Thursday, December 12, 2013

Messed up, Broken, Crazy, Family

I love this time year. LOVE.IT.

As a kid, it was all about the presents. OK. It still is, a little.

But as an adult, I’ve come to appreciate the weeks leading up to Christmas. The time that is commonly referred to as Advent.

Last year, I made Jesse Tree ornaments and placed them on a wreath (you can read about that fiasco here!) and each night in December, we talked about the story behind each ornament. We are way behind on that this year, but I still like the Jesse Tree concept because it focuses on the way the entire Old Testament leads up to the birth of Christ. How we see prophecy given and then fulfilled in Jesus. I love how it’s teaching my kids how we fit into God’s redemptive plan.

But this year, I’ve been struck by the importance of family.

Messed up. Broken. Crazy. Family.

Have you ever paid attention to the fact that in both Matthew and Luke—the two Gospels that give us the Nativity story—we get the family legacy first.

In Luke, we start with the off-beat cousin, John the Baptist. No matter how you slice it, that guy was out there. He ate bugs. ‘Nuff said.

In Matthew, we get the whole gang. From Abraham to Joseph. If you know anything about the Old Testament, the names that pop up in this genealogy are not exactly a Who’s Who of Who Got It Right. We’ve got moon-worshipers, liars, thieves, adulterers, and murderers for dads along with foreigners, adulterers, and prostitutes for mothers.

Have you ever heard the saying that “you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family?” That’s usually true, but guess what?

God could. 

He could have chosen anyone and he chose people who had screwed up—BIG TIME—to carry the promise into the world.

A messed up, broken, crazy family. He claimed them. All of them.

And then He did something truly extraordinary. He claimed the entire naughty list and said, “I want you. I love you. I died for you. Come to Me. Join my family.”

No matter what condition your earthly family is in, you have access to a family like no other. A family full of misfit toys made acceptable though Christ. A place where the broken, banged up, and forgotten become the whole, cleaned up, and beloved.

Not because of anything we have done, but because, a long time ago, a baby was born into a messed up, broken, crazy family.

His name is Jesus.

Matthew 1:21 ~ She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. (ESV)

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Aloha Rose and Carolina Reckoning

Anyone else feel like the holiday hustle began right after Halloween this year?

It’s been CRAZY at my house. 

But, you know me. I’ve always got time to read a good book. Or two! And I want to share them with you.

I met Lisa Carter in 2010 at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, before she had an agent, or a book deal (or four!). 

I’m so excited to share her first two books with you today. You know you’ve got a someone or two on your shopping list who would love for you to introduce them to a new author. Consider your list a little bit shorter!

Aloha Rose

This is Lisa’s second book. It just came out this month and it is such a sweet story. I generally prefer my books to have a little bit more mayhem and murder, but I couldn’t put this one down!

The only thing Laney Carrigan has to tie her to her birth family is the Hawaiian quilt she was wrapped in as a baby. But that quilt holds the key to everything she’s searching for—the answers to her questions and a reason to put down roots. Of course, Kai Barnes complicates her plans from the first time they meet. He knows there’s more to the mysterious Laney Carrigan than she’s chosen to share with the family. She can’t be trusted. Not with the plantation—and certainly not with his heart.

Aloha Rose is a beautiful story that doesn’t shy away from the painful consequences of sin, the damage unforgiveness can do to our hearts, and the desperate need we all have for grace.

Carolina Reckoning

This is Lisa’s first book and it came out this summer. Lisa uses the tag line “Sweet Tea with a Slice of Murder” (isn’t that the BEST!!!) and Carolina Reckoning met every expectation a tag line like that has.

It’s so very Southern! Set in the Raleigh area of North Carolina, the conflict centers around a historic estate complete with a main house, gardens, and wealthy board members. The characters are as varied as the dishes at a church dinner. There are exotic outsiders, quirky cousins, scary strangers, and let’s not forget the downright creepy psychopaths.

The opening pages of Carolina Reckoning will twist your heart as Alison Monaghan discovers proof that her husband has been cheating on her. She’s going to confront him, but instead finds herself staring into the face of homicide detective Mike Barefoot. Her husband will never come home, but are the people responsible for his death willing to leave his family alone?
Or is Alison next on their list?

