Monday, September 19, 2011

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Here’s to Friends

David C. Cook (September 1, 2011)


Melody Carlson


Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past eight years, she has published over ninety books for children, teens, and adults--with sales totaling more than two million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List. Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards. And her "Diary of a Teenage Girl" series has received great reviews and a large box of fan mail.

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


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

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

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

Sunday, September 18, 2011

"Deadly Pursuit" Book Review

(Guardians of Justice #2)
Irene Hannon

As a social worker, Alison Taylor has a passion for protecting children and seeing that justice is served on their behalf. But when she starts getting harassing phone calls and bizarre "gifts," it seems she may be the one in need of protection. When her tormentor's attentions take a violent turn, her brother Cole comes to her aid, along with his new partner, an ex-Navy SEAL, Detective Mitch Morgan. As her relentless stalker turns up the heat, Mitch takes a personal interest in the case. Protecting Alison has become more than just a job--because his own happiness now depends on keeping her safe. Chock full of nail-biting suspense and heart-melting romance, Deadly Pursuit is Irene Hannon's storytelling at its very best. Fans old and new will not want to miss the next story in this series starring siblings fighting for justice.

I love the concept of this series - 3 siblings with different occupations that all put them on the side of fighting for truth, justice and the American way. Brother Jake was the star of book #1 and is a US Marshal. Brother Cole will be the star of book #3 and he is a homicide detective. Sister Alison is a Child Protective Services worker and she is the central figure in book #2. I really enjoy Irene Hannon's books and find them to be suspenseful and engaging and they keep my on the edge of my seat. While this book was good, it was a little less suspenseful than what I have come to expect. The situation ended up being life and death, but started out as a stalker... there was a lot of romance in this one, but not a lot of romantic tension. They both like each other... they are both incredibly good looking... they will eventually get together... There were some twists to the storyline that were good and I liked that we got to see Cole and Jake quite a bit as well. Overall it was good so I give this book 4 stars out of 5.

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

Saturday, September 17, 2011

"The Queen" Book Review



While investigating a double homicide in an isolated northern Wisconsin town, FBI Special Agent Patrick Bowers uncovers a high-tech conspiracy that twists through long-buried Cold War secrets and targets present-day tensions in the Middle East. In his most explosive thriller yet, bestselling author Steven James delivers a multi-layered storytelling tour de force that not only delivers pulse-pounding suspense but also deftly explores the rippling effects of the choices we make. The Queen is a techno-thriller that will leave you breathless, offered by the author Publishers Weekly calls a "master storyteller at the peak of his game."

Steven James' books are not for the faint of heart. If you have trouble sleeping at night I might not reccomend them but for anyone who loves to get your pulse pounding and reading books is all about sitting on the edge of your seat - then the Patrick Bowers books are made for you!

To call what Patrick Bowers goes through a thriller is an understatement. There are so many layers to this story that it is impossible to even try and give you a heads up. It wouldn't be fair to the reader in you to try and clue you in too much anyway. Most of the main characters are back in this next installment and doing what they do best. Racing against time to try and avoid death and destruction with only partial success. The dialogue is excellent and I love the way the conversations play out between the characters with Patrick's biting wit keeping the pace moving right along. But the real scene stealers are the depths of the storylines, the layers that Steven James weaves along and intertwines. He never leaves any stone unturned and I love how he lets Patrick figure things out.

I love, love, love the Patrick Bowers series. But I know they aren't for everyone, I reccomended them to my sister-in-law and it was too much for her. That's okay, I will eat up every installment and cry the day I find out the series is over.

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

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"The Amazing Fitness Adventure for Your Kids" 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 Amazing Fitness Adventure for Your Kids

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

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

As a mom of 7 that was extremely overweight and just finished a weight loss journey of my own by losing 72 lbs over the last 7 months, this book really spoke to me. I want to make sure that my kids don't go through what I did and that I can help teach them some good tools to keep them from ever reaching the extreme high weight that I did. This book is a wonderful tool for that. The first half is really good to know educational information and the second half is how to implement good habits into your life over the next 90 days with your family. Very easy to read, well laid out and encouraging - this book is designed to help families make realistic changes that will set them up to live long lives together. I will be going through this book with my kids this year. I hope many families read this book to get a hold of the wisdom that Amy and Phil have gained the hard way so that their families don't have to go through the same thing.


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

Visit the author's website.


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

Product Details:

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



Dream Big!

A Word from Amy

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

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

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

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

Dreaming Big for Our Family

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

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

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

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

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

Making Changes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Dreams Die

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taking the First Step

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Face the Facts

A Word from Amy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Facts

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

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

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

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

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

Priorities! Priorities! Priorities!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes, Love Means Saying No

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

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

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

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

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

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

Silent Destroyers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More than Feeling Blue

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

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

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

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

Unhealthy Building Blocks Lead to Unhealthy Adult Habits

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

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

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

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

More Facts

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

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

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

Is My Child Part of This Problem?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Make Change

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

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

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

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

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

How Healthy Are Your Kids?

