Monday, December 31, 2012

Friday, December 28, 2012

MORE THAN 100 PREGNANCY CENTERS EXPECTED TO PARTNER AND SCREEN PRO-LIFE SHORT FILM DURING ONE-NIGHT DEBUT EVENT ON FEB. 28, 2013


Los Angeles, Calif. (December 27, 2012) – Movie to Movement™ (www.cpcmovie.com), who partnered with the producers ofBella, an award-winning film that touched lives around the world inspiring women to choose life for their unborn, announces the release of its brand new short film, Crescendo.On February 28, 2013, the movie with a similar and powerful message, will release on more than 100 screens during a special one-night event that will aim to raise over $1 million for pregnancy centers around the country.

“We are urging everyone to join together and celebrate the incredible potential of every single human life,” says President/Founder of Movie to Movement, Jason Jones. “Over 581 women chose life after seeing Bella and we know thatCrescendo will continue to inspire a global movement that transcends time and cultures to communicate the dignity and worth of the human being.”

Based on a true story, Crescendo is set in the 18th century Holy Roman Empire where a series of events turn an ordinary day into an extraordinary experience for a woman whose life will never be the same. Written and directed by Alonso Alvarez, the film stars Ali Landry, Montserrat Espalde, Patrick Nuo, Jennifer Cadena.  With Eduardo Verastigui serving as executive producer, the film was shot entirely on the Universal Studios back lot and has already seen success in the film festival circuit having recently received the Crystal Heart award at the 2011 Heartland Film festival and won top short film honors at the Hollywood Film Festival.

Accolades and support have poured in from various ministries and organizations in response to the 15-minute short film’s powerful message of love, hope and redemption.  Heartbeat is encouraging pregnancy centers around the country to climb on board for one the most unique events of the year. 
“I encourage every pregnancy help organization to bring the blessings of Crescendo to their own community for the grand premier on February 28,” says Peggy Hartshom, President of Heartbeat International. “This film is riveting and it’s powerful and life affirming finale will stay in your heart.  What a unique, enjoyable, and beautiful way to raise a much needed million dollars to save and change lives in our pregnancy help centers, clinics and housing ministries!”
In conjunction with the one-day event, many women are coming forward to share their personal stories of how movies like Bella changed their lives and the lives of their unborn forever.
"It’s funny how one moment can change your life forever,” says Crissy Stanley as she reflects on the first time she saw Bella. “Movies have a way of working their way from the screen, and into your heart. The cast reminds you of family, and the story reminds you of, if not mimic's your life. The message follows you, and inspires you; you've become one with the meaning as you pass it to inspire others. It's a powerful thing. Because of Bella, I decided to choose life and am now the proud mother of beautiful twins, who are my ‘miracle babies’ that I can’t imagine my life without.”

Crescendo hopes to serve as a source of encouragement for women, save lives and impact millions.
For additional information, to book a screening or get involved please go towww.movietomovement.com or www.cpcmovie.com.
MOVIE TO MOVEMENT

Movie to Movement™ was created to promote a culture of Life, Love & Beauty. They do this through the production of their own films, as well as sharing others. Movie to Movement believes that film is today’s most influential medium and that they can change culture, but first they must change Hollywood. By supporting Movie to Movement™ promoted and produced films viewers are supporting good films and send a message to Hollywood that more need to be made. For more information on Movie to Movement please visit www.movietomovement.com.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

When to Speak up & When to Shut Up by Dr. Michael D. Sedler - REVIEWED



ABOUT THE BOOK: (from Baker Publishing)
All of us have found ourselves in situations where we don't know if we should bite our tongues or speak our minds. When is silence golden? When should you speak up? In this popular book, communication expert and former pastor Michael Sedler offers readers practical guidelines for all types of conversations. He also explores the cost and purpose of silence why to check motives when talking to friends, family, and authorities how to ask good questions ways to deal with anger and resentment how to overcome pressure to remain silent. Using biblical and contemporary examples, this must-have book shares important strategies for improving communication skills and building better communication within the workplace, church, and home.

My Thoughts:

Communication breakdowns discourage people for sharing their thought and ideas, and create opportunities for offense, bitterness and misunderstanding.”  (p.54)

Dr. Michael D. Sedler’s  When to Speak up & When to Shut Up should be required reading for couples anticipating their wedding day.  It should be a gift to those married for years and contemplating divorce because, “They just can’t communicate and don’t have anything in common.”  In short, this is a treasure trove of Scripture and sound advice that will absolutely change the way you communicate with family, friends and co-workers.  And you know what?  It’s not that difficult.  What is difficult is taking the time to examine our hearts and motives before we open our big mouths.

I have worn out a highlighter reading this book, and plan to go back through with a pen and make personal notes that apply to my own life and my own faulty communication efforts.  This is a MUST HAVE for any library and would make an excellent workbook for marriage counselors, a good workbook for a Sunday School Class to work through, and should be required reading for the couple considering marriage.  This is an EXCELLENT resourse!! One I HIGHLY recommend!

About the Author:
Michael Sedler (D.Min., Christian Life School of Theology) ministers in churches and provides consultation services to schools and businesses throughout the United States. Michael is the author of Stop the Runaway Conversation and When to Speak Up When to Shut Up and works as an adjunct professor for three universities. He and his wife, Joyce, live in Spokane, Washington.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

DECK THE SOUL WITH BOUGHS OF FORGIVENESS - GUEST POST BY MARYANN DIORIO


CHRISTMAS!  The word evokes many feelings, depending on our experiences. For some, Christmas is a happy time, filled with beautiful memories and joyful expectations. For others, Christmas is a depressing time, a season one wants “to get over with” as quickly as possible because of bad memories associated with this time of year.
Having ministered to people for many years, I have come to the conclusion that depressing memories at Christmas time are most often related to problems of unforgiveness. Hurts from the past become more pronounced during the Christmas season, but the reason those hurts still affect us is that we have not let go of the bitterness associated with them. In short, we have not forgiven the people who have hurt us.
Why do most people have such a difficult time forgiving? I believe the main reason is that they do not understand what forgiveness really means. If you are one of those people, what follows may help you:

LET’S LOOK AT WHAT FORGIVENESS IS NOT:

• Forgiveness is NOT letting someone off the hook.
• Forgiveness is NOT condoning evil.
• Forgiven is NOT being a doormat.
• Forgiveness is NOT having to trust again the person who hurt you.
• Forgiveness is NOT a feeling.
• Forgiveness is NOT an option.

