Monday, December 31, 2012

Double Blind


Double Blind
Brandilyn Collins
(B&H Publishing)
ISBN: 978-1433671647
October 2012/352 pages/$14.99

Twenty-nine-year-old Lisa Newberry can barely make it through the day. Suddenly widowed and a survivor of a near-fatal attack, she is wracked with grief and despair. Then she hears of a medical trial for a tiny brain chip that emits electrical pulses to heal severe depression. At rope’s end, Lisa offers herself as a candidate.

When she receives her letter of acceptance for the trial, Lisa is at first hopeful. But—brain surgery. Can she really go through with that? What if she receives only the placebo?

What if something far worse goes wrong?

Written in the relentless style for which Brandilyn Collins is known, Double Blind is a psychological thriller with mind-bending twists. Lisa faces choices that drive her to the brink, and one wrong move could cost the lives of many.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. She is a three-time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner and has also won the Inspirational Readers’ Choice and Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice awards. Brandilyn and her family live in Idaho.



MY THOUGHTS

Brandilyn Collins once again has written a book that kept me absolutely glued to the page. In fact, I read it in one evening, staying up way too late until I finished it because I just couldn't put it down. As she typically does in her novels, Collins masterfully spins a plot with numerous twists and turns, making it impossible to figure out the resolution. Secondary storylines of relational dynamics, such as those between Lisa and her mother, are equally compelling. While I normally wouldn't be drawn to a book tagged as a "psychological thriller," the events portrayed are not beyond belief in today's rapidly advancing medical technology. I definitely recommend this one!


I purchased this book for my reading pleasure. I was not asked to write a review.



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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Day After

Love this song by Matthew West!






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Monday, December 24, 2012

Word of the Father, Now in Flesh Appearing

This may be the most beautiful rendition of this carol I've ever heard. This was part of the Christmas Spectacular from the University of Mobile, a small private Baptist college in Mobile, Alabama.



Blessings on your Christmas Eve! How are you spending the day?

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

One of my Favorites!

It doesn't feel like Christmas until I hear this song!




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Friday, December 21, 2012

12 Pearls of Christmas - Cara Putman

Welcome to the12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!

Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.

We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***
Quieted in His Presence

By Cara Putman

It's the week after Thanksgiving. We're racing toward Christmas. Even with Thanksgiving occurring a week early, it feels like a race. When did we decide this organized (or not so organized) chaos was restful, relaxing, conducive to a joyful season?

When did the joy of gifting something to one we love become replaced by the pressure to find the perfect gift? When did the amount of the gift matter more than spirit it is gifted in? At times like these I need a reason to remember that God can calm my heart when I feel like I'm spilling in a bazillion different directions.

Grab a mug of tea or cup of coffee. I'll share my peppermint mocha creamer. It's low-sugar. And let's sit together and soak in this truth.

The Lord is with us. With us. Emmanuel. The God with us. Savor that. He's with us. Not watching us. With us.

He is mighty to save. He doesn't barely save. He is mightily prepared to save.

He will take great delight in you. Think about a child. Yours or someone else's. Think about the joy that child brings to his parents. That is a pale shadow of the depth of delight God takes in you. Humbled? Thrilled? I am!

He quiets us with His love. He will, if we'll let Him. It is His will to quiet us with love. Like a child who is content and secure in the knowledge of her parents' love. That's how He wants us to rest. To be quiet. In His presence. At His feet.

He will rejoice over us with singing. Think of your favorite artist, group, chorus. Think of how their voices resonate and harmonize. Remember how you are swept away by the beauty of a voice raised in song. Then imagine God singing a special song over you. Then consider that it's a song of rejoicing. Just because you are. A song to you.

Now that you've quieted in His presence, are you ready to go back to preparations. Ready to focus on Him? To find Him in the midst of the Christmas chaos? Because He is the baby in the manager. He is the reason we celebrate. And He's celebrating you!

***
Cara Putman is an author of fourteen novels and one nonfiction work—plus all the characters and stories still begging to be told. Look for more in the future. She is also a licensed attorney, contract lecturer at a Big Ten University, adjunct faculty at a community college, and active in her church and community. She lives with her family in Indiana.


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Thursday, December 20, 2012

12 Pearls of Christmas - Julie Lessman

Welcome to the12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!

Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.

We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl, Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

***
When God Wraps a Present . . .
By Julie Lessman

We’ve all heard the adage “it’s better to give than receive,” but never have I agreed more than the year I was engaged to the love of my life.

It was truly a Christmas to remember—spiced egg nog and snickerdoodles and shimmering presents unwrapped in a circle of love. Of course, we all ooohed and ahhhed over each gift opened, one at a time, reveling in the glow of excitement for giver and recipient alike.

