Monday, June 30, 2008


I've been thinking about storms. We went to bed last night to the rumble of thunder, a welcome sound in our parched community which has been baking in a heat wave. We continue to see triple digits most days; I don't even want to think what August will bring.

But I digress. This morning there is this fair-sized branch in our yard as a result of the overnight weather. Now my man knew this branch was dead and in fact, his reaction was "Good, the storm pruned the tree for me." But to my botanically-challenged eye, it was not apparent at first glance that the branch was dead.

You see, there was a vine that had been wending its way up the tree and around the branch. Lush, healthy, and green in spite of the drought, it sourrounds the branch and much of the tree with its foliage. (If you click on the picture, you'll be able to see it in even greater detail.)

I suspect it even played a role in the branch's demise.

As long as the sun shone, the tree appeared normal, even enhanced in its adornment. But the storm revealed its true inward condition.

What a vivid picture of human nature. We entwine all sorts of things around our lives and our souls, enhancing our appearance to those around us. In the eyes of the world, we appear healthy and beautiful. But slowly, those things are actually choking us and distancing us from the Source that provides us nourishment. The storm comes, our true nature is revealed, and we fall. Or, as I Peter 1:6-7 tells us, our faith is proved genuine and we stand strong.

I've come across a couple of vivid testimonies of this that I'll be sharing as the week goes on. Have a great Monday!


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Friday, June 27, 2008

Then Sings My Soul Saturday - Does Jesus Care?

I've had several songs running through my head this week, but for some reason I keep coming back to this one today. Like so many of the wonderful old hymns, it was inspired by a difficult season in life.

A Methodist minister, Frank Graef was known for his sunny disposition and his optimistic outlook. In fact, he was known as the "sunshine minister" of Philadelphia. But he also experienced many trials in his life. During a time of severe depression, doubt, and physical difficulty, he was comforted by the words found in I Peter 5:7 - Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you. As a result of the assurance he received from this verse, he penned the words of this song.

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions by Kenneth W. Osbeck, 2001

What a blessed comfort that Jesus does indeed care about all we go through. I especially love this version of this comforting song. Like the composer, Mark Lowry is also best known for laughter and Christian comedy, but his faith is deep and true, and you can tell as he sings that this song is indeed a personal testimony.


Does Jesus care when my heart is pained
Too deeply for mirth or song,
As the burdens press, and the cares distress,
And the way grows weary and long?

Oh, yes, He cares, I know He cares,
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.

Does Jesus care when my way is dark
With a nameless dread and fear?
As the daylight fades into deep night shades,
Does He care enough to be near?

Does Jesus care when I’ve tried and failed
To resist some temptation strong;
When for my deep grief there is no relief,
Though my tears flow all the night long?

Does Jesus care when I’ve said “goodbye”
To the dearest on earth to me,
And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks—
Is it aught to Him? Does He see?

WORDS: Frank Graef, 1901
MUSIC: J. Lincoln Hall, 1901

Amy has more songs for your weekend!


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Thursday, June 26, 2008

In A Word. . .

The guys are back and now my girl is gone. The church youth left early this morning for camp, heading to Student Life at the Beach on South Padre Island, and they'll be back Monday evening. My boy probably would have gone too, but it just didn't appeal so soon after his other trip. Of course, all the things I had visions of doing while she's gone have sort of fizzled today after waking up at 5:00 this morning. And it will be awfully quiet in this house without her.

Last week Angela Hunt posted this one-word meme on her blog, and it looked like lots of fun. All of the answers must be just one word. While I know it was probably a challenge for an author to limit herself in her answers, I'm tired enough that one word seems just my speed today!

1. Where is your cell phone? Pocket
2. Your significant other? Husband
3. Your hair? Brown
4. Your mother? Challenging
5. Your father? Deceased
6. Your favorite thing? Love
7. Your dream last night? Forgotten
8. Your favorite drink? Mocha
9. Your dream/goal? Heaven

10. The room you’re in? Living
11. Your church? Authentic
12. Your fear? Violence
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Here
14. Where were you last night? Home
15. What you’re not?
16. Muffins? Warm
17. One of your wish list items? Discipline
18. Where you grew up? Houston
19. The last thing you did? Lunch
20. What are you wearing? Shorts
21. Your TV? Off
22. Your pets? Peeves
23. Your computer?
24. Your life? Blessed
25. Your mood?
26. Missing someone? Girl
27. Your car? Minivan
28. Something you’re not wearing? Makeup
29. Favorite store? Bookstore
30. Your summer? HOT!
31. Like(love) someone? Family
32. Your favorite color? Cobalt
33. Last time you laughed? Yesterday
34. Last time you cried?
35. Who will repost this? You?!

