Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A View from Jenny B. Jones' Window! Welcome Jenny!

It is my pleasure to share with you my recent cyber-conversation with author Jenny B. Jones. She is a very special lady, and I know you will enjoy meeting her too!

1. Your story of Katie Parker represents many problems inherent to the drug culture that exists in today’s society. As a school teacher, have you encountered this first hand, and was that where the idea for this series originated?

The idea for the series did come from a blending of two students I had some time ago. That’s how Katie was born.

I was blessed with the opportunity to start a drama program at a small school some time ago. We saw kids coming into their own, using talents they didn’t know they had and just many a-ha! moments. I had a student who found her place through drama—something she discovered she totally rocked at. But then I also had a student, “Maggie,” who came from a horrible home life and got “stuck” in the class. Though she did her best, it wasn’t her cup of tea. I will never forget the night of the play for the community. The kids got a standing ovation, but “Maggie’s” family didn’t show. I remember thinking, much like if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear…if a kid gets a standing ovation and no one is there to see her… Anyway, that has always stuck with me. “Maggie” was later taken out of her home and placed with a friend’s family, where she was thoroughly loved and cared for and received the attention that she had never had before. She became a new person. My character Katie is a combination of both those students I mentioned. Their stories are etched on my heart.

Beyond that, I am heavily influenced by all my students, and that definitely includes those with troubled home lives and those in families with addictions. We see a lot of that in education.

2. What do you feel is the biggest challenge faced by today’s teens? Do you feel like your roll as a teacher can positively help them through these challenges? How?

The biggest challenge…I have to pick one? I think over-exposure to negativity. They are bombarded with negative images, sounds, influences everywhere, from movies to games, to videos and music. I don’t think access to sex, drugs, violence, and other things “dark” has ever been more easily accessible or prevalent. I really feel we, as a society, are od’ing our kids and fostering a culture of people who almost have no choice but to be angry, bitter, and unhappy.

I do think teachers are vital allies. The sad fact is that we spend more time with a child than the parent. As a teacher, there is only so much I can do to help a kid with personal challenges, but our job as role models and strong, dependable adults is pretty crucial, I think. For some kids, the teachers might be the only stable adults in their realm of influence. So while subject matter rarely speaks to a heart, as a teacher I desperately want my integrity, commitment, and encouragement to teach more than anything. We have an enormous responsibility to be people these students can count on and look up to as what an adult SHOULD be. Mostly, I just want my students to know through my actions and words that I believe in them and their future.

3. What reaction have you had from your students regarding your Katie Parker books? Do they read them? Can you share some of their comments?

The coolest thing of this writing journey is to be among a few thousand teenagers at my school and get instant feedback. The response has been amazing. I have students reading them who aren’t Christian. I have BOYS reading them. I have students passing the books onto parents and grandparents. I love their enthusiasm and their generosity with the compliments. But what always gets me the most is the kid who sees herself in the books. At the beginning of this school year, I had a student I didn’t know stop me and ask me if I was the teacher who wrote the books. When I said yes, she said, “I understand what Katie’s going through. I lived in a group home when my mom couldn’t take care of me.” The books were more than entertainment for her. It was a confirmation that other kids go through her trauma, but there is hope. And she got the message that she doesn’t have to inherit her parents’ addictions or “trash” as I call it. Their burdens don’t have to be hers long-term. SHE is the girl those books are for.

4. You state that this will be the last of Katie Parker. What is next on the book horizon? Is there a work in progress?

The Big Picture is the last of the Katie Parker series. Next is the Charmed Life series, which will debut with So Not Happening in 2009. It’s totally different from the Katie books, but still will include humor, sass, and teen issues. This series revolves around Bella, a 17 year old socialite from NYC. Her life radically changes when her plastic surgeon dad dumps her mom for a newer version, and Mom remarries…a professional wrestler from Oklahoma. I’m really excited about it, though I miss Mad Maxine already. : )

5. Can you share what exciting things God is doing in your life right now? Any words of

encouragement you want to leave with your readers?

That's a tough question! I think right now God is having (forcing me?) to look at my priorities
and what I fill my calendar with. Time is really precious right now, so it's been interesting to
see where I've been led to cut back. If the Lord tells me to cut back on the time I dedicate daily
to chocolate eating, I will bawl. I'm hoping to hear "Quit working out! No more exercising!"
So far...nothing of the sort. I would love to encourage your readers to pray for our schools and
our students (public, private, and the home school variety!). This generation is so challenged,
and they need all the help they can get. Pray up your children every day...and then throw in a few
extra names. We need student leaders and bold witnesses. Invest in those kids.

Thanks for letting me stop by, Kim!

The Big Picture by Jenny B. Jones

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Big Picture
(NavPress Publishing Group April 15, 2008)
Jenny B. Jones

Sometimes there’s a fine line between comedy and tragedy—and Katie Parker is walking it.

School is winding down for the summer but Katie Parker is having a bad day. After leaving the drive-in, where her imploding love life was the main attraction, Katie arrives home to a big surprise on the Scott's front porch.

Her mother, Bobbie Ann Parker, a former convict and recovering addict, wants to take Katie away from her family, friends, and church. Now Katie's life will be changed by a series of dramatic choices as she struggles to understand what family and home really means.

Katie is forced to walk away from In Between, leaving behind a family who loves her, a town drive-in to save, and a boyfriend who suddenly can’t take his eyes off his ex. When the life her mother promised begins to sink faster than one of Maxine’s stuffed bras, Katie knows she needs to rely on God to keep it together.

But where is he in all this? Can Katie survive a chaotic life with her mother—and one without the Scotts? And if God is there, will he come through before it’s too late?

A Katie Parker Production series offers teen girls real-world fiction balanced by hope and humor. The The Big Picture helps us realize that the difficult chapters in our journey are only part of God's big story for our lives.

You can read the first chapter HERE

"A heroine to love. Jones just gets better with every book, and The Big Picture is her best one yet."
~BARBARA WARREN, author of The Gathering Storm


Jenny B. Jones has created a trilogy of books called The Katie Parker Production series. Act 3 of this series is entitled the Big Picture, and it was my first introduction to the writing of this incredible author. The series “star” is a young teen named Katie Parker, and apparently the series chronicles a very difficult journey for this young lady. By the time you reach the big picture, Katie is a fledgling Christian because her foster parents lovingly introduced her to Christ through their church ministry and daily care of her injured soul. Her new faith is tried by fire in this novel, and it will leave your heart changed.

See, Katie’s mom is an addict. She has just been released from prison, and she wants to resume her role as Katie’s mother. Or does she? This book deals with a very heart-breaking and real problem within today’s society. Unfortunately, Katie’s story – albeit fiction here – is a very real scenario that many teens must endure. The life of drug addiction is strewn with many broken hearts and lives, and Jenny Jones has cushioned the telling of this raw emotional story in a couch of lovable, eclectic characters and set them down in a small town in Texas. I fell in love with Katie’s foster Granny – Maxine! Maxine alone creates an entire story within the story, and she will crack you up!

