Friday, January 31, 2014

Bible Study: Live A Life Of Love - 1 John - Chapter 1

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the epistle of 1 John. I feel a great sense of urgency to publish them because I’m not sure how much time we have left on this big, blue marble. Thank you for reading them. 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, mid to late summer 2010, things are still looking pretty bleak with the economy and unemployment, BP finally thinks they’ve stopped the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, and many people I know personally are experiencing difficulties of mega-crisis proportions – including my own diagnosis of breast cancer. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Seek His wisdom. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming to deliver His people and judge the wicked…


Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapter 1 of 1 John. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

Written around AD 85-90.

1:1-2 – John declares that Christ – eternal life – was present with the Father in the beginning. He also attests that he was an eye-witness to Christ’s life.

1:3 – John writes that they proclaim what they have seen and heard. This enters us into fellowship with them. He alludes that this also puts us in fellowship with the Father and with Jesus Christ.

Who is “we”?

1:4 – How do you think writing this could make their joy complete? Does it thrill you to tell others about what Jesus has done in you?

1:5 – The message they have heard and are declaring is: “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” How does this message impact you?

1:6 – John states that we cannot have fellowship with God and still walk in the darkness. Those who do are lying and not living by the truth.

Are there areas of darkness that still have a grip on your lifestyle? Pray that God would reveal them to you and show you how to bring them into the light.

1:7 – Several wonderful things happen if we walk in the light. First, we walk with Him because He is in the light. Second, we have fellowship with others who are also walking in the light. Third, Jesus’ blood purifies us from ALL sin. Do these benefits make you want to walk in the light? It may not be easy. I can testify that walking in the light led me through a 13-month long season of unemployment and the current path just began with a breast cancer diagnosis. But I will tell you one absolute fact – walking with Him in the light is the absolute best, safest place to be!

1:8-10 – Everyone sins. Don’t deceive yourselves. Embrace the truth in you. Confess your sin so that He may forgive and purify you. I’ve had difficulties confessing sin. It became necessary for me to ask God to reveal to me my sin so that nothing stood between us. I still have to ask sometimes, but I find that He often reveals my sin to me as it happens so that I can ask for immediate forgiveness.

• First John instructs us in how to live a life of love. Like First Peter, it also llustrates several life lessons and warnings for Christians. What is God teaching you in this chapter of scripture? How will you apply it to your life this week?
• 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, January 29, 2014

Heart of Mercy by Sharlene MacLaren

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:

Whitaker House (January 1, 2014)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling for sending me a review copy.***


Award winning romance author, Sharlene MacLaren has released 13 novels since embarking on a writing career in 2007. After a career teaching second grade “Shar” says she asked God for a new mission “that would bring her as great a sense of purpose” as she’d felt teaching and raising her children. She tried her hand at inspirational romance, releasing Through Every Storm to critical and popular acclaim in 2007, and the rest, as they say, is history. She quickly became the top selling fiction author for Whitaker House, has accumulated multiple awards, and endeared herself to readers who can’t get enough of her long, luscious and often quirky tales – both historical and contemporary. Her novels include the contemporary romances Long Journey Home, and Tender Vow; and three historical series including Little Hickman Creek series (Loving Liza Jane; Sarah, My Beloved; and Courting Emma); The Daughters of Jacob Kane (Hannah Grace, Maggie Rose, and Abbie Ann) and River of Hope (Livvie’s Song, Ellie’s Haven, and Sofia’s Secret).

Visit the author's website.


 Mercy Evans has known a great deal of heartache and hardship in her 26 years. She lost her mother at a young age and was only 16 when her father was killed in a brawl sparked by a feud with the Connors family that spans several generations. When a house fire claims the lives of her two best friends, Mercy is devastated, but finds comfort in caring for their two sons, who survived thanks to a heroic rescue by Sam Connors, blacksmith in the small town of Paris, Tennessee. Yet the judge is determined to grant custody only if Mercy is married. Mercy loves the boys as her own, and she’ll go to any lengths to keep them—but what if that means marrying the son of the man who killed her father?  Set in the 1880’s, Heart of Mercy is the first book in MacLaren’s new Tennessee Dreams series.

Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Series: Tennessee Dreams (Book 1)
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (January 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603749632
ISBN-13: 978-1603749633


