Sunday, November 30, 2008

Various Reviews and "If the Dress Fits" Giveaway!

As I reach the end of our wonderful Thanksgiving weekend of reviews and giveaways I decided to do short reviews on a
bunch of different books I have read for fun lately - the last one
is a giveaway - but be sure to check them all out!

1) Shade by John Olson - this is an amazingly eerie book that makes you think and keeps your heart pounding through the entire book. What is Hailey experiencing? Is it vampires, hallucinations, mental illness? Who is the homeless giant? "Whom do you trust when you can't tell reality from fantasy?" I loved Hailey and Melchi, but spent the whole book trying to figure out if they were right for each other and who the bad guys were. Intriguing book and highly recommended for readers that love fantasy / sci-fi books. **** (4 stars) for originality


2) Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson - A story set in the 5th century in a time of druids and kings and a land of slavery and poverty. A preacher named Patrick is revolutionizing the way people are thinking and Brigid is one of the people converted. She believes in the reality of God and through simple faith and obedience miracles are performed but will the druids just allow that to happen? A beautiful tale of ancient times and places... **** (4 stars) for transporting me to another time and place



3) Miss Fortune by Sara Mills - What fun - mystery and romance set in 1947. Allie Fortune is the only female (and perhaps the best) private investigator in New York City. One night Mary Gordon stumbles into her office, says she is being followed and hires Allie to figure out who is after her. Soviets, FBI, Helen of Troy's gold, innocence or guilt. It's up to Allie to figure it all out... I had a great time working through the mystery with her. What a fun read! I look forward to the next book in the Allie Fortune Mystery series - Sara Mills has a winner on her hands. **** (4 stars) for sending me into my own film noir mystery!


4) It's Not About Me by Michelle Sutton - I had been wanting to read Michelle Sutton's debut novel and had been hearing really good things about it. Well, it did not disappoint. I actually started it at 12:30 am one night as I went to bed - I put it down at 4:01 am when I finished - it just kept me flipping the pages to see what would happen next. It is compelling and very thought provoking with an excellent plot to drive the storyline. The way Michelle works a real attack into the story really made things real to me. My daughter is 12 and too young to read it but I would say that most teens are ready for it, especially if they are in the public school system (we homeschool). I am looking forward to the sequel when it comes out! **** (4 stars) for dealing with real issues in a real way


5) If The Dress Fits by Debby Mayne - What drew me to this book was the beautiful cover. Cindi owns a bridal shop and loves helping brides make their perfect day come true. Sadly, as her own parents are divorcing she grows disillusioned with love and she decides to sell. A prospective customer comes along and is interested, is it really Cindi's high school boyfriend? What exactly is he interested in? Can Cindi trust his motives? ***1/2 (3 1/2 stars) for being a fun romance that makes you sigh...


These are just a few of the books I've read lately that I hadn't reviewed yet. If you would like a chance to win "If The Dress Fits" by Debby Mayne then leave me a comment telling me about your wedding dress (or the dress of your dreams...) be sure to leave your email address and I will draw for a winner on Wednesday!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Father Christmas Book Reviews and Giveaways!

For today's big, big giveaway I decided to review
2 books that I previously posted about
but couldn't review because I didn't have
the books yet - so here are...

"Finding Father Christmas"
&
"Engaging Father Christmas"
by
Robin Jones Gunn

MY REVIEW:
I love a good holiday story, something you can cuddle up with under a warm, fuzzy blanket with a cup of hot cocoa and get swept away with. Robin Jones Gunn has given us those with her Father Christmas books.
Finding Father Christmas starts with the mystery of who is Miranda's father? She has finally decided to try and find out, but all she has to go on is an old photograph with the name of the photographer on the back. She travels all the way to England to chase her dream of a father - will that clue be enough?
Engaging Father Christmas picks up one year later as Miranda is making a trip back to England to follow up with what she started in the first book. Can she be accepted? Does she really have a family? Has she finally come home for Christmas?
I finished these two books hoping against hope that just maybe someday Robin Jones Gunn will take us back to Miranda's world so we can check in on her again!

If you would like to check in on Miranda's world then leave me a comment (with your email address) and tell me your favorite Christmas tradition. I will draw for a winner on Dec. 3rd and you will get BOTH of these wonderful books sent to you from the publisher (maybe in time for Christmas!)!!!


Product Details for Finding Father Christmas:

List Price: $13.99
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (October 11, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446526290
ISBN-13: 978-0446526296

Product Details for Engaging Father Christmas:

List Price: $
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (October 30, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446179469
ISBN-13: 978-0446179461

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


A string of merry silver bells jumped and jingled as the north wind shook the evergreen wreath on the heavy wooden door. Overhead a painted shingle swung from two metal arms, declaring this place of business to be the Tea Cosy.

As I peered inside through the thick-paned window, I could see a cheerful amber fire in the hearth. Tables were set for two with china cups neatly positioned on crimson tablecloths. Swags of green foliage trimmed the mantel. Dotted across the room, on the tables and on shelves, were a dozen red votive candles. Each tiny light flickered, sending out promises of warmth and cheer, inviting me to step inside.

Another more determined gust made a swoop down the lane, this time taking my breath with it into the darkness of the December night.

This trip was a mistake. A huge mistake. What was I thinking?

I knew the answer as it rode off on the mocking wind. The answer was, I wasn’t thinking. I was feeling.

Pure emotion last Friday nudged me to book the round-trip ticket to London. Blind passion convinced me that the answer to my twenty-year question would be revealed once I reached the Carlton Photography Studio on Bexley Lane.

Sadly, I was wrong. I had come all this way only to hit a dead end.

I took another look inside the teahouse and told myself to keep walking, back to the train station, back to the hotel in London where I had left my luggage. This exercise in futility was over. I might as well change my ticket and fly back to San Francisco in the morning.

My chilled and weary feet refused to obey. They wanted to go inside and be warmed by the fire. I couldn’t deny that my poor legs did deserve a little kindness after all I had put them through when I folded them into the last seat in coach class. The middle seat, by the lavatories, in the row that didn’t recline. A cup of tea at a moment like this might be the only blissful memory I would take with me from this fiasco.

Reaching for the oddly shaped metal latch on the door, I stepped inside and set the silver bells jingling again.

“Come in, come in, and know me better, friend!” The unexpected greeting came from a kilt-wearing man with a valiant face. His profoundly wide sideburns had the look of white lamb’s wool and softened the resoluteness in his jaw. “Have you brought the snowflakes with you, then?”

“The snowflakes?” I repeated.

“Aye! The snowflakes. It’s cold enough for snow, wouldn’t you say?”

I nodded my reluctant agreement, feeling my nose and cheeks going rosy in the small room’s warmth. I assumed the gentleman who opened the door was the proprietor. Looking around, I asked, “Is it okay if I take the table by the fire? All I’d like is a cup of tea.”

“I don’t see why not. Katharine!” He waited for a response and then tried again. “Katharine!”

No answer came.