Carolina Reckoning will keep you guessing until the climax when … oh, wait a minute. I’m not going to tell you!

Buy the book. Buy both of them. Buy one for your friends. Put one in your daughter’s stocking. Send one to your grandma. Hmm…that’s actually a really good idea. My Granny loves to read…(yes, it’s hereditary). Grab it for your Kindle and read it while everyone is watching football tomorrow.

You can’t go wrong with Aloha Rose or Carolina Reckoning!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!!

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

a million little ways - uncover the art you were made to live

We all make art in A Million Little Ways.

Yes, you do, too.

Even if you don’t think of yourself as artistic or creative, after reading Emily P. Freeman’s latest offering, you’ll view everything you do in a new light. Because “art is what happens when you dare to be who you really are.” (p. 21)

While I have no trouble saying that I’m a writer, I’ve never considered myself to be an artist. Art is painting, drawing, sculpture, design. Art it musicals, opera, plays, and concerts.

Or is it?

What if art is so much more and what if all of us make art in a million little ways?

Making beds, writing books, cooking meals, designing clothes, playing with Legos, decorating interiors, and hosting dinner parties, all can be ways you express yourself, ways you create, ways you make art.

The most beautiful thing? God uses us as “we make art with our lives” to reveal different aspects of Himself to a world that desperately needs Him.

A Million Little Ways is divided into three parts:

In Part 1, we see a beautiful picture of God as the Artist and us, as His image-bearers, placed in the world to live art.
In Part 2, we uncover the art we were born to make by looking within, back, up, around, and beneath.
In Part 3, we release the art we were made to live when we show up, wait, offer, wonder, and create.

Emily P. Freeman writes with a transparency and honesty that always leaves me surprised to discover that someone else struggles with the same things I do. Each chapter feels like a conversation with a friend who sees beauty in you. Beauty you may be unable to see in yourself, not because of anything you can do in your own strength, but because you are an image-bearer of The Artist.

There was so much in these pages to digest, to ponder, to consider, to breathe in and live out, that I don’t feel one read-through was sufficient so I’m starting over and reading it again.

Lucky for you, when I attended Allume a few weeks ago, I got to hear Emily speak and the fine folks at Revell gave all the attendees a copy of A Million Little Ways. But I already had my review copy from Revell, so I’m going to share the art with you. Subscribe to the blog through email or leave me a comment here on the blog, on Facebook, or Twitter. I’ll put the names in the random number generator and whoever it picks will win their own copy. Contest ends Sunday, November 24th.

A Million Little Ways is available November 2013 at your local bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing.

The super fine print: I received a copy of A Million Little Ways in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

God Wants Me To Be A Bay Leaf

God wants me to be a bay leaf.

Sounds exciting, right?

Yeah. I’m not so sure about it myself.

I woke up early a few weeks ago, too early to get up. The time of day when I fade in and out of awareness, praying, listening, thinking. On this particular morning, my mind flipped between the things I needed to do before the day ran off and left me and the images that had flooded it for the past few days.

Images of women—old, young, trendy, traditional—women who had gathered in one place to learn, to be renewed, to find new ways to share their message.

Some women had answered life-altering calls. They’d seen a need. They’d decided not to shove it off on someone else. Now, they and their families call new cities in foreign lands home.

They are doing BIG things for God. I want to do big things for God, too.

I was willing. I would have gone. If He’d called me, I’d have packed my bags and learned a new language, and I’d have gone anywhere. I told Him so. More than once.

I’m still willing. But here I am.

I have a great husband and three cool kids and a new minivan parked in the garage of a nice house in a safe part of the world. I’ll be honest, it doesn’t feel like I’m doing big things for God.

I know, I know. Those three cool kids are the future and the time I spend with them is a daily act of worship.


But I feel so small. So insignificant. And as I lay there that morning, I couldn’t help but wonder why God hadn’t called me to more?

While I lay there, wondering if maybe I’d missed something along the way, He spoke.

I want you to be a bay leaf.

No, it wasn’t audible, but I heard it and I can assure you that as I have never, ever aspired to be a bay leaf, it was pretty clear to me that this was God’s voice and not my own. Seriously, God? A bay leaf?

I want you to be a bay leaf.

