Saturday, June 27, 2009

"Live Deeply / Live Relationally" Book Review

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 authors are:

and the books:

Live Deeply: A Study in the Parables of Jesus

David C. Cook; New edition edition (June 1, 2009)


Live Relationally: Lessons from the Women of Genesis

David C. Cook; New edition edition (June 1, 2009)

First off - these books are beautiful! Bright and eye catching, they draw you right in and make you want to start reading. They are each a 10 week Bible Study, set up in 10 chapters with 5 days in each chapter and each day should take about 20 minutes. There are 5 parts to each day -

1) Lift up (prayers)
2) Look at (Scripture)
3) Learn about (the text)
4) Live out (personal application)
5) Listen to (wisdom)

These studies are wonderfully set up and I personally really liked Live Relationally - Lessons from the Women of Genesis. I'm fascinated by the women in the Bible and here we delve deeper into -

Eve, Noah's Wife, Sarah, Hagar, Lot's Wife, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah, Dinah, Tamar and Potipher's Wife - fantastic!

Live Deeply is a Study in the Parables of Jesus and there are 2 more Live Fearlessly - a Study in the Book of Joshua and Live Intimately - Lessons from the Upper Room.

If you are looking for a good Bible study - personally or for a small group - this series is definitely one you should check out!


Lenya Heitzig is an award-winning author and popular Bible teacher. After beginning her ministry as a single women’s counselor with Youth With a Mission, Lenya married Skip and together they started Calvary of Albuquerque, one of the fast growing churches in the country. The author of Holy Moments and coauthor of the Gold Medallion-winning, Pathways to God’s Treasures, Lenya currently serves as Director of Women at Calvary, overseeing weekly Bible studies and yearly retreats. Lenya and Skip live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Visit the author's website.

Penny Pierce Rose is the award-winning author/coauthor of several books and Bible studies, including the ECPA Gold Medallion winner, Pathways to God’s Treasures. She has served on the board of directors for the Southwest Women’s Festival and develops Bible study curriculum for the women’s programs at Calvary of Albuquerque. Penny, her husband, Kerry, and their three children, Erin, Kristian, and Ryan, live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

Live Deeply:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition edition (June 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434799867
ISBN-13: 978-1434799869

Live Relationally:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition edition (June 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434767485
ISBN-13: 978-1434767486



Root Determines Fruit

Matthew 13:1–23

Lenya adored Mrs. Johnson, her elementary school teacher, because she had the ability to bring Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to life. Lenya’s sister would anxiously wait for her to arrive home to retell the story in every detail. Penny loved nothing more than spooky bedtime tales from her granddaddy. She’d lie awake at night, jumping at every sound, wondering whether the boogeyman was real. All our kids loved trips to the library for story hour.

Since ancient times, storytellers have enthralled audiences with tales both entertaining and instructive. In 300 BC, Aesop, the Greek storyteller, featured animals like the tortoise and the hare in his fables vividly illustrating how to solve problems. The Brothers Grimm gathered fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel in nineteenth-century Germany to teach children valuable moral lessons. Baby boomers were mesmerized when Walt Disney animated their favorite stories in amazing Technicolor.

However, throughout history no one has compared to Jesus Christ as a storyteller. Rather than telling fables or fairy tales, He told parables. A parable is a short, simple story designed to communicate a spiritual truth, religious principle, or moral lesson. It is a figure of speech in which truth is illustrated by a comparison or example drawn from everyday experiences. Warren Wiersbe simply says, “A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.”1 Throughout this study we’ll learn from the stories Jesus told, comparing them to our lives and putting His eternal truths into practice.

Day 1: Matthew 13:1–3 Floating Pulpit Day 2: Matthew 13:3–9 Fertile Parable Day 3: Matthew 13:10–13 Few Perceive Day 4: Matthew 13:14–17 Fulfilled Prophecy Day 5: Matthew 13:18–23 Four Possibilities


Floating Pulpit

Lift up…

Lord, I love to gather with Your people and listen to Your Word. Help me to be a faithful hearer, not only listening to what You say but obeying Your commands. Thank You for being in our midst. Amen.

Look at…

Jesus proved Himself to be the promised King—the Messiah of Israel—through His impeccable birthright, powerful words, and supernatural deeds. Despite His amazing miracles and the many ways He fulfilled prophecy, the religious leaders rejected His lordship. Knowing the religious leaders had turned on Him, Jesus directed His attention to the common people. Matthew 13 tells how Jesus stepped onto a floating pulpit on the Sea of Galilee and spoke in parables to explain how the gospel—the good news of salvation—would inaugurate the kingdom of heaven on earth.

The parable of the Sower is one of seven parables Jesus taught to describe what His kingdom would look like as a result of the religious establishment rejecting Him. This parable was a precursor to the Great Commission that Jesus would give His disciples after His death, burial, and resurrection: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). There is no evidence that the religious leaders stayed to listen to Jesus’ simple stories. Yet after this teaching session, the resentment of the religious leaders only deepened.

Read Matthew 13:1–3.

On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. Matthew 13:1

Explain what Jesus did on this day in His ministry.

Matthew 13:1 is the continuation of a critical day in Jesus’ ministry. Briefly scan Matthew 12; then answer the following questions to learn more about this “same day.”
What day of the week is referred to here?
What miracles did Jesus perform on this day?
Describe Jesus’ encounters with the religious leaders.
What did He teach about becoming a member of His family?

According to Mark 3:6, what did the Pharisees begin to do on this fateful day?

And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow.” Matthew 13:2–3

Explain why Jesus got into the boat.
How many people stayed to hear Jesus’ message?
What method of teaching did Jesus use in speaking to the
What types of things did He teach in parables?
Galilee was an important region to Jesus. Fill in the following table to learn more.

Scripture Galilee’s Significance

Matthew 4:18–21
Matthew 17:22–23
Matthew 26:31–32
Luke 1:26–28
Luke 2:39–40
Acts 10:36–38

We’ve learned that many people came to know Jesus in Galilee. Journal about the place where you encountered Jesus and how meeting Him affected your feelings about that location.

Jesus was “moved with compassion” for the multitudes that followed Him. Circle below to indicate how you respond to the many people who are lost and looking for a shepherd.

Eager to share the gospel

Impatient with their ignorance

Anxious to get away

Concerned for their eternity

Frightened by their unruliness

Other __________________

Journal a prayer asking God to supernaturally fill you with compassion for the multitudes that don’t know Him.

The multitudes crowded around Jesus, so He turned a boat on the Sea of Galilee into a floating pulpit. In his book Fully Human, Fully Alive, John Powell tells about a friend vacationing in the Bahamas who was drawn to a noisy crowd gathered toward the end of a pier:

Upon investigation he discovered that the object of all the attention was a young man making the last-minute preparations for a solo journey around the world in a homemade boat. Without exception everyone on the pier was vocally pessimistic. All were actively volunteering to tell the ambitious sailor all the things that could possibly go wrong. “The sun will broil you! … You won’t have enough food! … That boat of yours won’t withstand the waves in a storm! … You’ll never make it!”

When my friend heard all these discouraging warnings to the adventurous young man, he felt an irresistible desire to offer some optimism and encouragement. As the little craft began drifting away from the pier towards the horizon, my friend went to the end of the pier, waving both arms wildly like semaphores spelling confidence. He kept shouting: “Bon Voyage! You’re really something! We’re with you! We’re proud of you!”2

If you had been there as the boat was leaving, which group on the pier would you have been among: the optimists or the pessimists? More importantly, if you had been in the crowds along the Sea of Galilee, would you have joined the Pharisees seeking to harm Jesus or the crowd eagerly listening to the stories Jesus told?