And then it was my turn. Everyone waited while I tore into a small box, anticipation fairly shimmering in my fiancé's eyes.

“Do you like it?” he asked, grinning like a little boy when I unearthed a very pretty silver watch.

No. “It’s beautiful,” I said with a shaky giggle, slipping it on and holding it up for everyone to admire. I quickly gave him a sweet kiss on the lips. “Thank you so much, babe—what a perfect gift!”

Perfectly awful, that is. You see, when you are a twenty-eight-year-old Type A career woman who is very set in her ways, there are just some things you have to buy for herself—books, costume jewelry, purses … a watch.

All right, yes, I’ll admit it—“high maintenance” is my middle name because heaven knows I’m one of the most particular people on the planet, especially when it comes to watches. They have to be digital, waterproof, have a day and date window, an alarm, chronograph, second hand, both silver and gold metal to wear with either silver or gold jewelry, stretch band skinny enough to fit my wrist . . . and a GPS. Okay, I’m pulling your watch chain on the last one, but you get the picture—NOT easy to find, especially with numbers big enough for someone blind as a bat.

So, yes, I faked it, of course, thanking my soon-to-be husband for the “prettiest watch I had ever owned,” because it was—I just didn’t like it. But did I “fake it” with God? Uh, no. I went straight to His throne in prayer and begged Him to help me love this watch because the man I loved gave it to me and I just flat-out didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I even went so far as to write the prayer request on a piece of paper and put it in my Bible so I could “wrap” it in prayer every single day, which I did.

Until the fateful moment years later when my husband used my Bible one day and found the note.

“You don’t like your watch??” he says, confronting me with hurt in his tone while his eyes flicked to the pretty watch on my wrist.

“What are you talking about?” I asked, somewhat confused.

He held up the note. “You told God you hated it in this note I found in your Bible.”

Uh-oh . . . BUSTED!

“Oh, babe,” I said with my brightest smile and a quick kiss on the lips. “That was then and this is now. It’s perfect for me, just like you, and I absolutely love it.

And you know what? I did!!

***
Award-winning author of “The Daughters of Boston” and “Winds of Change” series, Julie Lessman was ACFW’s 2009 Debut Author of the Year and voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards. Winner of 14 RWA awards, she also appeared on Booklist’s 2010 list for Top 10 Inspirational Fiction and has just released her 7th novel, A Light in the Window: An Irish Christmas Love Story. You can contact Julie at her website, on Facebook, on Twitter at @julielessman, or read excerpts of her favorite romantic and spiritual scenes from each of her books at http://www.julielessman.com/excerpts/.



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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Have a Merry Hodgepodge!



1. How will you spend 'the night before Christmas'?

We'll go to the late afternoon Christmas Eve service and then we will eat Mexican food, as we always do.

2. What is one thing you are not?

Athletic.

3. Fudge-are you a fan? Your favorite flavor?

Yes, in small amounts, but it has to be chocolate and it has to have nuts. My favorite is the Foolproof Fudge I make with chocolate chips, Eagle Brand Condensed Milk, vanilla, and pecans. Quick, easy, and incredibly delicious!

4. Did you attend any craft/vendor fairs in the month of December? Do you prefer homemade goodies or the more professional stalls? Are you giving any homemade gifts this year?

No, I'm not a big craft fair person. I do generally give peanut brittle to several people. I'm not sure they would be friends with me if I didn't. LOL

5. What's your favorite type of holiday gathering?

A casual party at someone's house with food and friends!

6. We're approaching a new year...what's going to be different in 2013?

My girl will graduate from high school and go to college, and we will have an empty nest next fall.

7. Share a favorite scripture, quote, saying, or song lyric relating to peace.

It's a bit of a toss-up between these two:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

8. Insert your own random thought here.

I forgot to tell you last week that I made it to the FINALS in our staff dart tournament a couple of weeks ago! I played our children's minister, and it was the first time the final round was between two women. It was an extremely close game, and we were actually tied as we neared zero, but she prevailed. We had such fun! I was just shocked that I made it that far.


Have a blessed Christmas!


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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Christmas Interlude

Dr. Harry Kraus posted this yesterday on 3 Men Walk Into a Blog (love that blog that he shares with Dan Walsh and James Rubart!) and I absolutely had to share it here. O Come, O Come Emmanuel has become one of my favorite Christmas hymns in recent years, ever since I did a study of the Old Testament. This is a phenomenal rendition and so worshipful. Take a moment to quiet your soul today and listen.



O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times did’st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.



