Saturday, February 26, 2011

recipe: cookie dough truffles

These are amazing. I made some for my small group girls at church and then for work the next day. Oh my. And they're super easy. It doesn't get any better than that. The only thing I would point out is that I thought they tasted better after setting for a day (the ones I took to work didn't all get eaten so we munched on them the next day as well). The cookie dough isn't quite as gooey - it's more the consistency of what you find in the stores. But it's amazing either way. Click here for the link to Allison Lewis' site.

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 (14 ounce) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
3/4 to 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14 ounce) package dark chocolate candy coating

"Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until fluffy. Add in the vanilla, mixing well. Alternating, add the flour mixture followed by the condensed milk, beating well in between each addition. Stir in chocolate chips. Scoop 1 tablespoon balls and place on wax paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until firm. In the palms of your hands, roll them into balls. Place back in refrigerator or freezer for at least 30 minutes. Melt chocolate according to package directions using a double boiler or microwave. Let cool. Using forks or a dipping tool, dip cookie balls in candy coating to cover. Place on a wax paper-lined baking sheet and chill until set. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

book review: "a billion reasons why" by kristen billerbeck

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; Original edition (February 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Kristin Billerbeck was born in California to an Italian father and a strong Norwegian/German mother. Her mother tried to teach her to do things right, how to cook, clean, sew, and budget accordingly—all the things a proper girl should know in order to be a contributing member of society. Yet Billerbeck said she “failed miserably,” although her grandmother must still hold some hope since she gave her a cookie gun for her 40th birthday.

Billerbeck has authored more than 30 novels, including the Ashley Stockingdale series and the Spa Girls series. She is a leader in the Chick Lit movement, a Christy Award finalist, and a two-time winner of the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award. She has appeared on The Today Show and has been featured in the New York Times. She lives with her family in northern California.

Visit the author's website.


There are a billion reasons Kate should marry her current boyfriend.

Will she trade them all to be madly in love?

Katie McKenna leads a perfect life. Or so she thinks. She has a fulfilling job, a cute apartment, and a wedding to plan with her soon-to-be fiance, Dexter.

She can think of a billion reasons why she should marry Dexter…but nowhere on that list is love.

And then in walks Luc DeForges, her bold, breathtaking ex-boyfriend. Only now he's a millionaire. And he wants her to go home to New Orleans to sing for her childhood friend's wedding. As his date.

But Katie made up her mind about Luc eight years ago, when she fled their hometown after a very public breakup. Yet there's a magnetism between them she can't deny.

Katie thought her predictable relationship with Dexter would be the bedrock of a lasting, Christian marriage. But what if there's more? What if God's desire for her is a heart full of life? And what if that's what Luc has offered all along?

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson; Original edition (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595547916
ISBN-13: 978-1595547910


A Fine Romance

Katie McKenna had dreamed of this moment at least a thousand times. Luc would walk back into her life filled with remorse. He’d be wearing jeans, a worn T-shirt, and humility. He’d be dripping with humility.

That should have been her first clue that such a scenario had no bearing on reality.

“Katie,” a voice said.

The sound sent a surge of adrenaline through her frame. She’d forgotten the power and the warmth of his baritone. A quick glance around her classroom assured her that she must be imagining things. Everything was in order: the posters of colorful curriculum, the daily schedule of activities printed on the whiteboard, and, of course, the children. All six of them were mentally disabled, most of them on the severe side of the autism spectrum, but three had added handicaps that required sturdy, head-stabilizing wheelchairs. The bulk of the chairs overwhelmed the room and blocked much of the happy yellow walls and part of the large rainbow mural the kids had helped to paint. The room, with its cluttered order, comforted her and reminded her of all she’d accomplished. There was no need to think about the past. That was a waste of time and energy.

Her eyes stopped on her aides, Carrie and Selena. The two women, so boisterous in personality, were usually animated. But at the moment they stood huddled in the corner behind Austin’s wheelchair.

Carrie, the heavyset one in the Ed Hardy T-shirt, motioned at her.

“What?” Katie pulled at her white shirt with the delicate pink flowers embroidered along the hem and surveyed the stains. “I know, I’m a mess. But did you see how wonderfully the kids did on their art projects? It was worth it. Never thought of the oil on the dough staining. Next time I’ll wear an apron.”

Selena and Carrie looked as though there was something more they wanted.

“Maddie, you’re a born artist.” Katie smiled at the little girl sitting behind a mound of colorful clay. Then to the aides: “What is the matter with you two?”

Selena, a slight Latina woman, shook her head and pointed toward the door.

Katie rotated toward the front of the classroom and caught her breath. Luc, so tall and gorgeous, completely out of place in his fine European suit and a wristwatch probably worth more than her annual salary, stood in the doorway. He wore a fedora, his trademark since college, but hardly one he needed to stand out in a crowd.

As she stared across the space between them, suddenly the classroom she took such pride in appeared shabby and soiled. When she inhaled, it reeked of sour milk and baby food. Her muddled brain searched for words.

“Luc?” She blinked several times, as if his film-star good looks might evaporate into the annals of her mind. “What are you doing here?”

“Didn’t you get my brother’s wedding invitation?” he asked coolly, as if they’d only seen each other yesterday.

“I did. I sent my regrets.”

“That’s what I’m doing here. You can’t miss Ryan’s wedding. I thought the problem might be money.”

She watched as his blue eyes came to rest on her stained shirt. Instinctively she crossed her arms in front of her.

“I came to invite you to go back with me next week, on my plane.”

“Ah.” She nodded and waited for something intelligible to come out of her mouth. “It’s not money.”

“Come home with me, Katie.” He reached out his arms, and she moved to the countertop and shuffled some papers together.

If he touches me, I don’t stand a chance. She knew Luc well enough to know if he’d made the trip to her classroom, he didn’t intend to leave without what he came for. “I’m afraid that’s not possible.” She stacked the same papers again.

“Give me one reason.”

She faced him. “I could give you a billion reasons.”

Luc’s chiseled features didn’t wear humility well. The cross-shaped scar beneath his cheekbone added to his severity. If he weren’t so dreaded handsome, he’d make a good spy in a Bond movie. His looks belied his soft Uptown New Orleans upbringing, the kind filled with celebrations and warm family events with backyard tennis and long days in the swimming pool.

He pushed through the swiveled half door that separated them and strode toward her.

“That gate is there for a reason. The classroom is for teachers and students only.”

Luc opened his hand and beckoned to her, and despite herself, she took it. Her heart pounded in her throat, and its roar was so thunderous it blocked her thoughts. He pulled her into a clutch, then pushed her away with all the grace of Astaire. “Will you dance with me?” he asked.

He began to hum a Cole Porter tune clumsily in her ear, and instinctively she followed his lead until everything around them disappeared and they were alone in their personal ballroom. For a moment she dropped her head back and giggled from her stomach; a laugh so genuine and pure, it seemed completely foreign—as if it came from a place within that was no longer a part of her. Then the dance halted suddenly, and his cheek was against hers. She took in the roughness of his face, and the thought flitted through her mind that she could die a happy woman in those arms.

The sound of applause woke her from her reverie.

“You two are amazing!” Carrie said.

The children all murmured their approval, some with screams of delight and others with loud banging.

Luc’s hand clutched her own in the small space between them, and she laughed again.

“Not me,” Luc said. “I have the grace of a bull. It’s Katie. She’s like Ginger Rogers. She makes anybody she dances with look good.” He appealed to the two aides. “Which is why I’m here. She must go to my brother’s wedding with me.”

“I didn’t even know you danced, Katie,” Selena said. “Why don’t you ever come dancing with us on Friday nights?”

