The MacGregor Legacy - From Scotland to the Carolinas

(Book 1 - For Love or Loyalty) (Book 2 - For Love or Country) (Book 3 - For Love or Liberty)

Path of Freedom, Quilts of Love series

1858 North Carolina - When Quakers Flora Saferight and Bruce Millikan embark on the Underground Railroad, they agree to put their differences aside to save the lives of a pregnant slave couple..

Highland Sanctuary, (Highland series - Book 2)

1477 Scotland - A chieftain heir is hired to restore Briagh Castle and discovers a hidden village of outcasts who have created their own private sanctuary from the world.

Highland Blessings, (Book 1 - Highland series)

1473 Scotland - The story of a highland warrior who kidnaps the daughter of his greatest enemy and clan chief to honor a promise to his dying father.

Awakened Redemption (Inspirational Regency)

1815 England - A story that pierces the heart and captures the Regency era.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Christian Fiction with Special Needs Characters

October 2011 is Sensory Awareness Month and I'm going to be featuring parents as guest posts on my blog who are raising children with special needs. I have four parents lined up and need four more. I'm looking for parents with children of all ages and with varying special needs such as Autism, Sensory Integration Disorder, X Syndrome, Blind, Deaf, Speech Impediments, Seizure Disorder, Physical Disabilities, etc. Any parent who would be interested in submitting a guest post, may send me an email at jt4novels@yahoo.com.

As a parent with a special needs child, there were so many times I didn't know where to turn or what to do for my child. My daughter was born with a seizure disorder, which she is now healed from, but has delayed development, Sensory Integration Disorder, and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Now that she's 13, I'm seeing her overcome so many things. I want to encourage other parents with younger children, and I want to be encouraged by other parents who have high school children, college kids, and grown children. My goal is for us to share our stories, raise awareness and understanding, and to encourage each other.

Also, I'll be writing an article in the Christian Fiction Online Magazine featuring Christian fiction novels with characters who have special needs. I cannot interview and feature every book and author as I'd like, but I can at least try to compile a list. 

Will you help me? If you have read a Christian fiction novel like this, would you please leave a comment with the title of the book and the author name? Please consider forwarding this request to your friends who read Christian fiction. I would be most appreciative as I don't want to leave out any books.

I would be remiss, if I didn't mention that my upcoming novel, Highland Sanctuary, which will release in October 2011. Serena Boyd, the heroine, is born with a seizure disorder much like my daughter, but she must face the consequences of living in 1477 Scotland--a time when the word "seizure" wasn't well-known and understanding and mercy were scarce.

Thank you for your help!

Here's what I have so far:
1) A Touch of Grace by Lauraine Snelling (Deafness)
2) Grace in Thine Eyes by Liz Curtis Higgs (Deafness)
3) On Sparrow Hill by Maureen Lang (historical orphanage with several children with many different types of special needs)
4) Unlocked by Karen Kingsbury (Autism)
5) When the Snow Flies by Laurie Alice Eakes (Blindness)
6) The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund (Blindness)
7) Double Vision by Randy Ingermanson (Asperger)
8) Another Dawn, Kathryn Cushman (Autism)
9) Sadie's Hero by Margaret Daly (Down Syndrome)
10) Second Chance Family by Margaret Daly (Autism)
11) The Power of Love by Margaret Daly (Down Syndrome)
12) So Dark the Night by Margaret Daly (Blindness)
13) Light in the Storm by Margaret Daly (Learning Disability)
14) Tidings of Joy by Margaret Daly (Physical Disability in wheelchair)
15) What the Heart Knows by Margaret Daly (Schizophrenia)
16) Tidings of Joy by Margaret Daly (Bipolar)
17) A Daughter for Christmas by Margaret Daly (ADD)
18) The Curse of Captain LaFoote by Eddie Jones (Epilepsy)
19) Courting the Doctor's Daughter by Janet Dean (Learning Disability)
20) Love Finds you in Bridal Veil, Oregon by Miralee Ferrell (Learning Disability)
21) John's Quest by Cecelia Dowdy (Blindness)
22) Rain Song, by Alice J. Wisler (Autism)   
23) How Sweet It Is by Alice J. Wisler (Mentally Disadvantaged)
24) Redeeming the Rogue by Cynthia Chase (Down Syndrome)
25) Beyond the Night by Marlo Shalesky (Blindness)
26) Shades of Morning by Marlo Shalesky (Down Syndrome)
27) Finding Alice by Melody Carson (Schizophrenia)
28) White Doves by Shannon Vannetter (Paraplegic)
29) The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson (Cerebral Palsy)
30) A Month of Summer by Lisa Wingate (Mentally Challenged)
31) The Summer Kitchen by Lisa Wingate (Mentally Challenged)
32) Highland Blessings by Jennifer Hudson Taylor (Deafness)
33) Highland Sanctuary by Jennifer Hudson Taylor (A Village of people who are outcasts because of their various special needs.)

Be Honest....What's Your Favorite Bookstore?

Is it a local brick and mortar store? A Christian bookstore? Or a secular store with a religion section? Or an online store?

Over the years I've gone through stages. I used to love spending time at the Borders Books on High Point Road in Greensboro, NC. That store will now close over the next two months. It's where I would go to buy reference books and pour myself into material that would teach me how to be a better writer. I would spend hours in that store dreaming of having my books on their shelves. I loved their bargain books and they always seem to have plenty of them.

When I moved to Winston-Salem, I discovered The Master's Loft, a Christian bookstore with a cafe. This was a wonderful place. We would go in here and spend hours with church folks and hold Bible studies and fellowship. Then they closed the store because they made more money through online sales. After that we were forced to shop at Family Christian Stores down the street, but there wasn't a cafe and the atmosphere wasn't the same. We began meeting fellow church members at Barnes & Nobles on Stratford Road and hanging out at their cafe. It was more crowded, had music that wasn't conductive to Bible studies, and the effort didn't last long.

Since moving to Charlotte, we've spent more time at Books-A-Million and their Joe Mugs Cafe. They have a great Religion section with lots of Christian fiction and I love their bargain bins. Over the last couple of months they got rid of Joe Mugs and opened some yogurt shop that I don't care for. Since then, I've visited the store, but I don't recall buying a thing, and I don't hang out there anymore. I go in, look for what I'm after, and get out. A few weeks ago, we drove several miles out of our way to visit a Barnes & Nobles with a cafe.

I've discovered if a bookstore has a cafe, I'll hang out there longer, look at more books, buy coffee and dessert, and fellowship with others. Without that atmosphere, I just shop online and buy books from Amazon. If they take away the atmosphere, I lose interest. It's the overall experience that I enjoy. 

What about you? In your opinion, what makes a great bookstore?

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Birth of Greensborogh, NC

I'd like to tell you about the setting of my upcoming novella, New Garden's Hope. The year is 1808. The location holds sentimental value since I was born here, as well has my husband, daughter, and most of my extended family. My mother's ancestor's were Quakers here while it was still a colony as early as 1763, and they attended New Gardens Friends Meeting, the first Quaker church in the area.

December 15, 1808 is the year Greensborough was established. It is also an election year, when James Madison was elected as President of the United States. His wife, Dolley Madison, was born in the Greensborough area before it was officially established, and serves as my heroine's cousin in my novella. Her maiden name was Payne, and therefore, my heroine is Ruth Payne. While Dolley only lived in the area for a year as an infant, in my fiction story, she returns to Greensborough with her husband on his campaign tour and visits her relatives.

You can imagine the conflict this brings since Ruth's fiance, Josiah Wall, is a Federalist, campaigning against Madison because he believes the Embargo Act of 1807 will lead America to war against Britain--and it did lead us to The War of 1812. A lot of interesting things are taking place in Greensborough, NC during the year of 1808 and so I thought it would be the perfect setting and time period.

The city was named for Nathanael Greene, the Patriot General of the Continental Army who fought British General Lord Cornwallis during the Revolutionary War. The photo above is of monument of General Greene on horseback. The battle took place in what is now the Battle of Guilford Courthouse on March 15, 1781. It is now a national military park where re-enactments are held each year.

