Tuesday, October 28, 2008


THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED! Congratulations to Nessa of Ramblings of a Texas Housewife for winning this great book!

Attention Fans of ISOLATION: there is an opportunity to chat live with author Travis Thrasher this Thursday at 1PM ET on Blog Talk Radio.

You can call into the show at just before 1PM ET on Thursday at (646) 378-0043

If you can call in and have a question for the author (or one of his characters) email it to miriam.parker@hbgusa.com .

Would you like to win a copy of Isolation by Travis Thrasher???

Leave me a comment here! I will leave this giveaway open until Friday, November 7, 2008.

Don't forget to enter my other current giveaways while you are here!!!

Igniting the Moral Courage of America book review and GIVEAWAY

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!!! Congratulations to Blue Tourmaline for winning this great book.

I suspect that most of us would agree with the assertion that integrity is one thing our world needs a LOT more of these days. Dean Kilmer, in his book Igniting the Moral Courage of America, gives us six simple steps to living with integrity.

Kilmer discusses the historical decline of moral integrity in America and how our own thinking has played a major role in allowing the decline to happen. He explains what exactly integrity is and steps we can take to live our own lives with integrity. He encourages us to take a in depth look at some of the issues eroding the family and how we can build integrity and fidelity back into the homes of America. The author also talks about fear and how we need to demonstrate courage in our quest to positively change to future. He stresses the need to reclaim our education system and build a foundation of truth in our lives. In the end the only way this can be done is through God's power in and through us!

Kilmer follows each chapter with a discussion guide which would make it a good choice for a Sunday school class or small group study. I appreciated his use of personal illustrations and found the book easy to read and follow. Dean Kilmer is employed as a pastor and the book feels like an engaging series of sermons.

About the Author:

Dean Kilmer is the preaching minister for the College Street Church of Christ in Waxahachie, Texas. He has served in churches throughout Texas and Oklahoma. He has conducted seminars on Church Growth, Leadership, and Teacher Training in 17 states. Dean has also been a guest speaker at Christian Universities across the nation.
Dean earned his undergraduate degree in Bible at Harding University and a master’s in Biblical Studies from Abilene Christian University. He has authored the “Mastering the Word” Bible study, and has just recently written a book entitled Igniting the Moral Courage of America.
Dean has been married to his wife Karen for 37 years and they have two children and three grandchildren.

I have two copies of Igniting the Moral Courage of America to giveaway today! This giveaway will be open until Friday, November 7, 2008.

How can you win? Simply leave me a comment on this post! Easy :)

While you are here don't forget to enter all my other current giveaways:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Alpine Americas review and GIVEAWAY- CLOSED

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED! Congratulations to Crayl of Beyond Black & White for winning this great prize!

For this fantastic giveaway I am offering you a copy of this amazingly beautiful book...

Alpine Americas is a mountaineer's tour of the 10,000 mile range of peaks from the Arctic to Patagonia. The book combines stunning mountain photography with elegant text that explores the places from all perspectives -- geologic, historical, philosophical -- as it takes readers up the cold wind-swept ridges of Denali or down into the caldron of a smoking Mexican volcano.

Each mountain grouping is a different chapter. Each chapter focuses on a single element of what the place means to us. Brooks range in the Arctic, it's all about tranquility and the reassurance of seasonal patterns. Way to the South, in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, it's the chaos and conflict of the natural elements -- angry winds and big weather -- as the jagged landscape thrusts upward from the cold salt sea.

Don Mellor's inspirational words and Olaf Sööt's magical photographs, Alpine Americas is the celebration of the western world's majestic high places.


Wow. This book is amazing. The pictures are incredibly breathtaking! Even my almost-2-year-old daughter Olivia was captivated by the photos! The book itself is super high quality and would be a delightful coffee table book or Christmas gift for the difficult-to-buy for folks on your list. I am truly impressed by Alpine Americas :)


1. Leave me one comment telling me you want to win.

2. Visit the Alpine Americas website and take a look around. Come back and tell me something you discovered. You can do this as many times as you like as long as you leave a different discovery in each comment!

After you have done one of the first two you can...

3. Add my link to your blogroll and leave me the link to your site here.

4. Subscribe to my blog in a reader or follow my blog and then leave me a comment telling me you did!

5. Blog about this giveaway and leave me the link to the post. If you don't have a blog just email five of your friends about this giveaway and leave me a comment telling me you did it!

6. Twitter about this giveaway and leave me a link. You can do this once per day for extra entries.


This giveaway is open to everyone everywhere - I will choose a winner on Wednesday, November 5, 2008. You will have 48 hours to respond or I will choose another winner.

And don't forget to enter these other great giveaways I am currently running...

Finding Father Christmas/ Engaging Father Christmas GIVEAWAY

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!!! Congratulations to Tiffany of Lattes and Life for winning these great books!

I LOVE Christmas stories. Love.

Perhaps it is because Christmas is one of my most favourite times of the year. Christmas Day also happens to be my birthday so it is just a darn fun day all around!

Today you all have the chance to win a set of two great Christmas stories by fabulous author Robin Jones Gunn.

Finding Father Christmas and Engaging Father Christmas. Here is some information I got off of Robin's website:

In Finding Father Christmas, Robin brings readers a poignant Christmas novella about a woman, desperate for a place to belong, who travels to England a few days before Christmas, looking for the father she never knew.

Miranda Carson's search for her father takes a turn she never expected when she finds herself in London, with only a few feeble clues to who he might be.

Unexpectedly welcomed into a family that doesn't recognize her, and whom she's quickly coming to love, she faces a terrible decision. Should she reveal her true identity and destroy their idyllic image of her father? Or should she carry the truth home with her to San Francisco and remain alone in this world? Whatever choice she makes during this London Christmas will forever change the future for both herself and the family she can't bear to leave.

Miranda Carson can't wait to return to England for Christmas and to be with her boyfriend, Ian. She has spent a lifetime yearning for a place to call home, and she's sure Carlton Heath will be it, especially when a hinted-at engagement ring slips into the conversation.

But Miranda's high hopes for a jolly Christmas with the small circle of people she has come to love are toppled when Ian's father is hospitalized and the matriarch of the Whitcombe family withholds her blessing from Miranda. Questions run rampant in Miranda's mind about whether she really belongs in this cheery corner of the world. Then, when her true identity threatens all her relationships in unanticipated ways, Miranda is certain all is lost.

And yet . . . maybe Father Christmas has special gifts in store for her after all.


1. Leave me one comment telling me you want to win.

2. Visit Robin Jones Gunn's website and take a look around. Come back and tell me something you discovered. You can do this as many times as you like as long as you leave a different discovery in each comment!

After you have done one of the first two you can...

3. Add my link to your blogroll and leave me the link to your site here.

4. Subscribe to my blog in a reader or follow my blog and then leave me a comment telling me you did!

5. Blog about this giveaway and leave me the link to the post. If you don't have a blog just email five of your friends about this giveaway and leave me a comment telling me you did it!

