Monday, December 22, 2008

Before the Season Ends

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

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

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Before the Season Ends

Harvest House Publishers (December 1, 2008)


Linore Rose Burkard lives with her husband, five children, and ninety-year-old grandmother in southeastern Ohio. She homeschooled her children for ten years. Raised in New York, she graduated magna cum laude from the City University of New York (Queens College) with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature. Ms. Burkard wrote Before the Season Ends because she could not find a book like it anywhere. "There are Christian books that approach this genre," she says, "but they fall short of being a genuine Regency. I finally gave up looking and wrote the book myself." She has begun four other works of fiction in the category.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 12.99

Paperback: 348 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (December 1, 2008)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736925511

ISBN-13: 978-0736925518


Chesterton, Hertfordshire



Something would have to be done about Ariana.

All winter Miss Ariana Forsythe, aged nineteen, had been going about the house sighing.

“Mr. Hathaway is my lot in life!”

She spoke as though the prospect of that life was a great burden to bear, but one which she had properly reconciled herself to. When her declarations met with exasperation or reproach from her family—for no one else was convinced Mr. Hathaway, the rector, was her lot—she usually responded in a perplexed manner. Hadn't they understood for an age that her calling was to wed a man of the cloth? Was there another man of God, other than their rector, available to her? No. It only stood to reason, therefore, that Mr. Hathaway was her lot in life. Their cold reception to the thought of the marriage was unfathomable.

When she was seventeen, (a perfectly respectable marrying age) she had romantic hopes about a young and brilliant assistant to the rector, one Mr. Stresham. It was shortly after meeting him, in fact, that she had formed the opinion the Almighty was calling her to marry a man of God. Mr. Stresham even had the approval of her parents. But the man took a situation in another parish without asking Ariana to accompany him as his wife. She was disappointed, but not one to give up easily, continued to speak of “the calling,” waiting in hope for another Mr. Stresham of sorts. But no man came. And now she had reached the conclusion that Mr. Hathaway--Mr. Hathaway, the rector, (approaching the age of sixty!) would have to do.

Her parents, Charles and Julia Forsythe, were sitting in their comfortably furnished morning room, Julia with a cup of tea before her, and Charles with his newspaper. A steady warmth was emanating from the hearth.

“What shall we do about Ariana?” Mrs. Forsythe, being an observant mama, had been growing in her conviction that the situation called for some action.

“What do you suggest, my dear?” Her husband reluctantly folded his paper; he knew his wife wanted a discussion of the matter and that he would get precious little reading done until she had got it.

She held up a folded piece of foolscap: the annual letter from Agatha Bentley, Charles’s sister, asking for Alberta, the eldest Forsythe daughter, for the season in London. It had arrived the day before.

Aunt Bentley was a childless wealthy widow and a hopeless socialite. For the past three years she had written annually to tell her brother and his wife why they ought to let her sponsor their eldest daughter for a London season. She owned a house in Mayfair (could anything be more respectable than that?) and knew a great deal of the big-wigs in society. She had, in fact, that most important of commodities which the Forsythes completely lacked: connexions. And as Charles’s family were her only living relatives, she was prepared--even anxious--to serve as chaperon for her niece.

Much to the lady's frustration, Julia and Charles had annually extinguished her hopes, replying to her letters graciously but with the inevitable, “We cannot countenance a separation from our child at this time,” and so on. Charles was unflinching on this point, never doubting his girls would reap a greater benefit by remaining beneath his own roof. They knew full well, moreover, that Aunt Agatha could not hope, with all her money and connexions to find as suitable a husband for their offspring as was possible right in Chesterton.

Why not? For the profound reason that Aunt Bentley had no religion whatsoever.

And yet, due to the distressing state of affairs with Ariana, Julia wished to consider her latest offer. With the letter waving in her hand she said, “I think we ought to oblige your sister this year. She must be lonely, poor thing, and besides removing Ariana from the parish, a visit to the city could prove beneficial for her education.”

Ariana’s father silently considered the matter. His eldest daughter Alberta was as good as wed, having recently accepted an offer of marriage--to no one’s surprise--from John Norledge. Ariana, his second eldest, had been irksome in regard to the rector, but to pack her off to London? Surely the situation was not so dire as to warrant such a move.

“I think there is nothing else for it,” Mrs. Forsythe said emphatically. “Ariana is determined about Mr. Hathaway and, even though we can forbid her to speak to the man, she will pine and sigh and like as not drive me to distraction!”

Taking a pipe out of his waistcoat pocket (though he never smoked), Mr. Forsythe absently rubbed the polished wood in his fingers.

“I recall other fanciful notions of our daughter’s,” he said finally, “and they slipped away in time. Recall, if you will, when she was above certain her destiny was to be a missionary--to America. That desire faded. She fancies this, she fancies that; soon she will fancy another thing entirely, and we shan’t hear another word about the ‘wonderful rector’ again.”

Mrs. Forsythe’s countenance, still attractive in her forties, became fretful.

“I grant that she has had strong…affections before. But this time, my dear, it is a complicated affection for in this case it is the heart of the ah, affected, which we must consider. It has ideas of its own.”

“Of its own?”

Mrs. Forsythe looked about the room to be certain no one else had entered. The servants were so practiced at coming and going quietly, their presence might not be marked. But no, there was only the two of them. She lowered her voice anyway.

“The rector! I do not think he intends to lose her! What could delight him more than a young, healthy wife who might fill his table with offspring?”

Mr. Forsythe shook his head.”Our rector is not the man to think only of himself; he must agree with us on the obvious unsuitability of the match.”

The rector was Thaddeus Admonicus Hathaway, of the Church in the Village Square. Mr. Hathaway was a good man. His sermons were grounded in sound religion, which meant they were based on orthodox Christian teaching. He was clever, and a popular dinner guest of the gentry, including the Forsythes. If these had not been true of him, Mr. Forsythe might have been as concerned as his wife. Knowing Mr. Hathaway, however, Charles Forsythe did not think a drastic action such as sending his daughter to the bustling metropolis of London, was necessary.

Mrs. Forsythe chose not to argue with her spouse. She would simply commit the matter to prayer. If the Almighty decided that Ariana must be removed to Agatha’s house, then He would make it clear to her husband. In her years of marriage she had discovered that God was the Great Communicator, and she had no right to try and usurp that power. Her part was to pray, sincerely and earnestly.