NOW LET’S LOOK AT WHAT FORGIVENESS IS:

• Forgiveness IS taking the person who hurt you off of your hook and placing him on God’s hook, then praying that God will have mercy on him.
• Forgiveness IS acknowledging that evil was done but choosing to bear the consequences of that evil without retaliation.
• Forgiveness IS taking charge of your emotions.
• Forgiveness IS setting boundaries with the person who hurt you, even refusing temporary or permanent interaction with that person, if necessary. An example would be a wife who is being beaten by her husband.
• Forgiveness IS a decision.
• Forgiveness IS obedience to God’s commandment to forgive.
No matter how badly you have been hurt, choose to forgive. It’s the best thing you can do for your own well-being. Unforgiveness chains you emotionally to the person who hurt you. Forgiveness breaks that chain and sets you free.
What better time is there than the Christmas season to forgive those who have hurt us? The very essence of Christmas is the truth that God forgave humanity through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Who are we not to forgive when God has forgiven us?
So this Christmas, forgive! But don’t just forgive. Ask to be forgiven. As the Word of God tells us, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). All of us need not only to forgive but also to be forgiven.  And as long as we are on this earth, it is never too late to forgive or to be forgiven.
For a heartwarming, compelling story on the power of forgiveness, you may wish to read my new novella entitled A Christmas Homecoming.  It is available in electronic format for your Kindle, Nook, or iPad.  You may purchase an electronic copy of A Christmas Homecoming HERE, or for a print copy, please email me atmaryann@maryanndiorio.com and write the words PRINT COPY in the subject line, and I will send you purchasing instructions.
To view the beautiful book trailer of A Christmas Homecomingclick here.
Last, but not least, may you forge happy memories this Christmas season as the power of forgiveness sets you free!
*Copyright 2012 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA.  All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reproduced without the written permission of Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. You may reach her atmaryann@maryanndiorio.com.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Year of Adversity Brings Joy by Leslie Gould


Year of Adversity Brings Joy
By Leslie Gould
I’ve been writing Amish fiction for nearly three years now—telling stories about non-resistant people who live a simple life. It’s a nice reprieve from my own life.
When my husband, Peter, joined the Army Reserve back in the mid 1980s, I wasn’t thrilled about it. Nor did I believe him when he said he’d probably never see action. Sure, the Cold War was ending and—for a short time—all seemed well in the world, but I had a degree in history. I knew better. I didn’t want to be a controlling wife (as new to the job as I was!) and come out and say he absolutely couldn’t do it. And it did help that he was joining a medical unit. Still I had my reservations.
We’ve been far more fortunate than many military families, but still it’s been quite a ride. The first exciting episode began in 1990 when Peter flew to Germany on Christmas Eve to work in an Army hospital during Desert Storm, leaving me behind with our two young sons. During the next twenty years, Peter went from being a Lt. to being a Col. and commanding a unit. Countless maneuvers and a mobilization occurred during that time, but his Army Reserve career culminated in his deployment to Afghanistan in 2011.
My days throughout last year were an odd combination of hearing the daily news from a war zone via Skype and then writing about the plain life of the Amish. By last December I was working on my third Amish novel of the year while, in contrast, Peter and his field hospital staff had cared for hundreds of NATO soldiers and Afghan nationals, endured ten months of rocket fire, and continued to grieve the killing of one of their own.
Surprisingly, what seemed like it might be our worst Christmas ever, even harder than in 1990, wasn’t. Our four children (one teen and three young adults now) rallied to help make it a memorable day. We counted our blessings—Peter was well, we had all we needed, and God was at work in the life of our family. The result was an underlying joy, deeper than what we’d felt during past Christmases.
In reflection, I wrote: When it started, I thought 2011 might be one of our worst years. But it hasn’t been. Sure, it’s been one of our hardest, but a lot of good has come from it.
That was evident on Christmas morning as we Skyped with Peter. We were so thankful for the good connection and for all of us to be “together” that we hardly noticed we really weren’t.
This December, Peter is back at his civilian job (as a manager for a hospital corporation) and also commanding a nearby Army Reserve unit, which means one weekend a month and plenty of evenings—but no rockets or causalities.
I’m working on a new Amish novel and still enjoying my “time” with those who practice non-resistance, which doesn’t discount the appreciation I have for my husband’s service. I’ve even grown to the place where I’m thankful he joined the military. They’ve served each other well.
Our year of adversity resulted in a deep joy. I’m pretty sure it will carry over to this Christmas as well.
***
Leslie Gould is the award-winning author of fifteen novels, including the #1 bestseller and Christy Award winner The Amish Midwife, co-written with Mindy Starns Clark. Her latest release is Courting Cate, a retelling of the “Taming of the Shrew.” Leslie lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, Peter, and their four children. www.lesliegould.com

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

12 Pearls of Christmas - Who is Mr. Carbunkle?


Who is Mr. Carbunkle?
By: Debora M. Coty
In a dream this November, I was playing Clue (remember that board game from your childhood?) with three friendly strangers. We were each moving our pieces from room to room in the mysterious mansion trying to figure out who-done-it.
So far we knew it wasn’t Miss Scarlet in the parlor with a candlestick . . . or Colonel Mustard in the drawing room with a wrench.
With a voice bursting with sudden enlightenment, the player to my right announced, “Why, it’s Mr. Carbunkle!*”
My other two opponents and I looked at one another in bewilderment. Everyone knew there was no such character in this game.
It seemed my lot to state the obvious. “Who is Mr. Carbunkle?”
The words continued to ring in my head as I sat straight up in bed. I must have spoken the question aloud to jerk me awake so.
Who is Mr. Carbunkle?  
And then I knew. I knew just as surely as if the Almighty had sent me an e-mail titled, “Hey, Deb, here’s your answer.”
I had been praying for several weeks about how Papa God would like me to use my writing tithe this year. It’s been my custom, for the nine years I’ve written professionally, to give away each December (anonymously, if possible) ten percent of that year’s income from my writing ministry to someone the Lord designates.
The sum isn’t really all that much in the grand scheme of things (contrary to popular belief, Christian writers don’t get rich), but it’s enough to bless somebody in their celebration of Christ’s birth with the knowledge that their Heavenly Father knows about their needs . . . and cares.
I thought about the only Mr. Carbunkle I knew—the one who attends our church, a quiet, unassuming man who’d been out of work for more than a year. I confess that I knew about his plight but hadn’t really given it much thought—or prayer—lately. Although he never complained, I knew his family must be struggling.
So Mr. Carbunkle it is.
You know, there are lots of Mr. Carbunkles out there who would be blessed mightily by a love-gift from you this Christmas. It doesn’t have to be money; it could be help with yard work, or home repairs, or a loaf of banana bread, or best of all, a gift of your time. Thirty minutes of your undivided attention for a lonely soul who needs to know Papa God knows his or her needs … and cares.
Who is your Mr. Carbunkle?
Don’t have a Clue? I know someone who does. Just ask Him.
*Name changed for privacy
***
Debora Coty is an occupational therapist, a piano teacher, and a freelance writer. She’s also involved in the children’s ministry at her church and is an avid tennis player. Debora began writing to fill the void when her last child left for college, and it has since become a passion. Debora has a real knack for getting across sound biblical concepts with a refreshing lightheartedness as attested in her monthly newspaper column entitled “Grace Notes: God’s Grace for Everyday Living.” Look for Fear, Faith and a Fist Full of Chocolate in February of 2013.