“She must have gone upstairs. She’ll be back around.” His grin was engaging, his eyes clear. “I would put the kettle on for you myself, if it weren’t for the case of my being on my way out at the moment.”

“That’s okay. I don’t mind waiting.”

“Of course you don’t mind waiting. A young woman such as yourself has the time to wait, do you not? Whereas, for a person such as myself . . .” He leaned closer and with a wink confided in me, “I’m Christmas Present, you see. I can’t wait.”

What sort of “present” he supposed himself to be and to whom, I wasn’t sure.

With a nod, the man drew back the heavy door and strode into the frosty air.

From a set of narrow stairs a striking woman descended. She looked as surprised at my appearance as I was at hers. She wore a stunning red, floor-length evening dress. Around her neck hung a sparkling silver necklace, and dangling from under her dark hair were matching silver earrings. She stood tall with careful posture and tilted her head, waiting for me to speak.

“I wasn’t sure if you were still open.”

“Yes, on an ordinary day we would be open for another little while, until five thirty. . . .” Her voice drifted off.

“Five thirty,” I repeated, checking my watch. The time read 11:58. The exact time I’d adjusted it to when I had deplaned at Heathrow Airport late that morning. I tapped on the face of my watch as if that would make it run again. “I can see you have plans for the evening and that you’re ready to close. I’ll just—”

“Che-che-che.” The sound that came from her was the sort used to call a squirrel to come find the peanuts left for it on a park bench. It wasn’t a real word from a real language, but I understood the meaning. I was being invited to stay and not to run off.

“Take any seat you want. Would you like a scone with your tea or perhaps some rum cake?”

“Just the tea, thank you.”

I moved toward the fire and realized that a scone sounded pretty good. I hadn’t eaten anything since the undercooked breakfast omelet served on the plane.

“Actually, I would like to have a scone, too. If it’s not too much trouble.”

“No trouble at all.”

Her smile was tender, motherly. I guessed her to be in her midfifties or maybe older. She turned without any corners or edges to her motions. I soon heard the clinking of dishes as she prepared the necessary items in the kitchen.

Making my way to a steady looking table by the fire, I tried to tuck my large shoulder bag under the spindle leg of the chair. The stones along the front of the hearth were permanently blackened from what I imagined to be centuries of soot. The charm of the room increased as I sat down and felt the coziness of the close quarters. This was a place of serenity. A place where trust between friends had been established and kept for many years.

A sense of safety and comfort called to the deepest part of my spirit and begged me to set free a fountain of tears. But I capped them off. It was that same wellspring of emotion that had instigated this journey.

Settling back, I blinked and let the steady heat from the fire warm me. Katharine returned carrying a tray. The steaming pot of tea took center stage, wearing a chintzquilted dressing gown, gathered at the top.

Even the china teapots are treated to coziness here.

“I’ve warmed two scones for you, and this, of course, is your clotted cream. I’ve given you raspberry jam, but if you would prefer strawberry, I do have some.”

“No, this is fine. Perfect. Thank you.”

Katharine lifted the festooned teapot and poured the steaming liquid into my waiting china cup. I felt for a moment as if I had stumbled into an odd sort of parallel world to Narnia.

As a young child I had read C. S. Lewis’s Narnia tales a number of times. In the many hours alone, I had played out the fairy tales in my imagination, pretending I was Lucy, stepping through the wardrobe into an imaginary world.

Here, in the real country of Narnia’s author, I considered how similar my surroundings were to Lewis’s descriptions of that imaginary world. A warming fire welcomed me in from the cold. But instead of a fawn inviting me to tea, it had been a kilted clansman. Instead of Mrs. Beaver pouring a cup of cheer for me by the fire, it was a tall, unhurried woman in a red evening gown.

An unwelcome thought came and settled on me as clearly as if I had heard a whisper. Miranda, how much longer will you believe it is “always winter and never Christmas”?

Copyright © 2007 by Robin’s Ink, LLC

This article is used with the permission of Hachette Book Group and Robin Jones Gunn. All rights reserved.


Around me swarms of Londoners rushed by, intent on their destinations and sure of their plans. My destination was the small town of Carlton Heath, and my plans revolved around a certain Scotsman who was now officially late.

I tried to call Ian again. His voice mail picked up for the third time. “It’s me again,” I said to the phone. “I’m here at Paddington station and —”

Before I finished the message, my phone beeped, and the screen showed me it was Ian.

“Hi! I was just leaving you another message.” I brushed back my shoulder-length brown hair and stood a little straighter, just as I would have if Ian were standing in front of me.

“You made it to the station, then?”

“Yes. Although I was about to put on a pair of red rain boots and a tag on my coat that read, ‘Please look after this bear.’ ” I was pretty sure Ian would catch my reference to the original Paddington Bear in the floppy hat since that was what he had given to my niece, Julia, for Christmas last year.

“Don’t go hangin’ any tags on your coat,” Ian said with an unmistakable grin in his voice. “I’m nearly there. The shops were crammed this morning, and traffic is awful. I should have taken the tube, but I’m in a taxi now. I’ll be there in fifteen minutes tops. Maybe less if I get out and run the last few blocks.”

“Don’t run. I’ll wait. It’s only been, what? Seven weeks and three days since we were last together? What’s another fifteen minutes?”

“I’ll tell you what another fifteen minutes is. It’s just about the longest fifteen minutes of my life.”

“Mine too.” I felt my face warming.

“You’re at track five, then, as we planned?”

“Yes. Track five.”

“Good. No troubles coming in from the airport?”

“No. Everything went fine at Heathrow. The fog delayed my flight when we left San Francisco, but the pilot somehow managed to make up time in the air. We landed on schedule.”

“Let’s hope my cabbie can find the same tailwind your pilot did and deliver me to the station on schedule.”

I looked up at the large electronic schedule board overhead, just to make sure my watch was in sync with local time. “We have about twenty minutes before the 1:37 train leaves for Carlton Heath. I think we can still make it.”

“I have no doubt. Looks like we have a break in the traffic jam at the moment. Don’t go anywhere, Miranda. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

“I’ll be here.”

I closed my phone and smiled. Whenever Ian said my name, with a rolling of the r, he promptly melted my heart. Every single time. His native Scottish accent had become distilled during the past decade as a result of his two years of grad school in Canada and working in an architect office with coworkers from around the world. But Ian knew how to put on the “heather in the highlands” lilt whenever he wanted. And I loved it, just as I loved everything about this indomitable man.

I looked around the landing between the train tracks for an open seat on one of the benches. Since none were available, I moved closer to the nearest bench just in case someone decided to leave.

Balancing my large, wheeled suitcase against a pole so it wouldn’t tip over, I carefully leaned my second bag next to the beast. This was my third trip to England since my visit last Christmas and the first time I had come with two suitcases. This time I needed an extra bag for all the gifts I had with me, wrapped and ready to go under the Christmas tree at the Whitcombe manor.

