Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Review & Giveaway! Clutter-Free Christianity

UPDATE 4/1/09: I got so excited about my article, I forgot to draw a winner before I took my kids to youth group!
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Timestamp: 2009-04-02 02:36:13 UTC

Congrats to A Stone Gatherer! Email me your address, Kim, and I'll send the book your way!

* * * * * * *

I have a not-to-be-missed book for you.

I have been reading Clutter-Free Christianity by Robert Jeffress, and it is absolutely incredible. I haven't quite made it all the way through yet, but what I've read hits the nail on the head.

Some of you are going to laugh or roll your eyes and think I'm the pickiest person there is! But I am very cautious - hopefully, a positive way to phrase that would be discerning! - about non-fiction religious books. Having seen too many "name it and claim it" and "foolproof formula for fantastic faith" books written by smooth-talking evangelists and wealthy megachurch CEO's who seem to have forgotten the definition of authenticity and servanthood, I am a bit wary of endorsing an author just based on his string of theological degrees or the size of his congregation.

But right from the beginning, I could tell this book was unique in its approach. Robert Jeffress immediately cuts to the core of the issue we must all wrestle with: What must I do to please God? And while he is clear that salvation is by faith alone in Christ, he also asserts tht "the essence of a right relationship with God [is] a heart fully devoted to Him and a heart that loves other people as much as we love ourselves." (p. 4)

That doesn't sound particularly earth-shattering, but he continues to take it deeper. Dr. Jeffress wonders if we are preaching a "gospel that teaches you can be forgiven by Jesus without ever following Jesus? . . . The essence of the gospel is a changed life that comes from a transformed heart. . . Unfortunately, too many of us come to the cross of Jesus Christ 'just as I am', we receive our pardon from hell, and we leave just as we were. Although the statement sounds almost trite, it's still true that no measurable differences exist between the lifestyles of believers and unbelievers." (p. 5-6)

Part of our problem, he says, is that we get side-tracked with secondary concerns. For one thing, we squabble over theological issues. "At the judgment seat of Christ, will the Lord distribute blue books to each of us and ask us to diagram the end times?" And then there are the myriads of worthy cultual causes. But reading the New Testament "written during one of the most morally decadent periods in human history -- can you honestly surmise that what God wants most from us is to become cultural warriors?" (p. 7)

And then this paragraph needs to be proclaimed in every church there is, at least in America:
Christians tend to get it backward when it comes to our relationship with God. We try to modify our behavior without ever doing anything to transform our hearts, where our behavior originates. We join accountability groups to break our addictions. We cut up our charge cards in an attempt to control our spending. And we medicate ourselves to relieve our anxiety. But we still find it impossible to experience victory over pornorgraphy, greed, or fear. Why? Because we haven't dealt with the heart of the issue---our heart. (p. 10)
Amen. And that's just chapter 1! He continues throughout the book to talk about the heart of the matter, and the importance of heart surgery and making our hearts forgiving, obeying, trusting, content, serving, praying, transformed!

I highly recommend this book! You may purchase it here or here.

When did the Christian life become so complicated?

Your greatest desire is to please God, but with each passing week, your spiritual to-do list grows longer. As you strive to fulfill a never-ending inventory of requirements for being a godly parent, spouse, voter, employee, and more, you feel increasingly disconnected from the God you’re trying to serve.

It’s time to cut through the clutter and get to the heart of what it means to please God. In this liberating look at the core principles of faith, Dr. Robert Jeffress reveals the truth about what God really wants from you–and what He wants to do for you.

Through solid biblical teaching and practical insights, Dr. Jeffress points you toward a revitalized faith centered on becoming more like Jesus in action, attitude, and affection. You’ll learn how to partner with God in the process of spiritual transformation as you choose to follow Christ in forgiveness, obedience, trust, contentment, service, and prayer.

Through a renewed focus on experiencing the kingdom of God right now, you’ll find your to-do list shrinking and your spiritual life deepening. It all comes with embracing Clutter-Free Christianity.
Includes a Bible study guide for personal growth and group discussion.

Dr. Robert Jeffress is the senior pastor of First Baptist Dallas, one of the most historic churches in the Southern Baptist Convention. The author of sixteen books, he is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition, live broadcasts of Dr. Jeffress’ weekly messages reach millions of listeners and viewers each week, while his daily sermon series airs on 1,100 television stations and cable systems nationwide. Dr. Jeffress and his wife, Amy, are the parents of two adult daughters.

The publisher, Waterbrook Press, has graciously provided an additional copy for me to give away to one of you. To enter, please leave a comment on this post no later than 6:00 p.m. CDT tomorrow (April 1) and I will draw a name. (No foolin'!) Continental US residents only, please.

