Friday, August 31, 2012

The Power of Prophetic Blessing by John Hagee - REVIEWED

About the Book: (from Worthy Publishing)
How would your life change if you knew that every blessing recorded in Scripture--the power to receive spiritual and material prosperity, to gain health and peace of mind--is available to you for the asking? And what would you do if you knew that the only reason you had not was because you asked not? New York Times best-selling author John Hagee’s new book, The Power of the Prophetic Blessing, offers this exciting understanding of God’s abundant provision by showing how a powerful prophetic message of blessing flows throughout the Bible. Hagee further discusses how to ask for and receive the blessing that God the Father ordained specifically for each of us since the beginning of time. A message of hope and deliverance, The Power of the Prophetic Blessing emphatically proclaims that you have the potential to lead a blessed life ...because


My Thoughts:

I’m not sure that I totally agree with or understand the total scope of this book.  However, what I do understand is that John Hagee wants believers’ lives to be bathed in the truth of God’s Word.  He truly believes that if we live in total obedience to God’s Word, and follow His direction in our lives that we will indeed be blessed.  That I totally agree with!

His study of the Beattitudes and how they apply to our lives is just so encouraging!  I also enjoyed his explanation of the blessings fulfilled in the Old Testament.  I learned a lot through those chapters.  I was encouraged.

Now a lot of his theology toward the end of the book sounds a bit like – well – not something that I’m in agreement with.  I get the distinct impression that the author thinks his words and his dreams and plans are in perfect unity with God and therefore all he has to do is stand a certain way, speak a certain way, say certain Scriptures, and he is obligating God to bless him.  I don’t agree with that.  If that were true churches across the land would be bursting at the seams and passionately serving others.  My own church would be filled with amazing things.

Oh, but wait! It is! And no one is following this prescribed way of standing, speaking, praying ect…So I will give this a mixed review.  There are parts of the book that are amazing and encouraging, and there are parts that sound presumptive and manipulative – "I’m doing my part God, so You are obligated to do yours."  Hmmmm!  Something a bit out of kilter there.

About the Author:
John Hagee is the author of four New York Times bestsellers, as well as Jerusalem Countdown, which itself has sold over 1 million copies. He is the founder and senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, a nondenominational evangelical church with more than 20,000 active members, as well as the founder and president of John Hagee Ministries, which telecasts his radio and television teachings throughout America and in 249 nations worldwide. Hagee is also the founder and national chairman of Christians United for Israel, a grassroots national association with over one million members to date.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

House of Mercy by Erin Healy

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:

Thomas Nelson (August 7, 2012)

***Special thanks to Rick Roberson of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Erin Healy is an award-winning fiction editor who has worked with talented novelists such as James Scott Bell, Melody Carlson, Colleen Coble, Brandilyn Collins, Traci DePree, L. B. Graham, Rene Gutteridge, Michelle McKinney Hammond, Robin Lee Hatcher, Denise Hildreth, Denise Hunter, Randy Ingermanson, Jane Kirkpatrick, Bryan Litfin, Frank Peretti, Lisa Samson, Randy Singer, Robert Whitlow, and many others.

She began working with Ted Dekker in 2002 and edited twelve of his heart-pounding stories before their collaboration on Kiss, the first novel to seat her on "the other side of the desk."
Erin is the owner of WordWright Editorial Services, a consulting firm specializing in fiction book development. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and the Academy of Christian Editors. She lives with her family in Colorado.

Visit the author's website.


Beth has a gift of healing-which is why she wants to become a vet and help her family run their fifth-generation cattle ranch. Her father's dream of helping men in trouble and giving them a second chance is her dream too. But it only takes one foolish decision for Beth to destroy it all.

Beth scrambles to redeem her mistake, pleading with God for help, even as a mystery complicates her life. But the repercussions grow more unbearable-a lawsuit, a death, a divided family, and the looming loss of everything she cares about. Beth's only hope is to find the grandfather she never knew and beg for his help. Confused, grieving, but determined to make amends, she embarks on a horseback journey across the mountains, guided by a wild, unpredictable wolf who may or may not be real.

Set in the stunningly rugged terrain of Southern Colorado, House of Mercy follows Beth through the valley of the shadow of death into the unfathomable miracles of God's goodness and mercy.

Genre: Christian Fiction | Suspense

Product Details:
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 284 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Language: English
ISBN-10: 140168551X
ISBN-13: 9781401685515