6. Twitter about this giveaway and leave me a link. You can do this once per day for extra entries.


This giveaway is open to everyone everywhere - I will choose a winner on Friday, November 7, 2008. You will have 48 hours to respond or I will choose another winner.

And don't forget to enter these other great giveaways I am currently running...

Illuminating Giveaway!!! CLOSED

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!! Congratulations to Jace1337 for winning this amazing book!

For this giveaway I am offering one of the most incredible books around...
This is a book unlike any you've ever seen before. It is FULL of the most AMAZING and thought provoking photos....

It is laid out like a glossy magazine...

and completely unlike the average Bible sitting on your shelf...
There is no way to look through this book and not be moved.
Bible Illuminated would make a wonderful addition to your home and it would also make and INCREDIBLE gift to those you love this Christmas.
Open your eyes and see the Bible in a whole new light!


1. Leave me one comment telling me you want to win.

2. Visit the Bible Illuminated website and take a look around. Come back and tell me something you discovered. You can do this as many times as you like as long as you leave a different discovery in each comment!

After you have done one of the first two you can...

3. Add my link to your blogroll and leave me the link to your site here.

4. Subscribe to my blog in a reader or follow my blog and then leave me a comment telling me you did!

5. Blog about this giveaway and leave me the link to the post. If you don't have a blog just email five of your friends about this giveaway and leave me a comment telling me you did it!

6. Twitter about this giveaway and leave me a link. You can do this once per day for extra entries.


This giveaway is open to everyone everywhere - I will choose a winner on Monday, November 10, 2008. You will have 48 hours to respond or I will choose another winner.

And don't forget to enter these other great giveaways I am currently running...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cole Family Christmas book GIVEAWAY!!! CLOSED

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!!! Congratulations to Chelsey for winning this delightful book!

For this giveaway I am offering a copy of this wonderful Christmas book....

COLE FAMILY CHRISTMAS by Jennifer Liu Bryan with Hazel Cole Kendle: The wish book. This amazing year, the nine children in the Cole family have been allowed to sit down with the Sears, Roebuck and Company catalogue to choose the gift they would most like to receive for Christmas. This is a rare event, for the Coles are not wealthy. This is the true, tender, and wholly unforgettable tale of a coal miner's family, as remembered by the youngest of the family, now 88 years old, and told by her granddaughter-in-law. The story takes place in the small company town of Benham, Kentucky, in a time (1920) and place when coal was king and families made their precarious living mining the dirty and sometimes deadly coal.

I loved this book. I thought it was truly a heartwarming Christmas story that every family could enjoy!


1. Leave me one comment telling me you want to win.

2. Visit The Cole Family Christmas website and take a look around. Come back and tell me something you discovered. You can do this as many times as you like as long as you leave a different discovery in each comment!

After you have done one of the first two you can...

3. Add my link to your blogroll and leave me the link to your site here.

4. Subscribe to my blog in a reader or follow my blog and then leave me a comment telling me you did!

5. Blog about this giveaway and leave me the link to the post. If you don't have a blog just email five of your friends about this giveaway and leave me a comment telling me you did it!

6. Twitter about this giveaway and leave me a link. You can do this once per day for extra entries.


This giveaway is open to everyone everywhere - I will choose a winner on Saturday, November 8, 2008. You will have 48 hours to respond or I will choose another winner.

And don't forget to enter these other great giveaways I am currently running...

Thou Shalt Not Whine Giveaway! CLOSED

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED! Congratulations to Shannon of God Gave Me You, Shannon Blogs Here, and Scrapbooking Mommy for winning this great book!

For this giveaway I am offering a copy of this fabulous book....

THOU SHALT NOT WHINE by January Jones: It's not just you. Anyone who goes shopping, watches TV, or has children knows there is a world-wide epidemic of whining that is out of control! Jones surveyed a wide cross-section of people to find out why they whine and what they whine about. This humorous '11th Commandment' against whining looks at why people whine and how to cure it. Thou Shalt Not Whine is guaranteed to make you laugh at yourself and others.


1. Leave me one comment telling me you want to win.

2. Visit the Thou Shalt Not Whine website and take a look around. Come back and tell me something you discovered. You can do this as many times as you like as long as you leave a different discovery in each comment!

After you have done one of the first two you can...

3. Add my link to your blogroll and leave me the link to your site here.

4. Subscribe to my blog in a reader or follow my blog and then leave me a comment telling me you did!

5. Blog about this giveaway and leave me the link to the post. If you don't have a blog just email five of your friends about this giveaway and leave me a comment telling me you did it!

6. Twitter about this giveaway and leave me a link. You can do this once per day for extra entries.


This giveaway is open to everyone everywhere and will remain open for one week- I will choose a winner on Monday, November 3, 2008. You will have 48 hours to respond or I will choose another winner.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Same Kind of Different As Me

Don't forget to enter to win Arsenic Soup for Lovers and The Paper Bag Christmas)

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 authors are:

and the book:

Same Kind of Different as Me

Thomas Nelson (March 11, 2008)


Ron Hall is an international art dealer whose long list of regular clients includes many celebrity personalities. An MBA graduate of Texas Christian University, he divides his time between Dallas, New York, and his Brazos River ranch near Fort Worth.

Denver Moore currently serves as a volunteer at the Fort Worth Union Gospel Mission. He lives in Dallas, Texas. Today, he is an artist, public speaker, and volunteer for homeless causes. In 2006, as evidence of the complete turn around of his life, the citizens of Fort Worth honored him as "Philanthropist of the Year" for his work with homeless people at the Union Gospel Mission.

Visit the authors' website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 11, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 084991910X
ISBN-13: 978-0849919107


Well—a poor Lazarus poor as I

When he died he had a home on high . . .

The rich man died and lived so well

When he died he had a home in hell . . .

You better get a home in that Rock, don’t you see?



(Don't forget to enter to win Arsenic Soup for Lovers and The Paper Bag Christmas)
Until Miss Debbie, I’d never spoke to no white woman before. Just answered a few questions, maybe—it wadn’t really speakin. And to me, even that was mighty risky since the last time I was fool enough to open my mouth to a white woman, I wound up half-dead and nearly blind.

I was maybe fifteen, sixteen years old, walkin down the red dirt road that passed by the front of the cotton plantation where I lived in Red River Parish, Louisiana. The plantation was big and flat, like a whole lotta farms put together with a bayou snakin all through it. Cypress trees squatted like spiders in the water, which was the color of pale green apples. There was a lotta different fields on that spread, maybe a hundred, two hundred acres each, lined off with hardwood trees, mostly pecans.

