Never Unfriended by Lisa-Jo Baker


In a world where women can unfriend each other with the swipe of a finger, how do we find friendships that we can trust to last? Maybe by first becoming those kinds of lasting friends ourselves.

As the community manager at the website since 2010, Lisa-Jo Baker has had the chance to engage hundreds of conversations with women about friendship. She’s learned that no one can make us quite as unsure about ourselves as another woman. And nothing can wound as deeply as unkind words from a friend. While we are all hungry for friendship, it’s the fear of feeling awkward and being rejected, left out, or hurt (again) that often keep us from connecting.

But what if we knew we could never be unfriended? Would we risk friendship then?

Starting with that guarantee from the most faithful friend who ever lived—Jesus—this book is a step-by-step guide to friendships you can trust. It answers the questions that lurk under the surface of every friendship—What are we afraid of? What can’t we change? What can we change? And where do we start?—with personal stories and practical tips to help you make the friends, and be the friend, that lasts.


In a world of social media and online relationships, it can sometimes be devastating when someone you call a friend suddenly unfriends you on their social media page. But there is so much more the friendships that those hollow ones we face online. And author Lisa-Jo Baker shares her thoughts and so many illustrations and tipsily this subject in her new book Never Unfriended. You will find yourself shedding many tears and sometimes just downright laugh so much as you read this amazing and precious book. And I say precious because, through the wonderful stories of other pinned here in this book, Ms. Baker teaches us how to have lasting friends that we can love and trust for a lifetime. And most importantly, she teaches about the friend we can always trust, the friend that is closer than a brother, the friend that never leaves us, our Savior, Jesus Christ. What a lovely and beautiful book to read for yourself and give to others.

As I read through the stories for others, I found a lot of things relating to my own life, as I feel all those who read this book will find. And I appreciate that Ms. Baker guides our hearts and thoughts toward God and His everlasting love for us. And she does it in such a way that doesn’t sound preachy, comdemning or judgmental, she shares in that soft, warm and sweet way that makes us feel loved and wanted as friends.

I highly recommend this book to every woman out there. This is a needed read, a read that will change your heart and life, giving you a peaceful attitude on friendships. This book was given to me by them publisher B&H publishers. I was not required to write a review of this book. I chose to write this review, and the opinions are mine alone!

PTSD Road to Recovery: One Soldiers Story by Bob Bray

PTSD Road to Recovery: One Soldiers Story
by Bob Bray


Most books on PTSD are dry, clinical, and impersonal – no matter how sympathetic they are to the sufferers. Not so with this challenging book!

Author Bob Bray has walked an exhausting pathway, dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in his own life. Obviously, PTSD has been around for a long while. It has existed under names such as battle fatigue, shell shock, or the soldier’s disease. Today, that notion has expanded beyond the battlefields where weapons are used to destroy enemies. Now it refers to the emotional trauma experienced when people are exposed to horrific situations beyond their ability to understand or explain to themselves. It comes with hurricanes, forest fires, floods, and terrorist attacks like the Boston bombing. This book is unique in that it describes more than the outward observations of physicians and researchers. It is a view from the inside of someone who has been overwhelmed, survived, and now has begun to thrive after PTSD. The author is a compelling writer pouring out the inner struggles and outward consequences that come from those who have lived through the horrors of warfare. To them, all too frequently, they come home but the battle isn’t over.


I have never been around anyone with PTSD, but after reading Bob Bray’s book, PTSD Road to Recovery: One Soldier’s Story, I now have a clear insight of what someone goes through when having this disease. Mr. Bray’s story started when he was abused as a small child, and continued on through his school years, into the military and again back at home. He gives a clear insight of what soldiers face every day, and what they face after their time of service at home. I had never really thought about it like he explained it, that while in military service, there is always someone to tell you what to do, and when you get home, its just you, and no one to tell you how to live your life. This is just a little taste of what it is this book.

My heart ached as I read Bob Bray’s story. From the very beginning, reading about the beating from his father, Mr. Bray was never given a chance to know how to deal with this abuse, except though anger and fighting as he got older. One thing about this book is, readers are getting everything firsthand. I better understand the life of a soldier and the life of a police officer now that I’ve read this book on the road to recovery from PTSD. After everything this author went through for so many years, the part of his story that he tells about his recovery is amazing. There are so many things in this book that can be of help to others going though the same situations. If you are suffering PTSD. anxiety, depression, or any other unhealthy feelings after coming home from military service, or maybe from having a difficult life like Bob Bray, this is definitely the book you need to read. I can’t emphasize enough how important this book is. I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy for yourself, or for someone you know. I may change your life or the life of your friend.

FIRST WildCard Tour….Life-Changing Bible Verses You Should Know….by Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer

FIRST WildCard Tour…Life-Changing Bible Verses You Should Know….by Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer

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:
Erwin and Rebecca Lutzer

and the book:

Life-Changing Bible Verses You Should Know

Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)

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


Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer, Senior Pastor of The Moody Church since 1980, is an award-winning author of more than 20 books including Walking with God. He’s a celebrated international conference speaker and the featured speaker on three radio programs that are heard around the world. Rebecca Lutzer has used her gifts of hospitality, mercy, and teaching to minister to many women. She is an RN and enjoyed working as a surgical nurse for several years. They coauthored a book on the women in the life of Jesus and how He changed their worlds titled Jesus, Lover of a Woman’s Soul. They have been married for 35 years, live in the Chicago area, and are the parents of three married children.


Erwin Lutzer, senior pastor of the Moody Church, and his wife, Rebecca, encourage readers to reap the blessings of memorizing Scripture in this gathering of relevant verses, 35 topics, insightful explanations, and engaging questions. This foundation of wisdom inspires readers to experience God’s Word in powerful ways.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99

Paperback: 208 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736939520

ISBN-13: 978-0736939522




Psalm 46:1—God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

1 Peter 1:6-7—In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

When we think back to the devastating earthquake in Haiti that killed nearly 200,000 people, many images come to mind, but one image that stands out well above the others is that of a young mother being interviewed on television as she held a baby in her arms.

“I lost my son…he died in the rubble.”

“Did you get to bury him?”

“No, no chance; his body was crushed in the rubble; I just had to throw him away.”

Just then the camera zeroed in on her backpack as she prepared to board a bus. Stuffed in a side pocket was a Bible. As she boarded the bus she could be heard, speaking to no one in particular, saying, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble…” Her voice trailed off as she disappeared from view.

When the report was over we just kept staring at the television for a while, pushing back tears and letting what we’d just seen sink into our souls. A dead child with no chance to plan a funeral and pay respects to her precious little one, a baby in her arms, and she was boarding a bus that was going she knew not where. Yet she still expressed belief; she still trusted that God is her refuge and strength.

Faith in adversity!

This mother—God bless her—began quoting Psalm 46, which was written as a praise song after God spared the city of Jerusalem from an invasion by Assyrians who were threatening to annihilate the inhabitants. In the midst of a harrowing escape, the Israelites found God to be an unshakable pillar.

God is our refuge. A refuge is a safe place you can run to for shelter when life’s storms are swirling around you. No wonder this dear mother found solace in this psalm, which continues, “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging” (verses 2-3).

Yes, the mountains did give way and fall into the heart of the sea, but God is unaffected by the fluctuation on events of earth; He is always there, solid, unmoved. When the mountains are shaking and the ground beneath you is quaking, run to God, and He will meet you. Yes, even when our world falls apart in the aftermath of a horrendous natural disaster, God is unchanging and remains with us.

In the midst of the devastation, God is our source of supply. The psalm continues, “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells” (verse 4). Most likely that refers to a tunnel that had been built some time earlier to bring water into the city in case it was ever besieged. The people of Jerusalem saw this provision as God giving them specific help at their time of their need.

Then the psalm gives us a command: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (verse 10). Let us cease striving and let God be God. Even in adversity He is there; or perhaps we should say especially in adversity He is there!

Adversity should not drive us away from God; rather, it should drive us into His arms. He is there for the grieving mother, and for the family that has experienced indescribable loss. The psalm ends, “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (verse 11).

God wants to be believed. And our faith is more precious to Him than gold, which perishes. When we continue to trust Him even when there appears to be no reason to do so—and we go on believing God’s bare Word, our faith will “result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:7).

Reverend Henry F. Lyte was a pastor in Scotland who battled tuberculosis most of his life. On his final Sunday, September 4, 1847, amid many tears the congregation sang a song he himself had composed, “Abide with Me.” It spoke of the unchanging God in an ever-changing world:

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;

The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.