Yet there will be tears amid the laughter in this book. Katie must make decisions at the age of 17 that no teen should ever have to make. She learns that even though her earthly mother has failed her in many areas, that God has surrounded her with the deeper love of His family, and with His strength and abundant grace, Katie finds her way through. Jenny created a very realistic teen community, and their angst and romance fill the pages with some of the freshest, funniest, youthful insights and opinions I’ve ever read! Nothing is held back, and Katie becomes a strong and courageous young lady with help found in many unexpected places.

This story was especially poignant to me, because I serve as a volunteer for a ministry that provides an in-house rehab facility for recovering addicts. I’ve seen this story played out from both sides, and in my opinion, the parent-child relationship becomes a hellish battleground in this evil war on drugs. I’m glad to know Jenny Jones is living out God’s grace amid the teens of today! She is a gifted writer, and I feel like God will use these stories to reach a lot of broken hearts. I highly recommend this book! Share the entire series with the teens in your life! You won’t be sorry!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Another Thrilling Teen Book!! By Bryan Davis!

This review comes to you from a very enthusiastic teen – my son! He is hopeful that you will check out this great book!

This is a multi-dimensional book – literally! The Red dimension is present time, the Blue dimension is a few days ahead in the future, and the Yellow dimension is some 25 years in the past. Nathan and Kelly find themselves pursuing and being pursued by evil people intent on discovering yet a 4th dimension of time and causing all dimensions to collide!

There is a lot of action and taut suspense maintained throughout the story. Because there are sets of the same people living at different points in time, the risk of being erased from existence becomes a real danger. There are some that don’t survive in one dimension while in another they are trying to protect the third dimension folks from being kidnapped or killed. And it’s all a race against the people who are intent on evil!

How do all of these people travel back and forth through time, you ask? Through a mirror that responds to a combination of light and sound of course! If you enjoy a story that takes you to the very brink of your imagination and leaves you hungry for more, you want to read this series! Bryan Davis’ Echoes from The Edge series is sure to take your reading to an entirely new level! Hang on for the ride!!


Bryan Davis is the author of the fantasy series Dragons in Our Midst and Oracles of Fire. He and his wife, Susie, have seven children and live in western Tennessee, where he continues to cook up his imaginative blend of fantasy and inspiration.

Bill Myers' Dark Powers Collection coming in May!!

Suspense and action abound in the republication of Bill Myers’ Forbidden Doors series. Zondervan had re-released the first three novels of these popular teen books and entitled it the Dark Power Collection. The collection includes The Society, The Deceived and The Spell. Each story is based upon Rebecca and Scott Williams’ experiences as their lives transition from that of missionary children living in South America to the suburbs of California. The loss of the children’s father in a plane accident has plunged them headlong into a series of changes that proves to be both physically and spiritually challenging.

Bill Myers has chosen a common occult practice to highlight in each novel, and he uses the middle school and high school settings of the Williams’ world to reveal the real danger that faces today’s teens. Myers displays the lure of the dark practices of Ouija boards, hypnotism and spell casting and shows that there is true and dangerous power behind these deceptively innocent “games”. There are many books, movies and television shows that showcase these “dark” powers as something exciting and glamorous, but Bill Myers reveals the hidden dangers that lie beneath them. There are always consequences to our choices, and teen curiosity can lead kids onto paths that will have life-long effects.

As the mother of teens, I am glad to know that these issues are presented in such a fast-paced suspenseful format. However, before sharing them with my children, I would want to discuss the topic of occultism with them and make sure they know what the Bible has to say about these things and that Christ has already defeated Satan and his demons for all eternity. Spiritual warfare must be handled with much caution and, with proper parental guidance, I think these books can be a powerful teaching tool.

I’m a huge fan of suspense fiction, and Bill Myers has done an outstanding job dealing with a topic that makes a lot of folks very uncomfortable. Zondervan is re-releasing the entire Forbidden Door series in a set of four collection books. Each story follows directly on the heels of the other, so this new format will be a terrific way to showcase these novels. Great job, Mr. Myers!!


Bill Myers (www.billmyers,.com) is a bestselling author and award-winning writer/director whose work has won forty national and international awards. His books and videos have sold eight million copies and include such titles as The Seeing, Eli, The Voice, My Life as...series, and McGee and Me.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Mending At the Edge Winner!!




You'd be CRAZY to miss this book!! Randy Singer does it again!

Have mercy!!! Randy Singer has just taken the political suspense novel to an entirely different level!! I’m so bamboozled I don’t even know where to begin. There is kidnapping and murder, abuse, duplicity, and so many other layers of mystery and suspense you will be gasping for air by the end of the book! This story is set up in short chapters. Each chapter packs a punch. Just about the time you begin to draw your next breath another sucker punch gets delivered by the last sentence. I have never in all of my life read such a thrill ride!

Take a Las Vegas, Nevada lawyer and transplant him into the middle of a Virginia Beach, Virginia serial murder trial. You are drawn into the most intimate trial negotiations and glimpse the perspective of criminal psychologists. The prime suspect has to be framed, but by who?! You start gathering your own evidence and trying to eliminate suspects only to have to revise your list again and again. The last 60 pages of the books will take you to the brink of insanity trying to figure out what’s coming next!

Go get a copy of this book – TODAY! Don’t miss the thrill! By Reason of Insanity – indeed!! This is Randy Singer at his absolute best!

A word from Randy about his latest novel:

A few words about By Reason of Insanity:

I've really been trying in the last few books to write fiction that will appeal to both believers and those outside the church. My hope is to write a book that a Christian can give to a non-Christian friend without worrying about the book being too preachy, yet still cause that friend to ask some important spiritual questions. In this book, I tried to get skeptical people (like Quinn Newberg, my protagonist) thinking about the supernatural. Does God speak to us through His Word and through His Spirit? How can we know? And also, what does it look like when somebody puts their own life on the line for someone else? Isn't this was Christ did--the greatest act of love in the history of the world?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A View From Athol Dickson's Window! Welcome!!


Athol Dickson's university-level training in painting, sculpture, and architecture was followed by a long career as an architect then his decision several years ago to devote full time to writing.

Athol Dickson’s writing has been favorably compared to the work of Octavia Butler
(Publisher’s Weekly), Daphne du Maurier (Cindy Crosby, and FlanneryO’Connor (The New York Times).

His They Shall See God was a Christy Award finalist and his River Rising was a Christy Award winner, selected as one of the Booklist Top Ten Christian Novels of 2006 and a finalist for Christianity Today's Best Novel of 2006.

He and his wife, Sue, live in Southern California. Visit for more information.


1. Is the Viking myth in your story based on legend that actually exists, or did you create it from your own imagination? Was it Viking legend that gave birth to the idea for this story?

No, I started thinking about the theme for WINTER HAVEN first, the idea that God can be frightening, but He loves it when we seek Him. With that idea in mind I went looking for something to symbolize the theme. What us it like for a person of faith, who fears God, or fears doubts and questions about God? I came up with fog. Then I started thinking about fog: what causes it, what might make it interesting, and so forth. I went on like this, going from one concept to another and at some point in the process Vikings popped up. Better stop there. If I answer your question any further it might give away too much of the plot.

2. You reference several types of neurological disorders within the story - how did you come to use them so effectively? What drew you to this type of persona?

