Thursday, January 30, 2014

AMAZING CD - and an even MORE Amazing Artist!! Christopher Duffley!

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (January 29, 2014) - Twelve-year-old YouTube sensation Christopher Duffley, who is blind and has autism, has been selected as one of "10 Amazing Individuals With Autism Who Shined In 2013" in the current issue of the Autism Speaks national newsletter.
Christopher was selected as no. 2 on the list for his standing ovation-evoking performance of "Lean On me" at the Winter Autism Ball, hosted by Autism Speaks and New York  Collaborates for Autism (NYCA) in December.

During Christopher's Winter Autism Ball performance, he was joined onstage for background vocals by some famous entertainers, including Michael Bolton, Kelly Rowland and the Harlem Gospel Choir. Christopher was also singled out for his performance earlier in 2013 as part of Autism Speaks "Cruise Night for Autism Speaks" event.
"Christopher's heart is as big and beautiful as his voice," says Liz Feld, president of Autism Speaks."When Christopher sings, the only thing more powerful than his lyrics is the courage behind them. He inspires us to see what matters most--what's inside." 
Christopher was selected along with Alexis Wineman, Miss Montana in 2012, who participated in the 2013 Miss America Pageant, the first individual with autism to receive this honor; public speaker and social skills coach Daniel Wendler, the author of  and others. To read the entire article, visit
Christopher is garnering attention throughout the U.S. not only for his remarkable talent, but also for the challenges with which he lives. He released his debut CD, Open The Eyes Of My Heart, on October 29, 2013.

Christopher's story as a popular entertainer began when a video of the then 10-year-old Christopher singing "Open The Eyes of My Heart" at the Capitol Center for the Performing Arts in New Hampshire went viral, garnering more than 5 million views on YouTube. News of his remarkable talent spread like wildfire, culminating in Christopher singing the national anthem for the Boston Red Sox baseball team at Fenway Park.

Demand for Christopher to release a CD swelled, propelling the young singer and his family to travel to Nashville to work with Dove Award-winning producer, songwriter and arranger Steven V. Taylor (Kirk Franklin, Michael W. Smith, Natalie Grant). 
The result is an 11-song compilation of inspirational, patriotic and sacred songs, titled Eyes Of My Heart, that reaches deep into listeners' hearts and encourages them to see with new eyes. 
"We chose the title from the song 'Open the Eyes of My Heart' because of its meaning in our lives," says Christine Duffley, Christopher's mother. "It was the first real song Christopher sang when he was 3 years old. He sang it during a mission trip and people broke down in tears. When Christopher sings, 'Open The Eyes Of My Heart,' I remember to not only see with my physical eyes, but to see as God sees--through my heart."
For more information about Christopher and Eyes Of My Heart,, like on Facebook ( or follow on Twitter (
About Christopher Duffley: 
Christopher Duffley entered this world with only a 50 percent chance of survival. Born prematurely at 26 weeks, Christopher weighed just 1 lb., 12 oz. and tested positive for cocaine. Miraculously, he survived, but an eye condition, retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a disease that affects the eyes of many premature babies, rendered him totally blind by the time he was 6 months old. Due to his birth parents' inability to care for him because of their drug dependency, Christopher was discharged from the hospital into foster care.

But Christopher's struggles were not the end of the story. When his biological aunt and her husband, Christine and Stephen Duffley, learned that Christopher was in foster care, 
they sought him out. Once they located the child, they brought him home to New Hampshire to be part of their family.

By the time he reached 5 years old, Christopher had been diagnosed with autism. Although he had rarely conversed until he reached the first grade, Christopher's adopted mother, Christine, had noticed his ability to make rhythmic noises and keep beat, and he had begun to pick out songs on the piano by age 3. Because of this natural affinity, music therapy was a logical choice to help Christopher learn to communicate, which Christine says he did more often by singing than talking. And, when he sang, it was in perfect pitch.

"Although the circumstances have been difficult and we have had challenges, we have found much joy and so many more blessings," says Christine Duffley. "Family life is imperfect and messy, and it has been a journey of love, forgiveness and abandonment. Through it all, however, we are grateful that Christopher's biological parents chose life and, now, God is using this life to touch the world for Christ."

For more information about Christopher, visit

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Heart of Mercy by Sharlene MacLaren

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Whitaker House (January 1, 2014)

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


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

Visit the author's website.


