Monday, May 31, 2010

A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer

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:


A Tailor-Made Bride

Bethany House (June 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Karen Witemeyer for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Karen Witemeyer holds a master's degree in psychology from Abilene Christian University and is a member of ACFW, RWA, and the Texas Coalition of Authors. She has published fiction in Focus on the Family's children's magazine, and has written several articles for online publications and anthologies. Tailor-Made Bride is her first novel. Karen lives in Abilene, Texas, with her husband and three children.


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bethany House (June 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0764207555
ISBN-13: 978-0764207556

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Prologue

San Antonio, Texas—March 1881
“Red? Have you no shame, Auntie Vic? You can’t be buried in a scarlet gown.”

“It’s cerise, Nan.”

Hannah Richards bit back a laugh as Victoria Ashmont effectively put her nephew’s wife in her place with three little words. Trying hard to appear as if she wasn’t listening to her client’s conversation, Hannah pulled the last pin from between her lips and slid it into the hem of the controversial fabric.

“Must you flout convention to the very end?” Nan’s whine heightened to a near screech as she stomped toward the door. A delicate sniff followed by a tiny hiccup foreshadowed the coming of tears. “Sherman and I will be the ones to pay the price. You’ll make us a laughingstock among our friends. But then, you’ve never cared for anyone except yourself, have you?”

Miss Victoria pivoted with impressive speed, the cane she used for balance nearly clobbering Hannah in the head as she spun.

“You may have my nephew wrapped around your little finger, but don’t think you can manipulate me with your theatrics.” Like an angry goddess from the Greek myths, Victoria Ashmont held her chin at a regal angle and pointed her aged hand toward the woman who dared challenge her. Hannah almost expected a lightning bolt to shoot from her finger to disintegrate Nan where she stood.

“You’ve been circling like a vulture since the day Dr. Bowman declared my heart to be failing, taking over the running of my household and plotting how to spend Sherman’s inheritance. Well, you won’t be controlling me, missy. I’ll wear what I choose, when I choose, whether or not you approve. And if your friends have nothing better to do at a funeral than snicker about your great aunt’s attire, perhaps you’d do well to find some companions with a little more depth of character.”

Nan’s affronted gasp echoed through the room like the crack of a mule skinner’s whip.

“Don’t worry, dear,” Miss Victoria called out as her niece yanked open the bedchamber door. “You’ll have my money to console you. I’m sure you’ll recover from any embarrassment I cause in the blink of an eye.”

The door slammed shut, and the resulting bang appeared to knock the starch right out of Miss Victoria. She wobbled, and Hannah lurched to her feet to steady the elderly lady.

“Here, ma’am. Why don’t you rest for a minute?” Hannah gripped her client’s arm and led her to the fainting couch at the foot of the large four-poster bed that dominated the room. “Would you like me to ring for some tea?”

“Don’t be ridiculous, girl. I’m not so infirm that a verbal skirmish leaves me in want of fortification. I just need to catch my breath.”

Hannah nodded, not about to argue. She gathered her sewing box instead, collecting her shears, pins, and needle case from where they lay upon the thick tapestry carpet.

She had sewn for Miss Victoria for the last eighteen months, and it disturbed her to see the woman reduced to tremors and pallor so easily. The eccentric spinster never shied from a fight and always kept her razor-sharp tongue at the ready.

Hannah had felt the lash of that tongue herself on several occasions, but she’d developed a thick skin over the years. A woman making her own way in the world had to toughen up quickly or get squashed. Perhaps that was why she respected Victoria Ashmont enough to brave her scathing comments time after time. The woman had been living life on her own terms for years and had done well for herself in the process. True, she’d had money and the power of the Ashmont name to lend her support, but from all public reports—and a few overheard conversations—it was clear Victoria Ashmont’s fortune had steadily grown during her tenure as head of the family, not dwindled, which was more than many men could say. Hannah liked to think that, given half a chance, she’d be able to duplicate the woman’s success. At least to a modest degree.

“How long have you worked for Mrs. Granbury, Miss Richards?”

Hannah jumped at the barked question and scurried back to Miss Victoria’s side, her sewing box tucked under her arm. “Nearly two years, ma’am.”

“Hmmph.” The woman’s cane rapped three staccato beats against the leg of the couch before she continued. “I nagged that woman for years to hire some girls with gumption. I was pleased when she finally took my advice. Your predecessors failed to last more than a month or two with me. Either I didn’t approve of their workmanship, or they couldn’t stand up to my plain speaking. It’s a dratted nuisance having to explain my preferences over and over to new girls every time I need something made up. I’ve not missed that chore.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Hannah’s forehead scrunched. She couldn’t be sure, but she thought Victoria Ashmont might have just paid her a compliment.

“Have you ever thought of opening your own shop?”

Hannah’s gaze flew to her client’s face. Miss Victoria’s slate gray eyes assessed her, probing, drilling into her core, as if she meant to rip the truth from her with or without her consent.

Ducking away from the penetrating stare, Hannah fiddled with the sewing box. “Mrs. Granbury has been good to me, and I’ve been fortunate enough to set some of my earnings aside. It will be several years yet, but one day I do hope to set up my own establishment.”

“Good. Now help me get out of this dress.”

Dizzy from the abrupt starts, stops, and turns of the strange conversation, Hannah kept her mouth closed and assisted Miss Victoria. She unfastened the brightly colored silk, careful not to snag the pins on either the delicate material of the gown or on Miss Victoria’s stockings. Once the dress had been safely removed, she set it aside and helped the woman don a loose-fitting wrapper.

“I’m anxious to have these details put in order,” Miss Victoria said as she took a seat at the ladies’ writing desk along the east wall. “I will pay you a bonus if you will stay here and finish the garment for me before you leave. You may use the chair in the corner.” She gestured toward a small upholstered rocker that sat angled toward the desk.

Hannah’s throat constricted. Her mind scrambled for a polite refusal, yet she found no excuse valid enough to withstand Miss Victoria’s scrutiny. Left with no choice, she swallowed her misgivings and forced the appropriate reply past her lips.

“As you wish.”

Masking her disappointment, Hannah set her box of supplies on the floor near the chair Miss Victoria had indicated and turned to fetch the dress.

She disliked sewing in front of clients. Though her tiny boardinghouse room was dim and lacked the comforts afforded in Miss Victoria’s mansion, the solitude saved her from suffering endless questions and suggestions while she worked.

Hannah drew in a deep breath. I might as well make the best of it. No use dwelling on what couldn’t be changed. It was just a hem and few darts to compensate for her client’s recent weight loss. She could finish the task in less than an hour.

Miss Victoria proved gracious. She busied herself with papers of some kind at her desk and didn’t interfere with Hannah’s work. She did keep up a healthy stream of chatter, though.

“You probably think me morbid for finalizing all my funeral details in advance.” Miss Victoria lifted the lid of a small silver case and extracted a pair of eyeglasses. She wedged them onto her nose and began leafing through a stack of documents in a large oak box.

Hannah turned back to her stitching. “Not morbid, ma’am. Just . . . efficient.”

“Hmmph. Truth is, I know I’m dying, and I’d rather go out in a memorable fashion than slip away quietly, never to be thought of again.”

“I’m sure your nephew will remember you.” Hannah glanced up as she twisted the dress to allow her better access to the next section of hem.

“Sherman? Bah! That boy would forget his own name if given half a chance.” Miss Victoria pulled a document out of the box. She set it in front of her, then dragged her inkstand close and unscrewed the cap. “I’ve got half a mind to donate my estate to charity instead of letting it sift through my nephew’s fingers. He and that flighty wife of his will surely do nothing of value with it.” A heavy sigh escaped her. “But they are family, after all, and I suppose I’ll no longer care about how the money is spent after I’m gone.”

Hannah poked her needle up and back through the red silk in rapid succession, focused on making each stitch even and straight. It wasn’t her place to offer advice, but it burned on her tongue nonetheless. Any church or charitable organization in the city could do a great amount of good with even a fraction of the Ashmont estate. Miss Victoria could make several small donations without her nephew ever knowing the difference. Hannah pressed her lips together and continued weaving her needle in and out, keeping her unsolicited opinion to herself.

She was relieved when a soft tapping at the door saved her from having to come up with an appropriate response.

A young maid entered and bobbed a curtsy. “The post has arrived, ma’am.”

“Thank you, Millie.” Miss Victoria accepted the envelope. “You may go.”

The sound of paper ripping echoed in the quiet room as Miss Victoria slid her letter opener through the upper edge of the flap.

“Well, I must give the gentleman credit for persistence,” the older woman murmured. “This is the third letter he’s sent in two months.”

Hannah turned the dress again and bent her head a little closer to her task, hoping to escape Miss Victoria’s notice. It was not to be. The older woman’s voice only grew louder and more pointed as she continued.

“He wants to buy one of my railroad properties.”

Hannah made the mistake of looking up. Miss Victoria’s eyes, magnified by the lenses she wore, demanded a response. Yet how did a working-class seamstress participate in a conversation of a personal nature with one so above her station? She didn’t want to offend by appearing uninterested. However, showing too keen an interest might come across as presumptuous. Hannah floundered to find a suitably innocuous response and finally settled on, “Oh?”

It seemed to be enough, and Miss Victoria turned back to her correspondence as she continued her ramblings.

“When the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway out of Galveston started up construction again last year, I invested in a handful of properties along the proposed route, in towns that were already established. I’ve made a tidy profit on most, but for some reason, I find myself reluctant to part with this one.”

An expectant pause hung in the air. Keeping her eyes on her work, Hannah voiced the first thought that came to mind.