Listen to …

The best leaders … almost without exception and at every level, are master users of stories and symbols.

—Tom Peters


Eve--Trouble in Paradise

Genesis 2:18-3:24

The first trouble in paradise was man's aloneness. For six consecutive days--as God created light, the cosmos, the land and sea, the stars and planets, the creatures in the sea and sky, and every living thing that moves, including the ultimate creation of man--God declared, “It is good.” But there was one thing that wasn't good: Man did not have a companion. So God created the perfect mate for Adam. She would be the counterpart for him physically, spiritually, intellectually, and socially. She was intended to complete him. She was more than a mate--she was a soul mate.

We know this woman as Eve. Although the Bible does not describe her, there is no doubt that she was the most beautiful woman who ever lived. Why? She was God's masterpiece. The Divine dipped His paintbrush into the palette of dust and clay and breathed life from His wellspring of inspiration to form a portrait of perfection. Just imagine a woman with a face more beautiful than Helen of Troy, a body more statuesque than the Venus de Milo, a personality more captivating than Cleopatra, and a smile more mysterious than the Mona Lisa. She ate a perfect diet, so her figure was probably flawless. Because of an untainted gene pool, she was undoubtedly without physical defect. Due to the antediluvian atmosphere, her complexion was age-defying perfection. She was never a child, daughter, or sister. She was the first wife, the first mother, and the first woman to encounter evil incarnate. That's when real trouble in paradise began.

Day 1: Genesis 2:18-25 Paradise Found

Day 2: Genesis 3:1-6 Innocence Lost

Day 3: Genesis 3:7-13 Hiding Out

Day 4: Genesis 3:14-19 Judgment Pronounced

Day 5: Genesis 3:20-24 East of Eden


Paradise Found

Lift up …

Thank You, Lord, that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. You have created me in Your image to glorify Your name. May I fulfill Your will in my heart and home. Amen.

Look at …

We begin our study when God made man and woman. Though God created both humans and animals, this does not mean that they are on equal footing. People are made in God's image, setting us apart from animals in a profound way. We possess a soul. The soul refers to a person's inner life. It is the center of our emotions and personality. The word soul is first used in Genesis: “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being [soul]” (Gen. 2:7). In other words, humans possess intellect, emotion, and will.

For instance, dogs aren't bright enough to realize they'll never catch their own tails; cows don't weep over the beauty of a sunset; and a female praying mantis can't keep herself from chewing her spouse's head off. People, on the other hand, have the ability to acquire knowledge and experience deep feelings. They also have the capacity for self-control. While animals act instinctively, we as humans should behave transcendently. We are God's special creation endowed with the gift of “soul-power.”

Read Genesis 2:18-25.

And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. Genesis 2:18-25

Explain the problem and solution God first spoke about in this passage.

Describe in detail the task God assigned to Adam.

Compare and contrast Adam to the rest of the living beings.

In your own words describe how God created woman.

a. When Adam met his mate he made a proclamation. What do you think “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” signified for Adam?

b. What did he call his mate and why?

Here we find the first mention of marriage in Scripture. Explain God's intent for marriage.

a. What else do you learn about the man and wife in this passage?

b. Why do you think this is relevant?

Live out …

a. God declared that man needs companionship. Read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 and explain some of the reasons why it is better to have a mate to come alongside you.

Read the sidebar concerning “Threefold Strength” and talk about how you have experienced God's supernatural strength in your life and/or marriage.

Many women today struggle with the way they look, think, and feel. But when God made Eve from Adam's rib, this was not His intent. When He made you, He made you to be the person you are too. With this in mind, journal Psalm 139:13-14 into a personal psalm praising God for making you just as you are.

For You formed my inward parts;

You covered me in my mother's womb.

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Marvelous are Your works. Ps. 139:13-14

Before the fall, Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed. It's probably difficult to imagine being unashamed about our looks, actions, or thoughts. But Jesus came to free us from condemnation (Rom. 8:1). Read the following Scriptures and talk about how we can either stand ashamed or unashamed before God.

Psalm 119:5-6

Isaiah 41:11

Isaiah 49:23

Jeremiah 8:9

It's safe to say that none of us is perfectly content with our frame. We all wish we were better, thinner, richer, healthier, smarter, or younger. We may think that if we were different in some way people would accept us, respect us, or love us more. Maybe we'd even love and respect ourselves more. Like Eve, we would walk in this world unashamed.

A recent University of Waterloo study determined that people's self-esteem is linked to such traits as physical appearance, social skills, and popularity. Research associate Danu Anthony noted that acceptance from others is strongly tied to appearances. Furthermore, the study found that self-esteem is connected to traits that earn acceptance from other people. “People state emphatically that it is 'what's inside' that counts and encourage their children not to judge others based on appearances, yet they revere attractive people to an astonishing degree,” Anthony says. “They say they value communal qualities such as kindness and understanding more than any other traits, but seem to be exceptionally interested in achieving good looks and popularity.” The bottom line is that people's looks and behavior are intimately linked to being accepted by others.3

As women of faith, we know that acceptance from others is not nearly as important as our acceptance of One Man--the God/Man Jesus Christ, the second Adam. Only by accepting Jesus Christ's sacrificial death will you be made whole: “You are complete in Him” (Col. 2:10).

Listen to…

The woman was formed out of man--not out of his head to rule over him; not out of his feet to be trampled upon by him; but out of his side to be his equal, from beneath his arm to be protected, and from near his heart to be loved.

--Matthew Henry

Friday, June 26, 2009

"Shepherd's Fall" Book Review

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Shepherd's Fall

WaterBrook Press (April 14, 2009)


Wanda Dyson

I was so excited to hear that Wanda Dyson had a new series coming out because I just loved her suspense series (Abduction, Obsession, Intimidation). So I was thrilled to get into Shepherd's Fall, her new series about a bounty hunter and the people he works with. With the advent of "Dog: Bounty Hunter" on tv I thought this would be quite interesting. Wanda doesn't disappoint. I loved meeting Nick, the oldest brother and in charge person at Prodigal Recovery Agency and Steven the younger brother and worker at Prodigal Recovery Agency and Marti, the long lost sister who wants nothing to do with family or the Prodigal Recovery Agency. We also get to know the other bounty hunters that work for them and then we start meeting those they are looking for. Of course, Annie shows up and she is looking for her sister Zeena (who is being pursued by PRA) because Annie is dying and needs a transplant that only Zeena can give her... but she hasn't seen Zeena in a long time. If Zeena goes to jail then Annie won't get the transplant so Annie has to find her first. Except bad guys are out to get her too, so it's a race against time for Annie. Nick is trying to protect his daughter from an escaped convict who is out for revenge. Can Nick balance everything in his life and keep Krystal safe?

This book kept me turning the pages so fast my head was spinning! Wanda has returned and is packing a punch with her new series - I can't wait for books #2 and #3!


Wanda Dyson lives with her severely autistic teenager on a busy farm with horses, chickens, dogs, cats, rabbits, and the occasional fox, deer, groundhog, and snake. She could seriously live without the snakes, but that's life in the country.

After writing three critically acclaimed suspense novels, she was asked to write the true story of Tina Zahn (Why I Jumped), which was featured on Oprah. Readers characterize her books as "riviting" and "Packed with twists and turns."

Wanda serves on the board of several writers conferences across the country including the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, and the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference.

