Saturday, April 30, 2011

book beginnings

"True Courage can throw you at first, because it's counterintuitive. In other words, it's the opposite of what you might expect. My best example? Getting into a pickup and backing up a trailer into the garage. No sweat, you say? What's the big deal about backing a trailer into a garage? It's no sweat until you try to pull it off. If you've never done it before, thirty seconds into it you're sweating like a fire hydrant because the pickup and trailer are twisted like a pretzel - and you're suddenly parked in the flowerbed with no clue how to get out."

I'm reading True Courage by Steve Farrar. He's made some really good points along the way. I posted the FIRST review Thursday but will be adding my thoughts as soon as I'm finish.

Wanna join in? How to participate: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments. Include the title and the author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you would like, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and let us know if you liked or did not like the sentence. The link-up will be at A Few More Pages every Friday and will be open for the entire week.

Thanks to Book Ponderings for getting me involved with this!

Friday, April 29, 2011

recipe: no bake oreo pie

I've recently discovered this amazingly simple dessert and really like it! I've made it twice and learned something not to do for the next time : ) The first lesson? Read the packets carefully. There are three packets in the box: crust mix, filling and topping. I mistakenly thought the topping was the crust and melted the butter and mixed it together. Spreading it in the pan I finally realized my mistake. The second lesson? Don't attempt to make the day of (unless it's for that evening). The box says to let it set for around two hours (I think). I was in a rush and made it before I went to work...needing it to be good to go when I got to work. I tried cheating and sticking it in the freezer for an hour. It didn't work. Though the pie was still good, it was completely firm.

The only ingredients needed aside from the box are melted and butter and milk. How easy is that?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

book review: "true courage" by steve farrar

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:

True Courage

David C. Cook; New edition (April 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Steve Farrar is the founder and chairman of Men’s LeadershipMinistries. He is a frequent speaker at men’s conferences throughout the country. Farrar has authored 16 books, including Point Man, Battle Ready, and God Built.

Visit the author's website.


Best-selling author and Bible teacher, Steve Farrar, reminds us that the story of Daniel holds powerful truths for today. Everyone can recall as a young child having the courage to head out the door—whether it was to your first day of school, your first game in little league, or your piano lesson. Then life takes over and you lose your bravado, giving in to the fears of the world around you. In True Courage readers will discover a God who provides incredible courage in the midst of uncertainty, even through treacherous, evil days. He gives us the courage to face lions in their den—or an unexpected job loss, the diagnosis of a sick child, or the return of a debilitating cancer.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9781434768735
ISBN-13: 978-1434768735
ASIN: 1434768732


Courage to Stay the Course

True Courage can throw you at first, because it’s counterintuitive.

In other words, it’s the opposite of what you might expect.

My best example? Getting into a pickup and backing up a trailer into the garage. No sweat, you say? What’s the big deal about backing a trailer into a garage? It’s no sweat until you try to pull it off. If you’ve never done it before, thirty seconds into it you’re sweating like a fire hydrant because that pickup and trailer are twisted like a pretzel—and you’re suddenly parked in the flowerbed with no clue how to get out.

Why it is so hard to back up a trailer? It’s counterintuitive, that’s why. If you want the trailer to go left, you don’t turn the wheel left. No, if you want to go left, you have to turn to the right. If you’re going forward and you want to turn left then you turn left—but not if you’re backing up. When you’re backing up, the rules change, and to get that trailer in the garage you have to go against the grain of what makes sense.

Okay, now let’s plow right into Daniel, who right out of the blocks, demonstrates that True Courage is … counterintuitive.

In Daniel 1, we find two events that reveal True Courage.

Also in Daniel 1, we discover three traits that are the basis of True Courage.

Two Events

The Crash

“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the vessels of the house of God. And he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and placed the vessels in the treasury of his god” (Dan. 1:1–2).

We can read this verse and blow right by it. But it is huge in biblical history, and it was huge for Daniel. When Nebuchadnezzar showed up at the gates of Jerusalem, it was the beginning of the end.

When I was a kid in school in the fifties, we used to have drills where we would duck under our desks in case of a nuclear attack from the Soviet Union. The Russian president, Khrushchev, had said he would bury us. So we got under our desks so that we would be protected from the Soviet nuclear missiles. That way Khrushchev couldn’t bury us, and our nation wouldn’t be crushed.

The prophet Jeremiah had told the nation that if they continued to rebel against the one true God and mock His Word, they would crash. And that’s exactly what happened. Nebuchadnezzar showed up in 605 BC, and everything changed.

It would have been easy for Daniel to imagine that his life was over. God’s judgment had arrived, and it was everyone’s worst nightmare. Another king from a more powerful nation was now calling the shots. He would leave a Jewish king in place, but only as a figurehead and puppet. For the little nation of Judah, the gig was up.

When the nation crashed, so did Daniel’s plan for his life. He was just a teenager, but teenagers have dreams, hopes, and wonderful ideas about what their lives will look like someday.

For Daniel, that someday—the someday of his boyhood dreams—would never come. All of those dreams died when the Babylonians smashed through Jerusalem’s gates. All the rules had changed, and nothing could ever look or feel the same again. Not ever.

Sometimes our worlds crash, and so do our dreams.

I have a friend who waved to his wife and daughter as they drove off for a short overnight trip. Two hours later he was in a helicopter, landing at the scene of a head-on collision that took his wife’s life and severely injured his daughter. When that truck crossed the center divider and crashed head-on into his wife’s car, my friend’s entire existence crashed. He held her lifeless body in his arms, and it was the end of everything—or so it seemed in that moment.

At some point every man’s life crashes, and it seems like life is over. It may be the death of a spouse or a child. It could be the death of a marriage. A man’s life can crash through a bankruptcy or because a teenager has run away from home. There are a thousand different events that can crash our lives. Sometimes the crash is the result of a bad decision, but it can just as easily be the result of simply living life.

When a man’s life crashes, it always kicks in cause and effect.

Sometimes, the results are devastating, and a man simply gives up, withdraws in defeat and despair, and checks out of life. In other words, the crash changes everything—permanently, and for the worse. At other times, a man will take a different course and keep moving forward, trusting God, though the path has all but disappeared in front of him.

That, my friend, is a counterintuitive response.

And that is the path of True Courage.

The Change

Some changes are exciting, propelling you into a new and positive life. But when the change is the direct result of a crash, it’s another matter altogether. Your life and your heart have been broken—and you’re wondering how in the world you will ever pick up the pieces. You’re in the middle of a transition, an unwanted change, and there’s no turning back. And when you find yourself in unwelcome change, you are suddenly dealing with new stuff in your gut—anxiety, perplexity, disorientation, crushing disappointment, or even sheer terror.

The road forks before you, and you find yourself walking where you have never walked before. You wake up one morning, and it seems like everything once so dear and familiar to you has been stripped away. You’re on alien turf and maybe wondering how in the world you got there—and what you’re going to do next. And then you remember the crash and realize that’s how you got there—but you still don’t have a clue what you’re going to do next. Here’s how the Bible describes the huge changes that crashed into the life of the young man named Daniel:

Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. The king assigned them a daily portion of the food that the king ate, and of the wine that he drank. They were to be educated for three years, and at the end of that time they were to stand before the king. Among these were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah of the tribe of Judah. And the chief of the eunuchs gave them names: Daniel he called Belteshazzar, Hananiah he called Shadrach, Mishael he called Meshach, and Azariah he called Abednego. (Dan. 1:3–7)

Daniel’s nation crashed, and so did his world. Almost overnight, he found himself swimming in unwanted change. He was taken from his family, friends, and home, and relocated to a foreign city, with a foreign culture, trying to pick up some basic phrases in a foreign language. And on top of that, he suddenly landed in a foreign university. That’s a lot of unwanted change—but that’s what happens when your world comes crashing down. Daniel was immediately enrolled in a three-year course of study at the University of Babylon. You might call it Daniel’s “education,” but then again, the word indoctrination might fall closer to the mark. So what has changed? It’s still true today. Indoctrination is still the primary work of secular universities, just as it was three thousand years ago in ancient Babylon.