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Monday, December 17, 2012

Mother of Pearl

I am excited to tell you about another delightful debut author that I met through some blog comments online and then met in person at ACFW in September. Her book has been in my TBR pile and I finally got my head above water to read it last week. You don't want to miss it!


Mother of Pearl
Kellie Coates Gilbert
(Abingdon Press)
ISBN: 978-1426733437
September 2012/304 pages/$14.99

Barrie Graeber has two great kids, a loving husband, and a respected job as the high school counselor in her close-knit community. Without warning, everything unravels when her teenage daughter, Pearl, is betrayed by friends and lashes out.

Nothing prepares this mother for the helplessness that follows when her attempts to steer her daughter back on course fail and Pearl shuts her out . . . or when she discovers the unthinkable about her nemesis, the football coach.

Emotionally riveting and profoundly moving, Mother of Pearl brings us into the heart of a mother bound by an incredible burden, who ultimately finds she must recognize her own vulnerability and learn to trust in something much bigger.



Read the first chapter.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A former legal investigator and trial paralegal, Kellie Coates Gilbert writes with a sympathetic, intimate knowledge of how people react under pressure. She is a Pacific Northwest native, and now calls Dallas home.

MY THOUGHTS

Wow. As the mom of a girl Pearl's age, I wasn't sure I could manage reading this novel, but I could not put it down. Kellie Coates Gilbert has crafted a story that reaches deep into the heart of a mother's protective nature and passionate love for her child. Mother of Pearl is fiction, yet it portrays a reality that, unfortunately, happens far too often in today's society. Gilbert develops and paces the story with a skill beyond that expected of a debut author. While she doesn't shy away from tackling this difficult subject, she handles it with sensitivity; while omitting specific details of events, she nevertheless sucessfully communicates the powerful emotional impact. More than simply a dramatic "soap opera" of a novel, however, Mother of Pearl contains a gentle yet strong message of faith and hope without being preachy. I highly recommend this novel but suggest you keep a tissue box handy! And add Kellie Coates Gilbert to your list of authors to watch; I predict great things from her!

Kellie Coates Gilbert is the featured author this week on ACFW's Fiction Finder. you can read an interview with her here. Here's a sneak peek: I want my books to appeal to all kinds of readers - those who sit on church pews and barstools alike."


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book from Kellie Coates Gilbert. I was not required to post a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Saturday, December 15, 2012

We Need Christmas More Than Ever

My heart is broken for the families in Connecticut. The fact that it happened so close to Christmas is doubly cruel. I keep thinking about the joy of anticipation that five- and six-year-olds feel as Christmas approaches and my heart hurts to imagine those happy children in that kindergarten classroom and the terror they must have experienced in those brief moments before their lives were so cruelly snatched. How I pray that legions of angels descended and that they were whisked to the Father's arms before they had a chance to suffer.

It seems unfathomable to think about Christmas, yet this is exactly why Jesus slipped into the world as a baby that night in Bethlehem 2000 years ago.




Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You've been promised, we've been waiting
Welcome Holy Child . . . .


Bring Your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
Word now breaking Heaven's silence
Welcome to our world . . . .

Just as the song speaks of that first advent, we cry out again today "You've been promised, we've been waiting. . . ."

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


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Friday, December 14, 2012

Proof

I have had several books in my TBR pile for several months that I've been eagerly anticipating the opportunity to read when my scheduled reviews slowed down just a tad. I'm excited to tell you about a delightful new author that has come onto the scene and her debut novel I finally had the chance to read this week!


Proof
Jordyn Redwood
(Kregel Publications)
ISBN: 978-0825442384
June 2012/312 pages/$14.99

Dr. Lilly Reeves is a young, accomplished ER physician with her whole life ahead of her. But that life instantly changes when she becomes the fifth victim of a serial rapist. Believing it’s the only way to recover her reputation and secure peace for herself, Lilly sets out to find--and punish--her assailant. Sporting a mysterious tattoo and unusually colored eyes, the rapist should be easy to identify. He even leaves what police would consider solid evidence. But when Lilly believes she has found him, DNA testing clears him as a suspect. How can she prove he is guilty, if science says he is not?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jordyn Redwood has served patients and their families for nearly twenty years and currently works as a pediatric ER nurse. As a self-professed medical nerd and trauma junkie, she was drawn to the controlled chaotic environments of critical care and emergency nursing. Her love of teaching developed early and she was among the youngest CPR instructors for the American Red Cross at the age of seventeen. Since then, she has continued to teach advanced resuscitation classes to participants ranging from first responders to MD’s.

Her discovery that she also had a fondness for answering medical questions for authors led to the creation of her blog, Redwood’s Medical Edge. This blog is devoted to helping contemporary and historical authors write medically accurate fiction.

