Monthly Archives: November 2010

A Path Less traveled by Cathy Bryant

My Review:
Trish James is a strong woman who would like to not need help or others. Widowed and a single mother, she is attempting to build decorating business in the small town of Miller’s Creek. The book begins with mishaps, threatening her business and as she tries to make a go of it anyhow, she wonders if it will work.
Andy Tyler comes to a good friend’s wedding in Miller’s Creek and getting his small law firm established proves difficult, but nothing he cannot handle. Can he handle falling in love with a strong woman, who does not want to admit she needs him?

Anyone who grew up in a small town will relate to the business struggles in this book. It is not only building business you have struggle against, but the rumors that run wild as well. Trish often feels like giving in and heading out to the big city, especially when she is fighting against needing others. But when she shoves people away, she finds she misses them…her dad is moving on, her brother is having family dinners without her…..she is struggling in her parenting and facing the challenges of her son dealing with his father’s death.
The ups and downs in this book feel very real, and you will relate to Trish’s struggles. She is examining her feelings, her thoughts and trying to make the right choices, but there is so much happening.
I really enjoyed this book and will for sure be looking for more books by Ms. Bryant!- 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 Path Less Traveled (Book 2 in the Miller’s Creek novels)

WordVessel Press (October 18, 2010)

***Special thanks to Cathy Bryant for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


A Texas gal since birth, Cathy Bryant continues the Mayberry RFD–only Texas Style!–stories with Book 2 in the Miller’s Creek series, A Path Less Traveled. Her debut novel Texas Roads was a 2009 ACFW Genesis finalist. Cathy lives in a century-old Texas farmhouse with her husband of almost 30 years and a phobia-ridden cat.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: WordVessel Press (October 18, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0984431128
ISBN-13: 978-0984431120

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Chapter One ~ Tolling Bells

In spite of the thousands of winking lights surrounding Trish James, a wedding somehow lost its luster in the wake of death. She nudged her shucked shoes out of the way with her big toe and adjusted the tulle on the wedding arch, the soft netlike fabric billowing beneath her fingertips as she encased the twinkle lights. The church sanctuary, with its white pews, stained-glass windows, and smoky blue carpet, served as the perfect backdrop to her design.

“This wedding must be hard on you after Doc’s death.” Dani spoke the words as if uncertain she should speak at all.

The ache in Trish’s heart started afresh, a wound that never healed, but she pushed it aside with practiced expertise. This wedding wasn’t about her. “I’m fine. It’s not everyday my brother marries the most wonderful woman in the world.” She forced a bright smile. “I’ve never seen Steve so happy.”

Her sister-in-law-to-be didn’t return the smile. Instead the area above her clear blue eyes creased. “You sure you’re okay?”

“Yep.” Trish snipped the word and bent low to snag a sprig of silk ivy, then inserted it in the proper place and blinked away tears. In truth, it would be great to have someone to share her concerns with, but within boundaries—not right before the wedding, not with anyone who lived in Miller’s Creek, and definitely not with family members. The last thing she wanted was for them to feel like they had to come to her rescue.

She’d told Delaine some of the situation, but her best friend since high school now lived the fast-paced, Austin lifestyle, their conversations limited to when Delaine didn’t have something else on her agenda.

“I can’t imagine how difficult it is to be both mother and father to Little Bo.” Dani lowered her head, blonde ringlets framing her face. “And then trying to start a business on top of everything else.”

Oh, no. She wasn’t going there. Trish clenched her teeth. Steve had already given her this lecture. With his best brotherly concern, he’d told her she didn’t have to be Superwoman. Yeah, right. Try telling that to her empty checkbook and refrigerator. She glanced at Dani, who sat atop the piano railing swinging her legs. “Are you ready for the big day tomorrow?”

A happy glow wreathed her friend’s face. “And the day after, and the day after that. I think I’ve been getting ready to marry Steve my entire life.”

“I’m happy for you both.” Though it hurt to speak the words, she meant it. It wasn’t their fault her life was in the doldrums.

Dani sprang from her perch and trotted down the steps to view the stage. “You have such a gift, Trish. Everything looks magical.”

Trish gazed at the curly willow branches she’d ordered and spray-painted white, now wrapped with tiny sparks of light. The fairy tale forest blanketed the stage and meandered down the side aisles in an aura of enchantment. Once the ribbons and flowers were placed, and candles inserted into globes and nestled among the boughs, her vision would be complete. “I hope it’s what you wanted.”

“It’s better than I could’ve ever imagined.” Dani hurried over and draped an arm across her shoulder. “Once everyone in Miller’s Creek see this, you’re gonna get loads of business.”

A heavy sigh whooshed from her before she could contain it. “From your lips to my bank account.”

Dani’s eyes clouded. “I don’t know how to say this, so I’m just going to say it and get it over with. Are you okay? I mean…do you need to borrow money or something?”

No. Yes. Yes. She wasn’t okay. She needed money. She needed…something. “I’m fine.” The lie popped out as she stepped to the box perched on the piano bench. With care she lifted two delicate cracked-glass globes and moved to the candle stands. The words “I’m fine” were her constant mantra these days, like saying them made everything all right. Who was she kidding?

She closed her eyes and reopened them with a slow blink, weary of pretending. But what choice did she have? Her brother’s wedding wasn’t the time or place to air her personal problems. Besides, she was thirty-two years old, more than old enough to handle life on her own. A glance at her wristwatch sent her pulse on a stampede. Still so much to do to make the decorations perfect. God, please let this bring me business.

Dani plopped back onto the railing. “Is Little Bo doing better?”

How could he be? “Sure, if you don’t count the nightmares and barely letting me out of his sight.” She omitted the fact that he was a hairsbreadth away from flunking kindergarten unless she could help him catch up before the school year ended.

“So the psychologist is helping?”

Before Trish could respond, the double white doors at the rear of the church burst open. Incessant rain poured from the April sky and silhouetted the form of a man. Dani let out a squeal. “Andy!”

The petite blonde flew down the steps toward a man who looked vaguely familiar. He wore a lightweight suit with a loosened necktie, and had an easy-going smile that brightened the room. “Hey, how’s the bride?”

Dani looked up at him, her face radiant. “Never better.”

“Yeah, I can see that.”

She tugged his arm. “Come here. I want you to meet someone.”

His loose-limbed gait gave the impression of someone always relaxed, like he’d just returned from a vacation at the beach.

“This is Andy Tyler, my friend from Dallas. Andy, this is Steve’s sister.”

Sea-green eyes sparkled. “Well, does Steve’s sister have a name?” He jogged up the steps and held out a hand, his smile still bright.

Trish laughed and took his hand. “I’m Trish James. Nice to meet you.”