If you think that I overstate the case, note that something had to occur before Daniel could move into the dorm. They first stripped him of his name—which was step one in stripping him of his faith. One commentator writes, “Daniel and his friends received genuine heathen names in exchange for their own significant names, which were associated with that of the true God.”1

The Babylonian conquerors wanted to swallow these young people whole—mind, body, and soul—completely estranging them from their old home and their relationship with the God of Israel.

Daniel in Hebrew means “God is my Judge.” It was changed to Belteshazzar, which means “whom Bel favors.” Daniel’s friends also went through the same drill. Hananiah means “God is gracious.” He became known as Shadrach, which means “illumined by Shad [a sun god].” Mishael means “who is like God? God is great.” They tagged him with Meshach, which means “who is like Shach [a love goddess].” Finally, Azariah means “God is my helper,” but the tenured university faculty came up with Abednego, which means “the servant of Nego [a fire god].”2

Daniel found himself in a Babylonian university system that was a place of tremendous pressure and competition. At the end of the three years, each of the young men brought over from Judah were to stand before the king for the biggest final exam of their young lives. What’s more, I’m pretty sure they couldn’t bring their books, CliffsNotes, laptops, or iPhones to the exam. This is how Scripture records that moment after the university had dubbed Daniel and his friends with new names:

Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank.

Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself. And God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs, and the chief of the eunuchs said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who assigned your food and your drink; for why should he see that you were in worse condition than the youths who are of your own age? So you would endanger my head with the king.” Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see.” So he listened to them in this matter, and tested them for ten days. At the end of ten days it was seen that they were better in appearance and fatter in flesh than all the youths who ate the king’s food. So the steward took away their food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables.

As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. And Daniel was there until the first year of King Cyrus. (Dan. 1:8–21)

In Daniel 1:3, Daniel was a teenager. By the time we reach verse 21, he’s somewhere around ninety years of age. Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 BC. Verses 3–21 give us a very short bio of Daniel’s career in Babylon. He started in the Babylonian university, was promoted like a rocket, and served in the highest reaches of power for at least seventy years.

In the early years at that godless university, God prepared Daniel and his sidekicks to serve as royal advisors to the king of Babylon. In addition, God gave Daniel a stunning gift: the ability to interpret dreams and visions. He was truly one of a kind. He and his friends who stood for the Lord had a place of remarkable influence because their advice, counsel, and wisdom were ten times better than anyone who had ever graduated from the University of Babylon.

At the risk of their very lives, these young men honored God by refusing to violate their consciences, and the Lord honored their faithfulness. Daniel went on to keep his high place of honor for seventy years. For the rest of his life he would live and work in the corridors of power and luxury, politics, and intrigue. The king and the palace were to be his sphere for the rest of his days.

Now how in the world did he do that?

Three Traits

How did this young man maintain his balance on such treacherous turf? And did he manage to keep that balance for the seventy years of his life there?

As I have read and reread the account of Daniel’s life, three traits continually come to the surface: humility, trust, and hope.

They don’t show up just once or twice. Throughout his life they are woven into the fabric of his character and decision making. They are a key part of Daniel’s True Courage. That may not seem obvious at first glance—what does humility, trust, and hope have to do with True Courage? The answer is all three are counterintuitive. They all run against the grain of what we would expect in Daniel.

It hit me one day that those three traits in Daniel’s life are captured in one of the shortest psalms in the Bible: Psalm 131. Interestingly enough, it’s one of the psalms of the ascent—psalms that the men of Judah would sing as they would make their way up the mountain to Jerusalem three times a year. God commanded all of the men to come during these times. But Daniel was never able to do that in his entire life. The nation was in captivity, and the feasts were on hold.

But the traits of Psalm 131 weren’t on hold in his life.

He lived them out every day and in so doing demonstrated True Courage.

He actually lived out that psalm’s truths in a sometimes seductive, always tyrannical environment. And he did it for seventy years.

It was C. H. Spurgeon who commented that Psalm 131 is one of the shortest psalms to read … and one of the longest to learn.

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high;

I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. (Ps. 131:1–3)

Did you catch the three essential traits in this psalm? Verse 1 speaks of the trait of humility. Verse 2 focuses on trust, and verse 3 speaks of a great hope. It’s safe to say that Daniel consistently exhibited these traits throughout his life.

Essential Trait 1: Humility

If you’re out looking for an example of humility, you probably shouldn’t start with the NFL—and particularly with wide receivers. Wide receivers, generally speaking, are known for their arrogant touchdown dances. There are notable exceptions, but arrogance could be tattooed quite naturally on most of them.

It seems like whenever these guys just happen to catch a pass in the end zone, they suddenly start pounding their chests and strutting around like a peacock. Now what’s ironic is that the guy probably dropped the last four balls that were thrown his way. But this one he caught because it went through his hands and lodged in his face mask. So now he’s running around like he just did something important. What he did was catch a football. He’s paid (actually overpaid) to catch footballs.

The wide receiver who catches a touchdown pass and then offers a sacrifice to the god of self in the end zone has forgotten a few things. He has forgotten that the touchdown was actually a team effort. There was a quarterback who had the guts to stand in the pocket and get sandwiched by six hundred pounds of blitzing wild men. There are also the anonymous offensive linemen who do the work in the trenches that nobody sees or appreciates. They get stepped on, kicked in the groin, and blinded by a thumb in the eyes. And that’s just during pregame warm-ups! Arrogance is getting full of yourself real quick and losing all perspective concerning your accomplishments.

There are two ways we can depart from humility. The first is arrogance, and it’s also been known to show up in individuals who are not wide receivers. (Frankly, you can be an incredibly arrogant person at a fast-food counter. I’ve met some of them.) Verse 1 is a description of balanced humility. The psalmist says that his heart is not lifted up. He’s not saying that his heart has never been lifted up, but rather that he’s trying to keep his heart in check. In other words, David is doing a little self-assessment here. He’s checking out his heart, as Solomon advised in Proverbs 4:23: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

The psalmist then makes sure his eyes aren’t raised too high so that they’re not too lofty. In other words, he’s careful of putting all of his energy into reaching the next level—whatever that may be. “There is nothing wrong with the desire to do well,” wrote D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “as long as it does not master us. We must not be governed by ambition.”3

The writer knows that it is God who grants promotion (Ps. 75), and He knows best when we are ready for the higher place. Until then, we should mind our assigned posts—and ourselves.

Humility doesn’t try to understand things that are beyond comprehension. Humility understands that some answers to hard questions will remain secret (Deut. 29:29). And that’s okay.

The second way we can wander away from humility is when we get into self-condemnation and self-loathing. We do something stupid that we promised ourselves we would never do again—and then because of our disappointment, we start telling ourselves we’re worthless. We’ve all done stupid things—and then done them again and again.

Speaking for myself, I’ve got enough hours in “stupid” to get a PhD. I actually have enough hours in “stupid” to teach “stupid” at a graduate level. And if we have really screwed up and done something that has horrible consequences—not only for us but also for the people we love—we start riding ourselves and telling ourselves that it would be better for them if we weren’t even alive.

Whenever a believer commits suicide, you must suspect that there was demonic oppression involved, which led to self-condemnation and self-loathing. That’s the work of Satan. The Bible doesn’t

call him the “accuser of the brethren” for nothing.

So what is humility and how do we find its balance that keeps us from arrogance on one hand and self-condemnation on the other? C. J. Mahaney hit the nail on the head when he stated, “Humility is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness.” 4 Romans 12:3–8 really brings it into focus:

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

I see three principles here that helped Daniel keep his balance with humility and that I believe will help us do the same.