See, I had spent days surrounded by walking, talking oaks of faith. Singing, laughing diamonds of grace. War-torn but still smiling warriors in the fight for the kingdom.

I was trying to think of ways to be big. God asked me to be small.

Do you know what a bay leaf does? It’s that dried leaf your mom or your grandma always added to the chicken broth or the spaghetti sauce or the vegetable soup. Bay leaves help bring other flavors together, the result of which is a richness, a savoriness that is hard to define, but noticeable in its absence.

I’ve been pondering the idea of being a bay leaf for a few weeks.

Not to diminish the sacrifice of those who answer the “flashier” calls, but I think, sometimes, it’s harder to say yes to being small. To going unnoticed. To being content to add that “little something extra” to the lives of those around us without ever being the main event.

So as I continue to dwell with the idea, I’m praying for opportunities to be a bay leaf. For ways to add some richness and depth to the souls I find myself simmering through life with.

I’ve also started praying that Out of the Boat will be a bay leaf in your life. Something that deepens your faith, enriches your walk, and maybe adds a little something extra to your day.

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Singularity by Steven James

Most of us accept death as a part of life. But not everyone.

In Singularity, the second book in The Jevin Banks Experience, Steven James plunges us into a world where research into brain function and artificial intelligence that is intended to help quadriplegics or children with life-shortening diseases is being hijacked by psychopaths.

Psychopaths who will eliminate any and all obstacles between them and immortality.

In Singularity, illusionist Jevin Banks loses a friend in what the authorities insist was a tragic accident. He knows it wasn’t and he refuses to allow his friend’s death to go unsolved.

Lucky for him, the supporting cast from Placebo, the first book in the The Jevin Banks Experience, is back, and they are as fabulous as ever. Charlene, Jevin’s girlfriend; Xavier, Jevin’s right-hand man; Fionna, home-schooling mom and computer whiz; Fionna’s kids, four of the coolest kids on the planet.

Of course, one of our villains from Placebo is back, too. Derek Byrne, aka, Akinsanya, intends to live forever and his methods are, well, let’s go with extreme. (Gory, sick, disturbing, horrifying—those would all work as well).

As I’ve come to expect from Steven James, the first few chapters are tough. Evil men unleash their power over those who’ve tried to thwart them, and the results are devastating.

From there, Singularity takes us into a world of illusion, organized crime, conspiracy theory, top-secret military research, and prostitution. Set mostly in Las Vegas, Singularity doesn’t shy away from gritty realities. Nor does it glorify them.

If you’re looking for safe, predictable fiction that gives you an interesting enough story but doesn’t make you think or wonder about anything, then Singularity is not for you.

If, however, you’d love to read something that you haven’t figured out by page five, if you’d like a story that reflects the world we live in, that delves deep into questions about what makes us human and why God allows people to do bad things, if you’d like to get to the final page and go “What??!!!” as the whole story gets turned on its ear…

Read Singularity.

Singularity is available as of November 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

The super fine print: I received a free copy of Singularity in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

You can read my review of Placebo here. I highly recommend reading Placebo first. 

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Through the Balustrade

Through the Balustrade pulled me in from the first page. Roxan is seventeen and has her own shanty. And she’s thrilled about it.


Immediately, I want to know why she’s on her own at seventeen. Why does she think a dirt-floor shanty is a little slice of heaven? What kind of horror was her life before this point? Why does she believe she’s free now?

And is she? Really?

Seriously. I got all that from the first few paragraphs.

If you’re a fan of books like The Hunger Games or Divergent, Through the Balustrade is going to be right up your alley.

If you’ve ever felt different, unwanted, or weird—if you’ve ever believed (or maybe you still do) that you are nothing special, then Through the Balustrade is going to grab your heart strings and refuse to let go.

There are so many things I love about Through the Balustrade.

I love the characters—not a predictable one in the bunch. You’ll love some of them, you’ll despise others. And then there are the guys you just aren’t sure about. I spent half the book trying to figure out if this one guy wanted to help Roxan or if he was just trying to get close enough so he could kill her. (No. I’m not going to tell you. This is a spoiler free review!)

I love the language. They speak English in the Oblate, but they have their own expressions. Turns, rolls, flashes, matchments, Vitawater, merits…the words are dropped in so skillfully that even though you’ve never used them this way before, you’ll know exactly what they mean. It serves to highlight that this world is different—so very different—from our own.

