Thursday, September 29, 2011

Raising a Daughter After God's Own Heart: Book 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:

Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karri | Marketing Assistant of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Elizabeth George, whose books have sold more than 6.5 million copies, is the author of A Woman After God’s Own Heart® (more than 1 million copies sold) and Breaking the Worry Habit Forever! She’s also a popular speaker at Christian women’s events. Elizabeth and her husband, Jim, are parents and grandparents, and have been active in ministry for more than 30 years.

Visit the author's website.


Elizabeth George, bestselling author and mother of two daughters, provides biblical insight and guidance for every mom who wants to lead their daughter to a godly life through example, study, and prayer. Elizabeth includes questions to draw moms and daughter closer as together they pursue spiritual priorities and God’s heart.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736917721
ISBN-13: 978-0736917728


The Bell Sheep

Part 1  —  Earning Your Bell

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
And these words which I command you today
shall be in your heart.

—  Deuteronomy 6:5

On a recent Christmas Sunday, my husband, Jim, and I and our family of 14 arrived at a church service extra early to make sure we didn’t end up in the “Standing Room Only” section for this special occasion. With my bulletin in hand and several minutes to spare before the service started, I opened my Bible and looked up the Scripture passage the pastor would focus on during his message. Then I read through some additional teaching notes and commentary in the margin of my Bible. One article was entitled “The Bell Sheep.”

The bell sheep? What in the world is that? I wondered. I read on. The article explained that when a shepherd noticed a sheep who willingly followed him and stayed near him, he hung a bell around the neck of that sheep so the flock would follow the bell sheep…who, in turn, was following the shepherd.

Knowing I would begin writing Raising a Daughter After God’s Own Heart as soon as the Christmas holiday was over, I almost jumped out of my seat when I read this. I was shouting out in my mind, “That’s it! That’s it! A mom should be the bell sheep for her daughter!”

And it’s true! When we as mothers stay close to Jesus—as close as close can be, and when we love Him with all our heart just the way Jesus said to, and when we willingly follow Him and His Word, guess what? We become His bell sheep for our daughters to follow. Our girls observe—and copy—our behavior. They can—and will—follow our example. We become their very own personal walking, living, real flesh and blood, visual example of what it means to be a child, girl, tween, teen, and woman after God’s own heart.

How to Be a Bell Sheep…in Three Verses

Finally Christmas was over, meaning it was D-Day for me—or more accurately, W-Day as in Writing Day. So I sat down to begin and wondered and prayed, “Where does Christian childrearing really begin? And what is Thing 1, Goal 1 for a mom?”

In a few seconds I had the answer! And it came from God’s Word. It was packaged in three verses I had discovered as a young mom, and also as a baby Christian. I flashed back on those early new-believer days of excitement, of newness, of need as I hungered to find out for the first time what God teaches about…everything! And especially “What in the world am I supposed to do with two little toddling girls?”

I’m so glad a wise woman had advised me to read in my new Bible every day. Well, the day arrived when I made it to the book of Deuteronomy. And there I hit gold when my eyes landed on Deuteronomy 6:5-7. I was stunned. Amazed. Thrilled! God was actually showing me His guidelines for raising my own little daughters, then only one-and-a-half and two-and-a-half years old. And in only three verses! How practical is that? Here’s what I read over and over again and finally memorized:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

I adore these verses because they are packed with clear communication to moms. God goes straight to the heart of the matter—the parent’s heart, the mom’s heart. He knows we become what we love. So He is utterly straightforward about where we are to place our love: We are to love Him supremely.

Two Questions to Ask Yourself

Believe me, I thought through this powerful passage—a lot! Then I took it apart word by word and thought by thought. And I came up with two questions I constantly asked my heart during those days with little girls, and still ask even today with two married daughters who are now raising their daughters. (After all, a mom is always a mom!)

Heart Question #1: What—and whom—do I love?

We “love” a lot of things for a lot of different reasons. But God prescribes perimeters and scope for our love. He tells us what not to love: “Do not love the world or the things in the world” (1 John 2:15). And He tells us what we are to love and where our love is to be focused—we are to “love the Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

But hold on. The Lord goes a step further and demands all of our love. He wants us to love Him with every fiber of our being—every breath, every ounce of energy, every thought, every emotion and passion, every choice. He wants us to love Him. He wants us to think first of Him and to desire above all else to please Him. And He wants that love to be intense and total, “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” As writer Matthew Henry summarizes, “He that is our all demands our all.”

Matthew Henry continues on to point out that our love for God is to be a strong one that is lived out with great enthusiasm and fervency of affection. It is to be a love that burns like a sacred fire, a love that causes our every affection to flow toward Him.

Now, apply this information about the strength of this kind of love for God and think about the love you have for your daughter, for your children. I’m sure you’ve heard others say, “There is no love like a mother’s love.” And it’s true! From the split second we know a baby is on the way, all our thoughts, dreams, prayers, and goals are channeled toward that little one. We are completely consumed and preoccupied by this tiny being. As the baby grows within us, our love blossoms and our commitment to it grows right along with our expanding body.

Immediately we begin to prepare physically for his or her arrival by meticulously taking care of our health. Healthy mom equals healthy baby, we’re told. We also prepare physically by setting up a nursery area for the new little addition. A bassinet or crib. A blanket. A mobile. Clothes. Supplies. Loads of diapers! Sometimes we even paint or remodel a room.

Then we moms get to work preparing our schedule. Maybe we have to quit a job or arrange for a leave of absence. Oh, and we have to find a pediatrician, as well as make time for our own doctor appointments. And, if we’re smart, we begin to prepare by gathering wisdom and information from our own moms, other moms, and from classes, books, and the Internet.

But as much as we obsess and focus on an approaching child, God wants us to obsess and focus even more on Him. That’s because the more we love Him, the more we will know about love. And the more we know about love, the more we will know about how to love. And the more we know about how to love, the more we will love our baby, our child, our daughter. I like what C.S. Lewis wrote about his love for God and how it affected his relationship with his wife: “When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now.” Mom, your love for God will prepare you to love your child. The more you love the Lord, the better you shall love your earthly dearest daughter.

So…God’s first assignment to any and every mother is to love Him above all else. If you are a sold-out, on-fire, hot-hearted, committed-to-God woman, you will be infinitely further down the road to being the kind of mom who, by His grace, can raise a daughter after God’s own heart. Because all your love centers upon God, and because you follow Him with all your heart, you will qualify to lead your daughter to follow God too—to be…well…God’s bell sheep for her.

Heart Question #2: What’s in my heart?

I don’t know what’s in your heart, and I’m working on what’s in mine! But God tells both of us what is supposed to be there, what He wants to be there. Here it is: He says, “These words which I command you today shall be in your heart” (verse 6).