• Know who you are

• Know what God has given to you

• Stay in your sphere

How to Keep Your Balance

Know Who You Are

The plumb line on humility is this: Don’t think too highly of yourself—and don’t think too lowly, either.

I like the way J. B. Phillips paraphrased Romans 12:3:

As your spiritual teacher I give this piece of advice to each one of you. Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities by the light of the faith that God has given to you all.

This passage directs us to use sober or sound judgment (or “a sane estimate”) in knowing who you are. If you’re an average singer, don’t plan on cutting a CD and taking a worldwide tour. You may like music, and your brother-in-law might think you’re pretty good at karaoke, but if you’re average or even a little above average, chances are you’re not going to make it in New York or Nashville.

Know What God Has Given You

You don’t have all of the gifts mentioned in Romans 12:3–8. You’re part of the body of Christ, and He has distributed gifts to each of us. Some have more gifts than others—but everyone has a gift.

We often meet someone whom we respect and admire and think, I wish I could be like him, or maybe, I wish I had his personality. But you can’t be like him, and you don’t have his personality. That individual may have gifts you don’t have, but don’t waste your time—and your life—moping around because you don’t have certain gifts. When you do that, your heart is getting proud, your eyes are getting lofty, and you’re not thinking straight. What are the gifts God has given to you? Don’t depreciate them, and don’t

despise them. And don’t imagine that they’re not important—to God and to others.

Years ago I was up early on a Sunday morning and discovered we were out of something—salt, sugar, Ovaltine—I honestly can’t remember what it was. It was too many years ago. But here’s what I do remember. I found what I was looking for on the top shelf of the pantry, and when I reached up to grab it, I knocked over a glass jar of sweet pickles that immediately yielded to the law of gravity and fell

seven feet where it landed on my unprotected pinkie toe.

I’d never given much thought to my pinkie toe and its ministry in my life until that moment. But for the next three or four months I had trouble thinking about anything else. When that pickle-assaulted pinkie toe was broken, it messed up my entire life. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t sleep, and I couldn’t think. I just wanted that little toe to heal up and get back to its assigned post.

Stay in Your Sphere

You’ve been given gifts. Stay with them. Develop them, work hard, and do your work to the glory of God. Colossians 3:23–24 says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (NASB).

All work is valuable, and even the Babylonian heathens knew this when they took over Jerusalem and brought back the first round of exiles. In Jeremiah 29:1–2, the prophet makes reference to the people who were taken in the second wave from Judah to Babylon in 597 BC:

These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. This was after King Jeconiah and the queen mother, the eunuchs, the officials of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the metal workers had departed from Jerusalem.

Daniel and his buddies were members of the educated royal family and had already been taken and enrolled in the University of Babylon (Dan. 1:1–7). But in the second wave, the Babylonians brought back additional members of the royal family, some government bureaucrats, and, watch this—craftsmen and metal workers.

You can understand their bringing in the government guys and the queen, but why would they single out craftsmen and metal workers? It was because they were valuable. Guys who are gifted with their hands, who can work with wood or metal, are critical. Try to build an army without craftsmen and metal workers. Those are the guys who build the chariots and the siege ramps and supply the infantry with swords and armor.

If you’re gifted with your hands—if you’re a finish carpenter or an excellent craftsman—don’t waste your time wishing you could be a preacher or a prime minister. That’s not your calling, and it’s not your sphere. Work with that wood, excel with that needle and thread, and do it to the glory of God!

On the other hand, Daniel, who was gifted with the wisdom and knowledge to lead a government, should not have been shoeing horses and working around a forge. That is honorable and critical work, but Daniel wasn’t called or gifted in that area. He needed to stay in his sphere. He wasn’t to think too highly or too lowly of himself. Instead, he correctly assessed his own gifts and then got after it with what God had given him.

Staying in your sphere doesn’t mean that you don’t improve yourself—you do. So take some classes and get the credentials you need to succeed in your sphere. That may mean that you need a college degree—but then again, you may not need a college degree if you’re going to repair cars or make crowns in a dental lab. But whatever your sphere is, work hard, show up on time, better yourself, do quality work, and God will see to your advancement. But don’t try to be something that you’re not!

Right off the top, I’m reminded of a king in the Old Testament who refused to stay in his sphere: Uzziah, king of Judah.

Uzziah started strong. He was one of the most productive kings that Judah ever had. His vast accomplishments are listed in 2 Chronicles 26:14. And then we read these words:

In Jerusalem he made engines, invented by skillful men, to be on the towers and the corners, to shoot arrows and great stones. And his fame spread far, for he was marvelously helped, till he was strong.

But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. But Azariah the priest went in after him, with eighty priests of the LORD who were men of valor, and they withstood King Uzziah and said to him, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Go out of the sanctuary, for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from the LORD God.” Then Uzziah was angry. Now he had a censer in his hand to burn incense, and when he became angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead in the presence of the priests in the house of the LORD, by the altar of incense. And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he was leprous in his forehead! And they rushed him out quickly, and he himself hurried to go out, because the LORD had struck him. And King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death, and being a leper lived in a separate house, for he was excluded from the house of the LORD. And Jotham his son was over the king’s household, governing the people of the land. (2 Chron. 26:15–21)

What haunting words: “He was marvelously helped, till he was strong.”

When he became strong, he grew proud and lost his humility. And it led to his destruction. He refused to stay in his sphere and decided that he would go ahead and do the work that was only to be done by the priest. When he lost his humility, he refused to stay in his sphere—and he was disciplined as a leper for the rest of his days. Then he was forced to stay in his sphere—in a separate house, excluded from the house of the Lord.

Daniel was humble enough to stay in his sphere.

And God favored his life and work for the next seventy years.

Essential Trait 2: Trust

The second essential trait is trust in God, and it’s something that takes years to learn. We fight it from the time we are born as Psalm 131:2 describes: “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.”

In the days of the Old Testament, children often weren’t weaned until the age of three or four. And when the day of weaning came, the little ones fought against it with everything within them. The mother’s breast was the place of security, comfort, affection, and nourishment. But a child must get on with life, and so the time of weaning comes.

Weaning is the first great disappointment of life.

No matter what our age, however, God is continually weaning us from places or positions where we have found comfort, peace, security, nourishment, or affirmation. Sometimes we fight with everything we have to maintain those places of safety, comfort, and security—especially if it involves our income stream.

The mother’s milk is the source of provision, and no child wants to lose it. The sudden loss of a secure and consistent income scares us and makes us worry about our future. A job loss brings anxiety as we suddenly have to calibrate how we’ll buy groceries and pay the mortgage. When we lose a job or we lose our health—we’re being weaned, and it isn’t pleasant. And so we are forced into the place of trust.

Elijah the prophet confronted King Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, telling them that because of their Baal worship and their belief that Baal controlled the rain, it would not rain until God’s drought would run its course (1 Kings 17). It turned out to be a three-and-half-year drought. Immediately Elijah became number one on Israel’s mostwanted list. God, however, led him to a strange and unfamiliar refuge east of the Jordan, hiding him by a brook called Cherith.

Elijah had suddenly been weaned off his home, his income, and his security. Now he was in a secluded place where the economic outlook wasn’t good. Without much time to adapt, he found himself having to trust God to give him the daily essentials of life. He had no IRAs to cash in or gold to get him through the crisis. As far as I know, Old Testament prophets didn’t get a pension from the government or have 401(k) accounts.

But he had the Lord, and He is always enough.

During Elijah’s time of exile, he’d had fresh water from the bubbling brook, and each morning God would send the ravens with his brunch—and then they would return that evening with dinner. He had no reserves and no savings. He had to trust God—literally—to give him this day his daily bread. And God strangely chose to use the ravens—which are notorious for neglecting to feed their own young. But they never forgot Elijah. This wasn’t meals on wheels; it was dinner on the fly!