Dani’s face took on a crimson hue. “Sorry. Guess my mind is elsewhere.”

Andy’s gaze rested on her bare feet. “Glad to know you have a name. What about shoes?”

She couldn’t help but smile. “I have them, but kicked them off hours ago.”

The hall door squeaked behind them, and Mama Beth, Dani’s mother and the mother figure of all of Miller’s Creek, bustled into the room. Along with her came the smell of fresh baked bread wafting from the fellowship hall. Trish could almost taste the melt-in-your mouth rolls. Maybe she could sneak a few leftovers for her and Bo to nibble on next week.

“My goodness, Trish, if this isn’t the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen.” Mama Beth hugged Andy’s neck. “Hi, Andy.”

A tender gleam lit his eyes as he wrapped his arms around the older woman’s shoulders and kissed her cheek. “Hi, sweet lady.” He turned raised eyebrows to Trish. “You did all this?”

She ducked her head, and pushed a silky strand of hair behind one ear.

“All of it.” gushed Dani. “And wait until you see the fellowship hall.”

“Speaking of fellowship hall, I could sure use your help in the kitchen.” Mama Beth’s voice took on a commanding tone as she scuttled to the door. “We’ve got enough work to do for this rehearsal dinner to keep an entire army busy.”

Dani looked torn. “But I can’t leave Trish down here to do all this by herself.”

Trish wrestled the wieldy greenery in place, longing to comment that she didn’t need help. It would suit her just fine if they’d all go away and leave her alone.

Andy rested his hands on his hips in mock protest, his tan jacket pulled back. “What am I? Pork belly? I’ll help Trish. You go help Mama Beth.” He held up a hand. “Trust me when I say I’ll be more help here than in the kitchen.”

“Good point. I’ve had your cooking.” Dani grinned and rushed after Mama Beth. “Y’all know where to find us if you need help.”

Andy chuckled and shed his jacket, then laid it across the front pew and turned her way. “What can I do to help?”

Trish mentally checked her to-do list. “I was actually waiting for someone with more muscles than me to come around. There’s a box full of candles I need brought in from my Suburban.” She pointed toward the side door. “It’s out there and it’s unlocked.”

He gave a mock salute that bounced his sandy curls. “Yes ma’am.” Andy’s stocky frame loped down the steps and disappeared through the doorway.

Her eyebrows rose as she made her way to the pile of greenery on the front pew. Dani’s friend was more handsome than she remembered. Trish burrowed through the tangled mess, remembering the promise she’d made Dani to help Andy feel welcome. As if she needed a man to take care of along with her other responsibilities.

The door slammed, Andy’s eyes and forehead barely visible above the box he white-knuckled. She ran to him. “Let me help. I know that’s heavy. I loaded it this morning.”

“Nah, I got it.” The words wheezed out. “You loaded this by yourself?”

She ignored the question and pointed to the stage. “Can you bring it up the steps?”

He shot her a ‘you’ve-got-to-be-kidding’ glare then labored up the steps, his face red, his breath coming in agonized spurts. As he reached the last step, the toe of his leather loafer snagged the extension cord snaking along the edge of the stage.

Trish tried to speak, but her words congregated behind locked lips. Andy stumbled, and the box flew from his arms, the candles launching like small missiles. He hit the floor with a thud, the box crash-landing at the base of the first tree.

In slow motion, like carefully-placed dominos, the trees rippled to the floor in a sickening staccato of crashes and breaking glass. As if to punctuate the effect, the white metal archway in the center leaned forward with a creak as it teetered, then toppled forward with a bang.

Her mouth hinged open, and her hands flew to her cheeks. All her hard work…ruined. In shock, it took a moment to realize Andy still lay face down on the carpet. “Are you all right?”

He pushed himself up on all fours and surveyed the devastation.

Assured he was okay, she slung herself down to the top step. The scene replayed in her mind. A giggle gurgled out then burst forth in an almost-maniacal laugh.

Andy chuckled and crawled to sit beside her.

Without warning, her laughter turned to sobs. She covered her face with trembling hands, rage surging at yet another unexpected crying jag. Now she’d never be ready on time. No one would be impressed. No one would want her services. No business. No money.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” Andy slid a hand down her arm. “I’ll fix it, Trish, I promise. I’m so sorry.”

Trish fisted her hands, then straightened her spine and swatted at the tears on her cheeks. “Will you please stop apologizing?” There was no controlling her snappish tone. “For Pete’s sake, it was an accident. I’m not gonna sue.” She clamped her lips, rose to her feet, and waded through the ruins. Fingers at rest against her lips, she knelt to retrieve shattered slivers of glass from the broken globes. These weren’t even paid for.

Andy stooped beside her, his eyes boring a hole into her skull. “Here, let me get that. You start putting things back where you want them.”

Trish could only nod at his softly-spoken words, a knot wedged in her windpipe. She lifted a tree into position, the light strands dripping from the branches like a child had thrown them in place. So far her determination to prove herself capable had been met with nothing but industrial-strength resistance.

* * *

It’s all your fault. The familiar words in Andy’s head relentlessly accused, ushering forth memories and ghosts from the past. Trish obviously spent hours on the wedding decorations, and he’d managed to undo her work with one false step. He forced the finger-pointing voice to the back of his mind and attempted to burn off the chill that now hung in the room. “You live here in Miller’s Creek?”

“Yes.” Her answer sounded pinched. “My son and I live here. At least for now.” She didn’t look at him while she maneuvered the lights back on the branches with agile fingers.

Son? Now he remembered. Dani had mentioned something about Steve’s sister losing her husband in a freak accident. A cow kick, or was it a horse? And how long ago? “You’re leaving town?”

“I don’t want to, but we don’t always get what we want, do we?”

True, but sometimes what you thought you wanted wasn’t what you needed. Andy rose, his hands cupped to contain the glass shards. “No, we don’t. You have a trash can?”

Trish’s tawny eyes looked his way. She grabbed an empty box and hurried to him. “Here.” She glanced around the stage, her face gloomy, her shoulders slumped. “Are they all broken?”

“Don’t know.” He dumped the pieces in the box, where they pinged against each other. “Is there some place I can buy replacements?”

She rubbed one arm and shook her head. “No. I had them shipped in. I’ll drive to Morganville tonight after the rehearsal to see if I can find something that’ll work.”

The sadness on her face made his breath stick in his throat. He’d been in Miller’s Creek less than an hour and had already goofed things up. “I’ll go with you and pay for them since it’s my fault.”

Trish’s shoulders rose then fell. “It’s no one’s fault. It’s just something that happened.” She returned to the branches and hoisted another one back into position.

