Thursday, February 25, 2010

Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

by Adriana Trigiani


Book Description taken from the Harper Collins website

The Angelini Shoe Company, one of the last family-owned businesses in Greenwich Village, has been making exquisite wedding shoes since 1903 but now teeters on the brink of financial collapse. To save their business from ruin, thirty-three-year-old Valentine Roncalli—apprentice to and granddaughter of master artisan Teodora Angelini—must bring the family's old-world craftsmanship into the twenty-first century. Juggling her budding romance with dashing chef Roman Falconi, her duty to her family, and a design challenge presented by a prestigious department store, Valentine returns to Italy with her grandmother in a quest to build a pair of glorious shoes to beat their rivals. And in the course of discovering her true artistic voice and so much more in la bella Italia, Valentine will be turning her life and the business upside down in ways she never expected.



Brava, Valentine
by Adriana Trigiani


Book Description taken from the Harper Collins website


Very Valentine, an instant New York Times bestseller, introduced the contemporary family saga of the Roncalli and Angelini families, artisans of handcrafted wedding shoes in Greenwich Village since 1903.
As Brava, Valentine begins, snow falls like glitter over Tuscany at the wedding of her grandmother, Teodora, and longtime love, Dominic. Valentine's dreams are dashed when Gram announces that Alfred, "the prince," Valentine's only brother and nemesis, has been named her partner at Angelini Shoes. Devastated, Valentine falls into the arms of Gianluca, a sexy Tuscan tanner who made his romantic intentions known on the Isle of Capri. Despite their passion for one another and Gianluca's heartfelt letters, a long-distance relationship seems impossible.
As Valentine turns away from romance and devotes herself to her work, mentor and pattern cutter June Lawton guides her through her power struggle with Alfred, while best friend and confidante Gabriel Biondi moves into 166 Perry Street, transforming her home and point of view. Savvy financier Bret Fitzpatrick, Valentine's first love and former fiancée who still carries a torch for her, encourages Valentine to exploit her full potential as a designer and a business woman with a plan that will bring her singular creations to the world.
A once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity takes Valentine from the winding streets of Greenwich Village to the sun-kissed cobblestones of Buenos Aires, where she finds a long-buried secret hidden deep within a family scandal. Once unearthed, the truth rocks the Roncallis and Valentine is determined to hold her family together. More so, she longs to create one of her own, but is torn between a past love that nurtured her, and a new one that promises to sustain her.
Brava, Valentine, Trigiani's best novel yet, delivers a hilarious and poignant mix of colorful worlds and unforgettable characters as only she can create them.

You can browse inside Brava, Valentine HERE.




Adriana Trigiani is beloved by millions of readers around the world for her hilarious and heartwarming novels. She was raised in a small coal-mining town in southwest Virginia in a big Italian family. Trigiani chose her hometown for the setting and title of her debut novel, the critically acclaimed and bestselling Big Stone Gap, which was followed by the sequels Big Cherry Holler, Milk Glass Moon, and the fall 2006 release Home to Big Stone Gap. Lucia, Lucia, The Queen of the Big Time, and Rococo were all instant New York Times bestsellers. Adriana also teamed up with her family for Cooking with My Sisters, which was cowritten by her sister Mary, with contributions from their sisters and mother. The cookbook-memoir features recipes and stories dating back a hundred years from both sides of their Italian-American family. Trigiani's novels have been translated and sold in over 30 countries around the world.

MY REVIEW

I absolutely adored both of these books. The main character is fabulous and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her and her world. Both books are wonderfully entertaining. Trigiani writes in a powerfully honest, down to earth way. I felt like I really KNEW the characters and could relate to them...which is amazing considering I have never spent any time in New York or Italy and there is not even a stitch of Italian in my family line.

I was completely drawn into the story from page one and I picked the books up to read every chance I got until I was done! I would definitely recommend both Very Valentine and Brava, Valentine to any fiction lovers out there.

Thanks so much to Harper Collins for sending me review copies of these fantastic books!

Chicken Soup for the Soul: NASCAR



101 Stories of Family, Fortitude, and Fast Cars

NASCAR and Chicken Soup for the Soul join forces, with well-known NASCAR columnist Cathy Elliott leading the charge. NASCAR drivers, their families, and teams slow down enough to share their stories of family, fortitude, and fast cars. Readers will get a behind-the-scenes look at the action on and off the track. Famous drivers and those closest to them, pit crews, families, and fans all share their stories of perseverance, triumph, comebacks, and life. Fans will get a front row view, and be inspired, surprised, and sometimes amused by these exclusive, up close stories from the track, pit, and the road.

MY REVIEW
Well, I must admit that NASCAR isn't really my cup of tea... but I did find many of these stories entertaining. This would probably be the perfect book to have in any NASCAR fan's bathroom :). The stories are short and easy to read. I suspect if I was a fan of NASCAR I would have found this book much more interesting. So if NASCAR is your thing than be sure to check out this book!

Thanks so much to Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing for sending me a review copy of this book.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility, insight edition
by Jane Austen
-information taken from the Bethany House website

The Classic Tale of Secret Engagements, First Loves,
and Two Sisters, Opposites in Every Way
Smile . . . you are about to read not only one of the classic works of English literature, but a novel filled with love, humor, and heart.
This edition of Sense and Sensibility exists to make your reading experience all the more pleasurable--offering interesting trivia, uniquely humorous insight, and meaningful inspiration.
Prudent Elinor Dashwood and her passionate sister, Marianne, will come vividly to life. Their search for love, their heartbroken anguish, their wit, and their unceasing loyalty to each other--all of it will remind you why they are two of Austen's most beloved characters.
Whether you're new to Barton Cottage or have visited often, one thing is assured: This read will delight your heart and stir your spirit.

Includes "Conversation Questions" Perfect for Book Discussion Groups!

Foreword by Julie Klassen, bestselling author of The Apothecary's Daughter
 
Jane Austen, daughter of a clergyman, is the beloved author of some of the most acclaimed fiction of all time. Though writing about provincial life in late-18th century England, she captured timeless themes that transcend centuries and languages. Almost as popular today as ever, Austen is undoubtedly the most influential female novelist ever.

You can read an excerpt of this fabulous book HERE.

MY REVIEW

I personally can't imagine anyone NOT loving Sense and Sensibility!! It is a total classic and a wonderful read, no matter if it is your first or hundredth time reading it. The added insights given in this edition just make it all the more enjoyable. I absolutely loved reading those extra bits of information! I especially loved the "insights" that made me laugh like this one on page 96:

"Ranking our dislike: 1. Fanny; 2. John; 3. Marianne- we're growing weary of her sulking."

or this one on page 224

"We'd kind of forgotten how unpleasant Fanny could be." (with an unhappy smiley face to emphasize the point.)
It almost made it feel like I was reading the book with a friend and we were chatting about it and laughing as we went.

I also really enjoyed all the extra information about Jane Austen and her life and writing. The insights made a work of art even more beautiful. I highly recommend this edition of Sense and Sensibility - no matter who you are you can't help but love Jane Austen's books!

Thanks so much to Bethany House for sending me a review copy of this wonderful book.

Brain Training


Brain Training
 -information taken from the DK Canada website

For people of all ages who want to improve their memory, hone learning skills, and boost mental performance in their daily lives, Brain Training is a vibrant collection of visual puzzles and tips to help exercise the brain and keep the cognitive faculties razor-sharp. Covering the key areas of brain function, including memory, perception, problem-solving, verbal reasoning, and the body (such as diet, exercise, and meditation), Brain Training is a dynamic resource that will boost everyone's brain power.

MY REVIEW

Brain Training is an absolutely fascinating book. Visually it is bright and colourful and full of fun illustrations that grab the readers attention. It is absolutely packed full of information about our brains and how our minds work and WHY they work the way they do. The book is written in a way that anyone could understand, with lots of examples to make the points clear. 

There are also tons and tons of very cool puzzles and exercises. I had fun working my way through a whole bunch of them... some of them are really tough! I suspect even the ultra-intelligent amongst us could have fun working through this book. If you are interested in improving your brain power than I would definitely recommend this very cool book.

Thanks so much to DK Canada for sending me a review copy of this book.

Big Girls Use the Potty!


We've had some potty-training struggles with Olivia... she was almost fully trained but then we moved and she completely regressed. SO when Big Girls Use the Potty! arrived at our house we were happy to read it with Olivia.
Big Girls Use the Potty
- information taken from the DK Canada website
Practice makes perfect with this step-by-step guide to using the potty with pride! With lots of fun and friendly advice and special reward stickers to encourage success, soon your toddler will find it easy to use the potty all by herself!

With fun rhyming text, these board books are fully illustrated and complete with a pull out chart and star stickers. The emphasis is on motivating children to use the potty correctly by giving them praise and rewarding their success as they take their first steps towards becoming diaper free.
  • A fun introduction to a challenging family subject
  • Lively, lyrical text is both motivating and fun
  • Interactive chart and reward stickers help track toddlers’ progress
This book is great. It is a board book so it is sturdy and easy to wipe clean if someone's sticky hands get all over it. The pictures are fun and perfect for little girls. I love how the little girl teaches her bear to use the potty first and then she uses it too. It is a clever little book and Olivia loves it too.

We have read it many times over the past few weeks and we are making progress with potty training! Every time we read it with Olivia she always wants to use the potty immediately after. There is just nothing wrong with that! We have been using the stickers too and Olivia loves that. If potty-training a little one is in your future than I definitely recommend this book! They also have a boy version for the little men out there.

Thanks so much to DK Canada for sending us a review copy of this book!



CFBA- The Big 5-Oh!


This week, the



Christian Fiction Blog Alliance



is introducing



The Big 5-Oh!
Abingdon Press (February 2010)



by



Sandra D. Bricker






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





For more than a decade, Author Sandra D. Bricker lived in Los Angeles. While writing in every spare moment, she worked as a personal assistant

and publicist to some of daytime television's hottest stars. When her mother became ill in Florida, she walked away from that segment of her life and moved across the country to take on a new role: Caregiver.



One of Sandie's passions revolves around the rights of animals. She's been involved in fundraising for Lost Angels Animal Rescue for several years now; in fact, a portion of the proceeds of Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida will go to help the non-profit group with their expenses. And Lost Angels paid her back in a big way: They brought a free-spirited Collie named Sophie into her life after the loss of her 15-year companion Caleb.