Wadn’t too many trees right by the road, though, so when I was walkin that day on my way back from my auntie’s house—she was my grandma’s sister on my daddy’s side—I was right out in the open. Purty soon, I seen this white lady standin by her car, a blue Ford, ’bout a 1950, ’51 model, somethin like that. She was standin there in her hat and her skirt, like maybe she’d been to town. Looked to me like she was tryin to figure out how to fix a flat tire. So I stopped.

“You need some help, ma’am?”

“Yes, thank you,” she said, lookin purty grateful to tell you the truth. “I really do.”

I asked her did she have a jack, she said she did, and that was all we said.

Well, ’bout the time I got the tire fixed, here come three white boys ridin outta the woods on bay horses. They’d been huntin, I think, and they come trottin up and didn’t see me ’cause they was in the road and I was ducked down fixin the tire on the other side of the car. Red dust from the horses’ tracks floated up over me. First, I got still, thinkin I’d wait for em to go on by. Then I decided I didn’t want em to think I was hidin, so I started to stand up. Right then, one of em asked the white lady did she need any help.

“I reckon not!” a redheaded fella with big teeth said when he spotted me. “She’s got a nigger helpin her!”

Another one, dark-haired and kinda weasel-lookin, put one hand on his saddle horn and pushed back his hat with the other. “Boy, what you doin’ botherin this nice lady?”

He wadn’t nothin but a boy hisself, maybe eighteen, nineteen years old. I didn’t say nothin, just looked at him.

“What you lookin’ at, boy?” he said and spat in the dirt.

The other two just laughed. The white lady didn’t say nothin, just looked down at her shoes. ’Cept for the horses chufflin, things got quiet. Like the yella spell before a cyclone. Then the boy closest to me slung a grass rope around my neck, like he was ropin a calf. He jerked it tight, cutting my breath. The noose poked into my neck like burrs, and fear crawled up through my legs into my belly.

I caught a look at all three of them boys, and I remember thinkin none of em was much older’n me. But their eyes was flat and mean.

“We gon’ teach you a lesson about botherin white ladies,” said the one holdin the rope. That was the last thing them boys said to me.

I don’t like to talk much ’bout what happened next, ‘cause I ain’t lookin for no pity party. That’s just how things was in Louisiana in those days. Mississippi, too, I reckon, since a coupla years later, folks started tellin the story about a young colored fella named Emmett Till who got beat till you couldn’t tell who he was no more. He’d whistled at a white woman, and some other good ole boys—seemed like them woods was full of em—didn’t like that one iota. They beat that boy till one a’ his eyeballs fell out, then tied a cotton-gin fan around his neck and throwed him off a bridge into the Tallahatchie River. Folks says if you was to walk across that bridge today, you could still hear that drowned young man cryin out from the water.

There was lots of Emmett Tills, only most of em didn’t make the news. Folks says the bayou in Red River Parish is full to its pea-green brim with the splintery bones of colored folks that white men done fed to the gators for covetin their women, or maybe just lookin cross-eyed. Wadn’t like it happened ever day. But the chance of it, the threat of it, hung over the cotton fields like a ghost.

I worked them fields for nearly thirty years, like a slave, even though slavery had supposably ended when my grandma was just a girl. I had a shack I didn’t own, two pairs a’ overalls I got on credit, a hog, and a outhouse. I worked them fields, plantin and plowin and pickin and givin all the cotton to the Man that owned the land, all without no paycheck. I didn’t even know what a paycheck was.

It might be hard for you to imagine, but I worked like that while the seasons rolled by from the time I was a little bitty boy, all the way past the time that president named Kennedy got shot dead in Dallas.

All them years, there was a freight train that used to roll through Red River Parish on some tracks right out there by Highway 1. Ever day, I’d hear it whistle and moan, and I used to imagine it callin out about the places it could take me . . . like New York City or Detroit, where I heard a colored man could get paid, or California, where I heard nearly everbody that breathed was stackin up paper money like flapjacks. One day, I just got tired a’ bein poor. So I walked out to Highway 1, waited for that train to slow down some, and jumped on it. I didn’t get off till the doors opened up again, which happened to be in Fort Worth, Texas. Now when a black man who can’t read, can’t write, can’t figger, and don’t know how to work nothin but cotton comes to the big city, he don’t have too many of what white folks call “career opportunities.” That’s how come I wound up sleepin on the streets.

I ain’t gon’ sugarcoat it: The streets’ll turn a man nasty. And I had been nasty, homeless, in scrapes with the law, in Angola prison, and homeless again for a lotta years by the time I met Miss Debbie. I want to tell you this about her: She was the skinniest, nosiest, pushiest woman I had ever met, black or white.

She was so pushy, I couldn’t keep her from finding out my name was Denver. She investigated till she found it out on her own. For a long time, I tried to stay completely outta her way. But after a while, Miss Debbie got me to talkin ’bout things I don’t like to talk about and tellin things I ain’t never told nobody—even about them three boys with the rope. Some of them’s the things I’m fixin to tell you.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Do you have questions for the Author of The Shack?

I just wanted to pass this information on to you all:


William Paul Young to Answer Readers’ Questions on Oct. 22

Abunga.com, the family-friendly bookstore, is hosting a free online chat with William Paul Young, author of the No. 1 New York Times best-selling book, “The Shack,” on Oct. 22 as a part of the weekly “Authors at Abunga” chat series.

“This novel has created a big buzz among readers,” said Abunga.com Chairman Lee Martin. “Our online chat will give people the chance to ask their questions directly to Mr. Young and learn his thoughts and inspiration behind the story.”

Young, a Canadian-born son of missionaries, wrote the novel as a personal story for his six children, and never intended it to be for public consumption. Since its debut on the market, “The Shack” has sky-rocketed to success, landing in the No. 1 spot on several trade paperback fiction best-seller lists.

The fictional redemptive story revolves around Mackenzie Allen Phillips, whose daughter is tragically abducted during a family vacation. Shortly after, evidence of her murder is found in an abandoned shack.

Four years later Phillips receives a note, supposedly from “God,” inviting him back to the shack. Accepting the offer, even against his better judgment, Phillips experiences an unexpected encounter that will forever change his life. For more information, visit http://Abunga.com/FeaturedAuthorYoung.

The Abunga.com online chat will take place from 2-3 p.m. EDT on Oct. 22 at http://Abunga.com/AuthorsAtAbunga. Questions are currently being accepted at the “Authors at Abunga” Web page and will also be taken during the chat. An archive of the chat will be available at Abunga.com on the following day for those unable to attend.

“Many people may not have the opportunity to attend an event with Mr. Young and hear him speak about his book,” Martin said. “But the Abunga.com online chat format allows anyone with Internet access the opportunity to join in, and we hope people will take advantage of this.”

Abunga.com is an online bookstore founded to provide families a protected shopping environment. Headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn., Abunga.com offers safety with more than 2 million family-friendly titles; savings through distributor-direct prices; and support to nonprofit organizations by donating 5 percent of each transaction to a customer-selected charity. For more information, visit www.Abunga.com.