After awhile he began to feel comfortable and secure. He was adjusting nicely to his new circumstances. And then one morning the brook went dry.

Once again he was in crisis. He was being weaned off the familiar and the secure. His source of provision suddenly dried up, and now he was going to have to trust God all over again.

Then the word of the LORD came to him, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” And she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the earth.’” And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by Elijah. (1 Kings 17:8–16)

So Elijah must have been thinking that this widow up in Zarephath had a foundation from the life-insurance money her husband had left. But when he arrived, he found out that she was in worse shape than he was. He asked her for a blueberry waffle, and she replied that she was going to make one for her and her boy, and then they were going to die. But she agreed to feed Elijah first—and then a convoy of large trucks immediately began to pull up in front of her house with thousands of gallons of Crisco oil and one-hundred-pound sacks of Gold Medal flour. She quickly hired workers to construct large warehouses to hold her great surplus of flour and vegetable oil.

No, that’s not quite how it happened, is it?

In fact, she just kept working out of the same jar of flour and the same jug of oil. She would reach in and dip out a cup of oil, and when she did, the level never dropped—and it was the same with the flour.

She didn’t have a three-year supply down in the root cellar. There never was a surplus—God just made sure that she always had enough to get by. And when that happens, you are forced to trust Him on a daily basis. When you get down to it, that’s not a bad way to live. It keeps us connected with our Provider and mindful that we can’t take a step or a breath without Him.

And that leads to the next essential trait.

Essential Trait 3: Hope

Over the last year I have come to a startling realization.

It’s simply this: The greatest blessings of my life have all come out of my greatest disappointments. I won’t bore you with the details, but every time I thought I was done or found myself fighting off some crushing setback—God brought along a blessing far greater than I could have asked for or imagined. Those disappointments have been a series of weanings. I had to be weaned off what I wanted and what I had prescribed for my own life. Eventually I would quit fighting the loss of what I wanted to happen and simply trust that He knew what was best. And that has always proven to be the case.

That’s how it worked for Daniel. He was humbled when his nation was taken over by Babylon, and no doubt he had to be weaned off his family and friends who were back in Jerusalem. Through it all, however, he learned to hope in the God of Israel who never slumbers or sleeps.

That’s our story too, as we go through life. We are humbled by some crushing setback, great failure, or defeat. We find ourselves getting weaned off something that we dearly love and want to hold on to. Through the humiliations and weanings, however, we learn that God will never abandon us. He may not give us what we want, but He always gives us what we need. And what He gives is always infinitely better than we could have ever thought or imagined— and that in turn builds our hope when the next hard and difficult time comes ripping and ramming into our lives like a runaway bulldozer.

The bottom line is this: Daniel’s hope was completely in God.

That’s it. That’s the Christian life.

Do you find yourself in a humiliating defeat? Are you being weaned off something that you are trying to hold on to?

Let it go. Submit yourself to Him and to His plan for your life. That’s what Daniel did. Trust him with everything. You will find that it’s the safest and most secure place in the entire world.

Stay in your sphere—and trust the God who isn’t bound by spheres.

In the process, you’ll find True Courage.

“We are all imprisoned by facts: I was born, I exist.”

Luigi Pirandello

My thoughts: I enjoyed this book. Farrar makes so many good points about courage. He talks about how God delivering us is “no small thing.” God is beyond capable to come through for us and this was a good reminder. “Know this: it is a slight thing [no big deal] for the Lord to deliver you. He knows all about your situation, and he knows every detail of what threatens, intimidates, depresses, or discourages you. He knows more about it than you do. He has not forgotten you, so do not forget him.” I’ll definitely want to keep this book on hand to pick up again when I need those reminders of acting despite my fears.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

book review: "mine is the night" by liz curtis higgs

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:

Mine Is the Night

WaterBrook Press (March 15, 2011)

***Special thanks to Cindy Brovsky of Random House Inc. for sending me a review copy.***


Liz Curtis Higgs is the author of 28 books with three million copies in print, including: her best-selling historical novels, Here Burns My Candle, Thorn in My Heart, Fair Is the Rose, Christy Award-winner Whence Came a Prince, Grace in Thine Eyes, a Christy Award finalist, and Here Burns My Candle, a RT Book Reviews Award finalist; My Heart’s in the Lowlands: Ten Days in Bonny Scotland, an armchair travel guide to Galloway; and her contemporary novels, Mixed Signals, a Rita Award finalist, and Bookends, a Christy Award finalist.

Visit the author's website. You’ll also find her on Facebook and Twitter.


The emotional and spiritual journey that began with Here Burns My Candle (WaterBrook Press, 2010) soars to a triumphant finish in Mine Is the Night (WaterBrook Press, March 15, 2011) a dramatic and decidedly Scottish retelling of the biblical love story of Boaz and Ruth. A compelling tale of redemption and restoration, the latest novel from best-selling author Liz Curtis Higgs transports both story and reader to 18th century Scotland, where two widows are forced to begin anew.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (March 15, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400070023
ISBN-13: 978-1400070022


Foul whisperings are abroad.



26 April 1746

The distant hoofbeats were growing louder.

Elisabeth Kerr quickly pushed aside the curtain and leaned out the carriage window. A cool spring rain, borne on a blustery wind, stung her cheeks. She could not see the riders on horseback, hidden by the steep hill behind her. But she could hear them galloping hard, closing the gap.

Her mother-in-law seemed unconcerned, her attention drawn to the puddle forming at their feet. A frown creased her brow. “Do you mean for us to arrive in Selkirk even more disheveled than we already are?” Three long days of being jostled about in a cramped and dirty coach had left Marjory Kerr in a mood as foul as the weather.

“’Tis not the rain that concerns me.” Elisabeth resumed her seat, feeling a bit unsteady. “No ordinary traveling party would ride with such haste.”

Marjory’s breath caught. “Surely you do not think—”

“I do.”

Had they not heard the rumors at every inn and coaching halt? King George’s men were scouring the countryside for anyone who’d aided bonny Prince Charlie in his disastrous bid to reclaim the British throne for the long-deposed Stuarts. Each whispered account was worse than the last. Wounded rebel soldiers clubbed to death. Houses burned with entire families inside. Wives and daughters ravished by British dragoons.

Help us, Lord. Please. Elisabeth slipped her arm round her mother-in-law’s shoulders as she heard the riders crest the hill and bear down on them.

“We were almost home,” Marjory fretted.

“The Lord will rescue us,” Elisabeth said firmly, and then they were overtaken. A male voice cut through the rain-soaked air, and the carriage jarred to a halt.

Mr. Dewar, their round-bellied coachman, dropped from his perch and landed by the window with a grunt. He rocked back on his heels until he found his balance, then yanked open the carriage door without ceremony. “Beg yer pardon, leddies. The captain here would have a wird with ye.”

Marjory’s temper flared. “He cannot expect us to stand in the rain.”

“On the contrary, madam.” A British dragoon dismounted and rolled into view like a loaded cannon. His shoulders were broad, his legs short, his neck invisible. “I insist upon it. At once, if you please.”

With a silent prayer for strength, Elisabeth gathered her hoops and maneuvered through the narrow carriage doorway. She was grateful for Mr. Dewar’s hand as she stepped down, trying not to drag her skirts through the mud. Despite the evening gloom, her eyes traced the outline of a hillside town not far south. Almost home.

The captain, whom Elisabeth guessed to be about five-and-forty years, watched in stony silence as Marjory disembarked. His scarlet coat was drenched, his cuffed, black boots were covered with filth, and the soggy brim of his cocked hat bore a noticeable wave.