“Does the gentleman not make a fair offer?”

“No, Mr. Tucker proposes a respectable price.” Miss Victoria tapped the handle of the letter opener against the desktop in a rhythmic pattern, then seemed to become aware of what she was doing and set it aside. “Perhaps I am reticent because I do not know the man personally. He is in good standing with the bank in Coventry and by all accounts is respected in the community, yet in the past I’ve made my decision to sell after meeting with the buyer in person. Unfortunately, my health precludes that now.”

“Coventry?” Hannah seized upon the less personal topic. “I’m not familiar with that town.”

“That’s because it’s about two hundred miles north of here—and it is quite small. The surveyors tell me it’s in a pretty little spot along the North Bosque River. I had hoped to visit, but it looks as if I won’t be afforded that opportunity.”

Hannah tied off her thread and snipped the tail. She reached for her spool and unwound another long section, thankful that the discussion had finally moved in a more neutral direction. She clipped the end of the thread and held the needle up to gauge the position of the eye.

“What do you think, Miss Richards? Should I sell it to him?”

The needle slipped out of her hand.

“You’re asking me?”

“Is there another Miss Richards in the room? Of course I’m asking you.” She clicked her tongue in disappointment. “Goodness, girl. I’ve always thought you to be an intelligent sort. Have I been wrong all this time?”

That rankled. Hannah sat a little straighter and lifted her chin. “No, ma’am.”

“Good.” Miss Victoria slapped her palm against the desk. “Now, tell me what you think.”

If the woman was determined to have her speak her mind, Hannah would oblige. This was the last project she’d ever sew for the woman anyway. It couldn’t hurt. The only problem was, she’d worked so hard not to form an opinion during this exchange, that now that she was asked for one, she had none to give. Trying not to let the silence rush her into saying something that would indeed prove her lacking in intellect, she scrambled to gather her thoughts while she searched for the dropped needle.

“It seems to me,” she said, uncovering the needle along with a speck of insight, “you need to decide if you would rather have the property go to a man you know only by reputation or to the nephew you know through experience.” Hannah lifted her gaze to meet Miss Victoria’s and held firm, not allowing the woman’s critical stare to cow her. “Which scenario gives you the greatest likelihood of leaving behind the legacy you desire?”

Victoria Ashmont considered her for several moments, her eyes piercing Hannah and bringing to mind the staring contests the school boys used to challenge her to when she was still in braids. The memory triggered her competitive nature, and a stubborn determination to win rose within her.

At last, Miss Victoria nodded and turned away. “Thank you, Miss Richards. I think I have my answer.”

Exultation flashed through her for a brief second at her victory, but self-recrimination soon followed. This wasn’t a schoolyard game. It was an aging woman’s search to create meaning in her death.

“Forgive my boldness, ma’am.”

Her client turned back and wagged a bony finger at Hannah. “Boldness is exactly what you need to run your own business, girl. Boldness, skill, and a lot of hard work. When you get that shop of yours, hardships are sure to find their way to your doorstep. Confidence is the only way to combat them—confidence in yourself and in the God who equips you to overcome. Never forget that.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Feeling chastised and oddly encouraged at the same time, Hannah threaded her needle and returned to work. The scratching of pen against paper replaced the chatter of Miss Victoria’s voice as the woman gave her full attention to the documents spread across her desk. Time passed swiftly, and soon the alterations were complete.

After trying the gown on a second time to assure a proper fit and examining every seam for quality and durability, as was her custom, Victoria Ashmont ushered Hannah down to the front hall.

“My man will see you home, Miss Richards.”

“Thank you, ma’am.” Hannah collected her bonnet from the butler and tied the ribbons beneath her chin.

“I will settle my account with Mrs. Granbury by the end of the week, but here is the bonus I promised you.” She held out a plain white envelope.

Hannah accepted it and placed it carefully in her reticule. She dipped her head and made a quick curtsy. “Thank you. I have enjoyed the privilege of working for you, ma’am, and I pray that your health improves so that I might do so again.”

A strange light came into Miss Victoria’s eyes, a secretive gleam, as if she could see into the future. “You have better things to do than make outlandish red dresses for old women, Miss Richards. Don’t waste your energy worrying over my health. I’ll go when it’s my time and not a moment before.”

Hannah smiled as she stepped out the door, sure that not even the angels could drag Miss Victoria away until she was ready to go. Yet underneath the woman’s tough exterior beat a kind heart. Although Hannah didn’t fully understand how kind until she arrived home and opened her bonus envelope.

Instead of the two or three greenbacks she had assumed were tucked inside, she found a gift that stole her breath and her balance. She slumped against the boardinghouse wall and slid down its blue-papered length into a trembling heap on the floor. She blinked several times, but the writing on the paper didn’t change, only blurred as tears welled and distorted her vision.

She held in her hand the deed to her new dress shop in Coventry, Texas.




Chapter One

Coventry, Texas—September 1881
“J.T.! J.T.! I got a customer for ya.” Tom Packard lumbered down the street with his distinctive uneven gait, waving his arm in the air.

Jericho “J.T.” Tucker stepped out of the livery’s office with a sigh and waited for his right-hand man to jog past the blacksmith and bootmaker shops. He’d lost count of how many times he’d reminded Tom not to yell out his business for everyone to hear, but social niceties tended to slip the boy’s notice when he got excited.

It wasn’t his fault, though. At eighteen, Tom had the body of a man, but his mind hadn’t developed quite as far. He couldn’t read a lick and could barely pen his own name, but he had a gentle way with horses, so J.T. let him hang around the stable and paid him to help out with the chores. In gratitude, the boy did everything in his power to prove himself worthy, including trying to drum up clientele from among the railroad passengers who unloaded at the station a mile south of town. After weeks without so much as a nibble, it seemed the kid had finally managed to hook himself a fish.

J.T. leaned a shoulder against the doorframe and slid a toothpick out of his shirt pocket. He clamped the wooden sliver between his teeth and kept his face void of expression save for a single raised brow as Tom stumbled to a halt in front of him. The kid grasped his knees and gulped air for a moment, then unfolded to his full height, which was nearly as tall as his employer. His cheeks, flushed from his exertions, darkened further when he met J.T.’s eye.

“I done forgot about the yelling again, huh? Sorry.” Tom slumped, his chin bending toward his chest.

J.T. gripped the kid’s shoulder, straightened him up, and slapped him on the back. “You’ll remember next time. Now, what’s this about a customer?”

Tom brightened in an instant. “I gots us a good one. She’s right purty and has more boxes and gewgaws than I ever did see. I ’spect there’s enough to fill up the General.”

“The General, huh?” J.T. rubbed his jaw and used the motion to cover his grin.

Tom had names for all the wagons. Fancy Pants was the fringed surrey J.T. kept on hand for family outings or courting couples; the buggy’s name was Doc after the man who rented it out most frequently; the buckboard was just plain Buck; and his freight wagon was affectionately dubbed The General. The kid’s monikers inspired a heap of good-natured ribbing amongst the men who gathered at the livery to swap stories and escape their womenfolk, but over time the names stuck. Just last week, Alistair Smythe plopped down a silver dollar and demanded he be allowed to take Fancy Pants out for a drive. Hearing the pretentious bank clerk use Tom’s nickname for the surrey left the fellas guffawing for days.

J.T. thrust the memory from his mind and crossed his arms over his chest, using his tongue to shift the toothpick to the other side of his mouth. “The buckboard is easier to get to. I reckon it’d do the job just as well.”

“I dunno.” Tom mimicked J.T.’s posture, crossing his own arms and leaning against the livery wall. “She said her stuff was mighty heavy and she’d pay extra to have it unloaded at her shop.”

“Shop?” J.T.’s good humor shriveled. His arms fell to his sides as his gaze slid past Tom to the vacant building across the street. The only unoccupied shop in Coventry stood adjacent to Louisa James’s laundry—the shop he’d tried, and failed, to purchase. J.T.’s jaw clenched so tight the toothpick started to splinter. Forcing himself to relax, he straightened away from the doorpost.

“I think she’s a dressmaker,” Tom said. “There were a bunch of them dummies with no heads or arms with her on the platform. Looked right peculiar, them all standin’ around her like they’s gonna start a quiltin’ bee or something.” The kid chuckled at his own joke, but J.T. didn’t join in his amusement.

A dressmaker? A woman who made her living by exploiting the vanity of her customers? That’s who was moving into his shop?

A sick sensation oozed like molasses through his gut as memories clawed over the wall he’d erected to keep them contained.

“So we gonna get the General, J.T.?”

Tom’s question jerked him back to the present and allowed him to stuff the unpleasant thoughts back down where they belonged. He loosened his fingers from the fist he didn’t remember making and adjusted his hat to sit lower on his forehead, covering his eyes. It wouldn’t do for the kid to see the anger that surely lurked there. He’d probably go and make some fool assumption that he’d done something wrong. Or worse, he’d ask questions J.T. didn’t want to answer.

He cleared his throat and clasped the kid’s shoulder. “If you think we need the freight wagon, then we’ll get the freight wagon. Why don’t you harness up the grays then come help me wrangle the General?”

“Yes, sir!” Tom bounded off to the corral to gather the horses, his chest so inflated with pride J.T. was amazed he could see where he was going.

Ducking back inside the livery, J.T. closed up his office and strode past the stalls to the oversized double doors that opened his wagon shed up to the street. He grasped the handle of the first and rolled it backward, using his body weight as leverage. As his muscles strained against the heavy wooden door, his mind struggled to control his rising frustration.