DON'T FORGET TO ENTER MY CURRENT GIVEAWAYS! They are listed on my right hand side bar!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bible Illuminated

I have been blessed in my life to be able to read the Bible several times over in several different translations and you know what? It's a great book. If you haven't read it you should give it a try! There is a reason it is the most popular book in the world you know :)

This month I was given the amazing opportunity to preview a new Bible version- Bible Illuminated. Honestly I think it is easily the most incredible version I have EVER seen. This is a brief description I got from their website:

"This modern illuminated bible is an oversized (8 ¼ x 11 ½), full-color, 264-page glossy magazine. It has striking, provocative, contemporary photographs. It uses the Good News Translation (GNT) and it is aimed to be less intimidating than traditional bibles. The US book launches Fall 2008, PRE ORDER NOW."

The photos are incredible- just looking at them gave me VERY strong emotions and then to have them paired with the Word of God was just intense. It truly had me captivated.

The Bible Illuminated would make an excellent Christmas gift too. It can be pre-ordered for $35 according to the website.

Go check out Bible Illuminated- you'll love it too!

Friday, October 17, 2008

One Perfect Day

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:

One Perfect Day

FaithWords (October 22, 2008)


Lauraine Snelling is the award-winning author of more than sixty books, with sales of over 2 million copies. She also writes for a wide range of magazines, and helps others reach their writing dreams by teaching at writer’s conferences across the country. Lauraine and her husband, Wayne, have two grown sons, and live in the Tehachapi Mountains with a cockatiel named Bidley, and a watchdog Basset named Chewy.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 13.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (October 22, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446582107
ISBN-13: 978-0446582100



Gordon, where are you?

Betsy, a middle-aged yellow Lab, looked up as if she had heard Nora speaking. The two — owner and pet — had been best friends for so long that the twins frequently teased their mother about mental telepathy — with a dog. Betsy thumped her tail and gazed up from her self- assigned spot at Nora’s feet.

Leaving the bay- window seat, where she’d been staring out at the moon lighting fire to the frost-encrusted winter lawn, which sloped down to the lakeshore, Nora crossed the kitchen to set the teakettle to boiling. Tea always helped in times of distress. She brought out the rose-sprinkled china teapot and filled it with hot water. Tonight was not a mug night but a “stoke up the reserves” night. If there had been snow on the ground, this was the kind of night, with the moon so bright every blade of grass glinted, when she would have hit the ski trails. An hour of cross-country skiing and she’d have been relaxed enough to fall asleep whether Gordon called or not. So, instead, she drank tea. As if copious cups would make her sleep deeply rather than toss and turn. Perhaps she would work on the business plan if she got enough caffeine into her system.

Betsy’s ears perked up and she went and stood in front of the door to the garage.

Nora’s heart leaped. Gordon must be home after all. But why hadn’t he called to say he was at the airport? His business trip to Stuttgart, Germany, had already been prolonged and here they were trying to get ready — with just four days until Christmas. The last one for which she could guarantee the twins would still be home. Her last chance for perfection. When he’d told her a week ago he had to fl y to Stuttgart again, the word “again” had echoed in her head. Betsy’s tail increased the wag speed and she backed up as the door opened.

“Mom, I’m home.” Charlie, the older twin by two minutes, and named after his father, Charles Gordon Peterson, came through the door in his usual rush. “Oh, there you are.” Grinning up at his mother, he paused to pet the waiting dog. “Good girl, Bets, did you take good care of Mom?” Betsy wagged her tail and caught the tip of his nose with her black- spotted tongue. “Smells good in here.” He glanced around the kitchen, zeroing in on the plate of powdered-sugar–dusted brownies. “Heard from Dad?”

“No.” Nora cupped her elbows with her hands and leaned against the counter. At five-seven, she found that the raised counter fit right into the small of her back. When they’d built the house, she and Gordon had chosen cabinets two inches higher than normal, since they were both tall. Made for easier work surfaces. “Go ahead, quit drooling and eat. There’s a plate in the fridge for you to pop in the microwave.” “Where’s Christi?” Charlie asked around a mouthful of walnut- laced brownie.

“Upstairs. I think she’s finishing a Christmas present.”

“Are we going to decorate the tree tonight?”

“We were waiting on you.” And your father, but somehow he always manages to not be here at tree- decorating time.
While Gordon was not a “bah, humbug” kind of guy, his idea of a perfect Christmas was skiing in Colorado. They’d done his last year, with his promise to help make hers perfect this year. Right. Big help from across the Atlantic. While Nora knew he’d not deliberately chosen to be gone this week before Christmas, it still rankled, irritating under her skin like a fine cactus spine, hard to see and harder to dig out. Charlie retrieved his plate from the fridge and slid it into the microwave, all the while filling his mother in on the antics of the children standing in line to visit Santa. Charlie excelled as one of Santa’s elves, a big elf at six feet, with dark curly hair and hazel eyes, which sparkled with delight. Charlie loved little kids; so when this perfect job came up, he took it and entertained them all in his green- and- red elf suit. He could turn the saddest tears into laughter. Santa told him not to grow up, he’d need elves forever.

“One little girl had the bluest round eyes you ever saw.” Charlie took his warmed plate out and pulled a stool up to the counter so he could eat. “She had this one great big tear trickling down her cheek, but I hid behind my hands” — he demonstrated peekaboo with his fingers — “and she sniffed, ducked into Santa, caught herself and peeked back at me. When he did his ‘ho ho ho,’ she looked up at him with the cutest grin.” He deepened his voice. “ ‘And what do you want for Christmas, little girl?’ ” Charlie shifted into shy little girl: “ ‘ I — I want a kitty. My mommy’s kitty died and she needs a new one.’ ” He paused. “ ‘And make sure it has a good motor. My mommy likes to hold one that purrs.’ ” Charlie came back to himself. “Can you believe that, Mom? That’s all she wanted. She reached up and kissed his cheek, slid off his lap and waved good- bye.” “What a little sweetheart.”

“I checked with Annie, who was taking the pictures, and got their address. You think we could find a kitten that has a good motor at the Humane Society?”

“Ask Christi, she’d know.” Christi volunteered one afternoon a week at the Riverbend Humane Society and would bring home every condemned animal if they let her. She’d fostered more dogs and cats in the last year than most people did in a lifetime. She’d found homes for them too, except for Bushy, an older white fluffy cat, with one black ear and one black paw. His green eyes captivated her, or at least that was the excuse for his taking up permanent residence. “I will. Be nice if there was a half- grown one with a loud motor.”

“Loud motor for what?” Christi, Bushy draped across her arm, wandered into the kitchen, a smear of Sap Green oil paint on her right cheek, matching the blob on the back of her right forefinger. Tall at five-nine, with an oval face and haunting grayish blue eyes, she looked every bit the traditional blond Norwegian. As much as Charlie entertained the world, she observed and translated what she saw onto canvases that burst with color and yet drew the eye into the shadows, where peace and serenity lurked. Christi would rather paint than eat or even breathe at times.

