Saturday, October 29, 2011

REVIEW: Attracted to Fire by DiAnn Mills

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to DiAnn Mills and her publisher for sending me an electronic copy of "Attracted to Fire" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this opportunity and their generosity.

DiAnn Mills’ latest novel, “Attracted to Fire”, is an incredibly suspenseful crime drama. Lindsay, the Vice President’s daughter has a substance abuse problem…and a stalker. She also has a detail of uber-savvy Secret Service Agents working to keep her safe as she works through detox.
Ash, the Special Agent In Charge on the detail is butting heads with Meghan the moment she shows up at her assignment. She feels right at home on the ranch where Lindsay’s protection detail has been set up. And it doesn’t take Meghan long to become Ash’s favorite agent on the job and in his heart.

This wonderful read is loaded with suspense, intrigue, romance and plot twists and turns. “Attracted to Fire” will turn the reader into an armchair sleuth and keep you up late into the night to devour the addictive story. At the heart of the novel is a thread of godliness that shines brighter as the pages turn. This is truly an entertaining and refreshing read.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bible Study: The Acts of the Holy Spirit - A Study of the book of Acts - Chapter 3


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Acts. 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 and encourages you through this material. Stay strong. Live in the Spirit. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapters 3-4 of the book of Acts. Read it with the thought in mind that this is the first display of the power of the Holy Spirit working through man – aside from Christ, that is. Imagine what the Spirit can do through you if you let Him! Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

3:1 – 9 AM (third hour), 3 PM (ninth hour) and sunset were the three times of daily prayer.

3:2 – Beautiful – the gate to the east, the favorite gate, resembling the original tabernacle entrance.

to beg – aiteo – to ask, request, beg. As an inferior to a superior.

3:3 – asked – as asking of an equal.

If he “asked”, he wasn’t doing his job “to beg” as an inferior. Did he see Peter and John and think less of them than others that entered the temple?

3:6 – I do not have – possess.

What I have I give – can give away and still keep.





• The book of Acts teaches us much about what the Holy Spirit is capable of doing through a mortal life. What have you learned about how He wants to work through you today? What will you do to give up a bit of control to Him?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Bible Study: The Acts of the Holy Spirit - A Study of the book of Acts (Chapter 2)


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Acts. 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 and encourages you through this material. Stay strong. Live in the Spirit. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapter 2 of the book of Acts. Read it with the thought in mind that this is the first display of the power of the Holy Spirit working through man – aside from Christ, that is. Imagine what the Spirit can do through you if you let Him! Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

2 – First celebration of the harvest of the church.

See Leviticus 23:15-22.

2:1-4 – We can have power. (Explore the Bible, Adult Learner Guide, Summer 2008, Acts)

2:1 – Pentecost – 50 days after Passover.

2:2 – wind – see Ezekiel 37:9-14. This was the falling of the Holy Spirit upon the NT church. This sound of rushing wind would have been incredible. Combine it with the sight of tongues of fire that don’t blow out as the rushing wind continues to sound. WOW!

2:3 – the Holy Spirit appears as fire. They were baptized with fire. See Matthew 3:11.

The tongue is a symbol of communication.

2:4-6 – “speaking in tongues” – what would be the use of this today? To glorify God, of course. But the languages are dead, therefore it wouldn’t enable communication as originally intended. Still, God does give us the words to speak to reach hardened hearts. And the Bible is still being translated into different languages.

2:4 – at this moment, the Holy Spirit became the guiding force of the NT church by indwelling the believers. Today, we still need to give Him control of our lives for His power to be evident in us.

speak in other tongues – leleo.

God speaks EVERY man’s language!

The Holy Spirit makes us smarter than we are.

The Holy Spirit forces us out of our upper rooms and into the streets.

2:5-6 – We can use power. (Explore the Bible, Adult Learner Guide, Summer 2008, Acts)

the God-fearing Jews heard the sound of the wind. They heard the sound of the arrival of the Holy Spirit.

2:7 – utterly amazed – they were blown away.

2:12 – amazed and perplexed – they doubted.

2:13 – “they have had too much wine” – persecution continues…

2:14-41 – Peter delivers the gospel with the power of the Holy Spirit and about 3000 people accepted Christ (and the Holy Spirit) that day.

2:17-21 – Peter doesn’t quote Joel 2:28-32 perfectly, either. What is our mission? See notes on 1:8 and 1:20.

2:25-28 – Peter doesn’t quote Psalm 16:8-11 perfectly, either. What is our mission? See notes on 1:8, 1:20 and 2:17-21.

2:29 – David is called a patriarch.

2:34-35 – Peter doesn’t quote Psalm 110:1 perfectly, either. Okay. It’s just one word off, but it is another example of how we don’t need to be perfect.

2:36 – Lord and Christ – Master over all and Messiah.

2:37-41 – We can see power at work. (Explore the Bible, Adult Learner Guide, Summer 2008, Acts)

2:37 – what shall we do – shows hope. They asked because their hearts were pierced by the message.

2:38 – Peter’s instruction was to repent and be baptized as an act of obedience and an example to others that they had received forgiveness.

2:42 – devoted themselves – cleave faithfully, single-minded.

Teaching – teaching the Word was the apostles’ “center”.

Fellowship – See Genesis 4:12 – the curse of Cain (restless wandering) is broken here.

Breaking of bread – not just a meal, but also observing the Lord’s supper (communion).

Prayer – the Word is critical for prayer.





• The book of Acts teaches us much about what the Holy Spirit is capable of doing through a mortal life. What have you learned about how He wants to work through you today? What will you do to give up a bit of control to Him?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Dime A Dozen by Mindy Starns Clark

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 Dime a Dozen

Harvest House Publishers; Reprint edition (October 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karri James | Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Mindy Starns Clark is the author of many books (more than 450,000 copies sold), which include A Pocket Guide to Amish Life, Shadows of Lancaster County, Whispers of the Bayou, and The Amish Midwife. In addition, Mindy is a popular inspirational speaker and playwright.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Fast-paced and inspirational, The Million Dollar Mystery series is from bestselling author Mindy Starns Clark.

Attorney Callie Webber investigates nonprofit organizations for the J.O.S.H.U.A. Foundation and awards the best of them grants up to a million dollars. In this series, Callie comes across a mystery she must solve using her skills as a former private investigator. A young widow, Callie finds strength in her faith in God and joy in her relationship with her employer, Tom.

---

In book number three of The Million Dollar Mystery series, Callie suddenly finds herself involved in the life of a young wife and mother whose husband has disappeared…possibly the victim of foul play.

Callie has come to the beautiful Smoky Mountains hoping to award a million-dollar grant to the charity set up in the woman’s late husband’s honor. But in the search for a missing migrant worker, a body is discovered, which puts the grant on hold and her new romance with her mysterious boss in peril. Trusting in God, Callie forges steadily ahead through a mire of clues that lead her deeper and deeper into danger.




Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers; Reprint edition (October 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736929584
ISBN-13: 978-0736929585

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


I’d never been part of a sting before. Sure, I’d blown the whistle on some defrauders in the past, and I had seen more than one person arrested because of felonious deeds I had brought to light. But this time was different. This time the crime was still in the process of being committed. Worse than that, most of the people at this party were involved.

I stood near French doors that led to the patio, holding a soda in my hand and looking out through the glass at the pool sparkling in the cool March afternoon. Behind the pool was a small lawn dotted here and there with ornamental groupings of shrubbery and plants, all surrounded by a high, thick hedge. I knew that a team of cops was on the other side of that hedge, ready to enter from every direction as soon as I gave the signal.