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

My kids eat fast food…

a) once a week (2)

b) at least five times a week (3)

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

d) every day (4)

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

a) go out to eat (4)

b) go to the movies (3)

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

d) go to an amusement park (2)

The drink that my kids have most with meals is…

a) soda (4)

b) water (1)

c) milk (2)

d) juice (3)

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

a) an hour a day (2)

b) two hours a day (3)

c) three or more hours a day (4)

d) less than an hour a day (1)

My kids participate in regular exercise…

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

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

c) once a week (if we’re lucky) (3)

d) never (4)

We eat dinner together as a family…

a) during major holidays (4)

b) once a week (2)

c) at least five days a week (1)

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

If you scored:

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

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

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

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

"The Doctor's Lady" Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Doctor's Lady
Bethany House (September 1, 2011)
Jody Hedlund

I am fond of historical fiction but in the hands of certain writers I love historical fiction. After reading her 1st two books, I have decided that Jody Hedlund is one the historical fiction writers that I love. She has a penchant for taking a true story and fictionalizing it to life. That is what she has done here. The story of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman (whom I had heard of but didn't really know anything about) comes to life in the telling of Priscilla White and Dr. Eli Ernest. These two unlikely people that have a joint desire to serve in the missionary field and marry for convenience so they can accomplish that goal, come together and set out to cross the Continental Divide and establish a mission with the Nez Perce Indians. The hardships and trials that befall them along the way kept me quickly turning the pages and racing to see how it would end. One of my favorite parts of Jody's books are at the end when she writes about what was real and what was fiction in the book. In this particular case it was the things that I figured she made up that turned out to be true and the things that I figured were true turned out to be fiction. And the entire story was so beautifully written and crafted that I find myself wishing her next book was releasing now.


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

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

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


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

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

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

Watch the book trailer:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife" 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:

My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife: A One-Year Experiment...and Its Surprising Results

Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2011)

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

Oh my goodness! You mean I'm not the only one that isn't the perfect Proverbs 31 wife? This book was such a refreshing take on Proverbs 31. Like the author, most times I read that notorious chapter I end up feeling like I should just beat my head against a wall because there is no way I will ever stack up. Most days it's all I can do to just keep my head above water and I'm not making any progress at all. Reading Sara's experiences with trying to be the perfect Proverbs 31 wife was so freeing for me. It made me realize that I don't have to be perfect, but I shouldn't just give up, I need to at least attempt and strive for better. It was convicting with out being condemning and above all it was filled with refreshing honesty!


Sara Horn is a wife and mom, a writer, author and founder of Wives of Faith, a military wives ministry. She’s a sought-after media guest and writer of numerous articles and books including GOD Strong and the Gold Medallion nominee A Greater Freedom cowritten with bestselling author Oliver North. She’s devoted to her husband who serves in the U.S. Navy Reserves, crazy about her son, and passionate about her ministry to women. Please visit

Visit the author's website.


Sara Horn, a busy writer and mother, deemed the Proverbs 31 wife to be an impossible ideal. Or is it? This surprising, heartfelt personal account of Sara’s one-year experiment reveals how even a domestically-challenged woman can embrace God’s purpose and encourages readers to pursue God’s amazing plan for their lives.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736939415
ISBN-13: 978-0736939416


Oh Be Careful What You Preach

Yesterday was Sunday.

Our pastor started a new sermon series on the family. We missed the first sermon last week, but we were there yesterday for the second. The first week was “Dads Matter More than Anything.” This week’s was titled “Moms Matter Just as Much.”

Good to know.

As the pastor got started, I pulled out my Bible and my notebook, all ready to take notes. But then he said something that made my stomach churn. My hands instinctively made fists. My eyebrows furrowed.

The biblical passage he was speaking from was Proverbs 31.

Of course, I muttered to myself, turning to the passage I revere and fear at the same time.

The Proverbs 31 wife and I don’t get along very well. I don’t appreciate how bad she makes me look. I don’t like the guilt I feel when I see her. If she is the standard all Christian wives should work toward, then I’m in serious trouble. If she’s the equivalent of Miss America, then I’m a whole lot more like Lucille Ball. I have a lot of explaining to do for why I’m not more like Miss America. And I’m not really sure I can.

The pastor started making his points:

An Excellent Wife Is a Rare Find (v. 10).
An Excellent Wife Can Be Trusted in Every Way (vv. 11-12).
An Excellent Wife Is Concerned for Others (v. 20).
An Excellent Wife Is Strong and Stable (v. 25).
And so it went.

I stopped taking notes at “An Excellent Wife Is a Tireless Worker.”

My husband glanced over at me when he heard my notebook snap shut. He knows that’s never a good sign. Neither was the steam coming out of my ears and the laser stare in my eyes. He started looking for the exits, just in case.

I don’t like it when men tell women what will make us excellent. I don’t consider myself a feminist at all, but I just don’t think men can possibly understand the woman any more than we can understand the man. That’s why Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus was written. Eve may have been formed from the man’s rib, but she definitely had a mind of her own. And maybe, just maybe, if Adam had taken more time to understand her, the whole scene with the apple and the garden might have gone a lot better. Just sayin’.