He’d finally accepted the fact that the owner of the shop across the street refused to sell to him. J.T. believed in Providence, that the Lord would direct his steps. He didn’t like it, but he’d worked his way to peace with the decision. Until a few minutes ago. The idea that God would allow it to go to a dressmaker really stuck in his craw.

It wasn’t as if he wanted the shop for selfish reasons. He saw it as a chance to help out a widow and her orphans. Isn’t that what the Bible defined as “pure religion”? What could be nobler than that? Louisa James supported three kids with her laundry business and barely eked out an existence. The building she worked in was crumbling around her ears even though the majority of her income went to pay the rent. He’d planned to buy the adjacent shop and rent it to her at half the price she was currently paying in exchange for storing some of his tack in the large back room.

J.T. squinted against the afternoon sunlight that streamed into the dim stable and strode to the opposite side of the entrance, his indignation growing with every step. Ignoring the handle, he slammed his shoulder into the second door and ground his teeth as he dug his boots into the packed dirt floor, forcing the wood to yield to his will.

How could a bunch of fripperies and ruffles do more to serve the community than a new roof for a family in need? Most of the women in and around Coventry sewed their own clothes, and those that didn’t bought ready-made duds through the dry-goods store or mail order. Sensible clothes, durable clothes, not fashion-plate items that stroked their vanity or elicited covetous desires in their hearts for things they couldn’t afford. A dressmaker had no place in Coventry.

This can’t be God’s will. The world and its schemers had brought her to town, not God.

Horse hooves thudded and harness jangled as Tom led the grays toward the front of the livery.

J.T. blew out a breath and rubbed a hand along his jaw. No matter what had brought her to Coventry, the dressmaker was still a woman, and his father had drummed into him the truth that all women were to be treated with courtesy and respect. So he’d smile and doff his hat and make polite conversation. Shoot, he’d even lug her heavy junk around for her and unload all her falderal. But once she was out of his wagon, he’d have nothing more to do with her.

———

Hannah sat atop one of her five trunks, waiting for young Tom to return. Most of the other passengers had left the depot already, making their way on foot or in wagons with family members who'd come to meet them. Hannah wasn’t about to let her belongings out of her sight, though—or trust them to a porter she didn’t know. So she waited.

Thanks to Victoria Ashmont’s generosity, she’d been able to use the money she’d saved for a shop to buy fabric and supplies. Not knowing what would be available in the small town of Coventry, she brought everything she needed with her. Including her prized possession—a Singer Improved Family Model 15 treadle machine with five-drawer walnut cabinet and extension leaf. The monster weighed nearly as much as the locomotive that brought her here, but it was a thing of beauty, and she intended to make certain it arrived at the shop without incident.

Her toes tapped against the wooden platform. Only a mile of dusty road stood between her and her dream. Yet the final minutes of waiting felt longer than the hours, even years, that preceded them. Could she really run her own business, or would Miss Ashmont’s belief in her prove misplaced? A tingle of apprehension tiptoed over Hannah’s spine. What if the women of Coventry had no need of a dressmaker? What if they didn’t like her designs? What if . . .

Hannah surged to her feet and began to pace. Miss Ashmont had directed her to be bold. Bold and self-confident. Oh, and confident in God. Hannah paused. Her gaze slid to the bushy hills rising around her like ocean swells. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” The psalm seeped into her soul, bringing a measure of assurance with it. God had led her here. He would provide.

She resumed her pacing, anticipation building as fear receded. On her sixth lap around her mound of luggage, the creak of wagon wheels brought her to a halt.

A conveyance drew near, and Hannah’s pulse vaulted into a new pace. Young Tom wasn’t driving. Another man with a worn brown felt hat pulled low over his eyes sat on the bench. It must be that J.T. person Tom had rambled on about. Well, it didn’t matter who was driving, as long as he had the strength to maneuver her sewing machine without dropping it.

A figure in the back of the wagon waved a cheerful greeting, and the movement caught Hannah’s eye. She waved back, glad to see Tom had returned as well. Two men working together would have a much easier time of it.

The liveryman pulled the horses to a halt and set the brake. Masculine grace exuded from him as he climbed down and made his way to the platform. His long stride projected confidence, a vivid contrast to Tom’s childish gamboling behind him. Judging by the breadth of his shoulders and the way the blue cotton of his shirt stretched across the expanse of his chest and arms, this man would have no trouble moving her sewing cabinet.

Tom dashed ahead of the newcomer and swiped the gray slouch hat from his head. Tufts of his dark blond hair stuck out at odd angles, but his eyes sparkled with warmth. “I got the General, ma’am. We’ll get you fixed up in a jiffy.” Not wasting a minute, he slapped his hat back on and moved past her.

Hannah’s gaze roamed to the man waiting a few steps away. He didn’t look much like a general. No military uniform. Instead he sported scuffed boots and denims that were wearing thin at the knees. The tip of a toothpick protruded from his lips, wiggling a little as he gnawed on it. Perhaps General was a nickname of sorts. He hadn’t spoken a word, yet there was something about his carriage and posture that gave him an air of authority.

She straightened her shoulders in response and closed the distance between them. Still giddy about starting up her shop, she couldn’t resist the urge to tease the stoic man who held himself apart.

“Thank you for assisting me today, General.” She smiled up at him as she drew near, finally able to see more than just his jaw. He had lovely amber eyes, although they were a bit cold. “Should I salute or something?”

His right brow arced upward. Then a tiny twitch at the corner of his mouth told her he’d caught on.

“I’m afraid I’m a civilian through and through, ma’am.” He tilted his head in the direction of the wagon. “That’s the General. Tom likes to name things.”

Hannah gave a little laugh. “I see. Well, I’m glad to have you both lending me a hand. I’m Hannah Richards.”

The man tweaked the brim of his hat. “J.T. Tucker.”

“Pleased to meet you, Mr. Tucker.”

He dipped his chin in a small nod. Not a very demonstrative fellow. Nor very talkative.

“Lay those things down, Tom,” he called out as he stepped away. “We don’t want them to tip over the side if we hit a rut.”

“Oh. Wait just a minute, please.” There was no telling what foul things had been carted around in that wagon bed before today. It didn’t matter so much for her trunks and sewing cabinet, but the linen covering her mannequins would be easily soiled.

“I have an old quilt that I wrapped around them in the railroad freight car. Let me fetch it.”

Hannah sensed more than heard Mr. Tucker’s sigh as she hurried to collect the quilt from the trunk she had been sitting on. Well, he could sigh all he liked. Her display dummies were going to be covered. She had one chance to make a first impression on the ladies of Coventry, and she vowed it would be a pristine one.

Making a point not to look at the liveryman as she scurried by, Hannah clutched the quilt to her chest and headed for the wagon. She draped it over the side, then climbed the spokes and hopped into the back, just as she had done as a child. Then she laid out the quilt along the back wall and gently piled the six dummies horizontally atop it, alternating the placement of the tripod pedestals to allow them to fit together in a more compact fashion. As she flipped the remaining fabric of the quilt over the pile, a loud thud sounded from behind, and the wagon jostled her. She gasped and teetered to the side. Glancing over her shoulder, she caught sight of Mr. Tucker as he shoved the first of her trunks into the wagon bed, its iron bottom scraping against the wooden floor.

The man could have warned her of his presence instead of scaring the wits out of her like that. But taking him to task would only make her look like a shrew, so she ignored him. When Tom arrived with the second trunk, she was ready. After he set it down, she moved to the end of the wagon.

“Would you help me down, please?”

He grinned up at her. “Sure thing.”

Hannah set her hands on his shoulders as he clasped her waist and lifted her down. A tiny voice of regret chided her for not asking the favor of the rugged Mr. Tucker, but she squelched it. Tom was a safer choice. Besides, his affable manner put her at ease—unlike his companion, who from one minute to the next alternated between sparking her interest and her ire.

She bit back her admonishments to take care as the men hefted her sewing machine. Thankfully, they managed to accomplish the task without her guidance. With the large cabinet secured in the wagon bed, it didn’t take long for them to load the rest of her belongings. Once they finished, Tom handed her up to the bench seat, then scrambled into the back, leaving her alone with Mr. Tucker.

A cool autumn breeze caressed her cheeks and tugged lightly on her bonnet as the wagon rolled forward. She smoothed her skirts, not sure what to say to the reticent man beside her. However, he surprised her by starting the conversation on his own.

“What made you choose Coventry, Miss Richards?”

She twisted on the seat to look at him, but his eyes remained focused on the road.

“I guess you could say it chose me.”

“How so?”

“It was really a most extraordinary sequence of events. I do not doubt that the Lord’s Providence brought me here.”

That got a reaction. His chin swiveled toward her, and beneath his hat, his intense gaze speared her for a handful of seconds before he blinked and turned away.

She swallowed the moisture that had accumulated under her tongue as he stared at her, then continued.

“Two years ago, I was hired by Mrs. Granbury of San Antonio to sew for her most particular clientele. One of these clients was an elderly spinster with a reputation for being impossible to work with. Well, I needed the job too badly to allow her to scare me away and was too stubborn to let her get the best of me, so I stuck it out and eventually the two of us found a way to coexist and even respect each other.

“Before she died, she called me in to make a final gown for her, and we fell to talking about her legacy. She had invested in several railroad properties, and had only one left that had not sold. In an act of generosity that I still find hard to believe, she gave me the deed as a gift, knowing that I had always dreamed of opening my own shop.”

“What kept her from selling it before then?” His deep voice rumbled with something more pointed than simple curiosity.

A prickle of unease wiggled down Hannah’s neck, but she couldn’t quite pinpoint the cause.