Jordyn lives in Colorado with her husband, two daughters, and one crazy hound dog. In her spare time she also enjoys reading her favorite authors, quilting, and cross-stitching.

Learn more at her website.

MY THOUGHTS

I do love a medical mystery, and Jordyn Redwood makes her debut with a captivating medical suspense that grabbed me from the opening pages. Redwood's expertise as an ER nurse provides an insider's authenticity to the setting and premise. Plenty of twists & turns and a race against time make this a chilling and captivating read. A strong spiritual theme is unashamedly woven into the story as Lilly is an atheist, yet she has friends who live out their faith as they love her and speak Truth into her life. Redwood is definitely an author to watch, and I look forward to book #2 in the Bloodlines Trilogy, Poison, to be released in February!




Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book from Jordyn Redwood. I was not required to post a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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Thursday, December 13, 2012

My Girl Recommends This One!

Last month I reviewed a book that I said is one of the best Christmas books of the year, The Christmas Star. I'm popping back in today to make a couple more comments about it.

My girl loves World War II era books and had another personal interest in this novel, so she started reading it a couple of days ago.

She is completely hooked. She came into the room saying, "Oh my goodness, that is such a good book! I don't even want to put it down!" Yesterday when she went to school I saw that she had put this quote, spoken by the wise school bus driver to Jimmy Reed, on her timeline:

We live in a world where most of us spend a lot more time looking in the mirror, by that I mean seeing our own desires and needs, than we do looking out the window at the world. You have to look out the window to see where you're needed. A mirror just can't show you that. -- The Christmas Star, p. 51

BOOK INFO:

The Christmas Star
Ace Collins
(Abingdon Press)
ISBN:
October 2012/224 pages/$14.99

Robert Reed gave his life for his country in the early days of World War II. His sacrifice was honored when his widow and son were presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor. Each Christmas the final decoration Madge Reed hangs on the family’s tree is that medal. Rather than being a symbol of honor for young Jimmy Reed that shining star represents loss, pain, and suffering.

Yet a letter delivered by one of Robert’s fellow soldiers and a mystery posed in that letter put a father’s sacrifice and faith into perspective and bring new meaning to not just the star hanging on the Christmas tree but the events of the very first Christmas. Then, when least expected, a Christmas miracle turns a final bit of holiday sadness into a joy that Jimmy has never known.




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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A 12-12-12 Hodgepodge




1. So, when did you last take a walk in the woods? A stroll along the beach? A drive going nowhere in particular in the car?

Neither woods nor beach are in my vicinity, so summer of 2011 would be the last time I strolled along the beach, when we were on vacation in Galveston. I'm not big on driving aimlessly--especially with the price of gas!

2. Are you sending Christmas cards this year? About how many do you send? Photo card or something more traditional? How do you display the cards you receive?

I don't know if I'll get them sent or not. Things have been so hectic. I usually buy my cards in October or November and haven't. I also usually write our Christmas newsletter in the form of a poem. Not sure that's going to happen this year, either.

3. What's a word you've heard too much of in the past week?

I'm not sure I could choose just one. Alzheimer's is probably at the top of the list.

4. December 13th is National Cocoa Day-are you a fan? Plain or flavored? Marshmallows or no marshmallows?

If it's powdered, I'll pass. Homemade with Hershey's cocoa, you bet! Plain or with a bit of mint, and skip the marshmallows. But a dollop of whipped cream would be delightful!

5. What is something you do to help alleviate the hectic pace of the Christmas season?

I've cut waaay back on how much baking I do. I used to bake and give away a ridiculous amount of stuff, but as much as I loved doing it, I was exhausting myself and I realized that nobody really needs those calories!

We have also cut way back on our gifting. We basically give our Christmas away and just do stockings.

6. Besides jewelry, what's a favorite sparkly-glittery item in your home or closet?

My girl's smile.

7. Share a favorite line or two from any Christmas carol.

Oh, I have a bunch. I just posted It Came Upon the Midnight Clear yesterday. Absolutely love this verse:

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Today is 12/12/12. So I set this to post at 12:12 am. I'm taking a variety of little plastic snack bags, each with 12 goodies--nuts, candy, dried fruit, or tiny cookies--to the church staff. Everyone will choose a bag, and we will enjoy our goodies at 12:12 pm!



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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Listen to the Angels

It's been a bit hard for me to get into the "Christmas spirit" this year. With the recent deaths in our church family as well as a pretty sudden decline in my sister's Alzheimer's condition over the past couple of weeks, I've had neither the time nor the energy--emotional, mental, or physical--to feel particularly jolly. Yet as I was reflecting on the words of one of my favorite Christmas carols, it reminded me that this is exactly what Christmas is about. God became a baby and quietly slipped into a broken, hurting world marred by sin, disease, and suffering to save us and give us a hope beyond this frail life. Take a moment in your busy day to rest and hear the angels sing!