Paris, Tennessee
The single word had the power to force a body to drop his knees and call out to his Maker for leniency. But most took time for neither, instead racing to the scene of terror with the bucket they kept stored close to the door, and joining the contingent of citizens determined to battle the flames of death and destruction. Such was the case tonight when, washing the dinner dishes in the kitchen sink, Mercy Evans heard the dreaded screams coming from all directions, even began to smell the sickening fumes of blazing timber seeping through her open windows. She ran through her house and burst through the screen door onto the front porch.
“Where’s the fire?” she shouted at the people running up Wood Street carrying buckets of water.
Without so much as a glance at her, one man hollered on the run, “Looks to be the Watson place over on Caldwell.”
Her heart thudded to a shattering halt. God, no! “Surely, you don’t mean Herb and Millie Watson!”
Mercy Evans and Millie Watson, formerly Gifford, had been fast friends at school and had stuck together like glue in the dimmest of circumstances, as well as the sweetest. Millie had walked with Mercy through the loss of both her parents, and Mercy had watched Millie fall wildly in love with Herb Watson in the twelfth grade. She’d been the maid of honor in their wedding the following summer.
But her voice was lost to the footsteps thundering past. Whirling on her heel, she ran back inside, hurried to extinguish all but one kerosene lamp, snatched her wrap from its hook by the door, and darted back outside and up the rutted street toward her best friends’ home, dodging horses and a stampede of citizens. “Lord, please don’t let it be,” she pleaded aloud. “Oh, God, keep them safe. Jesus, Jesus….” But her cries vanished in the scramble of bodies crowding her off the street as several made the turn onto Caldwell in their quest to reach the flaming house, which already looked beyond saving.
Tongues of fire shot like dragons’ breath out windows and up through a hole in the roof. Like hungry serpents, flames lapped up the sides of the house, eating walls and shattering panes, while men heaved their pathetic little buckets of water at the volcanic monster.
“Back off, everybody. Step back!” ordered Sheriff Phil Marshall. He and a couple of deputies on horseback spread their arms wide at the crowd, trying to push them to safety.
Ignoring his orders, Mercy pressed through the gathering mob until the heat so overwhelmed her that she had no choice but to stop. Besides, a giant arm reached out and stopped her progress. She shook it off. “Where are they?” she gasped, breathless. “Where’s the family?”
The sheriff moved his bald head from side to side, his sad, defeated eyes telling the story. “Don’t know, Miss Evans. No one’s seen ’em yet. We been scourin’ the crowd”—he gave another shake of the head—“and it don’t appear anybody got out of that inferno.”
“That can’t be.” A sob caught at the back of her throat and choked her next words. “They were at my place earlier. I made supper.”
“Sorry, miss.”
“Someone’s comin’ out!” A man’s ear-splitting shout rose above the crowd.
Dense smoke enveloped a large figure emerging—staggering rather like a drunkard—from the open door and onto the porch, his arms full with two wriggling bundles wrapped in blankets and screaming in terror. Mercy sucked in a cavernous breath and held it till weakness overtook her and she forced herself to let it out. Could it be? Had little John Roy and Joseph survived the fire thanks to this man?
“Who is it?” someone asked.
All stood in rapt silence as he passed through the cloud of smoke. “Looks to be Sam Connors, the blacksmith,” said the sheriff, scratching his head and stepping forward.
“Sure ’nough is,” someone confirmed.
Mercy stared in wonder as the man, looking dazed and almost ethereal, strode down the steps, then wavered and stumbled before falling flat on his face in a heap of dust and bringing the howling bundles with him.
Excited chatter erupted as Mercy and several others ran to their aid. Mercy yanked the blankets off the boys and heaved a sigh of relief to find them both alert and apparently unharmed, albeit still screeching louder than a couple of banshees. Through their avalanche of tears, they recognized her, and they hurled themselves into her arms, knocking her backward, so that she wound up on her back perpendicular to Mr. Connors, with both of the boys lying prone across her body. In all the chaos, she felt a hand grasp her arm and help her up to a sitting position.
“Come on, Miz. You bes’ git yo’self an’ them chillin’s out of the way o’ them flames fo’ you all gets burned.” She had the presence of mind to look up at Solomon Turner, a former slave now in the employ of Mrs. Iris Brockwell, a prominent Paris citizen who’d donated a good deal of money to the hospital fund.
Mercy took the man’s callused hand and allowed him to help her to a standing state. By the lines etched in his face from years of hard work in the sweltering sun, Mercy figured he had to be in his seventies, yet he lifted her with no apparent effort. “Thank you, Mr. Turner.”
Five-year-old John Roy stretched his arms upward, pleading with wet eyes to be held, while Joseph, six, took a fistful of her skirt and clung with all his might. “Come,” she said, hoisting John Roy up into her arms. “We best do as Mr. Turner says, honey. Follow me.”
“But…Mama and Papa….” Joseph turned and gave his perishing house a long perusal, tears still spilling down his face. John Roy buried his wrenching sobs in Mercy’s shoulder, and it was all she could do to keep from bolting into the house herself to search for Herb and Millie, even though she knew she’d never come out alive. If the fire and smoke didn’t kill her, the heat would. Besides, before her eyes, the flames had devoured the very sides of the house, leaving a skeletal frame with a staircase only somewhat intact and a freestanding brick fireplace looking like a graveyard monument. Her heart throbbed in her chest and thundered in her ears, and she wanted to scream, but the ever-thickening smoke and acrid fumes burned to the bottom of her lungs.
With her free hand, she hugged Joseph close to her. “I know, sweetheart, and I’m so, so sorry.” Her words drowned in her own sobs as the truth slammed against her. Millie and Herb, her most loyal friends. Gone.
Sheriff Marshall and his deputies ordered the crowd to move away from the blazing house, so she forced herself to obey, dragging a reluctant Joseph with her. At the same time, she observed three men carrying a yet unconscious Sam Connors across the street to a grassy patch of ground. Several others gathered around, trying to decide what sort of care he needed. Of course, he required medical attention, but Mercy felt too weak and dizzy to tend to him. Best to let the men put him on a cart and drive him over to Doc Trumble’s. Besides, she highly doubted he’d welcome her help. He was a Connors, after all, and she an Evans—two families who had been fighting since as far back as anyone could remember.
She’d heard only bits and pieces of how the feud had started, with a dispute between Cornelius Evans, Mercy’s grandfather, and Eustace Connors over property lines and livestock grazing in the early 1830s. There had been numerous thefts of horses and cattle, and incidents of barn burnings, committed by both families, until a judge had stepped in and defined the property lines—in favor of Eustace Connors. Mercy’s grandfather had gotten so agitated over the matter that his heart had given out. Mercy’s grandmother, Margaret, had blamed the Connors family, fueling the feud by passing her hatred for the entire clan on to her own children, and so the next generation had carried the grudge, mostly forgetting its origins but not the bad blood. The animosity had reached a peak six years ago, when Ernest Connors had killed Oscar Evans—Mercy’s father.
“That man’s a angel,” Joseph mumbled into her skirts.
“What, honey?”
“John Roy was wailin’ real loud, ’cause he saw somethin’ orange comin’ from upstairs, so he got in bed with me, and after a while that angel man comed in and took us out of ar’ bed.”
She set John Roy on the ground, then got down on her knees to meet Joseph’s eyes straight on. His were still red, his cheeks blotchy. She thought very carefully about her next words. “Where were your parents?”
Joseph sniffed. “They tucked us in and went upstairs to their bedroom. John Roy an’ me talked a long time about scary monsters an’ stuff, but then, after a while, he went to sleep, but I couldn’t, so I got up t’ get a drink o’ water, and that’s when I heard a noise upstairs. I looked around the corner, and I seed a big round ball o’ orange up there, and smoke comin’ out of it, and I thought it was a dragon come to eat us up. I runned back and jumped in bed with Joseph and tol’ him a mean monster was comin’ t’ get us, and I started cryin’ real loud.”
John Roy picked up the story from there. “And so we waited and waited for the monster to come after us, but instead the angel saved us. I think Mama and Papa is prolly still sleepin’. Do you think they waked up yet?”
Mercy’s throat burned as powerfully as if she’d swallowed a tablespoonful of acid. Her own eyes begged to cut loose a river of tears, but she warded them off with a shake of her head while gathering both boys tightly to her. “No, darlings, I don’t believe they woke up in bed. I believe with all my heart they awoke in heaven and are right now asking Jesus to keep you safe.”
“And so Jesus tol’ that angel to come in the house and get us?” Joseph pointed a shaky finger at Sam Connors. The big fellow lay motionless on his back, with several men bent over him, calling his name and fanning his face.
Mercy smiled. “He’s not an angel, my sweet, but that’s not to say that God didn’t have something to do with sending him in to rescue you.”
“Is he gonna die, like Mama and Papa?” John Roy asked between frantic sobs.
“Oh, honey, I don’t know.”
She overheard Lyle Phelps suggest they take him over to Doc Trumble’s house, but then Harold Crew said he’d spotted the doctor about an hour ago, driving out to the DeLass farm to deliver baby number seven.
A few sets of eyes glanced around until they landed on Mercy. She knew what folks were thinking. She worked for Doc Trumble, she had more medical training and experience than the average person, and her house was closest to the scene. But their gazes also indicated they understood the awkwardness of the situation, considering the ongoing feud between the two families. Although the idea of caring for him didn’t appeal, she’d taken an oath to always do her best to preserve life. Besides, the Lord commanded her to love her neighbor as herself, making it a sin to walk away from someone in need, regardless of his family name.
She dropped her shoulders, even as the boys snuggled close. “Put him on a cart and take him to my place,” she stated.
As if relieved that his care would fall to someone other than themselves, several men hurried to pick him up and carried him to Harold Crew’s nearby buggy.
“What about us?” Joseph asked.
The sheriff stepped forward and made a quick study of each boy. “You can stay out at my sister’s farm. She won’t mind adding a couple o’ more young’uns to her brood.”
Joseph burst into loud howls upon the sheriff’s announcement. Mercy hugged him and John Roy possessively. “Their parents were my closest friends, Sheriff Marshall. I’d like to assume their care.”
He frowned and scratched the back of his head. “Don’t know as that’s the best solution, you bein’ unwed an’ all.”
“That should have no bearing whatever on where they go. Their parents were my closest friends. They’re coming home with me.” She took both boys by the hands, turned, and led them back down Caldwell Street, away from the still-smoldering house and the sheriff’s disapproving gaze. Overhead, black smoke filled the skies, obliterating any hope of the night’s first stars or the crescent moon making an appearance.

