Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fear Not Tomorrow Review

My Review: I am a born worrier. I am constantly worrying about the future and how things are all going to work out. I often take control of situations because I am trying to prevent certain situations from happening. When I had the opportunity to review Ruth Graham's book Fear Not Tomorrow, For God Is Already There, I took it. I thought it would give me some insight on the worry that I live with every day. I was not disappointed. Ruth Graham captures the emotion of fear so well with examples from her own life but most importantly examples right from the Bible. She helps you to understand why and how to trust God in all circumstances and that He is always there, even when we don't feel His presence. Most importantly she stresses that the real answers and comfort to our fear comes from God alone. We must spend time with Him, read our Bibles and pray. This was a wonderful book for anyone, especially those that live in worry and in fear.

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

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

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Fear Not Tomorrow, God is Already There: Trusting Him in Uncertain Times

Howard Books (September 29, 2009)


Ruth Graham is the daughter of the revered American pastor Billy Graham. She has appeared on a variety of radio and television shows and is the author of the bestselling In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $22.99
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (September 29, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416558438
ISBN-13: 978-1416558439


Trust at My Doorstep

Chapter 1

It had been a difficult few months. One of my children was struggling, and I didn’t know how things would play out. I was anxious, frightened, and continually preoccupied. I could imagine what might be ahead. The questions were relentless: What could I have done differently? Was it my fault? What could I do to change it? How could I protect my child? Was there another step I could take? I felt as if I were being sucked under by a whirlpool of scenes, conversations, and hypothetical outcomes. I lost weight. I battled headaches. I felt like I was constantly vibrating. The fear was overwhelming.

This particular day, the postman arrived at my door with a padded envelope. It was addressed to me in familiar back-slanted handwriting—something from Mother. Feeling the envelope, I knew it was too light to contain a book. What could it be? My birthday was still a long way off. As I tore at the flap and reached inside, I took hold of what felt like a long, narrow picture frame. Pulling it out, I stopped for a moment and stared. It was the framed print from the wall in front of Mother’s desk. In black calligraphy bordered by a flowering vine I read the familiar words: “Fear not tomorrow, God is already there.”

Instantly, I was transported back to the mountain home of my childhood in Montreat, North Carolina. My mother’s plain wooden desk flanked by a tall chest of drawers and a bookcase took up much of one wall in her room. Always lying open on the desk, surrounded by various reference materials, was her well-marked, dog-eared Bible. On the wall facing the desk hung a collection of precious photographs and artifacts: a crown of thorns woven for Mother by the head of the Jerusalem police, a slave collar given to her by Johnny Cash, a rude wooden cross fashioned by my brother Franklin, photographs of loved ones and of those for whom she was praying. Centered above these artifacts was the print I now held. I’m not sure where Mother got it or who gave it to her, only that I cannot remember a time when it wasn’t hanging there like a banner.

I imagined my mother standing on a chair in front of the desk, reaching to take the print off the wall. Sending me such a gift was just like Mother. All my life, since I left home for boarding school in the ninth grade, she had been sending me letters filled with encouragement from the Scriptures—bits of what she was learning in her own study time or wisdom for some situation I might be facing. Now here she was identifying with my mother’s heart, sending me a poignant reassurance. We had not talked much about the circumstances of my struggle. Mother just intuitively knew I might need something like this—a reminder that God was working in our lives and that he cared about our future. I appreciated her sensitivity. She didn’t blame or condemn me; she didn’t unload a lot of advice. She just sent me something that had been of value to her, something that had reassured her, no doubt, as she had mothered us. Standing on my doorstep, holding that print, I felt the words penetrate my heart and mind, almost as if I had never seen them before, as if they were a message written directly to me. I read them again slowly: “Fear not tomorrow, God is already there.”

Little Foxes

Since that day on my doorstep, I have faced quite a few threatening tomorrows, and I have battled fear and anxiety as resilient foes. Perhaps you have fought this same battle. We may experience moments of clarity, as I did reading my mother’s framed print, but then we return to daily life and to the struggle. We wonder how we’re supposed to “fear not tomorrow” in the worst-case scenarios of our lives: a frightening diagnosis, betrayal, separation from a child who has gone off to war, the loss of a job, the evaporation of our retirement, the drug addiction of a loved one, abandonment by a spouse, failure at our workplace, the loss of a home, a legal verdict that changes our lives, the death of a loved one, the exposure of a secret, the loss of our possessions to flood, earthquake, tornado, or financial disaster.

Fear not tomorrow? It is easy to say it but another thing to live it out. We drown in our questions: But what about . . . ? How will I . . . ? What if . . . ? But if I can’t even . . . ? Who will . . . ? And what does it mean that God is already there? Where? In our crises, God can seem silent, remote, or worse, even imaginary. You may feel as I have at times. I have real problems, and they are too big, too hard, too painful for me to solve. I don’t have time for theology. I’m in trouble here! I’m inadequate, and I need something real. Something practical. Something secure. Give me some solutions, some guarantees. Can’t you see that I’m terrified of tomorrow?

Fear and anxiety can exhaust us. King Solomon writes about the “little foxes that spoil the vines” (Song of Solomon 2:15 NKJV). Fear and anxiety are like that. Fear can wipe us out, burn up whatever energy we have, and hinder us from entering into the full experience of life that God desires for us. Certainly, fear and anxiety can become so severe they incapacitate us. But the majority of us live with fear and still function. I have heard fear compared to a jack hammer buzzing just outside the window. The noise is constantly there. When you sleep, the jack hammer quits, but when you wake up, it starts again, sapping your strength and attention until you’re no longer really living—just enduring.

Fear takes the air out of life. When we live with fear, we lose our capacity for fun and spontaneity. We can’t love others wholeheartedly. We become like that frog being boiled slowly. The water gets steadily hotter until we realize, “I’m not having any fun. I have no joy. I’m not alive. I’ve forgotten how to laugh.” During the difficult period with my child that I described above, I experienced fear in different ways. At times, I would have trouble functioning; at other times, I would be able to get up in the morning and do what was necessary. Up and down. Fear was that steady buzz or hum. I wasn’t able to hear the music of life clearly. Everything was filtered through that fear.

My mother was a master at finding ways to enjoy life despite the intense pressures she faced. She knew how to move fear out of the way and keep joy alive. Stories of her antics and pranks have become the stuff of legend in our family. As a young parent, for instance, I would tell my children, “Now don’t draw on yourselves.” Then I would leave the kids with Mother, only to find them covered in inky smiley faces that Mother herself had drawn! Once Mother made a mudslide for the grandchildren on the side of a steep embankment near our Montreat house. She turned on the hose and then promptly took her turn as the first one down. When much older, she accidently drove her car down that same steep embankment. Thinking she was stepping on the brake, she had stepped on the accelerator instead. She and her friend escaped unscathed, but afterward, Mother arranged for a stop sign to be staked at the bottom of the incline, lest other wayward drivers be tempted to take the same route!

Life is a gift from God to be enjoyed. Fear suffocates our spirits and robs us of that gift. It is human to experience the emotion of fear. Fear entered the human experience in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve rebelled against God and hid themselves from Him. But Peter describes Satan as a “roaring lion, seeking someone to devour,” and I believe fear is also Satan’s paw print (1 Peter 5:8). It is true that some kinds fear can help us—the kind that keeps us from stepping into oncoming traffic, for instance, or putting our hand on a hot stove. At times, God may use fear to keep us from making wrong choices or wrong decisions in life. But these moments of fear are different from what the Bible calls the “spirit of fear,” which I might describe as the condition or attitude that takes hold when our emotion of fear consumes us (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV). As Paul writes, the spirit of fear does not come from God.

