Friday, July 31, 2009

THE TORAH BLESSING

This book has shifted my thinking for the better. It's not a fast read because you'll want to pause and chew on some of the concepts, like that fact that we Christians tend to think of Christianity as a spin-off religion, separate from our Jewish roots. In reality, we are the ones who are supposed to be grafted into the family, and therefore get to partake of the promises and blessings. Interesting read, and I do recommend!


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

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



Today's Wild Card author is:




and the book:



The Torah Blessing – Revealing the Mystery, Releasing the Miracle

Whitaker House (June 4, 2009)



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Larry Huch is a nationally prominent ministry leader, conference speaker, and successful author. Together with his wife Tiz he serves as pastor of the multi-cultural, fast-growing New Beginnings Church in Dallas, Texas. He can be seen worldwide on the television program, New Beginnings. Pastor Huch’s previous books include Free at Last, and 10 Curses That Block the Blessing, published by Whitaker House.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 207 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (June 4, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603741186
ISBN-13: 978-1603741187

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



We hear this Scripture quoted all the time: “The truth shall make you free.” Allow me to let you in on a little secret: it’s not true. I know many of you are shocked right now. You may be thinking, How can Pastor Larry say that? It’s in the Bible. Jesus Himself said it. I’ve heard it taught time and time again: “The truth shall make you free.”

I’m here to tell you, “No, it will not.” Why? It won’t because that’s not what the Bible says. Let’s look at this passage together:

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31–32)

Once again, some of you are now thinking, Don’t you see, Pastor Larry? It’s right there in front of you: “The truth shall make you free.” But is that really what Jesus was saying? Look again at verse 32. Do you see it? Jesus first said, “And you shall know the truth.” This means that you will understand the truth; then, and only then—when you know God’s Word and you understand God’s Word—will that truth “make you free.” Once we understand God’s concepts, they have the power to set us free. If we remain ignorant of what the Bible says, it remains the truth, but that truth won’t do us much good until we understand it. Let me give you some examples.

Before I met Jesus, I was a drug dealer and an addict. The truth was that Jesus came two thousand years ago to forgive me, change me, and love me, but the miracle-working power of that truth did me no good until somebody told me about it so I could fully understand it. The truths that Jesus died on the cross, that He rose again on the third day, that He was the Lamb of God who took away my sins, and that He came to set the captives free were real, but they did not set me free until I knew them. Once I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and began to understand those truths, the Word of God jumped off the pages of the Bible and changed from logos (the Greek word for written words on a page) to rhema (the Greek word for God’s Word, alive and working in my spirit). Just as Jesus was the Word of God become flesh, rhema is the truth of God’s Word made alive for you and me. So many promises of God never come alive for us, His children, because we don’t fully know and understand them.

Water Closets and Hogs

Unfortunately, one of the main reasons people fail to understand truth has to do with the many differences and complexities of language. Years ago, Tiz and I moved to Australia to pastor our second church. Soon after moving there, we were visiting a pastor’s home, and before we sat down to eat, I asked him, “May I use your bathroom?” He pointed down the hall and said, “Second door on the right.” I followed his directions, and, sure enough, there was a sink, a tub, and a shower, but, unfortunately for me, not the item I really needed to use. After a few minutes of frustration, I came out with embarrassment and admitted, “I’m sorry, but I can’t find it.”

He asked, “What are you looking for?”

I shared my biological need with him, and he said, “Oh, you’re not looking for the bathroom; you’re looking for the water closet!”

On that day, I learned an important lesson: in Australia, the “water closet” is the toilet and the “bathroom” is literally the room in which you take a bath. Once I understood that truth, it became very useful to me.

Here’s another example. Let’s say I hand you my wallet and ask, “Would you mind putting this wallet in my boot?” How would you interpret that? If you were from Texas, you’d probably put my wallet into my Tony Llama cowboy footwear. On the other hand, if you were from South Africa, you would most likely toss it into the trunk of my car. The same word is used—even the same spelling—but two totally different meanings are inferred.

You don’t have to be from the other side of the globe to find this kind of confusion. If somebody told you, “Pastor Larry was seen riding a thousand-pound hog,” what would that mean to you? If you were from Arkansas—the Razorback State—you might picture me saddled on the back of a very large animal with a snout. If, however, you were from south St. Louis, like I am, you would probably picture me riding around on a thousand-pound Harley Davidson motorcycle—which would be the truth. Again, the same word is used, but the interpretation is different depending on your upbringing, experience, and culture—and this is for people who live in the same time period! Imagine the difficulties that occur when you introduce different languages, cultures, and a two-thousand-year or more separation of time.

To glean all of God’s truth from Scripture, we need to learn to read the Bible not merely from a twenty-first century American or European perspective but also from the perspective of the times and cultures in which it was written—particularly, the Jewish world of first-century Jerusalem and surrounding Israel. Those who wrote the Bible may have spoken Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and Aramaic, but, for the most part, they thought and reasoned with Jewish mind-sets.

No Longer Gentiles, No Longer Strangers

Let us begin by focusing on an important passage of Scripture. Even though it was written more than two thousand years ago, I believe it remains a prophetic word for us today.

Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh; who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands; that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
(Ephesians 2:11–22)

I know that this is a long passage of Scripture, but let’s take a moment to break down these powerful words.

Paul said we were “once Gentiles.” This is very important. If you are not of Jewish blood but have asked Jesus Christ to come into your heart and forgive you of your sins, you were once a Gentile, but not anymore! Gentile in Greek is the word ethnos, defined by Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance as “foreign nations not worshipping the true God, pagans.” In addition to the word Gentile, the Bible also uses words such as foreigners, strangers, and nations—all referring to those who do not worship the one true God, the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the God who sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the price for our sins in full so that we could go boldly before Him.

Look at what it says later in this passage: “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (verse 19). Paul was referring to us. We were once strangers, but now we are fellow citizens with the saints—the church—and members of the household of God with Israel.

Redeemed and Reconnected

As a Christian, you have probably heard time and time again that you have been “redeemed by the blood of Jesus.” When we become believers, we are restored as children of the covenant promises of God through the shed blood of Jesus. Here are just a couple of examples from Scripture:

Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ. (1 Peter 1:18–19)

You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation. (Revelation 5:9)

Ephesians 2 makes it clear that without Jesus, we were aliens, strangers, and foreigners—disconnected from God. Now, thanks to our redemption, God has reconnected us to two very important things.

1. We Have Been Adopted into a New Family

First, we are now part of the family of Israel. The apostle Paul had a unique way of explaining this for a first-century audience who was familiar with growing things from the earth:

If some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. (Romans 11:17–18, emphasis added)

This is such an important passage for our study that we will be returning to it several more times. For now, however, I want you to see that you and I—non-Jewish Christians—have been “grafted in” to the tree. The branches of that tree are Israel. According to Scripture, we have been adopted—grafted—into the family of Israel by the life and blood of Jesus Christ. Our faith, therefore, is not isolated; it does not exist independently, and it is not to be treated as a “spin-off” religion. We are not spiritual orphans. We belong to a living, spiritual “family tree” that is supported by a common root—Jesus Christ, the Messiah. “Remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.” The Bible makes this clear in both the Old and New Testaments:

In that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious. (Isaiah 11:10)

I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star. (Revelation 22:16)

2. We Are Legal Heirs of Abraham’s Covenant

Second, now that we have been adopted into the family, we are also connected to the promise God made to His children—His covenant promise.

Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. (Galatians 3:7–9)

Like any child who is adopted into a family, we now have equal rights as legal heirs within that family. In this case, our adoption is all thanks to the shed blood of Jesus. We are now children of the covenant. What covenant? God’s covenant with Abraham, who at the time was known as Abram:

Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1–3)

With that, Abram became the first Hebrew. Notice I didn’t say Israelite, because at this time, obviously, there was no land of Israel. You might say he became the first Jewish person on the face of the earth. How did this come about?

According to Jewish tradition, Abram grew up working in his father’s shop, which sold idols, although he always questioned his father’s beliefs. One day, according to the teaching, young Abram smashed all the idols with a hammer while his father was away and then placed the hammer by one spared idol. When his father returned, Abram blamed the crime on that idol. His father grew upset and claimed that the story was impossible since these idols had no life or power. Abram agreed and asked, “Then why do you worship them?” The teaching suggests that Abram believed the universe to be the work of a single creator and began to share this with others. Of course, this account is from the Jewish Midrash—oral Torah teachings—and not our Scriptures, but the Old Testament does agree that Abram’s family worshipped idols. (See Joshua 24:2.)

However it happened, young Abram’s faith in one true God was the seed that would become Israel—the children of God. Later, God would say to the nation of Israel,

Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, you who seek the Lord: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the hole of the pit from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you; for I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him. (Isaiah 51:1–2)

Now, some of you may be thinking, But Pastor Larry, when God said, “Look to Abraham your father,” wasn’t He talking to Israel and not to us?

It’s true that He was addressing Israel, but it is also true that you and I have been “grafted in.” Let me ask you a question: Are you Christ’s? If your answer is yes, then God says that you are Abraham’s seed. It doesn’t matter if you were born in Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, North America, South America, or Antarctica—if you are a non-Jewish Christian, you were once a Gentile, but now that you’ve been born again, you are no longer a stranger but the seed of Abraham and an heir, according to the promise.

The Olive Tree

In Romans 11, the apostle Paul compares Israel to an olive tree. Now that we understand that the tree we’ve been grafted into is Israel, let’s look at some biblical and historical features of the olive tree. Throughout this book, I will be referring to the fact that everything God teaches us has both a physical side and a spiritual side, an earthly side and a heavenly side. When we look at the features of a physical olive tree, we can see the same blessings on the spiritual olive tree, Israel.

Olive trees outlive most other fruit trees. Likewise, Israel and the Jewish people have outlived all the empires that have enslaved them or tried to destroy them, including the Persian empire, the Babylonian empire, the Ottoman empire, and the Roman empire. They even outlived the Nazi government, the “Thousand Year Reich,” that attempted to annihilate them.

“No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is from Me,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 54:17)

The roots of an olive tree are strong and are able to live in all soils. Likewise, throughout history, even though the Jewish people have been scattered about the world among different races and cultures, Judaism has survived and remained intact.

Thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.” (Isaiah 43:1–2)

Even in very old olive trees, shoots are able to spring up and reproduce. Despite persecution and dispersement, Judaism has grown and the population of Israel has increased.

Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table. (Psalm 128:3)

Even today, olive oil remains a major source of wealth. Likewise, God has continually blessed Israel with provision whenever its people have needed it.

Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper.…And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
(Deuteronomy 8:6–9, 18)

Olive oil is used as both fuel and food. Likewise, throughout history, Judaism has both sustained and provided for its people.

As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. (John 6:57)

Olive oil is used for anointing and healing. The calling of God to His people is the same: be set apart as a blessing to others.

You shall make from these a holy anointing oil, an ointment compounded according to the art of the perfumer. It shall be a holy anointing oil….And you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: “This shall be a holy anointing oil to Me throughout your generations.”
(Exodus 30:25, 31)

So [the apostles] went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them. (Mark 6:12–13)

It quickly becomes obvious—and exciting—why it is such a blessing to be grafted into the promises and covenant of Israel—God’s olive tree. Remember what God says, throughout the Bible, about Israel and the Jewish people:

1.) They are the apple of God’s eye—always have been, always will be.

Thus says the Lord of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye.” (Zechariah 2:8)

2.) They are a people chosen to be a blessing to the rest of the world.

The Jewish people, and their Promised Land of Israel, were chosen to connect the rest of the world to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God said,

I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. (Genesis 12:2–3)

The nation of Israel was to be the connection to Jesus, both in His first coming and in His second coming. Let us read what Jesus said in the book of Matthew:

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. (Matthew 5:13–14)

If you’ve been in an average church for any period of time, you have probably heard these verses read and used in sermons. In most cases, they are used as an encouragement for Christians to be a light in their world. In its historical context, however, when Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13) and when He said, “You are the light of the world” (verse 14), He was not speaking to Christians. Whom, then, was Jesus reminding to be salt, preserving this earth from rotting away? Whom was He reminding to be a light that would lead people out of darkness?

It’s simple: He was speaking to a Jewish audience—the apple of God’s eye. There were no Christians at that time. Jesus had not yet died on the cross; He had not yet risen from the grave; He had not yet built His church. At that point in history, there simply was no us. Through Jesus Christ, of course, we now have been grafted into the olive tree and connected to the root—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Thus, we are now included in this family mission to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth.

Now that we know our heritage—our spiritual family tree—we can begin to focus on what this means for our lives and our faith, and we can learn how our blended, sometimes dysfunctional family is supposed to live together.

It’s simple. We need to build the right kind of house.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

NO GOIN' BACK NOW!

Well...theoretically I guess we could, but wouldn't consider it for a moment. Today I ordered the remaining material for kindergarten and pre-k for the kidlets. Already I'm pumped at the thought of starting the year, and I have students who are pestering me for more math!

Here's the rundown:

Reading/phonics/writing (manuscript)--A Beka

Math--Math-U-See, also A Beka 1st grade for 5 yo, K for 4 yo

Science--will do simple experiments on Fridays, by request of 5yo

Memorization--we love lists! Kidlets are learning/have learned months, days of week, planets, continents, and we will start with simple Bible verses

Which brings me to the question of the day: which Bible verses do you recommend for a 5yo and an almost 4yo? No time like the present to start digesting the Word!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Any Minute

FaithWords (June 30, 2009)

by

Joyce Meyer and Deborah Bedford



ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Joyce Meyer is one of the world's leading practical Bible teachers. A #1 New York Times bestselling author, she has written more than seventy inspirational books, including The Confident Woman, I Dare You, the entire Battlefield of the Mind family of books, her first venture into fiction with The Penny, and many others. She has also released thousands of audio teachings as well as a complete video library. Joyce's Enjoying Everyday Life® radio and television programs are broadcast around the world, and she travels extensively conducting conferences. Joyce and her husband, Dave, are the parents of four grown children and make their home in St. Louis, Missouri.


Deborah Bedford is a career fiction writer who began her professional life as a journalist in a Colorado mountain town.

A Rose By The Door, Deborah's first with Warner Book (name changed to FaithWords in 2006), hit bookstores in November 2001. A Morning Like This was released by Warner Books in 2002. Deborah's short story, “Connor Sapp's Baseball Summer,” is included in Multnomah Publisher's The Storytellers' Collection, Tales From Home, alongside stories by Chuck Colson, Terri Blackstock, Randy Alcorn and Karen Kingsbury.