It was her 8th novel that opened the door to finding her way as a writer.



In Sandie's words: "I guess most people would see my career as a publicist as a sort of dream job. But giving it up turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me!" she declares. "Not only was I given the gift of getting to know my mother as an adult woman before she passed away, but I was also afforded the blessing of being able to focus completely on my dream of a writing career. I'm a Christian woman, first and foremost, so it was a bit of a dream-come-true when Summerside Press chose me as one of two authors to launch their new Love Finds You line."





ABOUT THE BOOK



Olivia Wallace has a birthday curse . . . or so she thinks. It was a broken heart on her 16th, a car accident on her 21st, pneumonia on her 30th, and a fall down a flight of stairs on her 35th. There were Ohio blizzards on her 38th, 39th, and 40th; and six days before her 45th, she lost the love of her life to a heart attack. Numbing grief stole that birthday and a couple more to follow and, on the morning of her 48th birthday, she received the call she’d dreaded ever since losing her mom so many years ago…she was diagnosed with stage-3 ovarian cancer. The doctors didn’t hold out a lot of hope, but Liv survived and maintained her faith. Months of surgeries and chemotherapy and radiation treatments followed.



But now, as her 50th birthday creeps up the icy Ohio path toward her, her hair has grown back, her energy level is up, and she is officially cancer free. It makes her nervous. After everything she’s gone through, Liv hates the idea of driving on icy roads and returning to work as an O.R. nurse in a local Cincinnati hospital.



Her best friend Hallie knows just the thing to break Liv out of the winter doldrums, while providing a safe haven of warmth, sunshine, and a time to regroup: a holiday in the Florida sunshine!



If you'd like to read the first chapter of The Big 5-Oh!, go HERE



Watch the trailer:



Desert Fire

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Kregel Publications (September 22, 2009)
***Special thanks to Cat Hoort of Kregel Publications for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Shannon Van Roekel has volunteered on the mission field in both Africa and Mexico and much of this novel is influenced by her experiences. She published works in Guideposts 4 Teens and The Upper Room and now lives with her husband and five children in British Colombia.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (September 22, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825439221
ISBN-13: 978-0825439223

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Dear Julia,

I want to die better than I’ve lived. So I ask you, please read this letter to the end.

It’s the only one I’ll send.

Cold, fluorescent light shone down on the metal desk where Fred Keegan sat. His hair was closely shaven along a massive neck between a pair of muscle-bound shoulders. He hunched over white notepaper, his right hand engulfing the pen.

A sigh escaped him, a moment passed, and then the pen scratched its way across the paper again:

If you receive this, it will mean I am gone from this world—so you can relax, I won’t come and disturb your life.

There are some things, however, that I’d like you to know about me.

One is that I’ve always loved you. I guess your mama didn’t spend much time talking about the father you probably had no trouble forgetting. I don’t blame either of you for having nothing to do with me. I was a real jerk. I was guilty, as charged, for the crimes I committed. That life, I am ashamed of, and I paid a high price. Thirty years in the slammer. And counting. I won’t bore you with the sorry-old-me stuff. Mostly, I want to tell you about the last eight years. Something important happened, and you should know not just who I was, but who I got to be and the Treasure I found. This is why I write to you.

I’ve got a picture of a cute kid taped to my wall. You’re missing your front teeth and have two of those pony things. You’re a cute gal and no mistake. Pretty, like your mama. The picture came in the last letter with the divorce papers.

Fred stopped, head bowed, eyes squeezed shut. The memories of that day still filled him with remorse. The rage he’d felt and his inability to control it. Two guards had taken the brunt, both of whom still carried scars marking the event. Two weeks in solitary was his punishment. Regrettably, not long enough to cure him of his anger-management problem.

Picking up his pen again, he gazed at the photo. The tape had yellowed with age. The girl never aged. She smiled back with sweetness and youth.

I guess you were seven in that photo. That means you’d be thirty-three now. I wonder if I’d know you if I saw you today. Can a man walk past his own kin and not feel the bond of blood that connects them? Recognize the spirit in the other who shares his same history, ancestors, and perhaps God? Maybe that’s why we get goose bumps. Maybe I’m a crazy old fool who’s had too much time to think about the inner workings of this thing we call life.

“Keegan, you got a visitor.”

Fred looked up as the guard unlocked the steel door and stepped aside, allowing a tall man access into his cell. His frown at being interrupted from his writing smoothed immediately into a grin when he recognized his guest.

“Mr. Lawyer, good to see ya.”

“Good to be seen, Keegan. How are you feeling today?” Joel Maartens returned Fred’s grin with one of his own.

“Feeling? I guess I’m fine. I’ve got things to do, and that helps keep my mind off the pain.” Fred tried to ignore the pity in Joel’s eyes.

“Let me guess, you’ve got new books?”

Fred followed Joel’s gaze as he glanced at the bookshelf on the opposite wall. His cell was compact: bed, desk, chair, toilet, sink. But the bookshelf reaching from floor to ceiling was the focal point.

“Nah! Not books this time. I’ve got a letter to write, and it’s not an easy thing to do, Mr. Lawyer.” Fred folded his large frame into a sitting position on the edge of his bed so Joel could take the chair. “That’s why I asked to see you. I need some help with its delivery.”

“You need a letter mailed?” Joel asked.

“Not mailed, delivered,” Fred explained.

“Got an address, Keegan?”

“Well, no. No, I don’t. But it’s to my daughter.”

Fred watched Joel, wondering how his lawyer would respond to his proposal. They had known each other for the last five years, and during that time, he had learned to value the man’s opinion. Joel seemed less like his lawyer and more like a nephew.

Joel leaned forward, his elbows resting on his knees and his fingers laced together as he spoke.

“I wouldn’t think it should be too difficult. There’ll be a marriage certificate if your ex remarried—would she be the type to remarry?” As Fred nodded and grimaced, Joel continued. “And of course, school registration forms. Maybe with some help from the Web, I could find an address or addresses where you can send the letter—”

“No,” Fred interjected. “I don’t want to mail it. It’s taken me a long time, Joel, but now that I have something of value to offer her, I want to know that it’ll get put into her hands. I don’t know who else to ask. I thought this thing through till my head feels like I’ve got two tumors, not one, and I keep coming back to you. I need you to do this.

“My daughter, Julia, will be my only heir, and you will be the executor—if you agree to it, that is. This search shouldn’t be complicated, but if it is, you can take any funds you require for it from the inheritance provision that you will write up with my signature and a third-party witness. I’m not a rich man, but I’m not a poor one, either, thanks to some of the investments you’ve helped me with.” He stopped. His outburst had winded him.

Fred prepared himself for disappointment as he watched Joel struggle with the ramifications of his request. Things that should be simple and straightforward were sometimes the opposite. For a lawyer to take on the unknown with no guarantee was a leap, and Fred knew it.

Joel hesitated for a moment, then gave a quick nod.

“I’ll do it, Keegan,” he told him.

As they shook hands over the agreement, Fred sighed with relief. He knew Joel would see it through. It was enough.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Anything But Normal by Melody Carlson

About the Book (taken from the Baker Publishing Group website)
She thought she'd left the summer behind . . .
This year should be the best of Sophie Ramsay's life. She's friends with all the right people, she's a shoo-in for editor of the school newspaper, and she's managed to turn the head of one of the hottest guys in school.
But something's not quite right. Sophie has a secret--one she won't be able to keep under wraps for much longer.

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books, several of them Christmas novellas from Revell, including her much-loved and bestselling book, The Christmas Bus. She also writes many teen books, including Just Another Girl, Anything but Normal, the Diary of a Teenage Girl series, the TrueColors series, and the Carter House Girls series. Melody was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her books, including the Notes from a Spinning Planet series and Finding Alice, which is in production as a Lifetime Television movie. She and her husband serve on the Young Life adult committee in central Oregon. Visit Melody's website at www.melodycarlson.com.

You can read an excerpt from this book HERE.

MY REVIEW

Anything But Normal is a great book. I think Carlson did an excellent job of dealing with a tough issue in an open and honest way. I loved the main characters and appreciated their honesty. I would definitely recommend this book to any young woman.

Wiersbe Bible Study Series

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

David C. Cook; New edition (February 1, 2010)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


A man who has given his life to a deep examination of the Word of God, Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe is an internationally known Bible teacher, former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago and the author of more than 150 books. For over thirty years, millions have come to rely on the timeless wisdom of Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe’s “Be” Commentary series. Dr. Wiersbe’s commentary and insights on Scripture have helped readers understand and apply God’s Word with the goal of life transformation. Dubbed by many as the “pastor’s pastor,” Dr. Wiersbe skillfully weaves Scripture with historical explanations and thought-provoking questions, communicating the Word in such a way that the masses grasp its relevance for today.


Product Details:

List Price: $8.99
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (February 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434765105
ISBN-13: 978-1434765109

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Introduction to 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon


Too Soon to Quit!


Timothy was not too happy in his church in Ephesus, and Titus was in a difficult situation on the island of Crete. To both of them, Paul wrote, “Be faithful! It’s always too soon to quit!”


Paul used the Greek word pistos (“faithful”) at least seventeen times in these three letters. The theme runs through each chapter: Be faithful to the Word, be faithful to your task, be faithful to the people to whom you minister. God is faithful! But don’t get the idea that the Pastoral Epistles are only for pastors and other “full-time Christian workers.” These three letters are for every Christian, every church member.


I have added a chapter on Philemon because what Paul wrote to him fits right into the theme of this study. Philemon faced a difficult problem with his runaway slave, Onesimus, and Paul’s counsel encouraged Philemon to be faithful to the Lord in solving that problem.


As you study these letters, I want to help you understand the ministry of the local church and also encourage you to stick with it! If you and I are faithful to the tasks God has given us, then His work will prosper and His name will be glorified. Could we ask for more?


A Note about Paul’s Life


Paul was arrested in Jerusalem around AD 57 and was confined to prison in Caesarea for two years (see Acts 21:19—26:32). Paul’s voyage to Rome to be tried before Caesar started sometime around September AD 59. After a shipwreck and a three-month wait on Malta, he arrived in Rome about

February AD 60 (see Acts 27—28). There he had liberty to minister.