Mr. Forsythe gave his judgment: “I fear that rather than exerting a godly influence upon her aunt, Ariana would be drawn astray by the ungodliness of London society.”

“Do you doubt her so much, Charles? This infatuation with Mr. Hathaway merely results from her youth, her admiration for his superior learning, and especially,” she said, leaning forward and giving him a meaningful look, “for lack of a young man who has your approval! Have you not frowned upon every male who has approached her in the past? Why, Mr. Hathaway is the first whom you have failed to frighten off and only because he is our rector! 'Tis little wonder a young girl takes a fanciful notion into her head!”

When he made no answer, she added, while adjusting the frilly morning cap on her head, “Mr. Hathaway causes me concern!”

Mr. Forsythe’s countenance was sober. “’Tis my sister who warrants the concern. She will wish to make a match for our daughter--and she will not be content with just any mister I assure you. In addition to which, a girl as pretty as our daughter will undoubtedly attract attention of the wrong sort.”

Julia was flustered for a second, but countered, “Agatha is no threat to our child. We shall say we are sending Ariana to see the sights, take in the museums and so forth. Surely there is no harm in that. A dinner party here or there should not be of concern. And Ariana is too intelligent to allow herself to be foisted upon an unsuitable man for a fortune or title.”

Too intelligent? He thought of the aging minister that no one had had to “foist” her upon. Aloud he merely said, “I shall speak with her tonight. She shall be brought to reason, depend upon it. There will be no need to pack her off to London.”

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Living Rich for Less

Living Rich for Less
Ellie Kay

My Thoughts:
Given the craziness that is my life right now with a wedding, graduation, and Christmas all within the next two weeks, I haven't had time to read this book yet. HOWEVER...starting in January this blog will take on a different look/approach. Each month I'll be focusing on one topic that is important to God. We'll have discussions, book reviews, give aways, interviews, and other fun things that will help us all grow spiritually. January's topic is Financial Freedom, and we will look at this book in more detail. If you want to get a copy of it so you can join in on the discussions, go to!

You really can be rich in every way, every day.

So you want to own the home you love, make memories on wonderful vacations with family or friends, finance college educations, and help others too?

You can—starting here and now.

With lively humor, proven know-how, and practical principles for financial health, Living Rich for Less helps you stretch your dollars to realize the lifestyle of your dreams. Ellie Kay’s entertaining and enlightening examples show you simple steps to save, spend, and give smart, and her three main principles are undergirded by dozens of effective rules and hundreds of Cha-Ching Factor™ tips that keep or put money in your pocket.

Ellie knows what it’s like to be financially-strapped or struggling, wanting to be the Joneses but feeling as poor in spirit as in pocketbook. She went, within two and a half years, from being a new wife and mom with $40,000 in consumer debt and seven children (and college educations) to support, to being completely debt-free and within fifteen years able to pay cash for eleven different cars, give away three of those cars, buy two five-bedroom houses (moving from one to the other) and nicely furnish each, take wonderful vacations, dress her family in fine fashion; and support more than thirty non-profit organizations in more than a dozen different countries, giving away more than $100,000.

Isn’t that the kind of transformation to a rich life that you want?

Living Rich for Less helps anyone get there in our taxed-out, maxed-out times. Because financial security doesn’t mean just genuine prosperity, but being able to live luxuriously, give generously, and care for yourself as well as the others around you.

Why keep up with the Joneses when you can be them?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Leave It To Chance

It is time for the FIRST Blog Tour! On the FIRST day of every month we feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

The feature author is:

and his/her book:

Leave it to Chance
David C. Cook (May 2008)


Sherri Sand is a wife and mother of four young children who keep her scrambling to stay ahead of the spilled milk. When she needs stress relief from wearing all the hats required to clothe, feed and ferry her rambunctious brood, you may find her sitting in a quiet corner of a bistro reading a book (surrounded by chocolate), or running on one of the many trails near her home. Sherri is a member of The Writer’s View and American Christian Fiction Writers. She finds the most joy in writing when the characters take on a life of their own and she becomes the recorder of their stories. She holds a degree in psychology from the University of Oregon where she graduated cum laude. Sherri and her family live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

She's also a blogger! So stop by and say hi to Sherri at Creations in the Sand!

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 353 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (May 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434799883
ISBN-13: 978-1434799883


“A horse? Mom, what am I going to do with a horse?” Just what she and the kids did not need. Sierra Montgomery sagged back against her old kitchen counter, where afternoon sunlight dappled the white metal cabinets across from her. She pressed the phone tight against her ear, hoping she’d heard wrong, as her four-year-old son, Trevor, ate grapes at the kitchen table.

“Miss Libby wanted you to have it. I’d think you’d be delighted, what with the kids and all. You remember Sally, Miss Libby’s daughter? Well, she just called and said it was all laid out in the will. None of their family could figure out who Sierra Lassiter Montgomery was until Sally remembered me from her mom’s church. So she called and sure enough, you were my daughter.” Sierra’s mom tsked into the phone. “Well, you know how Sally is.”

Sierra hadn’t the foggiest how Sally was, or even who she was. She barely remembered Miss Libby from her Sunday school class eons ago.

“She acted pleased that her mother gave you the horse, but I could tell she was miffed. Though what Sally Owens would do with a horse, I’d like to know.” Her mom’s voice was tight and controlled as if they were discussing how to deal with black spot on her Old English roses.

“But I don’t want a horse. You, of all people, should know that after what happened when—” How could her mom even suggest she get a horse? Painful pictures of her childhood friend Molly floated through her mind.

“Honey, accidents like that don’t happen more than once in a lifetime. Besides, Miss Libby wouldn’t have owned a crazy horse.”

Sierra stared out the window where the school bus would soon release her most precious treasures. Her mom never had understood the resounding impact that summer day had made in her life.

“You really need to think of the kids and how much fun they’d have. It’s not like you’d ever be able to afford to buy them one.”

Sierra wished she were having this conversation with Elise rather than her mother. Her best friend would understand the danger she feared in horses, and in her humorous way come up with a sensible plan that would include not keeping the animal.

Her mom, on the other hand, lived life as if she were on one of those moving conveyors at the airport that people can step on to rest their feet yet keep moving toward their destination. As long as everyone kept traveling forward, she could ignore the emotional baggage dragging behind.