Deborah and Jack have two children, Jeff and Avery. When she isn't writing, Deborah spends her time fly-fishing, cheering at American Legion baseball games, shopping with her daughter, singing praise songs while she walks along the banks of Flat Creek, and taking her dachshund Annie for hikes in the Tetons where they live.


ABOUT THE BOOK


Sarah Harper is driven to achieve success no matter what the cost. She wants to do good and not hurt the people she loves--especially children and her husband, Joe--but her desire to succeed in her career too often leaves little time for family.

One cold, autumn afternoon, all of that changes when Sarah's car plunges off a bridge and into a river. She is presumed dead by those on the "outside," but Sarah's spirit is still very much alive. What she discovers on the other side transforms everything about Sarah's view of life--past, present, and future.

When Sarah is revived, she is a changed woman. And the unsuspecting world around her will never be the same again.


If you would like to read the first chapter of Any Minute, go here!

TIGHTWAD WEDNESDAY

As I may have mentioned once or twice--or possibly a thousand times--my teen and kidlets are talented, and it's a huge blessing to our family. The hard part of the talent is the cost. I'm talking dollars and cents here. Starting in August, our bills for activities/lessons will be going UP by $70 a month.

{insert BIG gulp}

Because I'd like to do my part (and continue to stay home because we wouldn't want me to go back to work, now would we!) I'm analyzing places in our spending where we can cut back. Confessing what I found in a certain area makes me a wee bit uncomfortable, like hanging my delicates on the laundry line to flap in the breeze.

About a month ago when I was cleaning hubby's stuff, I found a huge stash of quarters. That's when I started scooting through the lil' coffee hut on the way to gymnastics--not once a week, but twice, or possibly three times. I was only spending the quarters, and the caramel mochaccino was a great way to jumpstart the afternoon, after naptime--but that's beside the point.

The point is, each one is $3.50. Let's say I go twice a week, 50 weeks per year. That's $350 a year!!! {insert shriek of terror and Psycho music} Needless to say, my mochaccino days are numbered. By cutting out this simple yet extraordinary pleasure, I can cover nearly HALF of the monthly increase in kid activity fees.

I'm not going crazy here, I will still buy the occasional coffee--just doing my part to help the local economy and whatnot. But one simple change will actually make a difference, and I'm going to do it.

One other thing--instead of purchasing Starbucks beans for my daily morning coffee at home, I need to find a less expensive brand. I don't even want to add up my yearly total with each bag of coffee costing $17.

A single, caffeinated change in my habits will be a nice contribution to the fam.

How about you? Are you saving for something special (ACFW conference, new laptop, etc)?

Here's my 2-part question for you: A. What simple change can you institute THIS WEEK to make a positive change to the budget, and B. Do you have a favorite morning coffee that won't bust my bank?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

MONTANA ROSE

Oh how I love settling in with a Mary Connealy book. The character journey of the heroine is fantastic, and the setting superb. Guns, God, and a few laughs along the way, Montana Rose is a great read for historical fans everywhere. Also, if you're not a fan of historicals, Mary Connealy will convert you ;) I'm already looking forward to the next book in the series!

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

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


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Montana Rose

Barbour Publishing, Inc (July 1, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



An award-winning author, Mary Connealy lives on a Nebraska farm with her husband and is the mother of four grown daughters. She writes plays and shorts stories, and is the author of two other novels, Petticoat Ranch and Calico Canyon. Also an avid blogger, Mary is a GED instructor by day and an author by night.

Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $10.97
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc (July 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602601429
ISBN-13: 978-1602601420

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Montana Territory, 1875


Cassie wanted to scream, “Put down that shovel!”

As if yelling at the red-headed gravedigger would bring Griff back to life. A gust of wind blew Cassie Griffin’s dark hair across her face, blinding her.

For one sightless moment it was as if the wind showed her perfectly what the future held for her.

Darkness.

Hovering in a wooded area, concealed behind a clump of quaking aspens that had gone yellow in the fall weather, she watched the hole grow as the man dug his way down into the rocky Montana earth.

Muriel, the kind storekeeper who had taken Cassie in, stood beside the ever-deepening grave. If Cassie started yelling, Muriel would start her motherly clucking again and force Cassie to return to town and go back to bed. She’d been so kind since Cassie had ridden in shouting for help.

In a detached sort of way, Cassie knew Muriel had been caring for her, coddling Cassie to get her through the day. But Cassie had gone numb since Muriel’s husband, Seth, had come back in with the news that Griff was dead. Cassie listened and answered and obeyed, but she hadn’t been able to feel anything. Until now. Now she could feel rage aimed straight at that man preparing the hole for her beloved Griff.

“I’m sorry, little one.” Cassie ran her hand over her rounded stomach. “You’ll never know your daddy now.” Her belly moved as if the baby heard Cassie and understood.

The fact that her husband was dead was Cassie’s fault. She should have gone for the doctor sooner. Griff ordered her not to, but first Griff had been worried about the cost. He’d shocked Cassie by telling her they couldn’t afford to send for the doctor. Griff had scolded Cassie if she ever asked questions about money. So she’d learned it wasn’t a wife’s place. But she’d known her parents were wealthy. Cassie had brought all their wealth into the marriage. How could they not afford a few bits for a doctor? Even as he lay sick, she’d known better than to question him about it.

Later, Griff had been out of his head with fever. She stayed with him as he’d ordered, but she should have doctored Griff better. She should have saved him somehow. Instead she’d stood by and watched her husband die inch by inch while she did nothing.

Cassie stepped closer. Another few steps and she’d be in the open. She could stop them. She could make them stop digging. Refuse to allow such a travesty when it couldn’t be true that Griff was dead.

Don’t put him in the ground! Inside her head she was screaming, denying, terrified. She had to stop this.

Before she could move she heard Muriel.

“In the West, nothing’ll get you killed faster’n stupid.” Whipcord lean, with a weathered face from long years in the harsh Montana weather, Muriel plunked her fists on her nonexistent hips.

Seth, clean-shaven once a week and overdue, stood alongside his wife, watching the proceedings, his arms crossed over his paunchy stomach. “How ’bout lazy? In the West, lazy’ll do you in faster’n stupid every time.”

“Well, I reckon Lester Griffin was both, right enough.” Muriel nodded her head.

Cassie understood the words, “lazy” and “stupid.” They were talking about Griff? She was too shocked to take in their meaning.

“Now, Muriel.” Red, the gravedigger, shoveled as he talked. “Don’t speak ill of the dead.”

On a day when Cassie didn’t feel like she knew anything, she remembered the gravedigger’s name because of his bright red hair.

One of the last coherent orders Griff had given her was, “Pay Red two bits to dig my grave, and not a penny more.”

Griff had known he was dying. Mostly delirious with fever, his mind would clear occasionally and he’d give orders: about the funeral, what he was to be buried in, what Cassie was to wear, strict orders not to be her usual foolish self and overpay for the grave digging. And not to shame him with her public behavior.

“Well honestly, it’s a wonder he wasn’t dead long before this.” Muriel crossed her arms and dared either man to disagree.

“It’s not Christian to see the bad in others.” Red dug relentlessly, the gritty slice of the shovel making a hole to swallow up Cassie’s husband. “And especially not at a time like this.”

It was just after noon on Sunday, and the funeral would be held as soon as the grave was dug.