When other helpers fail and comforts flee,

Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;

Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;

Change and decay in all around I see;

O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;

Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.

Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;

In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

The young mother in Haiti—who was clutching an undernourished baby in her arms and had no time to mourn the tragic death of her son—found solace in the God who was still beside her when the earth gave way. “God is our refuge and strength,” she said amid her grief and uncertainty of the future.

In times of adversity, our faith can hold fast. And God is both honored and pleased.

Taking God’s Word to Heart

Reflect on the account of the Haitian mother who tragically lost her son. How has Psalm 46 been a source of strength for you during adversity? What other Scripture passages do you turn to for help in difficult times?

What does it mean to you that God is your refuge? In life’s journey, why is God’s unchangeable nature a source of strength for us?

Recall an instance when God provided timely help for a specific need. What did that experience teach or confirm for you about God’s character?

What are some ways God has used adversity to shape your life?

Why is God honored and pleased when we exercise faith in times of adversity?

My Review

Life-Changing Bible Verses You Should Know
By Erwin and Rebecca Lutzer

This is a wonderful book of Bible Verses with 2 or 3 pages explaining the verses, plus several study questions at the end of each chapter. The verses in this book deal with issues we all face every day or topics we want to learn more about Some of these are anxiety, forgiveness, grief, hope, loss, love, assurance, character and many, many more.  This book can be used as a Bible Study, Devotional, or just a book to read. However you choose to use it, you will be amazed at the wealth of information in this book.

I recommend this book to everyone. You can’t go wrong having a copy of this book on hand.

Thank you to the publisher Harvest House for providing me a copy of this book through F.I.R.S.T. WildCard Tours. I was not expected or required to give a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine alone.

FIRST WildCard Tour…….Sifted…… by Rick Lawrence

FIRST WildCard Tour…….Sifted…… by Rick Lawrence
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:
Rick Lawrence

and the book:

Sifted: God’s Scandalous Response to Satan’s Outrageous Demand

David C. Cook; New edition (August 1, 2011)

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


Rick Lawrence has been editor of GROUP Magazine, the world’s most widely read resource for Christian youth leaders, for 23 years and is the co-leader of The Simply Youth Ministry Conference. In his role as “Youth Ministry Champion” at Group Publishing, he leads the organization’s expeditionary efforts to challenge, encourage, and equip youth pastors. Lawrence has authored hundreds of magazine articles and is the author, co-author, or editor of 31 books, including JCQ’s: 150 Jesus-Centered Discussion Questions, Jesus-Centered Youth Ministry, and the adult/teenager small-group curricula Make Their Day and Ten Tough Things. He’s a consultant to national research organizations and a frequent conference and workshop speaker. Lawrence and his wife, Beverly Rose, live with their two daughters in Denver, CO.

Visit the author’s website.


Worn down by the troubles in your life? Overwhelmed by piled-up problems? Worried about others who are hurting? In his book, Sifted: God’s Scandalous Response to Satan’s Outrageous Demand, Rick Lawrence offers fresh biblical perspective on pain, based on a single Scripture snapshot: Luke 22:31-32.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

Paperback: 272 pages

Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (August 1, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1434700747

ISBN-13: 978-1434700742




“Show me a hero and I’ll show you a tragedy.”

—F. Scott Fitzgerald

For my birthday one year my wife gave me a book about Sir Ernest Shackleton, the legendary explorer who in 1914 attempted to be the first to circumnavigate Antarctica from sea to sea, only to endure epic hardships after his ship (prophetically named the Endurance) got stuck in pack ice.1 For most of the ensuing year the Endurance slowly morphed from a seagoing icebreaker to a ghostly frozen outpost, with its rigging sheathed in ice and its desperate crew counting on the spring thaw to set them free again. But instead the thaw sent hulking blocks of bluish ice crashing into the ship’s thick hull. And after a month spent bracing themselves against the pummeling, the twenty-seven men of the Endurance abandoned ship, camping on the pack ice as the sea’s frozen incisors slowly chewed and swallowed its timbers. The last to slip below the surface was the mast, a barren tree on the frozen expanse. And in the eerie aftermath Shackleton’s men knew that catastrophe was about to accelerate into tragedy. They were almost a thousand miles from help, with dwindling provisions, subzero weather, no means of communication, grinding ice behind them, and treacherous waters in front of them. And no Endurance.

One thing they had going for them—some historians would say the only thing they had going for them—was the remarkable will of Ernest Shackleton, a man whose capacity for hope seems borrowed from heroic fiction. By the following summer he had willed the entire party—every last man who’d been on that ship—safely home. They had to eat their beloved sled dogs to survive. They had to fit up salvaged lifeboats for a harrowing five-day journey over open water to the temporary safety of Elephant Island. They had to fashion a makeshift sail for Shackleton and five of his men, then point the largest of their lifeboats toward a distant whaling station on South Georgia Island, across the widow-making Southern Ocean. Along the way they had to survive twenty-foot swells that often engulfed their twenty-two-foot boat, a kind of sleepless dementia that reduced some of the men to a catatonic fetal position, frostbitten fingers encased in ice and frozen to the oars, and navigational challenges akin to sinking a basket from the upper deck (historians call it the single greatest feat of open-boat navigating ever). Once the men were in sight of South Georgia’s craggy shores, hurricane-force winds threatened to smash the boat on outlying rock formations. Finally, the half-dead men hauled their little boat onto the shore of a tiny rock cove. And then Shackleton and two of his men had to cross the width of the island’s forbidding, unmapped, mountainous interior in one thirty-six-hour all-or-nothing death march to the whaling station on the leeward side of the island.

The men, determined apparitions, stumbled out of the frozen mist of the mountains and shuffled into the Stromness station, where the shocked workers at first insisted their story couldn’t be true. From that moment, Shackleton’s name was legend.

Apsley Cherry-Garrar, writing about his experiences with the great Antarctic explorer Robert Scott in his book, The Worst Journey in the World, says: “For a joint scientific and geographical piece of organization, give me Scott; for a Winter Journey, Wilson; for a dash to the Pole and nothing else, Amundsen: and if I am in the devil of a hole and want to get out of it, give me Shackleton every time.”2

Now, that’s some kind of a man.

It’s an understatement to say Shackleton’s story captured me— the effect was more like addiction. I took the book with me on a four-day vacation, and every morning I’d get up at 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. and eat through its pages like a starving man. Shackleton’s courage romanced me—his capacity for swallowing pain and then persevering mesmerized me. It was hard to resist the lure to worship him as if he were a kind of god.

But the final scenes in Shackleton’s life are unbearably and heartbreakingly human.

Away from the heroic challenges of his Antarctic explorations, he was ill equipped for the normal life of a husband and father. He grew restless for the financial security that had eluded him all his life, so he launched many wrongheaded and failed business ventures, ultimately descending into alcoholism and dying of a heart attack more than $1 million in debt.

The story’s end bashes hard against the soul.

How is it possible that the same kind of everyday frustrations and failures common to you and me should cut the legs out from under a man of this magnitude? How could he survive the harshest conditions on earth but crumple under the weight of his mortgage?

The thought of a transcendent figure like Shackleton disintegrating because of the assaults of his day-to-day disillusionments fueled a kind of outrage in me. I turned the last page then snapped the book shut to punctuate my frustration and dissonance. If the drip drip-drip of our everyday pains, those familiar discouragements and imploded hopes, can eat away the soul of a giant, then what chance do we relative midgets have? Titanic resolve compressed Shackleton’s soul into granite; then a thousand tiny pains consumed it, like rock eating termites.

Later that year I read about a similar dismantling at work in the story of Meriwether Lewis, the incomparable leader of the greatest expedition in North American history.3 He, like Shackleton, led a handpicked group of brave men in one of the most improbable feats of survival ever recorded, returning from his explorations of the western frontier with every last man (save for one who died of an unknown illness) safely home. But forced to merge back into the flow of normal life, Lewis tried and failed to handle its challenges, slowly disintegrating into a shell of his former self and ultimately committing suicide.

In my soul something dark and dreadful grows. How am I to beat back the rock-eating termites when they swarm? In A Long Obedience in the Same Direction Eugene Peterson writes: “Unpleasant things happen to us. We lose what we think we cannot live without. Pain comes to those we love, and we conclude that there is no justice. Why does God permit this? Anxiety seeps into our hearts. We have the precarious feeling of living under a Damoclean sword. When will the ax fall on me? If such a terrible thing could happen to my friend who is good, how long until I get mine?”4

The Damoclean sword (“the threat of imminent harm”) that is Shackleton’s story reminds me that it’s so often not the big things that bring us down; even we midgets somehow summon the courage to face obvious life-threatening challenges. Rather, it’s the everyday holocausts that carry the leverage to take us out—the sucker punches that buffet us when all we’re trying to do is raise our kids, work our jobs, and make sure we have perpetual access to a good four-dollar cup of coffee.