Shifting Our Focus

God is concerned about the way fear affects our lives. The Bible says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment” (1 John 4:18 NKJV). Fear involves torment. Torment is not God’s will for us. God is committed to our peace. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you” (John 14:27 NKJV). We read of Jesus, “He Himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14 NKJV). God has ordained peace for us (Isaiah 26:12). He did not design us to live in fear and anxiety but in peace. In Scripture, we find God repeatedly urging, commanding, people not to be afraid. God is not condemning us for feeling the emotion of fear, but He doesn’t want us to get stuck there or to set up camp in torment. The question is when we are at our wit’s end, how do we “fear not”? At such moments, peace can seem nothing more than an abstraction. We struggle even to imagine the experience.

Often, when we experience fear, we have allowed our circumstances to overwhelm or alter our perspective. Our perspective has become skewed. I have discovered that defeating fear in my life begins with shifting my focus. I take my eyes off the circumstances, off the source of my fear, and put my focus on God. Instead of mulling over the “what ifs” in my future—instead of looking ahead with anxiety, trepidation, dread, or even horror—I make the choice to look at God, to consider His character, and to trust that the One who loves me is “already there.” The message on Mother’s framed print helped me to make that kind of shift as I faced uncertainty with my child. I had been focusing on tomorrow; the words on the print brought my focus back to God.

Shifting our focus is first a decision, then a process. When we turn to God, our decision opens a door for peace and reassurance to enter our hearts. The Bible says of God, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You” (Isaiah 26:3 NKJV, emphasis added). When we focus on God, peace follows. I find that as I concentrate on God, as I examine facets of His character, as I spend time with Him in prayer, sharing my heart and quieting myself to listen, as I meditate on what His Word says about Him, as I read about Jesus and observe the way He handled life—as I “stay” my mind on God—my problems begin to lose their power over me. Instead, I become absorbed in the power, the beauty, and the love of God. He is my focus now. I am learning about Him and getting to know Him. And the more I learn, the more I discover I can trust Him.

In the coming chapters, we will be doing just what the verse above from Isaiah says—staying, or fixing, our minds on God. We will examine some of God’s attributes and consider His ways. We will study the character of Jesus, for in learning about Jesus, we learn about God. Scripture calls Jesus the “express image” of God (Hebrews 1:3 NKJV). Jesus Himself told His disciples, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9 NKJV). If we want to know what God is like, we can look at Jesus. We can ask: How did Jesus deal with people? What were His relationships like? How did He respond to people’s distress? As we focus on God this way, we can expect God’s peace to crowd out the fear in our hearts.

For some of us, focusing on God, or considering that He is “already there” in our tomorrow, is not exactly a comfort. We may be afraid of God. What little we know of Him, or what we don’t know of Him, frightens us. We fear He is out to lower the boom on us, that He is looking for our faults and eager to point out our failings. We are afraid of His power. Afraid of His judgment. Afraid of being overwhelmed by Him. It is our human nature to fear what we don’t understand, and we don’t understand God. He is unfathomable. He is so much more than we can imagine—far more. He is not accountable to us. He is mysterious, and mystery can be frightening. On seeing the Lord on the throne, Isaiah said, “Woe is me, for I am undone!” (Isaiah 6:5). Isaiah saw his frailty in light of God’s almightiness; he was awed by God’s holiness and glory.

But Scripture also calls God “Abba,” an intimate word for Father that we would translate “Daddy” (Romans 8:15). While God is overwhelming, He is also tender with us. In the New Testament, we see Jesus touching, healing, and relating intimately with people. Bette Midler recorded a song with the lyric, “God is watching us from a distance.” That line is only half-true. God is watching us. But not from a distance. Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23 NKJV). God comes close. He makes His home with us. He longs for us as a lover for his bride. We take God for granted, we don’t develop the relationship, we ignore Him, we don’t spend time with Him, and yet He stays with us, longing for that intimacy. God makes covenant with us, and He keeps it. To me, that is one of the most reassuring truths about God. He will never give me up. Never desert me. Never leave me alone. Never (Hebrews 13:5).

As we learn more about God in these pages and spend time focusing our attention on Him, our relationship with Him will deepen. The Bible promises that when we draw near to God, he will draw near to us (James 4:8). As our relationship with God grows, so will our trust in Him. We will discover His constancy. When everything around us is unstable, God is stable. His character is consistent, unchanging. His love is secure. My prayer is that the more you learn of God and the closer you get to Him, the more you will be able not only to trust Him with your tomorrow but also to take comfort in the fact that He is the One who is already there.

Overcoming Our Misperceptions

Part of our challenge in learning to trust God involves overcoming misperceptions we may have of Him. If my view of God is not accurate, then my trust in Him will be more hesitant than hopeful. Often our picture of God is colored by our experiences with our own fathers or with other figures of authority in our lives. If your father was cold and demanding, then you may see God that way. If your father was gone, as mine often was, then you may see God as far away or busy with other things. If an authority figure was angry or abusive, then you may see God the same way and want nothing to do with Him. We are relational beings, and as such, we are hardwired to measure God by our experiences with significant people.

I did not always view God as someone with whom I could be comfortable. As I shared, my father was gone much of the time, fulfilling his calling to preach the gospel. I knew my father loved me; I knew I was important to him. But I also knew the world needed him, and for many years, I saw God as being similarly occupied with others and unreachable. I have since learned that God is not like that.

In my book In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart, I share in detail about my life, my failures, and some of the ways God met me in my brokenness and redeemed it. I tell the story of what it was like to go home to Montreat after a major personal failure. Driving up the mountain to my parents’ home was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I had no idea what they would say to me or how they would respond. I had gone against everyone’s advice. As I saw it, I had failed myself, my family, my children, and God. I felt deserving of condemnation and rejection. What would my parents do? Would they say they had told me so? That I had made my bed and now would have to lie in it?

As I approached the top of the mountain, I saw my father standing there in the driveway. I parked the car and opened the door to get out, but before I could as much as set my feet on the asphalt, my father was at my side. He wrapped his arms around me, and I heard him say, “Welcome home.” His acceptance instantly silenced my shame. I was broken, but I no longer feared. My father had embraced me at my worst and loved me anyway. I experienced grace. I would not compare my father with God, but that day my father showed me in a very practical, gracious way what God is like.

Through that experience, I was able to get a glimpse of the unconditional love God has for me. It has taken me a while to get to a point where I finally see God as “Abba,” as Daddy. Learning to know God intimately has been a process. But through the fog of doubt, anxiety, and fear, I do see Him now as warm and embracing. He loves me, enjoys me, and wants me to know His joy. He will do anything to draw me in. He wants my heart. He wants my trust.

Many years ago I taught a Bible study entitled “Enjoying God” for the women at my home church. I was convinced most of us did not enjoy God. Even the title of the study made us a bit uncomfortable. Was it sacrilegious to “enjoy” God? Wasn’t He austere and stern? Holy and unapproachable? I wanted to explore the possibilities.