Wanda has finished the second in this series called Shepherd's Run,that will come out in 2010. And she's hard at work on the third and final installment of the Prodigal Recovery Series - Marti's story -- tentatively called Shepherd's Quest.


Bounty hunter Nick Shepherd is fearless when it comes to chasing down criminals. It's his difficult ex-wife, rebellious teenage daughter, and dysfunctional siblings that keep him awake at night. In charge of the family business, the Prodigal Recovery Agency, he thinks of himself as a shepherd of sorts. When his "flock" is out of his control, Nick's well-ordered universe falls into chaos.

Prodigal Recovery's search for Zeena, a prostitute on the run, leads to a faulty arrest, complicating Nick's business. He is thrown together with Zeena's twin, the beautiful Annie, and the two find themselves on a desperate search. The stakes significantly increase when Nick's daughter is kidnapped. Now, to save someone he loves, Nick must risk everything.but will it be enough

If you would like to read a Prologue excerpt from Shepherd's Fall, go HERE

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"The King's Legacy" Book Review

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:

and the book:

The King’s Legacy

David C. Cook; New edition edition (June 1, 2009)

"The King's Legacy" is a wonderful allegory in which each chapter focuses on a new piece of wisdom as the king hunts for "The Wisdom of the Ages". It is well written, and while I have heard many of the pieces of wisdom in the course of all my reading, for many this would be a wonderful way to have it all in one book. There is an illustration at the beginning of each chapter which is nice, but the pictures didn't really enhance anything for me since I thought they were a little cheesy. But that is a minor detail. I did think it was a very nice looking gift type edition that would make a good gift. There is a page at the front where you can inscribe To and From and a section at the back where you can put your own wisdom in. Overall, this is a wonderful little book that would be great as a gift or to own for yourself.

Jim Stovall is a national champion Olympic weightlifter, former president of the Emmy Award-winning Narrative Television Network, and a highly sought after author and platform speaker. Jim was honored as the International Humanitarian of the Year, joining previous recepients Mother Teresa and Nancy Reagan. He is the author of the best-selling book The Ultimate Gift, now a major motion picture.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition edition (June 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434765938
ISBN-13: 978-1434765932


Once upon a time, there was an enchanted kingdom in a land far, far away. The kingdom was ruled by a benevolent and much-loved king. He had led his people through many difficult times, and they had finally reached a golden age of peace, prosperity, and happiness.

The king summoned all of his wise men together and said, “Now that our land is enjoying a season of prosperity and peace, I wish to leave a permanent legacy of my reign as your ruler.”

The king went on to tell his wise men that he would like their best thoughts and ideas as to what he could do to create a fitting tribute to all the people of the kingdom and his reign as their leader. Each of the wise men left the Throne Room determined to come up with the best idea to present to the king, as they all knew that the king’s chosen action would be remembered for generations.

On the appointed day and hour, the wise men reconvened in the Throne Room.

The king said, “I want to hear your suggestions one at a time, so that I might determine what would be a fitting legacy for me to leave in honor of my reign as king.”

The first wise man approached the steps leading to the throne, bowed with dignity, and began. “Your Highness, since the beginning of recorded history, great rulers have left magnificent feats of architecture as tributes to their greatness. One need only look to the east and think of the great pyramids that have stood for generations and will remain throughout time, paying homage to the pharaohs.”

The wise man bowed again and backed away from the throne.

The king fell silent and was lost in deep thought, then said, “I am pleased with your suggestion as it has much merit. Indeed, a great edifice could stand for thousands of years to proclaim the greatness of our people and my reign as their king.”

The second wise man approached the throne and bowed reverently. He said, “Oh, great King, if I may humbly suggest that a gold coin be designed and minted bearing your image and in your honor. This coin could be distributed throughout the kingdom and, carried along the trade routes as if by friendly winds, it would literally be distributed around the world signifying your power and majesty.”

The king nodded and smiled. He seemed pleased with this suggestion also. He then beckoned the next wise man to approach. The wise man dutifully bowed and said, “Your highness, may I suggest that a monument of heretofore unknown proportion be erected in your image. Great reflecting pools and immense gardens would surround the statue. People would travel from the four corners of the earth to marvel at its splendor and pay respect and tribute to your greatness.”

The king smiled and stated, “Each of these suggestions has been well thought-out and presented. Before I go to deliberate my final decision, are there any other suggestions?”

After a long pause, the eldest wise man stepped forward. The king smiled and said, “My great and wise advisor, you have been with me from the beginning of my reign to this day, and you have always served me well. What say you in this matter?”

The elderly wise man replied quietly, “Your highness, may I suggest that each of my colleagues has proposed a fitting tribute to your greatness in the traditional sense; however, great buildings, gold coins, and monuments serve as tributes to other rulers from other days. May I humbly offer my suggestion? Something altogether different?”

The king nodded in assent.

“The one thing that could pay tribute to your greatness for thousands of years to come would be the proclamation of the Wisdom of the Ages. This would be an opportunity for you, oh great one, to communicate the greatest secret of the known world to benefit all humanity.

“Buildings and coins and statues will all pass away, but the Wisdom of the Ages would last forever. This would, indeed, be a fitting tribute to the king I humbly serve.”

The king fell into deep thought. Finally, he told all of his servants and the wise men to leave him so that he might choose the tribute most fitting to his reign as their king.

Monday, June 22, 2009

"Talking to the Dead" Book Review

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:

and the book:

Talking to the Dead

David C. Cook; New edition edition (June 1, 2009)

This is such an interesting concept for a book. We follow a new widow as she goes on her journey of grief. Or is it grief? As Kate suffers from memory loss of what happened leading up to Kevin's sudden death she struggles to work through her grief, she starts recovering her memories. The question is, does she really want to remember? The problem is that Kevin died, but he hasn't quit talking to her. Is he a ghost, is she crazy? What is going on! This book kept me turning the pages to find out what was really happening to Kate and what happened in the year leading up to Kevin's death. I would categorize this as women's fiction with a little mystery mixed in. I enjoyed "Talking to the Dead" and look forward to more books by Bonnie.


Bonnie Grove started writing when her parents bought a typewriter, and she hasn’t stopped since. Trained in Christian Counseling (Emmanuel Bible College, Kitchener, ON), and secular psychology (University of Alberta), she developed and wrote social programs for families at risk while landing articles and stories in anthologies. She is the author of Working Your Best You: Discovering and Developing the Strengths God Gave You; Talking to the Dead is her first novel. Grove and her pastor husband, Steve, have two children; they live in Saskatchewan.

Author website: –

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition edition (June 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434766411
ISBN-13: 978-1434766410


©2009 Cook Communications Ministries. Talking to the Dead by Bonnie Grove. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Kevin was dead and the people in my house wouldn’t go home. They mingled after the funeral, eating sandwiches, drinking tea, and speaking in muffled tones. I didn’t feel grateful for their presence. I felt exactly nothing.

Funerals exist so we can close doors we’d rather leave open. But where did we get the idea that the best approach to facing death is to eat Bundt cake? I refused to pick at dainties and sip hot drinks. Instead, I wandered into the back yard.

I knew if I turned my head I’d see my mother’s back as she guarded the patio doors. Mom would let no one pass. As a recent widow herself, she knew my need to stare into my loss alone.

I sat on the porch swing and closed my eyes, letting the June sun warm my bare arms. Instead of closing the door on my pain, I wanted it to swing from its hinges so the searing winds of grief could scorch my face and body. Maybe I hoped to die from exposure.