“A little girl asked Santa for a kitty for her mother” — he shifted into mimic — “ ‘ ’Cause Mommy’s kitty died and she is sad.’ ” “That’s all she wanted?”

“Gee, that’s what I thought too.” Nora motioned toward the teapot and Christi nodded. While her mother poured the tea, Christi absently rubbed the paint spot on her cheek. “There are three cats for adoption right now. I like the gold one, she loves to be held. The other two would rather roughhouse.”

“You think it would still be there until after school?” “I’ll call Shawna and tell her to hold it for you. Are you sure you want to do this? What happens if she doesn’t really want it?”

“Can anyone turn down one of Santa’s elves?”

“You’d go in costume?”

“Why not?”

“I could paint you a card.”

“Would you?”

“Sure, have one started. All I need to do is change the color of the cat. Luckily, I made it white, like Bushy here.” She rubbed her cheek on the cat’s fluffy head. “How long until we decorate the tree?”

“Give me five minutes.”

“Okay, you two start on the lights and I’ll finish the card. You want me to sign it for you?” Christi had taken classes in calligraphy and had taught her mother how to sign all the Christmas cards in perfect script.

“You know, you’re all right for a girl.” Charlie bounded up the stairs to his room, where all his herpetological friends lived. Arnold, a three- foot rosy boa that should have been named Houdini, was his favorite.

Nora handed Christi her mug of tea. “Take a brownie with you.”

“Thanks, Mom. You heard from Dad yet?”

“No.” Nora knew her answer was a bit clipped. “Something must be wrong.” Christi’s eyes darkened in concern. “Did you call him?”

“I tried, cell went right to voice mail.”

“So, he was on it?”

“Or he let the battery run out.” As efficient as Gordon was, you’d think he could remember to plug his phone into the charger. The two women of the family shared an eye rolling.

“He’ll call.”

“Unless he’s broken down someplace.”

“You always tell me not to worry.”

“Well, advising and doing are two different things.” Nora set her cup and saucer in the dishwasher. “Want to help me unroll the lights?”

“I was going up to finish that card.”

Nora checked her watch. “Ten minutes?” “Done.” Christi scooped Bushy up off the counter, where he’d flopped, and headed up the stairs, not leaping like her brother, but lithe and regal, the residuals of her years of ballet and modern dance.

Nora and Betsy headed for the living room, but when the phone rang, she did an about- face and a near dive for the wall phone in the desk alcove. “Hello.”

“Nora, I’m sorry I didn’t call sooner.”

“There, you did it again.” She tried to sound harsh, but relief turned her to quivering Jell- O.


“Apologize. Now I can’t be mad at you.” His chuckle reminded her of how much she missed him when he was gone.

“Where are you?”

“Still in Stuttgart. Art and I got to talking and I didn’t realize the time passing. I had to get some sleep.” “You’re up awfully early.”

“I know. Trying to finish up. Is the tree up yet?”

“What, are you trying to outwait me?” “What ever gave you that idea?” He coughed to clear his throat.

“You okay?”

“Just a tickle. Look, I should be on my way home this afternoon. I’ve got to wrap this thing up, but I told them the deadline is noon and I’m heading for the airport at three, come he- heaven or high water.”

“Well, don’t worry about the tree.” She slipped into suffering servant to make him laugh again. “The kids and I’ll get that done tonight.” It worked. His chuckle always made her smile back, even when he couldn’t see her. “They have school tomorrow, right?”

“Right. Last day, so there’ll be parties. I have goodie trays all ready to take.”

“You made Julekaka for the teachers again?” Nora chuckled. “Gotta keep my place as favorite mother of high- school students.”

“Is that Dad?” Charlie called from the stairs. “Tell him to hurry home. I have to . . .” The rest of his words were lost in his rush.

“Charlie says to hurry home.”

“I heard him. Give them both hugs from me.” “Do you need a ride from the airport?” She glanced at the clock. Nine p.m. here meant four a.m. in Germany. Good thing Gordon was a morning person.

“No, I’ll take a cab. I love you.”

“You better.” She hung up on both their chuckles. How come just hearing his voice upped the wattage on the lights? And after twenty- two years of marriage. As people so often told them, they were indeed the lucky ones. “Please, Lord, take good care of him,” she whispered as she blew him a silent kiss. She joined Charlie in the living room, where a blue spruce graced the bay window overlooking the front yard, where she and Gordon had festooned tiny white lights on the naked branches of the maple, which burst into fiery color in the fall, and the privet hedge, which bordered the drive. Lights in icicle mode graced the front eaves, while two tall white candles guarded the front steps. She’d filled pots with holly up the flagstone stairs and hung a swag of pine boughs, red balls and a huge gold mesh bow on the door. “Here.” Charlie handed her the reel of tiny white lights and pulled on the end to plug it in.

“I already checked them all this afternoon. Just start at the top of the tree.”

They had a third of the lights on the eight- foot tree when Christi joined them, setting the finished card on the mantel to dry.

“I didn’t put it in the envelope yet, so don’t forget this in the morning, or are you coming home before going over there? Shawna said she’ll put your name on the golden cat. She’s already been fixed, so she is ready for her new home.” Christi picked up another reel of light strings. “You need to put them closer together.”

“Yeah, right, Miss Queen Bee has spoken,” Charlie mumbled from behind the tree.

“You don’t have to get huffy.”

“You don’t have to be bossy.”

“All right, let’s just get the lights on.” All they had to do was get through this drudgery part and then all would be well. Gordon always tried to skimp on the lights too. Like father, like son. Silence reigned as they wound the lights around the tree branches, punctuated only by a “hand me another reel, please” and “ouch” when a spruce needle dug into the tender spot under the nail. Nora sucked on her finger for a moment to ease the stinging. Inhaling the intoxicating spruce scent brought back memories of the last years and made her grateful again for all the joys they’d had. One more thing to miss tonight, the rehash she and Gordon always did post–tree trimming, when the children had gone to bed, like Monday morning quarterbacking, only with more smiles and laughter. Much of the laughter came because of Charlie’s clowning around.

“What if she doesn’t like the cat?” Charlie asked.

“Then we’ll take it back,” Christi said matter-of-factly.

“By ‘back,’ I’m sure you mean to the Humane Society. Bushy would not like another cat around here.” Nora’s hands stilled. This she needed to clarify.

“Of course, Mom.”

Nora looked up in time to catch a head shake from her daughter and one of the “I’m trying to be patient” looks Christi was so good at. Why was it so quiet? “Oh, I forgot to put the music on. Messiah all right?”

