Monthly Archives: February 2012

Books I am reading this week

Broken Trust by Sharon Dunn– Fun little suspense book, I wrote out a full review that will post on March 5th!

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Sweeter than a birdsong- by Rosslyn Elliot- This is the second book in this series. It again addresses some of the social issues of the time before the Civil War. It is based on real people and you get a little update in the end on their real lives. I enjoyed the history that was revealed in this book. You see some of the sad part of slavery, and the pain of families who lost each other because of the law. There are also the men and women that risked their lives and imprisonment to save these families.

The Unexpected Suitor by Anna Schmidt– This was not my cup of tea and I had to set it down!

A Heart for Home by Lauraine Snelling

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A delicate balance..Idleness or Too Busy?

“She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:27, KJV.
My life has gotten too busy. It is at a point where I have had to stop and reevaluate what is really important and what is not.
However, I was looking to the bible to see where this balance is. One of the reasons we have kept ourselves busy is to prevent idleness. That old saying, which while I know it is not in the bible, is so true….”Idleness is the devil’s workshop.”
Our lives though must have rest periods. I see in some people that never take rest periods, they miss out on many worthwhile things. Birthday celebrations with family, baby’s first steps, the look on a mom’s face when she realizes her baby just called her “Mama” and many other things that you have to take down time to see.

However, in this society, we have gone over to a place where there seems to be no in between. There are the people who do everything, piano, basketball, soccer, swimming, volunteering and the people who do nothing. We have a society made up of many more lazy people than productive citizens though lately and I am curious as to why that is?

I was looking in the bible for the things that are important that we do and I found this.
“Thou hast not given water to the weary to drink, and thou hast withholden bread from the hungry.” Job 22:7, KJV.

“For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” Matthew 25:42-45, KJV.

“But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” 1 John 3:17, KJV.

“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” James 2:14-18, KJV.

So, what can I do with this?

I find that too much activity means more stress, which is turn causes depression, health issues and the such like. But I also find that when I sit and do not fill my life with worthwhile things, that fulfill the things those verses above are talking about, reaching out to others, being hospitable, and keeping my home up, I get depressed as well, discouraged even without a sense of purpose.

We all know how fast a house can get messy, right? When we are at home all the time, looking at the same walls, the same messes we just cleaned the day before can get overwhelming. But inviting a friend to come over for tea once a week, sometimes can give us a chance to clean for a purpose, we may even sing while we do our daily chores. We can maybe do some extra baking or something to share with someone. The encouragement I get from going to a friends for a simple cup of tea or sharing one with someone at home, can be amazing. I think sometimes we get wrapped up in the illusion that if we stay home at all times, we can be more holy, where as I do not see that. I see that there needs to be a balance, but also be watchful for business to steal your joy.

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Reflections…

I am sitting here reflecting as I have much to be grateful for. I could start to list them off….many of them are small, for example…”I am very thankful I found where my camera was and that the battery was dead before my son’s birthday tomorrow.”
Ahh, birthdays. I have two of them in our house this week. I am soon to be the mother of a 12 and 14 year old respectfully.
I wonder if that is why my mind is going berserk this week!!!
I have no idea really, but I do know that this has been a very hard week!
I have been reading more…which is something I do frantically, when I am trying not to think about things that are bothering me.
My laundry has piled up. My husband neatly organized the baskets, but when I was going through drawers today and realized that they are all almost empty…I realized how behind I was!
So, here I sit. Reflecting and thinking of my blessings.
It is tough when our lives are tough here, and yet, when I think of Christians in other parts of the world who have it much worse than us, I am thankful. It put it into perspective when I hear the sufferings of the saints over in faraway lands. It makes that basketball pounding hour after hour in my basement a minor complaint.
I wonder sometimes if though, we discount some of our trials because they are not as big as someone else’s? Or we think ours are bigger than other people’s? I think that sometimes we need to step back, take a look at our life, not comparing it to anyone else…just stop, sniff the air and really look at what we want to be different.

I believe that even when our lives are out of control, we have a choice to make that life better or miserable. I read these stories of the pioneers in one room cabins, happy to celebrate Christmas with meager diets. Yet, there were plenty that complained then as well!

For me….that means that I want to accomplish doing something to impact the world, so I am starting with my children. I am working on raising them to be faithful in the small things.
My son helped someone, an elderly gentleman get a cart out the other day and the man so appreciated it. He told me “You are raising him right!” and it made me feel so happy.

I want to be able to spend time with them and know that if my time was cut short, I have used my minutes to make a difference in their lives or in others lives through them.

But it is so hard somedays! I just want to throw my hands up and say “God, I am not cut out to do this!”
I think that is when He is gently reminding me that He did cut me out to do this. He knows I am not perfect. I fail often. But I am persistent. My oldest son even said so….I am not sure he thought it was a good thing. But I am persistent to do what I think is right.

I want to continue to step forward…even if I take a few steps backwards sometimes.

So, what can you do in your life today to make a difference in those around you, even if it is something small like fresh towels for your family?
We can be thankful, but also know that God does know that our trials are big to us and pray for the strength to get through them!

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Creative Slow Cooker Meals by Cheryl Moeller

My Review:
This is not a regular slow cooker cookbook! This is a guide to making some more unique meals in the slow cooker.
Some of the things included in this cookbook, are Breakfast recipes, recipes the use local, fresh ingredients that you might get at the Farmer’s market, Ethnic meals, Easy and fast to throw together meals, really simple meals and of course things for parties! There is also things for special diets like Vegetarian, Vegan, dairy and gluten free recipes included in this book. It is a fun slow cooker book and one that I am looking forward to trying some of the recipes!
I thought Spaghetti squash tacos was a unique sounding recipe that caught my eye….but also how to raise your pizza dough in the crock pot!! Coconut Chicken Curry is going to be on the menu sometime soon too!