Or, is it?

Speaking of the world…I love the world. Hmm…Well, not really. I love M.B. Dahl’s masterful world building, but it’s not a place I would want to live. Life inside the Protectorate is a closely monitored place where the adults do their jobs and don’t ask questions. Children are raised underground and any child who demonstrates certain gifts gets “modifed”—and yeah, it’s as bad as it sounds. And the thing about modification…it doesn’t always take.

Which brings us back to Roxan. She doesn’t know what’s “wrong” with her, but she’s smart enough to know she needs to keep it to herself.

Bless her heart, she does try, but there are evil forces at work in the Oblate and she’s the key to unlocking the door that will truly set the people free. It’s going to take every ounce of strength and bravery she’s never thought she had to do what must be done.

Because she’s the only one who can get them Through the Balustrade.

The weird one. The one who’s nothing special. She’s the key to everything.

You won’t be able to read Through the Balustrade without wondering if the very thing you dislike about yourself—that thing you so desperately wish you could change—if that’s not the thing that God wants to use to set you, and others, free.

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Scratch-n-Sniff Bible

I’ve always wondered what it would be like if my Bible came with a scratch-n-sniff option.

Imagine what the Garden of Eden smelled like.
The fragrance of fruit trees and grasses and roses without thorns.
The aroma of a world brand new. Fresh and clean.
But it didn’t stay that way.

Decay and death soon entered.
In our scratch-n-sniff Bible, the rest of Genesis and a good chunk of Exodus smell like sweat and tears.
The aroma of perfection marred by sin.

But it didn’t stay that way.

There's more...but you'll need to pop over to Deeper With Jesus in Rhode Island to read the rest. I hope you will. 

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Love's Awakening

Love’s Awakening is the 2nd book in The Ballantyne Legacy by Laura Frantz.

I’ll admit it.
My expectations were high.

I had fallen completely and thoroughly into the world she created in the first book in the series, Love’s Reckoning, last September (you can read my review here) and have been eagerly waiting for more of the story to unfold.

Love’s Awakening did not disappoint.

In Love’s Awakening, we meet Ellie Ballantyne, the youngest daughter of Silas and Eden Ballantyne, as she’s returning home from finishing school. She’s young, beautiful, worth a fortune, and not interested in marrying the man everyone thinks she should.

I loved Ellie. Full of spunk and determination. Tired of being the baby. Ready to find her way in the world. Totally unprepared to fall in love with the one man her parents would never approve of.

Oh. Did I forget to mention him?

Jack Turlock is the son of a whiskey magnate with a reputation for being a scoundrel. But Jack’s growing up and becoming his own man. A man who doesn’t agree with his father’s treatment of slaves, or his business tactics. A man who doesn’t share his family’s hatred of the Ballantyne’s.

Especially not Ellie.

Love’s Awakening is set against the backdrop of Pittsburgh in the early 1800s. A time when slaves making their way to freedom in the North had to pass through Pennsylvania. A state that—laws on the books notwithstanding—still had slaveholders as late as the 1840s.

Laura Frantz doesn’t shy away from the grim realities of that era. The horrific treatment of slaves, the desperation for freedom, the dangers of every day life.

Of course, some truths transcend time and place. The high cost of doing what’s right. The way some families are a place of shelter and hope, while others are places of turmoil and destruction. The way love can and does transform hearts.

Love’s Awakening is the kind of book that transports you to a different world and when you come back to reality, you discover you are so much better off for having made the trip.

Love’s Awakening is available as of September 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

The super fine print: I received a free copy of Love’s Awakening in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The First to Fall

I saw it yesterday morning, green morphing into yellow.
And then, today, I saw the first to fall.
One lonely leaf, landing at the base of the tree.

I felt sorry for him. 

Imagine it. Poor guy burst out of a blossom a few months ago. He’s hung on through day after day of rain (we’ve had a lot of rain here in South Carolina this summer). He’s held on through storms that removed entire limbs that grew nearby. He’s endured the baking heat that finally showed up at the end of August.

My guess is that he was ready to hang on all winter, but…things changed.

