Abandonded Identity

Abandonded Identity is a MUST read. This book is captivating from the very first word... of course, if you like romances.

I do not believe in love at first sight, but I do believe that our subconscious recognizes and latches on to subtle qualities which draw us to some people and repel other people. I also believe that we can be attracted to certain people over and above the superficial.

The book has some problems such as it drags a bit in the middle. The protagonist whines without seeming to whine, but whines nevertheless. However, she is so hellbent to be independent and to hide (there is a very good reason she's on the run), she has huge problem with trusting people, and the mystery keeps the reader reading rather than tossing the book to the floor. The characters are believable, but tend toward the Danielle Steel cliche' of the characters being so rich a month off from work is no big deal. That little detail had me chewing my nails in jealousy.

Happy New Year! It is January 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!



This month's feature author is:







and her book:


Abandoned Identity
Evergreen Press (AL) (August 1, 2007)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Hooray! Tamara is one of our very own FIRST members!

She resides with her husband, Walter, and their children, John, Christopher, and Jennifer, at Hume Lake Christian Camps in the Sequoia National Forest. They have served on full-time staff and ministered at Hume for 13 years.

Tamara manages one of the retail stores at Hume Lake, which serves thousands of kids visiting the conference center on a daily basis.

Not only does she write, she is also an avid reader and enjoys other hobbies such as scrapbooking, designing greeting cards and invitations, and enjoying God's creation from her from porch.


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


The young, blond woman stepped off the elevator, rushed past the receptionist, and quickly headed down the hallway.

“Jennifer, Mr. Lynch is looking for you,” Doris called after her.

Jennifer didn’t stop to acknowledge the message. She didn’t have time. She could hear the warning in Doris’ tone. Mr. Lynch was looking for her, knowing she was late returning from lunch. This could very well be her last day at Weissler and Schuler.

She glanced at her watch as she threaded her way through the multitude of workstations. She moved as quickly as she could, even though she knew her efforts were probably for nothing—after all, late was late. He would assume she had done it on purpose and would make good on his threat from the previous week. Lynch had given her two weeks to change her attitude or she would be fired.

She hurried past his office door, hoping against hope that she would be able to slip by without being noticed. A sideways glance told her otherwise. She continued towards her own office, knowing he would be quick on her heels. She had struggled all morning, trying to do her work, trying to keep it together, but with the way she was feeling, her resolve was beginning to crumble. She’d only had enough time to slip off her jacket before she heard his booming voice in the hallway.

“Ms. Patterson, you of all people should not be abusing time restrictions. A one-hour lunch is a one-hour lunch, not an hour and 25 minutes,” he scolded her loud enough so everyone could hear him as he made his way down the hall toward her office.

Jennifer hung up her coat and purse on the rack behind her door and slumped in the overstuffed sofa that filled her office. She braced herself for the inevitable.

“You knew we needed to get started on the Yomahama account first thing after lunch,” he said as he entered her office and firmly shut the door. “Obviously you don’t care about this account as much as you say you do.” He was poised for her counterattack but was surprised instead to hear her soft apology.

“I’m sorry. I thought I could make it home and back again. But with the snow, and the traffic, and the way I’m . . .”

What’s the use explaining, she thought to herself. He doesn’t care. She had just given him the excuse he was looking for. She figured she would be packing up her personal items in less than an hour. She took a deep breath, her eyes focused downward. “I’m sorry. It wasn’t intentional.”

Harrison was taken aback. In the short time he’d known Jennifer, she had never apologized for her actions. Everything she did was intentionally antagonistic toward him. But somehow he sensed a difference in her mood.

“What’s wrong?” he bristled, not really wanting to hear her excuse.

She glanced up at his imposing figure but lowered her eyes to the floor as she spoke. “I tried to kick something all weekend. I guess I’m just not feeling up to par.”

He said nothing, waiting for her to make eye contact with him. She stiffened her back, sighed and said, “It won’t happen again.”

Had she brushed a tear from her cheek? Not possible, he thought to himself. Jennifer Patterson was tough as nails. She would never lower herself to tears in the workplace . . . that was unless she really was ill.

He waited again for her to look up at him, and when she did, he was met with vacant eyes, pallid skin, and beads of sweat that were starting to form on her brow. Just then, the intercom system went off. “Mr. Lynch, Mr. Yomahama is on the line. Shall I put him through to Miss Patterson’s office or your own?”

Obviously Doris knew where to find him because of the scene he had just made. He walked around to the front of Jennifer’s desk and cleared his voice before pushing the intercom button. “I’ll take it in my office, Doris. Give me a minute to get there.”

Lynch gave Jennifer one last stern look and then marched from her office, shutting her door with a little more force than necessary.

She collapsed against the cushions, her strong exterior completely dissolving. She had done everything she could to hold back her tears in his presence, but his quick exit allowed her to unleash the torrent she had been suppressing.

She had never felt this horrible before in her life. She would’ve called in sick if it weren’t for the fact that she knew her job was in jeopardy. It isn’t fair, she thought to herself. I should have Lynch’s job. For the hundredth time Jennifer went over in her mind the scenario that had taken her completely by surprise.

She had been groomed for the director’s position by Meg, long before Meg left to start a family. Jennifer had put in countless hours on different accounts to make sure her and Meg’s statistics had been well researched and presented in a polished manner. She had done the bulk of Meg’s work, along with her own, as Meg progressed into her third trimester. It simply wasn’t fair!

The day corporate brought in Harrison Lynch and announced he would be the new director, instead of her, she was livid. She felt demeaned and unappreciated. Everyone in the office knew she had worked hard for the job and had deserved it. But corporate behaved in their typical chauvinistic manner and took the opportunity to replace Meg with a man instead of another woman. Testosterone was the only asset that Harrison Lynch had that she did not.

While the other women in the office were quick to overlook the injustice of the situation because of Harrison’s availability, good looks, and charismatic personality, she only saw him as a thorn in her side.

She would only be fooling herself if she said she didn’t see his appeal. He was older than she was—the classic tall, dark, and handsome type. His sparkling brown eyes and wavy brown hair gave him a boyish charm, but his stature and muscular body proved him to be anything but boyish. His enigmatic character made him the kind of man that breezed through life with ease, putting the Midas touch on everything he encountered. But the way he clashed with her, rubbing her the wrong way and always trying to put her in her place, made his good looks less appealing.

Jennifer had butt heads with Harrison ever since he had shown up. She was not afraid to speak out against his proposals or the way in which he supplied information to a client. She had caused him more than one embarrassing moment in important meetings with prospective accounts. She upstaged him with what she called “a more efficient way to gather and record information.” She didn’t think it beneath her to use her feminine mystique with a client in order to work on a case that Lynch would’ve preferred to handle by himself. Lynch had put her on the spot on more than one occasion, but somehow she always came out looking professional in front of the clients.

When she had worked with Meg, Jennifer’s desk was out front with everyone else’s. She liked it that way. She enjoyed working in an environment that buzzed with activity. But Lynch changed all that. He made it very clear that Jennifer was his assistant, and he needed her at his personal disposal. And so he had her move her things into the smaller of the two conference rooms.

Giving Jennifer her own office was not a reward but a sentence. She felt he had isolated her on purpose to break her spirit. It had taken the wind out of her sails for a short period, but she decided two could play at that game. She promptly ordered custom office furniture and personalized the space. What he had intended on being a lonely, sterile environment, she had turned into a showplace of warmth and femininity.

She had one-upped him again and gloated in the fact that he could do nothing about it. After all, he was the one that gave her her own office and the freedom to decorate it the way she wanted. The fact that she did it with pastels in a style she knew he disliked (even though she disliked it too) was icing on the cake. Harrison had declared that an office should reflect professionalism not personality and initially insisted she get rid of everything. His request was denied when Mrs. Weissler came in and admired what she had done with the old conference room. With Mrs. Weissler on her side, Jennifer had once again thwarted Lynch’s authority.

Lynch had finally had enough. He called her into his office a week earlier and lowered the boom. “I’m giving you two weeks notice.”

“You’re firing me?” Jennifer was floored. Though she knew that he disliked her as much as she disliked him, he would have to explain to corporate why he was letting such a valuable employee go.

“No, I’m not firing you . . . yet.” He was cool and calm as he sat behind his solid oak desk. “I’m giving you two weeks to change your attitude. I’m tired of the mind games, the flirting with clients, and the way you insist on making proposals before discussing them with me. Weissler and Schuler should present a united front to all our clients, not a sense of division and indecisiveness. You have two weeks to get on board, assume your position as my assistant, and change your ‘I can top that’ attitude. If you choose not to, you will give me no alternative than to let you go.”