Paul was acquitted of the charges and released. During the two years that followed, he ministered in various places and wrote 1 Timothy and Titus.


About AD 65, he was arrested again but this time put into a dungeon. It was then that he wrote 2 Timothy, his last letter.


The other collected letters, including Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, were written during his first Roman captivity. —Warren W. Wiersbe


How to Use This Study


This study is designed for both individual and small-group use. We’ve divided it into eight lessons—each references one or more chapters in Warren W. Wiersbe’s commentary Be Faithful (second edition, David C. Cook, 2009). While reading Be Faithful is not a prerequisite for going through this study, the additional insights and background Wiersbe offers can greatly enhance your study experience.


The Getting Started questions at the beginning of each lesson offer you an opportunity to record your first thoughts and reactions to the study text. This is an important step in the study process as those “first impressions” often include clues about what it is your heart is longing to discover.


The bulk of the study is found in the Going Deeper questions. These dive into the Bible text and, along with helpful excerpts from Wiersbe’s commentary, help you examine not only the original context and meaning of the verses but also modern application.


Looking Inward narrows the focus down to your personal story. These intimate questions can be a bit uncomfortable at times, but don’t shy away from honesty here. This is where you are asked to stand before the mirror of God’s Word and look closely at what you see. It’s the place to take a good look at yourself in light of the lesson and search for ways in which you can grow in faith.


Going Forward is the place where you can commit to paper those things you want or need to do in order to better live out the discoveries you made in the Looking Inward section. Don’t skip or skim through this. Take the time to really consider what practical steps you might take to move closer to Christ. Then share your thoughts with a trusted friend who can act as an encourager and accountability partner.


Finally, there is a brief Seeking Help section to close the lesson. This is a reminder for you to invite God into your spiritual-growth process. If you choose to write out a prayer in this section, come back to it as you work through the lesson and continue to seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you discover God’s will for your life.


Tips for Small Groups


A small group is a dynamic thing. One week it might seem like a group of close-knit friends. The next it might seem more like a group of uncomfortable strangers. A small-group leader’s role is to read these subtle changes and adjust the tone of the discussion accordingly.


Small groups need to be safe places for people to talk openly. It is through shared wrestling with difficult life issues that some of the greatest personal growth is discovered. But in order for the group to feel safe, participants need to know it’s okay not to share sometimes. Always invite honest disclosure, but never force someone to speak if he or she isn’t comfortable doing so. (A savvy leader will follow up later with a group member who isn’t comfortable sharing in a group setting to see if a one-on-one discussion is more appropriate.)


Have volunteers take turns reading excerpts from Scripture or from the commentary. The more each person is involved even in the mundane tasks, the more they’ll feel comfortable opening up in more meaningful ways.


The leader should watch the clock and keep the discussion moving. Sometimes there may be more Going Deeper questions than your group can cover in your available time. If you’ve had a fruitful discussion, it’s okay to move on without finishing everything. And if you think the group is getting bogged down on a question or has taken off on a tangent, you can simply say, “Let’s go on to question 5.” Be sure to save at least ten to fifteen minutes for the Going Forward questions.


Finally, soak your group meetings in prayer—before you begin, during as needed, and always at the end of your time together.


Lesson 1

An Important Job

(1 TIMOTHY 1—2)


Before you begin …

• Pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal truth and wisdom as you go through this lesson.

• Read 1 Timothy 1—2. This lesson references chapters 1 and 2 in Be Faithful. It will be helpful for you to have your Bible and a copy of the commentary available as you work through this lesson.


Getting Started


From the Commentary


Timothy was born of mixed parentage: His mother was a Jewess, his father a Greek. He was so devoted to Christ that his local church leaders recommended him to Paul, and Paul added him to his “missionary staff” (Acts 16:1–5). Paul often reminded Timothy that he was chosen for this ministry (1 Tim. 1:18; 4:14). Timothy was faithful to the Lord (1 Cor. 4:17) and had a deep concern for God’s people (Phil. 2:20–22).


But in spite of his calling, his close association with Paul, and his spiritual gifts, Timothy was easily discouraged.


Paul wrote the letter we call 1 Timothy to encourage Timothy, to explain how a local church should be managed, and to enforce his own authority as a servant of God.


—Be Faithful, pages 20–21


1. What clues does Paul give in the first two chapters of 1 Timothy about Timothy’s tendency to be discouraged? (See especially 1 Tim. 1:18–19.) Why do you think Paul mentions that he has “handed over to Satan” Hymenaeus and Alexander?


2. Choose one verse or phrase from 1 Timothy 1—2 that stands out to you. This could be something you’re intrigued by, something that makes you uncomfortable, something that puzzles you, something that resonates with you, or just something you want to examine further. Write that here.


Going Deeper


From the Commentary


One reason Christian workers must stay on the job is that false teachers are busy trying to capture Christians. There were teachers of false doctrines in Paul’s day just as there are today, and we must take them seriously. These false teachers have no good news for lost sinners. They seek instead to lead Christians astray and capture them for their causes.


Paul used military language to help Timothy and his people see the seriousness of the problem (1 Tim. 1:3). Charge means “to give strict orders from a superior officer.” Paul used this word (sometimes translated “commandment” and “command” in KJV) eight times in his two letters to Timothy (1 Tim. 1:3, 5, 18; 4:11; 5:7; 6:13, 17; 2 Tim. 4:1). He was conveying this idea: “Timothy, you are not only a pastor of the church in a difficult city. You are also a Christian soldier under orders from the King. Now pass these orders along to the soldiers in your church!”


—Be Faithful, pages 21–22


3. How does Paul’s use of military language speak to an urgency in battling the false doctrines in the Ephesian church? What are some similar circumstances in today’s church where a “command” to a church leader might be appropriate? What are the risks of not responding to the false doctrines swiftly and decisively?


More to Consider: Read Galatians 5:1–6. How does this passage speak to the “ false doctrines” of religious legalism that Paul is warning against in 1 Timothy 1:3–11?


From the Commentary


The mention of “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God” (1 Tim. 1:11, literal translation) moved Paul to share his own personal testimony. He was “Exhibit A” to prove that the gospel of the grace of God really works. When you read Paul’s testimony (see also Acts 9:1–22; 22:1–21; 26:9–18), you begin to grasp the wonder of God’s grace and His saving power.


—Be Faithful, page 24


4. Review 1 Timothy 1:12–17. What do these verses tell us about Paul’s testimony? What arguments does he put forth to illustrate the gospel of grace in his own story?


From the History Books


The city of Ephesus (in present-day Turkey) was at one time a city of nearly half a million people. Among other things, it was known for the Temple of Artemis (Diana). People came from far away to worship the goddess of fertility. The temple itself, which took more than a hundred years to complete, is often referred to today as one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World” and is evidence of the strong pagan influence in the city of Ephesus during Paul’s day.


5. What impact would the pagan environment have had on Timothy’s ability to serve the church in Ephesus? What sorts of challenges might he have faced that were unique to a city that was known for its worship of a fertility goddess? How might knowing this about Ephesus have influenced the manner in which Paul addressed Timothy?


From the Commentary


It was not easy to serve God in pagan Ephesus, but Timothy was a man under orders, and he had to obey. The soldier’s task is to “please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Tim. 2:4), and not to please himself. Furthermore, Timothy was there by divine appointment: God had chosen him and sent him. It was this fact that could give him assurance in difficult days.


—Be Faithful, page 27


6. How does Paul’s personal story (1 Tim. 1:12–13) speak to the idea of being divinely appointed for the leadership task? How might this have offered encouragement to Timothy? How does this resonate with the way we view church leaders today?


From the Commentary


Timothy must have been greatly helped and encouraged when he read this first section of Paul’s letter. God had called Timothy, equipped him, and put him into his place of ministry. Timothy’s job was not to run all over Ephesus, being involved in a multitude of tasks. His job was to care for the church by winning the lost, teaching the saved, and defending the faith. Any task that did not relate to these ministries would have to be abandoned.


—Be Faithful, page 29


7. Why was it important for Timothy to focus on the local church? What greater value could this focus have had on other efforts to reach the Ephesians? In what ways do the leaders of churches today succeed in staying focused? In what ways does the church fail in this? How can Paul’s words in chapter 1 help redirect a church that has lost focus?


From the Commentary


Often, what we think is the “freedom of the Spirit” are the carnal ideas of some Christian who is not walking in the Spirit. Eventually this “freedom” becomes anarchy, and the Spirit grieves as a church gradually moves away from the standards of God’s Word.


To counteract this tendency, Paul exhorted both the men and the women in the church and reminded them of their spiritual responsibilities.


—Be Faithful, page 33


8. Review 1 Timothy 2:1–8. What were the spiritual responsibilities Paul described specifically for the men of the church? Why do you think he separated the responsibilities of men and women in this and the next section? How much of what Paul described is specific to the culture of the time, and what can we derive from this passage that is universally helpful for all believers, men or women?


More to Consider: Read Matthew 6:5; Luke 18:9–14; James 4:1–10; and 1 John 5:14–15 to see examples of problematic attitudes some people bring to prayer. How does Paul’s exhortation in 1 Timothy 2:1–4 speak to the concerns raised by these passages?


From the Commentary


The word translated “subjection” in 1 Timothy 2:11 is translated “submitting” and “submit” in Ephesians 5:21–22 and Colossians 3:18. It literally means “to rank under.” Anyone who has served in the armed forces knows that “rank” has to do with order and authority, not with value or ability.


Submission is not subjugation. Submission is recognizing God’s order in the home and the church and joyfully obeying it. When a Christian wife joyfully submits to the Lord and to her own husband, it should bring out the best in her.


—Be Faithful, page 40


9. Review 1 Timothy 2:9–15. What are the specific responsibilities Paul outlines for women in these verses? What makes this passage somewhat controversial in today’s church? Again, how much of what Paul writes is specific to the culture of the time, and how much is directly applicable today?


From the Commentary


Paul gave several arguments to back up this admonition that the Christian men in the church should be the spiritual leaders. The first is an argument from creation: Adam was formed first, and then Eve (1 Tim. 2:12–13).