Well, some of these were trickier than I thought! And I don't want to keep all the fun to myself, so tag, you're it! I'm specifically tagging Kim, Natalie, Melody, Sarah, and Xandra, but anyone is invited to join the fun! Let me know if you do it so I can enjoy your answers!


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Blog Tour - Calico Canyon

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Calico Canyon

Barbour Publishing, Inc (July 1, 2008)


Mary Connealy


Let yourself be swept away by this fast-paced romance featuring Grace Calhoun, an instructor of reading, writing, and arithmetic, who, in an attempt to escape the clutchs of a relentless pursuer, runs smack dab into even more trouble with the 6R's - widower Daniel Reeves, along with his five rowdy sons. When a marriage is forced upon this hapless pair - two people who couldn't dislike each other more - an avalanche isn't the only potential danger lurking amid the shadows of Calico Canyon. Will they make it out alive? Or end up killing each other in the process?

Running from her abusive foster-father, a man intent on revenge, the prim and perfectly proper Grace Calhoun takes on the job of schoolmarm in Mosqueros, Texas.

As if being a wanted woman isn't bad enough, Grace has her hands full with the five rowdy and rambunctious Reeves boys─tough Texan tormenters who seem intent on making her life miserable. When, in an attempt to escape from the clutches of her pursuer, Grace is forced to marry widower Daniel Reeves, father of the miniature monsters, she thinks things couldn't get any worse. Or could they?

Daniel Reeves, happy in his all-male world, is doing the best he can, raising his five boys─rascals, each and every one. Since his wife's death in childbirth, Daniel has been determined never to risk marriage again.

When God throws Grace and Daniel together─two people who couldn't detest each other more─the trouble is only beginning.

Will this hapless pair find the courage to face life together in the isolated Calico Canyon? Or are their differences too broad a chasm to bridge?

If you would like to read the first chapter go HERE

MARY CONNEALY is an award-winning author and playwright, married to Ivan a farmer, and the mother of four beautiful daughters, Joslyn, Wendy, Shelly and Katy. They live in Decatur, Nebraska. Mary is a GED Instructor by day and an author by night. And there is always a cape involved in her transformation.

Mary has also written Petticoat Ranch, Golden Days, and her latest, Alaska Brides that will debut in August.

Mary contributes to 3 blogs. You can find them here.

One of the things I love about books is that they are as varied as the authors who write them -- and as the people inhabiting their pages! While many books in the Christian historical fiction genre use the formula "man + woman = sparks flying" (with some additional suspenseful moments thrown in), each one has its own twist that makes it unique. Calico Canyon is no exception. The antics of the 5 Reeves rapscallions, coupled with the unique way Grace and Daniel end up marrying one another, make this a fun and entertaining book. And I love how Mary Connealy handles giving these ornery boys the occasional tender moment while allowing them to save face, lest their brothers think they've sold out to the sissy side. I'm just thankful I got to read it and not live it!

Happy Reading!


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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Giveaway at the Cafe

My summer is messin' with my bloggin'.

Since I just began blogging in January, I got rather spoiled. It was easy to send the kids to school and settle with my laptop and coffee for some inspiration, laughter, and friendship.

Now the kids are home and I'm getting up later and I'm all off-kilter. Not to mention that it's kind of awkward and pointless if I'm screeching preaching training up my children that the way they should go is not parking in front of the computer all day and yet I'm velcroed to mine.

When I was in Houston I even got out of sync with stopping by CWO's Internet Cafe for their devotional each morning. I've missed that. And almost missed this:

The Cafe is serving a Giveaway to help folks like me get back on track. There are 3 ways to enter, but you have to do it by this Sunday, June 29 at 9 PM CST. All the details are here. And who better to win the book Mocha with Max than I?!

I will say one thing for less computer time: it's not as much fun, but it is more productive. It was long overdue, but I finally got my big freezer defrosted today!


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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Holy Glue

Take a few minutes to watch this. And worship.

I praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Psalm 139:14


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Blog Tour - A Book for Your Tween Boy!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Sir Kendrick and the Castle of Bel Lione

(Multnomah Books - June 17, 2008)


Chuck Black


A dangerous new order threatens the mission of the Knights of Arrethtrae. Only loyalty to the King can bring victory!

As the Knights of the Prince await His triumphant return, they are steadfast in their mission to take His story into the kingdom and recruit as many as are willing. But when a new and dangerous threat is revealed, their mission is jeopardized.