Here's my review of this terrific novel:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Sharlene MacLaren and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Heart of Mercy" 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.
“Heart of Mercy” by Sharlene Maclaren is a heartwarming historical Christian romance in the tradition of Romeo and Juliet or the historical account of the Hatfields and the McCoys.  The Evanses and the Connorses are the feuding families in this tale.  When tragedy brings them together as a family, the power of Christ heals many wounds.

Although a work of fiction, this novel reached me at the perfect time.  I really needed to work toward having a forgiving heart and seeing how petty differences tear people apart and cause childish behavior really did help me.  Rather than taking sides like many characters in the book did, I felt myself becoming more sympathetic toward the characters – and the people in my life.  Thank you, Sharlene, for reminding me that the Lord hears the prayers of a wife for her husband.
I highly recommend “Heart of Mercy” as a source of wholesome entertainment.  This book would be a terrific gift for the Christian historical romance fan – or a great way to treat yourself!

When Wallflowers Dance by Angela Thomas – Week 3

Welcome to Week Three of Angela Thomas’ “When Wallflowers Dance:  Becoming a Woman of Righteous Confidence”.

This week’s video, “A Clean Life” took us on a tour of Psalm 51:7-12, 2 Timothy 1:3, 6-7, 1 John 1:9 and Ezekiel 36:25 to teach us that God makes us clean and that if your conscience isn’t clear, there’s stuff going on in the dark that nobody should be involved in.  We should seek a clean life because when you’re free of shackles, you’re free to run with the Lord.

Angela shared four ways to keep your house clean for parents:  first, monitor what your kids are accessing on the internet;  second, know and approve what movies they are watching;  third, only allow video games that are rated E for Everyone;  fourth, know and approve of where they go.  Personally, I didn’t raise my kids this way.  I’m not saying it’s wrong and I’m not saying it’s the only right way to do it.  I definitely advise parents to pray about the rearing of their children.

This week’s homework, “A Clean Life” walked us through cleansing our consciences through prayer.  Angela taught about Paul, who was a persecutor of believers until he had a miraculous encounter with Christ that changed him so deeply that he became an unbelievable evangelist.  She reminded us that we, as believers, have God’s forgiveness and that we still face a spiritual battle.  We need to quit believing Satan’s lies and start believing the power of the Holy Spirit that resides in us.

Jesus died so that we could be free.  That freedom enables us to love and forgive and more.  We are free to run to Him and confess and pray and learn and grow.  Praise Jesus!  Cleanse me, Lord.

This week’s “Girlfriend Nudges” included a time of confessing your sins aloud.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

December Bride by Denise Hunter

What started as a whim turned into an accidental---and very public---engagement. Can Layla and
Seth keep up the façade in Chapel Springs this holiday season---for the sake of her career . . . and his heart?

Under normal circumstances, Seth Murphy - the best friend of Layla O’Reilly’s ex-fiancé - would be the last person she’d marry. But the news of their upcoming (and phony) nuptials convinces a big client that Layla may be high-society enough to work for his agency - a coup that would put her fledgling home-staging business on the map. Seth has secretly loved Layla for years, even when she was dating his best friend. Maybe she’ll never forgive him for the way he hurt her back then, but he has to try. And Layla is willing to keep up their engagement farce until she’s landed her client.

For Layla, it's the chance to save her career. But for Seth, it's his last chance to win her heart.

Here's my review of this enjoyable novella:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Denise Hunter and her publisher for sending me a copy of "December 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.
“December Bride” by Denise Hunter is a charming novella.  When Layla’s wedding date falls through at the last minute, she must take desperate measures.  She can’t show up without a date to her ex’s wedding, and she can’t avoid the event since he’s marrying her cousin and her whole family will be there!  So she accepts the offer of Seth to escort her.  He is not only the best friend of Layla’s ex, he’s also been secretly crazy about Layla for a long time.  So, when a few bold words pop out at the wedding insinuating that Layla and Seth are getting married, Layla opts to continue the fiasco because the lie has opened the door to relationship with a potential client that wouldn’t give her the time-of-day previously.