He was also shorter than Elisabeth had first imagined. When she lifted her head, making the most of her long neck, she was fully two inches taller than he. Some days she bemoaned her height but not this day.

By the time Marjory joined her on the roadside, a half-dozen uniformed men had crowded round. Broadswords hung at their sides, yet their scowls were far more menacing.

“Come now,” Mr. Dewar said gruffly. “Ye’ve nae need to frighten my passengers. State yer business, and be done with it. We’ve little daylight left and less than a mile to travel.”

“Selkirk is your destination?” The captain seemed disappointed. “Not many Highland rebels to be found there.”

“’Tis a royal burgh,” Marjory told him, her irritation showing. “Our townsfolk have been loyal to the crown for centuries.”

Elisabeth shot her a guarded look. Have a care, dear Marjory.

The captain ignored her mother-in-law’s comments, all the while studying their plain black gowns, a curious light in his eyes. “In mourning, are we? For husbands, I’ll wager.” He took a brazen step toward Elisabeth, standing entirely too close. “Tell me, lass. Did your men give their lives in service to King George? At Falkirk perhaps? Or Culloden?”

She could not risk a lie. Yet she could not speak the truth.

Please, Lord, give me the right words.

Elisabeth took a long, slow breath, then spoke from her heart. “Our brave men died at Falkirk honoring the King who has no equal.”

He cocked one eyebrow. “Did they now?”

“Aye.” She met the captain’s gaze without flinching, well aware of which sovereign she had in mind. I am God, and there is none like me. She’d not lied. Nor had the dragoon grasped the truth behind her words: by divine right the crown belonged to Prince Charlie.

“No one compares to His Royal Highness, King George,” he said expansively. “Though I am sorry for your loss. No doubt your men died heroes.”

Elisabeth merely nodded, praying he’d not ask their names. A list of royalist soldiers killed at Falkirk had circulated round Edinburgh for weeks. The captain might recall that Lord Donald and Andrew Kerr were not named among the British casualties. Instead, her handsome husband and his younger brother were counted among the fallen rebels on that stormy January evening.

My sweet Donald. However grievous his sins, however much he’d wounded her, she’d loved him once and mourned him still.

Her courage bolstered by the thought of Donald in his dark blue uniform, Elisabeth squared her shoulders and ignored the rain sluicing down her neck. “My mother-in-law and I are eager to resume our journey. If we are done here—”

“We are not.” Still lingering too near, the captain inclined his head, measuring her. “A shame your husband left such a bonny widow. Though if you fancy another soldier in your bed, one of my men will gladly oblige—”

“Sir!” Marjory protested. “How dare you address a lady in so coarse a manner.”

His dragoons quickly closed ranks. “A lady?” one of them grumbled. “She sounds more like a Highlander to my ear.”

The captain’s expression darkened. “Aye, so she does.” Without warning he grasped the belled cuff of Elisabeth’s sleeve and turned back the fabric. “Where is it, lass? Where is your silk Jacobite rose?”

“You’ve no need to look.” Elisabeth tried to wrest free of him. “I haven’t one.”

Ignoring her objections, he roughly examined the other cuff, nearly tearing apart the seam. “The white rose of Scotland was Prince Charlie’s favorite, was it not? I’ve plucked them off many a Highland rebel.”

“I imagine you have.” Elisabeth freed her sleeve from his grasp. “Are you quite satisfied?”

“Far from it, lass.” The captain eyed the neckline of her gown, his mouth twisting into an ugly sneer. “It seems your flower is well hidden. Nevertheless, I mean to have it.”

My thoughts: Liz Curtis Higgs didn’t disappoint me with her newest book. I had a bit of a hard time getting into the first book, Here Burns My Candle but reading it was important to understanding where this book picks up. Higgs does an amazing job of weaving the accent into the story to the point where it’s not too overpowering and takes away from the story but is just the right blend. And Lord Buchanan would have to be one of my favorite characters. Though fictional, he’s the kind of guy I want to find some day! Strong yet gentle and does whatever he can to protect Elisabeth. I wonder if Higgs won’t pick up the story of Rob in another book because though he wasn’t right for Elisabeth, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a story of his own to tell. I love how she takes the story of Ruth and Naomi and puts a different spin on it. One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Elisabeth is asking God for guidance regarding Lord Buchanan. “Silence was all she heard, though deep inside she knew the answer: Wait, my daughter. Wait.” It just felt like God was speaking to me as well, as I’m in a time of asking direction about some things. Higgs other Highland series would be my top favorite of her books but this would be a definite second.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

book review: "in grandma's attic" & "more stories from grandma's attic" by arleta richardson

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 (April 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Arleta Richardson grew up in a Chicago hotel under her grandmother’s care. As they sat overlooking the shores of Lake Michigan, her grandmother shared memories of her childhood on a Michigan farm. These treasured family stories became the basis for the Grandma’s Attic Series.


Remember when you were a child, when the entire world was new, and the smallest object a thing of wonder? Arleta Richardson remembered: the funny wearable wire contraption hidden in the dusty attic, the century-old schoolchild’s slate that belonged to Grandma, an ancient trunk filled with quilt pieces—each with its own special story—and the button basket, a miracle of mysteries. But best of all she remembered her remarkable grandmother who made magic of all she touched, bringing the past alive as only a born storyteller could.

So step inside the attic of Richardson’s grandmother. These stories will keep you laughing while teaching you valuable lessons. These marvelous tales faithfully recalled for the delight of young and old alike are a touchstone to another day when life was simpler, perhaps richer, and when the treasures of family life and love were passed from generation to generation by a child’s questions and the legends that followed enlarged our faith. These timeless stories were originally released in 1974 and then revised in 1999. They are being re-released with new artwork that will appeal to a new generation of girls.

Product Details:

In Grandma's Attic:

List Price: $6.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781403790
ISBN-13: 978-0781403795

More Stories from Grandma's Attic:

List Price: $6.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; 3 edition (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9780781403801
ISBN-13: 978-0781403801
ASIN: 0781403804


In Grandma’s Attic – Chapter 1

Pride Goes Before a Fall

“Grandma, what is this?”

Grandma looked up from her work. “Good lands, child, where did you find that?”

“In the attic,” I replied. “What is it, Grandma?”

Grandma chuckled and answered, “That’s a hoop. The kind that ladies wore under their skirts when I was a little girl.”

“Did you ever wear one, Grandma?” I asked.

Grandma laughed. “Indeed I did,” she said. “In fact, I wore that very one.”

Here, I decided, must be a story. I pulled up the footstool and prepared to listen. Grandma looked at the old hoop fondly.

“I only wore it once,” she began. “But I kept it to remind me how painful pride can be.”

I was about eight years old when that hoop came into my life. For months I had been begging Ma to let me have a hoopskirt like the big girls wore. Of course that was out of the question. What would a little girl, not even out of calicoes, be doing with a hoopskirt? Nevertheless, I could envision myself walking haughtily to school with the hoopskirt and all the girls watching enviously as I took my seat in the front of the room.

This dream was shared by my best friend and seatmate, Sarah Jane. Together we spent many hours picturing ourselves as fashionable young ladies in ruffles and petticoats. But try as we would, we could not come up with a single plan for getting a hoopskirt of our very own.

Finally, one day in early spring, Sarah Jane met me at the school grounds with exciting news. An older cousin had come to their house to visit, and she had two old hoops that she didn’t want any longer. Sarah Jane and I could have them to play with, she said. Play with, indeed! Little did that cousin know that we didn’t want to play with them. Here was the answer to our dreams. All day, under cover of our books, Sarah Jane and I planned how we would wear those hoops to church on Sunday.

There was a small problem: How would I get that hoop into the house without Ma knowing about it? And how could either of us get out of the house with them on without anyone seeing us? It was finally decided that I would stop by Sarah Jane’s house on Sunday morning. We would have some excuse for walking to church, and after her family had left, we would put on our hoops and prepare to make a grand entrance at the church.