The first skirmish of the battle took place on the grounds of New Gardens Meeting, and the original site of the meeting house served as a hospital for the wounded soldiers. Since Quakers didn't believe in war, they took care of both British and Patriot soldiers alike and buried them together. The photo to the left is a monument that was later constructed in remembrance.

Greensborough was shortened to Greensboro in 1895. It is believed that the name was shortened because the city's newspaper, The Greensboro Patriot, always spelled it that way for printing purposes to conserve ink and space on paper.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wild Card Book Tour - "Kaydie" by Penny Zeller

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 (April 5, 2011)
***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling of Whitaker House for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Penny Zeller is the author of McKenzie, first in her Montana Skies Series, along with several other books, numerous magazine articles and her blog, A Day in the Life of a Wife, Mom, and Author: http://pennyzeller.wordpress.com. She’s committed to nurturing women and children in their Christian walk, through a women’s prayer group, as a Bible study leader, through the organization she co-founded, “The Sisters in Christ Community Girls Night Out,” and as a frequent speaker. She desires to use her gifts of writing and storytelling to glorify God and draw others closer to Him. When she’s not writing, Penny enjoys spending time with her family, camping, hiking, canoeing, and playing volleyball. She and her husband Lon, along with their two children live in Wyoming.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Since the death of her abusive husband, Kaydie Kraemer’s life has been easier, but she’s wary of men and builds a wall of protection around her, staying with her sister McKenzie as she awaits the birth of her baby. Haunted by her painful marriage, , Kaydie is determined never to fall in love again, and it will take the grace of God to change her mind—the same grace that works in the heart of ranch hand Jonah Dickenson, a confirmed bachelor who has unhealed wounds of his own to overcome.


Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (April 5, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603742174
ISBN-13: 978-1603742177

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

October 1889

Pine Haven, Montana Territory

      “No, Darius, I’m not going with you!” Kaydie Kraemer winced in pain as her husband, Darius, grabbed her arm and pulled her out the door of her sister’s house toward his waiting horse. She tried to pull her arm loose from his tight grasp, but her efforts were futile.

      Darius then reached around and grabbed her other arm, squeezing it so hard that Kaydie could already see the bruises he would leave behind. “You don’t have a choice, Kaydie. You’re my wife, remember?”

      “No, Darius. I’m staying here. I don’t want to be married to you anymore.” Kaydie fought back her tears, hating that they would be sign of weakness to her callous husband.

      “You don’t have a choice,” he snarled. “Now, you can either come willingly, or I can carry you. Which will it be? Because I ain’t leavin’ without you.” He turned his head to the side and spit on the front porch.

      “I thought—I thought you were dead,” Kaydie stammered.

      Darius threw back his head with an evil laugh, which caused the nostrils on his prominent nose to flare in and out. His mouth was open wide, revealing more missing teeth than Kaydie remembered. His stringy brown curls bounced from his collar, and he removed a hand from Kaydie only long enough to slick back the few strands of greasy hair that had fallen over his forehead. He narrowed his eyes, which were already too small for his large face, making them appear even smaller. “I had you fooled, didn’t I? You’re a foolish woman, Kaydie. Ain’t no way I’m gonna die and let you go free! When you said ‘I do,’ it meant that you were bound to me forever!” He gritted his teeth and gripped her arm even tighter.

      “No, Darius! No!”

      Kaydie’s eyes popped open, and she stared into the darkness. She could hear her heart thumping in her ears, a sound loud enough to rival cannon fire. She placed her hand over her heart and felt it thudding wildly. Sweat poured down her neck; her hands were damp with moisture, and her forehead was covered in beads of perspiration. It was just a nightmare, she told herself, still breathless with terror. The vision had seemed so real.

      Her heart continued to pound as she reached with her other hand and rubbed her belly. “I think it was only a nightmare, little one.” She sat up, swung her legs over the side of the bed, and stood to her feet. Groping in the dark, she made her way to the window and looked outside. The moon and the stars were the only things she could see. Darius and his horse were nowhere in sight.

      “Thank You, Lord, that it was just a dream,” Kaydie whispered, then turned around and went back to her bed. Burying her face in her pillow, she whimpered softly, not wanting to wake McKenzie, Zach, and Davey. “Thank You, God, that Darius is not coming back,” she prayed, her voice muffled by the pillow. “Thank You that You are my ‘refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.’”

      You are safe here, My child, she felt the Lord say to her.

      “I know, Lord, but I don’t feel safe—not with the memory of Darius,” she whispered. Turning over on her back, she gazed up at the ceiling, and the words of Psalm 91 filled her heart: “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.”

      Tears of joy slid down Kaydie’s face and onto the pillow. “We’re going to be all right, little one,” she whispered to the baby within her. “We’re going to be all right, because the Lord will keep us safe.” She gently rubbed her belly again, thankful that God had been there when her husband had been tormenting her and had delivered her from him.

      Darius was dead, and he wasn’t coming back to take her away. Kaydie had been there. She’d seen it happen. Now, here she was, staying with her beloved sister McKenzie, McKenzie’s husband, Zach Sawyer, and their young son, Davey. Never would Kaydie have guessed that McKenzie would move to the Montana Territory and marry a rancher. For one thing, McKenzie had always despised hard work; for another, she’d had her eye on a wealthy doctor from Boston for years. Yet, from everything Kaydie had seen in her first month at the Sawyer Ranch, McKenzie was happy and wouldn’t trade her life there for anything.

      McKenzie had told her that God had changed her heart. Kaydie smiled at the memory because He had changed her heart, as well. She had learned about the Lord from Ethel, the woman who had taken her in after Darius’s death and given her a steady dose of God’s Word. That solid foundation had stayed with Kaydie, and she yearned to know more about her Creator day by day. Yes, she had grown up knowing there was a God, but she hadn’t truly experienced Him until Ethel had helped her begin a relationship with Him.

      Kaydie turned from one side to the other, unable to fall asleep. In a few short hours, it would be dawn, and she would join the Sawyer family and their hired help at the kitchen table for breakfast. The day she’d met each of the members of McKenzie’s new family filled her mind, and she recalled asking McKenzie in private about each one of them. Fearful of placing herself and her unborn baby in danger again, Kaydie had felt it necessary to find out as much as she could about the people with whom she would be living as long as she stayed with her sister. She felt safe around Zach—and, of course, precious Davey. But the others she wasn’t so sure about, especially the hired man named Jonah, who had met her in downtown Pine Haven and driven her to the Sawyer Ranch the day she’d found McKenzie….

***

      “Thank you, McKenzie, for taking me in like this,” Kaydie said as she sat with her sister on the front porch, sipping tea. The late September air was chilly, but the fresh breeze felt good.

      “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” McKenzie said. She leaned over and put her arm around her sister. “I have missed you something horrible, Kaydie. I thought for a while that I might never see you again.”

      “I thought the same thing, myself,” said Kaydie. “I never dreamed you would go to all that trouble to find me. I hoped that you would, but I knew better than to count on it.”

      “It happened thanks only to the Lord,” McKenzie said. “Montana Territory is a huge place. I could not have imagined how big it is until I arrived here, and I’ve seen barely a fraction of it. To have found you within its borders is a miracle, indeed.”

      “Yes, it is,” Kaydie agreed. “I must have thanked the Lord more times than I can count for rescuing me through you.”

      “And I must have thanked the Lord more times than I can count for rescuing you and bringing you to me,” McKenzie said with a giggle.

      Kaydie giggled then, too—something she hadn’t done for a long time. Oh, how she had missed her sister! “I think you were the only one in our family who didn’t give up on me,” she said, growing serious again.

      “Well, Mother did come out here to take me back to Boston—”

      “Thank you, McKenzie.”

      “You are more than welcome. Besides, I couldn’t let ‘my baby’ stay lost somewhere in the uncivilized Montana Territory forever!”

      Kaydie giggled again. “I think Mother feared you would call me ‘my baby’ as long as you lived!”