“Callie, would you like a hamburger? Maybe a hot dog?”

My hostess appeared in front of me bearing a platter of raw meat shaped into patties, and I assumed she was on her way back outside to the grill. My eyes focused on the marbled beef, and then at her expectant face. She was the very picture of charm and hospitality. Oh, and theft.

“No, thank you,” I said, forcing a smile. “I’m fine.”

Her hands were full, so I opened the door to let her out. Music poured into the house, compliments of large speakers mounted under the eaves.

“You should come too,” she urged loudly as she handed the platter off to her husband, Skipper. “It’s a gorgeous day.”

“In a while, perhaps,” I said as I let the door fall shut between us. She turned her attention to a group of guests near the pool, and as she worked the crowd I thought, You don’t want me to go outside, Winnie. The last thing you want me to do is go outside.

I glanced at my watch, wondering how much longer this would take. The police had instructed me to wait until all of the elements had fallen into place, and so far that hadn’t happened. The tension was getting to me, so I set my glass on a nearby countertop and made my way through the small crowd in the kitchen to the upstairs bathroom. I needed to be alone, to catch my breath, to make a call.

Once I was locked inside, I pulled out my cell phone and dialed the number of the police captain. He knew it was me and that I couldn’t say much on my end for fear of being overheard.

“Looks like things are moving along as expected,” he said.

“Yes.”

“Have they brought out the hamburgers yet?”

“Oh, yes. Everything’s in full swing.”

He chuckled into the phone.

“I hope they’re enjoying it while they can,” he said.

“They seem to be.”

“We’re all set on our end. Soon as the guy shows up, we’ll text you.”

“I’ll be ready.”

“You found the garage?” he asked.

“Yep.”

“Empty?”

“Except for the boxes in the freezer.”

“Perfect. Simply perfect. Hang in there, kid. We’re on the homestretch.”

I hung up the phone and slid it into my pocket, wondering if all would go off as planned. There were so many elements coming into play here, and it was important that they close in at the moment when we could nab the greatest number of guilty parties. I shook my head, marveling at the situation I now found myself in. This wasn’t how I usually spent my Saturday afternoons!

As the Director of Research for the J.O.S.H.U.A. Foundation, my job was to investigate charitable organizations in order to verify their suitability for a grant. I had come here to get a closer look at Dinner Time, a food bank and soup kitchen for the homeless in a suburb of San Francisco. I had gone “undercover” by posing as a volunteer to get a good look at the organization from the inside. Almost immediately, however, I realized there was something stinky in the sauce. Dinner Time may have been providing food to the homeless, but it was also providing a handy second income to its founders and many of its employees by way of food donations that were ending up in places other than on Dinner Time’s tables.

Even this party was an appalling, blatant display of theft, and, according to my source, they had similar such events every few months. From the chips and hamburgers to the condiments, most of the food being consumed here today had actually been donated to the charity, intended for the poor. Instead, our hosts had simply loaded many of the boxes into their cars and driven the food home for this impromptu party. Any minute now a local food supplier would show up and collect his share of the take, which was waiting for him in the garage. Unbeknownst to any of them, however, much of the donated food this time was marked, from the codes printed on the bottom of the mustard bottles to the labels on the frozen steaks in the freezer.

A knock on the bathroom door startled me from my thoughts.

“Just a minute,” I called, and then I washed my hands in the sink and glanced at my reflection in the mirror. My own image still surprised me sometimes. Four months ago I had gone from having long hair to short, from wearing my hair in a tight chignon at the back of my neck to having just enough length to frame my face and touch at my collar. I liked the new look, both because of the years it seemed to take from my features and the way it worked with my usual attire of suits and dresses. I’d spent this week in more casual clothes, however, and today was no exception. I had on jeans and a lightly knit tan shirt, and I felt I looked the part I was playing—that of a woman interested in some simple volunteer work at the local soup kitchen. Little did they know that I was something much more threatening: an investigator with a mission to ferret out the bad guys in the nonprofit world and bring them all to justice!

I opened the bathroom door and found a familiar face waiting to get in, an employee of Dinner Time named Clement Jackson.

“Oh, hey, Callie,” he said, “I didn’t realize that was you in there.”

“No problem.”

I moved out of the way so that he could pass me and go into the bathroom. As he closed the door behind him, I made my way back downstairs to the kitchen.

Clement was such a dear man, a tireless worker who served full time at the food bank for a salary so low I didn’t know how he managed to make ends meet. He wasn’t aware that I knew his salary rate or anything about him beyond facts he had mentioned to me in casual conversation. He had told me about his lovely wife of 36 years, his five grown children, his eight grandchildren. But the scope of my investigation had included all of the employees and volunteers of Dinner Time, so I also knew his address, his work record, and much more. In the end, he had turned out to be one of only three people connected to the center who apparently weren’t involved in the theft of the food.

I was so glad, because it confirmed what I had felt to be true about him all week, that he was a wonderful person with a true heart for charity. His personal side mission was to collect and distribute free used books to all of the children who came to the food bank and, whenever he had time, to sit and read to them and encourage them to read more for themselves.

“Reading can get you through some mighty tough spots,” I had heard him say more than once this week. “Even if your feet can’t always go somewhere else, your mind sure can.” Poor Clement was going to be stunned when this sting came together, for he believed most people were motivated by the same altruism and good faith he himself possessed.

“Callie, can I get you something to drink?”

This time, Winnie’s husband, Skipper, was playing the host, walking toward me with a newly filled ice bucket.

“No, thanks,” I replied. “My drink’s right over here.”

As if to prove it, I walked to the spot where I had left my soda, picked it up, and swirled the liquid. Skipper’s very presence made me so nervous I didn’t dare speak for fear I would begin to babble. Unfortunately, he persisted.

“How about a little ice then,” he said, using the tongs to load up my drink with ice. Holding my tongue, I watched as he clunked square cubes into the glass I was holding in front of me.

“So what do you think of our weather here in California?” he asked. “Winnie said you just recently moved here, right?”

Actually, I hadn’t told her that. What I had said was that I had never lived in California before, implying, I guess, that I lived here now. It was the kind of half-truth that going undercover necessitated and the very reason I hated playing a role. As a Christian, lying was hard for me to rationalize, even when the ends seemed to justify the means.

“It’s certainly a beautiful day today!” I said, glancing toward the window. I was desperately trying to think of some other sort of socially acceptable patter when I was saved by the bell—or the ring, to be exact, because Skipper’s cell phone began ringing from his hip pocket.

With a smile, he thrust the ice bucket at me, extricated the phone, and turned it on.

“Skipper here,” he said amiably, winking at me as he did so.

Clutching the ice in front of me, I took a step back, wondering if I could seize the moment and get away before his conversation was finished. Unfortunately, it seemed to last all of about 15 seconds. He said, “Yep. Okay. See ya,” and then hung up the phone.

“You’ll excuse me, won’t you, Callie?” he asked smoothly, slipping the phone back into his pocket.

“Of course.”

I held the ice bucket toward him, but he didn’t take it.

“Um, could you bring that ice out to Winnie?” he asked. “I need to get something from the garage.”

Without waiting for a reply, he turned and walked down the hall. I stood there for a moment, knowing I couldn’t do as he had requested without taking a step outside myself. Instead, I passed the bucket off to someone else who was heading that way. As the door fell shut behind him, I felt my cell phone vibrate in my pocket. I moved away from the crowd and went into the empty dining room. Holding my breath, I whipped out my phone, pushed the button, and looked at the screen. As expected, it was a text from the captain: Our guy just turned into the driveway. Give it about two minutes and then take a peek in the garage.