Now, it was just a week later, and Jennifer had given Lynch the perfect opportunity to show corporate that she was not the team player that they had assumed her to be. Corporate was breathing down everyone’s neck about the Yomahama account. It meant millions to them if they could seal the deal. If they felt she hadn’t given it her all, they would allow Lynch to have his way, no questions asked.

Jennifer sobbed into the arm of the floral couch that she despised. She thought about all the ways she had tried to make work uncomfortable for Harrison Lynch but knew she had failed. On occasion, he had tried joking with her and having innocuous conversations, but she would have none of it. She wouldn’t accept the olive branch that he tried to extend to her. Now he would have the last laugh, and it would be her own fault.

The door swung open once again. Harrison was poised and ready to battle with her, only to find her hunched over, her head in her hands and tears falling onto her charcoal colored slacks.

He felt uncomfortable finding her in such a vulnerable position. The all-business exterior he had resolved to use with her now took a back seat to the compassionate Harrison that others had seen. He stood for a moment before taking a seat on the couch alongside her and waited for her to gather her composure. It took several minutes before she could speak.

“I know what you’re going to say, so I’ll save you the energy.” She rubbed at her aching brows and sniffled. “You’ll have the files for the Yomahama account on your desk by the end of the day, and I’ll clean out my things. You can do what you want with the furniture. I don’t want it.” She held her head like she was afraid it was going to snap off her neck.

Harrison just sat there, not saying a thing. Jennifer wished he would just leave. She felt defeated and humiliated. He’d gotten his way; he’d won. With the experience she’d gained at Weissler and Schuler, she’d have no problem getting a job elsewhere, so she resolved to give up without a fight. Her only desire right then was to get home before her head exploded.

It seemed like an eternity before he spoke again. “What have you taken for it?”

“What?” She was confused. There was no smugness to his tone. In fact, if she wasn’t mistaken, he actually sounded concerned. She didn’t dare look at him. Just lifting her head would hurt too much.

“Is it a cold or the flu?”

“A cold,” she answered, wondering why he was being so nice. It was a trait she didn’t think he was capable of, at least not with her. He got up and left the room without saying another word.

She glanced at his receding steps, totally confused. She grabbed a tissue from her purse and tried to wipe away the salty tears and runny nose that was moistening her lips. She gently rolled her head back against the couch and sighed heavily, thankful for the solitude. It didn’t last long; within minutes, Harrison was back.

He sat down alongside her, causing her head to sway and a small moan to escape her lips. He handed her a glass that was fizzing, along with several pills. “Here’s something for your headache, a decongestant, and a bi-carbonate. They should do the trick.”

“No thanks,” she said through closed eyes. “I can’t take pills. They knock me out and make my head swim. Besides, I still have too much work to do. I don’t have time to pass out.”

“The way I see it, you’re already wasted. You’re no good to me like this. Take these, and in an hour you’ll feel a lot better. I guarantee it. We’ll work on the Yomahama account then.”

“I should have known you wouldn’t let me die quietly,” Jennifer retorted, looking at the pills he was still holding. “And if I don’t take your concoction?”

“Then I’ll have to assume the Yomahama account isn’t as important to you as I gave you credit for, and I’ll get Jerry to work on it with me instead.”

“Jerry!” She sat up, her head throbbing with disapproval. She slowly lowered herself back to the comfort of the couch, covering her eyes with the palms of her hands. “There’s no way I’m going to let Jerry take all my research and screw it up.”

“Okay, then. I guess you’ll have to do it my way,” he said. “Take these, dim the lights, and allow yourself some sleep. Don’t worry about watching the clock. I’ll come and get you in about an hour.”

Jennifer realized it was no longer a suggestion. Harrison put the pills in her hand and waited for her to drink them down with the bi-carbonate.

She tossed them to the back of her throat and held her breath as she drank the fizzy water. She knew she had to do it in one swig, or it would never stay down. Her shoulders shuddered in protest, and she thought she saw the hint of a smile form on Harrison’s lips. He pressed the button for the automatic shades to cover her office windows and dimmed the lights. “I’ll check on you in an hour.” With that, he closed the door and left her with her thoughts.

What just happened? she thought to herself. He had the perfect opportunity to fire me, and instead he helped me. Jennifer couldn’t concentrate on figuring out the answer to that one. Her head was throbbing so hard, it was making it impossible for her to reason.

She pulled her feet up under her and allowed her head to rest on the padded arm of the couch. An hour’s sleep, then I’ll be able to push through the rest of the day. She drifted off quickly. She was a lightweight when it came to tolerating medicine, and with the mixture she had just taken, she knew that she would finally get some rest.

Harrison walked back to his office and closed the door. He stood before the expansive window and watched the falling snow blanket the Chicago streets. Jumbled emotions crowded his mind. He was afraid that he’d allowed Jennifer’s weakened state to play on his sympathy, but it wasn’t unlike him. He really was a nice guy. It’s just that since he’d arrived at Weissler and Schuler, he and Jennifer had clashed . . . no, more like collided.

He found out soon enough that she had thought she was a lock for his job because of the work she had done with the previous director. He tried to talk to her about it and let her know he understood her disappointment. When he told her he was excited to be working with such a talented analyst, she only stiffened at his attempt at civility. Her spitefulness and malice made her look so unattractive—nothing like the vulnerable woman he had just left in the darkened office. He finally saw in her what some of the men in the office already had seen. She was a lot more appealing when she wasn’t being conniving or manipulative. With her defenses down, he actually found himself drawn to her, but he was wary that would change as soon as she had her strength back.

HARRISON HAD BEEN WORKING TIRELESSLY at his computer when he glanced at his watch. He realized it had been more than an hour since he had left Jennifer in her office. He quietly opened her door and leaned in to see how she was doing. She was curled up on the couch, her face flushed and moist. He moved to her side, leaned down, and carefully placed the back of his hand to her forehead. She was feverish. She stirred under his touch, but her eyes had a difficult time focusing. She looked at Harrison and tried to figure out why she was lying down and why he was hovering over her. She closed her eyes and vaguely remembered being late to work and taking a handful of medicine.

“What time is it?” Her voice was barely above a whisper.

“Almost 3:00 p.m.”

“Oh, my gosh.” She tried sitting up as her head spun out of control. “I’ve got to get working. We have the Yomahama meeting tomorrow. We can’t waste any more time.”

Harrison pressed his hands against her shoulders and gently pushed her back against the couch cushions. “You need to rest. Your body is obviously trying to fight something. You have a fever.”

“We don’t have time for this, Mr. Lynch.”

She again moved to a sitting position. She wiped at the perspiration on her forehead and scooped her long blonde hair up into a handful on top of her head. She started pulling at the pink cashmere sweater she was wearing, bellowing it to get some cool air up against her skin. “I feel like I’m suffocating.”

“That’s the fever.”

Before Harrison realized what she was doing, Jennifer reached for the hem of her sweater and began to pull it over her head.

He turned away and sputtered, “What are you doing?”

“If you have a fever, you’re supposed to keep at least one foot and one shoulder exposed to cool air.”

“Where did you hear that?”

“I’m not sure, but it’s worked before.”

She continued to remove her sweater. Harrison was relieved to see that she was wearing a silky, pink shell underneath the soft sweater. She pulled her black, high heeled boots from her feet and curled up into a fetal position once again.

“You look miserable; you need to go home. This is ridiculous. There’s no way you’re going to be able to get any work done under these conditions,” Harrison added as she tried to get comfortable.

“I’d be fine if my head would just stop pounding, and I wasn’t so hot.”

“Let me call you a cab. You need to go home.”

“No! I can beat this. Let me just rest a little bit longer. If I could just get rid of this headache, I know I could finish our proposal. Please give me another hour.” She was determined to finish what she had started, especially since it could quite possibly be her last account. Harrison was being uncharacteristically nice to her at the moment, but if the Yomahama meeting didn’t go well, she knew she would be the proverbial scapegoat.

Harrison stood with his arms firmly crossed against his chest and doubt in his eyes. He knew from past experience there was no sense arguing with her. Of course, there was nothing that said he was obligated to wake her up either.

“Fine, I’ll see you in about an hour.” He left her office with no intention of disturbing her again. If she had the strength to wake up, she would have to do it on her own.

Although Harrison knew he needed to spend every minute on the Yomahama proposal, he found himself thinking about Jennifer. Why hadn’t he noticed her crystal blue eyes or the delicate curve of her jaw before? Maybe because whenever he talked to her, her eyes were glaring and her jaw was set.

