Monday, October 31, 2011

Mosaic: Teach Us - REVIEWED

Okay, normally I review books, but lately I've had an opportunity to listen to some music. Mosaic is just the sound I like! A little folk music, some contemporary and even a few classis hymns...I like this!! Teach Us is their newest CD, released just this past July is really great!

You can go to their site and take a listen to this and other albums, purchase select songs or the entire cd! They even have song stories that you can read that will give you greater insight into their daily walk with Christ and the way He speaks to them in song. These are particularly moving and powerful to me, and I hope you will take the time to hear the heart and story behind their songs!

Here is just a sample of a verse from Love Will Never Fail: (from the Mosaic website)

I wanna love without saying a word,
without wearing a mask, without building a wall
Shouting does not guarantee you are heard
The words burn in the atmosphere as they fall
True love has no defense
It cannot stay at an arm’s length or sit on the fence
It wades into the fray to take a bullet in the place of the one
That’s holding the gun

Love is patient
it holds on tight when the train derails
Love hopes all things, bears all things, believes all things
Love never fails

Friday, October 28, 2011

Smoothie Rock-A-Teller on the Whopper Stopper by Dr. Gerald Mittmann Illustrated by Gregory Cannone - REVIEWED

About the Book:

There is a story in the Bible about a WHOPPER of a giant who did not love God. Everything about him was a whopper - he was whopper tall, whopper strong, and whopper mean! Everyone was afraid of this giant, except for one.

This is David and Goliath told from the eyes of the littlest one. No, not from David (the watcher of the baa-baa mini cloud-walkers), but the rock who saw it all!

Now, rocks don't walk, and rocks don't talk, but if they could...they would tell you of the time that a whopper champion came looking for a whopper fight with the army of Israel, and how God used one small boy to bring him down with a simple little whopper stopper!

The entire family will enjoy this Bible devotion as Smoothie Rock-A-Teller shares David's story of courage in a way you've never heard before!

My Thoughts:
Oh man! You have got to read this book out loud!! It is PRECIOUS!! Kids are going to eat this up! But parents, be advised, practice a few tounge twisters before you read it! A whopper-talking-walk-about is only one of the many creative descriptions used by Dr. Mittmann in this wonderful book! Bible stories will be more fascinating than ever when you read Mittmann's version! Sunday school teachers will be well equipped to not only teach children Bible stories, but will have discussion questions at their fingertips to teach and guide children to the truth found in the stories!

This is cool! WAY COOL!! Check it out! Buy some for the children in your life! Buy some for your favorite Sunday School Teacher! These are fun and cool!!

About the Author and Illustrator:

Author Gerald Mittmann has worked with children in ministry since 1978, organizing and directing children’s Bible camps, Sunday children’s sermons, Awana clubs, and speaking at mid week elementary Christian school chapels. He graduated from Talbot Theological Seminary in 1986 with a Master’s of Divinity degree in Bible exposition, and then went on to receive his Doctor of Ministry degree from Talbot/Biola University in 2005. He has been a pastor to families and children in three evangelical churches, and has led several biblical drama teams to the mission fields of Mexico, Honduras, and Africa’s Congo (DRC) to act out biblical plays which he wrote.

Illustrator Gregory Cannone received a BFA in Studio Art from Rutgers University. From his work with Jim Henson and the Muppets, to designing the unexpected for Nickelodeon, Gregory has been immersed in the world of children’s product design and entertainment since 1984 as a Toy Designer and Inventor. In addition to creating a multitude of hit toys for the major toy companies, Gregory has been passionate about teaching with a focus on Early Childhood Education. Dubbed “The Preschool Whisperer” because of his unique skills inspiring young children, Gregory has served as a co-collaborator with the author Gerald Mittmann ministering to children for the past 11 years using some very unique ways of teaching. From a time machine that materializes living Bible characters to a 20 foot high volcano that shoots “lava balls” containing biblical questions, the team strive to make learning God’s Word fun!

Title of Book Smoothie Rock-A-Teller
Name of Author(s) Gerald Mittmann
ISBN 1935265784

Thursday, October 27, 2011

God Makes Lemonade by Don Jacobson - REVIEWED

About the Book: (from the publisher)
God Makes Lemonade

ue Stories that Sweeten & Inspire

I bet you could use a little good news right about now. We have just the book for you! In God Makes Lemonade™ you'll read stories from everyday folks who discover unexpected sweetness in the midst of sour circumstances.

Some of these real-life stories are laugh-out-loud funny, others are sobering, and more than a few will have you reaching for a tissue. We sure did!

But these true stories all have one thing in common: hope. There's no question that life gives us "lemons," like issues with health, employment, and relationships-truly sour circumstances we wouldn't wish on anyone. But when those lemons become lemonade, it's as refreshing as an ice-cold drink on a hot summer day.

My Thoughts:

are times in all of our lives when we wonder how God can use the circumstances for our good and His glory - much less make a bitter thing be sweet! But GOD can do this! ONLY GOD can do this! And He does it in a way and in a time that His children can recognize His hand in the circumstance and grow to love Him more and praise Him for His goodness!

This book will encourage and inspire you to look beyond your circumstance and drink in the sweetness of God's love!

About the Author:
Don Jacobson's twenty-five years in publishing included serving as the president and owner of Multnomah Publishers, where he oversaw the production of more than 1000 titles, including the five-million-plus-selling series Stories for the Heart. He's had the pleasure of working with such best-selling authors as Randy Alcorn, Joni Eareckson Tada, Henry Blackaby, Robin Jones Gunn, Karen Kingsbury, Andy Stanley, and Bruce Wilkinson. Don's wife, Brenda, has been mentoring mothers for more than a decade.

Jacobson and his wife are passionate about helping single mothers and their children, so the royalties from God Makes Lemonade will benefit these unsung heroes through the LemonAid Foundation.

A Piece of Silver by Clark Rich Burbidge - REVIEWED

About the Book: (from Winpress Publishing)

Have you ever felt completely alone or invisible?

Have you ever cried out in the night for God to send someone, anyone that would notice or care?

Daniel is a young homeless boy living such a life in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. After finding shelter in a poor stable, his fitful sleep is interrupted as he witnesses the birth of the Savior of the world. Step into Daniel’s strange and unforgiving world and experience the events of that night of all nights through the eyes of this young boy. Look on with reverence as he makes a personal offering of love and hope. Follow the young boy as he grows and struggles to make something of his life and seems to come short again and again. Then draw near to the young man, now grown, as he again finds himself in the presence of Jesus where his life-long prayers are answered.

Clark R. Burbidge has created a faith-filled, uplifting story for the ages that will be shared again and again. A Piece of Silver will infuse young readers with wonder and awe as they view events through the eyes of a child. Older readers will find hope and courage as they press onward toward the struggles of teenage and young adult years. The story will moisten the eyes of parents and grandparents with understanding. But most of all it will bring all ages closer to the Savior Himself in knowing that they are never alone.

My Thoughts:
There have been a lot of stories written from a lot of different perspectives about the birth of Christ. A Piece of Silver is perhaps the most unique perspective of this Biblical event, because the author plants the seed for an even more significant event in the future! And you won't believe the thread he uses to tie it together!

Now, it's not drawn from the Bible account. But it is a creative way of binding two significant events together both in perspective and by physical evidence. You have to think a bit about what you might think were you in that same position. Actually, you have to realize that you WERE in that same position before you came to Christ!