Last Christmas and for many Christmases before that, the only gift I bought and gave was the one expected for the exchange at the accounting office where I worked in downtown San Francisco. Up until last Christmas I had no family to speak of — no parents, no siblings, no roommate. I didn’t even have a cat. My life had fallen into a steady, predictable rhythm of work and weekends alone, which is probably why I found the courage to make that first trip to Carlton Heath last December. In those brief, snow-kissed, extraordinary few days, I was gifted with blood relatives, new friends, and sweetest of all, Ian.

Christmas shopping this year had been a new experience. While my coworkers complained about the crowds and hassle, I quietly reveled in the thought that I actually had someone — many someones — in my life to go gift hunting for.

I had a feeling some last-minute shopping was the reason Ian was late. He told me yesterday he had a final gift to pick up this morning on his way to the station. He hadn’t explained what the gift was or whom it was for. His silence on the matter led me to wonder as I wandered along a familiar path in my imagination. That path led straight to my heart, and along that path I saw nothing but hope for our future together — hope and maybe a little something shiny that came in a small box and fit on a certain rather available finger on my left hand.

Before my mind could sufficiently detour to the happy land of “What’s next?”, I heard someone call my name. It was a familiar male voice, but not Ian’s.

I looked into the passing stream of travelers, and there he stood, only a few feet away. Josh. The last person I ever expected to see again. Especially in England.

“Miranda, I thought that was you! Hey, how are you?” With a large travel bag strapped over his shoulder, Josh gave me an awkward, clunking and bumping sort of hug. His glasses smashed against the side of my head. He quickly introduced me as his “old girlfriend” to the three guys with him.

“What are you doing here?” He unstrapped the bag and dropped it at his feet.

One of the guys tagged his shoulder and said, “We’ll be at the sandwich stand over there.”

“Okay. I’ll be there in a few minutes.” Josh turned back to me. “You look great. What’s been happening with you?”

“I’m good,” I said. “What about you? What are you doing here?” I was still too flustered at the unexpected encounter to jump right into a catch-up sort of conversation after the almost three-year gap.

“Just returned from a ski trip to Austria with a group from work. Incredible trip. I’m in a counseling practice now. Child psychologist. I don’t know if you knew that.”

“No. That’s great, Josh. I know that’s what you wanted to do.”

“Yes, it’s going well so far.” He seemed at ease. None of the stiltedness that had been there right after I broke up with him came across in his voice or demeanor.

“And what about you? What are you doing in England?”

Before I could put together an answer, Josh snapped his fingers. “Wait! Are you here because you’re looking for your birth father?”

“You remembered.” Once again he surprised me.

“Of course I remembered. You had that picture of some guy dressed as Father Christmas, and it had the name of the photography studio on the back. That was your only clue.”

I nodded.

“So? What happened?”

“I followed the clue last Christmas, and it led me here, to my birth father, just like you thought it would.”

“No way! Did it really?”

I nodded, knowing Josh would appreciate this next part of the story. “The man in the photo dressed like Father Christmas was my father. And the boy on his lap is my brother, or I guess I should say my half brother, Edward.”

“Incredible,” Josh said with a satisfied, Sherlock Holmes expression on his unshaven face. “What happened when you met him?”

I hesitated. Having not repeated this story to anyone since it all unfolded a year ago, I didn’t realize how much the answer to Josh’s question would catch in my spirit and feel sharply painful when it was spoken aloud.

“I didn’t meet him. He passed away a few years ago.”

“Oh.” Josh’s expression softened.

“You know, Josh, I always wanted to thank you for the way you urged me to follow that one small clue. I’ve wished more than once that I would have come to England when you first suggested it four years ago. He was still alive then. That’s what I should have done.”

“And I should have gone with you,” he said in a low voice.

“Why do you say that?”

Josh’s eyebrows furrowed, his counselor mode kicking in. “I felt you needed that piece in your life. By that I mean the paternal piece of your life puzzle. I didn’t like you being so alone in the world. I wish you could have met him.”

“I do, too, but I actually think things turned out better this way. It’s less complicated that I didn’t meet him while he was still alive.”

“Why do you say that?” Josh asked.

I hesitated before giving Josh the next piece of information. In an odd way, it felt as if he needed the final piece of the puzzle the same way I had.

“It’s less complicated this way because my father was . . .” I lowered my voice and looked at him so he could read the truth in my clear blue eyes. “My father was Sir James Whitcombe.”


Copyright © 2008 by Robin’s Ink, LLC.

This article is used with the permission of Hachette Book Group and Robin Jones Gunn. All rights reserved.

"Beloved Captive" Book Review


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Beloved Captive

Barbour Publishing, Inc (November 1, 2008)

by

Kathleen Y’Barbo




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

There’s never a dull moment in the Y’Barbo household! From hockey and cheer mom to publicist to bestselling author, Kathleen Y’Barbo somehow manages to do it all - and well. While wearing her publicist’s hat, Kathleen has secured interviews with radio, television, and print media for clients at NavPress, Hatchette, Integrity, Barbour Publishing, and Broadman & Holman, to name a few. She also brings her own unique blend of Southern charm and witty prose to the more than 350,000 award-winning novels and novellas currently in print. Her novels have been nominated for American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2006; and 2007 will see the release of her 25th book.

Kathleen is a tenth-generation Texan and a mother of three grown sons and a teenage daughter. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University. Kathleen is a former treasurer for the American Christian Fiction Writers, and is a member of the Author’s Guild, Inspirational Writers Alive, Words for the Journey Christian Writers Guild, and the Fellowship of Christian Authors. In addition, she is a sought-after speaker, and her kids think she’s a pretty cool mom, too…most of the time, anyway.

The first book in this series is Beloved Castaway.


ABOUT THE BOOK

In this sequel to Beloved Castaway, Emilie Gayarre is learning to accept her mixed race heritage while finding fulfillment in teaching children of the key. There is no denying the attraction between Emilie and the handsome young naval commander, Caleb Spencer, who is shadowed by his own flock of secrets. But if her heritage is found out, even greater things than his career are at risk. Enjoy this historical romance full of risk and redemption.

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

MY REVIEW:

I have not read the first book (Beloved Castaway) but I really enjoyed this book. I love the whole pirate on the high seas, lady in distress kind of books and this book is wonderful in that vein. Some of it is predictable but written so well that you don't care and you just kind of sigh and say, "Ahhhh, I knew it! Oh, good!" If you enjoy the pirate adventure romance books then this series is a must add to your library.

Friday, November 28, 2008

"All The Fury Of The Wind" Book Review and Giveaway!

The Cornhuskers play the Colorado Buffaloes in a few hours so I wanted to get today's review and giveaway posted before the game starts - the author won't mind, he is a big Cornhusker fan as well and will be rooting for them too :-) So for today's giveaway, let me introduce you to...

"All The Fury Of The Wind"
by Donald James Parker


I previewed this book for Don and sent him an email with some of my thoughts. I thought I would share part of that email with you...

