Monthly Archives: June 2010

My sister and her baby

She is almost two weeks old…..or 27 weeks…
She is doing pretty good for her age….some scares today with her breathing, but over all, she is doing excellent.


Filed under Daily Happenings

When a man you love is abused by Cecil Murphy

My Review:

I think most of the books you can read or see try to temper the titles to attract readers and a certain type of readers. I think this book just says it out there, who it was written for, but not altogether. I think anyone who has had any contact or wishes to help  someone who has suffered any type of abuse, should read this book. It is one of the most helpful, comprehensive guide to actually helping someone.  I applaud the author for having the guts it took to write this book  as it is really hard for men to admit they suffered at the hands of another. It is even harder to get the people who really need to read this book, to read it. I could think of several people that I wish would read it. But as the title says, it is written for people, who when someone you love, has been abused. This is a book for mothers, wives, girlfriends, sisters, brothers, fathers, whoever  cares enough to actually understand the abused person, wants to know how to help them, reach them and  be there in a way that can actually help…not harm.  I think one of the biggest thing in this book that touched me was the fact that Cecil touched on things bothering a person that have nothing to do with abuse on the surface. He mentions how he hates raspberry jam and it triggered a very bad reaction with him emotionally. He was, as an adult still confused by why it triggered such a reaction for him emotionally, until his sister reminded him that his abuser would use crackers and raspberry jam to lure him to his room.

Cecil is gentle, he is caring and really helps people to see that in this horrible pain, there is hope and healing, and even though the scars remain, he has suggestions to help the healing. I highly recommend this book…..even for those helping female abuse victims. It is excellent! – Martha

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:

When a Man You Love Was Abused: A Woman’s Guide to Helping Him Overcome Childhood Sexual Molestation

Kregel Publications (April 7, 2010)

***Special thanks to Danielle Douglas of Douglas Public Relations for sending me a review copy.***


Cecil Murphey has written or coauthored more than one hundred books, including the bestselling book Gifted Hands which has sold more than three million copies, the autobiography of Franklin Graham, Rebel with a Cause and the New York Times bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven. Murphey currently resides in Georgia.

Visit the author’s website.
Visit the author’s blog.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (April 7, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0825433533
ISBN-13: 978-0825433535


—P r e f a c e —

A Word about the Names in This Book

When I write nonfiction books I like to provide the full name of the individuals involved. I believe it adds integrity to the material and shows they’re not made-up accounts or composites. In this book, however, I can’t do that. This material is much too sensitive and personal.

“If I gave my name,” one man said, “my family might find out, and they wouldn’t forgive me.” His stepfather had been the perpetrator.

Others who talked to me gave no specific reason other than to say, “I’m not ready to tell this publicly” or “I’d rather you don’t use my name.”

Out of respect for these individuals, I’ve disguised their identity. If you read only a first name, it’s for one of three reasons:

1. The person requested I not use his name.

2. Several of the groups in which I participated are like AA—and we use only our first names. I tell the story of a man named Red, for example, so called because that’s the only name by which I knew him.

3. I no longer have contact with the person and couldn’t get permission.

How to Use This Book

I’ve designed this book in two parts, and it doesn’t matter which you read first.

Part 1 focuses on male sexual assault and its effects. This part is basically informative, and its purpose is to help you understand the problems that male abuse victims face.

Part 2 is the practical section. The purpose is to show you—a woman in the life of a man who was molested as a child—what you can do to help him.

— I n t r o d u c t i o n —

If You’re an Important Woman in His Life

He was molested—or at least you suspect he was. That means he was victimized by someone older and more powerful than he was. The man you care for might be your boyfriend, husband, brother, father, or son. He is someone you care about deeply, and because he hurts, you hurt.

He hurts because he was victimized in childhood. Many therapists don’t like the word victim or victimized and prefer to speak of survivors. They also don’t like the word abused and usually opt for assaulted. The media tends to use the word molested. In this book, I use the terms interchangeably.

Regardless of the word used, something happened to him—something terrible and frightening—that will affect him for the rest of his life. Something happened to him that affects your life as well.

How Can You Help?

Because you care about him, you have also been victimized. Because of your love for him, you’ve been hurt, and you may have suffered for a long time. But the man you care for didn’t hurt you intentionally. He was trying to cope with his problem.

Perhaps years passed before you knew about his childhood pain. During that time, you may have sensed something was wrong. Statistics indicate that men tend to reveal themselves more readily to a woman, usually a wife or girlfriend.