The second argument has to do with man’s fall into sin. Satan deceived the woman into sinning (Gen. 3:1ff.; 2 Cor. 11:3); the man sinned with his eyes wide open. Because Adam rejected the God-given order, he listened to his wife, disobeyed God, and brought sin and death into the world. The submission of wives to their own husbands is a part of the original creation.


—Be Faithful, page 43


10. What is your initial reaction to Paul’s arguments about why men should be the spiritual leaders in the church? Why do you think Paul makes this distinction in his letter to Timothy? What can we discern from this that is applicable to today’s church leaders?


Looking Inward


Take a moment to reflect on all that you’ve explored thus far in this study of 1 Timothy 1—2. Review your notes and answers and think about how each of these things matters in your life today.


Tips for Small Groups: To get the most out of this section, form pairs or trios and have group members take turns answering these questions. Be honest and as open as you can in this discussion, but most of all, be encouraging and supportive of others. Be sensitive to those who are going through particularly difficult times and don’t press people to speak if they’re uncomfortable doing so.


11. When have you been discouraged like Timothy? How did you respond to that discouragement? How can Paul’s words of encouragement to Timothy help you?


12. Timothy was battling the false doctrine of legalism. How have you battled that in your church? In your own life? Why is it so easy to fall into legalism? How do Paul’s words to Timothy help you understand the gospel of grace?


13. What is your response to Paul’s exhortations to men and women at the end of 1 Timothy 2? How are Paul’s words applicable to your life? Do you agree with everything he says? Why or why not?


Going Forward

14. Think of one or two things you have learned that you’d like to work on in the coming week. Remember that this is all about quality, not quantity. It’s better to work on one specific area of life and do it well than to work on many and do poorly (or to be so overwhelmed that you simply don’t try).


Do you need encouragement? Do you need to fight the temptation to be legalistic? Be specific. Go back through 1 Timothy 1—2 and put a star next to the phrase or verse that is most encouraging to you. Consider memorizing this verse.


Real-Life Application Ideas: Invite a discussion with other church members about how you can support and encourage the church leadership. Brainstorm specific ways you can encourage the leaders, and then take action on these ideas.


Seeking Help


15. Write a prayer below (or simply pray one in silence), inviting God to work on your mind and heart in those areas you’ve previously noted. Be honest about your desires and fears.


Notes for Small Groups:

• Look for ways to put into practice the things you wrote in the Going Forward section. Talk with other

group members about your ideas and commit to being accountable to one another.

• During the coming week, ask the Holy Spirit to continue to reveal truth to you from what you’ve read

and studied.

• Before you start the next lesson, read 1 Timothy 3. For more in-depth lesson preparation, read chapter 3, “Follow the Leaders,” in Be Faithful.


©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. The Wiersbe Bible Study Series - 1&2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon by Warren Wiersbe. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Double Trouble

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (January 11, 2010)
***Special thanks to Stephanie Garvey of Litfuse Publicity Group for sending me a review copy. Also three cheers for Mavis Sanders of Tyndale House Publishers for getting the FIRST group the chapter needed for the tour!***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Susan May Warren is the RITA award-winning author of twenty-four novels with Tyndale, Barbour and Steeple Hill. A four-time Christy award finalist, a two-time RITA Finalist, she's also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Book of the Year. Her larger than life characters and layered plots have won her acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. A seasoned women's events and retreats speaker, she's a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer's workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you! She is also the founder of www.MyBookTherapy.com, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice. Susan makes her home in northern Minnesota, where she is busy cheering on her two sons in football, and her daughter in local theater productions (and desperately missing her college-age son!)

A full listing of her titles, reviews and awards can be found at her website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (January 11, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414313136
ISBN-13: 978-1414313139

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


PJ Sugar had been born to sneak up on people. She clearly possessed the instincts of a panther, with the ability to find her prey and slink up to them in the shadows, pouncing only when they least suspected.

Suspected adulterer Rudy Bagwell didn’t have a prayer of escaping.

“I’m telling you, Jeremy, we’re going to nail him this time.” She wasn’t sure why she felt the need to keep her voice to a hoarse whisper into the cell phone—or even to slink down in the bucket seat of her VW Bug. It wasn’t like Rudy or his cohort in crime, Geri Fitz, would hear her.

PJ glanced at the digital clock on the dash. It glared 2:14 a.m., a resounding gavel bang to Rudy’s guilt. After all, who would be sneaking around after midnight?

Without, er, a good reason. Like a stakeout.

“I followed him to the Windy Oaks Motel off Highway 12,” PJ continued. She glanced at the soot-dark picture window next to the peeling door of the ancient one-story motel. A brass number 8, slanted at a corrupt angle, glared against the parking lot lights as if spotlighting the sin behind the closed doors.

If she were picking a location to have a tryst with her old high school sweetheart, she might have aimed higher than a graying yellow motel edged with weeds, a broken swing set, a muddy sandbox, and a Dumpster stuffed with a ripped prison-striped mattress. Oh, the romance.

Just sitting in the greasy parking lot made her itch, as if she might be the one engaging in the skulduggery.

Now that she was a PI in training, she got to use words like that. She had even highlighted this one in the Basics of Private Investigation manual Jeremy had assigned her to read as part of her apprenticeship. She had read the “Stakeout” chapter three times. And, if she did say so herself, had the “Tailing Your Suspect” techniques down to a science.

Nope, Rudy wasn’t getting away with cheating on his wife. Not with PJ Sugar on the job.

“Are you sure it’s him?” Jeremy spoke through the gravel in his voice, obviously dredged from a deep sleep.

She heard a faint siren on the other end of the line and did the math. “Are you sleeping at the office again?”

“I worked late. Are you sure it’s Rudy?”

“Of course it’s Rudy. He’s exactly the same dirtbag he was in high school—pockmarked face, a permanent scowl. He was even wearing his leather jacket, which seems suspicious given that it’s August and about seventy degrees out . . .”

“PJ . . .”

She heard him sigh, could imagine Jeremy running his wide hand over his face, through the dark grizzle of his late-night shadow and over his curly, thinning hair. “I’m not sure that I’m up to your PI prowess tonight. Have I ever told you that you’re hard to handle?”

“Every day. Now, get out of bed and bring your camera equipment. Oh, Cynthie is going to be thrilled! I promised her we were going to take down her cheatin’ husband.”

And Cynthie wasn’t the only one to whom she’d promised results. She’d also made a plethora of private promises to herself. A brand-new job, a brand-new life . . . this time she wasn’t going to quit or take the fastest route out of town. She was getting this done, no matter what the cost.

“See, this is your problem, PJ. You make promises you can’t keep. Two weeks, and Rudy hasn’t been seen doing anything more notorious than ordering extra whip on his macchiato. I’m thinking Cynthie is dreaming his affair. And speaking of dreaming, that’s what I should be doing. And you too. Get home. Go to bed.”

“I’m on the case, Jeremy. A great PI follows her instincts, and I know Rudy’s hooked back up with Geri. You should have seen those two in high school—in the halls, wrapped in each other’s arms, making out by the lockers—”

“I don’t want to hear this.”

“I’m just saying, they were an item, and sparks like that never die.”

Silence throbbed on the other end of the phone.

PJ closed her eyes.

“Really.” The word from Jeremy came out small, without much emotion, but PJ felt it like a jab to her heart, even put a hand to her chest.

In some cases, she wanted to add. But not always. Or maybe, yes, always. She wasn’t sure, not with her return to her hometown of Kellogg, Minnesota, right into the bull’s-eye of her high school heartthrob, Daniel “Boone” Buckam, bad boy–turned–detective, who had decided their old flames might be worth stirring up.

PJ had spent too many years roaming the country with his name still simmering in her heart to ignore the fire there.

But Jeremy Kane, PI, had given her a job, even though so far, two months into her gig, Jeremy still hadn’t let her run with her instincts, hadn’t let her handle her own cases. She knew she could be his right-hand gal if he’d just give her a chance.

So she couldn’t find the right reply for him now, as she sat in the darkness of her Bug, alone, knowing she’d been driven out of her bed and from a sound night’s sleep by the stirring desire to prove herself. And maybe something else . . . something she didn’t especially want to talk about. At least not with Jeremy, her boss.

Boss. She needed to write that word on her hand or something. Jeremy was her boss.

“We got ’em, Jeremy. And if we can get pictures, then we’ll have done our job. So get over here.”

“PJ, sometimes . . .” But she heard silence on the other end before she had a chance to tell him that she would surely appreciate some Cheetos and a Diet Coke. Investigative work made a person hungry.

Thirty minutes later Jeremy tapped on her window, looking bedraggled and annoyed.

But because he could read her mind, he held in his hand two cold sodas.

“Scoot over,” he snarled as he climbed in beside her, handing her a soda. His scowl only enhanced his hard-edged former Navy SEAL persona, all dark eyes; wide, ropy-muscled shoulders; trim waist; and long legs. He wore a black T-shirt, a pair of dark jeans, and black Converse shoes that made him melt into the night.

In fact, he sort of matched her, something he made note of as his gaze slid over her. “Is this Sneaky PJ? Black from head to toe? Where are your Superman pants?”

“Hey, a girl has to dress the part. You taught me that.”

Only, in her black leggings and oversize black sweatshirt, she looked more sloppy than dangerous. Apparently only Jeremy could pull that off. She’d first discovered the black ops side of Jeremy Kane the night he’d cajoled her into sneaking into the Kellogg Country Club. She’d nearly been caught when she froze in the bright lights of near discovery.

On the spot, Jeremy, the person she’d believed to be a pizza delivery guy, had morphed into GI Joe, scooping her into his arms and hiding her behind boxes of golf shirts, gripping his flashlight like a lethal weapon.

The memory still sent a forbidden thrill through her, one she didn’t know how to interpret.

And she still, on occasion, called him Pizza Man.

Jeremy didn’t smile, just opened his own soda with a hush, took a swig, and wiped his mouth with his hand. “So, any changes?”

“Rudy hasn’t ordered out for pizza, if that’s what you mean. Did you bring the camera?”

He shrugged a strap off his shoulder and dumped a bag onto her lap, then levered his seat back and closed his eyes. “I’ve created a monster.”