Okay, I texted back.

I then pocketed my phone, glanced at my watch, and waited, my heart suddenly pounding in my chest. For an absurd moment, I wondered if there was any hidden firepower here, if perhaps Skipper and Winnie kept a Colt .45 tucked in the nearest flowerpot or something. Just because their crimes of theft were of a nonviolent nature didn’t mean they didn’t know how to defend themselves when push came to shove. As it was about to.

At one minute, forty-three seconds, I heard my name called from the other room. I looked through the doorway to see Clement just coming down the stairs on the other side of the kitchen. Clement, who could be in the line of fire if things went down in a nasty way. Clement, who was heading toward me with a genial smile, eager to start a chat just when it was time for me to move.

“I need a favor!” I said urgently, walking forward to meet him. “I can’t find my contact lens. I’m afraid it came out in the bathroom. Do you think you could go back up and look for me? Check all over the floor, the sink, you know.”

“Well, I’ll try, Callie,” he said, nodding his head, the tightly curled gray hair a sharp contrast to his brown skin. “But my eyesight’s not so good myself. Come up and we’ll look for it together.”

I glanced at my watch. Two and a half minutes.

“You go on up,” I said. “I’ll be there in just a bit.”

“Okay.”

“And, listen, if you can’t find it, at least stay there and guard the door until I get there. I don’t want someone else stepping on it and breaking it.”

“All right.”

He dutifully trudged back up the stairs as I slipped from the kitchen, walking toward the long side hall Skipper had gone down less than three minutes before. I reached the door of the garage at the end, put my hand on the knob, and turned it.

The door swung open to reveal Skipper and another man lifting boxes into the open trunk of a black Cadillac. Both men looked up to see me, their faces about as guilty as two boys caught dipping their fingers in the peanut butter.

In a way, that’s exactly what they were doing.

The men recovered quickly. Both put the boxes into the trunk, but the man I didn’t know turned and stepped away where I couldn’t see his face. Skipper, on the other hand, took a step toward me, putting on a wide, fake smile.

“Can I help you, Callie?” he asked.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I was looking for some more soda. Maybe root beer?”

“There’s nothing like that out here,” he replied. “Try the pantry, off the kitchen.”

“Okay, thanks,” I said, returning his fake smile before stepping back out of the garage and pulling the door shut.

I turned on my heel and walked up the hall with my heartbeat pounding loudly in my head. Despite the chatter and confusion around me, I made straight for the French doors, opened them, and stepped outside. This was my signal to the police who were in hiding on the other side of the hedge, watching the party, waiting to pounce. Once on the patio, I simply kept walking through the loud music, heading around the pool and toward the backyard.

“Callie, can I help you with something?” I heard Winnie call after me.

Suddenly, before I could reply, there were shouts and screams and the sight of at least 20 police officers descending on the partygoers on the patio. I heard the words “freeze” and “raid” and “you have the right to remain silent.” Once I finally turned around and looked at the scene, all I could do was pray that Clement was safe, that the cops had apprehended the men in the garage before anyone could do anything stupid.

I waited at the back of the yard until I saw the captain come to the kitchen door and give the “all clear” signal to the cops outside. Breathing a great big sigh of relief, I headed toward the house, allowing myself to be herded into the corner of the patio where they were sorting everyone out. Counting heads, I realized they had managed to nab almost every single person who was on the list of those who had either stolen food or accepted food they knew was stolen. The cops didn’t single me out but merely pointed me in the direction of the innocent parties, the few standing near the garden shed who hadn’t the slightest idea what was going on.

Eventually, Clement was sent out from the house to join us. I gave him a big hug, certainly much bigger than our seemingly casual acquaintance would allow. Obviously shaken, he hugged me back even tighter.

When the police told us we were free to leave, I stuck with Clement, offering to take him home. In somewhat of a daze, he accepted that offer. Sitting in the passenger seat of my rental car, he stared blankly ahead as I drove toward his house and gently tried to explain all that he had just seen.

By the time we reached his house, he was still quite shaken. He invited me inside and I accepted, eager to see him safely delivered into the arms of his wife.

She wasn’t home, however, so I insisted that he call one of his children, perhaps Trey, since I knew he lived right down the street and could be here in a matter of minutes. While we waited, I heated some water on the stove for tea and essentially made myself at home in the kitchen. The house was small but tidy, and everything was easy to find in the neatly organized cabinets. As the water began to bubble on the stove, Clement took a seat at the table, silent, his expression blank. As I was setting his tea in front of him, Trey burst through the door, concern evident on his face.

“Pop?”

Short but muscular, with his father’s coffee-colored skin and deep brown eyes, Trey was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, both of which were covered with spatters of blue.

“We were painting the baby’s room,” he added, sounding breathless, looking from me to his father. “What’s going on?”

Clement didn’t answer, so I introduced myself and tried to explain the situation as best I could. The place where Clement worked, I said, had been busted for fraud and theft. Clement was in the clear, but he had been fairly traumatized by the whole event.

“And who are you, exactly?” Trey asked, looking at me as if this were all my fault. In a way, it was.

“My name is Callie Webber,” I said, carrying over two more cups of tea and taking a seat at the table. “I’m a private investigator.”

Clement turned toward me, his face suddenly registering disbelief rather than shock.

“You’re a what?   ” he asked.

“A private investigator.”

“Since when?”

“Since I was old enough to get certified in the state of Virginia,” I said. “I’m also a lawyer. I work for the J.O.S.H.U.A. Foundation out of Washington, DC.”

Clement shook his head, as if to shake off the confusion. Before he could launch into more questions, I continued.

“I live in Maryland now,” I explained, “and I just came to California to investigate Dinner Time on behalf of my employer. Dinner Time had requested a grant, and it’s my job to verify eligibility.”

“You don’t even live here?” Clement asked me, still incredulous. “You mean you’ve been pretending all week?”

“I’m sorry, Clement,” I said. “Sometimes that’s the only way I can really see what’s going on.”

Trey slid into the seat across from me, ignoring the tea I had put there for him.

“So what happened today?” he asked. “I’m still confused.”

“In the course of the investigation of Dinner Time, I uncovered fraud, theft, tax evasion, distribution of stolen property, you name it. I took that information to the police, only to learn that they already knew about it and that they were very close to making some arrests. We worked together on a sting operation, and today we caught most of the guilty parties red-handed.”

“I can’t believe they were stealing food,” Clement said, shaking his head sadly.

“I always told you there was something slick about that Skipper person,” Trey said to his father. “‘Skipper and Winnie,’ good grief. Sounds like a pair of Barbie dolls.”

“Will Dinner Time have to close down?” Clement asked.

“Probably,” I answered. “Even if someone were to try to keep the place up and running, I doubt it would be able to stay open for very long. Between the bad publicity and the incarcerated principals, I think it’ll soon fold. I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorry too,” Clement said. “I’m sorry I was so blind, so stupid.”

Trey put a reassuring hand on his father’s arm.

“C’mon, Pop,” he said. “You couldn’t know. You were just doing your job.”

“Oh, yeah, my job,” Clement said. “Guess I’m out of a job now.”

“We’ll find you something,” Trey said. “Maybe Tanisha can get you on over at the grocery store.”

“I liked working at a nonprofit,” Clement said, shaking his head. “I liked feeling that my efforts were making just a little difference in the world.”

I reached into my pocket, grasping the familiar square of paper there. I pulled it out and set it on the table in front of me, still folded in half.