Cassie looked down at her dress, her dark blue silk. It was a mess. She’d worn it all week, not giving herself a second to change while she cared for Griff. Then she’d left it on as she rode for town. She’d even slept in it last night. . .or rather she’d lain in bed with it on. She hadn’t slept, more than snatches, in a week. Ever since Griff’s fever started.

She needed to change to her black silk for the funeral.

Cassie wanted to hate Muriel for her words, but Muriel had mothered her, filling such a desperate void in Cassie that she couldn’t bear to blame Muriel for this rage whipping inside of Cassie’s head, pushing her to scream.

“Well, he was a poor excuse for a man and no amount of Christian charity’ll change that.” Muriel clucked and shook her head. “He lived on the labor of others ’n spent money he didn’t have.”

“It’s that snooty, fancy-dressed wife of his who drove him to an early grave,” Seth humphed. Cassie saw Seth’s shoulders quiver as he chuckled. “Of course, many’s the man who’d gladly die trying to keep that pretty little China Doll happy.”

Cassie heard Griff’s nickname for her. She ran her hands down her blue silk that lay modestly loose over her round belly. Fancy-dressed was right. Cassie admitted that. But she hadn’t needed all new dresses just because of the baby. Griff had insisted it was proper that the dresses be ordered. But however she’d come to dress so beautifully in silks and satins, there was no denying she dressed more expensively than anyone she’d met in Montana Territory. Not that she’d met many people.

But snooty? How could Seth say that? They were slandering her and, far worse, insulting Griff. She needed to defend her husband, but Griff hated emotional displays. How could she fight them without showing all the rage that boiled inside her? As the hole grew, something started to grow in Cassie that overcame her grief and fear.

Rage. Hate.

That shovel rose and fell. Dirt flew in a tidy pile and she hated Red for keeping to the task. She wanted to run at Red, screaming and clawing, and force Red to give Griff back to her. But she feared unleashing the anger roiling inside her. Griff had taught her to control all those childish impulses. Right now though, her control slipped.


[insert line break]

“A time or two I’ve seen someone who looks to be snooty who was really just shy. . .or scared,” Muriel said.

Red kept digging, determined not to join in with this gossip. But not joining in wasn’t enough. He needed to make them stop. Instead, he kept digging as he thought about poor Cassie. She’d already been tucked into Muriel’s back room when he’d come to town yesterday, but he’d seen Seth bring Lester Griffin’s body in. He couldn’t imagine what that little woman had been through.

“When’s the last time she came into our store?” Seth asked. “Most times she didn’t even come to town. She was too good to soil her feet in Divide. And you can’t argue about fancy-dressed. Griff ordered all her dresses ready-made, sent out from the East.”

Everything about Cassie Griffin made Red think of the more civilized East. She never had a hair out of place or a speck of dirt under her fingernails. Red had seen their home, too. The fanciest building in Montana, some said. Board siding instead of logs. Three floors and so many frills and flourishes the building alone had made Lester Griffin a laughingstock. The Griffins came into the area with a fortune, but they’d gone through it fast.

“That’s right,” Muriel snipped. “Griff ordered them. A spoiled woman would pick out her own dresses and shoes and finery, not leave it to her man.”

Seth shook his head. “I declare, Muriel, you could find the good in a rattlesnake.”

Red’s shovel slammed deep in the rocky soil. “Cassie isn’t a rattlesnake.” He stood up straight and glared at Seth.

His reaction surprised him. Red didn’t let much upset him. But calling Cassie a snake made Red mad to the bone. He glanced over and saw Muriel focusing on him as she brushed back wisps of gray hair that the wind had scattered from her usual tidy bun. She stared at him, taking a good long look.

Seth, a tough old mule-skinner with a marshmallow heart, didn’t seem to notice. “This funeral’ll draw trouble. You just see if it don’t. Every man in the territory’ll come a’running to marry with such a pretty widow woman. Any woman would bring men down on her as hard and fast as a Montana blizzard, but one as pretty as Cassie Griffin?” Seth blew a tuneless whistle through his teeth. “There’ll be a stampede for sure, and none of ’em are gonna wait no decent length of time to ask for her hand.”

Red looked away from Muriel because he didn’t like what was in her eyes. He was through the tough layer of sod and the hole was getting deep fast. He tried to sound casual even though he felt a sharp pang of regret—and not just a little bit of jealousy—when he said, “Doubt she’ll still be single by the time the sun sets.”

Muriel had a strange lilt to her voice when she said, “A woman is rare out here, but a young, beautiful woman like Cassie is a prize indeed.”

Red looked up at her, trying to figure out why saying that made her so all-fired cheerful.

Seth slung his beefy arm around Muriel with rough affection. “I’ve seen the loneliness that drives these men to want a wife. It’s a rugged life, Muriel. Having you with me makes all the difference.”

Red understood the loneliness. He lived with it every day.

“She’s a fragile little thing. Tiny even with Griff’s child in her belly. She needs a man to take care of her.” Muriel’s concern sounded just the littlest bit false. Not that Muriel wasn’t genuinely concerned. Just that there was a sly tone to it, aimed straight at Red.

Red thought of Cassie’s flawless white skin and shining black hair. She had huge, remote brown eyes, with lashes long enough to wave in the breeze, and the sweetest pink lips that never curved in a smile nor opened to wish a man good day.

Red thought on what he’d say to draw a smile and a kind word from her. Such thoughts could keep a man lying awake at night. Red knew that for a fact. Oh yes, Cassie was a living, breathing test from the devil himself.

“China Doll’s the perfect name for her,” Muriel added.

Red had heard that Griff called his wife China Doll. Griff never said that in front of anyone. He always called her Mrs. Griffin, real proper and formal-like. But he’d been overheard speaking to her in private, and he’d called her China Doll. The whole town had taken to calling her that.

Red had seen such a doll in a store window when he was a youngster in Indiana. That doll, even to a roughhousing little boy, was so beautiful it always earned a long, careful look. But the white glass face was cold. and her expression serious, rather than giving the poor toy a painted on smile. It was frighteningly fragile. Rather than being fun, Red thought a China doll would be a sad thing to own and, in the end, a burden to keep unbroken and clean. All of those things described Cassandra Griffin right down to the ground. Knowing all of that didn’t stop him from wanting her.

Cassie got to him. She had ever since the first time he’d seen her nearly two years ago. And now she was available. Someone would have to marry her to keep her alive. Women didn’t live without men in the unsettled West. Life was too hard. The only unattached women around worked above the Golden Butte Saloon and, although they survived, Red didn’t consider their sad existence living.

“You’re established on the ranch these days, Red. Your bank account’s healthy.” Muriel crouched down so she was eye level with Red, who was digging himself down fast. “Maybe it’s time you took a wife.”

Red froze and looked up at his friend. Muriel was a motherly woman, though she had no children. And like a mother, she seemed comfortable meddling in his life.

Red realized he was staring and went back to the grave, tempted to toss a shovel full of dirt on Muriel’s wily face. He wouldn’t throw it hard. He just wanted to distract her.

When he was sure his voice would work, he said, “Cassie isn’t for me, Muriel. And it isn’t because of what it would cost to keep her. If she was my wife, she’d live within my means and that would be that.”

Red had already imagined—in his unruly mind—how stern he’d be when she asked for finery. “You’ll have to sew it yourself or go without.” He even pictured himself shaking a scolding finger right under her turned-up nose. She’d mind him.