IT CAME UPON THE MIDNIGHT CLEAR

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold;
“Peace on the earth, good will to men,
From Heaven’s all gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever over its Babel sounds
The blessèd angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife
And hear the angels sing.

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophet-bards foretold,
When with the ever circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.

WORDS: Edmund H. Sears, 1849
MUSIC: Richard S. Willis, 1850



















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Monday, December 10, 2012

A Promise to Protect

UPDATE Sunday 12/16/12 8:34 pm WINNER!

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:
8
Timestamp: 2012-12-17 02:33:18 UTC

Congrats to Megan Parsons! Email me your address, Megan, and Liz Johnson will send you a copy of the book!

* * * * *

A Promise to Protect
Liz Johnson
(Love Inspired Suspense)
ISBN: 978-0373445189
November 2012/224 pages/$5.75

Navy SEAL Matt Waterstone knows about keeping people safe. When his best friend's sister is attacked, Matt promises no harm will come to Ashley Sawyer—not on his watch. But Matt's not the only protective one. Ashley will do anything to safeguard the residents of the battered women's shelter she runs. She's sure she can handle the threats she gets in return. What she can't handle is the way Matt scales the walls around her heart. Yet when she falls prey to a crime web far more sinister than she'd realized, trusting Matt could be the only way to survive….

Read an excerpt.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
After graduating from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff with a degree in public relations, Liz Johnson set out to work in the Christian publishing industry, which was her lifelong dream. In 2006 she got her wish when she accepted a publicity position at a major trade book publisher. While working as a publicist in the industry, she decided to pursue her other dream-becoming an author. She is now a New York Times bestselling author of A Star in the Night (in A Log Cabin Christmas Collection), The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn, Vanishing Act, Code of Justice, and A Promise to Protect.

Liz makes her home in Nashville, TN, where she enjoys exploring the local history, theater, and making frequent trips to Arizona to dote on her two nephews and three nieces. She loves stories of true love with happy endings.

Connect with Liz on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

MY THOUGHTS

Are you looking for a stocking stuffer for a book lover? Do you need a book you can keep in the car or in your bag for those "wait times" at appointments or in car lines? A Promise to Protect is just the thing! Liz Johnson knows how to pack a lot of story into a small package. She drew me in and kept me guessing, and I was surprised by the resolution. This is a great romantic suspense that will keep your attention without scaring you to death!


GIVEAWAY!

Liz Johnson has graciously offered to give a copy of this book to one of YOU! Just leave a comment on this post by 8:00 pm CST Saturday (12/15/12) and I will draw a winner. US mailing addresses only, please. You must include an email address if you don't have a blog. Winner must respond to notification of win within 48 hours or another winner will be chosen.



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book from Liz Johnson and Harlequin/Love Inspired Suspense. I was not required to post a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Friday, December 7, 2012

The Week I've Had




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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Nancy Rue's Blog Tour Continues!

Nancy Rue is still touring the blogsphere on the back of her husband's Harley, celebrating the release of her newest novel, Too Far to Say Far Enough, the conclusion of The Reluctant Prophet series. Today she's hanging out with Julie Cantrell, discussing “That Whole ‘Unequally Yoked’ Thing. Be sure to check out all the stops she's making all week, not only for the thought-provoking questions she discusses, but to enter her great giveaway! And be sure to check the top of my sidebar for my giveaway of this entire series!

Monday: Nancy Rue, The Nudge “What Hank Says . . . About Leaving the Pew”
Tuesday: Mocha With Linda “Will the “Real” Christians Please Stand Up?”
Wednesday: Jen Hatmaker “When the Nudge Drives a Wedge”
Thursday: Julie Cantrell “That Whole ‘Unequally Yoked’ Thing
Friday: Far From Perfect MaMMa “Is It Worth Having a Record?”



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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Rockin' Round the Wednesday Hodgepodge


1. Share your traditions surrounding the Christmas stocking.

I never had a stocking growing up. It just wasn't something my parents did. I've enjoyed doing them for my family. I made our stockings - red velvet with bells hanging down from the bottom, which is how my man remembered his being when he was a child. We lay them out on my MIL's living room floor on Christmas Eve and I fill all but mine and then my man fills mine.