PJ opened the bag and began fitting the long-range digital camera together.

Three hours later, she nudged Jeremy awake. She’d quietly sung through the score of The Phantom of the Opera as well as her complete knowledge of the Beatles and ABBA repertoires, then played “I’m going to the beach and I’m bringing . . .” from A to Z twice and tried to read the chapter titled “How to Find Missing Persons” with the neon blue light attached to her key chain.

She’d even rummaged through her canvas purse that Jeremy referred to as “the abyss,” found a bottle of pink polish, and refreshed her pedicure.

Still, a gal could sit in silence for only so long.

“Smile, this is for posterity.” PJ held the digital camera out as far as her arm would reach, leaned her head in toward his, and depressed the button.

Light flashed like a bullet, shooting her vision with dots against the gray pallor of morning.

“What are you doing?” Jeremy whipped out his arm and snatched the camera from her hand. “Are you trying to get us made?”

“Oh yes, I’m sure they’re glued to the window as we speak.”

He scrolled through the previous shots. “What is this—pictures of your toes?”

“I have cute toes. And I was bored. Delete them if you want.”

Outside, dew glistened on the car hood. She’d rolled up her window, wishing she’d brought along a jacket when she tiptoed out of her sister’s house in the wee hours of the morning, and now shivered. She clamped her hand over a yawn. “I hope they’re not late sleepers.”

“I can’t believe he hasn’t snuck out back to Cynthie yet.” Jeremy popped his seat up and reached for his now-warm soda. PJ said nothing when he noted it was nearly gone.

“Is that what the cheaters usually do—sneak out for their trysts and then back to their wives before dawn?”

“Sometimes. Depends. The ones who work downtown usually disappear at lunchtime.”

“Is PI work always so . . . slimy? I feel a little dirty, like I need a shower or something.”

“I have news for you, PJ. You do need a shower.”

“Seriously, don’t we get to solve a real crime? like a murder or something?”

In the receding shadows, Jeremy looked less menacing, although she’d once seen him shoot a man. “Be thankful for the boring ones. They don’t hurt.”

She didn’t respond. But she had thought that being a PI—or rather a PI’s assistant—might be more, well, fun. Instead, she’d spent two tedious months parked behind a desk, filing reports, answering Jeremy’s calls. Only recently had he invited her to keep him company on his stakeouts.

She longed for high action. Undercover ops and maybe even some karate. In fact . . . “Maybe I should sign up for one of Sergei’s tae kwon do classes. I think it would help.”

“What—in understanding Korean? or maybe Russian so you can help Connie with the in-laws?”

“Very funny. No, in taking down criminals.”

Jeremy ran a finger and thumb against his eyes. Sighed. “Why don’t I send you on a mission?”

“A mission? I’d love to—”

“Get us some donuts.” He glanced in the rearview mirror. “Good Mornin’ Donuts’ light just went on.”

“Is that all I am to you—a delivery girl?”

The minute the words left her mouth, PJ knew she was asking for trouble. Jeremy wore the inklings of a very devilish smile. “Oh, don’t get me started.”

Perhaps Boone wasn’t the only one trying to kindle a flame.

Jeremy held her gaze and shook his head. “Maybe stakeouts aren’t such a great idea.”

“I’ll get the donuts.”

Since she’d parked next to a wall deep in the shadows of the Chinese takeout place, she had to wait for Jeremy to climb out of the Bug before she piled over the driver’s seat. He held open the door for her and she scrambled out without looking at him.

“I’ll take a bismark.”

“What is that—the battleship of all donuts?” She laughed at her own joke.

Jeremy rolled his eyes. “A donut covered in chocolate and filled with custard.” He shook his head as he climbed back into the Bug and closed the door.

Sounded like a long john to her. If they were going to work together, they’d need to nail down their donut terminology.

The cool air raised gooseflesh on her skin as she jogged across the parking lot toward the donut shop. The sun, just a sparkle of hope on the horizon, edged into the metal gray sky, and she smelled summer in the tang of grass freshened by the morning dew. Her Converse slapped against the concrete as she hustled to the doors.

The reception area inside remained dark in the early morning shadows. Lifeless. Void of donuts. She cupped her hand over her eyes and peered through the glass, her stomach clenching in dismay. “Hello in there!”

No one. She knocked on the glass door and then spied someone inside wearing a white apron, moving around in the baking area.

“Hello! We need donuts!”

From the back, a body appeared—a teenager with dyed black hair, a lip ring, and darty black eyes, his apron strings wrapped twice around his noodle-thin body (the boy needed to consume his own product). PJ banged on the window, and he jumped as if she might be wielding a rocket launcher.

Good grief, she just wanted a donut. “Are you open?”

The boy drifted toward the front of the store almost surreptitiously, as if he might be letting in the Mongol horde through the gates of the castle.

He unlocked the door, cracking it just wide enough for his lips to fit through. “We’re not open yet.”

PJ wrapped her arms around herself and tried to appear as waiflike as possible. “Oh, please, please, I’m starved.”

He eyed her warily.

“I spent the night in my car.” She added a little shiver. Looked pitiful. Smiled.

He might have believed her—and now her less-than-dangerous attire might have actually worked in her favor—because he opened the door. “Quick. In the back.”

PJ slunk in, the ever-present danger of a raid hovering over the moment. But never let it be said that when Jeremy sent her on a mission, she returned empty-handed.

She scampered into the back room, where she discovered trays of glistening amber donut holes, freshly glazed. The entire room smelled of baking bread, sugar glaze, and the heady indulgence of chocolate. “I’ll take a dozen holes and a bismark—” she glanced at his name tag—“Phillip.” She held out a ten-dollar bill, intimating that he keep the change.

After all, that’s what PIs did . . . paid for information. Or donuts.

Whatever it took to complete the mission.

Phillip boxed up the holes and the bismark, took the ten, and honest Abe that he was, headed to the front to make change. He stopped short at the threshold to the front parlor. “It’s my boss,” he whispered. He turned and, for a guy already sorta pasty, went even whiter. “Hurry, please . . . go out the back.”

She’d never been kicked out of a bakery before. But to save her new hero . . . she turned and pushed on the metal door, letting it swish shut behind her.

PJ was standing in the back alley next to a Dumpster, a beat-up red Honda, and a pile of old, broken pallets, holding the donut box and giving serious contemplation to digging in right there, when she spied him—Rudy Bagwell, sneaking out a back window of the Windy Oaks Motel.

Oh, she was good at this job.

From this angle she watched Rudy hit the ground and skirt along the back of the motel unit, on the way to freedom.

Sneaky. But not too sneaky for her, the Panther.

PJ hiked the box under her arm and crossed the road, hoping Jeremy saw her angle toward her quarry. Even if he couldn’t spot Rudy from his angle, a guy with a eye out for his donuts should know to wake up and grab his camera.

Rudy had stopped at the edge of the motel, leaning away from the wind to light a cigarette.

She slowed her pace and strolled up to him as if she’d just been out early for a donut run. “Hey there.”

He glanced at her, and for a second she wondered if he would recognize her—after all, she did have one vivid recollection of a wild high school beach party when he’d passed out and she and Boone had buried him to his waist in sand.

He grunted at her and blew out a long stream of smoke.

“Beautiful morning.”

He grunted again, rolling the cigarette between two fingers. He didn’t look like a man who’d spent the night in the arms of his beloved high school sweetheart. In fact, he had a rather ugly welt on his chin, and also, if she looked closely—although she didn’t make it obvious—a splatter of blood down his white shirt, maybe from a bloody nose. Or his lip—it looked a little puffy.

She took a step back, glancing toward Jeremy. Movement in the VW parked in the shadows across the lot was too difficult to discern from here. But Rudy would have to cross in front of the motel to retrieve his Camaro. Jeremy could get the shot then.

So why had Rudy come this way—around the back, away from his wheels?

“Is there something you want, babe?” Rudy cocked his head at her. “Don’t I know you?”

She shook her head. “No, I—”

His eyes widened. “PJ Sugar.” He said it slowly, with a hint of a snarl—maybe he did remember the beach party—and pushed himself away from the building. “I’d heard you were back in town. Cynthie said she saw your picture in the paper. You solved Hoffman’s murder . . .” His gaze went from her to the parking lot.

“Want a donut?” She shoved the box toward him.

Rudy turned back to her, his smile now gone. “What are you doing here?”

“Getting donuts.” Only it came out more like a question. Oops, she’d have to work on her lying.

He took a step toward her . . . and that’s when she saw it. Right above the waist of his jeans, small and black, hidden by the leather jacket that, despite the chill in the air, still didn’t belong in an August wardrobe.

A gun. As if it had claws, it tore at her gaze and PJ couldn’t wrench it away.

A gun.

Blood on his shirt. A bloodied lip. A crime of passion? She added up the facts as quickly as it took Rudy to move another step toward her and snake out his hand to grab her.

But he wasn’t the only one with a weapon. She shoved her hand into the box just as Rudy’s grip closed around her elbow.

With everything inside her, PJ slammed the bismark into his face. Pudding squished between her fingers as she crammed it into his eyes. Then, clutching the box to her chest, she yanked her arm from his grasp and ran.

“Jeremy!”

Footsteps slapping the pavement behind her made her dig into the box again. Her hand closed around a donut hole, and she pitched it behind her as she raced across the parking lot. “Jeremy!”

Another hole, followed by an expletive from behind her. Thankfully, Jeremy had finally come alive, because he emerged from the Bug, staring at her as if she’d lost her mind.

“He’s got a gun! He killed her! He killed Geri!”

Another naughty word from Rudy and the footsteps changed direction. She turned to see Rudy flinging himself toward his Camaro. He Bo Duke’d across the hood and climbed in the window, turning the engine over even as PJ threw another hole at him.

It landed with a splotch of sugary goo on his windshield.

He gunned the hot rod across the parking lot.

PJ dropped the box, her breath wheezing out of her even as she watched him escape.

Or maybe not. As Rudy mowed over a parked Harley and smacked against a Ford Fiesta, she heard another car gunning to roadblock him.

She turned too quickly, wishing she had more time to brace herself.

No.

No!

She nearly flung her body in front of Jeremy as he screeched past her in the VW, a laser streak of lime green on course to intersect with its target.