“I don’t understand why Miss Libby would give the horse to me.”

“You know how my bingo club visited the Somerset rest home every week? Well, Miss Libby’s been there for years and she always did comment on how horse crazy you were when she taught your Sunday school class.”

“Mom, that was a phase I went through when I was ten and found National Velvet and Black Beauty at the library. I haven’t seen Miss Libby since middle school.”

“Obviously you were special to Miss Libby. I’d think you might be a little more grateful.”

Deep breath, Sierra told herself. “I am grateful.” An errant grape rolled next to her toe. Trevor’s blond head was bent, intent on arranging the fruit like green soldiers around the edge of his plate. Sierra tossed the grape into the sink and considered how to respond to her mom. She was a dear, but sometimes the woman was like dry kindling on a hot day, and one little spark…. “I’m just not sure that owning a horse would be a wise move at this point in our lives.”

The front door slammed and Sierra felt the walls shudder with the thud. The 3:00 p.m. stampede through the house meant it was time to get off the phone and determine how to get rid of a horse before the kids found out about it.

Her mom sighed. “It’s too bad Sally won’t keep the horse at her place for you, but she said her husband wants the horse gone. He wants to fill the pasture with sheep.”

Sheep? A kitchen chair scraped over the linoleum as Trevor scooted back from the table and dashed for the living room. “Mommy’s got a horse! Mommy’s got a horse!” Wonderful. Little ears, big mouth.

Braden and Emory shot into the kitchen, bright eyes dancing in tandem. Their words tangled together in fevered excitement despite the fact that she was on the phone.

“Where is it?” Braden’s eleven-year-old grin split his face, and his dark hair was rumpled and sweat streaked, likely from a fevered game of basketball during last recess.

She held a hand up to still the questions as her mom went on about the sheep that Sally’s husband probably did not need.

“We have a horse?” Nine-year-old Emory, her blonde hair still neat in its purple headband, fluttered in front of her mom, delight and hope blooming on her face.

Despite the fear of horses building deep in Sierra’s gut, her children’s excitement was a little contagious. She wished Miss Libby had willed her a cat.

Sierra ran her hand down Emory’s soft cheek and whispered. “I’ll be off the phone in a minute, sweetie.”

“Can we ride it?” Em looked at her with elated eyes.

Braden tossed his backpack on the table. “Where are we going to keep it?”

The kids circled her, jabbering with excited questions. Sierra rubbed her forehead with the tips of her fingers. “I gotta go, Mom. I’ve got to break some cowboy hearts.”

The kids clamored around her, Braden taking the lead with an arm draped across her shoulder. When had he gotten so big? “Do we have a horse, Mom?” He asked the question with a lopsided grin, a foreshadow of the adolescence that had been peeking through lately. The preteen in him didn’t truly believe they had a horse—he was old enough to realize the odds—but little-boy eagerness clung to his smile.

“That would be yes and a no.”

“What? Mom!” he complained.

“I was given a horse, but we’re not going to keep him.” Braden’s arm slid off her shoulder, a scowl replacing his smile. “Why not?”

“Someone gave you a horse?” Emory ignored her brother’s attitude and flashed her most persuasive grin. “Can we keep him? Please!”

Sierra smoothed her hand over the silky hair and leaned close to her daughter’s face as Emory went on. “I think we should get four horses so we each have one. We could go trail riding. Cameron’s mom has horses, and they go riding all the time as a family.”

“We’re not a family anymore,” Braden cut in. “We stopped being a family when mom divorced dad.”

A shard of pain drove into Sierra’s gut. She hadn’t had time to brace for that one. Braden’s anger at the divorce had been building like an old steam engine lately.

“That’s not fair!” Outrage darkened Emory’s features. “It’s not Mom’s fault!”

Sarcasm colored Braden’s voice. “Oh, so it’s all Dad’s fault?”

Sierra saw the confusion that swept over her daughter’s face. She was fiercely loyal to both parents and didn’t know how to defend them against each other.

Sierra spoke in a firm tone. “Braden, that’s enough!”

He scowled at her again. “Whatever.”

Sierra held his gaze until he glanced away.

“Guys, we’re not going to play the blame game. We have plenty to be thankful for, and that’s what is important.”

Braden’s attitude kept pouring it on. “Boy, and we have so much. Spaghetti for dinner every other night.”

“So what, Braden-Maden!” Emory made a face and stuck her tongue out at him.

“No more fighting or you two can go to your rooms.” Her kids were not perfect, but they used to like each other. Something had changed. Her gut said it was her ex-husband, Michael, but what if she was falling into the whole “blame the dad” thing herself? What if she was really the problem? Two weeks without a job had added stress and worry. Had she stopped hugging them as often in between scouring the want ads and trying to manage a home and bills?

“Mom?” There was a quaver in Trevor’s soft voice.

“Yes, honey?” Sierra gave him a gentle smile.

“Can we keep the horse?”

Emory’s blue gaze darted to meet hers, a plea in them. Braden sat with his arms crossed over his chest, but his ears had pricked up.

Sierra looked at them, wanting them to understand and knowing they wouldn’t. “None of us know how to handle or care for a horse, so it wouldn’t be safe to keep him.”

Emory’s face lit up. “Cameron’s mom could teach us.”

“Honey, it’s not that simple. We can’t afford an animal that big. He probably eats as much in groceries as we do, and it would be very expensive to rent a place for him to live.”

“I could mow yards.” Anger at his sister forgotten, Braden turned a hopeful face to her. “We could help out.”

Emory jumped onto the working bandwagon. “Yeah. I could do laundry or something for the neighbors.”

Braden drilled his sister a look that said idiot idea but didn’t say anything.

Trevor bounced in his chair, eager to be a part of keeping the horse. “I could wash cars.”

“Those are great ideas, but they won’t bring in quite enough, especially since it’s getting too cold to mow lawns or wash cars.”

“You just don’t want to keep the horse, Mom,” Braden said. “I get it. End of story.”

“Honey, I’d love for you to have a horse, but when I was young I had a friend—”

Emory spoke in a helpful tone. “We know. Grandma told us about the accident.”

They knew? Wasn’t the story hers to share? “When did Grandma tell you?”

Braden’s voice took on a breezy air. “I don’t know. A while ago. Come on, Mom. We’re not going to do something dumb like your friend did.”