I was once severely depressed, and it was a struggle to return to normal thinking, so I have a pretty good idea of what it's like for one's mind to be out of control. What mentally healthy people don't understand about mental illness is the terror of it. In the final analysis, what you think is tantamount to what and who you are, so if your thinking isn't right, nothing in your entire world is right.

It was the worst experience of my life, but I survived, praise God, and now I am intrigued by a very simple idea. Basically, God designed us to behave a certain way. His intended design for our behavior is normal. To the extent that design, we are abnormal. "All have sinned and fallen
short" means everyone strays from God's design for our behavior, everyone exhibits abnormal behavior to some extent, and another term for abnormal behavior is insanity. In other words, everyone on earth is crazy to some extent. We are all sinners, and sin is nothing short of crazy. It's crazy to behave in ways the Lord did not intend and does not desire. With this simple idea in mind, it made sense to play around with mental illness in WINTER HAVEN. I'll probably explore the idea further in another novel one of these days.

3. Truth and doubt often become antagonistic in the heart and life of the believer. Has there been a particular event in your life in which you had to wrestle through the "why's" to find God's truth? Do you think God uses our doubts to help us grow?

Absolutely, God uses doubts! God loves it when we question Him, so long as we do it honestly. I've lived through this in several different ways. My depression came after a long string of very difficult events--deaths, betrayals and losses--which led me to a time of deep doubt, but at the end of it I learned things about God's infinite faithfulness and patience that will remain a comfort to me throughout the rest of my life. Also, I spent five years studying the Torah among a group of wonderful people, Reform Jews, who at one point had me questioning the basic tenets of my faith. I wrote about that, and what I ended up learning about Christianity and about the Lord from those Jews, in a memoir called THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MOSES. Here's a description from the book of an important revelation I had about God and doubts. It's from a chapter called "God on the Spot: Dealing with Doubts":


How is it possible that a man could question the motives of God Almighty, yet be drawn closer as a result? Surely no one could get away with asking, "Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?"

And yet . . . and yet. . . .

God actually bargained with Abraham, from fifty righteous people, down to forty-five, to thirty, to only ten, giving him the answer he wanted each time he asked. Somehow, Abraham's impudent questions seemed to deepen his relationship with God. Alone beneath the pecans and oaks, I feel as if the Lord has driven me like Abraham to a high place and left me standing there, aching to ask a question of my own. It goes against everything I have ever believed about approaching God. "Will not the Judge of all the earth do right. . . ." Such a question!

How dare he doubt the Lord that way?

Dare I?

The story is there in the Bible. It must be true. And if it worked forAbraham at the oaks of Mamre, maybe it could work for me at the oaks of the arboretum. So, in a moment of utter recklessness, I accept the challenge. I ask God my own first truly honest question in many years.

I ask if I may ask.

The answer comes instantaneously, as if God has been waiting on the edge of his throne. It is simple, profound, and so undeniably clear it might have been spoken aloud:

"Asking is not doubting. It is trusting."

In that instant, I understand that it takes more faith to ask than it takes to fear the asking. It takes faith to be ready for whatever answer comes, and faith to persevere with more questions if the answer is not understood. Asking an honest question means being ready to change in response to the answer, and short of martyrdom, change may be the ultimate act of faith. How wonderful now to know I can question the Lord without fear of faithlessness! How wonderful to be unafraid to ask God, knowing he will answer. Every time that happens, my faith in him grows stronger.


I hope anyone who's interested in this subject will pick up a copy of THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MOSES. There's a page full of reviews and endorsements of the book on my website: God's willingness to accept our doubts is such an important thing to understand. It can radically open up your relationship with God.

4. Your imagery is vivid and very alluring. You have a very great love for the ocean and have obviously spent a great deal of time there. What draws you to the ocean? The gulf of Maine?

This is a mystery to me. I have loved boats and being out on the water ever since I was a little boy. My wife and I once sold our house and cars and moved aboard a 50' power boat to cruise full time along Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Coast of the USA. It was a crazy thing to do because we really couldn't afford it, but you only live once, and I was able to draw from it for WINTER HAVEN. After a couple of years real life forced us back ashore, but we still have a boat (much smaller) and I guess we always will.

5.Can you share a peek into your next project?

I'm calling it LOST MISSION, although the publisher might change that. It's set in Mexico, Arizona and southern California. One character is a Mexican, an illegal immigrant, who comes to the USA solely to preach the gospel to the average American here whom she sees as a pagan. It also has a pastor who steals from the rich to give to the poor, and a man who tries to build a town for Christians only, and angels, and Franciscan friars, and Indians, and a plague and . . . that's probably all I should say. Wouldn't want to ruin it for anyone with too much information.

6. What new and exciting things is God doing in your life now? Any words of encouragement you want to share with your readers?

Well, since you asked, I did discover something absolutely fascinating about God's name the other day. Anyone who wants to read about it can visit this page at my blog: It should be especially interesting to Jews and Messianic Jews, but Christians of all kinds will find it offers us yet one more little reason to believe.

Winter Haven by Athol Dickson

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Winter Haven
(Bethany House April 1, 2008)
Athol Dickson


Boys who never age, giants lost in time, mist that never rises, questions never asked...on the most remote of islands off the coast of Maine, history haunts the present and Vera Gamble wrestles with a past that will not yield. Will she find refuge there, or will her ghosts prevail on...Winter Haven

Eleven years ago, Vera Gamble's brother left their house never to be seen again. Until the day Vera gets a phone call that his body has been found...washed ashore in the tiny island town of Winter Haven, Maine. His only surviving kin, Vera travels north to claim the body...and finds herself tumbling into a tangled mystery. Her brother hasn't aged a day since last she saw him.

Determined to uncover what happened in those lost years, Vera soon discovers there are other secrets lurking in this isolated town. But Winter Haven's murky past now seems bound to come to light as one woman seeks the undeniable and flooding light of truth.


Winter Haven is a fictional island off the coast of Maine. It is an island that holds unsolved mysteries that will terrify anyone and everyone that stumbles blindly upon them – unable or unwilling to seek the truth that lies beneath.

Athol Dickson’s latest novel, Winter Haven weaves a tale that takes your heart and mind to the very edge of sanity. Vera Gamble leaves her orderly accounting job in Dallas and heads to the gulf of Maine to identify her brother’s body. Little does she know that she is beginning a quest for truth that spans more than a decade of unanswered questions. Vera has spent years lost in the fog of suffering and mental anguish, because she had been convinced by her grieving but well-meaning father that God would not tolerate the human weakness of doubt.

When Vera reaches Maine’s beautiful seaside village of Winter Haven, she finds herself once again facing the doubts and fears from her childhood. The tale that awaits her in this village is one that will simultaneously terrify and beckon to you as you wind your way deeper and deeper into its mysterious events. The sights, sounds and smells of Winter Haven will wrap around you like a cool mist, and you will be unable to withdraw from it until you reach the final page!