Happy, transformed reading!


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Monday, March 30, 2009

Another Great Book and Giveaway!

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Timestamp: 2009-03-31 19:06:40 UTC

Congrats to Patrice, winner of the book! Please email me your address and I'll send it your way!

I have another great book to tell you about, along with an autographed copy fresh from the Christian Book Expo for one of you!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Real Enemy

David C. Cook (March 2009)


Kathy Herman


Suspense novelist Kathy Herman is very much at home in the Christian book industry, having worked five years on staff at the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and eleven years at Better Books Christian Center in Tyler, Texas, as product buyer/manager for the children’s department, and eventually as director of human resources.

She has conducted numerous educational seminars on children’s books at CBA Conventions in the U.S. and Canada, served a preliminary judge for the Gold Medallion Book Awards of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association , and worked as an independent product/marketing consultant to the CBA market.

Since her first novel, Tested by Fire, debuted in 2001 as a CBA national bestseller, she's added thirteen more titles to her credit, including another bestseller, All Things Hidden.

Kathy's husband Paul is her best friend and most ardent supporter and manages the LifeWay Christian Store in Tyler, Texas. They have three grown children, five adorable grandkids, a cat named Samantha—and an ongoing fascination with hummingbirds. They also enjoy world travel, deep sea fishing, stargazing, and bird watching and sometimes incorporate all these hobbies into one big adventure.


Brill Jessup just became the first female police chief in Sophie Trace, Tennessee, and is riding on the credentials of a stellar eighteen-year career on the Memphis police force. She may be a pro at finding clues, but she tends to ignore the obvious in her personal life. And she would rather work than deal with the bitterness she feels about her husband Kurt's infidelity. Kurt, is weighed down by her unrelenting anger as he struggles to let God redeem the stupidest mistake he ever made. He is genuinely contrite and making every effort to show his commitment to Brill. But she hides behind her badge and her bitterness, deciding that moving her family away from Memphis is the only change she needs to make. So why can't Brill get over this anger?

Before she ever has time to unpack her boxes, people start disappearing. Lots of them. Seven people in seven days To complicate matters, a local legend has many residents believing that the cause is unearthly─tied to the “red shadows,” or spirits of the departed Cherokee who once inhabited the land.

While Brill draws on all of her experience and instinct to solve the case, she must confront an enemy that threatens everything she holds dear─one that cannot be stopped with a badge and a gun. She is forced to confront the real enemy.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Real Enemy, go HERE

It was such a pleasure to meet Kathy Herman at the Expo and take the picture above. I have enjoyed several of her books, and this one was no exception. I anguished for both Kurt and Brill in their marriage difficulties: for Kurt because he was truly heartbroken and repentent over a single lapse in judgment, and for Brill because she had experienced the devastating betrayal of infidelity -- and as a woman I totally get the difficulty she faced in forgiving and trusting Kurt. I appreciated how the book showed both sides of the situation; it was a great reminder that every relational difficulty has two sides, and generally both individuals share the blame and both experience hurt. The story of Brill's professional challenges added a multi-dimensional layer to the book, as she was determined not to fail as the new Chief of Police as she felt she had failed to keep her husband. The only thing I wish had been explored a bit more was Brill's realization of how easily one can land on the slippery slope that seemingly innocent friendship can lead to. I felt that she could have been a little more open and understanding of Kurt's downfall after one particular encounter she had. But that's just a very small part of the overall picture. The book is a great combination of a well-written mystery and a picture of marital restoration, and I highly recommend it.

And one of you will receive the very book that Kathy Herman is holding in the picture above! To enter, please leave a comment on this post by noon CDT tomorrow (Tuesday, 3/31) and I'll draw a name. Continental US residents only, please.

Happy, grace-filled reading!


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Spectacular Sins Chapter 8

We're down to the final chapter of Spectacular Sins this week. It's been a great book to read - definitely a mind-stretcher and one that has continued to overwhelm me with God's magnificent sovereignty. Lisa bases our final week of questions on some great quotes from this last chapter, which is titled Judas Iscariot, the Suicide of Satan, and the Salvation of the World: How God Conquered Sin through Sin.

1. Quote: "My prayer is that as these great historical vistas of God's sovereignty over sin take their place in your mind they would have a profoundly practical effect in making you strong in the face of breath-stopping sorrows and making you bold for Christ in the face of dangerous opposition - Christ-exalting strength in calamity and Christ-exalting courage in conflict." (p. 98)

Question: What practical ways have the truths of this book strengthened your own faith? Can you describe any situations which have brought SS to mind as you've dealt with them?