Defensiveness rose inside. “She didn’t do anything dumb. It was the horse that—”

“So because something bad happened to one person, your kids can never do anything fun for the rest of their lives.”

Sierra gave him a look. “Or you learn from your mistakes and help your kids to do the same.”

Braden rolled his eyes at her.

Worry drew lines across her daughter’s forehead. “Are you going to sell him?”

“Yes, Em. So we’re not going to discuss this anymore. You and Braden have homework to do.” At the chorus of groans she held her hands up. “Okay, I guess I’ll have to eat Grandma’s apple pie all by myself.”

Braden grabbed his backpack and slowly dragged it across the floor toward the stairs, annoyance in his voice. “We’re going.” Emory trotted past him up the stairs.

Trevor remained behind, one arm wrapped around her thigh. “I don’t have any homework.”

She squatted and pulled him in for a hug. “Nope, you sure don’t, bud.”

He leaned back. “Do I get a horse?”

Sierra distracted him by inching her fingers up his ribs. “What, Trev?”

He tried to talk around his giggles. “Do I get—Mom!” Her fingers found the tickle spots under his arms and he laughed, his eyes squinted shut and mouth opened wide. She found all his giggle spots, then turned on Sesame Street as the second distraction. Good old Bert and Ernie.

Now what? She had roughly forty-five minutes to figure out how she was going to get rid of a horse and not be a complete zero in her kids’ eyes.

She eyed the phone and made her next move. Five minutes later a white Mazda whipped into her driveway. Sierra hurried out the front door waving her arms to stop Elise before she could start her ritual honking for the kids.

Wide eyed, her platinum blonde friend stared, one long plum-colored nail hovering above the “ooga” horn on the dash. “What?”

“I don’t want the kids to know you’re here.”

Wicked delight spread across her perfectly made-up face. Light plum shadow matched her nails. Tomorrow, both eye shadow and nails could be green. “Let me guess! Mr. Pellum asked you out!”

“Nooooo!” Mr. Pellum was a teacher Sierra and Elise had had a crush on in seventh grade.

“Ummm … you robbed a bank and need me to watch the kids while you fly to Tahiti?”

Sierra gave her a mock-serious look. “Done?”

Elise tilted her head. “Can I get out of the car?”

Sierra glanced toward the house. All was still silent. “Yes, you may.”

Deadpan, Elise nodded and opened the door. “Then I’m done for now.” Her plump body, swathed in a creamy suit with a purple scarf draped across one shoulder, rose gracefully from the small two-seater.

Sierra closed the door for her, then leaned against it. Elise had a way of removing the extraneous and reducing a problem down to the bare essentials. “Elise, I’m in a predicament.”

“Hon, I’ve been trying to tell you that for years.”

Sierra shook her head. “I don’t think you could have seen this one coming even with your crystal ball.”

Elise gave her the spinster teacher look through narrowed eyes. “I don’t think I like the implications of that.”

Sierra held her hands out. “You are the queen of mind-reading, according to my children.”

Elise chuckled. “It’s a good thing I was just headed out for a latte break when you called. Now what’s the big emergency?” She owned a high-end clothing store for plus-sized women in downtown Eugene.

“A horse.”

Elise glanced around as if one or two might be lurking behind a tree.

“A herd of them or just one?”

“One. Full-sized. Living and breathing.”

“I believe I’m missing some pieces here. Is it moving in with you? Holding one of the children hostage? What?”

Sierra breathed out a slight chuckle and tucked a stray hair behind her ear. “You’re not going to believe this, but I inherited it.”

Her friend’s eyes grew wide, emphasizing the lushly mascaraed lashes. “Like someone died and gave you their horse?”

Sierra nodded, raising her brows. “And the kids want to keep him.”

Furrows emerged across Elise’s forehead. “Who is the idiot that told them about the horse?”

Sierra tilted her head with a look that only best friends could give each other.

Elise’s perfectly painted lips smirked. “Moving along, then. Why don’t you keep it? The kids would love it. Heaven knows they deserve it.” She clapped her hands together. “Oh, oh! They could get into 4-H, and Braden could learn to barrel race. That kid would think he’d won the jackpot. Emory and Trevor could get a pig or some of those show roosters.”

Sierra let the idea machine wind down. “I don’t think so.”

“Angora rabbits?”

“No farm animals.”

Elise’s mouth perked into humorous pout. “Sierra, you’re such a spoilsport. Those kids need a pet.”

“A hamster is a pet. A horse is not.”

Diva Elise took the stage, hands on her ample hips. “Don’t tell me you didn’t want a horse growing up. Remember, I was the one who had to sit and watch National Velvet with you time ad nauseam. You’ve said yourself that Braden needs something to take his mind off the problems he’s having at school and with his dad.”

Guilt, a wheelbarrow load of it, dumped on Sierra. “You are supposed to be helping me, Elise, not making it worse. I want to get rid of this horse and …” her eyes dodged away from her friend, “… you know.”

“Mmm-hmm. And still look like Super Mom in your children’s eyes.”

Sierra nodded, but couldn’t find the nerve to say yes.

“Sierra Montgomery, those children have been to heck and back in the last couple years and you’re willing to deny them the pleasure of owning their own free horse because … because of what?”

Sierra stared at the ground for a moment, feeling a tangle of emotions rise within. She let her eyes rest on Elise’s and said quietly, “Fear? Terror? Hysteria?”

A look of puzzlement, then understanding settled on Elise’s face, smoothing away the annoyance. “Molly.”

Sierra nodded. “I won’t put my children in that kind of danger.”

Elise leaned forward and grabbed Sierra’s hands, holding them tight. “Oh, hon. That was a long time ago. Don’t let your life be ruled by the what-ifs. There’s a lot of living left to do. And your kids need to see you taking life by storm, taking chances, not hiding in the shadows.”

“That’s easy for you to say. You were voted most likely to parachute off the Empire State Building.”

Elise gave her a cheeky grin, both dimples winking at her. “We could do it tandem!”

“If you see me jump off the Empire State Building you’ll know my lobotomy was successful, because there is no way in this lifetime you’ll catch this body leaving good sense behind!” Sierra heard the words come from her own mouth and stared at her friend in wonder. “Oh, my gosh. That was so my mom.”

“It was bound to happen, hon.”