When both twins shrugged, she knew they’d rather have something else, but were giving her the choice. She crossed to the sound system, hit the number three button and waited a moment for Mariah Carey’s voice to flow out. She’d play the Messiah after they went to bed. They’d all attended the “ Sing-Along Messiah” concert the second weekend in December.

At least Gordon had been home for that tradition. A bit later they all three stepped back with matching sighs. “All right, throw the switch.” She looked at Charlie, who had taken over that job years earlier. This certainly was a night for memories.

When the tree sprang to life, they swapped grins and nods. The ornaments were the easy part. By unspoken agreement, they decided to hang the ornaments, which they’d bought one per year on their annual family shopping trip and dinner- out tradition, higher in the tree to keep away from batting cat’s paws and a dog’s wagging tail. While the twins snorted at her sentimentality, she hung the ornaments they’d made through the years, some like the Santa face with a cotton ball beard, beginning to look more than a bit scruffy, but dear nevertheless. The ornaments that their Tante Karen had given them through the years on their Christmas presents brought up memories and set the two to recalling each year and what their interest had been then. Nora knew that her sister watched both the twins and the shops carefully through the year to find just the perfect ornament. When the twins had trees of their own, they would already have seventeen ornaments each to take with them. The thought made Nora pause. The home tree would look mighty bare. She hung the crocheted and stiffened snowflakes she had made one year and had given for gifts. Then three little folded- paper- and- waxed stars she’d made in Girl Scouts took their own places.

When they’d hung the final ornament, they stared at the box with the glorious angel that always smiled benignly from the top of the tree.

“Let’s leave that for Dad.” Christi turned toward her mother. “I agree.” Setting the angel just right with a light inside her to make her shimmer was always Gordon’s job — for years because he was the only one tall enough and now because they wanted him to have a part, no matter how many miles separated them.

Charlie shrugged. “I am tall enough, you know.” “I know.” Nora gathered her two chicks to her sides and they admired the tree together. “Thank you. I know it is late, with school tomorrow, but I really appreciate your helping the tradition continue.” She tried not to sniff, but her body went on automatic pilot.

Charlie’s arm around her back squeezed and Christi leaned her head against her mother’s. Together they turned and surveyed all the decorations; the mantel was the only thing that Nora changed year after year, and all was done but hanging the Christmas stockings. The hooks waited. Charlie picked up the fl at box that held the cross- stitched or quilted stockings and they each hung up their own. Nora hung hers and Gordon’s, while the kids hung the ones for Bushy and Betsy. “Now Santa can come.” Christi smoothed the satin surfaces of her crazy- quilt stocking, with every satin or velvet piece decorated with intricate embroidery stitches, cross- stitch, daisy chain and feather. “When I get married, will you make my husband a sock to match?”

“I will.” Just please don’t be in too big a hurry. Not that Christi was dating anyone. She often said she left all the flirting up to her brother, since all the girls were after him all the time. But Nora often wondered if Christi was a bit jealous, not that she would ask. Her daughter talked more with her father than she did with her mother. Unless, of course, it was a real female thing.

“Anyone for cocoa? The real kind? I can make it while you get ready for bed. I’ll bring the tray up.” “And brownies?” Charlie asked.

“Fattigman?” Christi loved the traditional Norwegian goodies Nora made only at Christmastime. “Of course, and since you’ll be getting home early tomorrow, you can help me with the sandbakles.” Charlie groaned. Pressing the buttery dough into the small fluted tins was not his idea of fun.

“ ‘He who eats must press.’ ” Christi sang out the line her mother had often repeated since the time they were little. Nora watched her two swap shoulder punches as they climbed the stairs. No matter how much they teased each other or argued, the bond between them ran deeper than most siblings. Gordon called it spooky; she figured it was a gift from God.
Time to make cocoa, as her family had called it. In her mind, hot chocolate came in a packet or tin. Good thing she’d picked up the miniature marshmallows. Betsy padding beside her, she returned to the kitchen to fix the tray. If only Gordon were here. Carrying the tray up the stairs was his job.

Copyright 2008 Lauraine Snelling

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Paper Bag Christmas- review and GIVEAWAY (closed)

This Giveaway is now CLOSED! Congratulations to Jennifer of My Life With 4 Kids and to Sandra!

I would like to tell you all about a beautiful Christmas story I read today- The Paper Bag Christmas.

It is a wonderful story about the true meaning of Christmas. Kevin Alan Milne writes wonderfully and brought the characters to life for me. The story made me smile and it definitely made me cry. I loved it.

Please go and get a copy of this book for yourself- I would say this is a book pretty much anyone could read and enjoy.

Here is a quick overview of the book that I took from the Hachette Book Group website:

"Dr. Christopher Ringle is the last person you'd expect to find moonlighting as Santa Claus at the mall on the day after Thanksgiving. But it is there that he meets a young man named Molar Alan, who desperately needs a new perspective on the underlying value of Christmas. Dr. Ringle recruits Mo and his older brother as volunteers at a nearby children's hospital for the holiday season. At the hospital, Mo is tasked to help bring holiday cheer to the young cancer patients on the fifth floor. His biggest challenge is befriending a decidedly angry girl who is so embarrassed by her scarred appearance that she hides her face behind the safety of a paper bag. Almost in spite of himself, Mo finds that Christmas joy emanates from a source far greater than the North Pole, while the young girl learns that she is more beautiful than she had ever imagined."

You can read an excerpt of the book HERE.

If you would like to win a copy of this wonderful book just leave me a comment here telling me what you love (or hate) about Christmas. This giveaway is open to everyone and I will choose a random winner on November 1st, 2008.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Arsenic Soup for Lovers review and Giveaway

This giveaway is now CLOSED! Congratulations to The Kea for winning this book!

I was recently sent a copy of Arsenic Soup For Lovers by Georgia Post to review. I must say that this book was definitely not my regular read!

Here is a bit about the book that I took off the back of the book:

"In a world where few people laugh at themselves, Arsenic Soup For Lovers is the perfect blend of short stories guaranteed to make you step back and look at the world from a different perspective. In this tart and wickedly amusing collection by author Georgia Z. Post, ordinary life situations unfold in a myriad of quirky moments requiring out-of-the-box devious answers to tickle your funnybone."

This book will appeal to your cynical, darker side. Each story is very well written, short and easy to read. The book is packed full of caustic sarcasm, deviousness, and irony. Honestly this is one of the most fascinating... and odd... books I've ever read! Half the time I didn't know whether I should be laughing or recoiling in horror. But you know what? I read the whole book in about an hour because it was just so out of the ordinary!

If you would like to read a sample you can head over to the Arsenic Soup For Lovers website.

If you think you would enjoy this book then you are in luck! I am giving away my review copy to one of you lovely people. Just leave me a comment and I will pick a random winner on October 27, 2008. This giveaway is open to everyone everywhere.

Don't forget to go HERE and enter my other book giveaway too.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Miracle Girls Review and GIVEAWAY!