“She told me that she preferred to meet the buyers in person, to assess their character before selling off her properties. Unfortunately, her health had begun to decline, and she was unable to travel. There had been a gentleman of good reputation from this area who made an offer several times. A Mr. Tuck…”

A hard lump of dread formed in the back of Hannah’s throat.

“Oh dear. Don’t tell me you’re that Mr. Tucker?”



Here is my review of this wonderful novel:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Karen Witemeyer and her publisher for sending me a copy of "A Tailor-Made Bride" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

Karen Witemeyer’s “A Tailor-Made Bride” is a wonderful, entertaining Beauty and the Beast tale that will capture your heart, make you laugh and teach you that real beauty comes from within. Hannah Richards has been sewing for Victoria Ashmont for years, and has gained her loyalty and friendship. During the time when she is sewing Victoria’s burial gown in preparation for her death, she receives the deed to a shop in Coventry, Texas from her devoted client. When Hannah leaves San Antonio, Texas to claim her gift, J.T. Tucker conveys her and her property to her new home. That’s when the bristling begins. Not only is Hannah the owner of the shop he was trying to buy, but she has a way of bringing out the oddest feelings in him. Does a fancy dress shop have a place in Coventry? Will Hannah and J.T. find a place in each other’s hearts? Can a woman be beautiful both inside and out? Can a man be both irritated and enchanted?

This book makes me shiver. Witemeyer is skilled in the art of crafting anticipation, and her ability to make 1880’s Texas come alive for the reader is unsurpassed. This is the first novel I have read by this author and it certainly won’t be the last!

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Woman's Walk in Grace by Catherine Martin

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:


A Woman’s Walk in Grace

Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Karri James of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Catherine Martin is a graduate of Bethel Theological Seminary, the founder of Quiet Time Ministries, the director of her church’s women’s ministries, and an adjunct faculty member of Biola University. Her many books include Six Secrets to a Powerful Quiet Time, Set My Heart on Fire, and A Woman’s Heart That Dances.


Visit the author's website.


Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736923802
ISBN-13: 978-0736923804

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


In the Garden of Grace



She stood behind the open door, her eyes fixed on the English missionaries who had come to visit her in-laws. Hidden from view, she stared at their gentle faces and felt deep sobs welling up from a place inside she did not care to reveal, not even to herself. No, I can’t entertain the hope I see in these people. How could I have possibly arrived at such a despicable life, with no way of escape? Trapped in this house, forever doomed. At 19, she was already a widow with a child—a most desperate position for any woman in India in the late 1800s.

Buried in her memories were earlier years of tender love from parents who regarded her as their greatest treasure, naming her Ponnamal, meaning “gold.” Her parents showered her with every possible advantage, blessing their bright young daughter with a good education. Then, as was the custom, she was given in marriage to an older man. Clothed in silk, decorated with beautiful jewelry, high-spirited and gentle Ponnamal left the warmth of her father’s house to marry a professor at the mission college. Her marriage brought disillusionment, but the birth of a child brought her joy. And then came the sudden, shocking death of her husband only a year after their wedding. Ponnamal had journeyed from safety to sorrow and now to despair. Widows were outcasts in India. What would she do? Where would she go?

“We’ll take you in,” responded her in-laws with disdain and resignation ringing in their voices. Ponnamal realized her place in their home. They never let her forget. “You’re only here because of the child. No, you can’t change your clothes. You’re a widow. Only soiled things become you. No, you can’t have a comb. You are no good. You’re a burden on us. Even if you work all day, it won’t be enough to repay all we have done for you.”

At first Ponnamal thought, Surely they don’t know me. When they see how hard I work and how much I want to help, they’ll be kind. They’ll change. But the more she tried, the worse her situation became. Sinking into despair, she began to believe their lies.

One night she thought, I cannot endure my lot in life. I hear the well calling me as it has called others in the past. I can end my suffering with death. She waited for her mother-in-law to fall asleep and then grasped the door’s iron bolts and slipped out into the darkness of the night. She felt relieved to escape as the open air and vast starry sky soothed her heart. She stood by the well, ready to throw herself over the edge.

But then she remembered something she had read long ago. Wasn’t there an Indian widow who actually accomplished a great deed for her country? I know I read that somewhere. If she could accomplish something worthwhile, then why can’t I do the same? Maybe there is hope for me yet. Fleeting excitement simmered within and drove her back to her bed, where she lay for hours, thinking wishful thoughts until dawn.

The next morning her eyes sparkled with anticipation of unknown adventure. And now, only days later, standing behind a door, invisible to all but God, she listened intently to Mr. and Mrs. Walker, missionaries committed to sharing Jesus with others in India. They asked about the wild-eyed young girl they had noticed. “Who is the young woman living with you?”

“She is the widow of our son,” replied Ponnamal’s in-laws.

“We’d like to invite all of you to attend church,” replied the Walkers.

Surprisingly, Ponnamal was allowed to attend church on Sundays. The preacher gave deep, vibrant, Spirit-filled messages with rapid sentences in the complicated Tamil language. He may have thought only the men were understanding and hearing the message. But Ponnamal discerned the meaning of those words better than all others in attendance. This Jesus is the one I have been longing for all my life. I never have to feel alone again. Transformed, Ponnamal entered into new life in Christ and was filled with a supernatural joy and peace. Outwardly, she endured the same trapped, hopeless existence, but with newfound serenity, she performed the drudgery of duties in a strength and triumph no amount of reproach could weaken.

One day, Mrs. Walker, with characteristic gentleness, asked, “Could Ponnamal stay an extra hour after the Sunday service to teach Sunday school?”

Again, surprisingly, her father-in-law responded, “Yes, she may.”

Ponnamal excitedly thought, I can hardly believe I have this open door. But I will walk through it. And walk through it she did, teaching women of all ages.

Ponnamal was teaching one Sunday when she noticed a slight, gentle-faced, dark-haired English woman watching her. I wonder who she is? She seems like someone with whom I could pour out my soul.

The English woman watched Ponnamal teach and thought, What strikes me is her power over them. There is something quite unusual about her. Ponnamal is a woman set apart. Later that morning, the woman walked up to her and said, “I’m Amy Carmichael.” Ponnamal could have never guessed how one meeting would alter the course of her life.

Amy intently watched Ponnamal’s in-laws at church. One Sunday, she saw the father-in-law crush a butterfly against the church wall during the service. She thought with disgust, How symbolic the crushing of that insect seems. The only one he has within his power to crush is Ponnamal. Amy began wondering, What can I do? and then What must I do?

Amy knocked on the in-laws’ door, determined in her purpose. Winsomely, knowingly, she approached in the way God had shown her, finally asking permission for Ponammal to come with her for just one afternoon. “I would like Ponnamal to accompany me on visits out on the mission field.”

The father-in-law assured her, “Name the afternoon, and she may go.”

Ponnamal, on hearing those words, felt the prison doors open. This is the day of Jubilee for me. Life will never be the same. And she was right.

When Amy arrived at the in-laws’ house, she scanned Ponnamal’s face, looking into eager yet powerfully controlled eyes intent on answering God’s call. Amy thought, Yes, Ponnamal, we will serve the Lord together in His love and power. Together they walked out of that oppressive house into an afternoon of service for the Lord.

Some time later, Amy boldly asked the in-laws, “I would like Ponnamal to join me in ministry and travel throughout India, serving the Lord.” Miraculously, they agreed. Thus began the adventures of Amy Carmichael and Ponnamal, coworkers in the missionary work of Dohnavur Fellowship in India.


In Ponnamal’s story we see a tremendous rescue and restoration of a soul. What made her rescue possible? Grace—God’s pure and powerful grace. Ponnamal was helpless, unable to save herself in her life situation. She seemed to be doomed to a life of drudgery and despair. Then, amazingly, she experienced spiritual transformation. She was given a life of ministry with one of the greatest missionaries of all time. Grace benefits the least likely and showers the unfortunate with unimaginable gifts, producing results that are almost too good to be true. God, because of His grace, finds invisible people and pours out His gifts of grace: new identity, beauty, strength, provision, new life, forgiveness of sins, and more. Ponnamal received the touch of God’s grace and lived forever after in its warm embrace. And you and I must do the same.

Grace is seemingly a mystery. To many, grace is a theological term, not an experiential reality. When asked to define it, most cannot find adequate words. But you and I need the grace of God. Without God’s grace we cannot be saved, thrive, grow, or live. We depend on God’s grace every waking moment. More often than we care to admit, we don’t realize the miraculous work and wonder of God’s grace.

A number of years ago, during a busy time of ministry, I remarked to myself, I want to grow deeper in my relationship with God. I wonder what God wants to do in my life? A phrase came to mind then that I could not stop thinking about: Grow in the grace… I thought, That must be part of a verse in the Bible, but I have no idea where it is. Finally, when I dimly began to wonder if God might be trying to speak to my heart, I pulled out my trusty concordance to see if I could find it. Sure enough, I found 2 Peter 3:18: “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” I read that verse as though for the first time. Although I had not yet plumbed the depths of it, I felt I had discovered one of God’s secrets in the Bible, a truth reserved for those who will open the pages of His Word and regard seriously what He says. I knew the secret was related to grace, but I also knew I couldn’t give a good definition beyond what I’d heard others say about it.

Since my college years, I’ve known grace as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. This acronym helps me remember part of what God’s grace does for me, but I wanted to know more. What is grace, really? And more importantly, how relevant is grace to me? Why do I need grace, and how can I get it? So I began living in this one simple verse, thinking about its meaning for my own life with the Lord.