This book has been a great reminder of the fact that God is in control. Particularly at this time in history, with all that is happening in the world and in our country and with the political and economic climates in which we live, this assurance gives me peace. I know that God is not only allowing difficult or evil things to happen, but they are all a part of His master plan. He is not scrambling for Plan B in response to the evil in the world!

2. "Satan does not take innocent people captive. There are no innocent people. Satan has power where sinful passions hold sway. Judas was a lover of money, and he covered it with a phony, external relationship with Jesus. And then he sold him for thirty pieces of silver. How many of his ilk are still around today! Don't be one. And don't be duped by one." (p.100)

Question: Can you pinpoint a time in your life when you've fallen prey to a Judas - or worse - when you've been a Judas yourself?

In terms of thinking "have I been betrayed by a friend or loved one?", nothing specific comes to mind. But I do think that we all become a Judas anytime we "play church", put on our masks, and are a "convenient Christian" or do things for show. And anytime we show preference or allegiance to those who are "prominent Christians" in order to better our standing or reputation.

3. "His [Jesus'] face was set like flint to die, and Satan concluded that there was no stopping him. Therefore, he resolved that if he couldn't stop it, he would at least make it as ugly and painful and as heartbreaking as possible. Not just death, but death by betrayal. Death by abandonment. Death by denial. Death by torture. If he could not stop it, he would drag others into it and do as much damage as he could. It was a spectacular sequence of sins that brought Jesus to the cross."

Question: Understanding first of all that I am in no way saying anyone could ever suffer the agony Jesus suffered, can you describe either a personal experience or one of which you are aware that could qualify as an ugly death? I'm asking this question symbolically though I realize some of you may have been touched by this literally. If the death was symbolic, have you yet seen the resurrection? If the death was literal, what strength do you gather from knowing a resurrection is coming?

(I hope that question makes sense. My Boy Two often says, "Can I buy a vowel?" when I ask ambiguous questions during our nightly devotions. Yes, my poor kids have to suffer me, too.)

I have some friends who experienced a traumatic and unbelievable tragedy in the death of their daughter and son-in-law a couple of years ago. God's grace and presence has absolutely shown - and shined! - in their lives, although it has been a very tough road. And yes, how comforting to know that we do not grieve as those who have no hope! (I Thess. 4:13)

4. .."if God were not the main Actor in the death of Christ then the death of Christ could not save us from our sins, and we would perish in hell forever. The reason the death of Christ is the heart of the gospel - the heart of the good news - is that God was doing it. Romans 5:8: "God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." If you separate God's activity from the death of Jesus, you lose the gospel."(p. 104)

Question: Describe any fresh insights you've gained on God's involvement in Jesus' death.

I don't know that I gained any fresh insights, but what great timing to be reminded anew of this just before we celebrate His resurrection. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Cor. 9:15)

5. "The most spectacular sins are not signs of ultimate absurdity. Satan is the ultimately irrational being. And much of what he is allowed to do will have the mark of senselessness on it." (p. 107 - Closing Prayer)

Question: This statement makes me think of Heath Ledger's Joker in the last Batman movie. A mind set on madness. And not because he is delusional enough to believe he can ultimately win, but because as he unravels, he wants to take as many with him as possible.

How can viewing Satan from this perspective open our eyes to whose side we are on when we grumble against God? Have you ever blamed the wrong person for your misery?

This gives us courage to persevere in our faith! Piper says his aim and prayer for the readers of this book is "That you would conquer unbelief and despair in the face of spectacular sin and misery" (p. 108)

It brings to mind the glorious words of Romans 8:35-37:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
"For Your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

I would like to leave you with a portion of Piper's closing prayer for us, the readers.

Grant to our minds and hearts
new and deeper capacities to see and savor
the glories of Jesus Christ.
With every new glimpse of his glory in your word,
let there awaken new affections in our hearts.
Ignite our souls to treasure Christ in a way that
destroys our sinful lusts
and delights the deepest recesses of our being
and displays his truth and beauty
to a world that does not know
that this is what it needs more than anything.

And from this all-satisfying treasuring of Christ
may there flow a liberation from selfishness,
and a triumph over bitterness and anger,
and a freedom from worry and fear,
and victory over depression and discouragement,
and the severing of ever root of sensual lust,

All this freedom, Lord, we see for the sake of love.

Thanks so much to Lisa and Missy for taking the lead in this book study! If you haven't been able to participate, I encourage you to grab a copy today and read it for yourself!


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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Me and My Girl. . .

. . . were in Katy, TX (outside of Houston) today for this:

If you live where you can get to Elizabethtown (KY), Broken Arrow (OK), or Las Vegas (NV) click here for information about this fantastic conference's remaining 2009 schedule!