Part of my struggle with the treatment of the fairer sex comes from the attitudes I’ve witnessed through the church denomination I’ve partly grown up and worked in. I agree with a lot that my denomination stands for. But when it comes to the treatment and attitudes about the service of women in the church, it often leaves me with the same feeling I get when I hear fingernails scratch down a chalkboard.

What I don’t understand is why there’s this 21-verse list of what the perfect wife is and not at least a Top 10 of what makes a perfect husband. I raised this question once on Facebook, and a guy I know who is deep into seminary classes pointed out that Ephesians 5:25-28 is an all-encompassing directive for husbands. See what you think:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Really? That’s great. Husbands are told to love their wives as they love themselves, and wives are given a laundry list of ways to show our love (just in case we might get confused and think the husband, as part of his love, might also “get up while it’s still dark and provide food” for his family). Husbands—you show love. Wives—get to cookin’.

Back to my stewing. I sat, listening to our pastor as he continued to speak on all the things that make an excellent wife, from the example of the Proverbs 31 superwoman:

A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.

Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.

She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.

She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.

She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.

She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.

She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.

She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.

In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.

When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.

She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
(Proverbs 31:10-31)

I kept reading this passage, over and over, the successes of this great wifely role model taunting me more than encouraging me, my very being wilting and shrinking as I sat there, no comparison to this giant of an example. I was waiting, for what, I didn’t know. Waiting for something—a bright glimmer, anything that my pastor might say to give all the wives sitting in the audience, or maybe just me, some hope. He didn’t let me down. His last point was the same point I have made in the past: The Proverbs 31 woman’s most important task is to fear the Lord (v. 30).

My breathing relaxed a little. This, after all, was something I understood. Of course, I want to be a better wife and homemaker. I want to be a better woman in general. But my greatest desire is to be closer to God as his daughter. I want that close, incredible relationship with him.

I haven’t always done well with this. If God and I were going for a walk in the park, I’d be the kid running out in front, barely able to wait for him. Patience is not my strength. Waiting on God is hard.

I began to prayerfully think over the pounding of my heart, the churning of my stomach, and my fingers digging into my thighs. OK, so why am I so mad? Am I mad at the Proverbs 31 wife? Am I upset with the pastor? Am I angry at myself? I mean, I argued with myself. Wouldn’t it be great if you COULD be like the Proverbs 31 wife—if you were praying and reading the Bible and really staying in touch with God every day? Couldn’t God help you do it all?

He could if he wanted to, I’m sure. I’m just not convinced he wants me to be able to do it all. I’m not even convinced that the Proverbs 31 wife was real. I mean, I grew up being told King Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs, and he wasn’t exactly a role model when it came to women. He liked having as many wives as he could, and in fact it was his infatuation for the opposite sex that got him into trouble toward the end of his reign.

What if this woman we’ve all idolized and tried to emulate is just a concoction from King Solomon and a group of his royal cronies who sat around one day, drinking beers, and decided to have an impromptu brainstorming session on what makes the perfect wife? And some servant of his wrote all of these ideas down on a big Post-it note and it eventually made its way into Proverbs with all the other wise things Solomon wrote? In fact, my Bible notes that verses 10-31, the Proverbs 31-wife passage, is actually an acrostic. Each verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. See? I told you it was a drinking game.1

Or if this woman really did exist, then maybe she was like the Martha Stewart of her day, and I’m sure the majority of the women living in that time didn’t like her and didn’t appreciate her. And while they watched her television shows and read her magazine, Housekeeping in the Holy Land, behind closed doors, they lived in fear and guilt that one day their husbands would come home and say, “Why can’t you be more like the Proverbs 31 wife?”

But then I got a crazy idea. Why can’t I be more like the Proverbs 31 wife? What would it be like to try and actually follow the example of this woman so many hold in such esteem?

I definitely had some things to think about.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

"To Have and To Hold" by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

To Have and to Hold

Bethany House (September 1, 2011)


Tracie Peterson
Judith Miller


Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 85 novels. She received her first book contract in November, 1992 with Barbour Publishings' Heartsong Presents. She wrote exclusively with Heartsong for the next two years, receiving their readership's vote for Favorite Author of the Year for three years in a row. In 1995 she signed a contract with Bethany House Publishers to co-write a series with author Judith Pella. Tracie now writes exclusively for Bethany House Publishers. She teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. Tracie was awarded the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for 2007 Inspirational Fiction and her books have won numerous awards for favorite books in a variety of contests. Making her home in Montana, this Kansas native enjoys spending time with family--especially her three grandchildren--Rainy, Fox and Max.

Judith Miller's first novel, Threads of Love, was conceived when she was commuting sixty miles to work each day. She wanted to tell the story of a pioneer girl coming to Kansas and the faith that sustained her as she adjusted to a new life. Through a co-worker, she was directed to Tracie Peterson who, at that time, worked down the hall from her. Having never met Tracie, Judith was totally unaware of her writing career, but God intervened. The rest is, as they say, history. Since that first encounter many years ago, Judith has been blessed with the publication of numerous books, novellas and a juvenile fiction book. Joyously, she and Tracie had the opportunity to develop a blessed friendship. In fact, they have co-authored several series together, including The Bells of Lowell, the Lights of Lowell and The Broadmoor Legacy.