Was she serious? “You think I’m turning into her?” Sierra brought a hand to her throat and quickly dropped it. How many times had she seen her mom use the same gesture?

Elise laughed. “You need to stop fretting and just live. We all turn out like our mothers in some respect.”

“All except you. You’re nothing like Vivian.”

“Other than the drinking, smoking, and carousing, I’m exactly like her.”

Sierra lifted a brow. Her mom had rarely let her go to Elise’s house when they were growing up—and for good reason. Elise struck a pose like a fashion model. “Okay, I’m the anti-Vivian.” She gave Sierra a soft smile. “All funnin’ aside, I really think you should keep the horse.”

“I’m not keeping the horse. And even if I wanted to, I couldn’t.” Sierra took a settling breath and stared at the tree over Elise’s shoulder.

“Michael still hasn’t paid?”

Elise knew more about her finances than her mom did. “He paid, but the check bounced again. So now he’s two months behind in child support.”

“Have you heard if Pollan’s is rehiring?”

“They’re not.” Jarrett’s, the local grocery store where she worked for the three years since the divorce had been recently bought out by Pollan’s. They had laid off the majority of the checkers with the possibility of rehiring some.

Elise cringed as if she was bracing herself for a blow. “And the unemployment fiasco?”

Sierra shut her eyes. “Mr. Jarrett did not pay into our unemployment insurance, so there is no benefit for us to draw from. Yes, it was illegal, and yes he will pay, but it may take months, if not years, for various lawyers and judges to beat it out of him.” She gave Elise a tired smile. “That’s the version minus all the legalese.”

“So the layoffs are final, no unemployment bennies, and you’re out of a job.”

“Momentarily. The résumé has been dusted off and polished.” She gave a wry grin.

“I wish I could hire you at Deluxe Couture, but I promised Nora fulltime work. And besides, your cute little buns would drive my clientele away.”

Sierra waved a hand over her jeans and sweatshirt. “Your clientele would outshine me any day.”

“You sell yourself far too short.” Elise glanced at the hefty rhinestone encrusted watch on her wrist. “Anything else I can do for you? Help the kids with their homework? Babysit while you sweep some tall, dark, handsome man off his feet?”

Sierra laughed. “And where is this dream man going to come from?”

Elise gave a breezy wave of her hand and opened the car door. “Oh, he’ll turn up. You’re too cute to stay single. I actually have someone in mind. Pavo Marcello. He’s a new sales rep from one of my favorite lines. I’ll see if he’s free Friday night. You aren’t doing anything, are you?”

“Hold on!” Sierra stepped in front of the car door to keep her friend from leaving. “First, I’m not looking. Second, given my history, I’m not the best judge of character. I’ve already struck out once in the man department.” She pointed to her face with both index fingers. “Not anxious to try again. Third, you just told me I’m turning into my mom, which makes me definitely not dating material.”

A twist of Elise’s lips signaled a thought. “You know, now that I think about it, I believe he has a boyfriend.” She shook her head and lowered herself into the car. “We’ll keep looking. I’m sure Sir Knight will turn up.”

Sierra shut the car door and grinned down at her friend. “And what about finding your knight?”

Elise gave her a bright smile. “Mr. Pellum is already taken. You really need to find a way to keep that horse; it’ll be your first noble sacrifice.”


The little car backed up, and Elise spoke over the windshield. “The others don’t count.”

Sierra stared at the retreating car. There was no way she was keeping that horse.

After dinner, Sierra crept into Braden’s room. He sat on the bed intent on the Game Boy in his lap, the tinny sound of hard rock bleeding out of his earphones. She waved a hand and he glanced up. She waited and with a look of preteen exasperation he finally pulled the headphones to his shoulders.

“What, Mom?”

“I just wanted to say good night.”

“Good night.” His hands started to readjust the music back into position.

“I looked at your homework.”

“You got into my backpack? Isn’t that like against the law or something? You’re always telling us not to get into your stuff.”

She crossed her arms. Frustration and worry gnawed at her. “You lied to me about doing your assignment. Why, honey?”

He ignored her and started playing his Game Boy.

She took one step and snatched the game from his hands.


“I want some respect when I talk to you, Braden.”

His chin sank toward his chest, his gaze fixed on his bed, his voice low. “I didn’t want to do it.”

She sat next to him, her voice soft. “Is it too hard?”

He shrugged. “It gives me a headache when I work on it.”

“Braden, if you need help, I’d be happy to work with you after school.”

He stared at his knees and picked at a loose string of cotton on his pajama bottoms.

“I got a phone call from Mrs. Hamison today.”

His body came alert, though he didn’t look at her.

“She said you’re flunking most of your subjects, and she hasn’t seen any homework from you since school started a month ago.”

He glanced up, his jaw belligerent, but with fear in his eyes.

“What’s going on? I know school isn’t easy, but you’ve never given up before.”

“Middle school’s harder.”

She wanted to touch him, to brush the hair off his forehead and snuggle him close the way she used to when he was small. Back when a hug and a treat shared over the kitchen table was enough to bring the sparkle back to her son. “She thinks we should have your vision tested.”


“She’s noticed some things in class and thinks it might be helpful.”

He shrugged again. “Can I have my game back?”

“You lied to me, son. Again.”


“You break trust every time you choose to be dishonest. Is that what you want?”

His voice was sullen and he stared at his comforter. “No.”

She touched his leg. “What’s bothering you, honey?”

“I dunno. Can I have my game back?”

She stood up. There was a time for talking and this obviously wasn’t it. “You can have it tomorrow.”

But would tomorrow be any different?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

In the Shadow of Lions

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

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

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:


David C. Cook; 1st edition (September 2008)

I really enjoy books that provide an alternative explanation for things that we believe as true historical records. In reality, our history books are full of inaccurate interpretations at best. At worst they can be blatant propoganda to make certain historical people look either good or bad.
This book is purely fiction, however it has historic accuracy of times and events. Who can say what the motivation for certain actions was hundreds of years ago? Yet we are told with relative consistency what we should believe about those events every time we open a history book. I appreciate the books that cause me to think about what I've been taught versus what could have been true...even with the same end result. This is one of those books.
Ginger Garrett is an expert on ancient women's history, which gives her a unique perspective to reflect history with a heart. She does a great job of putting you into a possible situation and provides a woman's perspective on history dominated by men. While certain parts of the story were confusing or unclear, the book as a whole is a great, thought-provoking story.