“What? Katie dances like a dream. She and my brother were partners onstage in college. They were like a mist, the way they moved together. It’s like her feet don’t touch the ground.”

“That was a long time ago.” She pulled away from him and showed him her shirt. “I’m a mess. I hope I didn’t ruin your suit.”

“It would be worth it,” Luc growled.

“Katie, where’d you learn to dance like that?” Carrie asked.

“Too many old movies, I suppose.” She shrugged.

“You could be on Dancing with the Stars with moves like that.”

“Except I’m not a star or a dancer, but other than that, I guess—” She giggled again. It kept bubbling out of her, and for one blissful moment she remembered what it felt like to be the old Katie McKenna. Not the current version, staid schoolmarm and church soloist in Northern California, but the Katie people in New Orleans knew, the one who danced and sang.

Luc interrupted her thoughts. “She’s being modest. She learned those moves from Ginger and Fred themselves, just by watching them over and over again. This was before YouTube, so she was dedicated.”

Katie shrugged. “I was a weird kid. Only child, you know?” But inside she swelled with pride that Luc remembered her devotion to a craft so woefully out-of-date and useless. “Anyway, I don’t have much use for swing dancing or forties torch songs now. Luc, meet Carrie and Selena. Carrie and Selena, Luc.”

“I don’t have any ‘use’ for salsa dancing,” Selena said. “I do it because it’s part of who I am.”

“Tell her she has to come with me, ladies. My brother is having a 1940s-themed wedding in New Orleans. He’d be crushed if Katie didn’t come, and I’ll look like a hopeless clod without her to dance with.”

Katie watched the two aides. She saw the way Luc’s powerful presence intoxicated them. Were they really naive enough to believe that Luc DeForges could ever appear like a clod, in any circumstance or setting? Luc, with his skilled charm and roguish good looks, made one believe whatever he wanted one to believe. The two women were putty in his hands.

“Katie, you have to go to this wedding!” Selena stepped toward her. “I can’t believe you can dance like that and never told us. You’d let this opportunity slip by? For what?” She looked around the room and frowned. “This place?”

The cacophony of pounding and low groans rose audibly, as if in agreement.

“This may be just a classroom to you, but to me, it’s the hope and future of these kids. I used to dance. I used to sing. It paid my way through college. Now I’m a teacher.”

“You can’t be a teacher and a dancer?” Selena pressed. “It’s like walking and chewing gum. You can do both. The question is, why don’t you?”

“Maybe I should bring more music and dancing into the classroom. Look how the kids are joining in the noise of our voices, not bothered by it. I have to think about ways we could make the most of this.”

But she hadn’t succeeded in changing the subject; everyone’s attention stayed focused on her.

“You should dance for the kids, Katie. You possess all the grace of an artist’s muse. Who knows how you might encourage them?”

Katie laughed. “That’s laying it on a bit thick, Luc, even for you. I do believe if there was a snake in that basket over there, it would be rising to the charmer’s voice at this very minute.”

Luc’s very presence brought her into another time. Maybe it was the fedora or the classic cut of his suit, but it ran deeper than how he looked. He possessed a sense of virility and take-no-prisoners attitude that couldn’t be further from his blue-blood upbringing. He made her, in a word, feel safe . . . but there was nothing safe about Luc and there never had been. She straightened and walked over to her open folder to check her schedule for the day.

Tapping a pencil on the binder, she focused on getting the day back on track. The students were involved in free playtime at the moment. While they were all situated in a circle, they played individually, their own favorite tasks in front of them.

“Carrie, would you get Austin and Maddie ready for lunch?”

“I’ll do it,” Selena said. “And, Katie . . . you really should go to the wedding.”

“I can’t go to the wedding because it’s right in the middle of summer school.”

“You could get a substitute,” Carrie said. “What would you be gone for, a week at most? Jenna could probably fill in. She took the summer off this year.”

“Thanks for the suggestions, ladies,” Katie said through clenched teeth. “But I’ve already told the groom I can’t attend the wedding for professional reasons.”

The women laughed. “I’m sorry, what reasons?” Carrie asked, raising a bedpan to imply that anyone could do Katie’s job.

It was no use. The two women were thoroughly under Luc’s spell, and who could blame them?

“Maybe we should talk privately,” Luc said. He clasped her wrist and led her to the glass doors at the front of the classroom. “It’s beautiful out here. The way you’re nestled in the hills, you’d never know there’s a city nearby.”

She nodded. “That’s Crystal Springs Reservoir on the other side of the freeway. It’s protected property, the drinking water for this entire area, so it’s stayed pristine.”

“I’m not going back to New Orleans without you,” he said.

Apparently the small talk had ended.

“My mother would have a fit if I brought one of the women I’d take to a Hollywood event to a family wedding.”

Katie felt a twinge of jealousy, then a stab of anger for her own weakness. Of course he dated beautiful women. He was a billionaire. A billionaire who looked like Luc DeForges! Granted, he was actually a multimillionaire, but it had been a long-standing joke between the two of them. Did it matter, once you made your first ten million, how much came after that? He may as well be called a gazillionaire. His finances were too foreign for her to contemplate.

“And who you date is my problem, how?”

“If my date tries to swing dance and kicks one of my mother’s friends in the teeth, I’ll be disinherited.”

“So what, would that make you the fifth richest man in the United States, instead of the fourth?”

“Katie, how many times do I have to explain to you I’m nowhere near those kinds of numbers?” He grinned. “Yet.” He touched his finger to her nose lightly. “My fate is much worse than losing status if you don’t come. My mother might set me up to ensure I have a proper date. A chorus line of Southern belles. And I guarantee you at least one will have the proverbial glass slipper and think her idea is so utterly unique, I’ll succumb to the fantasy.”

“Wow! What a terrible life you must lead.” She pulled a Keds slide from her foot and emptied sand out of her shoe. A few grains landed on Luc’s shiny black loafer. “To think, with courtship skills like that, that any woman wouldn’t be swept off her feet—it’s unfathomable.” She patted his arm. “I wish you luck, Luc. I’m sure your mother will have some very nice choices for you, so go enjoy yourself. Perk up, there’re billions

more to be made when you get back.”

“Sarcasm doesn’t suit you, Katie.”

e was right, but she didn’t trust herself around him. She’d taken leave of her senses too many times in that weakened state. Since moving to California, she’d made it her goal to live life logically and for the Lord. She hadn’t fallen victim to her emotions since leaving New Orleans, and she’d invested too much to give into them now.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I only meant that I’m sure there are other nice girls willing to go home and pretend for your mother. I’ve already done that, only you forgot to tell me we were pretending. Remember?”

He flinched. “Below the belt.”

A pencil fell from behind her ear, and she stooped to pick it up, careful not to meet his glance as she rose. “I’m sorry, but I’m busy here. Maybe we could catch up another time? I’d like that and won’t be so sidetracked.” She looked across the room toward Austin, an angelic but severely autistic child in a wheelchair. He pounded against his tray. “The kids are getting hungry. It’s lunchtime.” She pointed to the schedule.

Luc scooped a hand under her chin and forced her to look at him. “Where else am I going to find a gorgeous redhead who knows who Glenn Miller is?”

“Don’t, Luc. Don’t charm me. It’s beneath you. Buy one of your bubble-headed blondes a box of dye and send her to iTunes to do research. Problem solved.”

He didn’t let go. “Ryan wants you to sing at the wedding, Katie. He sent me personally to make sure you’d be there and sing ‘Someone to Watch Over Me.’ I’m not a man who quits because something’s difficult.”