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Friday, March 27, 2009

TSMSS - A Song of Hope

One of Chris Tomlin's newest songs is absolutely incredible. (Surprise, surprise!) What an anointed and gifted writer he is. They play it a good bit on the radio and I just love hearing it; it touches me every time.

He tells the story behind the song here:

And here is the song. I chose a simple version with just the lyrics so as not to be distracted by images. The words are so powerful.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Be sure to go by Amy's blog for more songs to bless your weekend!


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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Book Review - Turning the Paige

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Turning The Paige

Zondervan (March 1, 2009)


Laura Jensen Walker


Laura Jensen Walker is an award-winning writer, popular speaker, and breast-cancer survivor who loves to touch readers and audiences with the healing power of laughter.

Born in Racine, Wisconsin (home of Western Printing and Johnson’s Wax—maker of your favorite floor care products) Laura moved to Phoenix, Arizona when she was in high school. But not being a fan of blazing heat and knowing that Uncle Sam was looking for a few good women, she enlisted in the United States Air Force shortly after graduation and spent the next five years flying a typewriter through Europe.

By the time she was 23, Laura had climbed the Eiffel Tower, trod the steps of the Parthenon, skied (okay, snowplowed) in the Alps, rode in a gondola in Venice, and wept at the ovens of Dachau. She’d also learned how to fold her underwear into equal thirds, make a proper cup of English tea, and repel the amorous advances of a blind date by donning combat gear and a gas mask.

Laura is a former newspaper reporter and columnist with a degree in journalism who has written hundreds of articles on many subjects ranging from emu ranching and pigeon racing to goat-roping and cemetery board meetings. However, realizing that livestock and local government weren’t her passion, she switched to writing humor, which she calls a “total God-thing.”

Her lifelong dream of writing fiction came true in Spring 2005 with the release of her first chick lit novel, Dreaming in Black & White which won the Contemporary Fiction Book of the Year from American Christian Fiction Writers. Her sophomore novel, Dreaming in Technicolor was published in Fall 2005.

Laura’s third novel, Reconstructing Natalie, chosen as the Women of Faith Novel of the Year for 2006, is the funny and poignant story of a young, single woman who gets breast cancer and how her life is reconstructed as a result. This book was born out of Laura’s cancer speaking engagements where she started meeting younger and younger women stricken with this disease—some whose husbands had left them, and others who wondered what breast cancer would do to their dating life. She wanted to write a novel that would give voice to those women. Something real. And honest. And funny.

Because although cancer isn’t funny, humor is healing.

A popular speaker and teacher at writing conferences, Laura has also been a guest on hundreds of radio and TV shows around the country including the ABC Weekend News, The 700 Club, and The Jay Thomas Morning Show.

Another book in this series is Daring Chloe

She lives in Northern California with her Renaissance-man husband Michael, and Gracie, their piano playing dog


At 35, Paige Kelley is feeling very "in between." She's still working her temp job after two years, still not dating three years after her divorce, and still melting at every chubby-cheeked toddler she sees while her biological clock ticks ever louder. Paige even moves back home to help her ailing, high-maintenance mother.It's not exactly the life she'd dreamed of!

When her Getaway Girls book club members urge Paige to break free and get on with her life, she's afraid. How will her mother react? How can Paige honor her widowed mother and still pursue her own life? The answers come from a surprising source.

A trip to Scotland and a potential new love interest help launch an exciting new chapter in her life, and lead Paige to discover that God's plan for her promises to be more than she ever imagined.

This latest release in the Getaway Girls collection delivers a smart, funny, and warm account of one woman's challenge to reconcile who she is - a dutiful Christian daughter - with the woman she longs to be.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Turning The Paige, go HERE

Ah, mother-daughter issues. Such fun they are! This book handles this subject well and honestly portrays the tug-of-war Paige felt in wanting to care for her mom yet feeling like she is a puppet on a string at times. Every daughter who has an aging mother will likely relate to this, even if you aren't in the same marital (or non-marital!) category as Paige.

Happy Reading!


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Winner of If Tomorrow Never Comes

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Timestamp: 2009-03-26 15:59:52 UTC

Congrats to Chatty Kelly, winner of If Tomorrow Never Comes! Email me your address, and I'll send it your way!


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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

All Hail the Power. . . of Texas Weather

Sorry, I couldn't help myself with that title. Because just as we sat down to dinner tonight all hail broke loose. As my girl said, this is the closest we got to snow this year! And wow, talk about noisy!!

Golf, anyone?

I know you wish you lived in such an upscale neighborhood where the driveways are carpeted!

An hour later, I took my girl to youth group and the sun was shining!