I would be careful to explain to any child what the BIBLE has to say about both events, and that this is a creative effort to tie the meaning of these two events together in a spiritual sense. And that would lead to a great opportunity to share the gospel with children at an early age!!

So, consider A Piece of Silver while making your gift list this year! This is a beutifully illustrated story that children will enjoy time and time again!

About the Author:
Clark Burbidge was born and raised in the high mountain valleys of the Rockies. He received an MBA degree from the University of Southern California and a BS degree in finance from the University of Utah. His career spans 31 years in banking, project finance, investment banking and more recently as a Chief Financial Officer. His experiences have taken him throughout the nation and world. He has been actively involved in community and church service, including lay youth and adult ministry, for over 35 years. He continues to enjoy swimming, scuba diving, mountain/road biking, history, church and community service, composing and playing music, public speaking, writing and anything in which his children are involved.

Clark and his sweetheart, Leah, currently make their home close to the high mountain trails and enjoy their blended family experience of 10 children and two grandchildren. It has been his long- term dream to write and publish several works that have been kicking around in his mind and on paper for many years. His first book, “Life on the Narrow Path: A Mountain Biker’s Guide to Spiritual Growth in Troubled Times” was released nationally in March 2011. He looks forward to this next phase of life’s wonderful adventure.

Annie Henrie (Illustrator): Annie Henrie was born in Manhattan, New York. Her earliest memories involve regular trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and watching her father, who was a successful artist, paint. Annie’s father started out drawing small figures for her copy then helped her with her first oil painting. She has known since age five that she wanted to be an artist. Her father continues to be a mentor and support.

Annie grew up in Bountiful, Utah. She began selling paintings in galleries at age 16, studied in England and Italy, and has won numerous awards. Annie graduated from Brigham Young University in April 2010, majoring in Illustration. She is now enjoying her dream career of creating art for a living.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Attracted to Fire by DiAnn Mills

I didn't sign up for this tour, but I met DiAnn in Atlanta at the Christy awards, and I just feel compelled to promote her work! She is a tremendously talented writer with a heart that seeks God in all she does! Enjoy this peek into her latest work!

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Attracted to Fire
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (October 1, 2011)
DiAnn Mills


DiAnn Mills believes her readers should “Expect an Adventure.” She is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed novels. Her books have won many awards through American Christian Fiction Writers, and she is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader’s Choice award for 2005, 2007, and 2010. She was a Christy Award finalist in 2008 and a Christy winner in 2010. DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and is the Craftsman Mentor for the Christian Writer’s Guild. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops. DiAnn and her husband live in Houston, Texas. Visit her website at: or find her on Facebook at


Special Agent Meghan Connors’ dream of one day protecting the president of the United States is about to come true. Only one assignment stands in her way. After the vice president’s rebellious daughter is threatened, Meghan is assigned to her protective detail on a secluded ranch in West Texas. Unfortunately, working with Special Agent in Charge Ash Zinders may be as tough as controlling her charge. Ash has a reputation for being critical and exacting, and he’s also after the same promotion as Meghan. But when the threats escalate and security on the ranch is breached, it becomes clear this isn’t the work of a single suspect—it’s part of a sophisticated plan that reaches deeper and higher than anyone imagined. And only Ash and Meghan can put the pieces together before it’s too late.

Watch the book trailer:

If you would like to read the first chapter of Attracted to Fire, go HERE.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Opposite of Art by Athol Dickson - Brief Thoughts - I'm not finished yet!

About the Book:

A great artist is cast into the icy Harlem River by a hit-and-run driver. His heart stops, and he sees something that defies description. Presumed dead by all who knew him and obsessed with the desire to paint the inexpressible, he embarks on a pilgrimage to seek help from holy men around the globe. But is it possible to see eternity without becoming lost within it? After a quarter of a century, when the world begins to whisper that he may be alive, two people come looking for the artist: the daughter he never knew existed, and the murderer who hit him on the bridge all those years ago.

Brief Thoughts:
This book only arrived in my mailbox about five days ago, and I haven't been able to complete it yet. However, I've read Dickson's work before, and I KNOW I'm in for a treat! Athol Dickson writes a story that draws you in, and at first, you think, "What?" But by the end of the story, you think, "This is brilliant!" And I'm about half-way there right now, and I don't want to spoil the treat that awaits me! Suffice it to say that I'm totally engrossed right now!

About the Author:
Athol Dickson is the publisher of the popular news website,, and the author of seven novels and the bestselling memoir, The Gospel according to Moses. His novels of suspense and magical realism have been honored with three Christy Awards and an Audie Award, and compared to the work of Octavia Butler (by Publisher's Weekly) and Flannery O'Connor (by The New York Times). He and his wife live in Southern California.

Monday, October 24, 2011

At the Throne of Grace by John MacArthur - REVIEWED

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:

At the Throne of Grace: A Book of Prayers

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

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


John MacArthur is the pastor–teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California; president of The Master’s College & Seminary; and featured teacher for the Grace to You media ministry. Weekly telecasts and daily radio broadcasts of “Grace to You” are seen and heard by millions worldwide. John has also written several bestselling books, including The MacArthur Study Bible, The Gospel According to Jesus, The New Testament Commentary series, Twelve Ordinary Men, and The Truth War. He and his wife, Patricia, have four married children and fifteen grandchildren.

Visit the author's website.


Announcing a special new release from Bible teacher John MacArthur…a select collection of powerful Scripture readings and prayers that inspire heartfelt communion with God and gratitude for all that He is and has done for us.

For more than 40 years, John MacArthur has steadfastly committed himself to the careful and faithful teaching of God’s Word. A key outgrowth of his study of Scripture is the profoundly God-centered prayers that precede his sermons.

John’s prayers are the offerings of a heart that is fully committed to honoring God, proclaiming and obeying His Word, and calling others to do the same. In this book, prayers and Scripture readings from across his years of ministry have been brought together to stir Christians toward more meaningful and edifying communion with God.

This book will guide readers, in the most intimate way possible, before God’s throne of grace…giving them a renewed passion and appreciation for their Lord.

My Thoughts:
This is an interesting concept, and I must say it's different than I thought it would be - in a good way!! MacArthur takes a passage of scripture, and then, in prayer, expounds upon it. It's almost like a mini-sermon in the form of a prayer. You gain understanding about the scripture, practical application to everyday life, and a beautiful picture of what life IN CHRIST means and looks like.

Readers will gain knowledge of scripture and be encouraged and challenged to grow in Christ and spend time with Him in intimate prayer. Prayer is relationship with Christ, and readers will understand that in a new way!! I would certainly love to hear MacAuthur pray! His knowledge of Scripture just spills from his heart!

This is a great devotional, and I think it would make an awesome gift for the prayer warriors in your life. You don't want to miss this special book!

Product Details:

List Price: $22.99
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers; Abridged edition (October 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736938400
ISBN-13: 978-0736938402


Adoring Our
Advocate Unreservedly

1 John 2:1-19

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining.

The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.

Our Gracious God, we thank You for our heavenly Advocate,

Jesus Christ the righteous, whose death on the cross

made propitiation for all our sins—

perfectly satisfying every demand of Your holy justice.