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

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


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

Monday, January 27, 2014

Scraps of Evidence by Barbara Cameron - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing

About the Book: 

A quilt holds the clues to life and death.
Tess has taken some ribbing from her fellow officer, Logan, for her quilting hobby. He finds it hard to align the brisk professional officer he patrols with during the day with the one who quilts in her off-time. Besides, he’s been trying to get to know her better and he’d like to be seeing her during those few nights a week she spends with her quilting guild. Then one afternoon Tess and Logan visit her aunt in the nursing home, and the woman acts agitated when Tess covers her with the story quilt. Aunt Susan is attempting to communicate a message to them about Tess’s uncle. There’s a story behind this quilt, they realize, one that may lead them to a serial killer. Will they have a chance to have a future together, or will the killer choose Tess for his next victim before they find him?My Thoughts:St. Augustine, Florida is hot and getting hotter as a serial killer begins leaving a new trail of victims.  The only consistent piece of evidence is a strange mark left on each victim.  Tessa  and Logan may be newly partnered police detectives, but what a workout they face in this Quilts of Love novel!  Scraps of Evidence literally has to piece together a series of brutal murders that reach over decades!  Like the story told by a well-made quilt, this mystery comes together piece by piece, sewn together with friendships – old and new – trust given and betrayed, and as the new victims surface Tess is given a second chance to secure justice for her best friend.

The relationship between Tess and Logan is also a piece of artwork by the end of the story.  Their skills as detectives complement each other well, and as their friendship blossoms the picture of their past begins to heal and their future looks ever brighter!  Theirs is a very believable and realistic relationship that gives the story depth.

Once again, Quilts of Love has delivered another solid addition to the series!  Scraps of Evidence was a very satisfying read indeed!
About the Author:
Barbara Cameron has a heart for writing about the spiritual values and simple joys of the Amish. She is the author of more than 35 fiction and nonfiction books, three nationally televised movies, and the winner of the first Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. Barbara currently resides in Edgewater, Florida. Find out more about Barbara at and

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Dare to Love Again by Julie Lessman - REVIEWED

About the Book: (from the publisher)
A sassy socialite burned by love.
A jaded cop burned by the upper class.
Where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire … and a whole lot of sparks!

In book 2 of the "Heart of San Francisco" series, Spunky Allison McClare is determined to be a fearless, independent woman, resorting to a mammoth hat pin for protection on her way to and from the school where she teaches. But when she takes a notion to explore the wild Barbary Coast she quickly discovers she is no match for rum-soaked brute strength.

Detective Nick Barone would rather do almost anything than teach this sassy socialite jiu-jitsu, but it seems he has little choice in the matter. Sparks fly every time the two meet until a grudging friendship develops into something deeper. But when Nick suddenly leaves town, Allison realizes he’s a fraud just like all the rest of the men she’s cared for. Does she dare love again?
My Thoughts:
Miss Lottie Da and Mr. Pain-in-the Nick!! I love it !!  Julie Lessman combines romance, humor and deep wounding and healing in her latest novel, Dare To Love Again.   In the story she explores timeless societal boundaries between the have’s and have-nots and the universal pain of rejection, the consequences of wrong choices and the desire to reach out and share your heart with others.  In a way unique to Julie, she creates characters who are real and realistically flawed. The reader quickly becomes part of the lives of these characters, and the laughter and tears that are provoked as the story unfolds leaves behind a very satisfied customer!

I don’t remember when I have laughed out loud as often as I did while the relationship between Nick and Allison unfolded!  This couple gets off to a very uncertain start to say the least!! Both have been deeply wounded by others, and those hurts spark a series of very heated encounters that entertained almost too much!!  And Uncle Logan has to deal with a very precarious relationship situation as well.  The combination of characters trying to open a school for underprivileged girls in a very dangerous neighborhood creates an unforgettable setting within which the story unfolds.  The longing for independence, love and meaningful relationships and life purpose are also very real and present.