Just something that happened. A shaft of light streamed through the stained glass windows and rested on her, and she slumped over like she couldn’t bear the weight of the world any longer. Was she remembering the accident? He removed a pack of peppermint gum from his shirt pocket and popped a piece in his mouth. Her problems made the mess with Sheila seem trivial. What could he do to make things better?

“Dani told me you’re engaged. When’s the big day?” Trish strung lights along a tree branch. Perfectly.

He shifted his weight to the other leg then squatted to pluck glass from the carpet. “Uh, we’re not…I mean…well, it’s over between us.”

She raised her head, and her brown hair shimmered under the light. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

“Don’t be.” He stood. “It’s for the best.”

“How so?”

Andy let out a half-laugh. “Turns out she still had a thing for her ex-boyfriend.” Thank the Lord he’d found out in time. A wife would be wonderful, but not the wrong wife.

For a moment she didn’t speak, but her face took on a knowing look. “That must’ve been painful.”

He nodded, his lips pressed together. “It was hard, but God can bring good from hurt.”

Trish stared at him like she was trying to get a read on him then turned back to the lights. “So neither one of us are really in the mood to celebrate. Especially a wedding.” Her face matched her cynical tone.

Out in the hallway, muffled voices grew closer. The hall door swung open, and the smell of Mama Beth’s home-cooking watered his mouth. A little boy that looked like Trish raced toward them, then stopped, his dark eyes round. “Whoa! What happened here?”

Dani and Mama Beth followed, their mouths ajar. After them came Steve Miller, the mayor of Miller’s Creek, and Dani’s soon-to-be husband.

“It’s all right. Don’t worry.” Trish rushed to the two women and laid a hand on each of their arms. “It’s nothing that can’t be fixed, I promise. We just had a little accident.”

Andy watched through narrowed eyes. Now she comforted the two women when just a few minutes before she’d been in tears. A good way to get a severe case of whiplash.

Steve sauntered toward him, his boots scuffing against the carpet, a friendly grin on his face.

He shook Steve’s hand. “How you doing, Mayor?”

The other man’s grin expanded as he tucked his fingers in jeans that looked new. “I’ll be doing a lot better in a couple of days.” Lightning fast, Steve untucked one hand and grabbed the boy’s arm as he streaked by. “Hold on, tiger. I don’t think you have any business up there. Have you met Aunt Dani’s friend?”

The boy skewed his lips in a thoughtful pose and shook his head.

“This is my nephew, Bo.”

Andy stretched out a palm. “Give me five, buddy.”

Bo reared back and delivered a hearty slap.

“Ouch!” Andy pretended to shake off the sting. “Man, I’ll bet you can throw a baseball really far with that kind of muscle power.”

The boy nodded, his face creased with a grin. “Yep, but I can’t catch so good.”

“Well,” corrected Trish, as she came to stand with them. “You can’t catch well.”

Andy assumed a catcher’s position beside him. The little guy had to be missing his daddy. Maybe he could help. “I used to be a catcher, so I can give you some pointers later. Would you like that?”

Bo’s eyes lit. “Yeah.”

“Yes sir.” Trish’s tone held a warning.

“I mean, yes sir.” He looked toward his Mama. “Is it okay if we play catch, Mom?”

She sent Andy a tight-lipped smile, her expression cloaked with reserve, but when she turned toward her son her face softened, and she tousled his hair. “Of course, but it might be tomorrow since Mr. Tyler’s already promised to help me clean up this mess.” “Almost looks like a tornado touched down in here.” Steve rocked back on his heels and jangled the coins in his pocket.

“A tornado named Andy.” Trish gave a play-by-play account.

Steve laughed, but Mama Beth and Dani still fussed about like a couple of hens. “That’s one way to get out of carrying more boxes.” Steve winked. “I’ll have to remember that move.”

“Hey, look at me!” Little Bo perched on the piano railing, one foot in front of the other, his arms out to balance. Andy’s heart moved to his throat. One wrong step would hurdle him toward the carpet, still full of glass.

All of them raced for the railing, but Andy arrived first. He grabbed him by the waist and slung him over one shoulder, amused at Bo’s contagious belly laugh. “Come here, buddy, before you fall and hurt that amazing pitching arm.”

Trish joined them, eyes wide with panic, her face white and strained. She gripped Little Bo’s arms. “How many times do I have to tell you not to pull stunts like that?” Her voice shook as she bent down, her face inches from his.

The boy said nothing, his lips stuck out in a pout.

Steve laid a hand on her shoulder. “Sis.”

Volumes passed between the brother and sister before Little Bo bolted for the door. Trish raced after him, her dark eyes full of hurt.

Both men faced the door, an awkward silence between them. Steve cleared his throat and turned, his eyes fixed on the floor. “Sorry about that. Trish is…uh…going through a rough time.”

Andy nodded. An understatement if he’d ever heard one. Based on what he’d seen, he was pretty sure not even Steve knew exactly how rough.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Book Reviews

Orphaned Hearts by Shawna Williams

This is the second eBook I have read by Ms. Williams. Her style of writing is wonderful, whether it is a long story or a short one like this one.
This charming story is full of depth and meaning that will touch your heart.

The story begins with a fire and a mother’s determination to save her son from the fire. When the fire cost her life, her little son is left to face a world who does not accept the less than perfect. David has devoted his life to the ministry and helping with other orphans. When little Caleb comes into his life, and finds himself without a family, David goes against the powers that be, to help Caleb have the love of a family. Miss. Sadie recovering from the loss of her father, needs Caleb as much as she needs him. Will the board tear them apart though again?

This book is short and sweet! It will warm your heart….the only issue I had with it is it is an eBook. I love real books, but these eBooks are worth it.

This book will be available to purchase from Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook, Christianbook.com, iBookstore, Sony Reader Store, Kobo, Books on Board, Allromance Ebooks, and Desert Breeze Publishing on December 1st, 2010

5 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews

Our life as it is…..

Photobucket
Fun with cousins at the pumpkin patch in Oct.

Photobucket
T. is good at making his cousin laugh!

Photobucket
My little sister and I went on a historical sleepover in the Grand Hotel downtown. We did a historical tour, played games, did a foot soak, among other really fun things! It was alot of fun!

Photobucket
H. is a good little babysitter. He took care of his little cousin Ellina and she fell asleep on him. His arm went to sleep!

Photobucket
Cody tired after a long days work snuggling with his baby

Photobucket
Mishael’s birthday!

Photobucket
Smiling pretty!

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket
All Happy!

Photobucket

We rounded out the night with games! Scrabble and Dutch Blitz!!!

Photobucket
The beginning of Thanksgiving week school ….L.’s worksheets

Photobucket
H. Silly boy, but he works better with headphones!