It is He who brought us

out of guilt and into forgiveness,

out of darkness into light,

out of our rebellion and into Your love,

out of death and into life.

He delivered us from this evil world, into Your glorious kingdom.

How we praise You for the wonder of Your love in Jesus Christ!

We thank You for sending Your Son, the Incarnate One,

who was despised, rejected, beaten, mocked, and crucified—

all in order to atone for our sin.

In Him Your love has outloved all other loves.

Your mercy extends beyond comprehension to sinners

with complete and permanent forgiveness of our sins

through faith in Jesus Christ.

We therefore long to love You with a love like Yours.

We know that is not possible, so with the apostle Peter

we plead that You would know our hearts, knowing we truly love You

in spite of what it often looks like.

Our hearts are too much like stone; we ask that

You melt them with Your grace.

Our private lives are too often gated and locked as if we could shut You out

and thereby do what we want.

Help us throw open the door and lose the key! May Your will rule our lives.

We worship You, Father, for Your great love and the gift of Jesus Christ,

Your only-begotten Son, which is to say God the Son.

We praise You, Lord Jesus, for the wondrous gift of salvation

You provided for us.

We adore You, blessed Spirit, for revealing to us the truth of the gospel

and for making our hearts Your dwelling place.

Heavenly Father, in us may Your Son see the fruit of His soul’s anguish and be glad.

Bring us away from all that we falsely trust,

and teach us to rest only in Him.

Never let us be calloused to the astonishing greatness of the gift of salvation.

May we pursue sanctification—ever-increasing holiness—with all our might!

Lord Jesus, Master, Redeemer, Savior, take possession of every part of our lives—

Yours by right through purchase.

Sanctify every faculty.

Fill our hearts with hope.

May we flee the many temptations that relentlessly hound us
and mortify the sins that continually plague us.

May there be no hypocrisy in us.

Help us trust You in the hour of distress.

Protect us when evildoers pursue us.

And deliver us from the evil of this present world.

Dear Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow,

we confess that You alone are the giver of every good and perfect gift,

and You have given us so many things,

richly supplying us with things to enjoy.

And we are reminded by the passage we have just read that

the greatest gift of all is Your Son, Jesus Christ,

who sacrificed His very life in order that

we might be freed from sin’s bondage.

Fill our hearts with gratitude, and may our lives

reflect overflowing thankfulness

so that all who see may honor You.

In the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sifted by Rick Lawrence - REVIEWED

About the Book:
For Christians discouraged by life's difficulties-both the life-shifting catastrophes and the drip-drip-drip of daily trouble-Rick Lawrence offers fresh biblical perspective based on a single Scripture snapshot (Luke 22:31-32). Jesus tells Peter he's about to be "sifted like wheat"-shaken hard, beaten and agitated until he practically falls apart. Satan's going to do it. And Jesus is going to allow it, in the interest of showing Peter who he really is. Lawrence uses the simple agrarian metaphor of "sifting" to launch his rigorously honest, deeply challenging, yet powerfully comforting exploration of the trials that beat us down, the good God who allows them, and the incredible beauty that the whole agonizing process can reveal in us.

My Thoughts:
This book came to me during the most traumatic event that I have ever experienced in my life on earth. Truly, it has been a season of Sifting in my life. It still is. However, God has proven faithful and true to every single promise He has made, and even though I'm still in a very terrible trial, I can still say that God is good ALL of the time, and He will transform your life if you just invite him into the situation.

That being said, this book was a balm to my soul. Rick Lawrence is very real and personal as he teaches about God's use of sifting us during our lives on earth so He can draw us closer to Him and enable us then to encourage others. I've experienced that truth in my life too. This is a very real and honest look at some of the questions that arise in the hearts of people who have been sifted. Sometimes people choose another path other than the one of God's blessing. Rick addresses that too.

Bottom line, if you are or have experienced a time of Sifting in your life, this book will bless and comfort you. If you have not experienced this, you will, and this book will give you Scriptural perspective that will strengthen you and make you more prepared for the journey. This is an excellent book, and one I am grateful that God brought into my life for such a time as this.

About the Author:
Rick Lawrence is the long-time editor of GROUP magazine and co-leader of the Simply Youth Ministry Conference. He also speaks frequently for conferences and workshops, consults for national research organizations, and publishes prolifically-with 31 books (authored, coauthored or edited), hundreds of articles, and a small-group curriculum to his credit.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Teens and Their Supernatural Pursuits by Melody Carlson

It is a pleasure to host Melody Carlson today! I hope you learn a lot and enjoy the post!

Teens and Their Supernatural Pursuits

By Melody Carlson

Have you even wondered why some teens are drawn toward things like Ouija boards or psychics? Or why séances are still popular at sleepovers? Does it just have to do with Halloween and that spine-chilling need for a good scare? Or could it be something more? And, as a Christian, should you be concerned?

Those questions, as well as some confused reader letters, prompted me to tackle the “supernatural” in one of my teen novels (Moon White, TrueColors, Nav Press). And whenever I write an issues-based novel, I’m forced to research—and often in some dark places. So I began scouring websites, learning more about Wicca and the occult, trying to grasp what was really going on with today’s teens—and how I could write about it in a helpful and relevant way.

But, as usual, when I write a teen book, I go back to my own adolescence...trying to connect with my inner teen...and I suddenly remembered a short era when a friend and I got very interested in witchcraft. I had honestly forgotten about this time and was fascinated to recall how we scoured some witchcraft stores on a local campus—I think we even purchased a few things. Fortunately, this interest was short-lived and I became a Christian not long afterward.

However, as I reconnected with my inner teen, I had to ask myself—why had I looked into witchcraft back then? Why do teens dabble with it now? Suddenly the answer became crystal clear. I was searching. I’d been calling myself an atheist for several years by then, but I was spiritually hungry—starving in fact. Consequently I was looking for spiritual answers—something that would fill that empty void within me. I wanted a supernatural force in my life and I didn’t even care where it came from. I needed something bigger than me, more powerful than me, something to hold onto. I had no idea at the time that I was really searching for God.

This realization changed the way I viewed my research. Instead of feeling disgusted and dismayed by the witchcraft/Wicca sites (which are not particularly enjoyable) I began to recognize that these people (mostly girls) were simply searching too. They wanted a power source in their lives just like I wanted one in mine. They just hadn’t found God yet.

This led to another discovery. A girl who’s attracted to a religion like Wicca is usually seeking to gain some control over her life. Something is wrong and she wants to change it. To do so, she’s often enticed to purchase something—like “magical herbs”—to create a potion that will give her some control over her situation. Unfortunately, she doesn’t even realize she’s being tricked.

But think about it, wouldn’t you love to have control over a bad situation sometimes? Wouldn’t you love to be able to change the circumstances that make your life unpleasant? So what if someone offered you the “power” to do just that? Perhaps if you’re fifteen, you wouldn’t see that person as a charlatan and you would fall for it.

Which brings me to another important factor in understanding this generation’s attraction to the supernatural. Follow the money. The more I researched, the more it became painfully obvious that Wicca and witchcraft and the occult are money-making enterprises. Thanks to the internet, these savvy distributors sell anything imaginable—and many things you can’t. That leads to some serious motivation—these marketers want to hook their unsuspecting young customers and reel them in. Of course, these potions and trinkets and how-to books don’t come with a money back guaranty. Nor are they approved by the FDA. Yet they are a multi-million dollar industry.