The first week’s homework was to imagine crawling into God’s lap and calling him Daddy. I think many were slightly put off by the assignment. Some had to deal with the damaged image of an earthly father. Some had difficulty seeing God in such an intimate way. Each week the assignment was the same. Gradually, I began to hear reports of breakthroughs. Some people took longer than others to connect with God, but we sensed God doing something profound in the group. My own life changed over the course of that study as I too began to see God intimately—as a secure place of comfort and peace. As I focused on Him, God was chipping away at my misperceptions, helping me to open my heart to His love. And He can do the same for you.

Why, God?

Our misperceptions of God can also be formed in the trials and heartaches of life. You may have a long scar of pain running through your life—a spouse leaving, the loss of a child, bankruptcy, illness, addiction, things that take the breath out of you. Perhaps you feel that God abandoned you in those experiences. That He must not care about you. That if He loved you, He wouldn’t have let you go through all that hurt. You wonder, “Why should I trust Him now?”

Why, God? This is a real question we ask when life happens and things seem to go badly. Why are You letting my life unravel? Don’t You love me? Didn’t You promise to protect me? How could You let this happen? In the valleys of life, we can feel as if God has betrayed us. That He isn’t trustworthy, as we once thought. That we’ll never again have a stable or secure place to stand. When devastation occurs and we can’t see God anywhere, our trust in Him can crumble to dust. We may even reject Him for a time.

I’ve lived through personal events that have left me reeling. I have written about suffering in a broken marriage. As the marriage began to come apart I couldn’t “feel” God. I couldn’t hold myself together. I described the way I felt back then: “Raw. Lonely. Exposed. Like an egg without a shell.” I wanted to know why those circumstances were happening to me. Perhaps you have felt this way too.

I’ve seen loved ones suffer through crushing experiences, and I’ve asked God why. Why did my friend’s first grandchild die just hours after birth? Why did a young missionary couple’s two-year-old child drown in the backyard? Why was my friend diagnosed with lung cancer though she never smoked a day in her life? We witness or live through destruction caused by tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, and earthquakes. We call them “acts-of-God,” and we wonder why God would allow them. Fear not tomorrow? How can we do anything but fear after all the devastation we’ve already seen?

God is not threatened by our why. People say we can’t ask why, but we can—we should. We’re in good company when we ask why. Jesus, Job, David, Jeremiah, and many others we would call “heroes of the faith” have asked why. Asking why is part of the human experience. When we ask God why, we are expressing our innermost emotions, our hurt and disappointment, and God wants us to do that. He works with honesty. He is not threatened by our questions and doubts. He invites us to express our feelings. We’re in a relationship with Him—He doesn’t want us to shut our emotions down. While God already knows how we feel, we need to know; and often we discover what is in our hearts as we express ourselves freely to Him.

But we can also get stuck at why. While asking why can be a stimulus for further exploration, understanding, and honest grappling, sometimes it can become a defense—a way to keep God out and to keep intimacy with Him at bay. We can go round and round in circles with why, never really intending to get anywhere. We can get comfortable with why. We would rather stay where we are than do the hard work of learning how to trust God again. And if we’re not careful, some people will keep us there. They will feed our why as long as we let them. At a certain point, what we actually may need is someone to pull us forward and say, “Hey, let’s explore why you feel this way. Let’s not give up on God.”

God invites us to wrestle with our why, our questions. He wrestles with us, as He wrestled with Jacob (Genesis 32:24–32). But finally the angel of God touched Jacob’s thigh and put it out of socket. I can hear the angel saying, “It’s enough now. Let’s go forward.” My Uncle Clayton Bell, my mother’s brother, died suddenly of a heart attack at age sixty-eight. He loved God passionately and was pastoring a thriving church. Those who loved him asked God why. Why take this dynamic man at his prime? Why not leave him here to serve You? Aunt Peggy, my uncle’s wife, suffered greatly, but there came a time when I remember her saying, “I’m going to lean into the pain.” Whatever her questions, she was going to “lean,” trusting God and expecting Him to be there.

At some point, trusting God becomes a step of faith. No one can prove God. You will have to make the choice to trust Him for yourself. Making that choice doesn’t mean you have settled your questions; you may not see those questions resolved in this life. But you can make the decision to try trusting God again. You can take a step forward with all your unresolved questions and invite God to reveal Himself. It’s okay to live with what I call “unfinishedness.” I think about my mother and how “finished” she looked in her relationship with God—as if everything were settled, everything clear. But when you read Mother’s poetry, you discover she was anything but finished. She simply learned to live with her questions and to trust God anyway.

Walking Forward

Why not bring your questions along as you walk forward to discover more about God in this book? You can invite God to work with you as you read. Ask Him to help you in your battle with fear. Ask Him to help you overcome your misperceptions of Him so you can trust Him for tomorrow. God longs to reveal Himself to you. Jesus said about those who love God, “I too will love them and show myself to them” (John 14:21 TNIV). God wants us to see Him for who He really is.

We don’t have to get it all at once. Trusting God is a process. Just as there are stages of life, there are stages of faith. Trust comes bit by bit. Our part is to be willing—willing to move, willing to try. God wants our willingness. Someone once said you can’t steer a car that isn’t moving. If we can just make the choice to move, God will meet us. I want to challenge you. Open yourself up to the possibility of what God can do in your life. Let Him show Himself worthy of your trust. Walk forward into these pages and decide for yourself about God. See if His intimate love is real. See for yourself. Don’t let your questions or misperceptions be hindrances. They don’t have to stop you from moving. Let’s get to know God better. Let’s discover Him. We can bring our baggage, our questions, our “why” right along with us.


Fear Not Tomorrow, God is Already There:

Trusting Him in Uncertain Times

Ruth Graham

Howard Books

West Monroe, Louisiana

[Refer to P4P regarding inclusion of purpose statement.]

Our purpose at Howard Books is to:

Increase faith in the hearts of growing Christians
Inspire holiness in the lives of believers
Instill hope in the hearts of struggling people everywhere
Because He’s coming again!

[Howard Logo] Published by Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

Fear Not Tomorrow, God Is Already There © 2009 Ruth Graham

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information, address Howard Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.

Published in association with Ambassador Literary Agency, Nashville, Tennessee

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data TK

ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-5843-9

ISBN-10: 4165-5843-8

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

HOWARD and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Manufactured in the United States of America

For information regarding special discounts for bulk purchases, please contact: Simon & Schuster Special Sales at 1-800-456-6798 or

Edited by Stacy Mattingly and Cindy Lambert

Cover design by TK

Interior design by TK

Photography/illustrations by TK

Scripture quotations not otherwise marked are from the New American Standard Bible®. Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. Scripture quotations marked AMP are from the Amplified Bible®, copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission ( Scripture quotations marked KJV are from the Holy Bible, Authorized King James Version. Scripture quotations marked NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked NKJV are from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked NLT are from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked The Message are from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked TNIV are taken from the Holy Bible, Today’s New International Version®. TNIV®. Copyright© 2001, 2005 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Battle Ready?

Normally when I wake up in the morning my main concern is stumbling over to the coffee pot with my eyes half open to start a pot of coffee. My thought is I cannot function without that little jump start to my day.

I don't usually get out of bed with the thought that I need to put on my armor and be prepared for a battle. Although some mornings with my little ones it feels like a war zone in my house.

However, the Bible is very clear that we are to put on "The Armor of God" .

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.Ephesians 6:10-18

Most days I forget this spiritual battle that we are in. I forget to put God first and my armor is not in place. These are the days that sin comes too easily. These are the days that words come from my mouth that I regret.