      “Mother feared a lot of things,” said McKenzie. “However, I don’t think she ever counted on my leaving our home in Boston to become a wife on the wild frontier and then falling in love with a rancher!”

      Kaydie smiled and shook her head. “No, I don’t believe she did, or her worst fear would have come true.”

      “I think the worst thing, though, would have been for Peyton to have done the same thing we did—follow a man to the ends of the earth and forsake our privileged upbringing.”

      “Oh, Peyton never would have done such a thing.” Kaydie rolled her eyes. “Perhaps she isn’t our true sister. She’s so different from us.”

      “She’s our true sister, just unique. I pray for her daily that she will someday find true joy.”

      “It would take a completely different outlook on her part—as well as the part of Maxwell—for that to happen,” Kaydie said. She thought of her oldest sister’s uppity, prudish husband. “Speaking of husbands, Zach seems like a good one,” she said, choosing to change the subject to something more positive.

      “He is. I’m blessed beyond belief, Kaydie. It took me so long to see the gem that he is. Someday, I’ll have to share the entire story with you. To think that I could have missed out on him because of my own pride and stubbornness….” She shivered.

      “I’m happy for you, McKenzie.”

      “Someday, God will give you a love like that, Kaydie.”

      “Oh, I think the days of courtship and marriage are over for me. I have my little one to think about now.”

      “I know marriage is the furthest thing from your mind right now, especially in light of the horrid circumstances in which you found yourself while married to Darius. Still, I have faith that someday God will bless you with the husband He’s planned for you all along.”

      “I suppose I might reconsider marriage—when I’m forty-five,” Kaydie said, laughing. But she wasn’t kidding. Never again would she trust a man, especially with her heart. She now had not only herself to consider, but also—and more important—her baby. How many times had she thanked the Lord that her baby hadn’t been born while Darius was alive? She shuddered at the realization that her survival—and her baby’s survival—would have been unlikely, at best, if she had remained with Darius. No, never again would Kaydie be so foolish as to fall in love. Things like true love happened only to others, like McKenzie, and not to her. Such a thought might have in the past bothered her, but not now. She was content in the thought of being reunited with the sister she loved and of soon becoming a mother.

      “I will tell you whose marriage is a wonderful model: Asa and Rosemary’s,” McKenzie said. “They both have taught me so much about a marriage that’s centered on God, and they’ve been married pretty close to forever.”

      “Yes, it was so nice to meet them yesterday,” Kaydie said. “They seemed quite friendly and charitable.”

      “They are. I wasn’t fond of Rosemary at first, and I didn’t really know Asa, since he works with Zach outside most of the time, but once I became acquainted with them, I realized the treasures they are. They have both taught me so much—especially Rosemary. She’s like the mother we never had. No offense to Mother, for I know she tried the best she knew how to raise us, but Rosemary…she’s different. She has always been so accepting of me, even when I didn’t accept her. She taught me how to cook and stitch and how to survive in a home so different from anything I had ever known. She and Asa are like grandparents to Davey, and I believe Zach has all but adopted them as a second set of parents, even though he speaks very well of his parents, who, as I told you, are deceased.”

      “I think I shall like Rosemary, too,” Kaydie said. “And Asa does seem like a good father figure.”

      “That he is. His Irish accent makes him unique in these parts. I think Rosemary confided to me once that was one of the things that drew her to him when they began courting so many years ago.”

      “They live just down the road, right?” Kaydie asked.

      “Yes, they do. It’s nice having them so close. I know you’ll come to love Rosemary as much as I do.” McKenzie paused. “And then there’s Jonah Dickenson, the other hired man. He’s a hard worker, always willing to help. He lives alone in the bunkhouse.”

      “He makes me nervous,” Kaydie admitted.

      “Jonah?” McKenzie asked. “Why do you say that?”

      “When he brought me here from town yesterday, there was just something about him…I can’t place my finger on it, exactly, but it was odd.”

      “I’m not sure what it could be, Kaydie. He’s never been anything but polite, and Zach doesn’t know what he would do without him. I think the two of them have become brothers, in a way. When Davey’s father, Will, died, I think Jonah slipped into the spot he’d had in Zach’s heart.”

      “I think it’s wonderful that Zach adopted Davey after his parents died,” Kaydie said.

      “Yes. A man who accepts another’s child as his own is a special man, indeed. Of course, who wouldn’t want Davey for a son? I loved him almost immediately.”

      “So, you don’t think I need to be afraid of Jonah?”

      “I honestly don’t, Kaydie, but if he makes you uncomfortable, you are within your rights to keep your distance. If he ever does anything….” McKenzie paused. “If he ever lays a hand on you or anything else, tell Zach or me right away. Promise?”

      “I promise,” said Kaydie.

      “But, again, I don’t see any reason to fear him. He’s a godly man with a heart the size of the Montana Territory. I think you’ll discover that for yourself once you get to know him.”

      Kaydie nodded but still wasn’t convinced.



Monday, February 21, 2011

Benefits of Pre-Ordering Books

The advantages of pre-ordering a book before it's released:

  • By pre-ordering books at your local bookstore, you don't have to try and remember when it comes out. The book will be on hold for you when it comes out and they will notify you as soon as it's available.
  • You are guaranteed a copy. When my debut novel, Highland Blessings, first released, some stores only ordered one or two copies and they sold out within the first few weeks. This even occurred on Amazon.com and Amazon Canada and they typically have several copies at their distribution center. This caused several people to wait and people were driving all over my hometown looking for copies.
  • Often, you get a DISCOUNT when you pre-order a book. Saving money is always a plus
  • If you pre-order on Amazon and the price drops on sale by the release date, Amazon will only charge you for the sale price, not the price it was when you actually placed your pre-order. This is true for both print and Kindle e-books.  

    Do you ever pre-order books? Why or why not?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Book Review - "A Touch of Grace" by Lauraine Snelling

Back Cover Description
Eighteen-year-old Grace Knutson loves Blessing, North Dakota, and sees no reason to leave. She's more serious-minded than her twin sister, Sophie, and very sensitive to the feelings of others. In spite of her family's disapproval, Grace has always had a soft spot in her heart for Toby Valders, for she's seen the vulnerable side he keeps well hidden.

Jonathan Gould, the handsome scion of a wealthy New York family, creates a flurry of anticipation and speculation when he arrives in Blessing. Jonathan's father wants him to learn the value of manual labor and to appreciate the accomplishments of those not born to wealth. Surprisingly, the "city boy" takes to farm life and actually enjoys working from dawn to dusk alongside the others. Soon he finds himself inexplicably drawn to gentle, courageous Grace.

Review
This is a gentle, inspirational novel set during the turn of the 20th century that will whisk you from a small prairie town to the bustling city of New York. The things I liked about this book were the various points of view, the deep characterization of not only the main characters, but several of the secondary characters. and the historical detail of how people reacted to new inventions. 

Grace, the heroine is unique in that she is deaf and must not only learn to cope with her disability in a new, unfamiliar place, but dig deep into the courage inside her to share her vast knowledge and coping skills with other deaf students through her teaching job. The characters' faith is shown throughout the novel and how they rely on their beliefs to make decisions and overcome life's difficulties.

Since this is the first book I've read by Lauraine Snelling and the third book in a series, it was a little difficult for me to get into it from the beginning. I had a sense that I was missing some background knowledge from the first two books. It does help that there is a family tree listed at the beginning of the novel. The book began to pick up for me when Jonathan saved Grace's life. The romance is a little slow as there is a love triangle--Grace believes herself in love with a friend from childhood, while Jonathan is in love with her and must exercise lots of patience, understanding, and persistence. Theirs is a gradual love, not the kind of relationship where the sparks fly and lots of tension exists between them, but more like the "Love Comes Softly" themed romance. 

Overall, I enjoyed this novel and would recommend it to others, especially if you like prairie type romances and turn of the century settings.

Read more about the author, Lauraine Snelling.

Purchase A Touch of Grace on Amazon, here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Planting Life & Sustaining It

Science recognizes that plants, grass, flowers, and trees are part of the life process. If a seed is planted, it will grow--especially if the conditions are just right with the proper amount of rain, sunshine, shade and food or nutrients. Most people wouldn't dream of ripping up the seed of a rose once planted--before it has a chance to bloom. As long as it has the capability to grow--it lives--has life.