So, in a way, it’s a perfect storm. Teens that are insecure, lost, unhappy, and up with an unregulated industry that offers supernatural answers and power and control...for a price. And, oh yeah, I never even mentioned how this opens a door for Satan to slip in and wreak havoc. For’ll have to read the book.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Deliver Me From Evil by Kathi Macias - An Interview

How did you come up with the idea for Deliver Me From Evil and the Freedom series?

It actually came out of a phone conversation with Andrea Mullins, the publisher at New Hope. We were discussing the Extreme Devotion series (about the persecuted Church), which I was still working on at the time, and we began to consider topics for a second series. Andrea was the one who suggested human trafficking, and it really struck a chord with me. The more I researched it and worked on the proposal, the more excited I became about joining forces with others working to abolish modern-day slavery, which is exactly what human trafficking is.

What was your favorite scene to write in Deliver Me From Evil?

This book/series has been the most difficult I’ve ever written, simply because the subject matter is so dark and heavy. More than once I had to walk away and clear my thoughts before moving on from one scene to another. But interspersed between the heartache and tragedy are several lighter scenes (written and incorporated into the book out of necessity), dealing with a pastor’s family and their Bible college-bound son who inadvertently discovers the human trafficking ring and becomes involved in the heroic and dramatic rescue attempt. Any scenes revolving around the absolutely functional and loving life of the Flannery family are my favorites.

What was the most difficult scene, and why?

There were many difficult scenes in this book due to the subject matter, but the hardest had to be when the main character, 18-year-old Mara, realizes that one of the younger girls is being tortured and killed in an effort to extract information and punish her. Though the actual violence is done offstage, Mara experiences each blow and muffled scream, as does the reader.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? If not, how did you catch the writing bug?

Oh yes, I never wanted to be anything else. From the time I discovered the power and allure of words, I was hooked! I was an avid reader before I started kindergarten. A short story I wrote in the third grade was turned into a play for the entire PTA, and I won all sorts of awards for poetry in high school. I even told my then boyfriend (now husband) Al when we were in our early teens that I was going to be a writer one day.

How do you go about writing your fiction books? Which comes first for you, plot, characters, and/or theme?

I usually get what I call “a niggling in my soul,” which eventually emerges into the very basic theme of the book. I hate outlining and writing proposals because I do NOT develop plots or even characters ahead of time. I start with a couple of main characters, a starting and ending point for my story, and just let the rest unfold as I go. I know. We’re not supposed to do it that way, but it works for me, and I so enjoy the surprises as the story develops and my characters take over. So much fun! So long as they don’t try to lead me away from my pre-determined ending. Then I have to reign them back in a bit.

How do you get your ideas for your books?

I have ideas coming out of my ears! I am a seriously addictive idea person. You want ideas? You can have my overflow! My challenge is to figure out which ones are worth pursuing. Not every cute or fun or even meaningful idea that pops into our head is meant to be a book. I pray, think, study, bounce them off people, etc., before committing to moving ahead with one of them. For the most part, however, nearly all my book ideas are, to one degree or another, born out of some moral or social issue that I care about.

How can we find out more about you, The Freedom Series, and other books you are writing?

Please visit my website at

Go HERE to watch the video trailer!

I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview on my blog. This blog tour is managed by Christian Speakers Services (

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Baby It's Cold Outside by Susan May Warren - CONTEST! Win a Kindle!!

About the Book: (from the publisher)

Hope finds the hopeless when a storm hits.

It's Christmas weekend 1949, and despite the threat of a storm, the townspeople of Frost are determined to continue their holiday traditions, if only as a means to forget the war that they had all just suffered through. But the suffering hasn't ended for Dottie Morgan who lost her only son in the war. She's preparing to wallow in her isolation for the weekend, when Violet, nearly a spinster at age 29, dares to make a request that will force Dottie to publicly revive the memory of her dead son.

When a storm traps the two women at home with a strange young man who has an unbelievable confession and a neighbor with more to do with Violet's past than she would like, no one can predict how this Christmas will give them all a second chance.

Read an excerpt here and find out the story behind the novel.


Susan May Warren is an award-winning, best-selling author of over twenty-five novels, many of which have won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, the ACFW Book of the Year award, the Rita Award, and have been Christy finalists. After serving as a missionary for eight years in Russia, Susan returned home to a small town on Minnesota’s beautiful Lake Superior shore where she, her four children, and her husband are active in their local church.

Susan's larger than life characters and layered plots have won her acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. A seasoned women’s events and retreats speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: From the Inside-Out: discover, create and publish the novel in you!. She is also the founder, a story-crafting service that helps authors discover their voice.

Susan makes her home in northern Minnesota, where she is busy cheering on her two sons in football, and her daughter in local theater productions (and desperately missing her college-age son!)

A full listing of her titles, reviews and awards can be found

Warm up to Christmas early this year with Susan May Warren's Baby, It's Cold Outside! To celebrate the release of her new Christmas book with Summerside Press, she and the publisher are giving away a Kindle Fire and hosting an early Christmas Party on Facebook!

Read what the reviewers are saying here.

One festive winner will receive:

  • A brand new Kindle Fire

  • Baby, It's Cold Outside by Susan May Warren

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. Giveaway ends on 10/26!

But, wait there’s more! Join Susan May Warren on 10/27 for merriment and a few early Christmas presents at her Baby, It's Cold Outside Christmas party! Grab your Christmas sweaters, socks and pj’s and join Susan and a few friends for a fireside chat about her recent books (Heiress & Baby, It’s Cold Outside), holiday traditions, favorite Christmas recipes, a trivia contest and more! Invite your friends and don’t miss the fun!

RSVP here and we'll see you on October 27th at 5 PM PST / 8 PM EST!

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The "What's For Dinner?" Solution by Kathi Lipp - REVIEWED

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:

The "What's for Dinner?" Solution

Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2011)

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


Kathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker, currently speaking each year to thousands of women throughout the United States. She is the author of The Husband Project and The Marriage Project and has had articles published in several magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Discipleship Journal. Kathi and her husband, Roger, live in California and are the parents of four teenagers and young adults.

Visit the author's website.


For many women, dread turns to panic around 4:00 in the afternoon. That’s when they have to answer that age-old question, “What’s for dinner?” Many resort to another supermarket rotisserie chicken or—worse yet—ordering dinner through a drive-thru intercom.

In The “What’s for Dinner” Solution, popular author and speaker Kathi Lipp provides a full-kitchen approach for getting dinner on the table every night. After putting her 21-day plan into action, women will

* save time—with bulk shopping and cooking
* save money—no more last-minute phone calls to the delivery pizza place
* save their sanity—forget the last-minute scramble every night and know what they’re having for dinner

The book includes real recipes from real women, a quick guide to planning meals for a month, the best shopping strategies for saving time and money, and tips on the best ways to use a slow cooker, freezer, and pantry.

With Kathi’s book in hand, there’s no more need to hit the panic button.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (October 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736938370
ISBN-13: 978-0736938372

My Thoughts:
I love to cook! I love to cook meals that my family enjoys, and that fits easily into my schedule! My crockpot is my favorite kitchen accessory and I use it frequently! Now that I have Kathi Lipp's organization in my life I expect to do great things in the kitchen! She even knows how to purposefully use left overs! You don't get more efficient than that, my friend!! So, read and enjoy the book, and then glean the knowledge it contains and put it to use! Your wallet, your family and your body will thank you! ENJOY!!!