Last week I read a passage from Exodus. There is one verse that sticks in my mind.

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14

I keep wondering why this verse has been on my heart. Is God preparing me for a new battle? or did He just need to remind me that I am already in one so I need to stand guard?

This morning I took some time and read this verse in different translations. The Message Bible hit a nerve.

God will fight the battle for you. And you? You keep your mouths shut! Exodus 14:14

So I am still not sure why these words have had such an impact on me, but I know that this morning when I got out of bed I am preparing my heart and my mind for the battle. And I am pretty sure after I have all of my armor in place I can still have that cup of coffee.

Today I am joinng Emily over at Tuesdays Unwrapped. This Tuesday I am unwrapping the gift of God's protection. For I know that He is always here, standing beside me, and fighting for me everyday.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I have been suffering from a little writer's block on this blog lately.

I know why, I have been running on empty. I started a new part-time job. I started working out with a trainer last night. I have had a headache that comes everyday. But, none of these things are really contributing to why I am running on empty.

The past week I have been too busy to pray, too busy to read my Bible, etc. So it is no wonder that when I sit down to write, I am struggling. I love to sit down and have His Word flow through me and onto this page. But right now there is a lot of silence. I know that He is here, but I know that I need to make a little more time for Him. He is patiently waiting for me to put down the computer, pick up my Bible and give Him my full attention.

So I am going to send you over to a couple of posts that I read today that I loved. Becky over at Farmgirl Paints shared about God's will. Jennifer over at Getting Down with Jesus wrote yesterday about Singing our Prayers. Check both of these ladies out, I think they will inspire you. As for me, it is time to put my computer down and start reading! Have a wonderful day.

The Great Christmas Bowl Review

I am always looking for a good book that makes me laugh out loud. This week I picked up The Great Christmas Bowl by Susan May Warren. It was a quick read that kept me entertained until the last page. Everyone can relate to a extreme mom sports fan. Maybe you are that extreme fan to your kids. Either way, you will laugh along as Marianne Wallace cheers her son's football team to victory. This book also makes you think about hospitality and the Christmas season and focus on what both are really all about.

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

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

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The Great Christmas Bowl

Tyndale House Publishers (August 17, 2009)


Susan May Warren is the award-winning author of seventeen novels and novellas with Tyndale, Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. Her first book, Happily Ever After won the American Fiction Christian Writers Book of the Year in 2003, and was a 2003 Christy Award finalist. In Sheep’s Clothing, a thriller set in Russia, was a 2006 Christy Award finalist and won the 2006 Inspirational Reader’s Choice award. A former missionary to Russia, Susan May Warren now writes Suspense/Romance and Chick Lit full time from her home in northern Minnesota.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (August 17, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414326785
ISBN-13: 978-1414326788


I’ve always been a football fan, the kind of woman who could easily find herself parked on the sofa any given Sunday afternoon, rooting for my favorite team. I’ve never been a gambler, never played fantasy football, never followed my team during the hot summer months. I’m a fall-season-until-Super-Bowl-only fan, but die-hard nonetheless. Something about investing my emotions for three hours in the fate of eleven men dressed in purple tights soothes my busy spirit.

Having given birth to three sons, I dreamed I’d have the makings of a starring offensive lineup. My oldest son, Neil, would play quarterback; Brett would be a running back; and my youngest, Kevin, would be a wide receiver. My daughters and I would lead cheers from the stands. My husband, Mike, who had played in our hometown high school and helped bring them to state in his senior year, would help coach. We’d be a football family, training with weights and running in the off-season. We’d plan our vacations around summer practices, and I’d join the booster club, maybe sell raffle tickets, even host the end-of-the-year potluck.

If girls could have played football in our tiny town, I know that Brianna and Amy would have joined the team. They became my cohorts, huddling under stadium blankets and clapping their mittens together as we cheered our high school team to victory.

Alas, Neil joined chess club, and Brett became a lead in the school plays.

The football gene seemed to have eluded even our youngest son. A boy who would rather sit on the sofa moving his thumbs in furious online game playing as his only form of exercise, Kevin didn’t possess even a hint of interest in football. I knew he’d inherited some athleticism, as evidenced by the discarded sports equipment left in his wake over the years: hockey skates, pads, helmet, basketball shoes, a tennis racket, a baseball glove. All abandoned after one season of hopeful use.

The only sport that seemed to take had been soccer. For three years I entered into the world of soccer mom, investing in my own foldout chair and a cooler. Perhaps it was his boundless energy that allowed him to play nearly the entire game, but Kevin had a knack for getting the ball in the net. Too bad our community soccer program ended at sixth grade, because Big Lake might have had its very own star. I’d hoped his interest would transfer to football, the other fall sport, but the old pigskin seemed as interesting to Kevin as cleaning his room.

Meanwhile, Neil, Brett, Brianna, and Amy graduated and moved out of the house, bound for college—most obtaining scholarships, much to the relief of my overworked, underpaid EMT husband. By the time Kevin moved into Neil’s basement teen hangout room, Neil was married and working as a CPA in Milwaukee, Brett was doing commercials in Chicago, Brianna had started graduate school for psychology, and Amy was studying abroad in London.

I worried for Kevin as he approached his senior year, envisioning him taking on a post–high school job at the local Dairy Queen while he honed his gaming skills, waiting for his future to somehow find him in the dark recesses of our basement amid his piled dirty clothing, his unmade bed, and the debris of pizza cartons. How I longed for him to grow up.

So the day he came home from school clutching a medical release form for football in his hand, I wondered if perhaps he had a high fever and needed immediate hospitalization.

“I’ve been thinking of playing for a while,” he said, shrugging. “It’s my last chance.”

Summertime had begun its slide into fall, the northern nights cooling. In two short months, we’d have our first snowfall. As I stared at my son—his stringy blond hair, his muscles that just needed toning, the way his gaze slid away from me and onto the floor—I wondered if he expected me to say no.

I took the pen and signed the form without reading it.

Teenage sons are often difficult to encourage. Instead of erupting into a wild jig of joy in the middle of the kitchen, I took the subtle route. I purchased football cleats and set them by the door to his room. I filled his water bottle every morning, packing it with ice, then slipping it into his backpack. I started baking pot roasts and cutting him the largest piece. I bought Bengay, put it on his pillow. I set vitamins out for him at breakfast.

And sometimes, yes, I snuck up in my SUV and sat at the edge of the field, behind the goalposts, watching practice.

My son had talent. A lot of talent. And I wasn’t the only one who noticed. Our residence in a small town played to Kevin’s odds, and being bigger and faster than most of his teammates made up for his inability to block. Coach Grant started him at tackle, then moved him to fullback, then, after noting his ability to twist out of a hold (thanks to years of wrestling for the remote control with his brothers), landed him at tailback.

To my silent glee, my son had the moves of Walter Payton and could dance his way up the field, leaping opponents, breaking tackles, and generally restoring my faith in the Wallace family football gene. I couldn’t wait for the season to start. Finally, I had a Big Lake Trout.

I purchased a season pass. A stadium cushion. A foam finger.

I was the first one in the gates on the day of the season opener. Mike stood on the sidelines next to the requisite ambulance, something that I’d always noted but never fully appreciated until now.