“Anyone worth her salt on Bourbon Street can sing that. Excuse me—”


“Luc, I asked you kindly. Don’t. I’m not one of your sophisticated girls who knows how to play games. I’m not going to the wedding. That part of my life is over.”

“That part of your life? What about that part of you? Where is she?”

She ignored his question. “I cannot be the only woman you know capable of being your date. You’re not familiar with anyone else who isn’t an actress-slash-waitress?” She cupped his hand in her own and allowed herself to experience the surge of energy. “I have to go.” She dropped his hands and pushed back through the half door. “I’m sure you have a meeting to get to. Am I right?”

“It’s true,” he admitted. “I had business in San Francisco today, a merger. We bought a small chain of health food stores to expand the brand. But I was planning the trip to see you anyway and ask you personally.”


“We’ll be doing specialty outlets in smaller locations where real estate prices are too high for a full grocery outlet. Having the natural concept already in these locations makes my job that much easier.”

“To take over the free world with organics, you mean?”

That made him smile, and she warmed at the sparkle in his eye. When Luc was in his element, there was nothing like it. His excitement was contagious and spread like a classroom virus, infecting those around him with a false sense of security. She inhaled deeply and reminded herself that the man sold inspiration by the pound. His power over her was universal. It did not make her special.

“Name your price,” he said. “I’m here to end this rift between us, whatever it is, and I’ll do the time. Tell me what it is you want.”

“There is no price, Luc. I don’t want anything from you. I’m not going to Ryan’s wedding. My life is here.”

“Day and night . . . night and day,” he crooned and then his voice was beside her ear. “One last swing dance at my brother’s wedding. One last song and I’ll leave you alone. I promise.”

She crossed the room to the sink against the far wall, but she felt him follow. She hated how he could make every nerve in her body come to life, while he seemingly felt nothing in return. She closed her eyes and searched for inner strength. He didn’t want me. Not in a way that mattered. He wanted her when it suited him to have her at his side.

“Even if I were able to get the time off work, Luc, it wouldn’t be right to go to your brother’s wedding as your date. I’m about to get engaged.”

“Engaged?” He stepped away.

She squeezed hand sanitizer onto her hands and rubbed thoroughly.

“I’ll give a call to your fiancĂ© and let him know the benefits.” He pulled a small leather pad of paper from his coat pocket. “I’ll arrange everything. You get a free trip home, I get a Christian date my mother is proud to know, and then your life goes back to normal. Everyone’s happy.” He took off his fedora as though to plead his case in true gentlemanly fashion. “My mother is still very proud to have led you from

your . . .” He choked back a word. “From your previous life and to Jesus.”

The announcement of her engagement seemed to have had little effect on Luc, and Katie felt as if her heart shattered all over again. “My previous life was you. She was proud to lead me away from her son’s life.” She leaned on the countertop, trying to remember why she’d come to the kitchen area.

“You know what I meant.”

“I wasn’t exactly a streetwalker, Luc. I was a late-night bar singer in the Central District, and the only one who ever led my reputation into question was you. So I’m failing to see the mutual benefit here. Your mother. Your date. And I get a free trip to a place I worked my tail off to get out of.”

She struggled with a giant jar of applesauce, which Luc took from her and opened easily. He passed the jar back to her and let his fingers brush hers.

“My mother would be out of her head to see you. And the entire town could see what they lost when they let their prettiest belle go. Come help me remind them. Don’t you want to show them that you’re thriving? That you didn’t curl up and die after that awful night?”

“I really don’t need to prove anything, Luc.” She pulled her apron, with its child-size handprints in primary colors, over her head. “I’m not your fallback, and I really don’t care if people continue to see me that way. They don’t know me.”

“Which you? The one who lives a colorless existence and calls it holy? Or the one who danced on air and inspired an entire theater troupe to rediscover swing and raise money for a new stage?” Luc bent down, took her out at the knees, and hoisted her up over his shoulder.

“What are you doing? Do you think you’re Tarzan? Put me down.” She pounded on his back, and she could hear the chaos he’d created in the classroom. “These kids need structure. What do you think you’re doing? I demand you put me down!”

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book! There were a few things that didn’t quite mesh with the rest of the story but it didn’t detract from my overall opinion. I loved Luc and Katie together and how they interacted. I loved that Luc was trying to prove to Katie he hadn’t changed – all the money had done nothing to alter him. I couldn’t help but smile at the constant mention of his fedora and the fact that he only started wearing one after meeting Katie. The gesture struck me as sweet for some reason. Katie’s mom was one of my favorite characters. Her outspoken personality and accent made for some laugh-aloud moments. I read the book in two days because I had to know what happened next!

book review: "meet mrs. smith" by anna smith

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 (February 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Anna Smith is a wife and mother of six children. Her husband Martin was the lead singer for the band Delirious? for over sixteen years. Smith and her husband founded CompassionArt, a nonprofit organization built to raise money through art and music to help orphans and the poor around the world. Meet Mrs. Smith is Smith’s first book. She and her family reside in the seaside village of Rustington, England.

Visit the author's website.


Are you tired of just feeling bogged down by your daily life? Do you wonder if your life will have an impact on your family or, even yet, the world? Come join Anna Smith as she encourages you to live a life of abandoned love for Christ.

Meet Mrs. Smith is Anna Smith’s life story—the story of how God used her, alongside her husband Martin, to raise a family, live a wild life for God, launch the worldwide phenomenon that is Delirious?, and start a ministry to orphans around the world. With a good dose of spiritual insight, parenting advice, and wry humor, Anna shares the hard lessons she’s learned. She also shares stories from behind some of Delirious?’s most popular songs while encouraging readers with her warm authentic voice.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434702030
ISBN-13: 978-1434702036



The phone rings just as I’m straining the potatoes and promising the waiting tribe that supper’s nearly ready.

“Indi, get back to the table.… Noah, try not to spill the water, my love.… Elle, can you encourage Levi not to arch his back in the high chair?”


I’m feeling slightly nauseous, and I wish the pregnancy hormones would take mealtimes into consideration—it’s far too inconvenient for me to have my head down over the toilet right now. I hear ringing from the other room.

I rush to pick up the phone.

“Helloooo, Anna here.”

“Hi, love, how are you?” Martin says.

“Yeah, good … general supper-time craziness, but we’re all fine. How’s your day been? What’ve you been up to?”

As he replies, I sense something different in Martin’s voice tonight. I don’t know, he seems bothered or troubled … just different. But there’s no time to chat.

“Can’t you phone in a couple of hours?” I ask him.

“Probably not,” he replies. Later I guess that he’ll be onstage or fast asleep in his hotel—I don’t know; I get confused with the time zones. He starts to talk about everything he’s experienced in India and how his heart’s caving in at the poverty he’s seeing.

What can I say?

“Sorry, honey, must be awful,” I say. “Right, got to go, the broccoli’s disintegrating.”

My words sound pathetic. And I can’t quite hear him anyway as the line is breaking up.

“Bye, I’ll call again soon, I love you.”

What horrible timing! As Martin wrestles with the impact of this great poverty he’s seeing and experiencing, I’m here trying to hold down the fort. He’s getting “all emotional” about someone else’s kids, but all I can think of in that moment is how I need him here. Our children miss their daddy.

But every trip to India seems to ratchet up the intensity inside Martin—something’s breaking his heart: He’s moved, challenged, and provoked by everything around him there. What’s God saying? What’s shifting? Martin’s seen poverty before, but this is something else altogether. It’s another telephone call we’ll have to resume later when the kids are in bed and my head’s clearer.