Sir Kendrick and his young charge, the impetuous Sir Duncan, are sent on a mission to discover the identity and origin of a secretive new order known as the Vincero Knights. They travel to the city of Bel Lione where Lord Ra has been enticing young people in the kingdom to join his festivals, after which many choose not to return home. Their families keep quiet for fear of repercussion.

When Sir Duncan disappears while trying to discover the truth of Lord Ra’s castle, Sir Kendrick attempts to find and enlist the help of a mysterious warrior. Time is short for he must save Duncan and call upon the knights of Chessington to join in the battle against the evil Lord Ra.

Journey to Arrethtrae, where these knights of noble heart live and die in loyal service to the King and the Prince. These knights are mighty, for they serve a mighty King. They are...the Knights of Arrethtrae!

If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE


Chuck Black first wrote Kingdom’s Edge to inspire his children to read the Bible with renewed zeal. This captivating expanded parable led him to write the Old Testament allegories, Kingdom’s Dawn and Kingdom’s Hope. Chuck added three more titles to the series, Kingdom’s Call, Kingdom’s Quest, and Kingdom’s Reign which were released in May of 2007.

Chuck is a former F-16 fighter pilot and currently works as an engineer for a firm designing plastic consumer products. He has a degree in electrical and electronic engineering and served eight years in the United States Air Force. Chuck and his wife Andrea have six children and live in North Dakota.

It is Chuck’s desire to serve the Lord through his work and to inspire people of all ages to study the scriptures in order to discover the hope and love of a truly majestic King and His Son.

Knights, castles, swords, vengeance abound in this book aimed at the tweenage boy (and girl!) . . . .as do loyalty, truth, and honor. Chuck Black uses this popular setting to demonstrate spiritual truths while weaving an adventurours tale of good vs. evil. Much of the fighting involves clashing of swords; while some injury and death necessary to the story do occur, they are appropriately described. The book is realistic and adventurous without being graphic. And although the allegory should be apparent to kids with Bible knowledge, discussion questions in the back provide opportunity for further teaching. This is a great summer book for either the reluctant or avid reader!


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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Together Again

They're home.

My man & my boy arrived safely this evening. Not as bedraggled as sometimes, since the campground in Kansas Saturday night had showers. But plenty tired and oh-so-glad to be back at home. Sixteen days is plenty long to be gone, sleeping in tents, and traveling with all sorts of personalities. And without their daily fix. I stocked up this afternoon, and I think they've already consumed almost a gallon of the six gallons (2-skim, 2-2%, 2-chocolate. We need a cow!) that I bought.

The benefit, however, to some of the interpersonal challenges my boy experienced is that he actually missed his sister and voluntarily participated in hugging her when he got home. Twice!

Not too many tales of the trek yet. They did say they saw a grizzly about 100 yards away when they were backpacking. And Mount Rushmore (a schedule change due to some Yellowstone trails still being closed because of the snow that first week) isn't as huge in person as in pictures. But with my guys' personalities, the stories generally trickle out over the course of several days as they get rested.

It's just as well. Because there is no "trickle" to my girl. She has to catch them up on the whole two weeks that they missed. In one fell swoop.

On the way to bed, she had to give Dad the tour. Because she is finally purging. Not the bulimic kind. But the empty-her-room kind. And it is amazing what one room can hold. She has virtually single-handedly filled up our trash container and our recycle bin, and there are multiple bulging plastic bags ready to be donated. Hence, "the tour."

Once the bug bit, she began clearing out with a vengeance. While she is keeping some things that do have sentimental value, she is definitely being logical and discarding everything that "has absolutely no meaning to me." Including a plethora of stuffed animals. (Woohoo! Why is it that girls are such a magnet for stuffed animals?! And where do they all come from?)

And seemingly a bazillion bookmarks, tiny erasers, pens, pencils, markers, stickers, notepads, and all sorts of other little doodads. Apparently stuffed animals are not the only things that spontaneously appear and procreate in a girl's room!

She's still not done but she's well on her way, and she's enjoying the feeling that comes with bringing a pile of junk stuff out into the hall and whittling it down until only a small amount goes back into the room.

As I was straightening up the living room before the guys got home, she even reorganized the DVD disaster area and we rearranged a couple of side tables to give us a bit more room.

I wonder if I could convince her to clean out the hall closet next. . . .

It's so good to have my family all under one roof again.


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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Then Sings My Soul Saturday - And Can It Be?