Circumstances beyond his control took hold. Chlorophyll production ended, no matter how hard he tried to keep it going. And now, here he is, laying at the bottom of the tree, while everyone else is still clinging to the branches above.

I wonder if he feels like a failure. Weak for dropping so soon.

I wonder if he’s shocked to find himself on an unexpected path. He never imagined he’d touch the ground, or be the playzone for squealing toddlers, or find himself living out his days tucked in the bumper of a minivan or trapped in a gutter.

Sometimes I feel like that leaf. My guess is that you do, too.

Maybe you feel like a failure because life has gone off on an unexpected path. Circumstances you never wanted or planned for took hold of you and now?

You never imagined the divorce, the unemployment, the silence of an empty womb. You didn’t expect to be living out your days in a shelter or buying your groceries with food stamps. 
You didn’t anticipate the aging parent who has forever altered your perception of the term “empty nest” or the diagnosis that messed with your definition of “healthy.”  
You knew your children would never flunk a class or have a DUI or father a child out of wedlock, and no way you’d ever struggle to get out of bed or fear the depths of the night.

You were ready to hang on to life and make it awesome, but here you are, wondering how on earth you could have fallen so far.

We think falling is bad. A mistake. A catastrophe. A sadness. At times it is. 

But what if, like our leaf, the fall was not a disaster, but was simply the next step in fulfilling your purpose here on earth for this season.

The promotion that didn’t happen puts you on a path that leads to a co-worker’s salvation.
The child who broke your heart puts you on your knees and you find that prayer is more powerful than any other weapon in your arsenal.
The marriage that disintegrated, the finances in disarray, the depression that nearly destroyed you puts you in a place to be used of God in a way no one could have anticipated. Especially not you when you were young, green, and flapping high in that tree.

You aren’t the first to fall and this fall probably won’t be your last.

As you watch the leaves floating on the breeze, settling in the grass, being blown into piles, or ground into mulch, know that while they may be surprised to find themselves no longer flying high in the sky, they aren’t sad.
They are fulfilling their purpose and they find rest in that.

Oh that we could do the same.

Psalm 138:8 ~ The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. (ESV)

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Friday, September 13, 2013

Let Down

Ever had someone let you down?

It happened to me recently.

At first, I was surprised. I have a fairly optimistic outlook and I tend to expect the best of people, so when they reveal a different side of themselves, it often catches me off guard.

The surprise was followed up with dismay and a lot of self-incrimination. “How could I be that gullible?” and “Am I really that naive?” and “I should have known…”

Now, I’m a “good Christian girl” or at least I try to be. So while I vented to my husband, there were several methods I did NOT take advantage of.

I did not compose a vague but needy Facebook post.

          I did not ....

If you want to read the rest of this post, you'll need to pop over to my dear friend Lori Roeleveld's fabulous site, Deeper with Jesus in Rhode Island. It is an indescribable honor for me to be guest posting there. 

Lori's blog is the first one I recommend whenever someone asks me which bloggers I follow. If you've never visited her site, do it today. And go ahead and sign up to have her posts sent to your email. You'll be amazed by the encouragement (and occasional kick in the rear!) you'll find there!

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Monday, September 9, 2013

The Alaskan Adventures Sweepstakes

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with you my review of Stranded by Dani Pettrey. 