And here’s the scene surrounding these words: In Deuteronomy 6, Moses is in the final weeks of his life. It has been 40 years since God’s people left Egypt, 40 years of homeless wanderings in the desert. At last a new generation was poised to enter into the Promised Land. But before they move out, Moses restates the Law one more time to this new generation that had been born in the wilderness. Because this next generation had married and now had—and would have—children, he addresses their spiritual responsibility as parents. As Moses speaks, he doesn’t want these moms and dads to merely hear the words of the Law and the Ten Commandments. No, he wants more, way more! He wants the words of the Law to go beyond their ears and reside in their hearts.

You may want to look again at Deuteronomy 6:6, but it tells us that God’s Word, the Bible, is to be in our hearts. Other passages in the Bible send us this same message:

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night (Joshua 1:8).

Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:11).

My son, keep my words, and treasure my commands within you…bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart (Proverbs 7:1,3).

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly (Colossians 3:16).

The message is repeated…and loud, isn’t it? And clear! God’s Word is to be in our heart. He asks this of you and me as moms. Why? Because when truth resides in your heart, then you have something to pass on to your daughter. She benefits! And you benefit too: As a mother you have something to guide you when you need help, strength, wisdom, and perseverance in your role as a mom, as a bell sheep. Don’t get me wrong—having and raising a child is perhaps the greatest earthly blessing you will ever enjoy. But, at the same time, it is the greatest challenge. But take heart, mom! God’s Word will always be there in you, with you, and for you as you guide your daughter in the ways of the Lord.

So…God’s second assignment for you as a mom is to be committed to His Word. You are to do whatever it takes to embed the teachings of the Bible in your heart, soul, and mind. As the saying goes, “You cannot impart what you do not possess.” The same is true of moms. To teach and guide, lead and raise a daughter after God’s own heart presupposes and requires that God’s truth be in your heart first. Then you possess something to impart. Then you have the most important thing to pass on to your precious daughter—the truth about God and the grace He extends through His Son, Jesus.

Becoming the Bell Sheep

I hope your heart is responding fervently to our initial glimpse at this primary role in the life of a mom after God’s own heart—that of being your daughter’s very own bell sheep. But maybe you are feeling like you need a little help. Well, read on to find out how to become the bell sheep. Practical help is on the way!

Part 2  —  Ringing Your Bell

You shall teach them diligently to your children,

and shall talk of them when you sit in your house,

when you walk by the way, when you lie down,

and when you rise up.

—  Deuteronomy 6:6-7

When my girls were young, I didn’t know about the bell sheep. But if I had, I would have wanted with all my heart to be one. And I would have been praying, “Oh, dear Father! You know how much I desire to be a bell sheep for my daughters. My greatest goal in life is to lead them to Jesus and teach them His ways.” I’m imagining this same heart-cry is being lifted heavenward from your soul’s core too.

As you’ve probably learned, knowing there is something God wants you to do is crucial. And wanting to do what God wants you to do is vital. But if you don’t know how to do what it is God wants you to do, you can become extremely frustrated.

So now we come to the big issue of how do I do this thing God wants—and expects—me to do? Well, here we go!

Yes, but How?

How does a mom help her daughter develop a heart for God? Deuteronomy 6:7 comes to the rescue and answers this question for you and me. God says, “You shall teach them diligently to your children” (verse 7). A mom who wholeheartedly loves the Lord and holds God’s words in her heart is to teach them to her sons and daughters.

—  “To teach”   There are two key ways to teach—by model and by mouth. And there are some basic practices you can follow for teaching effectively. I have a degree in education and have taught preschoolers, students from grades seven through twelve, and adults taking night school classes. Teaching was a job and I took it seriously. I developed my lesson plans for each day, week, month, semester, and school year. And I studied and prepared in advance for each day’s classes.

I also have a daughter who homeschools. I am in constant awe of her commitment. She plans out each year. She searches for materials for five children and their respective grade levels. She orders curriculum to arrive well before back-to-school day so she can preview it. Then she plans in advance the best way to teach, lead, and guide the five of them through each day of study.

Now picture this: I taught subjects that had nothing to do with God or with being a Christian, and so does my daughter. Imagine the effort we both put into teaching information and facts. And here in Deuteronomy 6:7, God is telling both of us—and all moms—to teach our children His Word, His ways, His truth. Now, this is life-changing stuff! The Bible is wisdom that will guide their lives and their choices. It is truth that will pierce a heart and bring a daughter to Christ. So be aware that every time you teach God’s Word you, the bell sheep, are ringing your bell! You are signaling to your daughter the priceless value of the treasure of the Scriptures.

This is exactly what happened in the New Testament to Timothy. As the apostle Paul said of Timothy, his trusted associate in ministry, “from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). God’s Word is dynamite! And Timothy’s mom and grandmom, a mother/daughter tag team after God’s own heart, were faithful to ring their bells! They were faithful to teach him the sacred truths of the Bible, which paved the way for Timothy’s salvation. Mom and grandmom did their part—they fulfilled their mission to teach God’s saving truth. And God certainly did His part!

Time out for a second. I’m thinking as we pause here, shouldn’t a mom after God’s own heart who wants to raise a daughter after God’s own heart take her teaching of Scripture seriously? If you are in this position, shouldn’t you be committed to…

…instructing your daughter in God’s ways?

…planning to some extent how you will accomplish this goal?

…scheduling a time each day for some kind of formal Bible time with her?

…encouraging her to have some time alone with God, a quiet time?

…coaching her in ways to have daily devotions?

…searching for age-appropriate materials and talking with other moms about how they teach their children biblical truth?

…praying daily about this mission from God, this teacher role He has personally given you?

—  “To teach diligently”   Next God tells us in verse 7 to “teach them diligently to your children.” The “them” is what you are to teach—God’s Word and His commands. And “diligently” is how you are to teach—being purposeful and conscientious in a task or duty.

Think about this for a minute: What are you diligent about? Some women diligently floss their teeth. Others are so diligent they would never miss their daily exercise or walk, or be late to work, or fail to pay a bill on time. I know women who are so serious about every bite of food they put into their mouths that they diligently record what they eat in a daily log. On and on goes the list of life instances in which women choose to be diligent instead of careless, or lazy, or negligent.

Now switch your thoughts to doing what God says, to being diligent to teach spiritual truth to your daughter…versus leaving this all-important assignment to someone else, such as a church leader or a Christian school or a grandparent. Don’t get me wrong! These are wonderful and needed resources. But they are to be your partners in imparting truth, not your substitutes. You as a mother are to be the bell sheep who rings the bell of truth like crazy! You, mom, are to be the primary model and teacher of truth to your daughter.

Well, thank the Lord He doesn’t leave moms on their own. This isn’t mission impossible. No, it’s mission possible. God knows most moms don’t have a degree in education or training in teaching. And, whew, God doesn’t expect this or demand it! Aren’t you glad? Instead, He tells us how to teach and what this teaching involves. He says, “You…shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (verse 7).

No matter who you are, or what you do or don’t know about teaching—or how busy you are!—God expects you to pour God’s Word out of your heart and into your daughter’s heart. All you have to do is:

Step 1, love the Lord with all your heart;

Step 2, have God’s Word in your heart; and now

Step 3, teach His truths diligently.