The thing is, I want him in the kitchen with me now, pouring out his heart to me, like a proper married couple going on this journey of discovery together.

Not tonight though. He’s somewhere in India, and I’m watching Pop Idol on TV.


We have been on a journey of so many paradoxes.

I’m on this adventure with my kids and my husband, Martin, who toured the world with the band Delirious? On this path I discovered both the joys and the chaos of family, but along the way, we

found that our chaos was little compared to the chaos of the poverty in the world.

The clash of emotions and heartbreaking stories led my children and me to a rubbish dump, a slum where people live, outside Hyderabad, India.

What am I doing here? I thought as I stood there in the refuse and dirt. Why did I bring my children to this place? Then I saw the children run up to us with huge smiles on their beautiful faces—and I wept when they sang to us.

As I said before, this has been a journey of paradoxes.

The book in your hands is about this exhilarating, enriching, exciting, and downright exhausting journey. It’s about being a wife, mother, friend, auntie, and sister. I’m a mother to six children, and due to that fact, it’s a miracle that this book has actually been published and that I’m not yet wearing a hairnet to bed and putting my dentures in a plastic cup! Rather than wait until my life calms down, I want to tell someone my story while I am right in the middle of it.

This book is about not wishing away the time or waiting until the house is empty before we look out to the world beyond our own. It’s about seeking God in all of the mess and exhaustion.

On this path, we look back on key events as turning points. For me, one of those moments came fifteen years ago. That moment accelerated my passion to embrace life to the fullest and birthed a band that played to hundreds of thousands of people around the world and spread a powerful message to the nations.

After three house moves, seven pregnancies, numerous flights with children in tow, many trips to India and Africa, dozens of tour buses, hundreds of gigs, thousands of earplugs in little ears, and too many dirty nappies (some might call them diapers!) to mention, I’m here to share a little of my story, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Thanks for coming along!


Chapter 1: The Longest Night

Little did I know that one moment would change everything.

I sit motionless in the passenger seat. Frightened and disorientated, my muddled brain tries to make sense of my surroundings. Slowly I turn my head and look across at Martin lying semiconscious, his inert body collapsed in a heap next to me. His head is slumped against the steering wheel, his foot in perfect synchrony, pressed down flat on the accelerator.

I don’t know what to do.

My head feels fuzzy and my thoughts move in slow motion.


At the time it seemed like a great idea to drive through the night. Waking up at home sounded sweet. There’s nothing like your own bed, and after spending a week cooped up in a leaky caravan, sleeping under what I can only describe as soft cardboard, my bed called to me.

The green Ford Sierra did us proud, and the thought of seeing my sister’s baby, Abigail, who’d been born ten days early (which was the motivation for our early departure), gave Martin and me lots to chat about on the way. My brother Jon fell asleep as soon as we left the campsite, so we had the whole journey to talk while eighties classics pumped out of our dilapidated stereo.

The A1 motorway continued on forever.

Martin had endured a hectic week, as part of his job was recording live music and seminars at conferences around the country, and this week we’d been at Grapevine in Lincolnshire. So it wasn’t long before we’d exhausted all conversation and stared at the road, willing the journey to come to an end. Jon snoozed away in the back of the car—he looked peaceful, albeit a tad uncomfortable, curled up next to a load of musical equipment, trying to muster up an agreeable position with the seat belt across his face.

Five hours later we drove onto the A259 to Littlehampton. Waves of excitement came over me at the thought of seeing baby Abigail. I remember the delight of seeing the familiar Windmill Pub with the patrons long gone and the feeling that we were the only ones awake in this sleepy village. We were so nearly home.

The next few moments would change our lives forever, but the God who does not slumber watched over us.


My eyes photograph the scene. One by one, images develop to make sense of things: a green car turned the wrong way round; a crushed and crumbling brick wall; smoke swirling in the foreground; the driver motionless, covered in blood. My other senses start to kick into gear: Intoxicating fumes creep into my nostrils; the hiss and crackle of the engine whisper in my ear.

These impressions become clearer, and my thoughts accelerate—I need to get Martin and Jon out of the car. I desperately kick my chair back, but it stubbornly refuses to move. Every part of me clambers and scrambles to escape, but I can’t get free.

“Someone call for help!” The words tumble out of my mouth and race into the cold night air, frantically searching for help.

Finally, I manage to force open my door. I tentatively step out of the car. My two-inch plastic heels crunch underfoot as fragments of glass break like icicles with every step.

I nervously survey the scene, but the dark gives nothing away. A ten-minute eternity passes. I wait, a thousand thoughts sparking a thousand fears. Suddenly, two fire engines and an ambulance careen around the corner, and the stillness is swallowed by a voracious urgency: lights and people, questions and confusion.


I’m ushered into the ambulance, the paramedics buzzing around me, assaulting my weary brain with questions. Jon somehow managed to get himself out of the car, but now he’s dressed in a green surgical

gown, hallucinating and singing “Yellow Submarine,” the shock of it all messing with his reality.

But what about Martin—what about my husband?

Their answer is a constant, unsatisfying repetition: “We are doing all that we can.”

The firefighters cut the roof off the car, the harsh grinding of metal against metal, battling to free the fragile body inside. I’m riveted to the action but can’t watch—my heart needs protection, but my head doesn’t want to miss any important detail. Fear and panic and emptiness and shock wrap around me like an oppressive shelter. Then in the midst of all the craziness, I see my dad running toward me, abandoned in panic. All I can think is that I need to tell him it’s going to be all right. He holds me; he’s shaking with fear, a thousand questions falling from his trembling lips.

The hours drag on heavily. People move around me in a haze, and nothing seems to change. I feel exhausted, confused, scared, and numb. The firefighters finally cut Martin free from the wreckage,

and they are relieved to find that his feet are still attached to the legs that have been hidden from sight for two hours. Now that he’s free, the paramedics are desperate to get him to the surgeon to repair his

broken and battered body.

Blood is everywhere.

As we’re leaving I hear one of the firefighters asking about the fourth passenger. Where is she? he asks. The blonde girl in the backseat?

To this day no one knows who she was. Either Jon had smuggled a new girlfriend home, or heaven made sure we weren’t alone on this night.

Maybe she was our angel.

©2011 Cook Communications Ministries. Meet Mrs. Smith by Anna Smith. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

My thoughts: I loved hearing Anna's thoughts on her marriage with Martin! It was fun comparing stories with the book "Delirious" he wrote. Hearing her side and his gave me a better picture of what life was like for the Smith family during the seventeen years Delirious? was together and what they're doing after the band. Their heart for others is obvious and they seem like such a real couple. Loved the book!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

book review: "delirious" by martin smith

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 (February 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Martin Smith is a singer, guitarist, and songwriter from England. He was the front man for the Christian rock and worship band Delirious? for seventeen years. Delirious? released numerous records, with some of their songs hitting the top twenty UK charts. In their career, Delirious? played many major conferences, festivals, events, and crusades. They won numerous Dove Awards, were nominated for a Grammy Award, and produced songs such as “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever” and “Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble?” Smith collaborated with the other members of Delirious? for the book I Could Sing of Your Love Forever and with other artists to complete The Art of Compassion book and the CompassionArt CD and DVD.

Visit the author's website.