But even if you knew about his experience, how could you have grasped how it would impact your relationship? Because he battled the problem that he couldn’t talk about, he did it privately and sometimes not too well. How could you not feel rejected or hurt when he shut you out?

Even if he faced his abuse, he may have excused the perpetrator. Although the man in your life was the victim, he may have felt guilty for the abuse. His undeserved guilt is real. And he hurts.

Because he hurts, you hurt too.

That’s part of your victimization. His reactions, attitudes, and behavior caused you to assume blame and guilt, and you’ve asked yourself, “How did I fail?” You may not have voiced those words, but you felt you were the flawed person in the relationship.

If this describes you, you may already have gone through a lengthy period of wondering what was wrong with you. You tormented yourself with questions:

• Why does he shut me out?

• Why can’t I help him?

• Why can’t I take away his pain?

• Why won’t he talk to me or allow me into his private world?

• How did I fail him?

• I love him and try to show him that, so why won’t he trust me?

If you’re reading this, it means you know, or seriously suspect, that an important male in your life was assaulted in childhood. You love him and want to relieve his pain, but you feel helpless. Or you’re sure there must be something you can do to fix him. If you could just figure out the hidden weapon, the magic pill, or the right words, he’d be all right.

It isn’t that simple. Besides, you can’t fix him.

In this book, though, I provide suggestions in part 2 to help you understand and accept him. As you accept his situation and his resulting problems, I hope you’ll feel better about yourself and accept that his problem is not your fault. You may often need to remind yourself of this fact: it is his battle. You can’t fight his inner demons, but you can stand with him when he fights them. He must work through it himself. You can assist him by being available to him, and I’ll suggest ways to do that. But it is his struggle and his journey into wholeness.

You may feel more at peace with your inability to heal him if you can think of him as a once-innocent child who was victimized by a predator. This isn’t to deny your pain, but you can help him and help yourself if you can start with understanding something from his past.

His experience and his response to it are complex. He has been wounded in several ways, the old wounds reopen in unpredictable ways, and you can’t do anything to make him into a whole person. You can stand with him as he seeks and discovers his own healing. As you accept his situation and his resulting problems and behavior, I hope you’ll feel better about yourself and accept the reality that his problem isn’t your fault. He must work through his own emotional issues—with your assistance of love and encouragement.

I want to make an important distinction here. When an adult sexually abuses a boy, many people think of that as a sexual act. That’s not correct. The perpetrator’s actions weren’t about sex, and they weren’t about love for the child. Those who molest have deep-seated problems that go far deeper than sexual exploitation of a child. For the perpetrator, sexual gratification at the expense of a child is a symptom of deeper problems that go beyond the scope of this book.

When adults are attracted to children—compulsively attracted—we call them pedophiles. Although there are variations in the definition of pedophiles, here’s a simple one: the term comes from two Greek words—paidos, children, and philia, a word for love. It refers to anyone—male or female—who is sexually attracted to prepubescent children. I’ll say it even stronger; they are compulsively attracted. Generally, that means the objects of their desire are children younger than thirteen. Therapists have recorded that some pedophiles visualize themselves as being at the same age as the children they molest. Other therapists would say that pedophiles are adults who are fixated at the prepubescent stage of life.

Just as all assaulted boys won’t become homosexuals, the male perpetrator may not be gay. Most of those convicted of molesting boys vehemently deny that they are homosexual and insist they are heterosexual.

Regardless, when an adult molests an innocent child, that’s sexual abuse. My intention is not that you try to understand the abuser, or that you feel sorry for that person. By the end of the journey, though, I hope you and the man in your life will be able to forgive and to feel sadness for such individuals.

The perpetrator—whether male or female—is a sexual abuser of children. That’s the one fact to bear in mind. Sometimes it makes no difference to the perpetrator whether the victims are male or female. This is an important concept for you, the woman in the victim’s life, to understand. The result of his abuse carries long-lasting effects, and he may not want to talk about the issues related to the abuse for fear of being labeled as homosexual. Or he may feel he is gay because it was a man who molested him. You may need to help him accept that child sexual abuse is not a heterosexual-homosexual issue. It’s a crime and a sin that was perpetrated against him.

He probably doesn’t understand all that. He may still feel conflicted about what happened to him—and about the theft of his innocence. For now, the once–abused child needs support and encouragement. He needs someone he can trust as he copes with his pain and his problems. He needs you.

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Some recipes I would like to try

this summer!!!

Avocado Chicken Salad

I think I would probably leave the ginger out, but it looks different enough to try!