Monday, December 17, 2012

12 Pearls of Christmas - God with Us...And us with Him


God with Us . . . And Us with Him
By: Susan May Warren
Every year over labor day weekend, the Warren family has a MWE. Mandatory Warren Event. It’s a call to come home and enjoy the long weekend with our favorite people. Since my children have left for college, I relish every second of this weekend—the laughter in the kitchen, the long conversations in the family room, the frenzy of backyard football, the quietness of the morning as we drink coffee on the deck and watch the sunrise. I cherish these people, and when they are with me, I drink in their presence.
I’ve been reading the prophecies about Christ this season and came across Isaiah 7:14, Therefore the Lord himself will give you[ a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
I am struck by the word Immanuel. God with us. The closest I get to comprehending this is reading about how Jesus’ loved his disciples. Surely they relished the time with him more profoundly after his resurrection, knowing he would soon leave.
Thankfully, he didn’t leave them for long and sent His Holy Spirit. God . . . still with them. 
As I consider the magnitude of this God who would come to earth, who would abide with the disciples, and then with me, I have to wonder not only do I relish God’s presence in my life, but does God relish time with me? Am I committed to embracing His entrance into my life? Am I even making the effort to see Him?
Imagine that during our MWE weekend, I ignored my children, and they, me? I would lose the joy of their presence.
It is not surprising to me that the Jewish people did not recognize their Savior. After all, who would guess that the Almighty might package himself as a baby and appear among them, fragile and dependent? But today, we know the story, we know the miracles, we know the truth, and God invites us into an abundant relationship, one that He wishes to relish, one that will change us. A relationship that will slake our thirsts and satisfy our hungers. One that reminds us that we are never alone.
Because every day we are a mandatory event to our Immanuel.
This season, look for the ways that God is your Immanuel, with you, every day.
***
Susan May Warren is the best-selling, award-winning author of over 40 novels. With over 750,000 books in print, her stories of family, romance and adventure have earned her acclaim and reader fans from around the world. Visit her website for upcoming books and sneak peeks!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

12 Pearls of Christmas! Lots of Fun!! Join the events!


Welcome to the 12 Pearls of Christmas blog series!
Merry Christmas from Pearl Girls™! We hope you enjoy these Christmas “Pearls of Wisdom” from the authors who were so kind to donate their time and talents! If you miss a few posts, you’ll be able go back through and read them on this blog throughout the next few days.
We’re giving away a pearl necklace in celebration of the holidays, as well as some items (books, a gift pack, music CDs) from the contributors! Enter now on Facebook or at the Pearl Girls blog. The winner will announced on January 2, 2013 at the Pearl Girls blog.
If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls™, please visit www.pearlgirls.infoand see what we’re all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Mother of Pearl,  Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Come to the Table by Neta Jackson - REVIEWED



About the Book:  (from Thomas Nelson)
Kat Davies is suddenly wondering if her good deed was a bad idea.
Kat may be new in her faith, but she’s embraced the more radical implications of Christianity with reckless abandon. She invited Rochelle—a homeless mother—and her son to move in the apartment she shares with two other housemates. And she’s finally found a practical way to channel her passion for healthy eating by starting a food pantry at the church.
Her feelings for Nick are getting harder to ignore. The fact that he’s the interning pastor at SouledOut Community Church and one of her housemates makes it complicated enough. But with Rochelle showing interest in Nick as a father-figure for her son, their apartment is feeling way too small.
But not everyone thinks the food pantry is a good idea. When the woman she thought would be her biggest supporter just wants to “pray about it,” Kat is forced to look deeper at her own motives. Only when she begins to look past the surface does she see people who are hungry and thirsty for more than just food and drink and realizes the deeper significance of inviting them to “come to the table.”
My Thoughts:
You may be surprised what God has in store for you, the ways He wants to use you to bless others – if you just trust Him with what is, rather than worrying about what isn’t.”  (p.332)

Neta Jackson continues to develop a very eclectic group of characters in her latest installment in the Souled Out Sisters series, Come to the Table.  In this story, she follows a seminary student, Nick Taylor, and his apartment mates through a summer of challenges, spiritual growth and emotional conflict.  These young people are called to serve others and share Christ in an urban church that serves folks who are walking through some pretty tough circumstances.  Each of them learn that listening for God’s direction when your emotions get involved isn’t easy.  They also lean to distinguish God’s will from their own.  It is a grand adventure to walk alongside these young folks as they experience a life-changing summer!

Neta Jackson in an expert on creating multi-faceted an well developed characters!  She allows her characters to experience hard things spiritually, emotionally and physically that present unique challenges to faith and trust.  I’ve followed some of these characters for some time now, and I’m always amazed at the things that develop in their lives.  I come away from each of these books challenged to look at my own preconceived notions about the life teeming around me and longing to see people and love them as Christ loves.  It’s not an easy thing, but SO worthwhile!! What blessings these characters receive when they walk in obedience and learn what Christ has for each of them!!

I have grown to love these characters, and you will too!  Yada Yada…check it out…House of Hope…check it out…Souled Out Sisters…check it out!! It is a journey you don’t want to miss!!

About the Author:
Neta Jackson's award-winning Yada books have sold roughly 500,000 copies and are spawning prayer groups across the country. She and her husband, Dave, are also an award-winning writing team, best known for the Trailblazer Books—a 40-volume series of historical fiction about great Christian heroes with 1.5 million in sales—and Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes (vols 1-4). They live in the Chicago area, where the Yada stories are set.




Neta Jackson COME TO THE TABLE from familyfiction on GodTube.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

ACTION-PACKED FAMILY FILM WITH DEEP LESSONS OF TRUTH AND VALUE SLATED TO OPEN IN THEATERS NATIONWIDE MARCH 1, 2013


Los Angeles, Calif. (November 15, 2012) – As a poignant example of the significant surge in popularity and demand for family-friendly media, MeThinx Entertainment presents a new action-packed film, The Lost Medallion: The Adventures of Billy Stone.  Slated to open in theaters nationwide on March 1, 2013, the film stars Alex Kendrick (CourageousFireproof and Facing the Giants) with Mark Dacascos(Iron Chef, Hawaii Five-O) and aims to entertain and inspire kids and parents alike.

An epic family movie event, The Lost Medallion features themes of friendship, teamwork and good overcoming evil, all while teaching kids the truth of their tremendous value.