When Audrey Cunningham's father proposes that they move to Bridal Veil Island, where he grew up, she agrees, thinking this will help keep him sober and close to God. But they arrive to find wealthy investors buying up land to build a grand resort on the secluded island--and they want the Cunninghams' acreage.

Contractor Marshall Graham can't imagine why the former drinking buddy of his deceased father would beckon him to Bridal Veil Island. And when Boyd Cunningham asks him to watch over Audrey, Marshall is even more confused. He has no desire to be saddled with caring for this fiery young woman who is openly hostile toward him. But when Audrey seems to be falling for another man--one who has two little girls Audrey adores--Marshall realizes she holds more of his heart than he realized. Which man will Audrey choose? And can she hold on to her ancestral property in the face of overwhelming odds?

If you would like to read the first chapter of To Have and to Hold, go HERE.

Friday, September 9, 2011

"52 Things Kids Need from a Mom" 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:

52 Things Kids Need from a Mom

Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2011)

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

I was looking forward to this book because as a mother of 7 wonderful kids I know that no matter how hard I try there is always more I can do. I do feel spread awful thin sometimes and know that I can't always give each of my kids individually what they need from me. I love the way Angela lays this book out. She has 52 wonderful topics and ideas that give me as a parent something to shoot for. Some of them affirm me that I am doing something right. Some of them give me some great ideas to work on. None of them made me feel condemnation for not being perfect. This book is an excellent way to take one chapter a week and work on the little things that can make a big difference in your children's life. Excellent book!


Angela Thomas is a sought-after speaker, teacher, and bestselling author of Do You Think I’m Beautiful, My Single Mom Life, Prayers for My Baby Boy, and Prayers for My Baby Girl. She inspires thousands at national conferences, workshops, and through video studies that she filmed and wrote including When Wallflowers Dance.

Visit the author's website.


Bestselling author and mother of four Angela Thomas delivers a helpful, encouraging gathering of 52 inspiring ideas for moms who, in the whir of busyness, long to connect with their kids. Moms will learn to lead with God’s love in the small moments that make up an abundant, intentional life.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736943919
ISBN-13: 978-0736943918


Kids Need Their Mom…

To Pray in Secret
with the Door Open

In my first years as a mom, I desperately wanted to keep a passionate spiritual life with God. I wanted to read the Bible. Sit quietly and pray. Maybe even write a few things in my journal. It’s just that my little people would not cooperate. I had four babies in seven years, and not one of them was willing to go along with my plan. My heart kept longing to go back and have a spiritual life the way I’d always had. Alone. It took me a while to realize that being a mom means you might never be alone again.

Frustrated. Probably even mad sometimes. I remember shaking my head and just fussing on the inside about my crazy, chaotic predicament. I am trying to be with God so that I can be a better mom. Anybody with me here? As you can imagine, being alone rarely happened. And I’d feel guilty about my crumbling spiritual life. And the only ones I knew to blame were them, the ones I loved so dearly, who needed me every minute.

I’d love to tell you that the answer for my struggle came to me in a moment of brilliance. But I was too tired to be brilliant. There was just an afternoon. I think I put on a video for the kids to watch and went upstairs to my bedroom. For some reason I kept the door open and sat down on the floor to read my Bible for a minute, and then I stretched out, facedown, on my carpet to pray. I guess I had been praying for one whole minute, and then they came.

I could hear them coming down the hall, but that day, instead of stopping what I was doing, I just kept lying there, praying. Of course, they walked right in, and I’m sure you can guess what they did. They crawled on top of me. And they played with my hair. And they wiggled their little faces up to mine.

“Hey, mama,” one whispered.

“Hey, honey,” a gentle, not frustrated, voice spoke from inside of me.

“Watcha doin’?” they said in unison.


“Oh…it looked like you were sleeping,” an honest observer said.

It’s been known to happen, I admitted to myself.

Do you know what they did next? Those little toddling children lay down beside me and mostly of on top of me and prayed too. Oh, they prayed squirrelly prayers that lasted for only a couple of minutes, but they prayed. My babies were praying because they had seen their mama praying.

After a few minutes they were done, but I just kept lying there while they ran in and out. Back to the video. Then back to check on praying mom. And God settled something inside of me that afternoon. The days of being a college coed with lots of time to be alone to pray were over. That chapter was closed. And honestly, I didn’t want to go back. I just longed for the sweetness of how I used to spend time with God.

But lying on my bedroom floor that day, I knew I heard Him speaking to me:

This is how I want you to pray now. Pray in secret—with the door open. I want them to see you being with Me. I want them to catch you turning to your heavenly Father for guidance. I want them to learn from you how to walk with Me. No dramatic presentation needed. No fanfare required. Angela, this is a new season with a new way. And this new way for your heart pleases Me.