By…what? Talking?! You mean that’s all? That’s it? Yes, that’s it—by talking.

Now I ask you, you’re a woman. How hard can talking be? Why, we girls are the world’s experts when it comes to talking!

And note where all our mother-to-daughter talking and teaching is to take place—at home. Nothing could be easier or more natural or more convenient than home sweet home! You don’t need elaborate plans. You don’t need to dress up or go anywhere. You don’t need to start the car. And you don’t need to spend any money. No. God simply says that “when you sit in your house,” you are to talk about Him.

Whew again—this one’s easy! You sit to relax. You sit to eat. You sit to visit. You sit to read. You sit to work on a craft together. And you sit whenever you’re in the car together. No matter what your daughter’s age is, these natural, low-key, sitting instances provide prime opportunities to talk about the Lord and His love and His promises…and His Son.

And “when you walk by the way” you are to talk about the Lord. From babyhood, to toddler times, to little girl, to schoolgirl, you’ll be walking with your daughter. That’s your special time for talking about the Lord. So…

Got a newborn? You will walk…and walk…and walk each time you calm your crying, ill, or restless baby. And you’ll put in miles pushing her stroller. And you’ll find yourself talking baby talk to her. I laughed out loud when I read this true-to-motherhood quip: “Being a mom means talking to your baby all the time.” So go ahead and talk all you want. It will develop the habit in you—and tune your baby girl’s heart to your voice.

How about a school-age daughter? If you walk your young daughter to school or to and from the school bus stop, you get to talk about the Lord. Tell her how He will help her through her time at school, with her test or report, with making friends. If you walk to the mailbox down the road, take your daughter along and chat about the wonders of the Lord and what it means to know Him. Let her know how she can trust Him and talk to Him anytime, anywhere, and ask for His help. When you walk together through the grocery store or the mall, again, make that an opportunity to talk about God and His provision and blessings. If there’s a breathtaking sunrise, sunset, rainbow, or wonder of nature—a bird’s nest, blooming flowers, even something as small as a dandelion, go outside and marvel at God’s handiwork together. And while you’re at it, do as the psalmist did and “talk” of His doings. “Praise” the Lord for His mighty acts and His greatness. “Declare” His faithfulness.

And then come the teen years. Hopefully you and your daughter have developed the habit of talking to each other about any and every thing, and especially about the Lord. So during her teen years, when things can get a little weird, and she may even see you as a little weird, you can still talk because of your history of talking. Believe me, if you are available, and care, and give her your love and attention, she will spill all!

And if you haven’t developed this early habit of talking, don’t worry and don’t give up. Just be sure you start now. Start talking, even if your daughter doesn’t seem to be listening. She is hearing, and what you say in loving wisdom will be filed away in her mind and heart. And it won’t go away. She won’t be able to shake it or forget it. Draw your strength from the Lord and speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). And if your daughter won’t talk to you, that’s okay. Just know before God that you talked, just like He asked you to do. You faithfully rang your bell. You shared truth from His Word. And take comfort in the fact that God promises His Word will not go forth in vain but will accomplish His purposes (Isaiah 55:11).

And to end each day and start the next, God tells you what to do in Deuteronomy 6:7: “When you lie down, and when you rise up,” talk! Talk about the Lord, and keep on talking about Him. You can help even your tiny young daughter start her days and end them with thoughts of God in her mind. You can greet your waking girl with, “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). Or you can call out, “There you are, my precious blessing from the Lord! Good morning!” And at night, prayer is the perfect way to put a little—and big!—girl to bed. It puts her day and all that happened to rest. It calms all sorrows and soothes every hurt from the day. And it quells her fears. Like David testified, “I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me,” and “I will both lie down in peace and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 3:5 and 4:8).

So…another of God’s assignments to any and every mom is to constantly be teaching and talking to your daughter about the Lord you love. Teaching and talking. And talking and teaching. Or put another way, ringing your bell! I hope you are grasping that being a Christian mom is more than taking your children to church. Home is a sort of church too. Home is the natural 24/7, morning-to-evening place to impress truth upon your daughter. Home is where she gets to see and hear every day how important the Lord is to you. Wherever and whenever the two of you are together is God’s opportunity for you to tell her about Him. So take advantage of the gift of such times. And if they are too few and far between, make it happen. Create the times together. In his book Shepherding a Child’s Heart, author Tedd Tripp gives this challenge to parents:

You shepherd your child in God’s behalf. The task God has given you is not one that can be conveniently scheduled. It is a pervasive task. Training and shepherding are going on whenever you are with your children. Whether waking, walking, talking or resting, you must be involved in helping your child to understand life, himself and his needs from a biblical perspective.

But What If…

I realize this ideal scenario does not happen in every mother/daughter relationship. Maybe the family you grew up in was not a Christian family. God knows that. He knows all about it—all about what you missed, and all about what you know and don’t know about being a Christian family and mom. So know that your mission is to begin where you are to follow the Lord. It’s never too late to receive Christ as Savior, to begin loving the Lord and growing in grace and in the knowledge of Him and His Word. You can choose any day—today, if you haven’t already—to begin diligently teaching the daughter you love, and talking to her about the God you love and who loves her. Point her to God. Encourage her in the Lord. Teach her what you know about Him from experience and from study. Pray for her with your every heartbeat. See her spiritual growth into a daughter after God’s own heart as your calling, your mission assignment from God. Commit to doing your part, and trust God to do His.

Perhaps you are thinking, This woman is crazy! Well, I wouldn’t blame you. But I will tell you I am crazy about God, crazy about my two daughters, and crazy about my four granddaughters. I will also tell you that I am passionate and passionately sold out to my role as a woman, mom, and grandmom after God’s own heart. It’s just so clear what God wants His moms to be and do. Your daughter has no other mother. You are the one He has chosen to teach her. And if you don’t, what if no one does?

Here’s a powerful description of what an all-out, all-or-nothing love for God and our daughters looks like. Let it encourage you today and in the decades of mothering to come:

…my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity…I won’t give up, shut up, let up, or slow up.

You Can Do It!

Each of the following suggestions is something you can do to contribute toward becoming the mom you dream of being. And each one betters your life…and your daughter’s too. Here we go:

Analyze your day.

Think through the rhythm of your day and pinpoint your discretionary time, the time when you have a choice about how it is used, when you can choose how it’s spent. There is always time to do what’s important to you. You’ll need to find the time to get to know God—to put first things first.

Design a quiet time.

Once you’ve carved out a special time to be with God, begin reading your Bible—even for just ten minutes. It’s been calculated that if you simply read your Bible for ten minutes a day, you will read through all of it in one year. That’s a doable task for you as a bell sheep whose life goal is leading your daughter to Jesus. There are scores of activities that fill your day. So steal ten minutes from a nonimportant activity like time on the Internet, time talking on the phone, time watching TV. Make a daily appointment with God and allow Him to speak to your heart from His Word.

Memorize Scripture.