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Happenings

Under the Overpass by Mike Yankosky

My Review:

If I was writing a list of the top 10 books of 2010, this book would be on it. This book has changed so many ways I look at homeless people. As I read Mike’s story of how he became homeless to understand them and learn how to minister to them, I wondered at his sacrifice. For 5 months, he was without clothing, showers, food, and the right to be treated decently. The thing that touched me the most was how badly he was treated by Christians. I know we are often scared by outward appearances, but this was a little extreme. They  were avoided, kicked off property and the worst was  when they asked at a church for food, being told that they were there to worship, not to help them.

I think this book really shows the game that church has become, where we have lost sight of the true meaning of being a Christian. We are wrapped up in the rules, the games, the routines, but can be like  the Pharisees and walk right by the beaten man on the side of the road and leave it for others to take care of. Our Christianity has become meaningless in the light of where God would say “To obey is better than sacrifice”.

I recommend everyone read this book and examine your own heart in the light of what is inside this book to see where we are at and how we react to that man on the corner begging for money or work. -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:

Under the Overpass

Multnomah Books; Later Printing edition (March 31, 2005)

***Special thanks to Staci Carmichael, Marketing and Publicity Coordinator, Doubleday Religion / Waterbrook Multnomah, Divisions of Random House, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

MIKE YANKOSKI and his wife, Danae, are both graduate students in theology at Regent College, Vancouver, Canada. Mike is a board member for World Vision, and a frequent speaker for World Vision, Compassion International, Union Gospel Mission, and colleges across North America. The Yankoskis make their home in a community house on Vancouver’s east side where they seek to live authentically among people in need.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books; Later Printing edition (March 31, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1590524020
ISBN-13: 978-1590524022

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Foreword
by Francis Chan

I would like to write a few words about Mike Yankoski, and then I’ll give some thoughts about his book. . . I am a very skeptical person, and I struggle with cynicism. Like most people, I have heard so many lies that now I have a hard time trusting. I even struggle when reading a good book, because in the back of my mind I’m wondering if the person who wrote it is for real.

So what is it about Mike that inclines me to trust him? The sacrifices he has made.

Sacrifice promotes believability.

The apostle Paul defended his ministry in 2 Corinthians 11 with a list of hardships he endured. It was his suffering for the sake of the gospel that gave credence to his message. Paul showed that he genuinely believed what he taught. Why else would he suffer as he did? His argument in 1 Corinthians 15 is similar as he explains the foolishness of his lifestyle if the gospel isn’t true.

While there are many who say they live for eternity, Mike and his wife, Danae, are among the few I actually believe. Their actions have shown me that I can trust them. You can too.

Now about the book. . .

I was warned when entering seminary that if I was not careful, a dangerous habit could form: I could learn to read the Bible and do nothing in response. I still remember our seminary president warning us that study to the neglect of action becomes easier and easier with each occurrence. We should be terrified if we have mastered the art of becoming convicted and doing nothing in response. Don’t read Mike’s book if you’re not willing to change your attitude and actions toward the homeless.

As a person who considers himself sensitive to the needs of the rejected in our country, I learned from this book that I still have a ways to go. I look forward to seeing the changes God will bring about in my life because of it.

Mike shows much grace in pointing out weaknesses our churches may have in caring for the poor. It is embarrassing to admit, but I have often struggled with pride when encountering the homeless. I can’t say that I usually see them as having equal worth with me, much less consider them as “better” than myself (Philippians 2:3). Like many, I have found myself at times working to avoid rather than seeking to engage.

Far from condemning, this book actually causes me to look forward to my next encounter with those living on the streets. I believe it will do the same for you. As I followed Mike’s journey and tried to put myself in his shoes, it caused me to love Jesus more. As I thought of what a struggle it would be for me to leave my comforts, it stirred a greater adoration toward my Savior, who emptied Himself to dwell with us.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

(1 John 3:16–18)

I pray that the story of Mike and Sam’s five-month journey causes you to eagerly anticipate your next encounter with a homeless man or woman, created in the image of God. —FRANCIS CHAN

Twenty Minutes
Past the World
Real punches aren’t as sharp and clean as Hollywood makes them out to be. They’re much deeper, thicker. If you happen to hear them from close-up, the sound doesn’t give you a rush of adrenaline. It makes your stomach sink.

The punches, screams, cursing, and kicking we witnessed that night in the park were real. The blood was real, too. It was another cold night in San Francisco. . .

Payback

I had walked against the wind over to where Sam was sitting, his back up to the concrete and brick wall that circles the planter at the Haight Street entrance to Golden Gate Park. All I’d had to eat that day was a ninety-nine-cent hamburger, and it sat uncomfortably in my stomach. I groaned, stretched, and sat down next to Sam, rubbing my hands together to try to get some feeling back in my fingers.

“You know you’re cold when your fingers are too stiff to play the guitar,” Sam said.

He had laid his guitar carefully across some dead flowers in the planter behind us. Fog billowed high above us, and every now and then, a cold gust pushed trash and dust into our faces. The air was rank with the stench of alcohol, cigarettes, body odor, and joints. Even with the wind it was sickening.

Nearby, six street people played quarters, a game in which the person throwing a quarter closest to the wall but not touching it took everyone else’s quarters. It was a good way to pass the time and make a little cash.

One of the girls threw a quarter that clanked sharply against the wall. A horrible throw. She let out a string of curses, then ambled over to a heavily tattooed guy leaning against a cast iron fence and smoking a joint. She kissed him, not seeming to notice that she was interrupting his conversation with the man next to him.

“Can I have a quarter, baby?” she pleaded, looking into his eyes.

“Sure,” he growled. He reached into his pocket and pulled out two dirty quarters.

The girl snatched them and ran back to the game, ready for the next round.

“You’ll pay me back later,” he yelled after her.

“You bet I will,” the girl said with a wry smile in his direction.

A fresh gust of wet wind pushed me further into my filthy sweatshirt. San Francisco cold is weird—heavy and penetrating. Two months earlier on the streets of Washington, D.C., Sam and I couldn’t do enough to escape the heat.

Sam was talking. “There is this mountain back home we used to hike up early in the mornings just to watch the sunrise. One time we wanted to play worship music up there, so we carried a guitar all the way to the top. But when we got there, no one could play it because we were all so cold.”

Sam looked deeper into Golden Gate Park, stretching away from us for two miles to the Pacific Ocean. “Man. Seems like such a long time ago.”

“Yep, sure does,” I said, my own thoughts turning back to take comfort in familiar wonderings: My family would probably be sitting down to eat dinner together, while my friends back at school might be heading out to watch a movie.

“It sure does,” I said again.

That’s when the chaos hit.