The Attack of the Termites

In an email response to a close friend who’d written to encourage us, my wife chronicled our own infestation of termites after a church leader blindsided us with a painful accusation, leaving us feeling

pummeled and crushed:

Life has simply been overwhelming for me. I

received your emails after a very trying and exhausting

time. I haven’t had the energy to respond. Your

words were nourishing for my soul. Actually, it was

hard to really take them in. I wanted to dismiss

them in light of what recently happened to Rick

and me. On top of [the accusation], in the last ten


• Both of our cars have needed expensive

repairs—Rick’s just suddenly stopped

on the street and could have led to a

catastrophic accident if it had been on

the highway where he does most of his


• We have mounting financial pressures

from my extraordinary medical care, and

we’re scrambling to find ways to address


• Emma broke two bones in her wrist the

night before we were to leave for Seattle for

a friend’s wedding—we spent the night in

the emergency room with her, wondering

if we should simply cancel the trip.

• A copper water pipe broke in our crawl

space, pouring water into our basement

area an hour before we were to leave for

the airport.

• I reached a tipping point in my parenting

challenges, and we went to meet with a

family therapist this week to deal with our


• Our garage door broke, leaving us stranded

in our house an hour before Rick was to go

and teach a new class at church.

• I started on an antidepressant drug because

things just became too overwhelming for


No, there are no capital-T tragedies on this list—they are simply the vanguard of the army of rock-eating termites. And, as you might suspect from your own termite infestations, a little over a month after my wife wrote this note we’d already fumigated most of them.…

• We’d met face-to-face with the person who’d

accused us and had started down the path toward


• We’d somehow found a way to fix both cars.

• We’d refinanced our house to put ourselves in a

better financial situation.

• My six-year-old daughter, Emma, was out of her

cast and somersaulting around the house again.

• We’d met twice with a family counselor, and our

home environment was much more peaceful and


• A plumber fixed our water pipe while we were

away in Seattle.

• The garage door is as good as new.

• The mild antidepressant Bev took helped stabilize

a downward spiral of emotions.

No one died. No one was abducted by aliens or Richard Simmons. No one gave up or gave in. But for a long while we wondered how much we could handle before the walls crumbled around us, as Aragorn and his warrior companions must have felt defending the gates of Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers. So we survived the swarm … again. And the wizard Gandalf thunders down the mountain with his army of horsemen to save the fighters at Helm’s Deep—a day-late rescue that smells a lot like most of our own rescues.5 But what’s left of our ramparts after the assault? Smashed walls. The dead. The traumatized survivors. I’ve always heard that “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”—well, it might also be true that “whatever doesn’t kill you maims you.” We walk with limps, but we hide them well behind our stiff upper lips.

Max Lucado writes: “Many live their lives in the shadows. Many never return. Some dismiss…. ‘Well, everybody has a little slip now and then.’ Some deny…. ‘These aren’t bruises. These aren’t cuts. I’m as healthy as I’ve ever been. Me and Jesus? We are tight.’ Some distort…. ‘I’m not to blame. It’s his fault. It’s society’s responsibility…. Don’t point the finger at me.’ When we fall, we can dismiss it. We can deny it. We can distort it. Or we can deal with it.”6

We know this truth about following Christ: Pain abounds, but grace abounds more. But is this alchemy mutually dependent? Has God decreed that we gorge on one to taste the other? And why is it such a certainty that pain abounds?

One of my favorite songs is Tonio K.’s “You Will Go Free”—the first stanza perfectly sums up what C. S. Lewis called “the problem of pain”:

You’ve been a prisoner …

Been a prisoner all your life

Held captive in an alien world

Where they hold your need for love to your throat like a knife

And they make you jump

And they make you do tricks

They take what started off such an innocent heart

And they break it and break it and break it

Until it almost can’t be fixed 7

Pain breaks and breaks and breaks. It’s as if we stumbled into the middle of the gods at batting practice, our heads repeatedly mistaken for the ball. And in the devastated emotional landscape that remains after our breaking, these questions sit in the rubble:

• “Who are the ‘they’ that are ‘breaking and breaking

and breaking’ my heart?”

• “Why are ‘they’ doing this to me?”

• “Why does God feel like such a fickle ally—if

He’s supposed to be for me, why does it so often

seem that He’s against me?”

• “Where can I find relief, and what will it cost me

to get it?”

• “What can I do to stop this from happening

again, and who will show me the secret formula?”

• “How will I go on, now that I know this can and

will happen to me?”

Our False GPS

Our questions about the pummeling we experience seem scandalous— we know we’re not supposed to ask them out loud in polite company. Our job is to be good soldiers, keeping our noses to life’s grindstone

even when God seems terribly unconcerned about the rock-eating termites chewing away at us. So we stumble our way around in the dark, trusting a kind of false GPS for our souls—the fundamental belief that the universe rewards good people with a good life and punishes bad people with their just deserts. When bad things happen to good people our first reaction is disbelief and amazement—it’s a sucker punch—because “it doesn’t make sense.” Right? Our GPS is no help here. And even though we wouldn’t phrase it just this way, we treat the universe of non-good people as if it were as tiny as a mustard seed—Hitler, for sure, and Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden and Pol Pot and child sexual abusers and the DMV in general. But pretty much all the people we know consider themselves “good” and therefore fundamentally undeserving of the beating they’re taking from the pain actually meant for the tiny secret society of “bad people.”

Peterson writes:

We have been told the lie ever since we can

remember: human beings are basically nice and

good. Everyone is born equal and innocent and

self-sufficient. The world is a pleasant, harmless

place. We are born free. If we are in chains now, it

is someone’s fault, and we can correct it with just a

little more intelligence or effort or time.

How we can keep on believing this after so

many centuries of evidence to the contrary is

difficult to comprehend, but nothing we do and

nothing anyone else does to us seems to disenchant

us from the spell of the lie. We keep expecting

things to get better somehow. And when they

don’t, we whine like spoiled children who don’t

get their way.8

Several years ago I surveyed almost ten thousand Christian teenagers and adults serving together in a summer outreach program and asked them this question: “Can a good person earn eternal salvation through good deeds?”9 One out of five Christian adults answered yes, and twice that percentage of teenagers agreed. And, I have to say, I think these were just the honest ones. After decades spent asking

Christian people questions like this one and comparing their answers to how they—and I—actually live, I’m positive that most of those who answered with the theologically correct no are functionally living

their lives in contradiction to their beliefs. I mean, we say it’s God’s goodness, not ours, that saves us. But you’ll understand your own “functional theology” when you realize how quickly you get defensive when someone hints that all is not “well with your soul” or how quickly you think ill of someone who’s going through repeated hardships.

As an elder at my church I’m on the list to receive a weekly report of all the prayer requests that have been formally submitted to us. I’ve noticed that there are a handful of people who always show up on the list, and I’ve also noticed that I must fight the temptation to agree with a subtle-but-brazen judgment that whispers in my head: “That person must be messed up.” Can you relate? If you can, we’re both in the company of Job’s friends, who were pretty sure the great man was hiding his festering sins under a legendary veneer of goodness. And they were even more sure that God had pointed a sewer pipe of catastrophic circumstances at their friend and opened wide the valve, essentially blasting away at him with the brown stuff until he admitted what had to be true—that he deserved what he was getting. In the functional theology of Job’s friends—and, as it turns out, our own—God is well qualified to work as an interrogator at Guantanamo Bay or Abu Ghraib. He will surface what we’re hiding by torturing it out of us….

This is exactly why the book of Job is known by most but studied by few—its premise frightens and confuses us. Good thing the outcome is a fairy-tale ending, or the whole thing would be unendurable—an even less likely choice for the midweek women’s Bible study. Job’s friends, later discredited and lambasted by God, believe exactly what we believe: that no matter what we tell ourselves to the contrary, good people are rewarded in life and bad people are punished. The certainty of this equation means that Job, because of his kitchen sink full of tragedies, must assuredly be hiding some secret (and whopper) sins. His friends’ approach to counseling makes logical sense—reveal what you’ve done wrong, repent of it, and maybe God will turn off the spigot.