Spinach and chicken, pasta salad

This has mandarin oranges and peanut in it and it looks different enough,  I am not sure if the boys would eat it…but I can always try! I have fresh spinach that will be ready this week in the garden!

I think I would also like to try this one

Garlic Chicken pasta with sun dried tomatoes

It is not cold, but looks yummy!

OOOhh! And this one!!! This looks so good, if I can turn the oven on when it is a bit cooler!

Spinach  Artichoke  Calzones

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Hard couple of weeks…

I think with everything going on with my sister and then other issues here…like last night I get a call from my sister-in-law that my mother-in-law is in the hospital.  My husband  adores both his parents, but is especially close to his mother and with his issues with dealing with stress and worry, it was  a tense evening. Thankfully, I got a hold of the hospital and was able to confirm she was not in danger of dying, as long as she takes her medication.

I have paperwork to complete, house cleaning to do, which seems like is never ending…but then i ran out of  cleanser to clean the toilet awhile back, forgot to pick any up and have been cleaning with other products and it is starting to stink….literally!

I am so tired right now….I have walked at least 6 miles in the past couple days, probably more, but combine that with  helping children and running part of that chasing them….lack of proper food as I am running to swimming lessons at dinner time as well as not hungry now that the heat is here…I could just use some prayer and maybe a vacation. I kind of got one with VBS last week, in the mornings, which was nice…but I think I need to work on giving things to God.

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Way back in a country garden by Kay Moore

My Review: I just realized I did receive this book and did not get a chance to review it! I will be posting a review later!-Martha

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:

Way Back in the Country Garden

Hannibal Books (May 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Jennifer Nelson, PR Specialist, Hannibal Books for sending me a review copy.***


Author Kay Wheeler Moore has written and spoken widely on the subject of relationships and family life. She is the author of Way Back in the Country; When the Heart Soars Free, a book of Christian fiction; and Gathering the Missing Pieces in an Adopted Life, based on her Houston Chronicle newspaper series that was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. She has also been a newspaper city editor and a reporter for United Press International.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.95
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Hannibal Books (May 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1934749710
ISBN-13: 978-1934749715


Chapter 1: “We Were Rich”

The screen door to the farmhouse creaked open and then quickly slapped shut.

Without glancing up from her ironing board Grandma Harris knew the next sound would be that of feet pit-patting from the front porch into the living room and halting abruptly at her dining table.

Those feet, Grandma knew, could belong to any of several of her grandchildren, whose stopovers at her house were part of their regular home-from-school itinerary.

“Oh, yum, she’s got a fresh bowl full,” Grandma heard a high-pitched squeak emerge. That would be Mable, the youngest of Grandma’s daughter, Mattie, who lived across the pasture with her family.

“I was here first, Mable,” a slightly older voice cajoled. Frances, Grandma’s namesake, got irritated easily with her smaller sibling. “Don’t hog the crackers so I can have the first dip.”

“We’ve all gotta be quick before the others get here,” the oldest one, Bonnie, warned her younger two sisters. They glanced over their shoulders to see whether any of their cousins were hungrily making their way onto Grandma’s porch.

“Girls, I got plenty of tomato preserves fer ever’one—for you and yer cousins,” Grandma gently chided. She stepped from the kitchen to hug her granddaughters, who competed for the first taste of the thick, sweet treat that awaited them as an afternoon snack. “Take turns, now, so I won’t have t’ tell yer mama ya didn’t share politely.”

Grandma Harris had put out the new batch of tomato preserves earlier that day after Grandpa fetched several jars from the storm cellar which had housed them since the summer’s canning. Grandma’s long, hot days of putting up delightful red tomatoes from their garden had yielded a treasure trove of preserves Grandma could share throughout the fall and winter.

In mid-afternoon Grandma had opened the first jar and ladled its contents into a wide-rimmed, cutglass compote that stood on a gleaming, glass-stemmed pedestal in the center of her dining table. The cutglass glistened like diamonds as it reflected the sun’s light filtering through the room. Into a separate dish Grandma had set out some saltine crackers. On this particular afternoon her red-haired granddaughters—Bonnie, Frances, and Mable Miller—were the first snack-seekers.

No doubt they’d soon be followed by some of the youngsters of her other sons and daughters whose homes were also nearby.

Ultimately Grandma Harris would go on to begat 52 grandchildren in all, but she never ran out of treats for them or resourceful ways to prepare the many vegetables that she and Grandpa Harris grew in their everlastingly prolific garden. Every Sunday Grandma prepared an enormous, after-church dinner for all of her 11 children and their families who could attend.