I’ve always enjoyed Julie Lessman’s novels, but Dare To Love Again is truly a gem!!  I HIGHLY recommend this to all readers!!
About the Author:

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. Winner of the 2009 ACFW Debut Author of the Year and Holt Medallion Awards of Merit for Best First Book and Long Inspirational, Julie is also the recipient of 14 Romance Writers of America awards and was voted by readers as “Borders Best of 2009 So Far: Your Favorite Fiction.”
Chosen as the #1 Romance Fiction Author of the Year in the Family Fiction magazine 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie was also awarded #1 Historical Fiction Author of the Year in that same poll and #3 Author of the Year, #4 Novel of the Year and #3 Series of the year. She resides in Missouri with her husband, daughter, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter and is the author of “The Daughters of Boston” series—A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. Book 1 in her “Winds of Change” series A Hope Undaunted ranked #5 on Booklist’s Top 10 Inspirational Fiction for 2010.

Friday, January 24, 2014

30 Meditations on Rest by Marilyn Hickey and Sarah Bowling

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

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

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


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

Visit the author's website.


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

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


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

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

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

For the Love of Pete by Debby Mayne - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing

About the Book: (from B&H publishing)
Widow Bethany Hanahan is trying in vain to fill an empty heart and an empty nest. The result is a home filled to the brim, but something is still missing. That’s when her new gardening club friends come to the rescue, encouraging her to let go of the past as well as the present clutter –emotional, spiritual, and physical. It’s not long before Bethany is finding friends, not bargains, to fill her days. But has her life become too full for someone like Pete Sprockett, a childhood friend, for whom her romantic feelings are beginning to bloom? Join the quirky, loving community of Bloomfield as they do what they do best – poke their well-meaning noses in and intervene in times of need –in author Debby Mayne’s second novel in what has become a five book series about a community where life is simple and love is real.

My Thoughts:
Naomi’s eyebrows shot up.  “I reckon you just told us.”  (p.305)

Naomi said on page 305 what I’d be longing for a reason to say…and Pete finally delivered!  So the ending of this book is satisfying….finally!

This is the first of the Bloomfield books I’ve had the pleasure to read, and I must say this takes me back to a familiar place in my childhood…a community that kept God at the center but maintained their own brand of quirky! For the Love of Pete takes  a cast of characters and weaves an intimate community.  Family and friends blend seamlessly together and rally around Bethany Hananhan when she returns home to Bloomfield as a widow.  She does what many of us do, and she clings to physical reminders of a happier time in her life – literally.  Her house is so filled with clutter she is a danger to herself when she sits to have a cup of coffee!

But never fear! Naomi and Miss Gertie are on the job! They create the most hair-brained idea to de-clutter Bethany’s life and then fill up the town and her life with a host of new people!  And their ideas work, almost too well! (Hence the comment made by Pete on page 305)

So come, join the community of Bloomfield as they create home and healing for one of their own. And please take the time to get to know Murray!  He is a hoot!!  This is a precious novel that will entertain a broad audience!

About the Author:

Debby Mayne has published more than 25 books and novellas, 400 short stories and articles, and a slew of devotions for women. She has also worked as managing editor of a national health magazine, product information writer for a TV retailer, a creative writing instructor, and a copy editor and proofreader for several book publishers. For the past seven years, she has judged the Writers Digest Annual Competition, Short-Short Contest, and Self-Published Book Competition.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Futureville by Skye Jethani - REVIEWED

About the Book: (from Thomas Nelson Publishing)
Want to see the future? It is brighter than you think.
What we believe about tomorrow determines how we live today. As Christians debate how to faithfully engage with our rapidly changing world, our vision of the future has never been more important.
But rather than providing a clear sense of purpose for our lives, popular Christian ideas about the future steal it from us by saying our work in the world, apart from ministry, has no eternal value. Is it any wonder why young adults are less interested in church, or why a culture desperate for meaning and hope dismisses our message?
In Futureville, Skye Jethani offers us a vision-shifting glimpse of the world of tomorrow described in Scripture. He reveals how a biblical vision of the future can transform every person’s work with a sense of purpose and dignity today.
Futureville is a smart, inspiring call to cultivate the order, beauty, and abundance that reflects the heart and vision of God for our world.
My Thoughts:
“Similarly, the new heaven and earth, like Jesus’ new body and our newness in Christ, is not a material replacement of the current heaven and earth.  Instead, it is the radical transformation and re-creation of heaven and earth to reflect new qualities.” 