“Who you think you are? You piece of. . . !” Marco, the undisputed leader of the gang at the mouth of the park, was screaming at a guy in front of him. Then with all eyes on him, Marco slammed both fists into the guy’s chest, forcing all the air out of the man with a sickening whoosh and knocking him down.

Instantly the park erupted with screams and profanity as everyone seemingly rushed to join the fight. The coin tossers next to us ran to join in, too, the last throw spinning unheeded until it clinked to a stop.

Within seconds, about twenty guys were throwing punches, kicking, yelling, cursing, and tearing wildly at each other. Dogs barked and snarled. And thirty or so other park people, many of them drunk and staggering, gathered around to cheer.

In the center of it all, Marco was pulling on one end of his victim while the man’s friends were pulling from the other. Allies of Marco saw their opportunity and set about to pound the defenseless man’s face or plant steel-toed boots in his gut.

When blood started dripping onto the cement, the brawl seemed to get more feverish. “Take him in! Take him in!” someone yelled. They wanted to drag their prey deeper into the park, away from the cops or any passerby who might try to spoil their fun.

By now, Sam and I were standing, looking around for a squad car—for any sign that this wouldn’t end with a dead man in Golden Gate Park. Nothing.

“We probably need to get out of here,” I mumbled. Sam agreed.

As we picked up our stuff and shuffled off, the brawl shifted further into the park. All I could think to do was pray—and wonder again what Sam and I had been thinking when we decided to step out of our comfortable world. . . and into this.

A Flicker of Lightning

The idea had dropped into my brain one Sunday morning while I sat in church. The pastor was delivering a powerful sermon about living the Christian life. The gist of it was, “Be the Christian you say you are.”

Suddenly I was shocked to realize that I had just driven twenty minutes past the world that needed me to be the Christian I say I am, in order to hear a sermon entitled “Be the Christian you say you are.” Soon I would drive back past that same world to the privilege of my comfortable life on campus at a Christian college.

Thinking ahead to my next week, I knew several things would happen. I knew I’d hear more lectures about being a caring Christian or living a godly life. I’d read more books about who God is and about what the world needs now. I’d spend more time late at night down at a coffee shop with my friends kicking around ultimate questions and finely delivered opinions about the world.

Then I’d jump into my warm bed and turn out the light. Another day gone.

But we were created to be and to do, not merely to discuss. The hypocrisy in my life troubled me. No, I wasn’t in the grip of rampant sin, but at the same time, for the life of me I couldn’t find a connecting thread of radical, living obedience between what I said about my world and how I lived in it. Sure, I claimed that Christ was my stronghold, my peace, my sustenance, my joy. But I did all that from the safety of my comfortable upper-middle-class life. I never really had to put my claims to the test.

I sat there in church struggling to remember a time when I’d actually needed to lean fully on Christ rather than on my own abilities. Not much came to mind. What was Paul’s statement in Philippians? “I have learned what it means to be content in all circumstances, whether with everything or with nothing” (Philippians 4:11–12).

With nothing?

The idea came instantly—like the flash of a camera or a flicker of lightning. It left me breathless, and it changed my life. What if I stepped out of my comfortable life with nothing but God and put my faith to the test alongside of those who live with nothing every day?

The picture that came with that question was of me homeless and hungry on the streets of an American city.

Hard on the heels of the idea came the questions: What if I didn’t actually believe the things I argued with so much certainty? What, for example, if I didn’t truly believe that Christ is my identity, my strength, my hope? Or worse, what if I leaped in faith, but God didn’t catch me? My mind reeled.

And then there were the practical questions. Could I survive on the streets? How much did I really want to learn to be content always with nothing? What would my friends think? What would my parents think? My pastors? My professors? Would I be okay? What if I got sick? What if I starved? What if I got beat up? What if I froze?

What if I’m wrong?

Am I crazy?

Will I die?

But already, I had decided. I walked out of church that morning seized by a big idea, assaulted by dozens of questions, and sure that I had heard deep in my heart a still, small voice saying, “Follow Me.”

“Why Would You Want to Do That?”

Of course, what my idea might actually require took a while to sink in. I would have to put the rest of my life on hold, leave school, and sign up for months of risk, rejection, and plain old misery. There aren’t too many brochures for that kind of thing.

I started with my family. When I called to give them my long, excited ramble, I heard only silence on the other end. Then a few expressions of stunned disbelief.

“Why would you want to do that?” my dad asked.

Determined to hear him out, I asked him to explain what he meant.

He did. “Why would you want to leave school, leave your friends, leave your family, leave your life, and do this? Why would you put your mother and me through the stress, confusion, and worry? Why would you jeopardize all that you’ve worked so hard for, all that we’ve paid for, all that you have to look forward to—for this? ”

Each of his questions hit home. I thought for a moment. “Well,” I said finally, “that’s sort of complicated. I believe I must. I don’t know for certain yet that I will do this, I still have a lot of people to talk with. But I believe that it is something I must do.”

I would be heading home for the summer in a couple of months at which time my parents said we could discuss this crazy idea a little more. We agreed to talk about it face-to-face. It would be a hard conversation.

I plunged into researching homelessness on the streets of America. I read firsthand accounts, sociological studies, autobiographies of people who had given their lives to work with the homeless and addicted.

Even at first glance, the scope of homelessness in America was much worse than I’d imagined. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, in the United States, more than 3.5 million people experience homelessness during any given year. That means that more than one percent of our population this year will be eating out of trash cans and sleeping under bridges.

Soon I was meeting every month with the director of the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission. Then I began volunteering at the mission twice a week to learn more about the men and women who came through its doors.

Over the next year, I probably looked like any other college student—studying hard, playing hard, juggling classes and work. But all the while I kept pushing on my crazy idea. To my surprise, at every turn and with every conversation, the idea was only confirmed. Even people who should have been telling me no encouraged me to press on.

The Counsel of Friends

One day I sat in the office of the president of the Denver Rescue Mission, laying out my thoughts. I figured if anyone would know enough to tell me to turn back, he’d be the one. But after he thought for a while, he looked up at me, puzzled by what he was about to say.

“I can’t believe I’m saying this,” he said, “but I think your idea is a good one. And I have a feeling that it is very important for you to do this. It will be dangerous, of course, and there are no guarantees. But if you plan well, you can succeed. And you certainly won’t come back the same person.”

I walked out of his office convinced for the first time that what I wanted to happen actually would happen. And something else—an invitation to begin my journey by checking in to his facility just like any other transient off the street.

About this time I also became convinced that I needed some kind of advisory group that would give me guidance and hold me accountable. Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” I wanted to be wise, and to succeed, and more than that, I wanted to bring glory to the Lord in everything this idea entailed. So I began praying that God would lead me to the right men.