This is a great cookbook with a wire bound binding, so it lays flat while you are cooking! -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:

Harvest House Publishers; Spi edition (February 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Karri James, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Cheryl Moeller is a seasoned mother and a standup comic. She is also a syndicated columnist with her own blog (www.momlaughs.blogspot.com) and contributes monthly to several online parent websites. Cheryl has coauthored two books on marriage with her husband and has written for www.mops.org and Marriage Partnership. Cheryl does comedy for parenting classes, MOPS groups, wedding or baby showers, church retreats, women’s conferences, and those in line at the grocery store.

Visit the author’s website.



SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

From the celebrated coauthor of The Marriage Miracle comes a new kind of cookbook and a new attitude toward planning meals. With an eye toward the whole menu, not just part of it, columnist Cheryl Moeller teaches cooks to use two crockpots to easily create healthy, homemade dinners.

Don’t worry about your dinner being reduced to a mushy stew. Each of the more than 200 recipes has been taste-tested at Cheryl’s table. Join the Moeller family as you dig into:

  • Harvest-time Halibut Chowder
  • Salmon and Gingered Carrots
  • Mediterranean Rice Pilaf
  • Indian Chicken Curry
  • Apricot-Pistachio Bread
  • Shrimp Creole
  • Rhubarb Crisp

… and many more! Perfect for the frazzled mom who never has enough time in the day, Creative Slow-Cooker Meals gives readers more time around the table with delicious, healthy, frugal, and easy meals!

Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Spiral-bound: 272 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers; Spi edition (February 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736944915
ISBN-13: 978-0736944915

AND NOW…THE FIFTH CHAPTER (click on pages to enlarge):

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Menu for the week

I have been having the boys more involved in meal planning and grocery shopping. It has been a positive experience! Those boys are starting to eat more too….It seemed like for awhile, I started to make less food as it wasn’t all getting eaten, and the last couple week or so, we are scraping the pans clean!

Wednesday: Taco Stacks
Thursday: Rice pilaf with beef, cucumber/tomato salad
Friday: Tortilla soup, corn bread
Saturday: H. birthday…his pick for dinner
Sunday: Leftovers, cookies, popcorn
Monday: BBQ chicken, pasta salad
Tuesday: Meatballs, mashed potatoes, salad

We still have to make french toast and some other dessert picks for the week!

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Books this week

I read a bunch of books this week and started pinning them on Pinterest, just to keep track.

A Baby For Hannah by Jerry Eicher
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– Well, I only read this because it is based in my hometown, so I wanted to check it out again. The first two drove me crazy, so I am not sure why I did it. The whole book, they are very worked up over the Mennonite tent meeting that is being held in Libby. They go on and on about how they must be targeting the Amish, or they wouldn’t hold it there. It bordered on ridiculous. She decides to have a home birth “The way it should be.” is the thing Hannah says and this author is just not very familiar with midwives. Obviously, I think he must have talked to someone in Libby as there were some weird similarities, but that is where it ended. I think if you are writing a book about someone having a baby….make sure you talk to someone about basic prenatal practices. It ruins the book if you don’t. Anyhow….again, not well researched and frustrating!

Between Sisters by Kristin Hannah– A story of two sisters who grew apart by different life choices. One sister believing she had to protect her little sister while the little sister believed she was worthless in the eyes of her older sister. This book was deeply moving, in that love takes many shapes and sizes. Humans do not always show their love in the best ways and sometimes the best thing we can do is admit that.

False Pretenses by Kathy Herman
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– One small theft. One small lie. They all come to a crescendo when Zoe is mistaken for someone whom she is not! She has endangered her family and others, because of the lies she told long ago and it is time to come clean. Will it be soon enough?

The Rose of Winslow Street by Elizabeth Camden I didn’t know that there is any condition that can prevent someone from learning to read, and this book shows a devoted family man, who devotion can extend outside his family, to include someone who did not feel loved or liked by others, other than children. This book was very well written and you could feel the pain of Libby and the longing for love in the pages of it. She did not believe herself worthy to be a mother, yet longed to mother! It made me sad that she thought she was mentally handicapped!

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Blue Moon Promise by Colleen Coble

Blue Moon Promise
By Colleen Coble

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Lucy seems to have more than her share of bad things happen lately. First her job, then she notified by her sleazy landlord that he has sold the place. She has one week to find different accommodations! She is at her rope’s end, wondering how to protect her siblings, when out of the blue, an old friend of her father’s offers her an amazing opportunity. She will get married by proxy, have a house, clothing and food provided. Can she make the sacrifice for her siblings? And why is someone sneaking into their house and going through her bags and belongings?

I at first thought, “Oh, this is going to be just a great romance, I didn’t know that Ms. Coble wrote romance without mystery.” and she doesn’t! This was a very sweet, tender romance without a lot of details about it, but had a slow natural progression. This is the story of sacrificial love from a sister for her siblings and how Nate learned to love her by seeing that. It has a lot of spiders in it though, so be warned!!! You may feel creepy crawly afterwards!!! Great story! I really enjoyed it! – Martha

About the book:
Book Number One in the Under Texas Stars series

A love like Lucy and Nate’s only comes along once in a blue moon . . .

Lucy Marsh’s worldly resources are running out, but she’s fiercely determined to care for her younger brother and sister. When she discovers that their father’s recent death was no accident, Lucy is eager to leave town. She accepts a proxy marriage she believes will provide safe refuge. But trouble follows her to Texas where her new husband is surprised to suddenly have a wife and children to care for.

Nate Stanton always hoped he’d marry someday, but running the family ranch meant he had no time for romance. When his father deposits Lucy Marsh—a city girl—on his doorstep, with two siblings in the bargain, he expects ranch life will send her running on the first train out of town. But Lucy is made of tougher stuff than Nate imagined. When danger moves in, Nate finds he’d give anything to protect Lucy and the children he’s grown to love. Even if it means giving up his ranch.

About Colleen:
Best-selling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, ACFW Book of the Year, RWA’s RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and is a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.