Chapter 1
It wasn’t every day that an old saddle could improve a horse’s life.
That was what Beth Borzoi was thinking as she stood in the dusty tack room that smelled like her favorite pair of leather boots. In the back corner where the splintering-wood walls met, she tugged the faded leather saddle off the bottommost rung of the heavy-duty rack, where it had sat, unused and forgotten, for years.
Her little brother, Danny, would have said she was stealing the saddle. He might have called her a kleptomaniac. That was too strong a word, but Danny was fifteen and liked to throw bold words around, cocky-like, show-off rodeo ropes aimed at snagging people. She loved that about him. It was a cute phase. Even so, she had formed a mental argument against the characterization of her- self as a thief, in case she needed to use it, because Danny was too young to understand the true meaning of even stronger words like sacrifice or situational ethics.
After all, she was working in secret, in the hidden folds of a summer night, so that both she and the saddle could leave the Blazing B unnoticed. In the wrong light, it might look like a theft.
The truth was, it was not her saddle to give away. It was Jacob’s saddle, though in the fifteen years Jacob had lived at the ranch, she had never seen him use it. The bigger truth was that this saddle abandoned to tarnish and sawdust could be put to better use. The fenders were plated with silver, pure metal that could be melted down and converted into money to save a horse from suffering. Decorative silver bordered the round skirt and framed the rear housing. The precious metal had been hammered to conform to the gentle rise of the cantle in the back and the swell in the front. The lovely round conchos were studded with turquoise. Hand-tooled impressions of wild mountain f lowers covered the leather everywhere that silver didn’t.
In its day, it must have been a fine show saddle. And if Jacob valued that at all, he wouldn’t have stored it like this.
Under the naked-bulb beams of the tack room, Beth’s body cast a shadow over the pretty piece as she hefted it. She blew the dirt and dander off the horn, swiped off the cracked seat with the flat of her hand, then turned away her head and sneezed. Colorado’s dry climate had not been kind to the leather.
She wasn’t stealing. She was saving an animal’s life.
The latch on the barn door released Beth to the midnight air with a click like a stolen kiss. The saddle weighed about thirty-five pounds, which was easy to manage when snatching it off a rack and tossing it onto a horse’s back. But it would feel much heavier by the time she reached her destination. She’d parked her truck a ways off where the rumbling old clunker wouldn’t raise questions or family members sleeping in the nearby ranch house. She’d left her dog at the foot of Danny’s bed with clear orders to stay. She hoped the animal would mind.
Energized, she crossed the horses’ yard. A few of them nickered greetings at her, including Hastings, who nuzzled her empty pockets for treats. The horses never slept in the barn’s stalls unless they were sick. Even in winter they stayed in the pasture, preferring the outdoor lean-to shelters.
The Blazing B, a 6,500-acre working cattle ranch, lay to the northwest of Colorado’s San Luis Valley. The region was called a valley because this portion of the state was a Rocky Mountain ham- mock that swung between the San Juans to the west and the Sangre de Cristos to the east. But at more than seven thousand feet, it was no low-lying flatland. It was, in fact, the highest alpine valley in the world. And it was the only place in the world that Beth ever wanted to live. Having graduated from the local community college with honors and saved enough additional money for her continuing education, she planned to leave in the fall to begin her first year of veterinary school. She would be gone as long as it took to earn her license, but her long-term plan was to return as a more valuable person. Her skills would save the family thousands of dollars every year, freeing up funds for their most important task—providing a home and a hard day’s work to discarded men who needed the peace the Blazing B had to offer.
On this late May night, a light breeze stirred the alfalfa growing in the pasturelands while the cattle grazed miles away. The herds always spent their summers on public lands in the mountains while their winter feed grew in the valley. They were watched over by a pool rider, a hired man who was a bit like a cow’s version of a shepherd. He stayed with them through the summer and would bring them home in the fall.
With the winter calving and spring branding a distant memory, the streams and irrigation wells amply supplied by good mountain runoff, and the healthy alfalfa fields thickening with a June cutting in mind, the mood at the Blazing B was peaceful.
When Beth was a quarter mile beyond the barn, a bobbing light drew her attention to the west side of the pasture, where ancient cottonwood trees formed a barrier against seasonal winds and snows. She paused, her eyes searching the darkness beyond this path that she could walk blindfolded. The light rippled over cottonwood trunks, casting shadows that were indistinguishable from the real thing.
A man was muttering in a low voice, jabbing his light around as if it were a stick. She couldn’t make out his words. Then the yellow beam stilled low to the ground, and she heard a metallic thrust, the scraping ring of a shovel’s blade being jammed into the dirt.
Beth worried. It had to be Wally, but what was he doing out at this hour, and at this place? The bunkhouse was two miles away, and the men had curfews, not to mention strict rules about their access to horses and vehicles.
She left the path and approached the trees without a misstep. The moonlight was enough to guide her over the uneven terrain.
The cutting of the shovel ceased. “Who wants to know?” “It’s Beth.”
“Beth who?”
“Beth Borzoi. Abel’s daughter. I’m the one who rides Hastings.” “Well, sure! Right, right. Beth. I’m sorry you have to keep telling me. You’re awfully nice about it.”
The light that Wally had set on the ground rose and pointed itself at her, as if to confirm her claims, then dropped to the saddle resting against her thighs. Wally had been at the ranch for three years, since a stroke left his body unaffected but struck his brain with a short-term memory disorder. It was called anterograde amnesia, a forgetfulness of experiences but not skills. He could work hard but couldn’t hold a job because he was always forgetting where and when he was supposed to show up. Here at the ranch he didn’t have to worry about those details. He had psychologists and strategies to guide him through his days, a community of brothers who reminded him of everything he really needed to know. Well, most things. He had been on more than one occasion the butt of hurtful pranks orchestrated by the men who shared the bunkhouse with him. It was both a curse and a blessing that he was able to forget such incidents so easily.
Beth was the only Beth at the Blazing B, and the only female resident besides her mother, but these facts regularly eluded Wally. He never forgot her father, though, and he knew the names of all the horses, so this was how Beth had learned to keep putting herself back into the context of his life.
“You’re working hard,” she said. “You know it’s after eleven.” “Looking for my lockbox. I saw him take it. I followed him here just an hour ago, but now it’s gone.”
Sometimes it was money that had gone missing. Sometimes it was a glove or a photograph, or a piece of cake from her mother’s dinner table that was already in his belly. All the schedules and organizational systems in the world were not enough to help Wally with this bizarre side effect of his disorder: whenever a piece of his mind went missing, he would search for it by digging. Dr. Roy Davis, Wally’s psychiatrist, had curtailed much of Wally’s compulsive need to overturn the earth by having him perform many of the Blazing B’s endless irrigation tasks. Even so, the ten square miles of ranch were riddled with the chinks of Wally’s efforts to find what he had lost.
“That must be really frustrating,” she said. “I hate it when I lose my stuff.”
“I didn’t lose it. A gray wolf ran off with it. I had it safe in a secret spot, and he dug it up and carried off the box in his teeth. Hauled it all the way up here and reburied it. Now tell me, what’s a wolf gonna do with my legal tender? Buy himself a turkey leg down at the supermarket?”
Wally must have kept a little cash in his box. She could under- stand his frustration. But this claim stirred up disquiet at the back of her mind. Dr. Roy would need to know if Wally was seeing things. First off, gray wolves were hardly ever spotted in Colorado. They’d been run out of the state before World War II by poachers and hos- tile ranchers, and their return in recent years was little more than a rumor. Wally might have seen a coyote. But for another thing, no wild animal dug up a man’s buried treasure and relocated it. Except maybe a raccoon.
A raccoon trying to run off with a heavy lockbox might actually be entertaining.
“Tell you what, Wally. If he’s buried it here we’ll have a better chance of finding it in the morning. When the sun comes up, I’ll help you. But they’ll be missing you at the bunkhouse about now. Let me take you back so no one gets upset when they see you’re gone.” Jacob or Dr. Roy would do bunk checks at midnight.