It didn’t take long to develop a list of men who had been, and still were, having a significant impact on my life as a Christian: my campus pastor, my youth pastor, two rescue mission presidents, a close friend from Oregon, and a professor. Each man I talked to responded positively to my proposal and agreed to mentor and advise me.

With their help, I began putting a travel plan together. After considering a lot of alternatives, we settled on six cities: Denver; Washington, D.C.; Portland; San Francisco; Phoenix; and San Diego. These cities seemed representative of the American urban homeless scene as well as being places where I would have a backup personal contact of some kind in case of emergency.

My advisers also helped me fine-tune my overall purpose. We boiled it down to three objectives:

1. To better understand the life of the homeless in America, and to see firsthand how the church is responding to their needs.

2. To encourage others to “live out loud” for Christ in whatever ways God is asking them to.

3. To learn personally what it means to depend on Christ for my daily physical needs, and to experience contentment and confidence in Him.

Enter Sam

Then there was the issue of companionship. Jesus sent His disciples out two-by-two—a model that seemed right for my new undertaking as well. Besides, I wanted a traveling partner. I pictured long, lonely nights huddled in a stairwell. I worried about attacks. Another person would make everything easier.

But a traveling partner turned out to be hard to come by. Some friends I approached didn’t catch the vision. Others couldn’t take time off from school or work. Three months before I was to depart on the streets, it looked as though I would be going alone. And then I met Sam Purvis.

At six-foot-three or so, Sam was big—about the same size as me, which was an added bonus. Two big guys are much less likely to get messed with on the streets. He was easygoing and he needed a haircut. Right away, I saw possibilities.

Sam had gone to the University of Oklahoma for a semester but was taking a semester off. He happened to be on my campus, and heard through the grapevine about my proposed journey. The more we talked, the more interested he became in joining me. I was encouraged by Sam’s excitement about the trip and passion for serving the Lord. Although we only had a few conversations, I felt a real connection and unity in our hearts and vision.

We agreed to take two weeks to think and pray about it, and for Sam to meet with his mentor and pastor back in his Oregon hometown. Two Saturdays later, during a two-hour telephone conversation, Sam and I struck a deal.

Traveling Papers

Sam and I decided we would be gone for five months. We would begin at the rescue mission in Denver, then travel to and live on the streets of Washington, D.C.; Portland; San Francisco; Phoenix; and San Diego.

From the start, Sam and I understood that we would not actually be homeless. We’d only be travelers through this underworld of need—privileged visitors, really, because any time we wished, we could leave the streets and come home. Most people on the streets have no such option.

Yet, as truly as we could, Sam and I wanted to experience homelessness. That meant, among other things, that we’d carry only the bare essentials, taking no cell phones, credit cards, or extra clothes. We would survive as most other men and women on the streets do—panhandling for money, eating at rescue missions or out of garbage cans, and sleeping outside or in shelters.

We would take only what we could carry. Our clothing for the five months would consist of a pair of boxers, a pair of shorts, a pair of jeans, a T-shirt, and a sweatshirt. Add books and journals, and a couple of battered guitars to support our panhandling, and that was it.

We would keep our background and purpose a secret because if a person or an organization knew we were choosing to be homeless, their response to us would be different. As much as possible, we wanted to experience the real thing.

We’d travel by Greyhound Bus, using our panhandling earnings to buy fare between cities. But because we wanted to spend our time homeless in the cities rather than stuck on a bus for two weeks crossing the country, we made two exceptions: we would fly between Denver and Washington, D.C., and between D.C. and Portland.

To stay in contact with our families, our advisers, and those who were praying for us, we’d use e-mail at local libraries plus an occasional phone call. In case one of us got stabbed or needed to make an immediate trip to the hospital, we took enough cash for a one-way cab ride, praying we wouldn’t ever use it (we didn’t).

That left two major purchases for our new life on the streets. A few days before we left, Sam I went down to a local thrift store and bought two sleeping bags (at three dollars apiece) and two backpacks (at four dollars).

Seven dollars each.

We were ready.

Invitation to the Journey

On May 27 we stepped out of our old lives. From then until November 2, Sam and I slept out in the open or in shelters or under bridges. We ate out of trash cans and feeding kitchens. We looked disgusting, smelled disgusting, were disgusting. We were shunned and forgotten and ignored by most people who walked past us—good, acceptable people who looked just like Sam and I used to look, and maybe just like you.

Although our journey took us to many destinations that were challenging, cold, and even brutal—like the night in Golden Gate Park—by God’s grace we did what we set out to do, and learned a lot along the way. For example: that faith is much more than just an “amen” at the end of the sermon on Sunday mornings; that the comfort and security we strive so hard to create for ourselves doesn’t even come close to the “life in the full” that Christ promises; and that God is faithful and good, even when we’re not.

Perhaps you, too, have felt a nudging toward a life on the edge—some place or task in your life where, as Frederick Buechner put it, “God’s great mercy and the world’s great hunger meet.” If you haven’t yet, is your heart open to that moment when it comes?

Either way, I invite you to take this journey with Sam and me through the everyday world of the hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children who make up America’s homeless population. We decided to go past the edge with God. One day soon, I pray you will, too. And when you do, I think you’ll find what we did . . .

A bigger world, and more reason to care for it.

More forgotten, ruined, beautiful people than we ever imagined existed, and more reason to hope in their redemption.

A greater God, and more reason to journey with Him anywhere.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Daily Happenings

Tares and Wheat…..

Just my little bible study I did in church today!

What are Tares anyhow?

1. Any of various weedy plants of the genus Vicia, especially the common vetch.
tare – weedy annual grass often occurs in grainfields and other cultivated land; seeds sometimes considered poisonous

One of the sermons today a reading of this scripture was part of it….

I found it very interesting.

“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” Matthew 13:24-30, KJV.

Explanation:

“He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 13:37-43, KJV.

My very interesting thought after I read this, is the definition of the tares was the children of the wicked one….or people who do not follow God. Yet, to root them up from among the followers of Jesus, would cause us to be destroyed, so in order to save us, He lets us grow together until the harvest. I found this very interesting that taking away the people that may cause us to be tempted, or cause us problems….would actually harm us, so it is a loving thing to leave us with this in our lives.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Happenings

Alright…….

So, yesterday my husband decided he was craving variniky….so, he started on it and the huge mound of dough and large pot of mashed potato with fried onion’s  for the filling. My arms really got a work out from rolling  out hundreds. They ate a whole bunch for dinner and lunch and dinner today, as well as filled several bags for the freezer. I took a picture, but could not find out where my camera cord is….I will add it when I find it. it makes it nice to have them for convenient dinners though in the freezer. I was thinking I might make some raviolis to put in the freezer too.