Scientic Definition of Life
In biology, life is the condition which distinguishes active organisms from inorganic matter. Living organisms undergo metabolism, maintain homeostasis, posses a capacity to grow, responds to stimuli, reproduces, and through natural selection, adapt to their environment in successive generations. More complex living organisms can communicate through various means.  

Biblical Definition of Life
While there is not one single definition of life in the Bible, there are enough references to give one an idea of a biblical meaning of life.

"To every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food." (Genesis 1:30) This doesn't mean that people will eat every herb, but it may be food for other animals and plants as well as humans. 

"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7) Some living things will breathe--such as animals and human beings.

"The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." (Genesis 2:8-10) This is the biblical version of the same biological reference to complex organisms that communicate, which goes a step further in recognizing the tree of life, knowledge of good and evil as having a conscience.

"But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood." (Genesis 9:4) Living organisms with blood cannot live without blood, too much loss of blood leads to a physical death.

Human Life
Call a human seed a fetus, an embryo, any scientic term you'd like, but once planted, if left alone to a natural path, no science can deny the potential that it will grow into a human being. If we go by the technical biological definnition of life, a human male seed planted inside a human female egg, is life. It's already growing, metabolozing, regenerating, etc. Therefore, the argument of when life is created is irrelevant. The argument of pro-life versus pro-choice is irrelevant.

It boils down to our lack of wanting to recognize our responsibility for our actions--for sustaining life. Some people would rather let a rose bloom, than a small child--a human life. 

A woman does have the right to decide what happens to her body, and she makes that decision the moment she DECIDES to have unprotected sex. Even if she uses protection and gets pregnant and doesn't want to be pregnant or feels like she can't properly take care of a child, that child's life isn't a mistake. There are other choices like adoption and people who would love to raise that child and can't have any children of their own.

Life is never a mistake, but life doesn't always turn out the way we plan. In life, things are always going to happen that are out of our control, but the way we respond IS in our control. Why can't we have as much regard to the life of a potential baby, as we do for the life of a potential rose, a tree,a dog or cat? 

Abortion is ending a potential life. In my opinion it is life. I see it as murder. You are protecting your body and your lifestyle, by taking the life of another who cannot yet speak for him or herself--or the body he or she will have. Your body has given this life a body of his or her own and it will take on many different shapes and sizes before birth and after birth.

I do not condemn people who have had abortions. You can be forgiven. All you have to do is forgive yourself and ask God to forgive you. My hope is to help others understand that abortion isn't their ONLY option if they find themselves in this difficult situation. 

My mother was a 16-year-old child when I was born. I thank God every day that she didn't choose to end my life before I was born. I love my life. I love the life I've been able to help give my daughter, and the grandchildren I hope to one day have. You could be carrying the next president of the United States, a research doctor who will find the cure for cancer, or a published author who will reach lots of people with simple words. You never know what God has planned.

Remember, no life is a mistake. There are others who have been through what you are going through. When you choose life, the possibilities are endless. I'm a walking, living example.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Valentine Gift to Heaven

In the fall of 2001, my 82-year-old grandmother suffered a massive heart attack. Each day, she grew weaker and weaker.Over the next four months, the doctors warned us that Grandma wouldn’t live much longer, but a piece of my heart kept willing her to live. She had been part of my childhood memories and at all the important occasions in my adult life. I couldn’t imagine a future without her, but that day came on February 14, 2002, Valentine’s Day.  

During those last months with her, I knew she believed in God, but that was all I knew. Did she believe she would go to heaven? She never went to church or read a Bible. I became so burdened I thought I would burst. Even her children, my father and aunts, were concerned about her salvation, but no one seemed willing to approach her about it. Although, she was a very dear, sweet lady, my grandmother was stubborn with a temper. I prayed that God would help me find an appropriate way to approach the subject with her.   

One afternoon it was just the two of us. She sat in her rocker beside her bed and was in a very talkative mood. It seemed like the right time.  I said, “Grandma, can I ask you a very important question?”

She looked at me with a half grin, knowing I was up to something. “Yeah,” she nodded.

“Were you ever saved?” I asked, my heart hammering with fear she might explode.

She knew exactly what I was talking about. She nodded and said, “Yeah, a long time ago when I was a little girl. I still am saved.” She went on to explain that they used to attend a little white church when she was very young. I was so grateful as that conversation stayed with me, a sweet comfort when we had to lay her to rest two weeks later.

Before she left us, she allowed me to pray for her, the family gathered and joined hands with Grandma. I held her hand as she took her last breath and released it so easily. I watched her closely, waiting for her to take another breath, but she never did. I had imagined all sorts of struggles of her gasping for air, fighting to breathe, groping for life, and there was none of that. She died more peacefully than I could have ever imagined. It was another answer to many of our prayers. Afterward, her skin instantly turned a golden glow. The wrinkles in her tired face disappeared into a lovely, peaceful expression. (Photo to right is of Grandma's 80th birthday party. It was a surprise!)

I wept with relief for her and sorrow. When my four-year-old daughter heard the news, she rushed into the room with one of the cousins following on her heels. She wanted to lay her head on Grandma's heart. We didn't know how she might react, but I was also concerned that she might need some sort of closure. I explained that Grandma’s heart had gone to Heaven and that there was no heartbeat. Still, Celina had to listen and see for herself and the simple act satisfied her.

All through the next few days Celina handled everything well. She never cried, but she asked a series of questions. We tried to answer them as best as we could. She even went home and studied a picture of her and Grandma together. 

On the day of Grandma’s funeral, Celina was okay throughout the service until they put the closed coffin into the hearse. She wanted to know where they were taking Grandma. We explained about the burial.  As I put her in her car seat, she clutched her stomach and cried, “Oh, my Grandma!  My Grandma!”  It was the first time she had cried and it seemed as if she finally understood that she wouldn’t see Grandma again. My heart broke as I tried to comfort her and contain my own grief, and then, a miracle happened.  

Suddenly, the wind whirled and something that looked like white flower petals flew around in circles and from every direction. Both of us stopped to watch it. My first thought was of dogwood petals, but I noticed that it disappeared as it hit the dark pavement, and then I realized it was snow. Grandma loved snow! It was 48° F outside, much too warm for snow, and the sun was shining in and out of the clouds floating by. The conditions weren’t right for snow, but it distracted my daughter. 

 It was another sign from Heaven above that Grandma was happy and well. My little girl stopped crying, her broken heart momentarily forgotten by a Heavenly miracle. I couldn’t help smiling. I knew Heaven was celebrating a new Valentine gift.

I've dedicated Our Watkins Family page to Grandma. Turn up your speakers!  
 

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Few Basics on Quakerism

Most of you know that I'm working with three other authors on a Quaker novella. I wanted to share a few basics you may not be aware of before our story is released. 

My story is set in 1808, so most of what I tell you will be in regard to that time period unless I state otherwise. The photo to the left is of my gg-grandparents, William Henry Wall and Martha Jane Zeek Wall, Quakers who attended Marlboro Friends Meeting in Sophia, NC south of Greensboro where we still have Wall family reunions. He was forced to work in a salt factory during the Civil War for the "cause" since he didn't believe in war.

Many Quakers used plain speech. They believed that all men and women were equal in the sight of God. Therefore, they didn't believe in putting emphasis on one's title regardless of who might be the king, queen, a duke, an earl, etc. You can imagine how this might have gotten them in trouble as their behavior might have looked disrespectful. 

For this reason, some of their churches, which were called "meeting houses," and may not have had a pastor to lead them since they believed that the same Holy Spirit resided in all of them and God could speak to the heart of anyone. Services were often a place where they gathered and sat in silence until someone was moved by the Holy Spirit to speak. Other meeting houses found it helpful to have a leading pastor to help maintain and keep order and rules--especially as congregations grew larger. Women were permitted to speak and teach and be pastors as well. Quakers were leaders in the Women's Rights movement, Civil Rights movement, and stauch supporters of the Abolitionist movement against slavery--long before the Civil War. Many hid slaves and were part of the Underground Railroad. 