Funny story: one year he had been crazy busy working extra long hours, 7 days a week, and I really didn't think he would have had time to get anything, so I didn't take my stocking. I didn't want him to feel bad and I didn't want to see it laying there empty. I got up Christmas morning, and there was one of his socks with my gifts! A Post-it note was attached which said, "See what happens when you don't bring your stocking?!"

2. How many hours of sleep do you average at night? Is it enough?

Almost seven. And no.

3. If you had to give up one thing for the remainder of this year what would it be?

Planning meals. I don't mind cooking them, but someone just get me out of my rut!

4. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (or Wills and Kate as I like to call them) have announced they're expecting a baby. Do you follow news of the Royals?

Not particularly. Some of it is rather hard to avoid, just because it's in the headlines. Having had severe "all-day" sickness for 20 & 24 weeks with my pregnancies, my primary thought when I saw this announcement along with the news of her hospitalization was "It doesn't matter if you are a duchess with uber-wealth and fame, you are miserable when you throw up just like anyone else. The poor girl!"

5. For me, the sound of childhood is__________________.

The screen door. And ice clinking in the glasses at night.

6. Fruit cake-yay or boo? What's your favorite dessert made with fruit?

Yes if it's got plenty of pecans. My mom had a good recipe. Favorite dessert with fruit would be warm peach cobbler made with Fredericksburg peaches. Cherry pie is awfully good, too.

7. What is one thing you want to accomplish before 2012 comes to an end?

With the way the last ten days or so have gone, I'm just hoping to get the tree decorated before December 26!

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Each December our church staff has a dart tournament. It's happening this week, and I have actually advanced to the third round, which is also the semifinal round! I suspect I'll go down in this next round, but considering I beat the pastor who beat the reigning champion/youth minister, I'm pretty excited to make it this far!





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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Will the "Real" Christians Please Stand Up?

I love Nancy Rue, both as an author and as an individual. It has been my delight to get to know her personally over the past several years, beginning with a time about seven or eight years ago when she spoke at an event for tweens at our church and I got to "chauffeur" her between the airport, hotel, and church. It's a whole 'nother blog post how much my girl adores her and how much she has promoted Nancy's books, both officially at event book tables and unofficially by giving them as gifts and even chatting with someone at a bookstore trying to decide on the perfect gift for their granddaughter!)

So I am absolutely delighted to be one of Nancy's stops on her week-long blog tour to celebrate the release of Too Far to Say Far Enough, the final novel in The Reluctant Prophet series. (If you are new to my blog, be sure to check out my review and bonus giveaway, which I posted yesterday.) Each day this week, Nancy is addressing some tough topics, and today she asks how we define a "real" Christian. Fill up your mug and enjoy this mocha break with Nancy Rue!

Will the “Real” Christians Please Stand Up?
by Nancy Rue

If I were posting on my own blog, “The Nudge”, I would start off by saying, “Hello, fellow Nudgees!” We’re creating a community of people who feel nudged by God (or suspect we are) and need a place where people don’t think we’re crazy. I so appreciate Linda for allowing me the chance to bring that community to yours – craziness and all. Knowing the amazing Mocha Linda as I do, I have a feeling you are “Nudgees” just like we are. And can I just add that I’m so glad she’s been nudged to be such a loyal supporter to me?

We’ve been talking about God’s wisdom as imparted in The Reluctant Prophet series, and we’ve discovered that more often than not, the answers we seek come to us through even more questions. Somebody has counted how many times in the Gospels Jesus responds to a question with a question. (If anybody knows, fill us in, would you, and maybe this time I’ll actually write it down!). It only makes sense that that sort of conversation with God would continue in our relationships with him.

So here’s one.

Protagonist Allison Chamberlain is like so many of us: she’s built a foundation of faith in the church, with the help of a loyal group of friends (who she fondly refers to as “The Wednesday Night Watchdogs”), and has studied Scripture until she could probably recite the Synoptic Gospels on demand. Her entire Christian experience has been within a body of solid believers, and so just as most of us card-carrying Jesus-followers do, she has defined Christians as people who have been baptized. Who belong to a church. Who pray and try to live pure lives and – well, you know the list.

But when Allison is nudged by God to get outside those walls and see what’s really going on out there, her definition of “Christian” is challenged. Is it only those who have answered an altar call and prayed the Sinner’s Prayer and have agreed to follow the plan for salvation? Could people who unintentionally live as Jesus did, perhaps without being able to put it into words, be included under the category of “Christian?” Do we call hypocrites and bigots and just plain judgmental folks Christian because they have formally accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior – and yet not be willing to give that name to people who are in the trenches, fighting for justice in our society out of love and the desire for every human being to be seen? Could it not be that if your life looks like the one Jesus led and you know that comes from God – you are, indeed, among the saved? Or does it have to look the same for everyone?