He wandered back into Jennifer’s office around 4:30 p.m. He watched her as she slept. Her breathing was even and her complexion no longer looked flush. His eyes followed the tip of her chin to where it rested near her exposed shoulder. He felt his thoughts wandering in a direction that was far from work related. He had always been cautious to keep his professional life separate from his personal life, but somehow seeing Jennifer in such a vulnerable state also exposed a side of her that was quite beautiful.

He left her office and drifted down the hall. People were beginning to shut down their computers and straighten up their workstations. The talk was all about the snow that had continued to fall throughout the day. The weather report was predicting another foot before morning. Harrison waved goodnight to them as they left and headed back to his office.

Doris followed him down the hall, worry etched on her kind face.

“Mr. Lynch, I’m concerned about Miss Patterson. I know she was awfully sick this morning when she came in, and she didn’t look any better when she returned from lunch. I haven’t seen her since you . . . well, since you spoke with her this afternoon.”

Harrison knew what Doris was alluding to. The way he had barked at Jennifer when she returned from lunch had obviously been heard throughout the office.

“I gave her some medicine earlier today, and it made her pretty sleepy. That’s why you haven’t seen her.”

“Will she be okay to drive herself home? The road conditions have gotten pretty bad.”

“Don’t worry, Doris, I’ll make sure she’s okay before she leaves.”

“Okay, I was just concerned. She really is a sweet girl; she just comes off a bit harsh sometimes.”

“Harsh? That’s an understatement!”

Doris just smiled. “Well, good night, Mr. Lynch.”

“Good night, Doris, and thank you for your concern.”

What price Christmas?

If I did not have a strong heart, I know I would have had a heart attack just from the sheer cost of health insurance. I am not happy that I must pay for the malpratice insurance and the other high cost of doing business in the medical field.

It is actually gambling, don't you think? The purchase of health insurance is a bet that I will get sick and need it, and the insurance company is betting that I won't get sick and need it. The problem is... most insurances that are available in Mississippi for individuals is priced ridiculously high for "older" Mississippians. If I were but 3 years younger, the cost of my insurance monthly premium would be reduced by $100. But, I'm not, so I'll have to pay. And the premium is on top of any cost of going to the doctor. That makes me angry. Not only do I have to pay the insurance company a monthly premium, but I must also pay on top of that for my regular visits to the doctor up to my deductible. If I do not get sick enough to go to the hopsital, I may as well not even have insurance. It would be considerably cheaper.

Then, I hear all these retailers moaning and groaning over lack of sales this Christmas. I wanted to just reach through the TV screen and slap that finance reporter... $26 Billion--yes, ladies and gentlemen that is with a Big Fat B--is not a paltry sum that people have parted with this season, according to one report.

Here we have a classic example of greed and discontent. No one is satisfied. Even with gift cards floating around the populace with and estimated $28 Billion on them for future spending. How can that be something to groan about?

I cannot even fathom how much $1 Billion is. How can I contemplate $28Billion? How much is that?

Let's see, 1% of that is $280 million! That is almost enough to give $1 to each and every American (population 303,640,054,869). With $28 Billion, we could buy the Hilton Corporation.

$30 billion buries a football field under 120 feet of $1 bills laid side by side and end to end. That would be the same height of 20 6' tall men standing feet on heads. So what's a paltry $2 Billion?

Well 2 Billion seconds last for 67 years.

And all this means nothing to retailers? Bah Humbug!

We can't even compare how much God gave us when He sent His Son Who became fully and completely human in every physical sense. How can the cost be counted?

I cannot imagine what it would be like to see my child hanging from a cross so that I could live. Somehow, that stupid tie, or that broken picture frame loses any sense of importance.

Gold will lose its luster and diamonds will disintegrate, but I shall be sitting at my Savior's feet. One day we'll be celebrating eternally with all our loved ones. How can that price be counted?

I dare not contemplate that. The cost was so high, yet willingly paid. The bride price was given with no thought to the shame, but to the joy beyond the cross. Glory.

Little baby feet...


Reprint from 12-20-05



Little, sweet baby feet. Mary will soon cover them with her hand, warming them against the night chill. She has treasured in her heart all the words spoken about her first born Son.


Things like, "The angel was so glorious, shouting out praises to God on High and the Good News! The Messiah is born! Our long awaited Savior, the Lord, is born!"And word went out publically, through the bright streets of Bethelehem. The star shining down on the child. The little feet, toes curled against the chill, wiggled in His mother's hand.
Eight day old, tiny feet with pink toes that curl in pain as the centuries-old right of covenant is performed on the Messiah.


Simon lifts his old eyes, tears spilling from their corners to the Lord God Almighty. Praising Him for this precious gift. Anna speaks to all who will listen about the Christ child, this most amazing gift from God.


The feet grew large enough for little sandals as they toddled, one in front of the other. Tiny hands holding on to a big Daddy finger. His first steps, those little feet on their own, dust swirling around them, making the little nose sneeze. A delighted chuckle from Daddy, and a bright grin from Mommy. Loving, watchful eyes guarded those little feet from the fire, the holes, the rocks.


One day a mighty procession fills the streets of Bethelehem. Camels dressed in finery, servants dashing from house to house questions in their expressions, the star's bright light settled over one house. Magi, wise men from the far East nod and smile. They get off their beasts and carefully search the packs until fine gifts are found. Gold, frankencense and Myrrh. Reverently they enter His presence. They bow and worship Him, kissing His little feet.


The days go by and His feet grow larger, tucked underneath Him as He sits in His Father's House. The voices of many echo around. He speaks with great authority and the voices quiet. "Did you not know that I must be in My Father's House about My Father's business?"


The days go by and His feet grow larger. The heat bears down and the slap of leather against hard ground is muted by many voices. Dust billows up and covers those following behind Him. Disciples they are called. A word that loosely means dust gatherers as they follow Him. Men and women thirsting for the living water that falls from His lips; hungering for the Bread of Life.The days go by and storms cease, roiling billows calm, deaf hear, blind see, sick are healed, lepers are cleansed, demons are routed, stories are told, His feet get tired and His bones grow weary from the press of the opressed. His own received Him not but those that did receive Him were given Life because He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, the Doorway to Heaven.


The feet carried Him through desert and over mountain, through streams and over the sea.One afternoon the feet are resting against cool tile. A woman enters the room. She settles at the feet. Her tears wash the dust from them. Her hair dries them. She kisses His feet in deep worship for she has been forgiven much. She washed His feet as the nobleman did not. Reverent worship by anointing them with ointment. One day the feet stumble down the street, drenched in His blood.


The feet are in agony as they trudge toward Golgotha. The nails are hammered through them into the cross. Splinters pierce the skin. Blood drips from them into the dust. The feet strain to hold Him up for one last breath and then He gives up His spirit.


Tenderly the feet are washed one last time, a hundred pounds of spices and clean cloths are wrapped around the body and He is laid to rest in a freshly hewn tomb. The stone covers the entrance and darkness engulfs the One. Days pass. Suddenly, the earth quakes.Those dear feet touch earth once more, transformed. The same, but different, glorified, radiant feet and body. These dear feet walk down a road and the King tells His story from Genesis to Malachi , all those things that foretold His coming, His dying, His arising in victory over sin and death.


On the mountain, the last thing the disciples see are the soles of those feet rising to Heaven.


Oh happy day, the day I can sit at those feet that are even now on the pavement of sapphire as clear as the heavens... To kiss them in worship and adoration... To sit at them and learn from He who has all knowledge and has all power and secured victory for me and gave me life eternal with him. Oh happy day, O glorious feat.

Distant Heart

I have not read this one yet, I got caught up reading another book however... it sounds good...

In the second book in the Westward Hearts trilogy, will the promise of a new life out west heal the scars of Toni's past?This series tells the stories of three strong women as they struggle to survive on the rough wagon train and lose their hearts to unlikely heroes along the way/ Thin Little House on the Prairie meets Francine river's Redeeming Love and you begin to get a sense of the riveting historical series that Tracey Bateman has created.In this second installment, we follow Toni Rodden, a former prostitute who sought to escape her past and build a new life, and a new reputation, when she joined the wagon train. Despite much resentment and distrust from the other women, Toni has finally earned a place on the wagon train and found a surrogate family in Fannie Caldwell and her two siblings. For the first time in her life, Toni actually feels free.

