Monthly Archives: August 2010

Long day….long week….

I am so tired….not sure exactly why, until I realize that I have been moving from the moment I wake up until I go to bed for the past week or more..plus we started school and it is just alot of work. Homeschooling and teaching four different levels is just tons of work…..I am praying that i do not miss something.
Every day, I sit down and think…”I must be missing something. They did not read aloud enough today, did he do all his worksheets, should i have made him finish that?” If it was an easy day, I blame myself that I was not not hard enough on them, if it was a hard day, I blame myself that I am not a good enough teacher.

I am having assessments done for one of my sons. He is really struggling with learning to read and trying to figure out why. Hopefully, I can get some special reading classes, but any distractions, any kind of other movement, even with only five of us in the room, makes him lose focus and today he took forever to do his work, while my next student up, sped through his….and was ready for more work. The next one wanted me to explain the same math problem again, that I explained the last three days and otherwise he sits there blankly, staring at the sheet. He did end up finally getting it, I think. The last assessment was today, so next week we will find out the verdict.

The first grade is fun to teach…..it is alot of fun!
But as I said, I am so tired. I fell asleep in the library today. I thought, in my sleepy derangement “Who will notice? Do you really think anyone will mind if I just close my eyes for a minute?”
So to all of you, who live in the area, and saw me snoozing in the children’s area of the library….forgive me and pray I get more energized.

I ventured out to Walmart,my hated store, especially since they moved it clear across town and made it a gigantic Super-Walmart. I think it is like the 4th time I have been there, and I would not have gone, but the vacuum needed bags and they are the only ones who sell them. After misplacing the children, I rushed by an acquaintance with barely a nod….and after finding them, found her again and apologized. Thankfully, she has three children too….and hopefully understood. Did i mention, I really dislike that store?

Grocery shopping tomorrow…..I am considering making it a school project. I have to do some prep work on that tonight, but we will see what I can do about that. I planned meals in my head this past week. It worked good. Tonight, the hardest night of the week as produce is generally at an all time low….was not too bad as we have had the garden. Whole wheat spaghetti noodles with sauce and meat. Mine was fresh tomatoes from the garden on top with fresh basil, a bit of the sauce to make it stick, a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese and some Balsamic vinegar on top. It was yummy! I am loving the fresh tomatoes.
I am really sad it is getting cold already as I want them longer!!!

So, now I have moved the children’s bedtime up….hoping that helps all of us to get to bed earlier and be more rested and patient in the morning. Here is hoping…..

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Filed under Daily Happenings

A Love for Tomorrow by Vanessa Miller

My Review:
When Serenity William’s, a well known Christian Talk show host, is dumped by her husband to be, she is convinced that she will never fall in love again. She believes that men are just jealous of her success and when young, charismatic pastor Phillip Knight is interviewed on her show, she is determined to expose him as an example to all ego filled pastors. But Phillip has his own baggage that he carries and deals with an unkind ex-wife as well as other things. Serenity and Phillip find they both have alot to learn, from each other and about themselves.

This was a different style of book than I am used to reading, but was well written and I actually picked it up as soon as it came in the mail. I felt like she did a good job addressing some of the issues both characters had and bringing back to a right place with the Lord. -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:

A Love for Tomorrow (Second Chance at Love #2)

Whitaker House (September 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling of Whitaker House for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Vanessa Miller is a best-selling author, playwright, and motivational speaker. She started writing as a child, spending countless hours either reading or writing poetry, short stories, stage plays and novels. Vanessa’s creative endeavors took on new meaning in 1994 when she became a Christian. Since then, her writing has been centered on themes of redemption, often focusing on characters facing multi-dimensional struggles. Readers and critics alike have responded with overwhelming affirmation with her work topping several bestsellers lists and receiving numerous awards including “Best Christian Fiction Mahogany Award” and the “Red Rose Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction.” Her first Whitaker House book, Yesterday’s Promise debuted at #1 on the Black Christian News Network’s Bestsellers List.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (September 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603742085
ISBN-13: 978-1603742085

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Prologue

“Our wedding is next week, Michael. How can you possibly have cold feet now?” Serenity Williams asked her fiancé with her hands on her hips.

“This isn’t about cold feet, Serenity. You’re not listening to me. I’m telling you, I can’t marry you. I’ve been trying to convince myself for weeks that it will work, but I realize now that it won’t.”

This was not happening to her. This was some crazy dream that she was going to wake up from any minute, because there was no way that the good reverend, Dr. Michael Randolph—the man she loved and had been planning to marry for the past three years—could be standing in front of her one week before the wedding, trying to call it off. But, just in case this wasn’t a dream, Serenity decided to play along. “Okay, Michael. Please tell me exactly what I haven’t been listening to.”

Michael took off his black fedora, revealing his full head of wavy, black hair. “Can you sit down on the couch with me so we can talk?”

She didn’t want to sit down and talk; she wanted to get married. Michael owed her a wedding. After all, she had spent five years with this man. They had dated for two years and then gotten engaged. That had been three years ago. She had told her friends that she and Michael had decided to wait until his ministry got off the ground before getting married, but, in truth, it had been Michael’s decision to wait. Now that his ministry was growing, what did he want her to do—wait another five years so he could work on expanding his church so that it reached megachurch status?

Michael sat down on the couch and held out his hand, gesturing for Serenity to join him.

She sat down next to him but said nothing.

“Serenity, the first thing you need to understand is that I love you more than life itself. It is because of how much I love you that I can’t go through with this marriage.”

When am I going to wake up? Serenity held up her hand. “Wait a minute, now. I’m totally confused. Are you really telling me that you can’t marry me because you love me too much?”

“Let me finish, honey,” Michael said. He took a deep breath and then trod on. “We’ve put off our wedding for three years now, because I’ve been hoping you’ll get over your competitive ways. It’s this constant rivalry between us that’s driving me crazy. I’m afraid that the love I have for you will fade because of the competitive spirit you have.”