Girl Meets Kitchen, or Not

Necessarily a Love Story

“Happy and successful cooking doesn’t rely only on know-how;
it comes from the heart, makes great demands on the palate and needs enthusiasm and a deep love of food to bring it to life.”

Georges Blanc, from Ma Cuisine des Saisons

I was not the kind of kid who grew up at my mom’s knee, helping her chop carrots for Sunday night’s chicken soup. I never really helped with any meal preparation, preferring to turn my attention in the kitchen to baking. There was always some social event with friends or a youth group party where I needed to bring brownies. The one memorable time I tried to make instant potatoes? Instead of the specified one-quarter tablespoon of salt, I used a quarter cup salt. That incident happened over twenty-five years ago, and I have yet to stop hearing about it from my loving and encouraging family.

Suffice to say, I was a bit ill-prepared for the cooking adventures that lay ahead as I lived on my own for the first time. And to complicate matters? My first apartment was in Uji, Japan, approximately seven thousand miles from my mother’s loving embrace and her pot-roast recipe (as if I could afford beef in Japan).

The recipe cards were stacked against me. No cooking skills to speak of, living in a foreign land where most of the time I couldn’t identify what I was eating much less figure out how it was prepared, a kitchen the size of my coat closet back home, and an oven so small it made me long for the Easy-Bake one of my childhood.

I was terrified going to the supermarket without an escort and a translator. I didn’t speak the language (as a short-term missionary teaching conversational English, speaking Japanese was actually a disadvantage in my job), and as unfamiliar as I was with food shopping in the U.S., shopping in Uji was like watching a foreign movie without subtitles and then having to write a paper on the plot.

Oh, and eating out? So not an option. While my cooking skills were limited, my food budget was near nonexistent.

A few things were easy to recognize. The bread in Japan was amazing. It was buttery and flaky and perfect. And there was some really lovely cheese and ham. So, for the first three months of exploring this exotic new culture, I ate ham and cheese sandwiches every single night for dinner.

As I started to get to know some of my students and coworkers better, I had this urge to invite them over to hang out with me. But I had a sneaking suspicion they would want to be fed. I knew that my students would love some authentic American dishes. The question was, Who would I get to cook them?

Another short-term missionary, Diana, had a cookbook called More-With-Less. This wonderful little book produced by the Mennonite community had tons of recipes that used simple ingredients most cooks would have in their kitchen. While I didn’t have a lot of pantry staples in my four-story walk-up, I was now armed with a grocery list as well as an English-to-Japanese dictionary for my trips to the store.

I started to look for simple things I could make: salads, sandwiches, curries, and mini-pizzas out of English muffins and ketchup. (I promise, my culinary skills and taste have gotten better over the years.) As I grew braver in all things cuisine, I started to ask my mom to send some of my favorite recipes from back home.

In fact, when I threw a Christmas celebration with my friend Spenser in my micro-sized apartment, we managed to make a fondue-potless version of my mom’s Pizza Fondue. Shopping for the ingredients proved challenging, even for Spenser who spoke near-fluent Japanese. After several attempts to translate cornstarch into the native language (One would think corn + starch = cornstarch, right? Wrong. It’s pronounced korunstarcha.), we headed back to my kitchen and made one of the best meals I have ever eaten—lots of tomato sauce, some ground beef, loads of cheese, and just the right amount of korunstarcha.

Pizza Fondue
(Connie Richerson)

½ lb. ground beef

1 small onion, chopped

2 10½-oz. cans pizza sauce (I use marinara sauce)

1 T. cornstarch (or korunstarcha, if you prefer)

1½ tsp. oregano

¼ tsp. garlic powder

2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 loaf French bread

Brown the ground beef and onion; drain. Put meat, sauce, cornstarch, and spices in fondue pot. When cooked and bubbly, add cheese. Spear crusty French bread cubes, then dip and swirl in fondue. This is also delicious with breadsticks. Serves 4 to 6.

From that point on, I was hooked on collecting my favorite recipes. I bought my own copy of More-With-Less when I got back to the States, and when I got married a few months later, I received my very first copy of everyone’s favorite red-and-white-plaid Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, with every recipe an emerging home cook could want.

I think most of us home cooks have a similar story to tell. OK, you probably didn’t have your first significant cooking experience in Uji, Japan, but I bet the first few times you got dinner on the table all on your own, you might as well have been in a different country.

Maybe your mom had you peeling potatoes before you could walk. Maybe you have a rich heritage of recipes passed down from your grandmother. None of our cooking histories are going to look the same, but we do have one thing in common: We all need to get dinner on the table.

I am not a professional cook. Tom Colicchio will never be critiquing my braised kale and chocolate with bacon foam on Top Chef. But over the past twenty years I have put dinner on the table almost every single night. And while my family still likes a pizza from the neighborhood shop, our kids who have left home really look forward to coming back for a home-cooked meal.

That is all the reward I need.

Why This Book?

So, you discovered my deep dark secret—I’m not a professional chef. I don’t have my own show on Food Network, my own brand of spatulas, and I’m not going to be appearing on any morning show making a frittata for Kathie Lee Gifford.

Still, I’m required to feed our large family almost daily. So when I come across a cookbook, I have an unnatural need to own it. I’m always looking for new recipes to keep dinner interesting at our house. I have an entire bookshelf in my kitchen for my ever-growing collection.

But to be honest with you, most of the money I’ve spent on those cookbooks could have been better spent on a good set of knives or a heavy iron skillet.

I have found that most cookbooks are aimed at the fantasy life many of us aspire to—entertaining regularly, having unusual and exotic ingredients on hand, and hours and hours in the kitchen to create these masterpieces, from scratch.

And then there is my reality. Yes, sometimes I like to spend a Saturday afternoon cooking up a big feast for friends and family. But most days? I want to get a delicious, healthy meal on the table quickly.

My test when I’m purchasing new cookbooks? I flip to a half dozen or so recipes throughout the book and ask myself, Can I imagine cooking this recipe in the next couple of weeks? If most of the recipes fail the test, the book stays at the store.

I want the reality. I want dinner on the table every night without being seduced by pictures of stylist-arranged food that—let’s be honest—I’m never going to prepare.

While those books offer up a lot of grilled-chicken-in-a-peanut-sauce-in-the-sky dreams, I need some reality. It’s not just about the recipe; it’s about all the aspects of getting dinner on the table.

By the end of this book, my hope for you is that you will be able to:

save time, money, and energy when it comes to
preparing meals
have less stress when it comes to shopping
get your kitchen prepared for battle
learn some stress-free ways to get dinner on the table
get out of your cooking rut
This book is all about the process, the how of getting dinner on the table. It reflects the collective wisdom of hundreds of women who don’t have prep cooks or a crew of interns trying out new recipes. We are the women who spend a significant part of our days thinking about, shopping for, and preparing dinner. And all these wise, wonderful women are going to show you a better way to get dinner on the table no matter what your cooking background or skill level.

This is the book I wish I’d had when I first started cooking, as well as when I was raising my brood of pint-sized food critics.