Here’s a statistic for you: People remember about 40 percent of what they read. Wouldn’t it be nice to remember 100 percent? Well, you can if you memorize verses from the Bible. That’s what someone told me as a new Christian, and I followed their advice. As I shared earlier, as soon as I read Deuteronomy 6:5-7, I learned it by heart. I also picked out some verses that would help me with my daily life, including the daily challenge of being a mom after God’s own heart. Like “I can do all things [including be a mom!] through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Once you store up some verses in your heart, you’ll find that wherever you are and whatever is happening, you can remember God’s words to you. And just think—as a bell sheep, you can draw your daughter to Jesus as you speak His words to her.

Read about parenting.

In my mentoring ministry, one of my assignments for the women I meet with and give my time to is that they read five minutes a day on a variety of topics. They can pick the topics and the books. They can buy them, borrow them, or check them out of the church library. I do this because I’ve been reading on my own topics for five minutes a day for decades! For instance, I’ve been reading five minutes a day on marriage and family for what seems like forever. The same goes for time and life management. And health.

If you do this too, you will amaze yourself as you become an expert on your subjects by merely reading five minutes a day on them. You will also be super motivated because the topic and your new knowledge is fresh in your mind. Instead of dreading something, you’ll look forward to approaching it differently and trying some new techniques or methods. Your reading will serve as a reminder and an instructor to pay attention to the areas of your life you targeted for growth. Pray, and then choose your subjects. Just be sure as a mom that childrearing is one of them.

Write a letter to God about your daughter.

Then read the letter to Him as a prayer. Prayer involves God. So now there are two of you taking on the challenge of raising a daughter after God’s own heart. It will seal your commitment to becoming God’s kind of mom so, Lord willing and by His grace, your daughter grows to be God’s kind of girl. File your “My Prayer to Be a Mom After God’s Own Heart” away where it is handy and can be prayed often, even daily. Your prayer is another good reminder each day to keep on keeping on in your goals as a mom and your goals for your daughter. And here’s an idea: Each year on your daughter’s birthday, slip a copy of your prayer into her birthday card. Be sure to tell her where you were and what you were feeling when you wrote it. What a gift!

Mom’s Think Pad

Before you move on to your next Mom Mission, take a minute or two to think about what you can do to track with God as a mom. Make some plans of your own to take a few small steps that make a big difference.

I’m awfully busy, but I want to be the mom God wants me to be! What are several things I can do—or not do—to create some time to get into God’s Word? I want to be a mom after God’s own heart!
I want to set a goal to memorize Deuteronomy 6:5-7. Here’s my checklist:
Write these verses on an index card and carry it with me.

Pick a daily five-minute time slot that works for my schedule, during which I can memorize these verses.

Write out each verse ten times.

Copy these verses on several more index cards and post them on the refrigerator door, bathroom mirror, computer, car dashboard.

Ask my daughter to help me memorize these verses, to listen to me recite them, to be my audience, my checker, my best helper!

What are some ways I can “teach” my daughter about God and His Word by “talking” about Him…
…when we are sitting together?

…when we are walking together?

…when she is going to bed or going down for her nap?

…when she gets up?

What are some ways I can be more faithful and “diligent” in passing on God’s truth to my daughter?
Do I need to be mentored in my own spiritual growth? Who could help me? Or is there a class I can take? A group I can join? A book I can read?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Letters to a Young Pastor: Book 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:

David C. Cook (September 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Dr. Calvin Miller’s first full-time pastorate was at Plattsmouth Baptist Church in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, from 1961-1966. He went to Westside Church in Omaha, Nebraska, in January 1966, where he served as senior pastor for 25 years. During his pastorate the congregation grew from ten members to more than 2500 members. From 1991-1998, Miller served as Professor of Communication and Ministry Studies and Writer-in-Residence at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, Texas. In January 1999, he joined the faculty of Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama, where he is currently Professor of Preaching and Pastoral Ministry.

He is the author of more than forty books of popular theology and inspiration. His poems and free-lance articles have appeared in various journals and magazines such as Christianity Today, Campus Life, Leadership and His. He has served as an inspirational speaker in various assemblies and religious convocations, both in his own denomination and other Christian gatherings.

Visit the author's website.


Getting out of bed on Monday is a grumpy chore, and overcoming the cloudy-headed daze that almost always characterizes the second day of the week requires a lot of coffee and even more determination. Mondays are hard for us all, but they are particularly difficult for pastors because they have to come down from the “Sunday high.” It’s something few can identify with, but for most pastors it’s a haunting reality that accompanies a litany of stressors like dealing with divisive people, balancing the budget and leading difficult staff members. As a result, a lot of young pastors are desperately hungry for someone older and wiser to walk with them over the mountains and through the valleys of church ministry.

For decades, as an author, poet, pastor and educator Calvin Miller has been a lively and creative voice in the church. Having survived some of the most tumultuous decades of evangelicalism, his latest book, Letters to a Young Pastor (David C Cook), shares his wisdom and experience, his successes and his scars, to help today’s young pastors fulfill their calling…and maintain their sanity. In this humorously authentic collection of letters, he encourages young pastors to fight the good fight, stay the course and keep their eye on the Author and Finisher of the faith—no matter how frustrated they may feel.

Letters to a Young Pastor offers every young pastor an invaluable mentor with a heart for sharing his hard-won insights with those who enjoy the victories and carry the burdens of the pastorate. Dr. Miller’s appeal to young pastors lies not in his overwhelming successes, but simply in the fact that he’s been there and done that. As Dr. Miller says, “The all-time great reason that you should listen to me is that much of what I write about in this book is written from the edge. Ministry is not for sissies, and the requirement of the tough times brings us to the edge of our commitment.”

Regardless of the situation, Dr. Miller’s creative and cordial counsel poetically prods pastors along the path of ministry. To the young pastor struggling with the validity of his calling, Dr. Miller advises, “Young minister of God, keep that little sparkle in your eyes, and then write down how your call came to you, and when you’ve written it down in fire, defend it that way.” For those wrestling with conflict, Calvin challengingly suggests, “Cowards are never good at teaching courage.” Even the pastor who’s not sure whether he’s promoting God’s vision or his own image finds these wise words from Dr. Miller: “This is the foundation of significance: Settle on your vision, and your image will be authentic. But pursue image, and you may miss your vision altogether.”

Many things have changed over Dr. Miller’s pastoral years, from switchboards to smartphones and big-haired evangelists to cigar-smoking emergents. But two things remain the same—God is love and people are broken. Letters to a Young Pastor is a warm, honest and often humorous collection of letters to young pastors and leaders, encouraging them to love Sundays, fight through Mondays and look forward to the day when they’ll hear that great “Well done.”