Yes, it can be and it is time for TSMS! But that's actually the title of today's song. I discovered the hymn And Can It Be That I Should Gain? in college and absolutely fell in love with this wondrous testimony to the power of God's love and grace toward us.

I don't know why it wasn't in The Baptist Hymnal when I was growing up. A number of other Charles Wesley hymns were. But I guess since the man wrote approximately 6,000 hymns, not all of them could be included in any one book! Fortunately, it is in the 1991 version, as well as the new Baptist Hymnal and Worship Hymnal, both of which will be released later this summer.

Here is the story behind this majestic and wonderful hymn:

Charles Wesley had been raised in the church, attended Oxford, and was in "the ministry" with his brother John. However, he was not at peace. During a time in London, he came to realize that "salvation is by faith alone." His May 20, 1738 journal entry reads:
At midnight I gave myself to Christ, assured that I was safe, whether sleeping or waking. I had the continual experience of His power to overcome all temptation, and I confessed with joy and surprise that He was able to do exceedingly abundantly for me above what I can ask or think.
He fervently began pouring out his soul in hymns. It is believed that And Can It Be was written 2 days after his conversion. He apparently even dictated a final hymn to his beloved wife from his deathbed.

1. Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions; Kenneth Osbeck, 2002
I love the joy evident on many of these folks' faces as they sing this great hymn at one of the Gaither Homecoming tapings. You'll catch a glimpse or two of George Beverly Shea to the pianist's right.

Unfortunately, they just sing the first and last verses. I love verses 3 and 4 as well, which are also typically seen in today's hymnals; I was not familiar with the 2nd and 5th verses. And I bet that last verse will make you smile all weekend!


And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

’Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Still the small inward voice I hear,
That whispers all my sins forgiven;
Still the atoning blood is near,
That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

WORDS: Charles Wesley, 1738
MUSIC: Thomas Campbell, 1825

More songs can be found here at Amy's blog! Have a wonderful weekend!


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Friday, June 20, 2008


Today is the First Day of Summer.


So those first 19 days of June -- 13 of which reached 100-103 and another 4 which were 99 here in Central Texas -- were simply Spring?!

Oh. Joy.

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng


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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Spring Reading Thing '08 Wrap-Up

It's time to close the book on the Spring Reading Thing. As a relatively new blogger, this was my first time to participate, but it definitely won't be my last!

Katrina of Callapidder Days suggested we write a post-mortem wrap-up post (no more funerals!) to recap how we did & had a few questions to guide our reflections.

BOOKS ON MY ORIGINAL LIST ( I read them all):
Breathing Grace (Harry Kraus M.D.) - my review is here
The Shack (William P. Young) - my review is here
The Perfect Life (Robin Lee Hatcher)
Hideaway Home (Hannah Alexander)
Mere Christianity (C. S. Lewis)

ADDITIONAL BOOKS I'VE READ: (Some were directly due to blog tours/reviews, some I just picked up for various reasons.)
She Always Wore Red (Angela Hunt) - my enthusiastic review is here.
Do Hard Things (Alex and Brett Harris) - my review is here.
Family Squeeze (Phil Callaway) - my review is here
Leaving November (Deborah Raney)
Torrent Falls (Jan Watson)
What Your Daughter Isn't Telling You (Susie Shellenberger & Kathy Gowler)
Pride & Prejudice by (Jane Austen)
Hidden Motive (Hannah Alexander)
Double Blind (Hannah Alexander)
Oceans Apart (Karen Kingsbury)
Central Park (Debra White Smith)
Anathema (Colleen Coble)
The Mermaid in the Basement (Gilbert Morris)
Ruby Among Us (Tina Ann Forkner) - more info is here
Deep in the Heart of Trouble (Deanne Gist)- my review is here
Washington's Lady (Nancy Moser) - my review is here
i heart bloomberg (Melody Carlson) - my review is here
Skid by (Rene Gutteridge) - my review is here
Reclaiming Nick (Susan May Warren)
Taming Rafe (Susan May Warren)
Finding Stephanie (Susan May Warren)
The Big Picture (Jenny Jones) - my review is here
Embrace Me (Lisa Sampson) - my review is here
Fatal Deduction (Gayle Roper) - my review is here
Healing Promises (Amy Wallace) - my review is here
With Endless Sight (Allison Pittman) - my review is here
From a Distance (Tamera Alexander) - my review is here
Just Jane (Nancy Moser)
Perfect (Harry Kraus MD)

A Daughter's Journey Home (Dr. Linda Mintle) - I've picked this up and read a bit of it but I just haven't clicked with it yet.