“I’d like to talk to you about that,” I said. “And I’m glad Trey is here, because this would involve him too.”

Both men looked at me, their faces somber.

“In the course of my investigation,” I continued, “I had to check into everybody’s background. Including yours, Clement. Your life story paints a picture of a good man, a steady reliable worker who knows the value of a dollar.”

“That’s my dad,” Trey said suspiciously. “But what are you getting at?”

“Well, I’ve watched you this week reading to the children down at the food bank, Clement. I’ve heard you talk about the benefits of reading, of being read to. I want you to think about starting a charity of your own. Something that lets you go around and give away books and have regular reading times with homeless children.”

“Like a bookmobile?” Clement asked.

“Perhaps,” I said. “Or maybe you could get some space in the recreation center or a homeless shelter or another food bank. Somewhere that you could set up a little reading corner filled with books and beanbag chairs and stuffed animals. It’s not hard to get people to donate children’s books to a charity. You could provide reading times, give the books to the children who seem to want them, encourage their parents to read with them…”

I let my voice trail off, seeing that a spark was lighting up behind Clement’s eyes.

“What do I have to do with this?” Trey asked.

“Your father told me that you’re an accountant,” I said. “Maybe you can help him get started and then keep the books for him.”

“Well, yeah, I could do that.”

“And I understand your sister is a graphic artist? Maybe she could put together some brochures and promotional materials. You’d be surprised how many resources are available, usually right at your own fingertips.”

I looked at Trey and then at Clement, surprised to see the fire quickly fading from the older man’s eyes.

“As good as our intentions may be,” he said, shaking his head, “There’s one thing standing in the way. I can’t afford it.”

I smiled, fingering the square of paper in front of me.

“Well, then let me take it a step further,” I said. “My job allows me a certain amount of leeway with small monetary grants. What would you think if I gave you a check to get started? You could get yourself incorporated as a nonprofit, file for federal tax exemption, and cover your basic start-up costs. Once you’ve got that tax exemption, I would encourage you to fill out a grant application from the J.O.S.H.U.A. Foundation for a much larger amount of money. We believe strongly in what you could accomplish, Clement, and we would like to have some small part in furthering your efforts.”

I sat back, thinking that in the two and a half years I had worked for the foundation, this was the first time I had to talk someone into taking our money!

“Still, I don’t see how it would work,” Trey said. “He’d need at least a thousand dollars just to get set up.”

“How does five thousand sound?” I asked, unfolding the check and handing it to them. It was already made out to Clement Jackson, who picked it up and studied it as if it were a ticket to somewhere important. “And, like I said, once you’ve got that tax exemption and your policies and procedures in place, you can apply to us for more. I have a feeling we’ll be very generous as long as you can show you’ve got a good business plan.”

The two men looked at each other and grinned, and not for the first time I wished my boss, Tom, the philanthropist behind all J.O.S.H.U.A. grants, could be here to witness their joy. Tom was half a world away right now, and though later I would recount this entire scene for him over the phone, it still made me sad that he wasn’t here experiencing it for himself.

Then again, he never was. Tom always donated anonymously through the foundation and then enjoyed the moment of presentation vicariously through me. I was happy to recreate every word, every detail, but I had never understood why he chose to remain so removed from the whole process.

Of course, he and I talked frequently during every investigation, and in fact it was the time we spent on the phone that had allowed us to become friends and then eventually something much more than friends. Four months ago, after several years of a phone-only relationship, Tom and I had finally been able to meet face-to-face.

At the time, he had been out of the country for his work, but he had surprised me by flying back to the States and showing up at my home. We had spent exactly 12 hours together—12 amazing hours that I had relived again and again in my memories ever since—and then he had to leave, returning to Singapore and the urgent business that awaited him.

Now, four months later, Tom was still in Singapore, though his business there was quickly drawing to a close and soon he would be coming home for good. His home was in California and mine was in Maryland, but our plan was to meet somewhere between the two in exactly seven days at some quiet place where we would finally, finally be able to spend some real quality time together—time getting to know each other even better, time exploring the possibilities of a relationship that had gone from friendship to something much more in the space of one 12-hour visit. I was already counting the minutes until we could be together again, knowing that once he returned, a new chapter in my life would begin in earnest. Tom was handling the logistics of our reunion, and my primary concern was to wrap up my next investigation by the following Sunday, because I didn’t want work or anything else to detract from the time we were going to spend together.

Clement spoke, snapping me out of my thoughts and back to the moment at hand.

“I’ve been praying for something like this for quite a while,” he was saying, looking at his son, and I realized there were tears in his eyes. “For so long,” he repeated, blinking. “I didn’t think the Lord was hearing me. But He was. Because He sent me an angel.”

I held up one hand to stop him, emotion surging in my heart as well.

“Now, don’t—”

“I’m not kidding, girl. You are an angel. A very generous angel.”

“So you’ll take the money and start your own charity?” I asked.

“Oh, thank You, Lord,” he said, grinning up toward the ceiling. Then he looked back at me. “Yes, Callie. Yes. Most definitely yes.”




Here is my review of this amazing mystery:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Mindy Starns Clark and her publisher for sending me a copy of "A Dime A Dozen" 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.

Incredible writing takes the reader deep into the the lush, green Great Smoky Mountains. In Mindy Starns Clark's "A Dime A Dozen", the mystery of a disappearing husband and a discovered body is peppered with romance between Callie Webber and her mysterious boss. The twists and turns in this Million Dollar Mystery are beautifully crafted and take the reader on a journey as winding as the Smoky Mountain roads, themselves.

This amazing read transported me back to a place I loved to visit as a child and gave me several nights of armchair suspense as the mystery unfolded in my hands. With likable characters that will have you second-guessing your armchair sleuthing, this is a terrific weekend read!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Necessary Deception by Laurie Alice Eakes


When young widow Lydia Gale helps a French prisoner obtain parole, she never dreams she will see him again. But just as the London Season gets under way, the man presents himself in her parlor. While she should be focused on getting her headstrong younger sister prepared for her entrée into Society, Lady Gale finds herself preoccupied with the mysterious Frenchman. Is he a spy or a suitor? Can she trust him? Or is she putting herself and her family in danger?

Discover a world of elegance and intrigue, balls and masquerades as Laurie Alice Eakes whisks you into the drawing rooms of London Society on this exciting quest to let the past stay in the past--and let love guide the future.

Endorsements
"With her clean, sleek prose, Laurie Alice Eakes is one of the best storytellers the world has today. A Necessary Deception is one of her best, deftly weaving an intriguing spy chase with the elegant life of the ton in a beautiful love story that kidnaps unwitting readers and holds them hostage to the very last page."--Delle Jacobs, award-winning author of His Majesty, the Prince of Toads

"In A Necessary Deception, Laurie Alice Eakes weaves the fine silk threads of historical richness, dangerous intrigue, and forbidden romance into a flawless literary tapestry. This is Georgette Heyer meets Terri Blackstock in 1812 Regency London, an adventure that will leave readers breathless."--Louise M. Gouge, award-winning author of At the Captain's Command

"Laurie Alice Eakes writes a page-turning story with an in-depth knowledge of the period, an eye for detail, and an escalating mystery that will keep readers guessing till the end."--Ruth Axtell Morren, author of Wild Rose and The Rogue's Redemption

"Intriguing, suspenseful, masterful, and romantic--all the things you want in a great book! Add to that enchanting characters with real problems and real flaws who grow throughout the story, and a twist-and-turn plot, and I guarantee that once you dive into this book, you'll be happily lost in Regency London for the duration."--MaryLu Tyndall, Christy Award nominee and author of the Surrender to Destiny series

"Laurie Alice Eakes's novel is a captivating combination of romance and suspense set in the glittering Regency period."--Jane Myers Perrine, author of Second Chance Bride

"A Necessary Deception will lure you into a fascinating Regency full of danger, surprises, and a romance to quicken your pulse."--Jillian Kent, author of Secrets of the Heart

"A time of romance and intrigue with characters who grip one's heart and won't let go--this is the kind of book I look forward to reading when I want to be uplifted and carried away."--Jennifer Hudson Taylor, author of Highland Blessings and Highland Sanctuary

Here is my review of this rich and entertaining read:
First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Laurie Alice Eakes and her publisher for sending me a copy of "A Necessary Deception" 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.
“A Necessary Deception” is my first literary encounter with Laurie Alice Eakes and it will not be my last. The elegance in the prose takes me back to classic literature. The suspense and intrigue is worthy of the best spy novels. The characters are not contrived, but bear subtle elements of realism, making them appear to move across the pages of this engaging novel.