But while Toni once harbored dreams that her new life might include a husband and family, she soon realizes the stigma that comes with her past is difficult to see beyond and that she'll never be truly loved or seen as worthy. As the trip out west begins to teach her to survive on her own, she resolves to make her own living as a seamstress when the train finally reaches Oregon.

But despite Toni's conviction that no man will be able to see beyond her marred past, Sam Two-feathers, the wagon scout and acting preacher for the train seems to know of a love that forgives sins and values much more than outward appearances. Will Sam have the confidence to declare his love? Will Toni be able to trust in a God that can forgive even the darkest past? Faith, love, and courage will be put to the test in Distant Heart.

For the pleasure of it

Posted from www.liveasif.org

In these days of soft-soap Christianity and the feel-good-do-it society, I've noticed that people reach for that pleasure factor in worshiping our Lord God Almighty. Have you noticed that?

I think there is nothing wrong with going to God for the pure pleasure of it. In fact it gives great pleasure to believers to go into the Throne Room to worship and bring praises to God our creator and our deliverer. But just as Solomon found out there is a limit to how pleasure pleases the mind and the body (Ecclesiastes 2) It becomes empty.

It is exactly like marrying a woman for her body... eventually a person gets exhausted of nothing but pleasure and it then comes to a point where there is no more satisfaction in the pleasure act and cravings begin to develop for something more than just pleasure. We are created that way--different aspects and facets to the same jewel.

I think pursuit of pleasure as a motivation to serve does seem a bit selfish. It is the same as the end justifying the means which is wrong thinking.

Our motivation should be a deep desire to please and not so much focused on our own pleasure, although that is a great benefit.

After all to obey is better than sacrifice and to pay attention is better than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 14:22 Who can I speak to and give such a warning [and bear witness] that they will listen? Look, their ear is uncircumcised, [ = unresponsive to God] so they cannot pay attention. See, the word of the LORD has become contemptible to them— they find no pleasure in it. Jeremiah 6:10

The one who loves pleasure will become a poor man; whoever loves wine and oil will not get rich. Proverbs 21:17

God searches the hearts of men all over the world, but the hearts of those that serve Him are of the most special interest to Him. If God finds a self-serving motive--such as pleasure seeking-- how true is that Believer's heart? Where is the sacrifice? Where is the fat of rams? And here is where I have the problem with the pleasure-motivated service to God. Where does the personal agenda cease and the neck bend, the will submit to God's will and His agenda?

Jesus for the sake of the joy ahead... that was to come, endured the cross. How hard that struggle was for Jesus knew the torture and pain yet He willingly set His face toward it. He looked past the shame to the joy, (notice it the word in that Scripture is not happiness) beyond the cross.

So... with that in mind, how enduring is a pleasure-based motive to serve God? When the trials and troubles come, does the pleasure motive have roots deep enough to withstand the storm?

Since God is love and His gift to His children is His enduring love that a love-based motive is stronger and more enduring, and longer-lasting than the pleasure-based motive. Here is the thing, if a person does good deeds simply because it makes them feel good, does that diminish the good deed's worth? Perhaps in the sight of God it does, perhaps not to the person receiving the good deed.

Seeking to enjoy God for the pure pleasure of His company and the pure pleasure it brings is very okay! That is the fun time, that is the dancing time and it is enjoying Him that gives strength for the other times that are not so enjoyable when He calls us to sacrifice for Him.

Sacrifice is all about Him and none of self. It is all about obedience and none of selfish desire. Since God searches the hearts of man, Jeremiah 17:10 I, Jehovah, search the heart, I try the reins, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings. Therefore, pleasure is a poor motivator for the things of the heart that would please God. He promises that if we delight in Him, then He will give you your heart's desires.

Does that mean that our desires are given to us, or does it mean that He puts desires in our hearts? I think I would prefer that He put His own desires in my heart, then I know I would delight in Him and delight Him.

How great that is... putting a smile on God's face! To please Him brings great pleasure, but that kind of pleasure is much more pleasant. It doesn't depend upon another person, or even upon one's self. It just bubbles up and pours all over us like a the spring in a well-watered garden. Isaiah 58.

What Lies Within

There are no words that accurately describe this book. What Karen Ball has put together is a smooth read that is predictable, but a good kind of predictable. If it had gone any other way, I would have been mad.

In places it is very gripping. In places it is very sweet. I think it is a bit too wordy and in someplaces it bogs down. I just skipped over those and kept reading.

This is a Christian fiction book that actually brings in the Faith Factor. That merits a star all by itself. I give it three stars.

Kyla Justice has arrived. Her company, Justice Construction, is one of the most critically acclaimed, commercially successful companies in the Pacific Northwest. And yet, something is missing. Not until she’s called on to build a center for inner-city kids does she realize what it is: her sense of purpose. Now nothing can stop her, not the low budget, not supply problems, not gang opposition, not her boyfriend’s suggestion that she sell her business and marry him–and most especially not that disagreeable Rafael Murphy.

Rafe Murphy understands battle. Wounded in action, this Force Recon Marine carries the scars–and the nightmares–to prove it. Though he can’t fight overseas any longer, he’s found his place as a warrior in the civilian world. So he soldiers on, trusting that one of these days, God will reveal to him why Rafe survived the ambush in Iraq. That day has arrived.

Kyla and Rafe both discover that determination alone won’t carry them through danger and challenges. When gang violence threatens their very foundations, there’s only one way to survive: rely on each other, be real–and surrender to God. In other words, risk everything…

Adam and Eve and Free Will

Usually when "one of those passages" keep coming back to my mind, I have found that God is trying to teach me something very important.

I have been thinking about the Free Will question. Firstly, we don't know what kind of fruit the Tree of Knowledge had on it. Someone somewhere decided that it was an apple (shrug) go figure.

Let's look at the Scripture verse by verse: God created the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Gen. 2:8-9) Then God put Adam into the Garden of Eden that He had made for him so he could work the Garden and keep it in order. Then: 16 GOD commanded the Man, "You can eat from any tree in the garden, 17 except from the Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil. Don't eat from it. The moment you eat from that tree, you're dead." The Message

Here is the very first commandment. Never had God commanded anything before...He just spoke and it was. But to Adam, God gave intelligence and God expected obedience from him. We know that Adam did eat from the Tree. We also know that Adam did not physically drop dead from eating that fruit. So what happened when he took that bite?

1. God commanded Adam not to eat of the fruit...God commanded Eve through Adam.
2. God expected Adam's obedience.
3. God knew that as long as Adam obeyed Him, Adam would be innocent--meaning that he would be guiltless of any sin. Okay... let's go back and look at another verse.

Gen 2:7 Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.NASB

breathed is nâphach naw-fakh'
A primitive root; to puff, in various applications (literally, to inflate, blow hard, scatter, kindle, expire; figuratively, to disesteem): - blow, breath, give up, cause to lose [life], seething, snuff.
God gave His Spirit to Adam. Adam was the first created being to be created saved. His own spirit was given life by God's breath.

breath is the Hebrew word נשׁמה neshâmâh nesh-aw-maw'
From H5395; a puff, that is, wind, angry or vital breath, divine inspiration, intellect or (concretely) an animal: - blast, (that) breath (-eth), inspiration, soul, spirit. means breath of God, spirit of man.

life is the Hebrew word חי chay khah'ee which means to live, have life, be quickened to life
From H2421; alive; hence raw (flesh); fresh (plant, water, year), strong; also (as noun, especially in the feminine singular and masculine plural) life (or living thing), whether literally or figuratively: - + age, alive, appetite, (wild) beast, company, congregation, life (-time), live (-ly), living (creature, thing), maintenance, + merry, multitude, + (be) old, quick, raw, running, springing, troop.

But more than that, God created Adam with a perfect fellowship with Himself. Adam knew God intimately and Adam had God's Spirit abiding within Himself. Adam and Eve were the only flesh and blood that ever entered God's presence because they were innocent of any sin. They didn't even know what sin was. They did not know what evil was and did not experience evil.

Gen 2:25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

When Eve was deceived and she gave Adam the fruit to eat... Adam chose to disobey God's command and he ate the fruit. This fruit was from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Basically, it wasn't solely the fruit that gave them the knowledge, it was the act of disobedience also that gave them the knowledge. They were no longer innocent and they knew they were naked. Consider chapter 3 in Genesis... A lot of finger pointing went on, but if we follow God's leading...we'll see who God considered the real culprit.