“Be sure to wear your fullest skirt,” Sarah Jane reminded me. “And be here early. They’re all sure to look at us this Sunday!”

If we had only known how true that would be! But of course, we were happily unaware of the disaster that lay ahead.

Sunday morning came at last, and I astonished my family by the speed with which I finished my chores and was ready to leave for church.

“I’m going with Sarah Jane this morning,” I announced, and set out quickly before anyone could protest.

All went according to plan. Sarah Jane’s family went on in the buggy, cautioning us to hurry and not be late for service. We did have a bit of trouble fastening the hoops around our waists and getting our skirts pulled down to cover them. But when we were finally ready, we agreed that there could not be two finer-looking young ladies in the county than us.

Quickly we set out for church, our hoopskirts swinging as we walked. Everyone had gone in when we arrived, so we were assured the grand entry we desired. Proudly, with small noses tipped up, we sauntered to the front of the church and took our seats.

Alas! No one had ever told us the hazards of sitting down in a hoopskirt without careful practice! The gasps we heard were not of admiration as we had anticipated—far from it! For when we sat down, those dreadful hoops flew straight up in the air! Our skirts covered our faces, and the startled minister was treated to the sight of two pairs of white pantalets and flying petticoats.

Sarah Jane and I were too startled to know how to disentangle ourselves, but our mothers were not. Ma quickly snatched me from the seat and marched me out the door.

The trip home was a silent one. My dread grew with each step. What terrible punishment would I receive at the hands of an embarrassed and upset parent? Although I didn’t dare look at her, I knew she was upset because she was shaking. It was to be many years before I learned that Ma was shaking from laughter, and not from anger!

Nevertheless, punishment was in order. My Sunday afternoon was spent with the big Bible and Pa’s concordance. My task was to copy each verse I could find that had to do with being proud. That day I was a sorry little girl who learned a lesson about pride going before a fall.

“And you were never proud again, Grandma?” I asked after she finished the story.

Grandma thought soberly for a moment. “Yes,” she replied. “I was proud again. Many times. It was not until I was a young lady and the Lord saved me that I had the pride taken from my heart. But many times when I am tempted to be proud, I remember that horrid hoopskirt and decide that a proud heart is an abomination to the Lord!”


More Stories From Grandma’s Attic

Chapter 1

The Nuisance in Ma’s Kitchen

When Grandma called from the backyard, I knew I was in for it. She was using her would-you-look-at-this voice, which usually meant I was responsible for something.

“What, Grandma?” I asked once I reached the spot where she was hanging up the washing.

“Would you look at this?” she asked. “I just went into the kitchen for more clothespins and came back out to find this.”

I looked where she was pointing. One of my kittens had crawled into the clothes basket and lay sound asleep on a clean sheet.

“If you’re going to have kittens around the house, you’ll have to keep an eye on them. Otherwise leave them in the barn where they belong. It’s hard enough to wash sheets once without doing them over again.”

Grandma headed toward the house with the soiled sheet, and I took the kitten back to the barn. But I didn’t agree that it belonged there. I would much rather have had the whole family of kittens in the house with me. Later I mentioned this to Grandma.

“I know,” she said. “I felt the same way when I was your age. If it had been up to me, I would have moved every animal on the place into the house every time it rained or snowed.”

“Didn’t your folks let any pets in the house?” I asked.

“Most of our animals weren’t pets,” Grandma admitted. “But there were a few times when they were allowed in. If an animal needed special care, it stayed in the kitchen. I really enjoyed those times, especially if it was one I could help with.”

“Tell me about one,” I said, encouraging her to tell me another story about her childhood.

“I remember one cold spring,” she began, “when Pa came in from the barn carrying a tiny goat.”

“I’m not sure we can save this one.” Pa held the baby goat up for us to see. “The nanny had twins last night, and she’ll only let one come near her. I’m afraid this one’s almost gone.”

Ma agreed and hurried to find an old blanket and a box for a bed. She opened the oven door, put the box on it, and gently took the little goat and laid it on the blanket. It didn’t move at all. It just lay there, barely breathing.

“Oh, Ma,” I said. “Do you think it will live? Shouldn’t we give it something to eat?”

“It’s too weak to eat right now,” Ma replied. “Let it rest and get warm. Then we’ll try to feed it.”

Fortunately it was Saturday, and I didn’t have to go to school. I sat on the floor next to the oven and watched the goat. Sometimes it seemed as though it had stopped breathing, and I would call Ma to look.

“It’s still alive,” she assured me. “It just isn’t strong enough to move yet. You wait there and watch if you want to, but don’t call me again unless it opens its eyes.”

When Pa and my brothers came in for dinner, Reuben stopped and looked down at the tiny animal. “Doesn’t look like much, does it?”

I burst into tears. “It does so!” I howled. “It looks just fine! Ma says it’s going to open its eyes. Don’t discourage it!”

Reuben backed off in surprise, and Pa came over to comfort me. “Now, Reuben wasn’t trying to harm that goat. He just meant that it doesn’t … look like a whole lot.”

I started to cry again, and Ma tried to soothe me. “Crying isn’t going to help that goat one bit,” she said. “When it gets stronger, it will want something to eat. I’ll put some milk on to heat while we have dinner.”

I couldn’t leave my post long enough to go to the table, so Ma let me hold my plate in my lap. I ate dinner watching the goat. Suddenly it quivered and opened its mouth. “It’s moving, Ma!” I shouted. “You’d better bring the milk!”

Ma soaked a rag in the milk, and I held it while the little goat sucked it greedily. By the time it had fallen asleep again, I was convinced that it would be just fine.

And it was! By evening the little goat was standing on its wobbly legs and began to baa loudly for more to eat. “Pa, maybe you’d better bring its box into my room,” I suggested at bedtime.

“Whatever for?” Pa asked. “It will keep warm right here by the stove. We’ll look after it during the night. Don’t worry.”

“And we aren’t bringing your bed out here,” Ma added, anticipating my next suggestion. “You’ll have enough to do, watching that goat during the day.”

Of course Ma was right. As the goat got stronger, he began to look for things to do. At first he was content to grab anything within reach and pull it. Dish towels, apron strings, and tablecloth corners all fascinated him. I kept busy trying to move things out of his way.

From the beginning the little goat took a special liking to Ma, but she was not flattered. “I can’t move six inches in this kitchen without stumbling over that animal,” she sputtered. “He can be sound asleep in his box one minute and sitting on my feet the next. I don’t know how much longer I can tolerate him in here.”

As it turned out, it wasn’t much longer. The next Monday, Ma prepared to do the washing in the washtub Pa had placed on two chairs near the woodpile. Ma always soaked the clothes in cold water first, then transferred them to the boiler on the stove.

I was in my room when I heard her shouting, “Now you put that down! Come back here!”

I ran to the kitchen door and watched as the goat circled the table with one of Pa’s shirts in his mouth. Ma was right behind him, but he managed to stay a few feet ahead of her.

“Step on the shirt, Ma!” I shouted as I ran into the room. “Then he’ll have to stop!”

I started around the table the other way, hoping to head him off. But the goat seemed to realize that he was outnumbered, for he suddenly turned and ran toward the chairs that held the washtub.

“Oh, no!” Ma cried. “Not that way!”

But it was too late! Tub, water, and clothes splashed to the floor. The goat danced stiff-legged through the soggy mess with a surprised look on his face.

“That’s enough!” Ma said. “I’ve had all I need of that goat. Take him out and tie him in the yard, Mabel. Then bring me the mop, please.”

I knew better than to say anything, but I was worried about what would happen to the goat. If he couldn’t come back in the kitchen, where would he sleep?

Pa had the answer to that. “He’ll go to the barn tonight.”