The lessons I’ve been learning about growing in the garden of grace and receiving God’s gifts of grace form the substance of this book. Grace grabbed my heart and enlarged it, enabling me to powerfully experience more of the presence and person of God Himself. The more I realized the truth about grace, the more I experienced true freedom in life. What Jesus says is true—the truth will make you free (John 8:32). More than anything, we need to know the truth about grace, for grace unlocks the door to blessed freedom in Christ.

Grace is the free, unmerited favor of God. You can’t earn it. You don’t deserve it. Grace is at the heart of all God does toward you, for you, and in you. Grace finds you, saves you, and keeps you. Grace gives you everything you need, more than you could ever want, and places you in an eternal, secure, favorable position forever. You stand in grace, according to Paul the apostle (Romans 5:2).

A.W. Tozer writes in The Knowledge of the Holy that grace is the “good pleasure of God that inclines Him to bestow benefits upon the undeserving.” Chuck Swindoll, in his book The Grace Awakening, points out that “God helps the helpless, the undeserving, those who don’t measure up, those who fail to achieve the standard.” 

The foundation of grace is the New Covenant, an unchanging, binding agreement made by God, ratified by the blood of Christ, and guaranteed by promises that can never be broken (Hebrews 8:7-13). The Old Covenant was based on the law, which could be broken (James 2:10). When we receive Christ, we are forever under grace (Romans 6:14), and our future is secure, for the covenant can never be broken because Christ guarantees its fulfillment. The fulfillment of the New Covenant of grace never depends on us, only on God.

The apostle Paul is the perfect New Testament expositor of the grace (Greek, charis) of God, for he knew grace perhaps better than most in the first-century church. He was a Pharisee and knew the finer points of God’s law. He hated the church and persecuted those who loved and followed Christ. And yet Jesus met him on the Damascus road, loved him, saved him, forgave him, and gave him everlasting life. Paul knew he did not deserve salvation, yet he could not deny his experience on the road to Damascus that day. He met Jesus. He personally knew the manifold grace of God. Grace became one of Paul’s favorite words. In fact, he loved describing grace with additional words like much more grace, abundant grace, superabundant grace, abounding grace, reigning grace, exceeding grace, exceeding abundant grace, glorious grace, and sufficient grace.

John Newton, the slave trader turned preacher, joined in Paul’s practice of elaborating on God’s grace gift. For Newton, the free, unmerited favor of God was “Amazing Grace.” And grace is amazing! Here’s why. Paul explained that salvation is not possible any other way but by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). Again, you can’t earn what God freely gives. You can only receive God’s grace-filled gift. Paul referred to “the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). Throughout the New Testament, Paul constantly attached grace to every aspect of our experience with God.

The effects of God’s grace in our lives are endless. Joseph Cooke, in his book Celebration of Grace, describes grace as “nothing more or less than the face that love wears when it meets imperfection, weakness, failure, sin. Grace is what love is and does when it meets the sinful and the undeserving.”  Donald Grey Barnhouse, a twentieth-century expositor and preacher, explained the relationship between God’s unmerited favor and love when he said, “Love that goes upward is worship; love that goes outward is affection; love that stoops is grace.”

I like to think of grace as God’s love in action. When you think of grace, think of God’s arms open wide to you, regardless of what you have done. Grace opens the floodgates and allows God’s endless love to pour into our lives, moment by moment, on into eternity. You have grace for today, grace for tomorrow, and grace forever. Now that’s an extravagant, outrageous grace. Cathleen Falsani, in her book Sin Boldly, describes grace as “audacious, unwarranted, and unlimited.” 

At the heart of grace is a gift. I recently read a friend’s Facebook page, and he mentioned his own thankfulness for his son’s recent university scholarship. He wrote, “We are thankful to God, for it is a gift of grace.” My friend earned a doctoral degree in theology at Dallas Theological Seminary, so his words are highly credible. He understands, in the deepest theological sense from God’s Word, that everything we receive from God is a gift of His grace. God gives and gives and gives some more. His gifts are the overflow of His grace because giving is what grace does. In understanding grace, we need to imagine a huge box wrapped in a big beautiful bow. And when we pull the bow off and unwrap the gift, we find infinite, unending riches from God.

The greatest gift the God of all grace gave you is Christ, who is full of grace. Brian Edwards says, “Grace is not merely God’s attitude towards undeserving rebels, it is ultimately and above all God giving himself to us and for us—as the Man on a cross.” Christ’s death on the cross opens the floodgates of grace in your life. He died in your place, paid the penalty for your sin, and cleared the way for you to live with Him forever. In Christ, you are given manifold grace, riches, and an eternal inheritance. When you believe and receive God’s grace, you realize the best news imaginable is true—you are no longer alienated from God, but accepted and loved by Him forever.

The power of grace in our lives is seen in Peter’s words, “Grow in the grace…” That little word in points to the place where we truly live once we enter into a life-changing relationship with Jesus. It’s one thing to believe grace or even receive grace. But it is quite another thing to live in grace. Living in grace means being planted in the environment, breathing in the air, and thriving in the atmosphere of grace. Grace is like a beautiful garden where we may grow and flourish.

When I was a little girl, I enjoyed walking in my grandmother’s garden. My grandmother would spend many hours in her garden, caring for the flowers and vegetables she had planted. And so it is in the garden of grace. There in God’s wondrous garden, we meet with the Lord Himself and receive from Him everything we need for renewal and restoration. The garden of God’s grace is a place of security, abundance, provision, joy, and hope. Grace gives you what you need when you need it. Grace can make you grow into the woman God wants you to be.

God is the God of all grace. He wants to shower you with every grace-filled gift you need to grow—His provision for your needs, His perspective for your circumstances, and His presence for your journey from time to eternity. And so the most important aspect of grace is learning to receive all the gifts God’s grace-filled heart gives you. In fact, we are actually stewards of grace, which means we are entrusted with the responsibility of receiving and sharing God’s gracious gifts (1 Peter 4:10).

We often struggle to believe God’s grace is really extended toward us. We think, No, God can’t really love me. Not after all I’ve done. I think about the day I first surrendered my life to the Lord. I immediately remarked to my college roommate, “How can God possibly forgive me?” God’s grace is usually a surprise for the sinner, an undeserved gift waiting to be unwrapped and enjoyed.

We are trained to earn what we have. And if an undeserved, unmerited gift is given to us, we often turn it down, reeling from the sting of our own guilt and pain. Many spend their lifetimes trying to earn or pay for what God has already given by His manifold grace. Many are pursuing something they believe is elusive, trying desperately to find God. What an eye-opening day when we discover that God is the initiator who seeks us out and extends the gift of His grace.

In God’s land of grace, we discover grace is received, not earned. David Jeremiah describes the discovery of the intoxicating light of grace as “finding a knothole in the high gates of heaven.”  Grace washes away our guilt and shame and gives us forgiveness and eternal life. Eventually, God’s grace opens our eyes to our future and a blessed hope. Most importantly, we experience God’s plan and purpose in our lives when we recognize, receive, and enjoy the gifts God gives us out of His heart of grace. And so, let’s resolve together that we will no longer try to earn or work for God’s grace. Instead, believe it, knowing that what God says is truer than what we feel. Receive it, daily unwrapping God’s abundant gifts of grace. And live it—growing deep and thriving in God’s garden of grace.


A young man grew tired of living at home. When would his father die so he could receive his inheritance? All he could think about was the money he would receive and the freedom such wealth would afford. Finally, he could wait no longer. “Father, give me my share of what will come to me at your death,” he demanded.

Such a request was insulting, and the father could rightly have chosen out of anger to disown the son. But then he would have no hope of reconciliation. And so the father, with a broken heart, said, “Here is your portion.” His older brother clearly resented his brother’s actions and responded with silence.

Normally the eldest son would step in and plead with a rebellious brother on behalf of the father. He would remind the young man of the father’s love. But in this case, the older brother could say nothing, for he was in rebellion of another kind. And so the father’s heart ached for two lost sons. They both rejected their father’s grace, mercy, and love.

The younger son took his inheritance and left town in a hurry, not wishing to face the scorn of the entire community because of his actions. I’m out of here. Now I’m free to do what I want! he may have thought. He left his own country for a foreign land.

In a short time, he squandered all his money. Now what will I do? I can’t go home. My brother hates me. And I cannot endure the reproach of the people in my village because of what I’ve done to my father. And I have insulted my father, so he has surely disowned me. The young man’s bad situation worsened, and he became desperate because of the famine in the land. I’m starving. I’ve got to find something to eat! I’ll see if I can hire on with one of the wealthy landowners here in this country.

The landowner looked at this beggar asking for work. Who does this young man think he is? I know how to get rid of him—I’ll offer him a job he would never even consider. I’ll let him feed the pigs.

“I’ll take it!” replied the desperate young man. As he offered the food to the pigs, he thought, I wish I could stomach what these swine are eating. I’m so hungry. Even the pigs eat better than me. There is no mercy for me. Not a drop of kindness from anyone. Only disgust.

Suddenly, in his weakened state, he came to his senses with a new thought. What am I doing? Even my father’s hired hands eat better than this. I can earn my way and eat enough by hiring on with my own father as one of his hired hands. He planned his words carefully. I’ll say, “I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.” Yes, that will work, he thought as he began the long journey home.

The young man fully expected reproach from the community and a long wait before he would be granted an audience with an angry, estranged father. What the young man had not counted on was his father’s heart. He thought his father was like all people. He didn’t yet know his father was unlike all others in the world. His father did outrageous, out-of-this-world things because of one quality—extravagant grace.

Walking on the dusty road, approaching town, the young son grew more fearful, dreading the impending confrontation. What will happen when I enter the village? he thought. His head was down, his eyes on his feet as he trudged along.