Because their farmhouse was closest to Grandma’s, the “Three Red-Haired Miller Girls”, as many in their community of Brushy Mound knew them, hardly ever missed a Sunday—or an after-school afternoon—at Grandma’s house, where her good cooking always abounded.

* * * * * * * * * *

A century later the Harris farmhouse built on the rich, black soil of Delta County, TX, has long ago crumbled down. Grandma’s abundant garden has been plowed under with only a few derelict weeds to mark the spot where those sweet-ascandy tomatoes grew so bountifully. For more than 65 years grass has grown unbidden around the tombstone marked “Frances E. Harris”—the Miller girls’ beloved “Grandma”.

But down all the decades, the memory of Grandma’s delectable tomato preserves served in the sparkling, pedestaled compote would remain fresh in the mind of her namesake—little Frances, who was still recounting the tomato preserves story well into her 103rd year on this earth.

“We were rich,” Frances recalled to us nieces and nephews, who discreetly pumped her for just one more of her “olden-days” country tales before night would fall on her memory forever. This font of family lore was the last surviving member of that generation of our kin. At 102 years and 1 month of age Frances could still describe picking melons the size of basketballs, okra rows that were city blocks-long, and cornstalks that seemed to stand tall as skyscrapers.

Although farm families such as hers usually lacked financial means, the garden insured that no one would go hungry. Just before supper each night Mama faithfully sent Frances and her sisters out to see what was ready to be plucked from the vine and cooked up for that night’s meal.

“We had no idea we were poor,” Frances mused from her wheelchair, “because we always had food from the garden.”

* * * * * * * *

At the time Frances related her last tomato preserves story before her passing in May 2009, people everywhere were turning to backyard patches of earth again for the same reason the Miller girls and their mama and grandma did in the early part of the last century.

Economic woes in the United States and around the world have caused family incomes to plummet. Home-gardening has become a passionate new interest for people who have never planted a seed or worked a hoe. Even the wife of the U.S. President at the time, as an example for others, grew vegetables in her own White House garden. Heads of households can gaze on small stretches of garden dirt and comfort themselves in the same way Frances’ family did. After all, the Great Depression, which clouded the Miller Girls’ youth in rural northeast Texas, did not sting as much to those who could till the soil and cultivate its yield. With food from the garden, they could always feed their families and feel “rich”, no matter how lean the times or how thin the pocketbook.

My earlier cookbook, Way Back in the Country, emphasized that food, the recipes for how to prepare it, and the stories of people who cooked them are all interwoven into the fabric of family life. Way Back in the Country encouraged families to preserve not just their legendary recipes but the lore of the loved ones—such as the indomitable Grandma Harris—who made them popular. Through tales of the Red-Haired Miller Girls—my mother, Mable, and her two sisters, Frances and Bonnie—and six generations of their farm kin and the recipes that have been regulars at family gatherings for decades, Way Back in the Country inspired others to get their tape-recorders out and investigate why “Great-Aunt Gertie” always brought lemon pound cake whenever their extended families dined.

With gardening surging in popularity once more, the time seems right to revisit the Miller-Harris legends and recipe chests—this time to celebrate the role that food from one’s own soil has always played in American homes and how, in the Tight Times of this Great Recession, it makes us feel “rich” with hope and comfort afresh. Way Back in the Country Garden again will intertwine six generations of my family’s anecdotes with cooking instructions that will probably remind you of some of your own family favorites.

So prepare to laugh, cry, and traipse down memory lane once again with the Red-Haired Miller Girls and their progeny—through yarns my family told—yarns that I didn’t always witness firsthand but can try to recreate as I can envision them happening in my mind’s eye. May you soon be preserving some country gardening tales of your own and savoring the memories and tastes of yesterday.

Copyright © 2010

All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. Contents may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any form without the express written consent of the publisher.

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Beguiled by Deanne Gist


By Deeanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Rylee Monroe is a dog walker on rollerblades that never fears the streets at night. But now that a thief seems to be targeting all the houses of her dog walking clients, she wonders if someone is targeting her.

Reporter Logan Woods is following the break-ins and seems to be following Rylee as well.. but does he have more of a reason than simply  publishing articles?

This is a cute crime mystery story with a dog walker who fears nothing and a reporter who fears dogs….yet is falling in love with a dog walker. It  was a little different to read a modern day book by Deanne Gist as I am used to her excellent historical fiction.  She did a good job, but it was just different than what I expect from her. Since her and  J. Mark Bertrand worked together on blending their  genres, I think they did a good job. This book  is not really spine tingling, but it is something that will keep you on your toes and want to solve the mystery and the romance.