Kevin had been dead three hours before I had arrived at the hospital. A long time for my husband to be dead without me knowing. He was so altered, so permanently changed without my being aware.

I had stood in the emergency room, surrounded by faded blue cotton curtains, looking at the naked remains of my husband while nurses talked in hushed tones around me. A sheet covered Kevin from his hips to his knees. Tubes, which had either carried something into or away from his body, hung disconnected and useless from his arms. The twisted remains of what I assumed to be some sort of breathing mask lay on the floor. “What happened?” I said in a whisper so faint I knew no one could hear. Maybe I never said it at all. A short doctor with a pronounced lisp and quiet manner told me Kevin’s heart killed him. He used difficult phrases; medical terms I didn’t know, couldn’t understand. He called it an episode and said it was massive. When he said the word massive, spit flew from his mouth, landing on my jacket’s lapel. We had both stared at it.

When my mother and sister, Heather, arrived at the hospital, they gazed speechlessly at Kevin for a time, and then took me home. Heather had whispered with the doctor, their heads close together, before taking a firm hold on my arm and walking me out to her car. We drove in silence to my house. The three of us sat around my kitchen table looking at each other.

Several times my mother opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. Our words had turned to cotton, thick and dry. We couldn’t work them out of our throats. I had no words for my abandonment. Like everything I knew to be true had slipped out the back door when I wasn’t looking.

“What happened?” I said again. This time I knew I had said it out loud. My voice echoed back to me off the kitchen table.

“Remember how John Ritter died? His heart, remember?” This from Heather, my younger, smarter sister. Kevin had died a celebrity’s death.

From the moment I had received the call from the hospital until now, I had allowed other people to make all of my bereavement decisions. My mother and mother-in-law chose the casket and placed the obituary in the paper. Kevin’s boss at the bank, Donna Walsh, arranged for the funeral parlor and even called the pastor from the church that Kevin had attended until he was sixteen to come and speak. Heather silently held my hand through it all. I didn’t feel grateful for their help.

I sat on the porch swing, and my right foot rocked on the grass, pushing and pulling the swing. My head hurt. I tipped it back and rested it on the cold, inflexible metal that made up the frame for the swing. It dug into my skull. I invited the pain. I sat with it; supped with it.

I opened my eyes and looked up into the early June sky. The clouds were an unmade bed. Layers of white moved rumpled and languid past the azure heavens. Their shapes morphed and faded before my eyes. A Pegasus with the face of a dog; a veiled woman fleeing; a villain; an elf. The shapes were strange and unreliable, like dreams. A monster, a baby—I wanted to reach up to touch its soft, wrinkled face. I was too tired. Everything was gone, lost, emptied out.

I had arrived home from the hospital empty handed. No Kevin. No car—we left it in the hospital parking lot for my sister to pick up later. “No condition to drive,” my mother had said. She meant me.

Empty handed. The thought, incomplete and vague, crept closer to consciousness. There should have been something. I should have brought his things home with me. Where were his clothes? His wallet? Watch? Somehow, they’d fled the scene.

“How far could they have gotten?” I said to myself. Without realizing it, I had stood and walked to the patio doors. “Mom?” I said as I walked into the house.

She turned quickly, but said nothing. My mother didn’t just understand what was happening to me. She knew. She knew it like the ticking of a clock, the wind through the windows, like everything a person gets used to in life. It had only been eight months since Dad died. She knew there was little to be said. Little that should be said. Once, after Dad’s funeral, she looked at Heather and me and said, “Don’t talk. Everyone has said enough words to last for eternity.”

I noticed how tall and straight she stood in her black dress and sensible shoes. How long must the dead be buried before you can stand straight again? “What happened to Kevin’s stuff?” Mom glanced around as if checking to see if a guest had made off with the silverware.

I swallowed hard and clarified. “At the hospital. He was naked.” A picture of him lying motionless, breathless on the white sheets filled my mind. “They never gave me his things. His, whatever, belongings. Effects.”

“I don’t know, Kate,” she said. Like it didn’t matter. Like I should stop thinking about it. I moved past her, careful not to touch her, and went in search of my sister.

Heather sat on my secondhand couch in my living room, a two seater with the pattern of autumn leaves. She held an empty cup and a napkin; dark crumbs tumbling off onto the carpet. Her long brown hair, usually left down, was pulled up into a bun. She looked pretty and sad. She saw me coming, her brown eyes widening in recognition. Recognition that she should do something. Meet my needs, help me, make time stand still. She quickly ended the conversation she was having with Kevin’s boss, and met me in the middle of the living room.

“Hey,” she said, touching my arm. I took a small step back, avoiding her warm fingers.

“Where would his stuff go?” I blurted out. Heather’s eyebrows snapped together in confusion. “Kevin’s things,” I said. “They never gave me his things. I want to go and get them. Will you come?”

Heather stood very still for a moment, straight backed like she was made of wood, then relaxed. “You mean at the hospital. Right, Kate? Kevin’s things at the hospital?” Tears welled in my eyes. “There was nothing. You were there. When we left, they never gave e anything of his.” I realized I was trembling.

Heather bit her lower lip, and looked into my eyes. “Let me do that for you. I’ll call the hospital—” I stood on my tiptoes and opened my mouth. “I’ll go,” she corrected before I could say anything. “I’ll go and ask around. I’ll get his stuff and bring it here.”

“I need his things.”

Heather cupped my elbow with her hand. “You need to lie down. Let me get you upstairs, and as soon as you’re settled, I’ll go to the hospital and find out what happened to Kevin’s clothes, okay?”

Fatigue filled the small spaces between my bones. “Okay.” She led me upstairs. I crawled under the covers as Heather closed the door, blocking the sounds of the people below.

"Crossing the Lines" Book Review

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:

and the book:

Crossing the Lines

David C. Cook; New edition edition (June 1, 2009)

The turbulent 50's and segregation vs. integration in the South. What happens when you take actual events (Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr, integrating Little Rock) and insert a fictional reporter and his family into the events. Richard Doster takes us on a ride back to the 50's and brings those events alive. It took me just a few chapters to get into the book, this is book #2 and I haven't read #1 so I had to get acquainted with the family and what they had gone through in #1. But, it didn't take long for me to get very interested in the family and the events going on. I got some amazing insight into some of the events like Rosa Parks and the bus strike that happened as a result, and the Little Rock 9. So much so that I actually took it upon myself to do further research. I plan on getting book #1 "Safe At Home" and having my kids read these as part of their high school American History. These books are that good at making history come alive.

Richard Doster is editor and frequent contributor to byFaith magazine, winner of the 2006 and 2008 Evangelical Press Association’s Award of Excellence. A native of Mississippi and a graduate of the University of Florida, Doster is now concentrating on Southern fiction, beginning with the well-received Safe at Home. He resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, Sally.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition edition (June 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434799840
ISBN-13: 978-1434799845


Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands

(1 Thessalonians 4:11)

There was a time when I aspired to only three things in life: to enjoy my work, to love and care for my family, and to take pleasure in the company of a few good friends.

I never coveted fame nor craved fortune. My proper place, I knew, was adjacent to the fray, but never in it. As a reporter I gathered facts and presented them well. With nouns, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives I ushered readers to a ringside seat; I put them front-and-center where they could—without obstruction—witness the drama of life in the world around them.

I prowled at the fringes, hovering where I could keep an eye on the men who moved the world. Like a hummingbird, I flitted from one story to the next, extracting what I needed and then quickly moving on in search of more.

In a perfect world, I thought, I’d do my job and then go home. And there I’d savor the last hours of each day with my wife, Rose Marie, and our son, Chris.