But then he looked up. What is this? Who are these people running toward me? And then his heart lifted. What he saw was more than he could bring himself to believe. Could it be? No way—but it is! My father! Running toward me with his arms wide open!

The father, setting aside the cultural rights of estrangement and throwing himself into one act of humiliation, left the comfort of his home and raced out to receive the young man, not as a hired hand, but as his beloved son. The father would have nothing less than the very best for his recovered child. He paid the price of humiliation and loss of face and raced out to his son, thus settling forever in front of the entire town the nature of their relationship and full reconciliation.

Stunned by the outpouring of his father’s love, the young son said, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” Now he knew, as never before, what he had in his father—the relationship, the love, the grace, and the greatness of his father. How could I have been so ignorant of my father’s great love for me?

The father gave him no time for further thought. “Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.” The father restored their relationship in the presence of all. The robe signified restoration to sonship, the ring entrusted him with power, and the shoes symbolized his rank as a son, not a servant. Only the father could restore these things through his own gracious favor. The result of extravagant grace was reconciliation between father and son and the fulfillment of the father’s steadfast, unchanging desire.

But the father had yet another son who needed his grace. This son had troubles of a different kind. He did not know his father’s love any better than the son who left home. The older son had rejected the father in perhaps a deeper way, having refused intimate fellowship while living in the same house. Equally estranged, he was aloof and distant from the father. He didn’t understand that he had broken his father’s heart as much as the younger son had. Standing outside the house, the older son asked one of the young servants, “What is going on? Why is there music and dancing?”

The servant quickly responded with excitement. “Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.”

“Of course! Typical. My father throws a party for a worthless son but has never thrown one celebration for me. What has he ever done for me? I have done everything right and yet received nothing for it. I’m infuriated that my father wouldn’t make such a terrible son pay for all he has done against the family.”

Standing outside the house, the older son’s anger rose to a boiling point. He refused to enter the house or engage in the celebration. In their culture, his aloofness and absence from the party would have been considered an insult to the father and the guests. Once again, the father could have chosen to reject and disown a rebellious son. But again, he responded with extravagant and outrageous grace.

Just as the son was thinking about the celebration, he looked up to find himself face-to-face with his father. Not afraid to lose face with his guests and suffer the humiliation of lowering himself to quell unjust rebellion, the father left the party to reach out to his son.

When the older son saw the father, he became more obstinate. “Look! I’ve been serving you for a long time, and I’ve done everything you told me to. It’s not fair. Your younger son doesn’t deserve the party—I do. But you’ve never thrown a party for me!”

The father loved this son and wanted him for his own, not estranged, but in fellowship. And so he did what no other would do. He did not walk away, but reached out in grace-filled love. “Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live and was lost and has been found.”

How did the older son respond? What did he say to such grace offered in the face of callous hatred?


A hush most likely moved across the crowd of listeners, and palpable tension may have filled the air when Jesus told this story. Through the windows and rooms of every detail and character, hard-hearted Pharisees were encouraged to see themselves and others anew—with eyes of grace. Jesus invited them to enter into a relationship with God and share His heart of love expressed in grace-covered actions. When He heard them say, “This man receives sinners and eats with them,” He was compelled to show them God’s magnificent grace through the art of a pointed, passionate story. He gave them this parable of the prodigal son, a beloved tale of hope for every sinner saved by grace.

But really, this grace story encompasses two sons who desperately needed God’s unconditional love and unmerited favor. Both were in a hopeless state, unable to help themselves in any way, completely reliant on their father’s mercy. We know the rest of the story for the younger son. But what about the end result for the older son? That part of the story is unfinished. God seems to leave all who listen, including the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, with a question: “Will you set aside your prejudices, resentments, sins, despair, and despondency, and step into the garden of My grace? Live here in My grace and share in My heart of love.”

The highlight of Jesus’ story, looming larger than any of the details, is the father’s heart. His actions were unexpected, nothing like human responses to sin and rebellion. And that was His point. God seemingly says to us at every turn, “Know Me. Understand My heart. I love you and want you in close relationship with Me.” He wants us to know Him not as we think He is or want Him to be, but as He really is. He is always more than we think He is and more than we know Him to be. There is always more to know of God and His infinite, eternal, magnificent grace.

God’s grace is outrageous and a huge surprise for all who receive it. We can relate to the younger son, who squandered opportunities and needed forgiveness for willful sin. Sometimes we are like the older son, caught up in pride and arrogance, stepping out of the grateful appreciation of God’s grace-covered gifts in our lives. Often, we don’t even realize God’s grace and mercy acting on our behalf because we are so focused on ourselves. Through a poignant word-woven picture, Jesus extends the invitation to enter into the land of grace and enjoy an intimate relationship with the Father.

Jesus shows us the Father’s heart. If you want to know what God is like, just look at Jesus, for He explains God (John 1:18). The more you watch Jesus in relationship with others in the Gospels, the greater you will realize, experience, and understand His grace.

Jesus, in telling the parable of the prodigal son, confronts legalism with love and grace. We can know by looking at Jesus that we cannot earn favor; we can only receive His grace. We can receive God’s grace because Jesus died in our place on the cross, receiving the full penalty for every one of our sins. His death was enough for every sin.

Legalism places the burden of performance on man, not God. But if we could do anything to earn God’s love and acceptance, then Jesus died needlessly on the cross. Bill Bright used to say that legalism is the greatest heresy of Christianity. You can’t earn God’s favor or love, but you can receive it. Stepping off of the performance treadmill is a challenge for any child of God. And sometimes, even in the church, grace is a missing element. There are always those who pull you into a legalistic way of approaching God. Philip Yancey says, “Oddly, I sometimes find a shortage of grace within the church, an institution founded to proclaim, in Paul’s phrase, ‘the gospel of grace.’ ”


I grew up wanting desperately to be accepted by my classmates in grade school. Without a doubt, I was one of the great people pleasers of all time. I would often think, If only I have the right clothes and get the best grades, I will be part of the in crowd. Meeting Jesus changed my whole approach to life because I became assured of His love and acceptance. He pulled me into a whole new environment with Him—the garden of grace. And living in the grace garden, breathing its atmosphere, walking and talking with Him, I realized God loves to bestow gifts of grace on undeserving sinners. His love changes us as He transforms us on the inside, makes us beautiful, provides for our needs, and sets us free to love, worship, and serve Him. In the garden of grace, we find ourselves in the perfect environment to thrive and grow.

Have you ever traveled to another country? I remember my first trip to Europe. My husband chose Italy for our destination. I thought, Oh, I can’t wait to get off the plane and visit this new place I’ve heard about but never seen! I studied books about Italy and learned about various tourist attractions. But nothing prepared me for that first moment when we boarded the vaporetto (a boat) and traveled on the water to the Hotel Danieli in Venice. I had never been to a place where people traveled by boat to reach their destination. With time in Italy, I grew familiar with the ways of the people and their customs, and I even learned some of their language.

The garden of grace is like a new country, a place unlike any you have known before. We need to learn the ways and language of grace because grace has a unique vocabulary unlike what you will hear in the world. Here’s how Joseph Cooke describes it:

Grace is not the kind of thing that you can study once, and then conclude that you have it nailed down…Grace needs to permeate deeper and deeper and deeper into our minds, attitudes, feelings, relationships, behavior, service for God and others. It needs to go on and on changing us. It needs to become an ever more vital, motivating force in our lives.

You can always spot those who know life in the garden of grace, for they act with unusual mercy and love, and they speak out of kindness and compassion rather than resentment and vengeance. They are selfless and are filled with loving, compassionate actions. And those who have never known grace are touched and moved by it. And if their hearts are open, they are changed forever.

One day while D.L. Moody was preaching, a homeless man, starving and bitterly cold, wandered into the meeting room. Moody’s message that day encompassed the grace of God. Afterward, the man walked up to Moody and said, “I didn’t come to hear you. I came to get warm. But my heart is broken. Do you think the grace of God can save me—a poor, miserable, vile wretch like me?”

Moody assured him, “Yes, definitely!” Moody later remarked, “It was refreshing to preach the gospel of the Son of God to that poor man.”

Moody prayed with the man and found him a place to stay for the night. But Moody didn’t stop there, for grace gives and gives and then gives some more. The next day, Moody arranged for someone to retrieve the man’s coat from the pawnshop. This man, without a hope in the world, wandered into a warm meeting hall for protection and found the secure love of Jesus in the garden of God’s grace.

Moody, one of the greatest evangelists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, influenced thousands of men and women and understood grace better than most people. He used to tell his audiences, “I have had more trouble with myself than with any other man I’ve met.”

Ponnamal certainly discovered the power of God’s grace when God found her tucked away in a far corner of India. Who could have guessed that God would give her the gift of ministry with Amy Carmichael? And the story of God’s grace continues through your life and mine.

Friend, as I write these words, I wonder if you have discovered the magnificence of life in the garden of God’s grace? Do you hear God’s invitation to come and live in His garden? Do you know His love and acceptance as a reality in your own life? Do you realize you can do nothing to earn His favor? If so, it’s time to throw a party for those who are lost have been found. And the adventure has only just begun. Let’s step into the garden and discover the lifelong, always-new, incredible experience of growing in God’s amazing grace.



Here is my review of this encouraging non-fiction title:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Catherine Martin and her publisher for sending me a copy of "A Woman's Walk In Grace" to review for them. I have always been grateful for this generosity, and I am trying to improve at being consistent in taking the time to thank these wonderfully giving individuals in a public forum. I really appreciate your time, effort and expense in making a reviewer copy available to me.