This is one of three pathways to following Christ and experiencing the resurrection power of Christ’s death.  I say that because evolution and evacuation are the other two.  Evolution is self-explanatory.  Evacuation is a pretty narrow view of the end times as preached by some – sort of the turn or burn theology to the exclusion of living a life that glorifies God and draws others to Him.  And the resurrection power of Christ does, in fact, transform lives and is the ONLY way we will ever live eternally with God.  However, the resurrection of the same physical heaven and earth that is now in existence is…conjecture.  I get the line of thought that makes this possible, but think it doesn’t line up with Scripture.

That said, the purpose-filled life that people are seeking, and the lack of confirmation in life pursuits (careers) because it’s not full-time ministry, is causing young folks are leaving the church in droves .  People are so confused, so lost, so skeptical, so cynical about the reality of Christ’s sacrificial life death and resurrection that the church needs to come back to the simplicity of the gospel.  The church needs to celebrate the calling and gifts given to every child of God and facilitate their pursuit of that calling rather than condemning it because it’s not "full-time ministry".

That’s where the church misses it.  ALL OF US ARE CALLED TO BE IN MINISTRY FULL-TIME.  Parents, teachers, bus-drivers, financial genius’, doctors, nurses, janitors….if we belong to Christ and are using our God-given gifts, we glorify God and provide the means for others to do the same!  We come alongside others in community and use our unique gifts to minister to others whether they are in need or whether they just need encouragement and confirmation.

Quite honestly, I cannot begin to truncate the message of this book.  I don’t want to concentrate on what I disagreed with…but on the fact that we need to be reaching out to others using our unique gifts and share the truth of the gospel with a lost and dying world.  I don’t want to chime in on the centuries-long debate about the end of the world particulars. There are certain things that we will never know in full until we reach Heaven.  I want to share the gospel with others and live a life that draws others to Christ. I think that is also the heart of Skye Jethani’s message.

This is a book designed to be used in a small-group setting, complete with study questions for each chapter and lists of references and research resources.  Check it out!! It’s a fascinating read!
About the Author:
Skye Jethani is an author, editor, speaker, consultant and pastor. He occupies numerous roles at Christianity Today, a leading communications ministry launched by Billy Graham in 1956. Since 2004 Skye has served on the editorial team of Leadership Journal and is currently the group’s Executive Editor. He is also the Senior Producer of This Is Our City, a multi-year, multi-city project telling the stories of Christians working for the common good of their communities.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Search for Purple Cows by Susan Call - REVIEWED

About the Book:  (from Guideposts publishing)
A whimsical comment from a kind stranger, 'Be sure to search for purple cows,' brings hope to a woman and her children fleeing from a life filled with trouble. In A Search for Purple Cows, Susan Call reveals to the world how painful a relationship can be when love deteriorates into a cycle of abuse and betrayal. Her moving memoir chronicles how she first met her husband, a handsome, stylish, generous man with whom she worked. Eventually they fell in love, married, and had two children. Their life seemed idyllic -- they had a beautiful home and everything a family could desire. But soon, inside those walls, Call was tormented by her husband's alcoholism, domestic abuse, and infidelity that cast her family into a world fraught with fear and despair. God found her in the midst of her pain, and showed her, through the unlikely source of a Christian radio station, that a journey toward Him was possible even in the most unthinkable circumstances. Call eventually found the strength to move on and start anew. Written with candor and grace, A Search for Purple Cows will leave you laughing, crying, and believing that God is present and able, ready to bring hope and healing.

My Thoughts:
God was slowly helping me shift my focus off of myself and my difficult situation on to Him.” (p. 46)

And while I call this “my journey,” I believe in reality it is His story; it is a reminder that God still performs miracles, He still answers prayers, and He still very much cares about each one of us.” (p. 224)

This was a story that I was meant to read. A God-appointment in my life.  While my story is very, very different, and not anywhere near as traumatic in many ways, I recognize many aspects of Susan’s story.  She tells a story of deliverance.  She gives God all of the praise and honor for her life and her  - well, her everything.  Truly, she has been faithful to share one of the most honest, painful stories I’ve read in quite some time. It is a true story. It is her story.

And it is the story many, many women understand because they too have walked the same or similar path.  I have lived through the ending of a 22-year marriage, and I can truly say with Susan that “…God still performs miracles, He still answers prayers, and He still very much cares about each one of us.”  I can say this because I too have experienced His tender care and provision in miraculous ways time and time again over the course of the past 2 ½ years.  Susan’s story has now become part of my healing.