He waved to me as I plopped down my cushion, pulled my red and black stadium blanket over my knees, and wrestled out my digital camera, prepared to capture every moment of my son’s magnificent run to victory. Mike had taken Kevin out for dinner the night before for what I hoped would be a pep talk/strategic-planning session. I wasn’t the only one holding tightly to silent hopes.

“You’re here early.”

I looked up from reviewing shots of Brianna’s college graduation to see Bud Finlaysen greeting me from the field. Bundled in orange hunting coveralls as an undergarment, he wore over the top the shiny black and silver costume of the Big Lake Trout team mascot. Bud had served as the Trout since what I assumed was the dawn of time, or at least the game of football, and we needed him like summer needs lemonade. He and his fish costume comprised the entirety of our cheerleading squad. Our cheerleaders had defected three years prior, and despite the efforts of our paltry pep band, we were woefully lacking in sideline team spirit.

Bud held his headpiece under one arm, the gargantuan mouth gaping open. When worn, his face showed through the open mouth, the enormous fishy eyes googling out from atop his head, a spiky dorsal fin running along his back. He’d shove his hands into two front fins that sparkled with shiny silver material. The costume split at the bottom for his black boots, and a tail dragged behind him like a medieval dragon. Once fitted together, the Big Lake Trout towered nearly eight feet tall, although with the tail, it easily measured over ten. Ten feet of aquatic terror.

“I have a son playing tailback,” I said, holding up my camera and taking a shot of Bud. “Gotta get a good seat.”

Bud laughed. I remembered him from the days when I attended Big Lake High. He worked as the school janitor. Even then he seemed ancient, although he must have been only twenty years or so older than I was. Thin, with kind blue eyes and a hunch in his back, he’d drag his yellow mop bucket around the halls singing Christmas carols, even in May.

“Maybe this will be the year they go to state,” he said, pulling on his giant head. “They’ve got some good players.” He gave me a little wink, as if to suggest Kevin might be one of them.

I smiled, but inside I longed for his words to be true.

State champions. The Super Bowl of high school sports. I could barely think the words.

Bud moved up the field, where he stood at the gate, waiting for the team to pour out onto the field. I waved to friends as the stands filled. In a town of 1,300, a Friday night football game is the hot ticket. A coolness nipped the air, spiced with the bouquet of decaying leaves and someone grilling their last steaks of the season.

The band, a motley crew that took up four rows of seats, assembled. I hummed along as they warmed up with the school fight song.

Town grocer Gil Anderson manned the booth behind me and announced the team. I leaped to my feet in a display of disbelief and joy as the Trouts surged out of the school and onto the playing field.

Each player’s hand connected with one of Bud’s fins on the way to the field.

I spotted Kevin right off, big number 33. He looked enormous with his pads. As he stretched, I noted how lean and strong he’d become over the past six weeks of training. I held my breath as he took the sidelines, wishing for a start for him. To my shock, he took the field after the kickoff, just behind the offensive line.

I’ve never been one to hold back when it comes to football. I cheered my lungs out, pretty sure the team needed my sideline coaching. And when Kevin got the ball and ran it in for a touchdown, I pounded Gretchen Gilstrap on the shoulders in front of me. “That’s my son!”

She gave me a good-natured thumbs-up.

We won the game by two touchdowns and a field goal. As Kevin pulled off his helmet and looked for me in the stands, his blond hair sweaty and plastered to his face, I heard Bud’s words again: “Maybe this will be the year they go to state.”

What is it they always say? Be careful what you wish for?


“Amazing run on Friday!”

“I didn’t know your son could play football!”

“Kevin has his father’s moves—I remember when Mike took them all the way to state!”

I love my church. I stood in the foyer, receiving accolades for birthing such a stupendous athlete, smiling now and again at Kevin, who was closing up shop at the sound board that he ran every Sunday. Mike had already gone to get the car—his favorite “giddyap and out of church” maneuver. I still had more compliments to gather.

After all, Kevin had been a ten-pound baby. I get some credit.

I worked my way to the fellowship hall to pick up my empty pan. With eighty members, sixty attendees on a good Sunday, we took turns hosting the midmorning coffee break. I had whipped up a batch of my grandmother’s almond coffee cake.

Pastor Backlund stood by the door, and when I finally reached him, he grinned widely. “Great game, Marianne.”

“Thanks. I’ll tell Kevin you said so.”

“Must be strange to have your youngest be a senior this year.”

I was trying not to think about that, but yes, although I was thrilled to see Kevin move off the sofa and onto the playing field, I was dreading the inevitable quiet that would invade our home next year. I smiled tightly.

“I hope that will leave you more time to get involved at church?” His eyebrow quirked up, as if I’d been somehow delinquent over the past twenty-five years. I was mentally doing the math, summing up just how many years in a row I’d taught Sunday school, when he added, “Would you consider taking on the role of hospitality chairperson?”

“Hey, Mom!” Kevin appeared beside me. “Can I head over to Coach’s for lunch? A bunch of guys are getting together to talk about the game.”

I glanced at him, back to the pastor. “Sure.”

“Perfect,” Kevin said, disappearing out the door.

“Wonderful,” Pastor Backlund said, reaching for his next parishioner.

Mike, now spotting me, leaned on his horn.

I’d have to call the pastor later and politely decline his offer to let me take command of the weekly coffee break, the quarterly potluck, and most importantly, the annual Christmas Tea. The hospitality position came staffed with women decades older than I, who could teach even Martha Stewart a few things about stretching a budget and creating centerpieces. I’d rather lead a camping trip for two hundred toddlers through a mosquito-infested jungle.

“Be back by supper!” I hollered to Kevin as he slid into his friend’s sedan. He didn’t even look back.

I climbed into our SUV next to Mike. His thoughts had already moved on, probably to the training he would attend next weekend. Or maybe just to lunch. We rode home in silence. I noticed how the brilliant greens of the poplar trees had turned brown, the maples to red, the oaks to orange. The wind had already stripped some of the trees naked.

I could admit that my leaves had started to turn. But I wasn’t ready to shed them yet.

I pressed my lips together and silently begged the winter winds to tarry.

Excerpted from The Great Christmas Bowl by Susan May Warren. Copyright © 2009 by Susan May Warren. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bacon Sandwiches & Salvation Review

This week was a week of humor in the book department for me. I had just finished a romance last week and a couple of really good Inpirational Non-Fiction books a couple of weeks before that. So I was ready to laugh.

Bacon Sandwiches & Salvation written by Adrian Plass is subtitled "A Humorous Antidote for the Pharisee in All of Us."

Being a lover of words, I am intrigued by all books that start with A and take you to Z and this book had me laughing all the way through.

I will share with you a couple of my favorite phrases from the book.

Bless you: Buzz off
Can I just say, in love: Brace yourself

I could not help but laugh and think of times that i have heard both statements made in church.

The back cover of the book explains the book very well, "An A to Z, laugh-out-loud guide to taking ourselves, as Christians, less seriously."

If you are looking for a fun read. Check this book out here.

Bacon Sandwiches & Salvation by Adrian Plass
ISBN: 978-1-934068-76-2/251 pages/softcover/$16.99

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Unwrapping Small Town Life

Fall weather is upon us. We went from having our air conditioner on to putting on warm PJ's. Fall has always been my favorite season. I love to put on a comfy pair of jeans and a sweatshirt and enjoy a chill in the air. The vibrant colors of fall in South Dakota make the winter snow bearable.