For more about Colleen and her other books visit www.colleencoble.com

Link to buy the book: Thomas Nelson

About the party:

Blue Moon Promise is a story of hope, romance, and suspense . . . immersing the reader in a rich historical tale set under Texas stars.

To celebrate Colleen is teaming up with her publisher Thomas Nelson for a “Blue Moon Promise” Facebook Chat party where she will giveaway a KINDLE Fire and a Texas-sized gift basket (fabulous Texas treats and fun Lucy-inspired housekeeping products)!

Click the banner, RSVP today for the Facebook Party and mark the date on your calendar!

Invite your friends and don’t miss Colleen’s evening of chat, trivia, prizes, and more.

Button Code:
Kindle Giveaway and More! Save the Date – 3/13!

Blog tour schedule: http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13458569/bluemoonpromise

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Not in the Heart by Chris Fabry

My Review:
This incredibly well written book was not an easy read. You pick up books that you know are going to be entertaining, and this is not one that is entertainment quality. It is a deep, well thought out novel. Truman Wiley used to be an incredible husband, father and writer. Gambling has become his mistress, taking the place of his family and he cannot even get himself to go visit his dying son. When his family is offered a chance at a new heart for their son, he grasps at the chance..but wonders if in the end, his son will still die. The gambling, the abandonment of his family in their time of need and his lack of relationship with God all drive Truman to a place of wondering as he writes a book about a murderer on death row. What if in writing this man’s story, he finds out he is innocent? What does that mean for his son? This very deeply moving story is one you will savor and contemplate. It is not a fast read. It is one, like Mr. Fabry’s other novels, that requires deep thought. It has an ending with a twist that gives new meaning to the title! Excellent book! – 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:

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (January 20, 2012)

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

As a child, Chris Fabry wrote stories, songs and poems. The creative process invigorated him. He may not have been a fast reader, but the words on the page had a deep effect. So he vowed that if he ever had the chance to write, he would take it.

After high school, Fabry attended and graduated from the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism at Marshall University in Huntington, WV. After graduation, Fabry and his wife felt a desire for biblical education, so his pastor suggested they check out Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. At Moody, Fabry met Jerry Jenkins who learned of his desire to write and encouraged him to pursue his dream. In 1998, Jenkins and Dr. Tim LaHaye hired him to write Left Behind: The Kids series. He wrote 35 books in that series over the next six years. He later collaborated with Jenkins on the Red Rock Mysteries series and The Wormling series, and in 2008 he worked solo on the NASCAR-based RPM series.

Since then he has published four novels for adults: Dogwood, June Bug, Almost Heaven and his newest novel, Not in the Heart. Each of his first three books was nominated for a Christy Award in the Contemporary Standalone Category, winning in 2009 for Dogwood and in 2011 for Almost Heaven. In addition to his fiction work, Fabry also collaborated on two best-selling football biographies with Ohio State’s Jim Tressel and Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints. Altogether, Fabry has published more than 70 books for children and adults.

Fabry’s other passion is broadcasting. As part of the DECCA program in high school, he worked at WNST Radio in Milton, WV. During his senior year at Marshall University, he worked for WSAZ-TV as a weekend reporter. In 1985, he began hosting Open Line, a national call-in show which he hosted until 1997. In 1993, he began a six-year stint as co-host of Mornings with Greg and Chris on WMBI in Chicago. Then in May of 2008 he began Chris Fabry Live! which received the 2008 Talk Personality of the Year Award from the National Religious Broadcasters. He can also be heard daily on Love Worth Finding, featuring the teaching of the late Dr. Adrian Rogers.

Chris and his wife of almost 30 years, Andrea, are the parents of nine children.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Truman Wiley used to report news stories from around the world, but now the most troubling headlines are his own. He’s out of work, out of touch with his family, out of his home. But nothing dogs him more than his son’s failing heart.

With mounting hospital bills and Truman’s penchant for gambling his savings, the situation seems hopeless . . . until his estranged wife throws him a lifeline—the chance to write the story of a death row inmate, a man convicted of murder who wants to donate his heart to Truman’s son.

As the execution clock ticks down, Truman uncovers disturbing evidence that points to a different killer. For his son to live, must an innocent man die? Truman’s investigation draws him down a path that will change his life, his family, and the destinies of two men forever.

Product Details:
List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (January 20, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414348614
ISBN-13: 978-1414348612