So some of us, following the advice of Job’s friends, respond by repeatedly begging for God’s blanket forgiveness for the vaguest of sins or by finding someone or something to blame for our catastrophes.

Many more of us respond by determining to work ever harder to be good, or by keeping our bad carefully camouflaged, or by vowing to trudge on under an ever-increasing burden of doubt and guilt—or by metaphorically jabbing our finger at God and threatening to outwit and outlast Him, as if we were the last two competitors on Survivor. In the seasons of our lives when we feel as if we can relate to Job, we often struggle with shame. It’s the shame of our failure to measure up to God’s exacting standards of goodness, the same unreasonable shame that Job’s friends “gifted” their friend with.

We Still Haven’t Found What We’re Looking For

One Saturday afternoon, I was running errands in my car and listening to National Public Radio’s award-winning show This American Life. Host Ira Glass is the medium for the life stories of average people

who’ve experienced extraordinary moments. On this day, I was captured by the story of a young woman, Trisha Sebastian, whose best friend had died suddenly from an aggressive cancer. She told Glass that

her friend was “such a good person,” and, therefore, her death was all the more a tragedy. Why, she asked, would God allow “someone like me to still be here when someone like Kelly … who spread so much good throughout the world, in her own little way … it just doesn’t make sense.” This was the reason, she told Glass, that she no longer believed in God. Soon after her friend’s death, Sebastian decided on a whim to contact a Christian football coach who’d been in the news recently. The coach had encouraged his school’s fans to root for their opponent, a team made up of kids from a juvenile detention center. Sebastian was looking for answers about her friend’s death, for a pathway back to God, and she admired what this man had done. “I’d been struggling with this grief that I feel over my friend’s death, and I thought that he would be able to counsel me and console me,” she told Glass. “And what happened instead was that he basically brought out argument after argument, like, saying that the theory of evolution is contradicted by a seventh-grader’s textbook, and—” Glass broke in to say, “Oh, I see—he was trying to argue with you about the existence of God instead of trying to comfort you.” Sebastian responded, “Yeah, I think that was it.… And that completely turned me off towards him. And now I’m left with all of these questions…. Deep down, I really want to believe again.” So Glass suggested she call the coach again, with him on the line, so that her real questions about her friend’s death could be addressed.

But instead of directly focusing on her fears and confusion, the coach tried to explain the ramifications of original sin to her. And that left the desperate, grieving woman full of angst and unanswered questions. I listened to the whole interchange and could feel my own tension mount as the coach tried to answer this disconsolate woman with an earnest lesson in apologetics. When she asked the coach to, instead, help her understand a God who would do this kind of thing, he responded: “This is the most common question that folks who are anti-God ask—this is the most common objection to God. Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? You have to understand that sin entered the world through one person: Adam.

Now, if you read what the Bible says happened as a result of sin, every single person who’s ever been born was born into sin—” And at this point Sebastian interrupted him with this: “So, I’m sorry to break in, but you’re saying cancer is caused by sin?”

As earnest and good-hearted as the coach was, his explanations did nothing to bring peace to Sebastian’s soul. We, like her, just don’t understand the basic unfairness of pain. Even though we’ve prayed and read books and listened to sermons and talked to wise friends, we agree with Bono’s wail—“I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

Ultimately, the “Why this pain?” question haunts us because we’re profoundly unsatisfied with the answers we get. I’m inexorably drawn to Shackleton’s story at the same time I’m haunted by it, like a moth circling a bug light at night. It’s a mystery, and the solutions our theological Sherlocks offer us don’t seem to solve it for us. They explain it, it makes sense, and it does nothing to calm our souls. That’s because the Job story hints at something that is simply unacceptable—that not only does God Himself not intervene in all of our tragedies, He’s actually a coconspirator in some of them. If our good God, like a double agent, can unpredictably join in the destructive schemes of our enemy, “how great is the darkness” (Matt. 6:23)? In the wake of his twenty-five-year old son’s death in a climbing accident, philosopher and Yale University professor Nicholas Wolterstorff wrote:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of

heaven and earth and resurrecter of Jesus Christ. I

also believe that my son’s life was cut off in its prime.

I cannot fit these pieces together. I am at a loss. I have

read the theodices produced to justify the ways of

God to man. I find them unconvincing. To the most

agonized question I have ever asked I do not know

the answer. I do not know why God would watch

him fall. I do not know why God would watch me

wounded. I cannot even guess.11

These are not entertaining mysteries—they are mysteries that wound and pummel and empty us. We can’t help ourselves; we’re driven to extremes just as King David was in the Psalms: “Why do You stand afar off, O LORD? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?” (Ps. 10:1). This is why the conspiracy embedded in Job’s story is so unnerving to us, and it would be even more so if it wasn’t relegated to the Old Testament where, we tell ourselves, the stories seem so distant and over the top that they’re really more like moralistic fairy tales than actual accounts of actual people and their actual dealings with God. So we put stories like this not on the back burner of our lives but hidden under the stove where we don’t have to really look at them … ever.

But these stories, like cockroaches, keep creeping out from under the stove—especially at night, when the lights go out. We’re reading along in the comfortable environment of the Jesus-loves-me New Testament and we ram right into a story about Him that, finally, makes it nearly impossible to avoid the scary truth. It happens at the end of the Last Supper, right before Jesus is betrayed, stripped, scourged, paraded through the streets, and nailed to a cross:

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,

saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood,

which is poured out for you. But the hand of him

who is going to betray me is with mine on the table.

The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but

woe to that man who betrays him.” They began to

question among themselves which of them it might

be who would do this.

Also a dispute arose among them as to which

of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said

to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over

them; and those who exercise authority over them

call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be

like that. Instead, the greatest among you should

be like the youngest, and the one who rules like

the one who serves. For who is greater, the one

who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not

the one who is at the table? But I am among you as

one who serves. You are those who have stood by

me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom,

just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you

may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and

sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as

wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your

faith may not fail. And when you have turned back,

strengthen your brothers.”

But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with

you to prison and to death.”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the

rooster crows today, you will deny three times that

you know me.” (Luke 22:20–34 NIV)

Here we are at the Last Supper, with the cross shading every interaction, and Jesus turns to Peter and reveals something that’s most certainly happening behind the scenes, right then at history’s crossroads.

He confides in Peter, like a friend who whispers in your ear what the neighbors really think of you, that Satan has asked to “sift [him] like wheat.” And, even more disturbing than this revelation, Jesus doesn’t reassure Peter that He will not allow this terrible thing to happen—instead, He tells him that He has prayed that his “faith may not fail” and “when you have turned back, [that you would] strengthen your brothers.” This “sifting” is going to happen, it’s going to happen with Jesus’ permission, and it’s going to happen for a reason.

You Will Go Free

Is it possible that God is a coconspirator in our own stories of sifting?

And if so, what is He really after in us?

And however I answer this question, can anything be worth the price of the pain I’ve experienced, or will soon?

In this story—in these three sentences uttered by Jesus to Peter— He pulls back the curtain on what’s happening, all the time, in an unseen spiritual world where the forces of darkness demand entrée into our lives. He also bares His goodness. I know this makes no sense on the face of it—our realities are too cruel and the pain too central for the shallow and offensive formulas that are pandered to us. But this is no formula—it’s a journey into the deeper recesses of the heart of God, a path well stumbled by the saints of God throughout history and in the lives of those who’ve had the biggest impact for good in our own lives.

All of the people and books and music and films you and I love the most are encrusted, like priceless jewels, with pain. Name something that captures your heart that was not formed by pain. It’s ironic, of course, that pain repels us more fundamentally than anything else in life but it produces things that are magnetic to us. Why do we live in fear of pain while, at the same time, we find ourselves drawn to its “produce” in the people and stories of our lives? And why does all great art, and why do all truly great people, seem positively marinated in pain?

The mystery of our sifting is a trek into the kind of raw intimacy God once shared with His beloved Adam and Eve—it is the brutal outworking of redemption, hope, and joy in our lives. But the journey

is no stroll—it’s an epic and terrible adventure. A treasure hunt.

And that treasure is our freedom.

Paul reminds us of the fundamentals: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Gal. 5:1 NIV). And, it turns out, the “epic and terrible adventure” that is the story of our journey from bondage to freedom is fraught with danger and heartbreak. Danger is an essential aspect of any adventure; without danger, it’s not really an adventure. Stopping to buy a cup of coffee does not qualify as an adventure, but it might if you’re in Baghdad. Landing an airplane on a runway is usually no adventure, but it is if your runway is the Hudson River. The danger we must face down in our own adventures is the threat of the rock-eating termites—it’s the pain that eats away at us and the terrible offense of our sifting. But the point of our lives is not the pain—we are not pawns of a capricious deity or the collateral damage of an ancient metaphysical feud. We are prisoners—freedom is our only hope and sifting is its currency.