I found “A Woman’s Walk In Grace: God’s Pathway To Spiritual Growth“ by Catherine Martin to be more of an encouraging read rather than an educational one (as the subtitle appears to suggest). The author provides Biblical illustrations of grace alongside stories of life application for those same principles. Perhaps I would have seen it as more of a pathway if there were exercises to be worked through or questions to ponder and discuss with others. But there aren’t. Still, this is an upbeat read that offers hope, which is a very good thing. I think this would be a wonderful book to give as a gift.

Bible Study: As It Was In The Beginning - Genesis - Chapter 30


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Genesis. I felt a great sense of urgency to publish them rather than waiting until I had the time to pretty them up. Thank you and I pray that God blesses you through this material.

Stacey


Take a few minutes to savor Genesis Chapter 30. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…



30:1 – Rachel begs for children. She doesn’t say “give me Jacob.” (Loved by God – Higgs) She cared more about showing her sister up than the fact that she had Jacob’s love. Rachel doesn’t have a relationship with the Lord while her sister, Leah, is deepening her relationship with Him.

30:4, 9 – what would possess a woman to give her husband another woman? Children were more important than fidelity.

30:9 – ancient law said that a wife would provide a servant for her husband if she didn’t bear a child in two years. Is this what she is doing, here? It had been more than two years! Leah already had 4 children!!!

30:15 – Who took whose husband? This family really has selective memory.

“The woman traded a night with her husband for a plant?!” (Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible – Higgs) To her credit, mandrake was supposed to increase fertility.

30:28 – Laban saying “name your wages” isn’t saying much.

30:36 – Jacob, his family and flocks moved out of Laban’s house.

30:37-42 – Why go through all of this meaningless hocus-pocus? Was he making fun of Laban and local customs or beliefs? Jacob admits that God controlled the outcome of this exercise in 31:9.



What attributes of God have you observed in your study today? How will this change your relationship with Him?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

ALMOST FOREVER by Deborah Raney


Deb Raney delivers an emotion-packed, gripping story with the creation of Bryn.

A firefighter's wife, Bryn thinks she knows more than most just how dangerous fire can be. Yet when it takes the life of her husband and four other firefighters, Bryn sees fire for the thief it truly is.

From their mutual despair, Bryn and another firefighter's surviving spouse form a close friendship. As the relationship begins to blossom into more, though, the thief comes again and Bryn must face the question: what caused the fire that stole her husband's life?


Here is my review of this intense read:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Deborah Raney and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Almost Forever" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

Deborah Raney’s “Almost Forever” is the emotionally gripping story of a firefighter’s wife who suffers the greatest horror imaginable – losing her beloved husband in the line of duty. This story follows the path of the grieving widow who questions the cause of her heartache. As she embarks on the journey of coming to grips with the reality of her loss, she finds a close friend in another deceased firefighter’s spouse and a romance begins to develop as she seeks to solve the mystery behind the deaths of her husband and four other firefighters.

Raney creates an expressively charged story that glows with the larger-than-life heroism of firefighters and their families. She builds a suspenseful plot with the help of thoughtfully fleshed-out characters who make you want to turn the pages and discover whodunit. Her sympathy and admiration for these individuals who risk life and limb everyday is more than evident. What a wonderful fictional tribute to some real-life modern-day heroes.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Making Money from Home by Donna Partow

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:


Making Money from Home

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (March 4, 2010)

***Special thanks to Maggie Rowe of Tyndale House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Donna Partow is a bestselling Christian author whose books have sold almost a million copies. She has travelled in ministry on six continents and has been featured on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including the Focus on the Family daily broadcast. Donna has operated her own home-based business since being laid off as an investment banker in 1988, routinely generating a six-figure annual sales volume. She has spoken nationwide on the topic of women’s entrepreneurship, including two engagements at the CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Donna also appeared three years in a row at Senator John McCain’s conference for Arizona women. She attended the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Arts & Sciences, and Wharton Business School. She holds a B.A. in English from Rutgers University. Donna and her family live in Arizona.


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (March 4, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1589976088
ISBN-13: 978-1589976085

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Part I

Foundations for a

Home-Based Business


Seven years ago, Kimber King was a busy stay-at-home mom with three boys, ages six, four, and two. She wasn’t looking for a way to make money from home, but when she began using a line of products that dramatically impacted her health; she couldn’t help telling everyone she knew about it. Kimber recalls, “The products were sold through a network marketing company and I actually had a very negative view of the industry. But the results I had with my own health far outweighed all the negative things I felt about the business.” So she quickly signed up enough family and friends to reach the top rank level in her company in the first six weeks. Within ninety days, her monthly earnings matched the full-time income she had previously been paid in the corporate world.

Kimber soon began reaching beyond her immediate circle of contacts through social networking on the Internet. She recalls, “One night I stumbled upon a site on the Internet that described itself as a business networking site. It was free and on the site you had the opportunity to create a profile page for yourself. I dove right in and started connecting with a ton of people. I did some things very naturally that literally launched my business on the Internet and to this day, from this one site I have an organization of six thousand plus members. Then I started branching out onto other sites like message boards and forums. I began cultivating online relationships mostly focusing on other stay-at-home moms.”

Another of Kimber’s success secrets is working with a personal business coach. Although she was earning a great income from home, she was working long hours on the computer and her income had remained the same for nearly two and a half years. “It was a very lucrative income for a stay-at-home mom of three,” she says, “But I began to have great goals for my family and helping others, and I was frankly stuck.”

Within eight weeks of working with the network marketing coach, Kimber was earning a monthly five-figure income and an annual six figure income while reducing her workload to less than twenty hours per week.

Kimber also credits her parents for much of her success. “My dad instilled a spirit of excellence in me. By watching my mother work in her own hair salon, I learned how to treat customers.” Kimber says the key is focusing on others. “It’s always about them and not me! What are their needs? What are their goals? What are their strengths? What are their desires? It’s never been about me and my income goals or rank advancements. If you focus on others, all that will come! One of my mentors says it like this: ‘If you focus on the mission, you get the commission!’ ”

Trust in God is also central to her business approach. As she explains, “When I start a dialogue with someone, my main intention is to discover how I can bless them. It might not be about business at all. It’s all about relationships first and then anything that flows out of it from there I leave up to God! I trust Him completely with my business and that He will also put those in front of me that I am supposed to serve. When people ask what I do to create success in my home business, I tell them two simple things: Pray and take action. I pray for those who are looking for me and for those I can serve. Then I pick up that phone

or connect with someone. “Faith without works is dead!” I have faith in my heavenly Father to provide the way but I also know that I have to step out on that path in faith.”

Kimber has stepped out in faith knowing that God is the provider in her home business and that’s made all the difference. Now seven years later, she earns a six-figure income from home, working part-time, raising her sons, and modeling the same entrepreneurial spirit she saw in her own mother.











































1

Discover the

Advantages of

Working from Home


Let me begin with a brief look at the “why ” of running a home-based business to show you the benefits, because your motivation and belief in the benefits are what keep you going when the going gets tough. But then we’ll quickly shift gears to the more essential and practical how-to suggestions on the following pages.

Like any job, working at home offers both advantages and disadvantages. In the days and months ahead, times of discouragement will come. You may struggle with prioritization and time management. In addition to those burdens, the physical and emotional demands of promoting your business can drain you. You may begin to wonder if all your hard work is worthwhile, and you may even be tempted to give up your plans. In those moments, turn back to this chapter, reexamine the many benefits of working at home, and redouble your efforts to succeed. Remember, anything worth having is worth fighting for.


Your Home Can Be the Center of Your Life

There’s no place like home. I believe that with all my heart. Home can be the center of our lives, not just the place we come to recover from our lives. We can create an environment that fosters creativity and launch not just one narrow home business but a broad range of income-generating activities.

My first home-based business was in marketing communications: writing press releases, brochures, and ad campaigns. It was hard to get people to take me seriously as I tried to compete with the big-city advertising agencies. But I had a talent for writing and was absolutely determined to be a stay-at-home mother. I landed my largest client when I walked into his office wearing a dark pinstriped business suit and pushing my newborn in her stroller. Thisman said he was impressed with my motivation and touched by my priorities.

Over the past twenty years, I’ve launched countless different moneymaking enterprises. Some were dismal failures; others were wildly successful. Most were somewhere in between. As of this writing, I have a dozen income sources. Granted, some provide only $20 here and there. But hey, $20 is $20!

Let me illustrate. While away on a recent missions trip to Mozambique, I received checks from three businesses, totaling $800.The amazing part is that it was all passive income from businesses I had set up on autopilot on the Internet.

How would you like to earn $800 a week? Would you be thrilled with $800 a month? Maybe you plan to become a business tycoon and earn $800 a day. It’s up to you! But whatever your financial goals, I’m here to tell you that anyone can make extra money or have a full-time career from home if he or she is willing to work smart.

For almost twenty years, I’ve been a leader in promoting home-based businesses for women. I have spoken around the country on the topic of women’s entrepreneurship, including two events at the CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, and three conferences hosted by Senator John McCain. I have loudly proclaimed my firm conviction that every man and woman in America should develop some creative way to make extra money from home. And, under appropriate learning conditions, children, too, should develop those skills.


You Can Be Available for Your Children and Others

By working from home, you can avoid the hassles and costs of day care (which are far more substantial than most people realize) and enjoy spending time with your children. Even if you have to hire a babysitter to watch your kids in your home while you work, you’ll be available at a moment’s notice if needed. And you can keep a watchful eye on all that

goes on throughout the day rather than sitting at a desk wondering if your children are okay.