“The competitive spirit I have?” Serenity exploded as she stood up. “I’m not in competition with anybody. I’m just doing what God has called me to do.”

“That’s what you tell people. But it’s obvious that you are competitive. You wouldn’t be where you are today if you weren’t.”

“Okay, so what if I am a little competitive? What does that have to do with you and me? You’re the pastor of a church. I don’t have a church; I travel all over the world preaching, and I have a television ministry.”

“See? That’s what I mean,” he said, pointing at her. Then, he stood up, too. “You’re always throwing the fact that you have a TV ministry in my face. And you love it when other preachers invite you to speak at their churches. You’ve even been trying to get behind my pulpit for the past year.”

“That is not true. I have never asked to preach at your church. I have more speaking engagements than I can accept in a year, so I certainly don’t need to beg anybody for the opportunity to preach.”

“See, there you go again. Every time you open your mouth, it’s always to say something about what you’re doing in ministry and how you’re in such high demand.”

It wasn’t true. Serenity had never bragged about her ministry. At least, not in the way Michael was making it sound like she did. Yes, she was grateful that God had allowed her ministry to grow in the manner in which it had over the last two years. And, yes, she expressed that gratitude to anyone who would listen. But she wasn’t bragging. She was trying to communicate to others that she understood how blessed she was. Serenity’s father was a bishop who presided over seven megachurches and ten smaller to medium-sized ones. He had often tried to get her to take over one of his churches as a pastor, but she didn’t believe that God was leading her in that direction.

She had stepped out in faith when she’d started her television ministry on a newly developed cable channel. Her television program was part Oprah, part Joyce Meyer in style. She interviewed many pastors and teachers of the gospel. And then, when she was invited to minister, she brought along her camera crew and broadcast those events on her program, as well. She and Michael had discussed the format of her show at its inception. At the time, he had thought it was a great idea. He’d even told her that he could see her show going big time.

He just hadn’t told her that, when it did, he would hold it against her. “Michael, please don’t do this. Maybe we need to see a marriage counselor so we can work this out before the wedding.”

“Don’t you find the fact that we need a marriage counselor before we even get married a bit ludicrous?”

“I don’t know about that. What definitely seems ludicrous to me is the fact that you’re jealous of a ministry that God’s hand is on.” She took a deep breath, tried to calm herself, and said, “Look, Michael. I’m thirty-four years old. You’re forty-two. We both agreed that now is the perfect time for us to have children. I’ve waited for you for five years. Why are you backing out now?”

“I’m sorry, Serenity. I just can’t marry someone whose ministry overshadows my own. The next thing I know, people will be calling me ‘Mr. Williams’ instead of ‘Pastor Randolph.’” He shook his head. “I just can’t deal with that.”

This was real—Michael was calling off their wedding—and Serenity felt as if her world was coming to an end. “What do you want me to do, Michael? Do you want me to give up my TV ministry? Is that it?”

He put his hat back on. “No. That won’t work. You’ve created such a following now that, even if you weren’t on TV, preachers would still be calling for you to speak at their conferences.”

“I don’t understand. I thought you loved me.”

Michael didn’t respond. He picked up his car keys and walked out of the house without looking back.

If he had turned around, he would have seen the tears that flowed down Serenity’s face and the longing that she felt way down deep in her heart. But Michael didn’t care about that. He cared only about being “overshadowed.” Why hadn’t she seen this coming? Her best friend, Melinda Marks, had tried to warn her two years ago, when she’d said, “Trying to do the will of God and the will of your man gets hard sometimes.”

At the time, Serenity had thought that Melinda was referring to her relationship with Bishop Steven Marks. Steven and Melinda had been engaged long ago, but Steven had felt that he couldn’t marry a woman who wanted to preach the gospel rather than stay at home and be a wife and mother. So, he’d called off their wedding. But God’s will had prevailed in that situation, and Steven and Melinda had finally gotten married eighteen months ago.

As she wiped the tears from her eyes, Serenity told herself not to worry. Michael would come to his senses, and they would be married on Saturday, as planned.

But on Thursday, her father, Bishop Lawrence Williams, called and informed her that Michael’s secretary was phoning everyone on the guest list and letting them know that the wedding had been cancelled. That’s when Serenity finally faced the fact that Michael wasn’t coming back. He had allowed his ego to override their love, and she was crushed.

“Why didn’t you tell me, sweetheart?” her father asked.

“I thought he would change his mind. I just didn’t believe he was serious.”

Serenity had been calling Michael for the past three days, leaving messages on his answering machine and voice mail, letting him know that she still loved him, and that she still wanted to go through with the wedding. Why should she have to wait ten years for Michael to come to his senses, as Melinda had done with Steven? Serenity was convinced that if they just went ahead and got married, they would be able to work everything out later.

“Why is he doing this?” her father asked, cutting in on her thoughts.

“He says I’m too competitive—that he can’t marry a woman who overshadows him and his ministry.”

“Oh, sweetheart, I’m so sorry to hear that. But if that’s the way he feels, then he doesn’t deserve you. I believe that, if you’re meant to marry a preacher, God will send one who can handle your anointing.”

Serenity didn’t respond to her father’s remark, and they brought their conversation to an end. But, by the time she had hung up the phone, she had made a very clear resolution. She wouldn’t waste another minute of her life on another ego-driven preacher.

***

Pastor Phillip McKnight was a man who had been greatly blessed by God. There was no other explanation for the extraordinary life he’d led. He’d played sixteen years of professional football, being traded only twice and winning a Super Bowl championship with both teams. The last team he’d played for had been the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He’d been thirty-seven and still fit enough to play, if he’d wanted, when he’d voluntarily retired. But Phillip had other things on his mind. He’d earned millions of dollars from his winning football career, and now he wanted to live out the rest of his life serving God and winning souls for the kingdom.