While the first stanza in Tonio K.’s song “You Will Go Free” describes the “breaking and breaking and breaking” we experience in life, his refrain is the counterpoint—it exactly describes the promise that carries us through the tunnel of our darkness:

Well, I don’t know when

And I don’t know how

I don’t know how long it’s gonna take

I don’t know how hard it will be

But I know

You will go free12

Copyright 2011 Rick Lawrence. Sifted published by David C Cook.

Publisher permission required to reproduce in any format or quantity. All rights reserved.

My Review
Sifted by Rick Lawrence
What will your troubles reveal about you?
Does life seem overwhelming for you? Does everything seem to go wrong at the same time? Has your life been ripped out from under you, and you’ve lost most everything that meant anything to you?
Well, you need the book Sifted! I have heard several people say that people are at one of 3 stages in their life. You have just come through a difficult time, you are going through difficult times at this moment, or you are heading into difficult times in the future. Which means, at some time or another, we all face troubles and trials, difficult times whether it be financial, home life, infidelity, divorce, sickness, loss of a loved one, whatever it may be, we all face these times.
Rick Lawrence has written a powerful and encouraging book about how to face difficult trials in our life. He helps us to see that even though God doesn’t cause the difficult times, He allows us to go through them, sifting the bad things from our lives, and leaving the good so that our lives might glorify Him. When people see how we handle trials, they will see who we really are.
I encourage everyone to purchase a copy of the powerful book, keep it around handy for a reference when you face things you don’t understand. I think you will find encouragement, joy and peace in what the Lord is doing through you!
I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher David Cook through B&B media Group and FIRST WildCard Tours. I was not expected or required to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine alone.

Welcome to the blog tour for Shellie Rushing Tomlinson’s hilarious new series!

About Sue Ellen’s Girl Ain’t Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy: The bestselling author of Suck Your Stomach In & Put Some Color On! returns with more helpful how-to’s and keen observations from Dixie .


Guided by principles from the ancient Belle Doctrine, the host of radio and television’s All Things Southern offers down-home advice on everything from health and fitness-managing thy caloric calculations without going Straight Running Crazy and surviving the Raging Inferno Syndrome (aka hot flashes)-to the Southern art of handling your man (Bubba Whispering). Whether giving business tips or debunking the Big Boned Theory, making political observations or celebrating the inevitable resurgence of big hair, Shellie is an adviser women can relate to and laugh with regardless of their age or which side of the Mason-Dixon they call home.


Link to buy the book:

My Review

This is my first book by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson and I was in for a surprise. Shellie is the creator of All Things Southern, and strives to give everyone tips and lessons on the southern life. Being a southerner, I appreciated her efforts and could identify with some of her sayings. She just has such a extremely funny way to teaching. I have to say the same as Jeff Foxworthy’s quote on the front of the book, It is truly a Laugh Out Loud book!

Shellie covers many topics in this book including gas(and yes you heard me right!), hot flashes, health and fitness, that huge big hair, weight gain, being big boned, and how to handle bubba with food, and yes she had those recipes right in the book. In fact at the end of each chapter you will find recipes and great tips, and so funny too!

Since this is really a woman’s book, I highly recommend this to all women. We all need laughs in our lives to brighten our mood, and this book will surely do that.

I was provided a copy of this book by LitFuse Publicity Group in exchange for a review. I was not required or expected to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are mine only.



About Shellie:  Shellie Rushing Tomlinson and her husband Phil live and farm in the Louisiana Delta. Shellie is the author of Lessons Learned on Bull Run Road, Twas the Night Before the Very First Christmas, Southern Comfort with Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and the Penguin Group USA release, Suck Your Stomach In and Put Some Color On, voted Nonfiction Finalist of 2009 by SIBA Independent Booksellers Alliance.

Tomlinson is owner and publisher of All Things Southern and the host of the weekly radio show All Things Southern as well as a weekly video segment by the same name. Listeners also hear Shellie in her All Things Southern radio segments aired across the South. Shellie writes a weekly inspirational feature in Newsstar and a monthly print and online column for Lousiana Road Trips.

When Shellie isn’t writing, speaking, taping her show, answering email or writing content for the next deadline, you can find her playing tennis with Dixie Belle, (the chocolate lab who thinks she is in charge of running Shellie’s life).



About the Facebook Party
To celebrate the Sue Ellen’s release, Shellie is having a Facebook Party!  

  Join Shellie and the gang on June 2nd at 5:00 PM PST (6 MST, 7 CST, 8 EST) for a Southern style shin-dig! She’ll be dishing on Bubba Whispering, debunking the Big Boned Theory, and how to manage going Straight Running Crazy. If you don’t know what any of that is, then be sure to pick up a copy of the book (Not necessary to join the fun! Who knows – you might win a copy!) and join us at 5:00 pm on June 2nd at Shellie’s Facebook page. And tell your friends – she’s giving away copies of her books and some great gift certificates.





Julie at The Surrendered Scribe
Wendy at Wall-to-Wall books
Tarena at Laughing Family

Susie at Scraps of Life
Glenda at Authors Book Corner
Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Heidi at Starts At Eight
Karla at Ramblin’ Roads
Hope at A Little Hope…Amidst the Chaos

Lena at A Christian Writer’s World
Tracye at A Heart Poured Out
at The Book Tree

5/ 23
Kim at Window To My World
Books, Etc…by Bina
Mollie at The Gandy’s Home Base

Danielle at The Happy Wife
Deanna at Domestic Chicky
Vic’s Media Room

Deanna’s Corner
Julie at Book Hooked Blog
April at Pinkie and The Bean

Caroline at Happy Four
Splashes Of Joy
Wendy at Minding Spot

Megan at Homeschoolin’ Mama
Rhiana at A Frugal Life
Theresa at Frugal Experiments

Tina at Mad Hatter Mom
Deb’s Here
Hayley at Hanging Off The Wire

Jenn’s RAQ
Whitney at Rambles of a SAHM
Jamie at Little Blurbs

Prerna at The Mom Writes
Mel’s World with Melissa Mashburn
Margaret at Kitchen Chat
Kim at 2 Kids and a Coupon

Angela at All Grown Up?
Alexia at The Mommy Rambles
Lauren at 5 Minutes for Books
Robin at Scribbles of the Heart

Jennifer at Adventures in Unsell Land
Lisa at Make Your Own Escape
Barb at Rural Mom

I Am His by Rita Pratt Book Review

I Am His

Publisher: NavPress

ISBN-13: 9781600063879

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

Cover: Paperback

128 Pages


Do you ever wonder if God really loves you, even though you know you are forgiven, that He saved you and you will live forever with him? In this 8 week Bible Study, Rita J. Platt explains how we can Experience the Comfort of Abba’s, our Heavenly Father’s love for us. The chapters in this study are: Abba Father; Chosen to Belong; The Father’s Love; In His Arms; Under His Wings; Through Abba’s Eyes; A Generous Father; and A Daughter’s Inheritance.

I chose this book because it was a study of how much God loves us. When going through difficult time, and at other times for no apparent reason, I wonder if God really loves me like the Bible says. It sounds really ungrateful, but these feelings happen to so many people. I was in awe reading and studying through this book as the author gives scripture after scripture, as well as phrases, sentences, and statements concerning Gods real love for His children. I really enjoyed Rita Platt’s study, and you can feel her heart in what she is teaching.

Some of the things that really jumped out at me are:
1.  You are in Christ. You are a daughter of the King. You are crowned with beauty, adorned with praise, and a new creation displaying the amazing love of your Father.
2.  When Abba looks at you. He sees one who is in Christ. He sees potential, uniqueness, treasure, and beauty. His eyes glow with tenderness and love as He fixes His gaze on you.
3.  Ask your Abba Father to be present with you in the midst of each situation, to hold you, and to help you receive His compassion and Comfort.
4.  Our Father knows our deepest need and the fragile nature of our spirits. Regardless of our source of distress, we are restored as we flee to the quiet strength of His loving arms.
5.  What are some new names your Abba Father might have for you? Picture yourself becoming a person who reflects your new name. What might that look like in your daily life?