Martin Smith, one of the men behind the modern Christian worship movement, challenges readers in his autobiography, Delirious: My Life, Mission, and Reflections on the Global Worship Movement. Martin Smith fell in love with God early in his life. By his teen years, he was captivated by songs that expressed true intimacy with God. As he grew, he married a pastor’s daughter and became involved in his church’s outreach events. He began playing his own songs with a band at the events. Then, in 1995, Smith was involved in a near-fatal car accident. During his weeks of recovery, he decided to become a full-time musician. His new career quickly took off and he became the lead singer for the band Delirious?. Touring with groups such as Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, Matchbox Twenty, and Switchfoot, Smith’s life became a whirlwind of balancing work and family.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434702375
ISBN-13: 978-1434702371



I never really knew what people meant when they said that their hearts had been broken. It had always seemed to me that people were exaggerating, that the description was all a bit too over the top. But on January 10, 2007, I found out exactly what it feels like to have your heart so comprehensively messed with that you know beyond all doubt, the rest of your life will be different as a result.

For me, though, it wasn’t that my heart broke. It was still beating—and faster than ever. It felt more like my heart had been ripped out. My head, on the other hand—now that was well and truly broken. Thoughts flew out like water from a broken pipe, and nothing made sense anymore.

I was a mess.

I sat in a hotel, waiting in the room for someone to take us to dinner. Nothing new there. But nothing could ever be the same. After what I’d seen that afternoon, I knew that if my world as Martin Smith carried on without any change, I’d be making the biggest mistake of my life.

We’d been in India for a day or so. In Hyderabad the band and I played to a crowd made up of four hundred thousand people, quite a few cows, and a whole lot of duct tape holding the PA system together.

Delirious? had toured India before, and we’d seen poverty around the world: We’d visited slums in Mexico and seen it from car windows on numerous drives to and from airports, but in India we always felt the greatest impact. Knowing that even our suitcases—not including the stuff inside them—cost more than a year’s wages for some of these people was enough to wipe the smiles off our faces.

Mumbai was different. The sounds, smells, and general chaos overwhelmed the senses, and somehow the children’s begging felt more intense and disturbing there than anywhere else. Every time we stopped at a red light and children approached the airtight windows of our cars, I wanted to empty my wallet and hand the contents over to them. It would have made the kids’ pimps happy, I suppose, and

I knew it was a bad idea.

So perhaps I should have known that I’d find it emotionally charged when we visited Prem Kiran, a project supported by Joyce Meyer Ministries that provides the children of prostitutes with food, education, and support. I should have known that their smiles and effervescent singing would lift my smile higher than the clouds, and I should have guessed that when we fed the children their lunch I would be fighting back tears.

But nothing could have prepared me for Farin.

You pronounce her name fa-REEN. For some reason she couldn’t stop looking at me all the time that she and the rest of the children sang.

I suppose I’m a little bit used to the “strangeness” of people looking at me, but this was different. At the same time that she was looking, God’s Spirit prodded me deep inside, taking my guts and wringing them out.

Once they finished singing and eating lunch, we spoke with the pastor. He told us that this project worked with more than seventy children, helping their mothers and families as well. He shared that Farin’s mum—like so many of the others there—worked as a prostitute.

I felt the air leak from my lungs.

Pastor Umale went on talking. This was a red-light district, and the chances were good that, yes, Farin would end up working as a prostitute just like her mother. Seeing as she was eleven years old then, that day might not be far off.

I looked back at Farin. She was so much like my eldest daughter, Elle: same age, same height, same way of moving, same big eyes, and a similar smile. But Elle’s future is one of possibilities and peace. Farin’s is a parent’s worst nightmare that never ends.

Pastor Umale invited us to walk across the street and visit the homes of some of the children and their mothers. We trod over the open sewer that ran between the brick and tin buildings; we wandered inside when invited and stood around looking like fools. There we were, a rock band that shouted about our faith in Jesus, standing in one room where the whole of life was played out: sleeping, feeding, playing, and working.

What did our faith mean in that place? We could take to the stage in front of hundreds of thousands, but what did our faith mean as we stood next to a bed on which a prostitute sold herself for a few rupees, and beneath which her children hid, in fear and silence, sometimes even drugged so that they would sleep? What did our faith mean, and what impact could it make? Were we out of our depth, or was that just the sort of place—and were those just the sort of people—that Jesus would have been found amongst, dealing in compassion, transformation, and restoration?

Our trip ended, and we got back on the bus. But it wasn’t enough to drive off and forget about it. It wasn’t enough for life to go on as before.

Back in the hotel all I know for sure is this: I am dying inside. Something has happened and I cannot find peace. All I can think of is Farin and the horrors that lie ahead unless some minor miracle takes place.

What would I do if she were mine?

The question makes me stop. What do I mean if she were mine? I realise the truth in that moment: There is no if in this scenario—I feel like I am Farin’s father and I am as responsible for her future as

I am for my own daughter’s.


That day we spent as a band in Mumbai changed things for me, though perhaps not in the way that I first thought it would. As I grabbed a few snatched phone conversations with my wife over the coming days, all I could tell her was that something amazing, disturbing, and beautiful had happened. I tried to tell her about Farin, but the words came out all wrong.

It wasn’t until the band and I got home that I had any sort of plan in place and the time and words to convey it to Anna.

“We need to adopt her,” I said. “We need to bring her back here to live with us, to be a part of our family.”

Anna was very good with me. She knows me well enough to let me talk and get the ideas out before those become actual plans, but she also knew that something different was going on. This wasn’t just

another case of Martin getting excited by someone he met at the end of a long tour.

But as I thought about it more and more, I grew even more convinced. We needed to adopt this girl. And the more I thought about it, the more I missed her. It was as if my heart—so blatantly ripped out from my chest upon seeing Farin for the first time—had now been put back but was wired up all wrong. I was constantly aware of the fact that she was still back there, living in a slum, surrounded by poverty and danger. This little girl was at risk, and I was doing nothing about it, other than looking at the photo of her that I’d placed on my piano while failing to put these feelings into song.

Eventually Anna laid it all out for me. My kids—the five we had then, sharing the house I’d been floating around in ever since I’d returned from India—needed me, but I wasn’t there. Physically I might have been in the room, but that was about it. I was drifting away, and it was starting to become a problem.

I wondered if I was having a breakdown. I struggled to concentrate and found it hard to connect with my loved ones, and all I could think about was this girl I’d only ever met once. What was going on?

Within a couple of weeks the air began to clear. The songs started to come—one about Farin herself and the other about her mother and her friends—and the adoption forms that I had ordered remained unopened on our kitchen table. Bit by bit I was starting to return to my body, to reconnect with the family, to come back to “normal,” whatever that meant. Being in a band means that life is a strange dance. You travel a lot and develop a life made up of stages, studios, and interviews that is far removed from the realities of family life. You have to work hard to smooth the transition between these two parts of life.

But coming back from India the landing was even bumpier.

Part of me liked that idea of everything getting back to how it had been. Part of me thought it was the most frightening thing that could ever happen.

Six weeks after meeting Farin, I found out that Farin’s mother had changed her mind. At the start she had been happy for Farin to leave India, for us to adopt her and bring her to England with us. Then she changed her mind. She couldn’t let Farin go.

How could I blame her? Honestly, I felt partly relieved, partly upset and sad. But then, finally, something like progress presented itself to Anna and me: If we can’t adopt Farin, then let’s take care of her and the other children in her neighbourhood. The pastor told me what the project in India cost to run, and we decided to contribute: We wanted to help with the care and education of all seventy children. After all, if we couldn’t bring Farin home, we could certainly help care for her along with all of her friends.


That is not the end of the story.

And it certainly isn’t the beginning either.

The day I met Farin was one of those points in life when so many threads come together. It was a junction box, with so many different experiences and influences colliding, and so many outcomes blossoming as a result. And part of the reason I wanted to write this book was to share a little of that bigger story.