I remember being so very humbled. And grateful. My uptight, “everything must be right” personality could have kept me away from God for years. Trying to get it all together. Trying to be just right before I could spend time with Him. But that day God so tenderly walked me step-by-step through one of the most powerful lessons about grace I have ever known.

Come to Me messy.
Come when you’re tired.
Let the children lie on top of you.
Let them interrupt you.
You do not have to be perfect…just come to Me and let them see.

A woman stopped me last night. She said she’d heard me tell this story a few years ago and it completely changed her as a mom. She too had been trying to keep the rules and do things neatly, in order, the way she always had. She told me, “I do my Bible study sitting on the bathroom floor while my kids are in the tub. Most of the pages are warped by splashes of water, and some of my notes written in ink run, but those messy, imperfect books are treasures to me now.”

My kids are older now, but the lesson remains. They still need to catch me praying. They should walk past my room and know I’m reading my Bible. They need to find the notes I’ve taken lying on the counter in the kitchen. They need to overhear me praying with a friend on the phone.

I bet your kids do too.

It seems that the lessons we so want to teach our kids are transferred—and not because we sit them down in the living room, pass out ten pages about being spiritual, and then give them a long-winded lecture about how our family is going to follow God. The thing that shapes them more deeply is that you and I pursue God in the everyday of living—that our spiritual lives become the backdrop for their childhood. Bibles left open are normal. A kneeling, praying mom is an ordinary sight. Bibles studies done at bath time, routine.

Reaching Their Hearts

One afternoon I had gone to pray in secret, but God so beautifully taught me that my “secret” needed to be seen. Jesus said in Matthew 6 that we are supposed to keep a secret life. To give in secret, pray in secret, and fast in secret. But I think that when we become moms, for a season those sets of eyes sent from heaven to watch you need to see what you do with God in your “unseen” moments.

May it be so for you and me. And may the children who witness our prayers learn to pray more powerfully because they catch us being with God.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"Pirate of My Heart" by Jamie Carie

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:

Pirate of My Heart

B&H Books (September 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Julie Gwinn, B&H Publishing Group, A Division of LifeWay Christian Resources for sending me a review copy.***


Jamie Carie is the author of Snow Angel, a ForeWord magazine Romance Book of the Year winner, USA Book News National “Best Books 2007” Awards winner, and 2008 RITA Awards® Best First Book finalist. Her third novel, Wind Dancer, was a 2010 Indiana State Library Best Books of Indiana finalist. She lives with her husband and three children in Indianapolis.

Visit the author's website.


When her doting father dies, Lady Kendra Townsend is given a choice: marry the horrid man of her cold, money-grubbing uncle's choosing or leave England to risk a new life in America with unknown relatives. Armed with the faith that God has a plan for her, Kendra boards a cargo ship and meets American sea captain Dorian Colburn. But the captain has been wounded by a woman before and guards his independent life. A swashbuckling man doesn't need an English heiress to make him slow down, feel again, or be challenged with questions about his faith-or so he thinks. It is not until Dorian must save Kendra from the dark forces surrounding her that he decides she may be worth the risk.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805448152
ISBN-13: 978-0805448153



Arundel, England 1777

The grey clouds of dawn shivered against the paned glass of the castle, shrouding the three figures at the side of the four-poster bed in an eerie light. The raging storm of the night before had settled into a dreary misting rain though an occasional jagged flash of lightning flaunted its power, not yet ready to relinquish its right to ravish the leaden sky. Dim light clung to the faces of those inside the bedchamber where the very walls seemed to echo the anguish felt inside the room.

All that could be heard in the chamber was the shallow, labored breathing of the one abed. A frail creature, now, pale and lifeless after the travails of childbirth. The others included the old family doctor, Radley, who hovered beside his patient and friend of many years with a strained look in his eyes. Hovering in the shadows was Bridget, the lady's long-standing nurse and companion. But their suffering was not to be compared to the tall, handsome gentleman who knelt at the woman's bedside, her hand clasped in his; a haunted look in his eyes that attested to the fact that he too feared the end was near for his beloved.

He gazed down at the limp form of his wife. She lay so still, so pale, sunk into the feather mattress as if she'd become a part of it. In a matter of hours she'd become a shallow breathing shell of the bright and glorious women she had once been. How was he to live without her? His heart spasmed with the thought.

He held his breath as her thin, white eyelids opened to reveal pain-racked eyes the color of bluebells. She exerted a small strength in squeezing his hand while a serene smile played at her lips. Her voice was a weak whisper. "I will not be leaving you forever, my darling. Our daughter will grow strong and always be a symbol of the love we shared."

"No." Edward groaned in anguish, his head falling forward, his hand clasping tight as if to force his strength into her. "I will not let you go."

"Love her, Edward, love her with all that you are." Lady Eileen closed her eyes seeming to gather what little strength she had to continue speaking. A small, whimpering sound came from the shadows of the room where Bridget held the newborn babe to her bosom. Lady Eileen opened her eyes at the sound. "Please, let me hold my sweet child."