You can click here to read it

In Stranded, Book 3 in author Dani Pettrey’s acclaimed Alaskan Courage series, reporter Darcy St. James knows something is wrong when her friend vanishes from her job on a cruise ship. Everyone else believes Abby simply left of her own accord, but something isn’t lining up, and Darcy knows the only way to find the truth is to put herself in Abby’s position.
Gage McKenna has taken a summer-long stint leading adventure excursions for the passengers of various cruise lines that dock in Alaska for a few days of sightseeing. He’s surprised to find Darcy onboard one of the ships, working undercover as a reporter.
Something sinister is going on, and the deeper they dig, the more they realize they’ve only discovered the tip of the iceberg.
To celebrate the story, author Dani Pettrey and Bethany House Publishers are pleased to present the ALASKAN ADVENTURES Sweepstakes, and your chance to win one of three fabulous prizes connected with the story!
Timeframe & Notifications:
This giveaway starts September 2, 2013 and ends September 19, 2013 @ 11:59 pm (PST). Winners will be selected Friday, September 20, 2013, and announced at
Alaskan Adventures Sweepstakes Grand PrizeGRAND PRIZE:
In Stranded, Darcy, Gage, and the McKenna family launch into all kinds of adventures: from high-octane ocean kayaking, to rugged island camping beneath the vast Alaskan skies.
Our grand prize winner will have the chance to build their own adventure, with a $300 adventure gear gift card of their choice from either Eddie Bauer or L.L. Bean.
And what would our hero and heroine do if they won the prize? Gage would use it towards one of L.L. Bean’s gorgeous ocean kayaks, while Darcy would go for “Glamping” gear:)
Alaskan Adventures Sweepstakes Grand PrizeSECOND PRIZE:
Everyone knows Gage McKenna’s campfire cooking is second to none. But in Stranded, Darcy discovers that before Gage was a search and rescue hero, he secretly dreamed of attending culinary school.
Our second prize winner will have the chance to fulfill Gage’s dream with a $200 value, 1-year membership to Top Chef University.
Membership includes over 200 video lessons taught by Top Chef contestants, covering everything from soups to desserts.
Alaskan Adventures Sweepstakes Third PrizeTHIRD PRIZE:
Darcy once gave her missing friend, Abby, a beautiful shell necklace, engraved with a special message that made it one-of-a-kind.
Our third prize winner will receive their very own, one-of-a-kind “Earth & Sea” necklace valued at $100.
Handmade of New Zealand Paua shells, hammered copper, and Tahitian pearls, this necklace is the perfect compliment for a soft sweater and jeans, or a unique finishing touch for a little black dress on a special date night.
How to Enter:
Go to and complete the entry box, anytime between September 2 and September 19
All you have to do to enter is include your name and email. You won't be spammed or stalked in any way, but she's going to need that email address to let you know if you've won! You'll be asked which prize you'd most like to win, and then you'll have an opportunity to earn additional entries by sharing about the contest on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc. It's ridiculously easy to enter multiple times and each entry increases your odds of winning while helping spread the word about a great book!
I would LOVE IT if one of my Out of the Boat readers won one of these fabulous prizes. Please pop over to Dani's website and enter today, and if you're so inclined, leave us a comment telling us which package you would most enjoy and why.
I'll start...I love to cook, so I'd have to say the Top Chef University package would be my first choice. But I certainly wouldn't turn down that gorgeous necklace, and I'm sure I could find lots of fun stuff to buy at L.L. Bean!

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Friday, September 6, 2013

The Promise

Y’all know that I prefer to read any series of books in order, but I made an exception with The Promise because I was intrigued by the concept…a man has been lying to his wife for five months and he’s about to destroy his already fragile marriage because of his deception.

Jean Anderson has no idea that her husband, Tom, lost his job five months ago. All she knows is that something is terribly wrong. And her own secret is only going to complicate things further.

Dan Walsh’s storyline is sprinkled liberally with practical marriage advice from relationship expert Gary Smalley and while it may slow the narrative down in places, it didn’t detract from the powerful message that God can fix any mess.

Tom and Jean annoyed the snot out of me, but I think that’s because they were so frustrating realistic. While I read, I wanted someone to knock some sense into Tom and kept wishing Jean would grow a backbone. I wanted to sit them both down in a room and make them take a long hard look at the mess they’d made. And then I wanted to make them fix it. So, while I can’t say the characters were endearing, they certainly were memorable.

I appreciated that this book delved into issues both of them brought into their marriage from their childhoods and how Tom’s parents, who weathered their own marital crisis in Book 1, The Dance, played a role in helping Tom and Jean find hope and a way back.

In a world where so many marriages are facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles, stories like The Promise help remind us that no mess is too messy for God if we’ll humbly take it to Him and then follow His leading and direction.

The Promise is available as of August 2013 at your favorite local bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

The super fine print: I received a free copy of this book in exchange from my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Write Every Day

So how much writing did you get done this summer?

Every time someone asks me this, I have to fight an intense desire to slink away in shame. Instead, I mumble something about being busy with the kids and vacation because I hate to tell them the truth.

How much did I write this summer? Not much.

Now I know some of you are going to try to tell me that it’s okay. I have young children. I’m not going to get much writing done during the summer. 