When he arrived at the new building of the church he pastored, New Destiny, he entered, eager to check on the progress of the construction workers. He had given up a lot to build this church, but he had no regrets. In his lifetime, he had experienced fame and fortune, the likes of which most people only dream about. But none of the things he had accomplished ever truly fulfilled him. Then, one day, he’d met Jesus, and it was as if the blinders came off. He began to see things so much more clearly. He received new direction for his life.

Jimmy Dayton, the foreman for the construction company, met Phillip in the fellowship hall. “I’ve got something to show you,” he told him excitedly.

“Lead the way,” Phillip said, hoping that at least one of the rooms in the church was finally finished. They had been making plans for the building for a year and a half, but construction hadn’t started until nine months ago. Right now, New Destiny was holding its services in a high school gymnasium, and he was getting ready to come home.

Jimmy opened the double doors to the sanctuary, and Phillip walked in, his eyes beholding the beauty of the navy blue wall-to-wall carpet and the matching cushioned pews, which spanned the three-thousand-seat sanctuary. The glass podium he’d ordered was in the pulpit area, waiting for him to stand behind it and preach the Word. He turned to Jimmy. “This looks incredible! What else is finished?”

“Just your office, but the structure is solid enough for your congregation to have services here soon.”

“This is the best news I’ve had all week!” Phillip exclaimed. “I’m glad I stopped by today. How soon can we start holding our services in here?” He couldn’t keep the excitement out of his voice.

“Probably in about two weeks or so,” Jimmy said. “We need to get a couple more things done before the safety inspection.”

“Okay—but hurry up! I can’t wait to have our services in this sanctuary,” Phillip said before heading for his new office, where he sat down behind the desk. He finally felt like they were making progress. That sense of satisfaction enabled him to take out the envelope he’d been carrying around all day in his pocket and put it on his desk. He looked at the envelope for a full ten minutes before picking it up and opening it.

Slowly, he unfolded the divorce decree and stared at it for a few moments before throwing it back on his desk. Then, he leaned back in his chair, closed his eyes, and prayed for strength.

One

No, this man is not keeping me waiting like this, Serenity thought as she looked at her diamond-studded Gucci watch. It was one of her favorite accessories. The watch had been priced at two grand, but Serenity had talked the store manager into halving the price. Her father always told her that a woman should treat herself to something special every now and then. So, while she’d been on her honeymoon in the Bahamas—without the groom—she’d purchased this gorgeous watch without a second thought. She loved the look and feel of Gucci on her wrist.

But her beautiful timepiece was telling her that her interviewee was twenty minutes late. The infamous Pastor Phillip McKnight had cancelled the interview they’d scheduled for two weeks ago so that he and a group of evangelists, ministers, and church members could travel to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to help with the disaster relief efforts after the terrible earthquake that had racked the country and claimed so many lives. Serenity wholeheartedly understood Pastor McKnight’s desire to be in Haiti during the country’s time of need. She had even set up a disaster relief fund on her own Web site, encouraging the viewers of her Christian television show, Walk This Way, to donate money. But Pastor McKnight had been back in the States for three days now. What in the world could have caused him to be late for their rescheduled meeting?

Serenity hadn’t wanted to interview Pastor McKnight in the first place. She was more comfortable with female preachers and teachers on her show, and she thought that her viewership, consisting predominantly of young to middle-aged women, would benefit most from hearing about the accomplishments and visions of other women around their age. But her producer kept telling her that women were also interested in men who served the Lord. So, here she was, being mistreated by another arrogant pastor who thought the world revolved around his inflated head.

Well, enough was enough. Serenity would not wait a second longer. She was going to gather up her camera crew and head back to Chicago. But, as she stood up, the office door opened, and a broad-shouldered man with skin the color of milk chocolate rushed through it. She had seen Pastor McKnight on television when he’d played for Tampa, but that football helmet must have blocked her view, because she had never imagined that the man was this fine in the flesh. Serenity sat back down and tried to process everything she knew about Pastor Phillip McKnight. He was a former football player who’d started building the church he now pastored a year before retiring from the NFL. She also knew that he was divorced.

“Sorry I’m so late,” he said with an apologetic smile. “I got a flat tire on the interstate and had to change it.”

That explained the dirt smudges she saw on his dress shirt. “I thought you forgot about our interview,” Serenity said, not willing to let him off the hook too easily.

Phillip stretched out his hand, and she took it. As they shook, Phillip said, “I could never forget an appointment with Serenity Williams. Even four flat tires couldn’t keep me away.”

Serenity pulled her hand out of his grip. The man was charming, but he was a preacher, and that made her mistrustful. It also made him off-limits. Ever since that swollen-headed reverend, Michael Randolph, had dumped her because her ministry was more successful than his, she had sworn off preachers. Even her brother, Larry the egomaniac, freely admitted that he wouldn’t be able to handle a wife who made more money or was better known than he. Falling in love with a preacher was for women who looked good in straitjackets and liked padded rooms. Best just to get this interview over with and forget she’d ever met Pastor Phillip McKnight. “So, would you like to talk in here first, or would you like to show the camera crew around the church so they can shoot some footage for the show?”

“Umm…well, I—I guess we could talk first, if—if that’s okay with you,” Phillip said.

“Are you sure, Pastor McKnight? Because, if you’d rather work with the film crew first, I’m okay with that.”

“No, no—please, sit back down. I’d like nothing more than to speak with you right now.” He sat down behind his desk and then said, “I forgot to charge my cell phone.”

What does that have to do with anything? Serenity wondered as she looked at him with questioning eyes.

Phillip pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and set it on his desk. “I would have called to tell you that I was going to be late, but my cell died on me.”

“Okay,” Serenity said. She had already moved on and wished he’d do the same. She pulled her notepad and pen out of her purse. “This is a pretty big church building for such a young ministry. Most preachers begin their ministries in storefronts or other smaller locales. What made you decide to go so big so soon?”

“No small talk, no chitchat; just get straight down to business, huh?”