One of my favorite things about fall is football. In a small town High School Football is entertainment. This is a special week as we celebrate homecoming. Tonight they will crown a new King and Queen and then they will gather around a "M" and light it on fire. I love living in a small town where everyone comes together in celebration of such simple things.

Today was "Team Jersey Day" at my daughter's school. She was so proud to leave today wearing her Daddy's College Football Jersey. And he was so proud to have her wear it.

Today I am joining Emily over at Chatting at the Sky for Tuesdays Unwrapped. I am celebrating the joys of small town living. I am praising God that He brought us to this place a little over three years ago. I am thanking God that we followed His lead and let Him lead us to a place we had no desire to come.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Change in Seasons

Today is an exciting day for me. After 3 years of being home full-time with my girls I am going back to work part-time. My little one is in school a few afternoons a week so I am going to work while she is at school. It seemed so strange to dig out my Franklin Covey Planner and have a need to start filling up the pages again.

This is one of the things that I was talking about last week when I was praising God for listening. On Wednesday night I told my husband, I wish I could find something to do while Nadia is at school, to bring in a little income.

The very next day I received a phone call to work as a legal assistant for a friend of the family. This is a new adventure for me, I will be jumping in and learning as I go. Last night I was praying for wisdom to learn quickly.

So today, I begin another new season.

I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. Psalm 63:4

Friday, September 18, 2009

God Is Listening

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. Psalm 18:32

On my faith journey I have often thought about how much easier life would be if I could have an audible conversation with God. I am a talker and I love talking to God, but every once in awhile I would love to hear Him talk back.

I have had so many things on my heart lately that I have been sharing with God. I am searching and discovering. I am learning and growing.

A couple of nights ago I was visiting with my husband about two totally different subjects. They were both some goals/dreams that I have. The very next day, both of the things we were talking about happened.

I can't wait to share the details with you. . .but you are going to have to wait a week or so before I can write about it.

I was reminded yesterday that God is listening and He really does want to grant me the desires of my heart. However, His way may not be my way. His way is perfect and He will give me strength to endure. But, I need to abide in Him so that the desires of my heart are in line with His will for my life.

God is so Good!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

In the Arms of Immortals Review

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

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

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

In the Arms of Immortals: A Novel of Darkness and Light (Chronicles Of The Scribe)

David C. Cook (2009)

My Review: This book was a page turner. This is the first book I have read from the author Ginger Garrett and her 'Chronicles of the Scribe' series. She does an excellent job taking you back to the time of the black plague. Her descriptive writing paints pictures in your mind. Although the time is dark and mysterious, her message of comfort that comes only from Jesus and His angels brings light to the story. I can't wait to read more from Ginger Garrett and the 'Chronicles of the Scribe' series.


An expert in ancient women’s history, critically acclaimed author Ginger Garrett (Dark Hour, Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther, and most recently In the Shadow of Lions) creates novels and nonfiction resources that explore the lives of historical women. In addition to her writing, Garrett is a frequent radio and television guest. She resides in Georgia with her husband and three children.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 304
Vendor: David C. Cook (2009)
ISBN: 0781448883
ISBN-13: 9780781448888


In the Arms of Immortals

Chapter One

Thirty thousand dollars bought her the right to avoid being scalded alive.

Mariskka Curtis did not miss the shoddy built-in shower that had been in her old apartment. Now she owned a penthouse, and one of her first decisions as a new millionaire was to have a high-end luxury shower installed.

“For thirty grand, it should make my breakfast, too,” Mariskka said to no one.

At least the bathroom was warm, making goose bumps and bad leg shaves a thing of the past. The maid had lit the fireplace in the master bath an hour ago and brought a fresh careen of coffee up. The milk still needed to be frothed, but Mariskka didn't mind that.

She pumped the handle six times and the milk bubbled up. She poured coffee into her monogrammed cup, then the foamy milk over the coffee. Mariskka inhaled, surprised that coffee could still bring her so much pleasure.

Rolling her neck to get the morning kinks out, she swung open the shower door and sat inside. The shower began as a slow warm mist around her feet, giving her a few minutes to finish her coffee before the gentle raindrops started from the overhead faucet and the dawn lights bounced pink off the shower glass.

Later this morning she was scheduled for an appearance on yet another talk show to dazzle America with her rags to riches tale. She hated the hollow feeling in her stomach that came from lying. She had stolen her best-selling manuscript from a patient's room. The patient, Bridget, had been a famous editor, and left it behind when she died. Mariskka stole it on impulse, thinking it might be valuable if sold on eBay. Only later, when packing the editor's belongings, had Mariskka seen the business cards thrown in the bottom of her bags. One was for an agent. Mariskka had contacted the agent, passing the manuscript off as her own. It couldn't hurt anyone, she had thought. Mariskka had also stolen Bridget's watch, but only because she intended to return it to the family. Only later did she realize Bridget had no family.

When the agent sold that manuscript in a seven-figure deal, it was as if God answered her prayers. Mariskka made a pile of easy money. She bought things she never dreamed of owning. She even donated some of it, paying hospice bills that threatened to bankrupt families and sent worn out care givers on vacations. Good things had happened to plenty of people because of her decision to steal.

As the mist rose she finished her coffee and waited for the overhead shower to turn on. Hard rock blared suddenly through the shower speakers, and she dropped her coffee cup in surprise. It shattered at her feet. Instinctively she yanked her feet out of the scalding puddle. Losing her balance in the wet mist, she hit her head on the imported tile and blacked out.

The smoke stung Mariskka's eyes.

She blinked, trying to clear her mind, groping in the darkness for the shower door. The shower had stopped, and the music was dead. She wondered if the building had lost electricity.

She crawled over something sharp and jagged. The lights must have shattered above. It was too dark to see anything; she wished she had windows in her bath as she pushed back the shower door.

Something was coming.

She felt the vibrations through her legs, shaking her to her stomach. Straining to hear above her thundering heart, she heard a heavy scraping against her hardwood floors, the sound of a sharp tool being dragged over the floors, catching every second or so, bumping over a seam. Heavy footfalls shook the floor, and metal screeched together with each step. She thought of the armored boots she had seen on medieval knights in museums.

Something slammed against the door, making the wood split.

It hit again.

“There is no Blood here,” someone said.

“God help me,” she whispered.

When she said the word God, the thing outside the door shrieked like an animal. A sword pierced through the door, creating a jagged seam as the intruder jerked it back and forth in the split wood. Light streamed in from her bedroom windows, but she could see nothing except a sword sawing its way through the door.

They should be testing the microphones for the television hosts right now, she thought. Amber-Marie Gates, her publicist, was going to be furious when Mariskka didn't arrive on time. Or when she didn't arrive at all.… Mariskka's mind was gone, traveling down more familiar tracks, unable to process her death.

Then the door burst apart, and she was showered with wood fragments. A figure too large to pass through the doorframe stood, stood, twisting its head in different directions, staring at her. The glowing blue dawn outlined its frame. Morning sunrays shot up from behind its head and between its flexed arms, illuminating dust particles spinning down and turning the shifting light into a kaleidoscope.

Metal wings reflected the light at their sharp ice-pick tips; below these, the shoulders of a man were layered with scales. Each finger was tipped with dozens of iron claws, all pointing backwards. Once it grabbed her, she wouldn't get free without tearing herself to shreds. It was built for death.

“There is no Blood here,” he said.

“What?” she screamed.