And this is just a tip of the iceberg ladies, just enough to peak your interest. If you have a Sunday School class or a small or even large ladies study group; this would be an awesome study for you. Regardless of how we feel about God’s love, we can all learn so much from this study. We can never study enough about our Abba Father’s love for each of us.

I want to thank NavPress for providing me a copy of this book to read and review. The review and opinions are mine only. I was not requested or expected to write a positive review of this Bible Study. I wrote what I felt from my heart.

About the Author

Rita Platt is a speaker, writer, and workshop leader who focuses on delighting in and experiencing deeper relationship with God. She is passionate about knowing the Lord with her head and her heart and inspiring others to walk in intimate relationship with him. Currently, she’s pursuing an MA in professional counseling with an emphasis on soul care. Rita holds a BA in communication (graduating magna cum laude) and a certificate in women and evangelism from the Billy Graham Center. She also participated in Leighton Ford’s Evangelism Leadership Conference.

Rita served as counseling coordinator at the Colorado Springs Pregnancy Center. She is a trained Parenting with Love and Logic facilitator and has authored the articles “Silent Release” and “Advice For Parents of Prodigals.” Rita; her husband, Thom; and Schipperke puppy, Lucy, recently relocated to Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Rita loves and is involved in music, performance art, and visual arts. Her hobbies include tracking down and photographing waterfalls, knitting, and reading.

Purchase this book at Amazon   and at  Goodreads  and at NavPress

First Wild Card Tour Book Review Lonely Girl, Gracious God

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:
Lauri Khodabandehloo

and the book:

Lonely Girl, Gracious God

Deep River; Reprint edition (March 15, 2011)

***Special thanks to Arielle Roper of Bring it On! Communications for sending me a review copy.***


Chicken Soup for the Soul contributor Lauri Khodabandehloo has written many stories speaking of the special bond between those who are challenged with a developmental disability and the people who love them. Lauri lives with her husband in Eugene, Oregon and remains active in the autism community.

Visit the author’s website.


Embrace this mother’s deeply personal account of tragedies and triumphs, along with joys and sorrows of raising a child with the devastating disability of autism.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 266 pages
Publisher: Deep River; Reprint edition (March 15, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935265466
ISBN-13: 978-1935265467


A Rough Start

When I found out I was pregnant in July of 1980, it took me completely by surprise. But instead of feeling overjoyed about the news, I dreaded telling my husband. For seven long years, Cody had been working hard to save up enough money to buy his own restaurant, and it looked as if his American dream was finally going to come true. A fourth child would put an additional strain on our finances and might even jeopardize Cody’s plans, which was the last thing I wanted to see happen.

We had also agreed five years earlier, after our daughter Farah was born, that we wouldn’t have any more children. Cody had desperately wanted a son, but he had come to terms with his disappointment and accepted that it wasn’t meant to be. Since then, I had been on birth control and never dreamed I would end up pregnant again.

Now it looked as if Cody might get his boy-child after all, but I wasn’t sure how he’d react, so I decided to put off telling him for a few months—at least until I began to show.

By September, I realized I couldn’t conceal my secret any longer, so I thought up a roundabout way of breaking the news.

After dinner one evening, Cody retreated to the living room and settled into his usual spot on the couch for a little television. I had strategically placed a greeting card on a side table next to the couch so he would be sure to notice it. The card was black and had only one word in gold script across the front: Congratulations! Inside, I had simply written “. . . on number four.”

I watched from the kitchen doorway as Cody checked to see what was on the news and then glanced at the card, just as I’d hoped he would. I held my breath as he reached over and picked it up, read the front, and then opened it to see what was inside.

He stared at the card for a moment and then turned to look at me. I could feel his eyes burning a hole in my head as he waited for me to respond, but I pretended not to notice, fixing my attention on the TV screen.

After a moment, he said in a quiet voice, “For real?”

I nodded silently without looking at him, then turned and retreated to the kitchen to busy myself with cleaning up. I couldn’t bear to see his reaction as the news began to sink in.

Cody didn’t say a word about the pregnancy for several weeks, and I wasn’t about to bring up the subject for discussion. Doing so would only have ignited a conflict I didn’t want to have. It seemed the better part of wisdom to give him plenty of time and space to process things. I knew he’d say something when he was ready.

When Cody finally broke his silence, he told me he wanted to schedule a vasectomy. He seemed just as shocked as I had been that I was pregnant. We couldn’t understand how something like this could have happened when we’d been so careful.

Having another baby was the last thing either of us wanted at this point in our marriage. Cody didn’t want, or need, another mouth to feed as he was preparing to buy his first restaurant, and I had grown weary of the responsibilities of being a mother.

For years I had been longing for a life of my own that would allow me the freedom to experience things I felt I’d missed out on because I had married so young. I had practically been a child when I married my high school sweetheart at eighteen, and by the time I was twenty, I had two baby girls to care for. I wasn’t ready to take on such weighty responsibilities, but ready or not, I had to grow up fast and learn how to meet the needs of the little ones who were depending on me.

At twenty-five, I had gone through a painful divorce and struggled to cope with the demands of caring for two young daughters on my own. Then I met Cody. We both worked at a restaurant in San Jose, he as a busboy and I as a waitress. This handsome, dark-skinned man from Iran had the whitest teeth I’d ever seen and a sparkling personality to match. He spoke very little English, and what he did say was always laced with a thick Middle Eastern accent. He charmed me with his dazzling white smile and wit, and he showered attention on me and my girls.

In just a matter of weeks, I found myself strangely attracted to this man who came from a part of the world I knew nothing about. Even though Cody and I barely knew each other and certainly didn’t love each other, marriage held undeniable benefits for us both. A couple of turbulent years trying to survive as a single mother had taken their toll, and I couldn’t handle the stress anymore. Marrying Cody seemed like the best solution, especially for my girls. Many years later I’d learn that Cody never believed in “falling in love.” In his country, a couple are married first—love and respect come later.

After a whirlwind courtship, Cody and I took a weekend trip to Reno, Nevada, and got married at the county courthouse on June 12, 1972. Before the ceremony, my heart had screamed at me not to go through with it. I even prayed that God would intervene. But the terror of going on alone with two young daughters to care for overpowered common sense, and I ignored any reservations I had.

As Cody and I left the courthouse that day, I told myself that I had married for the sake of my children and would learn to love Cody in time.

Three years later, Farah made her grand entry into the world, and I resigned myself to another long wait before I could spread my wings and fly.

Now, at thirty-three, I was pregnant with my fourth child and knew that I would be stuck in my stay-at-home-mom role for another five or six years. Freedom had been so close, I could taste it. My teenage daughters, Lisa and Lainee, were involved with their own friends and activities, and my six-yearold, Farah, had just started kindergarten. With all of my girls in school, I had been looking forward to time to myself in the mornings to run errands or talk on the phone without interruption, plan a coffee klatch with my girlfriend Randee, or just sit and watch a TV program that didn’t contain the loud and silly antics of colorful cartoon characters. But my wings had been clipped once again, and I was devastated.

Some women in my situation might have considered terminating the pregnancy, but that was never an option for me. I had no right to end a life that God had created. In my heart I knew he had a reason for letting me become pregnant, though I didn’t have a clue what it was. I was also living with the painful memories of a D&C procedure I’d had after Cody and I married. I never knew whether I had actually been pregnant; the doctor said the test was inconclusive but that after seven weeks he’d be unable to proceed with any kind of “remedy.” Though I’d consented to go ahead as planned, I couldn’t bear the thought that I might have naively allowed the doctor to end a life that was a few weeks along. The experience left me devastated and overwhelmed with guilt, nearly plunging me into a breakdown. No, I would never allow that to happen again under any circumstance! Besides, no matter how I felt about having another child, I just couldn’t deprive Cody of one last chance to have a son.

This fourth pregnancy turned out to be the most difficult one I’d ever experienced. Early on, I sensed that something wasn’t right, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then, at around five and a half months, the baby started kicking. I thought it would taper off in time, but instead, the jabbing became relentless, making my days miserable and robbing me of the few precious hours of sleep I so desperately needed.

As the weeks passed, the pain and lack of sleep became unbearable, reducing me to tears at all hours of the day and night. I finally pleaded with my obstetrician to take the baby by C-section, but he just shook his head and looked at me as if I had to be kidding.

I wasn’t.

“It feels like I’m being beat up from the inside!” I pleaded with him, trying to describe the pain. “I can’t take it anymore!”

The doctor responded sympathetically, but I suspected he thought I was overreacting. I also knew that as a devout Catholic, he would never perform a C-section at this stage of the pregnancy if there was even the slightest risk to the baby or me.