But before we jump in, I need to do some confessing. Starting with a story like meeting Farin can sound impressive. That line about having my heart ripped out and my head broken makes it sound like I’m halfway towards being a saint. Don’t get me wrong—the feelings were absolutely genuine, but those were rare. On so many of the other trips our band made to projects that worked amongst the poorest people, life often went back to normal after a while.

I know lots of people who have experienced the same thing. Maybe you have too. After seeing the firsthand reality of what life is really like for so many of our neighbours here on the planet, you feel stirred up. You try your best, you try to respond to the compassion stirring within you. Most artists and creative people are by nature sensitive to suffering, and we often want to jump in and help, without thinking about whether there’s a lifeline. And even if you’re not a creative type, having faith in Christ more than sets us in line with compassion as a way of life.

Well, that’s the theory. Or, at least, that’s the start. What comes after the outpouring of emotion or the awkward feeling when you look in your wallet, that’s where I think we make the hard choices.

For those of us living in the West, when we come face-to-face with poverty it can be a problem. Especially when a trip feels more like a holiday romance than a blinding light on the road to Damascus.

For example, we fly into India, stay in a nice hotel, go visit these projects, go back to the hotel, have a shower, and eat a nice meal in a restaurant, and then, if we’re lucky, we get an upgrade on the flight home. In our culture, where selfishness is at worst a character quirk and at best a sign of inner strength, there is a real disconnect between head and heart, between passion and lifestyle. So we can be engaged in an issue, we can use our voices as our currency, and we can give cash. But the greatest tragedy is that we can come home from the short-term mission trip and get straight back into our everyday life and forget.

Not that there’s anything wrong with everyday life. For me that might range from driving one of the kids to a dance lesson today and piano lessons tomorrow, to taking out the rubbish bins; from getting the car fixed, to thinking about where we want to go on holiday next summer. Everyday life for me might be planning what I’m going to be doing this time next year or thinking about how to release these songs within me for others to hear. You can forget the pain, and you can forget the faces. That breathless feeling you get when you’re surrounded by life-and-death poverty can evaporate like the vapour trail left by the jet as you fly home.

I found this all to be true after my early trips to India. I didn’t like the way I, like the Israelites, could so quickly forget about what God had done just days before. It might not have been a miracle like the parting of the Red Sea, but facing children whose lives were on course for abuse, neglect, and horror stirred my compassion in powerful—but sadly, kind of temporary—ways.

Eventually I found what I thought was a perfect remedy for my wandering heart. Taking photos, and lots of them. All around my house now are pictures of many of the children—God’s children—through whom I have glimpsed more of life than I had known. As I sit at the piano or eat breakfast, all I have to do is look up to be reminded of their faces and to reconnect with their stories.

The truth is, though, that while the photos are a neat little device that I came up with, God had a better plan for helping me hold on to the sense of purpose that rose up after those days of seeing poverty up close. And that plan was Farin.

In one of those wonderful, God-only ways that showed how well my Father in heaven knows me, God broke into my heart and left it in pieces. Through Farin God made it all personal. And once that happened, there was no way I could ignore His call.

I’m not trying to sound like a saint again, but it’s true that one day in Mumbai back in January 2007 made the rest of my life different. Of course I still have one foot in my everyday life—the world in which I find myself getting more excited about the World Cup than about rescuing kids from sex trafficking. There are many, many times when I feel as though I just don’t know how to do this thing called compassion when there’s so much geography in the way. All those old temptations to go back to normal. But Anna and I have come so far down a new track that I’m not so sure I remember what “normal” looks like. I don’t think we can ever really go back to life being our own again.

So here we are, at the start of this book. Read it, and you’ll see that I’ve made plenty of mistakes. I’ve tried to be honest with you throughout—honest about the good as well as the bad.

But, thanks to the grace of God, this book is about more than just my failings. It’s about an amazing journey that I’ve been on. I’ve seen miracles, heard armies of Christians cry out in faith, and seen what happens when ordinary men and women decide to live their faith out loud.

And I hope that this book helps you unleash more of the same.

©2011 Cook Communications Ministries. Delirious by Martin Smith. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

My thoughts: I loved reading about the history behind some of the band’s songs. To hear the heart of Martin Smith and gain a peek into what he experienced both on and off stage while the band was together. I grew up listening to Delirious? so I enjoyed even more reading about five guys from England who’s only goal was to worship God.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

book review: "the God hater" by bill myers

"Silence filled the room as Nicholas stared at the middle-aged man on the screen. “So let me see if I correctly understand what you want. I’m supposed to pull a magic trick from my hat – some philosophical model that comes naturally and organically from who they are, that will enable them to survive.”
“We’ve tried everything we can think of,” Hugh said.
More silence, except for the rattling of Travis’s mint. “We gotta do somethin.’”
“Without imposing upon their free will,” Rebecca added. “Otherwise the program is irrelevant for our purposes.”
Nicholas removed his glasses and cleaned them on his shirt. “That’s a tall order.”
No one answered.
He replaced the glasses and stared back at the screen. “I’d say nearly impossible.”
More silence.
Finally, Travis answered, “If it wasn’t impossible, bro, I would have found somebody else.”

What if you could know the future? What if you could know how people would react in any given situation? Nicholas Mackenzie is about to witness this firsthand. His brother has created a program that taps into the human consciousness. But there’s a problem. Every time the program is run, the people end up eventually killing each other off. This is where Nicholas is asked to help. Nicholas is a man who prides himself on causing Christians to doubt their belief in God. But what happens when he becomes known as Programmer to those in the virtual world, communicating with them in an attempt to help them survive? He begins to feel what they feel and desire for them to not destroy themselves. How can he save them? And then there are those who want the technology for other purposes. Things become even more dangerous when one of those working for Nicholas’ brother is also working for someone else as well.

I had no idea what to expect with this book but was not disappointed. I loved the twists woven throughout, leaving me wondering what would happen next with the ending being a complete surprise. I loved the comparison to God and His love for us. The way Nicholas only wanted them to understand; to not be bound by the Law but find freedom in it. The ending leaves you with questions but in a way, that’s to be expected.

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
For info on the book, click here. Click here for the Myers' website and here for his Facebook page.

Others in the tour:

Saturday, February 19, 2011

recipe: buttered rosemary rolls

These rolls are magical. Nine of us girls got together last Saturday to hang out and simply cook. I made a pan of thirty rolls and only one was left. They're simply addictive and super easy to make. It's a win-win. I found this recipe at The Pioneer Woman's site.

- frozen, unbaked dinner rolls
- melted butter
- rosemary
- sea salt

"Spray a small iron skillet with cooking spray (or coat with olive oil). Place frozen rolls in the skillet, leaving plenty of room for rising. Cover and allow to rise for several hours. After rising, brush rolls with melted butter. Sprinkle on chopped rosemary. Brush with additional butter. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake according to roll package directions (usually 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes), until rolls are a deep golden brown on top. Serve skillet on the table."