This spunky novella made me laugh and sniffle and consider God’s purpose for marriage and relationships and how His timing truly is perfect.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Bible Study: Lessons And Warnings For The Christian Life - 2 Peter - Chapter 3

Please forgive this rough draft format, as these are my raw study notes on the epistle of 2 Peter. I feel a great sense of urgency to publish them because I’m not sure how much time we have left on this big, blue marble. Thank you for reading them. 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 summer 2010, things are still looking pretty bleak with the economy and unemployment, BP is taking a lot of heat over the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and hurricane Alex looms off the coast of the United States. Are these the first stages of birth pains? The last? God only knows. And He is very busy these days. Seek His wisdom. Encourage each other. Pray. Jesus is coming to deliver His people and judge the wicked…


Take a few minutes to pray and savor chapter 3 of 2 Peter. Then return here and ponder the thoughts, answer the questions, and be sure to leave comments about your own revelations…

3:1 – This is Peter’s second letter to believers. Apparently, they were written to stimulate wholesome thinking. Glance back through first and second Peter and make a list of what verses stimulate wholesome thinking. Meditate on these verses. Memorize them.

3:2 – What words of the prophets can you recall? Check the Old Testament if you need to find some to memorize. What command given by Jesus do you remember? Study the gospels for a reminder of what Jesus commanded.

3:3-5 – Scoffers will come in the last days. What is a scoffer? What will they do?

3:5 – What do you think Peter meant when he wrote that “they deliberately forget” what happened long ago by God's word? What is the significance that they were deliberate about forgetting?

3:6 – What story did they deliberately forget?

3:7 – The heavens and earth will be destroyed by fire on the day of judgment.

destruction – apoleia – losing, loss, the state after death wherein exclusion from salvation is a realized fact. WOW! He is Lord, I am lost, it’s too late!

3:8 – God is timeless.

3:9 – The Lord isn’t dragging His feet about bringing His children home. He is patiently giving everyone an opportunity to repent. Can you think of someone in your life who doesn’t know Jesus? Share the gospel with them.

3:10 – What does it mean that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief”?

3:11-12 – How should we behave as we await the day of the Lord? Are you behaving this way? What one thing can you work with God to change today?

3:13 – There is a picture of this new heaven and new earth in the book of Revelation. Check it out.

3:14 – How can you be “found spotless, blameless and at peace with” God?

3:15 – The Lord's patience means salvation. What does this phrase mean to you?

3:16 – Peter was familiar with Paul’s letters. He says that ignorant and unstable people will distort the parts of Paul’s letters that are difficult to understand. This will destroy them. How do you learn Biblical truths that are difficult to understand?

3:17 – Beware of lawless men. They can lead to your fall. And you can fall from your secure position according to this verse. Is there an area where you’ve been influenced to compromise yourself? Get back on track. Trust me. I’ve been there.

3:18 – Spend time with Jesus and get to know Him better. Pray, read and study His Word every day.

• Second Peter illustrates several life lessons and warnings for Christians. What is God teaching you in this chapter of scripture? How will you apply it to your life this week?
• 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?

30 Meditations on Rest by Marilyn Hickey and Sarah Bowling

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:

Whitaker House; Pap/Crds edition (September 2, 2013)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling for sending me a review copy.***


Dr. Marilyn Hickey, founder and president of Marilyn Hickey Ministries, has served in a wide variety of roles: author, teacher, pastor’s wife, mother and grandmother, preacher, broadcaster, peacemaker and spiritual diplomat. She’s known and loved worldwide for her daily radio and television broadcasts that have helped several generations learn to read the Bible and integrate its principles into daily living. Marilyn is joined by her daughter Sarah Bowling for their TV show, Marilyn and Sarah. Sarah is Vice President and founder of Saving Moses, a humanitarian initiative dedicated to reducing infant mortality worldwide. She is speaks at seminars, conferences, and college campuses throughout the world. Sarah and her husband, Reece, are senior pastors of Orchard Road Christian Center, near Denver, founded by Marilyn Hickey and her late husband, Wallace.

Visit the author's website.


30 Meditations on Rest is the first of a meditation series by well known Bible teacher Dr. Marilyn Hickey and her daughter and ministry partner, Sarah Bowling. In this volume, readers learn how to meditate and focus on the importance of rest. The authors maintain that rest begins in the mind and offer 30 supportive biblical meditations designed to renew and refresh world-weary readers. Convenient tear-away Scripture cards are included to help people maintain focus amid the busyness of life. Dr. Hickey, over 80 and going strong, says she and Sarah launched the series to challenge those who associate the word meditate with drudgery, saying, “It’s our desire for the reader  to experience a life transformation that will take place as these principles are applied.”

Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House; Pap/Crds edition (September 2, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603749012
ISBN-13: 978-1603749015