Fiction - Spurred me to read Pride & Prejudice! Non-fiction - yes. I had gotten bogged down with Mere Christianity and it motivated me to get it done. And it was also interesting to keep track of my books in one place.

Definitely Jane Austen! (Thanks Lisa!) And I'll be reading more Colleen Coble and Amy Wallace.

Verified that I am as much of a bookworm as I was when I was little!

You bet!

More wrap-ups and lists of books read this spring can be found here. For lots of reviews from the various SRT '08 participants, go here.


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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Teaching Our Kids to Care

Today was a day for funerals.

One in our nation's capital, comprised of a Funeral Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church and then a Memorial Service at none other than the Kennedy Center, where 1,500 people ("a generous slice of New York and Washington royalty,") paid tribute to Tim Russert.

And another one here. As sixty people gathered to honor a beloved father and grandfather, I couldn't help but think how similar, in spite of their differences, the two occasions were.

But this isn't another "Death: The Great Equalizer" post.

For the matter on my heart today, though not for the first time, has been kindled anew by the image of two middle school girls at the local funeral. One, a granddaughter of the man who died. The other, the girl who sat beside her throughout the service, arm around her shoulder in loving support, comforting her in her grief.

It's not that they are close friends. Just two girls who are in youth group together.

But this encouraged me. Because my girl was the giver of comfort.

Now lest you think I have done some grand thing or that she is a perfect child, let me say for the record: while she does have a very tender heart, she is a Middle School Girl. She joined others of her gender in the Sin Nature Bonus Line that was handing out Eye Rolls, Sighs, and Attitudes. And her room is still not clean. (I'll cut her a little slack since we were out of town for 10 days.)

No, God's hand was definitely in this today.

But it did reinforce a soapbox passion of mine: that we teach our kids to care for others.

Firstly, they have to see us do it. And that often means taking them with us as we deliver a meal, hug a friend, attend a visitation or funeral.

Then, we need to give them opportunities to care. They can sign a card for a Sunday School teacher or neighbor who is in the hospital or has lost a loved one. They can say "I'm sorry about your granddad" to a friend. And learn that it's okay if the friend cries. And reap the blessing that comes from ministering in such a way.

A few months ago, another girl in the youth group lost her grandfather. As the oldest grandchild, she was the apple of his eye and was utterly devastated. At the funeral home visitation the night before the funeral, you should have seen the way her face lit up when she saw my girl walk in, someone her age who had come just for her. How glad we were that we had chosen to go.

I don't have it all together by any means. I mess up every day. But for a few moments today, I saw a glimpse that God can give a 12-year-old girl wisdom beyond her years to minister to a friend and He thereby blessed both of them.

I'm so glad I didn't leave her at home.


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Monday, June 16, 2008

What Really Matters

I am sooo not a news or political junkie. I keep up with the basics, but most of the talking heads give me a headache.

I have been following the news regarding the death of Tim Russert, however, for several reasons. Partly because he was so respected in his field. Partly because I appreciated the unabashed love he showed for his dad, Big Russ. Partly because I am always fascinated by the way our society handles the death of a well-known individual and I always yearn to look beyond the public personna to the real personality inside.

And partly because he was 2 days younger than my brother. Wow, that was sobering.

As I watched the Meet the Press tribute online last night, and as I read other tributes throughout the weekend, several things kept coming to mind.

Firstly, this was a man who was arguably at the top of his game professionally. He strove for excellence and was well-respected, and even liked, by those on all points of the political spectrum. Even those individuals who had been in the hot seat as he peppered them with unrelenting questions acknowledged that he was well-prepared and tough but fair. Even his fiercest competitors were his friends. How rare this is in today's society when "good enough" is often deemed to be sufficient and when individuals pursue their agenda, no matter the relational price to be paid.

Secondly, I was touched by the fact that, as much as he loved his job, his colleagues -- without exception -- mentioned his love for his family: his devotion to caring for his dad, his love for his wife, and his love for and pride in his son.

Finally, I pondered one more thing. One that trumps all others. At times like this, I always find myself wondering, "What was the spiritual condition of this person?" LET ME BE CLEAR: I have no way of knowing his eternal destination. I hope and pray that, at some point in his life, he made the decision to place his trust in and follow Christ. Several individuals made references to his schooling under nuns and Jesuit priests. I hope his faith was neither nominal nor perfunctory.