“Jeremy, stop!”

But Jeremy didn’t know that, one, she hadn’t paid her insurance for over a month, and two, the brakes on the Bug were a little on the spongy side, because he didn’t even slow as he T-boned Rudy’s Camaro and pinned it against the metal pole hosting the Windy Oaks sign.

The sound of metal ripping and the dying whine of her beloved Bug buckled PJ’s knees. She went down hard in the gravel, gulping a breath, watching Jeremy leap from the car, dive over her hood, and rip the gun out of Rudy’s grip before he could even clear his head.

Pinned, he screamed at the top of his lungs.

PJ slumped in the gravel of the lot. Not the Bug. Her Bug. The one remaining possession big enough to hide inside. She reached into the box and pulled out her remaining donut hole, considering it for a long moment as her mind faintly registered the wailing police sirens in the distance. Or maybe the noise came from her, from the keening inside.

Jeremy sauntered toward her, a smug smile in his evil eyes, shaking his head. “I don’t suppose there’s a bismark in that mess, is there?”

PJ leaned back, cupped her hand over her eyes, and hurled the donut hole at his arrogant smile.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

CFBA- Cowgirl at Heart


This week, the



Christian Fiction Blog Alliance



is introducing



Cowgirl at Heart



Barbour Books (February 1, 2010)



by



Christine Lynxwiler






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Best-selling author Christine Lynxwiler lives with her husband and two precious daughters in the foothills of the beautiful Ozark Mountains. Christine has been writing toward publication since 1997. She sold her first story in 2001 to Barbour Publishing. Since then she's written and sold fourteen Christian romance novels and novellas including the four novels that were included in the best-selling book Arkansas, which has sold over 150,000 copies worldwide. Her novel, Forever Christmas, ranked number 12 on the Christian Bookseller's Association Bestseller List in January, 2009.



A four-time winner of the prestigious American Christian Romance Writers/American Christian Fiction Writers' Book of the Year Award, Christine recently signed a new six-book contract with Barbour Publishing bringing her total of contracted books to twenty. Besides, Along Came a Cowboy, her latest novels include Promise Me Always and Forever Christmas. She also writes mysteries with two of her sisters, Sandy Gaskin and Jan Reynolds. Their book, Alibis in Arkansas, is currently available nationwide, as well as in many bookstores. The first book in Christine's new McCord Sisters series, The Reluctant Cowgirl released in April, 2009 and was a TOP PICK in Romantic Times Magazine.



When Christine isn't at her computer, you'll often find her, with her husband, co-coaching their daughters' softball team, kayaking down beautiful Spring River with her family, or getting together with friends from church.





ABOUT THE BOOK



Elyse McCord always plays it safe─a fact she blames on being the biological daughter of a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde. Even in the security of her adoptive family the McCords, the timid dog whisperer keeps her guard up with strangers. But when she discovers a dog being horribly mistreated, shy Elyse transforms into a mighty warrior and charges into a perilous situation, not only risking her life but also her heart



Reporter Andrew Stone has been fearless since the day his wife was shot and killed three years ago. He has one mission─use hid Texas Ranger upbringing to find her murderer and clear his own name of any involvement. When he sees a beautiful brunette in the hands of a pistol-welding maniac, he’s forced to abandon his covert surveillance and go to the rescue. The danger surrounding Andrew doesn’t scare him at all, but the awakening of his dormant heart terrifies him.



When painful pasts collide, the explosion is deafening. Can Andrew and Elyse pick up the pieces and go forward together? Or will they forever live with haunting memories, unable to forgive, unable to love?



If you would like to read the first chapter of Cowgirl at Heart , go HERE.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Swinging On a Star


Swinging On a Star
Book Two in the Weddings by Bella series
by Janice Thompson

-information taken from the Revell website

There's a fine line between ambitious and crazy.
Bella's just not sure where it is.

Bella Rossi's life is nearing perfection. Not only does she have the perfect guy, but she's also running a successful wedding-planning business and is about to plan its most ambitious wedding yet--a Renaissance-themed fairy tale come true, complete with period costumes and foods, horse-drawn carriages, and even a castle. There's only one hitch. The best man just happens to be Hollywood's hottest and most eligible bachelor, and he's showing an interest in Bella. Oh, and did we mention he's staying at her house to avoid the paparazzi?

With all the pressure surrounding this wedding, Bella's not sure she's going to make it through. Add her starstruck sister and her feuding aunt and uncle, and you've got a recipe for disaster--and a lot of laughs.

Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and native Texan. An experienced wedding coordinator herself, Thompson brings alive in her books the everyday drama and humor of getting married. She is the author of Fools Rush In and Swinging on a Star. She lives in Texas.

You can read an excerpt from this book HERE.


Available January 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

MY REVIEW

I did not read the first book in this series and that may have affected my enjoyment level of this book. I found it to be a fairly typical Christian fiction book... everything was just a little too good to be true. It was an enjoyable read for the most part though. I really liked the author's writing style and the main characters are certainly fun to read about. If you are looking for a nice light read than this might be the book for you.

Friday, February 19, 2010

You Can Still Wear Cute Shoes

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

David C. Cook; New edition (February 1, 2010)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Lisa McKay and her husband, Luke, serve at a thriving church in Alabama. Together they are happily – if not always properly—raising three rowdy boys and one dramatic girl. In addition to being a wife and mom, Lisa is also a popular conference speaker.



Visit the author's website.


You Can Still Wear Cute Shoes, by Lisa McKay from David C. Cook on Vimeo.


Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (February 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434767264
ISBN-13: 978-1434767264

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


My Husband’s Calling is My Calling Too

Many are the plans of a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.—Proverbs 19:21 (NASB)


I once had an interesting conversation with a woman whose husband had enrolled in seminary to prepare for ministry. “He can take classes all he wants, but I didn’t sign up for the preacher’s wife thing,” she said. Since she didn’t believe her husband would actually follow through, she went on to tell me she planned on humoring him until the day his calling affected her. And if that day ever came? Well, she’d just cross that bridge when she came to it.


He is still in school. She is still in denial.


Around that same time I attended a pastor’s wife conference that included a panel discussion at the end. Lined across the stage, five women in different seasons of ministry shared the thing they found most difficult about being married to a minister.


I’ll never forget the response of the youngest woman. She was the mom of toddlers and was obviously distressed. “The hardest thing for me is everyone wanting a piece of my husband and not acknowledging me in the least,” she said. “I feel like the person in the background who is only here to take care of the kids so he can be free to take care of everyone else.”


I was grieved by her raw response. All I wanted to do was wrap my arms around that girl and assure her she had it all wrong. That she was an integral part of her husband’s ministry. That her calling in that season was her children. That no amount of public success possibly mattered if her heart and home were in shambles. The sad thing is that I’ve met many more like her in the past fifteen years during my own life as a minister’s wife. If anything, this has intensified my desire to embrace and encourage women whom God has charged with supporting the men He has ordained to proclaim His Word.


The fact that I just typed that last sentence still baffles me. You have no idea how surreal it is for me to be writing this book. There are many of you reading who have been Christians as long as you can remember and always knew you would marry a preacher. Many more of you grew up as the child of a minister and swore you would never marry one yourself, only to find yourself eating your words. Some of you have pursued callings to various vocational ministries and met your mate in college, seminary, etc. Some of you married men who were already serving in the church. However, based on my blog surveys, a lot of your serene lives were turned inside out when your husband experienced God’s call to ministry some point after you were married.


And then on the lunatic fringe are girls like me whose life and marital background weren’t exactly résumé worthy.

A Match Made In Heaven?


My husband, Luke, and I married young. I was a mere eighteen and he a strapping twenty-one. Can I just be honest and tell you there were never two individuals any more needy or any less likely to be serving behind a pulpit?


I always cringe when we run into old high school friends. The question of what we’re doing now always comes up, and there is one response that we can count on when we share that Luke is a pastor—after the laughter dies down, that is.


“Luke, you are a preacher? And Lisa? You are a preacher’s wife?! Okay, joke’s over. Now what are you really doing?”


We would be offended if we weren’t just as baffled.


I forgive our flabbergasted friends because I can’t hold their excellent recall against them. They remember the dangerous combination of the wild boy and the bitter girl whose marriage was tumultuous at best. Surely, the future they envisioned for us was set in a divorce court rather than a sanctuary. They were within days of being absolutely correct.


There is no human reason why Luke and I should still be wed today, much less serving the body of Christ. Even though we were not yet believers, our union started off well enough. But we soon faced the heartbreaking yet all too common reality of many young couples: The stress of working different shifts, having more month than money, and living the separate lives that developed in the midst of it resulted in our parting ways and filing for divorce two short years after the ceremony.


I despised the not-yet-preacher, and the truth is I loathed myself as much as him. We had hurt each other in a million ways, and all I could think of was getting away and starting over. We were within a week of our divorce being final when one night I received a bizarre phone call from him. He told me he had started going to church and wanted us to rethink what we were doing.


I went off the deep end! I spewed, “So you are turning into a religious fanatic—and you think that is going to fix everything?” I was so full of hate and bitterness, and it still makes me blush to think of all the horrible things I said to him about his newfound religion. He continued, very patiently, to call and tell me he was asking God for a miracle as the clock ticked toward the day our marriage would be legally over.


One night during the critical week before the divorce was final, I had gone to bed, still convinced divorce was the only answer. For some reason, I woke up around two a.m. and the tears began to flow. I missed my husband so badly I could barely lay there. I remember thinking, “What is wrong with you? You cannot stand him! It’s almost over, just hang in there.” I realize now that voice was Satan’s, bent on thwarting God’s plan for us. If you ask me how I know prayer works, or how I know God can turn a cold, black heart into one that can feel love, laughter, and joy (Ezek. 11:19), I will point you to that night because it is the one that changed everything.


I called Luke the next day. One conversation led to another, and we called the lawyer to stop the divorce proceedings. I tentatively moved back home with him, and we began visiting churches. I was still not very thrilled about the “God thing,” but I knew for some reason I wanted my husband back and this would play a part. Would it ever!