I recently had the opportunity to review "the Miracle Girls" by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt.

Here is a short description of the book from the publisher:

Ana Dominguez was happy in San Jose, but everything changed when her dad moved the family to Half Moon Bay, California, to open a law practice. Her parents think she's settling into her new school nicely, but she has them fooled. Riley, the most popular girl in school, has picked Ana as enemy #1, and Tyler, Ana's crush, doesn't even know Ana exists. When Ana ends up in detention with Riley, her life suddenly changes. When Ana, Riley, Christine, and Zoe share their essays on "The Day My Life Changed," it turns out they have more in common than they ever would have imagined. Now as Ana lives out her faith, she and Zoe are determined to befriend Riley and Christine. But the drama of high school life has only just begun. . . .

I really enjoyed this book. It has a engaging story line and I think the authors did a great job of keeping it entertaining. I absolutely loved how the story was written from a first person present tense perspective. It was like being inside Ana's head and I really felt like I was seeing her world through her eyes. This is an inspiring look at the tumultuous world of teenage girls! I would recommend this book to any teen girl for sure but I suspect most women would enjoy this fun little read. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in the series as they come out!

You can find more information about the authors on their website blog at Anne & May.com.

I have my copy of the Miracle Girls to give away to one of you lucky people!

Just leave me a comment here telling me about a miracle in your life. That's it! Make sure to leave me a way to get in touch with you if you win. I will choose a random winner on Monday, October 20th.

This GIVEAWAY is now CLOSED. Congrats to Just.Me for winning this great book!

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Pocket Daring Book for Girls

I was given the chance to review a super fun book called "The Pocket Daring Book for Girls" by Andrea J. Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz. It is a book FULL of things to do- everything from how to make a pillowcase skirt to drawing a face to tracking animals and making the coolest paper airplane ever. Seriously! This book gives detailed instructions on how to do a crazy amount of things! If your kid ever says "mom, I'm bored" to you than THIS is the book to buy for her! There are activities to keep her busy all year round.

Of course you'll have to keep a close eye on your daughter as she does them! Some of the activities are a definitely on the daring side- like making your own zipline and building a campfire.

I really enjoyed this fun little book. It would make an excellent Christmas gift for the young lady in your life!

Here is a bit about the book that I got off of the Harper Collins website:

"A portable, pocket-sized take on the bestselling phenomenon,The Daring Book for Girls, this book is filled with many favorite activities from the original, plus some exciting new games, crafts, and projects. Whether following tips for riding a skateboard, learning how to run faster, or making a skirt out of a pillowcase, the most daring of girls will be occupied all season long.

The Pocket Daring Book for Girls: Things to Do also includes the long-awaited chapter, "Make Your Own Zip Line," along with classic instructions for activities like Fourteen Games of Tag, Marco Polo, How to Be a Spy, Washing the Car and Building a Campfire. It would be remiss not to mention that the book teaches girls a skill not found in the original DARING BOOK FOR GIRLS, namely, how to make a fifteen-foot backyard geyser from a concoction of Mentos and Diet Coke, and that the book holds the definitive answer to the age-old question, Can you really fry an egg on the sidewalk?

Join girls everywhere who are pursuing these delightful activities and living out the Daring Girls credo: Enjoy yourself. Learn new things. Lead an Interesting Life."

found this information on the authors on the Daring Book for Girls website:

Andrea J. Buchanan

ANDREA J. BUCHANAN is the mother of a girl and a boy, both of whom are equally daring. She is the author of several books, including Mother Shock. Before she was a writer, she was a pianist who once performed a solo concert at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall. Visit Andi on the web at www.andibuchanan.com.

Miriam Peskowitz

MIRIAM PESKOWITZ is the mother of two girls, including a nine-year-old who climbs trees and leads spy missions in the backyard. She has been a camp counselor, an historian, a blogger, a musician, a professor, and is the author of several books, including The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars. For more on Miriam, see www.miriampeskowitz.com.

Go check out the Daring Book for Girls website- it has some really fun features including a great blog.

Seeing Through the Lies by Vonda Skelton

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading "Seeing Through the Lies" by Vonda Skelton. I found it to be an excellent devotional book. Vonda addresses major issues that woman who believe in Jesus face on a regular basis. Topics include being tempted to tell half-truths, self esteem and self image issues, being self absorbed, having false expectations in marriage, and many more. I found Vonda's book to be challenging and highly relevant to my life!

The book is easy to read and understand. It would make an excellent group study as well as a personal devotional book. Vonda uses a lot of Scripture to make her points and does so very eloquently. There is also a very healthy dose of humour that I really enjoyed.

If you are looking for a new devotional book for yourself or as a gift for another woman in your life than keep reading! Below you will find a description of the book and an interview with author Vonda Skelton. Enjoy!
book photo

Paperback: 176 pages

Publisher: Regal Books
Released: 02/01/2008 ISBN-10: 0830745017
ISBN-13: 978-0830745012

Retail: $12.99

Seeing through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe
We have been seduced by half-truths and whole lies since time began. Remember the garden? In Seeing Through the Lies, author and speaker Vonda Skelton humorously addresses the disappointments women experience as they search for truth while believing a lie. Each chapter opens with amusing anecdotes from real life and ends with answers and guidance straight from God s Word. Exploring topics such as pride, fear, motherhood, and the busyness of life, this book offers practical steps for peeling away the layers of deceit and finding the joy of living in real truth. Through honesty and humility, Vonda takes women on a hilarious journey through all things female and brings them to a soul-searching point of decision. Readers will identify with both the positive and negative examples of women in the Bible, and will be encouraged by Scripture, as well as quotes from notable men and women. Each chapter ends with five steps for exposing the lie and embracing the truth of God s Word.
  • Are you striving to be a woman of excellence, but feel you're landing somewhere between mediocre and unfit?
  • Do you want to be your husband's lover, but feel more like his mother?
  • Are you convinced that busyness is next to godliness?
  • Are you trying so hard to be everything to everybody that you feel like you're nobody to anybody?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you're not alone--you've simply fallen victim to the lies of Satan! But you don't have to be seduced by his masquerade any longer. Join the fun as we take a hilarious journey through all things female on our search for real truth in a counterfeit world.
From spider veins and webs of deceit to cartoon characters and feminist funnies, Seeing through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe will help you recognize the lies and take joy in the light of His Truth.The suggested Bible readings, small group discussion questions, and meditations on the very words of Jesus will help you discover not only the lies that bind you, but the keys that set you free.
Listen, girlfriend, it doesn't matter who you are or where you've been or what you've done, God is ready to give you a fresh start on a new life--one that can only come through the acceptance of His unchanging truth.

author photo
Vonda Skelton is an entertaining speaker with a heart for women and their families. Her first women's book, Seeing through the Lies: Unmasking the Myths Women Believe, "takes a hilarious look at all things female as we search for truth in a counterfeit world." Her first two books are part of the Bitsy Mystery Series for children 8-14 years old. The third book in the series, Bitsy and the Mystery at Hilton Head Island, will be released in the spring of 2008.