"First off, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I have to admit that I didn't know what to expect when I first received it. It doesn't exactly have that "perfect / professional" look of some of the books out there and sadly I'm not sure I would have grabbed it off the shelf if I was browsing at a bookstore. The other thing would be that the back cover copy doesn't really set the book up very well as far as telling me what the book is really about story wise. But my complaints with the book definitely end there. I was blown away by your insights and wisdom on many spiritual matters. The first conversation to grab me and pull me in was the one that starts on page 45 between Paul and Lisa about the whole submission issue. Wow, how many marriages could be saved if submission was explained in churches as well as you did there. I even read the conversation out loud to my mom ( we were on our way back from a trip to Indiana) and she said, "Whoa, that is really good." That was only the beginning though. I read many pieces of the book to her as she was driving. I enjoyed the storyline even though I hadn't read any of the other books. Of course I loved the ties to Nebraska :-) And the underlying or overwhelming (however you look at it) story of fighting the evolutionary machine was great. The arguments and debates that you put forth were really good. I would definitely recommend this book for the spiritual principles and wisdom that you presented if for no other reason."


This book takes place for the most part in Lincoln, Nebraska - home of the Cornhuskers - so that endeared it to me right away. But it stands on its own two feet the whole way through. This is actually book #5 of the Masterson Family Series, but I hadn't read any of them and I was able to jump right into the storyline. We have the product description -

Maria Masterson and Jeremy Dillon are innocent kids whose world is altered drastically. Their decision to engage the culture they live in and battle for truth in the debate concerning the creation of the Universe and mankind leads them into conflicts in which their adversaries do not always fight by Queensberry rules. A reminder that Christians are to overcome evil with good halts them in their tracks in an attempt to fight back with similar methods. Their only weapon is the Sword of the Spirit of Truth. Their dexterity in the use of this weapon increases as the two are pulled into a battle that they can't win in their own power. This novel could serve as a primer on how to stand tall in a world that wants any person of faith in their Creator to lay low. This book presents intellectual and moral handholds and toeholds for those not afraid to do some spiritual rock climbing.

The plot is good, the characters are well done, but the shining jewel in this book is definitely the biblical insight and the cultural arguments that are peppered throughout.

If you would like to win a copy of this book then leave a comment (with your email address) telling me what you did for Thanksgiving this year - did you travel or host?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

"Tuesday Night At The Blue Moon" Book Review & Giveaway!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

In honor of spending time with our families, I decided to
review and giveaway
"Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon" by Debbie Fuller Thomas.

When Marty Winslow's daughter dies of a devastating genetic disease, she discovers the truth- her child had been switched at birth. Her actual biological daughter was recently orphaned and is being raised by grandparents in a retirement community. Marty is awarded custody, but Andie refuses to fit into the family, adding one more challenge for this grieving single mom that pushes her toward the edge, and into the arms of a loving God. For Andie, being forced to live with strangers is just one more reason not to trust God. Her soul is as tattered as the rundown Blue Moon movie drive-in the family owns. But Tuesday night is Family Night at the Blue Moon, and as her hopes grow dim, healing comes from an unexpected source- the hurting family and nurturing birth mom she fights so hard to resist.

I can't imagine the devastation of finding out that the child you have raised and loved isn't really yours and your flesh and blood baby is out in the world in someone else's arms. This book deals with that situation, thankfully a very unusual scenario - but not unheard of. This would be one reason that I have had my last 4 babies at home - there is no doubt that they are really mine!

The characters in this book are heart wrenching because, as in all things in life, there are two sides to every story. So we see Marty as she deals with having loved the daughter she raised and yet want to insert herself into Andie's life now. Then there is Andie who has just lost her parents in an accident only to find out that they weren't really her parents and now she is taken away from her grandparents and the only people she knows and loves and inserted into a family to "replace" their daughter that died. Not to mention the older and younger sisters already in the family, Marty's dad, Andie's grandparents and even the Blue Moon itself is a character in this storyline. This book made me laugh and cry and I really enjoyed it. For a good women's fiction - turn to "Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon".

And for the chance to win a copy - leave me a comment (with your email) telling me what you do on family night at your house...


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"In the Shadow of the Sun King" Book Review and Giveaway!

I am thrilled to have some time apart
from my scheduled blog tours to share
with all of you some of the other books
I've been reading. Some will be giveaways -
this one is...

"In the Shadow of the Sun King"
by
Golden Keyes Parsons

I saw this book at ACFW and almost bought it - it has a gorgeous cover, an enticing title and it was newly out so I hadn't heard anything about it yet - I was intrigued. I finally got my hands on this book and got really excited when I realized it is set in 17th century France during the reign of King Louis XIV and the persecution of the Huguenots. I have French Huguenot blood through my paternal grandma's side of the family, but I really don't know much about what that means. This book was an eye opener. I would say this is an excellent read for anyone studying this time period, I learned more in the 2 page Historical Perspective opening than in any other book I've read about the French Huguenots. From the viewpoint of someone that just loves a good story, it's even better. I really loved this book!
Madeline Clavell's family was once in the court of the King, quite closely, but is now married and living with her husband and children at their estate in the country. The King's troops invade their home and in an effort to save her family, Madeline travels to Versailles to seek the favor of the King in hopes they will not be persecuted for their Huguenot faith. The consequences are more than she could ever dream and as her life quickly unravels we follow her frantic efforts to save her family. Can true love really triumph?

I am glad that Golden is making this first in a series, because I can't wait to see what happens next - if you do not win this book from me, then put it on your Christmas list - did I say that I loved this book???

For a chance to win a copy of it, leave a comment (with your email) telling me what you know of the Huguenots. Good luck!

Check back tomorrow for more reviews and giveaways and it is not too late to enter those on the left side of the blog - they will be drawn for winners on December 3rd!

A Thanksgiving blessing for you...

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

I'm so excited for Thanksgiving this year. It just seems like a really good year to thank God for all my blessings.

It was a year ago this Saturday that we almost lost my Mother-in-law to her heart attack - twice. But she is here today and doing better than ever.

It was a year ago on Thanksgiving that we announced to everyone after
dinner that we were expecting a baby. Today we have a happy, healthy blessing in the form of Quinn Joseph Ryan. We couldn't imagine life without him.

Our other children are all healthy, happy and (overall) obedient and a constant blessing to Matt and I.

I could go on and on... but I want to give you guys some reasons to be thankful as well. So starting tonight I will be posting a new book review each day through the weekend. Most of them will be giveaways and most of them will be books that I have read but not been able to review yet. Then on Dec. 3rd I will do a ton of drawings! All of the current giveaways and everything I post through the weekend so spread the word and check back all weekend - it's gonna be good!~

Monday, November 24, 2008

"Enoch" Book Review



It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

MY REVIEW:
I have always been fascinated by the story of Enoch - the man who walked with God and never died... I was excited to read this book. I had never read a book by Alton Gansky but had heard good things so I wondered what he would do with this character. Overall I thought this was a really good book. Characters were well developed even when some of them were on the scene for a short time. Scenes were set apart and then woven together from different perspectives. There is the mystery of who this stranger is and what he is doing here... miracles are happening - why? Without giving anything away, I just want to say that there were only a couple things that bothered me. One, the cover tag line says,

"He lived long ago. He never died. Now the most powerful woman in the world is trying to own him..."