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

30 days before execution

The trouble with my wife began when she needed Jesus and I
needed a cat. Life can be that way. That’s part of the reason I was on Sanibel
Island in the cottage I had always dreamed of owning and she was in Tallahassee
tending to the sick son of our youth. But it’s more complicated. There was more
troubling me than religion or people who think problems can be solved with a
leap of faith.
Said cottage was a tiny house that seems to be the rage
among those who believe we are warming the planet with each exhale. I didn’t
buy it because of that, but I recycle my Coors Light cans. My little
contribution to the cause. Lately it’s been a hefty contribution. There was one
bedroom in the back and a little bathroom, a walk-through kitchen, and a living
area that I used as an office. Murrow usually sat in the window looking out at
the beach with as much interest as I have in paying both of my mortgages. It’s
not that I don’t want to pay. I can’t.
I was on the bed, surfing news sites, fueling the ache about
my lack of direction and lack of a job. The satellite TV company disconnected
me a few months ago, so I got my news online from the unprotected network of a
neighbor who can’t encrypt his wireless router.
I could see the downsizing coming in every area of the
conglomerate media company. I knew it would hit the newsroom, but I always
thought when the music stopped, I would have a chair. What I got was severance,
a pat on the back, and a shelf full of awards I stuffed into a suitcase that
sat in the attic of a cottage I couldn’t afford.
I closed my laptop and told Murrow I’d be back, as if she
cared, and walked barefoot out the front door and down the long, wooden
stairway to the beach. I bought this cottage for these long, head-clearing
walks. The sound of the waves crashing against doubts and fears. The smell of
the ocean and its salty cycle of life and death.
A mom and a dad dressed in white strolled along the beach
with two kids who squealed every time the water came close.
I walked the other way.
The phone rang as I passed a dead seagull. Not a good omen.
“Tru, it’s me.”
The woman of my dreams. The woman of my nightmares.
Everything good and bad about my life. The “I do” that “I didn’t.”
“Ellen. What’s up?”
“How are you?” She said it with a measure of compassion, as
if she weren’t holding back years of boiling anger. As if she didn’t have
something else she wanted to ask me and wasn’t just setting the stage for the
coup de grâce.
“I’m good. Just taking a walk on the beach.”
Wish you weren’t here. Wish you
weren’t still in my head. Wish you hadn’t called. Wish the last twenty years
were something I could bury in the sand. What were you thinking marrying a guy
like me? My life is a sand castle and my days are wind and water.
“Hear anything back yet? Any offers?”
“There’s nothing plural about my job prospects. Not even
singular. I did hear from the Fox station in Des Moines yesterday. They went
with somebody with longer hair and bigger lungs.”
She spoke with a wry smile. “It’s only a matter of time; you
know that.”
“Right. It’s always been a matter of time, hasn’t it?”
She let the irony hang there between us, and I could picture
her in her wedding dress and without it. Then the first time we met in the
university newsroom, big glasses and frilly blouse. Hair that smelled like the
ocean and felt like silk. A sharp wit, infectious laugh, and the tenacity of a
bloodhound on every story she covered. I thought we were always going to be on
the same page, but somehow I kept chasing headlines and she moved to the Life
section.
“I have something that might interest you,” she said.
“How old is she?” I’m not always a smart aleck with the
people I love. When I’m asleep, they tell me I don’t say much of anything.
“It’s not a she. It’s a he with a pretty good story. A great
story. A life changer.”
“Not into guys.”
She sighed and plowed ahead. “Have you heard of Terrelle
Conley?”
That was like asking a history major if she’d ever heard of
Alexis de Tocqueville. “I know he’s facing the needle.”
“Right. Next month.”
“Wonder what his last meal will be. How do they choose that
anyway? Shrimp and steak or lobster bisque? Macaroni and cheese? How can you
enjoy a meal knowing you only have hours left? Or what movie to watch? What
would you choose?”
“I know his wife, Oleta. She wants somebody to write the
story from his perspective. The whole family does.”
I laughed. “In thirty days or less.”
“They’ve scraped up some money. Not much, but it could
probably help.”
“How much is ‘probably’?”
“I don’t know exactly, but I was thinking you could call
Gina and find out if—”
“I’m not with Gina or the agency anymore. She dropped me.
Said it was a hard decision on their part. I guess they took a vote.”
“I’m sorry.”
“Just another bump in the literary highway. I don’t think writing
is my thing, anyway.” I said it halfheartedly, coaxing some kind of compliment.
“You’re a great writer,” she obliged. “You haven’t had as
many opportunities lately, but . . .”
“I haven’t had any politicians who want to be president or
sports stars who’ve been accused of steroids approach me in a few years. That’s
what you mean,” I said. “Where did you meet Olatha?”
“Oleta. I met her at church.”
Groan. How did I know that was coming?
I paused at a sand castle that had been constructed with
several five-gallon buckets. Towels and chairs had been abandoned for the
moment. Water filled the moat, and I heard laughter from a bungalow perched
like a lighthouse above. A couple in love.
“You must have some idea of how much.”
“A few thousand. We didn’t talk about that. The important
thing . . . it’s not just an opportunity for you. It’s for
Aiden.”
“Now you’re really getting cryptic. You want to back up?”
“Terrelle’s wife is in a study group with me. She’s known
about Aiden’s condition for years. Always asks for updates. Terrelle came up
with the idea—he wants to be a donor. A second chance for Aiden.”
I should have been doing cartwheels. Our eighteen-year-old
son could get a new lease on life? Instead, I was skeptical, like any good
journalist. “Ellen, there’s no chance. Do you know how long something like that
would take?”
“It’s been in process for a while.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“You haven’t exactly been available.”
“The prison system, the authorities, they’ll never let
this—”
“The governor is taking it seriously. I’ve heard he’s
working with the legislature. It’s not a done deal, but there’s a chance.”
The governor. The hair rose on the back of my neck.
“Ellen, there’s some law firm in Tallahassee salivating at
all the appeals and counterappeals that are going to happen. This is less than
a long shot.”
“Yeah, but right now it’s looking like a pretty good long
shot.” There was emotion in her voice and for the first time I noticed noise in
the background.
“Where are you?”
She swallowed hard and I imagined her wiping away a tear. My
wife has had plenty of practice.
“At the hospital again,” she said. “ICU.”
I cursed under my breath and away from the phone. Not just
because of all the hospital bills I knew were coming my way, but also because
this was my son. I’ll be honest—the bills were the first thing I thought of,
but picturing him hooked up to tubes and needles again crushed me.
“How is he?”
“Not good. They’re monitoring him. Same story.”
“How long have you been there?”
“Since late last night. He was having trouble breathing.
Lots of pain. He asks about you.”
Guilt. She had to get that in there, didn’t she?
“Tell him to hang in there, okay?”
“Come see him. It would mean so much.”
“Yeah. I will.” I said it fast, though I knew I’d have to
launder all the cat hair from my clothes because Aiden’s deathly allergic to
cats just like I’m allergic to the inside of the death chamber.
Someone spoke over the intercom near her and the sound took
me back to those first days when I wasn’t as scared of hospitals. Back then I
could watch a movie or a TV show with a medical setting. Now I can’t even watch
the TV promos. My chest gets tight and the smell of alcohol and Betadine and
the shape of needles invades, mingling with the cries of a young child in pain
and another memory of a man on a gurney.
We discovered Aiden’s heart malady by accident. Ellen was
into natural food, natural medicine, whole-grain seaweed sandwiches and eggs
that came from free-range chickens who had bedtime stories read to them each
night before they settled into their nests. Natural childbirth with a midwife.
All that stuff. She was convinced antibiotics were the forbidden fruit, so she
didn’t run to the HMO every time our kids were sick. But something told her to