He’d imagined it many times, many, many times. And long before Griff died, which was so improper Red felt shame. He’d tried to control his willful thoughts. But a man couldn’t stop himself from thinking a thought until he’d started, now could he? So he’d started a thousand times and then he stopped himself. . .mostly. He’d be kind and patient but he wouldn’t bend. He’d say, “Cass honey, you—”

Red jerked his thoughts away from the old, sinful daydream about another man’s wife. Calmly, he answered Muriel, “She isn’t for me because I would never marry a non-believer.”

With a wry smile, Seth caught on and threw in on Muriel’s side—the traitor. “A woman is a mighty scarce critter out here, Red. It don’t make sense to put too many conditions on the ones there are.”

“I know.” Red talked to himself as much as to them. He hung on to right and wrong. He clung to God’s will. “But one point I’ll never compromise on is marrying a woman who doesn’t share my faith.”

“Now, Red,” Muriel chided, “you shouldn’t judge that little girl like that. How do you know she’s not a believer?”

“I’m not judging her, Muriel.” Which Red realized was absolutely not true. “Okay, I don’t know what faith she holds. But I do know that the Griffins have never darkened the doorstep of my church.”

Neither Seth nor Muriel could argue with that, although Muriel had a mulish look that told him she wanted to.

“We’d best get back.” Seth laid a beefy hand on Muriel’s strong shoulder. “I think Mrs. Griffin is going to need some help getting ready for the funeral.”

“She’s in shock, I reckon,” Muriel said. “She hasn’t spoken more’n a dozen words since she rode in yesterday.”

“She was clear enough on what dress I needed to fetch.” Seth shook his head in disgust. “And she knew the reticule she wanted and the shoes and hairpins. I felt like a lady’s maid.”

“I’ve never seen a woman so shaken.” Muriel’s eyes softened. “The bridle was on wrong. She was riding bareback. It’s a wonder she was able to stick on that horse.”

Red didn’t want to hear anymore about how desperately in need of help Cassie was.

Muriel had been teasing him up until now, but suddenly she was dead serious. “You know what the men around here are like, Red. You know the kind of life she’s got ahead of her. There are just some things a decent man can’t let happen to a woman. Libby’s boys are off hauling freight or I’d talk to them. They’d make good husbands.”

Muriel was right, they would be good. Something burned hot and angry inside of Red when he thought of those decent, Christian men claiming Cassie.

It was even worse when Red thought of her marrying one of the rough and ready men who lived in the rugged mountains and valleys around the little town of Divide, which rested up against the great peaks of the Montana Rockies. It was almost more than he could stand to imagine her with one of them.

But, he also knew a sin when he saw it tempting him, and he refused to let Muriel change his mind. She badgered him a while longer but finally gave up.

He was glad when Seth and Muriel left him alone to finish his digging. Until he looked up and saw Cassie as if he’d conjured her with his daydreams.

But this was no sweet, fragile China Doll. She charged straight toward him, her hands fisted, her eyes on fire.

“Uh. . .hi, Miz Griffin.” He vaulted out of the shoulder-deep hole and faced her. The look on her face was enough to make him want to turn tail and run.

She swept toward him, a low sound coming from her throat that a wildcat might make just before it pounced.

She’d heard it. All of it.

God forgive me for being part of that gossip, hurting her when she’s already so badly hurt.

Whatever she wanted to say, whatever pain she wanted to inflict, he vowed to God that he’d stand here and take it as his due. Her eyes were so alive with fury and focused right on him. How many times had his unruly mind conjured up the image of Cassie focusing on him? But this wasn’t the look he’d imagined in his daydreams. In fact, a tremor of fear ran up his backbone.

His grip tightened on his shovel, not to use as a weapon to defend himself but to keep her from grabbing it and taking a swing.

“Stop it.” Her fists were clenched as if to beat on him. “Stop saying those awful things.” Red saw more life in her eyes than he ever had before. She was always quiet and reserved and distant. “Give him back. I want him back!” She moved so fast toward him that, just as she reached his side, she tripped over her skirt and fell. A terrified shriek cut off her irate words.

“Cassie!” Red dropped the shovel and caught her just as she’d have tumbled into the open grave.

She swung and landed a fist right on his chin.

His head snapped back. She had pretty good power behind her fists for a little thing. Figuring he deserved it, he held on, stepping well away from the hole in the ground. He pulled her against him as she pummeled and emitted short, sharp, frenzied screams of rage. Punching his shoulders, chest, face. He took his beating like a man. He’d earned this by causing her more pain when she’d already been dealt more than she could bear. Of course he’d tried to stop it. But he’d failed now, hadn’t he?

“I’m sorry.” He spoke low, hoping to penetrate her anger. He could barely hear himself over her shouting. “I’m so sorry about Griff, Cassie. And I’m sorry you heard us speaking ill. We were wrong. So wrong. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” His voice kept crooning as he held her, letting her wale away on him until her squeaks and her harmless blows slowed and then ceased, most likely from exhaustion, not because she’d quit hating him.

Her hands dropped suddenly. Her head fell against his chest. Her knees buckled and Red swung her up into his arms.

He looked down at her, wondering if she’d fainted dead away.

In his arms, he held perfection.

She fit against him as if his body and his heart had been created just for her. A soul-deep ache nearly buckled his own knees as he looked at her now-closed eyes. Those lashes so long they’d tangle in a breeze rested on her ashen face, tinged with one bright spot of fury raised red on her cheeks.

“I’m so sorry I hurt you. Please forgive me.” His words were both a prayer to God and a request to poor, sweet Cassie. He held her close, murmuring, apologizing.

At last her eyes fluttered open. The anger was there but not the violence. “Let me go!”

He slowly lowered her feet to the ground, keeping an arm around her waist until he was sure her legs would hold her. She stepped out of his arms as quickly as possible and gave him a look of such hatred it was more painful than the blows she’d landed. Far more painful.

“I’m so sorry for your loss, Cassie honey.” Red wanted to kick himself. He shouldn’t have called her such. It was improper.

She didn’t seem to notice he was even alive. Instead, her gaze slid to that grave, that open rectangle waiting to receive Cassie’s husband. . .or what was left of him. And the hatred faded to misery, agony, and worst of all, fear.

A suppressed cry of pain told Red, as if Cassie had spoken aloud, that she wished she could join her husband in that awful hole.

Her head hanging low, her shoulders slumped, both arms wrapped around her rounded belly, she turned and walked back the way she came. Each step seemed to take all her effort as if her feet weighed a hundred pounds each.

Wondering if he should accompany her back to Muriel’s, instead he did nothing but watch. There was nothing really he could do. That worthless husband of hers was dead and he’d left his wife with one nasty mess to clean up. And Red couldn’t be the one to step in and fix it. Not if he wanted to live the life God had planned for him.

She walked into the swaying stand of aspens. They were thin enough that if he moved a bit to the side, he could keep his eye on her. Stepping farther and farther sideways to look around the trees—because he was physically unable to take his eyes off her—he saw her get safely to the store.

Just then his foot slipped off the edge of the grave. He caught himself before he fell headlong into the six feet of missing earth.

Red heard the door of Bates General Store close with a sharp bang, and Cassie went inside and left him alone in the sun and wind with a deep hole to dig and too much time to think. He grabbed his shovel and jumped down, getting back at it.