One night soon afterward, my hubby came to me in our living room and told me he had just prayed for salvation. He’d gone to church his whole life, but it was only at that time he truly accepted Christ as his Savior. I grew up in a totally different denomination, so this Baptist way of doing things was a little traumatic for me. I was glad for him, but I still wasn’t so sure what that meant for me. For personal reasons, organized religion held no real appeal, so I was very afraid of how having my husband become so radically different was going to affect me and our life together. Seemingly out of the blue, I began having feelings of not being good enough for this new man, and shame over my own sin slowly entered my heart.


For me, salvation was not a lightning-bolt experience but rather an intellectual process at first. I needed to understand it. 1 Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the message of the Cross is foolishness for those who are perishing but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.” I know the Spirit of God enabled me to believe what I was hearing because obviously I could have still walked away a scoffer. We were attending my husband’s childhood church, and the pastor became a dear friend and mentor to us both. He started a small group in his home, and I was able to ask all my questions in a very nonthreatening environment. That man was very patient with me as I asked everything from “What does ‘once saved, always saved’ mean?” to “When do you think the rapture will happen?” Sometime in the midst of those sessions, I realized I had already made a decision. That decision was for life—both for Jesus Christ and until-death-do-us-part with my husband. I asked the Lord to “officially” save me and soon afterward made that public in the body of people who had prayed so faithfully for us both.


If this had been the end of the story I would have been happily-ever-after indeed. Little did I know our tale was only beginning.

The Call


Over the next weeks, I watched Luke transform in front of my eyes. Where once stood a rough-around-the-edges construction worker, I now found a softened gentleman. Where turmoil had churned, peace now reigned. A thirst for the world was replaced by an unquenchable longing to drink up every bit of the Word that he’d neglected for the past years.


I’m in no way suggesting that a called minister is on a plane above any other Christian, but what I will say is that even in my own spiritually immature state, what I saw happening in Luke seemed to be so much more fervent than what I saw in other men. And as for my own walk, Luke’s desire made me long for more. If I can be so biased, Luke was special—an opinion I still hold.


I tell you this because I want you to understand that after Luke finally told me he believed God was calling him to minister, my head was shocked, but my heart wasn’t. Something in me perceived our life had taken a twist that surpassed simply returning to our old lives a renewed version of our previous selves. We both were experiencing intense restlessness in our jobs. I had just left an entire career on a lark. And Luke, who had always loved his trade and coworkers, began dreading the alarm clock every morning.


Have you ever read the book The Return of the King in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy? In the end Frodo the hobbit leaves his home, the Shire, after risking his life to save it. When explaining to his best friend, Sam, why he has to go, he says, “There is no real going back. Though I may come to the Shire, it will not seem the same; for I shall not be the same.” In much the same way, the dailiness of our lives had taken on a sense of not-quite-belonging in the place that had always been familiar. Accepting the fact that God was calling us to serve Him in some capacity was like turning a dial to the last number on a combination lock. The “rightness” of it clicked, and suddenly the future was wide open.

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign


Luke and I began to pray and seek God for what He wanted us to do—definitely a first in our married lives. I have no biblical basis for what I am going to say next, but I believe God answers the prayers of baby Christians with a shout instead of a whisper. God has taught us how to discern Him more through prayer and His Word now, but in those early days He had to throw out the flashing neon signs before our own lightbulbs lit up.


The first two of those signs were named Al and Doyle. Both of these men mentioned the name of Clear Creek Baptist Bible College within two days of one another. Al had just returned from a Constructors for Christ project, during which they had built new one-bedroom duplexes for married students without children. Doyle was a longtime supporter of the school. These days I call that type of communication from God a double affirmation, but then we were still thinking, “Hmmm.… That’s odd. I wonder if we are supposed to look into this?”


And God was saying, “Ya think?” while restraining Himself from knocking our foolish heads together.


Luke hesitated contacting the school to request information because he had no hopes of getting in. What I’ve not yet told you is that he didn’t graduate high school. What dropout had any kind of chance to go to college? He finally mustered the nerve to call, and we scheduled a visit. We still didn’t know for what. Both of us realized we wouldn’t be able to go right away but thought maybe the school could give some pointers on what Luke could do to become a student someday.


We traveled to the college and were in love at first sight. The campus was set in the mountains and was absolute lush, peaceful perfection. Arriving there felt like coming home, which at the time was heartbreaking because we knew this place couldn’t possibly be in our near future.


The following day we met the director of admissions, Jay. He was and remains one of the most boisterous, joyful, encouraging people we have ever known. Luke explained his full situation—particularly the part about not having a diploma. Luke expected to hear, “Sorry, son, but you don’t belong here. Come back in a year or two when you are good enough.” Instead Jay chuckled and said, “No problem!!”


No problem? How is not having a high school diploma not a problem?!


Brother Jay enthusiastically went on to explain there was a special program in this college for men who did not have a high-school degree. They would take regular college courses and also be tutored for high school in the freshman year. Students had two semesters to pass the GED, at which point they would have official student status and all classes would count toward a fully accredited degree.


And just like that, there was Neon Sign Three, and it blinked wildly, “Road Open!”


One patient, gracious God gave us three signs in an overwhelming answer to our many prayers—and they all pointed toward our new home. (One of the homes Al built, no less!)

Absolutely Certain (I Think)


Well, enough about us—for now anyway! Since I’ve shared a little backstory with you, I’d like to talk about what I believe is one of the foundational principles of our lives as ministry wives: the nature of our own call.


I realize each of our inductions into a life of ministry was met with different levels of enthusiasm. It’s not every woman who looks forward to low salaries and high expectations. Of frequent moves and misunderstood children. Of criticism and conflict. These are just a few stereotypical pitfalls that can understandably cause a woman to put the skids on any plans her man has for serving in vocational ministry.


As Luke was processing the call God placed on his life, I was blessedly ignorant of all the things I just listed. My church experience was limited to a few years of attendance as a child, so I really had no comprehension of the chew-’em-up-and-spit-’em-out reputation of churches where ministers are concerned. Naïveté is not always a bad thing—especially when knowing all the details could result in being too fearful to take the leap into God’s plan for your future.


But what part do you play in what God is asking your husband to do? Has God called you in the same manner as him? My short answer is to state plainly that every wife has the God-given role of being a faithful helpmeet no matter if her husband is a banker, a mechanic, or a schoolteacher. However, there are unique challenges and more assured uncertainties for the wife who has the high charge of supporting a man directed to leave the familiar behind and follow God’s call into the unknown. What are some of those challenges, and how should we who find ourselves in this situation react? Let’s learn from someone who has gone before us—Abraham’s wife, Sarah.

A Woman Out of Control


We meet Sarah in Genesis 11:30 and are told simply, “[She] was barren; she had no children.” In the Middle Eastern culture, Sarah’s dignity was directly tied to her being married and having babies. Since she was childless, she would not have risked staying behind without her husband, no matter how unsure she may have been about Abraham asking her to leave Ur. There was nothing but shame for Sarah in Ur without Abraham.


And conversely, there was nothing in Canaan for Abraham without Sarah. It was out of Sarah’s infertility that God would perform one of His most awesome works—the miraculous birth of a nation consecrated to Himself. Abraham could have found any number of women who weren’t suffering from the heartbreak of barrenness to be his wife. However, the supernatural birth of Isaac was the requirement for properly illustrating God’s glory through human hopelessness.


Long before Abraham met Sarah, God purposed for the two of them to be the human agents through whom He would bless the nations. Neither of them could have participated in God’s plan alone—each needed the other. That concept is no different for those God continues to call today to spread the good news throughout the world.


When I think of all the quirks and hang-ups that Luke and I both have, it is amazing to realize that for the most part we do not have the same ones. Luke is painfully shy; I’m the social extrovert. Luke is compassionate to a fault where I am more critical. Luke doesn’t understand drama, and I am a master of it; therefore, I am able to help him comprehend the underlying issues women have when he has no clue how to proceed. God placed us together as a team to complement one another’s weaknesses and to nurture the spiritual children He has entrusted to our care. I have total and complete faith in Luke’s ability and he in mine, and yet neither of us believes for a second we could have any measure of ministry success without the support of the other.


To the reluctant ministry wife, I understand your fear. I know your need to have some input on how and where you are going to raise your family. Even the wondrous event of God entering into covenant with Abraham on the assurance of an heir was not enough to keep Sarah from trying to control the way in which the promised child would come into the world. And thirteen years later, Sarah laughed when they were told once again she would have a son. Abraham’s seed could only be reckoned through Sarah, and that required a separate faith on her part—a willing participation in what God purposed to accomplish through their son, Isaac. Sarah wasn’t perfect. She could be harsh and unbelieving and manipulative. However, Hebrews 11:11 tells us God gave her strength to participate in the creation and blessing of nations because “she considered Him faithful who had promised” (NASB).


My personal feeling is that we can make the idea of serving in ministry way more complex than God ever intended. In the case of Abraham, God promised children more numerous than the stars in the sky and the sands on the seashore, but He didn’t ask him to birth them all! He gave Abraham charge over one piece of that promise—beloved Isaac. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the enormity of what God is asking us to do that we forget the Big Picture is composed of individual frames of obedience. I’m guilty of shutting down physically and mentally when the job seems way too big—and all God has asked of me is to trust Him one day at a time. It’s much easier to walk into the unknown if we can focus on being faithful with what is required of us today, trusting God for His faithfulness in all our tomorrows.

It’s Simple, Really


Are we called alongside our husbands? Absolutely. Is the life we are called to complex? You bet. But, based on my personal experience and the example of Sarah, I believe we are asked to do three things that will simplify our thinking and therefore help us to not only accept but look forward to a certain future.

We are called to trust.


1 Peter 3:6 says, “Just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, … you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear” (NASB).


This verse is found in a passage describing how a woman’s beauty is to be found internally instead of externally (verses 1–5). Among other things, Peter describes how a woman should be in willing subjection to her husband, even if he is not a believer. Dread shouldn’t motivate her in yielding to him, but rather a healthy fear of God’s mandate to honor her husband. Sarah’s singular obedience was dually blessed. She wanted to obey God by following Abraham. God’s laws are not arbitrary and are not given without benefit attached. Sarah’s reward was the gift of inclusion into the blessing of the nations that God had intended through Abraham. If we seek to surrender our lives to God’s will through His call on our husbands, we will be given the blessed distinction of being a daughter of Sarah.