As I’ve said so many times before, The Reluctant Prophet is not an indictment of the church or anyone’s way of celebrating every soul that is saved from a living death by surrendering to God. It’s an indictment of anything that isn’t real. Some social justice communities tend to morph into ‘anything that’s warm and fuzzy is Jesus so why even mention his name’ – and that isn’t real either.

What I want to see is what’s promised near the end of the trilogy, in Too Far To Say Far Enough: the church doing the Jesus-thing . . . all the way. And that means every one of us asking ourselves, not, “Is that guy over there a ‘real’ Christian?” but “Am I?”

Drives me to my knees every day. Good thing we’ve got God and grace and this body of folks we journey with.



Nancy Rue is the author of over 100 books for adults and teens, including Healing Waters, which was a 2009 Women of Faith Novel of the Year, and The Reluctant Prophet which received a Christy award in 2011. Nancy travels extensively-at times on the back of a Harley Davidson-speaking and teaching to groups of `tween girls and their moms and mentoring aspiring Christian authors. She lives on a lake in Tennessee with her Harley-ridin' husband Jim and their two yellow labs (without whom writing would be difficult.)

Thanks so much, Nancy. Lots to think about, both here in your post as well as in this book and series. Readers, let us know in the comments: what do you think is the most subtle and/or dangerous lie folks believe today about what makes someone be a "real" Christian?

Now what you have probably been waiting for…
winning books!

Nancy’s publisher, David C. Cook is giving away:
  • Reluctant Prophet series (3 books) to 10 winners,
  • PLUS 10 copies of The Reluctant Prophet to each winner’s recipient of choice.
Nancy will personally sign each book as well as include a letter with The Reluctant Prophet to your person of choice.

Visit here for the Rafflecopter entry form and official rules.

If you are joining the hop midway through and not sure where to go, here are all the stops for each day. That way you are able to maximize your entries into the giveaway, as well as capture Nancy’s heart as she wrote this series:

Monday: Nancy Rue, The Nudge “What Hank Says . . . About Leaving the Pew”
Tuesday: Mocha With Linda “Will the “Real” Christians Please Stand Up?”
Wednesday: Jen Hatmaker “When the Nudge Drives a Wedge”
Thursday: Julie Cantrell “That Whole ‘Unequally Yoked’ Thing
Friday: Far From Perfect MaMMa “Is It Worth Having a Record?”



If you would like to connect with Nancy, she can be found here:

Website: www.nancyrue.com
facebook (adult fans): www.facebook.com/nnrue
facebook (for teen fans): www.facebook.com/nnrueforteens
twitter: www.twitter.com/nnue
pinterest: www.pinterest.com/nnrue
In addition to Nancy’s blog, The Nudge, (for her adult audience), she also has a blog for teens (In Real Life) and for tweens (Tween You and Me)



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Monday, December 3, 2012

Too Far to Say Far Enough GIVEAWAY!


Too Far to Say Far Enough
The Reluctant Prophet, Book 3
Nancy Rue
(David C. Cook)
ISBN: 978-1434764904
October 2012/396 pages/$14.99

Allison Chamberlain has done everything God required of her-—but as He continues to nudge her in the third and final book of The Reluctant Prophet Series, she is ready to say, "Enough!" Even with two Sacrament Houses open, the Sisters' secondhand clothing boutique making its debut, and the orphaned Desmond legally adopted, Allison Chamberlain receives the divine nudge to go another mile. Eventually responding with her usual reluctant obedience, she finds herself caring for a very young prostitute and facing the deepest roots of evil. Despite the adversaries who threaten those closest to her, Allison finds that she has not gone far enough until she conquers hate and learns to love as God does. No matter what the consequences.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nancy Rue is the author of over 100 books for adults and teens, including Healing Waters, which was a 2009 Women of Faith Novel of the Year, and The Reluctant Prophet which received a Christy award in 2011. Nancy travels extensively-at times on the back of a Harley Davidson-speaking and teaching to groups of `tween girls and their moms and mentoring aspiring Christian authors. She lives on a lake in Tennessee with her Harley-ridin' husband Jim and their two yellow labs (without whom writing would be difficult.)