Meditating: The #1 Key to Success
Hide-and-seek was a fun game. I can hear the refrain: “Ready or not, here I come!” One child was “it,” and he would cover his eyes on home base as all the other children ran and hid. The object was for those who were hiding to get “home” before they were found.
It was great entertainment, and amusing, but there’s a “hiding” that is essential to our walk as Christians that I want to present here.
I’m referring to hiding the Word in our hearts, and the “who, what, when, where, and how” of doing this. The Bible says, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You!” (Psalm 119:11). When we hide the Word in our hearts, it not only keeps us from sin, as the psalmist said, but it also will bring success.
Most promises in the Bible relate to specific actions:
“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”                                                (Ephesians 6:2–3)
The command (action) involves honoring your parents, and it is accompanied by a specific promise: that you may be well and “live long on the earth.”
God gave a command to Joshua. It was given because of God’s promise to lead Israel into the Promised Land. After forty years in the wilderness, Joshua was chosen to fulfill the hundreds-of-years-old pledge. In Joshua 1:8, he received a command to meditate. The instruction was for all people, as you’ll see from reading further Scriptures on meditation, and it carries a promise that goes with everything in your life. This Scripture enlightens us about hiding the Word. It says,
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.         
                                                                                                     (Joshua 1:8)
God said, in effect, “If you meditate on My Word, day and night, and if you speak that Word and obey it, everything in your life will be prosperous and successful!”
I’ve discovered that God has a lot to say about meditating, and I’ve become excited about what meditating on His Word accomplishes. It is important that you understand what meditation is and what it will do for you. Meditating on God’s Word changes lives—in fact, it is life.
I’ve heard many testimonies regarding the effects of medication. If you know me, I’m sure most of you know Sarah Bowling. She’s a wife, a mother, a teacher of the Word, a pastor, and my television cohost on Today with Marilyn and Sarah. And, if you did not know, she is my daughter. She ministers alongside Reece Bowling, her husband, who is senior pastor of Orchard Road Christian Center, in Greenwood, Colorado. The crux of her heart’s cry is a ministry she founded, called Saving Moses, which concentrates on saving young children, from newborns to the age of five.
Sarah’s life has been strongly affected by meditation. This is what she says:
The most powerful experience I’ve had meditating on the Bible was when I was in my early twenties. I was spending the summer doing missions work in Hong Kong. At the time, I was a schoolteacher and had made some bad decisions in my personal life during the preceding school year. During my time there, I was not only involved in missions work but I also was trying to get past the dilemma created by those choices. Thankfully, I had supportive people around me and made great friendships.
Over the course of that summer, what helped my thinking the most was my experience with memorizing and meditating on Colossians 3. I found that the longer I memorized and meditated on those verses, the more healthy my mind and thoughts became. As I continued to progress through the chapter, it felt as though the verses I memorized were figuratively washing out all the garbage those bad decisions had deposited in my mind. Furthermore, it felt like those verses were not only cleaning my mind, but they also were replacing destructive mind-sets with more truth-oriented thoughts and convictions.
I’ve never forgotten that experience and the transforming power of meditating on the Bible. Subsequently, I’ve used the principles of meditating over the course of my life with equally powerful results and transformations.
I’m sure most of you are familiar with Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life. Rick is the founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church, in Forest Lake, California. This is what he said in his book about meditation:
Meditation is “thinking about God”—His essence, His desires, His plans, His mercy, etc.—throughout each day. And the only way a Christian can do this is by knowing God—and the only way a Christian can know God is through His Word. Meditation (similar to the process of “worrying”), which is only “focused thinking,” is accomplished when one mulls over (contemplates, ponders) God’s Word continually during the day.
Meditation allows God to share His secrets (revelations) with His children—to speak to His children in a close and personal way. To properly meditate requires a life of studying God’s thoughts recorded in the Bible. It also means that a Christian should continuously review biblical truths when they are presented in sermons, radio broadcasts, Bible studies, etc.”[1]
Meditation isn’t always easy, and it’s no small wonder the enemy has desperately tried to mask the topic of meditation on God’s Word. He’s brought in many counterfeits, such as transcendental meditation, and all kinds of distraction. Whenever you see the devil putting up a smokescreen, you can be sure he’s counterfeiting something real. The devil never created anything. All he can do is falsify and imitate what already exists.
The “Who” of Meditation
I mentioned earlier God’s promise for success in Joshua 1:8.
What is success? Let’s look at the Hebrew word for “prosperous”: tsalach.
It means:
1.      to rush
2.      to advance, prosper, make progress, succeed, be profitable
3.      to make prosperous, bring to successful issue, cause to prosper
4.      to show or experience prosperity, prosper
You see how success and prosperity go hand in hand? This Hebrew word has the correct signification. When I read “to advance,” I think of wading across a river or pushing forward toward a goal. Proverbs 13:19 says, “A desire accomplished is sweet to the soul.”
Another meaning of this word is “to fall upon.” Picture God’s riches falling upon you. Also hidden in this good word is the meaning “to finish well.” God’s Word has happy endings.
Lastly, it can be translated as “promote.” The Hebrew connotation means it brings promotion.
If you so desired, you could place meditate before each meaning and make an equation straight across the line. Do you want to prosper as a wife, a husband, a mother, an employer, an employee, a friend, a sweetheart, a neighbor, a minister, or as a Christian? Meditation on God’s Word is the unusual key that unlocks all of His success. It is the solution, and we need to know what it is and how to do it.
Many will say that this passage was only written for Joshua. They may say, “Well, God gave Joshua success because he had to take the Promised Land.” But I want to tell you that God did more than tell us to take the Promised Land—He told us to take the world for Jesus.
Meditation can dramatically change your life. In this passage, God is talking about a “blessed man.” He says:
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.
                                                                                    (Psalm 1:1–3)
If you meditate on the Word day and night, you’ll implement the key element of being blessed, prosperous, and successful in every area of your life.
“Oh,” you say, “there’s that ugly word meditate.” I think some Christians have this word confused with medicate. I think they associate it with a task that is time-consuming and difficult. However, meditation does not need to be drudgery. Rather, I have discovered that it adds a refreshing quality to my study of God’s Word. It is my desire for you to see transformation take place when you begin applying the principles of meditation to your own life. As Rick Warren suggested, if you know how to worry, you already know how to meditate!
In the passage above, we run into the same idea found in Joshua 1:8. “Blessed is the man….” The man who meditated on the Word will be prosperous and successful in all that he does. Shall we embrace the truth of meditating? Or shall we simply stand aside and, with words and acts, watch other Christians meditate? We are too busy, too old, or too “out of it” to be bothered.
However, you see, Psalm 1 whets every believer’s appetite for meditation. It states, “Blessed is the man who…meditates” (Psalm 1:1–2). The word blessedness is not found in the Hebrew text, because there is no such thing as a singular blessing, only plural blessings. Psalm 1 says that meditating will give you vitality “like a tree” (Psalm 1:3). It will give you security, for you will be “planted” (verse 3). Your capacity will be unlimited because His sources are “the rivers [plural] of water” (verse 3). You will be fertile, because meditating “brings forth its fruit” (verse 3). You will have seasons and perpetuate, because your “leaf…shall not wither” (verse 3). What prosperity! Everything you do “shall prosper” (verse 3).
Can you look into the mirror of these words and see yourself?
Because of the blessings, successes, and revelations I’ve received, I’ve condensed hours of study, practical experience, and character studies on meditation, which I believe will compel you to meditate on His Word—letting it dominate and change your life for the better. I pray the Lord will throw open the shutters of your spiritual understanding so that you may receive all the blessings He has for you in the fullness of His Word.
Let this truth be gladly received in your mind and your will. Embrace this truth. There’s only one way to go—forward!

[1] Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 85.

Here's my review of this terrific resource on rest:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Marilyn Hickey and Sarah Bowling and their publisher for sending me a copy of "30 Meditiations on Rest" 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.
“30 Meditations on Rest” by Marilyn Hickey and Sarah Bowling enticed me to jump right into reading the meditations and committing the Scripture verses to memory.  But I’m glad I took the time to read the beginning of the book, first.  There were significant helps in the beginning pages that motivated and inspired me.  The devotions themselves only took up the last 30 pages of the book, but each one was insightful and potentially life changing.  The perforated Scripture cards were a valuable help that I used quite a bit.