I just don't think this statement represented the book very well. And secondly, I just thought it wrapped up a little too quickly. But overall, I really enjoyed this book and will be looking for more books by this author.



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Enoch

Realms (October 2, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Alton Gansky is the author of twenty-one published novels and six nonfiction works. He has been a Christie Award finalist (A Ship Possessed) and an Angel Award winner (Terminal Justice). He holds a BA and MA in biblical studies and has served as senior pastor for three Baptist churches in California, with a total of over twenty years in pulpit ministry. He and his wife live in the High Desert area of Southern California.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 307 pages
Publisher: Realms (October 2, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 159979344X
ISBN-13: 978-1599793443

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


He first thought of his feet.

It seemed an odd first thought, but there it was. His gaze drifted to a pair of soft-topped shoes, each with a symbol stitched to the side.

"N." He wondered why anyone would stitch a letter on footwear.

He raised a foot, then wiggled it. The shoe felt good. He dug a toe in the sandy dirt, then raised his head. A field surrounded him. No crops, no buildings, no people. Just a wide expanse of rugged scrub that shivered in the cold wind.

A full-circle turn revealed nothing but the same: miles of empty land. He blinked against the wind and the bits of dirt and dust it carried. To the west the sun lowered itself to the horizon. In the opposite direction, darkness crawled up the sky, keeping pace as if the descending orb pulled a curtain of night behind it.

Turning to face the sun again, he saw a break in the expanse of near-barren ground. At its edge ran a thin fence. He moved toward it, amused at the soft crunch the earth made with each step of his N-shoes.

Something scampered to his right. A covey of quail sprinted away and then took to the air, flying a short distance before making contact with the earth again. The sight made him smile.

Henick wrapped his arms around himself to ward off the chilling breeze. The material of his multicolored shirt felt soft against his arms and palms. He kept his gaze down, protecting his eyes from the sun's glare and looking up only long enough to get his bearings and check for holes or rocks that might cause him to stumble.

The fence was a simple series of metal stakes supporting four strands of metal wire punctuated with evenly spaced barbs. He extended a finger, touched one of the points, and frowned. The knife-sharp tip drew a drop of blood. He stuck the offended finger in his mouth. A quick scan of the fence's length revealed no gate.

A short distance from the fence ran a wide, smooth, black surface with a series of white dashes down the middle. He marveled at its unerring straightness.

He returned his attention to the fence. He wanted to be on the other side but preferred to arrive there with skin and clothing intact. Placing a hand on the top strand, he pushed down. The metal wire moved, but not enough to make straddling the thing acceptable. He tried again, this time using both hands. The wire fence gave more but still too little.

Henick decided on a different approach. He stepped to the nearest metal upright and tested it. It looked old, as if it had spent a lifetime stuck in that one spot. Seizing it with both hands and careful to avoid the stinging wire, he shook the thin metal pole. It wiggled. He leaned into it and then pulled back, repeating the motion twenty or thirty times. The metal felt cold against his bare hands, and gritty rust tinted his flesh.

When he had worked the pole loose, he lifted its base from the ground, then moved to the next upright and reenacted the procedure. With two posts loose, Henick could step across the barrier without injury.

Once on the other side, he replaced the posts, stomping the surrounding dirt with his foot until the soil was as compact as he could make it. In time, weather would reseal the posts to their original strength.

The exertion had warmed him enough to raise a film of perspiration on his brow and beneath the black hair that hung to his shoulders. The breeze found each moist area and chilled it. He could expect a cold night.

Stepping to the middle of the black path, he bent and touched the surface. It appeared smooth but felt coarse beneath his fingers. The black material radiated gentle warmth. He straightened and looked up and down the long road. It seemed to have no end in either direction. Deciding that one direction was as good as the other, Henick began to walk, choosing his course so the wind would be at his back and not in his face.

When the last of the sun's disk fell beneath the horizon, Henick had made two or three miles. He passed the time by counting the white dashes in the middle of the strange path or wondering about the letter N on his shoes. He liked the shoes; they made walking easier.

A quarter moon replaced the sun in the sky but offered little light. Soon the final light would follow its source below the distant horizon. If he had remained in the open field, he would have had to stop his journey. Walking over uncertain and irregular terrain with no light would be foolish, but the hard path with its white lines made it possible for him to continue.

Just before the sun said its final good-bye, Henick saw a black and white sign with a puzzling, irregular shape and the words Ranch Road 1232. Sometime later he saw a sign that read Don't Mess with Texas.

The air moved from chilly to cold, but the breeze had settled.

Henick kept moving.

Lights and a rumble approached from behind. The light split the darkness and gave Henick a shadow that stretched impossibly long before him. He stopped and turned, raising a hand to shield his eyes against the glare.

The roar grew louder. The lights neared.

A sudden blaring assaulted his ears, but Henick stood his ground.

"What are you? Nuts?"

The voice came from behind the glare. A large metal device pulled alongside. The words pickup truck entered Henick's mind.

The vehicle stopped. "Have you plumb lost your mind, boy? I coulda run you down and not even known I hit ya. What are you thinking?"

In the dim light, Henick could see two people seated in the truck: a man in his sixties and a woman of the same age.

"Go easy on him, Jake. He looks confused. Maybe he's lost." The woman's voice rode on tones of kindness.

"That it, boy? You lost?"

"I am just walking," Henick said.

"In the dark? Where you headed?"

Henick thought for a moment. "That way." He pointed down the long stretch of road.

"Ain't nuthin' that way but Blink, and there ain't much reason for going there unless that's your home. I'm guessin' it ain't. Pretty small town; I think I'd have seen you before."

"I don't live there."

The man the woman called Jake exited the truck and eyed Henick. "It's a bit cold to be out in nuthin' but blue jeans and a flannel shirt. It's supposed to drop into the forties tonight."

"It is true. I am cold."

"Give him a ride, Jake." The woman had slid closer to the driver side door. "We can't leave him out here. He's liable to step in some pothole and break a leg."

"More likely he'd step on a rattler. They like the warm asphalt."

"Either way, Jake, we can't leave the man out here."

"All right, all right, just keep your shoes on." Jake looked at Henick. "Turn around."

Henick raised an eyebrow.

"Turn around, boy. I jus' wanna make sure you ain't packin'."

"Packin'?"

"Totin' a gun. You sure you haven't wandered off from some kinda home for the slow?"

"Jake!"

"All right, Eleanor, I don't mean no disrespect." He motioned for Henick to turn in place. Henick did. "OK, here's the deal. I'll give you a ride, but that's all. Me and the wife were going into town for a meal. Friday night is our evening out. Been doing that for thirty-five years."

"I would like a ride."

"Yeah, well, don't have no room for you up front, so you'll have to ride in the back. I got some blankets to keep the wind off you. It's the best I can offer."

"Thank you." Henick climbed into the bed of the truck and leaned against the cab.

"Blankets are behind my seat. I'll get 'em."