This cartoon was part of a collective cartoon tribute here. Drawn by Bill Schorr, of United Media, I thought this one hit the nail on the head. It's a take-off on the night of the 2000 Presidential election returns when Tim Russert held up a small white board on which he had written "Florida, Florida, Florida" as he predicted that state would be pivotal in determining the election's outcome.

Yes, it all comes down to that. Because when all is said and done -- no matter the degree of brilliance, fame, or wealth we have attained -- there will come a day when, according to Romans 14:11-12:

"'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before Me; every tongue will confess to God.' So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God."

Those earthly accolades and tributes won't be of much use then. Only whether one's name is written in the Book of Life.

Lord, keep me focused on You, and not distracted by the temporal things of life.


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Book Tour - Deep in the Heart of Trouble

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Deep In The Heart Of Trouble

(Bethany House June 1, 2008)


Deeanna Gist


Deanne Gist has been a busy lady. She had a career in elementary education. She raised four children. In fifteen years she has: run a home accessory/antique business, member of the press, penned freelance journalism for a few well-known publications, People, Parents, Family Fun and more. She was the CFO for her husband's engineering company; she did all this in her home.

She also founded a publishing corporation for the purpose of developing, producing and marketing products which would reinforce family values, teach children responsibility and provide character building activities. In answer to Gist’s fervent prayers, God sent a mainstream publisher to her door who licensed her parenting I Did It!® product line and committed to publish the next generation of her system, thus freeing Gist to return to her writing.

Eight months later, she submitted A Bride Most Begrudging to Bethany House Publishers and they picked it up for their new "edgy inspirational" line of historical fiction. After its release in July 2005, Bride hit eight best seller lists and has sold over 100,000 copies and won the Christy Award for BEST ROMANCE 2006. The Measure of a Lady was her 2006 summer release. It hit five best seller lists and won the Christy Award for BEST ROMANCE 2007. Gist is contracted to have a new book come out every summer. Courting Trouble was her 2007 summer release and it hit three best seller lists.

Deeanne lives in Texas with her husband of twenty-four years. They have two kids in high school, two in college.


A Texas-Sized Tale of Unexpected Love

Essie Spreckelmeyer is the last woman anyone in Corsicana, Texas, expected to see with a man on her arm. Independent and outspoken, she’s known more for riding bicycles in outrageous bloomers than for catching a man’s eye.

And the last man who seems willing to give her a second glance is Tony Morgan, newly hired at Spreckelmeyer’s oil company. The disinherited son of an oil baron, Tony wants most to restore his name and regain his lost fortune--not lose his heart to this headstrong blonde. She confounds, contradicts, and confuses him. Sometimes he doesn’t know if she’s driving him toward the aisle or the end of his rope.

That’s how life is ...Deep In The Heart Of Trouble

If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE
"Gist does it again! Her signature prose is consistent and she delivers a thoroughly delightful and entertaining story that’s worthy of our time and attention. Not only won’t you want to put this book down, you’ll want to enjoy this story again and again."
-- JUNE TOP PICK, 4-1/2 STARS, Romantic Times, Jennifer Reyes

I've enjoyed all of Deeanne Gist's books, and this one is no exception. Set deep in the heart of Texas at the end of the 19th century, the audacity of Essie Sprecklemeyer as she commits such scandalous acts as riding a bicycle and managing her father's oil business (not to mention those eyebrow-raising bloomers!) was entertaining. And although she could be exasperating, I admired her spunk and her attempts to stretch beyond the limits society imposed on women of that day. And as Tony worked to overcome the obstacles of his own circumstances, their reluctant yet unavoidable friendship had its own challenges. The suspenseful element was clever, and determining who could and could not be trusted wasn't sorted out until the end. Deep In The Heart Of Trouble will capture your attention from the first page!


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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Then Sings My Soul Saturdays

Choosing today's song was a no-brainer. Yesterday I had the joy of meeting a sweet blog sister in person. Xandra is as darling in real life as she is on her blog! Kindred spirits in our love for the music of the faith, for good Southern cooking from scratch, for reading and more --- but most of all, for the One we serve --- I felt right at home from the moment I arrived.

(Once I convinced her I wasn't an ax murderer, that is! I didn't tell her that years ago I received a Lizzie Borden award. . . .)

There is nothing on earth as sweet as the ties that bind fellow believers. Our spirits recognize one another and bond in a way that is beyond the understanding of those who don't have that connection. Nowhere has this been more evident to me than in the world of blogging, as I have been blessed by so many sweet gals with whom I share this common bond.