He knew he was doing the right thing by refusing to marry Cassie Griffin.

A sudden gust caught a shovelful of dirt and blew it in Red’s face. Along with the dirt that now coated him, he caught a strong whiff of the stable he’d cleaned last night. Cassie would think Red and the Western men he wanted to protect her from were one and the same. And she’d be right, up to a point. The dirt and the smell, the humble clothes, and the sod house—this was who he was, and he didn’t apologize for that to any man. . .or any woman.

Red knew there was only one way for him to serve God in this matter. He had to keep clear of Cassie Griffin.

The China Doll wasn’t for him.

Monday, July 27, 2009

ME, A WINNER?

Thank you to Erica, for awarding my lil' blog the Superior Scribbler Award. I'm so honored! So here are the rules of the award:

1. Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
2. Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
3. Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
4. Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
5. Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

So, passing this award along to five blogs that I really enjoy reading, in alphabetical order, except the last one because that blogger has no clue who I am, LOL!

1. Betsy St. Amant's blog, where you can read about new motherhood and writing.
2. Eileen Astels Watson's blog, where you can soak up her wisdom and good ideas.
3. Gina Conroy's blog, where you can find out how to juggle the interruptions of life.
4. Sharon Ball's blog, where you can kick back and get to know one another.
5. Old Fashioned Homemaking, because you can find all things homemaking there--a true inspiration!

I have a long list of links on the left that I read every day, so choosing only five was really hard. Thank you to all of you whose blogs I read. You're all winners to me!

Friday, July 24, 2009

THE STAR SYSTEM



As you probably know, my kidlets are heavily involved in gymnastics, and recently the coaches instituted the Star Program in which they give the kids stars for each new skill that's mastered. Once the kids gets a star, Mom (aka ME), has to sew it onto a belt they wear to class, then when the belt is full they progress to the next level. (BTW, needles are not my friends.)

But that is not the point of my post. The point is, I wish there was a star system in the writing world.

As writers, it can be super hard to know whether or not we're mastering skills and making progress. No matter what level we're at, it's easy to fall into thinking we're on a never-ending plateau--and if we had stars to sew onto our belts we'd know we're making headway.

In my system we'd get stars for the following:

*Completing a manuscript
*Submitting a manuscript, even if it garners a rejection
*Entering a contest
*Joining a crit group
*Joining ACFW (Fine, it could be any writing group, sheesh!)
*Landing an agent --GOLD star!

THEN, when the much anticipated contract finally arrives on your doorstep, you graduate to the next level and begin to work on stars for:

*Meeting deadlines
*Marketing your book
*Surviving your first negative review

See how wonderful stars would be?

Soooo, if you're like me--stuck on the Never-Ending-Plateau-of-Doom--let me give you a bit of encouragement. You're a writer, cruising through the writing blogs, and looking for the kind of inspiration that can only come from others who've been there/done that. That, in itself, shows initiative and that you take your goal seriously.

In light of that, consider this your star :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

IT'S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR!



Christmas?



No.



BACK TO SCHOOL!!!



Even when I worked in retail, this was my absolute favorite time of the year. School clothes, new schedules, the excitement and possibilites of a new year. But more than all that...



....SCHOOL SUPPLIES! Yes, I made a trip to one of the office supply stores and picked up composition books for 50 cents, new pens, highlighters, and Post-its. I adore Post-its. Ooo, and flexi-binders for 20 cents. Does it get any better than this?

**Disclaimor** Despite the economy, and even if all the goods weren't on sale, I'd never deny myself the pleasure of index cards, paper, and Post-its.



This year in addition to loading up for my writing endeavors, I have homeschool to think about, so there's even more reason to load my cart with reckless abandon. Never mind that we're only doing Kindergarten ;)

Are you hopelessly addicted to office supplies too, or am I a weirdo? C'mon, what's your favorite item, and do you plan to splurge?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

YOU MIGHT BE RIGHT-BRAINED IF....

...you see this lady spinning clockwise. Left-brained if you see her spinning counter-clockwise. Clearly superior if you can make her change direction at-will. (LOL, I'm making that up.) Today I mostly see clockwise.



And if you can't diagnose from the above illusion, try this quiz (where I came out the exact opposite of the illusion.)













Right Brain/ Left Brain Quiz
The higher of these two numbers below indicates which side of your brain has dominance in your life. Realising your right brain/left brain tendancy will help you interact with and to understand others.
Left Brain Dominance: 12(12)
Right Brain Dominance: 8(8)
Right Brain/ Left Brain Quiz


Alas, I am not right nor left-brained.

I am confused =P

What are you?

Monday, July 20, 2009

DRUMROLL PLEASE.....

The winner of Camy Tang's Deadly Intent is......


......


......


Patty! I'll be contacting you for your information. Thanks to all who entered!!!


IN OTHER NEWS:

We started James and the Giant Peach. I'd forgotten that the story takes place in England--which means that I get to use my faux British accent while reading aloud. IS there any better way to read?

Friday, July 17, 2009

DEADLY INTENT

Oooo, romantic suspense readers, you are SO in for a treat. When a client is found bleeding to death in an exclusive spa, owner's daughter Naomi Grant heads up the suspect list, along with gorgeous doctor Devon Knightley. In addition to the unique setting and tight plot, I LOVED the spiritual journey of the hero and heroine. If you enjoyed Camy's signature style in her chick-lits, you'll recognize her voice all over Deadly Intent. Highly recommend!

And here's the best part....YOU CAN ENTER YOUR NAME IN THE DRAWING FOR A FREE COPY! Just leave your email addy in the comments section, and I'll hold a drawing on Monday.

BACK COVER:

The Grant family's exclusive Sonoma spa is a place for rest and relaxation--not murder! When Naomi Grant finds her client Jessica Ortiz bleeding to death in her massage room, everything falls apart. The salon's reputation is at stake...and so is Naomi's freedom when she discovers that she is one of the main suspects! Her only solace is found with the other suspect--Dr. Devon Knightley, the victim's ex-husband. But Devon is hiding secrets of his own. When they come to light, where can Naomi turn...and whom can she trust?

BIO:

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Originally from Hawaii, she worked as a biologist for nine years, but now she writes full-time. She is a staff worker for her San Jose church youth group and leads a worship team for Sunday service. She also runs the Story Sensei fiction critique service, which specializes in book doctoring. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and she ponders frivolous things like dumb dogs (namely, hers), coffee-geek husbands (no resemblance to her own...), the writing journey, Asiana and anything else that comes to mind. Visit her Web site at http://www.camytang.com/.

And just in case you don't win the book, CLICK HERE to purchase a copy!!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

FAVORITES


This weekend I picked up two treasures that I'm anxious to share with my tots. I fondly remember lazy, after-recess, read-aloud time in school. The teacher always had the lights out, and sometimes I'd lay my head on my desk--ahhh, I can almost smell the pencil lead on my fingers--and picture the stories. Then, I'd sometimes rewrite them and pretend it was original work, LOL!!!!

Anyhoo, Sam's Club had these on the bargain table:



Little House in the Big Woods--while I don't remember the specifics, I do remember that it took her pa scads of time to load his gun, so he'd better be a good shot. And of course I was hooked on the TV series (why don't they make shows like that anymore???)


James and the Giant Peach. The creativity of this story has always astonished me. Hopefully my kids get the same enjoyment! I haven't seen the movie, but maybe we'll rent it after reading the book.