The film was written, directed and produced by bestselling author and owner of MeThinx Entertainment, Bill Muir (The Crossing, Invisible Enemies) and is based on a series of fictional novels of the same name, also written by Muir and released in 2011.  A brand new version of the novel, co-written by New York Times bestselling author Alex Kendrick, is slated to hit shelves in conjunction with the 2013 theatrical release.

The journey of The Lost Medallion: The Adventures of Billy Stone commences as Daniel Anderson (Kendrick) visits a foster home to drop off a donation and is quickly roped into telling the kids a story. Daniel tells the tale of Billy Stone (Billy Unger  Lab Rats on Disney XD, American Treasure, You Again and Allie (Sammi Hanratti - American Girl, A Christmas Carol), two 13-year-old friends who uncover a long-lost medallion and accidentally wish themselves back in time.

In order for Billy to save Allie’s life, he must give up the lost medallion to the evil warlord, Cobra, (Dacascos) who rules the island and its people. Now, in order to retrieve the medallion and save the island people from slavery, Billy and Allie must work together with a young arrogant king (Jansen Panettiere - The Perfect Game), his best friend, and a wise old man (James Hong - Kung Fu Panda, Chinatown,Blade Runner).  Together, this unlikely group will learn not only how to work together, but when they do, great things can be accomplished.

Kendrick, known for his passion and work with Sherwood Pictures, became involved in The Lost Medallion to help make a significant impact on children’s lives.  “Our kids’ hearts are under attack from the deception of ‘destructive lies’ found in media and our culture and the words of ‘mean kids,’’ says Kendrick. “This is a film that every family should see… twice.”

The Lost Medallion was filmed primarily in Thailand with an all-star production team including cinematographer Brian Baugh (The Ultimate Gift, To Save a Life), as well as producers Kevin and Bobby Downes, owners of Downes Brothers Entertainment (Like Dandelion DustThe Visitation), Mark Burman (The Heart of Christmas, In the Blink of an Eye), Michael Scott (The Mark, Me Again, The Encounter), and producer/editor Phillip Moses (Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, The Mist, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man 3). Other producers include Jamie Muir, Wych Kaosayananda, and Executive Producer John Duke.  MeThinx Entertainment has also brought on Charlie and Suzette Schafer of Purpose Driven Sales to oversee the church and marketing efforts, theatrical release, TV and DVD distribution and licensing.

With a unique development plan in place for the release of the film, theaters for opening weekend will increase through MeThinx Entertainment’s established “Medallion Squads,” in various communities to determine which cities to select for release throughout the United States. Organizations and ministries across the nation such as Awana, gmc TV, Youth for Christ, Church Web Works, Equipping Kids and J12 are proudly partnering with The Lost Medallion to bring high level awareness and support to this film.

For more information regarding The Lost Medallion, please visit:

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Show Me How to Share Christ in the Workplace by R. Larry Moyer - REVIEWED

About the Book: (from Kregel Publishing)
Whether they know it or not, every Christian is in fulltime ministry—at home, at school, at recreation, and at work. Colossians 4:5–6 says “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time, Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (NKJV).


Continuing his popular Show Me How series, expert evangelist R. Larry Moyer has written a practical guide for sharing Christ in the workplace. Step by step, Moyer shows what it really means to pray, live, and speak as God directs. He then outlines how to apply each at work and shows how to take advantage of public speaking opportunities that Christians may not even know are available to them. Whether they are turning workplace conversations to spiritual matters, answering questions of unbelieving co-workers, or just performing their jobs as a representative of Christ, readers will be encouraged and equipped to present the gospel with clarity and simplicity.

Written to encourage those in the workplace to see their jobs as their calling, How to Share Christ in the Workplace offers practical help and inspiration to influence non-Christians for Christ.

My Thoughts:

“Your workplace is not merely your job; it’s your ministry. (p.12)

“If anything a spiritual nature is going to happen, God has to do it.  Ministry in the workplace is God-sized.”  (p 17)

R. Larry Moyer has a perspective of ministry, of sharing the gospel, of living a life of testimony to the transforming power of Christ, that has invigorated me and challenged me like nothing has in quite some time.  I became a Christian early in life, and witnessing to the lost is something that I have struggled with.  Reading this book gave me an honest view of my responsibility to share the gospel with the lost, and equipped me with Scripture and understanding to effectively share my faith with others.

This is not a how-to book.  In fact, witnessing and salvation are things that only God can perform in our lives.  Salvation and witnessing, you ask?  Yes, witnessing is a God-opportunity that you must be aware of, and you must also be aware of the Holy Spirit leading you to share your faith.  Trusting God is the only way to salvation, and trusting God to lead you to ministry in the workplace is also the only way you will be effective of bringing the lost into eternity with Christ.

Moyer’s book not only equips believers with effective ways to share their testimony, but it explains very clearly what the Bible says about salvation, faith and the transforming power of Christ alone.  I’m not being nearly as clear in my review of this book as Moyer is at explaining vital Biblical truths.  I have learned a great deal by reading this book, and I think it would be an excellent tool for every church to use to teach believers their responsibility to engage in ministry every single day of their lives.  This is an excellent book!!  A book I highly recommend! 

ps...Read this book with highlighter in hand and a pen to make notes! Be prepared to learn!

About the Author:
 R. Larry Moyer (Th.M., Dallas Theological Seminary) is president and CEO of EvanTell, Inc., an evangelistic association in Dallas, Texas, and is a speaker at evangelistic outreaches, training seminars, and in classrooms across the country. His other books include Free and Clear, Larry Moyer’s How-To Book on Personal Evangelism, Thirty-One Days with the Master Fisherman, and Welcome to the Family (by Evantell).  

Monday, December 10, 2012

Our Victorious Heart: A Journal of Grace by Jim and Deanna Reynolds - REVIEWED



ABOUT THE BOOK:

Written for those in any trouble, our true story offers the comfort we ourselves received from the God of all comfort.

Eight years ago, our daughter was born with a terminal genetic condition called Trisomy 18. Through e-mails written then, narrative material, and later reflections, we chronicle God’s immense faithfulness in the midst of our struggle.

Our prayer and confident hope is that God will make your heart victorious through the lessons we learned from Him.

My Thoughts:
Our hearts remain victorious when we live convinced that nothing of our situation impacts who God is.”

What precious words Jim and Deanna Reynolds record in their journal of grace: Our Victorious Heart.  Their journey is one every person who has ever become a parent fears at some level – the uncontrollable illness or situation with your child – which threatens to rob you of this precious gift of life. Trisonomy 18 was the physical trauma the Reynolds’ family had to face at the birth of their daughter Nicole.  This is a syndrome in which the person has a third copy of material from chromosome 18 instead of the normal two copies.