3:14 -- The serpent is cursed more than anything created. The woman's seed will bruise its head with His heel.
3:16 -- The woman's pain in child birth was greatly multiplied and in spite of the pain of childbirth, her desire would be for her husband. She would be ruled by him.
3:17-19 -- The man's labor is greatly increased in order for his family's needs to be provided for; and here is where God decrees Man will physically die. 3:23 -- God sends Adam out of the Garden, away from His own presence. Thus are the physical consequences of the first sin--the sin of disobedience-- established. Adam and Eve were given Free Will from the very beginning, otherwise they would not have been able to defy God's command to not eat from the Tree of Knowledge. It was always God's intention for humans to have Free Will because He has never desired Forced Worship. He desires us to desire Him above all things. He desired Adam & Eve to make Him ruler of their hearts just as this is His desire for His children. They exercised their freedom of choice.

The sin was disobedience to God's command. The consequence was loss of the Holy Spirit of God abiding within their hearts. Therefore, Adam & Eve Spiritually died the instant they took that bite of the fruit. They eventually physically died, however the Spiritual death was much more trumatic because God banished them from His presence. The consequence of this was that all humans ever after are born with a God-sized hole. Man was created to be Spiritually alive with God's Spirit. When this was taken away, the God-sized hole gives Mankind this intense craving to be filled. Mankind does all kinds of crazy things to fill this hole. He tries everything from work, to money, to drugs, to self-mutilation, to pursuit of knowledge (Ecclesiastes is a good example of this) to pursuit of perfect physical appearance, to having as many children as possible, to all kinds of church work, to buying as many toys as possible, clothes, shoes, possessions, big houses... the list goes on and on. Nothing fills that God-sized void except the Holy Spirit. It took the willing sacrifice of Jesus to reconcile humans to the Living God again legally.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus sweated drops of blood in His anxiety but He chose to obey God's will. Now, we can freely choose to either accept Jesus as our Savior or to reject Him. (Proof of this choice is in Acts 12--you might note that we are not given a reaction from Drusilla whose father was Herod Agrippa. He's the one that was eaten alive by worms because of his pride and refusal to bend to God's will.) Here's the wonderful thing about this kind of Freedom. When we accept Jesus as Savior -- That's the last decision we ever make on our own. We have much greater wisdom at work in us than mere human wisdom after the Holy Spirit resides in our hearts. Choosing Jesus means choosing Him as Ruler of the Heart and Mind and Body and Soul.

This is how a Christian is known to other Christians...True Believer to other True Believers. The True Believer will desire to obey God and will be convicted by the Holy Spirit when he/she sins. Does this mean we won't have periods of rebellion and/or times of seduction into doing ungodly things? No. We most certainly will have those times because we are not perfect and we still reside in our fleshly, physical bodies. What it means is that we will be convicted of our sin when we sin and we won't be able to sleep at night or have peace in our minds or be content. We will worry. We will fret. We will do all manner of running away from God until we recognize the sin for what it is. When we confess that sin and repent from that sin...Then God cleanses us, refreshes us, gives us peace in our hearts and minds. Our witness is restored from the shambles it was in and we are stonger in the Lord than ever before.

Our Free Will becomes a trophy for Jesus, a crown at His feet. It is the free will offering that we bestow upon Him.

Prayer works

If I had ever had any doubts before, I'd be absolutely looney tunes to not believe now. I can't share with you what my thorn was, but through the prayers of my beloved friends and family, the thorn doesn't hurt so much right now. Life is grand.

Why is it always so dark before the dawn? I think it is because we couldn't appreciate how beautiful the dawn is with all its brilliance and all the colors and most especially the LIGHT, if it were not for the darkness.

Darkness is the absence of light... it is not the opposite of light. The tiny flame of a single candle completely defeats darkness. But without darkness, the candle's flame would not be so bright. Therefore, it takes the trials and the heartaches for us to understand how wonderful is joy, how pleasant is peace, how fabulous is faith, how glorious is love and how fantastic is our God in Heaven, the Light of our world Who is so bright we have no need for the sun or the moon. That is too large a thought to contemplate in such a short space of time as it took to write it.

Our God is an awesome God Who reigns from Heaven above. Our God is an awesome God.

Back to the divorce thing...

My dear friend and sistah from Nappily Evah Aftah has some most excellent comments.

The Minor Protection Act

The premise of this book is incredibly chilling. I can see the beginnings of a net just like Jodi depicts in this book. I doubt it could go as far as Jodi depicts it. I did like this book. I especially liked the deeply embedded faith aspects of it and the correlation to Paul. It is worthy.



It is December 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!



This month's feature author is:






and her book:



The Minor Protection Act
Musterion (December 1, 2005)



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jodi Cowles caught the travel bug when her parents took her on her first international flight at six months of age. Since then she’s been in over 30 countries. Along the way she’s gotten locked out of her cabin on an all night train to Kiev, helped deliver a baby in Indonesia, taught English in South Korea, gone spelunking in Guam, hiked the Golan Heights and laid bricks in Zimbabwe. Her interest in politics stems from hunting Easter eggs on the south lawn of the White House as a child. For her 30th birthday she ran the LA Marathon and promised to get serious about publishing. Jodi resides in Boise, Idaho and this is her first novel.


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

If the politically correct set was searching for a poster couple, they would need to look no further than Erik and Roselyn Jessup. In college they lit up doobies while attending passionate speeches about legalizing marijuana and freeing Tibet. Erik was even arrested once for helping break into an animal research center. Roselyn bailed him out. After five years of dating they decided to tie the knot. Seven years later, after Roselyn had enough time to get established in her career, she gave birth to their pride and joy, Jayla Lynn Jessup.

Both had satisfying full-time jobs that left them only enough time to pour themselves into Jayla. They attended every event at school, even if it meant working overtime and paying the after school program for a few extra hours. When Jayla made the principal's list or won a spelling bee, they were cheering, and filming, from the front row.

Jayla began junior high at a brand new school with a brand new curriculum. It was being called "progressive" in the papers; the first program of its kind implemented in California with plans for a nationwide rollout over the next 10 years. Praise poured in from around the country, applauding the straight talk about sexuality and focus on tolerance.

Erik and Roselyn were thrilled to have their daughter in this groundbreaking program. Granted, it took several phone calls to district authorities to accomplish the transfer and Roselyn had to drive an extra 30 minutes each morning to drop off Jayla, but it was quite a coup to brag about in their circle of friends.

Jayla turned 13 two years into junior high. For her birthday she told her parents she wanted to order pizza and hang around the house – there was something she needed to tell them. Over pepperoni and Coke, Jayla calmly informed them that she'd been discussing it with her friends and teachers and had decided she was gay.

Though she had never had a girlfriend, or a boyfriend for that matter, Erik and Roselyn were quick to affirm her decision and let her know she had their full support. Roselyn applauded her daughter's honest, courageous move and told Jayla how proud she was. Erik was also supportive and went so far as to tease Jayla about her best friend Sara.

There weren't too many lesbians in her junior high and Jayla had a pretty average experience, but she attracted attention when she entered high school wearing the rainbow buttons specially purchased by her mother. Soon she was 15 and seriously involved with Carla, the 17-year-old senior who was President of the Gay Pride Club. When Erik and Roselyn saw the relationship deepening they sat Jayla down and had a heart to heart "sex talk," encouraging her to be responsible and safe, and only to have sex if she was truly in love.

She was. However, when the year ended Carla left for college on the east coast and broke off the relationship in a letter.

Jayla was heartbroken. Erik and Roselyn were quick to comfort, as any loving parents of a shattered teenager, but their answers seemed hollow to Jayla, their comfort cold. At 16 she began dabbling in drugs - a first for her.

By the time her senior year began the family bond that was once so strong had disintegrated to the degree that she seldom spoke to her parents unless it was to strike out in anger. She had not entered into another dating relationship, as much as they encouraged her in that direction. Rather, she seemed withdrawn from the world and spent endless hours either locked in her room or suspiciously absent. Finally, Roselyn had enough and took her to a doctor who prescribed an anti-depressant for teenagers that had just been released on the market.

By Christmas the medication seemed to be working. Jayla was coming around, spending more time at home. She seemed calmer and more at peace. They were even beginning to talk about college. But New Year's morning they found her dead, her anti-depressant bottle and a quart of vodka laying empty in the trash and a mass of journals and letters scattered around her in the bed.

Erik and Roselyn were devastated. Jayla had been their whole life. They dove into the letters and journals, trying to make sense of it all. What they found only served to inflame their anger. Some boy named Nick had been telling their daughter that she was a sinner, quoting Bible verses that said her sexual preference was an abomination before God. Jayla's journal was full of self-loathing, page after page about her relationship with Carla, page after page of rambling, agonizing pain. Why was she made like this if homosexuality was a sin? Why would her parents have supported her if it were an abomination? Why had she listened to the seventh grade teacher who told her experimentation was the best way to determine her sexuality? What was wrong with her?