Like any good suspense tale, not everything ends with clarity. However, Athol Dickson makes one thing very clear to all his readers, and that is the truth of God working in every event of our life to bring us to the deep and abiding peace found in understanding His sovereign grace at work all around us. This book will terrify you, bring tears to your eyes and even draw out warm laughter. I have never read such a hauntingly beautiful tale of redemption. This is a book I HIGHLY recommend! You DON’T want to miss this one! Visit Athol Dickson’s website here to find out about his other award winning fiction!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008






Sunday, April 20, 2008

Teen FIRST presents Chosen by Ted Dekker

My thoughts: (and those of my teen sons)
This is a story of courage. It is a story of overcoming doubt and fear and pushing beyond your own limits in order to sacrifice for others. Yet, this is a story unlike any other because it is a story only Ted Dekker can tell.

Chosen is the first book in The Lost Book series. If you are already a Dekker fan, you are familiar with The Circle Trilogy. The Lost Book series picks up some 13 years after Thomas has become the leader of the Forest Guard. The evil of the Horde has grown to enormous strength, and the Forest Guard faces their greatest battle. However, Thomas has to appoint new leaders of the Forest Guard from among some of the youngest member of the Forest Dwellers. Will he choose correctly? Or will he send four innocent children to certain death?

Thomas can’t possibly know that his new leaders are called to a much larger purpose. Once the four chosen ones set out on their mission, they encounter creatures straight out of legend. Their mission turns into a life or death search for the lost Books of History. The very future of all Forest Dwellers depends on their success! Along the way, these four young warriors must discover their own strengths and weaknesses and learn to trust one another like they have never had to trust anyone before. Their choices must be made solely on faith sometimes, and the consequences are often very dire indeed.

Told in classic Ted Dekker style, this story will have you reading at a frantic pace! There is action galore and a strong battle between good and evil! If you are the type of person who enjoys “diving deeper” into the meaning of the story, you will find wonderful analogies hidden among the pages of this tale! Are your teens lovers of fantasy? Do they love action-packed epic tales? Then you must introduce them to Dekker’s latest series! Go ahead and read The Circle Trilogy to enjoy the full impact of the Lost Book series. This is a fabulous continuation of a marvelous story! Don’t miss it!

My two teen sons also reviewed this book. Here is what they had to say:
Is Ted Dekker afraid of bats? His fantasy needs a better and more believable base to work from. There was a lot of action, but the main character needs to learn to fight! The women shouldn’t be teaching the men about fighting! It was ok, but there should be more fighting and more severe consequences in their conflict with the Horde.

So, there you have it. Three different opinions. If you are a Dekker fan, I think you will like this series! Check it out here today!

It's April 21st, time for the Teen FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 21st, we will feature an author and his/her latest Teen fiction book's FIRST chapter!

and his book:

Thomas Nelson (January 1, 2008)


Ted is the son of missionaries John and Helen Dekker, whose incredible story of life among headhunters in Indonesia has been told in several books. Surrounded by the vivid colors of the jungle and a myriad of cultures, each steeped in their own interpretation of life and faith, Dekker received a first-class education on human nature and behavior. This, he believes, is the foundation of his writing.

After graduating from a multi-cultural high school, he took up permanent residence in the United States to study Religion and Philosophy. After earning his Bachelor's Degree, Dekker entered the corporate world in management for a large healthcare company in California. Dekker was quickly recognized as a talent in the field of marketing and was soon promoted to Director of Marketing. This experience gave him a background which enabled him to eventually form his own company and steadily climb the corporate ladder.

Since 1997, Dekker has written full-time. He states that each time he writes, he finds his understanding of life and love just a little clearer and his expression of that understanding a little more vivid. To see a complete list of Dekker's work, visit The Works section of

Here are some of his latest titles:


Black: The Birth of Evil (The Circle Trilogy Graphic Novels, Book 1)




Our story begins in a world totally like our own, yet completely different. What once happened here in our own history seems to be repeating itself thousands of years from now,
some time beyond the year 4000 AD.

But this time the future belongs to those who see opportunity before it becomes obvious. To the young, to the warriors, to the lovers. To those who can follow hidden clues and find a great
treasure that will unlock the mysteries of life and wealth.

Thirteen years have passed since the lush, colored forests were turned to desert by Teeleh, the enemy of Elyon and the vilest of all creatures. Evil now rules the land and shows itself as a painful, scaly disease that covers the flesh of the Horde, a people who live in the desert.

The powerful green waters, once precious to Elyon, have vanished from the earth except in seven small forests surrounding seven small lakes. Those few who have chosen to follow the ways of Elyon now live in these forests, bathing once daily in the powerful waters to cleanse their skin of the disease.

The number of their sworn enemy, the Horde, has grown in thirteen years and, fearing the green waters above all else, these desert dwellers have sworn to wipe all traces of the forests from
the earth.

Only the Forest Guard stands in their way. Ten thousand elite fighters against an army of nearly four hundred thousand Horde. But the Forest Guard is starting to crumble.


Day One

Qurong, general of the Horde, stood on the tall dune five miles west of the green forest, ignoring the fly that buzzed around his left eye.

His flesh was nearly white, covered with a paste that kept his skin from itching too badly. His long hair was pulled back and woven into dreadlocks, then tucked beneath the leather body armor
cinched tightly around his massive chest.

“Do you think they know?” the young major beside him asked.

Qurong’s milky white horse, chosen for its ability to blend with the desert, stamped and snorted.

The general spit to one side. “They know what we want them to know,” he said. “That we are gathering for war. And that we will march from the east in four days.”

“It seems risky,” the major said. His right cheek twitched, sending three flies to flight.
“Their forces are half what they once were. As long as they think we are coming from the east, we will smother them from the west.”

“The traitor insists that they are building their forces,” the major said.

“With young pups!” Qurong scoffed.

“The young can be crafty.”

“And I’m not? They know nothing about the traitor. This time we will kill them all.”

Qurong turned back to the valley behind him. The tents of his third division, the largest of all Horde armies, which numbered well over three hundred thousand of the most experienced warriors, stretched out nearly as far as he could see.

“We march in four days,” Qurong said. “We will slaughter them from the west.”

Friday, April 18, 2008

Book 3 Change and Cherish Historical Series Jane Kirkpatrick - GIVE AWAY!!

What a powerful story! This book encapsulates what is true and beautiful, painful and life-altering, real and meaningful about living in this world at any moment in time. Emma Wagner Geisy is a priceless treasure that Jane Kirkpatrick has unearthed from historical record and brought to life in a way that transcends the many years that separate her from this 21st century society we now inhabit. I am so very, very thankful that I had the opportunity to read this story, and that I am now able to share it with you!

Emma Geisy has left behind her life in Wilapa Bay, Washington and come to Aurora Mills, Oregon. Her pain and suffering have tendered her heart, but her willful spirit has yet to be tamed. However, from the very first pages of the book, God introduces people into Emma’s life that begin to teach her a new way to live and within these changes to gather the deepest meaning from every moment of her life. Brita tells her on page 21, “You can’t always get what you want in this life, but as any wise Zwerg knows, a hopeful soul learns to spin gold from the straw she’s been given.” By page 55, Emma is beginning to grasp this idea as she tells Louisa, “We take sad times and find the threads of wisdom there and weave it into the next generation. We’re alchemists we women. We change things.”