Our Victorious Heart journals the Reynolds’ family journey, and it challenges all believers to examine their heart before God in the midst of the trials faced here on earth.  Whether spiritual, emotional, or physical, trials are part of the human condition as long as we strive in this sin-filled world.  

We serve a God of miracles, and Nicole’s life was a lesson in the miraculous way God provides for His children.  God is in control of every circumstance, and He never leaves us nor forsakes us.  The lessons Nicole’s life has taught me are precious and rare.  Only the Lord knew that this lady would read and review her story and be convicted and challenged to live a life more devoted to doing God’s will.

How I praise God for Nicole Reynolds’ life and her parents, Jim and Deanna, for being obedient and faithful to record their journey.  I am happy and excited to recommend Our Victorious Heart to you!

About the Authors
Jim is the proud pastor of a normal sized church; learn more about the church at www.communitybibleknoxville.com


Friday, December 7, 2012

Greenwood and Archer by Marlene Banks

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Greenwood and Archer
Lift Every Voice; New Edition edition (September 20, 2012)
by
Marlene Banks
* I didn't sign up for this tour, but wish I had!  Wanted to share!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:







 Marlene Banks has worked 30+ years combined in nursing and the business arena. Her goal as a writer is to create inspiring, gripping and realistic stories with an emphasis on African American literature. She believes her gift and desire to write is from God and desires to use it to fulfill His purposes. Marlene lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she is a member of Bethel Deliverance International Church.





ABOUT THE BOOK

Greenwood and Archer: After the Riot continues the stories of Billy Ray Matthias and Benny Freeman and the residents of the Greenwood District after the historical Tulsa Race Riots of 1921. Though a sequel to Son of a Preacherman, Greenwood and Archer can be read as a stand alone book.

The White Glove Society has all but destroyed the Greenwood District, home to the affluent blacks in Tulsa. Now those who have survived are trying to recover what is left including Billy Ray Matthias and Benny Freeman. Billy Ray and Benny are engaged but Benny is hesitant to set a date.  Jordan Franks, Benny's ex-fiancee shows up in Tulsa and Benny is confronted with the memories and emotions of the crippling break up she experienced with Jordan. She must decide whether she will stand and face her past or allow it to drive her back into the dark place she'd grown used to before meeting Billy Ray.  Billy Ray's attempts to keep Benny from running away are challenged by his own struggles as he wrestles with God's call on his life to preach.

DP Dooley, plagued by a past that prompted him to turn from God and become a government agent, is in a turmoil as he wars against enemies seen and unseen. Internally, he fights against the darkness of his soul as the anger and resentment he has harbored against God for most of his life wears him down.  Externally, he continues to fight against the threats of the bigoted White Gloves Society, which is growing and trying to increase its racist activities. 

The once hard-edged racial views of Chief Tobias Parnell have noticeably dulled and he no longer enjoys the favor of the White Glove Society.  Teaming up with Dooley, Chief Parnell fights against illegal racketeering, bootlegging and racial crimes. A new brotherhood forms in Tulsa, the interdenominational Christian clergyman (ICCA). Braving the social struggles of Tulsa, five clergymen attempt to and bring together God's people, regardless of race, economic status, gender, ethnicity and even doctrine. Their goal, along with the people of Greenwood is to see a new Tulsa rise from the ashes.


If you would like to read the first chapter of Greenwood and Archer, go HERE.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bold as Love by Bob Roberts, Jr. - Reviewed


About the Book: (from Thomas Nelson)


As Christians, we’re called to love our neighbors—all our neighbors. But is that even possible? And can we truly love them well?
People often think of their neighbors as those already belonging to their “tribe” or community. It’s safe, it’s easy, and it doesn’t often cause conflict—politically or religiously. But in today’s world, everyone and everything is interconnected globally in an ever-changing cultural landscape, while religious strife runs rampant. Is it feasible for Christians to live their faith boldly and lovingly while entering into a true relationship with “neighbors” of other faiths, both locally and globally?
In Bold as Love, Pastor Bob Roberts shows you what it looks like to live out your faith daily in the global public square among people of other faiths—Jews, Muslims, atheists, Hindus, Buddhists. While he admits that it can be challenging to engage people of other faiths whose beliefs are as strong as yours, he demonstrates how to enter into this critical dialogue in a radical yet loving way. “We have to learn to speak with one conversation and give the same message everywhere to everyone,” he says. “We are commanded to love God and love others. And sometimes that requires risky boldness.”
Roberts invites you to respond to this call to live a life of fearless and loving engagement with the world. So take the risk! Your faith wasn’t made to live in isolation. It’s something you do face-to-face, heart-to-heart, hand-to-hand. Whether you are in a suburb of Houston or a village in India, put away the fear and suspicion and, instead, answer the call to radically love others the way God loves. And get ready to see your life and the lives of those you touch—your family, your community, even your enemies—transformed!
You can purchase your copy HERE.  And you can use these coupon codes:
• Coupon code for 33% discount on 10 copies or less: boldaslove33
• Coupon code for 50% discount on more than 10 copies: boldaslove50
My Thoughts:

The world we minister to is very much like the world Paul ministered to.  The point is, we needn’t scratch our head and wonder what in the world we’re going to do in this new world.  God has given us not only the strength of his Holy Spirit but the wisdom to be found in the Scriptures.  The message of the New Testament and the example of the church’s first missionaries (especially Paul) can be so helpful for us today.”  (p 16)

This short paragraph really is the heart of Bob Roberts’ message.  We DO live in a world filled with people and religions from all over the globe.  We are as likely to work with a person of the Muslim faith as we are to work with a fellow church member from the local Baptist church.  And the Bible does call us to be salt and light to everyone.  To love as Christ loved. To share the truth of the cross with everyone in love.  That means reaching out and offering genuine friendship and love to people of different faiths. That means being so grounded in the truth of God’s Word that we can share ourselves without compromising the truth.

I’ve enjoyed this book for the most part.  At times I grew wary and felt like Robert’s message may be a little too accommodating.  However, he is always honest with the folks he invites to his church, and shares the gospel.  I am just wary that folks of other faiths are comfortable in his church.  Either they are not passionate about their own faith or think that they might lovingly convert Roberts to theirs.  That works both ways.  If people are not grounded in the Word they are just as likely to be led away by the Muslim (or any other) faith as they are to invite a person from a different faith to fellowship with them.

What I do understand, is that without love, without reaching out to others, the gospel will never go out to the lost and dying world around us. Bob Robert’s has that message dead on!!  But exercise caution. You have to be grounded in the WORD OF GOD, in order to effectively  love as Christ loved without compromising the truth of the Bible.