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Wednesday: Chicken and rice soup, rolls

Thursday: “General Tso’s” chicken and broccoli, rice. I got a packet for the sauce and boneless chicken thighs….should taste good, although probably not like the real stuff.

Friday:  Shepherds pie, steamed carrots

Saturday: Italian Eggplant dish, pasta and sauce for those who do not like eggplant. Cucumber and tomato salad

This is something I made up kind of…but it is really simple and tastes really good. Peel a large eggplant and slice in thick slices. In an 8×8 baking dish  put some spaghetti sauce in the bottom, layer eggplant slices, sauce and grated mozzarella cheese in the dish ending with sauce and cheese. Bake until bubbly and eggplant is tender. I like it alone, but some people like it with pasta.

Sunday: Leftovers

Monday: Sloppy Joes, carrot sticks, finger jello

Tuesday: Beef and broccoli  peanuts stir fry, rice

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Giveaway on blog

This blogger is a local blogger and is offering a giveaway that ends tonight….for an apron and a bunch of other cool stuff. Blog giveaway

Also….another friend is offering a giveaway as well over At The Joyful jungle

Check out her blog as well and leave her a comment!

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Claim by Lisa Bergren

My Review:
I read this book late and am posting late as well. But out of the two books I read in this trilogy, this one was my favorite.
Nic is traveling through a town after getting off the ship and is taken by surprise by a young boy who captures his attention. When his father offers him a job in his mine, he turns it down, but cannot stop thinking about it. A trip to the father’s home sets in motion a curious motion of events….leaving him the child’s guardian and owner of a mine he did not want. It also leaves him in alot of danger….both of romance and from evil men wanting the mine.
Moira is also in her own set of dangers….not wanting to let Daniel love her, she flees to what she thinks are loving grandparents of her unborn child….will she encounter love or danger while fleeing from someone who truly loves her?
This book is full of twists and turns and enough danger to keep you on the edge of your seat. I really enjoyed this one….in spite of not having read the first book, the taste I got in the second book helped me to know the characters. However, you should start at the beginning of this trilogy to enjoy it. -Martha

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:

Claim: A Novel of Colorado (The Homeward Trilogy)

David C. Cook; New edition (June 1, 2010)

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


Lisa T. Bergren is a best-selling author who offers a wide array of reading opportunities ranging from children’s books (God Gave Us Love and God Found Us You) and women’s nonfiction (Life on Planet Mom) to suspense-filled intrigue (The Gifted Trilogy) and historical drama. With more than thirty titles among her published works and a deep faith that has weathered dramatic career and personal challenges, Bergren is excited to add the Homeward Trilogy to her resume as she follows God’s direction in her writing career. Bergren lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with her husband Tim (a graphic design artist and musician) and their three children.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (June 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 143476706X
ISBN-13: 978-1434767066


1 August 1888

Gunnison, Colorado

“Keep doing that you’ll get yourself killed,” Nic said to the boy. Panting, Nic paused and wiped his forehead of sweat. For an hour now, as he moved sacks of grain from a wagon to a wheelbarrow and into the warehouse, he’d glimpsed the boy daring fate as he ran across the busy street, narrowly escaping horse hooves and wagon wheels.

“Where’s your mother?”

The brown-haired boy paused. “Don’t have a mother.”

“Well then, where’s your father?”

The boy cast him an impish grin and shrugged one shoulder.


“Is he coming back soon?” Nic persisted.

“Soon enough. You won’t tell ’im, will ya?”

“Tell him what?” Nic tossed back with a small smile. “Long as you stop doing whatever you’re not supposed to be doing.”

The boy wandered closer and climbed up to perch on the wagon’s edge, watching Nic with eyes that were as dark as his hair. Nic relaxed a bit, relieved that the kid wasn’t in imminent danger.

Nic hefted a sack onto his shoulder and carried it to the cart. It felt good to be working again. He liked this sort of heavy labor, the feel of muscles straining, the way he had to suck in his breath to heave a sack, then release it with a long whoosh. A full day of this sort of work allowed him to drop off into dreamless sleep—something he hungered for more than anything else these days.

The boy was silent, but Nic could feel him staring, watching his every move like an artist studying a subject he was about to paint. “How’d you get so strong?” the boy said at last.

“Always been pretty strong,” Nic said, pulling the next sack across the wooden planks of the wagon, positioning it. “How’d you get so fast?”

“Always been pretty fast,” said the boy, in the same measured tone Nic had used.

Nic smiled again, heaved the sack to his shoulder, hauled it five steps to the cart, and then dropped it.