They could hardly stand to finish it but they read every word. In the end their grief found relief, as it so often does, in bitterness and hatred. The day after Jayla's funeral, attended by hundreds of students from Jayla’s school, Erik and Roselyn met with the District Attorney. A year later, bitterness not yet assuaged, they went to see a lawyer. In the culture of America, where there is rarely tragedy unaccompanied by litigation, they found a willing law firm. Someone would pay.

Divorce

I've talked about divorce on this blog but, from the titles, I haven't centered a discussion about it. After last week's Sunday School lesson, I thought I'd share some thoughts on it.

Jesus told Peter that we should forgive our brothers 70 times 7 times if he causes offense and he comes asking forgiveness. But, God considers marriage a sanctified place. Remorse is totally different than repentance. Remorse is hollow. A good example is Judas who was filled with remorse of what he had done… but, no repentance.

If the husband (as in my case) is remorseful but calls it repentance and then a year later does the same thing with two whores... that is a covenant breaker. God gave permission for my divorce because of fornication on my husband part with no repentance and no change of heart even after 3 years of waiting for him to do so.

When Jesus talked about adultery and divorce in Matthew 5, He was clarifying divorce was for one thing only and that was infidelity, period. The Jews had devised all manner of divorcements from burning food to too much salt to dusty houses. Those were frivolous and Jesus clarified that fornication was the only reason for divorce contrary to what the going thing for divorcing was of the day or even as far back as Moses. In Moses' day, the Bill of Divorcement was a Certificate of Innocence which freed up the divorced person from any guilt and allowed them to remarry without the stigma of adultery. A guilty, dismissed spouse was not given a Certificate of Innocence and thereby had the stigma of adultery. Stoning was the penalty and the determination of guilt was through drinking some concoction in front of the Priests. If the woman survived the concoction without becoming sick or dying, she was innocent of infidelity. That practice had gone by the wayside during Jesus’ day. This could have been what Jesus had written in the sand when they brought the woman caught in adultery.

That's just speculation on my part, though.

Isaiah 50:1 God asks the question, 'Where is the scroll of your mother's divorce that I have put away?' There wasn't one because Israel was guilty of adultery. Then in Jeremiah we see the lists of things she was guilty of... there is no innocence on her part nor on the part of Judah.

The Bill of Divorcement was the decree of innocence of the "put away" wife. Joseph was going to quietly "put away" Mary because he knew he had never impregnated her, therefore she must be guilty of adultery. Quietly meant no bill of divorcement to be declared in the courts for he truly thought her guilty. Secretly putting her away, but she would still have the child which would declare her guilt... he could not give her a Certificate of innocence.

Then God stepped in by sending an angel to declare her innocence to her betrothed husband. Joseph immediately got up in the middle of the night and took her to wife as God commanded. The Declaration of Innocence was the release of obligation of legal matrimony. Jesus did not repeat the "write her a bill of divorcement" in Matthew 5:32.

If anyone kicks out or sets at liberty a wife without that Certificate of Innocence then that man causes her to commit adultery. There is no "if she marries again" clause in there. It is assumed that she will marry again. It is the guilty husband who causes the sin.

However, Jesus set everything back into place when He declared that divorce was only permitted in the case of fornication. When two people are Christian and they are married, divorce is not an option. Just as we are to forgive our sisters and brothers in Christ 70 times 7 times, we are to depend upon the LORD to work in the hearts of our Christians spouses, to draw them back into His will and His relationship. This requires much prayer and trust and leaning on God to work.

Divorce from unbelievers is different. Paul tells us not to seek divorce from our unbelieving spouses, but if they desire to split, we are not to fight it and we are not obligated under law (1 Cor 7:15) as Christian married couples are. How do we know if we are married to a believer or an unbeliever? By their fruit. That is the only way. I fear, though, some folks will get to Heaven smelling like smoke, for their fruit is sparse.

Forgiveness is commanded by Jesus. Wallowing in anger and resentment only builds a wall between us and God and serves no purpose for the object of our anger. God truly does protect His children and He really will take care of the chastisement. The key is allowing Him room to work in the heart of our spouse.

Try Dying

On a wet Tuesday morning in December, Ernesto Bonilla, twenty-eight, shot his twenty-three-year-old wife, Alejandra, in the backyard of their West 45th Street home in South Los Angeles. As Alejandra lay bleeding to death, Ernesto drove their Ford Explorer to the westbound Century Freeway connector where it crossed over the Harbor Freeway and pulled to a stop on the shoulder.

Bonilla stepped around the back of the SUV, ignoring the rain and the afternoon drivers on their way to LAX and the west side, placed the barrel of his .38 caliber pistol into his mouth, and fired.

His body fell over the shoulder and plunged one hundred feet, hitting the roof of a Toyota Camry heading northbound on the harbor Freeway. The impact crushed the roof of the Camry. The driver, Jacqueline Dwyer, twenty-seven, an elementary schoolteacher from Reseda, died at the scene.

But, what exactly does she die from? The impact... crushed roof... something else?
Oh what a tangled weave this enjoyable book is.

Ty Buchanan reminds me a little of sarcastic Micky Spillane and the snappy one-liners of Cary Grant in "His Girl Friday"... only this is a modern day mystery with cell phones and and a computer savvy nun. Oh, and Jacqueline was the fiancee of Ty, so he has a deep interest in finding out exactly what happened to Jacqueline.

Here is another good book that is slated Christian Fiction, but is not at all Christian Fiction. It flirts with it, but never gets serious. The protagonist realizes that his lovely wife to be was a Christian, and as the story unfolds, we see that she had some reservations about marrying someone who was not a Christian. That isn't discussed, though because it's all from the eyes of the protag. However, at the end of the book his rage magically turns into forgiveness with no explanation.

While it was enjoyable, and it is worth the money, it fell flat after this guy goes through hell on earth without ever finding what he was looking for. It had a great build up, but doesn't deliver a satisfactory explanation for the change of heart. Because of that, I can only give this book 2 stars.

Deadfall

Let me just get one thing clear, this book is not Christian Fiction, even thought the author is Christian and a man of God.

In this book, none of the characters lean on God or turn to Him, although God is referred to subtly and prayers are mentioned. In Christian Fiction, there is a relationship between a character and God, and that doesn't happen in this book. However, Bob shoves up the bar for any secular novel to an insurmountable height. I doubt the quality can be duplicated by any secular author.

This book is harrowing and illustrates how one man can completely destroy the lives and families of an entire town. This is a "Ride the Wild River" moved to the snow crusted mountains of Canada, with an ultimate high tech twist.

Robert Liparulo proves that a book can be exciting and a page turner without foul language or graphic sex. However, this book is filled with violence that shakes the soul. But, then video games are filled with violence, too.

You'll fall in love with a little nine year old boy named Dillion, and be completely awed by the wilderness survival skills of Hutch. You are in for the ride of your life at the psychotic whims of a sick-minded, power-crazy young man. This is a study in human character, both good and bad. The best thing about it is when you turn the last page, you're satisfied with a good read. Boys and girls, that is hard to find these days!

I give it 31/2 stars. It is well worth the money and is a keeper.

So, Bob, maybe in your next book you can put a little God-searching soul search in it?

I need more hours in the day

This is an apology to those who come to my blog for more than book reviews. I have been trying to organize the office and to get thousands of things straight. I've been coordinating an awards banquet and trying to get the things together for the Street Fair. It has been a truly hectic and crazy month!

Hopefully, things will slow down a bit so I can breathe after the awards banquet. Then we'll be skating into the Christmas season... Then the new year! Then spring will roll around and before you know it, it's summer again. The year is half over and I've hardly done a thing!

Sigh....

Surrender Bay

This is a wonderfully well-written love story that has shades of Christ-like love. It is a sweet page-turner.

Just one problem was the protag's whiny-ness coated with a bravado-type toughness. I can fully believe that a child who has that kind of childhood would have lots of issues as an adult, but a child with that kind of toughness would have a more healthy outlook, I think. On the other hand, who can say how a human mind develops?

Worth the money. I give it three stars.

FIRST for November... Hollywood Nobody

Let me just say that this book is suited for teens. It did not hold my attention for long because I loathe present tense writing in novels. But, I am a member of FIRST and I promised to promote... so here goes.
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It is November 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!