take Abby in for some chest congestion she couldn’t get rid of. Aiden was with
her, and on a lark the doctor placed the stethoscope on his chest.
Ellen cried when she tried to explain the look on the
woman’s face. They’d missed it when he was born.
That sent us on a crash course of congenital heart defects
and a series of surgeries and treatments that would change our lives. Ellen
hates hospitals as much as I do, but you do what you must for your kids.
“Terrelle has the same blood type,” Ellen said. “He’s about
the same size as Aiden, maybe a little smaller, which is good.”
“Ellen, you know this is not going to happen, right? There
are so many hoops and holes. They don’t let doctors execute people.”
“There are guidelines, but they don’t have a problem
harvesting organs from an already-deceased donor.”
“Anybody who’s pro-life will howl. I thought you were
pro-life.”
“I am, but this is something Terrelle wants.”
“Doesn’t matter. They harvest organs from prisoners in
China, but we’re not in China.” Though you wouldn’t know it by shopping at
Walmart.
“I know all that. But I also know my son is going to die.
And Terrelle and his wife want something good to come out of their tragedy.
They asked if you would write his story. I got to thinking that maybe . . .”
She broke a little and hearing her cry felt like some lonely
prayer drifting away and hitting the empty shores of heaven. Not that I believe
there is one, but you know, metaphorically speaking.
“You were thinking what?” I said.
“Maybe all of this is not really for Aiden. Maybe all we’ve
been through in the last eighteen years is for somebody else. If they deny
Terrelle’s request and Aiden doesn’t make it, maybe writing this story will
make a difference for someone down the road.”
Her altruism was more than I could handle. “Look, I don’t
care about all the people with sick kids. I don’t care about prisoners who want
to make up for their crimes. I don’t care about protesters or the politicians
who’ve found a wedge issue. I just want my son to live. Is that asking too
much?”
The emotion surprised me and I noticed the family in white
had changed direction but now quickly herded their children away from me.
It was Ellen’s turn to sound collected. “Do you have time to
work on something like that in the next thirty days? It would at least pay a
few bills.”
“If they’re trying to get a stay of execution, they need to
go straight to the press. Forget a book deal, forget a magazine exposé—it’s
already too late. Get somebody at one of the local stations to pick it up and
run with it—”
“Tru, they don’t want a stay. He wants to give his heart to
Aiden. And somebody has to get the story down before it’s over. No matter how
it goes, this will make a great story.”
I was already mulling titles in my head. A Heart from Death Row. Change of Heart. Pitter-Pat. Life in
Vein. Aorta Made a Better Choice.
She continued, “They know your history. What you’ve seen.
How you’re against the death penalty and why. For all your faults, Tru, you’re
the best reporter I’ve ever known. You get to the heart of the story like
nobody else. I think you should consider it.”
The Heart of the Story. Another
good title. I could tell she was buttering me up. I love being buttered up by
lovely women. But I hate the complications of life with beautiful women.
“I don’t write evangelical tracts.”
“Why are you so stubborn?” she whisper-screamed at me. Her
voice had an echo like she had moved into the bathroom or stairwell. “Why do
you have to look at this as some kind of spiritual conspiracy against you
instead of a gift? This is being handed to you on a platter. Don’t push it
away. I don’t care if you agree with them about God. You didn’t agree with
every sports figure or politician.”
“The only way I know how to do this job is to ferret out the
truth and tell it. Flat out. The way I see it. And if you’re expecting me to
throw in the third verse of a hymn every other chapter and quote the Gospel of
Terrelle, I can’t do that. Call somebody from the Christian right.”
“Tru, it’s because of who you are and how you tell the story
that they want you. Just talk with her. Let her explain. If you don’t like the
situation, they’ll go somewhere else. But they have to act quickly.”
The sun was coming down behind me and the wind picked up off
the water. I could smell the first hint of an impending storm. Or maybe I
forgot my deodorant.
“I’ll think about it.”
I hadn’t been gone that long, but as I walked up the
stairs, I heard a vehicle pulling away from the house. The taillights had
disappeared into the distance by the time I made it to my front door.
Murrow was still in the window, looking down on me with that
superior look. Humans are such a waste of oxygen,
she seemed to say. Maybe she was right. Maybe we are a waste of oxygen and the
best thing would be for us to be wiped from the planet. But something inside
said that wasn’t true. Something inside pushed me to keep moving, like an ant
dragging a piece of grass along the sidewalk until a strong wind blows it away.
The ant picks up another and starts over. I get exhausted just watching them.
On the front door was a legal document stating that whereby
and forthwith said mortgage company had begun said process with an intent to
foreclose and otherwise vacate said occupant’s tail onto the street to wit and
wheretofore so help them God, amen. I had received several such letters in the
mail, filing them carefully, hoping the rising tide of foreclosures would save
my little cottage until I got a new job.
I ripped the notice down and used it to wipe the sand from
my feet. And then a thought struck. A horrible, no-good, bad thought. The
newspaper. They published my name with each intent to foreclose. That meant
others would know where I was. Others, as in people I owed. Bad people.
Another car passed, slowly. Tinted windows. A low rumble of
expensive metal and fuel.
I hurried to the back of the little house and pulled out
every suitcase I could find and stowed everything of value. Books. Pictures of
me with newsmakers. Cloudy memories of trips abroad, war zones, interviews with
generals and dignitaries who went on to fame or perished in motorcades that
didn’t make it through IEDs.
It was hard not to sit and absorb the memories, but the
passing car gave urgency. I jammed every journal and notebook in with the
pictures, then put one suitcase with clothes in the trunk of my car and took
the rest on my shoulder down the sandy path to the Grahams’ house. Sweet
people. He retired from the Air Force and they moved for the sun and salty air.
Both should have died long ago from arthritis and other maladies, but they were
out walking the beach every day like two faithful dogs, paw in paw.
Jack and Millie were on the front porch, and I asked if I
could borrow some space in their garage for a suitcase or two. “I need to take
a trip. Someone new will be living in my house.”
“Relatives coming?”
“No, someone from the Bank of America wants it.”
Millie struggled to get out of her rocker and stood by a
white column near the front door. “If you need help, Truman, we’d be glad to.”
Jack nodded and the gesture almost brought tears to my eyes.
“How much are you short?” he said.
“Just a spot in the garage is all I need.”
“What about your cat?” Millie said.
“Murrow’s going with me.”
“If we can do anything at all . . . ,”
Jack’s voice trailed.
“I appreciate it. I appreciate both of you. Thanks for your
kindness.”
“We pray for Aiden every day,” Millie said.
The garage was spotless. Everything hanging up or neatly
placed on shelves. I should have joined the Air Force. In the back I found an
empty space near some gardening tools. I shook Jack’s hand gently and gave
Millie a hug. I only turned and looked at them once as I walked back to the
house. They stood like sentinels, the fading light of the sun casting a golden
glow around them and their house.
When Murrow saw the cat carrier, she bolted under the sofa
and I threatened to sell her to the local Chinese restaurant. An open can of
StarKist and my tender, compassionate voice helped coax her into the carrier,
and we were off.
I texted my wife: Will call your
friend tomorrow. Can I use Abby’s room?
The phone buzzed in my shirt pocket as I drove along the
causeway into darkening clouds. Key under frog. No
cats.
The next text gave Oleta’s number and a short message. You were made for this story.
Maybe she was right. Maybe I was the one for this job. One
loser telling the story of his kindred spirit. I sure didn’t have anything
better to do. But with the window down and my hand out, being pushed back by
the cool air, it felt less like the start of a new chapter and more like the
end of one.