Ginger Garrett is the critically acclaimed author of Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther, which was recognized as one of the top five novels of 2006 by the ECPA, and Dark Hour. An expert in ancient women's history, Ginger creates novels and nonfiction resources that explore the lives of historical women.

On September 11, Ginger's non-fiction book, Beauty Secrets of the Bible, based on the historical research that began in her work on Chosen was released. The book explores the connections between beauty and spirituality, offering women both historical insights and scientific proofs that reveal powerful, natural beauty secrets.

A frequent radio guest on stations across the country, including NPR and Billy Graham's The Hour of Decision, Ginger is also a popular television guest. Her appearances include Harvest Television, Friends & Neighbors, and Babbie's House. Ginger frequently serves as a co-host on the inspirational cable program Deeper Living.

In 2007, Ginger was nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year Award for her novel Dark Hour. When she's not writing, you may spy Ginger hunting for vintage jewelry at thrift stores, running (slowly) in 5k and 10k races, or just trying to chase down one of her errant sheepdogs. A native Texan, she now resides in Georgia with her husband and three children.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 13.99

Paperback: 311 pages

Publisher: David C. Cook; 1st edition (September 2008)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0781448875

ISBN-13: 978-0781448871


And Job said unto God:

I admit I once lived by rumors of you;

now I have it all firsthand…

I’ll never again live

on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.

Job 42, The Message


Tomorrow, someone else will die in my bed.

Someone died in it last month, which is how it came to be called mine.

The infernal clock moved confidently towards 1 a.m., and I turned my head to look at the window. The window of this room is a miserly gesture from the contractors, producing more fog than visage. I watched the gold orbs—the lamps on the lawn of the hospice sputtering off and on in the darkness—that dotted the fogged glass.

That was the last moment I lived as an iver, one whose eyes are veiled.

One orb did not sputter but moved, gliding between the others, moving closer to the window, growing larger and brighter until the light consumed the entire view. I winced from the searing glare and tried to shield my eyes, but the IV line pulled taut. Wrestling with the line to get some slack, I saw the next movement out of the corner of my eye. I bit down hard on my tongue, my body jerking in reflex, and felt the warm blood run back to my throat.

Outside, a hand wiped the fog away from the glass, and I watched the water beads running down the inside of my window. There was no searing light, only this mammoth hand with deep creases in the palms wiping down the window until we both could see each other. A man’s face was against the glass, but no breath fogged his vision. He was a giant, grim man, with an earring in one ear and dark glasses, and he was staring in at me. Even through the morphine, fear snaked along my arms, biting into my stomach, constricting around my throat. I tried to scream, but I could only gulp air and heave little gasps. His expression did not change as he lifted his hands, curling them into fists. I flinched at the last moment, thinking him to be Death, expecting to receive the blow and die.

Then I grew suddenly warm, like the feeling you get stepping out from an old, dark city library into the busy street and a warm spring sun.

Death didn’t even hurt, I rejoiced. I could slip into it like I slipped onto that street, eyes down, my thoughts my own, and simply turn a corner and be gone. I lifted my fingers to beckon him. Yes, I thought. I saw the beautiful Rolex on my birdlike wrist, and saw that it had stopped. It is time.

When I looked back up, he was beside me, staring down, not speaking. I wasn’t dead. His frame was monstrously large, hitting what must be seven feet tall, with a width of muscle strapped across it that was inhuman. As he watched me, his chest didn’t move, and his nostrils didn’t flare, but heat and warm breath radiated from him. When he laid his hands across my eyes, I was too scared to move my head away. His palms covered most of my face, and a sharp buzzing drilled into every pore. He began to move his hands elsewhere, touching and bringing to life every splintered inch of my body. When he got to the cancer, with one swollen lymph node visible even through my stained blue gown, he rested his hands there until the swelling sighed and he swept it away with his hand.

“Wait!” I screamed.

I didn’t want to live. I hadn’t known that was going to be an option. I deserved to be damned. To return to my life was too much to ask of me. I was finished.

“You’ll still be dead by morning,” he reassured me. His voice was deep and clean, no tell-tale dialect or inflection. Taking off his glasses, I saw he had enormous gold eyes, with a black pinhole in the center that stayed round and cold. There was no white in them at all, and they were rimmed all the way around the outside with black. I stared at them, trying to remember where I had seen eyes like this. It was years ago, this much I remembered.

I had to shake myself back to the moment. Clearly, morphine was not setting well with me tonight. I wanted to die in peace. That’s what I paid these extravagant sums for. My hand moved to the nurses’ call button. Mariskka was just down the hall, waiting for her moment to steal my watch. I knew she’d come running.

He grabbed my hand and the shock seared like a hot iron. Crying out, I shook him off and clutched my hand between my breasts, doing my best to sit up with my atrophied stomach muscles and tangled IV.

He leaned in. “I have something for you.”


He leaned in closer. “A second chance.”

Second chances were not my forte. As the most celebrated editor in New York City, I had made a killing. I loved the words that trembling writers slid across my desk, those little black flecks that could destroy their life’s dream or launch a career. I bled red ink over every page, slashing words, cutting lines. No one understood how beautiful they were to me, why I tormented the best writers, always pushing them to bring me more. The crueler I was to the best of them, the more they loved me, like flagellants worshipping me as the master of their order. Only at the end, lying here facing my own death, did I understand why. They embraced the pain, thinking it birthed something greater than themselves. I saw how pitifully wrong they were. There was only pain. This is why I was ready to die. When you finish the last chapter and close the book, there is nothing but pain. It would have been better never to have written. Words betrayed me. And for that, I betrayed the best writer of them all.

“Burn any manuscripts that arrive for me,” I had ordered my nurse, Marisska. “Tell them I’m already dead. Tell them anything.”

“I’ll let you write the truth,” the man whispered.

“I’m not a writer,” I replied. My fear tumbled down into the dark place of my secrets.

“No, you’re not,” he answered. “But you’ve coveted those bestsellers, didn’t you? You knew you could do better. This is your second chance.”

It caught my attention. “How?”

“I will dictate my story to you,” he said. “Then you’ll die.”

Taking dictation? My mouth fell open. “I’m in hell, aren’t I?”

He tilted his head. “Not yet.”