This song has had a special meaning for me through many years. During my Junior English class in high school, when a good friend from my church youth group was in my class, we read Our Town by Thorton Wilder. This song is featured in Act 1, and it became a special connection between us, as well as with our teacher, who was also a Christian. I still keep in touch with that dear teacher today, as well as with my long-time friend.

The story behind the writing of this hymn is touching:

At the age of 26, John Fawcett and his new bride, Mary, began their ministry at an impoverished Baptist church in Wainsgate, England. After 7 years of devoted service in meager circumstances, they received a call to the large and influential Carter's Lane Baptist Church in London. After the wagons were loaded for the move, the Fawcetts met their tearful parishoners for a final farewell. "John, I cannot bear to leave. I know not how to go!" "Nor can I either," said the saddened pastor. "We shall remain here with our people." The order was given to unload the wagons.

The following Sunday, John Fawcett preached from Luke 12:15: "A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." He closed his sermon by reading his new poem, "Brotherly Love" (which we know today as Blest Be the Tie That Binds).

John and Mary Fawcett carried on their faithful ministry in the little village of Wainsgate for a total of fifty-four years. Their salary was estimated to be never more than the equivalent of $200 a year, despite Fawcett's growing reputation as an outstanding evangelical preacher, scholar, and writer. . . .It is reported that the monarch King George III promised Pastor Fawcett any benefit that could be conferred. But the offer was declined with this statement: "I have lived among my own people, enjoying their love; God has blessed my labors among them, and I need nothing which even a king could supply."

Source: Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotion by Kenneth W. Osbeck, 2002


Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

Before our Father’s throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one
Our comforts and our cares.

We share each other’s woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.

This glorious hope revives
Our courage by the way;
While each in expectation lives,
And longs to see the day.

From sorrow, toil and pain,
And sin, we shall be free,
And perfect love and friendship reign
Through all eternity.

WORDS: John Fawcett, 1782
MUSIC: Hans G. Nageli

Be sure to visit Amy for more Then Sings My Soul Saturdays!


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Friday, June 13, 2008

Rain, Rain, Go Away. . . .


First Indiana with the tornadoes, and now Iowa with the Scout camp tornadoes and flooding. I know many of you are blessed by the sweet spirit and blog writings of Chris over at Come to the Table. I checked on her yesterday and she emailed me that while their house is thankfully safe and dry, "our town has had a horrible flood. So much devastation....and the storms have been awful. Please pray for my husband and I as Pastors. We are exhausted and the road ahead is long."

Please keep them in your prayers and send her an encouraging word (via a comment on her site or email) if you can!


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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hangin' Out


My heart is heavy for the families of the 4 Boy Scouts who were killed when a tornado struck a Boy Scout camp in Iowa yesterday, as well as for the others who were injured. I pray that God will wrap them in His arms of love and comfort.

While thousands of Scouts, including my own boy, are having relatively uneventful summer adventures, and I don't turn into a paranoid worrywart when I hear such news, it is a sobering reminder of the importance of cherishing each day.

* * * * * * *

Some things that have made me smile this week:

1. Seeing my girl play the piano for her granddaddy at the facility where he is. He hasn't responded to the music like we had hoped, but he did recognize her.

2. Going to Space Center Houston. My girl had a great time and her abilities on one of the special activity exhibits caught the eye of the men who were there to film a commercial, and they included her in the filming (along with the other 2 kids they had brought in from an ad agency). She may get edited out, but she had a blast and it will be a fun memory.

3. Chili's new Sweet Shots. I never get dessert when we go out because of the cost (both to the bank account and the waist!), but one of these is the perfect ending when you want just a taste of something sweet. The chocolate brownie with syrup was wonderful, and it was about 3 bites.

4. A quick phone call from my man today. They are surviving the cold. When he called they were getting ready to watch Old Faithful. It was 30 degrees and blowing snow.

5. Finding this online after my mother-in-law's pastor read an excerpt on Sunday. We laughed until we cried.

6. Getting the results of an MRI I had last week - "totally normal." Thank you, God!

7. Anticipating Friday, when I'll finally get to meet and visit with Xandra!

Don't forget to comment on the post below by 5:00 Thursday for a chance to win the book With Endless Sight!


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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Blog Tour And Giveaway


Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2008-06-12 23:54:54 UTC

Congrats to Becoming Me who was the 4th commenter and won the book! Email me your address and I'll send it your way!

* * * * * *

I've got another great book to tell you about, along with a giveaway!



Allison Pittman


Belleville, Illinois and Wyoming Territories, 1861

Born into a life of privilege, fourteen-year-old Belinda never questions her security, even as she leaves Illinois with her family to discover new adventures in the Oregon Territory. But when disaster falls, Belinda is left wounded, weak, and alone. Her faith in God gives her the only strength she knows in a harsh new world.