Because I was making so many, I put them on a giant baking sheet. They didn't get as dark as possibly they would using an iron skillet but for time sake I had to modify the recipe. One of the girls made some comment about these tasting like heaven? I would have to agree :-)

Friday, February 18, 2011

right now

I've reached a point in my life where I'm content. Not content in the fact that I'm happy exactly as my life is but I know God is faithful and will come through for me. I have this sense that some things I've been praying about are on the horizon. This year is going to be a time of superabundantly (Ephesians 3:20 - Amp) for me and I've had several moments where I'm beside myself with excitement. Though nothing physically has changed, I know God is moving. My prayer has been for more of Him - I want to be so in love with Him that I'm not looking for anyone/anything else to fill me. Though one of my deep desires is to get married, I can say that if I remain single, I'll still serve God. My relationship with Him doesn't hinge on a husband. There's a strange freedom in coming to that point. By letting go of that want and placing it in God's hands I can work on becoming who He wants me to be. I can "rest in hope" (Psalm 16:9)that He's working things out for me.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

book review: "the life ready woman" by shaunti feldhahn and robert lewis

As women, we have three Core Callings: to leave and cleave; be fruitful and multiply; and subdue and rule. No matter our stage in life, we can carry out these callings in different ways. For example, “be fruitful and multiply” doesn’t only apply to having and raising your own children. This can also be done through investing in the children/teens at your church – the point is to make the effort of pouring yourself into someone else. And for those who are still single, you can still walk out the “leave and cleave” calling. “For those who are single longer than expected, the “leave” process can be important as God uses the time to refine and polish a beautiful individual maturity in Christ that will eventually (in most cases) delight a spouse and be invaluable for mentoring others.” We have to make the choice of choosing to fulfill our Core Callings in every step of our lives. “It is also easy to default to walking the path that we already know rather than the one God is leading us to. Yet if we will trust God’s biblical guidance and strike out on the road He lays before us, we will end up right where He wants us.”

I really liked this book. I think the advice for single women is what I enjoyed the most since that’s where I currently am in my life. The insight into guys was also interesting. The fact that they would rather hear “I’m proud of you” over “I love you” is something I never thought about but makes sense in light of their sense of accomplishment through performance. I feel like the whole book can be summed up with the statement: “God has a purpose for every person, and deep down, we all long find it.” We’re constantly looking for that purpose all through life as we juggle school, a job, husband, family, church responsibilities, etc. And by looking at each of those situations while keeping the Core Callings in mind, we can work on achieving that.

I received a free copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity Group and was not required to write a positive review.

Litfuse has provided me with a second book to give away! The contest will run through February 28 at midnight. To enter, just leave me a comment with an email address to contact you.

For info on buying the book, click here or here to read other reviews on the blog tour. You can also click here for info and to enter a weekend giveaway!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

book review: "glaen" by fred lybrand

Annie is writing a paper for her Original Non-Fiction 101 class. She wants to understand relationships and has two theories. Theory one focuses on traditional dating while theory two is about courtship. She knows one of these has to be the key to a successful relationship and will prove that in her paper. Things become complicated when the couple she interviewed about courtship break up and her friend who she is observing for “traditional dating” jumps from one relationship to the next. And then there’s her professor. Glaen is unlike any of her other professors. Each time she leaves class, Glaen has her asking herself more questions in order for her to make her paper the best it can be. But who is Glaen really and will she ever understand relationships?

This was an interesting read. The key concepts (Lybrand addresses common lies such as “there’s no harm in acting married, it’s just practice” and “sex is something special God wants committed people to enjoy” [instead of married people]) are good but I wasn’t super crazy about the presentation. I didn’t like the book being one entire read instead of being broken down into chapters. The part towards the end with Annie holding her book didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the story – it almost seemed dreamlike to me so I was a little unsure of what was happening. Overall, it was a good and easy read.

I received a free copy of this book from The B & B Media Group and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

book review: "living in the overlap" by steve schaefer

We are currently living in the overlap. The time in between Christ’s first visit to this earth and His second. “The implications of this overlap are monumental. It means that right now in this present age we can begin to experience some blessings of the age to come (at least to some degree), even though we won’t fully experience all the kingdom blessings until Christ comes again and the present age ends.” Through Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection, He allowed us to have a taste now of what we’ll be able to fully experience later. Schaefer makes the comparison to that of a newly engaged couple. Though they aren’t married yet, they’re able to reap some of the benefits of their upcoming marriage. They receive gifts from well-wishers and perhaps buy a house. “But it’s only because of a future event – the wedding – that they experience these things. In a sense some of the blessings of the future event have spilled backward in time to become present realities.”

I found this to be a very interesting concept. It’s something I’ve never thought about before but it’s exciting to think we can have a taste of the things we’ll one day be able to fully experience. For example, since Jesus bore our sicknesses on the cross, (Isaiah 53:5: “…by His stripes we are healed…”) we can claim healing now. The book was a little heavy and I feel it needs more than a one time read through to fully grasp it all but a definite good read.

I received a free copy of this book from Glass Road Public Relations and was not required to write a positive review.

Friday, February 11, 2011

coming up

I'm excited for some upcoming posts. I have several book reviews coming up this month (and one review will include a giveaway):
- "The Life Ready Woman" by Shaunti Feldhahn and Robert Lewis
- "Living in the Overlap" by Steve Schaefer
- "A Billion Reasons Why" by Kristin Billerbeck
- "The God Hater" by Bill Myers
- "Delirious?" by Martin Smith
- "Meet Mrs. Smith" by Anna Smith

I'll be posting some recipes. We're having a cooking night for the girls in our junior high ministry tomorrow night and I'll be sharing what creations we come up with. And I'll be sprinkling any random thoughts I may have along the way as well. It's going to be good!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

book review: "come to me" by laura j. davis

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:

Word Alive Press (October 21, 2010)
***Special thanks to Laura J. Davis for sending me a review copy.***


A singer and songwriter for over 25 years, Laura J. Davis began writing full-time, after an emergency surgery caused the loss of her singing voice. She is a member of Canada's largest community of writers who are Christian, The Word Guild, where she volunteers as a first editor. Laura and her husband, Jim, reside in London, Ontario.

Visit the author's website.


Step back in time and experience the life of Christ through the eyes of His mother. Come to Me offers the reader an intimate glimpse into the lives of Jesus and His family in a way that brings them to life. The themes of trusting in God and surrendering to Him are evident throughout this remarkable story.

From the cradle to the cross, Come to Me speaks to the hearts of those who are seeking, and deepens the faith of long-time believers. It is a moving tale of the life of Christ from the mother who raised Him to become the Saviour of the world.

Product Details:

List Price: $15.95
Paperback: 338 pages
Publisher: Word Alive Press (October 21, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1435705564
ISBN-13: 978-1435705562


Jerusalem 44 A.D.

She sat outside for over an hour meditating, praying and remembering. The rising sun wrapped her in a warm cocoon that threatened to lull her back to sleep. Mary arched her back and stretched. She ran her hands over the cream-coloured pillow covering her precious bench and yawned. Joseph had surprised her with the bench the first year they were married. They would often sit together in the early morning hours, when the rest of the world was still asleep and the sun was waking up.

How she longed for those times again, when Joseph would take her hand and they would begin the day in prayer and dedication to Yahweh. My sweet Joseph, how I long to hear your voice and feel your embrace once more.

She had known Joseph for most of her life. In a village as small as Nazareth, it would have been unusual if their paths had never crossed. Older than her by twelve years, Joseph had watched Mary grow from a child into a beautiful young woman. With careful planning, he had placed himself in her life with the purpose of marrying her when she came of age. He had called her ‘Little Mary’ and she had called him her ‘Gentle Giant,’ names said with an affection that had grown into a deep and lasting love.

“You’re such a long way up, Joseph!” she would laugh. “I get a sore neck just looking at you, much less kissing you.”

Then one day he had come into the house and said, “Little Mary, I have a surprise for you, but first, you must close your eyes!” Mary obeyed and felt Joseph sweep her up in his muscular arms and place her on something soft and luxurious.

“Open your eyes now,” Joseph said, his brown eyes twinkling with excitement.

“Oh, Joseph!” For the first time in their marriage, she was able to look straight into his eyes.