So what does this type of obedience look like in a minister’s wife? Certainly the amount of reluctance you are feeling towards this role will dictate the type of faith it will take to accompany your husband into the unknown. Hear me well when I say that no matter how much initial trepidation I feel when God asks something of our family, He has yet to call Luke to a task without also piercing my own heart. It is always heartbreaking for me to talk to ministry wives who do not express any sense of calling toward their husband’s work. The reasons are endless, but most often the wife incorrectly believes that his ministry is just another vocation and has nothing to do with her, or she absolutely wants nothing to do with a life with trappings holding no obvious appeal.


You may ask, “Is it wrong if I don’t want my husband to be a preacher? Can anyone blame me if I don’t want to leave what is comfortable and predictable? What if I don’t want to move away from my extended family?” And bigger still, “What if I don’t trust my husband to discern God’s voice?”


If you find yourself feeling this way, then it is time to look past your wants and even those of your husband and straight to the face of God. Ask Him what He requires of you. Are you willing to trust Him with your unknown? Are you willing to obey even if you believe your man has some static in his radio? I wish I had an easy answer here, but in reality these questions can only be hashed out in some sincere facedown time with the Father. Because I continually remember the comfort and reassurance He has offered me with these same fears, I can promise you He’ll invade your heart with a much-needed peace in the midst of the pain that often goes along with hard-fought obedience.


Luke and I had no idea in the beginning what our exact ministry would look like. Would we be missionaries? Would he be behind a pulpit? Would we work in a parachurch organization? We had no clue. In the same way, be assured you won’t always know every detail of what God is asking of you. However, though the what may be unclear, we can always trust the motivation of the Who. Our faith in His promises and the assurance of His continual blessing upon the nations through our obedience in spreading His Word is enough to follow our man wherever God leads.

We are called to participate.


Hebrews 11:11–12 says, “By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore” (NASB).


I can identify with Sarah on so many levels. Though she is heralded as a model of faithfulness, we know she behaved badly in her doubt. Just think about her side for a bit. God made these covenant promises to Abraham but never mentioned Sarah’s name once until she was ninety years old—some twenty-five years after God first appeared to her husband. She knew God promised Abraham an heir, and when the plan she hatched to speed that along resulted in Hagar’s pregnancy, Sarah may have felt left out by God entirely.


Are you like the girl in the beginning of this chapter who felt no one needed her? Do you ever feel left behind to cook, clean, and take care of babies while your husband spends the better part of his days ministering to everyone but you? Are you convinced he is having a blast crusading for the kingdom while you are stuck at home in the castle—as Cinderella no less?


Obviously the season of life you are in dictates to what degree you are able to participate in the work of the church. Listen closely, young mothers! Your ministry in this stage of life is to those precious babies in your care. If you have your own desires to serve in things such as women’s ministry, Bible study, administration, etc., your day will come. Some of you are able to soldier on and do these things in addition to caring for your toddlers, but many are just not able to do it all. And you know what? You aren’t supposed to. If you find your home is suffering and your kids are begging for your attention, then they—not church ministry—take absolute precedence. Never, ever apologize for making your family first!


My children are no longer babies, but I am just as busy with them in other ways. Diaper changing and bottle feeding have given way to homework and taxi service to whatever sport they are playing at the moment. Though I consider myself active in ministry, there are many things I don’t do. For example, I don’t always make it to the funeral home every time someone passes, due to the simple fact that I would have to bring my kids and I don’t particularly think they enjoy going any more than I enjoy having to get them dressed and wrangling them once there. I do have a tradeoff, however—I help with the meal if we are hosting one for the grieving family. The kids can hang out in a back room, and the stress is greatly relieved for them and for me. Not to mention our darling church ladies always fix the kids a plate from the leftovers. This is my way of letting the family know I love them, I care, and I am taking part to the best of my current ability without making myself crazy.


No matter if you are a seasoned ministry wife or a relative newbie, there is always one thing your congregation will pick up on loud and clear—your willingness to serve despite your inability. Do you work outside the home but do your best to participate in the body when possible? The church knows this and for the most part will understand. (Oh, there will always be exceptions!)


However, what they will not easily forgive is when you take a seat in the back and refuse to play a part—able or not. There are many women who are embittered by the demands the church has placed on their family’s life and time, therefore they refuse to support their husband’s ministry or the church body in any way, shape, or form. We’ll discuss in a later chapter the delicate balance between home and church life, but let’s just say for now that this attitude is extremely unhealthy and can be a huge detriment to your husband’s relationship with the church. The support the congregation perceives your husband receiving from you and your willingness to care for them even if you aren’t able to do all that you’d like is a bridge between their hearts and your man’s. Just like Sarah, your participation in his call is not only nice but necessary for him to effectively live out what God will do through him, whether you realize it now or not.

We are called to hope.


A life in ministry ultimately calls us to one thing: a hope for a greater glory than current circumstances reveal. I can’t think of a higher charge than the invitation to participate in God’s good intentions toward His creation. Sarah considered God faithful in His promises towards her, and because of that, she was able to look past the difficult years of childlessness and hold the manifestation of God’s blessing in her own arms.


Many years ago I watched a mafia movie (I don’t have any idea what it is called) where a gangster was teaching his young son about trust. The boy was on a ladder, and the father repeatedly told him to fall backward into his arms: “Don’t worry! I’m your father. Do you really think I’d let you be hurt?” The boy was more frightened of his dad than the fall, so he let go of the ladder. As he fell the dad stepped to the side and let him crash to the ground. His son stared up in surprised pain as the father said, “Never trust anyone.”


I think many of us have the mindset that God is the father who is setting us up for a huge fall and that we can’t trust Him to keep something painful from happening to us. The difference is He is standing in your unknown saying, “You can ALWAYS trust me!”


He never promises our lives won’t hurt, but you know what? He will always cushion us. Certainly there are hard days but in the midst of them you will find laughter, just like Abraham and Sarah. Sometimes those giggles you share will be born out of pure joy and at other times from incredulous unbelief. The thing to always remember is that you and your husband are in this thing together. There is no part of what God intends to do through either of you that isn’t intimately intertwined with the love and support of the other. God has appointed your husband according to his gifts, and your first priority as his wife is to affirm him in this role. However, many of you have desires for ministry that will involve taking off in your own direction. That doesn’t mean you supplant your hubby, but in the appropriate season, there will be many ways in which your own talents will broaden the scope of what he is able to do alongside you versus going it alone.

If You Say So


One of the coolest things about this book is the fact that these are not just my own observations! I mentioned in the introduction that I have a blog called The Preacher’s Wife (www.apreacherswife.com). Blogs are explained in greater detail in Appendix A of this book.


As part of the research for this project I asked a series of survey questions to the ministry wives who hang out with me online. (I’m excited to tell you there are a lot of them!) These Round Table discussions provide advice and encouragement from women who are serving in the trenches just like you. More than anything, I pray this book confirms the fact you are not alone in your circumstances, your joys, your struggles, or your opinions. I am so thrilled to introduce you to an online community of women who absolutely understand where you are coming from. I’ve also gathered comments from laypeople. I think it is imperative that we hear from both perspectives in order to understand one another’s hearts and hopefully build stronger relationships.


Now let me be clear: I am in no way saying that “virtual” friends should replace your flesh and blood ones. What I can tell you is that I have met many women in person that I’ve first made contact with online through my blog and they’ve become my dearest confidants. Blogs are but one fresh and relevant way to establish connections with women who will support you in your role as a ministry wife. We’ll discuss those various avenues in a later chapter centered on friendships.


For ease of identification (and to show off my excessive-texting-abbreviation skills), my blog friends will be known as the M2M Girls (as in, Married to Ministry Girls). Make sense? Let’s see what they had to share about their perspectives on calling.

Round Table

“I never wanted to be a pastor’s wife. When my husband felt called (before we got engaged) I had doubts. But, what God wanted and had planned was far greater than I knew at the time. He eventually convinced my heart to follow Him.”—Sarah @ Life in the Parsonage
“I feel like my highest calling is to be my husband’s supporter, his encourager, his helpmate. I believe that my service in the home, especially at this season in our lives with small children, is the biggest call in that ministry. He could not focus on doing the greatest part of his calling—preaching the gospel—if I didn’t do mine.”—Crystal @ Life Is Nothing Without Him
“As a layperson, I think it is obvious when a wife doesn’t share her husband’s passion for ministry. I don’t believe a pastor’s wife has to be everyone’s friend or attend every church event. But I do think you can tell by her general demeanor if she is ministry-minded. And, rightly or wrongly, the vibe I get from her reflects on her husband.”—Lori (layperson)
“I felt a call to ministry years before I met my husband, and deep down I hoped that call meant I would marry a minister. My challenge came several years later when he started thinking about leaving the ministry and I thought, ‘Wait a minute. I married you as a minister, so you have to stay one!’ I came to realize that I was married to him—a person, not his title—and I would love him no matter what.”—Kecia @ Kecia’s Journey
“I don’t know of any other occupation that my husband could have that would require me to be a part of the ‘package deal’ (for free) except the ministry. That took some getting used to!”—Sherry @ Life at the Parsonage
“It’s easy to spot a woman who’s happy for and proud of her husband’s life/accomplishments/calling. It may not be easy for her to ‘follow’ when she is in the background with young children (early on), but she is proud of her man’s walk and character. That is a beautiful thing to see.”—Darnelle (layperson) @ All Things Work Together


Now That You Know:


How are you responding to God’s call on your husband? Seek out a seasoned pastor’s wife and ask her to share her experience with you for reassurance.
Take the power away from the vague fears Satan will give you about the uncertainties you face by writing down what scares you. Search out the truth of God’s Word to apply to each. Afraid of moving away from family? Claim Matthew 19:29. Worried your family will not be provided for? Pray Psalm 37:25.
Laypeople: Has a man in your congregation announced a call to ministry? He is often congratulated and much is made over his decision, but his wife may be struggling in his shadow. Take the time to encourage her by pointing out the gifts she has that will be an asset to him. If there isn’t a new minister in your midst, consider writing a note of encouragement to your existing pastor’s wife to let her know what a vital part she plays in her husband’s work.
 
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