“This your job?” the boy asked.

“For today,” Nic said.

Nic loaded another sack, and the boy was silent for a moment. “My dad’s looking for help. At our mine.”

“Hmm,” Nic said.

“Needs a partner to help haul rock. He’s been asking around here for days.”

“Miner, huh? I don’t care much for mining.”

“Why not? You could be rich.”

“More miners turn out dead than rich.” He winced inwardly, as a shadow crossed the boy’s face. It’d been a while since he’d been around a kid this age. He was maybe ten or eleven max, all wiry muscle and sinew. Reminded him of a boy he knew in Brazil.

Nic carried the next sack over to the wagon, remembering the heat there, so different from what Colorado’s summer held. Here it was bone dry. He was sweating now, after the morning’s work, but not a lot. In Brazil a man soaked his sheets as he slept.

“Listen, kid,” he said, turning back around to the wagon, intending to apologize for upsetting him. But the boy was gone.

Nic sighed and set to finishing his work. As the sun climbed high in the sky, he paused to take a drink from his canteen and eat a hunk of bread and cheese, watching the busy street at the end of the alleyway. He wondered if he’d see the boy again, back to his antics of racing teams of horses. The child was probably letting off steam, just as Nic had done all his life—he’d been about the child’s age when he’d first starting scrapping with others.

But that was in the past. Not since his voyage aboard the Mirabella had Nic indulged the need, succumbed to the desire to enter a fight. Several times now, he’d had the opportunity—and enough cause—to take another man down. But he had walked away. He knew, deep down he knew, that if he was ever to face his sisters, Odessa and Moira, again, if he was to come to them and admit he was penniless, everything would somehow be all right if he was settled inside. If he could come to a place of peace within, the kind of peace Manuel had known. It was the kind of thing that allowed a man to stand

up straight, shoulders back, the kind of thing that gave a man’s gut peace. Regardless of what he accomplished, or had in the past. Thing was, he hadn’t found that place of comfort inside, and he didn’t want what Manuel tried to sell him—God.

There had to be another way, another path. Something like this work. Hard manual labor. That might be what he needed most.

Nic heard a man calling, his voice a loud whisper, and his eyes narrowed as the man came limping around the corner, obviously in pain, his arm in a sling. “You, there!” he called to Nic. “Seen a boy around? About yea big?” he said, gesturing to about chest height.

“Yeah, he was here,” Nic called back. He set his canteen inside the empty wagon and walked to the end of the alleyway.

“Where’d he go?” the man said. Nic could see the same widow’s peak in the man’s brown hair that the boy had, the same curve of the eyes … the boy’s father, clearly.

“Not sure. One minute he was watching me at work, the next he was gone.”

“That’s my boy, all right.”

“I’ll help you find him.”

The man glanced back at him and then gave him a small smile. He stuck out his good arm and offered his hand. “I’d appreciate that. Name’s Vaughn. Peter Vaughn.”

“Dominic St. Clair,” he replied. “You can call me Nic.”

Peter smiled. His dimples were in the exact same spot as the boy’s. “Sure you can leave your work?”

“I’m nearly done. Let’s find your boy.”

“Go on,” Moira’s sister urged, gazing out the window. “He’s been waiting on you for a good bit now.”

“I don’t know what he sees in me,” Moira said, wrapping the veil around her head and across her shoulder again. It left most of her face visible but covered the burns at her neck, ear, and scalp. Did it cover them enough? She nervously patted it, making sure it was in place.

Odessa stepped away from washing dishes and joined her. “He might wonder what you see in him. Do you know what his story is? He seems wary.” Their eyes met and Odessa backtracked. “Daniel’s a

good man, Moira. I think highly of him. But I’d like to know what has burdened him so. Besides you.” She nudged her sister with her hip.

Moira wiped her hands on the dish towel and glanced out at him as he strode across the lawn with Bryce, Odessa’s husband. He was striking in profile, reminding her of the statues of Greek gods the French favored in their lovely tailored gardens. Far too handsome for her—since the fire, anyway. She shook her head a little.


Irritated at being caught in thought, Moira looked at Odessa again.

“Trust him, Moira. He’s a good man. I can sense it.”

She nodded, but inwardly she sighed as she turned away and wrapped a scarf around her veiled head and shoulders. A good man. After Reid and Max and Gavin—could she really trust her choice in men? Odessa was fortunate to have fallen for her husband, Bryce, a good man through and through. Moira’s experiences with men had been less than successful. What made Odessa think this one was trustworthy?