Even among themselves they didn't distinguish each other. They would use "thee" for "you" and "thy" for "your". If they did refer to a person by name, they would state the individual's whole name. Instead, of saying Ruth, they would say Ruth Payne. Another thing they might say is, Friend Ruth. Quakers considered everyone around them as a friend. They didn't believe in having enemies--even if others considered them as an enemy. Forgiveness was the right thing to do. Therefore, they didn't believe in fighting or engaging in war. Killing was a sin. This caused them to be persecuted during the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. 

They didn't use the calendar system of months such as January - December since these were established by pagans. Instead, they would refer to March as the third month. You'll see this at the beginning of my story, New Garden's Hope. 

Pride was a sin so they believed in dressing plain and wearing simple colors and avoiding material items that could make them want more of the world or take their focus off Christ. 

Quakers believe in education and often started schools, colleges and universities for African Americans and women. Even though Quakers are considered to be a passive religion, they are different from the Amish as many hold regular jobs, dress like the rest of us, have electricity, computers, and all the modern conveniences we have. A few traditional Quakers choose to dress in plain clothes today, but their decision is a personal choice. They are NOT forced to do this by the "rules" of their religion or church.

Most Quakers consider themselves to be Christians, believing that Jesus Christ came in the flesh as a man and died on the cross as the son of God as a sacrifice to atone for all mankind's sins. My mother's Quaker family believed this. There are still many Quaker churches in my hometown of Greensboro, NC, and I'm proud of my Quaker heritage.

Was any of this information surprising? Did I dispel any myths you might have had? Do you have more you'd like to add? Please share.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Getting REAL with My Readers

After several weeks of prayer , a few dreams, and what I believe is a calling upon my life, I’ve made a decision regarding my writing ministry. If this is truly a writing ministry, then everything I do must reflect God’s glory, not just a few mentions of God and the layering of my characters’ faith journey in my fiction. This doesn’t mean that my fiction will change and be preachy. My fiction will continue to be as it is, uplifting and inspirational. My blog posts on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays will continue on the same themes.

What will change is my way of communicating with my readers outside of my fiction. My blogs on Tuesdays and Thursdays will be more focused—some inspirational and devotional—others will dig deep and deal with real issues that people are struggling with or that sometimes cause controversy. This isn’t a political blog, but a chance to view things as God sees them from a biblical perspective. Our heavenly Father is interested in ALL things that concern us--from the largest issues to the teeny-tiny details.

I want to connect with my readers beyond fiction—through the one thing we all have in common—our faith in Jesus Christ--and the hope we have in prayer. I don’t want to give some false impression that my life is perfect and I never struggle with difficulties just because I'm a published author. I’m your sister in Christ. I’m walking this journey with you, although I may be taking a different route because my starting point is not the same place as yours. Our ultimate destination is the same—to experience all that God has in store for us while we are here on this earth--and then move on to our spiritual home with our heavenly Father.

Do you have a burden you’d like to share? What has God been dealing with you on? What is He changing in your life and calling YOU to do?

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Wild Card Book Tour - "Caroline's Choice" 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:

Realms (January 4, 2011)
***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Martha Rogers is a former schoolteacher and English instructor whose first book in the Winds Across the Prairie series, Becoming Lucy, became an immediate best seller. Morning for Dove (May 2010) is the second book in this series, with Finding Becky (book 3) releasing Fall 2010. Rogers lives with her husband in Houston, Texas.


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (January 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616381930
ISBN-13: 978-1616381936

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Oklahoma Territory, September 1907 


Caroline Frankston’s hands clinched into fists, her breath coming in short spurts. Through the parlor window, she watched life go on in a normal, orderly fashion, but here in

this room her world lay fragmented like shards of broken glass. Each piece cut into her soul, causing pain that she no longer wanted to bear. The bleeding had to stop. “If I don’t leave this town, I’ll never get married.” Caroline Frankston spun around to face her mother. “Barton Creek has no men who interest me, so I would like to move to Oklahoma

City and start a new life there.” 


Her mother’s blue eyes flashed with anger. “You’ll do no such thing. You haveresponsibilities here.” 


Caroline’s jaw tightened. Mother’s demands only caused more determination. “What responsibilities? Going to luncheons and meetings with you and sitting around listening to you decide what people should do?” 


The rigid set of Mother’s mouth warned Caroline to be careful with her next words. Now was the time to stand firm and not back down. “I know you want what’s best for me, and

right now a move seems to be it.” 


Mother remained silent, a vein in her neck throbbing in response to the tension in her jaw. A mixture of anger and disbelief sparked from her eyes. She stood tall, with her back

ramrod straight. Mother wouldn’t back down. 


Envy for her brother’s freedom gnawed at Caroline. Being male, Rob could pick and choose what he wanted to do, and he’d proved it with his law office and his marriage to Becky last year despite Mother’s disapproval. 


Without waiting for a response, Caroline headed for the door, but not without one last comment. “I’m sorry. I’ll be twenty-seven soon, and if I don’t do something now, I never

will. I don’t want to be stuck here as spinster with time on her hands and no purpose in life.” 


She darted from the room and up the stairs before her mother could react and spew forth a torrent of words to thwart Caroline’s plan. Recently a college friend had written to her of the job openings at the new Carnegie library in Oklahoma City and invited her to come live with her in her town house with another roommate. Caroline had just told her mother she wanted to apply for the job and move to the city. This evening she would break the news to her father. 


Standing in front of the mirror on her bureau, Caroline picked up a stylish blue hat and pinned it on her upswept hair. Although she did love the hat, it had been chosen by her mother, as had most of the clothes in Caroline’s wardrobe. In Oklahoma City she could set her own standards and not be dictated to by her mother. 


Some of Mother’s ideas and beliefs about fashions and social protocol left Caroline with the feeling that no one could measure up to what the mayor’s wife expected, not even her

own daughter. Being the daughter of the mayor had its advantages, but now they hindered her and kept her from pursuing other avenues of interest. 


She gathered up her reticule. Time had come for a visit with her sister-in-law to seek her advice. After all, Becky had once pursued a newspaper career without thought of marriage. She could tell Caroline what it was like to be a single, working-woman on her own. 


But deep in her heart the real reason she wanted to see Becky lay hidden. Maybe Becky would have some insight into why her brother, Matt, had been so distant the past year. Of course Mother was delighted with that turn of events, but Caroline was deeply hurt and at a loss as to how to reach out to her old friend. 


She glanced around the room that had been hers since her family’s arrival in Barton Creek seventeen years ago. She’d miss it, but the idea of being on her own filled her with excitement. She raced down the stairs and headed for the front door to avoid another confrontation with her mother. When her voice called out from the parlor, Caroline pretended not to hear and closed the door behind her. 


She walked toward town, her feet disturbing the fallen leaves and making them swirl about her feet. Late September should bring cooler air to match the changing of the colors in the trees, but not this year. Caroline wished she’d worn a lighter weight shirtwaist and a less heavy skirt, but Mother had insisted on storing all summer clothes away for the fall season. At the next corner she turned onto Main Street, thankful she lived such a short distance from town. 


A few more motorcars dotted the streets, which were now completely bricked. As mayor, her father planned to replace the boardwalks where people now strolled in front of business establishments with real sidewalks. She walked past the post office, the jail, and several other stores and shops before reaching the newspaper offices. 


The odor of printer’s ink greeted her nose as Caroline stepped through the doorway of the Barton Creek newspaper building. The bell over the door jangled and caused everyone but Becky to look up to see who had come in. The staff on the paper had certainly grown since Mr. Lansdowne made the paper available seven days a week. Becky sat at her desk behind the railing separating the office space from the entryway, staring at whatever was in the typewriter before her. 


One of the young men jumped up from his chair. “How can I help you, Miss Frankston?” Caroline smiled and nodded toward Becky. “I’m here to see Mrs. Frankston.” 