I pushed away from the pillows and grabbed him. Blisters sprang up on my palms and in between my fingers, but I gritted my teeth and spat out my words. “Who are you?”

“The first writer, the Scribe. My books lie open before the Throne and someday will be the only witness of your people and their time in this world. The stories are forgotten here and the Day draws close. I will tell you one of my stories. You will record it.”

“Why me?”

“I like your work.”

I started laughing, the first time I had laughed since I had been brought to this wing of the hospice, where the dying are readied for death, their papers ordered, and discreet pamphlets on “end of life options” left by quiet-soled salesmen. I laughed until I was winded. He rested his hand on my chest, and I caught my breath as he spoke.

“Let’s go find Marisska.”

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Let Them Eat Fruitcake...and an Interview!



The Christmas season is a magical time of the year when there is peace on earth, winter wonderlands, and rockin’ parties . . . right? With the holiday season upon them, the roommates of 86 Bloomberg Place are feeling far from peaceful, and the rockin’ party they’re planning isn’t coming together as planned.
Megan is struggling with a difficult boss and is forced to spend Christmas alone. Lelani can’t afford to fly home, and she isn’t sure she’d be welcomed. Anna’s old boyfriend has sailed back into her life, just when she’s met a for-real “nice guy” that she has been keeping away from her crazy Latino family. And Kendall has a crush on a famous actor who just might be the answer to her money woes . . . if only she could convince him she’s the love of his life.
Let’s face it, relationships can be hard work-whether they’re with family and friends, coworkers and customers, or boyfriends and girlfriends. And when you’ve got your first apartment, a real job, and grown-up responsibilities, relationships are loaded with confusion, emotion, and secrets you can’t tell anyone but God. Thank goodness He’s always around to listen!
Melody Carlson has published over 150 books, with sales totaling more than three million dollars. Among those titles, many have appeared on the ECPA Bestsellers List and several have won awards including the Gold Medallion and the RITA Award. She and her husband, Chris, live in the Pacific Northwest near their two grown sons.
Learn more about Melody at


What’s your favorite Christmas tradition? We’re pretty low key about the holidays. Mostly we enjoy being with family members and try to keep things light and bright. My husband’s birthday happens to be Christmas day and years ago, he decided he prefers lasagna to turkey so we have “Christmas lasagna.”

What has God been teaching you lately? It seems like I have to keep learning some lessons over and over again. Particularly patience. I am, by nature, the most impatient person I know. I want it done and I want it done now. And I want it done right…yada-yada. But that’s not how life generally works. And it’s not how God usually works. So I have to continually remind myself to keep my mouth shut, to keep praying, and to JUST WAIT. You’d think I’d have it down by now (hear my impatience there?) but I don’t. I probably never will. I can imagine being 100 years old and on my deathbed, saying, “Okay, God, could you just hurry it up, please?”

How did you get involved in writing? In my mid-thirties, I got the strongest desire to get serious about writing. I’d been doing some op-ed pieces for the newspaper and suddenly I just wanted to write a book. Fiction, of course. So I simply began writing and it seems I’ve been writing ever since.

How do you find time to write? I treat writing as a fulltime job, which it is for me. Aside from procrastinating, I usually write daily (Monday through Friday, office hours) until the book is finished and then I give myself “time off” until it’s time to start the next one.

What did you enjoy most about the writing process? I love not knowing exactly what’s going to happen next. I don’t outline and I’m as surprised as the reader when a story takes a twist or turn.

Where did you get the idea for the book? Having written for teens for nearly a decade, I wondered about my readers who were in their twenties now. I think that’s a hard age these days and I wanted to create something that would speak to that young career woman who’s trying to sort out her life, her values, her friends, her faith…. I think fiction is a great way to teach truth and my hope was that these 86 Bloomberg Place characters living together under one roof would inspire readers to be better friends, share their faith, and live life more fully.

What are the major themes of the book? I jokingly tell people that 86 Bloomberg Place is like that old TV sitcom “Friends” with faith mixed in. The main themes are relationships, life decisions, and where faith fits in.

What do you hope readers will take away from your book? I hope they’ll enjoy a few laughs, a peek into the lives of some very human-like characters, and perhaps a spiritual challenge that they’ve found tucked between the lines.
Will we see any of these characters again? Let Them Eat Fruitcake is the second book in a four book series (86 Bloomberg Place). The next installment is titled Spring Broke and the housemates end up going to Maui, where some mysteries about Lelani’s life are resolved. Also, there is romance and few other surprises. The final book is Three Weddings and a Bar Mitzvah.
Purchase your copy of Let Them Eat Fruitcake at Amazon!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Death and Life of Gabriel Phillips

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Death and Life of Gabriel Phillips

FaithWords (November 5, 2008)


Stephen Baldwin
Mark Tabb


This book portrays a story told by a man who is essentially repeating a story told him by his father. It is an interesting perspective -- one not often seen. The story itself is a tale of grace, forgiveness, and absolute trust in God.

I had some difficulty getting through this book. The story seems to take a while to truly unfold and some of the personalities reflect extremes not often seen, which was a little distracting for me. In addition, it has a lot of strong language that isn't typical for Christian fiction.


STEPHEN BALDWIN - actor, family man, born-again Christian - makes his home in upstate New York with his wife and two young daughters.

Equally adept at drama and comedy, Baldwin has appeared in over 60 films and been featured on such top-rated television shows as Fear Factor and Celebrity Mole. He has his own production company that is developing projects for television and the big screen. These days, however, his role as director, co-producer and host of Livin' It - a cutting-edge skate video is bringing out his white hot passion for evangelism.

Writer and communicator Mark Tabb calls himself an “internationally unknown author.” Although his books have been published around the world, he is best known for his collaborative works. His 2008 release, “Mistaken Identity”, written with the Van Ryn and Cerak families, hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list for two weeks, and remained on the list for over two months. He and actor Stephen Baldwin teamed up on their 2005 New York Times bestseller, “The Unusual Suspect,” and with their first work of fiction, “The Death and Life of Gabriel Phillips,”


Even years of experience haven't prepared Officer Andy Myers for this case---

When Officer Andy Myers met Loraine Phillips, he had no interest in her son. And he certainly never dreamed he'd respond to a call, finding that same boy in a pool of blood. Even more alarming was the father standing watch over his son's body. Myers had never seen a man respond to death-particularly the death of a child-in such a way. When the father is charged with murder and sentenced to death, he chooses not to fight but embrace it as God's will. Myers becomes consumed with curiosity for these strange beliefs. What follows is the story of the bond these two men share as they come to terms with the tragedy and the difficult choices each one must make.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Death and Life of Gabriel Phillips, go HERE



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

and his book:

Thomas Nelson (November 11, 2008)


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

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

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

Here are some of his latest titles:

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


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


Product Details

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


(Click Pictures to Zoom!)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Great New Resource -- Contemporary Booklet Series

Instead of a book review, today's post will look at some wonderful tools for helping folks in the church who are struggling or hurting.