But the truth is, I wasn’t getting much writing done before summer started.

I’ve been stuck for a while.

So when a Writer’s Digest email popped up in my inbox with the words WRITE EVERY DAY How to write faster and more in the title, it took my fingers less than a minute (thanks to the wonders of one-click ordering) to download that title to my Kindle app.

At $2.99, I figured I didn’t have much to lose. Even if I got one decent tip, it would be worth it.

It was.

I'm guest blogging today over at The Write Conversation. Come on over to read the rest of my review.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Dear Jesus...Amen

I love hearing my kids find their voice as they learn to talk to God.

Emma goes for loud and proud. “Dear Jesus,” she’ll begin, then we usually get a nice pause. This is followed by her thanking Him for something about her day, or the food, or something really random like swings or a television show.
I know God looks forward to her prayers. I believe they make Him smile.

Then there’s James. At four, his prayers are already starting to sound like the prayers he’s heard. He’s likely to ask God to help us “have a great day” or “keep us safe” and he’s been known to throw in a request for frozen yogurt or a trip to the park. He also is starting to question things. 

He recently wanted to know why we say “Amen” at the end of our prayer. I told him what I’ve always been told, that “amen” means “so be it." That went flying over his head, so I backed up and went with, “it’s a word we use to end our prayers.” He hasn’t started saying “goodbye” or “later” so I think he’s good with amen.

Of course, I imagine God cracking up as this little guy starts to have more of a conversation with Him. I think He loves the questions and looks forward to James coming to Him with more complex queries in the years ahead.

And then there’s Drew. At two, his prayers go like this…Dear Jesus…(long pause)…Amen.
It’s cute, right? Adorable really.
He’ll grow more verbose in the months ahead.

But I wonder if God kinda wishes he wouldn’t.

I wonder if He wishes more of us prayed the way Drew does.

Dear Jesus…(long pause…sitting quietly, waiting for Him) … so be it.

So often, I try to tell God everything I need, because I know what I need. I try to explain the mess, because I know all the ins and outs of the situation. I try to propose a solution, because I’ve been thinking about this for a while.

Wait…why am I praying again?

Maybe we could all take a lesson from Drew. Maybe we need to approach the throne, not with a laundry list of desires, but with one desire.

Dear Jesus…whatever You want…so be it.


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Tuesday, September 3, 2013


I read a lot.
I read a lot of romantic suspense.
I even try to write it.

This combination of reading and writing has given me a pretty good idea of the elements that need to be present in a romantic suspense novel to keep everybody happy. This is both good and bad because sometimes it can make a book rather predictable.

So I love it when I crack open a book and find all those elements, but find that each one comes at me in a fresh or unexpected way.

Irene Hannon’s second book in the Private Justice series, Trapped, did just that.

Trapped opens, not in the head of the hero, James “Dev” Devlin, former ATF agent turned private eye, or the heroine, librarian Laura Griffith, or the villain (no, I’ll not be giving you his name), but in the head of Darcy, the sixteen year old half-sister of the heroine. A young woman who is about to make a very poor choice that will send Laura and Dev on a race against time, the elements, and the twisted mind of a sociopath.

And speaking of sociopaths . . . This guy is C.R.E.E.P.Y.

I find the villain-next-door to be the scariest of all and this one, well, you’ll have to read it. We spend a disturbing amount of time in our villain’s head and Irene Hannon did a masterful job of presenting him, not as a caricature of evil, but as a deeply troubled soul.

Our hero, Dev, has his own troubled past that rears its ugly head when Laura, complete with her own trauma, walks in his door and asks for his help. As their search takes them to train stations, homeless shelters, and through late-night stakeouts, they will both have to find a way to leave their pasts, and their future, in God’s hands.

Doesn’t it sound great? Wouldn’t you like to have your very own copy?
Well, guess what? You can! 

I happen to have an extra copy, so I’m giving it away. I’ll put entries from Facebook, Twitter, and the comments on this post into a random number generator, and someone will win their very own copy of Trapped!

All you have to do is leave me a comment and let me know you want to be entered into the drawing!

So what are you waiting for?

Trapped is available as of August 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

The super fine print: I received a free copy of Trapped in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.