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781405777
ISBN-13: 978-0781405775


Letter 1

Seeing the Significance of Your Cal

Whatever the Congregation’s Size

“For all the usual evaluative purposes, the large and global churches are obviously the most important. But for deep spiritual renewal, the recognition of identity, the birth of awe, the small, local church serves every bit as well. Perhaps, they serve even better. In my history of small, local gatherings, the rooms were full of characters—divorced bankers, cantankerous physicians, drama queen choir members, faithful janitors. Characters. I have never been able to look upon people in any other way since. I hope I learned something from praying with the same lady who taught me English, from singing with the same man who bagged our groceries, from listening to the same preacher who also tucked me in at night. A small church like that, one big enough to house the people that you meet each day, can be both lonely and grand and simple. It is as good a place as any for the experience of learning to be content in any and every circumstance. Save a piece of locality like that intact, and it does not matter in the slightest that only a couple of hundred people every year will go into it. That is precisely its value; a theography of hope.”2

Dear Young Pastor,
Sum up reality and opt for hope.

At the turn of the last century (1900) there was a ratio of 27 churches per 10,000 people, as compared with the close of the century (2000) where we have 11 churches per 10,000 people in America! What has happened?

Given the declining numbers and the closures of churches compared to the new church starts, there should have been over 38,000 new churches commissioned to keep up with the population growth. The United States now ranks third following China and India in the number of people who are not professing Christians; in other words, Americans are becoming an ever-increasing “unreached people group.” Half of all churches in the United States did not add any new members in the last two years.

I’m hard but honest when speaking to graduating preachers. I always say something like this to them: “Most of you will be taking churches of 100 members or less. Twenty years from now, 80 percent

of you will no longer be a pastor, having chosen another profession primarily because the pain of hanging on was greater than the risk of letting go. The 20 percent of you who have continued preaching will

still be in churches of 100 members or less.

“Happy graduation!”
The work is hard, and the pastoral survival rate is scary. Every year 4,000 churches close their doors forever, compared to just 1,000 new church starts. Between 1990 and 2000 the combined membership of all Protestant denominations dropped 5 million members (9.5 percent), while the US population increased by 11 percent. Each year 2.7 million church members fall into an “inactive” status. In probing for a reason for this dropout rate, the Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development found that these people were leaving because they were “hurting and wounded victims—of some kind of abuse, disillusionment, or just plain neglect.”3 The Schaeffer Institute did not comment on why pastors were leaving, but it is probably for “abuse, disillusionment, or neglect” also. Since both pastors and laity are abandoning the church, we can infer that churches are not just dying; they’re dying unhappy.

It is this inference that bothers me.

Doctrinal differences are not the only thing that is killing evangelicalism.

We are dying from a deep infection in our own group dynamics. We don’t love each other enough to cling to each other and survive. Forget love. We don’t even like each other. That’s the core reason we are dying. And into this painful cauldron of ill will we drop young preachers and expect them to save the church. But most soon leave behind the notion of trying to save the church and commit themselves to trying to survive the church.
Here are the reasons we give up on Christian ministry:

First, we die because we suffer from congregational social schisms that result from huge doses of unforgiveness between jealous, wrangling laypeople.
Second, we have too many pastors who compete within their denominations and fire at each other with blitzes of resentment.

Third, many preachers who resent each other’s success within their city limits participate in sanctimonious name-calling: “Easy gospel church! Calvinist Mecca! Bible-free preaching! Social gospelers! Modernists!” Most of these churches rarely say these things out loud, but they do say them. Even statements like “Come to our church; it’s the largest church in the city” say it. Or as I saw painted

on the back of one church bus: “Follow me to Exciting WestBrook!” All such labels divide and destroy.

In 1970, Francis Schaeffer wrote a thirty-five-page book titled The Mark of the Christian. In a little more than a hundred paragraphs he gave us the only possible solution to the dying of evangelicalism:

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another;

as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all

men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another”

(John 13:34–35).
“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee,

that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou

hast sent me” (John 17:21).

What then shall we conclude but that … we as Christians are called

upon to love all men as neighbors, loving them ourselves.… We are

to love all true Christian brothers in a way that the world may

observe. This means showing love to our brothers in the midst of our

differences—great or small— loving our brothers when it costs us

something, loving them even under times of tremendous emotional

tension, loving in the way the world can see. In short we are to practice

and exhibit the holiness of God and the love of God, for without this

we grieve the Holy Spirit.4
It took me years to understand what Francis Schaeffer meant when he said that grieving the Holy Spirit was a direct result of our failure to love. But now I do understand: Grieve is a love word! This is what Paul meant when he said, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30). When we sin, we do not infuriate God, our Lover. We only hurt Him. We grieve Him! Until pastors and churches come to understand this, evangelicalism will continue its decline.

When we fail to love each other, there is an empty ache that runs throughout the halls of heaven. And people who wanted more from us and expected more out of us will leave the church hurting, and we who are pastors will leave the church hurting, all because we have read the Bible all our lives—even knowing it in Greek and Hebrew—and never caught the connection between John 13:35 and Ephesians 4:30.

This is not a truth that can ever be sold on a group basis. You can solve the dilemma only within the singular, narrow place that is your soul. And you can solve it there. Here’s your chance to turn things around.

Christ is on the mound.
You’re at bat.
Save the game!

My thoughts:
This is a wonderful book for all pastors to read, regardless of age. It's very inspiring. Calvin Miller has a desire to mentor pastors and help them grow into the best leaders they can be. Very interesting book!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cherished: Book 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:

Thomas Nelson (August 30, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Kim Cash Tate was born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area. Her mother, a manager with AT&T, and her father, an educator, divorced when she was young. Even after the divorce, one thing her parents agreed on was the importance of education. She attended both public and private Catholic schools, and college was a given. Tate chose the University of Maryland.

After completing her undergraduate degree, she distinguished herself as a law student at George Washington University. She was invited to join the Journal staff, and a summer job at a respected law firm in her beloved Washington, D.C. followed by a one-year clerkship with a federal judge in Madison.

Tate’s law career took off in Madison. Once the clerkship ended, she was hired on at a large firm. In spite of her success, she was plagued by constant feelings of discontentment and loneliness for the racially diverse environment she left behind in D.C. She began seeking faith, simply as a means of maintaining sanity. After she and Bill married, the couple began attending a local AME church, and they both felt Jesus calling.

When her children were young, Tate left her thriving law career to stay home. A passionate and persuasive communicator, she tried her hand at writing. More Christian than African-American shares her story of finding her identity in Christ rather than in her race, which had been a major focus for her. Her first novel was Heavenly Places, followed by Faithful and her newest release, Cherished. Tate was a speaker for Women of Faith in both 2010 and 2011.

Visit the author's website.


As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Kim Cash Tate explores Psalm 103:12 as she takes her readers down the path to God’s forgiveness and reconciliation in her newest novel, Cherished. Readers will discover that God can still use them in spite of their worst choices. And He doesn’t just forgive them, but they are truly cherished!

Tate’s story will show her readers how God can bring beauty from ashes. She has a unique way of weaving her characters’ lives together, leading back to one great point—God’s tremendous mercy and grace. In the words of one of her characters, “I wasn’t sure what to expect. I felt like it would take a while to work my way back into God’s good graces, but it was like…”—she flung wide her arms—“…He just embraced me.” We too can be embraced by the same great love when we learn that true forgiveness for ALL of our sins is right before us.