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Six Ways to keep the Good in your Boy by Dannah Gresh

My Review:
This sentence struck me as I was reading this book…”We have lost our faith in the goodness of boys and men.”
The first few chapters of this book address the why we view boys the way we do. Our society took an issue where years ago, men and boys were so upheld to the point that women were put down. Women rose up to right this wrong and it has turned our country into an anti-male society. Men have lost the drive to be men and almost feel they have to be mean or abusive just to assert themselves. The “bad boys” are the ones who get the girl. The “good boys” are called names….”Mama’s boys” “Goody two shoes” and told that they must be cowards or other such not so nice names!
This book talks about the risks that are facing our sons….written with her husband, Dannah has the facts down for us. This is what they are facing and how to keep our boys “good”. I scored pretty well on her Connection IQ Quiz, but I wonder if I am going to be able to keep it up!!

Part one of this book is more the physical way our boys are made up, while Part two is the practical applications. It is well written, with Dannah and her husband writing together, but you can really tell the mom point of view and the dad point of view. It would be excellent for a couple to read together or even just a dad!

Boy, what an encouraging read!!! This book is filled with practical tips and guidelines of how to help your son to stay away from the things that can bring him to a place of “bad” and to encourage the good. There is tips in there for single moms as well, or moms who do not have as involved fathers, but I loved how it encouraged me even if your husband does not seem involved, it may be more than you think!
I loved the list of great men who were raised by single mom’s from history!
I really am looking forward to using this book in theory and in practice! It is a great little book! – 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:

 

Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2012)
 

***Special thanks to Karri James, Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dannah Gresh is a bestselling author, a speaker, and the creator of the Secret Keeper Girl live events. Her books include Six Ways to Keep the “Little” in Your Girl, 8 Great Dates for Moms and Daughters, And the Bride Wore White, and Lies Young Women Believe (coauthored with Nancy Leigh DeMoss). She and her husband have a son and two daughters and live in Pennsylvania.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Bestselling author Dannah Gresh empowers moms of with six proactive ways to raise sons age 8-12 to be honest, confident, and respectful. This encouraging, practical resource shows how the formative years can shape a godly, healthy teen and adult. Includes engaging activity ideas, and Scriptures to pray over sons.

 
 

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 208 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736945792

ISBN-13: 978-0736945790

 

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Is There a Mouse in
That Cookie Box?

A box of cookies and a dead mouse.

  The combination conjures up one of the proudest memories of mothering my wonderful son, Robby. (If you meet him, you can call him Rob. But I can’t. He’s still my Robby even if he’s the size of a linebacker.) He was a freshman at Grace Prep high school and was just returning from a school-assigned Random Act of Kindness when these two mismatched objects—mouse and cookies—mingled together to create an equally odd mixture of emotions.
  Just hours earlier, armed with nothing more than a few boxes of cookies and several rakes, he and a few friends had set out to do some good. They’d come back a little flustered, but laughing their experience off like four cool 15-year-old boys should.
  “We just got yelled at,” said Robby, wearing the words like a badge of courage.
  “By whom?” I asked.
  “Some crazy woman who thought there must be a mouse in the cookies we were trying to give her,” he answered defensively.
  “What!” I was just a little aggravated, having been the one who had issued the assignment. How could anyone react with anger and suspicion (particularly in our small, friendly town) to a box of cookies and an offer to do yard work? Surely they must have misunderstood. “Tell me what happened. Play-by-play,” I said.
  “Well, we knocked on the lady’s door to give her the cookies and ask permission to rake her leaves,” Robby answered. “When we tried to hand her the cookies she looked afraid and angrily said, ‘Is there a dead mouse in that box?’   ”
  The other boys snickered. I could see that they thought it was funny, but that it also bothered them.
  I was having a hard time believing it.
  “We promised there wasn’t a mouse in there, but she just couldn’t believe we were there to do anything good. So one of the guys said, ‘Look, we just want to show you God’s love in a practical way.’   ”
  This made me smile. It was what they’d been taught. “Transfer the credit of this good act to God,” I’d said in class.
  “What’d she say when you said that?” I asked.
  “She grabbed the cookies, said, ‘Rake if you want to,’ and slammed the door in our faces!” said Robby. “So, we raked.”
  I could tell that the guys were still a bit shaken, and I was a bit angry that they hadn’t been met with the reward of a simple “thank you.”
  A few weeks later, God brought the whole thing full circle with a letter that came in the mail. One of the members of Robby’s group got to read it out loud in chapel. I wish I still had it. It went something like this:
Dear Grace Prep:
Recently some boys from your school came here to deliver cookies to my daughter and me. They also raked our leaves. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t trust them. I am sorry. (For the record, they were really yummy cookies.)
I think God sent those boys here.
You see, my husband—my daughter’s father—died recently and it has been tough. Just that morning my daughter and I kind of put a test out there for God. We prayed, saying, “If you’re really there and you really see us, show up!”
When he did, we didn’t recognize him right away. But I have no doubt that God sent those high-school boys to remind us that he sees us.
Thank you.
  You could have heard a pin drop in that room of high-school kids when the letter was read. We were all simply struck with the power of goodness.
  But here’s why this wonderful memory not only floods my heart with pride, but also makes me sad: We’ve lost our faith in the goodness of boys and men. And not wholly without reason.