When I told him how difficult it was to get even an hour of sleep at night, he showed me how to lie on my side to ease the pain without causing the baby any discomfort. I had already tried that—I had tried everything I could think of to find relief—but I decided it would do no good to argue with him. I had great respect for this man who had taken care of me through all my pregnancies, and I knew he meant well even though he didn’t understand what I was going through. I resigned myself to crying my nights away and coping as best I could until the baby arrived.

At seven months into the pregnancy, I began to feel an overwhelming sense of foreboding. It wasn’t the normal apprehension and fears most women experience during pregnancy as their bodies change and hormone levels fluctuate. It was a deep knowing, an intuition that something was terribly wrong with my unborn child.

One evening at home, I cried out to God, “Please let this baby be okay.” I felt desperately alone as I sobbed and rocked back and forth on the couch. Even though I hadn’t wanted or planned to have another baby, I couldn’t bear the thought that this child might not be normal and healthy.

These ominous feelings hung over me like a storm cloud throughout the rest of my pregnancy. I didn’t understand why I felt this way, but it seemed as if something, or someone, was whispering in my ear, telling me that I needed to accept what was coming.

One afternoon as I was taking a nap, I dreamed that I heard a loud flapping outside the house. When I got up and opened the front door, I saw thousands of angels filling the sky, their white robes shimmering in the sun as they soared heavenward. I stepped out onto the porch, longing to go with them, but an angel with a white beard looked at me and shook his head. I knew immediately that he was telling me I needed to stay put; it wasn’t my time to go.

When I awoke from my nap, the dream seemed so real that I got up and went outside to see if it had actually happened.

Strange dreams are common during pregnancy, but I felt certain that God was speaking to me, telling me that I needed to wait on him no matter how difficult the pregnancy was.

As my delivery date approached, I could hardly wait to be free of the burden I’d been carrying the past nine months. I imagined the relief I would feel when my agony finally came to an end. I mentally ticked off the days, until late in the evening on February 19, I felt my water break and told Cody that it was time to go to the hospital.

We promised our girls that we would call as soon as we had some news, and then we headed for Sacred Heart Hospital. All of my children had been born there, so I knew the baby and I would be in good hands. The familiar surroundings and the kind, upbeat nurses always put me at ease.

Cody and I were lost in our own thoughts on the drive to the hospital. All I could think about was that this war going on inside my belly would be over in a few short hours. I was certain this rambunctious child was a boy and that Cody would be elated. But those thoughts didn’t soften the jarring reality that I would soon be the reluctant mother of four.

When we arrived at the hospital, I waddled into the ER with Cody by my side. The receptionist at the front desk welcomed me with a warm smile and summoned an attendant with a wheelchair. Since I’d already dispensed with the admissions paperwork a few days earlier, I was immediately taken to a large, open room on the maternity floor, where other expectant mothers in various stages of labor were waiting in smaller curtained areas for their turn in the delivery room. I could hear the low hum of private conversations throughout the room, punctuated by loud groans that issued from behind closed curtains.

The attendant wheeled me over to an empty exam area and helped me transfer my big belly onto a rolling gurney that would be whisked down the hall when my time came. As I shifted my weight around to get comfortable, a nurse arrived to examine me and announced that I’d be giving birth in the next few hours. I felt confident that this delivery would be quick and easy since my labors had become shorter with each of my previous deliveries.

After about an hour, I was moved out of the exam area into a private room to wait for my labor to begin. With my other children, labor had started immediately after my water broke, but this time, I felt nothing. Cody kept vigil with me but had trouble staying awake. The long hours he’d been putting in at El Kiosco, his restaurant, were taking their toll, so I convinced him to go home and get some sleep. I assured him I would call as soon as the contractions started.

After Cody left, I decided I might as well get a few precious moments of sleep before the agonies of childbirth began. I had started feeling some intermittent labor pains by this time, but they were so light I could easily ignore them.

I dozed off, grateful for the relative calm and hoping that the rest would give me extra stamina for the work ahead.

All of a sudden, searing jolts of pain in my lower back jarred me awake. I had no idea how long I’d been asleep, but as the pain increased and I struggled to focus on my breathing, I found myself thinking that I was way too old to be doing this again. Somehow I had a feeling that this delivery wasn’t going to be as quick and easy as I’d assumed it would be.

Waves of pain came and went, and I waited for what seemed like hours before a nurse finally appeared and announced, “We’ll take you to the delivery room when we have one available, but for now, we’ll just put you down the hallway. It shouldn’t be too long.”

Before I could ask what she meant, she whisked me out of the room, parked my gurney along the wall, and scurried off to assist a woman who was screaming so loudly I was sure she could be heard for miles. When the nurse finally returned, she examined me right there in the hallway, with hospital personnel and patients passing at will, and wondered aloud whether I could “hold off” until the delivery room was available. By then, my labor pains were so intense, I couldn’t have cared less about privacy. Just get this baby out of me! I silently screamed.

When I heard her say, “Okay, I think we can take you into delivery now!” I breathed a sigh of relief.

Someone grabbed the end of the gurney and sped me through an open door into the delivery room. The doctor immediately positioned himself at my feet, and I heard his familiar urgings, “Okay, now push!”

The nurse placed her hand between my shoulders and helped me raise up enough to give it my all. But nothing happened.

Again I heard the doctor say, “Now, Lauri, give me a good push!” And again my body failed me. I had no strength, no urge to push—nothing.

I could hear the urgency in the nurse’s voice as she came around to the head of the gurney to make sure I understood that I had to help deliver this baby before complications arose. But no matter how hard I tried to force my belly to expel this lingering infant, I had nothing to offer.

Another nurse came over to help out, and as the doctor urged me to try harder, he and both nurses put their hands on my stomach and tried to push the baby out. I kept telling them I didn’t know what was wrong. I couldn’t push. I couldn’t feel anything.

The doctor’s voice betrayed his concern as he firmly instructed his assistants as to what they should do next. I was near panic. Everyone kept assuring me that the baby was coming, but I was alarmed that my body was refusing to respond as it should. This had never happened during my other three births.

Finally the doctor pulled the baby free and quickly placed the newborn in the waiting arms of one of the nurses. As she rushed out of the delivery room, I caught a glimpse of the pale blue form in her hands.

“Is my baby okay?” I called to anyone within earshot. “Do you know if my baby’s okay?”

But no one seemed to hear me. All the attention was focused on the tiny infant, who had been taken to a small window-enclosed area adjoining the delivery room. I lifted my head to see the nurses bustling back and forth in the room and hovering over my newborn. Thankful for the care my little one was receiving, I rested quietly on the gurney, patiently waiting for someone to tell me what had happened. A faint cry reached my ears from the other room. Whatever was wrong, at least my baby was breathing.

Eventually, one of the white-gowned nurses came over and assured me that all was well. Rushing the baby out of the delivery room had been a “precautionary procedure,” she told me. They had just wanted to make sure the baby’s airway was clear so she could get plenty of oxygen.

She? The nurse smiled and announced that I had delivered a little girl—six pounds, five ounces. It really didn’t matter to me whether it was a boy or girl; I was just relieved the baby was all right. Nine months of agony had finally come to a welcome end.

Minutes later, another nurse entered the room carrying my newborn. She lifted the baby into the air so I could get a good look at her and then plopped her down on my chest. While I waited for Cody to arrive, I caressed her feather-soft head and gazed at her tiny body. I was amazed that such a small thing had caused so much turmoil.

When Cody finally entered the room and came over to where I lay, I knew what he was expecting to hear. I had been assuring him for months that he would finally have his boy-child.

“No baby girl ever felt like this!” I had insisted. “I’m positive this one’s a boy!”

I swallowed hard as I glanced at Cody and announced the news with as much enthusiasm as I could muster. I hoped he would give me a smile, a reassuring look, any sign that he was happy I had given him another little girl. But instead, a look of bitter disappointment washed over his face. His final hope of having a son had been crushed.

I knew that Cody would eventually get over his disappointment and embrace his youngest daughter with the same fatherly love he had always shown our other girls. But I was sad that I hadn’t been able to give him the baby boy he had wanted so badly.

Later, when I was settled in my hospital room, the nurse brought my newborn to me so I could breastfeed her.

“So you named her Farina—like the cereal?” she asked as she placed the baby in my waiting arms.

“Actually, it’s Fah-ree-mah,” I corrected, emphasizing the m sound. “My husband is Persian, and this name is popular in his country.”