But as Daniel ducked his head through the door and inclined it to one side in silent invitation to walk with him, Moira thought about how he had physically saved her more than once. And how his gentle pursuit both bewildered and calmed her. Daniel had done nothing to deserve her suspicions.

She moved over to the door. He glanced at her, and she noticed how his thick lashes made his brown eyes more pronounced. He shuffled his feet as if he were nervous. “You busy?” he asked.

“No.” Moira felt a nervous tension tighten her stomach muscles.

“Can we, uh …” His gaze shifted to Odessa, who quickly returned to her dishes. “Go for a walk?” he finally finished.

Moira smoothed her skirts and said, “I’d like that.” Then, meeting her sister’s surreptitious gaze, she followed him outside. It was a lovely day on the Circle M. The horses pranced in the distance. She could see her brother-in-law riding out with Tabito, the ranch’s foreman.

“So, you wanted to talk,” she ventured.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t want to talk to you, Moira,” he said.

She looked up at him and then, when she saw the ardor in his gaze, she turned with a sigh.

“Don’t look away,” he whispered gently, pulling her to face him. He reached to touch her veil, as if he longed to cradle her cheek instead.

“No, Daniel, don’t,” she said and ran a nervous hand over the cover. He was tall and broad, and she did not feel physically menaced—it was her heart that threatened to pound directly out of her chest. Perhaps she wasn’t ready for this … the intimacies that a courtship brought.

She’d been dreaming about what it would be like to be kissed by him, held by him, but he never made such advances before. Never took the opportunity, leaving her to think that he was repulsed by

her burns, her hair, singed to just a few inches long, her past relationship with Gavin, or her pregnancy—despite what he claimed. Her hand moved to the gentle roundness of her belly, still small yet making itself more and more prominent each day. “I … I’m not even certain why you pursue me at all. Why you consider me worthy. ”

He seemed stunned by her words. “Worthy?” he breathed. He let out a hollow, breathy laugh and then looked to the sky, running a hand through his hair. He shook his head and then slowly brought his brown eyes down to meet hers again. “Moira,” he said, lifting a hand to cradle her cheek and jaw, this time without hesitation. She froze, wondering if he intended to kiss her at last. “I only hesitate because I am afraid,” he whispered.

“Afraid? You think I am not? I come to you scarred in so many ways, when you, you, Daniel, deserve perfection.…”

“No,” he said, shaking his head too. “It is I who carry the scars. You don’t know me. You don’t know who I am. Who I once was. What I’ve done …”

“So tell me,” she pleaded. “Tell me.”

He stared at her a moment longer, as if wondering if she was ready, wondering if she could bear it, and Moira’s heart pounded again. Then, “No. I can’t,” he said with a small shake of his head. He sighed heavily and moved up the hill. “Not yet.”

An hour after they began their search for Everett Vaughn, Peter sat down on the edge of the boardwalk and looked up to the sky. His face was a mask of pain. “That boy was hard to track when I wasn’t hurt.”

“He’ll turn up,” Nic reassured.

Peter nodded and lifted his gaze to the street.

“What happened to you?” Nic said gently, sitting down beside the man. His eyes scanned the crowds for the boy even as he waited for Peter’s response.

“Cave-in, at my mine. That’s why I’m here. Looking for a good man to partner with me. I’m onto a nice vein, but I’m livin’ proof that a man’s a fool to mine alone.” He looked at Nic and waited until he met his gaze. “You lookin’ for work?” He cocked his head to the side. “I’m offering a handsome deal. Fifty fifty.”

Nic let a small smile tug at the corners of his mouth. He glanced at the man, who had to be about his own age. There was an easy way about him that drew Nic, despite the pain evident in the lines of his face. “That is a handsome offer.” He cocked his own head. “But I don’t see you doing half the work, laid up like you are.”

“No, not quite. But I’ve already put a lot of work into it in the past three years, and I’m still good for about a quarter of the labor. To say nothing of the fact that my name’s on the claim.”

Nic paused, thinking about it, feeling drawn to help this man, but then shook his head. “I’m not very fond of small dark spaces.”

“So … make it bigger. Light a lamp.”

Nic shook his head, more firmly this time. “No. I’d rather find another line of work.”

Just then he spotted the boy, running the street again. “There he is,” Nic said, nodding outward. The boy’s father followed his gaze and with a grimace, rose to his feet. As they watched, the boy ran under a wagon that had temporarily pulled to a stop. Then he jumped up on the back of another, riding it for about twenty feet until he was passing by them. His face was a mask of elation.

“Everett! Ev! Come on over here!”