Belinda’s journey takes her to a snow-covered mining camp and a red-roofed brothel in the Wyoming mountains, but not before she must spend a lonely winter with the man who took away the life she knew. Throughout the grief and hope of a strange land, Belinda must decide if her faith is big enough to allow her to forgive.

The satisfying conclusion to the Crossroads of Grace series, With Endless Sight offers a rich story of family, new beginnings, and the freedom that grace can bring.


Allison Pittman is the award-winning author of Ten Thousand Charms and Speak Through the Wind. Before her recent success in fiction writing, Allison spent seventeen years teaching high school English. Now a full-time writer, Allison serves as the director of her church’s Theater Arts Group ministry. She lives in Texas with her husband, Mike, and their sons.


Allison Pittman is another masterful author of historical fiction. With the first book, Ten Thousand Charms, I was drawn into this series, and each book touched my heart as I followed the lives of these 19th century women. With Endless Sight was no exception. Belinda's life is forever changed in a heartwrenching moment on the trail west, and she is forced to begin a new journey - one that will compel her to search for a faith that will give her the strength to rise above her circumstances. This series is aptly named Crossroads of Grace as it reminds us that sometimes a dead end is only an opportunity to turn down a new path.

Be sure to check out Allison's website, including a special page devoted to this series and the historic Wyoming settlement that inspired it.


The publisher has provided a copy of this book for me to give to one of you! Just leave a comment on this post by Thursday at 5 PM CDT and I'll draw a winner that evening! (Continental US Residents only)

You can also buy the book here.

Happy Reading!


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Monday, June 9, 2008


Oh. My.

We've been at 100 or 101 degrees for 5 out of the 8 days of June thus far in our fair city.

But I just checked the weather at Rocky Mountain National Park, where my guys are camping tonight on their way to Yellowstone. As I type this, it is 27 degrees there. With a 30 mph wind, making it feel like 11. Yes, they are in a tent. Boy Scouts don't believe in cabins.

And the forecast for Yellowstone this week? A 40-60% chance of "snow showers" 3 of the 5 days they are there.

I'm sure Kelly thinks this is hilarious. I, on the other hand, am no longer concerned about "black" bears - I think polar bears seem more likely!

My bed is going to feel awfully nice tonight!


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Blog Tour: i heart bloomberg

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

I Heart Bloomberg

David C. Cook (April 1, 2008)


Melody Carlson


Melody Carlson is the best-selling author of more than 100 books for adults, children, and teens, including three of her latest, These Boots Weren't Made For Walking, A Mile In My Flip-Flops, and Mixed Bags. She and her husband, the parents of two grown sons, make their home near the Cascade Mountains in Central Oregon. Melody is a full-time writer as well as an avid gardener, biker, skier, and hiker.

Favorite Bible verse: John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." It’s the “whosoever” part that gets me. That’s who I write for – “whosoever” and to me that means everyone and anyone.

Carlson begins her 86 Bloomberg Place series with I Heart Bloomberg.


Kendall's managed to wrangle her grandmother's house-free and clear-except for the rules. No male roommates. But that's ok; with the right ad she'll pull in some girls, their rent and if she's lucky, she won't have to go to work any time soon.

For their part, Anna, Lelani, and Megan all have their reasons for wanting to move in: Anna has got to get out from under her overprotective parents; Lelani can't take another day in her aunt's tiny crackerbox house overflowing with toddlers and Megan needs a place free of her current roommate from Hades.

Though they come with assorted extra baggage filled with broken hearts and dreams, they will discover they also have a vast array of hidden strengths. As they struggle to become the women they want to be, they'll find new hope and maybe even Kendall will learn a thing or two about life, love and the true meaning of friendship.

If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE


Anyone who thinks "chick lit" is a mindless pursuit will set aside that assumption after reading i heart bloomberg. The challenges these girls face in living away from home for the first time are heightened by the interpersonal drama inherent among 4 vastly different personalities and complicated by the outrageous expectations and shenanigans behavior of the gal who owns the house and collects their rent. The angst of girl politics is certainly not confined to the schoolyard! Along the way, the girls learn valuable lessons about doing the right thing, friendship, forgiveness, living out one's faith, and unconditional caring. While I am (thankfully!) many years beyond this stage in my life, this book would be a great tool to utilize in initiating discussion with high school and college girls, preparing them for the new world of living with roommates.


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