Serenity put down her notepad. “I wasn’t trying to rush you, Pastor McKnight. It’s just that my father taught me about the value of time, and I try not to waste it.”

“Your father seems like a wise man. That’s why I have a meeting scheduled with him next week. I’ll be sure to let him know that his daughter still follows his advice.”

Serenity’s curiosity was piqued. She wanted to know why Pastor Phillip McKnight would leave the warmth of Tampa, Florida, to come to Chicago during the season of snowstorms and winter chills, but she didn’t ask. Instead, she said, “Make sure to bring a heavy coat and a pair of gloves. They don’t call it the Windy City for nothing.”

“I plan to. Your father already warned me about the weather. But he promised that your mother would fix a warm meal for my trouble.”

With a furrowed brow, Serenity said, “My mother normally tells me when she and my father are hosting out-of-town guests. I’m surprised she didn’t say anything about your visit.” Then, as if shaking off the shocking news, she picked her notepad back up. “Shall we continue, then, Pastor McKnight?”

Phillip put his elbows on his desk and smiled at her. “Would you do me a favor?” he asked.

“That depends. What do you need?” she asked with a wary grin on her face.

“Would you please call me Phillip? I don’t think we need to be so formal, especially since I’ll be meeting your parents next week.”

Okay, the suspense was killing her. There was no way she was going to be able to wait until she was finished with her work to call her mother and find out why Phillip was coming to dinner. “So, why are you and my father getting together next week?”

“I guess I’m kind of looking for a spiritual father, of sorts. I’ve been a pastor for only two years, and I’m getting to the point where I really need some godly guidance and mentoring.”

“Are you saying that you’ve decided to voluntarily bring the church you built under another man’s leadership?”

Phillip shook his head. “I don’t see it as the church I built. This church was built by God and the people of God, and I just want to continue to honor Him in all that we do.”

Most of the pastors Serenity knew weren’t eager to submit themselves to another man’s leadership. Michael, for example, had always complained about the things her father would ask him to do when he’d presided over Michael’s church. Even her thickheaded brother complained about their dad poking his nose into his business from time to time. Serenity had to admit, Pastor Phillip McKnight seemed somewhat different. But there had to be something wrong with him—after all, his ex-wife had left him for some reason, right?

Serenity had finally agreed to do this interview in part because she’d figured it would give her an opportunity to show her viewers how egotistical and pride-filled Pastor McKnight was. This might just be her chance. She leaned closer to Phillip and, in the most innocent voice she could muster, said, “You sound like a reasonable man, Pastor McKnight. One would wonder why your wife divorced you.”

Phillip flinched, then said, “I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you wait for me in the sanctuary? I’ll change my shirt, and then we can give the camera crew a tour of the facility while you interview me about the ministry.”

She didn’t miss his emphasis on “about the ministry,” and she was immediately horrified at what she’d said.

Phillip had changed the subject, and she was more than willing to move away from it, as well. “You keep extra shirts at work?” she asked.

Phillip stood up and pointed at the dirt spots on his shirt. “Never know when I’ll get all grimy changing a tire.”

“My father keeps extra clothes at his church office, too.”

“Smart man,” Phillip said.

She laughed as she stood up. “Okay, I’ll wait for you in the sanctuary.”

Before she could turn away, Phillip said, “You have a beautiful smile, Serenity. You should always keep a smile on your face.”

The compliment made Serenity uncomfortable. She turned and headed out the door as quick as her three-inch heels would carry her.

***

Why did I say that? Phillip wanted to bash himself in the head for speaking like that to a woman who obviously wanted nothing to do with him. Serenity Williams had practically run out of his office, as if he’d told her he had swine flu or something.

Phillip took off his soiled shirt, reached into his closet, and grabbed a blue button-down. As he put it on and then turned to the mirror to examine himself, his thoughts turned back to Serenity. He had been watching her program for more than a month now—not every day, but he made a point to watch whenever he could. Somehow, he’d never imagined that her hazel eyes would sparkle as brightly as they did in person. And that smile of hers almost took his breath away. Actually, Phillip wished it had taken his breath away, for then, he wouldn’t have been able to embarrass himself with stupid talk.

How could he have come on to Serenity like some high school jock with a crush on the prom queen? He lightly slapped his cheeks with his fingertips. “Get yourself together. Go out there and act in a professional manner,” he instructed himself, pointing a finger at his reflection in the mirror.

Phillip left his office, determined to conduct himself in an upright way. Serenity might very well be one of the most beautiful women he’d seen in a long time, but he was a man of God, and he knew how to control himself. “Okay,” Phillip said, clasping his hands together as he stood in the sanctuary, looking from Serenity to the camera crew. “Is everybody ready to get this tour started?”

“We sure are.” Serenity stood up and introduced Phillip to the camera crew, which consisted of two guys. “This is Lenny,” she said as she pointed to a tall, slim Conan O’Brien look-alike. “He’ll be snapping pictures.” She then pointed to a slightly balding African-American man wearing blue jeans and a shirt with palm trees on it. “Bob will be shooting all the footage.”

“Hello, Lenny. Hello, Bob.” Phillip nodded at each man.

“So, where do you want to start?” Serenity asked him.

“Well, you’re already in my pride and joy.” Phillip lifted his arms and did a full circle on the plush carpet of the sanctuary. “This is the first space that was finished, after the office complex. We wanted to be able to have services here, even while the construction crew was pounding their way through the rest of the building.”

Serenity looked from the pulpit to the many pews that lined the first floor and then to the balcony. “This is a beautiful sanctuary. I love the navy and burgundy colors you chose. Very bold, but still warm and inviting.” She turned to Phillip and asked, “How many people can you fit in this sanctuary?”

“It seats about three thousand.”

“For such a young ministry, that is an awful lot of members to have.”

“Oh, we have only about eighteen hundred members, but I believe that we will quickly grow into the place.”