I did laminate the scripture cards, punch holes in them and hold them together with a book binder ring.  This allowed me to toss them in my purse to take with me wherever I went.  One of my hopes was that, when people saw me flipping through the cards, they would ask what I was doing which would give me an opportunity to share with them about rest and about Christ.  Sadly, no one’s asked, yet.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen

Filled with mystery and romance, Julie Klassen's newest book, The Dancing Master (Bethany House
Publisher, 2013
), brings to life the intriguing profession of those who taught essential social graces for ladies and gentlemen hoping to make a "good match" in Regency England.
More about The Dancing Master
Finding himself the man of the family, London dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire, hoping to start over. But he is stunned to learn the village matriarch has prohibited all dancing, for reasons buried deep in her past.

Alec finds an unlikely ally in the matriarch's daughter. Though he's initially wary of Julie Midwinter's reckless flirtation, he comes to realize her bold exterior disguises a vulnerable
soul---and hidden sorrows of her own.

Julia is quickly attracted to the handsome dancing master---a man her mother would never approve of---but she cannot imagine why Mr. Valcourt would leave London, or why he evades questions about his past. With Alec's help, can Julia uncover old secrets and restore life to her somber village . . . and to her mother's tattered heart?
Advance Praise
"A fantastic read. Every time I was sure I had figured out the twisty-turny plot, the story would take another turn to prove me wrong. I loved it!"
---Author Michelle Griep
Here's my review of this enjoyable book:
First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Julie Klassen and her publisher for sending me a copy of "The Dancing Master" 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.
“The Dancing Master” by Julie Klassen reads like a Jane Austen romance.  Alec Valcourt has recently relocated to the United States with his mother and sister, seeking a life in America and at the merciful kindness of his stingy uncle until he can become gainfully employed and take care of his family.  Unbeknownst to Alec, a London Dance and Fencing Master, there is no dancing in his new home, so finding students is becoming increasingly frustrating.  Miss Julia Midwinter is a flirtatious rich girl whose mother, Lady Amelia, was instrumental in banishing dancing from the community.  The attraction between these two is presented in a similar manner as great literature.
This is a long, slow read - perfect for a holiday weekend in a hammock or on a porch swing.  The plot has so many facets, it resembles real life.  The characters are beautifully built and showcased to their full advantage.  “The Dancing Master” brings to life a time long past that teaches the reader “simpler times” weren’t really simpler.  I would whole-heartedly recommend this novel to anyone who loves classic literature like “Jane Eyre”, “Pride and Prejudice”, etc.
My one issue with the book was that the story reminded me so much of “Footloose” that my concentration kept coming back to the present rather than fully submerging in the past.

Call of the Prairie by Vickie McDonough

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:

Whitaker House (January 1, 2014)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling for sending me a review copy.***


VickiMcDonoughHS2 Short Bio & Author Website: Vickie McDonough is an award-winning author of 30 works and a founder of the Christian Fiction Historical Society (  Book 1 in her Pioneer Promises series, Whispers on the Prairie, was chosen by Romantic Times as a top “recommended read” last summer. A member of ACFW, Vickie served as treasurer for three years and treasurer for her local chapter. She and her husband, Robert, live in Oklahoma and have four grown sons, one daughter-in-law, and a granddaughter. When she isn’t writing, Vickie enjoys reading, shopping for antiques, watching movies, and traveling. The final book in her Pioneer Promises series, Song of the Prairie, releases the summer of 2014.

Visit the author's website.


In her 22 years, Sophie Davenport’s overprotective parents have taken every possible measure to keep her from exacerbating her asthma—she feels like a prisoner in her own house with her activities limited to reading and needlework. Yet Sophie longs for adventure and love, so when an aunt living in Windmill, Kansas, falls ill, she volunteers to travel from St. Louis to help out. Sophie’s new role brings her into contact with two children boarding at her aunt’s home, along with their handsome uncle, Josh Harper. Josh has worked for his family’s stagecoach stop on the Santa Fe Trail for most of his life, but he’s far more bookish than his brawny brothers. It’s his book smarts that recently landed him a job in Windmill managing his uncle’s bank. Josh also looks after his niece and nephew who are living in Windmill to attend school. Josh loves spending time with them, but yearns for a family of his own.

Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Series: Pioneer Promises (Book 2)
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (January 1, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603749624
ISBN-13: 978-1603749626