“But, Pa,” I protested, “he’s too little to sleep in the barn. Besides, he’ll think we don’t like him anymore!”

“He’ll think right,” Ma said. “He’s a menace, and he’s not staying in my kitchen another day.”

“But I like him,” I replied. “I feel sorry for him out there alone. If he has to sleep in the barn, let me go out and sleep with him!”

My two brothers looked at me in amazement.

“You?” Roy exclaimed. “You won’t even walk past the barn after dark, let alone go in!”

Everyone knew he was right. I had never been very brave about going outside after dark. But I was more concerned about the little goat than I was about myself.

“I don’t care,” I said stubbornly. “He’ll be scared out there, and he’s littler than I am.”

Ma didn’t say anything, probably because she thought I’d change my mind before dark. But I didn’t. When Pa started for the barn that evening, I was ready to go with him. Ma saw that I was determined, so she brought me a blanket.

“You’d better wrap up in this,” she said. “The hay is warm, but it’s pretty scratchy.”

I took the blanket and followed Pa and the goat out to the barn. The more I thought about the long, dark night, the less it seemed like a good idea, but I wasn’t going to give in or admit that I was afraid.

Pa found a good place for me to sleep. “This is nice and soft and out of the draft. You’ll be fine here.”

I rolled up in the blanket, hugging the goat close to me as I watched Pa check the animals. The light from the lantern cast long, scary shadows through the barn, and I thought about asking Pa if he would stay with me. I knew better, though, and all too soon he was ready to leave.

“Good night, Mabel. Sleep well,” he said as he closed the barn door behind him. I doubted that I would sleep at all. If it hadn’t been for the goat and my brothers who would laugh at me, I would have returned to the house at once. Instead I closed my eyes tightly and began to say my prayers. In a few moments the barn door opened, and Reuben’s voice called to me.

“Mabel,” he said, “it’s just me.” He came over to where I lay, and I saw that he had a blanket under his arm. “I thought I’d sleep out here tonight too. I haven’t slept in the barn for a long time. You don’t mind, do you?”

“Oh, no. That’s fine.” I turned over and fell asleep at once.

When I awoke in the morning, the goat and Reuben were both gone. Soon I found the goat curled up by his mother.

“Will you be sleeping in the barn again tonight?” Ma asked me at breakfast.

“No, I don’t think so,” I said. “I’ll take care of the goat during the day, but I guess his mother can watch him at night.”

Grandma laughed at the memory. “After I grew up, I told Reuben how grateful I was that he came out to stay with me. I wonder how my family ever put up with all my foolishness.”

Grandma went back into the house, and I wandered out to the barn to see the little kittens. I decided I wouldn’t be brave enough to spend the night there even if I had a big brother to keep me company!

My thoughts: I read this book when I was little so to be able to read the stories again was fun. I didn’t remember all of the stories but some I did and I couldn’t help but smile when reading them again. I love how it's written on a level for younger children but older children and adults can enjoy it just as easily. It's a reminder of a simpler time when people weren't so busy and it's definitely one of my favorite books from my childhood.

Monday, April 25, 2011

mailbox monday

I'm trying something new on my blog. I like the idea of "Mailbox Monday" so we'll see how it goes. The whole point is to share books you received the week prior in your mailbox, inbox, whatever. I'm subscribed to two blogs (The Parchment Girl and Reading Teen) who incorporate this and it's interesting to me to see what others are reading. The idea was started by Marcia and other bloggers have picked up on it.

What came in my mailbox last week:
Unleashed by Erwin Raphael McManus
The Rivers Run Dry by Sibella Giorello
Secrets of the Heart by Jillian Kent
The Redeemer by Linda Rios Brook
Undaunted Faith by Andrea Boeshaar
Fully Engaged by John Busacker

Saturday, April 23, 2011

book beginnings

"The distant hoofbeats were growing louder. Elisabeth Kerr quickly pushed aside the curtain and leaned out her carriage window. A cool spring rain, borne on a blustery wind, stung her cheeks. She could not see the riders on horseback, hidden by the steep hill behind her. But she could hear them galloping hard, closing the gap."

I'm reading Mine is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs. This is the sequel to Here Burns My Candle, continuing an updated retelling of Ruth and Naomi in Elisabeth and Marjory Kerr. I'm a huge Liz Curtis Higgs fan so I picked up the first book solely because her name was on it. I enjoyed it and was excited to review the sequel. Getting into the flow of reading Irish brogue takes a little time but she does an amazing job of weaving the accent, setting and story all together.

Wanna join in? How to participate: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments. Include the title and the author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you would like, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line, and let us know if you liked or did not like the sentence. The link-up will be at A Few More Pages every Friday and will be open for the entire week.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


As I write this, I'm sitting in rehearsal for the Easter program at my church. I'm excited for the drama and songs and for those who will be touched by it all on Sunday morning. We watched The Passion of the Christ last night in our youth ministry and I feel it's impossible to see Jesus' suffering and not be affected.

It can be easy to get so wrapped up with Easter egg hunts, church programs, and chocolate rabbits that we forget the purpose; we forget the price that was paid for us. I don't want to forget. I don't want to be so busy that I lose sight. This year I'm choosing to remember what God's love for me cost Him...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

book review: "the strange man" by greg mitchell

Dras Weldon refuses to grow up. Though he’s twenty-two, he still enjoys collecting comic books and action figures. His best friend, Rosalyn, rolls her eyes at his immaturity but loves him anyway. He knows he’s let his family down but can’t bring himself to change. However, he gets a wake up call when a mysterious stranger appears in the small town of Greensboro. This man leaves a trail of death in his wake and is after Rosalyn. Dras is the only one who can save her. But what can he do? Will he be too late? And what price will he have to pay?

I’d read some other reviews for the book and wasn’t sure if I’d like it. Knowing a demon was involved, I had mentally prepared myself for something like Demon by Tosca Lee. This was a combination of that and maybe something Frank Peretti might write. I’ll admit I didn’t like the ending – I had hoped for something different even as I was reading it and knew the outcome. One of my favorite scenes is Dras arguing with Sean Patrick about an action figure. I laughed out loud, imagining the scene in my mind. This was a little dark for me – not normally the kind of genre I read but I liked the overall message of the book.

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Click here for a link to buy the book and here for the book's website.

Monday, April 18, 2011

book review: "max on life" by max lucado

Max on Life is a collection of questions asked to Max over the years and his responses. Questions such as:

- How can I get free of the fear that God might not forgive me? I’m always afraid I’m not perfect enough. - Why is there so much chaos and evil in the world? It seems that no one cares about what God wants and humanity is imploding. - Our church is having trouble getting along. Sides are being drawn and tempers are flaring. What can we do? - In my opinion, premarital sex prepares the couple for marriage. Wouldn’t you want the soon-to-be married couple to know each other as well as possible?
The book is divided into several different sections: hope, hurt, help, him/her, home, haves/have-nots and hereafter. Max shares in the beginning of the book that some of these questions and answers have appeared in some of his others books while some are just now being published. Some of the questions have easy answers and some require thought. This is a good resource for those questions that we may have and need the assurance from someone else of “I’ve been there.”
The part I liked best was the handwritten letter at the beginning of each section. It’s a copy of a note Max has written someone and reading his words touched me. Here’s my favorite one: "Kevin, Knowing God is like mountain climbing. Some days the path is steep. Others, the trail is easy. Clouds can eclipse the view. The sun might illuminate the peak. Most of all, it just takes time. Know this: God will help you." The book covers so many topics and the index at the back makes finding ones related to specific topics very easy. I’ve also read Outlive Your Life and was excited when he made reference to the book because I enjoyed it as well. Definitely a book to keep handy for quick reference.
I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson and was not required to write a positive review.

book review: "refreshment in refuge" by gina burgess

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:

WestBow Press A Division of Thomas Nelson (February 21, 2011)
***Special thanks to Gina Burgess for sending me a review copy.***

Gina studied journalism in college, took a detour to raise two beautiful daughters, then graduated Magna Cum Laude from Midwestern State University after twenty-five years. Gina’s first love is using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. She is committed to bringing God glory with her writing. She’s been an editor for several publications, including Lifestyles Editor at her home town newspaper the Picayune Item; a weekly column for; and bi-weekly columns at She's a book reviewer for several publishers, and has taught Sunday School and Discipleship since 1970. Visit the author's blog. Visit the author's book review blog.