The nurse skirted around the bed with the tiny bundle, her eyes bright with tears. "She's the mos' beautiful of babes, my lady, truly she is." She laid the wee babe in her mother's fragile arms.

His wife stared down at their daughter and then looked up at him. Her voice became fierce but still so quiet Edward had to lean in to catch the words. "This one has a special purpose in life and I expect you all to care for her as I would have."

Edward could only nod, mute and staring, aching with grief.

"I have one more request to ask of you, my love." Her breath rasped in and out causing the panic in Edward's stomach to claw into his chest like a nightmare's hand, but he nodded for her to continue and clung to her hand.

"My greatest joy in life has been you. I want her to find love, someone to share her life with who is as kind, as loving and wonderful as I have had in you." She rested a moment before continuing. "Let her choose, Edward, do not make a match for her. I know it is right." She gasped for a final breath. "I've made provision. In my will . . . no entailments, Edward. Give her the dragonfly brooch as a promise from me that I will be looking down from heaven to keep her safe."

"Of course, my darling, anything you ask I will do."

A small smile touched Eileen's lips as she gazed at their beautiful child for the last time. With a single tear sliding down her cheek she kissed the light fuzz on the child's head. "I love you." She breathed the words with her last breath, barely audible, and then she went still.

Edward collapsed over her limp hand still clutched in his strong one. "No," he cried with ragged breath. He brought the hand to his check, soaking it with his tears, willing her to come back to him.

Arundel, England - 1796

Kendra stopped halfway down the path that led to the stables, happiness lifting her heart at the autumn scene. The leaves had turned into a crimson, sunny yellow and carroty riot of color, as if a magician had waved a wand during the night and created a new world. She stepped across the lawn, feeling the kind of happiness that burst against the walls of her chest, stopping long enough to turn in slow circles so to watch the waving leaf show. She closed her eyes, still slowly twirling and smiled up toward heaven, humming a simple song of praise to God. The notes of her song danced around her and made a happy knot form in her throat. There was nothing she loved more than singing praises to God. Her father had instilled his love for God in her since she was a child - always making sure they had a curate in the village residence for weekly services at St. Nicholas Parish Church, praying with her each night before bedtime and teaching her scriptures and hymns. Most of all, he’d been an example of someone who was temperate, kind and patient. They had memorized the scripture about the fruits of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control - and often reminded each other of the one they should practice when the occasion called for it. She wished so much to be like him but sometimes her best intentions went awry and she fell short, far short of her father’s shining example.

The sound of wheels crunching over dead leaves gave her pause. She stopped, turned toward the horse-shoe drive at the front of the castle and saw a shiny black post-chaise carriage. Who could it be? They had not seen visitors in so long. Kendra hurried toward the entrance to meet their guest, then came to an abrupt stop and clasped her hands in front of her dress. She held her breath as a tall, handsome man sprang from the carriage. He was dressed in a waist-coat of navy wool with an intricately knotted necktie at his throat, cream colored breeches and matching hose. She lifted her gaze to his face. Her jaw dropped with surprise. The face staring back at her looked like the one in her bedchamber mirror each morning . . . except for the color of his eyes.
Andrew Townsend matched his nieces startling gape as he found himself looking into the younger, female version of himself. Surely this was not Edward's daughter! She could have been his own child. Recovering from his shock with more effort than he'd exerted in months, Andrew questioned the young lady. "And who might this lovely creature be? A relative of mine, perhaps?"

She curtsied and smiled up at him. "I'm Kendra Townsend sir, and who might you be?" Her smile was soft and contagious, so irresistible that Andrew found himself thawing in her presence.

"I am Andrew Townsend, your uncle, my dear." He held out his hand in greeting. "I am most pleased to finally meet you. It seems we bear a striking resemblance to one another."

"You're very handsome." She stated with bold faced honesty.

Andrew let out a bark of laughter. "Well. Thank you, I'm sure. Now, would you be so kind as to show me to your father? I have some business to conduct with him."

"Of course, sir." Kendra replied as she reached for his arm. "Your papa's brother, his twin, aren't you?" Her eyes lit up as she led him through the front door, past their astonished looking butler, and down the wide corridor, the elegant carpet making silence of their footsteps. Just as well, the surprise element couldn't hurt to gage how his dear brother was going to react to his request. “Father will be in his study with his solicitor this time of day.” At her knock they heard a preoccupied "come in."

The Earl of Arundel sat behind an ancient desk with stacks of documents in front of him. Facing him was Mr. Walcott, the trusted family solicitor. As they walked into the study, Edward's face lit up with joy. Then, as he looked beyond her, his eyes widened and his mouth dropped open.


Andrew put on his best smile and chuckled, walking forward toward his brother. He needed Ed to accept him back into the family fold and that might require some persuasion. "Great heavens, man, is it really you?" Edward came from behind the desk and greeted him with a handshake and an awkward hug that turned into a haphazard slapping against his shoulder. "You remember Parker Walcott." He motioned to the man who had risen, eyes round behind his spectacles.