As I held my little one, I noticed that she was having trouble sucking, but I didn’t think there was any need for concern. She had just gone through a traumatic delivery, so I really wasn’t surprised that she’d be too weak to suckle. With a little practice, she’d soon be nursing as well as any hungry newborn.

Farema looked so perfect as she lay fussing in my arms. All my worst fears of the past nine months melted away as I gazed at her angelic face. A baby this beautiful couldn’t possibly have anything wrong with her.

This fourth and last child of mine was already curling her tiny baby fingers around my heart. There was something extraordinary about her, and I sensed that God had something very special planned for her life.

What I didn’t know was that little Fee would turn my world upside down.


Lonely Girl, Gracious God

One main thing throughout the first half or so of this book was the mother Lauri in denial that her daughter has Autism. I wonder how different things would be if she had listened to the lady from church who visited her when Farema was just a few years old voicing her concerns. With friends, Drs, school teachers, test results and her own research on Autism, Lauri still would not accept that her child would not live a normal life. To me it was so sad that it took over 10 years for a diagnosis.

My heart went out to the family as the author described the family life they had for so many years, especially Farah, the child closest in age to Farema. She really had to suffer most, which must have been so difficult for her. She loved her sister so much, and yet couldn’t help her.

The amazing thing is how the skating changed Farema’s life for a season. And how awesome her fellow skaters and the instructors were with her, a truly heartwarming twist in the life of this young lady. And what a blessing for the parents to have peace knowing she was learning to take care of herself. But this was not to be throughout Farema’s life.

I was saddened as I read about the Autism consuming her life again. How devastating this had to be for her parents and family after watching her floating across the ice, working a part time job, and even living on her own for a while. At least they were able to see that special part of her life. It would truly be a blessing if someday a cure is found, or some medicine combination will be found to help Farema.

Farema is very blessed to have parents and family who love her, and a mother that was willing to go to the extremes trying to get help for her daughter. And after she was diagnosed with Autism, her family was there for her, loving her and doing whatever possible to reach out to her.

Even though I don’t know anyone with an Autism child, I am so glad I read this book to learn about this disability. I plan to give this book to someone who has a child with this disability. I feel it will help in a number of areas. One being, accept your child’s disability, please don’t deny it. He or she needs for you to find help early. Realize that the Lord has placed this child in your care, not to punish you, but to show you what He can and will do.

Thank you to Bring It On Communications! and Deep River Books for my free review book.

In Grandma’s Attic and More Stories of Grandma’s Attic Reviews

In Grandma’s Attic  by Arleta Richardson

In Grandma’s Attic:

List Price: $6.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781403790
ISBN-13: 978-0781403795

Arleta Richardson remembers stories her grandma told her from years ago when she was young. These stories in Book One range from the author remembering stories about Grandma’s Red Bonnet, Grandma’s Prayer, Pearl Buttons, Little Gray Shoes,  and my favorite The Pump. In this one, someone told Grandma not to do something, and of course she did anyway, and she suffered for it for a long time. You will find twenty one loving little stories as the author remembers her Grandma in this book.

I chose this book because I remember the days I sat with my Grandma and she told me stories of when she was a child and of when my dad, aunt and uncle was a child. I wanted to read someone else’s tales of the older days. This was a really nice getaway from other books I read. I laughed, cried, and enjoyed each heartwarming story as I read them. And of course I was sad realizing just as with my Grandma, life goes on after they are gone, and we miss them so much. But what a blessing that we can remember those we love in such ways. The author had a special relationship with her grandma that she always remembered. I recommend this book to anyway wanting a good fun getaway from life as it is.

The book was given to me by the publisher through B&B Media Group. I appreciate being able to read and review this book for them. I was not expected to give a positive review. The opinions of this review are mine only.

Purchase From Amazon


The late Arleta Richardson grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan. There, her storyteller grandmother recounted memories of her childhood on a 19th century farm, tales Arleta was inspired to share Arleta retells those tales vividly, stories that have now reached more than two million people around the world.


More Stories from Grandma’s Attic   By: Arleta Richardson

List Price: $6.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; 3 edition (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9780781403801
ISBN-13: 978-0781403801
ASIN: 0781403804

Again, the author is telling more stories from the grandma she lived with in Michigan. Her grandma tells of things that happened in the cabin and the farm house she and her parents lived in, along with her two brothers. It seems that they had fun getting into a little trouble now and then. In this book, you will find sixteen more stories, treasures from her grandma’s attic as she calls it. These are of some of the things she and her brother got into as youngsters.  In this one, there is a time an Indian comes to their house with a basket, upsetting them all, The Stranger, but did they ever find out his name? There was a Pig in a Poke and even a Pig in Baby Clothes. You will find more heartwarming stories when grandma was young.

And again, this is a great getaway book, for laughs, cries, sadness, and then just all around fun. The grandma lived in much simpler times that we live in today, and told stories that we would never think of.  I recommend this book to anyone. I think it can be enjoyed by adults and younger ones alike!

The book was given to me by the publisher through B&B Media Group. I appreciate being able to read and review this book for them. I was not expected to give a positive review. The opinions of this review are mine only

 Purchase from Amazon

“Holy Ambition” by: Chip Ingram ‘It’s Time for a Church That Shakes the World’

Holy Ambition by: Chip Ingram

It’s Time for a Church That Shakes the World

If the idea of walking with Jesus doesn’t make you uncomfortable, you haven’t thought seriously enough about His presence in your life.

The passed-down, packaged Jesus turns out to be quite different from the one who steps alive and kicking out of the pages of Scripture. Author, pastor and radio teacher Chip Ingram outlines what it takes to follow this renegade Jesus toward the idea of Holy Ambition. Stretching outside of your comfortable existence is just the beginning. This newly updated edition will bolster dislocated hearts and turn broken spirits toward radical, faith-filled strategies that make a difference for God right now.


Chip Ingram’s passion is to help Christians really live like Christians. As a pastor, author, coach,
and teacher for twenty-five years, Chip has helped people around the world breakout of spiritual ruts
to live out God’s purpose for their lives. Today, he serves as senior pastor of Venture Church in Los Gatos,
California, and president of Living on the Edge—an international teaching and discipleship ministry. He is
the author of eleven books, including his newest release, Living on the Edge: Dare to Experience True Spirituality,
Overcoming Emotions That Destroy and Good to Great in God’s Eyes. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four children
and six grandchildren.

GO HERE to read an excerpt from the book



This is a wonderful Bible Study taken from the book of Nehemiah. The author’s overall goal is to teach Christians how to live a life that Christ can use. Sometimes we think He can only use preachers, college graduates, bright and smart people, or those with a big name, but He is searching for anyone who will life totally whole heartily for Him. Chip Ingram gives us 6 steps to take to prepare for and engage in the Lord’s service.
These six steps are:
Developing a Dislocated Heart
Experiencing a Broken Spirit
Practicing a Radical Faith
Creating a Strategic Plan
Exercising Personal Commitment
Growing a Courageous Soul

As I read and studied this book, the author brought out so many things that I hadn’t thought about before. After reading each one of these chapters, I have a fresh insight of how our lives should be in order for God to use us effectively. In the chapter about Radical Faith, one paragraph that popped out at me was: “I believe if we’ll step out- not only because we think we are special, but because of who God is and what He has promised –  that God will show up! He will use you personally! He will move other believers to join you and do a work beyond your wildest dreams. That’s what He’s always done! If you step out in radical faith for God, you won’t be disappointed. “ (Page 93)

Another thing in the book was the heartwarming story of two sons encouraging the people going to the authors church to invite their parents to church because they were not Christians. The parents started coming, and shortly after, the mom was diagnosed with cancer. As Chip Ingram told how the church members took this couple under their wings, helping them in every way possible, I really realized, that’s what God wants us to do as Christians. This is a way that He can use even the simplest things to reach others for His Kingdom. The awesome benefit from their commitment to help this family was to see both mom and dad accept the Lord as their Savior. What a Blessing!

I have heard Chip Ingram many times on his radio program, but this is the first of his books I have read. His writings are just as his preaching, even though this is a deep study from Nehemiah, he explains everything in a way even the young can understand. This very intelligent man teaches in a way the simplest person can know what God is saying in these verses.

I would recommend this book to any Christian wanting to have a better relationship with the Lord. One who wants to know the Lord deeper and wants to be used of the Lord in a mighty way.

This book way generously provided to me by Moody Publishing. I was not obligated to write a positive review of this book. The review, and opinions in the book are completely mine.

Moody Publishers
Living on the Edge



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