“Upset? No one can be as upset as I am right now.” He thrust the shovel into the soft dirt at his feet. “I saw the dog do it. I tracked him all the way here, like he thought I wouldn’t see him under this full moon. Fool dog—but who’d believe me? It’s like a freaky fairy tale, isn’t it? Well, I’d have put that box in a local vault if I didn’t have to keep so many stinkin’ Web addresses and passwords and account numbers and security questions at my fingertips.” He withdrew a small notebook from his hip pocket and waved the pages around. It was one of the things he used to keep track of details. “Maybe I’ll have to rethink that.”
Beth’s hands had become sweaty and a little cramped under the saddle’s weight. She used her right knee to balance the saddle and fix her grip. The soft leather suddenly felt like heavy gold bricks out of someone else’s bank vault.
“Well, let’s go,” she said. “I’ve got my truck right on down the lane.”
“What do you have there?” Wally returned the notebook to his pocket, hefted the shovel, and picked his way out of the under- brush, finding his way by flashlight.
“An old saddle. It’s been in the tack room for years.” She expected Wally to forget the saddle just as quickly as he would for- get this night’s adventure and her promise to help him dig in the morning.
He lifted one of the fenders and stroked the silver with his thumb. “Pretty thing. Probably worth something. Not as much as that box is worth to me, though.”
“We’ll find it,” Beth said.
“You bet we will.” Wally fell into step beside her. “Thanks for the ride back, Beth. You’re a good girl. You got your daddy in you.”
With Jacob’s old saddle resting on a blanket in the bed of her rusty white pickup, Beth followed an access road from the horse pasture by her own home down into the heart of the Blazing B.
The property’s second ranch house was located more strategically to the cattle operation, and so it was known to all as the Hub. The Hub was a practical bachelor pad. Outside, the branding pens and calving sheds and squeeze chutes and cattle trucks filled up a dusty clearing around the house. Inside, the carpets and old leather furniture, even when clean, smelled like men who believed that a hard day’s work followed by a dead sleep—in any location—was far more gratifying than a hot shower. The house was steeped in the scent stains of sweat and hay, horses and manure, tanned leather and barbecue smoke. The men who slept here lived like the bachelors they were. If their daily labors weren’t enough to impress a woman, the cowboys couldn’t be bothered with her.
Dr. Roy Davis, known affectionately by all as Dr. Roy, was a lifelong friend of Beth’s father. Years ago, after the death of Roy’s wife, Abel and Roy merged their professional passions of ranching and psychiatry and expanded the Blazing B’s purpose. It became an outreach to functional but wounded men like Wally who needed a home and a job. Dr. Roy brought his teenage son, Jacob, along. Now thirty-one, Jacob had never found reason to leave, except for the years he’d spent away at college earning multiple degrees in agriculture and animal management. Jacob had been the Blazing B’s general operations manager for more than five years.
Jacob and his father shared the Hub with Pastor Eric, who was a divorced minister, and Emory, a therapist who was once a gang leader. These men were the Borzois’ four full-time employees.
The other men who lived at the Blazing B were called “associates.” They occupied the bunkhouse, some for a few weeks and some for years. At present there were six, including Wally.
When Beth stopped her truck in front of the Hub’s porch, Wally slipped off the seat of her cab, closed the rusty door, and went directly around back to the bunkhouse. She pulled away and had reached the end of the drive when a rut jarred the truck and rattled the shovel he’d left in the truck bed.
In spite of her hurry to take Jacob’s saddle to the people who needed it, she put the truck in park, jumped out, and jogged the tool up to the house. The porch light lit the squeaky wood steps, and she took them two at a time. Jacob would see the tool in the morning when he came out to start up his own truck and head out to what- ever project was on the schedule. She’d phone him to make sure.
She was tipping the handle into the corner where the porch rail met the siding when the Hub’s front door opened and Jacob leaned out. “Past your bedtime, isn’t it?”  he said, but he was smiling at
her. Over the years they had settled into a comfortable big-brother- little-sister relationship, though Beth had never fully outgrown her adolescent crush on him.
“Found Wally digging up by the barn,” she said.
Surprise pulled his dark brows together. “Now? Where is he?” “Back in bed, I guess. He said he followed a wolf up to our place. You might want Dr. Roy to look into that. Your dad should know if Wally’s . . . seeing things.”
Jacob nodded as he stepped out the door and leaned against the house. He crossed his arms. “Coyote maybe?”
“Try suggesting that to him. And when was the last time we had a coyote down here? It’s been ages—not since Danny gave up his chicken coop.”
“I’ll mention that to Dad. It’s probably nothing. What had you out at the barn at this hour? Horses okay?”
“Fine.” Beth’s eyes swiveled down to her truck, to Jacob’s saddle, both well beyond reach of the porch light. She tried to recall all her justifications for taking the saddle, but in that moment all she could think was that she should get his permission to do it. She’d known this man more than half her life. He was kind. He was wise. He’d say yes. He’d want her to take it.
But she said, “I’m headed out to the Kandinskys’ place. They’ve got a horse who injured his eye, and it’s pretty bad. They let it go too long, you know, hoping it would correct itself, maybe wouldn’t need a big vet bill.”
“The Kandinskys have their own vet on the premises. Who called you out?”
“It’s not one of their horses, actually. It’s Phil’s. Remember him?” “Your friend from high school?”
“He’s been working there a year or so. They let him keep the horse on the property. One of the perks.”
“But he can’t use their vet?”
Beth looked at her feet. “Phil’s family can’t afford their vet. You know how that goes. We couldn’t afford him. His family doesn’t even have pets, you know. They run a grocery store. The horse is his little sister’s project. A 4H thing.”
“Well, tell Phil I said he called the right gal for the job.”
“I don’t know, Jacob. It sounds really bad. These eye things— the horse might need surgery.”
She found it unusually difficult to look at him, though she was sure he was studying her with a suspicious stare by now. But she couldn’t look at the truck either. Her eyes couldn’t find an object to rest on.
“All you can do is all you can do, Beth. That’ll be as true after you’re licensed as it is now.”
“But I want to do miracles,” she said.
He chuckled at that, though she hadn’t been joking. “Don’t we all.” He uncrossed his arms and put his hand on the doorknob, preparing to go back inside. “I heard some big-shot Thoroughbred breeder is boarding some of his studs there,” Jacob said. “Some friend of theirs passing through.”
“I heard that too.”
“Maybe that’ll be Phil’s miracle this time—an unexpected guest, someone with the right know-how or the right resources who will come to his horse’s rescue.”
“Angels unaware,” Beth said. “Something like that. Night, Beth.”
Beth didn’t want him to go just yet. “Night.”
She lingered at the door while it closed, hoping he might intuit what she didn’t have the courage to say.
When he didn’t, she committed to her original plan. She descended the steps in a quiet rush, wanting to whisk the saddle away before he could object to what he didn’t know. She wanted to be the one who did the good works, who made the incredible rescue. She couldn’t help herself. It was her father’s blood running through her heart.
On the driveway, her smooth-soled boots skimmed the dirt, whispering back to her truck.
“It’s not your right to do it,” Jacob said. Beth gasped and whirled at the sound of his voice, unexpected and loud and straight into her ear, as if he’d been standing on her shoulder. “It’s not your gift to give.”
But the ranch house door was shut tight under the cone of the porch light, and the bright window revealed nothing inside but heavy furniture and cluttered tabletops. At the back of the house, a different door closed heavily. Jacob was headed out to the bunk- house to check on Wally already.
Beth let her captured breath leave her lungs. She looked around for an explanation, because she didn’t want to accept that the words might have been uttered by a guilty conscience.
At the base of the porch steps, crouching in such darkness that its black center sank into its surroundings, was the form of an unusually large dog. Erect ears, broad head, slender body. A wolf. She had passed that spot so closely seconds ago that she could have reached out and stroked its neck.
She took one step backward. Of course, her mind was dreaming this up because Wally had suggested a wolf to her. If he hadn’t, she might have said the silhouette had the outline of a snowman. An inverted snowman guarding the house from her lies. In May.
Beth stared at it for several seconds, oddly unable to recall the landscape where she’d spent her entire life. She was distressed not to be able to say from this distance and angle whether that was a shrub planted there, or a fence post, or an old piece of equipment that hadn’t made it back into the supply shed. When the shape of its edges seemed to shift and shudder without actually moving at all, she decided that her eyes were being tricked by the darkness.
Convincing herself of this was almost as easy as justifying her saddle theft.
She turned away from the house and hurried onward, looking back only once.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A View from Mindy Starnes Clark and John Campbell Clark's Window! - Echoes of the Titanic