A few moments later, Henick, snug in two wool blankets, turned his face heavenward, gazed at the stars, and wondered what a "Texas" was.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

"The First Escape" Book Review



It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

MY REVIEW:
Clever, clever, clever... that pretty much describes this book. It is part novel, part comic, part graphic novel and totally clever! I read through it in a day and passed it to my 12 year old daughter, Sarah, to have her check it out. She has gotten halfway through it in one day and when I just asked her about it she said, "I'm not finished with it, but it's cool and fun to read." I think that's all I'll get out of her until she's done with it. Personally I think the concept is wonderful, even as an adult I enjoyed it. The story didn't totally engage me, but I will probably get the next ones in the series to see where the chronicles of DoppleGanger will take us. I give this book 4 stars based on sheer cleverness alone!



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


The First Escape

SaltRiver (August 20, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


A motorcyclist and former rock band roadie turned Anglican minister, Graham Peter (G. P.) Taylor has been hailed as "hotter than Potter" and "the new C. S. Lewis" in the United Kingdom. His first novel, Shadowmancer, reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list in 2004 and has been translated into 48 languages. His other novels include Wormwood (another New York Times bestseller which was nominated for a Quill book award), The Shadowmancer Returns: The Curse of Salamander Street, Tersias the Oracle, and Mariah Mundi. Taylor currently resides in North Yorkshire with his wife and three children.

Visit the author's website.


Product Details:

List Price: $ 19.99
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: SaltRiver (August 20, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414319479
ISBN-13: 978-1414319476

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
















Friday, November 21, 2008

"Infidel" Graphic Novel Review



It's the 21st, time for the Teen FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 21st, we will feature an author and his/her latest Teen fiction book's FIRST chapter!

MY REVIEW:
I was able to read the book "Chosen" and really enjoyed it, so I jumped at the chance to review the "Infidel" graphic novel. I have never really read any graphic novels though, so I was a little skeptical that I would get as much "story" out of it as I do a regular book. Boy was I wrong - I was totally impressed with this version of "Infidel"! The drawings are quite captivating and pulled me right into the story and I raced through the book following the plot easily and quickly. The story itself is a great follow-up to "Chosen" and the conflict and drama advances quite well through Dekker's storytelling. There is a great climax that leaves me drooling for "Renegade" and I can't wait to get my hands on that one. The graphic novels should introduce a new generation to Dekker's imagination. The only downside I can see is that a graphic novel tends to limit the reader's imaginations because it is showing us everything, but it is just a different form of media from a book. The upside - this one in particular is basically brilliant!
This series of graphic novels would make great Christmas presents for the reading shy boys in your life :-)



and his book:



Thomas Nelson (November 11, 2008)




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Ted is the son of missionaries John and Helen Dekker, whose incredible story of life among headhunters in Indonesia has been told in several books. Surrounded by the vivid colors of the jungle and a myriad of cultures, each steeped in their own interpretation of life and faith, Dekker received a first-class education on human nature and behavior. This, he believes, is the foundation of his writing.

After graduating from a multi-cultural high school, he took up permanent residence in the United States to study Religion and Philosophy. After earning his Bachelor's Degree, Dekker entered the corporate world in management for a large healthcare company in California. Dekker was quickly recognized as a talent in the field of marketing and was soon promoted to Director of Marketing. This experience gave him a background which enabled him to eventually form his own company and steadily climb the corporate ladder.

Since 1997, Dekker has written full-time. He states that each time he writes, he finds his understanding of life and love just a little clearer and his expression of that understanding a little more vivid. To see a complete list of Dekker's work, visit The Works section of TedDekker.com.

Here are some of his latest titles:

Chosen (The Lost Books, Book 1) (The Books of History Chronicles)

Adam

Black: The Birth of Evil (The Circle Trilogy Graphic Novels, Book 1)

Saint


Product Details

List Price:$15.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 136 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (November 11, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595546049
ISBN-13: 978-1595546043


AND NOW...THE FIRST TWO PAGES:

(Click Pictures to Zoom!)



Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Jesus Take The Wheel"



It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

MY REVIEW:
This is a book that I hope to start over the holidays and go through. It's not a sit down and read through book but more of a 2 month study so I'm looking forward to it because it looks great!



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Jesus Take the Wheel: 7 Keys to a Transformed Life with God

WinePress Publishing Group (July 1, 2008) )


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Stuart Migdon was raised in Reformed Judaism. He married and became a father at the age of 18. He supported his family, and in four years he graduated college with honors. Through persistence he became a CPA and later a successful insurance agent. With a commitment to hard work and excellence, Stuart continued to achieve every goal that he set for his life. However, all the success in the world could not fill the emptiness that was growing within. In 1991, Stuart came to know the Messiah and began learning what it meant to let Jesus take the wheel of his life. Since then, Stuart has become an avid student of the Bible. Over the last five years, his thirst for more has led him into a detailed study of Gods Word, and specifically the lives of the Bibles two central figures, Jesus and Moses. His book, Jesus Take the Wheel 7 Keys to a Transformed Life with God is the result of that study. He and his wife Jeanne have two grown children and one grandson.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 24.95
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: WinePress Publishing Group (July 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1579219322
ISBN-13: 978-1579219321

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Perhaps you are like so many, who long for a more intimate relationship with the Lord, but aren’t exactly sure how to go about getting started.

Introduction

Pack the Car/Get Ready for the Journey

“We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
(Ephesians 2:10)


Introduction
Where are you going?

If life were a road trip, what kind of journey would you say yours has been so far? Are you cruising along on a wide-open stretch of highway under clear, blue skies without a care in the world? Or, like most of us, do traffic jams, unexpected detours, and frustrating dead ends seem to hinder you from getting where you need to be at times? Have you run out of gas lately…lost your way…or realized, after blowing a tire on that last pothole, that your spare was also flat? Would you like to enjoy your journey a little more, and get the most out of it no matter what obstacles you may have to face?

The Christian life can indeed be an incredible journey; unlike any other road trip you have ever taken. Because before you even thought of putting the key in the ignition and starting the engine, the One who created you already had a perfectly planned route mapped out for you to travel on. It is the journey of your lifetime—the one God prepared specifically with you in mind. Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” If you want to experience God’s incredible journey for your life, the question you need to ask and answer today is: Who’s really behind the wheel? Is it Jesus? Is He in control of your life, or somewhere along the way have you decided to venture down some back roads, all on your own?

What matters most isn’t the wrong turns you may have made in the past or even that the road you are on today looks a little tricky up ahead. What is most important is that you know who is in control of your life right now. Asking Jesus to take the wheel is more than just a catchy phrase it is the only way to fully enjoy the Christian life. Unless Jesus is truly in the driver’s seat, you will not be able to live the life that God prepared for you, and you won’t feel the peaceful breeze that comes from being on God’s route. Who controls your life is your choice, and it is a choice that you are making—whether you realize it or not—everyday.