Everett’s eyes widened in surprise. He jumped down and ran over to them, causing a man on horseback to pull back hard on his reins and swear.

“Sorry, friend,” Peter said, raising his good arm up to the rider. The horseman shook his head and then rode on.

Peter grabbed his son’s arm and, limping, hauled him over to the boardwalk. “I’ve told you to stay out of the street.”

“So did I,” Nic said, meeting the boy’s gaze. The child flushed red and glanced away.

“We’d best be on our way,” Peter said. “Thanks for helpin’ me find my boy.” He reached out a hand and Nic rose to shake it. Peter paused. “It’s not often a man has a chance at entering a claim agreement once a miner has found a vein that is guaranteed to pay.”

Nic hesitated as he dropped Peter’s hand. “I’ve narrowly escaped with my life on more than one occasion, friend. I’m aiming to look up my sisters, but not from a casket.”

Peter lifted his chin, but his eyes betrayed his weariness and disappointment. What would it mean for him? For his boy, not to find a willing partner? Would they have to give up the mine just as they were finally on the edge of success? And what of the boy’s mother? His unkempt, too-small clothes told him Everett had been without a mother for some time.

He hesitated again, feeling a pang of compassion for them both. “Should I change my mind … where would I find you?”

A glimmer of hope entered Peter’s eyes. “A couple miles out of St. Elmo. Just ask around for the Vaughn claim up in the Gulch and someone’ll point you in our direction.” He reached out a hand. “I’d be much obliged, Nic. And I’m not half bad at cookin’ either. I’d keep you in grub. Give it some thought. But don’t be too put out if you get there, and I’ve found someone else.”

“Understood,” Nic said with a smile. “Safe journey.”

“And to you.” He turned away, tugging at his boy’s shoulder, but the child looked back at Nic, all big pleading eyes.

Hurriedly, Nic walked away in the opposite direction. He fought the desire to turn and call out to them. Wasn’t he looking for work? Something that would allow him to ride on to Bryce and Odessa’s ranch without his tail tucked between his legs? The man had said the mine was sure to pay.… I’m onto a nice vein.…

Was that a miner’s optimism or the truth?

Not yet?” Moira sputtered, following him. She frowned in confusion. He had been coaxing her forward, outward, steadily healing her with his kind attentions these last two months. But now it was as if they were at some strange impasse. What was he talking about? What had happened to him?

She hurried forward and grabbed his arm, forcing him to stop and turn again to face her. Her veil clung to her face in the early evening breeze. “Daniel.”

He slowly lifted his dark eyes to meet hers.

“This is about me, isn’t it?” she asked. “You attempt to spare my feelings but find me repulsive. I can hardly fault you, but—”

“No,” he said, with another hollow laugh. “Contrary to what you believe, Moira St. Clair, not everything boils down to you. You are braver than you think and more beautiful than you dare to believe. I believe we’re destined to be together.”

Moira held her breath. Then what—

“No,” he went on. “This is about something I need to resolve. Something that needs to be done, or at least settled in my mind, my heart, before I can properly court you.”

“What? What is it, Daniel?” she tried once more.

He only looked at her helplessly, mouth half open, but mute.

She crossed her arms and turned her back to him, staring out across the pristine valley, the land of the Circle M. It hurt her that he felt he couldn’t confide in her as she had with him. She stiffened when he laid his big hands on her shoulders. “I don’t need to be rescued, Daniel,” she said in a monotone. “God has seen me to this place, this time. He’ll see me through to the next … with or without you.”

“You don’t understand.”

“No. I don’t. We’ve been courting all summer, whether you realize it or not. And now you say that there is something else that needs to be resolved? You assume much, Daniel Adams. You think that I’ll wait forever?” She let out a scoffing laugh. “It’s clear you do not fear that any other man might pursue me. Not that I blame you …” She turned partly away and stared into the distance. “Please. Don’t let this linger on. I cannot bear it. Not if you do not intend to claim me as your own.”

He was silent for a long minute. Oh, that he would but turn her and meet her lips at last …

But he didn’t. “We both have a lot to think through, pray through, Moira,” he said quietly.

“Yes, well, let me know when that is accomplished,” she said over her shoulder, walking away as fast as she could, lest he see the tears that were already rolling down her cheeks.

©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. Claim by Lisa Bergren. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

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Littlest Hands!

This is just the most amazing thing! I read today that babies born in the week Ellina was born, are not able to have movements and barely flutter their limbs generally. I heard that multiples move more, but she loves hanging onto to her mama’s hand!!!


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