“Sources have said that you put up five million of your own money for this project, but I’m surprised that a bank would loan you the rest of the money you needed without the membership to back it up,” Serenity said.

“I’m still raising capital to finish the building. We’re a work in progress, as you will see.”

“So, the bank wouldn’t loan you the money?”

“We’re in a recession. They loaned me half of what I needed, and I have to come up with the other half.”

“But you’ve already put up so much of your own money. Do you think you’ll get to a point where you’ll say enough is enough?”

Shaking his head, Phillip said, “I would give that and much more to the vision God gave me.” What he didn’t say, though, was that following God’s purpose for his life had already cost him dearly. He had been willing to give the money, but watching his wife walk out the door had been the hardest thing he’d ever done. “Let’s move forward, shall we?”

Phillip led them to the office suite and let them snap pictures of the staff members as they went about their various tasks. Then, he showed them the spaces that would one day be the youth center, additional classrooms, and the fitness room.

“I have never seen a fitness room in a church complex,” Serenity said, signaling Lenny to continue snapping pictures of the equipment.

Phillip picked a fifty-pound weight off the floor and put it back on the rack where it belonged. Although the room was not yet finished, several men in the church had set up the equipment and begun using it, anyway. Guys didn’t need much—just some barbells and a bench press. Ladies, on the other hand, would want to pretty the room up, get rid of the dust and clutter, hang mirrors, and so forth. “I believe in the importance of staying in shape—taking care of God’s temple,” he said.

“I guess you do,” Serenity said with a thoughtful look on her face. Then, she snapped back into professional mode with another question. “So, what does a day in the life of Phillip McKnight look like?”

“I’m not very complex. I get up around six in the morning. I go for a run, then I dig into the Word of God and pray, have a quick breakfast, and come to the church. Once I’m at church, I either plan my sermon or do some other work around here.”

“Speaking of your sermon,” Serenity said, “what time do you want us back here tonight so that Bob can film the message?”

“The service begins at seven, but I normally don’t start preaching until about seven forty-five.”

“Okay,” Serenity said as she held out her hand to shake Phillip’s. “I think we got some good footage today. So, we’ll wrap up for now and finish everything this evening.”

As Phillip took Serenity’s hand in his, he had to remind himself that this was a business meeting and not a first date. He wanted to kiss her hand, but he restrained himself. When he released her hand, he noticed the Gucci watch on her wrist. His ex-wife had liked expensive things, too, and he couldn’t help wondering if Serenity was just like the woman who’d left him and taken half of his hard-earned money with her.

*********************************************

Publisher’s Note:

This novel is a work of fiction. References to real events, organizations, or places are used in a fictional context. Any resemblances to actual persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.

All Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version, © 1979, 1980, 1982, 1984 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

A Love for Tomorrow
Book Two in the Second Chance at Love Series

Vanessa Miller

http://www.vanessamiller.com

ISBN: 978-1-60374-208-5

Printed in the United States of America

© 2010 by Vanessa Miller

Whitaker House

1030 Hunt Valley Circle

New Kensington, PA 15068

http://www.whitakerhouse.com

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Miller, Vanessa.

A love for tomorrow / by Vanessa Miller.

p. cm. — (Second chance at love; bk. 2)

Summary: “Christian television show host Serenity Williams is determined never to fall in love with another ego-driven pastor, but then she meets Pastor Phillip McKnight, whose kingdom vision and humble personality begin to change her mind”—Provided by publisher.

ISBN 978-1-60374-208-5 (trade pbk.)

1. African American churches—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3613.I5623L68 2010

813′.6—dc22
2010017486

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical—including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system—without permission in writing from the publisher. Please direct your inquiries to permissionseditor@whitakerhouse.com.

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My garden and and some of my canning…

My garden may not look like alot in pictures, but it did really well this year!!!
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My cucumber patch……

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A nice red tomato

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The tomato jungle….

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The produce just mainly from today…..

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My canning today…..like 13 jars of plum/peach jam, 7 jars of peaches and I am have a batch of homemade special roasted garlic, fresh basil tomato sauce simmering on the stove that I am going to can.

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My basil plant and two big pepper plants that I used the peppers in my salsa/taco sauce that I made like 11 jars last week.

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Our little pet Snickers….the very patient bunny….

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My picnic table…and some flowers…I used a clear protective coat on it…one of our projects I did this summer!! I am pretty pleased with myself.

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Our front porch that we stained….

So, long day, still not done, I still have another box of peaches to do up, but it feels good to see all the jars downstairs already.

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Trip to see my sister

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Ellina….she is getting so big!!! She is 4 lbs now and has a little fat on her! We could not hold her this time, so we had to be content with peering at her sleeping. She is breastfeeding twice a day now, and they are seeing that she is starting to hold her temperature, so in the next few days she may be moved to an open bed.

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My Nephew- He is getting so big!!

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Cute little Eliza- she is walking all over and not even a year yet!

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L. and Shawn…..he is getting so big too!

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The Devil in Pew Number Seven by Rebecca Alonzo

My Review:
Where do I start with this book?? I sat and read this book through in one night, I have to say this is one that sticks with you and makes you take a step back and really think things through. It certainly threw me for a loop!
The author states in the beginning that sometimes truth is stranger or worse than fiction and she certainly wishes this book was fiction, but sadly, was not.

When a young woman falls in love with the young pastor, it was such a romantic beginning. Real life has a way though of bringing them down to earth as she found that the children she so desperately wanted may not ever be a reality. Through a miracle though, she was able to conceive and Rebecca was born into this very loving home. When her daddy took a job in a small town, living near the church, the nightmare began. One man made it his job to not only make their lives miserable, but a living nightmare of terror. I kept reading and saying “Please, leave!!! Please, give up and go!!” There were shootings, bombings, threatening messages and more terror than any seven year old should have to deal with.
After her father had some break downs mentally and physically, I was crying with her, but his strength and forgiveness as well as loyalty to his parishioners was incredible. When one day, the worst happens and little Rebecca is sent running for help….she is left with her little brother to deal with the aftermath. She speaks of God’s love, forgiveness to those who hurt them, the terror that she lived with, how it effected her and how she and her brother were able to heal and move forward. I could not sleep after reading this. I was just in shock at the measure of love and forgiveness I saw demonstrated through this book and wondered and prayed that God would show me how to do that.