Photobucket

Variniky

Make mashed potatoes with milk and salt, fry diced onions  in some oil and add to potatoes.

Dough:

5 c. water

1/2-1 c. melted butter (we used 1/2 c.)

Salt- like a teaspoon or so

Add flour until stiff enough it does not stick to the counter.

Roll out into circles, thin, but not too thin….fill with potato filling and seal edges to form a half moon. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add some salt,  and drop them in the boiling water. When they start to float…..they will be done and you can serve with more fried onions, sour cream or  butter…..

So, now I just took a warm bubble bath, had a cup of tea, read a book  and am thinking about the school week!!!

1 Comment

Filed under Bargain Dinners, Daily Happenings, Recipes

Our life….

I realized life has been too busy, but I actually have been slowing it down some. It does not make a lot of time for computer time still though.
I want to take a few pictures though!
Menu for this week:
Wednesday: Out of town…Shared Subway sandwich
Thursday: Sandwiches, apples and cheese
Friday: Scalloped Potatoes and ham, salad
Saturday: Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, green beans
Sunday: Leftovers
Monday: Swedish pancakes, raspberry filling and peaches
Tuesday: Mini meatloaves, baked potatoes, salad

It has been an adventure grocery shopping as my favorite grocery store is remodeling. I just hope they still have good deals after the remodel. One day, one thing is one place, and another day, it is somewhere else! I did catch a  mistake last night, that meant that one box of .50 cent hot chocolate almost cost me $7.99 instead!!! Thankfully we caught it!

P. is enjoying basketball and their team has won all the games so far…I am telling him to keep practicing, it is good exercise for him.

I got to spend some time holing little Ellina, her eyes were all big and dilated, so she was wide eyes staring at me….I love holding her so much!

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Happenings

Crestmont by Holly Weiss

My Review:
Gracie Antes has dreams of being a great singer. Living at home and doing laundry, her sister’s husband making eyes at her, she decides to flee and get a job at Crestmont Inn. This decision changes her life in ways she cannot imagine. Set in the 1920’s, this book is full of fascinating history about the historical Crestmont Inn, although the story is a novel, it reads more like a biography of colorful characters. I enjoyed this book, although it was hard to tell what was fact and what was part of the novel.
I was very sad about Gracie’s family situation and felt like the author only touched on that and did not make any effort to explain why she did or did not press to renew a relationship. This bothered me, as family is very important to me.
Overall, this is a good book for historical reading. It is very clean, with unpleasant elements done very briefly and without detail, making it a good one for teen readers studying history. -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:

Crestmont

Star Publish (April 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Holly Weiss for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Holly Weiss is a vocal instructor, retired professional singer and a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. A polio survivor, she lives in upstate New York with her husband. Crestmont is her first novel.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $18.95
Paperback: 340 pages
Publisher: Star Publish (April 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935188100
ISBN-13: 978-1935188100

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

En route to Eagles Mere

1925

People buzzed around the Allentown train station the next day, stopping only to check departure times or to collect their children and suitcases. Gracie bought her ticket, hurriedly counting the rest of the money in her purse. Selecting a magazine called Time from the newsstand next to the ticket counter she leafed through it, lingering over an article about President Coolidge.

“Watch it, Missy,” growled a man pushing a huge steamer trunk on a dolly. She jumped out of the way and hastily handed the vendor the money for the magazine and a Milky Way candy bar. Thinking she might feel less overwhelmed outside the station, she checked the board for the departing platform for the Wilkes-Barre train and dodged her way out of the terminal.

On the platform, people were crammed into each available seat, but quickly rose to board when the train to Philadelphia was announced. Gracie sat down alone, set her red suitcase between her legs, and wolfed down the candy bar. She glanced distractedly at the cover of the magazine, realizing she hated the news and politics, but instructed herself to read it on the train to Wilkes-Barre so she could be better informed.

Ducking her head nervously when people filtered in to catch the next train, Gracie spied a book someone had abandoned called Sister Carrie. Quickly, she snatched if off the bench and browsed through it. The main character was a girl who wanted to go to Chicago and be a famous actress. Excited now that she had a friend with a similar goal to keep her company; she put it in her suitcase just as the conductor called “All aboard!” Nervously climbing the steep steps onto the train, she settled into a brown leather seat and opened the Time magazine. She tried to read, but remorse gnawed at her concentration like a woodpecker hammering her skull.

“Ne-e-xt stop, Wilkes Ba-a-are.” Clutching her red suitcase, Gracie stepped off the train with an unsettling combination of anticipation and fear. After consulting a man in a maroon uniform with a name tag on his breast pocket, she found the east entrance of the train station where she was to meet the Crestmont car. The clock on the wall said 10:45. Sitting on a bench in the sun, she nervously paged through her magazine while she waited.

A huge black Buick Touring Car pulled up to the curb with “The Crestmont Inn” painted on the side in yellow letters. A spindly man in his mid twenties climbed out. He was impeccably dressed in gray and black pinstriped trousers and a gray jacket. Gracie guessed the yellow of his tie had been chosen to match the lettering on the car. He was so skinny that she giggled, imagining herself pushing him over with one finger. He had a very prominent Adam’s apple, a broad forehead and a face that narrowed into a pointy chin.

Waving to someone behind her on the tracks, he shouted, “Dorothy, still keeping those students of yours in line?” His wide smile made Gracie relax a bit.

Shyly, she stepped forward. “Hello, my name is Gracie Antes. Is this the shuttle to the Crestmont Inn?”

“You must be the new girl.” He stuck out a bony hand. “I’m PT, driver, bowling alley attendant and gofer for Mr. Woods, Crestmont’s owner. Hop in.”

“Well, I don’t know. I mean, my interview is this afternoon. Will we make it on time?”

“Yup.” Feeling like she had been given an order, Gracie slid into the middle seat of the car.

The generously proportioned middle-aged woman he had called Dorothy ran from the platform to the car, straw hat flopping, struggling with a suitcase and hatbox. She threw her free arm around PT and kissed him loudly on the cheek. “Oh, my word, if it isn’t PT. Isn’t it a long time between summers?” He stashed her suitcase in the trunk along with Gracie’s, and Dorothy slid into the passenger seat in the front.

A sickeningly sweet odor of roses filled the car. Gracie discretely wound her window down a few inches to let in some air.

“I nearly missed my trolley to the station. Dear me, I am just neither here nor there without my car. I need to pick it up next week, PT, so I’ll be shuttling back here with you. Hello, there, dear,” she said, extending a hand back to Gracie. “I’m Dorothy, one of the antique waitresses.”