When Lady Lydia Gale helps a French prisoner, Christophe Arnaud, obtain parole from Dartmoor Prison in England during the War of 1812, she never dreams that this seemingly innocent act is about to impact her life in frightening and powerful ways. Now she finds herself submerged in an intricate plot of treason and espionage within London Society while she tries to protect herself and her family. Meanwhile, a forbidden love is blossoming between Lydia and the former prisoner who now goes by the name Christien. “A Necessary Deception” will influence the reader to turn pages well into the night to learn if Lady Lydia’s suitor is truly friend or foe. The intricate, winding plotlines are beautifully crafted and addressed throughout the novel and leave the reader satisfied and wanting more from this gifted author.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bible Study: The Acts of the Holy Spirit - A Study of the book of Acts (Chapter 1)


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Acts. 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 and encourages you through this material. Stay strong. Live in the Spirit. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapter 1 of the book of Acts. Read it with the thought in mind that this is the first display of the power of the Holy Spirit working through man – aside from Christ, that is. Imagine what the Spirit can do through you if you let Him! Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

Author is believed to be Luke – companion of Paul, physician, author of the gospel of Luke. Possibly written in AD 63 since the author is silent about significant events such as the burning of Rome and persecution of Christians in AD 64, the martyrdom of Peter and Paul in AD 67 (?), the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, and the outcome of Paul’s trial. But could have been written in AD 70 or later. (NIVSB)

A disciple assimilates what he learns as part of himself. Are we merely believers? Or believing disciples of Christ?

God can prune through His Word. This is easier and less painful for us than being pruned through circumstances. God MUST work in us before He can work through us! Rejoice in God’s plan – whatever it is!

Luke and Acts each cover about 33 years.

Some scholars call this book the Acts of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit unites. If we seek Him in the Spirit, we’ll be in agreement. The same Spirit won’t lead us in different directions.

ALL of the apostles gave up their lives for Jesus – 11 to the death.

1:1 – Theophilus – “one who loves God” – may have been a Roman official and/or a publisher for Luke’s book.

teach – to influence understanding aimed at shaping the will of the student.

1:2 – giving instructions – more than a decree.

1:3 – convincing proofs – some translations say infallible proofs.

1:4-8 – We need power. (Explore the Bible, Adult Learner Guide, Summer 2008, Acts)

1:4 – promised – immersed, submerged, overwhelmed.

We need the Holy Spirit’s power to accomplish God’s plan for our lives and the great commission of sharing the gospel with others.

1:5 – believers now receive the Holy Spirit (and are baptized by Him) at the moment of conversion. See 1 Corinthians 12:12-13.

1:6 – see Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; 1 Corinthians 12:13.

1:7 – times – physical time.

Dates – quality.

1:8 – what does a witness do? He tells what he has seen or what he knows.

1:10 – are these the same two angels who guarded Christ’s body before He was resurrected?

1:15 – There were about 120 believers together in that place. What is about to happen is the birth of the NT church. Each of these 120 believers would soon have a tongue of fire above their head, making this room light up and look like a huge birthday cake with each believer representing a candle!

1:20 – may his place be deserted… - Peter doesn’t quote Psalm 69:25 perfectly. We don’t need to get it perfect! According to verse 8, our job is to be a witness for Christ! What does a witness do? See notes for verse 8.

1:21 – the two candidates had been with Christ the whole time.




• The book of Acts teaches us much about what the Holy Spirit is capable of doing through a mortal life. What have you learned about how He wants to work through you today? What will you do to give up a bit of control to Him?
• What attributes of God do you see in this book?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Autumn Song by Martha Rogers

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:


Autumn Song (Seasons of the Heart)

Realms (October 4, 2011)

***Special thanks to Kim Jones | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Martha Rogers is the author of Becoming Lucy; Morning for Dove; Finding Becky; Caroline’s Choice; Not on the Menu, a part of a novella collection with DiAnn Mills, Janice Thompson, and Kathleen Y’Barbo; and River Walk Christmas, a novella collection with Beth Goddard, Lynette Sowell, and Kathleen Y’Barbo. A former schoolteacher and English instructor, she has a master’s degree in education and lives with her husband in Houston, Texas.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


Why does everyone think a girl’s only lot in life is to find a husband and settle down?
Kathleen Muldoon is twenty-three and tired of ranch living. Fiercely independent and determined to become a nurse, she has left her family’s ranch to study medicine under Old Doc Jensen and live in town with her Aunt Mae, who runs a boardinghouse.

Daniel Monroe has just arrived in Porterfield to set up his law practice. Sparks fly when he is introduced to Kate at the boardinghouse, but the initial attraction quickly dissolves into an argument—the first of many. Daniel is enamored with Kate but uncomfortable with her independent spirit and dreams of becoming a nurse.

When trouble erupts between the ranchers and lumberjacks over timber rights, Kate is furious to learn that Daniel has worked out an agreement she believes will destroy her father’s land. Can they overcome their pride and help each other become everything God wants them to be?
Set in the late 1800s, the Seasons of the Heart series follows the lives of four women and their families, weaving together their stories of faith, life, and love as they bond in friendship only God could orchestrate.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (October 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616384573
ISBN-13: 978-1616384579

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


August 1889

Kate Muldoon, I simply can’t understand why you haven’t found yourself a husband among all the eligible men in this town.” Sarah picked up a book from the bedside table in Kate’s room. “You’re twenty-three now, and hiding yourself away to read and study all the time will not help you find the right man.”

Kate grabbed the book from her sister-in-law, who had wandered into her room for a chat. As usual, the talk had turned to men. “I don’t need a man,” Kate declared.

“How can you say that?” Sarah gasped.

Kate shook her head. Marriage and family ranked last in the things she wanted out of life right now. Kate fought against the swelling tide of anger that had landed her in trouble on more than one occasion. Why did everyone think a woman’s only role was that of a wife and mother? Sarah meant well, but then she loved living on a ranch and taking care of her husband Donavan Muldoon. Sarah believed everyone should be in love, as did her other sisters-in-law.