“What is this?” She looked at her bare feet and wiggled her toes into the cream-coloured pillow that stretched across a new oak bench. A small gasp of surprise escaped her lips. “It is beautiful.” She sighed as she ran her hands along the back of the bench. “Hear O Israel…Oh, Joseph! You have carved the Shema into it. Oh, how precious.” She clasped her hands together and turned toward her husband. “You made me a prayer bench.” Her almond shaped eyes shone with delight.

“Ah, well … my motives are not that pure I am afraid.”

She tilted her head. “Oh?”

“Yes, I was thinking we could use it so you wouldn’t get a sore neck kissing me.” He wrapped his arms around her tiny waist pulling her close. “Or you could use it for praying.” He shrugged and smiled. “Your choice.”

She laughed and wrapped her arms around his neck. “I think for now I shall use it for kissing you and later I will use it for prayer.”

Mary sighed, a sleepy smile lingering on her face. They had dubbed it the kissing bench. They had thought it was something their children would laugh and giggle over in the years to come. What a wonderful life we made together!

It was a good marriage, despite its uncertain beginnings. So many events had happened in those early days that Mary could not imagine which memory she cherished most—the angelic visitation, the birth of Jesus, or his resurrection. The enormity of what had transpired in her life had humbled her more than she realized.

Of course, she would never cherish the memories of what they had done to her firstborn son. Forgiving them was easier than forgetting. She could never forget. How long had it been since that horrible day? She could still smell the blood and hear Jesus’ screams mingled with her own. Her chest grew tight with grief as she closed her eyes to dispel the images that had haunted her for the last eleven years.

She was fifty-eight years old and until six months ago had been with her nephew, the Apostle John, on a brief visit to Rome to strengthen the churches there. When the Emperor Claudius began expelling Jews from Rome, John had decided that she should return to his home in Jerusalem for her own safety.

“Poor John,” she muttered as she recalled the argument she had had with him over returning.

“It’s too dangerous for you in Rome now, woman!” He had pleaded with her all day and finally in anger and frustration gathered up her belongings and started stuffing them into a satchel. “As the mother of our Lord and a Jew, your life is in more danger than mine right now. This discussion is over. You will leave without any more arguments.”

Mary remembered folding her arms across her chest and swallowing the angry words that had threatened to spill from her lips. No one had ever talked to her in such a manner.

“John, if it is dangerous, why are you staying? Should I, the mother of the Messiah, become a coward and run to save my life when others are dying? It is not right. Your brother James was beheaded for proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah. I should do no less.”

“Jesus charged me with your safety, Aunt Mary. Would you have me dishonour my Lord by shirking my responsibilities?”

That was when she had seen the pain and anguish on his weathered face. She had finally understood. He could not bear losing her as he had his brother and so she submitted to his wishes.

He took her to Jerusalem, stayed for a while to help her adjust and then returned to Rome to minister to the churches there. She now spent her days with the other believers in Jerusalem, meeting together regularly for prayer and fellowship. Today she was expecting Luke, a Greek physician led to salvation through the Apostle Paul.

As she waited for his arrival, she kicked off her sandals and wiggled her toes. Although it had rained the night before, it was now a beautiful spring day. Mary loved the earthy smell in the air after a rainfall. It was a combination of mud, water and worms that oddly reminded her of the seaside. Breathing deeply, she leaned her head against the rough stone of John’s home, stretched out her bare feet and plopped them in the nearest puddle.

From the time she was a child, she had often gone barefoot through the hills of Galilee after it had rained, for she loved to squish her toes in the mud and feel the cool blades of grass on her feet. In Jerusalem a plot of grass was hard to come by, which made her miss her home in Nazareth all the more. Joseph had always worried that she might cut her feet on the sharp rocks, or sting them on the nettles hidden throughout the Galilean countryside.

She sighed and closed her eyes. Oh Joseph, my darling, there is no fear of that here.

“He is risen!”

Startled, Mary shielded her eyes from the sun and looked up to see a blonde, blue-eyed man, with a clean-shaven face and strong jaw line.

“He is risen indeed! You must be Luke. John has told me so much about you. Come to check up on me have you?” She smiled, grabbed the bowl of olives that sat beside her and put it on her lap.

Luke chuckled, his dimples showing off his chiselled features. “Actually, I just wanted the chance to meet my Lord’s mother - but don’t tell John. He thinks I’m here to inquire after your health.”

She laughed, her brown eyes sparkling. “You don’t fool me—either of you. John sends so many different people to check on my welfare that it’s a wonder I can remember all their names.”

She patted the bench inviting Luke to sit. Taking some olives from the bowl, Mary proceeded to pit them. Luke watched in fascination at how quickly her slender fingers worked.

“May I help?” He asked.

Raising her eyebrows, Mary stared at Luke for a moment, then nodded and placed the bowl between them. “Jesus used to like pitting olives too. He said he found it calming.” She giggled. “Unfortunately, he ate more than he pitted.”

Luke chuckled as he popped an olive into his mouth.

“I’ll tell you what I told Jesus,” she said, shaking her finger at him. “If you eat more than you pit, then you’ve just had your supper.”

“Well then, I’d best stop eating them, as I’m used to eating more than olives at my meals.”

“Get to work then and I might feed you more than olives!”

Content in an affable silence, they settled into their work. Luke immediately felt welcome, as if he had known Mary his whole life and he told her so. Mary blushed and thanked him.

“Oh, my goodness!” She suddenly jumped up from the bench and ran into the house.

Luke, perplexed at her sudden disappearance, continued pitting olives. He was about to follow her into the house when she returned with a basin of water to wash the dust off his feet. She knelt on the ground and removed his sandals. Embarrassed that the mother of the Lord was washing his feet, Luke swallowed his discomfort and allowed her to minister to him, remembering the lesson Jesus had taught his disciples the last night they were together.

When she finished, she proceeded to wash her own feet and then put her sandals back on. This led her to tell him about Joseph and his fear of her running barefoot.

“He was such a wonderful man,” she said. “He was a man who feared the Almighty, a good man—especially when I found myself with child.” She poured the dirty water from the basin onto the ground and then sat beside him. “You cannot begin to imagine what it was like during those days! I was fourteen years old, betrothed to a man much older than I and with child –but not with his child.”

She grew still and stared off into the distance. Luke gazed at her in silence, revelling in the fact that he was with the woman who had given birth to the Saviour of the world. He wondered how she had handled that night. Where was she when the labour had begun? Who had delivered the baby? Had there been any complications? Luke had so many questions, he hardly knew where to begin.

Mary’s eyelids dropped as she let her mind wander back to the night of Jesus’ birth. She had been surprised at the pain. In fact, she had never realized it would hurt so badly. Afterwards, oh afterwards, the reward of her son was so great that she had thought her heart would split wide open with love. The King of the world had been born to her!

“Happy thoughts?”

Mary’s eyes flew open. Blushing, she smiled and said, “His birth—it amazes me still.”

“If you don’t mind my asking, what was it like back then? When you found out you were … um … with child?”

“It’s been over forty-four years since Jesus’ birth.” She shrugged. “Aside from my immediate family, I’ve never really talked to anyone about it before.” Mary sighed and pitted more olives as she contemplated how much she should tell the young doctor.

My thoughts: I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I was pulled into the story. I love the interaction between Jesus and Mary. Davis makes it seem so real. There’s a tenderness in how they speak and interact with each other. Davis has fleshed out the story of Jesus and those surrounding Him and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Though some of the dialogue is quoting Scripture, Davis has added more to her story, allowing us a small glimpse into the lives of the disciples and Jesus’ family.