Let's look back at my trip to Orlando, shall we?  Mindy and John Clark are a very talented, very in love couple who have just published their first novel together!  I seriously doubt it will be thier last.  Please join me as we discuss their novel, Echoes of the Titanic!

Where was the idea for this story born?  Our publisher suggested the idea, and I immediately  became very excited because John is a HUGE Titanic buff.  John has always played a huge role in my writing. He’s my brainstorm partner my research partner, my first reader, my story helper…he has always been a co-author anyway.  The idea was suggested  four years ago in anticipation of the Titanic’s anniversary.

John:  I’m a lawyer by trade and I write all the time anyway – just in a different style.

Mindy – John has an instinct for story like no one I’ve every met.  He can detect where the story lags, and where the characters need more development and suggest ideas that take my story from good to the next level of Wow!  I’ve never had as much fun as writing with my husband. 

Who began the actual story idea?

Mindy – actually I was tied up with other things, so John was left alone with the story for quite some time.

John – I had to find a relationship between the history of the Titanic and a modern day story that would create mystery. I had to ask the question: “What would carry through time?” 

Mindy – early in the story, it is suggested that someone that survived the sinking of the Titanic switched places with someone who died and that the person that survived is not who she says she is.  That idea is carried forward into present day by a woman who idolizes her great-grandmother and the history  of her survival.  She works at the company that her great-grandmother founded….and then she is publically challenged by the news that instead of the great role model…her great grandmother is a liar and wasn’t who she said she was at all.

How did you find time to write together? 

Mindy – John actually wrote a lot of the story.

John – I outlined the story.