April 1873
St. Louis, Missouri
Sophie Davenport held back the curtain and peered out the front window, her heart jolting as a handsome man exited the carriage. He paid the driver, then turned and studied her house. He was taller and nicer looking than she’d expected. She dropped the curtain and stepped back, hoping he hadn’t seen her spying. She pressed her hands together and tapped her index fingers against her lips, unable to hold back her grin. Blake had finally arrived!
A knock of confidence, not apprehension, sounded at the main entrance. Sophie hurried to her bedroom door, which opened onto the main entryway, then held her breath and listened. Blake stood on her porch, introducing himself to the butler. Sophie could barely hold back her giddiness. She bounced on her toes as Blake told the butler he had an appointment with her. His voice, deeper than she’d imagined, floated through the open transom window above her like a beautiful cello solo at the symphony.
She patted her hair, hoping the humidity of the warm day hadn’t sent it spiraling in rebellious curls. The swish of silk accompanied her as she hurried across the room to the full-length oval mirror that stood in one corner. Pressing a hand over her chest to calm her pounding heart, she surveyed her deep purple gown. Was the fabric too dark? She’d chosen the violet silk taffeta because her brightly colored day dresses made her appear younger, but today, she wanted to look the twenty-two-year-old woman she was. Turning sideways, she checked her bustle and bow, making sure they were straight. Everything was as orderly as it could be. Would Blake like what he saw? Would he think her too short? Her light brown hair too nondescript?
Flicking a piece of lint off her bodice, she turned and faced the door. She would know soon enough. After more than a year of correspondence, Blake knew everything about her, and he had adamantly insisted that none of it mattered. He’d fallen in love with her through her enchanting missives, and he wanted her for his wife.
A vicious knock rattled the glass in the transom, and Sophie jumped. The apprehension racing through her was less about meeting Blake and more about the fact that she hadn’t told her parents about him. They would have cut off her correspondence faster than their gardener could lop off the head of a snake. But it was too late now. She attempted to swallow the lump lodged in her throat, but it refused to move.
Her mother walked in, her whole face pinched like a prune, and quickly closed the door. She stood there facing it for a long moment, her head down, then heaved a loud, exaggerated sigh.
Not a good sign.
Finally, her mother turned. “You have a guest, Sophia—a male guest.” One eyebrow lifted. “Would you care to explain to me how you are acquainted with this man, especially since neither your father nor I have ever met him?”
Sophie pressed a hand to her throat. She knew this wouldn’t be easy. “His name is Blake Sheppard. He and I have been corresponding for over a year.”
Her mother’s brown eyes widened. “A year? But how? I’ve never seen a letter from him in the mail.”
Ducking her head, Sophie stilled her hands and held them in front of her. “Ruthie sent and received them for me. Blake is her cousin—and a gentleman.”
“A gentleman doesn’t go behind the backs of a young woman’s parents to contact her.” Maintaining her stiff stance, her mother puckered her lips. “So, you’ve been deceiving your father and me?”
Wincing, Sophie turned toward the front window. “Would you have allowed me to correspond with Blake if I’d told you about him?”
“Proper ladies don’t exchange letters with men they’ve never been introduced to, and certainly not without parental approval.”
Drawing a steadying breath, Sophie turned to face her mother. She’d known this would be a battle. “Mother, please. Blake is a good man. Ask me anything about him.”
“There’s no need. We will go out to the parlor, share a cup of tea, and then you’ll make excuses that will send him on his way. Is that clear?”
Sophie gasped. “But he’s traveled so far, and I’ve waited so long to meet him.” She despised the pleading in her voice. Why couldn’t her parents let her grow up like her sister? A wheeze squeaked out of her throat. She had to stay calm. The last thing she wanted was to have an attack in front of Blake.
Her mother moved closer, her expression softening. She took Sophie’s hand. “You know how things are, dear. You had no business getting that young man’s hopes up.”
“That young man is my fiancé, Mother.”
“Fiancé—why, that’s absurd! You know you can’t lead a normal life.”
Closing her eyes, Sophie fought back tears. Why did her parents seek to limit her? Given the chance, she was certain she could be a proper wife and mother, but her parents just wanted to coddle her and keep her close. “You have to face the fact that I’m grown up. I want to live a normal life.” She hurried past her mother and reached for the door handle.
“But you are not normal, dear. Your father and I only want to protect you. We couldn’t bear to lose you, and you know we’ve come close to doing that very thing on several occasions.”
Sophie shuddered at the declaration. Her mother’s words rang in her ears: You are not normal. Yes, she had a breathing problem; but, as she’d gotten older, the spells had happened less often. Maybe in time, they’d go away altogether. Her parents were afraid to let her live as her sister did. If she didn’t get away from them, she’d become a spinster—if she wasn’t one already. She stiffened her back and pasted on a smile, trying to ignore the pain of her mother’s chastisement. Blake was waiting.
She opened the door and stepped into the entryway, her gaze searching for the man she’d dreamed about so many times. Blake stood in front of the parlor sofa, speaking with her father. He hadn’t noticed her yet.
“I’m sorry you’ve wasted your time traveling all this way, Mr. Sheppard,” her father said. “But, as I’ve already stated, my daughter is not in the habit of receiving male visitors.”
Blake’s eyebrows drew together, his shoulders slumping, as he looked down at the carpet. Sophie blew out several breaths and tried to calm herself, then hurried through the entryway into the parlor, avoiding her father’s glare. Her gaze latched onto Blake’s, and she saw the confusion in his hazel eyes. He offered a tentative smile. “Miss Davenport, a pleasure to finally meet you.”
She smiled, her cheeks warming, as she curtsied. “I’ve looked forward to this moment for a very long time.” She waved a hand toward her father, and noticed that her mother had followed her into the room. “I apologize, but I failed to tell my parents about your arrival.” Because I knew just how they would respond. “I fear they are both a bit surprised.” An understatement of mammoth proportions, if ever there was one.
Sophie gathered her courage and turned to her father. “I see you’ve met Blake, Father.” Her throat tightened at his stern stare. Another wheeze squeaked out. “B-Blake is my fiancé.”
Her father’s eyes widened, and his mouth dropped open. A pomegranate color climbed up his neck, turning his ears red. He turned his fiery gaze on Blake. “You presume a lot, young man. Did Sophie not inform you that she is not fully well? She is not in a position to accept an offer of marriage.”
Blake cleared his throat and straightened, as if he wasn’t ready to give up the battle. “Yes, sir, she told me, but I thought—” His gaze captured Sophie’s, and then he glanced at the floor again. He shuffled his feet, as if he were trying to figure out a new dance step. “I thought Sophie—uh, Miss Davenport—was free to make her own decisions, sir. I’m sorry that she failed to inform you of my interest in her.”
“Inform me?” Her father puffed up like a tom turkey whose hens were in danger. “A daughter doesn’t ‘inform’ a father that she is planning to marry a stranger. A decent fellow seeks permission before approaching a man’s daughter.”
Blake swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing. “I’m sorry, sir.”
As if an angry fist clutched Sophie’s throat, she felt it closing. She expelled a wheeze, and Blake shot a glance in her direction. Her father’s tirade blended with the words her mother had uttered, causing an ache within her so painful, she didn’t know if she could bear it. She was losing Blake, and they’d only just met. Was she doomed to live with her overprotective parents the rest of her life?