“You have no Christ.”

A tail with an iron tip, long and scalpel sharp, raised behind him as he pointed his sword at her. He turned his shoulder to come through the door. As he thrust his wings against the frame, cracks ran up the walls above the door.

He lifted his sword, aiming for her neck. She wondered if her lips would still be moving after death, the way Anne Boleyn's had.

He spun back around, his sword in motion.

A shower of sparks was burning her.

She remembered lights like this.

She was a child at Disney, watching the Magical Parade of Lights. A green, scaled dragon floated past her as she sat on the sidewalk, full of lemonade and ice cream. When the dragon swung its head in her direction, with its blind paper eyes and red paper streamers coming from its mouth to look like fire, Mariskka vomited right between her shoes. No one noticed, not the least her mom, who had taken the wide white pills so she could get through the day, one of their last together. Mariskka wanted her to take the pills so she wouldn't be in pain, so she wouldn't groan in the night, but the pills made her dull and distant. Either way, Mariskka lost her mother a little more each day.

She stood, grabbing her mother's hand, pulling at her to run. Her mother laughed, tipsy from the combination of opiates and Disney princesses, swinging her around in a dance, not understanding the panic in her daughter's eyes. Mariskka struggled to get free, to see where the dragon went, but it was gone. She would lie awake for years after that, wondering where it was now. The eyes had only been paper, but she knew. It had seen her. It had seen something inside her.

Mariskka was still remembering herself as a little girl when she noticed her impending death had been delayed. Another creature was here, holding a sword, blocking the iron-winged monster from killing her. He had gold-and-straw colored dreadlocks that ran down his back and the body of a linebacker. Judging from how close his head was to her ceiling, Mariskka guessed he was about eight feet tall.

The man picked up the dark iron angel by the neck and slammed it against the wall. Plaster rained down.

“She is ours,” the iron-angel said. “We can take her.”

“Not yet,” the new creature said.

A dark stain spread underneath the iron-angel on the tile floor. The stain shimmered as teeth began to appear, ringing the edges.

The new creature yelled over his shoulders. “Cover your eyes!”

Mariskka stared at the stain, which was devouring the iron-angel as it moved up it his legs.

The new one screamed again, “Mariskka! Now!”

Mariskka obeyed.

She heard the sound of an animal screaming in pain, and then all was quiet.

She looked up to see the new creature staring down at her. His nose was inches from her face, and his dreadlocks fell forward, tickling her cheeks. If he were human, she thought, he would be beautiful. But he could not be real, not with his strange eyes that were like big, gold saucers and canine teeth that peeked out from his lips. His breath smelled of meat, too. She collapsed, losing all control over limb and thought.

His arms slipped behind her knees and under her neck, lifting her without effort. He carried her to the bed and laid her down, drawing the curtains and stepping back into the shadows. He sat in a chair, resting one arm on the armrest, watching her. A thick, numbing sensation started in her toes and poured slowly into her body. She felt it filling her, working its way through her abdomen, then her arms. When it got to her eyes, they closed and she slept.

©2009 Cook Communications Ministries. In the Arms of Immortals by Ginger Garrett. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Called to be a Mother

This morning I was envious that my husband got to go to work. Little one was in a mood. Either her or I needed to go back to bed and she wouldn't and I couldn't.

She is in her swimsuit already. . .not sure where she thinks she is going to go? At least she is smiling now, until she realizes there is no water to swim in.

I asked my husband if God was testing my patience this morning. I am really trying hard to pass the test.

Last night I had the opportunity to attend a webinar through A Woman Inspired. The title of the conference was "Step Out Into Ministry". The speakers were Lisa McKay from and Kristen Schiffman the founder and editor-in-chief of Exemplify Online & Magazine.

Both of these women were amazing speakers. The words they spoke were words that I needed to hear. I will share more on what Lisa said later. Today I am going to share a little bit about what Kristen said.

The title of her presentation was "No Stage No Lights - Doing the Archippus Thing". She built her presentation off of this scripture from Colossians.

Tell Archippus: "See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord." Colossians 4:17

She talked a lot about how we as moms are called to minister in our homes. She told stories of how both her mom and dad impacted her spiritual life at home. "No Lights and No Stage" were necessary to encourage her in Christ.

So this morning as my 3 year old is testing my patience and I am holding my tongue. I am reminded of the words that she presented last night. "Ministry without a stage and lights is the ministry that has the most impact."

I am called to be a mother. On the good days and on the bad days. On the days that are filled with fun and on the days that test my patience. I have the opportunity to raise my children in a home that is built on Jesus. I have the opportunity to lead a life that impacts my children's friends and every person that walks through my door.

I do desire some day to speak on a stage and share my stories. However, I know that is a different season and a different time. Right now I have a very important job. One that only I can do. I can pull my children onto my lap and tell them all about Jesus and the love He has for them and for everyone.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Here I am to Worship

My oldest daughter and I are preparing special music for our church service on Sunday. Part of the deal to get her to do it, is that she gets to pick out the song that we sing. So last night we sat in front of iTunes and listened to a few songs. The one she wanted to do. . .well, it is called Girls Can Change the World by Pure NRG. Probably not appropriate for Sunday morning service. So she decided she wanted to do their version of Call On Jesus.

As we were listening to it, she said, "We need Guitar." Along with the piano. I was waiting for her to say we needed the drums, too. She wants a band. I laugh about it, and I am so glad that she is so willing to sing. However, it reminds me that I need to also keep reminding her the reason she is singing is to Worship God, not to perform to the congregation. A reminder that I must also give myself often.

This morning I read in a devotional, "Are you worshipping with your lips or with your life?" I used to think that Worship was the songs we sang at the beginning of a church service. I realize now, worship is so much bigger than that. Worship is the attitude I have when I get out of bed in the morning. Worship is the words that I use when I am speaking to my husband and my kids. Worship is the time I take to praise God for all of the little things He does in my life. Worship is my life.

Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. Psalm 96:9

I am joining Emily over at Chatting At the Sky today for Tuesday's Unwrapped. Today I am unwrapping the gift of worship. I pray that today and always I will remember to worship God with my life and not just in the songs I sing.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fill Your Day With Joy

I don't know what it was like in your house this morning. . .but in our house everyone is dragging. Weekends should be time for us to catch up on a little sleep and gear up for the next week. But lately that doesn't seem to be the case. Our weekends filled with family time and we go, go, go.

This morning I need a little motivation to get ready for another crazy week. Monday mornings in our house can be no fun. So this morning as I am trying to look positively on the week ahead I am focusing on joy. So this morning I am going to share with you a few verses that I am going to keep in front of me this week.

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. Job 8:21

You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11

Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Psalm 66:1

Friday, September 11, 2009

Running with God

I really want to love to run.

When I was in High School the only sport I participated in, (I was a cheerleader and they didn't consider that a sport in my hometown), was track. I was a runner. But I didn't really enjoy to run.

I loved the feeling of winning, but I didn't enjoy the training it took to win the race. In college I tried to run my freshman year, but the hours of training it took to run collegiately, well, I just didn't have the desire to do it.

Now as a mom who has gone through three pregnancies, I have a desire to get fit. And I realize that one of the best ways to get fit, (besides giving up my beloved chocolate), is to run. The desire is in my heart to do it, but it has not been easy.