About the Author:  Bob Roberts Jr. is the founding pastor of NorthWood Church in Keller, Texas.  He received his masters of divinity at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1983 and his doctorate in ministry from Fuller in 1996.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Way of Grace by Cathy Bryant

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:

WordVessel Press (September 25, 2012)

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


 Cathy Bryant is the author of the Miller’s Creek Novels—Texas Roads, A Path Less Traveled, and The Way of Grace. Her desire is to write heart-stirring stories about God’s life-changing grace. Though Texas-born, she currently resides in the beautiful Ozark mountains of northwest Arkansas with her husband of thirty years and near the world’s cutest grandson.

You can learn more about her and her books at http://www.CatBryant.com and http://WordVessel.blogspot.com.



SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


In pursuit of justice, in need of grace . . .

A justice-seeking perfectionist pursues her dream of a perfect life in her hometown of Miller’s Creek, Texas. Sidetracked by the desire to be a prosecuting attorney, Grace Soldano launches into uncharted waters, making herself over to please her boss and mentor. Then a disheveled free spirit turns her perfectly ordered world upside down, challenging the concept of personal goodness. A fall from perfection leaves Grace teetering between vengeance and grace, caught in a deadly crossfire that leaves her dreams in a heap of ashes. Can she learn to joyfully accept the life God has given her–far from perfect–but one completely immersed in His grace?



Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 318 pages
Publisher: WordVessel Press (September 25, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0984431144
ISBN-13: 978-0984431144



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


A car horn blasted through the summer evening air, followed by tires screeching against pavement and the rancid smell of burning rubber. Grace yanked her head in Mama’s direction. The noisy blast continued as a car bore down on them. Everything went pitch black as Mama’s piercing scream joined her own, followed by a deadly thud.

Heart racing, Grace jerked awake, forcing herself to a sitting position. The same old nightmare. She brought both hands to her face and gulped in air to slow her pounding pulse. Why now? She’d endured the last year of law school and the bar exam without memories of that awful night plaguing her. But now that she was back in Miller’s Creek to work for Tyler, Dent, and Snodgrass as a full-fledged attorney, the dream shattered her sleep for the fourth time in a week.

Grace pulled her hands away from her face—almost afraid to find them dripping with blood—then glanced at the alarm clock on her makeshift nightstand. 5:15 in the morning. She flopped back on the bed and stared at the dark nothingness above her head. There was no way she’d get back to sleep now. Might as well get an early start.

A sudden rush of excitement coursed through her veins. All her hard work had finally paid off. Now it was time to enjoy herself for a change  and initiate her life plan,  which included a stellar career, new house, Mr. Right, and of course, children.

She removed the band that confined her hair and gave her head a shake. Better to just focus on her career at this point, her best chance at proving her worth—to Papa, to the people of Miller’s Creek, and to Mr. Right, whoever he was.

The cold floor beneath her bare feet sent shivers rippling through her body as she raced down the hallway to the tiny kitchen to make a pot of coffee for Papa. Within a few minutes the coffee machine gurgled and the fresh-brewed aroma permeated every square inch of the house. She was just about to head for a shower when Papa entered.

“You’re up early.” His eyes held questions.

There was no way she’d tell him about the nightmare. No need to cause him worry or pain. “Just excited about this being my first day as an attorney.”

He wandered past her to pull a coffee cup from the cabinet. “It’s all you’ve talked about for weeks.” He droned the words, his voice flat.

Grace rolled her lips between her teeth. It would be nice to have a word of congratulations--anything to recognize her hard work and achievement--but wishing for it wouldn’t make it happen. Instead she sent a sad smile. “I’d better get ready for work.”

She hurried down the hall to the only bathroom in the house and turned on the lights and the little space heater Papa had hung from a nail protruding from the paneled walls. The power cord snaked behind the sink faucet before finding the overloaded outlet—an electrical disaster waiting to happen, but Papa’s way of making do with what he had.

The pipes groaned in protest when she turned on the faucet and waited for the water to get warm. Living with Papa and his stony silence would definitely be the hardest part of her plan, but it would have to do for now.  With her brothers and their families now in South Texas, it was her only option.

An hour later, she stepped once more into the kitchen, dressed and ready for work. Grace reached for the spiral notebook that served as her daily planner and checked off the tasks she’d already completed. Start laundry. Check. Make bed. Check. Bible study and prayer. Check.

Millie, the stray cat she’d taken in years ago, butted her head against Grace’s leg, begging for attention. She squatted to scratch the fluffy feline behind the ears. “How’s my kitty?”  Grace scooped the cat into her arms and hugged her close. How would she have survived Mama’s death without the perky ears always willing to listen?

The back door swung open. Dressed in his heavy brown coveralls, Papa entered, and brought with him a gust of cold air and the smell of cows. He didn’t say a word, but ambled past her to the kitchen sink to wash his hands, his dirty work boots clomping against the old wooden floor, his face devoid of a smile.

She wrinkled her nose, dropped Millie to the floor, and brushed cat hair from her black skirt. Long gone were the hopes that her father would be proud of her for becoming an attorney. “Through with the chores?”

He continued to wash his hands without looking her way.

Grace forced her hurt feelings aside, her mouth suddenly dry. She should be used to his emotional distance by now. “Papa, I know you don’t approve of me being an attorney, but—”

He held up one hand for silence, his back still to her, water dripping down his sleeve. “Enough, Graciela. I don’t want to discuss this anymore. You made up your mind to disrespect my wishes long ago.”

His displeasure hanging like dead weight around her neck, Grace blinked back tears and picked up her old book bag. It was way too early, but she might as well go to work. She’d grab a pastry at Granny’s Kitchen on the way. No, on second thought, it wouldn’t hurt to skip breakfast. That way she’d save money and inch toward losing those last few pounds she’d gained while studying for the bar. Without another word to Papa, she slipped out of the house, climbed in the battered old farm truck, and headed to the office.

A late autumn fog engulfed downtown Miller’s Creek, and the two- and three-story hewn-stone buildings rose above the mist, silent sentinels observing the march of time. The buildings had seen over a century of use, and thanks to the grant bestowed on the town while she was in high school, had been lovingly restored to their former glory.

Though early November was a little early for Christmas decorations, Miller’s Creek had them up well ahead of time for the tourists who would pour into the historic town square for shopping. Already the old-timey street lamps were festooned with lighted wreaths, while greenery draped the Victorian gazebo and lights twinkled from Christmas trees placed throughout the square.

Gravel crunched beneath the pickup tires as she pulled into the parking lot of Tyler, Dent, and Snodgrass and turned off the headlights. She let herself in the back door and flipped the switch. As the fluorescent fixture flickered on and hummed, her earlier joy dissipated. This should be a celebration—the day for which she’d toiled to bring purpose from her pain—but somehow it felt common and ordinary. No balloons or flowers. No party. No pat on the back or word of congratulations.

She shook of the self-pity and moved to her cubicle to make sure everything was in its place, then instinctively pulled a Bible from her bag and ran her hand over the well-worn cover.