Once again Kate tried to explain. “Sarah, I do not intend to marry a rancher or anyone connected with cattle. I was born on a ranch, grew up on a ranch, and have lived around cattle and horses all my life so far, and I don’t plan on spending the rest of it on one.” Despite her love of horses and riding, the ranch held no pull or fascination for her as it once did when she was younger. Kate hugged her textbook to her chest. “Why do you think I’ve studied everything about Florence Nightingale and nursing and moved into town to help Aunt Mae?”
Sarah waved her hand airily, dismissing Kate’s plans. “I don’t know about that, but I do know Auntie Mae’s boardinghouse is full of men who are not ranchers. Why, there’s my cousin Seth who just moved out here to pastor our church, and then there’s Doc Jensen’s nephew who came to town to assist his uncle with the infirmary. They’re both unattached. Sometimes I think you’re just too picky.”

Picky wasn’t exactly the word Kate would choose, but preachers and doctors held no interest for her other than as people she could work with. She did enjoy working with Doc Jensen and his nephew, Elliot Jensen, but they were teaching her to be a nurse. Besides, Elliot wasn’t really a friendly sort even if he did have an excellent bedside manner with his patients.
Kate sighed. Her sister-in-law was raised in an upperclass family in Boston, where the entire focus of her life in the last few years had been on her whirlwind romance, marriage to Donavan, then moving to Texas and having Jeremy. How could she possibly understand Kate’s dreams? “I’m learning all I can about nursing and treatments so I can work more with Doctor Jensen,” she explained with as much patience as she

could muster. “He lets me help with some of the lighter cases and says I’m getting good at recognizing symptoms. Besides, I was thinking that the preacher would make a wonderful match for Erin.”

Sarah brightened at the thought. “That might not be a bad idea now that she is of marrying age. Erin would be a good wife for Seth and a good mother for their little ones. She loves little Jeremy and has been a big help to me in taking care of him.” She turned to leave. “I’ll look for you Sunday at church and then afterward for dinner out at the ranch. Now I need to rescue Auntie Mae from Jeremy.”

As if Aunt Mae needed rescuing. Kate waved her hand in the air to say good-bye. Dinner with the Muldoon clan meant much food and lots of laughter, but it also meant another boring afternoon listening to talk of cattle drives and auctions and horses by the men, and talk of babies and mothering by the women—none of which held any interest whatsoever for Kate.
Three older brothers—Brody, Donavan, and Ian—had ranches of their own, and that’s all they talked about. The fourth older brother, Cory, had his sights set on being a lawman and had moved into town to be a deputy for Marshal Slade. Erin, the baby of the family, still lived on the ranch. She’d just turned nineteen and was by far the prettiest of the Muldoon clan.
Kate welcomed Cory’s company and his presence at the boardinghouse. At least he wasn’t interested in finding a bride, and he didn’t pester her about finding a mate. He had his sights set on being a marshal himself one day and figured that job too dangerous to take a wife. Kate snorted. So it was OK

for a man to be unmarried and pursue his dreams, but not a woman.
She laid aside her book and sauntered down to the hallway to find the mail from Aunt Mae’s boarders. One of her jobs at Aunt Mae’s included taking care of the mail. With a start, she realized she’d have to hurry to get there before the afternoon train arrived.

One afternoon train from the west would be picking up mail headed for the East Coast. An earlier train had dropped off its delivery, and that mail waited for her now at the post office. Ever since the railroads had been completed, Kate had seen more men coming to town to work the ranches around the area as well as find their own land and start farming or ranching. All the land around Porterfield belonged to ranchers

and farmers, but in a state as big as Texas, there seemed to be plenty of land to go around.

She donned her wide-brimmed straw hat to ward off the sun’s rays and hurried out to complete her task. The Grayson General Store and Post Office beckoned her to hurry. The train would be here any minute. Her feet kicked up puffs of dust as she walked. Her shoes would need a good cleaning later, but she didn’t mind as she enjoyed the four-block walk to the general store that housed the post office.

When Kate stepped into the store, the balding proprietor grinned and tilted his head. “Is that mail from the boarders at your aunt’s house?”

Kate plopped the letters on the counter along with coins

for stamps. “Yes, it is.”

Mr. Grayson affixed a two-penny stamp to each envelope. “How many boarders are there now?”

Kate closed her eyes to vision the count. “Counting Cory and me, there’s eight. All but one of the rooms is filled, and Aunt Mae is happy as a lark. For some reason, men come to this town, like it, and stay.”
Mrs. Grayson joined her husband. Her blue eyes sparkled as she gazed at Kate. “And when are you going to choose one of these men here for your own?”
Heat rose in Kate’s cheeks. Everyone thought they had to ask that question. “I don’t plan on marrying anytime soon. I’m studying to be a nurse, and besides, who’d help Aunt Mae take care of the house and all the meals if I wasn’t around?”

The plump, rosy-cheeked Mrs. Grayson laughed. “She’d do fine without you, and I’ve seen how Mr. Fuller over at the bank looks at her. Wouldn’t surprise me if she takes a husband one of these days.”
“That’s hard for me to imagine.” The very idea of her aunt with another man after the love she shared with Uncle Patrick caused Kate’s insides to quiver like the branches of a justfelled tree. Aunt Mae did have a few of the men, including Mr. Fuller, looking her way, but she paid them no mind. If Aunt Mae did decide to marry, Kate wouldn’t interfere, but she’d have no part in bringing about that possibility.
As soon as Mr. Grayson dropped the envelopes into the outgoing mail bag, he headed outside and toward the depot. Mrs. Grayson handed her mail from the boardinghouse box. “Thank you.” Kate slid the envelopes into her pocket and wiggled her fingers at Mrs. Grayson. “Bye, now. It’s time to get things started for dinner at Aunt Mae’s.”
On her way back to the boardinghouse, the idea of Aunt Mae marrying danced through her head. Would Aunt Mae give up running the boardinghouse if she married? Kate knew how much her aunt loved visiting with the boarders and preparing their meals. It was impossible to think of her ever leaving the place. Certainly she had found her calling, and for once in this town it didn’t focus only on being a wife and keeping house! Still, when Uncle Patrick was alive, Aunt Mae had combined being a wife and managing all those boarders without much trouble. Perhaps Kate could do the same sometime in the far distant

future.
Daniel Monroe finished his letter and sealed it in an envelope. In a few days he’d leave for the greatest adventure of his life, and he wanted Seth to know when to expect him. He reread the post from his friend telling him that the mayor was more than willing for Daniel to come to Porterfield, Texas, and practice

law as they had no lawyers in the town. If lawyers were needed in Porterfield, then that’s where he’d head.

Seth Winston had gone to Texas last year to pastor the church where his cousin Sarah and her family were members. The idea of going to Porterfield had grown more appealing as Seth had described it when he’d returned to Briar Ridge for his sister Rachel’s wedding this past spring. True, Texas was a long way from Connecticut, but images of the untamed West and all the adventures Daniel could have outweighed the

distance.
He envisioned cowboys, gunfights, saloon brawls, and train robberies. The tales he’d heard about Texas rolled through his mind in an endless stream of pictures. All the action and excitement sounded much better than the quiet town of Briar Ridge where he spent most of his time writing wills and taking care of legal documents for land sales or contracts for service. He’d already reassigned all his clients to other lawyers in

Briar Ridge, and none had truly complained, which only served to emphasize the fact that he wasn’t really needed here. Daniel cleaned out his desk and put it all in a box to carry home. He planned to have the desk, a gift from his parents, shipped to Texas with him. Now all he had to do was purchase his train ticket and say good-bye to family and friends. Since his parents, especially his mother, didn’t approve the move, he didn’t expect a going-away party.