To be honest with you the best part of the gym so far is the break that I get from being at home. I love to lace up my shoes, turn up the volume on my ipod and head out the door. But, it is a mental game for me and all kinds of things are running through my mind, "You are so out of shape, you can't do this, I hate running. . ." Sometimes I am defeated before I get started.

Of course today when I picked up My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers had written exactly what I needed to hear.

He wasn't talking about running, but he had one statement that brought me to writing this post. He said, "We have to go the 'second mile' with God. Some of us get played out in the first ten yards, because God compels us to go where we cannot see the way. . ."

I think that God is pushing and stretching me right now. Not just physically, (right now I am so sore it hurts to walk up the stairs), but mentally and emotionally. I am running a race and although I cannot see the finish line, I know where it is at and I know who will be waiting for me there when I finish my race.

When I am running and trying hard to love doing it. . .it is only God that seems to get me through the second mile.

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:25-27

And the Winner of Ann Kroeker's Book Not So Fast goes to #9. (I haven't figured out how to copy the button here yet, but that is what I used to pick the winner). #9 Commenter was. . .
Not Your Aunt B said...
We were just talking about this at the church with some other moms. Sounds like a great read at a perfect time! Maybe I outta take the hint from up above.

I will email you Bea to get your address and personalization info. Congrats!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Friends We Keep

I have moved a few times since High School and with all the moves has come finding new friends while trying to keep in touch with old friends. I am horrible at keeping in touch and the busyness of life gets in the way of developing deep relationships.

I could not wait to read the book The Friends We Keep by Sarah Zacharias Davis.

Throughout this journey of life that I am on I have learned the hard way that I need friends. Life is hard and friends help us get through those hard times.

In this book she focuses on all the questions that we have about friendship. Why do we long for women friends? Why do some friendships last forever and others only a season?

We all have stories of friendships. Some that we have had since we were on the playground in elementary school and some that we have developed through our kids' friendships. Our stories of friendships are filled with heartache and joy. Sarah Zacharias Davis tells her own stories and shares stories from other women.

In her book she states, "Friendship in its truest, purest form is love." She talks about gossip, jealousy, sacrifice, and forgiveness in friendships.

One of my favorite parts of the book is her explanation of the words Jesus uses for love. Here is her explanation of friendship love.

"Friendship love speaks of knowledge of the object of our love. It speaks of community, partnership, commitment, service, trust. Friendship love speaks of listening, honesty, forgiveness, giving the benefit of the doubt, and sacrifice. It is standing and declaring publicly, "This is my friend." When Jesus acted on philia [friendship] love, he laid down his life for his friends. "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" John 15:13

The Friends We Keep by Sarah Zacharias Davis
WaterBrook Press - July 21, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4000-7439-6/210 pages/softcover/$12.99

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Life in the Slow Zone

This is my 100th post! I can hardly believe it. It seems like just yesterday when I sat staring at my computer afraid to hit the "Publish post" button. Now eight months later I am hitting 100.

To celebrate this post I have an amazing giveaway. But first you have to read a little about it. . .

I just finished a book that has been life changing for me. For those of you that know me you know that I am an extreme Type A personality. I usually have a million irons in the fire and am running around with my head cut off trying to figure out what I need to do next. I have a hard time saying "No" and I love to be right in the middle of everything.

So naturally, I think that my children need to be involved in everything as well. God helped me out a little in this department when he pushed us a little to move to a very small town. All of the activities that I had planned to enroll my children in, were no longer available.

However, even a small town has things to get involved in, so it is easy to over schedule and over commit.

In the past year our family life has been crazy. . .and I am tired.

About a month ago I was looking at possible books to review on my blog and I saw this book. I knew that I had to have it. I had to read it.

Since starting to read this book I have had the opportunity to visit with the author Ann Kroeker through e-mail. She is an amazing author and woman. I wish she lived down the street so I could sit and visit with her gaining pieces of her wisdom.

I usually read books very quickly, but I took a clue from the title and savored every chapter. The nineteen chapters break down different areas that we need to learn to slow down. Some examples include "Slowing Down Childhood, Forget the Joneses and Taking Time to Create".

The chapters not only include references to scripture, but also real life lessons that Ann's family has learned along the way. At the end of each chapter their is an opportunity to journal about your family and it gives you solutions that you can apply to your family life. She also includes "Live from the Slow Zone" entries in each chapter. These are stories from real families that have chosen to live life in the "Slow Zone" and the rewards they have received in doing so.

I wanted to include one of my favorite excerpts from the book from her chapter on "Slowing Down Spending".

"Instead of rushing to the mall in search of satisfaction, I will sit at the Savior's feet and look to Him to satisfy my deepest desires. I hope that things I thought were so necessary will grow strangely dim. One day I hope that we can all say, 'That'll do. That's enough. My God has met all my needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.' He is enough. He is more than enough."

This amazing book is available for you here. You can also check out the book's website here.

But for one of you lucky readers, you will receive a signed copy of Ann's book with a personal message. I am so blessed that you take the time to read my blog. All you have to do is leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway. The giveaway will end on Thursday, September 10th at midnight.

Thank you Ann for the gift my family is receiving because of your book. We are committed to slowing down and sitting at our Savior's feet.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fill My Heart with Good

I can't believe that today is my 99th post! Wow, tomorrow for my 100th post I have an exciting giveaway. I can't wait to share it with you.

This morning I think I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, along with everyone else in my house. When I finally sat down to read my Bible, (against my 3 year-olds wishes. . .she wanted me to help her play the Wii), this is the verse that I read. I just had to hang out there for awhile. I am still thinking about what I read.

". . .For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." Matthew 12:34

That little verse is very powerful. Jesus says later in Matthew 12:36, "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken."

I try hard to think before I speak. However, how much easier it would be if I focused on changing my heart. Better yet, asking Jesus to help me change my heart. ". . .For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks."

With a changed heart I would not have to think so hard about watching what I say. For out of the overflow of my heart would be ". . .love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Galatians 5:22-23)

I am praying today that God will do a big work on my heart.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Love Beyond Measure

For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Ephesians 5:23

My heart is overflowing today. I am preparing a snazL party for tomorrow afternoon on the topic of marriage. So, I have been going through pictures of Chad any myself. I have been taking a little walk down memory lane. I have been meditating on our marriage and what it means to me. Words cannot even express how in love I am with my husband.

We have been married about 9 1/2 years and it keeps getting better and better. We have experienced so much together in the past 9 1/2 years and I am so excited to see what else God has in store for our lives.

Our marriage is far from perfect. In fact just this weekend he said to me, "I just don't ever see you happy." But you see, he can say something like that to me and then we can talk about why I seem so unhappy. I don't get mad and stop talking to him. I wanted to, but that would have just proved his point. That I was unhappy.

We spend a lot of time talking about our dreams and our goals. He talks to me about his frustrations with work, I talk to him about my frustrations at home. We encourage each other and we hold each other accountable. We don't always agree, but we at least listen to what the other person has to say.

I am so very blessed and I am thanking God today for my husband. Tonight I am going to spend some time interviewing him on video for my snazL story. I would love for you to join me tomorrow at 3pm EST/2pm Central to talk about marriage. You can share your pictures and videos, too. You can add video from Youtube, too. I found the song I sang to him at our wedding and some awesome clips from Fireproof.

It is really easy to participate. Go to and register. Then you can upload pics and videos to your profile. Then during the party you click on the (+) button to Add to the Playlist. You can share and be part of the party. I hope you can come.