Growing up in Saint Louis, Kelli London dreamed of becoming a songwriter and glorifying God with her songs of praise. But after falling into sin, she walks away from her dreams. Heather Anderson’s life has spun out of control—first an affair with a married man and then a one-night stand with the drummer of a popular Christian band. Broken and alone, she discovers the only one who can save her. Brian Howard grew up as a science geek. But after making the worst mistake of his life after high school, he finds forgiveness in Christ and is being led down a completely different path. Now he must choose whether to continue pursuing his PhD in biochemistry or to become a full time Christian rapper.

Product Details:

List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (August 30, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595548556
ISBN-13: 978-1595548559


Kelli London took her place on the piano bench and waited for her cue, grateful that her jittery hands were hidden from the crowd. She shouldn’t have agreed to do this, but she loved her brother and had never seen him happier. How could she say no to singing at his wedding?

But it was the song Cedric had asked her to sing, one he’d heard only by chance. He had no idea what it meant to her. He didn’t know that singing it would unleash memories of the last person she ever wanted to think about.
Laughter rose from the pews, and Kelli looked up, wondering what she’d missed.
“. . . and I’m sure Cedric wants me to get to the vows ASAP,” Pastor Lyles was saying, “so they can get to that kiss they’ve been waiting for.”
Kelli had only met the pastor once before, at her brother Lindell’s wedding last fall, but it didn’t take long to love his spirit and his style. A black man in his late fifties, he’d started Living Word Community Church decades ago and watched it grow into a multi-ethnic megachurch. At least a couple hundred members were here today. Kelli guessed none of them thought twice about the various hues and accents that had gathered to see this black couple wed. She loved that spirit too.

Cedric was shaking his head with a shamefaced grin as the pastor called him out. Cyd was smiling up at him, gorgeous, beaming like the bright light she’d become in Cedric’s life.

Pastor Lyles continued. “But I don’t think he’ll mind one last song, and it’s a special one, written by his sister.”

Kelli drew a deep breath as Cedric and Cyd smiled over at her, Lindell and Stephanie too—the flip side of last fall. Then Stephanie and Lindell were the bride and groom, and Cyd and Cedric were maid of honor and best man, which was how they met. Kelli loved the story, how Cyd turned forty on her younger sister’s wedding day, thinking she’d never marry herself. Now here she was—a June bride. It was romantic that her brothers would now be married to sisters, but it somehow added to her melancholy, that each of them had found the love of his life.

Kelli gazed at the piano keys, and knowing they had to, her fingers tapped the first notes. She fought to stay in the moment, in the church. Her eyes swept Cyd and Cedric, imagined the lyrics were just for them . . .
I will love you till the stars don’t shine

And I will love you till the oceans run dry

I will love you till you know every why

I will, I will

Her eyes closed, and he was there. A shiver of remembrance danced down her arms. She could still see that distant look in his eyes, could even hear him, that tone of indifference that echoed forever in her head. Kelli opened her eyes to capture another image—any image—but he was everywhere now. And her heart allowed itself to be crushed all over again.
I will love you like an endless stream

A million miles won’t take your heart from me

I will love you every breath you breathe

I will, I will

Almost to the bridge, Kelli could feel her emotions cresting with the song. She closed her eyes again as they took over, filling her voice, magnifying her range, powering her through. She played the final chords with the salt of tears on her lips and bowed her head at the last note . . . and heard—applause? She looked out and saw the guests on their feet and Cedric and Cyd fully turned, facing her—Cyd wiping tears from her cheeks. With her own anxiety about singing it, Kelli hadn’t given thought to whether people might actually like the song.

She pulled a tissue from the box atop the piano, dabbed her cheeks, and blew her nose, then muscled a heart-heavy smile to acknowledge everyone’s kindness. When she moved back to the front pew beside her mother, only then did the guests stop clapping and sit.

“When did you write that?” her mother asked, patting her thigh. “That was beautiful.”
“Thanks, Mom. I wrote it . . . a long time ago.”

She turned her gaze to the ceremony, her heart beating a little faster still, puzzled by the response to the song. It coaxed a different memory to the surface, and as Cyd and Cedric exchanged vows, Kelli thought about her long-ago dream of writing music that God would somehow use. Then the better part of her brain kicked in,

reminding her that she’d left songwriting behind, that she knew better than to dream.
That all those dreams had turned to dust.

“Kelli! Girrrl . . .”
Kelli looked up—midpivot in the Electric Slide—and saw Stephanie threading her way through the line dancers in her champagne-colored dress. Soon as the song started, it seemed everybody left tables and mingled to claim a spot on the parquet floor. Kelli waved her sister-in-law over.

“I’ve been looking for you.” Stephanie scooted between Kelli and Devin, a nine-year-old cousin, as rows of people sidestepped to the right. “I haven’t had a chance to tell you . . . girl, you sang that song. I had no idea—hold up, am I doing this right?” She was headed a different direction from everyone else. “Why am I even

out here? I hate this stupid dance.”

Kelli laughed. “Back, Steph. We’re going back.”

“Oh.” Stephanie checked Devin to get in sync, then leaned her head Kelli’s way again, her voice elevated. “Anyway, I told Lindell I couldn’t believe he didn’t tell me about that song, ’cause I would’ve had you sing it at our wedding. And he said he’d never heard it . . . and then I couldn’t believe that.”
“I know. Crazy, right? This way, Steph. Pivot left.”

Stephanie was behind her now, and Kelli turned to make sure she was following, but Devin had it under control.

Like a traffic cop, he moved his hands left, then right to direct her which way to go next. “And pivot,” he announced, to the amusement of those around them.
Side by side with Stephanie again, Kelli continued. “Lindell and Cedric had already moved out of the house by the time I started writing songs in high school, so it was easy to kind of keep my music to myself.” She shrugged. “Cedric overheard it because I didn’t know he was there.”
“Hmph,” Stephanie said. “If I had that kind of talent, everybody would know about it. They’d have to tell me to be quiet.”

The music switched, and they could hear people near the center of the floor cheering, “Go, Cyd! Go, Cedric! Go, Cyd! Go, Cedric!”

Kelli and Stephanie craned their necks, moving toward the action.

“Oh, goodness,” Stephanie said, laughing. “Look at your brother. He’s at it again.”
Kelli laughed too, remembering Cedric and Cyd on the dance floor at Stephanie and Lindell’s reception. Now the two had cut a wide swath in the middle of the floor with a different line dance, this one a little livelier.

Kelli and Stephanie worked their way to a spot in the inner circle.

“Have you seen this version?” Stephanie asked.

Kelli nodded. “But you know Cedric’s gonna add his own twist.”