Mindy – what he wrote only needed to be polished

We finally had to crunch an intense couple of weeks together and get the story done…around the clock.  I had a three week period just after sending another project in to my publisher, so we went to our vacation house and just wrote around the clock.  He was in one room and I was in another, and we would take our notes and tear them into strips and lay them out on the bed and physically build the story together.  We had it spread  it out all over the place.

The original idea was to tell the entire modern story at once and then tell the entire historical story at once.  About a week before the story was due to the publisher Mindy had the idea to intertwine the two. 

Mindy – we tell about five chapters of modern and a chapter of historical.

Will we see more titles with both your names on the cover?

Mindy – It was too much fun not to do it again! I think it woke up his inner writing voice. Now he keeps hinting about writing about the Lucitania because the 100th anniversary of it history is only three years away.

John – and it would be a spy novel

Mindy – and it would be a wonderful companion  to the Titanic.

What is it like to win a Christy Award?  It’s so exciting to win a Christy! It was thrilling to have that affirmation of my work – our work. (co-author on  the Christy-award winning novel was Leslie Gould.

You have three projects out that were co-authored with others. How was the process different with each writing partner?

Leslie Gould is an artist  - a real word crafter – she is a precious Christian lady that I was willing to do it a second time

John is such a great story crafter

Kim is such an amazing resource  

They all brought something very different to the process of crafting a novel that it was completely different every time – but very rewarding! I’d heard horror stories about writing with someone, and that has not been my experience at all

Writing is a very lonely occupation, and you don’t realize how lonely until you’ve written with someone – our deadline is not my deadline but it’s our deadline. It was so much fun to have someone to share all of that with – at every level.

Do you have any solo projects in the works?

I’m like an idea machine…I wish I could turn it off occasionally! Nothing that I can talk about right now…but I have a lot of stuff in the works.

I’m rewriting a non-fiction project right now, The House That Cleans Itself – it was very successful when it released.   When I wrote it the first time, I was kind of feeling my way through how to explain the concept. Now, after  a lot of feedback from people who have worked the program, I feel like I can restructure the book so it’s easier to understand  and follow the program.  It will come out in January.

Will there be more non fiction?

Yes. I think non-fiction pulls from a different side of my brain. For me, fiction is hard but fun, and non-fiction is easy but boring. Non-fiction is kind of like writing a book report, and I don’t have to get in the “zone” and stay there until I get it down. I wish I could do one non-fiction for every three or four fiction titles – that’s a nice rhythm for me.

John – now that you’ve tapped into the fiction writer in you, are there any stories in you that you want to share?

You might be talking to me next year! (BIG smile!)

Mindy - Our daughter just graduated from college, and she’s an amazing writer, and I (Mindy) see the two of them writing something together.

John – “Some families sit and watch tv together, and we sit down and write together.

Closing word of encouragement that you’d like to share with readers or other writers?

Mindy - To other writer’s  - hang in there. When I graduated from college I thought I’d write a best-seller and have it published within a year – it took me twenty years before I even wrote something that was good enough to even try to sell.  I thought that was wasted time – but in hindsight – thank the Lord that it happened when it did and not any sooner! It would have been a disaster! God knows what He’s doing and He has this timing under control. 

So keep at it, polish your craft and trust God for the timing.

To my reader’s – I have two roles when I write - first to entertain, I don’t want you to go to bed at night because you can’t put my book down to go to sleep.  And secondly, I hope that I’m giving you stories that are good enough that you will pass them along to both Christian and non-Christian and that the story will bring truth and light into some dark places and will be comforting and that will answer questions in their lives.

What is God doing in your life right now?

Well, a year ago in April, I was at our vacation home and tripped and fell and suffered a brain injury. A bad one to my left frontal lobe – the word center of the brain.  The busiest year of my life – when I had three books to write – I blew out my brain. It was the worst year of my life in that aspect, but God was working out His plan in me.  It probably saved my life in a way because I had such bad work habits, was pulling all-nighters, and I shouldn’t do that at my age.  

And I was writing the book with Kim about a woman turning fifty – and asking the question: “Without my looks, who am I?” and I could relate to that in a real way when I was struggling to find words as a person who has always been a writer. Suddenly, I totally “got” that character, because I had to answer the question “Who am I?” in my own life.

It has slowed me down.  God is showing me how to enjoy my life in a whole new way.

John – how did Mindy’s injury impact your life?  The hardest thing for any man is to know he can’t fix something.  And I couldn’t do anything to help.  I kept wanting to ask, “Are you better yet?”  and it was frustrating to know I couldn’t do anything to speed up the process. I had to learn to turn the situation over to God completely. It was scary to watch a brain injury heal.   I learned how to surrender to God.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tea Party Culture War by Stephen Johnston - Reviewed

About the Book: (from WinePress)


Wondering about where political, financial, and environmental trends are taking America and the world, and how Christianity fits in? Pondering what political party should take control of America to help turn things around?

Stephen Johnston, B.S., J.D. addresses the troublesome times Americans are finding themselves in. Tea Party Culture War contains clear discussions and explanations of the:

• Culture war between theism, naturalism, and pantheism
• Trend of liberalism and postmodernism in America
• Disintegration of the family, breakdown of morality, and bias of the education system
• Negative effects of central banking and Keynesian economics worldwide
• Dangers of open interpretation of the Constitution
• Effects of entitlements and resource wars on America and the world
• Current religious trends
• Biblical prophecy of the impending end times

This book sheds light on modern times and gives a glimpse into the turbulent times ahead—and provides a Christian worldview with which to approach it all.  