Lord, You know how my heart hurts this morning. I miss Mama and I don’t know what to say to Papa. Help me be all You want me to be. Lead me in Your Way. Give me an open heart and mind to receive Your truth.

As she thumbed through the whispering onion-skin pages, her Bible fell open to Romans. A verse she’d underlined some time before caught her attention. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.

Enough grace to stand in. Was it even humanly possible to be a person of grace? She slanted her lips as she pondered the question, but finally gave her head a shake. True grace was motivated by the purest love, and maybe it was just her, but she doubted she could ever love someone that much.

The thought troubled her. God commanded her to love others as she loved herself, but some people made that seem impossible. Maybe something inside her was broken and malfunctioning. Perhaps her childhood left her incapable of loving like she was supposed to.

Thump!

She jumped at the unexpected noise then sat motionless, her ears tuned to the tiniest noise. More thumps sounded from the basement.

Her pulse raced at the possibility of an intruder. In Miller’s Creek at this hour of the morning? Not likely. Maybe Andy had spent the night in the basement apartment because of working late. She stood and tiptoed to the narrow stairs leading to the basement. That wasn’t likely either, especially with a newborn at home.

The noise continued. “Andy?” Grace made her way down the darkened steps. If it wasn’t him, at least maybe her voice would scare away a potential burglar.

She glided noiselessly across the large carpeted room. “Andy? Is that you?” Grace jiggled the door knob of the small studio apartment. Locked. Now what?

Perhaps she should call the ranch to see what Andy wanted her to do. She started back across the open space toward the staircase to place the call. But before she’d made it even halfway, the overhead lights sputtered on.

“Well, well, if it isn’t Gracie Mae.”

She spun around, one hand to her pounding heart, a tinny taste in her mouth. Matt?

He leaned against a wall, one stout leg crossed casually over the other, his arms overlapped. An enigmatic expression rested in his sandy brown eyes, and though his hair was damp from a recent washing, his rumpled T-shirt and jeans looked as if he’d slept in them. In the time since she’d seen him last, he’d cut his hair so short there was no evidence of the curls she’d always admired, and he’d buffed up, more muscular and lean than before.

Grace squashed the motherly instincts that rose within her at the sight of his wrinkled clothes. That’s what landed her in trouble with him the first time, and she wouldn’t fall for it again. A man like Matt, one with wanderlust in his blood, wasn’t the one for her. “What are you doing here?”

He released a short laugh. “Shouldn’t I be the one asking you that question?”

“I passed the bar and—”

“Yeah, Andy told me. Congrats.” He made his way to where she stood and came to a stop a few uncomfortable feet away. “But that still doesn’t explain why you’re here so early.”

She shrugged and turned toward the stairs. “Couldn’t sleep. See you around.”

Before she reached the first step, Matt blocked her way, the soft scent of shampoo clinging to his damp hair.

“Still running away from me?” Though he spoke the words softly, his tawny eyes held a challenge.

Her hands balled into fists. A million retorts built up behind her clenched lips, but she held them at bay. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of seeing that his words affected her in the least. With great effort, she uncurled her fingers. “Nope. Just going back to my desk to get started on some work.”

His posture went slack, and he sent an apologetic grin. “Sorry. Let me start over. Had breakfast yet?”

A rumble sounded from her stomach. “If that’s an invitation, I accept.” The reckless words were out before she had time to reconsider. What was she thinking? She’d shut this door over two years ago, a door that needed to stay shut. Nonetheless, she’d agreed to breakfast, and she’d follow through to prove she wasn’t running away.

They crossed the room together, and Grace threw out a question to fill the silence. “Have you been working out?”

“Yep. Even joined the wrestling team at school. It’s been good for me.”

Grace followed Matt into the apartment and glanced around. In characteristic messy-Matt style, a spread-out newspaper, microwave popcorn bag, and an almost-empty glass sat on the coffee table, while a pillow and blanket hung off the couch. A duffel bag on the floor spewed its contents, bringing an odd rush of disappointment. “Just in town for one night?” Typical.

“Don’t really know at this point.” He offered no further explanation, but moved to the kitchenette fridge and removed the makings for an omelet. “So what’s next for you?” With deft movements, he prepared the meal, the chopped onions burning her eyes. “Last I heard you were going to get your career going before looking for your soul mate. Still searching for Mr. Perfect?” His voice held a hint of bitterness.

She lowered her gaze. “Look, Matt, about our conversation two years ago. It wasn’t personal. I just needed to focus on one thing at a time. My law school had to come first.”

“Agreed. As I recall, I never tried to suggest otherwise.”

“No, but I sensed you wanted more from me than I was prepared to give at the time.”

He seemed to accept the answer. “But you have to admit, I don’t exactly fit the image in your head.”

Grace froze. How was she supposed to answer that? “And what image is that?”

“Smart, well-groomed, wealthy, professional, handsome.”

Her eyebrows rose. He’d pretty much nailed her must-have list on the head. In fact, he’d perfectly described one of Andy’s new partners, Jason Dent. The only problem was that guys like Jason didn’t give girls like her a second glance.

A knowing smile touched the corners of Matt’s mouth, but to his credit, he dropped the subject. “So you still haven’t told me why you’re here at such an early hour.”

“That’s because you didn’t ask nicely.”

His boyish chortle took her by surprise and set off unexplainable emotions. He glanced up from the cutting board. “True. How’s this? Nice to see you again, Gracie. What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this so early?”

To her chagrin, a traitorous laugh bubbled out. She cut it short and shrugged. “I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep, so I decided to come to work.”

A frown wrinkled his brow. “How come you couldn’t sleep?”

She hesitated, considering how best to answer his question. Might as well tell him the truth. He’d always been good at dragging it out of her anyway. “Nightmare.”

The lines on his forehead grew deeper. “Same one?”

She averted her gaze and nodded.

“Have it often?”

“Not as often as I used to, but for some reason it’s woken me up several times this week.”

He whisked the eggs into a frothy mixture and poured it into the sizzling skillet, but didn’t speak for a moment, as if thinking through her comment. “Might be the stress of starting a new job.”

“But it’s not really a new job. I’ve worked for Andy off and on since I graduated from high school. You, of all people, should know that.”

A wry grin curled one corner of his mouth. “Yeah, but now you’re an attorney. That worrying you any?”

She deliberated on the question. Drat! He’d done it again. How could he always discern what was bothering her?

“That’s it, isn’t it?”

The self-satisfied smirk on his face gave Grace the urge to whop him upside the head. “So what? That’s what you’re learning how to do, isn’t it? Figure out what’s eating people?”

“Yep.” He added the omelet toppings, and folded it over effortlessly. “Now the next question. Why does it bother you so much that I figured it out?”