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Blog Tour with a Giveaway

I recently read a beautiful, albeit heartrending, book. If Tomorrow Never Comes by Mario Schalesky is the story of a couple battling infertility. The battle has left both of them scarred: Kinna is desperate and Jimmy is feeling like he's just a DNA donor. Toss in the pressures and ethical dilemmas of their work situations and suddenly they are wondering if there is any hope left for their marriage. Then Kinna meets Thea, an elderly woman she rescued from drowning while on the beach. Suddenly Thea seems to show up around town repeatedly and unexpectedly with stories of her own parents' love and a determination that Kinna and Jimmy fan the dying embers of their love. And a scarred, crusty old ex-convict named Joe working in the coffee shop gets under Jimmy's skin with the wisdom learned from the hard knocks of life. Will Thea and Joe help these two broken people find wholeness once again? If they don't, will tomorrow never come?

Marlo Schalesky has walked the road of infertility. In fact, while she was finishing the writing of this book, she "was undergoing some final infertility treatments." She says in the Author Note that the resulting four miscarriages, while extremely painful emotionally, and her infertility journey as a whole taught her "some of the most profound lessons of my life." And whether our pain is infertility or another heartache, we can find
That there, at the very place where our dreams don't come true, where our expectations are shattered -- that is where God is standing in the greatest power. Those are the times, the places that change the world, where we find a depth and wonder deeper than we ever dared to dream. (p. 325)
Her website and her blog provide hope and resources for those in pain.

Childhood sweethearts Kinna and Jimmy Henley had simple dreams—marriage, children, a house by the sea… Everything they needed for happily ever after. What they didn’t plan on was years of infertility, stealing those dreams, crushing their hopes.

Now, all that’s left is the memory of young love, and the desperate need for a child to erase the pain. Until…

When Kinna rescues an elderly woman from the sea, the threads of the past, present, and future weave together to reveal the wonder of one final hope. One final chance to follow not their dreams, but God’s plan.

Can they embrace the redemptive power of love before it’s too late? Or will their love be washed away like the castles they once built upon the sand?

Marlo Schalesky is the author of several books, including Beyond the Night (just nominated for a 2009 Christy Award!) and Empty Womb, Aching Heart. A graduate of Stanford University, Marlo also has a masters of theology with an emphasis in biblical studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. Married over twenty years, she lives with her husband, Bryan, and their five children in California.

The publicist has graciously provided a copy for me to give to one of you! Please leave a comment on this post by 10:00 a.m. CDT tomorrow (Thursday, 3/26) and I will draw a name. (Continental US residents only)

Happy Hope-filled Reading!


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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spectacular Sins Book Club - Chapter 7

After a couple of weeks of hiatus, we're back to finish up the last two chapters of Spectacular Sins.

First of all, please note the new golden seal addition to this book above and in my sidebar! It won the ECPA 2009 Book of the Year Award in the category Christian Living. The award was announced last Thursday evening at the Awards Dinner held during the kick-off of the Christian Book Expo.

Now without further ado, here are Missy's questions and my answers on Chapter 7, The Sinful Origin of the Son of David.

1. Why did the Israelites demand an earthly king? Why did they want to be "like other nations"? The bottom line is that they were sinful. They rejected God as their King, and in spite of the warnings that Samuel gave them, they said "We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles." (I Samuel 8:19-20) The lure of peer pressure and "keeping up with the Joneses" has been a struggle for humans for millenia!

2. Piper discusses how God does things "for His own name's sake." What does this mean?

God will be glorified. And He will be faithful to Himself. All that He does has one purpose - to bring honor to His name. In studying the Old Testament, I discovered that many of the great prayers of Moses and the prophets were based on this very concept - they beseeched God to answer their prayers for His name's sake and for His honor among the nation.

3. Can you tell of a time when God gave you something that you wanted, but didn't need? What were the repercussions? Can you see how God ultimately used it for "His own name's sake"?

It's always hard for me to come up with memories and examples. Fortunately for me, most of the time, I have been able to look back and see that God did not give me what I wanted and I have been very grateful in hindsight!! But generally, anytime I insist on my own way, the repercussions are usually misery, embarrassment, and regret. And God uses it for "His own name's sake to bring me right back in repentance to line my will up with His!

4. Samuel said, "Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil." Does this give you comfort, if so, how?

This is a beautiful picture of grace. As Piper points out, it seems like Samuel would have said "Be afraid; you have done all this evil." But grace give us what we don't deserve. Piper explains that
God's allegiance to his own name is the foudation of his faithfulness to us. God means for us to learn from this spectacular sin that the grace of our salvation is ultimately based not on our value to him, but his value to himself.
Praise God for that truth! How lost we would be without it!

Go visit The Preacher's Wife to see more discussion!