Instead of a simple sidestep, Cedric led Cyd in bouncy moves to the left, with a slide before going right. And instead of a normal pivot, they did some kind of kick, kick, turn—with Cedric twirling Cyd into a two-step before moving back to the line dance, all of it seamless. The crowd was fired up.
After a couple of rounds, Cedric spotted Kelli and pulled her to the center.
“I don’t know if you can hang with a twenty-five-year-old, big brother.” Although Cedric was a fit forty-two, Kelli didn’t miss an opportunity to tease him about his age. “I’d hate to embarrass you in front of your guests.”
“Oh, you got jokes? We’ll see about that, baby sis.”

Cyd led the cheers this time as Kelli whipped some different moves on him. Cedric paused, then mimicked every last one to let her know she couldn’t show him up. Lindell dragged Stephanie out there—literally—and Kelli was in stitches watching them try to copy what she and Cedric were doing. Soon everyone on the

floor had joined in again, and then the music switched to Motown, which got its own cheers.
Cedric draped one arm around Kelli and the other around Cyd and led them off the floor. They stopped at the bridal party table, which had emptied of all but Dana, one of Cyd’s bridesmaids.

“Why aren’t you on the dance floor?” Cedric asked. “We need all the forty-and-over folk representing.”

Dana glared at him. “Let’s see how well you ‘represent’ with some heels on. My feet are killing me.” Then she nodded toward the dance floor. “My husband left me. He’s out there with the kids. And last I saw, Scott wasn’t representing too well either. He looked almost as bad as Stephanie with that Electric Slide.”

“I heard that, Dana,” Stephanie said, walking up with Lindell. “I could learn the dumb dance if I cared to. And since you’re trying to clown me, I might do it just to keep my black rhythm points. Can’t have a white guy showing me up.”

Dana got a kick out of that, laughing as auburn wisps fell about her face. “How about a white girl? Let’s tell the deejay to play it again and see who’s got it.”
Stephanie eased into a seat. “Uh, no thanks. I always told you, you’re one of those black white girls. You can go on the dance floor.”

Dana eyed the dancers out there. “Well, pray for Mackenzie. I think the poor thing takes after Scott. Look at them.”

Kelli’s heart was smiling. Because she lived out of state, she didn’t know these women well—not even her sisters-in-law—but from her brief interactions, including last night’s rehearsal dinner, she could tell she would like them.
Cyd pulled out a chair and sat, her beautiful gown, passed down from her mother, swishing over the sides. “Ahh . . . think I can get away with sitting like this for maybe five minutes?”

Cedric massaged her shoulders. “You’re good. The Jackson Five’s got everybody occupied.”
Dana touched Kelli’s arm. “The bridal table was talking about you earlier.”
“Me? Why?” Kelli took a seat.

“Are you kidding? That song. It was beautiful.”

Kelli blushed. “Thank you.”
“That’s my little sister.” Cedric beamed.

“Mine too!” Lindell said, giving her shoulder a squeeze. “So proud of you, girl.” He looked at the others. “Just got her master’s too, from UT–Austin.”
“I heard,” Dana said. “Is your degree in music?”

Kelli shook her head. “One’s in communications and the other’s in public relations.”
“Wow, two?” Dana nodded. “That’s awesome.”

“Well . . . not really. Just means I didn’t know what I wanted to do.” Kelli didn’t mind admitting it. “But I’m done being a professional student. I’m looking for a job now—”

“—in Texas.” Cedric’s tone made clear what he thought of that. “What part of Texas?” Stephanie asked. “Are you trying to stay in Austin?”

“I’ve been looking at possibilities in Austin and Houston . . .and Dallas.”
“Mostly Dallas, I’d bet,” Cedric said. “That’s where her boyfriend is.” He looked around playfully. “Where is he anyway? I wanted to meet him, see if he measures up. What’s his name? Miller?”

Kelli smirked at her big brother. “Miles. Miles Reed. He wanted to meet you all too, but he had a conflict.”

“I’m sure we’ll get another opportunity,” Cedric said, “if I can get you to move back to St. Louis.”

Cyd perked up. “Ooh, Kelli, I’d love that. Any chance?”

“I . . . doubt it.” Kelli hedged to be polite; her mind had said a fast no. She hadn’t lived in St. Louis since she left for college, and the distance had been good. Her mother had relocated to Little Rock to care for her mother, so Kelli had gone there on school breaks.

“How’s the job market in Texas?” Cedric asked. “Improved any?”

Cedric knew the answer perfectly well. He was a VP at a head-hunting firm. He’d made some calls for her, but nothing had materialized.

“Not exactly,” Kelli admitted. “I’ve been looking since early in the year, and, well . . . it’s nearing the end of June.”

Lindell rubbed his chin. “I’m thinking you can be unemployed in St. Louis just as well as in Austin.”

Cedric gave a big nod to his brother. “Better than in Austin. In St. Louis, you can be unemployed and hang out with your brothers.”
Cyd raised a hand. “And sisters. Don’t forget about us.”

“All of us,” Dana said. “We’d love to plug you into Daughters’ Fellowship.”

“What’s that?” Kelli asked.

“It started years ago with Dana, Phyllis, and me.” Cyd pointed toward the dance floor at her other bridesmaid. “Real informal. We’d do potluck and talk about—sometimes cry about—what God was doing in our lives. Stephanie crashed the party last year.” Cyd smiled at her younger sister. “It’s evolved into kind of a Bible study/gabfest.”

“Emphasis on gab,” Cedric said. “Amazing how two hours can turn into five—every single time. You’d think you’d run out of things to talk about.”
“Now, now, brother,” Lindell said, “don’t exaggerate. I think it was four and a half hours last time.”

Cedric and Lindell shared a laugh as the women pounced.

“We’re praying too, you know,” Dana said. “Getting that fuel we need to be the best we can be.”

“Lindell knows.” Stephanie gave him the eye. “I left the house with an attitude before that last meeting. Came back changed. Didn’t I?”

Lindell threw up his hands. “Hey, I’m not complaining. I might be the biggest DF fan at the table. Stephanie’s not the same woman I married.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Babe, that’s a good thing! I’m just sayin’.”

Kelli laughed as Lindell backpedaled. For years her brothers had been busy with their careers, living the bachelor life. Hadn’t occurred to them or her that they should live near one another, be a part of each other's lives. But now they were both settled down, with wives Kelli would love to know better. She’d always wanted sisters. And it was strange that she, Cyd, and Stephanie kind of looked alike—all of them tall with honey brown skin and long brown hair.

And Daughters’ Fellowship sounded great. Her own relationship with God wasn’t where it should be. She’d known that for some time. Just wasn’t sure how to get it back on the right track. The thought of getting together with these women, talking and learning from them, felt like water to her parched soul.

If only it were in another city . . .

Kelli sighed as she looked around the table at the laughter, the ribbing, the love. Did she really want to stay in Austin, away from all of this?

And what about Miles? They’d been dating almost a year. Although he’d graduated from UT–Austin last December and moved back to Dallas, the distance didn’t seem so great with them both in Texas. Still, they were already several hours apart. Would a few more make a huge difference?