I thank God for her obedience to tell the story of her journey!  

About the Author:
Susan Call is a speaker and author who enjoys sharing her insights from life's valley, offering hope and wisdom to her audiences. She holds an MS in Marriage and Family Therapy from Eastern Nazarene College and a BA in Computer Science from Susquehanna University. She also studied at Uppsala University and Vilundaskolan in Sweden. She lives in New Hampshire with her current husband Jim and their five children.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Rock And A Hard Place Set To Film in Spring; Sitcom Reaches Initial Kickstarter Goal, Three Days Left To Make 'Reach Goal'
Legendary vocalist John Schlitt joins actor Stephen Baldwin in the cast of the new faith-based sitcom Rock And A Hard Place, set to begin filming in the Spring. (Thompson Digital Image Photography & Web Design photo)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (January 14, 201
4) Grammy and Dove Award-winning vocalist John Schlitt is set to join actor Stephen Baldwin in a new sitcom, Rock And A Hard Place, slated to go into production in the Spring. The faith-based television project features Schlitt in the role of John, the maintenance man at Solid Rock Church, where Baldwin's character is the pastor.
The sitcom, which has reached its initial Kickstarter goal to produce the pilot, is currently in Phase Two as the production team strives to make a "reach goal" of $100,000. The deadline for contributions is 9 p.m. E.T. Thursday, January 16. 
The story line centers around Baldwin's character, Pastor Darren Keaton, who has a young
daughter, a live-in mother-in-law, a slowly declining congregation in a northern Illinois church. When Pastor Keaton learns he has become the new owner of Hard Knocks, the bar directly across the street from his church home, Solid Rock Church, he suddenly finds himself between "a rock and a hard place." The pastor questions how his congregation will respond, how the church elders and staff will treat him,  and how a devoutly religious man pastoring a church can possibly be allowed to own a bar? Pastor Darren finds he must look up for the answers, even more now than ever.
Legendary vocalist John Schlitt, far left, is set to star in the upcoming faith-based sitcom Rock And A Hard Place, with (l-r) Stephen Baldwin, Lindee Link, Berkeley Clayborne (front), and Darren Marlar, who also created and wrote the series and will serve as one of the producers. (Thompson Digital Image Photography & Web Design photo) 
"If you feel it's important to reach the public with a Christian perspective, this is your chance," Schlitt says. "I believe there is an audience waiting for programming such as Rock And A Hard Placeand I'm honored to be part of making the series happen."
"Rock And A Hard Place is a comedy sitcom extravaganza," Baldwin says. "It's an outside the box, kooky, funny, Christian comedy of a heightened quality."
Joining Baldwin and Schlitt in the cast are Braxton Cosby (Bill Cosby's nephew) as the Solid Rock Church worship leader, Berkeley Clayborne as Rachel Keaton, and actress Lindee Link(Christian music singer Twila Paris' cousin) in a surprise role. Grammy nominee Bryan Duncan wrote and performed the theme song for the new TV project. Darren Marlar is the series creator, producer, writer and also acts in the show.
To contribute to Rock And A Hard Place via Kickstarter or to learn more about the faith-based sitcom, visit
For more information about Schlitt, visit
About John Schlitt:
For more than three decades, John Schlitt has enjoyed a stellar musical career as a solo artist, as the lead singer for Grammy Award-winning Christian band Petra, one of the most successful Christian rock bands of all time, and as the former lead singer for popular '70s mainstream rock band Head East. He has been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame as the lead singer of Petra during the years when the band won 10 Dove Awards and four Grammy Awards.   

Schlitt was named the best rock singer in Christian music history by  According to the website, Schlitt "remains one of the most distinctive and impactful men to ever stand behind a microphone." Schlitt was also named Male Vocalist of the Year in's 2011 Readers' Poll in a category that included Chris Tomlin, Jeremy Camp, Brandon Heath and Bebo Norman.

Since Schlitt released his fourth solo CD, The Greater Cause, in May 2012, the legendary vocalist's busy schedule has included appearances on The Mike Huckabee Show700 Club Interactive and the Faith & Freedom Celebration--the faith-based kick-off to the Republican National Convention, as well as extensive international touring. Schlitt released his first recorded project of Christmas music this past November with the digital release of The Christmas Project.

For more information on Schlitt visit or follow him on Twitter (@johnwschlitt) or Facebook (