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Winner of A Cousin's Promise

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Timestamp: 2009-03-25 00:26:54 UTC

Congrats to eformanator, the winner of Wanda Brunstetter's book A Cousin's Promise! Email me your address and I'll send it your way!
More giveaways coming very soon!


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Monday, March 23, 2009

Book Review & Giveaway

How timely is this?! The first CFBA blog tour of the week features a book by an author I was able to meet at the Expo - and I have an autographed giveaway!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

A Cousin's Promise

Barbour Books (March 1, 2009)


Wanda Brunstetter

Wanda enjoys writing about the Amish because they live a peaceful, simple life─something she says we all need in this day and age.

Using the knowledge her Amish friends have shared with her, Wanda has also produced several children’s titles in the Rachel Yoder─Always Trouble Somewhere series, an Amish cookbook, and a devotional collection entitled The Simpler Life, which was released in July 2008 and celebrates the virtues of the Amish lifestyle. Wanda and her husband are members of the fellowship of Christian Magicians.

Wanda is also a member of the North American Association of ventriloquists, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Northwest Christian Writers Association. She lives in Washington State, where her husband pastors, but takes every opportunity to visit Amish settlements across the country.

Other books by Wanda are A Sister's Test, A Sister's Hope, and A Sister's Secret.

Willkumm to the lush and lavish Amish country where Wanda Brunstetter's new romantic series, Indiana Cousins, begins with A Cousin's Promise. Loraine Miller finds herself torn between the love of two good men.

Wayne Lambright who, crippled after a tragic accident, feels himself unworthy of her love; and Jake Beechy who, after having abandoned her to explore the English world, returns to renew their courtship.

When a horrific accident cripples Wayne Lambright, he finds it difficult enough to take care of himself, much less Loraine Miller, his future bride. Will he sacrifice his happiness to give her a better life?

Having already been jilted once, Loraine is terrified of yet another rejection. But does she love Wayne enough to marry him, for better or worse? When her old boyfriend Jake Beechy returns from exploring the English world, he hopes Loraine will give him another chance.

How will God work to give Loraine the desires of her heart? To which man will she pledge her love and loyalty - for better or worse, until death they do part?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Cousin's Promise, go HERE

Wanda Brunstetter at the Christian Book Expo

Regardless of whether one is a modern Englischer with cell phones and computers or an Amish individual who lives a simple life, emotions and struggles are universal. This book follows the tragic accident that left Wayne unable to walk and feeling like less of a man because of it. How can he provide for a wife if he can't work a farm? Loraine loves Wayne, but when he breaks their engagement and pushes her away and her old boyfriend Jake reappears, she wonders if she should marry him. Sometimes the simple life isn't so simple after all.

I had the pleasure of visiting with Wanda Brunstetter for a few minutes on Saturday afternoon. She and her husband have long-standing close friends who are Amish, and she loves to write of their way of life. She said the Amish are often misunderstood and seen as "freaks" or "a cult", and her books are an effort to portray them realistically. Wanda also is concerned about our modern society's propensity to be so heavily dependent on technological gadgets and feels that the family has suffered as a result. She related the story of a time when she and her husband took their grandchildren out to eat and did not allow them to bring their handheld games or cell phones into the restaurant, much to the children's dismay. "What will we do while we wait for our food?" However, after only a few moments of awkwardness, the kids opened up and eagerly began talking and sharing, and they had a marvelous evening hearing about what was going on in their lives.

GIVEAWAY!! I have a brand-new, freshly autographed copy of A Cousin's Promise for one of you. To enter, leave a comment on this post by 6:00 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday, 3/24) and I will draw a name. Continental US Residents only.

I'll have more autographed Wanda Brunstetter books - for both adults and children - to give away in the days to come!

Happy Reading!


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Sunday, March 22, 2009

An EXPO-nential Blessing!

Wow. I am overwhelmed by my weekend at the Christian Book Expo. It was fun beyond words and blessed my heart and thrilled my soul in ways that I am still processing.

But it almost killed my feet. And my arms from lugging around all the books I collected. Believe me, though: that was a small sacrifice for the incredible experience I was privileged to have. The Christian author & publishing communities ROCK!

I have much to share, many interviews, LOTS of giveaways, and more over the next days and probably weeks. After I debrief and decompress a bit and wade through the stuff I got.

I told several people that it felt like a combination of Christmas morning and drinking out of a fire hydrant. And a tiny glimnpse of what heaven will be like with the sweet fellowship and laughter. And heaven won't have the aching feet!

But for now, spring break is over and I need to get back into mom mode. . . .