There are many changes ahead for Emma as this story unfolds – not all of them pleasant and many of them heartbreaking. However, she finds herself surrounded by those who are holding her up and making it possible for both she and her children to build a new and meaningful life from the heartache they left behind in Washington. Because of the strength Emma gains from her new community, she is able to learn the truth about herself and the human heart in general. She never gives up her true talents and desires, but she learns that as she pours them out in service to others that she strengthens herself and everyone within the circle of her life.

This book contains so much beauty and so much truth, it really is a struggle to express how full my heart is from this journey. God is so good and so faithful in every single circumstance of our lives!! I think Karl said it best on page 64, “God is there Emma, present at the end of the thread, pulling us toward Him. And if we ask ourselves in every situation how He is working in that experience or even our worry or disappointment, then we can feel that tug on the thread.”

I hope you will purchase this entire trilogy and share it with those you love! This is an amazing set of books! And I actually have a FREE COPY of A Mending at the Edge to share with you! Please leave a comment on this post to be entered in the drawing!

Book 2 in the Change and Cherish Historical Series - Jane Kirkpatrick

“A hinge is so much more. It divides two sides of a story. It is what separates mourning from joy, belief from aimlessness, surrender from independence. It’s what holds those halves together. A hinge is a circumstance upon which later events depend.” (p.11)

The second book in Jane Kirkpatrik’s Change and Cherish series acts as the hinge in Emma Wagner Giesy’s story that began in the first book A Clearing In the Wild. Even though she and Christian have remained behind the Keil colony members who have moved on to Oregon, Emma can’t seem to let go of the hurt and resentment toward everything the colony represents. Her struggle to be independent and free from communal living and the care of others seems to stem from a deep sense of pride and her struggle to be everything her family needs in every circumstance. Christian tries very hard to teach Emma the danger in resisting everyone’s help by pouring himself out for others and trying to live the “Diamond Rule” of the colony and make other’s lives better than his own. It is this selflessness that takes him from Emma and leaves her alone to raise her three children.

Jane Kirkpatrick alters the points of view in this story differently than in the first book, and she uses Brother Keil’s wife Louisa as counterpoint to Emma’s willfulness. The reader is able to see both sides of the woman’s roll within and without the structure of the colony. Louisa is learning that she too longs for more of a voice in her husband’s world, and the grief over her son’s death winds up changing her own blind submission into a helpmete’s voice in her husband’s dictatorial leadership style. She has wisdom enough to know that she can’t survive outside the safety of the colony’s structure, but the reader learns’ that she too longs to be loved and accepted for who she is independent of the other women that surround her.

Meanwhile, Emma’s solitude in Wilapa Bay seems to cause her to sway from extreme contentment to abysmal despair. She wants to be the sole provider in an area whose harsh weather and wet winters threaten to take even her children from her. Rather than accept other’s selfless giving of their time and resources, Emma begins to make a series of very selfish and dangerous decisions. Blinded by grief and bitterness, she winds up in a relationship that becomes harmful to both she and her children, and one that forces her to make the hardest decisions of all. Emma Giesy’s desire to protect her children proves to be the one thing that teaches her that she can lean on others without losing herself in the process.

You don’t want to miss this dramatic and soulful hinge in this beautiful trilogy! Pick up your copy today!!

Book 1 - Change and Cherish Historical Series - Jane Kirkpatrick

Jane Kirkpatrick’s historical novels have a distinct and beautiful way of drawing you back to another time. A Clearing In The Wild begins the Change and Cherish trilogy, and it take you into the Keil Colony formed in Bethel, Missouri, 1851. It is there, on Christmas morning, that we meet Emma Wagner – a distinctive character whose story will grow and expand in ways only Jane Kirkpatrick can share. This Colony of believers sounds similar to the Amish in many ways, and they practice communal living set apart from the “outside” world. However, at age eighteen, Emma has become a woman who knows her own mind, and she begins to question this blind submission to a man who hold women in such low regard. It is this independent spirit that takes Emma on a rather treacherous journey into womanhood.

A Clearing In The Wild primarily focuses on Emma and her relationship with Christian Giesy. While Emma’s headstrong ways and independent thinking are seen negatively by the leader of the colony, these very same traits are what draw Christian to her despite the fact that she is 20 years his junior. Christian appreciates her uniqueness, and it is that love that sustains their relationship through some very daunting trials. Emma’s “free thinking” ways also open the door to new ideas that wind up bringing new life to many in the colony.

I don’t want to spoil this beautiful story by sharing a lot of detail. I just want you to know that Jane Kirkpatrick captures the very essence of life in the mid-1800’s and creates characters that you will long remember. Emma and Christopher have to leave the known safety of the colony and journey forth into a new world. They must find their own “clearing in the wild” and the lessons they learn along the way are both strengthening and tendering. Emma’s mother shares a German proverb in the beginning of the story – on page 18 that says; “Begin to weave/God provides the thread.” By the end of the story, Emma understands that proverb like this; “…that life is a weaving with our fine threads being broken and stretched. It’s our calling to keep weaving, find ways to tie things together again.” (p. 340)

Come to Bethel, Missouri and travel to Willapa Bay, Washington with Emma and Christopher. You will be glad you did!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My Soul To Keep - Melanie Wells

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
My Soul To Keep
(Multnomah Books - February 5, 2008)
Melanie Wells


As nasty as I knew Peter Terry to be, I never expected him to start kidnapping kids. Much less a sweet, funny little boy with nothing to protect him but a few knock-kneed women, two rabbits and a staple gun…

It’s psychology professor Dylan Foster’s favorite day of the academic year…graduation day. And her little friend Christine Zocci’s sixth birthday. But the joyful summer afternoon goes south when a little boy is snatched from a neighborhood park, setting off a chain of events that seen to lead nowhere.

The police are baffled, but Christine’s eerie connection with the kidnapped child sends Dylan on a chilling investigation of her own. Is the pasty, elusive stranger Peter Terry to blame? Exploding light bulbs, the deadly buzz of a Texas rattlesnake, and the vivid, disturbing dreams of a little girl are just pieces of a long trail of tantalizing clues leading Dylan in her dogged search for the truth.
Like water rising to a boil, My soul To Keep’s suspense sneaks up on you…before you know it, you’re in the thick if a frightening drama…Superbly crafted.”
---ROBERT LIPARULO, author of Deadfall, Germ, and Comes A Horseman
Written with passion, a good dose of humor and, dare I say it, soul, this novel reminds us that we all, with grace and good fortune, bumble our way toward salvation.”
---K. L. COOK, author of Late Call and The Girl From Charmelle

Dylan Foster is perhaps the most neurotic, obsessive compulsive, emotionally immature person I have ever met in fiction – especially since she is supposed to be a 30-something-year-old college professor. She has a flippant attitude toward God and His power, is lacking many social skills, is very undisciplined and chronically late. Is it any wonder in this world that her boyfriend is having second thoughts? Who is Dylan Foster? Oh, I forgot. She is the main character in Melanie Wells’ trilogy of supernatural suspense novels featuring a demon (or something similar) named Peter Terry. I’m quite torn as to what to tell you about this book.