Where Have All the Good Men Gone?

  A title of a recent Wall Street Journal article inquired, “Where Have the Good Men Gone?” A current Amazon bestseller seeks to answer the question, Is There Anything Good About Men? Since the 2004 coining of the word “adultescent,”  1 we’ve had something to call the young adult male who is so busy playing Call of Duty on his PlayStation 4 that he has no real-life call of duty. No honor. No integrity. No goodness. Just a seventh-grade mind-set and responsibility level trapped in the flabby body of an adult who often still lives at home or in a tacky bachelor pad with other adultescents. The phenomenon is what caused Kay S. Hymowitz to pen the book Manning Up, in which she writes,
Not so long ago, average mid-twentysomethings, both male and female, had achieved most of the milestones of adulthood: high school diploma, financial independence, marriage, and children. These days [the males] hang out in a novel sort of limbo, a hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance.  2
  High-school English teacher Joe Carmichiel has written a book entitled Permanent Adolescence: Why Boys Don’t Grow Up, because “a large number of today’s teenagers, especially boys, see no reason to accept or pursue adulthood since it is of so little value to the larger culture.”  3 So, with no motivation todo anything, many of these young men remain in a state of wimpy complacency well into their twenties, even thirties.
  Along with this state of immaturity that many boys will embrace as they grow older is a culturally acceptable pressure for boys to be bad—both complacent and void of character. By the time a boy is finished with high school, he is likely to have three crucial areas of character ripped right out of him:
  1. Over 50 percent of young men will have become sexually active in a casual-sex culture where they’re likely to have an average of 9.7 sexual partners before they graduate from college.  4 (There goes his purity.)
  2. Most of them will be exposed to porn as a tween or early teen, with the median age of first exposure being about 11. This catapults many of them into a world of double-mindedness where they are one boy at home and in public—and another entirely in their private world. (There goes his integrity.)
  3. Many will have succumbed to an emasculated version of manhood that strips them of their drive to be leaders and protectors who do good. (There goes his honor.)

 

  Our boys need to be taught to grow up.
  And to be good.

While Six Ways to Keep the “Little” in Your Girl    cried
out for us to band together against the culture’s pressure for our little girls to grow up too fast, this book pleads with you to join us in raising sons who are prepared to embrace the responsibility of growing up.

  It’s been our goal to create a character base for our son to be a man of integrity, honor, and purity. Bob and I want him to be good. Fortunately, our life work led me into the depths of research, and I learned that we had to start building a foundation for our son to rise to the call of manhood…when he was still just our “good boy”! Raising a son to reflect your value system when he is a man is—in part—a matter of introducing those values to him in an age-appropriate manner when he is a tween. Social science offers us statistical lines of footprints showing how a boy will turn out based on what he is exposed to and when. Sadly, our boys have got a tough battle ahead. It’s been a long time since they’ve seen anything but “adultescent” or “bad” examples of manhood dominating our culture.

Why Are Boys “Bad”?