But it’s been some time since the world was perfect.

Our ambition, the Bible says, is to live a quiet life, but none of us will ever know one. If we’re awake in this world, if we breathe in and out, if we put one foot in front of the other, or so much as encounter one other human in the course of a given day—then there’s not much hope for more than a few hours rest.

God has set this goal before us, and then placed it beyond our reach. And that’s a mystery that tangles up my mind. If He is good (and I believe He is), then why does His world conspire against us? And if He loves us (and I’ll grant that He does), then why does everything get stirred up into one mess after the other, depriving us, every day it seems, of the peace we are meant to have?

I suspect that you’ve had doubts, too; that you’ve seen the evidence as clearly as I have. And that we’ve all, in the midst of grief or confusion, built a case against Him, that we’ve proved, at least in our own minds—and way beyond a reasonable doubt—that God has lost control of this world. Even the dullest among us can point to war and communism, or to hurricanes and tornadoes. And God Himself surely knows we’ve had our fill of polio and cancer and tuberculosis.

But the testimony that’s even more disturbing is what we see two feet in front of our own faces. It’s what I have seen up and down Peachtree Street; in Montgomery and Little Rock and Nashville; and even in the hearts of the people I love.

There was a time when I rarely yearned for more than a peaceful life, when I was content with a backyard barbeque, a good ballgame, cuddling with Rose Marie while we watched Ed Sullivan.… And for years the world spun my way. Month after month, life provided more than I asked—until the summer of 1954, until the night my home was bombed, until the lives of my wife and son were threatened, until—in the pitch-black hours of a brand-new morning—our comfortable existence was shattered, and every good thing that I had taken for granted was—in the flash of that single explosion—gone.

Ever since, I’ve been nagged by the thought that God Himself has been plotting against me; that He has—for reasons He hasn’t deigned to share—mined my path with the worst of the world’s problems. There’ve been days that I even thought He hovered above, just waiting for the pieces of my life to come “this close together,” and then Wham! He dusts off some favorite calamity, hurls it my way, and watches as life peels off into some new wreckage, forcing me to sort out some mess I never made.

It’s ridiculous, I know, to think that the God of the universe would trifle with the likes of me, Jack Hall. And trust me, I’ve spent the opening hours of a thousand mornings wondering,

Why me Lord? Why, when there are so many deserving creeps in the world, me?

To date, God’s felt no obligation to answer. And by His silence He sets before me the same question He posed to Job: “And exactly who are you, pip-squeak, to question Me?”

Fair enough, I suppose. But like Job I’ve been wounded and forever scarred. An event like that lingers—it’s always there, lurking, and I’m not sure I’ve known a sound night’s sleep in the past six years.


What is it, exactly, that drives a fellow human to so much malice? By what logic does one conclude that a bomb—thrown through the window of a quaint, three-bedroom home—is the wise and sensible course of action?

The answer to questions like these is rarely simple, but I’ll do my best to explain: We lived in Whitney, once the world’s most beautiful town, and a place that felt more like home than anything ever built by human hands. But in 1954 we tore the place in two. With bitterness and violence we slashed it along the seam where black met white—and I bore a share of the blame.

I’d been the sportswriter for the Whitney Herald, and I had, in an effort to salvage the town’s struggling baseball team, engineered the signing of a Negro player, the now famous Percy Jackson. But white fans and most of the city’s leaders shuddered at the thought of mixing races, anywhere or for any reason. And night after night Jackson felt, and heard, a full measure of the town’s wrath.

We might have survived that. We might have outlived those first bursts of outrage, just as the Dodgers had with Jackie Robinson. And who knows, we may have flourished. But, in the midst of our experiment, the Supreme Court fielded one of its own. Nine black-robed justices outlawed “separate but equal” schools, and Whitney’s mothers and fathers came unglued. Our bankers, lawyers, and merchants panicked. Our city councilmen scurried for cover, shielding themselves behind a chorus of defiant proclamations. Our pastors joined the battle, too; white and colored both, they stormed to their pulpits and exhausted every ounce of the moral authority they had, urging their congregations to either comply or resist, deepening the wound that had gashed us.

The presence of Percy Jackson, living and playing in the midst of white teammates, was more stress than Whitney could bear. In a Negro ballplayer, my friends saw the looming threat of racial integration. When they watched him play they faced the unbearable truth that a Negro was better than the white men around him; it was a chilling glimpse into a dreadful future, and the threads that had held us together frayed.

As colored folks inched forward, as they crept—ever so scarcely—into the fabric of everyday life, their white neighbors scurried to block the path. And we all, in pursuit of the one thing we most treasured, ran ourselves right out of Eden.

Percy Jackson and I became the flesh-and-blood faces of one town’s trouble. He and I— a colored kid and a white reporter—personified every last drop of Whitney’s strain. And on a summer night in 1954 my home, and then his, became the bull’s-eye of our neighbors’ rage.


As I faced the aftermath an old college professor had called. And it is there that this story begins.

He had heard from the sports editor of the Atlanta Constitution, Furman Bisher. “I knew him when were both at the Charlotte News,” my teacher explained. “He’s looking for somebody who knows baseball, for a guy who’s just itching to cover the Atlanta Crackers and the Southern Association. You’d be perfect,” he said. Then he chuckled—a little too sadly I thought—“and besides, Ralph McGill, the editor down there, he’s probably the one guy who won’t hold all that Percy Jackson crap against you.”

My heart thumped audibly at the sound of the words “Atlanta Crackers,” and my salivary glands oozed. The Crackers were the New York Yankees of minor league baseball, the best team ever assembled in a Southern city—and that made this the best sports job south of Baltimore. “Who else is Bisher talking to?” I asked. “How long’s he been looking? When he’s going to decide?”

My friend chuckled. “I think I was his first call,” he said. “So if I were you, I’d hang up on me and call him. He’s expecting to hear from you.”

Furman Bisher had been in Atlanta for three or four years. I’d seen his work and I knew he possessed a first-rate talent. I remembered him from a few years before—it might have been 1949 or ’50—when he’d snagged an interview with Shoeless Joe Jackson. There wasn’t a sportswriter alive who wouldn’t have killed to swap places. It’d been thirty years since the Black Sox scandal, and the world had yet to hear from its fallen hero. An explanation was overdue, and when the time had finally come, it was Bisher who got the story.

The man wrote sports like Thomas Wolfe wrote novels—vividly and with elegance. He took his readers where they most longed to go—to the sixteenth green at the Augusta National, where the air was thick with just-bloomed azaleas; to Churchill Downs where the ground shook under the pounding hooves of Native Dancer; to Ponce De Leon Park where, as they read Bisher’s words they would, within the expanse of their own imaginations, crane their necks to follow the path of a long fly ball drifting back, back, back … and just clearing the left-field wall.

There wasn’t a game he didn’t love: baseball, basketball, football—he devoured them all. And he looked the part, too; a sportswriter straight out of central casting: curly black hair combed straight back, a boxer’s nose, thick, dark brows that arched above playful black eyes. He was rough and old school, but his words were always refined and perfectly mannered. And every time I read his work, I envied the talent he’d been given.


I lingered outside his office. It was 9:51 the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, 1955. A reporter leaned over the desk, both hands planted squarely on top, waiting. Bisher read; he tapped a pencil, his eyes racing left to right and down the page. A moment passed, and then another.