Now, let me preface anything I might think by the fact that I have not read the two books that precede this one (When the Day of Evil Comes and The Soul Hunter) and it is very obvious that those two books contain vital information if you are to fully appreciate this third installment of Dylan Foster’s supernatural experiences. I strongly suggest that you read them first, or you will find yourself as I do now, totally unable to figure out what to do with this book. You can follow the story just fine, but you don’t have a lot of background on Dylan herself which makes it impossible for you to know where she is spiritually. If all you have to go on is this one book…well, edgy books with covert messages are all the rage, so this definitely qualifies.

Dylan Foster is a college professor at a small Methodist University who has been having violent, dreadful encounters with some sort of demon creature named Peter Terry. In the opening scenes of the book a friend’s child is kidnapped during a visit to a local park, and Peter Terry is almost immediately suspect. Problem is, Dylan is the only one clued into this guy. However, in this book, her friend’s six-year-old daughter Christine seems to have a similarly installed spiritual radar, and she can see/sense evil and good beings (demons/angels) like Dylan can. Hence, many of Dylan’s friends and co-workers consider her a total NUT with the WORST bad luck. In the meantime, it appears that poor Christine is spiritually tied in with the kidnapped child and vicariously experiences his abduction. It’s exciting. It’s suspenseful. It’s well-written. I just wished that there was more spiritual depth to the story. Somehow that seems important when you are dealing with spiritual beings.

There was no spiritual depth to any of the main characters to speak of, so I was left feeling like I was watching a bunch of rather worldly folks try to make sense out of something totally out of their league. If even one of the main characters had had a modicum of spiritual depth it would have added a more meaningful dimension to the story. However, as it stands, it’s no wonder the main characters are so suspicious of these other-worldly encounters that keep Dylan’s life so messed up. In the end, it left me kind of frustrated. Well, not really frustrated, but just wishing I new more about the main character’s personal relationship with Christ – more specifically, if she even HAD one. Hence the very strong suggestion to read the first two books. Either way, be prepared to be creeped-out BIG TIME! This is not for the “big honkin’ chicken club” members AT ALL! It’s a great suspense ride! Just do not read it before bedtime!


A native of the Texas panhandle and the child of musicians, Melanie Wells attended Southern Methodist University on a music scholarship (she's a fiddle player), and later completed graduate degrees in counseling psychology and Biblical studies at Our Lady of the Lake University and Dallas Theological Seminary.

She has taught at the graduate level at both OLLU and DTS, and has been in private practice as a counselor since 1992. She is the founder and director of LifeWorks counseling associates in Dallas, Texas, a collaborative community of creative therapists.

When the Day of Evil Comes is her first published work of fiction, and the first of a three-book series. The second work, The Soul Hunter was released in May, 2006. Melanie lives and writes in Dallas.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Alex and Bret Harris may be leading the largest Rebelutionary force of teens in the world, but they have written a book that will change the lives of Christians everywhere – no matter how old they are! You know, at 41 years of age, I’m going to become a rebelutionist!

Alex and Bret’s book, Do Hard Things, is a call to be everything God intended for us to be. As we study His word and draw close to Him, He will direct us to ideas and passions that will change the world! The unique thing about Alex and Bret is that they are issuing this challenge to kids between the ages of 12-18! And these guys are only 19 themselves! Can “kids” hear from God? YOU BET! Can they answer His direction and purpose in a way that will make a difference? ABSOLUTELY!

Alex and Bret don’t just offer a feel-good tale of stellar accomplishments. They offer clear, practical advice of ways to implement God’s plan for our lives…TODAY! How? A premise of five basic goals encapsulate their ideas. There are five kinds of hard things we can all do to strengthen and grow our spiritual muscles. 1. Do things outside our comfort zone. 2. Do things that go beyond what is expected or required. 3. Do things that are too big to accomplish alone. 4. Do things that don’t earn immediate payoff. 5. Do things that challenge the cultural norm. These two young men take these basic ideas and expound upon them in a way that will have you really giving yourself a good long look in the mirror and asking some pretty revealing questions!

Do fear of failure and complacency have you chained to a life that keeps you from using your God-given abilities to reach out for Him? Are there areas in your life where you’ve accepted “good enough” instead of pushing to do your best? Alex and Bret are young men with a passion to see their peers living lives that are marked not just by great things but by activities and lifestyles that boldly proclaim the life-changing power of the grace of God.

This book is filled with stories of young people who have boldly stepped out in faith to do hard things that have made a life-altering impact on thousands of people world-wide! You will be impressed not only with their ability but with the humility and passion with which they approach their tasks. Truly, God is working in the lives of young people around the globe, and Alex and Bret Harris are serving as God’s tools to deliver a powerful message!

I strongly recommend this book for every teen in your life! I recommend it for every adult that wants to live a more meaningful life in the days ahead! I recommend this book as a teaching tool for youth leaders everywhere! In short – read this book! God has something for you there, and He will meet you within the message and change your life! Purchase your copy HERE today!

Leave a comment on this post to be entered for a FREE COPY of this awesome book!!!

About the Author

Alex and Brett Harris founded in August 2005 and today, at age nineteen, are some of the most popular teen writers on the web. The twins are frequent contributors to the webzine Boundless, serve as the main speakers for the Rebelution Tour conferences, and have been featured nationally on MSNBC, CNN, NPR, and The New York Times. Sons of homeschool pioneers Gregg and Sono Harris and younger brothers of best-selling author Joshua Harris (I Kissed Dating Goodbye), Alex and Brett live with their family outside Portland, Oregon.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Handbook for Discovering God's Will

It'a April 15th, but this has nothing to do with taxes! It is time for the Non~FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 15th, we will featuring an author and his/her latest non~fiction book's FIRST chapter!

The feature author is:

and his book:

NavPress Publishing Group (March 26, 2008)


GORDON JACKSON is a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington. He has worked at Whitworth as a journalism professor and college administrator since 1983. Originally from South Africa, where he worked as a journalist, he is a frequent speaker for churches and other groups. Dr. Jackson has spoken to scores of church, Sunday school, educational, and civic groups on a wide range of topics. In the past few years, he has also served as a consultant for church groups and Christian educational institutions in Uganda, Lebanon and Egypt.

He is also the author of:

Destination Unknown
Never Scratch a Tiger with a Short Stick and Other Quotes for Leaders


This book is the most succinct, clearly-written, best organized tool I have ever encountered to learn more about godly decision making. Gordon Jackson takes a very realistic and scriptural approach to decision making in the Christian life and makes very plain the freedom and joy that can be found as we move through our lives step by step as God intended for us to do. Jackson debunks a lot of misinformation about how many people mistakenly view God and His will for our lives and teaches us that it is possible to have a very real and personal relationship with the One who has designed every step of our journey.

This would be a terrific small group Bible study guide, and I think it would also serve as a strong discipleship tool for Christians at any point along their journey. This book would be a strong guide for older teens as they approach college and for college-age students beginning to make career choices. I know that I will be going back to this book again and again. I wish I’d had this wonderful information sooner in my life, for I feel like I have made many poorly guided choices. I’m thankful that God can redeem those poor choices and that He has allowed me to gain the wisdom so clearly expounded by Gordon Jackson! I highly recommend this book for EVERYONE!