My Thoughts:  

Beliefs have consequences.  If America is to prosper again, we must return to the faith of our Fathers.”
AND we must return to the TRUTH of the Bible! (that’s my personal add-on to this statement) Tea Party Culture War is not a political guide.  Rather, this book provides a Biblical guide-line for all Christians as they vote in any election.  Johnson historically outlines the cultural development of a variety of worldviews.  He is speaking truth, folks.  His outline of the development of and the divisiveness of worldviews that stand in opposition of the Scripture is both enlightening and challenging.  My take away from this book is that I need to know what the Bible says and be able to discern whether or not my candidate aligns himself with the truth of God’s Word.
This doesn’t just apply to political candidates either.  Leaders of any group, pastors of any church, they ought to be teaching the truth that is taught in the Bible.  Scripture admonishes believers to be able to discern between true and false doctrine.  Johnson takes that challenge into every area of the 21st Century!  This book is timely and relevant, and Christians should know the truth of God’s Word before they go to the polls to vote, before they choose a church home, before they do anything.  This book is an admonition to follow Christ.  A challenge to all Christians to stand up for Christ in a world that continues to grow darker with the lies of the enemy.  Tea Party Culture War is a must read for anyone who wants to be able to understand how our country has fallen so far from what the Bible teaches and what our Founding Fathers intended for this country.

You can buy a copy of the book HERE.
About the Author:
A long-time resident of California, author and economist, Steve Johnston, B.S., J.D., earned a Juris Doctorate degree from Western State University of Law and a Theological degree from Calvary Chapel School of Ministry. Mr. Johnston has over 20 years experience in prison ministry and Bible teaching, and has served as a chaplain in Orange County and Los Angeles jails as well as Pelican Bay, a California maximum security prison.

Mr. Johnston describes his book, The Tea Party Culture War (WinePress, 2011) as a systematic manifesto of the Tea Party Movement. Mr. Johnston and his wife of 38 years divide their time between homes in Palm Desert, California and Brookings, Oregon. They have one adult daughter and one granddaughter.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Desperate for Hope by Bruce W. Martin - REVIEWED

About the Book: (from Revell)

There is hope after life falls apart.

A single phone call can change your life.
There's been an accident.
You have cancer.
The company's downsizing.
Your spouse wants out.

All of a sudden everything spins out of control.

At some point, we've all felt painful loss, bitter disappointment, embarrassing failure, unthinkable betrayal, and the seeming randomness of suffering. Some of us have faced death. Sometimes it all happens at once. And we have quietly wondered (or maybe even screamed), "Why is this happening to me? Where is God in all of this?"

The answer may surprise you.

With sincere sympathy and ready encouragement, Bruce W. Martin takes you through a grieving process that will help you reconcile your deep suffering with your beliefs about God. A unique and compassionate take on the age-old question of suffering, this book is for anyone who has experienced life-shattering pain.

My Thoughts:
Desperate for Hope is an extremely important, frank, honest, and encouraging look at trials in this life and what they can and will accomplish in the believer’s life if we cling to our faith, and rest in God’s strength.  Once again, I’ve met with a God-appointment within the pages of this book.  I’m looking at Scripture through tear-washed eyes and beholding the wondrous love of my Savior!!  I know that my trials are accomplishing purposeful things in my life, and when I read the chapters of this book, and all of the Scriptural truth contained within the trials recorded there, I find renewed strength.

Martin takes you step by step through a process of understanding the importance of trials in our life.   He wants us to see earthly trials with eternal and heavenly perspective.  He acknowledges the doubt and fear that plagues us in the midst of our storms, and even points out that God allows us to walk headlong into the storms that we face.  But what we learn in within the storm is eternal and vital to our faith.  There IS purpose.  Eternal purpose.

Martin ends each chapter with questions that guide the reader to thoughtfully consider their own story within the context of God’s purpose.  It is both difficult and healing.  No matter if you’ve just entered the storm, or emerged from the other side, you need to read this book!  It will give you a fresh perspective, and a healthy dose of the hope you are so desperately seeking.  This is a most excellent book!!

About the Author:
Bruce W. Martin is the pastor of a new church plant in Alabama. He has been a pastor and counselor for fifteen years and speaks and teaches in the United States and abroad. With the help of God he has survived his own soul-shattering pain and seeks to guide others through theirs.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Story: Our Journey of Heartache and Grace from Eden to Evermore by Steven James - REVIEWED

About the Book: (from Revell)

Recapture the mystery of God's story

With stunning imagery, powerful poetry, and real-life drama, Story is an inspiring journey from the creation of the world to eternity and everything in between. Consummate storyteller Steven James threads together familiar scenes from Scripture that will awaken your faith and inspire you to live in the reality of Christ's sacrifice. As he untangles the intricacies of the whole story of the Bible, you will rediscover the majesty and the mystery you've been missing.

My Thoughts:
I have been a huge fan of Steven James since I read his first suspense novel in the Patrick Bowers series. HUGE FAN! Now, after reading Story, I’m an ever BIGGER fan! (if that is even possible!) His words describing his relationship with Christ, the transforming power of God’s Word, his poetic response to that transformation in his own life….I am just blown away!! James is a master word smith, and his insight is so beautiful and so real that your heart is both moved and changed as he shares his thoughts on the mystery of real relationship with Christ.

This is an unusual book, in that it’s not a dry thematic approach to God’s Word. James’ approach is to respond in Holy reverence, alongside raw wonder at the things God’s Word reveals about both God and His creation – all of it! It is both profound and deeply personal.

I have an entirely new respect for my favorite suspense author! My heart has been touched and changed. We do serve an amazing GOD!!! I'm so glad He has gifted Steven James with the words to express that wondrous relationship!