And then I heard the dreaded sigh. “What the—? What is this, Bill? The lead’s hobbling around like it’s crippled; there’s no drama, it might be nice to see a verb somewhere.…” There came another words-fail-me huff, then a crumpling sound, and then a ping into a distant trashcan. “Do it again,” Bisher snarled. “I need something in a half hour.”

Bill turned and stomped away. He was hunched low like a middle linebacker who’d tear your head off and know nothing but glee for the effort. He trudged fifteen feet down the corridor and punched the wall. At twenty feet he muttered furiously and unintelligibly. “Son,” “cram,” and “stick” were the only words I actually heard, but everyone within fifty feet got the gist of what was on Bill’s mind. Ten feet farther and he disappeared around the corner, still grumbling, the back of his neck now tinged with bright red rage.

Swell timing I thought. I took a deep breath, poked my head into the office, and rapped on the door. “Look, maybe it’s not a good time,” I said. “But—”


“Yeah. We had a ten o’clock appointment, but really if it’s not a good time—”

He glanced at his watch, scowling. “Good a time as any,” he muttered.

I eased into a coffee-stained, lopsided, and threadbare chair. Bisher tossed his pencil onto the desk, sat back, and opened with the only cliché I’d ever hear him use: “So tell me a little about yourself.”

Our conversation began, and I have loved Furman Bisher from that day to this one. I told him how much I had enjoyed his work, and on the day we first met he’d been kind enough to say some nice things about mine. We talked about the Atlanta Crackers and the Georgia Bulldogs. He described what it was like to follow Bobby Jones at the Masters. And I rendered a picture of what life was like covering minor league baseball. I told him how it felt to trail a flock of ugly duckling farm boys who dreamed of waking up one day—transformed—and standing at the plate in Yankee stadium … honest-to-goodness ballplayers.

We talked about coaches and athletes and the writers we most loved to read. We talked about the most thrilling sporting events we had ever, actually seen. We talked about why we loved the newspaper business. And we had talked for the better part of two hours when Bisher caught sight of the time.

“Geez, it’s nearly noon,” he growled. He stared up at the ceiling. Then he popped up from his chair and grabbed a wrinkled blue blazer. “You hungry?” he asked.

“Sure,” I told him. “I could eat.”

There’s a little cafeteria down near Tech.…” Bisher motioned for me to follow him. “Skillet-fried chicken’s terrific down there.”

We rode down Marietta to Highway 41, to where it changed to Hemphill Road, and then just a little further to Spring Street. The Pickrick restaurant was white with black trim. Four large windows sandwiched a pair of glass doors, and two small billboards—one advertising Dr Pepper, the other 7UP—were posted along the fence at the far side of the building. Inside, the placed swarmed with businessmen, carpenters, plumbers, and college kids—everybody shoving trays down the line, choosing from sweet potatoes, black-eyed peas, chicken, and pork. From the back side of the counter Negro servers heaped mountains of food onto glistening white china—all of it cheaper than anything you’d ever find in Whitney. From the moment I crossed the threshold, my mouth watered at the blended scents of the fresh-cooked foods.

The owner was easy to spot. He was a sunny, bald, round-faced man wearing thick black-framed glasses. He skimmed from customer to customer like a bee in a flower garden, calling his friends by name, asking about their kids and their work and their wives—working the room like a small-town mayor—smiling, backslapping, and joking with every human who had a heartbeat.

This guy would’ve been a perfect fit in Whitney, I thought. Homespun and natural, a man in his element, presiding over a room that was filled with friends, all sharing delicious conversation, and where everyone felt at home.

Bisher and I huddled over a tiny Formica-topped table, and we dreamed out loud about the future of Atlanta sports. It wouldn’t be long, Bisher thought, before Atlanta lured a big-league team to town. “This place is booming,” he told me. “There’s so dad-gum much money pouring in here.…” His eyes filled with thought of it. “Town makes Fort Knox look like a welfare case.” Bisher devoured the scene, savoring our rustic surroundings. “Take a good look,” he said, grinning. “This right here … this is the capital of the New South.”

He shoveled a forkful of fried chicken into his mouth. “I’m not kidding,” he went on. “You take this job and it won’t be long before you get a shot at the big leagues. There’s already talk about a new stadium; won’t be long after that.”

I held out my glass for a refill. “Sounds promising,” I said. “But can I tell you something?”

Bisher glanced up.

“I’m real partial to the stadium you got.”

A smile rippled across his face. “You’ve been to Ponce De Leon?”

“Yeah,” I said. “Once or twice.”

“Nothing like it in the world,” Bisher replied. “That old magnolia up on the terrace …” he tipped his glass toward me. “If that old boy could talk, now there’d be some stories to tell.”

“Somebody told me that Eddie Matthews hit a ball into the tree. That true?”

“It is a fact,” Bisher proclaimed. “And he was just a kid at the time; nineteen maybe?” Bisher stabbed at a mound of green beans. “Story goes round that Babe Ruth put one out there too.” He tossed back a who-knows smile. “I can’t confirm that one.”

“It’s a great place to watch a game,” I said. “Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to cover the big leagues—that’d be a dream come true. But there’s a piece of me that’ll hate to see Ponce De Leon go.”

Bisher’s head bobbed. “I know what you mean,” he replied, his voice lilting to the wistful side. “Place has got more memories than my wedding album.”

We joined the line at the cash register. Bisher fished for a couple of bucks, and I had just reached for a toothpick when a neighborly clap slammed down on my shoulder. “Hadn’t seen you in here before.” The owner of the Pickrick reached for my hand and shook as if we were distant cousins at a family reunion. “Lester Maddox,” he beamed, “the proprietor.”

“Jack Hall,” I replied. “Food was great.”

“That’s what we like to hear,” Maddox said, still pumping my hand warmly. “We want to see you back here real soon, and bring your family next time, you hear?”

I raised the toothpick into the air. “I’ll be sure to do that,” I promised.

He angled his head toward Bisher. “Now this man right here,” he said. “He puts out the best sports section in United States of America.” I heard the wink in his tone.

“Yeah,” Bisher growled—he handed the cashier a five—“but tell me something Lester: Which is better, my sports section or your fried chicken?”

Maddox tossed me a sly nod; he slapped me on the back and said, “Well listen, you boys hurry back, you hear?”

Bisher laughed and the two of us ambled outside, visoring our eyes against the midday sun. “Seems like a nice guy,” I said.

“Yeah …” Bisher stretched one syllable into four. “He is a nice guy. But he’s got this weird love-hate thing going on with the paper.” Bisher reached for his keys. Over the roof of the car he said, “And he and McGill—let’s just say they’re not on each other’s Christmas card list.”

I twirled the toothpick between my lips. “Why’s that?”

Bisher climbed into the car; he leaned over to unlock the door. “No need to get into the details,” he said, “but Lester’s been running these cockamamie ads for years; runs ’em on Saturdays when the rate’s cheaper, and he runs ’em in the Journal; he won’t put anything in our paper.” He shot me a quick glance. “And I don’t believe we’d take ’em anyway.”

“Because they’re ‘cockamamie’?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Bisher said. “He’s turned them into these bite-size editorials. He carries on about politics mostly; hardly ever says much about the food. But it’s funny, the ads actually work, and the truth is old Lester’s got a following that most columnists envy.” Bisher cut his eyes at me again. “He’s actually given their Saturday circulation a pretty good bump; people go out and buy the paper just to keep up with what ‘Pickrick Says.’”

“McGill can’t be jealous,” I insisted.

“No,” Bisher chuckled, “let’s just say that Lester’s politics don’t jibe too well with Mac’s.” He swung the car onto Forsythe Street. “We can probably leave it there for now.”