She wouldn’t.
She’d fight for Blake. He was worth it.
She opened her mouth to defend her fiancé, but the sound that came out more resembled the bleat of an ailing goat than her own voice. Humiliation blistered her cheeks.
Blake took a step backward, away from her, his handsome face drawn in a scowl.
“You see, Mr. Sheppard, the slightest excitement can set off one of my daughter’s attacks.” Father turned to Sophie’s mother. “Ring for some coffee, if you will. It seems to help our Sophie’s spells.”
Spells. Attacks. What would Blake think?
Sophie held out her hand to him. Instead of taking it, he cast another worried glanced at her father. She sucked in another wheezy breath, struggling to stay clam in the midst of such turmoil. The room tilted. Sophie closed her eyes until the spinning stopped. All was silent for several long moments, except for her screeching breaths.
When her eyelids fluttered open, Blake met her gaze with an apology in his eyes. She knew in that moment she’d lost him.
He sighed. “Perhaps I have been too hasty. I sincerely apologize, Miss Davenport, but I must withdraw my offer of marriage. I hope you and your parents can forgive me for troubling you so.”
Tears stung Sophie’s eyes. She held out her hand again, hoping—praying—he’d take hold of it. “No, please—”
He skirted around her as if she were a leper, nodded to her mother, then snatched his hat off the hall tree and rushed out the door.
Sophie collapsed in the nearest chair and watched her dreams march down the sidewalk and out of sight. Tears blurred her vision as all hope of a future with Blake died. How could her parents be so cruel as to not even allow Blake to express his interest in her? How could they embarrass her so?
Her father walked to her and leaned over. “Try to calm down, Sophia.”
She jumped up so fast, her head almost rammed his chin. He stumbled backward. The room swerved as she struggled for a decent breath. “How c-could you, Father?”
A wave of guilt washed over his face. “It’s for your own good, you know.”
She clutched the end table for support for a moment, then stumbled past him.
He took her arm. “Here, let me help you, precious.”
“No! Please.” She yanked away. “I can…take care of…myself. I’m a grown woman, and you both need to f-face that fact.” She inhaled a decent breath and then charged on, by pure willpower. “I’m twenty-two and not your little girl anymore. Stop sheltering me…let me live my life. It’s mine to live, not yours to stifle.”
The flash of pain in her father’s eyes only made her feel worse. Her shoes tapped across the entryway as she hurried back to her room—the former library, where her parents had relegated her, as if she were a pariah. She shut the door and collapsed on her bed, wanting to cry but knowing that doing so would only make breathing harder. She slammed her fist against her pillow. “Why, God? Why can’t my parents let me grow up?”
She’d had such hopes. Thought that when her parents met Blake, they’d see what a quality man he was. But they hadn’t even given him a chance. Could she have been mistaken about him? She smacked the bed, a futile outlet for her frustrations and disappointments. Blake hadn’t bothered to fight for her one bit; he’d fled out the door the first chance he’d gotten. She’d tried to prepare him—to warn him about her episodes—but she must have failed.
She barked a cough that sounded like a seal she’d once seen at the menagerie in New York City’s Central Park. Sophie pushed up into a sitting position, in order to breathe better. Blinking, she attempted to force away her tears, but new ones came like the spring rains that flooded the banks of the Mississippi River. Why had God cursed her with this hateful condition?
The door opened, and her mother entered, carrying a tray. Coffee. She despised the foul-tasting stuff, but it was thought to be helpful to people with asthma, as were garlic, whiskey, and a number of other nasty-tasting concoctions.
“How are you, dear?”
Sophie slid back down on the bed and turned to face the wall. She didn’t want to talk—couldn’t talk.
“Don’t be that way. You need to drink this coffee.”
She shook her head.
“Turn over, Sophia.” Her mother’s tone left no room for refusal.
She obeyed but didn’t look at her mother. Instead, she started counting the thin, blue lines in the wallpaper—all nine hundred sixteen of them—as she’d done a thousand other times. Focusing on the task would keep her from weeping and from lashing out in anger.
Her mother blew out a loud breath, then held out the coffee cup. “Drink this.”
Sophie shook her head. “Doesn’t help.” She sucked in a breath, thankful that this episode was a mild one and already beginning to pass, in spite of the day’s traumatic events.
Her mother set the cup back on the tray with a loud clatter and stared across the room. “Whatever made you do such a thing? Don’t you know that young man must have spent hard-earned money to come here? Taken time away from his job, assuming he has one? You gave him false hopes, Sophia, and now he’s wasted a year of his life pursuing a woman he can never have.”
Sophie clenched her eyes shut, losing count of the lines. Did her mother not care that her heart was breaking?
Guilt nibbled its way into her mind like a mouse in a sack of grain. She hadn’t thought how things would affect Blake if they turned sour. She’d been so certain everything would work out in their favor. So certain that she could persuade her parents to let them marry, that she hadn’t considered the negative side. But her mother was right about one thing. Blake had taken leave from his job as bookkeeper for a shoe factory in Chicago so that he could travel to St. Louis to meet her. He had wasted his time and money to come here.
And it was all her fault.
She sucked in a sob.
Her mother patted her shoulder. “There, there. Things will work out.”
Yes, her father would go back to running his company. Her mother would attend her social clubs and church functions. Her sister would continue as a happily married wife and soon-to-be mother, while Sophie would continue her boring existence as a lonely spinster living in her parents’ home.
The bed lifted on one side as her mother stood and quietly left the room. After the door closed, Sophie sat up and stared out the window, at the very place she’d first seen Blake. She hated feeling sorry for herself, and she normally didn’t, but today, her emotions were raw.
She rose from the bed and crossed the room to her desk, where her Bible lay. She picked it up and hugged it to her chest as she gazed out at the garden. Bright yellow butterflies flitted from flower to flower. A big bumblebee disappeared in a clump of pink azaleas. The beauty of God’s creation never failed to cheer her, even on the saddest of days.
Sophie blew out a loud sigh. “Forgive me, Lord, if I’ve been selfish.” She hugged the Bible tighter. “But please, Father, make a way for me to break free from my parents. To prove to them—and to myself—that I can stand on my own. That I can take care of myself. And please, Lord, if it be Your will, send me a man someday who will love me for the woman I am and overlook my…flaws.”
Tears pooled in her eyes, and her throat tightened. “But if it is Your will for me to remain in my parents’ home and to never marry, help me to accept that and to be content.”
If that was the Lord’s will, He certainly had a monumental task ahead.

Here is my review of this enjoyable novel:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Vickie McDonough and her publisher for sending me a copy of "Call of the Prairie" 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.
“Call of the Prairie” by Vickie McDonough is an uplifting tale about a sheltered woman who leaves home to take care of her ailing aunt in Windmill, Kansas.  Sophie has been crippled by her parents’ idea of protecting her from asthma.  But Sophie still has dreams of being like other people until her attempt to secure a future as a wife dashes her last hope.  Through several turns of circumstance, she ends up in Windmill caring for her ailing Aunt.  She doesn’t expect to also find two handsome suitors.

This enjoyable novel is a nice weekend escape.  There are threads of godliness woven throughout the tale, making it an uplifting and encouraging experience as well as an entertaining one.  This is truly wholesome entertainment.