Becky glanced up then. “Oh, my, I was so engrossed in my story that I didn’t hear the bell.” She strode over to the gate in the railing. “What brings you here today?” 


“I wanted to talk with you if you have time, but I can see you’re busy, so I’ll come back later.” 


Becky pushed through the gate. “No, no, it’s fine. I think I’m in need of a break about now.” She turned to the young woman across the room. “Amy, would you tell Mr. Lansdowne I’m taking a break and will be back shortly? I’ll stop at the bakery and bring back pastries. He’ll like that.” 


“Of course, Rebecca. Have a nice visit.” The young clerk returned to the business on her desk. 


Caroline admired Becky’s attire. She wore the plainest of skirts and shirtwaists but made them come alive with fashion even though the signs of her coming motherhood were evident. Caroline would have been called a “Plain Jane” if she wore the same. Something about her sister-in-law gave life to whatever she touched or wore, one trait Caroline sorely envied. 


Becky linked arms with Caroline. “Now, let’s head to Peterson’s for tea and cookies.” 


When they stepped out onto the boardwalk, Becky breathed deeply. “Isn’t it a beautiful day? Although it’s too warm for me, I love this time of year.” 


“I like it too,” Caroline responded, although at the moment all she could sense was the stench of horse droppings and the fine layer of dust and dirt over everything. She glanced at the woman beside her. “So, you’re still going by Rebecca at the office?” 


“Yes. That’s my byline on all my articles, so they all call me Rebecca.” Besides reporting on town events, Becky wrote a column for women in the Barton Creek Chronicle each week to inform them of the opportunities and advantages of voting for their government leaders. 


Caroline laughed. “But you’ll always be Becky to the rest of us.” 


Becky returned the laugh, but hers had a musical quality that had earned the friendship of most of the people here in her hometown. “I don’t mind it at all now. Rob convinced me I could be both, and he was right.” She glanced up toward the windows of her husband’s law offices. 


At least Becky and Rob had rediscovered the love they’d had for each other as youths, and now they were as happy as any married couple Caroline had seen. Mother hadn’t been too pleased with her son marrying a Haynes, and even now that Ben Haynes headed one of the wealthiest ranches in the area, her attitude hadn’t changed, especially since Becky chose to continue her job at the newspaper after learning a child was on the way. To Mother, Becky would always be a cowgirl. 


When they had entered the bakery and ordered their tea and pastry, Caroline chose a table away from the window so they would have more privacy. 


“So what is it that you want to talk with me about?” Becky unwrapped her pastry and pinched off a small piece. 


Caroline stirred her tea and grinned. “I’m moving to Oklahoma City. My roommate at college, Madeline Barrows, has invited me to come live with her, and I have a good chance at a job at a library there.” 


Becky dropped her pastry, spreading crumbs in its wake. She grabbed a napkin and wiped the bits off the table. “You’re doing what? Leaving Barton Creek? But what does your family say?” 


“Mother is completely against it, and by now she’s probably let Father know, and I don’t know what he’ll say. It really doesn’t matter because my mind is made up.” 


“But what about Matt? Have you told him?” 


Caroline dipped her head and concentrated on stirring her tea. “You know how much I care about Matt, but over the last few years his interest in me has dimmed. He’s barely spoken to me since we ate together at the July Fourth celebration. I don’t know what else to do.” 


Becky leaned forward. “I can’t tell you much since I don’t see him very often anymore. He’s been quiet and withdrawn the Sundays we go out to the ranch for the family dinner. When we were younger, we enjoyed doing lots of things together, but that changed when I came home from college. And since I’ve married Rob, he’s been much less open with me.” 


They sat in silence for a moment. Caroline’s heart ached with the image of Matt sitting astride his great stallion and riding across the range. She bit her lip and leaned toward Becky. “I–I can’t bear the thought of being a spinster, and there’s no one here in Barton Creek except Matt I would consider as a husband. More opportunities to meet young men are available in the city. Many of my college friends stayed in the city, and I’ve been writing to several of them, and with Madeline’s invita tion, the time seems right. Although I care for Matt, I can’t wait for him forever.” 


Becky blinked and shook her head. “I used to think my brother was working hard to establish himself before he took on the responsibilities of a wife and a family. But now that the ranch is doing so well, I don’t understand is why he hasn’t been more willing to call on you. I remember how you two were always together for every social event that came along before you went off to school. I guess I always thought you’d be his wife when he finally made up his mind it was time to marry.” 


“That’s just it. I did too, but I’ve waited a long time for him to make up his mind.” And they had been the longest years of her life. Now the time had come to look to the future and her life ahead before it passed her by completely. She turned to Becky and sat up straighter. “Now, tell me everything you know about going out on your own as a working woman!” 


Matt removed his hat and wiped sweat from his brow with a bandanna. Fall may have been the season, but the air definitely spoke of summer. Late September usually brought cooler temperatures, but not this year. He stuffed the kerchief in his pocket and jammed the hat back on his head. Time to round up a few more strays. 


He waved to Hank and headed toward the west pasture. The ranch hand rode up to join him. “You think some of the herd made their way out to Dawson land?” 


“Yeah, they’ve done it before. Good thing those fences are around the oil rigs.” Ever since the wells started producing, the noise of the pumps attracted whatever livestock meandered that way. He usually found around half a dozen or so head lined up at the fence staring at the work going on. 


Hank tilted his hat back on his head. “I know that parcel of land wasn’t any good for farming and such, but rigs sure are ugly despite the oil they’re pumping.” 


“That’s what worried Pa the most, but since it’s away from everything and can’t be seen from the house, he decided it was better to go ahead with Geoff’s recommendations. So far that’s been a good decision.” Geoff Kensington had kept his word, and Barstow’s Oil did everything Pa had requested. The first money from the oil deposits had surprised even Pa and Sam Morris. The two had put the money into a trust for the future after sending the original landowner his share. 


“Your pa is a good businessman. I’ve admired him for many years. Remember how he took me in along with Jake and treated us like part of the family?” 


“Yes, that’s the way Pa was and still is.” Matt loved his father even more for his treatment of other folks. If he hadn’t believed in Jake, the young man would never have become a Christian and found out that the killing he’d been involved with in Texas was ruled self-defense. That cowboy might still be running from the law instead marrying Lucy and owning his own ranch. 


Hank slowed his horse. “You know, I’ve been thinking. I’m not getting any younger, and the idea of settling down with a wife has its appeal. That young woman, Amy, who works with Becky agreed to let me be her escort for the church singing next week. You ought to ask Miss Caroline to it.” 


Matt cast a sideways glance at his partner. “You’re a lucky man. Amy Garson is a pretty young woman.” 


Hank laughed and shook his head. “Matt Haynes, you’re stalling me. What about Miss Caroline?” 


Matt didn’t respond, but his mind filled with the image of Caroline Frankston. He did love her at one time, but she had chosen a life far different from his. Just as he was about to ask her to be his wife, she’d announced she was going off to college. He remembered the day like it was yesterday. She’d been so excited when she showed him the brochures with all the information. She planned to major in fine arts and languages. Those were two things he knew nothing about. 


“Matt, you hafta talk to her and let her know how you feel. I seen your eyes when we’re in town and she’s around. You can’t look nowhere else.” 


“She’s busy with her own life. Attending luncheons and meetings with her ma and doing all those things on committees and such. She has no time for me or for life on a ranch.” Besides, the more he thought about it, the more he realized one Haynes married to a Frankston was almost one too many. Becky could handle the mayor’s wife, but the idea of Charlotte Frankston as a mother-in-law didn’t appeal to him at all. And if Caroline

really cared, she wouldn’t have run off to college when she did. 


As though reading his mind, Hank offered his opinion. “It’s that Mrs. Frankston, isn’t it? She is rather formidable, but if you married Caroline and brought her out here to the ranch, you wouldn’t have to deal with her mother that much.” 


Matt narrowed his eyes and worked his mouth. It wasn’t anybody’s business what he thought of Mrs. Frankston. He may be considered a coward for not facing up to her, but it was his decision to make. 