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Saturday, March 21, 2009

TSMSS - The Best Story

I love music. And I love books. Specifically Christian music and books. So as I was getting ready to go to Dallas for the Christian Book Expo this weekend and at the same time thinking about posting for TSMSS, I reflected on the fact that the very reason I love them is because of the message found therein. A message found in the Book of books. A Story that tops all stories. A Story better than any fiction could ever dream of being, because it is true and was written by the Author of life.

A beautiful song by Fanny Crosby speaks of this story that never grows old. I haven't sung this song in years, but it's one that I learned as a child and can sing without the hymnal even today. Enjoy!


Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word.
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.
Tell how the angels in chorus,
Sang as they welcomed His birth.
“Glory to God in the highest!
Peace and good tidings to earth.”

Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word.
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard.

Fasting alone in the desert,
Tell of the days that are past.
How for our sins He was tempted,
Yet was triumphant at last.
Tell of the years of His labor,
Tell of the sorrow He bore.
He was despised and afflicted,
Homeless, rejected and poor.


Tell of the cross where they nailed Him,
Writhing in anguish and pain.
Tell of the grave where they laid Him,
Tell how He liveth again.
Love in that story so tender,
Clearer than ever I see.
Stay, let me weep while you whisper,
Love paid the ransom for me.


WORDS; Fanny Crosby, 1880
MUSIC: John R. Sweney, 1880

Be sure to go by Amy's blog for more songs to bless your weekend!


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Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Reading Thing 2009

It's time for the Spring Reading Challenge, hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days. This is always a fun time of intentional reading. One of my favorite things to do is to curl up with a good book. (I'm sure that comes as quite a shock!)

I've got a bit of a stack growing, and there are several books releasing over the next few days and weeks that I am eagerly awaiting. And I'm quite sure my list will grow after my little trip to the Christian Book Expo this weekend! (Maybe yours will, too!)

But for now, here's my list:
The Inheritance by Tamera Alexander - a stand-alone Women of Faith Novel
Beyond this Moment by Tamera Alexander - releases April 1
Yesterday's Embers by Deborah Raney - #3 in her Clayburn Novels series; releases Tuesday (3/24)
A Killing Frost by Hannah Alexander - start of a new series a great husband/wife writing team (LOL - no relation to Tamera; Hannah Alexander is a pen name!)
Finally Alive by John Piper
Salty Like Blood: A Novel by Harry Kraus, MD - available next Tuesday (3/24)
Plain Pursuit by Beth Wiseman - the second novel from a gifted author; releases April 28
Journey by Angela Hunt - final novel in the reprinted series about the family of Joseph; releases April 1
Talking to the Dead: A Novel by Bonnie Grove - releases May 1
Ambushed by Grace: Help & Hope on the Caregiving Journey by Shelly Beach
The Note II; Taking a Chance on Love by Angela Hunt - releases May 1; when Angie's novel The Note was made into a Hallmark movie, it was such a hit that they made a sequel and Angie was asked to write the novelization.

Okay, I better stop! Come along and join us! It's always fun to see what others are reading!

If you are new to the Spring Reading Thing, you can read about the general idea HERE and find additional guidelines for participating HERE. And some additional info about prizes and other miscellany is here.

Thanks to Katrina for hosting this!

And Happy Reading!!


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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Let the Fun Begin!

Packing & loading up:

Camera - check
Digital Voice Recorder for author interviews - check
Books for autographs - check
Laptop - check
Hotel info - check
Aleve for aching feet - check

Oh, yeah, clothes & personal items- check!

Conference Hotel: Hyatt Regency Dallas

I've pre-posted my Spring Reading Thing kick-off post for tomorrow as well as a timely song for Then Sings My Soul Saturday! Have a great weekend!


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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Polar Opposites

Today was my boy's turn. And it was totally different from yesterday!

Two things were on the agenda: shorts and sandals. And he knows what he likes, and he likes what he knows. (How's that for chiastic structure, Beth Moore and Esther studiers?!) I've often thought that life would be much easier if I could just buy each item simultaneously in 3 or 4 successively larger sizes!

So off we went to the shoe store. Found the same basic sandals that he had been wearing, only these were two sizes bigger. Then we tried to buy shorts, but the stores are either still getting in the ones he likes or they won't be as available this year. Complicating the situation is that he is built like my daddy - long and lean - so finding things that fit correctly in both the waist and the length can be a challenge.

But he is definitely a boy. Shorts and shoes were what he needed, so there certainly was no need for him to even spare a glance at anything else in the store. After all, why would you even look at something if it's not on your list? In fact, it reminded me of this:

(Maybe I should let him do the grocery shopping!)

It's not that he's not a detail person. When I showed him this. . .

. . .he seemed a bit mystified that everyone isn't able to identify the make and model of car just by seeing the front part of the car's grille!

Variety - the spice of life family!