  Robert Coles, a pioneer in the field of moral intelligence, brings clarity to the definition badness when he writes,
Bad boys display a “heightened destructive self-absorption, in all its melancholy stages.” In essence, we go bad when “we lose sight of our obligation to others.”  5
  Badness is not simply the loss of innocence, purity, integrity, and honor, but also the loss of vision to see the needs of others and to act on them. It’s a complacent, self-absorbed lifestyle that is void of character.
  I think we have a bad-boy mentality in our culture for two primary reasons.
The first reason boys become bad is that the feminist movement has told us they are bad. Michael Gurian, author of The Wonder of Boys, though seeming to embrace the feminist movement as a whole, points out a few devastating myths it introduced to convince our boys that they are “bad.” Here are two that resonate with me:
Myth Number One: “that masculinity is responsible for the world’s ills and femininity is the world’s salvation.”  6
Myth Number Two: “males destroy, females create; males stand in the way of positive spiritual/social values; males are inherently violent.”  7
  While a deeper study of the feminist movement would betray an agenda to introduce these fallacies, we don’t have to get that academic to see how much we are influenced to believe these myths in our politically correct culture.
  Just consider how prevalently they are portrayed in the media. Television alone reinforces them. Two and a Half Men, “the biggest hit comedy of the past decade” according to the New York Times, features a hedonist formerly played by Charlie Sheen. After eight seasons, the show was stalled when Sheen went into rehab for drug use. He was then fired for making disparaging remarks about the show’s producers. On and off screen he was self-absorbed and void of character. Other shows display the contrast of the valuable female to the valueless male. Reruns of The Simpsons portray Lisa as bright and beautiful and Bart as out of shape and selfish. Co-ed television commercials often portray the guy as a doofus and the girl as smart. It’s funny. It really is. But how much of it can we expose ourselves to before we believe it? And that takes me to my next concern.
The second reason boys are “bad” is that they have become what has been expected of them, just like any individual tends to fulfill what has been prophesied about them. Of course, they’ve had help from their parents (or lack thereof), their culture (and its emasculation), their economy (and its consumeristic “me” mentality), and their churches (who haven’t done much to stand against the feminist untruths). But today’s men as a whole have pretty much rolled over and taken it.
  It’s probably a good idea for me, Bob, to step in here. I’m a guy. If anyone’s going to throw us under the bus, it should be me. It has always befuddled me that the prettiest, nicest girls are always attracted to the bad boys. From the jock who bullies everyone at school to the kid in a leather jacket who doles out drugs after school, nice girls often go after the bad boys. In the Twilight series, bad boy Edward Cullen makes good girl Bella Swan swoon. In real life, the stars live out the scenario. Kevin Federline was the top bad boy of the tabloids when he nabbed the most famous girl on the planet at the height of her career, Britney Spears. Katy Perry, former Christian music artist gone sexual tease, pledged herself to bad boy Russell Brand.
  I think that the constant drip of these scenarios into our spirits makes us want to be bad boys. Let’s be real: A guy desires a beautiful girl, and while the ones in the headlines might not be all that chaste, they’re often portrayed as the good girl taken by the bad boy. And guess what? Guys want nice girls. So, we begin to believe that maybe we’re supposed to be bad.
  And if we’re not, we’re boring.
  Come on. The media glorifies the bad boys—from Grease’s Danny Zuko to Pirates of the Caribbean’s Captain Jack Sparrow—not the plain-vanilla good guys. I didn’t watch this show, but Dannah says Gilmore Girls played to this big time when Rory fell for beautiful boy Dean until bad boy Jess came to town. The bad boy is so often the one the girl wants and celebrates.
  Conversely, there aren’t a lot of movies being made about Billy Graham, the kid who called 9-1-1 and delivered his mom’s baby, or the apostle Paul. These are true heroes…but they’re good. And good is boring, according to movie producers. Since no one rises up to celebrate the good, most guys—though innately built to be conquerors—roll over and become boring.
  In some twisted place in our minds, we’d much rather be bad than boring because that’s how you get the girl. But many of us are afraid of being the real bad boy. So we just get complacent. We roll over and stay in some limbo—a state of in-between. Not really bad. Not really good. Or so we think.
  In reality, this complacency is the absolute root of badness.

The Tree

  Complacency was at the root of the first bad move among men. (Yes—the bad move of all time.) Adam had the most complacent moment of all when he stood at the foot of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was Eve who wore the pants in the first family during this catastrophic moment. She took the lead and reached for the fruit of the Tree. Adam just got all quiet, passive and…well, boring. The Scriptures don’t note that he was deceived, tempted, or lied to like Eve. Just that he went along with it.
  Some theologians believe that there was something in the way that Eve was crafted which made her more vulnerable to deception. (Just consider how often we women are prone to think things like “I’m fat!” Haven’t seen too many guys obsessing over that thought. Or maybe you’ve been prone to believe the lie “No one really likes me.” Men don’t struggle with that as often or as easily. Women are just prone to believing lies.) However, many believe that Satan approached Eve because he was attempting to throw over the created order by getting her to take leadership over her husband. And Adam seemed to passively accept this evil situation to gratify his flesh. Sounds a bit too much like many men of today.
  Complacency led to the first sin. (Perhaps, had Adam chosen to speak truth to Eve, he could have led her away from that horrible original sin.) His failure to lead changed the course of history. We believe that the same kind of complacency that showed itself at the foot of the Tree still leads men to badness.

Goodness vs. Badness

  While a bad boy’s greatest desire is to live according to his desires, a good boy, according to Robert Coles, has an outward focus:
Good…boys…have learned to take seriously the very notion, the desirability of goodness—living up to the Golden Rule.  8
  The Greek word for goodness (used in our take-to-heart verse, Romans 12:21) appears in the New Testament in three forms, all of which are rooted in the Hebrew word tod, which means “usefulness” or “beneficialness.” Are we bringing up boys who understand their call of duty to be useful contributors to society, to be beneficial to others?
  Goodness is the quality that makes us put others ahead of ourselves. It’s the moral compass that keeps the world safe, happy, and working. It’s the drive that makes us want to function in families rather than isolation. It’s the internal road sign that takes us away from our own desires and toward the destiny of meeting the needs of others. Without it, we are “bad.” That’s probably why all of us—male and female—are called to goodness.
Do not be overcome by evil,
but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:21
God is good
The ultimate reason we must raise our boys to be good is that it reflects the character of God. His goodness is a bedrock truth of Scripture and is inseparable from his nature. If we are to be a picture of him, we must possess goodness. He is good not only in a general sense, but he is good to us and forus. This element of his character expresses his selflessness and desire to exist on behalf of others. When people are good, they act toward and for others, as opposed to losing sight of others as their own needs and desires consume them.

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Books for the week

I have a couple books still from last week, I didn’t write down, but was trying to remember which ones I returned!

You had me at Goodbye by Sarah Dessen- This was another story about broken marriage, growing up and dealing with loss. She has an interesting writing style.

Fairer than Morning by Rosslyn Elliot- This was a great book! I loved this new series! Ann Miller is determined to marry Eli Bowen, she even is scribbling his name in her diary, trying out the last name for size. But that is not her only choice she finds! On a trip to a nearby town, she finds out that her choices range form rich to poor. Will Hanby, an abused indentured servant catches her eye. She is not thinking of him in a romantic way, but he causes her to think about the meaning of life a little more. I was amazed at the history in this book. It was not that long ago we were allowed to abuse other human beings and it was actually not a bad thing in society. Slavery of humans, both black and white, horrified me! Ms. Elliot really brings this home in this story. The poorhouse situation as well, is lightly touched on in this really well written story! – Martha

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