I began to gather my things, wondering in earnest what it’d be like to work here. My eyes toured the room, watching people scurry from point A to point B. Phones rang. Typewriters clacked. Copyboys raced from reporter to editor to composer. This was a different world than the one I’d known. The place surged with energy. People rushed with purpose. They were driven by deadlines and competition—by a hounding need to have their words read and admired.

Being there, standing in the midst of the clatter and chaos, I felt like a drunk in a Budweiser brewery. The sights and sounds stirred something inside, and it wouldn’t be long before I’d have to have at it.

Bisher tossed his coat onto the rack. “You mind hanging out for another minute?” he asked. “I think Mac wants to say hello.”

I snapped out of the trance. “McGill?”

“Yeah, if he’s got time. Just sit tight for a second, I’ll be right back”

I grabbed a copy of yesterday’s paper, wondering why Ralph McGill would even bother. This was low-level stuff, and Bisher could make the hire. But I was happy to have the chance to meet him. McGill was famous; I’d read his articles in the Saturday Evening Post and Atlantic Monthly. He was quoted in the New York Times and Chicago Tribune. He had even been on national television, dubbed by the northern media as “the moderate voice of the New South.”

McGill was one of those guys you either loved or hated. And Joe Anderson, my old boss at the Whitney Herald, groused about him fifty-two times a year. “Pompous ass,” Joe’d complain, shaking his head and making this tsking sound every time McGill’s name was mentioned. “Ain’t his job to get people all riled up, that’s what the politicians do; good newspaperman just gives ’em the facts,” Joe’d mutter. “People want to get riled up about ’em, that’s their business.”

Five minutes later Bisher ushered me into Ralph McGill’s office. He sat behind a humble and cluttered wooden desk. To his right, on a gray metal stand, sat an Underwood typewriter, a page cranked halfway down and paused in mid-sentence. A roll-top desk was behind him, nicked and scarred and worn with age. Piles of papers were littered across the top of it. In the back corner a coffee mug was crammed full of dull-edged pencils. Manuals and reports were stuffed in the overhead slots, and across the top a dozen books and binders slumped to the right in sloppy formation.

McGill stood and waved me in. “Make yourself at home,” he said. He looked at Bisher, “I’ll send him back as soon as we’re done.”

McGill was shorter than I’d imagined, paunchier too. But there was an air about him—an aura I’d guess you’d say—of grand ideas and purpose.

He reached for my hand. “I’ve read your work,” he said. “It’s good.”

He motioned for me to sit, and then dropped into his chair. He threw his legs over a corner of the desk, and then, as if he’d read my earlier thoughts, he explained: “The Sports page has always been important to me. When I started in the business Sports was the battleground. It was where a paper won or lost the circulation war. When I came here.…”

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"A Bride In The Bargain" Book Review

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

A Bride In The Bargain

Bethany House (June 1, 2009)


Deeanne Gist


Ahhh, another Deeanne Gist historical romance! How sweet it is! I enjoyed this particular book so much, it is actually based loosely on an actual event. Asa Mercer decides to leave the West and head East to bring brides back by ship for all the lonely fellows out West. Of course he charges the fellows a head hunters fee. Then he charges the women for passage. Then he hits the women up for more half way through passage and forgets to tell some of the women that they are actually supposed to get married to a pre-selected man when they get to their destination. And this is where we meet Anna who desperately needs a new start and thinks she is going to Seattle to be Joe Denten's cook and has no idea that Joe already has the wedding planned because without a bride he will lose half his land. When she refuses to get married everything spins out of Joe's control. But now if he actually falls for Anna, will she ever believe he wants her for any other reason than to just save his land?

Deeanne has such a great writing style, it sends you back in time but makes you laugh and refreshes you while you read. I loved this particular book, a couple of hers have been a little more edgy than I needed, this one was a perfect blend of edgy and sweet and total fun!


Deeanne Gist, the bestselling author of A Bride Most Begrudging and The Measure of a Lady, has a background in education and journalism. Her credits include People magazine, Parents, and Parenting. With a line of parenting products called "I Did It!® Productions" and a degree from Texas A&M, she continues her writing and speaking. She and her family live in Houston, Texas.

Since the debut of those novels, her very original, very fun romances have rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere. Add to this two consecutive Christy Awards, two RITA nominations, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you’ve got one recipe for success.


The Wedding Is All Planned...
Someone Just Needs to Tell the Bride

In 1860s Seattle, redwoods were plentiful but women scarce. Yet a man with a wife could secure 640 acres of timberland for free.

Joe Denton doesn't have a wife, though. His died before she could follow him to Seattle and now the local judge is threatening to take away his claim. In desperation, he buys himself a Mercer bride--one of the eastern widows and orphans brought to the Territory by entrepreneur Asa Mercer.

Anna Ivey's journey west with Mercer is an escape from the aftermath of the Civil War. She signed on to become a cook--not a bride. When she's handed over to Denton, her stubborn refusal to wed jeopardizes his land. With only a few months before he loses all he holds dear, can he convince this provoking, but beguiling, easterner to become his lawfully wedded wife?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Bride In The Bargain, go HERE

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Quinn is 1 year old today!

It's official - Quinn is 1 year old today!
Happy Birthday, Quinn!

He has learned that when the red flash starts he needs to smile, but he really cheeses out most of the time...
like this...

Sometimes his smiles make him look like he is in pain though...

Can you believe that's him happy???
What a goofball!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" Book Review

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:

and the book:

You Make Me Feel Like Dancing: A Novel (Va Va Va Boom Series)

David C. Cook; New edition edition (June 1, 2009)

I like a good chick-lit book and Allison Bottke's new book is touted as boomer-lit because it is about the baby boomer generation ladies. This is the first of three books in the series and it should be an entertaining series. In this first book we meet Susan and her husband and friends. Susan is known as the Disco Diva and lives and works in Las Vegas as a hair dresser at her own shop. She lives for the 70's and all things 70's. The more memorablia the better! She loves it all - the fashions, the music, the furniture and the stars and she has the collection to prove it. Her dream has always been to open a Disco Hall of Fame, but that is just a dream right? Now her husband is getting ready to retire, maybe just a little sooner than Susan was prepared for... and just maybe all those years of not telling her husband what exactly happened to her in the 70's is going to catch up with her. Overall this is a good book and for fans of the 70's it is probably fantastic! My biggest complaint is just that Susan has things a little too easy in the money department, that just made it a little "yeah, right" as far as I was concerned. Not everyone has unlimited access to money, and it made me not very sympathetic to her character. Other than that, this is a wonderful addition to the chick-lit category with an emphasis in boomer-lit!

Allison Bottke spent 17 years as a professional fund-raiser before her personal journey prompted her to create the best-selling God Allows U-Turns anthologies. Now a popular speaker and author of hip-lit fiction as well as nonfiction, Allison was one of the first plus-size models with the Wilhelmina agency. Today, she has created a place where fun, fashion, food, family, and faith merge to empower and inspire boomer women all around the world. That place is her website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition edition (June 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434799492
ISBN-13: 978-1434799494


Susan Anderson yawned and mumbled an incoherent complaint. She tried to focus heavy-lidded eyes on the glowing chartreuse numbers of the digital clock. Six a.m. She rolled onto her side and picked up the ringing cell phone, wishing she’d shut it off the night before. This was her day off, the one day in seven she could stay ensconced in her luxurious bed, wrapped in Egyptian cotton like a mummy princess. The one day in seven she could snuggle with her hubby when he came home from working the night shift.