Grace seethed inwardly. Why indeed? Maybe because it made her feel like she needed him, and she didn’t want to need him.

He moved next to her, the hot skillet out in front, and stopped, his face inches from hers, his eyelids half-closed. “Don’t worry, Gracie Mae. It’s okay that someone has you figured out. Trust me, it’s a good thing.”

“I don’t think anyone has ever been able to make me as angry as you do, Matt Tyler. Ever!” Grace pelted the words through tight lips then moved toward the door.

Once more, he blocked her way, holding the simmering omelet, the tantalizing aroma teasing her nostrils. “There you go again, running away.”

Rage exploded within, but no way would she dare give him the privilege of being right. She sent a close-mouthed smile she didn’t feel and turned to take a seat at the small table.

Matt tossed a pot holder to the table and set the pan on it, then procured two plates and glasses from the cabinet. “Still like chocolate in your milk?”

Yes, but he didn’t have to know it. “No. I’ve outgrown that childish habit.”

He cocked one eyebrow and poured two glasses of milk, dousing his with a healthy dose of chocolate syrup.

Grace turned her head and looked the other way, fighting her chocolate craving by reminding herself how much she hated her thunder thighs.

Matt took a long slurp from his glass, then released a satisfied sigh and licked his lips. “Man, there’s nothing better than ice-cold chocolate milk.” He sat his glass on the table and divided the omelet before delivering a portion to each plate. “Mind if I bless the food?”

“Not at all.” She bowed her head. At least one part of his life seemed headed in the right direction.

After he finished the prayer, Grace pulled a napkin from the holder and laid it in her lap, then forked into the omelet, cheese squeezing out from between the fluffy layers. A few minutes later she wiped her mouth and glanced up to see Matt staring at her with the same indecipherable look in his eyes.

“So if you woke up early, why didn’t you eat breakfast at your house?” Matt took another swig of milk, his eyes never leaving her face.

“No reason, really.” She shifted in her seat. At least none she wanted him to know.

“Your dad still pressuring you?”

“What do you mean?” Grace scooted her chair away from the table and stood with her plate to carry it to the sink.

Matt took hold of her arm as she whisked by. “Running away again?”

She jerked her elbow away. “No. Just cleaning up my dishes.”

“I’ll take care of it later. Have a seat.”

Grace unwillingly acquiesced. “Papa means well. We just have different opinions of what I should do with my life.”

He studied her face for a long, uncomfortable minute, like he wanted to say something, but wasn’t sure he should say it. Finally, he widened his eyes and changed the subject. “So back to the attorney thing. Any thoughts on why it’s bothering you?”

“Matt, you’re not a therapist yet, and I’m certainly not your client. Don’t feel like you have to analyze me and figure out all my issues. Nor should you feel obliged to fix me.”

His eyes widened again, registering hurt. “Just trying to help.”

She took in the sincerity inscribed on his face. Why did he have to be so darn likeable? Grace raised her gaze momentarily, focused on a cobweb dangling from the ceiling. And how was she supposed to talk about this with the brother of her boss? “It’s not easy to explain.”

“Try me.”

“Okay, but you’d better not breathe a word of this to Andy.”

A teasing light flickered in his eyes. “If you’re not a client, then you have no client privileges.”

Grace wadded her napkin and tossed it at him.

He caught it effortlessly in mid-air and laughed.

She pointed a finger at him. “I mean it, Matt. Promise.”

“Okay, okay.” He waved his hands, chest high, in surrender.

She inhaled a deep breath, the lingering smell of breakfast still in the air, and rubbed her arms. “You know I’ve wanted to be an attorney ever since Mama died.”

“Yeah. Go on.”

“I just didn’t see it working out this way. I thought I’d be a prosecutor.”

“So you feel like you’re working for the wrong side of the law?”

Grace nodded. “I love Andy like a brother, and owe him so much. I wouldn’t be an attorney if it weren’t for him.”

“But you feel obligated to work for him when your passion is to put the bad guys behind bars.”

“Exactly.” She gave her head a shake at the conundrum. “And I don’t know what to do about it.”

Matt placed his elbows on the table and rested his chin on his laced fingers. “Maybe you’re looking at it all wrong, Gracie. You’re focused on the situation rather than why you feel the way you do. Have you stopped to think about why you want to be a prosecutor?”

The reason flew into her brain instantly, and she straightened. “I guess for Mama, to keep someone else from going through this, and to achieve justice for others.”

“To avenge her death?” The question was half-whispered, but even then sounded cold, almost un-Christian. “Don’t overthink it, Gracie.” Matt’s tone held warning. “I see your brain spinning from here. Don’t try to assign meaning and morality to your motivation. Just accept it and move on from there.”

“But it does explain my nightmare.” The agitation in her voice surprised her. “Don’t you see? It’s as if Mama’s trying to remind me of that night so I’ll make the right decision. Maybe I need to look for a different position, one that’ll put me on the prosecution. Maybe I’m not cut out to defend guys I don’t completely trust.”

“Whoa, girl, you’re gonna strip some gears bouncing around that fast.” He stood and moved to the sink with his plate, nabbing hers as he passed. “When it comes to life, A plus B doesn’t always equal C. It’s just a jumping off place. Give it some time.”

There it was again. Matt and his “lo que serĂ¡, sera”-approach to life. “You would say that. You want me to work for Andy. He’s your brother.”

The dishes Matt carried crashed into the sink, and he made a quick trip back to the table. “That’s not at all why I said what I did. Just think through things a little more carefully. I don’t believe your mother’s trying to communicate with you from the grave, and neither do if you think through it.” He softened his demeanor. “But the dilemma you’re facing is enough to make you dream about the accident.”

“Think through it? That’s the best advice you can give? A minute ago you were telling me not to overthink.”

An exasperated sigh fell from his lips. He squatted near her chair, enclosed her hands with his own, and gazed up into her eyes. “Gracie. It’s me, remember? I know you. Don’t stress and worry about making the right decision. Pray about it. You belong to God. He’ll put you where He wants you.” His smile grew tender. “And I have no doubt that you’ll be an awesome attorney, no matter which side of the courtroom you sit on.”

Tears stung her eyes, and she blinked furiously to keep them at bay. How good it felt to have someone offer encouragement—to remind her God was in control—even if it were Matt. She lowered her gaze to collect herself before glancing back up at him. “Thanks.”

He helped her to her feet and moved close to embrace her in a hug, the scent of his cologne toying with her frazzled emotions.

Grace sidestepped and reached for her glass. There was no way she’d let this move past a friendly level. He was more than likely here for a short time. Then he’d be off chasing his fantasies once more.

She deposited the glass in the stainless steel sink with a clunk. Besides, she had her life plan to think of—a plan that didn’t include a gypsy like Matt.