This month's feature author is:






and her book:


Hollywood Nobody

Th1nk Books (August 30, 2007)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lisa Samson is the author of twenty books, including the Christy Award-winning Songbird. Apples of Gold was her first novel for teens. Visit Lisa at http://www.hollywoodnobody.com/

These days, she's working on Quaker Summer, volunteering at Kentucky Refugee Ministries, raising children and trying to be supportive of a husband in seminary. (Trying . . . some days she's downright awful. It's a good thing he's such a fabulous cook!) She can tell you one thing, it's never dull around there.

Other Novels by Lisa:
Straight Up, , Club Sandwich, Songbird, Tiger Lillie, The Church Ladies, Women's Intuition: A Novel, Songbird, The Living End

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Hollywood Nobody: April 1


Happy April Fool’s Day! What better day to start a blog about Hollywood than today?

Okay, I’ve been around film sets my whole life. Indie films, yeah, and that’s all I’m saying about it here for anonymity’s sake. But trust me, I’ve had my share of embarrassing moments. Like outgrowing Tom Cruise by the age of twelve — in more ways than one, with the way he’s gotten crazier than thong underwear and low-rise jeans. Thankfully that fashion disaster has run for cover.


Underwear showing? Not a good idea.

Fact: I don’t know of a single girl who doesn’t wish the show-itall boxer-shorts phenomenon would go away as well. Guys, we just don’t want to see your underwear. Truthfully, we believe that there is a direct correlation between how much underwear you show and how much you’ve got upstairs, if you know what I mean.

I’ve seen the stars at their best and at their worst. And believe me, the worst is really, really bad. Big clue: you’d look just as pretty as they do if you went to such lengths. As you might guess, some of them are really nice and some of them are total jerks, and there’s a lot of blah in-betweeners. Like real life, pretty much, only the extremes are more extreme sometimes. I mean honestly, how many people under twenty do you know who have had more than one plastic surgery?

So you’ll have to forgive me if I’m a little hard on these folks. But if it was all sunshine and cheerleading, I doubt you’d read this blog for long, right?

Today’s Rant: Straightening irons. We’ve had enough of them, Little Stars, okay? It was bad on Helen Hunt at the Oscars, worse on Demi, yet worse on Madonna, and it’s still ridiculous. Especially on those women who are trying to hold onto their youth like Gollum holds onto that ring. Ladies, there’s a reason for keeping your hair at or above your shoulders once you hit forty, and ever after. Think Annette Bening. Now she’s got it going on. And can’t you just see why Warren Beatty settled down for her? Love her! According to The Early Show this morning, curls are back, and Little Me ain’t going to tell why I’m so glad about that!

Today’s Kudo: Aretha Franklin. Big, bold, beautiful, and the best. Her image is her excellence. Man, that woman can sing! She has a prayer chain too. I’m not very religious myself, but you got to respect people who back up what they say they believe. Unless it’s male Scientologists and "silent birth." Yeah, right. Easy for them to say.

Today’s News: I saw a young actor last summer at a Shakespeare festival in New England. Seth Haas. Seth Hot is more like it. I heard a rumor he’s reading scripts for consideration. Yes, he’s that hot. Check him out here. Tell all your friends about him. And look here on Hollywood Nobody for the first, the hottest news on this hottie. Girls, he’s only nineteen! Fair game for at least a decade-and-a-half span of ages.

I don’t know about you, but following the antics of new teen rock star Violette Dillinger is something I’m looking forward to. Her first album, released to much hype, hit Billboard’s no. 12 spot its third week out. And don’t you love her hit single "Love Comes Knocking on My Door"? This is going to be fun. A new celeb. Uncharted territory. Will Violette, who seems grounded and talented, be like her predecessors and fall into the "great defiling show-business machine" only to be spit out as a half-naked bimbo? We’ll see, won’t we? Keep your fingers crossed that the real artist survives.

Today’s Quote: "Being thought of as ‘a beautiful woman’ has spared me nothing in life. No heartache, no trouble. Beauty is essentially meaningless." Halle Berry

Later!


Friday, April 2

I knew it was coming soon. We’d been camped out in the middle of a cornfield, mind you, for two weeks. That poke on my shoulder in the middle of the night means only one thing. Time to move on.

"What, Charley?"

"Let’s head ’em on out, Scotty. We’ve got to be at a shoot in North Carolina tomorrow afternoon. I’ve got food to prepare, so you have to drive."

"I’m still only fifteen."

"It’s okay. You’re a good driver, baby."

My mom, Charley Dawn, doesn’t understand that laws exist for a reason, say, keeping large vehicles out of the hands of children. But as a food stylist, she fakes things all the time.

Her boundaries are blurred. What can I say?

Charley looks like she succumbed to the peer pressure of plastic surgery, but she hasn’t. I know this because I’m with her almost all the time. I think it’s the bleached-blond fountain of long hair she’s worn ever since I can remember. Or maybe the hand-dyed sarongs and shirts from Africa, India, or Bangladesh add to the overall appearance of youth. I have no idea. But it really makes me mad when anybody mistakes us as sisters.

I mean, come on! She had me when she was forty!

My theory: a lot of people are running around with bad eyesight and just don’t know it.

I throw the covers to my left. If I sling them to my right, they’d land on the dinette in our "home," to use the term in a fashion less meaningful than a Hollywood "I do." I grew up in this old Travco RV I call the Y.

As in Y do I have to live in this mobile home?

Y do I have to have such an oddball food stylist for a mother?

Y must we travel all year long? Y will we never live anyplace long enough for me to go to the real Y and take aerobics, yoga, Pilates or — shoot — run around the track for a while, maybe swim laps in the pool?

And Y oh Y must Charley be a vegan?

More on that later.

And Y do I know more about Hollywood than I should, or even want to? Everybody’s an actor in Hollywood, and I mean that literally. Sometimes I wonder if any of them even know who they are deep down in that corner room nobody else is allowed into.

But I wonder the same thing about myself.

"You’re not asking me to drive while you’re in the kitchen trailer, are you, Charley?"

"No. I can cook in here. And it’s a pretty flat drive. I’ll be fine."

I’m not actually worried about her. I’m thinking about how many charges the cops can slap on me.

Driving without a license.

Driving without a seat belt on the passenger.

Speeding, because knowing Charley, we’re late already.

Driving without registration. Charley figured out years ago how to lift current stickers off of license plates. She loves "sticking it to the man." Or so she says.

I kid you not.

Oh, the travails of a teenager with an old hippie for a mother. Charley is oblivious as usual as I continue my recollection of past infractions thankfully undetected by the state troopers:


Driving while someone’s in the trailer. It’s a great trailer, don’t get me wrong, a mini industrial kitchen we rigged up a couple of years ago to make her job easier. Six-range burner, A/C, and an exhaust fan that sucks up more air than Joan Rivers schmoozing on the red carpet. But it’s illegal for her to go cooking while we’re in motion.

"All right. Can I at least get dressed?"

"Why? You’re always in your pj’s anyway."

"Great, Mom."

"It’s Charley, baby. You know how I feel about social hierarchy."

"But didn’t you just give me an order to drive without a license? What if I say no?"

She reaches into the kitchen cupboard without comment and tips down a bottle of cooking oil. Charley’s as tall as a twelve-year-old.

"I mean, let’s be real, Charley. You do, in the ultimate end of things, call the shots."

I reach back for my glasses on the small shelf I installed in the side of the loft. It holds whatever book I’m reading and my journal. I love my glasses, horn-rimmed "cat glasses" as Charley calls them. Vintage 1961. Makes me want to do the twist and wear penny loafers.

"Can I at least pull my hair back?"

She huffs. "Oh, all right, Scotty! Why do you have to be so difficult?"

Charley has no clue as to how difficult teenagers can actually be. Here I am, schooling myself on the road, no wild friends. No friends at all, actually, because I hate Internet friendships. I mean, how lame, right? No boyfriend, no drugs. No alcohol either, unless you count cold syrup, because the Y gets so cold during the winter and Charley’s a huge conservationist. (Big surprise there.) I should be thankful, though. At least she stopped wearing leather fringe a couple of years ago.

I slide down from the loft, gather my circus hair into a ponytail, and slip into the driver’s seat. Charley reupholstered it last year with rainbow fabric. I asked her where the unicorns were and she just rolled her eyes. "Okay, let’s go. How long is it going to take?"

"Oh." She looks down, picks up a red pepper and hides behind it.

I turn on her. "You didn’t Google Map it?"