If you would like to connect with Nancy, she can be found here:

Website: www.nancyrue.com
facebook (adult fans): www.facebook.com/nnrue
facebook (for teen fans): www.facebook.com/nnrueforteens
twitter: www.twitter.com/nnrue
pinterest: www.pinterest.com/nnrue
In addition to Nancy’s blog, The Nudge, (for her adult audience), she also has a blog for teens (In Real Life) and for tweens (Tween You and Me)

MY THOUGHTS

I have never ridden a Harley but I don't think that would be nearly as adventurous as just living the life of Allison Chamberlain. . .or my own life if I paid heed to the nudges God directs my way! Borrowing a phrase from the bikers, Nancy Rue concludes The Reluctant Prophet series with Too Far to Say Far Enough. I have been eagerly anticipating this book since the close of Unexpected Dismounts (reviewed here) and all I can say is wow! What a ride! While Rue could have written a perfectly satisfying book utilizing the characters already introduced in the first two novels, she apparently decided Allison didn't have enough commotion and upheaval in her life and introduced some new "situations" for her to deal with. Of course, Desmond, Chief, and the gals living in the Sacrament Houses--not to mention her nemesis, Troy Irwin--still contribute plenty of drama and too many moments that have her teetering on the edge of walking away from it all, except for those Nudges from God that keep telling her to "go another mile."

Like its predecessors, Too Far to Say Far Enough is brilliantly crafted. Nancy Rue authentically portrays a reality and segment of population that most of us would prefer not to think about, much less engage. Raw, honest emotions are palpable and the story moves rapidly without being rushed. I wondered how Rue would bring the series to a close, especially regarding the relationship between Allison and Chief. I won't give any spoilers but I will say that while it wasn't what I expected, it was completely satisfying!

If you believe that Christians should cocoon, living in a bubble apart from the world, and if you are satisfied with perfunctory Sunday church attendance, this novel and series is not for you. But if you are committed to following hard after Christ, if you wrestle with what it means to really live like Jesus, if you are willing to get your hands and feet dirty--and your heart bruised--while serving others, this is a must-read.


David C. Cook and Nancy Rue are hosting a blog tour, and I am honored that my blog will be a stop on this tour tomorrow! Nancy will be my guest. She is kicking off the tour today on her own blog, so be sure to visit her at The Nudge “What Hank Says . . . About Leaving the Pew.”



BONUS GIVEAWAY!!

Independent of the giveaway occurring with the blog tour, I have been given the opportunity by Wynn-Wynn Media to offer a complete set of this series PLUS a Starbucks gift card to one of you! US mailing addresses only, please. You can enter more than once and there are several ways to enter - just click the Rafflecopter below!


a Rafflecopter giveaway




Read my reviews of the first two books in this series:

The Reluctant Prophet (includes interview with Nancy Rue immediately following her receipt of the Christy Award for this novel)
Unexpected Dismounts



I purchased a copy of Too Far to Say Far Enough for my personal use and to promote in this review. Wynn-Wynn Media is providing the complete series and a Starbucks card for my giveaway.


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Saturday, December 1, 2012

ACFW New Releases - December

Even though it was 84 today, the calendar does say it's December 1, and that means new releases from ACFW authors! More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

A Wedding Date in Hot Springs, Arkansas by Annalisa Daughety -- Violet and Jackson both need dates to special events, so they hire a matchmaker to find somebody. Horrified when they meet---they already know and dislike each other from college---but with no other recourse, they agree to "pretend." After a planned kiss with unexpected chemistry, will this sham arrangement turn into love?. (Contemporary Romance from Barbour Publishing).

The Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson -- In this retelling of the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs fairy tale, Sophie has little choice but to trust her betrothed's brother, Gabe, to help her escape the evil Duchess Ermengard. (Historical from Zondervan).

A Christmas Homecoming by MaryAnn Diorio -- When Sonia Pettit's teenage daughter suddenly disappears for seven long years, Sonia faces losing her mind, her husband, and her son as she struggles to forgive her wayward daughter and trust God for her return. (Contemporary from Harbourlight Books (Pelican).

A Promise to Protect by Liz Johnson -- Navy SEAL Matt Waterstone knows about keeping people safe. When his best friend's sister is attacked, Matt promises no harm will come to Ashley Sawyer-not on his watch. But Matt's not the only protective one. Ashley will do anything to safeguard the residents of the battered women's shelter she runs. She's sure she can handle the threats she gets in return. What she can't handle is the way Matt scales the walls around her heart. Yet when she falls prey to a crime web far more sinister than she'd realized, trusting Matt could be the only way to survive... (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired Suspense).

Sagebrush Knights by Erica Vetsch -- Evelyn, Jane, Gwendolyn, and Emeline Gerhard arrive in Wyoming Territory in search of husbands. But when the men awaiting them are not the knights-in-shining-armor they hoped for, it will take a hearty dose of faith to see them through. Will love prevail or bring a not so happy ending? (Romantic Suspense from Barbour Publishing).

Counterfeit Cowboy by Lacy Williams -- A con man with a conscience meets and falls in love with a girl way out of his league. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired).










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