Choosing Well: Living Out God’s Will

Most of the time in our attempt to follow Christ, we already know perfectly well what God’s will is and what He expects of us. It is to continue the work He’s already given us, precisely where we are, according to the guidelines for godly living we know from Scripture.

But there come moments when we face major decisions, crossroads in our journey where the signposts aren’t as legible or well-lit as we would like. We face hard choices. Should I attend this college or that one? Should I switch jobs? Am I truly being called to full-time ministry, or am I just bored with my current vocation? Is this the person God would have me marry? Should I move to a new city or stay put?

Some decisions we’ve anticipated for a long while, for example what to do upon graduating from college. Others are thrust upon us suddenly, perhaps an opportunity that comes out of the blue. Yet others can brew or stew slowly over time, such as a growing sense of disillusionment and frustration with our current job.

Situations like these ultimately demand some kind of decision. Assuming we seek to honor God in all areas of our lives—education, family life, career, ministry—we want to make a godly choice. But how? Clearly, guidance is a difficult area for Christians.

Scores of books on the topic have appeared over the past several decades demonstrating the ongoing quest for counsel on this issue. This book is intended to assist you in thinking through questions about guidance more incisively and, if you heed the shared wisdom handed down from two thousand years of our faith, to help you make wiser, more thoughtful, and more godly choices. The generalizations presented here are distilled from the wisdom of numerous thoughtful writers on this topic. In essence, the thoughts in this book are not new. The hope, however, is that their presentation and format will make these ideas more accessible and easier to understand and apply in your life. (A note on citations: For the most part, I’ve tried to avoid cluttering your reading by limiting the endnotes to some lesser-known authors for whom you may want to know the source.)

It’s plain that those who follow Christ could use ongoing help in this area. “In our quest for God’s guidance,” said J. I. Packer, British theologian and scholar, “we become our own worst enemies, and our mistakes attest to our nuttiness in this area.” This book is an attempt to head off some of those self-defeating tendencies and minimize the nuttiness. In doing so, this book differs from other writings on guidance in two ways. The first is its emphasis. This volume assumes what other authors carefully and painstakingly identify: the ample scriptural evidence that God guides those who genuinely seek His will and that He desires only the best for His children. So the assumption here is that you don’t need to be persuaded that God is both able and eager to guide us.

The second difference lies in this book’s approach. Most other books on this subject offer systematic, chapter-length expositions on the nature of guidance and its relationship to vital living as a Christian. By contrast, the approach here is far more hands-on, identifying practical problem areas, possible stumbling blocks, areas of confusion, and any other aspects of guidance that can lead to confusion and mistakes. What follows is a series of thoughts on topics about guidance. Each topic, summarized as a principle or key concept, serves as a stepping-stone through what often can be a mental and spiritual swamp for Christians seeking God’s will and direction.

All the topics are built around a foundational section called The Big Five—and Beyond. This is the assumption repeated by many writers that guidance is normally the product of five elements:

1. Scriptural guidelines
2. Prayer
3. The advice of other Christians
4. The circumstances we face
5. A sense of inner peace about our decision

It is typically the combination of these five ingredients that helps lead us toward sound, godly decisions.

Something else that holds together the sixty-two principles in this book is the understanding that guidance is a process that involves carefully thinking through and incorporating The Big Five, as well as other issues pertinent to your situation. Following this introduction is A Guidance Road Map—a set of common questions about guidance, along with the topics that are likely to help you most with each question. Please read The Big Five—and Beyond before dipping into other topics. Without the context it provides, the other sections will be less helpful.

The sixty-two topics, and the principles on which they are based, are presented as generalizations. As such, they need to be seen as part of the broader whole. What’s more, these principles don’t have to be read in order. After reading The Big Five, feel free to browse through the book and pick and choose among the issues that most interest you. Or you can scan the alphabetical list of topics at the back of the book and find subjects of particular concern to you.

As you read the pages ahead, please be aware of the following assumptions that are woven through the array of principles:

 You take seriously your commitment to follow Christ and seek to live a God-pleasing life. In other words, you earnestly seek God’s will for your life, not His seal of approval for what you plan to do anyway.

 You take seriously the authority of Scripture and are willing to apply its guidelines to all areas of your life.

 You already are convinced that God is able and willing to guide you in all aspects of your walk with Him, and you accept that He will do so on His terms and with His timing.

 You take seriously your God-given ability to think through whatever guidance issues you face.

It’s important to note a truly astonishing fact: We claim as part of our faith not only that the Lord of the universe sent His Son to die for us and redeem us from our sins but also that His interest and love for us continue day by day. Like the most loving of parents, God Himself seeks to guide and direct every facet of our lives.

Two reality checks also need mentioning. The first is that living our lives in a God-directed manner is never easy. Living as we do with a sinful nature, it is extremely difficult to do what we know we should and to avoid what we know we shouldn’t do. Paul said, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15). If living the day-by-day dimension of following Christ is difficult, it’s no easier when we face those extraordinary moments when tough choices must be made. Søren Kierkegaard, nineteenth-century Danish philosopher and theologian, said, “It is perfectly true, as philosophers say, that life must be understood backwards. But . . . it must be lived forwards.”

As we grapple with trying to understand God’s guidance in our lives, we often recognize His leading only as we look back. But we must make difficult choices while living life in forward mode. No book on guidance can completely answer anyone’s questions; we each need to answer those ourselves. The ideas outlined in this book are only tools, and they are worthless apart from your commitment to seeking God’s will and your willingness to struggle through issues.

The second reality worth noting concerns our limitations in understanding how God moves in our lives. It is the height of presumption to think that any book can prescribe how God may choose to reveal Himself to us. The only absolute we can be sure of in this regard is that God will not guide us in a way that is contrary to His nature.

A final thought on how God directs our lives: While those who follow Christ agree that God is keenly interested in our lives, they differ on the degree to which He has a “perfect plan” mapped out for each of us. Some contend that God has a carefully worked-out blueprint for our lives: His guidance helps us discover that perfect will, and His Holy Spirit helps us live it out. Other Christians see this approach as artificially narrow. God, they believe, is not boxed into some lockstep, foreordained approach to how our lives unfold. God’s grace, power, and imagination surely transcend whatever mistakes we make or sins we commit, which would presumably otherwise relegate us to a “second best” plan. Rather, God is always able to offer constant, uninhibited love and direction, regardless of how far we might have fallen from His standards in the past.

If the issue of a “perfect plan” is important to you, understand that the bias of this book is clearly toward the latter position. God’s boundless grace in dealing with us makes Him love us no less when we choose something other than His best at any given moment. Yes, God’s discipline may follow our poor choices. But for the Christian who is wholeheartedly seeking God’s will, He presents us with far more of a buffet table of legitimate options than some stiflingly healthy yet tasteless diet. A. W. Tozer, a well-known teacher and writer, said, “The man or woman who is wholly or joyously surrendered to Christ can’t make a wrong choice—any choice will be the right one.”