My older daughter, Leah, is now in college. She was homeschooled much of her life, and I was a stay-at-home mom throughout her entire childhood. Although I was often extremely busy working forty hours a week, and even more on my businesses, I was always available when she truly needed me. Won’t it be nice, when your children reach adulthood, to look back and say the same?

Perhaps you have a disabled family member or are caring for elderly parents. Maybe someone in your home has a chronic illness, and you need to be available for doctor and other appointments. Working from home allows you to be there to care for them and gives you the flexibility to take time off during the day, setting your own schedule.


You Can Be a Positive Role Model for Your Children

Some would argue, “I’m too busy raising my children to run a home business.”

I counter, “Don’t you think it just makes sense to include your children in your business so they learn to be entrepreneurial and self sufficient under God’s sufficiency? Don’t you think that training them to run their own businesses might prove to be more significant than running them around to various afterschool activities?”

Fortunately neither of my daughters has the mind-set that some corporation is going to give her a paycheck and job security for the rest of her life. That is an absolute delusion. We need to train our children for the real world, where wise people use the gifts God has given them to mind their own businesses—even if they also have careers. Both of my daughters, who are now nineteen and thirteen, have already had many moneymaking businesses. They’ve done everything from making bookmarks and jewelry to running my book table and processing credit-card orders from my Web site.

When my oldest daughter was fifteen, she organized a teen missions conference that attracted seven hundred people. I had very little involvement. How did she know how to do that? She’s been working at Christian conferences since she was two years old! Leah has also raised thousands of dollars for her various missions trips by making and selling

crystal bracelets

In addition to being able to watch my children grow while I worked from home, they also watched me grow as a businesswoman. By observing me model entrepreneurship, both ofmy daughters learned valuable business skills.


You Can Help Shoulder the Financial Load

Not only can you work from home; you should. With few exceptions, it’s unwise to rely solely on one income source in today’s unstable economy. Now more than ever, I thank God that I have multiple streams of income from my various home-based enterprises. All over the world, mothers not only nurture their families, but they also play a vital role in ensuring the economic survival of their families. I’ve seen this with my own eyes as I’ve traveled worldwide—from the subsistence farmer in Africa bent over her crops with a baby slung on her back to the Asian mother selling items in the local market while children sit nearby, often working as well.

Women throughout history have contributed to the economic survival of their families. We can do the same, and if we exercise wisdom, we can do so in a way that won’t detract from our role as nurturers. In fact, working from home will enhance all of the roles we play and increase our stature in the eyes of our family members. My children not only love me, but they also openly admire me. How can you put a price tag on that?


You Can Enjoy a Sense of Accomplishment

One of the most important things I hope my children have learned from observing me making money from home is that productive work is not a punishment; in fact, it’s inherently rewarding. Many of us have experienced that exhilarating feeling of working hard to complete a project or the joy of beholding something we’ve made with our own hands. A home business will provide abundant opportunities for you to enjoy that exhilaration.

As the old saying goes, “If Mamma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” It’s equally true that when Mamma is happily enjoying a sense of accomplishment, everyone around her benefits. I think I’ve modeled a wonderful lifestyle for my daughters. It’s a lifestyle I’m quite certain they’ll choose to replicate.


You Can Be Your Own Boss

Many people fear dependence on a corporation because they have had the rug pulled out from under them or have seen it happen to so many of their colleagues. The days when you could rely on a company to look out for your best interests are long gone. While you’re working diligently for XYZ Corporation, it’s entirely possible they’re filling out your pink slip. Once you establish your own home-based business, you’ll have the pleasure of signing your own paycheck. And when you think you deserve a raise, you can give yourself one.

When you work for an employer, you’re required to work when, where, and how they choose. When you have your own home business, you have more control over when, where, and how you work. Of course, you’re still responsible to your customers, and there will be crunch times when you don’t have a choice about how many hours you put in. But there is usually much more time flexibility when you are your own boss.

Once in a while when I’m struggling with some aspect of my home business, one of my relatives will joke, “Donna, you should go back to banking.” But we all know I’m completely unemployable! I’ve been my own boss for too long, and I don’t think I could ever go back to having someone else tell me what to do with my time.


You Can Continue Your Career

Many women spend years training for a career before their children arrive on the scene. Teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, and many other professionals can quite easily transfer their hard-earned skills to a home-based business. Knowing that your career isn’t on hold will give you satisfaction, even though the majority of your time may be spent with family. This is especially important if you want to resume your before children career after the children have grown.

The amazing thing about the Internet is how easy it now is for a woman to stay current and relevant in her field while mothering and earning money from home. These types of opportunities were hard to come by when I wrote my first home-based business book. Now they abound. Let’s hear it for technology!


There Are Opportunities for Tremendous Success

When you work nine to five for someone else’s company, to a large extent your boss controls how well you do. But when you work for yourself, only your ability and determination set the limits, assuming you start with a great product or service people want. Maybe there’s something you’ve always dreamed of doing. Now is your chance to do it! You

may aspire only to make a little extra money, but there’s always the chance that your “silly idea” will catch on, and you’ll find yourself transformed into a very successful entrepreneur. Someone has to think up those great ideas. Why not you?

I know a number of Christian women who earn six-figure incomes thanks to their home businesses. Yes, you read that right. Six figures! I even know women who’ve earned more than a million dollars, and one woman who has earned several million. With few exceptions, these women did not set out to achieve such tremendous success. They were just doing what they loved, and the success followed. Put another way, they were walking in obedience, and God’s blessings chased them down the street and overtook them. It could happen to you!


The Top Ten Ways to Avoid Scams

1. Surf with caution. Understand that the mainstreaming of the Internet has created both good news and bad news for aspiring home-based business entrepreneurs. Good news: Opportunities abound. Bad news: Scams abound.

2. Beware advertisements. No legitimate company on the planet will advertise to hire an employee to work from home. Not gonna happen. Never. No, not ever. Why? Very simple: If a company had a legitimate interest in hiring employees to work from home, there would be an instantaneous pileup of current employees and their circles of influence. The very fact that a company is advertising work from home is your first clue that it’s a scam.

3. Never buy a list or directory of companies that supposedly hire people to work from home. These are phony! Once and for all: The answer to the question of who will hire you, keep you secure, pay you lots of money, and grant you the freedom to set your own hours from home is no one. You don’t need a list or directory of no one.

4. Choose freedom or security. I constantly hear from people who want the freedom of working from home as well as the perceived security of a job. Freedom and security are always a trade. Will you give up some of your freedom for security? Or will you give up some of your security in return for freedom? You’ll never have both in full measure. Accept reality: You cannot ha e your cake and eat it too.

5. Understand the role of oDesk and similar outsourcing Web sites. In the introduction, I mentioned the emergence of Web sites like oDesk and, in one sense, this is an example of companies looking for people to work from home. And yes, many Americans are trying to capitalize on this new trend. Some are e en succeeding. Howe er, for the most part, companies who post on oDesk aren’t “hiring”; they’re simply outsourcing on a project-by-project basis for the express purpose of not hiring employees. So although some opportunities exist, I belie e sites like oDesk are actually bad news for any North American woman who wants to work from home and is hoping she might find someone to hire her. If you thought the competition was fierce when millions of Americans were looking to work from home, now millions more people around the globe are in the mix. You’ll ha e to compete with people who are willing to work for a few dollars an hour, and it’s nearly impossible to build a successful North American business like that. Now, if you’re willing to move overseas, that’s a whole new ball game, and oDesk can become your very best friend. That’s well beyond the scope of this book, but if it’s something you’re interested in pursuing, read The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss.

6. Know the code. As soon as you hear phrases like “more work than I can handle” or “looking to train someone” or “just want to help others duplicate my success,” run for the door. Or click the mouse. It’s a scam. If these people really had more work than they could handle, their relatives and friends would be beating down the door to get in on it. But since it’s a scam and they’ e already driven away all their friends and relatives, they’re on the Internet trying to scam you. Don’t be fooled. . Beware whirlwind friendships. There are some unethical people whose entire marketing strategy consists of befriending people just to recruit them for this, that, or the other “business opportunity.” Over the years a number of people have swept into my life with a friendship that felt more like a whirlwind romance. In every instance it turned out they were in a network marketing business. As soon as they discovered I wasn’t interested, the whirlwind friendship ended, and they moved on to the next person.

8. Check it out. Don’t rely on information provided by the person trying to sell you. Turn to Google, the Better Business Bureau, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to verify the claims and promises.

9. Take your time. Don’t let anyone pressure you into making a decision on the spot. If it’s a great opportunity today, it will be a great opportunity a week from today.

10 . Big dollars should raise a big red flag. It shouldn’t cost more than $500 to $1,000 to launch a business from home.



Here is my review of this informative resource:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Donna Partow and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Making Money From Home" to review for them. I have always been grateful for this generosity, and I am trying to improve at being consistent in taking the time to thank these wonderfully giving individuals in a public forum. I really appreciate your time, effort and expense in making a reviewer copy available to me.

Donna Partow’s “Making Money From Home” is a valuable resource for anyone who is looking to start a home-based business, add dimension to an existing business or even establish a presence in cyberspace. I found several bits of information to have value to me personally as a blogger. This resource can be used to enhance your established online persona or actually assist you with planning and starting a business that will make you some form of income.

There is information on legal issues that will whet your whistle to learn more about the laws where you are located so that you can protect your business. There are also chapters on marketing and balancing family life with a home-based business, which can be particularly challenging when your workplace is where you live. Each chapter ends with a list of questions designed to provoke thought about your business and assist with its planning and execution. I can’t wait to pass this book to my husband to see what kinds of ideas he can come up with for putting it to even more use.