After reading Charlotte's Web a few months ago, I think the kids are old enough to sit through
chapter books and use their imaginations. Lately I've been studying up on Classical education, which is language intensive, rather than relying on images. Thus, tons of reading.

What were your favorite chapter books as a child?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

DRUMROLL......

Great guesses yesterday on the new Merriam-Webster words! Here are the answers:

ACAI: a small dark purple fleshy berrylike fruit of a tall slender palm (Euterpe oleracea) of tropical Central and South America that is often used in beverages ; also : the palm ((I had to learn what this one is because it's the new rage in all the weight loss products!))


FLASH MOB: a group of people summoned (as by e-mail or text message) to a designated location at a specified time to perform an indicated action before dispersing ((I think it's like the Hammer-pant videos I featured. A flash mob totally sounds like fun! Know where I can join one? If only I were going to conference.....))


FRENEMY: one who pretends to be a friend but is actually an enemy ((We ALL had one of these in high school. But how many of us have had a frenemy as adults? Sorry to say I was frenemied not too long ago!))


LOCAVORE: one who eats foods grown locally whenever possible ((I had no idea how huge this movement is.))


SHAWARMA: a sandwich especially of sliced lamb or chicken, vegetables, and often tahini wrapped in pita bread ((A sandwich--who knew?))


SOCK PUPPET: ((You only THOUGHT you knew what a sock puppet was!)) a false online identity used for deceptive purposes ((Is there a sock puppet among us? How many of you have been a sock puppet?))


VLOG: a blog that contains video material ((I could do this with my handy dandy built-in webcam, but I shall spare you!))

Thanks to all who played...and cyber noogies to those who didn't!!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

IT'S THAT TIME AGAIN!

Word lovers everywhere are checking out the latest additions to Merriam-Webster. Somehow I missed last year's new words, but here's the game we played with the new words two year's ago.

I picked my favorites and want to see if you know the definitions. You can guess on all or a few, and you get bonus points for using the word in a sentence. I know y'all aren't cheaters and will not look up the defs before I post them tomorrow. Riiiight?

ACAI

FLASH MOB

FRENEMY

LOCAVORE

SHAWARMA

SOCK PUPPET

VLOG


Ready.......play!

Monday, July 13, 2009

AFTER A MUCH NEEDED REST....

....I'm ready to start writing again. Mostly.

The last time I worked on a WIP was June 9, when my agent finished going back and forth with me on a submission. Since then I've been puttering--code for getting beat-up daily at exercise class and carting the kids to gymnastics.

While I enjoyed the month and a sprinkle of days off, the stories in my head are starting to take a more definite shape, and they're clamoring for paper and pencil time. That's where all my stories begin, deep inside my Mead, graph-paper notebook. Then the ideas graduate to Post-its or index cards. Ahhh, just thinking about it makes me want to get rolling.

Since you began seriously writing, what's the most time you've taken off? What prompted you to jump back in? OR, are you one of the few, the hardcore, who has never strayed from her WIPS? (Seriously, I could be the only oddball among us who stopped writing for so long!)

Friday, July 10, 2009

THE LONG JOURNEY AND FRIENDS WHO HONK

My low-rider died. Again. At least this time it was in the driveway instead of at my daughter's school, the grocery store, or the public library (all places my vehicles have gone kaput.) After unloading my children and depositing them inside, Hubby returned my frantic call. I desperately hoped he hadn't yet left town.

"Honey, help! The car won't start. It sounds like it's going to start, but then won't turn over."

"Here's what you do. Open the hood, then get rubber gloves, a screwdriver, and a Coke."

Huh? At this point, things were not looking good for our heroine. "What am I supposed to do with all that?"

"First you're going to...." {{insert Charlie Brown wah, wah, wah.}}

I silently ran through my short list of options, and realized there weren't any. And no way was I going to do anything that involved rubber gloves and a screwdriver. "Honey, I'll call you back."

I went inside, threw on my new shoes, and put my oldest dd in charge of the kidlets. Then, water bottle and cell phone in hand, I set out on a 3-mile journey to my hub's work to get his vehicle--after a 1-hour cardio-weights class, no less. On my trek I encountered about a zillion ground hogs, and was appalled by my friends who drove by with a honk and a wave. Still, I realized that despite the grim situation, I am thankful.

I am thankful...

to be healthy enough to walk

for my new shoes--woot woot!

that we have a 2nd vehicle for back-up

for Betsy, who texted with me the whole time. In fact, there was quacking involved, and it must have something to do with THIS.

for burning enough additional calories I could eat the extra pizza, a Coke (since I didn't use it for car repair), and a caramel mochaccino. Oh, and a cherry ice cup. And yes, the calories balance out because of extenuating circumstances.

Now, if I can be thankful after the long, long journey, not to mention ripening in the sun, I KNOW you have things you're thankful for too.

What are you thankful for today?

Thursday, July 09, 2009

THE KIDNAPPING OF KENZIE THORN



Wow--an amazing debut book! Never a dull moment in this high-octane romantic suspense. You'll fall in love with the strong and protective hero, who goes undercover in prison to protect the spicy heroine. It's a story of new love and betrayal, and the ending will shock you!

SUMMARY:

Myles Parsons is just another inmate in Kenzie Thorn’s GED course until he kidnaps her, offering only a feeble explanation–that he’s actually FBI Special Agent Myles Borden. Terrified, Kenzie doesn’t want to believe his story of being undercover to protect her. Moreover, she can’t believe that someone might really want her dead.


But just when Myles thinks he has her out of harm’s way, his plans start to fall apart. He attempts to take Kenzie to a safe house—but the stubborn woman won’t go! So together they must uncover the clues that will reveal a most shocking perpetrator. All the while Myles tries to keep his distance from Kenzie … but finds himself falling in love.


BIO:



Liz Johnson grew up reading Christian fiction, and always dreamed of being part of the publishing industry. After graduating from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff with a degree in public relations, she set out to fulfill her dream. In 2006 she got her wish when she accepted a publicity position at a major trade book publisher. While working as a publicist in the industry, she decided to pursue her other dream-becoming an author. Along the way to having her novel published, she completed the Christian Writers Guild apprentice course and wrote articles for several magazines.


Liz lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she enjoys theater, ice skating, volunteering in her church's bookstore and making frequent trips to Arizona to dote on her nephew and three nieces. She loves stories of true love with happy endings. The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thornis her first novel. Keep up with Liz's adventures in writing at http://www.lizjohnsonbooks.com/.

To get your copy, CLICK HERE!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I'M A FERRET???

Last week when I picked up my kids at the athletic club, they'd managed to corral moths.....to take home as pets. Yep, I'm one of those moms who doesn't do the fur, poo, chewed shoe thing. So they decided moths were perfect. When I gave them an emphatic NO, 5-year-old tried to sneak hers out by cupping it in her hand behind her back. Sadly, 3-year-old accidentally squished hers inside a paper cup.

In honor of pets, and all you parents who care for them, today we have a pet quiz. Evidently I'm a rodent--er, ferret--and I think I'm liking it. Come back and tell me what you are!





You Are Like a Ferret



You are happy, carefree, and a total kid at heart.

You have a ton of energy, and you're always up for having fun.



You are a total charmer, and people can't help but be delighted when you're around.

You are affectionate, social, and friendly. You love people as much as they love you.