“Pleased to meet you, ma’am. I’m Gracie Antes.”

“Oh, please don’t ma’am me. My students do it all year and it makes me feel old. I need my Crestmont summers to liven up these forty-five-year-old bones. Call me Dorothy. Whew, it certainly is hot enough. Oh look, there’s Isaiah and Olivia. Yoo-hoo!” She beckoned to them from the car window. “All aboard the Crestmont shuttle.”

A burly man with skin like coal and big apple cheeks protectively ushered a dainty woman with copper skin into the car. The woman’s elegance and quiet nature made Gracie like her immediately.

“Guess that’s it for this run,” PT said, starting the engine.

After they introduced themselves, Isaiah pounded Gracie on the back and said, “One big happy family, right, Olivia?” He drew the palm of his wife’s tiny hand to his lips and kissed it. Sniffing suspiciously, he wrinkled his nose. “Lord Almighty, Dorothy, I hate that roses stink stuff you wear. Don’t you bring that smell into my kitchen, hear?”

“It’s imported Ashes of Roses eau de cologne, Isaiah,” she corrected him. “It was Lawrence’s favorite, bless my dear husband’s soul, and as long as Sears carries it, I will continue to wear it. And as far as your kitchen goes, there are so many aromas floating about no one will notice a little perfume. Besides, Mrs. Swett loves it and says so each summer when she hands me a fine tip.”

“I don’t know how you can be so hotsy-totsy to those old biddies in the dining room. They act like they run the place instead of Mr. Woods. You are crazy to take those tables near the lakeside windows, Dorothy. Why, you have to deal with all three of them at once, plus two husbands. Who’s that one always feeling like she’s sick—Mrs. Pennyswoon?”

“Mrs. Pennington, Isaiah. Be kind, now,” Olivia said softly, with a slight accent Gracie couldn’t identify.

“First of all, Isaiah,” Dorothy instructed, “if you ever stepped out of your kitchen you would see that the west window tables afford a commanding view of the lake and are therefore reserved for our, shall we say, more faithful, well-to-do guests. Secondly, Mrs. Woods has graciously assigned them to me because she feels I have the maturity and skills to mitigate some of their outlandish behavior.”

“Hey, PT,” Isaiah chuckled, “translate, please.”

“Dorothy is good at keeping the Rude Regals in line, so Mrs. Woods gives her the tables where she gets really great tips.”

“Thanks, pal,” said Isaiah.

“Oh, my word, I simply am beside myself when I hear people call them the Rude Regals. They are people with problems, just like you and me. Mrs. Pennington’s ailments are an indication that she needs some attention. Miss Woodford simply feels she is of a higher station than anyone else. If I can show some special attention or give deference to make someone happy, then I will do it. Besides, I find it a challenge to use my people skills on a higher level with the adults at the Crestmont than with my elementary students.”

The more everyone else talked, the more Gracie knew it would take some doing to feel like she fit in. Her stomach grumbled, and she wished she had bought more than a candy bar for lunch. The clouds she watched from her window glided like wavy streamers in the sky. As they motored toward the Crestmont, her eyes got heavy. Realizing that she would need a lot more energy before the day was over; she turned her head toward the window and tried to sleep. “Dear God,” she prayed, “Please make this be all right. If I was wrong to do it, then turn it for good.”

After a long drive, PT slowed the car when they passed through stone pillars on either side of the Crestmont driveway. They ascended a steep hill to an immense three-story brown building with yellow awnings. PT parked the car. Gracie stood nervously by while the others grabbed their luggage and dashed off in a flash, saying, “See you soon!”

“Come on, I’ll show you to Mr. Woods’ office,” PT said, lifting Gracie’s suitcase out of the trunk. Gracie took in the immensity of the porch as they walked up the center steps. Once they were inside the striking lobby area, PT pointed to a huge grandfather clock. “That’s my favorite. Name’s Old Tim,” he explained. “Mrs. Woods’ father had it shipped from England when he built the place.”

Gracie’s heart started to flutter. Oh, honestly, what had she gotten herself into? She tried not to trip over her own feet.

PT knocked on an office door, flicked his eyes toward it and said, “They’re swell people. Good luck.”

“Come in!” called a high-pitched, authoritative male voice.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

Within the Heart by Tamera Alexander

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

The book starts off with a somewhat creepy scene of a funeral and where you wonder if a soldier was buried alive…or not.   Rachel Boyd is a young widowed mother of two sons. Her one son, Kurt keeps the local school teacher busy with his pranks and antics, while Rachel is stretched thin caring for her boys, a ranch and helping the local doctor with medical emergencies, in spite of her lack of trust for doctors. Her love of all things medical overcome.

Dr Rand  Brookston has his own fears to conquer, the townspeople wonder at the large amount of lamp oil he goes through. As the town’s only doctor, he fights to keep the needed practice when there is a lack of money all around.

This book has alot of early Colorado history in it, history of medical practices, and early resorts. The romance in it is tame, but peppered with small amounts of insinuation, I wished had been left out. Without those small things, this would be an excellent book to recommend for the young teen reader, for historical fiction. Those few things, make it a bit hard though.

I liked how the author explained the mysteries early in the book, rather than keeping you in suspense most of it. Ms. Alexander is a talented writer and you could tell she had felt the pain of a loss herself,  in her writing, which the summery at the end explained.

In conclusion, a well written historical fiction that with some editing by a parent would be good for  a teen reader. – Martha

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

The Bridegrooms by Allison Pittman

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

When Vada was 8, her mother left. She never saw her again. The trauma of losing her mother, growing up overnight and becoming a mother to her three younger sisters was a big responsibility. One of her sisters, Althea, does not speak since her mother left, the trauma left her speechless, adding more burdens on to Vada.

Her dream of being a musician herself has faded into being a errand girl for an orchestra, spending time with her special friend, Garrison and tending to her three siblings and father, a doctor.

When the baseball team  “The Bridegrooms” come to town and a man is knocked unconscious by a stray ball, the house is filled with visitors and much emotional stress to many in the household. Temptations, intrigue’s, and mystery surround  the team and the man laying still in their room upstairs.

Each of these sister’s and their father are all coping with a similar pain, but can they band together to deal with it? Will temptations for the unknown tempt them like their mother? What secret’s does a mysterious visitor have about their mother?

This book is filled with much history of an early baseball team. I am not a big sports fan, so could have lived without that and seen them explain a bit about why her sister didn’t talk, why Vada never was a musician, or other things. But this book is very different than  the general mainstream Christian fiction. It deals with temptation, guilt and what happens to those who give in. It was very interesting with poems by the silent sister woven throughout.  I wished the book had explained more, but overall, really enjoyed the story. -Martha

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews