one of his ranch hands beat him to the punch? Or maybe she’s not ready for love at all?  All this and much more is in this wonderful historical fiction by Miralee Ferrell.

When I read some author’s books, their writings just glue me to the page from the first to the last word, and for me, Miralee Ferrell is one of those author’s. A fairly new author for me, Miralee is fast becoming one of my favorites. You gotta love Angel’s character. She is so determined and independent, yet she is missing out on the fun of being a lady because of circumstances beyond her control. She has no idea of her real beauty, but the ranch hands as well as Travis had no problem recognizing it. The humor written into the story describing how those guys reacted to Angel was hilarious and adorable. I was so wishing to be inside this story to see the actions of these goofy guys!

Love Finds You in Sundance Wyoming, is a story so professionally woven together with a strong cast of characters that are loveable, genuine, realistic and so believable that you have the feeling of being right there in the story with them! The action and suspense going on captures your interest and keeps your turning those pages. The author does indeed give you the feeling of being there in the action. And what a pleasure it was getting to know the little town of Sundance, Wyoming in the fantastic way it was described by Miralee. A special place in history indeed! If you are looking for a wonderful historical, romantic read, I urge you to run and grab a copy of this book, sit down with a cup of coffee and just start reading. You will be pleased you did.  I read this book in a day. Just couldn’t put it down! It’s just that good.

Thanks to the author Miralee Ferrell for providing a copy of this book to read and review. I was not required or expected to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.

A  Bit About Miralee Ferrells Ministry

I believe the Lord is moving me in a new direction, and I want to be faithful to follow His leading. I’ve always believed I’m supposed to be speaking in some capacity, ministering to women, but haven’t known what direction that would take. Early in 2008 I was invited to speak to a women’s group. I shared my testimony as an author, and I hit on a few areas I felt the Lord wanted me to address.

Since then I’ve spoken at women’s luncheons, breakfasts, book clubs, library groups and a church librarian’s conference. I’m happy to share my testimony as an author as well as encouraging women to set goals and follow their dreams. I’ve also spoken on topics centering on prayer.

And you can find out more about Miralee HERE on her website. Read about her interesting Journey into writing and visit her Blog.

And you can find more Love Finds You books HERE at Summerside Press

FIRST WildCard Tour…The Amazing Fitness Adventure for Your Kids… by Phil and Amy Parham

The Amazing Fitness Adventure for Your Kids by Phil and Amy Parham

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:
Phil and Amy Parham

and the book:

The Amazing Fitness Adventure for Your Kids

Harvest House Publishers; 1 edition (September 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karri James, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Phil and Amy Parham, authors of The 90-Day Fitness Challenge and The 90-Day Fitness Challenge DVD, were contestants on Season 6 of NBC’s The Biggest Loser. Over a seven-month period, they recorded the highest percentage of weight loss of any couple in the program’s history. Married for more than 20 years, Phil and Amy live in South Carolina with their three boys, Austin, Pearson, and Rhett.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

The Amazing Fitness Adventure for Your Kids equips parents with the tools they need to help their children become healthier and happier. It’s also an inspirational guide to the ultimate rewards that come from sharing a healthy lifestyle together—stronger and healthier kids and more closely knit families.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers; 1 edition (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736939210
ISBN-13: 978-0736939218

AND NOW…THE FIRST TWO CHAPTERS:

1

Dream Big!

A Word from Amy

When Phillip and I returned home from The Biggest Loser ranch, we experienced the beginning of an amazing physical transformation. All of our friends, families, and fans of the show had a slew of questions for us. “How did you do it?” “What was it like?” “Was it hard to do?” But two questions we were repeatedly asked stuck out in our mind—“Wasn’t it hard to leave your kids while going on the show?” and “Where were your kids during that time?”

At the time we were chosen as contestants for The Biggest Loser, Austin was 12 years old, Pearson was 10, and Rhett was 8. Trust me, it wasn’t easy to leave them for three months. Phillip and I gave a lot of thought to the impact our departure would have on them before we even considered trying out for the show. Although we competed to better our health, we knew that in doing so, we would better the physical, emotional, and even spiritual health of our family as a whole. Ultimately, in many ways, we did the show for our kids.

Phillip’s sister, Joan, was a major influence in persuading us to try out for The Biggest Loser, and she even offered to watch our boys during the time we were away. If it weren’t for her, we probably would have never even considered undertaking the opportunity. Joan had been concerned about our health for quite some time. She was also a big fan of the show and was the first person who encouraged me to watch it. I was resistant at first because I didn’t know the premise behind it. I initially believed it was a show that made fun of fat people, but I quickly discovered I was wrong. The Biggest Loser isn’t simply a reality TV show where contestants compete against each other to lose weight. I like to think of it as a powerful tool that helps forever change the lives of individuals and families.

During our absence, our boys were cared for by Joan and her husband, John, who have three boys similar in age to ours. My children and their family quickly formed a Brady Bunch of sorts. The cousins shared a tight-knit bond, and many wonderful memories were created that my boys still talk about today. We were so fortunate to have Joan and John—as well as my parents, sisters Allyson and Donna, and loving neighbors—who made tremendous personal sacrifices in order for Phillip and me to have the opportunity to transform our lives for the better.

Dreaming Big for Our Family

While we were gone, I felt incomplete because I missed our boys terribly. You can’t imagine how difficult it was to know that my husband and I wouldn’t be in contact with them for an undetermined amount of time. Our saving grace was knowing our family was taking good care of our children, and they were in the best hands we could have asked for. During the show, Phillip and I were also fortunate to win a particular contest where the prize was a phone call to our boys and a 24-hour visit home to see them.

However challenging it was for us to be away from our boys for so long, we knew the reward was greater than the price we were paying. This was a time we had to sacrifice for our family and take care of ourselves so we could become better role models for our kids. Not only that, but we also had to take care of our physical health so we could stick around for them.

Phillip and I were morbidly obese, and at the rate we were going, we had some serious health risks. I especially thought of Rhett and his autism and his need for special care. He needed us around for a long time. If Phillip or I had a heart attack or suffered from a life-threatening ailment because of our obesity, what would happen to our boys? Nobody wants to think about those kinds of things, but we had no choice. Phillip and I had to face some hard facts in order to reevaluate our priorities and make positive change.

Being on the show was a step in the direction of dreaming big for our family. We wanted the best for us and for them. Sometimes dreaming big as a parent means taking time for ourselves. That can be a hard thing for some folks. Many parents fear that when they focus on themselves, their children will deem them selfish and become resentful or spiteful. But this is not true when you commit to making changes that ultimately benefit your entire family. (I’m not talking about spending money reserved for paying bills on a fancy car you don’t need or not helping your child with homework because you have to get your nails done. I’m talking about making good choices that will exact positive change.)

Phillip and I were not the best role models when it came to eating right and exercising regularly, but it was time to change all those bad habits into good ones. And it took time for us apart from our children to get the ball rolling. When we came back from The Biggest Loser ranch, we found that our family was reenergized by the changes we had made in our lives. When we changed, our children wanted to change too. They wanted to follow our example and dream big for their own lives. This meant making changes in their health.

Making Changes

There was no doubt that we had to do an about-face with many of the lifestyle habits in our home. The biggest area that needed a major overhaul was nutrition. Our boys got an introductory course in good health when family members took care of them. I believe this prepared them for our return and transformation. Joan and John are excellent parents and provide a great example of what a fit and healthy family should be. While our boys were under their care, Joan kept a close watch on what they ate and limited their snacks. They weren’t used to this in the Parham household.

Before our weight-loss experience, we had poor eating habits as a family. We ate fast food almost every day, and our meals outside of the drive-thru were usually processed foods. Convenience always trumped nutritional content. We were (and still are) a busy family on a budget, so it made the most sense to eat fast and cheap. I thought I was doing my kids a favor. At least that’s what the TV commercials led me to believe. I’m sure you’ve seen the advertisements for boxed meals that require only one or two “real” ingredients. They picture a doting mom, happy kids, and a warm meal that took no time to whip up. It was cheap, easy, and tasted great. This was something I could do, I thought. Look at me, I’m a good mom!

For most of my life, I bought into this lie hook, line, and sinker. I didn’t realize that providing my children with meals and snacks low in nutrition was negatively affecting their energy levels, mental focus, and overall health. I didn’t realize that not feeding them with foods designed to fuel their body meant they would not function at their best. I didn’t realize that fatty, greasy, and salty foods would not just make them feel bad in the long run, but would increase their chances of getting sick later on. After being on the show, Phillip and I understood how critical it is to teach our kids good nutrition habits and provide a solid framework for good health that will ultimately help them be successful in life.

As a working mother, I also carried a lot of guilt for not spending enough time with my sons. One way I soothed my guilt was by giving them sugary or salty treats like cookies, candy, and chips. I worked a lot to help provide financially for my family, and I thought I had to “make it up” to my kids. I wanted to be one of the moms you see on TV who greets her children from school wearing fashionable clothes, sporting perfectly styled hair, and holding out a plate of freshly made chocolate chip cookies that melt in your mouth. I was no such mother. On the days I couldn’t be home when they returned from school, I left them a bag of packaged cookies they could snack on in my absence.

You might relate. Do you feel that you’re not giving enough time or energy to your children and ease your guilt by giving them forbidden snacks? If you miss a baseball practice or dance recital, do you make it up by letting your son or daughter eat something they really shouldn’t? Are you so busy doing the million things most of us do that focusing on good nutrition is just not a priority?

Do you not even have the time to think about how poor eating habits will affect your children 5, 10, or 20 years from now? Maybe you think of illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes as “grown up” problems. I know I did. I thought my kids had plenty of time before they had to worry about those issues. I figured they needed to grow up first, and then they could pay attention to what they ate and what kind of exercise they got. This is poor thinking.

I believe this comes from the mind-set that going on a “diet” is reserved for adults. Now, dieting is not the answer for children or for adults. Dieting denotes something that you go on and come off of. It’s about restricting food and eating in a way that is temporary and can’t be continued for life. We should think about being healthy and fit. We need to permanently change our habits to healthy ones. This applies to adults and children. The truth is, kids who have healthy habits growing up have a better chance of sustaining a healthy lifestyle as they get older.

We need to make small changes every day that can add up to a new life. Whether it’s saying yes to natural foods and no to processed foods or going for a walk instead of watching TV, the little things we do accumulate into a future worth having. A future that is healthy and makes you feel good inside and out. A future worth dreaming about.

We need to encourage our children that when they are healthy, they gain a better life. They can do more things and they can think more clearly. They will have more energy to be active. They will have better mental focus and get better grades. They will feel stronger and not get sick as much.

It’s a win-win situation. Gaining health is a positive process that will help them succeed in whatever they do. It will give them the confidence to live as if the sky is the limit and to know that their dreams are within reach.

When Dreams Die

Our children don’t need poor health to stand in the way of a great life. They need to give their dreams a chance to blossom. They need to be unencumbered from feeling tired, sluggish, or moody—things that come from making poor health choices—in order to dream big. Their ability to “go for it” should never be restricted by their size, physical-fitness level, or because of a negative self-image.

Childhood should be a time of dreaming, yet here’s a sobering reality. Childhood obesity has become so prevalent that it has tempered our children’s potential to dream big. This condition has locked them in a prison built with forks and spoons. Poor health prevents them from attempting new things.

As a parent, I know this may be a tough pill for you to swallow, especially if you have allowed bad lifestyle choices to rule your home. But don’t be discouraged. This is not the time to question your parenting skills, feel sorry for yourself, or give up. This is a time for change!

Today you can commit to creating a healthy lifestyle for your family. Today you can make sure your child’s future is not limited by poor eating or exercising habits. Today you can lead your children in this “Challenge” to become healthier. And today, you can embark on a new adventure to witness your children gain confidence, feel better about themselves, and dream big.

When I was a girl, I struggled with weight. I gave up on many dreams because of that battle. Here’s one I’ll never forget. Like most teenage girls, I wanted to be a cheerleader. I remember feeling so out of place during the first tryout because I was the chubbiest girl there. My confidence level hit rock bottom, and I dropped out before I even had the chance to try out. I had many similar experiences.

I was always picked last when teams were selected for gym. I never raised my hand in class because I was afraid the other kids would laugh at me. I shied away from any physical activity at school because I was so big and doing the simplest things exhausted me. Because of my weight, my self-esteem suffered. I wasn’t carefree and having fun. I was miserable.

I became comfortable with not taking risks and not taking a stab at doing new things; it was safer not to even try. Sadly, this mind-set stayed along for the ride as I grew up and entered adulthood. It was a tough mentality to break, but through losing weight and working on my emotional and mental health, I was able to break free from harmful thinking. And as I like to say, I am not a fat girl anymore; I’m a fit girl.

You too have the power to change. You can make better decisions that afford your children the chance to dream big, create a future full of possibilities, and shine.

Don’t get wrapped up in the guilt of feeling you haven’t done enough for your children or haven’t helped them make the right choices. Guilt is a wasted emotion. Guilt will keep you emotionally paralyzed so that you won’t do anything to change your circumstances. Guilt will not change a single thing, but here’s the light at the end of the tunnel—taking a step in the right direction will.

Taking the First Step

Decisions pave the way to making dreams come true. Making the right decisions will change the course of your life and the life of your children. When Phillip and I decided to go on The Biggest Loser, we had to move heaven and earth to make it happen. We had to sell our cars and major household items so that my family would have enough money to operate while we were gone. I had to leave my children. I had to endure the physical, emotional, and mental process, which was grueling at times. None of these things were fun or convenient. None of these things were easy. But the payoff was amazing and totally worth it.

Former Boy Scout administrator Forest Witcraft once wrote, “A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a boy.” When I worked as an early childhood director at my church, I printed those words on bookmarks and gave them to all the volunteers who worked with me. The bookmarks were one way I reminded them that their sacrifice would last long after they were gone.

As a parent, you need to constantly remind yourself of that same truth. What you sacrifice today when it comes to your children will still be paying off long after you leave this earth. You have the power to affect their future for the better. You have the power to influence what their legacy will be. You have the power to commit to bettering the health of your household. I know you are ready to make this change because you are already reading this book. I am confident you want the best for your children and that you want to see their dreams come true.

Yes, sometimes dreaming big dreams requires overcoming big challenges. Don’t worry. We will help you along the way. Believe me, we have had to work our way through many challenges that could have stopped us cold. Our book will equip you with knowledge, tools, and inspiration so you can move any mountains that may stand in your way of creating a healthy home.

Think about what dreaming big as a family looks like to you. Maybe it’s as simple as eating better and exercising more. Maybe you want to lose a few pounds to have more energy to play with your daughter. Maybe you want to improve your health because you just got diagnosed with diabetes or another serious disease. Maybe you want to incorporate fitness into your family life and start running 5Ks together. Whatever it is, dreaming big means improving the quality of your family life. And that will guarantee a brighter future.

Today, take the first step and commit to making your children’s health a priority so that you can see their dreams come true. It only takes a simple decision to change your life and your future.

Walk with us on this journey and let’s dream big together!

2

Face the Facts

A Word from Amy

Dreaming is fun, isn’t it? It is such a big first step in your new adventure of gaining better health. After we dust off our box of hidden dreams, the next critical step is to face some facts. And some of them might not be pretty.

You are reading this book because you believe you and your family will benefit from this fitness challenge. This means some poor habits are in place that you need to change. You might acknowledge that you need to be healthier, but for whatever reason you give your kids more slack. You might be thinking one or more of the following thoughts:

Why do I need to concern myself with what my kids eat and how much exercise they get?

Is it really so bad that they eat fast food? They get to be kids only once, after all! Let them live a little, right? Since when did a little fast food hurt anybody?

What’s wrong with letting my kids play video games, play on the computer, and watch television after school? They work hard all day. Shouldn’t they be able to veg out in front of the TV to unwind? Everyone needs a little break.

What’s the harm in having a little baby fat? They’ll eventually grow out of it. I mean, really, what’s the big deal?

Prior to our health transformation, I used to be defensive when it came to our family’s health habits. So if you’re feeling the same way, I understand.

The Facts

Before we deal with some of these questions, let’s get some facts straight. Childhood obesity is an epidemic. It has almost tripled in the last 30 years. The 2008 “Facts for Families” report published by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry remarked that an estimated 17 percent of children and adolescents ages 2–19 years are obese. This unhealthy weight gain in our children stems from poor nutrition and inactivity.

A child is considered obese when her weight is at least 10 percent higher than what is recommended for her height and body type. Studies have shown that an obese child between the ages of 10 and 13 has an 80 percent chance of becoming an obese adult.

Though these facts are eye-opening and disturbing, the trend can be stopped. Childhood obesity is preventable if we work on changing to a healthy lifestyle. If an obese child has a greater chance of becoming an obese adult, you can see what a big deal it is for parents to model and implement healthy habits in the home as early as possible.

Contrary to what many people believe, obesity and weight gain do not come solely from genetics or biology. Most of our unhealthy habits come from behaviors we learn in our culture and in our home. And sadly, many of these behaviors are harmful to our health—from the plethora of fast-food restaurants, to the indulgence of processed foods, to the inactivity caused by spending too much time watching TV or playing video games.

Creating a healthy lifestyle in the home may be a challenge, especially if you have not maintained good nutrition or fitness goals for a long time, but it is doable and it is imperative if you want to raise a healthy family.

Priorities! Priorities! Priorities!

Give me a break, Phil and Amy. I’m a busy parent. I can’t do everything perfectly. Nobody’s perfect!

This might be your thought as you find yourself in the fast-food restaurant drive-thru for the fifth time this week. Sure, you’d rather be like Betty Crocker and put a hot meal on the table every night, but really, who does that anymore? Who has the time?

So many of us justify our actions when it comes to our kids’ diet and exercise habits because we are simply overwhelmed with all of our other responsibilities. Most of us have more than enough to do during the day. We work full- or part-time, spend time with our kids doing homework, manage their after-school activities, clean our house, make time for our friends, meet our spouse’s needs, volunteer in the schools or community, go to church. And that’s just a few items in the long laundry list (oh, did I mention laundry?) most of us have.

It’s much easier to go to the drive-thru after school for a quick meal or pick up a pizza after baseball practice than to sit home cooking. And I know how easy it is, when you do find an afternoon that’s free, to stick your kids in front of the TV or put a video controller in their hand while you take a nap or watch a movie instead of going to the park as a family. The thought of adding more things, like exercise and making your own snacks and meals, to our ever-growing to-do list is exhausting.

Trust me, I know that feeling. I am no Harriet Nelson and my life definitely isn’t a TV Land show. As a mother of three boys, I am well aware of how stressful raising children can be. There never seems to be enough time to do everything you need to do. I have gone to bed many nights knowing I had so many things left undone and feeling guilty that I let my kids down (again). I have juggled all the balls that you have to juggle as a working mom raising a family, and I know that sometimes, you just have to let some of them drop.

Some things are more important than others. We have to determine what our priorities are when it comes to raising our children. We need to determine the right balls to allow to fall to the ground. You may have to choose not to make the bed every day. You may have to turn off the TV for a long time. You may not be able to spend much time socializing on Facebook. You might see more loads of laundry lying around than you would like. The fact is, you can’t do it all without sacrificing some crucial lifestyle habits as a family. And because you picked up this book, you know that healthy lifestyle habits is something you need to work on. You can’t afford to sacrifice that any longer.

The amount of attention and care you invest in shaping your children’s nutritional and fitness choices charts the course for the rest of their lives. It really is a big deal.

Sometimes, Love Means Saying No

We love our children and would do anything for them. If we knew we were harming them in some way—perhaps by being lax in monitoring their health habits—wouldn’t we want to stop and start doing the right things?

I like what Jesus says about the nature of parents to give good things to their children: “If your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not!” (Luke 11:11-12 nlt). The problem, however, is that our kids often ask for stuff that’s not good for them (like fast food). And we think we show them love when we give in and say yes.

But then what happens? When we allow our kids to be in charge of our decision-making, they become the boss. They take over our job. They become the parent. Obviously, a family won’t function well when children are running the house!

I know there are daily battles you fight with your kids. The trick is to pick your battles wisely. I want to challenge you to pick the battle of good health. This is a fight where you need to quit raising the white flag. You need to fight for the health of your children because this war really is a matter of life or death.

From the time our children are born, we try to give them the very best we can. We buy the best baby food and take them to the doctor any time they have the tiniest sniffle. We move to homes in the best school districts and sign them up for activities that we hope will grow them in some way, whether athletically or intellectually. We focus on doing all these things and more so that they have the best shot at a good life. In this hustle and bustle, sometimes we forget that the foundation of success is good health.

As parents, we have the power to ensure that our children do not fall prey to all the bad stuff that can result from being overweight and possibly even obese. These include conditions, illnesses, and diseases that can cripple them as they become adults. I want to talk about a few of them.

Silent Destroyers

According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, childhood obesity puts children on the path to diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. These are health problems that only adults used to suffer from. If you don’t pay attention to your child’s health now, you are essentially creating a breeding ground for these health issues as they get older.

Type 2 diabetes is an obesity-related illness that has drastically increased in children and teens. Diabetes is a condition in which a person has high blood sugar because the body can’t make enough or can’t properly use insulin. In order for your body to function optimally, your blood-sugar levels need to be in a particular target range. When the body isn’t producing enough insulin or the body isn’t processing it properly, this healthy range gets out of whack.

It’s tough to detect type 2 diabetes in children because many symptoms may be mild or nonexistent. A blood test is required to properly diagnose this disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children who have type 2 diabetes are generally between 10 and 19 years old, obese, and have a strong family history of type 2 diabetes.

This surge of diabetes in children and teens is attributed to lifestyle choices that lead to poor health. These include eating foods high in fat and calories (such as fast food), eating too much sugar (such as soda and candy), eating larger portions, and not getting enough exercise.

High blood pressure is another health condition that can result from being overweight. It affects only 3 percent of children and teens, according to the American Heart Association’s website. This may seem like a small number, but it has risen over the years and is attributed to a poor diet, excess weight, and an insufficient amount of physical activity. High blood pressure is a really big deal because if left untreated, it can lead to damage of the kidneys, brain, heart, and eyes.

Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the artery walls. When a person has high blood pressure, there is a higher than normal pressure inside the arteries, and the heart has a harder time pumping blood throughout the body. When the heart has to work harder than it needs to, it puts stress on your heart and makes it more difficult to get the necessary blood to your vital organs.

High cholesterol is another health problem on the rise. High cholesterol is something we need to pay attention to because it can create a material called plaque that builds up on the walls of the arteries. Plaque can prohibit the blood from flowing through the arteries and can even cause a heart attack and stroke if left untreated.

Three factors cause high cholesterol levels in children—heredity, diet, and obesity (notice the trend?). Most children with high cholesterol have a parent with high cholesterol. If this condition runs in your family, get your child diagnosed if you suspect they might suffer from the illness. It’s easy to find out if this is the case. Just ask your pediatrician for a simple blood test. It’s also fairly simple to treat high cholesterol. You have to put your child on a healthy diet (basically eating natural foods that are low in fat and good for you) and an exercise program. Medication might be in order for severe cases.

More than Feeling Blue

Another side effect of childhood weight problems and obesity is low self-esteem and depression. Being overweight impacts not only a child’s physical body, it also impacts their emotional and mental states.

Childhood should be a time free of anxiety. It shouldn’t be a time when your child is worried and depressed about his weight. If you were an overweight child, as I was, you know how painful that experience can be.

There are many things we can’t control about our children, but one thing we can do something about is their weight. No one wants their child to be the last kid on the team picked to play kickball or an object of ridicule because of her size. No one wants their child to feel less-than or like a loser.

Our middle son, Pearson, was about 20 pounds overweight when we came home from the ranch. He was always a little shy and self-conscious when it came to those extra pounds. He is the most sensitive of our three children, and it pained me to know how bad he felt about himself. As I saw him get healthier when he lost the weight, I also saw his self-esteem blossom. As a mother, this was such a rewarding thing to witness.

Unhealthy Building Blocks Lead to Unhealthy Adult Habits

There are several more reasons why we need to take the health of our children seriously. One main reason is that an overweight child is much more likely to be an overweight adult. One study found that approximately 80 percent of children who were overweight between the ages of 10–15 years were obese at age 25. Another study reports that 25 percent of obese adults were overweight as children, and that if unhealthy weight gain starts before the age of 8, then obesity in adulthood is likely to be more severe.2 The idea that “a little baby fat never hurt anyone” is not true. It can hurt your child for the rest of his or her life.

Here’s something else to think about. Once your body creates a fat cell, it never gets rid of it. The fat cell can shrink as you lose weight, but it is always there available to be filled up. And fat cells generally are not created in a person’s body after puberty; the one exception is if an adult gains a considerable amount of weight. But for the most part, the number of fat cells a person has is determined in childhood. When kids become overweight, they create more fat cells than they would if they were at a healthy weight.

Fat cells also have memory. Once they have been full, they want to be full again. This is why once someone has been overweight, it becomes much more difficult for him to stay slim later in life. This is why it is so vital that we help our children get and stay healthy. We don’t want them entering adulthood with the propensity to store fat, be obese, and be generally unhealthy. We don’t want to create a disadvantage for them so early on.

Here’s another sobering fact. Childhood obesity more than doubles the risk of dying before age 55, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine and conducted by Dr. William C. Knowler, chief of the Diabetes Epidemiology and Clinical Research Section of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

More Facts

The list of the dangers of childhood obesity is ever-growing. Extra weight on your child’s body can cause lung problems, leading to ailments such as asthma. Sleep apnea (a condition where your child has abnormal breathing patterns while sleeping) can be a complication of childhood obesity. Being obese can create hormone imbalances for your child that can cause puberty to start earlier than expected.

Extra weight can even affect the way your kid’s feet are formed. Did you know that flattened arches are often developed during childhood? An article in the June 21, 2010 edition of USA Today states that extra pounds can take a toll on feet, causing conditions such as flat feet, inflamed tendons, and sore feet. A spokesman for the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons said, “The foot was made to carry the average body, of maybe up to 200 pounds. When you add 100 or 200 pounds, it overloads the tendons, the ligaments, and the bones.” While your child may not be 100 pounds overweight, any excess weight puts undue pressure on their feet. Likewise, Dr. Wendy J. Pomerantz of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center found obese children had more leg, ankle, and foot injuries than normal-weight children.

When we say that obesity can affect you from the top of your head to the soles of your feet, we’re not kidding.

Is My Child Part of This Problem?

Is your child at risk of being overweight or even obese? How can you tell? Phillip and I like to evaluate healthy weight by using the Body Mass Index (BMI) chart.

BMI is a number calculated from a person’s weight and height that is a reliable indicator of whether your child is overweight. It’s not foolproof, however, because it doesn’t take into consideration how much muscle a child has. Muscle weighs more than fat, and some kids naturally have more muscle than others. Also, the BMI chart can be a little skewed during periods of rapid growth. Still, it’s a generally solid guideline to use. The best way to get an accurate reading is to get a scale that measures body fat, weight, and hydration levels or make an appointment with your child’s doctor.

If you decide to calculate your child’s BMI on your own, you first need to take some measurements. Measure your child’s height and write it down. Then weigh your child and write that number down. Compare these numbers with the chart on the previous page or insert them into the handy BMI calculator on the Centers for Disease Control website (http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/dnpabmi/).

If you find that your child falls in the overweight or obese range, don’t waste time beating yourself up about it or blaming your poor parental skills. The key is to realize that starting today, you can change this number. You can change the way your family eats. You can change the way your family exercises (or doesn’t at all). You can even change your child’s health if she is suffering from weight-related conditions. You can make a difference.

Reading this book and working through the 90 challenges in Part 2 is a great first step. Make this a priority and read the challenges together as a family at the breakfast or dinner table, right before or after you help your children with their homework, or the first thing when they come home from school. Make these challenges a part of your routine to help your children understand that you are on their side and you want to help them be healthy.

Don’t judge or make your kids feel bad if they are overweight. Support them and let them know this is something you can conquer together. When I was a little girl, my grandmother would make negative comments about my weight all the time. She meant well, but it made me feel as if she didn’t approve of (or even like) me. Your child needs to know that you love her and support her in every area, including her journey to become healthy.

How to Make Change

As you read this chapter, you may have noticed a continual theme. Like a drumbeat, the words healthy eating and exercise sound over and over. Many life-threatening conditions can be prevented by making changes in our diet and in our level of activity. Why do we not do it? I believe three culprits prevent us from making these changes—time management, energy, and motivation.

We must take inventory of our time. You may think that you already have every single second scheduled to a tee and you have absolutely no extra time, but I bet you can adjust your schedule and incorporate small changes that will give you more time to spend on your health. You can cook food ahead of time so you always have a snack on hand to avoid the drive-thru window. Instead of throwing bags of chips or cookies in your children’s lunch box, pack a piece of fruit. Do homework with your child at the park, so after he or she is finished, you can run around and play together and squeeze in some physical activity. See what I mean? Making little changes in your routine can make a big difference.

What about energy? Many parents I know complain of not having enough energy to make health a priority. They are simply too tired. This is where you have to make sure that you are taking care of your health first so that you can help your family. (This is also the best way to role model healthy habits for your children. If you don’t do it, why should they?)

When you make time for exercise, you actually have more energy than when you are sedentary. I know this is true from personal experience. If I start my morning with exercise, I have tons of energy for the rest of my day. I turn into the Energizer Bunny. I just keep going and going and going.

Finally, sometimes we don’t make changes because we don’t have the motivation to change. But what is more motivational than our children? Our kids should be the biggest motivators in creating a healthy lifestyle at home. I don’t know of anything that can move me more than when I know my child has a need. I like to think one thing most parents have in common is a desire to see their children live long, healthy lives. And I believe you, as a parent, will do anything to give them a foundation for a great quality of life. So make the commitment to make change. Let them be your motivation to eat better and start moving more. We will be with you every step of the way!

How Healthy Are Your Kids?

Let’s find out how healthy your kids are. The quiz below is a great starting point for you as a parent to know what kind of commitment you will need to make to get the change-ball rolling. Circle your answers and tally your score.

My kids eat fast food…

a) once a week (2)

b) at least five times a week (3)

c) once or twice a month as a special treat (1)

d) every day (4)

When we do something together as a family, we like to…

a) go out to eat (4)

b) go to the movies (3)

c) do something active such as play sports or go hiking (1)

d) go to an amusement park (2)

The drink that my kids have most with meals is…

a) soda (4)

b) water (1)

c) milk (2)

d) juice (3)

My kids watch TV and play on the computer or video games…

a) an hour a day (2)

b) two hours a day (3)

c) three or more hours a day (4)

d) less than an hour a day (1)

My kids participate in regular exercise…

a) 30 minutes a day, five days a week (1)

b) an hour a day, three days a week (2)

c) once a week (if we’re lucky) (3)

d) never (4)

We eat dinner together as a family…

a) during major holidays (4)

b) once a week (2)

c) at least five days a week (1)

d) on weekends when we go to a sit-down restaurant (3)

If you scored:

6 to 12 points—Green light! All systems are go. You are traveling in the right direction as a family. As you read this book you will continue to learn more about great health.

13 to 18 points—Yellow light! Caution. On the way to trouble ahead. You can find your way to the path toward great health by reading how you can create a healthy family environment.

18 to 24 points—Red alert! You need to get your family in the “Challenge” ASAP! Don’t worry. Today can be the first day of your family’s journey toward a life of good health.

Whatever your score, in the following chapters we will equip you to make your family life not just happy but healthy. Whether it’s learning about the best foods to fuel your body or discovering creative ways of exercising as a family, the time to challenge yourself to be a healthy family is now. And the best place to start…is with you!

My Review
The Amazing Fitness Adventure For Your Kids is not only a book for kids, but for the entire family. In this book, the authors give parents step by step instructions on how to have a healthy family, raise healthy kids teaching them a healthy lifestyle. How awesome is this to have a resource teaching you easy ways to teach your children healthy living from the beginning. When they get older, they will know no other lifestyle, sure wish I’d had this book earlier in life!

Just to give you a taste of what is in the book, a few of the chapters are: Dream Big; Your Kids are Watching You (ouch); Activate Your Kids; Finding Balance. I appreciate that the authors stress going through these 90 days of activities as a family. This book not only helps with family fitness, but also helps encourage families to spend valuable time together.

I highly recommend this book to all couples that have children. Go out and grab a copy of this book and start your 90 day adventure today!

Thanks to the publisher Harvest House and F.I.R.S.T WildCard tours for a copy of this book. I was not required to write a positive review of this book. The opinions in this book are mine only.

CFBA Tour The Doctor’s Lady…by Jody Hedlund

The Doctor’s Lady…by Jody Hedlund

This week, theChristian Fiction Blog Allianceis introducingThe Doctor’s LadyBethany House (September 1, 2011)byJody HedlundABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jody has written novels for the last 18 years (with a hiatus when her children were young). After many years of writing and honing her skills, she finally garnered national attention with her double final in the Genesis Contest, a fiction-writing contest for unpublished writers through ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers).

Her first published book, The Preacher’s Bride (2010 Bethany House Publishers), hit the CBA Best Seller list on two different occasions and has won multiple awards.

Her second book, The Doctor’s Lady, released this September. She has completed a third book which will be released in 2012. She’s currently busy researching and writing another book!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Priscilla White knows she’ll never be a wife or mother and feels God’s call to the mission field in India. Dr. Eli Ernest is back from Oregon Country only long enough to raise awareness of missions to the natives before heading out West once more. But then Priscilla and Eli both receive news from the mission board: No longer will they send unmarried men and women into the field.

Left scrambling for options, the two realize the other might be the answer to their needs. Priscilla and Eli agree to a partnership, a marriage in name only that will allow them to follow God’s leading into the mission field. But as they journey west, this decision will be tested by the hardships of the trip and by the unexpected turnings of their hearts.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Doctor’s Lady, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer:

My Review

Get ready for a historical fiction and hold on to your hats because this one will keep you so engrossed you will have no idea what is going on around you! The well thought out, well developed characters woven together in a  ‘marriage’ that will stay with you long after you finish the book! This is my first book of Jody Hedlund, but it definitely won’t be the last. Now I need to get The Preacher’s Bride and read it!

I encourage everyone who loves historical fiction to run out and grab a copy of this book and read it!!

And….go here for a limited time and get The Preachers Bride on Kindle for FREE

Sell More Books……By: J. Steve Miller

Sell More Books……By: J. Steve Miller

 

Book Description

Atlanta: May, 2011. Wisdom Creek Press released a new book for authors titled Sell More Books! Book Marketing and Publishing for Low Profile and Debut Authors: Rethinking Book Publicity after the Digital Revolutions.

 

Sell More Books gives writers:

 

  •  Insider tips on writing and publishing a marketable book.
  • The latest on publishing options, social networking, and “tried and true” book marketing tactics.
  • Hundreds of practical book-selling strategies that authors can implement immediately, whether they’re self-published or traditionally published.
  • An analysis of which methods will most likely work for specific books, and which methods might be a complete waste of time.
  • Ideas for marketing on a low budget.

According to Dr. Robert E. McGinnis, author of 15 young adult novels, Sell More Books! is “filled with useful tips I don’t find elsewhere. A masterpiece of research, wisdom, and encouragement.”

 

Paperback: 332 pages
Price: $14.95
Publisher: Wisdom Creek Press, LLC (May 15, 2011)

Interview with J. Steve Miller

 

WCPress: Why another book on book marketing?

JSM: While many books are available, few take into account the latest in publishing and marketing. We find that most authors are confused and overwhelmed by all the options. Thus, there’s a need to simplify the task and help authors narrow down their best choices.

WCP: Why target low profile authors?

JSM: Because publishing and marketing are different for them in many ways. Typically, low profile authors discover that bookstores and big media want the big names. It’s easy to get discouraged. But I found success in marketing my books, even though I lacked a platform. I wrote an award-winning personal finance book when I had no degrees in personal finance and no vocational experience as a financial planner. My book on music was published by a respected traditional publisher, Tyndale House, even though I held no degrees in music; neither was I a professional musician. I think I’ve picked up some tricks along the way that can help other low profile authors.

WCP: So is this all about your personal experience?

JSM: No. Although I describe what’s worked for me (and what totally failed!) I read widely in book marketing and ran my ideas by many authors and publishers. Real experience from a wide variety of people has a way of making a mess of tidy formulas! I saw that what sold tons of books for one author may not work at all for another, and what works for one book may be totally inappropriate for another.

WCP: Do you recommend social networking, such as Twitter and Facebook?

JSM: For some authors and for some books, they work great. Other authors may be wasting their time. To me, it boils down to finding and connecting with the readers and influencers on your topic/genre. I try to help authors understand whether or not these will work for their books.

WCP: What about blogging?

JSM: A blog can be a great hub for many authors – the first place to send people who want to find out more about you and your books and your social media presence. Also consider a blog for maintaining a press page, much like the page we’re on now. But I’d suggest that many people who are trying to post several substantive blogs per week in order to build a following, if it’s solely to sell your books, you may be wasting valuable time. Again, each topic and each author will have to think through an appropriate strategy. I try to cover that as well in the book.
WCP: Thanks for your time and good luck helping fellow authors with their publishing and marketing!

JSM: Thanks so much!
Table of Contents

Part I
Rethink Book Marketing in Light of the Revolutions

Chapter 1: Four Digital Revolutions that Can Make Nobodies Awesome

Part II

From Nobody to Somebody
Build Platforms with a Marketable Book and a Cool Online Presence

Chapter 2 – Why Market Your Book?

Chapter 3 – Write a Marketable Book

Chapter 4 – Write a Title and Subtitle That Attracts Audiences

Chapter 5 – Attract People with your Cover

Chapter 6 – Publish through the Most Marketable Channel

Chapter 7 – Get Lots of Blurbs from All Kinds of People

Chapter 8 – Optimize Your Amazon and Barnes & Noble Pages

Chapter 9 – Build a Professional Online Presence

Chapter 10 – Submit Your Book to Contests


Part III
Let the World Know About Your Book

Chapter 11 – Check Your Attitudes toward Marketing

Chapter 12 – Use Guiding Principles to Prioritize Initiatives

Chapter 13 – Seek Early Reviews from Respected Book Review Sources

Chapter 14 – Seek Reviews and Endorsements from Busy Blogs

Chapter 15 – Seek Reviews and Endorsements from Other Publications

Chapter 16 – Attract Attention through Social Media

Chapter 17 – Optimize Digital Sales

Chapter 18 – Sell Your Book in Brick and Mortar Stores

Chapter 19 – Help Reporters and Journalists with their Articles

Chapter 20 – Consider Radio (Even if You’re Shy!)

Chapter 21 – Consider Speaking (Even if You’re Shy!)   

Chapter 22 – John Kremer’s Twelve Tips for Low-Profile Authors

Chapter 23 – Bulk Sales Beyond the Bookstore: An Interview with Brian Jud

Chapter 24 – Consider Press (News) Releases

Chapter 25 – Sell Even More Books!

Appendix 1 – Never Stop Learning! (Further Reading and Resources)

Appendix 2 – 200+ Ways that Low Profile Authors Can Market Their Books

Index

 
About the Authors

 

 

J. Steve Miller loves to write and sell his books. As founder and president of Legacy Educational Resources, he publishes resources that are used by educators in every state and over 30 countries. His book on contemporary church music was used as a text and translated into Dutch, German, Romanian, Spanish and Russian. His book on personal finance has won multiple awards. Steve has spoken from Atlanta to Moscow.  Find him at www.jstevemiller.com or www.enjoyyourwriting.com.
Cherie K. Miller is the founder and president of Wisdom Creek Press and works with the Masters in American Studies program at Kennesaw State University. She is the current President of the Georgia Writers Association, a state-wide nonprofit organization promoting authorship in Georgia. She has published books, written for national magazines and written a newspaper column for a Chicago newspaper. She earned her MA in Professional Writing from Kennesaw State University in 2007.  For more information on Cherie, visit www.cheriekmiller.com.
John Kremer and Brian Jud each contributed chapters. They’re two of today’s most highly respected names in book marketing.
Blythe Daniel and Stephanie Richards are book publicists who contributed significantly to Steve and Cherie’s understanding of marketing books.

View or Purchase Book on Amazon.com
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Purchase for Multiple e-formats on Smashwords

 

 

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