New Growth Press is delivering biblical solutions to some of society's most difficult situations, including recovery from child abuse, keeping your cool when dealing with difficult children, single parenting, and recovery from divorce. They have published 21 booklets, compiled by the Christian Counseling & Education Foundation, that acknowledge the difficulties Christians have in life and offer tangible actions that can lead to peace, spiritual growth, and resolution. (Complete list at the end of this post)

As a recent press release about these booklets states, churches are filled with nicely dressed people who look like they have it 'all together'. "But looks can be deceiving. From the anonymous back-row pew-dweller married to an abusive spouse to the prominent church member struggling with a secret addiction, the body of Christ is not immune to the messes that accompany daily living in our fallen world. Some may wonder if God is really big enough to handle their problems—or if he even cares for them at all in their present circumstances. These people desperately need to feel his healing touch…but are the folks at church ready to deal with such serious crises? Do they even know where to start?"

These booklets, approximately 24 - 32 pages in length, are designed to equip pastors, counselors, and everyday Christians to provide encouragement and real life-giving answers for people dealing with serious problems. The topics are divided into three categories:
Parenting Resources,
Marriage and Family Resources, and
Resources for Personal Change.

The booklets are small and inexpensive, so they can be used by ministers and counselors as handouts or could even be available as resources free of charge to parishoners. In addition, lay counselors or small group leaders may want to use them to increase awareness of prayer partners and others who may work one-on-one to minister to others. The way the booklets begin by acknowledging the pain and frustration people are facing can provide guidance for dealing with a problem that may be discussed for the first time by a person needing assistance. And the Christ-based action steps offer a sound foundation for offering lay suggestions.

The booklets are not designed to take the place of sound Christian counseling, but they can offer a lifeline to someone who is seeking compassion and direction.

Some specific info on four of the pamphlets:
Divorce Recovery by Winston T. Smith offers biblical advice on how to forgive an ex-spouse, help children cope with divorce, and begin the process of starting over again. It also explores the biblical issues surrounding remarriage.

Single Parents by Robert T. Jones speaks those who often feel segregated and judged by the church. It advises single parents to embrace their identity as Christians rather than attempt to fit in either the “singles” or “parents” categories. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding their single parent status—whether they are divorced, widowed, or have never been married—readers will be encouraged to discover that God’s heart breaks for the widow and the fatherless, and he has extended some special promises just for them.

Every parent—has moments when their children push them to the limit. How Do I Stop Losing It with My Kids? by William P. Smith offers a new perspective on effective discipline. The booklet examines the core reasons we often lose control when dealing with misbehavior and reveals surprisingly effective methods of winning a child’s heart.

Recovering from Child Abuse by David Powlison encourages those who have suffered abuse to look at their true identity, not to define themselves by their past. The booklet includes practical strategies that will help abuse victims learn to trust others again, release bitterness, build healthy sexual relationships with their spouses, discipline their own children in appropriate, loving ways, and learn to deal with conflict.

I highly recommend these pamphlets for any ministry group that deals with life issues of their constituents!
You can find more information and purchase these booklets at the New Life Press Bookstore.

Here is a complete list of the booklets they offer:
Parenting Resources

Angry Children: Understanding and Helping Your Child Regain Control
Single Parents: Daily Grace for the Hardest Job
How Do I Stop Losing It with My Kids?: Getting to the Heart of Your Discipline Problems
Peer Pressure: Recognizing the Warning Signs and Giving New Direction
Help for Stepfamilies: Avoiding the Pitfalls and Learning to Love
Helping Your Adopted Child: Understanding Your Child’s Unique Identity

Marriage and Family Resources

Who Does the Dishes?: Decision Making in Marriage
Should We Get Married?: How to Evaluate Your Relationship
Renewing Marital Intimacy: Closing the Gap Between You and Your Spouse
Living with an Angry Spouse: Help for Victims of Abuse
Family Feuds: How to Respond
Help! My Spouse Committed Adultery: First Steps for Dealing with Betrayal
Divorce Recovery: Growing and Healing God’s Way

Resources for Personal Change

How to Love Difficult People: Receiving and Sharing God’s Mercy
When Bad Things Happen: Thoughtful Answers to Hard Questions
Freedom from Guilt: Finding Release from Your Burdens
Recovering from Child Abuse: Healing and Hope for Victims
Eating Disorders: The Quest for Thinness
Help for the Caregiver: Facing the Challenges with Understanding and Strength
Healing After Abortion: God’s Mercy Is for You
Facing Death with Hope: Living for What Lasts

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Jesus Take the Wheel - Contest

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

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

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

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

WinePress Publishing Group (July 1, 2008) )

My Thoughts:
I am still working my way through this devotional guide, but I look forward to reading it each morning. Over the course of two months Stuart Migdon addresses humility, selflessness, following God's direction, relying on God, peace, and joy. He does a great job of including real-life examples (many from his own life) that demonstrate both appropriate and inappropriate responses to God's call, teaching the reader how to identify and assess our own personal experiences.
The only disappointment I have with the book is a personal one -- I really prefer devotionals that require me to open my Bible.
If you are ready to step up your relationship with Jesus Christ, this is a great way to start!
I have an extra copy to give away! If you are interested, please leave a comment at the end of this post.

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

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 24.95

Hardcover: 288 pages

Publisher: WinePress Publishing Group (July 1, 2008)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1579219322

ISBN-13: 978-1579219321


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


Pack the Car/Get Ready for the Journey

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

(Ephesians 2:10)


Where are you going?

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

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

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

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

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

The Key To Maximizing The Principles In This Book

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 1

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

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

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

DAY 1—Let Go and Let’s Go!

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

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

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

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

The New “Ride” That Changed Everything

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

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

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

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

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