Father seemed on the verge of understanding Daniel’s desire to travel to new frontiers and make a life for himself. Mother, on the other hand, wouldn’t and couldn’t accept the fact that her only son wanted to leave home and move thousands of miles away. His sister, Abigail, would hardly speak to him, but that did not keep Daniel from making arrangements to leave. After his twenty-fifth birthday last month, the desire

for a change came over him, and Texas seemed the best place to do just that.
On the way home he stopped at the depot and purchased a ticket that would begin his trip. He’d have stops in Philadelphia, St. Louis, Oklahoma City, and Dallas before the last leg of the journey to Porterfield.
The ticket agent handed Daniel his passage. “That’s a mighty long trip. I take it you’re heading out West to join Seth Winston. I can see the need for a preacher out west, but what’s a fancy lawyer like yourself going to do there?”

Daniel laughed. His mother had asked the same question. “Not sure, but I hope to help tame some outlaws.” How he’d do that he had no idea, but it sounded good when he said it.

“Well, now, just don’t go and get yourself shot by one of ’em.”
“I don’t plan to, Mr. Colley.” He tipped his hat and walked back out to his rig. At least he knew how to ride a horse well. With all his many long trips to Hartford by horseback, he figured he’d have no trouble riding in Texas. The rig today was simply a convenience for carting home his personal belongings from his office. Tomorrow the desk would be crated and shipped westward.

He entered the foyer of the comfortable, two-story home he still shared with his family. At his age, many other men had places of their own, but Ellie’s cooking and the free lodging had tempted him to stay.
After handing over his hat to Stevens the butler, Daniel turned toward the voices he heard in the drawing room on his left. He knocked then pushed open the doors. “Good evening, Mother, Father.”

His mother stood and hurried to him. She wrapped her arms around him. “Oh, Daniel, please tell me you’ve changed your mind and are staying in Briar Ridge. I can’t bear for you to leave us.”

He patted her back and glanced at his father, who simply lifted his gray bushy eyebrows and shrugged. He turned back to his mother. “I’m sorry you feel this way, Mother, but I purchased my train ticket on the way home this evening and will leave the beginning of next week.”
She pushed away from him and held a handkerchief to her nose. “I simply can’t believe it. I don’t understand why you have to go all the way to Texas to practice law. New Haven and Hartford are much closer. Why, even Boston would be better than way out West.”

“We have a multitude of fine barristers in the cities here in the East. As I’ve said many times, this will give me the opportunity to travel and see what is happening in the rest of our great country.” No matter how many times he explained, his mother would never truly understand his desire to move on. She had grown up in this town, as had his father, and she would never leave it or her beautiful home.
Stevens appeared in the doorway. “Mr. and Mrs. Monroe, dinner is served.”
Mother hooked her hand into Daniel’s arm. “Thank you, Stevens. Tell Ellie we’ll be right in.” She patted Daniel’s hand now resting on hers. Although she held her head high, he noted the slight tremor in her voice as she spoke. “I had Ellie prepare your favorite meal tonight. She’ll be serving all your favorites until your departure.” She swallowed hard as she walked beside Daniel into the dining room.
Daniel’s younger sister, Abigail, bounded down the stairs but stopped short when she saw her parents and Daniel. Her next steps were much more sedate. “Good evening, Daniel. I didn’t know you were home.”

Father waited to escort her into dinner. “And what is your great hurry, my dear girl? Is Ellie’s food that tempting?”

“No, Father, I’m just happy about my trip to see Rachel and Nathan in Hartford next week. I haven’t seen her since the wedding, and I’m anxious to visit and talk with her.”

Daniel assisted his mother in her chair at the table. “I’m sure you two will have much to talk about. What’s it been? Two, three months since the wedding?”
She turned to glare at him. A month ago she wouldn’t have minded the teasing, but since his decision to leave, she had been less than sisterly. “Three, if you must count, but it may as well be three years.” Abigail dismissed him and turned to her mother. “I truly miss having Rachel here in Briar Ridge.”

Father held her chair while she seated herself. He bent and brushed his lips across her hair. “Then I’m glad you will have this chance to visit Rachel in Hartford.”

After his father said grace, Ellie brought in a platter emanating the most delicious aroma. His favorite roast beef as Mother had promised. Along with it came perfectly creamed potatoes, buttered asparagus, carrots, fresh baked bread, and his favorite sweet pickles. “What, no soup tonight?”

Mother pressed her lips together. “You said you didn’t care for soup at every meal, and since this is your meal, we skipped it.”

“Thank you, I prefer to fill up on the main course and not the first one.” He glanced over at Abigail, who scrunched up her nose as the asparagus was passed to her. “Not to worry, dear sister, after I’m on my way to Texas, you won’t have to worry about asparagus. Ellie only cooks it because she knows how much I like it.”

“Humph, that will be one good aspect of your leaving.” She placed two stalks on her plate and handed the bowl to their father.

As his parents began discussing their day, he noted the total lack of reference to his leaving the coming Monday. His mother believed if she ignored it, that perhaps it wouldn’t really happen. Father cast a wistful eye Daniel’s way a few times, as though he wanted to talk with his son. Perhaps after dinner he and Father could have a conversation.
Daniel gazed around at the opulent surroundings. Sparkling crystal, fine china, silver cutlery, and damask table cloth and napkins reminded him of his parent’s wealth. He would find nothing like this in Texas.
Then he glanced again at his mother and swallowed a lump in his throat along with a bite of potato. He didn’t want to hurt her, but he could see in her face and the way she only moved the food around her plate without actually eating it that he had done just that.

How could he make her understand his desire to move away and seek a new life? Somehow between now and Monday he must convince her that God had called him to the frontier. He had spent many hours in prayer over this move, and now he gladly embraced the future and all it held in the grand state of Texas.




Here is my review of this entertaining and encouraging novel:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Martha Rogers and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Autumn Song" 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.

Martha Rogers' second book in the Seasons of the Heart Series, "Autumn Song", is the story of 23-year old Kate Muldoon. She is independant and full of determination not to be a ranch wife. She wants to put that life behind her and become a nurse. So she moves to Porterfield, Texas to study medicine and live with her Aunt.

Daniel Monroe has also just relocated to Porterfield to hang his shingle as the town lawyer. Sparks fly between the two and issues of what Kate wants from life conflict with growing feelings for Daniel. Then issues of family loyalty come between Daniel and Kate. Will Kate have to give up her dreams to become the woman God intends her to be?

Martha Rogers' beautifully written prose takes the reader straight to late 1880s Texas! Her lessons about how our dreams can change as God changes our hearts are valuable and peppered throughout the story that is easily read as a stand-alone novel.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Measure of Katie Calloway by Serena Miller


Her heart seeks sanctuary in the deep woods. But will trouble find her even here?

The Civil War has ended, but in Katie Calloway's Georgia home, conflict still rages. To protect herself and her young brother from her violent and unstable husband, she flees north, finding anonymity and sanctuary as the cook in a north woods lumber camp. The camp owner, Robert Foster, wonders if the lovely woman he's hired has the grit to survive the never-ending work and harsh conditions of a remote pine forest in winter. Katie wonders if she can keep her past a secret from a man she is slowly growing to love.

With grace and skill, Serena Miller brings to life a bygone era. From the ethereal, snowy forest and the rowdy shanty boys to the warm cookstove and mouth-watering apple pie, every detail is perfectly rendered, transporting you to a time of danger and romance.