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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

She Definitely Got the "Me" Gene

This week is spring break. My girl had one request for this week, which we did today.

She shopped until I dropped.

In all honesty, it was fun, at least the first seventeen couple of hours. We met another girl and her mom, and enjoyed finding some bargains and being together.

I just had to laugh, though. Some things are so predictable. . .!

My girl fell in love with a screen tee that was "just soooo cute!" Since she needs more shirts like she needs a second head, I told her she would have to spend her own money if she wanted it. She suddenly said, "How much is it? Twenty dollars!!" Back on the rack it went and she never looked back. Funny how easily they'll spend Mom & Dad's money, but they are so frugal with their own!

On the way home, we stopped in at Office Depot for some items I needed. As I was trying to decide between a couple of different things, the "I could shop all day" mantra she had been repeating suddenly came to a screeching halt: "Can you hurry? I'm tired and ready to go home!" Oh, how easy it is to have energy for our own desires and little patience for the needs of others!

What do you wanna bet if I'd told her, "Let's go back and I'll buy you that shirt" that she'd have been rarin' to go?!

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng


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Book Winner

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2009-03-18 00:26:24 UTC

Congrats to My ADHD Me, the winner of Don't Let Me Go. Email me your address, and I'll send it your way!


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Review - Breach of Trust

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Breach Of Trust

Tyndale House Publishers (February 5, 2009)


DiAnn Mills

Award-winning author, DiAnn Mills, launched her career in 1998 with the publication of her first book. Currently she has over forty books in print and has sold more than a million copies.

DiAnn believes her readers should “Expect an Adventure.” DiAnn Mills is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed novels.

Six of her anthologies have appeared on the CBA Best Seller List. Three of her books have won the distinction of Best Historical of the Year by Heartsong Presents. Five of her books have won placements through American Christian Fiction Writer’s Book of the Year Awards 2003 – 2007, and she is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader’s Choice award for 2005 and 2007. She was a Christy Awards finalist in 2008.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope and Love, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also a mentor for Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writer’s Guild.

She lives in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn and her husband have four adult sons and are active members of Metropolitan Baptist Church.

Paige Rogers survived every CIA operative’s worst nightmare.

A covert mission gone terribly wrong.

A betrayal by the one man she thought she could trust.

Forced to disappear to protect the lives of her loved ones, Paige has spent the last several years building a quiet life as a small-town librarian. But the day a stranger comes to town and starts asking questions, Paige knows her careful existence has been shattered.

He is coming after her again. And this time, he intends to silence her for good....

Paige Rogers is a former CIA agent who lost all she treasured seven years ago when her entire team was killed in a covert mission. She blames their leader—Daniel Keary—whom Paige believes betrayed them. Disillusioned and afraid for her life, she disappeared and started a new life as a librarian in small town Split Creek, Oklahoma.

But her growing relationship with high school football coach Miles Laird and the political ambitions of her former boss threaten to unmask her. When Keary announces his candidacy for governor of her state, he comes after Paige to ensure that she won't ruin his bid for office by revealing his past misdeeds. He threatens everything she holds dear, and Paige must choose between the life of hiding that has become her refuge . . . or risking everything in one last, desperate attempt to right old wrongs.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Breach Of Trust, go HERE

Watch the Book Trailer:

I have enjoyed several of DiAnn Mills' books in the past, but she has risen to a whole new level with Breach of Trust. You'll need to buckle your seabelt - or perhaps fasten on a bulletproof vest! - before reading this outstanding and suspenseful novel. Paige Rogers has carefully molded and maintained her image as the quiet and reclusive librarian of Split Creek, Oklahoma, endearing many of her patrons to her with her weekly baked goods which she faithfully supplies each Thursday. The townspeople never suspect their friendly and culinary librarian carries a Beretta Px4 under the seat of her sports car. Or that she was once a CIA operative.

When her buried past starts coming back to haunt and threaten her, she wrestles with how to respond. Because since she disappeared from the CIA, she has become a Christian, and she struggles with "where God fit into the life of a CIA operative. If He fit at all." The world of spying and deception and assasinations suddenly has a whole new meaning for her. Unfortunately, someone else isn't nearly that concerned about the moral ramifications of wiping her off the face of the earth!

As if that weren't enough to keep her awake at night, there's the high school football coach who wants to be more than a friend, but she can't afford to let him get too close, in spite of her own growing affection. Besides, is he really who he appears to be? Is she the only one in town whose life isn't what it seems?

This is the first book in the Call of Duty series. The next one, Breach of Security, is due out in Spring, 2010 - something to look forward to!

And I can't wait to meet DiAnn Mills this weekend at the Christian Book Expo!

Happy Reading!


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