A little dog revived with rain, a desperate woman comforted by warm arms, an intimate look at Mary Magdalene’s thoughts the morning Christ arose, and a woman’s unselfish desire are a few of the stories in this volume about living the Christian life. They illustrate some extraordinary paradigm breaks and parallels in living as Christ would have His Bride live. Sometimes everyday living creates a fog over our spiritual enlightenment, dulling our understanding and even our relationship with God. Other times, we get entangled in the worries and cares of the world. Christ’s light will guide us to clear thinking, and He will burn off that fog, just like sunshine. Refreshment in Refuge is a collection of stories and studies of how to make Christ the ruler of our heart, allowing the Son to dissipate the fog of trials and troubles that invade our lives on a daily basis. Product Details: List Price: $17.95 Paperback: 236 pages Publisher: WestBow Press A Division of Thomas Nelson (February 21, 2011) Language: English ISBN-10: 9781449712129 ISBN-13: 978-1449712129 ASIN: 1449712126 AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

The Refreshing The man gave the bolt a final twist and stepped back from under the hood of the car. He wiped his grimy hands on a rag and then stuffed it in his back pocket. He gave a satisfied sigh as he headed to the office and the coffee pot. The coffee was strong and fresh, just like he liked it. Tossing a grin to Gertrude, his part time office help, he said, “Gertie, call Kent Boudreaux and let him know his car is ready and he can pick it up any time today.” With only a little regret, he set his cup down and headed to back the repaired car from the bay and bring in another to work on. Thank goodness God was good to provide so much work when the economy was so bad. Just as the back wheels cleared the bay doors, one of them ran over something. He didn’t have a clue what it could have been, since it had only been a couple of hours since he’d driven the car in the bay. Then his heart constricted and he groaned in sudden agony. Alfie’s job was to meet and greet all customers that came into the shop. His throne was the cushioned chair that was next to the desk. Sure it was grimy, but it was comfortable for a small, snowy white, very fluffy dog. Normally, Alfie rarely ventured into the bay area. He preferred the cool office and comfy cushion to the cool, but mucky shop floor. Alfie was the beloved owner of the man and his family. His other job was to give love and happiness to those he loved best. The man climbed from the car, dreading what he must surely find. His fear was confirmed when he saw Alfie lying still and flat under the car. Tears welled up, and his heart wrenched again. Suddenly, the bright day darkened to night. The dog must have scooted out the door when he got coffee. Even though he wasn’t allowed in the shop, the dog had obviously disobeyed the standing command. He cradled the little dog in his arms, unsure of what to do. The lifeless form just lay there; head lolled back and tiny pink tongue slack instead of happily panting. The shop owner sat down in a grease-smudged chair with the dog across his lap. What should he do? How would he tell his sweet wife and those precious girls what had happened to their sweet, adoring Alfie? Finally, he decided to put the dog in the dog food bag, and place him in the dumpster because he couldn’t possibly bring Alfie home to bury; and in this concrete garden called New Orleans, there wasn’t anywhere to bury a pet. He just couldn’t possibly bring the little thing home to bury. His daughters would be inconsolable. The rest of the day, he worried and fretted how to tell the family they had lost one of their own that day. There was no good way to do it, so he blurted out as soon as he made it home, “I ran over Alfie at the shop today.” The family mourned, and rain began to patter against their home’s windows. God, it seemed, was sharing the family’s grief. The next morning, the man found no joy in his morning routine. Alfie didn’t jump all over him, ready to do morning walk, no cheerful clink of food in his bowl. Going to work was a heavy chore. Sighing heavily, all the way to work, he opened the shop for daily work, sans his beloved, tiny, fluffy companion. The coffee had just finished brewing when the owner of the neighboring body shop burst into the office. “Are you going to tell me why your dog is in the dumpster?” “Well, Jeb, I know he’s in the dumpster. I didn’t have any place else to put him. I ran over him yesterday. “No, you don’t understand. Your dog is barking and jumping and trying to get out of that dumpster!” “What? Are you kidding me?” With joyful heart, the man ran to the dumpster and grabbed up that fluffy bundle of excitement. That little pink tongue was exploring every inch of his face. That little dog had only been knocked out, and the most refreshing rain, that gift from God, had refreshed and revived him. Alfie wasn’t dead after all, he just needed reviving. a Today, how many Christians look dead? How many are asleep at the wheel or get knocked silly by being someplace they are not supposed to be? Disobedience breaks fellowship with the LORD, and we can’t afford that when we are to be ready for that great and glorious day the Father looks at His only begotten Son and says, “Go get Your Bride, Son.” Glory! Paul tells the Ephesians And to you did he give life, when you were dead through your wrongdoing and sins, 2 in which you were living in the past, after the ways of this present world, doing the pleasure of the lord of the power of the air, the spirit who is now working in those who go against the purpose of God; 3 among whom we all at one time were living in the pleasures of our flesh, giving way to the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and the punishment of God was waiting for us even as for the rest. Ephesians 2:1-3 Bible in Basic English (1965) Paul was talking about how they acted as unbelievers, but I have seen a lot of Believers act just like that recently. The Bride of Christ is sick these days, sick with the evil ways of the world and sick with disbelief. We can be like the Rich Young Ruler and say: These commands I have kept, I have not sinned. But, how many of us have watched a movie lately in which God’s name was blasphemed? How many of us worry and fret, harbor anger, bitterness, jealousy, seek vengeance, are critical of others, controlling, gossip, pray by rote, fudge the truth, go places we shouldn’t go, do things in secret that we’d die if it were printed on the front page of the newspaper? How many pirate music? How many think if it doesn’t hurt other people, it is okay? How many haven’t returned something that was borrowed? How many of us allow work, family, hobbies, playtime come first instead of the LORD? How many of us have given up on a brother or sister in Christ because he looks dead? How often have we thrown a sibling in the dumpster without thought to the prayers of a righteous man and the resuscitation process laid out by Jesus in Matthew 18: 15-17? Refreshment in the refuge of Jesus is what this book is about. We cannot give up on our siblings because it isn’t God’s plan. He created us and saved us for a mighty purpose. We cannot give up on ourselves because God considered us worthy enough to send His precious Son to pay the ultimate Bride price for us. Let me paraphrase Luke 8:17, not one thing happens in secret that won’t be found out, and not a single thing is done in the dark which will not be brought to light. But, why would we care more about what could be said of us in a front-page news story than what God thinks of us? How could it matter more than our precious relationship and that refreshing rain from above? Revive us LORD Jesus, send your refreshing rain of blessings and awaken us from our dead sleep. Help us labor, watch and be ready. The Bride awaits her Groom. Come LORD Jesus and find Your Bride doing the mighty works prepared before the foundation of the world. Amen. This column was inspired by one of my favorite preachers, Dr. Preston Nix. He is an Associate Professor at New Orleans Baptist Seminary. Preach it, Brother, preach it.

My thoughts: While Burgess does make some good points, I wasn't overly impressed with the book. She said a few things I don't agree with but we're all allowed to have our own opinion. I highlighted a few lines that spoke to me, thus making the book worth reading. I didn't feel there was much flow between sections - it seemed choppy to me. Overall, a decent read.