An RN and freelance writer, Vonda's articles frequently appear in magazines such as HomeLife, Christian Single, Focus on the Family publications, and New Man Magazine. An award-winning playwright and lyricist, her scripts have been performed in churches around the country. She is a frequent instructor at writer's conferences and enjoys mentoring and encouraging new writers.

As one who tries--and often fails--to be like Christ, Vonda is thankful God continues to take her messes and use them for His glory!
Q & A with VONDA:
Why did you write Seeing Through the Lies? Where did you birth the idea for this book? When? How did it come about?
This book was written out of my passion for women's ministry. We--not just women, but all of us --are deceived by so many lies! They are woven throughout today's culture. I wanted to help us get focused, or in some cases, refocused, on the timeless truths of God's Word. I knew I could reach many more women through a book than I ever could reach through my speaking ministry. So, I started with the key points from my Celebrating Womanhood presentation, where we look at the seasons of a woman's life and come to the conclusion that God can use each of us, no matter our age or situation. After several revisions and rethinking the needs of women, Seeing Through the Lies was born.
What takeaway points do you hope the reader pulls from this book?
I hope that after women read my book they'll realize that Satan works hard tomake us believe his lies, but this is what God wants you to know:
  • Your worth is not dependent on your beauty, your busyness, or your stuff.
  • A happy marriage is one that endures.
  • Motherhood is an honorable profession.
  • God has the power to overcome your fear.
  • You win when you lose.
  • Your life won't be perfect until you reach perfection in heaven.
  • You can't win God's love because of your goodness, and you can't lost His love because of your sin. And that, dear sisters, is the truth.
How do you deal with your other obligations (family, job, church, etc.) when it's crunch time near writing deadlines?
Did you have to ask that question? In all honesty, this is one of my biggest struggles--balancing my time between my husband, my family, my home, my church, and my writing and speaking ministry. The truth is, my husband, Gary, is a dream husband. As I mentioned in the book, his mother made sure he knew how to cook, clean, change diapers, and iron long before we married. And I know you're not going to believe this, but I promise it's true: I never have to ask him to take out the trash, fix the car, or pay the bills. (And no--you CAN'T have him! He's MINE!) So on those days when he comes home from work at 6:30 and there's no dinner on the stove and I'm still at the computer in my pajamas, he doesn't say a word. He simply goes to the frig, pulls out the sandwich makings and asks if I've eaten anything that day. Can you tell I tend to get tunnel vision when it comes to crunch time? Yes, God has to rein me in over and over. I'm kinda like Paul, "I don't know why I do the things I do!" (Now, if somebody out there could just tell me how to go to the potty without having to actually leave the computer--just think how much more I could accomplish in a day!)
What's your favorite worship song, and why?
One of my favorite songs is "Majesty" written by members of Delirious. The line that says, "Your grace has found me just as I am--empty-handed but alive in Your hand" just gets to me. I can see myself standing before Holy God, falling to my knees...empty-handed, with nothing to offer Him. And yet, He takes me just as I am--selfish, self-centered, and proud--and cleans me up to be used by Him. I can't wait to get to heaven, 'cause I know that when I belt out the songs there, it will be beautiful! No off-key notes, no frightened, trembling voice--it'll be loud and clear and powerful! And Jesus will be there, smiling at me. Yep. I can see it now. I'm the lead singer and Hillsong is backing me up. And Jesus is smiling real big. As we say here in the south, it just don't get no better than that!
What do you crave (beverage or food) when you have writer's stress?
Oh, a banana split always works, as long as it's a real one. That means chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream, real fruit, and wet nuts, with whipped cream on top. And anything chocolate, of course. But then you have to balance it with salt, right?
Can you share something with our readers about what God has been teaching you lately?
He's teaching me that I need to trust Him more. I recently had so many things going on that I couldn't prepare for three events as thoroughly as I usually do. I found myself feeling vulnerable, weak, and needy. Not that I don't ask for His help every time I speak, but this was different. I was crying out to God, begging Him to fill me with His words, His message. And you know what? Those three events were the most powerful, most amazing events I've ever had! Instead of working from a well-defined plan, I spoke the words God placed in my heart and mind. As always, I had been praying God would use the week's events to change hearts...and He did. He changed mine. I learned to relinquish my agenda and plans to His; to trust Him in a way I hadn't truly trusted Him before. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That week, God's power was made perfect through my weakness. I never want to work in my strength again.
What are some of the lies or myths women tend to believe? And what are the best ways for women to see through the lies and unmask the myths, in order to live the lives God would have for them?
You mean, besides the one that says we have to be a size 2 and perpetually 23 years old? Besides the lies we're most familiar with--like our worth is based on our beauty, our busyness, or our stuff--we look at nine areas of deceit women tend to struggle with, like the lies inadvertently promoted by the Christian community. How many times have we been told, "Just believe God and everything will be wonderful?" Or "If you have enough faith, you won't be sick." (The truth is, Jesus tells us we will have trouble in this world.) Or what about the lie that says we'll get married and live happily ever after everyday? The only way we can unmask the myths and find the truth is to go to God's Word. Read His instruction. Take to heart the Bible stories of people who lived through similar experiences and then apply the principals to our own lives.
What are the effects of women being sucked in to the lies? What are the benefits of overcoming this temptation to believe what the world and the enemy would want women to believe?
Regardless of where I go, I find that women are disappointed. We're disappointed in ourselves, in our marriages, in our lives in general. The problem is, we're trying to reach some impossible dream the world sets for us. Living in truth frees us to be what God uniquely created us to be. He wants us to live the abundant life. But we can't do that as long as we're falling for the lies.
I like how you utilize humor in your writings. What is your philosophy about integrating humorous thoughts into writings that have more serious subjects?
Some people believe that Christian women speakers have somehow "arrived." Ha! All you have to do is spend a day at my house and you'll see that's one of the biggest lies of all! Let's face it, we're all in the same boat. We're all struggling along this path called the Christian life. When we laugh at ourselves, we level the playing field and see that we're not alone. That in itself removes a mask. Then we can move ahead to the truth God has for us.
You give great discussion questions at the end of the book that really helps readers assimilate what they have read. Do you have some ideas or suggestions for how churches and other groups can use this book in a group study? How would a group dynamic enhance individual growth?
For a long time, I compared myself to women at church...and always found myself lacking. But when we come together and honestly confess our hardships and celebrate our successes, we encourage each other in the struggle. Isn't it great to have a team of prayer partners who will intercede on our behalf throughout the week? What strength! What love! Oh, just imagine what we can be for Christ when we take off the masks and become real! (By completing either one or two chapters a week, the study can be used as a 6 or 12 week study.)
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