If you are looking for a book that is truly inspiring about forgiving those who destroy your life, look no further. This book is truly about a man whom acted as a devil in their life and how God brought forgiveness through them, even though they still finally after all those years managed to catch him and convict him. – 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:

The Devil in Pew Number Seven

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (July 2, 2010)

***Special thanks to Christy Wong of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rebecca Nichols Alonzo

Becky Alonzo never felt safe as a child. Although she lived next door to the church her father pastored, the devil lived across the street. This tormented man terrorized her family with rifle shots and ten bombings. When these violent acts didn’t scare them away, he went even further. During dinner one evening, seven-year-old Becky and her younger brother watched as their parents were gunned down. Today Becky speaks about betrayal and the power of forgiveness. She is a graduate of Missouri State University and has been involved in ministry, including a church plant, youth outreach, and missions, for thirteen years. She and her husband, along with their two children, live in Franklin, Tennessee.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (July 2, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414326599
ISBN-13: 978-1414326597

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Walking, Crawling, Dead or Alive

I ran.

My bare feet pounding the pavement were burning from the sunbaked asphalt. Each contact between flesh and blacktop provoked bursts of pain as if I were stepping on broken glass. The deserted country road, stretching into the horizon, felt as if it were conspiring against me. No matter how hard I pushed myself, the safe place I was desperate to reach eluded me.

Still, I ran.

Had a thousand angry hornets been in pursuit, I couldn’t have run any faster. Daddy’s instructions had been simple: I had to be a big girl, run down the street as fast as my legs could carry me, and get help. There was nothing complicated about his request. Except for the fact that I’d have to abandon my hiding place under the kitchen table and risk being seen by the armed madman who had barricaded himself with two hostages in my bedroom down the hall. I knew, however, that ignoring Daddy’s plea was out of the question.

And so I ran.

Even though Daddy struggled to appear brave, the anguish in his eyes spoke volumes. Splotches of blood stained his shirt just below his right shoulder. The inky redness was as real as the fear gnawing at the edges of my heart. I wanted to be a big girl for the sake of my daddy. I really did. But the fear and chaos now clouding the air squeezed my lungs until my breathing burned within my chest.

My best intentions to get help were neutralized, at least at first. I remained hunkered down, unable to move, surrounded by the wooden legs of six kitchen chairs. I had no illusions that a flimsy 6 x 4 foot table would keep me safe, yet I was reluctant to leave what little protection it afforded me.

In that space of indecision, I wondered how I might open the storm door without drawing attention to myself. One squeak from those crusty hinges was sure to announce my departure plans. Closing the door without a bang against the frame was equally important. The stealth of a burglar was needed, only I wasn’t the bad guy.

Making no more sound than a leaf falling from a tree, I inched my way out from under the table. I stood and then scanned the room, left to right. I felt watched, although I had no way of knowing for sure whether or not hostile eyes were studying my movements. I inhaled the distinct yet unfamiliar smell of sulfur lingering in the air, a calling card left behind from the repeated blasts of a gun.

I willed myself to move.

My bare feet padded across the linoleum floor.

I was our family’s lifeline, our only connection to the outside world. While I hadn’t asked to be put in that position, I knew Daddy was depending on me. More than that, Daddy needed me to be strong. To act. To do what he was powerless to do. I could see that my daddy, a strong ex–Navy man, was incapable of the simplest movement. The man whom I loved more than life itself, whose massive arms daily swept me off my feet while swallowing me with an unmatched tenderness, couldn’t raise an arm to shoo a fly.

To see him so helpless frightened me.

Yes, Daddy was depending on me.

Conflicted at the sight of such vulnerability, I didn’t want to look at my daddy. Yet my love for him galvanized my resolve. I reached for the storm-door handle. Slow and steady, as if disarming a bomb, and allowing myself quick glances backward to monitor the threat level of a sudden ambush, I opened the storm door and stepped outside. With equal care, I nestled the metal door against its frame.

I had to run.

I shot out from under the carport, down the driveway, and turned right where concrete and asphalt met. The unthinkable events of the last five minutes replayed themselves like an endless-loop video in my mind. My eyes stung, painted with hot tears at the memory. Regardless of their age, no one should have to witness what I had just experienced in that house—let alone a seven-year-old girl. The fresh images of what had transpired moments ago mocked me with the fact that my worst fears had just come true.

I had to keep running.

Although I couldn’t see any activity through the curtains framing my bedroom window, that didn’t mean the gunman wasn’t keeping a sharp eye on the street. I hesitated, but only for a moment more. What might happen gave way to what had happened. I had to get help. Now, almost frantic to reach my destination, I redoubled my efforts.

I ran on.

To get help for Momma and Daddy. To escape the gunman. To get away from all the threatening letters, the sniper gunshots, the menacing midnight phone calls, the home invasions—and the devil who seemed to be behind so many of them.

But I’m getting ahead of the story.

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So tired…..but we are trying

to cram all the fun things we possibly could into the last week before school began. The school room is not complete yet…did you know it is really hard to find cheap cabinets that are lower in height? We think we found a solution, but it is not installed yet and we still have to get stuff hauled over here.

We went to Silverwood yesterday. It was alot of fun for the kids, lots of work for mom, but it was fun to see them so happy.
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F. had a great time too, enjoying the rides too.
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That is F. ducking his head after getting sprayed with water…
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The Timber Terror…
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Their faces when they got off!!!
Poor L. though, we found out he did not do so well with heights on the ferris wheel. It felt like you were about to dump out though, seriously.
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After spending all day there, we managed to meet up with my sister and spent the night at a campsite with her in this really pretty campground. It was really nice and even though I greatly dislike camping, I think next year, it would be a great solution.