"Yes, of course, how's the family, Parker? Dorothy and the children doing well?" Andrew felt the smooth mask of charm take hold of his being and hoped Parker would take the hint. He looked as if he’d seen a ghost.

"Oh, very good, my lord, yes indeed. And yourself?"

"After meeting my lovely niece here, I couldn't be in better spirits." Andrew replied. "Ed, why have you failed to mention our likeness in your letters? It nearly frightened us both out of our wits when we clapped eyes on one another." The laughter in his voice was real this time.

"It's been so long since I've seen you." Edward hastened to explain. "Until this moment I didn't realize just how much you resemble each other." He glanced from one to the other, astonishment and something disapproving, consternation perhaps in his eyes before continuing. "Your eyes are more blue than her unusual shade of violet, but you’re quite right, you resemble twins more than you and I ever did. It's remarkable, isn't it?"

Edward motioned for Andrew to have a seat. "Please, join us." They both looked up at Kendra to find her staring at Andrew. Andrew winked at her as he plopped down in the chair beside Parker. Edward cleared his throat and frowned at his daughter. "Kendra, go down and have Willabee bring up some refreshments please."

Kendra nodded but clung to Andrew's side before she left. "How long can you stay Uncle Andrew? You should stay at least until the end of the week." Her eyes were bright with excitement.

"And what, pray tell, happens at the end of the week?" Andrew asked with a half grin that he'd been told sent the ladies into a swoon.

"I've persuaded papa to have a garden party." Her eyes slid to her father before she continued. "He hates to entertain you know, but I've been so forlorn for company my own age since my friend, Lucinda, moved away that he's feeling guilty and has agreed. Please say you'll stay. Lady Willowbee's girls will be absolutely speechless for once."

"I seem to recall a Lady Willowbee, lives down the way, only other gentry around here, eh?" At Kendra's nod Andrew chuckled with the memory. "A bit of a sour puss. Are her girls as malicious and back-biting as she and her sisters used to be?"

Kendra put her hand to her mouth in an attempt to suppress a horrified giggle.

"Can't offend them though," Andrew continued with grave mirth, "must do our duty and invite the only other cream de la cream in the area, even though it is soured cream, is that the dilemma you find yourself in, my dear?"

“Papa says I must love them as the Bible says.” Kendra raised her brows in beseeching charm that he recognized as one of his own trademark moves. "But if you were there it would be ever so much easier. They will be nice in hopes of an introduction. Please say you'll stay."

Andrew caught his brother's gaze and asked in a soft voice. "Can you deny her anything?"

Edward looked down and cleared his throat, a red flush filling his cheeks. "Very little, I'm afraid.

Swinging back to Kendra's expectant gaze, Andrew mused. "I will have to give you your answer later, moppet, but I promise I'll try.

That seemed to satisfy her as she gave him a happy nod and turned to leave the men to their business.

"You're going to have a devil of a time fighting off all the suitors at your door, Edward. She's amazing." Andrew remarked as he watched the whirl of Kendra's skirts around the door as she left.

Edward sighed. "I've already had my share of offers, but she's just nineteen. I'm not ready to see her betrothed to anyone yet."

"I can understand why, she brightens up the old place." Pausing, Andrew ran his fingers through his blond hair and added. "I was truly sorry about Eileen, Edward. I would have attended the funeral had I not been out of the county."

"I won't pretend I was anything other than devastated. But time has a way of taking the edge off the grief and Kendra has taken care of the rest. I don't know how I would have gone on if she had died with her mother.”

Andrew didn't know how to respond to his brother's heart-wrenching revelation. Edward had aged in more than the receding hairline and creases around his mouth it would seem. Andrew cleared his throat and looked down at the floor.

Edward leaned across the desk, his hands clasped together. "Enough about me, what have you been doing with yourself these last fifteen years?"

"A little of everything, I dare say. Traveled around a good bit." The rake's smile slide across his lips and he shrugged. "Been enjoying life with good drink, fine horseflesh and beautiful women."

Edward shook his head in an older brotherly way. "I know only too well of your love for the worldly passions. It's a life that will never satisfy you, you know. I have to hear of your exploits every time I'm in London. When will you settle down? Start a family of your own?"

A bark of laughter escaped Andrew's throat. Not here ten minutes and he was already getting the lecture. "Now is not a good time for thinking of that, Ed. I - uh, seem to have gotten myself into a bit of a jam." Glancing at Parker Walcott, Andrew girded up his courage and rushed out the rest before his nerve failed him. "I was hoping to have a word with you, big brother. I have some business I would like to discuss."

Parker rose rather abruptly for one keen to the family's business dealings. Andrew smothered a chuckle as the solicitor beat a hasty path to the door. "I will bid you both good day, my lord. You and your brother have much catching up to do." Andrew suppressed a chuckle as he scurried from the room.

After the door was closed silence descended upon the room. Andrew braced his arms on his legs and pressed his sweaty palms together.

Edward broke the silence with a voice both grave and guarded. "What can I do for you, Andrew?"