“Matt, I think you’re missing out on what life has for you if you let one woman ruin your feelings for another. If you really love Caroline, her mother wouldn’t make any difference.” 


“That’s easy for you to say. Have you forgotten how Mrs. Frankston treated Ma and Aunt Clara when everyone thought Jake was a murderer? Then look at how she hurt Emily Morris and Dove. That woman is rude and has no respect for anyone not of her own standing, but she’s not the only reason, and it’s best to keep your opinion to yourself.” 


“I understand, and I do remember those days, but I also remember Mrs. Anderson and how her heart changed. She was as mean as Mrs. Frankston toward Mrs. Morris and Dove until that prairie fire almost destroyed us all.” 


“True, but I don’t see anything like that in the future to change Mrs. Frankston.” Matt flicked his reins and spurred his horse. “Let’s go hunt for strays. That’s why we’re out here.” 


His love life was nobody else’s business but his. And as much as he was attracted to Caroline, he didn’t care to saddle himself for the rest of his life with a cantankerous mother-in-law like Charlotte Frankston.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

New Revelation on Judgment in the House of the Lord

The revelation I'm about to share may not be new to you. In fact, I've sort of known this all along, but recently it became more clear. It is also helping me to understand that I've been looking and waiting for some magnificent event to happen, but it's been happening all along.

The event I'm referring to is this, "For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?" (I Peter 4:17)

and 

"Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless." (II Peter 3:13-14)

Based on these two scriptures, I've heard so many sermons hint that there is a HUGE judgment coming to Christians--to get us ready for Christ's return. THE CHURCH will change, gain some great revelation, get right, and suddenly become perfect through a glorious end-time revival. Some pastors have even stood in the pulpit and said that Christ cannot return until He gets His house in order. 

I disagree with this concept or interpretation of these scriptures. 

As soon as we come to Christ, our sins are washed by His blood through faith and we become unblemished and spotless--forgiven--over and over. WE are the unblemished church! We, our bodies, are the house of God since He dwells in our hearts. We are judged continuously because, "when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world." (I Corinthians 11:32)The WORLD has a judgment day, but we have already been judged and cleansed--that is part of His promise! 

How are we chastened now on earth? By the conviction of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us--our conscience--and when we must suffer the consequences of our actions. While non-Christians also have to suffer the consequences of their bad behaviors, they must suffer then and on judgment day. They do not receive mercy from judgment, because they haven't believed and asked for it--repented for their sins.  

"My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor detest His correction; For whom the LORD loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights." (Proverbs 3:11-12)

"But Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end." (Hebrews 3:6)

I'm curious. Have any of you ever been taught anything similar?

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Wild Card Book Tour - "Unexpected Love" by Andrea Boeshaar

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:

Realms (January 4, 2011)
***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


In addition to writing, Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar speaks at writers’ conferences and for women’s groups. She has taught workshops at conferences such as: Write-To-Publish American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Oregon Christian Writers Conference, Mount Hermon Writers Conference, and many other writers’ conferences. Andrea is also co-founder of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) organization. For many years she served on the advisory board and was also CEO of the ACFW.


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (January 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616381922
ISBN-13: 978-1616381929

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Chicago, Illinois, September 4, 1866 


Do you think he’ll live, Dr. Hamilton?” The gray-haired man with bushy whiskers pondered the question for several moments, chewing on his thick lips as he weighed his reply. “Yes, I think he will,” he finally said. “Of course, he’s not out of the woods yet, but it seems he’s coming around.” 


Lorenna Fields breathed a sigh of relief. It had been two whole days with nary a sign of life from this half-drowned man, but finally—finally—he showed signs of improvement. 


“You’ve done a good job with this patient, Nurse Fields.” The physician drew himself up to his full height, which barely met Renna’s five feet six inches. “I don’t think he’d be alive today if you hadn’t given him such extraordinary care.” 


“Thank you, Dr. Hamilton, but it was the Lord who spared this man and the Lord who gave me the strength and skill to nurse him.” The old physician snorted in disgust. “Yes, well, it might have had something to do with the fact that you’ve got a brain in your

head, Nurse Fields, and the fact that you used it too, I might add!” 


Renna smiled inwardly. Dr. Hamilton always disliked it when she gave God the credit for any medical advancement, especially the miracles. Yet Renna’s intelligence and experience weren’t typical of women her age, and she determined to use them to God’s glory. 


The patient moaned, his head moving from side to side. 


“Easy now, Mr. Blackeyes.” Renna placed a hand on the man’s muscular shoulder. “It’s all right.” She picked up the fever rag from out of the cold water, wrung it once, and set it on the patient’s burning brow. 


Dr. Hamilton snorted again, only this time in amusement. “Mr. Blackeyes? How in the world did you come by that name, Nurse Fields?” 


She blushed but replied in all honesty. “It’s his eyes, Doctor. They’re as black as pitch and as shiny as polished stones. And since we don’t know his true identity, I’ve named him Mr. Blackeyes.” 


“I see.” Dr. Hamilton could barely contain his laughter. 


“Well, I had to call him something now, didn’t I?” She wrung the fever cloth more tightly. 


“Ah, yes, I suppose you did.” Dr. Hamilton gathered his instruments and put them into his black leather medical bag. “Well, carry on, Nurse Fields.” He sounded tired. “If your patient’s fever doesn’t break by morning, send for me at once. However, I think

it will, especially since we got some medicine and chicken broth into him tonight.” 


Renna nodded while the old man waved over his shoulder as he left the hospital ward. 


Returning her attention to her patient, Renna saw that he slept for the moment. His blue-black hair, which had just a slight wave to it, shone beneath the dampness of the fever. The stifling late summer heat of the room threatened to bring his temperature even higher. 


Wiping a sleeve across her own beaded brow, Renna continued to sponge down her patient. Poor Mr. Blackeyes had been found floating in Lake Michigan after a terrible storm the past Sunday. The crew of the passing ship that found him had thought he was dead at first. But they pulled him aboard anyway. The ship’s doctor immediately examined him and detected a heartbeat, so he cared for him until the ship docked in Chicago’s harbor. As soon as the sailors could manage it, Mr. Blackeyes was deposited at Mercy Hospital and admitted to the second floor and into Renna’s care. Now, two days later, he finally showed some improvement. 


Pulling the fever rag from the round porcelain bowl filled with cool water, Renna replaced it carefully across Mr. Blackeyes’s forehead. She could tell this man was different from the usual “unknowns” that the hospital acquired. His dark features somehow implied sophistication, even through several days’ growth of beard. And his powerful broad shoulders and muscular arms indicated the strength of a man accustomed to lifting or hoisting. And he was handsome, all right. A lady’s man, no doubt. 


“But who are you, Mr. Blackeyes?” Renna murmured, gazing down at him. 


As if in reply, the man groaned. 


Renna settled him once more and then slowly stood. She forced her mind to dwell on her other patients as she made her rounds through the sick ward, a large room with whitewashed walls and a polished marble floor. Eight beds, four on each side, were neatly lined in rows, leaving a wide area in the center of the ward. 


Moving from bed to bed, Renna checked each patient, thankful that this ward wasn’t full: only Mr. Anderson, suffering from a farming accident in which he lost his left arm; Mr. Taylor, who had had pneumonia but had recovered and would soon be released;

and, finally, young John Webster, who had been accidentally shot in the chest by his brother. It appeared the wounded young man wouldn’t live through the night, and his family had gathered around him, his mother weeping. 


Taking pity on the Webster family, Renna set up several wooden screens to allow them some privacy. Then she checked on John. She could see death settling in. She was somewhat accustomed to the sight, as she’d trained in a Union military hospital in Richmond, Virginia, during the Civil War. Still, watching a life slip away never got easier. But in this case Renna took heart that the Websters were people with a strong faith. Young John would soon go home to be with his Savior. 


“Can I get anything for you, Mrs. Webster?” Renna asked the boy’s mother now. 


A tall, very capable-looking woman, she shook her head. Several brunette curls tumbled from their bun. 


Renna asked the same thing of the boy’s brother and father, but both declined. 


“I didn’t mean ter shoot ’im, Ma!” the brother declared. He suddenly began to sob. 