In Jesus Take the Wheel: 7 Keys to a Transformed Life with God, I will be sharing some of the lessons I have learned as a Christian, and how by letting Jesus take the wheel, my life has been transformed. Like many Christians, when I first came to know the Lord I was filled with enthusiasm and wanted to share what I knew about Him with others. However, early on in my walk with Jesus, I also felt a strong desire growing within me to live a life that would really be pleasing to God—a life that I somehow new was radically different than the one I was currently living. Something was missing in my experience with Jesus. It wasn’t that I was given over to any particular sin, it was just that I sensed within me a knowing that there was so much more to this new life that God had called me to, and with every ounce of my being, I wanted to live that life. The only way I new to find what I was missing was to open up the Word of God, which is what I’ve done for the last seventeen years.

Over the past five years, my thirst for more has led me into a detailed study of God’s Word, and specifically the lives of the Bible’s two central figures, Jesus and Moses, which has literally transformed my life. I was intrigued and challenged each day as I delved deeper into the biblical accounts surrounding their lives. I developed insight that was humbling me and transforming me as I grew more acquainted with these two biblical personalities. I also began to realize that what had been driving me in my own study was more than just a personal quest for knowledge, it was actually a calling from the Lord. I felt strongly that what had become an apprenticeship in God’s Word, was not just for me personally but for others as well, and this book is the fruit of those years of study. My hope is that what is contained on these pages would encourage others to begin a journey with the Lord that would transform their lives.


The Key To Maximizing The Principles In This Book

By picking up this book today, you are acknowledging a desire that is already in your heart to have Jesus take the wheel of your life. Perhaps you are like so many, who long for a more intimate relationship with the Lord, but aren’t exactly sure how to go about getting started. In essence, you are hungry for more.

Jesus Take the Wheel will not only help you to become disciplined in your time with God each day, but through applying the biblical principles and truths it contains, you will begin to discover that what has been impossible for you alone, is very possible with God. He will open your eyes to new horizons, as you slip out of the driver’s seat and let Him take the wheel.

This book is written in such a way that you can read a little each day. You can use it as part of your own personal devotional time, or with others in a larger group setting. Each day’s reading is followed by an application. This Daily Action Step in the section entitled (GPS) God’s Positioning System is a short, practical reflection that is aimed at helping you apply that day’s biblical truths and principles to the circumstances of your life. To get the most out of this study, it is essential that you commit to spending time each day both reading the daily entry and working through the application. As you proceed in this manner, you will notice an accumulative effect as one day builds upon the next.

Plan to do one chapter per week. At that pace, you will complete the study in approximately two months. Each chapter, with the exception of the last one, is broken into seven daily readings. The last day of each week summarizes each of the main points that were covered throughout the week. Your application on that day should be to reflect upon all that you’ve learned during your study that week.

You will also find that the GPS Daily Action Step is a directive that will help navigate your life with Jesus. Assimilating these concepts is so important that you should consider keeping a daily journal. Jesus Take the Wheel: Daily Journal for a Transformed Life is a tool that you may find helpful for this very purpose. It is a journal, that has been designed to be used in conjunction with this book and is filled with additional soul-searching questions, which correspond to each chapter. It is available for no additional cost, at www.letjesustakethewheel.com.

While many of us know we need and want change, we often neglect to allow Jesus to have His rightful place behind the wheel of our lives. As you work through each chapter, realize that no matter how great your initial desire was to draw closer to the Lord, it is not going to happen without a renewed commitment to the process each day. Start the journey today by yielding your life fully to Jesus, fastening your seat belt, and expecting Him to do a transforming work in you.


In order for us to truly grow in our relationship with God and allow the Holy Spirit to change our lives, it’s important to be moldable and teachable like a little child.

Chapter 1
Ignition: Who is at the Wheel? /Be a Humble Passenger

“Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest

in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:4)


DAY 1—Let Go and Let’s Go!


I’ve Always Had An Interest In Being Behind the Wheel

Family drives were a big deal when I was growing up. Whenever all four of us kids piled into the car, we were always bickering and fighting over who got what seat, and who sat behind which parent—position meant everything back then. So, on those rare occasions when I actually nabbed one of those prized window seats, life couldn’t be better. My dad always drove in those days and I can still remember the sense of security I had as I watched him sitting behind the wheel of our car. I felt safe knowing that dad was in control not only of the car, but also of our family and where we were going. Perhaps that memory still means so much to me today because that feeling of security was shattered at such a young age. My parents separated when I was fourteen, and suddenly it seemed as though no one was in control of our lives anymore.

Like most teenage boys, when I turned seventeen I couldn’t wait to get my driver’s license. I equated being behind the wheel of my own car with having more control over the direction of my own life. My first car cost $150, but the promise of newfound freedom it brought was priceless. However, that freedom didn’t actually last very long. The car broke down the second day I owned it and cost me another $125 to repair. On the third day, the engine blew and that was the end of my car, my money, and my short-lived independence. Not one to give up easily—I drove my mom’s old Volkswagen Beetle around until I found a way to get myself back into the driver’s seat of my own car once again. With such an urgency to be in charge of my life, it didn’t take long for me to save enough money to buy another $100 clunker. I didn’t care what the car looked like as long as I was sitting behind the wheel. Freedom! It meant so much to me. It meant I could drive wherever I wanted, when I wanted, without relying on anyone else. Yet, even with that sense of freedom and control, I was still uneasy about so many of the decisions I had to make—I was unsure of my life’s direction.

Then at the age of eighteen, my life took an unexpected detour when my girlfriend, Jeanne, told me she was pregnant. That is when I moved out of my mother’s house to start a new life as a husband and, shortly thereafter, a father. With the birth of our daughter, Jennifer, I was now responsible for two precious lives, and I still hadn’t found a direction for my own. We had no money and barely paid our bills each month. At the time, I couldn’t even afford to fix the car we owned, which had a broken defroster and heater. I remember driving to work on cold winter days wearing an extra layer of socks and two pairs of gloves so I could keep warm. I also had to drive with the driver’s side window open in order to clear off the frost that kept blocking my vision. Being at the wheel of that car was both an interesting and uncertain experience, which seemed to parallel my shaky life as a husband and father at such a young age. Although I tried to make it seem as though I was in total control, life was difficult then and continued to be for a number of years to come. I needed someone to go to; the only problem was—I was the only “go to” guy I knew.


The New “Ride” That Changed Everything

A few years later, at the age of twenty-five, I started a new job and bought my first brand new car—a maroon, 1984 Toyota Celica. I’ll never forget the night I picked up that car. Our three-year-old son, Jason, was antsy and hungry, so Jeanne kept buying him peanuts from the vending machine. After a few hours, we had completed all the necessary paperwork and the four of us eagerly jumped into our new car and headed home. It was the first time I ever experienced that new car smell that everyone talks about. But less than five minutes into that brave new world, we heard Jason complaining that “his belly hurt,” and without any further warning he threw up all over the back seat. Goodbye new car smell! As you can imagine, I was a little upset. Later that night when I had settled down enough to realize the slight humor in the situation, Jeanne and I decided that Jason had officially christened our first brand new car.

For the next several months, I was on top of the world whenever I was behind the wheel of that car. I actually looked forward to my drive to work each morning. What a difference it made not to be behind the wheel of a clunker! In fact, life in general had taken a turn for the best—a new car, a new job, a new sense of control.