Shifting in the chair, Andrew ran a well-manicured hand though his blond hair, took a deep breath and plunged into his story.
It would seem Andrew had heard, through a reputable source, about an investment that was sure to make him a very wealthy man. The Brougham Company had been started to finance several voyages of trade to America with goods the colonist desperately needed. Five great ships had set sail over six months ago to deliver their goods. Andrew had invested all that he had and was given a great deal of credit as he bore the Townsend name.

The first two ships to sail had been attacked by pirates and overtaken. The following ship did not survive a great storm, and of the two that made it to America, one had perishables on it that were ill-packed, causing the contents to spoil, while the other had cheaper goods that even when sold at an exorbitant price did not come close to making up for the expense of the trip. "I've lost everything and my creditors are threatening Newgate Prison if I don't come up with the funds."

Edward listened with sinking despair. It seemed fate would never grant his twin the power he so desperately coveted. "Of course I will help you, Andrew. Have your creditors send me the contracts and I will take care of them." He paused before continuing in a fatherly tone. "I understand you want to handle matters on your own, but please consider consulting me or even Walcott before plunging into a scheme like this in the future." Edward pressed his lips together with that eagle-eyed stare that always made Andrew squirm in his chair. "I could have had the company investigated for you, at the very least."

"Of course." Andrew shook his head, eyes downcast. The act was growing tedious but pressed on. "It's just that I was so excited. I wanted to surprise you and mother with my good fortune. I realize the family thinks me a spoiled dandy so I wanted to do something to make you all proud. Instead I proved what an idiot I am."

"Now don't be too hard on yourself. We've been through worse and we'll come through this together."

"I can't thank you enough, Ed, just the thought of that prison sent me fleeing here on wings. There is just one more thing," Andrew rushed out, fidgeting with his fingers. "I was wondering if the creditors could go through old Parker instead of you. That way it won't become common knowledge that my brother had to pay off my debts. It's a matter of pride you see." He raised his brows and gave Edward a shrug of his shoulders.

"Of course. There's no need for our business to become something for the gossip mills."

Andrew stood up, gave his brother a quick, firm hug, and hurried from the room.
Edward gazed at the closed door, sadness and bewilderment weighing down his shoulders like a heavy blanket. He had not seen his brother for years, and then when he finally did come home, it was only because he was in trouble and needed money. Would they ever be close?

Dear God, help me reach him.

He let his thoughts drift back to their childhood, a good and proper upbringing he had always thought, but not without its animosities. Animosities that led all the way back to their birth.

They had heard the tale countless times. Edward had been the first-born twin, the heir to the earldom, but it had come about by a strange quirk of fate. His mother, who now lived on her own estate miles from Arundel, had pushed for hours with no sign of the babies coming.

The midwife, in an effort to feel the baby's position, placed one hand on the extended abdomen and the other inside the womb. She pulled back in surprise. "Your ladyship, I do believe you are having twins. There's a head and feet near the opening."

His mother gasped and her face whitened. "Twins! I shan't be able to do it."

The contractions continued though, strengthened instead of daunted by the thought of two.

Hours dragged by as they all wondered if Lady Lenora would be able to deliver the babies. In a wondrous moment, a hushed moment between pushes, a tiny foot poked out of the womb. The midwife didn't say anything but knew the importance of the firstborn's place so she tied a scarlet thread around the tiny ankle. Gently slipping the foot back up, she concentrated on delivering the baby in the head-down position. The child seemed ready to cooperate and after several more minutes emerged from the womb.

"A boy, my lady." One of the servants rushed to take the child to clean him before he was presented to his mother. After another hour, Lady Lenora held two healthy sons. She noticed the thread and looked up at the midwife. "But what's this, Ida?"

The midwife told the story of how that child had poked his little foot out first and thought to tie the yarn around his foot in the event that Lord Townsend would regard him the first born.

And he had. Lord Albert Townsend named the babe with the string around his ankle Edward Alexander Townsend, and proclaimed him the rightful heir. Lenora named his twin brother, Andrew Richard Townsend and thought that son cheated.

Edward's knuckles whitened with the memory as he clinched his hands into fists. They'd been so close when they were boys! Inseparable until the day Andrew heard the story of his birth bluntly put by a stable hand. Andrew had changed then, pulling away and becoming distant and ever more brooding. After awhile it seemed they had little in common and less to like about each other. And that wasn't even the worst of it. The resentment his mother held destroyed their marriage. Lenora devoted herself to spoiling her younger son which forced the earl to take Edward's causes.

Edward sighed, his head dropping forward, sadness pulling at his heart. They were so different in every way. Andrew was strikingly handsome with his fair hair and pale blue eyes, so much like their mother. Edward supposed he was the epitome of an Englishman with his dark brown hair, aristocratic nose, and hazel eyes. And that was only their outward differences. Inwardly they couldn't be more distant. He a long-grieving widower and Andrew a financially destitute dandy in dire straits. But he was back.

His brother had come home.

Maybe if he loved him enough, if he showed it and gave him all the attention and praise and . . . well, whatever it was that Andrew needed, maybe he could, uptight Englishman that he was, humble himself and shower his brother with love.

Father, help me love him the way he needs it. Help me show him You.