Monday, July 06, 2009

I THOUGHT HE WAS DEAD!

The 4th of July started uneventful enough since we decided not to let the kids be in the parade. (Yeah, yeah, mean mommy...oy.) As we cruised toward Village Inn for a dose of carbs and sugar, we passed a parking lot where my husband spotted a body in the weeds!

If you've been reading my blog for long, you know that we have a sad homeless problem here in town, and people on the side of the road are not uncommon. But this was different, the dude was half in the bushes, half out, and he wasn't moving. Not. One. Inch.

We stopped, but not sure if we had a crime scene on our hands, we stayed in the car and dialed 911. The tots lobbed question after question while we watched for rescuers. (It all happened so fast, they figured out something grim was up.) Less than 2 minutes later, we pulled forward (our view blocked by a building) as an ambulance came onto the scene.

I held my breath, and waited.

Moments later, the presumed-dead man rounded the corner....pumping his fist in the air as though he'd won the lottery!

I can't remember the last time I woke up so excited--and I wake up in a bed. Could I learn from this? But yes! God's mercy is new every day, and every day is full of possibilities. Who knows what's in store? Jesus came so that we can have abundant life. Heaven is awesome to look forward to, but we can have BIG LIFE here and now. Woohoo!

So friends, pump your fist in the air and make the most of today!

Friday, July 03, 2009


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Exposure

Zondervan (June 1, 2009)

by

Brandilyn Collins



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Brandilyn Collins is an award-winning and best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline "Don't forget to b r e a t h e . . ."® Brandilyn's first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. Brandilyn is also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons). She is now working on her 20th book.

In addition to Exposure, Brandilyn’s other latest release is Always Watching, first in The Rayne Tour series—young adult suspense co-written with her daughter, Amberly. The Rayne Tour series features Shaley O’Connor, daughter of a rock star, who just may have it all—until murder crashes her world.



ABOUT THE BOOK

When your worst fear comes true.

Someone is watching Kaycee Raye. But who will believe her? Everyone
knows she’s a little crazy. Kaycee’s popular syndicated newspaper
column pokes fun at her own paranoia and multiple fears. The police in
her small town are well aware she makes money writing of her
experiences. Worse yet, she has no proof of the threats. Pictures of a
dead man mysteriously appear in her home—then vanish before police
arrive. Multisensory images flood Kaycee’s mind. Where is all this
coming from?

Maybe she is going over the edge.

High action and psychological suspense collide in this story of terror,
twists, and desperate faith. The startling questions surrounding Kaycee
pile high. Her descent to answers may prove more than she can survive.


To read the first chapter, go HERE.

“More twists and turns than a Coney Island roller coaster! Highly recommended.” ~CBA Retailers

“Mesmerizing mystery…authentic characters…a fast-paced, twisting tale of desperate choices.” ~TitleTrakk

“Brandilyn Collins is a master of suspense, and Exposure is her best book yet!” ~Dianne Burnett, Christianbook.com

Thursday, July 02, 2009

IS IT POSSIBLE?

Are the 80's coming back? Say it's so! First I saw the ad for Bumpits--a hair do-dad to give you lift and volume (I adore big hair!!!!).

Then I saw these:




Then this:



These videos do my heart good.

Kinda makes me want to burst into random dance......

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

RETURN TO LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Today is a special day! I am SOOOO proud of my friend and critique partner, Betsy St. Amant, for her new release, Return to Love. It's been an honor and a privilege to have travelled alongside Betsy while she wrote (and re-wrote, LOL!) this delightful story about a penguin keeper who tries not to fall in love with her former childhood friend. If you like sweet romances, exuberant youth groups, and have an affinity for penguins, THIS IS A BOOK FOR YOU!



I'm so thankful for Betsy's success. It couldn't happen to a sweeter person, friend, and woman of God. Now, without further ado, let's hear from the woman of the hour:

* Penguins? What made you decide to feature our feathered friends in Return to Love?

I've always loved pengins and collected them over the years. It just seemed to fit that Gracie would work with them at the Aquarium of the Americas! Plus it gave me the excuse to do fun research. =)

* Besides working with your critique partner (not that I'm trying to brag--really!!!) what was your favorite part of writing Return to Love?

My crit partner IS the best!! =) Let's see, my fav part was probably the research. I normally detest stopping the writing process to find things out but this was fun because I got to call real places like The Gumbo Shop and ask whether their floor was concrete or tile. I could just see the hostess' head drop as she automatically ducked her head to check!! LOL! Then less than an hour later I called back to ask about the outside street entry wall. I'm sure they were wondering what in the world...

* Besides God's timing, what's the single biggest thing that propelled you to publication with Return to Love? In other words, what do you believe was different about this book that caught an editor's eye?

Definitely God's timing, but if we're bypassing that angle for this particular question, I'd have to say it was unique in setting and plot. Hopefully my voice made it unique as well! My editor has told me that my younger-than-average age (25!) makes my stories fresh and fun, so I hope I can keep that up. =) Guys, if my books start sounding "old", tell me! haha.

* If you were casting Gracie and Carter in a movie, who'd play the leads?

This is always a tough one! I think I'd say Isla Fisher for Gracie - she's the right age and the right hair color. (bright red!) Carter is totally uncastable. (is that a word?) I've racked my brain but no actor seems quite right for him. Maybe my readers can suggest someone to me after they finish the story? I'd love to hear their thoughts! =)

* Please give us a sneak peek into the sequel, A Valentine's Wish!

Oh thanks for asking! The sequel picks up with Gracie's best friend Lori, as Lori leaves her job at the aquarium gift shop to work in a upscale chocolate boutiqe in the French Quarter. One disaster after another leaves Lori questioning her future career options - and the sudden onslaught of gifts from a secret admirer doesn't help her confusion! Are the presents from her handsome Italian co-worker? Her youth pastor best friend? Or her ex-fiance, back for a second chance? Find out February 2010!

BACK COVER:

"I'm not the man I used to be!" - if only Gracie Broussard could believe that. Years ago, Carter Alexander broke her heart and betrayed her. Now, just when she needs him most, he's back -- asking her to believe he's changed. But this time, its not just Gracie who'll be hurt if he disappears. A penguin keeper, Gracie urgently needs to find a new home for her beloved birds. Carter is the only one who can help. He promises that she can trust him, that he's not the rebel he once was. And that he needs Gracie as much as her birds do.

AUTHOR BIO:

Betsy St. Amant lives in Louisiana and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Her contemporary romance RETURN TO LOVE is under contract with Steeple Hill Love Inspired for a July 2009 release, and the sequel A VALENTINE’S WISH is contracted for a February 2010 release. Betsy has also been published in the Christian Communicator magazine and Praise Reports: Inspiring Real Life Stories of How God Answers Prayer. One of her short stories, Kickboxing or Chocolate, appears in a Tyndale compilation book, and she is also multi-published through The Wild Rose Press. Betsy has a B.A. in Christian Communications and regularly contributes articles to Crosswalk.com. Betsy is a wife, author, new mother, and avid reader who enjoys sharing the wonders of God’s grace through her stories.

Remember to visit Betsy on her BLOG and her WEBSITE!

NOW IT'S YOUR TURN--get your copy today, and tell a friend! This is one story you're sure to enjoy and walk away with a smile, and a heart full of romance. CLICK HERE to purchase.
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