“Slow down, Karen,” Susan whispered hoarsely. “I understand you haven’t been to sleep yet, but I’m still waking up, okay? Now, start from the top. Who’s Tina?”

Stretching like a limber feline, Susan propped her pillow against the headboard and slowly sat up, her eyebrows knitting together as she listened. Her eyes opened more fully as she listened to Karen’s amazing tale.

“… that’s the whole story. I’m afraid she’s going to do something drastic. Please, you have to help her. I know you don’t work Mondays, but you’re the only one I know who might be able to do something.”

Susan leaned her head back and yawned again as she considered.

“Susan? Susan, are you there?”

“Still here. Sorry. Okay. I need coffee and a bagel, but you can tell her to meet me at the salon at seven.”

“Seriously? Fantastic! You’re a lifesaver!”

Susan hung up the phone, rolled onto her stomach, and buried her face in her pillow. Part of her wanted to go back to sleep. But the rest of her loved a challenge—and this was truly a challenge. Although dull moments were few in her world, so were new ventures these days—at least ventures of the dramatic magnitude Karen had just described.

She pulled back the covers and eased up on the edge of the bed. Absentmindedly tucking a strand of ash-blond hair behind her ear, she considered her options for another minute or two before reaching for the phone.

“She works hard for the money, so hard.…”

“Stop singing, Loretta—please. It’s too early for Donna Summer, even for you. I hate caller ID.”

“Heretic—bite your tongue! It’s never too early for Donna. And you should love caller ID. It’s the only reason I always answer your calls.”

Susan laughed. More than a dependable employee, Loretta Wells was a good friend and a sister in faith. She was also the reason Susan could take Mondays off. Loretta was more than capable of handling things without the boss. In fact, she’d been Susan’s right hand for almost twenty years.

Every Monday morning before opening the salon at seven thirty, Loretta had coffee at the Starbucks just off Tropicana Boulevard. Susan knew she could depend on her to rise to this challenge, cut her Starbucks run short, and get things ready for Tina before she arrived.

Susan explained what little she knew about what she’d dubbed as Tina’s Tragic Trauma. “You don’t mind coming in early?” she asked.

“Are you kidding? Sounds utterly fascinating. Don’t worry about me—what about you? I don’t think I’ve seen you on a Monday in more than a decade. Think you can function?”

“Very funny. I’ll be just fine. See you in forty five.”

She flipped the phone shut, grabbed a notepad and pen from the bedside table, and scribbled a note to leave downstairs for Michael on her way out. Her husband wouldn’t get home until eight, about the time she was usually getting ready for work. He wouldn’t be happy with her for taking off like this on their one day together, but what could she do? This young woman needed her.

She recalled the most recent argument she’d had with Michael about this very subject.

“You’re a hairdresser for crying out loud—not George!” he had shouted into the phone last week when she called him from the salon at 2:30 a.m.

George was their neighbor, a psychologist who was on call for police emergencies twenty-four/seven.

“You wouldn’t say that, Michael, if you had seen her. The creep used a butcher knife to cut off her hair. I couldn’t say no. Michael, you should have seen …”

“What if he had showed up at the shop? What then? He might be outside waiting for you right now. Maybe I should come over and follow you home …”

“No, Michael, I’m fine. I’m sure he’s not waiting for me. He doesn’t have a beef with me.”

Susan didn’t tell him she had worried about the same thing when the girl showed up, referred by a friend who ran a shelter for battered women.

“I’m sorry I called,” she said with a sigh. What she had really wanted to share was her excitement at being able to pray with a young woman who was openly searching for an answer to the unexplainable emptiness in her heart.

“Me too,” Michael grumbled. “Now, get out of there and go home. I’ll stay on the phone while you lock up.”

That had been several days ago, and they had yet to talk about the situation again. She wasn’t exactly eager to bring it up—not with the way Michael had been acting lately. His sixtieth birthday loomed on the horizon, and Susan was quite certain he was having a delayed midlife crisis. She was hard-pressed to feel sympathetic. She was turning fifty in April, and she wasn’t snapping at everyone about every little thing.

Susan didn’t start thinking about Tina’s Tragic Trauma again until she was in the shower. What if she couldn’t help her? Lord, I’m almost embarrassed to bring this to you. I mean, I know it’s just hair. But what if Karen isn’t overdramatizing the situation? Surely someone wouldn’t commit suicide over a bad hair day, would she? Please help me help Tina. Amen.

Hurrying to get dressed, she pulled her thick hair back in a ponytail and wrapped a vintage Chanel scarf around her crown as a headband. She brushed her teeth, stroked on moisturizer, and applied her makeup in record time even though she’d been tempted to go without it, since her goal was to return home in a couple of hours and jump back into bed.

She quickly straightened up the bathroom for Michael, knowing he would take a shower as soon as he got home. When she finished, she sat down at her laptop and sent a quick e-mail to her online chat group. Then she checked herself one last time in the hall mirror and headed out the door.

From: Susan Anderson (

Sent: Monday, January 9, 6:43 a.m.

To: Patricia Davies; Mary Johnson; Lisa Taylor; Linda Jones; Sharon Wilson

Subject: You will NEVER believe this … story to follow

Good morning fellow boomer babes!

I’m off to work early … seems we have a Hair Emergency. I’ll fill you in when I know more. Can’t believe it’s only week two of the new year. Things haven’t slowed down at the shop … we’ve been operating full tilt since before Thanksgiving. Guess I shouldn’t complain … business is good. Hope everyone is healthy and happy.


Looking around the casino on his way out that morning brought Michael Anderson a bittersweet feeling. He liked his job, and every day yielded a new challenge. Yet, after thirty-five years, he was beginning to consider early retirement. The past night had been another busy one, and he was tired from walking the length of the property countless times as one mechanical problem after another surfaced. The Silver Spur was one of the oldest casinos in Las Vegas, and time was beginning to take its toll.

Of course, mechanical problems were easier to deal with than the inevitable people problems his wife seemed to encounter on a daily basis. He couldn’t imagine what it must be like for Susan, standing in one area, doing the same thing day in and day out. It must drive her crazy. It drove him crazy sometimes, just hearing about it.

“I love it, Michael, really I do,” she often told him. And he knew she was proud of her unique beauty salon, Disco Diva. But she had to be as tired of the daily grind as he was. They’d both been at it for so many years.

He couldn’t wait to get home and tell her his news—and this was the day to tell it. Monday was their only full day to spend together. Oh, sure, he saw her throughout the week, but not for long. Most days they were like the proverbial ships passing each other. He came home from the night shift just before she left in the morning, and she woke him when she returned from the salon in time for him to shower, get dressed, eat, and take off for work.

For years, though, they had enjoyed their evening meal together—Susan’s dinner and his breakfast. It was a solid ritual. And there was always something to talk about. Communication wasn’t a problem in their relationship. Having time to communicate was the problem. He’d once computed the time they’d actually spent together in the almost twenty-five years they’d been married; it was far less than the years implied.

And recently, it seemed, things were getting worse. More often than not during the past few months, Susan was already gone when he came home in the morning. And instead of waking him in person in the evening, she had taken to setting the alarm clock for him before she left for the salon.

This was all very unusual for her. He suspected she might be going through early menopause—not that he was an expert on such things. But she was certainly acting strangely these days. She spent more time at the salon than ever and seemed on edge a lot of the time.

That was another reason he’d decided to unveil his surprise a little early. It was time to free her from the growing responsibilities that were clearly taking away her joy.

Time for him to make their longtime dream come true.