About the Author:
Critically acclaimed author Steven James has written more than thirty books, including Story, A Heart Exposed, and the bestselling Patrick Bowers thriller series. He is considered one of the nation's most innovative storytellers and versatile authors, and is a contributing editor to Writer's Digest. Steven lives in Tennessee with his wife and three daughters.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

When You Need a Miracle by Linda Evans Shepherd - REVIEWED

About the Book: (From Revell)

When we hurt, we want a God who is big enough to rescue us from heartache and circumstances beyond our imagination. But even if we believe that such a God exists, we don't always know how to approach him, much less how to ask him for the impossible.

Linda Evans Shepherd knows what it's like to be in desperate need of a miracle. And she knows what it's like to receive God's answers to her prayers. In this powerful book, she shows you how to reach out to God and simply ask. She shows how God's answers may not come packaged in the ways we would expect, but they do come in ways that will transform our lives. Through solid biblical teaching and dramatic real-life stories, Shepherd walks with you on a journey of renewed hope and the assurance that God still works miracles.

My Thoughts:
I’m not sure When You Need a Miracle is the right title for this book. Seriously. I know we all have life circumstances beyond our control that cause us to cry out to God. I know we all have times when our faith is weak and we wonder if anyone hears our prayers. And Linda Evans Shepherd addresses all of this and more in her book. But this book is not about asking God for miracles as much as it is a Biblical Guide to prayer and understanding the spiritual elements of prayer in our lives and the spiritual warfare in which we are engaged as Christians when we pray.

This is not a book on prayer either, although it contains many powerful prayers and suggestions about how to pray and what to pray about. Linda’s understanding of prayer is AMAZING!! I know God has used her mightily in prayer ministry. I learned SO MUCH about prayer, but more than that, I learned what relationship with my Heavenly Father should look like. I learned about areas of my faith where I need to grow and change. I learned how to pray effectively for the trials I’m now facing in my life and I learned how to stand in the gap for others and wage battle on their behalf. I learned so much, in fact, that I’m re-reading the book.

I’ve often said many of the books that are put in my hands for review are God-appointments in my life. When You Need a Miracle was DEFINITELY one of those books for me!! What a tremendous blessing I have received through reading this book! If you want to learn what the Bible teaches about prayer, relationship with God through the shed blood of Christ, how to be an effective warrior in the spiritual battle that rages about us in this world, if you want to understand more about really seeing God work in your life and experience His answer to prayer in a personal way…..don’t wait another minute!! Buy a copy of Linda Evans Shepherd’s book When You Need a Miracle today!! And while you’re at it, buy a copy to share with a friend!! This is an amazing book!!

About the Author:
Linda Evans Shepherd is the author of over thirty books including When You Don't Know What to Pray: How to Talk to God about Anything and When You Can't Find God: How to Ignite the Power of His Presence, and the co-author of the popular series the Potluck Club and the Potluck Catering Club. Linda is an international speaker and media personality and is the creator of and appears as a frequent host of Daystar's Denver Celebration.

She's the leader of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and president of the nonprofit ministry Right to the Heart, which has seen over 500,000 people come to faith. She's married and has two children. To learn more about Linda, her speaking, and her ministries, see

Confessions of a Control Freak by Priscilla Knox Morrison - 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:

Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Priscilla Knox Morrison serves in a women’s prison ministry, speaks at conferences and retreats on women’s issues, and writes on topics related to these ministries. Priscilla enjoys entertaining, playing with her grandchildren, reading, crocheting, and walking in the woods on the Blue Ridge Mountains where she resides with her husband, Larry.

Visit the author's website.


For every woman who can’t let go of control—and for those who live and work with them—comes Confessions of a Control Freak, by Priscilla Knox Morrison. Through her practical advice and humorous personal illustrations, readers will learn to accept their limitations and trust God with the future.

Product Details:
List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736946209
ISBN-13: 978-0736946209

My Thoughts:

“There’s  nothing to fear.  We can trust God when we’re up against worry, when things are falling apart, when we don’t have the answers, when we don’t know the outcome.” (p. 143)

Talk about a GOD APPOINTMENT in my life!! WOW! I have been convicted, challenged, and changed as I read this book.  I’ve made tons of highlights and underlines and fully intend to share this with a co-worker tomorrow. WOW!

I am a control freak.  And God has been busy transforming my life.  It has been unpleasant and painful at times.  It has been humbling and awe-filled at others.  Right now, I know that I know that I know that  Priscilla Knox Morrison wrote this book for me.

Read it.  Re-read it.  And allow God to open your eyes to truth and trust!  AMEN, Sister Morrison!! AMEN!!!