“Aw, I know ya didn’t mean it, son,” Mrs. Webster replied through her own tears. “It was an accident. That anyone can see!” 


“Tell it to Jesus, boy.” His father’s eyes were red, his jaw grizzled. “Give the matter to Christ, just like we done gave John over to Him.” 


Renna’s heart was with the family, but she suddenly felt like an intruder. The Websters needed their privacy. Stepping back, she gave them each a sympathetic smile before moving away. 


Walking to the other side of the room now, Renna sat down on the edge of Mr. Blackeyes’s bed and sponged him down again. Afterward, she checked his head wound—nearly a three-inch gash above his left ear. It had needed to be sutured, and Dr. Hamilton

had seen to that when Mr. Blackeyes was first admitted. “Unknown Male” was the name on his chart. Most “unknowns” didn’t survive, so Renna was heartened that Mr. Blackeyes’s prognosis seemed promising. 


Now if only his fever would break. If only he’d regain consciousness and pneumonia wouldn’t set in. 


Momentarily closing her eyes, Renna prayed for God’s healing of this man. She had been praying earnestly for the last week. Why she felt so burdened for him, she couldn’t say, but she was. 


Suddenly an abrupt command broke her thoughts. “Nurse Fields? Nurse Fields, you may go. I’m on duty now.” 


Renna glanced at the doorway where Nurse Rutledge, the night nurse who was also her supervisor, stood. A large woman with beady, dark eyes, she had a no-nonsense way about her. That same stern disposition kept her lips in a perpetual frown. 


“As usual, your charts are in order.” 


Was that a hint of a smile? Renna guessed not. 


“You’re excused.” 


Renna replied with a nod. She didn’t dislike the night supervisor, although she wasn’t fond of the woman’s overbearing manner. Still, Nurse Rutledge was in charge. “Thank you, ma’am. I’ll just finish up here, and then I’ll be on my way.” 


The older woman came up alongside her. “The first rule in nursing is, do not get emotionally attached to your patients. You know that.” 


Renna rinsed the fever rag once more and draped it across Mr. Blackeyes’s forehead. “I’m not getting emotionally attached.” Renna felt her conscience prick. “I’m just . . . well, I’m burdened for this man. In the spiritual sense.” 


“Humph! Call it what you will, Nurse Fields, but I happen to think you’re much too emotional and far too sensitive. It’s a wonder you’ve lasted in nursing this long. Why, I heard from the other nurses on duty today that you were crying with the Webster

family over their boy.” She sniffed in what seemed like disgust. “A nurse must never let her emotions get in the way of her duty, Nurse Fields.” 


“Yes, ma’am.” Renna endured the rebuke. She’d heard it many times before. 


Nurse Rutledge squared her wide shoulders. “Now, may I suggest that you leave your burden right here in this hospital bed and go home and get some rest? You’re due back here at six a.m., and I’ll expect you promptly!” 


Renna nodded. Then, with a backward glance at Mr. Blackeyes, she left the sick ward. She gathered her things and made her way to the hospital’s main entrance. Outside, she paused and breathed deeply. The air was thick and humid, but it was free from the chloroform and antiseptics that she’d smelled all day. 


She spied a hired hackney, and within minutes, Renna rode the mile to the home she shared with her parents. She was the oldest child in the family, but at the age of thirty, Renna was what society termed “a spinster.” Her two younger sisters were married and

producing children galore, and her one younger brother and his wife were now expecting their first baby. 


Renna loved all her nieces and nephews. They filled her empty arms when she wasn’t nursing, and Jesus filled her heart. Time and time again, however, Renna was asked by a young niece or nephew, “Why didn’t you ever get married, Auntie Renna?” And

her reply was always, “I never fell in love.” 


But the truth of the matter was no man would have her—even if she had fallen in love. The large purplish birthmark on the left side of her face deterred every eligible bachelor. The unsightly thing came down her otherwise flawless cheek to the side of her

nose and then around down to her jaw, like an ugly purple horseshoe branded into her face. One would think she’d be accustomed to the gawks, stares, and pitying glances sent her way at social functions, but they unnerved her. All dressed up and looking her

prettiest, Renna still felt marred and uncomely under the scrutiny of her peers—especially when she was in the company of eligible men to whom she was supposed to be attractive and charming. Renna never felt she was either of those. 


Nursing, however, was different. In the hospital Renna felt confident of her abilities. Moreover, her patients were usually too sick or in too much pain to be concerned with her ugly birthmark. 


Rather, they just wanted her care and sensitivity, and that’s what Renna thought she did best . . . in spite of what Nurse Rutledge said about her being too emotional and too sensitive. God in all His grace had given Renna a wondrous work in nursing, and it pleased her to be used in that way. What more could she want? And yet lately—lately Renna desired something more. Was it a sin to feel discontented after so many happy years of nursing? 


The carriage stopped in front of Renna’s house. She climbed out, paid the driver, and then turned to open the little white gate of the matching picket fence around the front yard. A slight breeze blew, and Renna thought it felt marvelous after her sweltering day on the second floor of the hospital. 


“Well, there you are, dear.” Her mother, Johanna Fields, stood with a pair of shears in her hand. She had obviously been pruning the flowers that graced the edge of the wide front porch. “You’re late tonight, Renna.” She studied her daughter. “Mr. Blackeyes? Is he . . . ?” 


“He’s still alive.” She stepped toward her mother. “Dr. Hamilton thinks he may even live, except he has an awful fever now. We’re hoping it breaks by morning and thatpneumonia doesn’t set in.” 


“Oh, dear . . . ” Mum shook her head sadly. “Well, we’ll keep praying, won’t we?” 


Renna gave a nod before Mum hooked arms and led her into the house. 


“I’ve made a light dinner tonight, Renna. Help yourself.” 


“I appreciate it, but I’m too tired to eat.” 


“But you need some nourishment.” Mum fixed a plate of cold beef, sliced tomatoes, and a crusty roll. “Here, sit down at the table.” 


Renna allowed her mother to help her into the chair. After one bite she realized how ravenous she was and cleaned the plate. Minutes later her sister Elizabeth walked in with her twin daughters, Mary and Helena. Delight spread through Renna as the girls toddled into the kitchen. 


“Hello, darlings.” She gave each a hug before smiling up at her younger sister. 


“Renna, you look exhausted.” Elizabeth shook her head vehemently, causing strands of her light brown hair to escape their pinning. “You’ll be old before your time.” 


“And what would you have me do? Sit around the house all day, twiddling my thumbs?” Seeing her sister’s injured expression, she softened her voice. “I’m sorry. I guess I’m more tired than I thought.” 


Elizabeth smiled. “All’s forgiven.” 


Renna struggled to her feet. Her entire body ached from her long shift. “I’ll have to visit another time. I’m going up to bed.” 


After bidding everyone a good night, Renna climbed the steps leading to the second floor. In her small bedroom she poured water from the large pitcher on her bureau into the chamber basin and then washed away the day’s heat. She pulled her cool, cotton nightgown over her head then took her Bible off the nightstand and continued her reading in John chapter 9. Renna realized as she read that physical ailments allowed God to show His glory, and she marveled as she read about the blind man who by simple faith and obedience regained his sight. 


She bowed her head. Oh, Lord, that You might heal Mr. Black-eyes. That You might show Your power to those who don’t believe by healing him. Renna paused to remember her other patients then. And please rain down Your peace that passeth all understanding on the Websters tonight. 


Despite the fact her eyelids threatened to close, Renna finished her Bible reading. She turned down the lamp as a breeze ruffled the curtains. Somehow Renna knew that John Webster would not be in her sick ward tomorrow morning. Nor would his family be there. Somehow Renna knew that John was with the Savior already. 


But Mr. Blackeyes . . . why, he might not be a believer. It pained Renna to think of him spending an eternity apart from God. 


Please heal him, Lord, she prayed as she crawled into bed. She allowed her eyes to finally shut, and the darkly handsome stranger who lay fighting for his life was the last person on Renna’s thoughts as she drifted off to sleep.


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