I came home and all the weight of responsibility fell down on my shoulders again and I am so weary…I may not be able to be ready for school on thursday, but at this point, I have to rest up and recover. I will add some pictures to this post too.
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F. got a new bus this year to drive and is excited for school to begin tomorrow. Back to the normal routine of life, for all of us!!!
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Berenstain Bears and a Job well done by Jan and Mike Berenstain

My Review:
How many times have we heard people talk about the Berenstain Bear’s series and complain about how dumb they made the dad look, or the cubs were disrespectful and got away with it or all those things? Well, this series of Berenstain Bear’s books are different. This one the dad kills spiders and is shown as a great dad, saving the cubs from the spiders and teaching them a lesson about working hard, even when we face obstacles, plus this one has a bible lesson added in at the end. Also, the bear family has another baby cub….I highly recommend this series, it was one both the boys and I enjoyed! -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 authors are:

and the book:

The Berenstain Bears and A Job Well Done

Zonderkidz (April 9, 2010)

***Special thanks to Krista Ocier of Zondervan for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:


Stan and Jan Berenstain introduced the first Berenstain Bear books in 1962. Mike Berenstain grew up watching his parents work together to write about and draw these lovable bears. Eventually he started drawing and writing about them too. Mike is married to Andrea, and they have three children. They live in Pennsylvania, in an area that looks a lot like Bear Country.

Visit the authors’ website.

Product Details:

List Price: $3.99
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Zonderkidz (April 9, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310712548
ISBN-13: 978-0310712541

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

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Pressure canning

I used my new pressure canner tonight! It was a little nerve wracking as it has been a while, but it went well.
I canned 3 jars of pickles last night from my garden, but bought a box of tomatoes and used a bunch of peppers from my garden and some other stuff to make a big batch of salsa. I canned 7 quarts and am hoping to do the rest still….It was hot though!!!

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Re-doing my school room

I know, this is probably useless without pictures, but my school room is so messy it would be too much of an embarrassment to post online for all to see. Right now, it is in my basement where I can pretend it does not exist so well.
But, right now, I am figuring out how to spend money on it. I want to make it functional for the school year and not so frustrating to find things. My plan is to install a long counter top in the back, and maybe get rid of desks and buy a small square table. This way, I will make things look neater, add organizing space and hopefully streamline things a bit.

But….I hate spending money. I just do. So, please take a deep breath with me and assure me I will be glad spending this money…

I am a bit overwhelmed by the amount of manipulatives, books, flashcards and the like i have in my office and am working on putting it so I will be able to find it and use it. Do you think it is possible?

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Misadventures in travel- A Missionary’s Experience in Brazil by Paula Edwards

My Review:
This is a story of a couple’s adventures as missionaries to Brazil. The story is filled with twists and turns of the trials and experiences they had learning how to be missionaries. You see, they did not plan on being missionaries, but that is how God works sometimes.
From experiencing a meal where they could not eat because too many flies, until the cafe owner helped them shoo while they ate quickly, to car trouble, this book is filled with real life adventures.
The writing is a little choppy, but you can read the heart in this book and I think it is a wonderful story and worth reading. It would be a great one to read with your family as a read aloud or as part of a school read aloud. I am going to see if I can work some of it in with my boys this year.
– 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:

Misadventures in Travel: A Missionary’s Experience in Brazil

Hannibal Books (June 1, 2010)

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Paula Edwards, a native of the piney hills of north Louisiana, received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from Louisiana Tech University. Besides having served God on the mission field, Paula also has been a schoolteacher and enjoys riding and training horses. She and her husband, Van, are parents of two grown daughters. The Edwardses live in North Louisiana, in which Van serves as pastor.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.95
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Hannibal Books (June 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1934749796
ISBN-13: 978-1934749791

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Chapter 1 — The Beginning

Everything started innocently enough. One evening we were sitting in our living room doing the usual things. The TV was on, I had a magazine of some type; my husband, Van, was browsing on his laptop. I had no idea what he was studying on his computer, although I was reasonably certain it was something harmless. Wrong assumption.

All of a sudden Van called out, “Found us a job.”

That was interesting to me, because I didn’t know we were looking for one. Anyway, what he said got my attention. To learn more I leaned toward his chair. Turns out he was browsing the site of the International Mission Board of the Southern

Baptist Convention; he was surveying opportunities to serve overseas.

At the time Van was the pastor of a small Baptist church in North Central Arkansas. We had been at this church for about three years. In some ways our time there had been good, but we also had experienced many challenges. Recently we had talked about believing that our usefulness at this church had reached an end and that God seemed to be calling us elsewhere. The way God speaks to His children is amazing. We both heard Him; we both heard the same thing—which brings me back to Van’s announcement.

“What?” I asked

“I said I found us a job.”

“Oh, yeah? Where?”

“Brazil.”

“Brazil? Doing what?”

“Mapping.”

“Mapping? What does that mean?”

Van can be maddeningly persistent in making me drag everything out of him without offering any unnecessary information that I don’t specifically ask for.

“For Pete’s sake, tell me!”

“It says ‘mapping team needed to explore fishing villages in northeastern Brazil’.”

My heart went thump-thump. I figured he could hear it, but I wasn’t ready to reveal the excitement those simple words caused in me.

“Hmm. That could be interesting.”

We spent a few minutes discussing the possibility; then I picked up my magazine and pretended to become absorbed in an article while at the same time I watched Law and Order. Actually my mind was spinning. I can be maddeningly persistent in hiding my true feelings . . . for a while anyway.

The next day while I was at my job as a band director/ music teacher, I had the opportunity to check out the job for myself. I had a study hall that had only one student in it. Our relationship was more one of friendship than teacher-student. I read the job description and then turned and looked at her.

“I’m going to Brazil,” I stated bluntly.