Endorsements
"With fascinating historical detail and heartfelt characters, The Measure of Katie Calloway captivated me from the very first line. Great storytelling, coupled with a unique north woods setting, will carry your heart from one vivid scene to the next. Miller writes the kind of rich historical fiction I love--with a plethora of romantic twists and turns to keep you reading far into the night. Not to be missed!"--Laura Frantz, author of The Colonel's Lady

"Serena Miller's charming characters leap off the pages and straight into your heart, and her setting feels so real you'll wonder why you don't hear trees falling in the forest and bacon sizzling on the woodstove."--Emilie Richards, author of Sunset Bridge

"Fascinating history. Fabulous characters. The Measure of Katie Calloway is a fast-paced story with a generous measure of romance that will have readers cheering on Katie Calloway as she conquers one trial after another. If you like stepping back in time and sharing an adventure with great characters, this is the book for you."--Ann H. Gabhart, author of Angel Sister


Here is my review of this incredible historical romance:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Serena Miller and her publisher for sending me a copy of "The Measure of Katie Calloway" 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.

Has Katie Calloway gone from the frying pan into the fire? Fleeing from an abusive husband who wants her dead, she abandons her post-Civil War Georgia home as quickly as her battered body can carry her. She heads north to a lumber camp owned by Robert Forster, an honorable man with whom Katie could easily fall in love if she hadn't sworn off men and wasn't still someone's wife!

"The Measure of Katie Calloway" is a beautifully engaging novel by Serena Miller. The characters have dimension and the locations come to life in the mind's eye. Miller also addressed important life lessons about fleeing abusive relationships and not permitting your past to hold you captive by keeping secrets. This is a wonderful read that will quickly pass a weekend.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Hello, Hollywood! by Janice Thompson


When it comes to love, one thing's for sure--it doesn't follow a script!

Athena Pappas is the head writer on Stars Collide, one of the most popular sitcoms in television history. But when Vegas comedian Stephen Cosse is brought in to beef up the show's suddenly sagging ratings, she starts to worry about her job. Sparks fly as the competition--and attraction--between the two writers heats up. Athena has never had a problem writing the romances of her characters. So why is her own love life so hard to script?

With humor and a Hollywood-insider viewpoint, Hello, Hollywood! delivers lots of laughs as Athena and Stephen discover that not being in control of the plot of their lives might just be the best thing that ever happened to them.

Here is my review of this entertaining read:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Janice Thompson and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Hello, Hollywood!" 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.

Janice Thomson’s “Hello, Hollywood” is book #2 in her charming Backstage Pass series chronicling the lives of those involved in making a hit sitcom. This novel showcases the writers of Stars Collide, the hit show that has dropped a bit in its ratings. When the producers bring on another writer, the rest of the staff feels that this may be how one of them is going to be replaced.

Athena Pappas, head writer on the television sitcom is thinking she might be out of a job when former Las Vegas standup comedian, Stephen Cosse, is hired as a writer on the show. But when this Adonis-like man proves to be not only handsome but also talented and have other things in common with Athena, it appears that she won’t be losing her job, but her heart.

This incredibly entertaining novel is a charming romantic comedy from the gifted author of the “Weddings by Bella” series.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Bible Study: Battling For Perseverance In The Faith - Jude - Verses 18-25


Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the book of Jude. 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 and encourages you through this material. I’m not sure of the condition of the world at the time of this publication. But at the time of its writing, early 2009, things are looking pretty bleak with the economy and unemployment among other things. Natural disasters are happening – volcanic eruptions in Alaska and rising flood waters in North Dakota. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. Stay strong. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming…

Stacey


Take a few minutes to pray and savor the book of Jude. It’s only one chapter. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

This is our final week to study this crucial new testament letter. I pray you've really savored it.


18 – In the end times, some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits according to 1 Timothy 4:1. 2 Timothy 3:1 says that the end will be terrible times. 2 Peter 3:3 confirms that scoffers will come.

Evil desires = ungodly desires.

False prophets and teachers speak heresy and destroy themselves and others according to 2 Peter 2:1.

BATTLE: Abandoning the faith. Being deceived. Once you meet Jesus, hang onto Him with everything you’ve got. Pray for strength and wisdom to know Him. Memorize scripture. Test everything against the Word of God so that you are not deceived.

19 – The godless men cause division.

1 Corinthians 2:14-15 says that those who do not have the Spirit cannot understand things of God. Consider this for a moment. You can only grasp the gospel message when you have the Spirit. You must allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of the gospel to you.

BATTLE: Being divided from brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus prayed for unity among all believers in John 17. Bond with your brothers and sisters in Christ. My husband and I attended a Passover Seder at a local church. We knew none of the other 8 people at our table, but we had something in common – Jesus. What more did we need? Nothing. That one thing made us siblings.

20 – 1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to build each other up.

Jude told us to contend for the faith in verse 3. We will experience such opposition from these godless men that we will have to fight for our faith!

Ephesians 6:18 tells us to pray in the Spirit.

BATTLE: Discouragement. Opposition. Lack of perseverance. We all have moments of weakness in our walk with Jesus. The Bible says that when we are weak, He is strong. Spend time with the Lord everyday. Let Him encourage you. Let Him empower you. Let Him carry you forward when you are too weak to finish the race, yourself.

21 – How do we keep ourselves in God’s love? Practical ways include prayer, reading, meditating on and studying the Word, and obedience to God and His Word.

We are waiting for Christ’s glorious appearing according to Titus 2:13 and Hebrews 9:28. 2 Peter 3:12 says to look forward to the Day of the Lord. What can you do to help yourself look forward to judgment day?

BATTLE: Staying close to God. Busy lives can get in the way of our relationship with God. But that’s what Christianity is all about: relationship. Schedule time to spend with the Lord daily. Make this time a top priority. Get up early if you have to.

22 – We are to show mercy to those who doubt. These are those who have been deceived. Obviously, they will behave in such a way as to need mercy. I won’t speculate.

BATTLE: Offering mercy. It’s tempting to judge others and exact punishment or revenge. Isn’t it? Especially against those who have hurt us. Instead of succumbing to temptation, forgive your enemy…out loud. Memorize this verse.

23 – Save the misled. Amos 4:11 says to snatch them from the fire. This implies that they are starting to burn, but pulled from the flames before they are consumed.

Show mercy mixed with fear? Again, the behavior of these people will be such that they will need mercy. They will probably be like frightened, abused animals: ready to attack at the least provocation. Keep your guard up!

BATTLE: Staying alert. Don’t get lazy about your relationships. Be deliberate about spending time with Jesus and other Christians. If you’re like me, you may have to force yourself to do this. Spend time in the Bible everyday. Pray without ceasing. Each day is one day closer to reunion with our maker. Stand firm! Persevere!

BATTLE GEAR: Breath prayers. How can you pray without ceasing? Whenever you are mindful to do so, speak a sentence or two to the Lord. When you get called into your boss’ office, offer up a quick prayer for His will to be done. When you come out of that office with a new promotion, say, “Thank You, Father.” When the outcome is less desirable, say, “Lord, lead me to where You want me to be.”

Hate the clothing stained by corrupted flesh – even the clothing of these wicked people would be polluted. Do you imagine, like me, that these “rags” would be the best brand names in the richest, most attractive colors?

24 – Who is able to keep you from falling? Who is able to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy? There is only one! Jesus Christ.

25 – Jude glorifies the Lord eloquently, proclaiming glory, majesty, power and authority be to God through Christ Jesus. Take a few moments to glorify the Lord. Pray, sing, journal. Proclaim His glory, majesty, power and authority.



• The book of Jude teaches much about how to protect yourself and others in the battle to keep and build our faith. What have you learned about how to guard your heart or the heart of others today?
• What attributes of God do you see in this chapter?
• What verse of scripture seemed to be God speaking directly to you? What is He teaching you in these verses? How does He want you to respond?