Kelli looked up as her mother stopped at their table.

“Hey, it’s my gorgeous mother,” Cedric said, placing an arm around her.
“No, it’s my gorgeous mother,” Lindell said, hugging her other side.

Francine London glowed with pride. “You boys are something else,” she said. “And I didn’t come to see y’all. I came to see how my daughters-in-law are doing.”
“Oh, it’s like that now?” Cedric asked. “I get married, and I get kicked to the curb?”
Francine laughed, keeping her arms around her sons’ waists. “I’m wondering what’s gonna happen when you all start having my grandchildren. I’m not gonna like being all the way in Little Rock.”

“You need to move back too,” Lindell said.

Francine dismissed it with a shake of the head. “Your grandmother’s not doing well, can’t get around, so we’re better off staying put.”
“Well, help us convince your daughter to move back,” Cedric said. “We’ve been working on her.”

Francine looked at Kelli, nodding. “I was thinking about that today, how nice it would be if you could be around your brothers and their wives. You know I’m big on family.”

“Yes, I know, Mom.” Kelli cut them off at the pass. “So . . . which one of you would be willing to let your little sister move in?”

My thoughts:
One of the hardest things in life to do is forgive yourself. We know that God forgives us, but sometimes we don't allow ourselves to embrace His forgiveness because we can't forgive ourselves. And that's where the story begins...

This story is about a young girl that made a decision early in her life and can't forgive herself. And when she runs into a part of that past she's tried to keep hidden, life finally has a chance to heal. It's a wonderful tale of forgiveness. I really enjoyed reading this book.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Music Monday: It's Not Unusual #Glee

Well, y'all know that GLEE returned Tuesday and it was AWESOME! I am loving it!

I read somewhere that they are going back to more character oriented shows. The same great music but more story than last season. :)

Did you watch? What did you think about it? I think I'm most excited to see Blaine joining the New Directions and as always I want to see some love between Rachel & Finn. And, dude, what about Quinn? Did the girl lose her mind? LOL

Anyways here is my favorite song from last Tuesday's premiere.


Another COTT Winner

Congratulations to Delia Latham for taking the crown in last week's Staff Clash. Two anonymous COTT staffers went into the ring and readers had another hard choice to make. Some said:
  • "This was a cruel choice!! LOL! They were both excellent."
  •  (About Delia's excerpt): "Beautiful words expressing emotion and making the reader want more."
  •  "Intense emotions on both excerpts! Great job!"
  •  "Terrific excerpts!"
  • (About Katie's excerpt): "I need to know Wulf better! I have a feeling he's dreamy."
  • "Awesome clash with two well-written, emotion-packed scenes! Great job, authors!"
Of course, nobody knew at the time that those authors were Delia Latham and Katie McCurdy. Both are recent additions to the staff. Delia has come on board as a Blog Alliance Correspondent, and Katie is the official Talent Scout. (Looks like COTT scouted some talent when they found these two gems.) This fun excursion was a great interjection into the usual good times shared at Clash of the Titles. This week sees another fierce challenge with nameless authors nominated by COTT staff. Be sure to head over there and vote now!

And in just 2 weeks, the party begins! Mark your calendars for October 10th and be ready to play for extra prizes all month long as COTT celebrates it's first anniversary. Your vote will determine which of the year's winning authors will receive the ultimate honor: the Laurel Award.
* by Assistant Editor of COTT, Michelle Massaro

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Taste of Fall: Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

For awhile now I had been hearing about these muffins. I didn't really think much of it because I was not a big fan of pumpkin. But things changed last year when my mom made some Pumpkin Crunch bars and she bugged me until I tried them.

I fell in love with pumpkin and the 31 years of hatred went away.

So this year when I saw my friends talking about making these I wanted them. But I couldn't find a can of pure pumpkin anywhere. All the stores were out. So I was thoroughly aggravated...until tonight when I opened my cupboard and waaay in the back was a can of pumpkin. Ummm, oops?

 So it was on like Donkey Kong! :)

 These are the BEST muffins EVER!

 Matthew agrees.

Here's the recipe if you want to make some. :)

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins
1 box of spice cake mix (do not make according to box)
1 small can pure pumpkin (not the pie mix)
1/2 bag to 1 bag of chocolate chips (depends on how chocolately you want it - I used the whole bag)

  • Mix the spice cake mix and the pumpkin together. 
  • Fold in the chocolate chips. 
  • Put in muffin tin (either greased or use papers). Makes 12.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. 

So good! Enjoy!


Weekend Coupons

Here are some coupons for this weekend. :) Print them now before they are gone.

CouponNetwork Coupons
75¢ off when you buy TWO FARMER JOHN® Roll Sausages
$5.00 off Philips Norelco 7000 Series Electric Razor
$10.00 off Philips Norelco Speed XL/Nivea for Men Razor
$1.00 off when you buy ONE Purina ONE® brand Dry Cat Food
$2.00 off Veet® Hair Removal products
$1.00 off on Totino's® Crisp Crust Party Pizza® Products
50¢ off on Pillsbury® Rolled Refrigerated Pie Crusts
50¢ off when you buy Betty Crocker® Fruit flavored snacks
75¢ off when you buy Wheaties® or Wheaties Fuel® cereal
Save 70¢ on Softsoap® Liquid Hand Soap
$1.00 off on Pillsbury® Sweet Moments® Refrigerated Desserts
75¢ off when you buy TWO any flavor select Yoplait® Yogurts
50¢ off when you buy EIGHT CUPS any variety Yoplait® Yogurt
40¢ off on Pillsbury® Sweet Rolls OR Grands!® Sweet Rolls
30¢ off Pillsbury® Refrigerated Grands!® Biscuits
40¢ off on Pillsbury® Refrigerated Italian Meal Breads
40¢ off on TWO any flavor/variety Totino's® Rolls Snacks
$3 off 1 Multi-pack AVENT BPA-Free Baby Bottles
$1.50 off 1 AVENT Pacifier Pack
$20.00 off on Philips Norelco SensoTouch/3D Electric Razor
$1.00 off SIX Mighty Dog® 5.5 oz single cans
Buy THREE get one FREE Purina® ONE® SmartBlend® Wet Cat Food
$1.50 off when you buy any TWO Sundown Naturals® Product
$2.50 off when you buy any THREE Disney or Marvel Items
$1.60 off any TWO Nature's Bounty® Vitamins or Supplements
$2.00 off when you buy any TWO GoodBelly® Quarts
50¢ off when you buy any TWO Gold 'n Soft® 15oz Tubs
$1.25 off when you buy any two Marie's® Dressing
$5.00 off any Philips Norelco Shaving Replacement Head
$1 off when you buy any two bags of SENSEO® COFFEE PODS
$2 off when you buy any Osteo Bi-Flex® Supplement or Powder

Redplum Coupons
IHOP at Home™ - SAVE $1.00
Right Guard® - $1 off
Fiber Choice® - SAVE $2.00
Sprayway® - SAVE $0.50