She gave me a confused look, so I told her about what had happened the night before and read the job description from the computer in front of me. A slow smile spread across her face. She said, “You’re going to Brazil.”

I really believed this was going to happen, but at the same time I couldn’t imagine going back overseas. I have two grown daughters whom I love fiercely; at the time I had two small grandchildren. How could I leave them for two years? How could I miss out on everything that would be going on? On the other hand, I knew God was speaking to me. If you have ever been in that position, then you understand that when He calls you to a job, you never will be happy doing anything else. If you never have been in that position, you won’t understand the way I was feeling at that moment. Believe me, the call is unmistakable.

For two weeks I wrestled with the idea, even though I knew what the final decision would be. I knew I would go to Brazil, but convincing myself actually to admit it out loud in words was difficult. Finally one Sunday after church Van and I went out to eat. Van had mentioned the job in Brazil a couple of times, but he hadn’t pressed the issue. He was absolutely ready to go. Now. This minute. But, you see, when a couple accepts a call to missions, it has to be a joint acceptance. If both parties aren’t completely on board with the idea, then some sort of compromise has to be reached. This decision is best not forced on anyone. So Van hadn’t pressed, but I knew exactly where he stood. The time had arrived for me to let him in on the fact that I was right there beside him. For a long time we sat in the restaurant and talked. I cried. I was so torn. I knew what God wanted me to do. And I wanted to do it, too, but I still had that nagging desire to stay near my family. After spending the biggest part of a year serving in Guatemala in a previous short-term missions assignment, I knew how difficult the separation would be. Ultimately, though, I knew I couldn’t put my family and my desires ahead of God’s will for my life. So we left the restaurant knowing we would pursue employment with the International Mission Board.

To be accepted for service with the IMB requires an exacting process, but we were hoping the fact that we had served before would hasten the schedule. It must have, because we went home that Sunday night and emailed the IMB, which meant that on Monday the agency received our communication. On Tuesday we had a response. We could begin the procedure to fill the mapping-team position. We were ecstatic. Having finally crossed that line to submit to God, I now was eager to get things on the road. All of this happened in February, but we had lots of things to do before we actually could go to Brazil.

The first item on our list was to resign from our present jobs. I was teaching, so I finished the school year. At the end of May Van resigned his post. In June we sold our house and most of our possessions and moved across the state to Fort Smith to be closer to our daughters while we made preparations to go to Brazil.

Another thing we had to do was to go to Richmond, VA, for training. While there we talked to our advisor. We learned that we could go to Brazil either for two years or three years. We chose to extend our term to three years. In the back of our minds we were thinking we eventually would spend even more time than that in Brazil. We also learned about the requirements to get a visa to Brazil. This sounded as though it was a very straightforward procedure, but from conversations with missionary colleagues in Brazil we knew that getting a visa for that country would be tougher than for Guatemala. The process turned out to be much tougher. Van, the planner and detail person in our unit, began gathering all the things we would need such as his diploma from seminary, his ordination certificate, and birth certificates and our marriage license. Once he was satisfied everything was ready, he sent it to the mission office in Richmond. The mission office promptly wrote back and said the birth certificates and marriage license we had submitted would not be acceptable at the Brazilian consulate. We needed certified copies of our birth certificates and our marriage license. Both of these things had burned in a house fire. So, even though we had the certified copies we had gotten for Guatemala, we would have to get new ones for Brazil from the agencies in the states in which they had been issued: Louisiana and New Mexico. When we checked online about having them sent to us, we discovered that just going to get them would be about as inexpensive and much quicker, but that required a road trip to those two states. We combined business with pleasure by visiting with family in Louisiana and then made the long trek to New Mexico to get my birth certificate. At last we believed we had everything we needed. All that remained was to go to the consulate in Houston and present everything to Brazilian officials there. Two days were necessary to get in to see the consul. When we finally sat down with him, he sat on one side of the glass and we sat on the other as he flipped through the huge pile of documents in front of him. He arrived at my birth certificate—the one we had traveled all the way to New Mexico to get.

“Who’s this?” he asked.

“Me,” I replied.

“I don’t need this,” he sneered as he tossed it back to us through the slot at the bottom of the window.

We were flabbergasted. They had specifically asked for originals of our birth certificates.

“But, you asked for it!” Van exclaimed. “We went to New Mexico to get it!”

“No, we never ask for that. It is not in our policy,” he asserted.

“But . . .,” Van began; then, thinking better of the matter, he let it drop.

After checking through the rest of the papers, the consul told us we could return the next day to get the visas. We were so relieved! The process had been long and tedious; at last it was over.

We were so excited as we arrived early for our appointment the next day. In just a matter of minutes we would have the visas in our hands and we would be on our way.

The consul entered. We sat together on a love seat; he took a chair near us. Although his attitude seemed a little lighter than it had the day before, he still was a pretty sour person. He began to speak, but we were surprised that he didn’t talk about us; he talked about his job and what a thankless position he held. He complained about his co-workers and his work environment. He was a miserable little man. I felt sorry for him. Then he shifted the subject to our visas. That was more like it. I was squirming in my seat.

“Your visas have been approved. You may return to this office next Friday and pick them up.”

My sympathy evaporated. Sometimes I am too impulsive; I opened my mouth to argue with him, but Van beat me to the punch.

“Next Friday will be fine. Do we both need to be here, or can I pick them up?”

My jaw dropped as I gaped at my husband. Then I realized the wisdom of his words. Even though this would require another trip from Arkansas to Houston, the process would be over. If we argued, who knew what additional hoops they could find for us to jump through?

The miserable man did his best attempt at a smile.

“You may come alone. We will see you next week.”

The next week we did get the visas. We were only a month behind our expected departure date. That was not bad.

On January 21, 2007, we boarded the plane for Brazil. It was a trip into the unknown—the first of many adventures . . . although the word misadventures ultimately would describe much of what lay before us.

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