However, before long, some complicated issues began creeping into my life creating “road-blocks” that I had to learn how to maneuver around. The stress eventually caught up with me. I felt an overwhelming lack of peace and purpose. Being behind the wheel of my life in those days became exhausting—I was running on empty. I had nowhere to turn, and once again, no one who could help me. That is when I finally turned to Jesus.

Being raised in a Jewish home, the idea of becoming a Christian was not something that I had ever really, seriously considered. But, hearing the gospel made me realize that my greatest need was for a Savior, and that Jesus—the Jewish Messiah—had paid the price for my sin on the cross. So, I gave my heart to Him. At that moment, I knew that the sense of security I had once known as a child watching my father behind the wheel, was now fully realized by asking Jesus to take the wheel of my life. The secret of being able to live a transformed life in this world is first to know Jesus as your Savior, and then to give Him full control over the direction of your life, as Lord.

At the age of thirty-three, I now had a fresh perspective and I was eager to experience all the Lord had for me—the peace, purpose, and freedom that came from being His child. At this point, I no longer wanted to be in control. I just wanted to sit behind Him and watch Him as He steered my life in a brand new direction. I possessed a renewed sense of security knowing Jesus was in charge and would always be there for me. The more I trusted Him, the more secure I felt, and I quickly began to realize that my only struggles came when I once again tried to assume control and go off in my own direction. I learned that what I needed most was to let Jesus take the wheel, every day.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

"Godly Love" Book Posting


It's the 15th, time for the Non~FIRST blog tour!(Non~FIRST will be merging with FIRST Wild Card Tours on January 1, 2009...if interested in joining, click HERE!)




The feature author is:


and his book:



Templeton Foundation Press (September 26, 2008)



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Stephen G. Post has spent a lifetime studying love in its theological, scientific, and practical dimensions. He is president of the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love (IRUL) and professor of bioethics and family medicine in the School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Post has published one hundred thirty articles in peerreviewed journals and has written or edited fifteen scholarly books on subjects relating to the dynamic of love in our lives. His most recent book is Why Good Things Happen to Good People, coauthored with Jill Neimark. Dr. Post has chaired nine national conferences in his field and has received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Board of the Alzheimers Association. He lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio, with his wife, Mitsuko, and their two children, Emma and Andrew.

Product Details

List Price: $12.95
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Templeton Foundation Press (September 26, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599471515
ISBN-13: 978-1599471518


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Godly Love and Human Hatreds


In March 2007 I had the honor of spending several days north of Paris with the great Jean Vanier, then in his early eighties. Jean had founded L’Arche (“The Ark”) some four decades earlier, when he was inspired by an experience of Godly love to invite two men with cognitive developmental disabilities into his home. Over the years, L’Arche homes have flourished worldwide as volunteers dwell with the disabled in communities of faith, prayer, and Godly love. I had attended meals in L’Arche homes in Cleveland on a number of occasions, and I had heard the grace said before eating, the hymns sung, and the energy of love that was palpable in the lives of those caregivers and in the experience of those they cared for and lived with.

Jean struck me as one of the most loving, Godly, and humble men I had ever met. He spoke quietly and brilliantly, and he exuded an infectious sense of fun. On one Sunday evening there was a Catholic Mass in an old renovated chapel from the fourteenth century. About one hundred people had gathered there, mostly L’Arche volunteers and people with disabilities. I saw a volunteer wheel one older man named David up to the priest for communion. That night, at dinner, I asked Jean what he thought David had gotten from receiving communion, for David was probably the most severely disabled and agitated person I had encountered there. Jean said, “Whenever David receives communion, he becomes more peaceful, and that is the power of God’s love. Remember, Stephen, we do not know much about the mystery of God’s love and presence.” Jean’s pure, enduring, and expansive love clearly encompassed such a severely disabled man, and counted him among God’s blessed.


Evil in God’s Name


When I encounter a man like Jean Vanier, I feel that we must all stop thinking of God as the epitome of awesome power and strength in the conventional sense. This convention may be partly true, but we need to set it aside; otherwise, we begin to think of God primarily in terms of might, and human arrogance propels us into thinking that because my God is stronger than your God, violence is justified in God’s name. If we think about God in terms of power, then religions become tainted with human arrogance. Far too many prayerful people are carrying rifles in the spirit of pure hatred and pretending that their hatred is somehow divinely sanctioned. This amounts to shallow religiosity, which only causes pain and undermines Godly love. The Lord of power and might is first and foremost the author and giver of all good things, the Divine Entity who nourishes us in love and brings forth from us good works.

We need to stop thinking that our definitions of God are finite and that our knowledge of God’s will is total. Our definitions, even if divinely inspired, are still products of the human mind, and we can never fully understand the Divine. Religious doctrines, if adhered to arrogantly, tend to separate us from one another and shatter the unifying spirit of Godly love that all spirituality seeks to cultivate. When religions place doctrine and force above love, they foment massive evil—from torture to terror, from coercion to conflict. Religious wars exemplify human tribalism and arrogance, both of which bring out the worst in us.

Hatred, hostility, and revenge are such strong emotions that they can crush our fragile sense of Godly love. The pseudospirituality of hatred runs counter to all genuine spirituality, which is always an adventure in love, an expression of love’s deepest desires.


Countering Hatred with Godly Love


The love of power can sometimes overwhelm the power of love, so we must remain humble and guard against this. No matter how little we know about God, we can still experience Godly love. Only by taking Godly love much more seriously than we do now—even inculcating a profound love for one another among ancient, sworn enemies—can we expect to head off a spiral of widespread destruction.

Most of religion and spirituality is rooted in healing emotions, grounded in love. We will never achieve sustained peace in the twenty-first century unless all religions live up to those intrinsic ideals of Godly love, applying those ideals to all of humankind without exception.

The world shows no signs of becoming any less religious; we as humans will always have a passion for Ultimate Truth that provides safe haven and emotional security in times of distress. Yet we will only have a human future if we infuse universal Godly love into the rituals that religions create, and express through our actions spiritual emotions such as forgiveness and compassion. If our religions fail to promote universal Godly love, violence will sweep us all away in a cataclysmic firestorm.


Promoting Harmony and Peace


Godly love alone can realign the world in harmony and peace. Too many kill in God’s name, claiming that they alone know the destiny God intends for humankind. Our limited human knowledge of any divinely inspired destiny to be played out on the human stage belies this specious—and dangerous—claim.

Love is the source of our greatest happiness and security; therefore love is the Ultimate Good, the Supreme Good. Nothing else comes close, for love underlies the creative energy that propels us from birth to death. The withholding of love drives to destruction those deprived of love’s nurturing, its compassion, and its life-giving blessings. This occurs most notably in critical developmental periods during childhood. And it holds just as true for a child in a nursery as it does for an older adult in a hospice.

Our religions, which offer models of righteous living, must put into practice their visions of Godly love, or they risk becoming sidelined, or, worse, irrelevant.