"You’re the computer person, not me." She peers above the stem. "I’m sorry?" She shrugs. Man, I hate it when she’s so cute. "Really sorry?"

"Charley, we’re in Wilmore, Kentucky. As in Ken-Tuck-EEE . As in the middle of nowhere." I climb out of my seat. "What part of North Carolina are we going to? It’s a wide state."

"Toledo Island. Something like that. Near Ocracoke Island. Does that sound familiar?"

"The Outer Banks?"

"Are they in North Carolina?"

Are you kidding me?

"Let me log on. This is crazy, Charley. I don’t know why you do this to me all the time."

"Sorry." She says it so Valley Girl-like. I really thought I’d be above TME: Teenage Mom Embarrassment. But no. Now, most kids don’t have mothers who dress like Stevie Nicks and took a little too much LSD back in the DAY. It doesn’t take ESP to realize who the adult in this setup is. And she had me, PDQ, out of the bonds of holy matrimony I might add, when she was forty (yes, I already told you that, but it’s still just as true), and that’s
OLD to be caught in such an inconvenient situation, don’t you think? The woman had no excuse for such behavior, FYI.

My theory: Charley’s a widow and it’s too painful to talk about my father. I mean, it’s plausible, right?

The problem is, I can remember back to when I was at least four, and I definitely do not remember a man in the picture. Except for Jeremy. More on him later too.

I flip up my laptop. I have a great satellite Internet setup in the Y. I rigged it myself because I’m a lonely geek with nothing better to do with her time than figure out this kind of stuff. I type in the info and wait for the directions. Satellite is slower than DSL, but it’s better than nothing.

"Charley! It’s seventeen hours away!" I scan the list of twists and turns between here and there. "We have to take a ferry to Ocracoke, and then Toledo Island’s off of there."

"Groovy!"

"Groovy died with platform shoes and midis."

"Whatever, Scotty." Only she says it all sunny. She’s a morning person.

"That phrase should be dead."

Honestly, I’m not big on lingo. I’ve never been good at it, which is fine by me. Who am I going to impress with cool-speak anyway? Uma Thurman? Yeah, right. "Okay, let’s go."

"We can go as long as possible and break camp on the way, you know?" Charley.

I climb back into the rainbow chair, throw the Y into drive, pull the brake, and we’re moving on down the road.

Again.


Sample from Hollywood Nobody / ISBN: 1-60006-091-9
Copyright © 2006 NavPress Publishing. All rights reserved. To order copies of this resource, come back to www.navpress.com.

Illuminated


Matt Bronleewe has written an amazing story, but there are some flaws that make this book a little choppy.

I like the fact that you don't really know who the good guys are until the middle of the book. I like the fast pace. The characters are okay, but ... I can't put my finger on it. They just don't mesh well.

I kept waiting and waiting and waiting for the faith element to come into play and that part fell flat for me.

However, I would have picked this book up in any bookstore and bought it. I would not have been disappointed. The story kept me turning pages, and I read it to the last page of the last paragraph. So compared to some of the huge flops that have put me to sleep this past year, I give this one two and a half stars. It is worth the money and it will keep you interested.

Crimson Eve



Brandilyn Collins has done it again! Super tension, good read.

Do you know someone who’s never read a Brandilyn Collins novel? Surely no such person exists. However, should you scrounge up such a friend—someone who enjoys suspense—here’s a special offer from Brandilyn. Be among the first 50 people between now and October 21, 2007 to e-mail her assistant at gayle.brandilyncollins@gmail.com with the person’s name, e-mail address and street address. (Due to exorbitant overseas mailing costs, United States residents only, please).

A signed copy of Crimson Eve will be sent to your friend—free—along with an e-mail from Brandilyn announcing the book is on its way, courtesy of you. (Don’t worry. Brandilyn won’t spam these email addresses. She just wants your friend to know who to thank.)

No worries that this story is third in the Kanner Lake series. Each book stands alone. Brandilyn is convinced your friend will so love Crimson Eve, he/she will surely reciprocate with expensive chocolate.

Blast from the past

I was up to my elbows in alligators... uh, computer guy was working on our computers at work and I get a phone call from the Tensas Gazette. Miss Caroline was telling me that I had gotten a fax that looked really important from Mike McQuiston. She gave me his phone number and then we chatted for a few moments.

It brought back such wonderful memories of friends... working conditions were horrible, but friends were wonderful!

Anyway, I dialed up Mike and we set a date to talk tonight. It is absolutely marvelous to catch up with the goings on of old friends. It is amazing how you can go separate ways and then settle back into a friendship that has such comfortable grooves... I said, grooves, not ruts.

We'll be keeping in touch. He has a grandchild... I am so jealous. Maybe one day, God willing, I'll have a grandchild to brag about. Wouldn't that be nice. AMEN.

Scary thought

I ran across this on Hey Jules's blog.

That is why He warned people to 'count the cost' before becoming Christians. 'Make no mistake; He says, 'if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have free will, and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you after death, whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect-until my Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with me. This I can do and will do. But I will not do anything less.'
C.S. Lewis

I agree with her that it is one of the scariest things I've ever read. At the same time, it is the most comforting thing I've ever read outside of Scripture.

Why?

Because Lewis explains is a most understandable way the reason why.

This is why we suffer loss.
This is why we suffer conviction.
This is why we suffer pain from every direction in our lives.

It is the very reason why David suffered for so long after he was annointed and before he ascended to the throne that God had given him. David was God's choice for king. Saul was the people's choice.

David was honed, purified, fired, tested before he was entrusted with the kingdom. Yet, he still had words of bitterness just before he died. Amazing!

Nobody





Creston Mapes has created a truly unique winner.

There is a newspaper reporter who has the night shift and hears on the scanner something about a shooting. He heads out to the scene of the crime and there are no cops, no ambulances, Nobody is there. Just an old bum that smells like soap who has been shot. Just an old homeless guy... a nobody.

Not on your life!

This is a truly wonderful read. It has some interesting twists and turns and some characters that probably really do live in Las Vegas. It is not an edge of your seat nail-biter. It has some exciting moments, but not like a roller coaster. That does not at all detract from the book, though. Mapes has a flair for snaring a character's essence and that makes a huge difference. You actually wind up caring what happens to the characters. And the best character of the book is the "old homeless guy" who every one thinks is a Nobody.

The story takes place in Las Vegas. It is very accruate in locale. The protag is a newspaper reporter, and that part of the story is not accurate... but, only someone who's actually been a reporter would catch those mistakes so don't let that stop you from grabbing up this book. It really is worth the money. Go buy it!

Now for a head's up. This is totally different than another book that will be featured here on FIRST in November. That book is called Nobody Hollywood. Do not get them confused. Mapes' "Nobody" is the one to buy.

being a Christian is a lifestyle that speaks volumes without words

I often wonder how seriously we take that.

"Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up" - Dan. 3:17-18.

Even if He does not... that was life or death to those young men, friends of Daniel who steadfastly stood up to ole Nebuchadnezzar. It's commitment, but it is deeper than that. Some people like to call it faith which is knowing something without the evidence of it. That is a pretty good definition. But, it is also conviction, that unwavering determination to believe God no matter the circumstances.

I have seen so many fair weather Christians. Those that embrace the message of the Cross then when the cares of the world, the trials and the tribulations come, they get mad at God and get mad at the church. What would have happened if Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego had had that kind of attitude?

These are the kinds of men that God depends upon. That is the kind of conviction we should have in our life all the time. Then, we wouldn't be as tempted.

Conversation with Satan would be simpler...

"How about this nice juicy slice of pie. Look it is full of sweet worldly nuggets."

"No."

"Ah, but I have dipped it in whipped power, and dribbled lots of delectable passions all over it."

"No."

"You don't know what you're missing."

"Look, Satan, there is nothing you could give me that would be any better than the glories God has for me in Heaven. I love Him so much that I'd rather die right here than disappoint Him."

There wouldn't be any "thinking about" that pie. The issue had already been decided. No haggling. No hassle. Walk away whistling because the decision had already been made.

Why don't we do this?

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me

That is a very true statement.

I have passed... lived through... enjoyed my first week as the Chamber director. Julianne, you told me way back last summer that God told you I'd be back in economic development, remember? God always keeps His promises. This was a relatively short time frame, too. Ain't He grand?

Well, the best word to describe it is hectic... no, fulfilling... no, fun... no, purposeful...

Oh, heck, I doubt there is a single word that describes it. I just love it that God has trained me up for this career and then He followed through with it. That is so ... God. The best thing is He has a purpose and because of that, He will be glorified. You just can't beat that with a stick.