Don’t worry, there will be plenty of recipes. We all love to find that one recipe that is going to become a family favorite! But this book has much more than that. My hope is that you will be able to use the recipes you already have, the ones in this book, and the new ones you find along the way to set a big, bountiful table for your family.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sunrise on the Battery by Beth Webb Hart - REVIEWED

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:

Sunrise on the Battery

Thomas Nelson (October 11, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


With a B.A. in English Literature from Hollins University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College, Hart serves as an inspirational speaker and creative writing instructor at conferences, retreats, schools, libraries and churches across the country, and she is the recipient of two national teaching
awards from Scholastic, Inc. and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. She lives with her husband, composer Edward Hart, and their family in Charleston.

Visit the author's website.


She wanted her husband to attend the town’s society-driven church.

God answered her prayer in a radical way.

An emptiness dogs Mary Lynn Scoville. But it shouldn’t. After all, she’s achieved what few believed possible. Born in the rural south, she has reached the pinnacle of worldly success in Charleston, South Carolina. Married to a handsome real estate developer and mother to three accomplished daughters, Mary Lynn is one Debutante Society invitation away from truly having it all. And yet, it remains—an emptiness that no shopping trip, European vacation, or social calendar can fill.

When a surprise encounter leads her to newfound faith, Mary Lynn longs to share it with her husband. But Jackson wrote God off long ago. Mary Lynn prays for him on Christmas Eve...and her husband undergoes a life-altering, Damascus Road experience. As Jackson begins to take the implications of the Gospel literally, Mary Lynn feels increasingly isolated from her husband...and betrayed by God. She only wanted Jackson beside her at church on Sunday mornings, not some Jesus freak who evangelizes prostitutes and invites the homeless to tea.

While her husband commits social suicide and the life they worked so hard for crumbles around them, Mary Lynn wonders if their marriage can survive. Or if perhaps there really is a more abundant life that Jackson has discovered, richer than any she’s ever dreamed of.

Product Details:

List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (October 11, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595542000
ISBN-13: 978-1595542007

My Thoughts:
I've known Southern families like the ones described in this story - families with "old" money who had a culture all of their own. I've know people who tried to fit into that "world" with hard work and the success that followed - trying to make things "better" for the kids - and the mayhem that often followed. And I've known folks who have been radically transformed from the bondage of the care of the world through the blood of Christ. In short, I identified strongly with all of the characters in this story. I understood their fear, their longing to fit in, their longing to be accepted for who they were - the longing to be accepted by Christ.

This is a multi-layered story. Read beneath the surface and be prepared to be challenged by what you find there. This is a story that will touch your heart and challenge you to examine your spiritual motives. Great read!


Mary Lynn Scoville

December 24, 2009

It was the morning before Christmas, and Mary Lynn was preparing for her sunrise jog around the tip of the Charleston Peninsula. She stretched her thighs and calves in the gray light of her piazza, then bounded out of her South Battery home, traveling west toward the coast guard station like she did every morning as part of her effort to “finally get back in shape” since her fortieth birthday, six short months ago.

By the time she reached Tradd Street, the gray had turned to a soft, creamy light, and she hung a left and rounded the corner onto Murray Boulevard where she traced the west tip of the peninsula as buoys bobbed in the churning water of the harbor and pelicans—beak first, wings pulled tight against their large prehistoric bodies—dove for breakfast in a thrilling kind of free fall.

At her husband Jackson’s strong suggestion, she stayed clear of the darkened cars parked along the edge of the waterway leading up to White Point Gardens. Unseemly characters gathered along the water’s edge at night and often fell asleep there, not to mention the handful of homeless folks who made their berths on park benches. There had been a murder in one of the cars last year as well as a rape, but the light was too high in the sky for any of that now. As her friend from her bluegrass days, Scottie Truluck, boldly proclaimed the day after someone broke into her house and took off with her laptop and her sterling silver tea set, you couldn’t let fear get in the way of your city life.

Mary Lynn hit her stride, as usual, at the High Battery as a lone sailboat with little blinking white Christmas lights encircling its mast pushed through the choppy water. She felt her heart rate rising and she became conscious of her breathing, so she attempted to take her mind off of her workout and the pounding of the pavement on her knees by going through her to-do list for the day as she passed the Carolina Yacht Club where Jackson had been offered a membership after his second time through the application process. Hot dog! An invitation to join this exclusive, tight-knit club was a kind of proof that they had been officially accepted by Charleston society. Not an easy feat in this historic southern city that, after two brutal wars and a depression that stretched on for half a century, had good reason to be wary of outsiders. Of course, they both knew they had Mark Waters—an older friend with hometown ties—to thank for this and many of the doors that had been opened to them.

Still, Mark didn’t run the entire city (especially not the old-Charleston set) no matter how deep his pockets, and the yacht club membership meant that they had finally passed some sort of insider’s test after their move to the city ten years ago. And that, along with the invitation Mary Lynn received last year to join the Charlestowne Garden Club and another to serve as chairman of the board of the old and prestigious Peninsula Day School, made her feel like this truly was their home. Their real home. She smiled even as she panted. She and Jackson, two country bumpkins from Meggett, South Carolina, were somehow making their way into Charleston society. Who’d have ever thunk it?

But that wasn’t even the primary goal for Jackson, who was the sharpest, most focused man Mary Lynn had ever known. The real goal for him (and he had written it down and asked her to put it in her jewelry box in an envelope marked “family mission statement”) was to give their three girls the life he and Mary Lynn never had. This meant a top-rate education, exposure and immersion in the fine arts, and frequent opportunities to see the big wide world beyond the Carolina lowcountry or the United States for that matter.

“Not just education, baby—cultivation,” he would say as they lay side by side in their four-poster antique bed purchased on King Street for a pretty penny, Jackson resting some classic novel he should have read in high school on his chest. Then Mary Lynn would look up from the Post and Courier or Southern Living or lately, the little black leather Bible Scottie had given her after the birthday luncheon meltdown, and smile.

Every time Mary Lynn and Jackson discussed their children, she had an image of her husband tilling the soil of their daughters’ minds and dropping down the little seeds like he did every spring growing up on his daddy’s farm. “Just like the tomaters, darlin’,” he’d say in his exaggerated country accent. “Only now it is little intellects that will one day be big as cantaloupes!”

A pretty lofty mission. But a worthy one, Mary Lynn supposed. Though sometimes she grew nervous that he rode the girls too hard with their school work and over scheduled them with extracurricular activities—strings lessons, writing workshops, ballet, and foreign language. They sure didn’t have much time to lollygag or linger or strike out on an adventure as she had as a child roaming the corn fields on her uncle’s farm, climbing trees, building forts, or spending the night in a sleeping bag beneath a blanket of stars. Despite her mama’s missteps and mean old Mrs. Gustafson, who made sure the whole town knew every little detail about them, Mary Lynn had a sanctuary on her uncle’s farm. Much of her childhood she was ignorantly blissful of all the trouble and the gossip that surrounded her family as she played hide-and-seek in the corn husks with her mama, running fast through the papery leaves that gently slapped her face. Then crouching down as she heard the sweet voice of her only parent call, “Ready or not, here I come!”

But Mary Lynn had to acknowledge the fruit of Jackson’s labors. Thanks to his staying after them, the girls were well on their way to mastering a stringed instrument and they could carry on a conversation (and for their oldest, read a novel) in French and Spanish. Imagine!

Who would have guessed the upward turn their lives would take after Jackson’s daddy’s death revealed the little real estate gems up and down the South Carolina coast he had inherited from a great uncle? The timing was right and Jackson had been shrewd. He turned to Mark Waters, who showed him just how to go about it. This was in the early ’90s, well before the economic downturn, and Jackson sold each piece of property for five and even ten times what his great uncle had paid for it. Then he bought more land, bought several low-end housing projects Mark introduced him to, invested in some of Mark’s big commercial and condo development ventures, and did the same year-in and year-out for more than a decade as the market soared.

“Boy, you picked wisely,” Mama had said the first time she came to visit them at their new home on South Battery. She narrowed her eyes and looked up at Mary Lynn. “’Course I thought Mark was going to gnash his teeth when he got a gander at the skinny farm boy you had fallen for.”

“Mama, Mark was married by that point.”

“Not that nuptials ever meant much to the Waters clan.” She winked, then shook her head. Mary Lynn guessed her mama was thinking of her own engagement to Mark’s father, who had proposed after she ran his office for years. They never did make it to the altar. “But you saw something in Jackson no one else took the time to see, smart girl.” Then she walked carefully over to the portrait of some eighteenth-century British gentleman that their decorator had insisted they purchase for the foyer, rubbed the corner of its gilded frame, and shook her head in disbelief before turning back. “You saw the man in the boy, didn’t you?”

Mary Lynn had smiled. Then she walked over and kissed her mama’s made-up cheek. It felt cool like putty.

“I was just lucky, Mama.” And that was the truth. Jackson was the only boy in town she ever dated, though Mark Waters had told her more than once he’d wait for her to grow up. Of course, she wasn’t surprised that he didn’t.

Her mama had nodded her head as she walked into the foyer and rested her hand on the grand staircase’s large pineapple finial. Then she gazed up the three flights of intricately trimmed hardwood stairs, clucked her tongue, and said, “Everybody gets lucky sometimes, I reckon.”

Now if Jackson stuck with Mark and played it right, he might not have to work for the rest of his life, and he and Mary Lynn would leave a pretty penny to their girls someday. With financial security and intellects as big as cantaloupes, what more could their daughters need?

But back to the to-do list. Mary Lynn still had a few presents to wrap, and she needed to polish the silver serving pieces for the “show and tell” tea party they had hosted every Christmas afternoon for the last eight years. Jackson, who had taken up the cello a few years ago, was trying to get their three daughters to perform a movement from a Haydn string quartet (Opus 20, no. 4 in D major, second movement to be exact), and he had played the slow and somber piece on the CD player so many times over the last month that Mary Lynn found that she was waking up from her sleep with the notes resounding in her head.

She’d never really known of Haydn; she never knew a lick about classical music until they moved to Charleston and started going to the symphony and the Spoleto Festival events. Eventually they became supporters of the symphony and the College of Charleston’s music department, and now she found she could recognize a few pieces by ear, though in all honesty, she always daydreamed when she went to a concert. Sometimes it would be over, the audience would be standing for their ovation, and she’d be lost in thought about shelling butter beans on the back porch with Aunt Josey or sitting by Uncle Dale in the rocking chairs as he tuned his mandolin before they started in on “Man of Constant Sorrow” or “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” with him singing low and Mary Lynn singing the dissonant high lonesome sound while she twirled and twirled around. Uncle Dale said she had a voice that was pure sugar and more moves than a croker sack full of eels. And once when Mark Waters and his daddy, Cecil, were over, Cecil teared up over the singing and the twirling and then insisted on underwriting voice and guitar lessons from a famous country music writer who had settled in Charleston. Mary Lynn and her mother drove the fifty minutes into town for the next seven years until she graduated with two offers: one from her guitar instructor to join his newly formed bluegrass band as the lead singer, and an academic scholarship to USC-Beaufort. Since she was smart enough even then to know that an eighteen-year-old girl didn’t need to be traveling in a band, and since Jackson had proposed on bended knee, she did what felt right to her heart: she chose the scholarship and married her sweetheart.

But on those mornings when she dropped the kids off at school and had to run a few errands, she turned back to the radio station she grew up listening to, an old blend of rock ‘n’ roll and country and bluegrass, and tapped along to Elvis Presley or Johnny Cash or the Stanley Brothers as she drove through the historic streets with her windows rolled up as if she were in her own secret time capsule, transporting herself back to when she was thirteen, dancing and twirling with her mama to “Return to Sender” on the screened porch as Aunt Josey and Uncle Dale clapped and laughed.

Catherine and Lilla, Mary Lynn’s oldest girls, both played violin, and Casey, the baby by five years, played the viola. Their family quartet sounded all right, except for the cello, which made an occasional alley cat screech when Jackson came at it a little off angle. She imagined they’d be practicing all day to get it right for tomorrow’s performance.

The sun was beginning to warm Mary Lynn’s back when she turned from East Bay Street onto Broad where she planned to sprint all-out to Meeting Street, then stop and walk briskly home the rest of the way, her hands raised and clasped behind her head, her heart pounding, then slowing moment by moment as the brisk air chilled her sweaty body to the bone. What a way to wake up! She loved it. And she had shed twelve of the fifteen pounds she had been trying to get rid of since her big birthday.

But this morning, just after she bounded at full speed across Church Street and back onto the uneven sidewalk of Broad Street, the front tip of her left running shoe caught for a split second in a crooked old grate so that when she slammed her right foot down and lunged at a sharp angle to keep herself from somersaulting, she heard a tear just below the back of her knee and a pain blasted through her calf as though she had been shot at close range.

“Agh!” she screamed, falling hard on her side and grasping the back of her right leg.

She knew what had happened, and she wasn’t sure if it was her knowledge or the pain that was causing the intense wave of nausea. She spit and attempted to will her stomach to settle down as her aching muscle throbbed.

The injury, she was sure, was tennis leg, a rupture of the calf muscle on the inside of the leg. She had suffered the same kind of tear in the same place two other times before. Once when Scottie had taken her to a Joni Mitchell concert in Atlanta and she had danced a little too hard to “California,” and just two years ago, when she was standing on the top of her living room sofa, hanging a new set of silk drapes hours before hosting a Parents Guild luncheon.

Mary Lynn put her forehead on her knee and ground her teeth. The stones from the old sidewalk were cool beneath her legs, and a chill worked its way up her spine. At best, she would spend the next ten days on crutches icing down her leg every few hours. And then another six weeks in physical therapy. Or worse, she would have to undergo surgery—something Dr. Powell had warned her about after her last rupture. “Surgery means no bearing weight for four months,” he had said, looking over his tortoise shell bifocals at her. “So be cautious, Mary Lynn.”

The street was quiet on this early Thursday morning. No one was around to gawk or help her up, and she started to weep—more from the frustration, from the time she would lose in the days and weeks to come, and from the stupid grate that no one in the city had bothered to right in maybe one hundred years than from the pain that seemed to compound itself with every new beat of her heart.

She put her clammy palms on the sidewalk and rotated her body over to her left side toward the entry way of the Spencer Art Gallery, and then she slowly felt her way up the side of the stone building until she was upright. She would have to walk on her tippy toes until she flagged someone down or found an open store where she could use the phone to call Jackson.

Mary Lynn swung her head back and forth in an effort to shake off the stars she was seeing. She walked a good block, carefully, on the balls of her feet to the corner of Meeting and Broad singing “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” by Elvis just to keep herself going. When she rounded the corner where St. Michael’s Episcopal Church stood, she spotted Roy Summerall, the rector, chatting animatedly to a familiar-looking man who leaned against a parked taxi cab, steam rising from his coffee mug.

She recognized the man as soon as he glanced in her direction. It was Craig MacPherson, Alyssa’s father. (Alyssa was one of Catherine’s best friends.) He had lost his job as a real estate appraiser during the recent economic crisis, and he was forced to pull Alyssa out of the Peninsula Day School, the private school Mary Lynn’s daughters attended. Now she could see that the rumor she heard was true. He was driving a cab to make ends meet.

Then just as she relaxed the balls of her feet after her favorite line in the chorus—“Yeah, before you abuse, criticize and accuse . . .”—in her relief over finding some folks she knew could help her, the pain shot through her leg, worse than before, and she leaned forward and vomited all over the base of the large white church column closest to Broad Street.

The men must have heard her retching. By the time she looked back up again, wincing and straining to get upright and back on her tip toes, they were by her side, gently placing her arms around their shoulders.

“You all right, Mary Lynn?” Reverend Summerall asked. She had been attending his church with Scottie every now and then, and she had met him once briefly at a Downtown Neighborhood Association gathering awhile back, but she was sort of surprised that he remembered her name.

She pulled her arm back around, wiped her mouth with the back of her fleece jacket, then placed it on his shoulder again. “Tennis leg.” She shook her head in disbelief. “I tore a muscle in my calf. It’s happened to me before.”

The men made a quick plan to carry her to the cab.

“On three,” Craig MacPherson said, and after he called out the numbers, she felt them lift her up and carefully scurry her down the sidewalk before setting her gently in the backseat of Craig’s taxi.

“Let’s get you home,” Craig said.

“Wait.” Roy put his hand on her shoulder and uttered a quick prayer. She couldn’t make out the words, but that didn’t matter. She had no problem with prayers. In fact, she was starting to like them. She’d been going with Scottie to a women’s prayer group at the church every Wednesday afternoon for almost two years now, and she had become downright used to listening to folks pray out loud for one another’s needs, though she’d never had the nerve to join in.

“Thank you.” She looked up and swiveled her head back and forth to meet both sets of sympathetic eyes. “I’ll be okay.” And then to Roy, “Sorry to leave a mess on your portico.”

The priest smiled. “Don’t worry about that. Just take care of yourself. I’ll check in on you later.”

Mary Lynn nodded, and Craig gently closed the cab door and walked around to the driver’s side. She was surprised by how clean the car was. It smelled like soap and maybe gardenias? Some sort of flower, anyway. And when she looked up to see Craig’s picture and license displayed on the visor, she noticed a drawing that Alyssa must have made for him. It was of the steeple of St. Michael’s with the sun shining through the second tier balcony. The one with the handsome arches. Then she saw the girl’s name inscribed in the far right corner.

Sitting down felt much better, and Mary Lynn was astonished by how much the pain receded when she took weight off of her leg. She needed to get ice on her calf as soon as she got home, and she would have to elevate her leg (up higher than her heart as she recalled) to stop the ache. That was how she would spend the whole afternoon—her leg in a pillow with a rope tied to the ceiling beam. That and calling all of the guests to cancel tomorrow’s tea.

But she felt so much better at this moment. Whew. Sitting down in the back of the clean cab with the bright sunlight shooting through the windows, she felt relief. As if, for a moment anyway, it had never happened.

As they turned off of Meeting Street onto South Battery, she could see her historic white clapboard home in the distance, particularly grand in its Christmas décor—fresh garland around the doorway and piazza rail, two magnolia-leaf wreaths with large gold bows on each piazza door, and even a little red berry wreath around the head of the statue in the center of the fountain in the side garden. That had been Casey’s idea, and it added a little whimsy to the decorations, Mary Lynn thought. To her it made the house wink to the passersby as if to say, There are children who live here! It’s not a just a photo from Architectural Digest. See? Every time Mary Lynn saw it, she grinned.

As Craig went around to help her out of the car, she turned to face him and still did not feel the pain. He took out his cell phone. “Should I call Jackson to meet us down here?”

“No,” she said. “He’s probably on his morning walk and I’m sure the girls are still asleep.” She reached out her hand. “If you help me out, I can make it in on the balls of my feet.”

Like Mary Lynn, Jackson had a morning ritual—walking their black Labrador, Mac, up King Street to Caviar & Bananas, munching on a scone and an espresso, reading the New York Times, preparing for a meeting with Mark or mapping out the day, the week, or the month—depending on how exuberant he was—and walking briskly home. Sometimes she ran into him a block from their house on her way home from her morning run. He usually brought something back to her—a muffin or a strawberry dipped in chocolate, which she discreetly gave to Anarosa, the housekeeper, to take home to her little boys. And now that the girls were out of school for the holiday, he brought something for them as well. Casey always enjoyed her treat, but the older girls were watching their weight and they, too, gave their treat to Anarosa.

When Craig leaned forward, she put her arm around his shoulder and let him hoist her up on her tippy toes. Then she took a step forward on the balls of her feet, still leaning on him, and she didn’t feel any pain. She took another step. Nothing. Her calf felt normal. She almost put her heels down, but she was afraid to.

When a horn from a driver stuck behind the recycling truck blasted just yards ahead, she was so startled, she leaned back and was forced to put her heel on the sidewalk.

The pain behind the back of her knee was not there.

She looked up at Craig. Her eyebrows furrowed. She rubbed the back of her leg. No tenderness. Nothing. What in the world?

“Hurt bad?” he said. He shook his head in an effort to commiserate. Then he stepped back and leaned forward with his hands on his knees to give her a little space. Maybe he thought she might get sick again.

She looked up at him. Had she dreamed the whole thing? No. She had heard her muscle rip. She had felt the shot of pain. It had happened to her two other times in her life, and she knew precisely what it was.

She decided not to answer Craig. It was just so strange. After a few seconds he lifted out his hand and she leaned into it expecting the pain to kick in, but it didn’t. Once she was on the piazza, she thanked him and he headed back to his cab. Then she unlocked the door, walked in the house with her heels firmly planted on the hardwood floor.

Was she fine?

She shook her right leg out. She walked. She did a few lunges, then jumped up and down several times, which caused Mac to bark and run into the foyer where he stopped, stared, and tilted his head as if he were as confused as she was.

Had Reverend Summerall’s prayer been answered?

“How was your run?” Jackson handed her a chocolate croissant in a waxy little bag. He was back sooner than she expected.

How many calories in a chocolate croissant? Way too many for a gal beating back a middle-age paunch in the midst of the holiday season. And how was her run? Well, she wanted to tell him the whole story, but something held her back. He had made it clear since she started going to church with Scottie that he had no interest in religion. He wasn’t going to stop her. It didn’t bother him that she went. He just didn’t want her to expect him to follow along with all of that. He had a mission, after all, and he was focused.

He cocked his head. “Your jog all right, baby?”

She looked into his bright green eyes. They blinked slowly. It was the first time they had made eye contact today.

“Amazing,” she finally said. She smiled and lovingly squeezed his shoulder. Then she gently accepted the little waxy bag and headed to the pantry where Anarosa kept her purse.