So…What Are We
Talking About Here?
We all know a control freak when we see one. It’s the person hardly anyone can stand to work with because it’s her way or the highway. The mother whose children have to file their socks. The father who gets obedience from his family but scares the living daylights out of them. The guy who can’t relax because things around him aren’t perfect. Or the woman next to me on a plane recently who not only demonstrated how to put my tray down, but told me where to put my cup. These people can be the bane of our existence, or worse, we might realize that we’re control freaks too.
Am I a control freak?
Perhaps you’re honestly asking yourself, “How do I know if I’m a control freak?” Here are some recognizable signs:
· nagging others
· trying to orchestrate outcomes
· butting into others’ affairs
· worrying about things beyond your control
· feeling anxiety about the future
· never feeling peaceful
· needing everything to be in perfect order
It takes some harsh evaluating to recognize some of these habits in yourself. If you’re a detail person, it’s tricky to wear the planning hat and not put on the micromanaging hat at the same time. Before admitting to this aspect of my nature, I was a very frustrated person. I grew up in a big family, and I was the neatnik. I loved to clean and organize and had plenty to work with since our house was always Grand Central Station. If I was a control freak when I was younger, though, I certainly wasn’t aware of it! Then I got married and had children. If you’re single and think you might be a bit of a control freak, just get married and have some kids. Your tendencies will blossom into a garden of full-blown habits.
My husband, Larry, and I have six children. I wanted all six. I love all six. But it was in parenting that my control freak dilemma surfaced. I still marvel at how many details come into play for eight people to get through one day—you have to plan for rising times, cooking, dishes, carpooling, surprise throw-ups, chores (yours and training them to do theirs), squabbles, laundry, missing socks, sports (in different locations simultaneously), music lessons, music practice, weather (which is always a challenge to control), grocery shopping, phone calls, junk mail (thankfully e-mail hadn’t been invented during those busy days), paying bills, running to the Emergency Room, making reservations, visiting friends, helping each child with homework, doctors’ visits, church activities, clubs, kind deeds, character building, listening, encouraging, wife-ing, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Over time, I morphed from detail-person to Frau Commandant. When did I cross the line? Where did good mothering, wife-ing, and friending end and controlling begin?
Where does the term “control freak” come from?
Curious as to how exactly the term “control freak” became so popular, I decided to look up the word control in the dictionary. According to Webster, control means…
· to regulate financial affairs
· to verify, as an experiment, by comparison with a standard
· to exercise authority over; direct; command
· to curb; restrain; hold back
· authority to direct or regulate
· a means of restraint; check
· a standard of comparison for verifying or checking the findings of an experiment
· an instrument or apparatus to regulate a mechanism; as, the controls of an airplane
See anything negative here? When I read this, a light went on. Not all control is bad. I had become so self-critical about my controlling nature that I was afraid to tell my kids to take out the trash. My new goal was to figure out how my personality could flourish without driving others nuts. There might be a place in the world for someone with my gifts!
If the term “control” isn’t all bad, then perhaps being controlling isn’t all bad either. Yes! I asked friends about conditions in which it was proper or valid to be controlling, and they mentioned these situations:
· when taking care of children or the elderly; when you’re responsible for other people
· when you’re the chairperson of a committee
· when you need to take charge in an emergency
· when you’re an employer managing a business
· when you’re in an experimental laboratory and there must be strict control of conditions
· when it’s a question of duty—military leaders, police officers
· when it’s forced upon you by people who are too passive
· when you’re in church leadership
So what’s a “control freak”?
You know them. You avoid them:
· the mother who watches her child’s every move
· the friend who tries to orchestrate a situation to his or her benefit
· the husband who wants to monitor his wife’s comings and goings
· someone who wants to make all the decisions at the office with no input from others
· the one who deliberately joins the committee in order to run the show
· the acquaintance who continually gives unsolicited advice
We get the idea. When people call us control freaks, they’re not paying us a compliment.
When I started journaling on the subject, I actually thought that control was a woman’s problem. This probably grew from my frustrations as a wife and mother and knowing so many other women who were in the same boat. In time I saw that control is, of course, a human problem. I think we all have our areas where we’d like to have more control—some of us just have more areas! The urge to control is a universal trait found in women and men alike. My paternal grandfather, for instance, controlled the household finances, and my grandmother had to go to him each day for the grocery money. The man was into control.
Am I a hopeless case?
In the midst of many happy years of raising what I felt was a wonderful family came some agonizing times. As life spun out of control I was frustrated beyond belief. I had many difficult lessons to learn if we were all going to survive. Three things helped me make progress.
1. Finding that the Bible, God’s holy Word, was relevant for today. And not only was it relevant, but it was true, and it worked. Whenever I took the time to search out an answer in Scripture, I got help. And amidst all the wisdom and help was a relational God who loved me and graciously revealed purpose to all I was going through.
2. Reading several books, which I’ll reference throughout. It’s fun to keep learning and discovering through the wisdom and experience of those who have been through the same struggles.
3. Discovering prayer. I was raised in a Christian home, I married a pastor, and I taught my kids about Jesus, all without much prayer. Simple, right? Nope—it was the hardest—and most foolish—thing I ever tried.
What drives us to control others, or even just our own circumstances?
Some of what drives me—and perhaps you too—will be covered in the following chapters. Each of us has our own past and our own unique personality, both of which form our reactions and responses to life. But control freaks all have some things in common. They might say things like…
· I actually have more talents and abilities than some others I work with.
· I want to feel better about myself.
· I’m afraid—afraid of the future, afraid of losing control, afraid to trust someone else, afraid of failure, and afraid for those I love.
Are any of these statements true for you? If so, perhaps you will identify with one or more of the confessions that follow. If you find yourself in these pages, I hope you will turn to the God who enlightens, forgives, delivers, and, most of all, loves.
Before we dive in, take a few minutes to consider the following questions about your own need to take control and your attitude toward those who seek to control you.
1. In your own words, describe a control freak.
2. Would you consider yourself to be a control freak? Why or why not? (If not, skip to question 10.)
3. If yes, does this bother you about yourself? Why or why not?
4. Do others accuse you of being a control freak? If so, why do you think they do?
5. Does it bother you that others feel this way toward you? Why?
6. What might you like to change about yourself, if anything, as it relates to this issue?
7. What do you think may cause you to seek control? Is it just a part of your personality? Does it relate to your childhood experiences?
8. How did you first become aware of this tendency?
9. Can you think of certain circumstances that cause you to want control?
10. Think of someone you would describe as a control freak. What do you think causes them to act in this way?
11. Do you have a good relationship with this person? If you do, how have you learned to get along with them? If not, what changes would need to be made before you could be close?
12. What do you find most difficult about your relationship with this person? Have you been able to talk with them about it? If so, what was the outcome?
13. If you could communicate one idea to this person, what would it be?
14. Do you think it is ever proper/valid to be controlling? Explain.
15. If you are a person who reads the Bible, what have the Scriptures taught you in regard to the desire to control other people and events?
16. What have other people and life experiences taught you about control issues?