That remark captures the spirit with which this book is written: that ours is a God of freedom whose guidance we can seek with confidence and enthusiasm. He’s a God of infinite love who enthusiastically champions our case and seeks our best. He is the architect wanting to help us build holy lives, lived to the full (see John 10:10). Yet we sometimes regard Him as the county planning officer who’s looking for every weakness in our plans, smugly catching yet another way we’ve fallen short of the building code. God is not a stickler; rather, He’s the architect who brings our possibilities to reality for our benefit and for His pleasure.

This book is an attempt to assist you as you invite God, the ultimate architect, to help you build your life in keeping with His overall design to make us holy persons. From the foundations to the finishing touches, He is eager to help at each step. The pages that follow are intended to help you build your own house of faith that shall last through eternity.


The Big Five—and Beyond

Every quest for guidance should be shaped by scriptural guidelines, prayer, the advice of other Christians, the circumstances we face, and an overall sense that this course is what God wants.

It’s the big picture that counts. A recurring theme found in books on guidance is that you need to look at the big picture as a whole when making major decisions concerning God’s will. Far from basing our decision entirely on a chance remark made in last Sunday’s sermon or on an obscure verse in 2 Kings, God expects us to use all the vehicles He’s made available for our decision making. That’s why it’s important to consider each of The Big Five factors and see how they mesh together as we consider our decision. Again, these five factors are:

1. Scriptural guidelines
2. Prayer
3. The advice of other Christians
4. The circumstances we face
5. A sense of inner peace about our decision

Until you’ve got a thumbs-up on each of the five, you’re probably not ready to make a decision. If, for example, you’re seriously considering a career change, but your spouse or closest friends are advising you against it, you need to check your thinking. Or if you’ve been invited to go on a short-term mission trip and the first four points check out just fine, yet you’ve still got a nagging feeling that something isn’t right, once again it may be best to hold off on your decision and give it further thought.

If you were leaving later today for a trip abroad, you’d make sure you’d taken care of your passport, airline ticket, health insurance, luggage, and spending money. If you were heading for the airport and realized you’d left your passport at home, it’s unlikely you would keep going and say, “Well, four out of five isn’t bad.”

Similarly, you’re probably asking for trouble by heading into a decision without a check mark against each of The Big Five. Is it possible that the advice from your spouse or friends is wrong, or that you’re confusing a lack of inner peace about a decision with plain old nervousness? Of course. The point here isn’t that missing one of these five checkpoints means you shouldn’t go ahead; it simply means there’s a warning light on the dashboard and you’re well advised to take a second look at what’s happening. Or, to switch metaphors, if these five principles don’t line up neatly like lights on a runway, you need to question seriously whether you’re ready to come in for a landing.

Sometimes those landing lights don’t line up neatly, or one warning light keeps flickering on the dash—and yet a major decision still looms. Remember, guidance is seldom a simple, clear-cut process. The words of C. S. Lewis provide a helpful reminder of the many ways God can speak to us: “I don’t doubt that the Holy Spirit guides your decisions from within when you make them with the intention of pleasing God. The error would be to think that he speaks only within, whereas in reality he speaks also through Scripture, the church, Christian friends, books, etc.”

Because working toward the decisions God would have us make can be complex and can lead to ambiguous answers, it’s necessary to dig deeper into our understanding of The Big Five. The separate entries of The Big Five are not of equal importance. The simple flowchart that follows shows that scriptural principles are the starting point. But they’re only the starting point. Each of these five principles merits careful attention. The next step is to examine any of the five elements that merits special attention in your situation. (These topics are addressed in the pages that follow.) Alternatively, you may want to turn directly to other individual topics that speak to your needs. The Guidance Road Map on page 17 will help you do that.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Trouble the Water by Nicole Seitz

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Trouble the Water
Thomas Nelson (March 11, 2008)
Nicole Seitz


Nicole Seitz is a South Carolina Lowcountry native and the author of The Spirit of Sweetgrass as well as a freelance writer/illustrator who has published in numerous low country magazines. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Journalism, she also has a bachelor's degree in illustration from Savannah College of Art & Design. Nicole shows her paintings in the Charleston, South Carolina area, where she owns a web design firm and lives with her husband and two small children. Nicole is also an avid blogger, you can leave her a comment on her blog.

Seitz's writing style recalls that of Southern authors like Kaye Gibbons, Anne Rivers Siddons, and Sue Monk Kidd, and this new novel, which the publisher compares to Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, surely joins the ranks of strong fiction that highlights the complicated relationships between women. Highly recommended, especially for Southern libraries.


In the South Carolina Sea Islands lush setting, Nicole Seitz's second novel Trouble the Water is a poignant novel about two middle-aged sisters' journey to self-discovery.

One is seeking to recreate her life yet again and learns to truly live from a group of Gullah nannies she meets on the island. The other thinks she's got it all together until her sister's imminent death from cancer causes her to re-examine her own life and seek the healing and rebirth her troubled sister managed to find on St. Anne's Island.

Strong female protagonists are forced to deal with suicide, wife abuse, cancer, and grief in a realistic way that will ring true for anyone who has ever suffered great loss.

"This is another thing I know for a fact: a woman can't be an island, not really. No, it's the touching we do in other people's lives that matters when all is said and done. The silly things we do for ourselves--shiny new cars and jobs and money--they don't mean a hill of beans. Honor taught me that. My soul sisters on this island taught me that. And this is the story of true sisterhood. It's the story of Honor, come and gone, and how one flawed woman worked miracles in this mixed-up world."


“Wade in the water. God’s gonna trouble the water. If you should get there before I do, God’s gonna trouble the water.” – Negro Spiritual

In John chapter 5, the Bible tells the story of the pool of Bethesda and the healing that would take place in the life of the first person to enter the pool after the angel would come down and trouble the water. There was a lame man lying among the sick at the pool’s side unable to get into the water when the angel touched it, and it was Christ alone who could make him whole.

Honor and Alice, two of the main character’s in Nicole Seitz’ book Trouble the Water, are much like this lame man – unable to accept or reach out to God for healing because of the events that took place in their childhood – evil events beyond their control. Their spirits were wounded and paralyzed, unable to move toward healing and wholeness. So, in their brokenness, they go through life making a series of wrong choices suffering more and more with each passing mistreatment. The women of St. Anne’s island, Dutchess, Blondell and the many Gullah women become the feet and hands that bring Honor and Alice into the life and wholeness they have longed for all of their lives.

This is a story that will haunt you long after you finish reading it. It is a story about many events in the lives of many people with seemingly very little in common. What you find out as the story progresses is that all of us are experienced one way or another with suffering, and all of us are in need of the healing that only Christ can give. However, some among us are so wounded they have to be brought to His healing through sometimes extreme and unusual circumstances.

Nicole Seitz creates characters that all but leap off the page. Her story is much like a poem to me – beautiful passages to be slowly savored mingled with funny, sad and painful passages that blend to form a beautiful picture of life, death and all the events that come between those beginning and ending points. The women in this book are like the beautiful shells that the ocean casts upon the shore: “Life, the ocean beats the cream out of them, and the ones that survive are totally remarkable.” (page, 166)

Come to St Anne’s island and wade into the story. God will trouble the water before you get there, and you will emerge changed.